Saturday, November 22, 2008

Meanderings: Spittin' Image

Whenever I'm feeling assailed as a Cuban American I think back to something that happened when I was 13 years old. My earlier years had been spent in working class South Brooklyn, where the very air breathed contempt for Hispanics. In that poor, working class neighborhood where men wore uniforms to work and swilled inordinate amounts of Schlitz, or Pabst, or even Seagram's Seven at home and let loose public diatribes on the failings of Spics, no one had ever uttered a mean word to me. Until I moved to suburban Staten Island, I had never met the monster discrimination face to face. It had never been directed at me personally.

Only in the more upscale Staten Island, the neighborhood boys began to stalk me, chanting "Mira, Mira" in unison as I walked by, following me down the street. They made my young life miserable. Once and only once, they even chanted it at the family car, which led to my father's taking an abrupt detour and their thinking better of it in the future. It was in this environment that I received my acceptance from Notre Dame High School. Perched on a tree covered hill with a long history of teaching intelligent young women, it was a refuge.

Every Wednesday, the entire school would stop, change clothes in the hallways and go on all sorts of outings, from Broadway to bicycling. One Wednesday early in my freshman year, I was on my way home from the bowling alley. A few stops down, the local hoodlums got on my bus. There were at least six or seven of them. I can remember cringing, attempting to meld into my seat, imploring all the saints that they not spot me. Almost immediately, it began. They began chanting, making a spectacle. All this time, I said not a word. Not a single adult, not the bus driver, no one stopped them. Finally, one of them spit on me.

I cannot convey the shame, the mortification of that public humiliation on a young teenage girl. Meek and mild-mannered, I had never ever done anything to them. I remember running down the block from the bus stop to my house hysterical. For once, I let loose, sobbing the story to my mother. That evening, when my father came home, he had barely put down his briefcase when he grabbed me by the arm, and we set off to the homes of the malefactors. At the first household, the father was most gracious and horrified by his son's behavior. And so it went. But when we got to the home of the spitter, we were greeted at the door by a rather mild-mannered, harried-looking man. From the hallway came the drunken tones of a woman. She came to the door in her jet black bouffant, demanding of my father what I had done to her misshapen son to cause him to spit upon me. Dad sized up the situation and said, "This time, I have come to see you. The next time, you will have to look for me because if your son ever goes near my daughter again, I am going to beat the shit out of him."

This was my father, the man who was afraid of the world out there even as he climbed up the rungs of its ladder; my father who had never stood up for me, instead leaving me to solve my own problems or at the very least endure. But when it really counted, he was there. And he would have kept his word, I'm sure. So were they. The wouldbe toughs never even looked in
my direction again. In time, they became the nothings they were.

And I? I learned two things that night. My mild-mannered, sometime explosive father, would protect me. I also learned that the only way to stop abuse is to stand up to it. Funny how these things stay with you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Tis the Season...

...for soupy heartwarming holiday shows. Here's a heads up. Both Monk and Psych will have their holiday episodes on Friday, November 28. I love the Christmas season. I try to follow the one movie a day for the 25 days of Christmas, myself.

To The Left of Civility: Corrected and Expanded

By now I'm used to Bush bashing, but I would think that having scored the trifecta, the left would give it a break. Alas, they can not be gracious, even in victory. I was stricken today when I saw the cover of the December Harper's magazine. The cover blared some new installment in the seeming endless parade, accompanied by a vile caricature of the President, made most rodentlike, peering through prison bars.

The article, written by their legal expert, envisions the prosecution of the President for a whole host of real and imagined human rights infractions. Whatever the legalities, the de facto effect of such an undertaking would be to send a chill through those entrusted with safeguarding the homeland from terrorists. It is exactly because the administration, despite its many failings, has managed to stave off further attacks that people like the author have the luxury of contemplating keel hauling its officials. If we extend the same zeal for legal proceedings that seems to typify our society, we can expect the same inhibition and paralysis. Remember the "Chinese wall"?

Beyond the immediate article is the editorial staff. Why did they feel the need, not only to publish this, but to make it their cover article? What it is about the President that evokes such a response from so many of the intelligentsia is fertile ground for research. Judging by the vitriol and the virulence, there is something pathological at work here. They cannot let it go, because they are angry people, and Bush is a convenient and politically correct scapegoat.

If nothing else, for the past eight years those in the chattering classes have demonstrated their immaturity, their willfulness, and their lack of respect for their profession, their readers, and their country. They have made shreds of their credibility, disrespected at least half of the population which does not agree with their politics, given away State secrets, and provided propaganda for terrorists. All in the name of what? A vendetta?

