One might have thought that abusive off the field behavior was a hallmark of Quack Attack U but revelations by the Oregonian's lead sports columnist of a gang-rape by OSU football players back in the '90s makes one wonder if there is a sickness in America's sports culture.
We are being flooded by stories of NFL football players being accused and sanctioned for abusive behavior towards women and even children. The current Heisman Trophy winner FSU's QB Jamis Winston was accused of rape last year but Florida prosecutors looked the other way. Remember the "Jail Blazers?"
Accusations of abusive behavior by Bill Cosby have added fuel to this fire. Remember Slick Wille and the girl from Palatine Hill? Closer to home the names of Bob Packwood and Neil Goldschmidt have brought shame to Oregon. And Kitzhaber's bizarre relationship to Cylvia cost him votes. At first fans hit the denial button, it can't be true! Clearly it's not just jocks who act badly - who's next up for the Scarlet Letter?
But the public is the "great enabler" on the scene and/or via TV, social media et al. Sometimes we need to hit the delete or turnoff button!
Shaun Lawrence of Jamaica takes an oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center on July 3, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty)
I was listening to NPR’s “The Takeaway” program this morning (see link below). One of the segments covered the upcoming speech tonight by President Obama outlining his executive order to grandfather in 5 million Latino immigrants whose children are US citizens.
The last response was from a lady from Texas who predictably said – “send them home” the typical knee jerk reaction of those who oppose immigration reform unless we “seal the border” which comes down to erecting an Iron Curtain between Mexico and the US.
Border security has been stiffened in the years since 9/11. The Obama administration has deported more people than any previous administration. At a certain point this demand for more border security is absurd and morally reprehensible.
We need an “Emancipation Proclamation” on immigration reform which will allow the 12 million undocumented immigrants here to find a pathway to citizenship. The party that does this will gain the undying support of the beneficiaries which is really why the GOP says “NO.”
All that has to be done is for the House GOP leadership to pass the Senate bill – it could be done tomorrow. But John Boehner and Mitch McConnell would rather use this issue as the raw meat to appease their rightwingnut Tea Party "America First" base.
Let’s take a brief walk down history lane. The Yankee settlers in the colonies didn’t like it when the Irish showed up on their doorsteps. The Irish didn’t like it when the Italians came next. And then there were the Poles, the Jews and a host of other immigrants from southern Europe.
They were all told “to go home.” Some did but most didn’t. This not so hidden xenophobia against “the other” reminds me of the German theologian, Martin Niemöller’s famous quote about how the Nazis “cleansed” Germany of the other.
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I did not speak out;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
If we ethnically cleanse America of its newest immigrants – the inescapable logic is why stop there?
In the 1920s the Congress passed laws to restrict immigration from China and Japan even though those immigrants like later Latino immigrants were recruited to come “work but not stay” to help build the transcontinental railroad system and harvest food, respectively.
In the 1950s during the height of the Cold War we allowed Cubans, Hungarians and other “captive nations” folk to come to America. Since then we’ve added new layers of immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, India and mainland China.
But let me return to the very beginning of this historical saga of immigration. Who asked the Native Peoples of America to allow the first colonists to come to America? All you descendents of the Mayflower – show me your passports, your visas, or working permits.
The fact is that all the "colonists" we WOPS - "without passports."
Sadly for the Native People they had no border security in place, no immigration laws – hell if we believe the mythology of the lst Thanksgiving they welcomed the earliest White settlers with open arms – yeah like Columbus found America. Oops, the latter is not true.
And of course I’ve left for last the searing fact that the “other” immigrants – African-Americans – came here in slave ships to work as forced labor until the end of the Civil War and to have their freedom denied to them by Jim Crow laws until the Civil Rights movement changed the narrative.
America the Beautiful is “exceptional” because we are a diverse people, e pluribus unum – out of many one. Out of this has grown our economic power, our political power and more importantly the power of the “American Dream” which MLK, Jr. framed so well on that long hot afternoon in 1963.
The “promissory” note Martin spoke of has been passed down to successive generations of immigrants memorialized by The Statue of Liberty, a gift to America by France. We all know the words – the challenge is to live up to them. That’s what President Obama is doing -
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
On the eve of Christmas let’s remember the story. There was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn so the baby Jesus was born in a stable. He was in effect an exile in his own land under Roman colonial rule. Immigrants are exiles, is that the way we should treat them too?
EDITOR'S NOTE: These articles were highlighted by Our Oregon, a liberal advocacy group in Oregon. They uncover who wins the hidden behind the scenes "money game" of US politics.
If we want to lower the impact of big money then TV and radio money for campaign ads must be heavily regulated which would go a long way in limiting the power of big money to control the results of elections.
"The Center for Public Integrity estimates that at least $24 million was spent on broadcast TV ads in Oregon in the last election cycle.
No wonder one of the hoariest clichés in politics is that the real winners are the TV stations, just like the merchants who made the real gold-rush fortunes providing the shovels. (And here is where you provide your own joke about what the candidates shoveled on TV).
What the numbers tell you is that, for all of the new technology to communicate with voters, old-fashioned broadcast TV still vacuums up the biggest share of campaign dollars. Campaigns see it as the best way to reach a mass audience, particularly less-knowledgeable voters open to persuasion."
