Thanksgiving 2014

This picture was taken, a bit hurriedly, just before we sat down for Thanksgiving dinner.

We followed our usual custom. Before we began to eat, proceeding from youngest to oldest we each said what we were thankful for. I, of course, was most thankful for my dear wife but there were other things for which I’m thankful.

I’m thankful that my new job circumstances have renewed my confidence in my abilities. If you’ve never experience doubt in that, I don’t know that you can appreciate what a difference that has made for me.

I’m also thankful for Tally’s life. I learned so much from her! I miss her dearly but I’m very thankful for her life.

It should go without saying but I’m also thankful for all of you who stop by here to read and even, perhaps, to comment. This blog is an important part of my life and it would be impoverished without the little coterie of commenters here. Thank you.

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Order of Battle

This morning I had the turkey on the smoker by 6:00am after a night of brining. I’ll pull it off again between 5:00 and 6:00pm. That should be enough time.

I’ve finished making my pie crust and my cranberry sauce. My wife is preparing her famous pumpkin chiffon pie filling. The only really time-consuming chore I have left is making my dinner rolls and I plan to start those after lunch.

I’ll try to get another post (and a picture!) out before Thanksgiving dinner but just in case I don’t get to it later I want to wish all of you and yours a happy, restful Thanksgiving.


Means and Ends

I didn’t want to let this interesting juxtaposition of ideas go by without taking note of it. First, there’s this:

There are two fundamental prisms through which to view the heart-rending story in Ferguson. The first is that it was a tragic episode in which an unarmed young black man, Michael Brown, lost his life in an altercation with a police officer and that the matter, like all such matters, had to be parsed and adjudicated through the local criminal-justice system. That meant waiting for all evidence to be gathered and weighed before rushing to judgment. It meant further that we ultimately must place our trust in the justice system, which certainly isn’t perfect, but it is all we have—and is likely to be carefully pursued particularly when it is under intense and emotional public scrutiny, as it was in Ferguson.

but on the other hand there’s this:

The other prism presents a different picture, one that sees the Ferguson events as a reflection of a serious national problem of white racism within law enforcement and in the criminal-justice system. Viewed through this prism, Michael Brown’s death not only should bring an indictment against Darren Wilson, but represented an indictment against elements of American society. The two aren’t separable, in this view. Michael Brown didn’t get a fair break from the police officer during that altercation, and if Wilson wasn’t punished through the criminal-justice system, then that represents automatic evidence of something seriously wrong with the criminal-justice system.

I believe that this view predisposes one to treat persons as means rather than ends and, consequently, is immoral and should be called out as such.

In the final analysis I guess that I don’t believe that you can have a just end without employing just means. The belief that you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs can be used to justify anything.


Still Fuming

While I’m still fuming, does anybody seriously think that Michael Brown would still be alive if the police officer who shot him had been wearing a body camera? I wish they would submit their evidence. Or is it that the think that their lust for vengeance would have a better chance of being slaked if he had worn a camera? I think that’s far-fetched, too.

Actually, I don’t have any opposition to police officers being required to wear body cameras. I just don’t think it would have made a difference in this particular case. That’s something that gripes me. Have you noticed this pattern? Something bad happens. A solution is proposed. The solution would not have prevented the bad thing from happening. I see that pattern repeating with dreary monotony.

Here’s a modest proposal: why not require all of us to wear body cameras. Lord knows that Instagram is testimony that we’re halfway to that point as it is.


Quit While You’re Ahead

I think that Harold Meyerson should have ended his column with this sentence (in reference to the grand jury that determined not to indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson):

That jury may have had reasonable grounds for declining to bring an indictment.

but he followed it up:

But that failure to indict came as a culmination of a string of unpunished killings, going back to Trayvon Martin’s, in which young black men were summarily gunned down by police or neighborhood-watch zealots.

continuing with a string of half-truths, over-generalizations, false analogies, and speculations. He should have quit while he was ahead.

Whatever because of the presumption of innocence? What the rioters knew of Trayvon Martin or Rodney King or, in most cases, even Michael Brown is what journalists like Mr. Meyerson have told them. In a very real sense the riots were caused at the urging of those journalists.

There is no excuse, repeat no excuse, for the burning of auto parts stores and bakeries owned by individuals who live in the community who are just trying to get by. Trying to clothe wanton destruction in the garments of the greater good is heartless, grotesque immorality.


