An Opportunity For Reflection

It’s crazy out there man. Just walk outside, walk around outside and walk around where people are. Since February it’s been the covid. Since last week it’s been about George Floyd.

It’s crazy out there.

Grocery shopping is mostly the same. But only mostly. Increasingly I am getting scolding looks for not wearing a mask when I’m at the store. But so far that’s been it; an occasional glance or a slight frown of disapproval. A couple of times I’ve noticed an actual physical recoil. For example, as I’m making my way out of the aisle to move about the one of the two main horizontal aisles I’ll forget to look and all of a sudden I have intruded the personal space of someone. And to be sure, I have. I am absolutely overly close to that guy and I absolutely am the one that moved into his space. Before, before covid, this happened no more or less than it does today. But today is different. Today the guy recoils. It’s as if I have the plague. And maybe that’s truer than we know. Anyway, grocery shopping is mostly the same.

Work is WAY different. First, I don’t go work anymore. I go to the corner of my room, to my ‘office’ and from there I do my job. I haven’t been to my real office in weeks. Months. I don’t see my co-workers, I don’t see folks getting coffee or lunch. I don’t stop for a beer on the way home. The dogs love it though.

It’s crazy out there.

And then the world blew up.

A cop in Minneapolis, responding to a call regarding a counterfeit $20 bill, apprehended George Floyd, a black man, arrested him, placed him in handcuffs and while he was laying on the ground, not resisting or posing any threat to either 1. run or 2. to the officer, placed his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd and held it there, for 9 minutes, until Mr. Floyd died.

That cop, for no reason, choked George Floyd until he was dead.

And the nation is now on fire. The anger, the frustration and the rage that has been felt by the communities across America have led to reasonable, legitimate and mostly peaceful protests. Black Americans have taken to the streets to voice their anger, their rage, their fear and their frustration over the continued abuse at the hands of their cities and towns, their states and their nation and yes sometimes their police. They are rising up and voicing their opposition to years, decades, generations – centuries, of oppression and abuse and fear.

These people are afraid. And they are tired of being afraid.

And they are right.

These protests are full of emotion. These protests are raw emotion. They are all about emotion; rage, fear, resentment – even a reckoning. And as so often happens when emotions are running high, outcomes that we don’t wanna see can spill into the open. These righteous protests have devolved into riots. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that these righteous protests have been followed by unrighteous riots. To say that America is burning is not a metaphor. Turn on any news channel and you’ll see one city after another, one state after another, on fire. Police fighting citizen; neighbor burning neighbor.

America is burning; it’s crazy out there.

It’s natural, I suppose, to ask yourself, ‘what can I do?’ And there might be obvious answers to that question – I suspect that my younger self had those answers anyway. I’m older than I once was (and younger than I’ll be that’s not unusual) and now I wonder not so much if I am wrong, but I wonder if I ever was right? I know that I don’t have all the answers. I’m now left with wondering if I have any.

It’s been awhile since I have visited this place here at Tarheel. And longer since I have routinely posted like I did all those years ago – kids and ever increasing responsibilities contribute to this decline. But with all that’s been going on I find myself failing back on an old addage I’m fond of:


How do I know what I think until I am able to see what I say?

So, I’m back here old friend. At least for today.

So, what do I think about race today? What do I think about the issues that America faces with respect to race? That’s a question with an answer much larger than a single post here. To be sure. But I do feel compelled to rough it out, to sketch the broad outlines.

I think that America has a lot of hurt in us. And I don’t think that I’ve always felt that way. I think that we’ve got more work to do than I was willing to acknowledge in the past; though I am still optimistic about where we find ourselves. I firmly believe that we’ve made remarkable progress in my lifetime. Gone are the days of codified racism; lunch counters to buses to restrooms to water fountains are all relegated to the history books. Opportunities, if not outcomes, are available and open to all of us. Who can’t become a doctor, a teacher, an attorney? A President?

But. Outcomes. There is very little solace in equality if we don’t equally feel equal. And the outcomes are definitely not equal. I can’t help but feel if it might be THAT fact that is driving the rage today. I don’t know.

Okay, but, so what DO I know – or, perhaps more correctly, what do I think I know today? I think I know that we don’t agree on what racism means. I think that the division in America is politically driven. I believe that policies in place absolutely affect the outcomes that we see today.

