When an evil genie pops up, take him literally AND seriously.

A lot of noise has been made in the last few weeks about President Trump’s budget and the radical cuts it proposes. Facebook feeds have been flooded with memes about Meals on Wheels, Sesame Street, and other “easy” targets for liberal ire.

And to be fair, the Trumps seem to eagerly invite such ire. Mr. Trump has a long history of flaunting the sort of “in your face elegance” once reserved for only the classiest of strip clubs. Continue reading

Other people.

Today, I woke up in an apartment that was built by other people. The apartment is owned by a person I’ve never met.

I drove a car built by other people on a road built and paid for by other people.

I listened to news researched and presented to me by other people. I switched over to some tunes, which were written and performed and broadcast by other people. Continue reading

I used to be stupid. I’m still stupid, but I also used to be.

Back in 1996, I was stupid.   I’m still kind of stupid at times, but I was generally, consistently stupid back then.  I consider myself very lucky, though my luck as a younger man was often simply the fact that I didn’t die or get incarcerated for my stupidity.

Here’s a little story about some shenanigans from yours truly.

Sophomore year at the University of Houston had begun. It was my first year there, I had transferred in from the University of Texas. I was living on the 11th floor of the south tower at Moody Towers. Rick Burman was my roommate, and had just transferred from Wharton County Junior College. We met Larry Dean a few days into the semester, and Larry had just come to UH from Austin College up in Denton, Texas. Continue reading

Tammy, George, and Me.

I read an article recently that got me thinking a bit, which is rare for me because I try not to think whenever I can avoid it.

TL;DR for that article: A guy reflects back on failed marriage and thinks that ignoring the things that were important to his wife (namely, the example and other similar ideas) demonstrated the extent to which he valued (or didn’t value) her. He valued proving his point more than he valued her. He realizes post-marriage that it was not fair to think, “I wouldn’t be offended by this, so the fact that she’s offended is petty and invalid, and I shall convince her of this.” Continue reading

Thankfully, not everyone is like me.

I am the only white male that works at my restaurant. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It wasn’t a conscious choice, nor is the particular makeup of my crew the “best” or “right” way to be. But it’s how the chips landed when I placed hiring the best people as my target. In Washington, D.C., in the restaurant business, if I went into the hiring process with even a slight preference toward my own gender, national origin, or race, I’d do my business a great disservice. Continue reading

Cranberry juice for the soul; or, how to deal with people who annoy you.

I take it for granted that I have a relatively outgoing personality. I don’t really stop and consider that through a fortunate combination of DNA and upbringing, it doesn’t faze me to stand in front of people and talk. My grandparents and parents did a good job of holding me accountable for making eye contact, speaking at a volume that could be heard, enunciating, and giving firm handshakes. Continue reading

Lying when the truth would do you better.

If someone is accused of something they vehemently deny, and there is enough evidence to warrant an investigation, shouldn’t the accused encourage a full investigation to clear up any doubt, and for that matter, to clear his or her name?

Seems that, if you or your associates have never had any dealings with Russia, you would WANT an impartial investigation to show that the circumstantial evidence against you is untrue.

I would understand if the House and Senate were in the hands of Democrats…you’d be hesitant as a Republican to submit to a B.S., partisan investigation. But you’ve got all 3 branches sewn up. Why wouldn’t you just say, “investigate to your heart’s content, I have nothing to hide from the American people.”

Unless, of course, you have something to hide. Something the American people and the people of your own party wouldn’t like.

Armed bureaucrats at your service.

Last week, a preeminent French Holocaust historian named Henry Rousso was detained for 10 hours when he arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Rousso, a visiting professor at Columbia University up until January 2017, was traveling to College Station to deliver a lecture at Texas A&M University. He was detained by an “inexperienced” agent at IAH, and was released after Michael Young, the president of TAMU, called law professor and immigration expert Fatma Marouf, who intervened on Rousso’s behalf.

Why was Rousso detained? Continue reading

No, seriously, help yourself.

You probably tune out when the flight attendants do their choreographed safety dance. I do, too. As I recently heard a man at 7-Eleven say to his lady over the phone, “Listen, you tell him if he gone kill me, come kill me. I ain’t afraid to die. I don’t want to die, but I ain’t afraid to.” You and me both, sir. You and me both. Continue reading

Sunlight is still the best disinfectant.

You know what they say about people who constantly accuse others of lying and cheating? They make accusations because lying and cheating are within their own repertoire, and their worldview imputes those strategies to others.

