Archive for February, 2011

The Refuge of the Weak

February 21, 2011

There’s a good editorial in today’s NY Post. I say good because it makes fun of my dad. I love doing that. His name is Billy Easton, and he’s the Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education, a NYS education advocacy group. Usually, when I make fun of him, I call him an old man. NY Post takes a different tack. Check it out:

Thus was Easton’s “organization” — it’s actually an Albany mail drop — listed among similar “groups” delivering Valentine’s Day “Don’t Break Our Hearts” cards to Albany legislators last week demanding that they “reject Gov. Cuomo’s $1.5 billion in school cuts.”

Brilliant! By wrapping the word organization in quotation marks, the author more or less proves that my dad’s organization is not an organization. It’s not a group either, that word also quotation-ed out. Thus my dad must be something corporate and evil. You know, like old man Rupert Murdoch, proprietor of the NY Post. The author finishes the passage by quoting the demand of my dad’s group: “reject Gov. Cuomo’s $1.5 billion in school cuts.” This time, the quotation marks do double the work: their traditional job–quoting–and their supercharged, smackdown job–mocking whatever the author places between them. Instead of presenting the merits of his sides’ argument, the author just wraps quotation marks around my father’s argument. Much easier! And it more-or-less proves that we should gut the already struggling NY education system. Good stuff.

The article gets funnier. Refuting the AQE’s claim to advocate for “fair funding and smarter spending” (quotes!), our author spits this gem: “Spending on teachers, that is.” Gasp! As everyone knows, anything italicized is shocking and evil. Who spends on teachers?! Teachers are fat cats trying to ruin America. That’s why they’re italicized. Everyone knows that.

Let’s wrap this thing up:

[Easton] is ubiquitous in Albany and worked the floor at Cuomo’s budget presentation like a carnival shill.

Albany being Albany, that may not be illegal. Still, the Commission on Public Integrity would do well to take a long, hard look at Billy Easton and his — dare we say it — “group.”

In other words: Albany being the capital of a democracy, citizen advocacy groups pushing elected officials to adopt public interest policies may not be illegal. Pretty outstanding that it’s not, what? Carnival shill!

Maybe while the Commission on Public Integrity is looking hard and long at my dad, they’ll also check out the writer of this editorial and his — dare I say it — “newspaper.”

You v. Wyoming

February 16, 2011

Some people puke when they see charts. I puke when I think about how undemocratic the Senate is. So, I decided to make a puke-green chart so we can all puke together:

(click for larger version)

Wyoming has 1.5% of the population of California but equal power in the Senate. Of course, everybody knows this. But it should be more controversial. This basically means that a Californian is 1/66th as politically significant in the Senate as a citizen of Wyoming. Or, more simply put, BLEH-FAHLOOUR-RECHT-ICK-DAH-LEEEEUUEH-huh-huh-hurr. And other puke sounds.

Violence Update

February 16, 2011

Since my last post, one dude got shot a few blocks from me as I stood on a friend’s porch. I heard the gunshots. Another dude got shot outside of my office. Also, protests turned violent in Bahrain. Connection? I don’t think so.

Also, New Orleans is dying.

Violence and 2011

February 12, 2011

I was given a flier explaining that the world is going to end on May 21, 2011.

So far, the year has been rife with violence. At least, for me. On New Years eve, for no reason whatsoever, a fellow I had just met punched me in the back of the head. I had never before been in a fight. This was the best kind to be in: I was not the aggressor and I quickly won. It was not, however, some kind of Fight Club-esque, transcendental revelation. It was just strange. My thanks goes out to the blonde, tuxedoed white knight who pulled us apart while my companions cackled on.

Two other friends got in fights that night. Neither known for his violence.

At the warehouse attached to my mother’s office in upstate New York, three men were shot and a woman pistol-whipped. A motorcycle gang was having an illegal after party. All four of the wounded survived.

All of this before January 2nd.

My taillight was kicked in. While I researched replacements the next day, a few young men shot up a car outside of my house. I had never before heard gunshots intended to kill. Thankfully, none of the three passengers were hurt. Not even grazed. Still, I stopped complaining about my taillight.

On a grander stage, there was Tucson. The deaths of Christina Green, Dorothy Morris, Judge John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabriel Zimmerman are deeply sad. But the heroism of the bystanders is inspiring, the resulting conversation on American political rhetoric valuable and the recovery of Congresswoman Giffords remarkable.

Then there are the ongoing world events. The vote in Sudan to divide the nation. The protests in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt. The concessions of the King of Jordan. So far these events are more notable for their lack of violence. But the line is thin and it may still be crossed.

I feel a bit ridiculous listing all of these occurrences in one blog post. It’s absurd to compare my New Years brawl with Tucson or Egypt. I don’t think of myself as a mystic but this is a mystical way to read the news. Still, I can’t help but feel strange about the contemporaneous occurrence of violent events in my personal life and those on the global stage. I justify myself by observing that nobody seems confident in how to react to the various world-historic events of the past month. I take heart because none of the events I’ve listed, from the shooting outside my house to the vote in Sudan, are as bloody as one would expect. What place does such a subjective, generalized assessment of current events have in political commentary? Probably none. Still, I offer a prediction: 2011 will be one of those years, like 1917 or 1969, that are long-remembered in the history man.

I only hope it’s not because that flier turns out to be right.