Wishful Thinking

I think that this is probably the biggest piece of wishful thinking that I’ve read today:

“The Democratic Party’s message is not being heard from us. It’s being heard from others,” Kamala Harris, the attorney general of California who’s widely viewed as a rising star in the party, told me. She and many other Democrats point to the success of minimum-wage ballot initiatives in several states as proof that the same voters who chose Republican representatives actually wanted Democratic policies.

I don’t think that’s true at all. Quite to the contrary I think that actions speak louder than words. I look forward to Ms. Harris’s explanations for how bailng out the big banks, that none of the heads of the big banks have been brought up on criminal charges (despite a law tailor-made for the purpose), sweetheart deals to Democratic fundraisers and bundlers paid out under the auspices of the ARRA, raising payroll taxes, and just about everything else done under the present administration demonstrate that they’re populists who are champions of the little guy. I’ve always enjoyed fantasy.


Pop Quiz

True or false? In reference to the “Ferguson hoopla”:

It’s about the base. And it’s not about the Democratic Party’s base, but about certain leaders’ base within the Democratic Party. This may be best understood as an intra-party struggle. Obama is the champion of the urban-black wing of the party, and because of him that wing has been on top. But his star is fading, black voters are beginning to realize that they haven’t benefited economically, and the next Dem nominee — whether it’s Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, or Elizabeth Warren — will be from the white gentry-liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The riots, the marches, the traffic-blocking are a way of telling them that the Sharpton wing is still a force to be reckoned with, and to improve its bargaining power between now and 2016. At least, that’s the only way this — not at all spontaneous — street theater makes sense.

I have a problem with it on a number of grounds. First, while Barack Obama may be the hero of the “urban-black wing” of the Democratic Party, I don’t think he’s in any way its champion. The figures really don’t lie on that subject.

But just as significantly I’m not sure there is a “white gentry-liberal wing” of the party. I think there’s a multi-racial gentry-liberal wing of the party whose members have much more in common with each other than they do with most other Americans.

I realize I’m treading on thin ice here but I’ve never believed that President Obama was an Afro-American, to deploy the useful term coined by the sociologist Charle Moskas, by which he meant Americans of sub-Saharan African descent who were the descendants of slaves. I don’t think he’s had in any way the same experience as they have and I find that any assertion that he has smacks of the “one drop” rule. I think it’s racist.

I also think that Barack Obama is actually the champion of the gentry-liberal wing of the Democratic Party is just incontrovertible. Go back and look at the statistics.

Maybe it’s just a weak choice of words on Glenn’s part but I would give his statement three Pinocchios.


Put to the Question

I have an odd question. If the only gauge of whether a law should be enforced is whether those violating the law have families to support and just want a better way of life for themselves and their families, how many of our laws should be set aside?

It seems to me that Bernie Madoff fits neatly into that category. Should swindling be legalized?


Willful Misunderstanding

Why don’t more Americans understand this?

We have a hybrid welfare state, partly run by the government and partly outsourced to private markets.

If there’s one thing we should have learned over the last dozen years, it’s that these public-private hybrids are deeply flawed. They result in great fortunes being paid to private individuals, the gatekeepers of these hybrid operations, out of the public purse.


The Deeply Immoral

I didn’t want to let some of the reactions to the rioting in Ferguson go by without commenting, either. First, when you throw rocks or Molotov cocktails or set cars or businesses on fire, you are no longer a demonstrator. You are a rioter and a criminal.

Second, when you defend rioters and criminals on the grounds that people are angry or that it highlights persistent racial tensions, it is deeply immoral. The people who’ve been injured or whose property has been destroyed or damaged are persons. When you take the side of the rioters in the name of some putative higher good you are turning persons into means rather than ends and that is immoral. President Obama muffed that on his remarks on Monday evening but got it right yesterday.

Third, the people have spoken. Our system of law has now cleared Michael Brown’s killer of criminal charges and you weren’t present for the grand jury’s deliberations. Criticizing the grand jury at this point undermines the system, fanning the flames. Let it go, for goodness sake. Why are there so many would-be Madame Defarge’s? Are they just thirty for blood? I don’t hear a desire for justice but a desire for vengeance.