Most people don’t lie as a matter of course. Most people don’t cheat easily.

Do you know who thinks everyone lies and cheats all the time? Yep, liars and cheaters.

Liars and cheaters see everything through a lens of lying and cheating. That’s how they get through life. To do things the way the rest of us live – through trying to be honest, maintain our integrity, etc., you know, the stuff your mom and dad and Sunday School teachers taught you – that’s simply foreign to the liar and the cheat. The fact that you live your life without constantly lying and cheating isn’t just odd, it simply doesn’t even occur to a born liar or cheater.

Now, what do you think the odds are that NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, and the New York Times are completely fabricating the same stories and leads from thin air?

Is it possible that they are biased? Yep. Hell, it’s likely, in fact. It takes education to become a journalist. It takes exposure to people and places outside of your provincial little world to write good copy. I can almost guarantee you that “the media” leans left. Education and liberalism are strongly positively correlated. Having a passport is likewise positively correlated with identifying as a liberal (and to having higher income, higher education, working in a knowledge-based job, living in a diverse area, and believe it or not, being happy!).

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via flickr.com

I lean left, too, but that doesn’t prevent me from being honest with the numbers I report in my job. Just like you might be conservative but you still do your own job with integrity.

But what if my job was to ask you questions and report your answers to my readers?

I can ask biased questions, sure. I can dig on topics you think are irrelevant. I can frame questions with assumptions that make you look bad, in theory. I can bring up topics in my questions that you have zero desire to discuss.

As George Orwell said, “Journalism is printing what somebody else does not want printed – everything else is public relations.”

In fact, a journalist who doesn’t ask questions that make the target squirm a little simply isn’t doing his or her job. Just like a doctor ordering a cholesterol test on an obese person, both the doctor and the patient often already have a good sense of the answer. But the doctor knows that facts speak 10x louder than guesses and implications. And she knows that she’d be in malpractice if she didn’t order the test.

So when it comes to light that the Russians were caught hacking into the DNC’s computers, and multiple sources state that the intention of Russia was to help elevate Donald Trump to power, and then we find out that there were likely proactive conversations between Trump’s campaign staff and senior Russian intelligence officers at that same time

How exactly is asking for clarification on the topic a bad thing?

In fact, wouldn’t it be unethical as a journalist to avoid the topic?

Fox News’s Shepard Smith called Mr. Trump out on this very topic, and received fierce backlash from Trump supporters. Smith’s years of “fair & balanced” blatantly pro-right coverage of politics didn’t matter, once he dared to demand actual answers for shady things happening right before his eyes.

Mr. Trump tweets often on the topic of fake news, and his supporters eat it up. This one where the President said the media was the “enemy of the American people,” was retweeted 49k times and liked 157k times. This tweet cited radio host Rush Limbaugh (who often reminds others that he’s “an entertainer, not a journalist”) to defend the success of his recent news conference against the “fake media” reports to the contrary. 21k retweets, 119k likes.

Hang on, kids. I just want to repeat something for emphasis.

The President of the United States of America, the leader of the free world, the man who holds the office of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, and Ronald Reagan, the Chief Executive Officer of the greatest experiment in self-governance in history, the Commander in Chief of the strongest military force ever assembled…gets on his (unsecured Android) phone and regularly insults the professional ethics of the enshrined and protected Fourth Estate by calling those who dare ask him hard questions “fake news.”

 Conservatives: do you really want to reduce our Shining City on a Hill to a place where only questions about pre-approved, pro-leader fluff are acceptable?

Would you rather the journalists ask easy questions, or the President of the United States be well read and informed enough to give great answers no matter what the question?

Would you rather the White House Press Corps be filled with bloggers and sycophants, or educated, trained professionals who keep asking questions on your behalf until the answers we all deserve come to light?

The answer isn’t to make the test easier, friends. That would be a disservice to us all.

The answer is to make the student smarter and more prepared for the test.

And if the student refuses to learn (or get intel briefings, or read, or think beyond his own confirmation bias), the answer then becomes to fail the student, and move on for the sake of the rest of the class.

 This isn’t about conservative or liberal. This is about shining a light on the goings-on of the people who make decisions on OUR behalf.

The truth ends all lines of questioning. Deflection or attempts to intimidate or delegitimize the questioner only serve to deepen the suspicion as to why the question can’t simply be answered with truth.

Until that truth is told, expect ethical, professional journalists to keep pulling back the curtains and flipping on light switches.

And if you’re an American before you’re a Republican or Democrat, encourage those journalists to keep doing their job.

As Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”