Fixed Fortunes: Biggest corporate political interests spend billions, get trillions - Sunlight Foundation
"Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support.
That figure, more than the $4.3 trillion the federal government paid the nation’s 50 million Social Security recipients over the same period, is the result of an unprecedented effort to quantify the less-examined side of the campaign finance equation: Do political donors get something in return for what they give? Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court suggested the answer to that question was no.
Corporate spending to influence federal elections would not “give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,” the majority wrote in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. Sunlight decided to test that premise by examining influence and its potential results on federal decision makers over six years, three before the 2010 Citizens United decision and three after."
A Case Study in influence peddling:
Campaign money translates into "access" and access enables the moneyed interests to shape the political agenda in Congress and legislatures. Who gets elected to office matters big time. A good example of the power of "access" is the current battle over the Keystone Pipeline.
Over the past decade a Canadian oil consortium and the Canadian government set up a well moneyed lobbying "front" in DC. So far Obama has been able to fend them off but the House voted last week to pass the legislation and the Senate is poised to do the same. But they face a presidential veto they can't override.
But this will not deter the "dirty" oil lobby since the GOP will have more votes in January. But on substance this is an irrational issue because extracting shale oil is an environmental disaster in Canada and would simply ad to climate change, an issue Obama focused on last week in China.
Nobody needs this oil, it's price point is too high and it's slated for off shore use in China - when China is converting to alternative energy sources. And the jobs that will be created are short term construction jobs not long term jobs. The oil guzzling states of the Mississippi Delta need to instead protect their wetlands against the next Katrina!
An example the Canadian spin on Keystone was sent to me today by my "CC" -
Here's the "key" part (pun intended) - it hinges on two words - crude vs. refined petroleum.
"Key players (who are?) in the project insist they won't ship Canadian crude abroad... The same guarantee doesn't extend to finished petroleum products. Nobody's offering any promises — let alone hard projections — about what share of the oil that flows through Keystone XL might eventually wind up abroad after it's been refined."
Politics 101 - the devil is in the details and follow the money.
Last Saturday we saw the matinee showing of PCS's production of "The Typographer's Dream" in the Ellyn Bye Studio of the Gerding Theater in the Peal. This is a very intimate venue which seats @ 200 people just right for a 3 person play.
The scene was a panel discussion by a typographer, a geographer and a court stenographer trying to explain what they did and why they enjoyed their work. But it really was a conversation among three friends who were like trains passing in the night.
As the one act play evolved none of the friends were hearing each other and at times they went off script into petty conversations about how each of them bugged the other. I assume this was the point of the playwright to show how "listening impaired" we moderns have become.
The typographer (a woman) had an especially hard time getting in a word edgewise in a trialogue dominated by a self-centered Canadian born geographer (a woman) and the stenographer (a man) who was stereotypically mousy.
As we have moved into the social media age, one wonders if the art of conversation will be totally erased from our collective speaking repertory. It's painfully obvious that the inability to hear the other has become the hallmark of modern politics - the dance of the deaf.
The impact of social media on parenting is also obvious. One sees inattentive parents consumed by text messaging while their kids are playing at the local library, in a park or at home. Social media is addictive. One wonders what's so important that a tweet is more important than your toddler.
The most compelling part of the play for me, of course, was when the Canadian woman and the American man got into an incoherent screaming match about Canada and the US. I wasn't sure what the point was except that Canadians and Americans have "issues." Oh really?
But clearly beyond the political eruption the point seems to be that we've lost our ability to engage each other. On that score I think the author is right on target. At least these three friends were willing to engage on some level however labored - most people just won't go there.
The old bromide is "don't talk politics or religion" - you might offend somebody. Well here's "friends" who can't talk to each other except via a monologue and when they get to an interesting point of the conversation they implode. Somewhere nobody taught them the art of "active listening."
As a species increasingly inured to computers, cell phones, I-pods and/or I-books what's the common ground in this multiple platform world of g-mail, text messaging, face book, twitter and Linkedin where the instantaneous and the trivial replaces substance and introspection?
Welcome to our hi-tech typographer's nightmare!
Picture from 2013 Report: Michelle Nelson, her husband and their school-aged children were homeless for six weeks after she lost her job. Like most other Oregon students without stable, permanent homes, the children stayed with various relatives until the family got help and got a home of their own. (Stephanie Yao Long / The Oregonian)
This week a report disclosed homelessness among school aged Oregon kids grew to 19,000 this year, after having dipped from 20,000 in 2012 to 18,000 last year. Most "homeless" school aged kids are "couch surfers" who are not on the streets but living with friends or family but not in their own homes.
The interesting factoid to me is that the two school districts where homeless is highest in Oregon is Beaverton and Eugene. One does not think of either area as especially poverty stricken - one a yuppie suburb, the other a university town.
As a housing advocate, I'm familiar with Beaverton. Their district does a great job of keeping tabs on this issue and homelessness among school aged kids has been a problem for many years before, during and now after the Great Recession.
The report also found that non-white students were statistically more likely to be at risk of homeless than their white peers though in total numbers white kids are the larger number but the face of homeless is more diverse than one might realize.