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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 03:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,575

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Weird family contretemps

This past weekend, I attended a family gathering at my sister's place. It included all four of my siblings and their spouses, as well as their children and their children's spouses and grandchildren. Now, here's the thing: I come from a family (particularly my siblings) who all hold very strong political opinions. And we are all over the political map. We made a conscious decision to avoid political discussions at family events because they tend to get extremely heated. Fair enough.

So, this past weekend, a bunch of us were sitting around discussing various things. I have one nephew who is a Florida State Trooper -- whom I don't see very often given the distance. In the course of talking about various topics, said nephew began talking about various stories related to his work. In the course of that discussion, the topic of capital punishment came up. I mentioned that I am pretty much 100% opposed to it. Said nephew says how he's all for it, and references a fellow cop he knew who had been killed. I went on to say that, while I am opposed to it, I am also opposed to a system that values the lives of law enforcement over those they serve; and while I would prefer to see capital punishment eliminated, I don't agree with a system that effectively says, by stipulating capital punishment in cases where members of law enforcement are the victims, yet not so stipulating for cases in which members of the general public are the victims, that the lives of law enforcement are somehow more important than other lives.

I was totally unprepared for the intensity of my nephew's reaction. "That's a shitty statement to make," he said, continuing, "You have no idea what was face on a daily basis." I tried to protest that I have great respect for what law enforcement faces, but he interjected, "No, you don't." I tried to explain again, and again I was interrupted with "No, you don't." "That's a really shitty statement. It's offensive. Now, we had better just stop talking about this right now."

I dropped the subject immediately, not wanting to ruin a family gathering with an argument. The next day, most of my nieces and nephews had left, and it was just my siblings and their spouses remaining. Said nephew's father (my brother-in-law), proceeds to make a very pointed comment about how we should all just enjoy seeing one another and shouldn't get into things like politics. One of my sisters spoke up and mentioned that said comment should be equally directed at the next generation of the family, and said she thought that the intensity of that particular nephew's reaction was really uncalled for. I didn't say much of anything at that point.

The more I think about the way things unfolded, the more pissed I become. You see, a conversational topic only seems to become labeled "political" if I happen to contribute an opinion that some of the more conservative members of the family disagree with. I mean, I'm willing to avoid politics and all, but let's get real here: conversations come up, things are discussed, and the line between what is specifically "political" isn't always that clear-cut. I'm finding myself very resentful at having been cast as the "person who brings up politics," when I merely offered an opinion about a topic that others had brought up. And if the topic was particularly sensitive for my nephew, he could have said as much without the intense hostility and disrespect.

Anyway, I'm not sure what, if anything, I will do about it (maybe nothing). But I needed to vent -- thanks for listening.
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Jul 30, 2013, 10:07 PM (32 replies)

Appeals Court Rejects New York City’s Large Soda Ban, Ensuring It Will Remain Overturned

[font size=4]Appeals Court Rejects New York City’s Large Soda Ban, Ensuring It Will Remain Overturned[/font]

A state appeals court has upheld a lower court decision that overturned New York City’s ban on large sugary drinks, ensuring that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (I) public health initiative will remain unable to take effect. A unanimous panel of judges determined that the law represented an “illegal overreach of executive power.”

The policy, which banned restaurants from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, intended to address the city’s rising rates of obesity. Sugary products like soda have been linked to obesity-related health conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. The soda ban was just one of multiple public health policies championed by Bloomberg, who has also focused on regulating tobacco products and encouraging more people to exercise.

In March — right before the soda ban was scheduled to take effect — a state judge struck down the initiative, citing the loopholes in the law that would lead to “uncertain enforcement” throughout the city. Indeed, New Yorkers insistent on consuming more than 16 ounces of soda could have circumvented the ban in any number of ways: by going to New Jersey, by buying soft drinks at any local supermarket or convenience store (which wouldn’t have fallen under the regulation), or by purchasing several smaller-sized sodas at once.

Public health officials tend to agree that it’s important to figure out how to better regulate junk food in order to promote public health, and there’s widespread consensus that Americans need to cut down on their consumption of sugary drinks. They weren’t convinced that Bloomberg’s ban was a perfect policy, although many conceded that it was a well-intentioned step in the right direction.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Jul 30, 2013, 09:22 PM (0 replies)

Neither Kelly nor Summers has officially been nominated, so everybody relax . . .

. . . and sit on your hands and say nothing until it's a done deal. Yeah, sounds like a plan.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 24, 2013, 02:17 AM (3 replies)

Two trial balloons: first Ray Kelly for head of DHS, now Summers for Federal Reserve Chairman

Way to engergize the base, Mr. President!
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Jul 23, 2013, 10:47 PM (94 replies)

Two verdicts, both acquittals, both widely seen as unjust, and two radically different responses

In the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, I'm seeing lots of people around the web, from varying political persuasions, arguing that it is wrong to criticize the jury in the Zimmerman case, and waxing all pious about the sacrifice jurors are often required to make, etc.

But I have to wonder: where was all that coddling, all that understanding of the juror's plight, all of that reticence to criticize, when a major black celebrity was acquitted at trial of the murder of his white wife and her white Jewish boyfriend? Like the Zimmerman verdict, many felt O.J. Simpson was permitted to get away with murder. Following the Simpson verdict, i seem to recall endless newspaper articles, television news specials, and political pundits thundering away about "jury nullification," whereby a mostly African American jury that acquits a black defendant is accused of deliberately refusing to convict. Of course, the nullification theory was never anything more than somebody's untested hypothesis. But it sure got a lot of play.

Yet, in the Zimmerman case, we seem to have sort of the opposite. A (not all white, exactly, but certainly non-African American) jury acquits a fellow non-African American in the killing of a young, unarmed black male, and suddenly the jury is exalted and placed beyond the realm of criticism, and nobody is supposed to make any assumptions about them whatsoever.

Coincidence? Or yet another example of the insidious racial double standard that afflicts our justice system?
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 17, 2013, 09:10 AM (12 replies)

So President Obama now thinks Ray Kelly is "well qualified" for the DHS post . . .

. . . Why am I so not surprised?

(Counting down the number of seconds until we see reply after reply from the usual coterie, now declaring themselves lifelong fans of Ray Kelly.)

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 17, 2013, 03:31 AM (17 replies)

Ooooooh, Harry's threatening the nuclear option again! Ooooooh!

And you have said that how many times before, Harry? Wake me up when you grow a pair!

Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Jul 11, 2013, 03:32 PM (10 replies)

Once again, Harry Reid's failure to pursue filibuster reform bites Democrats in the ass . . .

. . . not to mention college students.

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 10, 2013, 09:08 PM (5 replies)

A friendly reminder from George Orwell . . .

Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 10, 2013, 03:40 PM (18 replies)

Pathetic and predictable . . .

Did we not know it was only a matter of time before the same McCarthyesque tactics of character assassination that have been directed towards Snowden, Greenwald and Amy Goodman would be turned against Daniel Ellsberg? Does it get any more pathetic or predictable?
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 10, 2013, 02:36 PM (0 replies)
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