I believe that data is critical in this debate. All data – the more of it the better. I believe that we have to have a conversation about what’s going on around here and that we have to allow for that debate to be honest and fear free. Free from the fear of being labelled ‘a hater’ or ‘a racist’. I believe that the free market is the single greatest anti-poverty machine the world has ever seen. I believe that America, the concept that we call America, the promises given to us through the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States are darn near holy documents.

I believe that we are fallible; we are a fallen humanity complete with the failures, sins and ugliness commensurate with being human. I believe that we are still the greatest nation on earth.

And finally. Finally, I believe that deep down, we know, we ALL know, that the world is watching us. Watching us and holding its breath. The world is holding its breath because the world knows, the world knows that if America fails here, there is no hope anywhere else.

At least I think I know.

So, tonight and into this week I’m gonna go back and see what I’ve said. I have a category labelled ‘Race’ and I’m gonna go back through and read what I’ve said. And reflect on what I’ve said and then see if I feel differently.

On Definitions

I hope to write more in 2020. Race will be a significant topic of my posts., therefore, I think it’s important that we get on the same page in terms of definitions.

Racism – A person who believes that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Bigot – A person who regards or treats the members of another group (such as racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

Discrimination – The prejudicial treatment of a person or persons based solely on their membership in a certain group or category. Discrimination is actual behavior.

I understand that in today’s usage, the words above have different meaning. Much of what might be categorized as either bigotry or discrimination is referred to as racism. Additionally, racism today is often meant to mean systemic, as imposed by the state, government or society. This means that members of some minority groups are incapable of racism because there is no systemic examples of such. While I acknowledge that such systemic did, and may continue to, exist, that is not how I typically use the term.

Happy New – 2010: Onward!

2020 is here. For many people this begins a new decade, but for everybody it begins a new year. Rebirth, renewal and refresh are strong human needs. And we’ve long used the time at or near the winter solstice to mark the time we celebrate this.

So, I do.

Happy New Year!

Take time to reflect, to look back, to measure and to look forward. Plan, promise and prepare.

No, go do!

Ellen Cancelled

So, turns out that Ellen is a football fan. Who knew?

And, it turns out that the Joneses, ya’ know, the owners of the Dallas Cowboys, are friends with Ellen. Who knew.

So, what happens when someone goes to a Dallas Cowboys game in Texas? Well, they may see Dubya:

Ellen DeGeneres will not be Twitter-shamed for who she spends time with.

The daytime-talk-show-host-turned-media-mogul used the platform late Monday night to discuss hanging out with former President George W. Bush this weekend at a Dallas Cowboys football game.

There was a bit of an uproar when the pair were spotted — accompanied by Bush’s wife Laura and Degeneres’ wife, actress Portia de Rossi — in a stadium suite enjoying the Cowboys taking on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday (the Cowboys lost, btw) in Dallas.

What kind of world do we live in when folks can’t go to football games with other folks?

This is not a small part of why we are where we are. The nation and its politics have become “Inglorious Bastards” where we are all hunting Nazis. And you HAVE to hunt Nazis because you can’t compromise with a Nazi.

An Open Letter to My Conservative Friends

Dear Conservative,

Remember who you are. You are a lover of liberty and of country. And that love requires certain tolerances. Namely, that you tolerate difference of thought, of opinion and of solutions to a wide range of perceived problems.

This will be hard to do. It will not be easy; but you have to do it.

And it will be made harder by the thoughts, the words and the actions of those that you disagree with. They will do and say things that will take you down a path you don’t wanna go. They will tempt you to abandon the liberty and the country to love.

We ARE a nation of immigrants. You can trace your family tree back to somewhere else. And you are right to celebrate that. It is right to take immense honor that it is uniquely American that we are the only country in the world where you can come and then ‘become’. If you come from Germany, you can become American. If you come from China, you can become American. From Romania, from Argentina or from Ethiopia; you can become an American. All knowing that you cannot go anywhere else and become. You cannot become Mexican, or Norwegian or Zimbabwean.

This is what makes us great.

Which is why it is so painful when you cheer statements suggesting select congressmen go back to where they came from. Which is why it is so frustrating to hear you chant, ‘send her back’. You are better.

And yes, it is hard. As they try to silence you, give them a voice. As they insult you, give them respect. As they seek to alienate you, let them have their opinions.