Instead of expanding horizons, provoking debate by providing differing view points, they choose to preach to the converted. I guess they only want card-carrying liberals to buy their magazine.
The article is subscription only, but the website has some relevant information here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Congrats to the Emerging Cuban American Demographic

The purportedly 35% of Cuban Americans who voted for Mr. Obama should pat themselves on the back. Their choice has not only appointed Greg Craig, lawyer for Fidelite cause in the Elian case, as a Special Counsel; but word is that he has asked Eric Holder, implicated in the forcible seizure of Elian by armed agents as well as the infamous Marc Rich pardon, to be Attorney General. I'd hazard to say that Mr. Obama does not give a flying fig for the sensibilities of Cuban Americans.

To these I say "That's why we vote Republican."

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Horns of a Dilemma

The bailout du jour discussion centers on the automakers- not an easy call. Does the government let these companies founder and possibly go bankrupt with all of the ramifications doing so entails? It is sad, but these are perhaps the largest remnants of our industrial base, since we let the Japanese sink our electronics and the Chinese siphon off our textiles. The loss of American carmakers, in addition to the widespread devastation in unemployment and ancillary businesses, is a potential national security concern.

Still, it is very difficult to help an industry that will not help itself. The automakers earned a reprieve with the advent of the increased popularity of SUV's and trucks. They should have realized, even at the height of the craze, that the trend could not last. The handwriting was on the wall, yet they seem to have been caught unprepared.

Then there is the Union question. Can you explain to me what other industry pays an average wage of $72 dollars an hour? Include what they call the "legacy" costs. The nifty pensions. The health benefits for pensioners. Did you know that these last constitute $1500 dollars of the price of every GM car? Did you know that you can't quite lay off a worker? You have to pay him not to work. So how does the Union respond? Over the weekend, they made clear there'll be no concessions coming from them.

Of course, they are expecting to get paid back for their political support. Unfortunately that means asking, say, retail workers who make about a tenth of the salary, retirees who have to make do with Medicare, people the state of whose 401K's have put retirement off indefinitely to subsidize with their taxes what is an untenable system in the present reality.

After the debacle of the mortgage bailout, which became a bank bailout, which is morphing into an auto bailout with cities and states like New York, San Francisco, California next in line with hands and hats extended in order to fund services that many other solvent places can not offer, it is not surprising that there is little confidence in oversight and little enthusiasm to bail out a seemingly endless queue of supplicants.

It's a good thing President Elect Obama is the "One." He's going to need some Solomonic wisdom to split this baby.

*Hood Ornament in picture is available at A truly excellent book about Detroit and SUV's is High and Mighty: The Dangerous Rise of the SUV by Keith Bradsher.

Struck a Chord

From the Nichols' column (see below):

...Election Day 2008 was not only an historic event from the perspective of race relations in America, but also a shocking affirmation that a new generation of power-hungry socialists have surfaced from within that Trojan Horse called the The Democratic Party. These neo-socialists have already begun the process of turning this country into a nation of hand-out seekers, Wall Street whiners and corporate derrière smoochers seeking bail from the very people who contributed to their economic imprisonment

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Only on Sunday Mournings

Damn the torpedos. In the political corner this week is this column from Nick Nichols on Townhall which portrays the election as the triumph of the neo socialists who "emerged from the Trojan Horse" of the Democratic party. Coming in for a lambasting are socially conscious CEO's who according to the author inadvertently fed the monster. I do agree with him on one point. Crazy as it sounds, I really do sense an intelligent design, and it's not God's. On a lighter political note, Calvin posts this marvelous Italianate Opera sure to delight conservatives and mavens alike. You gotta read the rise and travails of Barraco. Have a chuckle. We're going to need it.

No more mashed potatoes. You can read our future in this Ben Quinn article in the Christian Science Monitor. In a new roll on Big Brother, Manchester residents and those in other towns will be carrying chips that track their exercise. Coupons and even days off will be awarded to the virtuous, all in the name of reducing obesity. It is part Britain's response to a soon-to-be obesity "epidemic."

Enough to make Jesus weep. Picture Israeli policemen intervening in a brawl between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks and you've got the outlines of what happened at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It's not the first time either. Read the article which includes some of the past pettinesses. Amazing.

Too late to seek a newer world. It's official, NASA's Phoenix lander on Mars has died. The story of its life is, however, fascinating. Done in by a dust storm and winter, the lander exceeded its anticipated life span by years, if I remember correctly from a documentary I recently watched. Article here.

Come back, Shane. John Barry in an essay at Newswe[a]k pleads for the return of Ian Fleming's Bond. As a Fleming fan who long ago gave up looking for traces of his agent in the movies, I feel his pain. A few years ago I started rereading the novels, only to find them dated, racist, and sexist, yet still magical. I suspect that the new Bond mirrors our times, when refinement is frowned upon and affectation is the province of the young attempting to imitate gangsta rappers.