They will try to suppress you. They will call you racist in an attempt to silence you. They will label you as misogynist in an attempt to silence you. They will call you xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic and you-name-it-phobic. Yes, they have and yes they will continue to do the same.

Carry on. Bear the burden and carry on.

Our liberty and our country depends upon it.

Chance of Recession: April 2020

Probability of US Recession

Probability of US Recession

Back in the day when Mark Perry was running Carpe Diem at his private location, I would follow his recession data. A fun leading indicator is the nugget he uses: The treasury spread data found at the NY Fed site.

Prepare yourself. Winter is coming.

Bedrock Principles

Noble Intentions

For awhile now I’ve been writing about, listening to, debating the merits of, politics. In many ways it’s enjoyable. In many ways it’s important. But in many ways it’s frustrating. Frustrating because all too often the debate devolves into a ‘fight’ about intentions and not a discussion of the merits of the policy.

How do you debate someone concerning the minimum wage when all they do is retort to your position, “Yeah, well, you just hate the poor. You’re a greedy racist that doesn’t care about the people who are marginalized!”

Here at Tarheel Red I have as a Bedrock Principle something I call Noble Intention.

I try to assume that the going in position of people is that they are operating from a place of noble intentions. That by arguing for a raise in the minimum wage they are NOT being racist or trying to hurt those with little experience. That what they ARE doing is advocating for people who might need a few more dollars in their pockets. That they are earnestly looking out for the little guy.

I hope that I get the same consideration.

Pino’s Cafe

My growing stack of books
My growing stack of books

No April Fool’s Joke.

I’m gonna try and get back into this thing and I thought this would be a good time. We have Trump, we have AOC, we have a new SCOTUS and maybe a newer one coming.

We have what seems like a runaway herd of donkeys vying for the shot at the title and much more.

As an added bit of fun, I am starting a ‘Book Club’. My stack of books is only growing, never shrinking. Maybe if I read with a purpose I can force myself to whittle it down.

Grab an Amazon, buy a book. Get a cup of coffee, beer or bourbon and join the discussion.

Meet here.

First book is ‘Coming Apart’ by Charles Murray. First post in two weeks to allow y’all –or me if there’s no one here- to buy, ship and prepare.

#MeToo – Not For Me Only For You

I’m old enough to remember a time when allegations of sexual assault were to be believed.  I can remember when unsubstantiated and uncorroborated allegations of sexual assault were grounds to ruin a man, a career and prevent elevation to the Supreme Court.

#MeToo

We had democrats protesting in the streets, banging down the doors of power and even harassing elected officials demanding justice.

But now we have a new story:

Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in California who is currently on leave, accused Fairfax of the sexual assault in a hotel room at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

We would expect the good Mr. Fairfax to be excoriated by the press, by the women, by the democrats and by all them, right?  Well, if you thought that, you’d be wrong.  So, what’s the difference between Fairfax and Kavanaugh?

Let’s compare and contrast:

In one case, the accuser can name the date – in the other the accuser cannot.
In one case, the accuser can name the location – in the other the accuser cannot.
In one case, the accused claims not to know the accuser – in the other the accused admits knowing her.
In one case, the accused denies the interaction – in the other, the accused admits to the interaction.
In one case, the WaPo ran story after story – in the other, the WaPo spiked the story.

In one case the accused was a conservative – in the other, the accused was a liberal.

#MeToo indeed.

Turn Off the News: What Do We Care About

We know what we want

Welcome back gentle reader.

If you have been following the news lately, or even if you haven’t – you surely know that:

  • The government is shut down
  • Because the wall

And THAT is a big deal.

If you believe the news. But what do we really think?

policy priorities

It turns out that immigration is on the minds of many Americans.  So much so, that it ranks tied for #1 over all on the most recent AP-NORC Poll:

This after scoring only #3 last year.  Health care placing each of the last 4 years.  While consistently scoring in the top 3, immigration nearly doubled in attention from 2017 to 2018.  Is this attention due to Trump?  Is it due to an increase in the perception of a crisis?  Is it due to the news cycle?

Likely a combination of the three.

THE POINT

Do not let the news cycle guide your eye from the ball; focus on what is important to you.  Reflect on what concerns you.

Pay attention to that.