Browsing articles in "Politics"
Aug 26, 2013

“Trayvon Martin in reverse”

This article offers an important analysis of the deep divide between the right and the left on issues involving guns…

‘This is Trayvon Martin in reverse, only worse,’ right-wingers say

By Adam Serwer (@adamserwer) (also from MSNBC)

A floral tribute rests on the home plate at the Essendon Baseball Club on August 20, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. Australian Chris Lane was shot dead in Duncan, Oklahoma on Friday local time. Three teenage males have now been accused of the murder.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

A floral tribute rests on the home plate at the Essendon Baseball Club on August 20, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. Australian Chris Lane was shot dead in Duncan, Oklahoma on Friday local time. Three teenage males have now been accused of the murder. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Conservative media have seized on the killing of an Australian student in Oklahoma by three local teenagers as racially motivated.

Twenty-two-year-old Christopher Lane, a student at East Central University, was shot dead in Duncan, Okla., on Aug. 16. Lane’s death has drawn national attention because the teenage suspects allegedly told police that they shot him because  “bored and didn’t have anything to do.”  Many Australian press reports have focused on the easy availability of firearms in the United States.

Conservative media, however, have honed in on the argument that the three suspects are black and the victim is white. In fact, one of the suspects is white, an official from the Stephens County District Attorney’s office told MSNBC Wednesday. “That is not the case,” the official said when asked whether all three suspects were black. “One is black, one is half-black, half-white, the other is white.” Conservative media appear to have relied on an erroneous report in the Australian media about the identity of the suspects. Right-wing outlets have since singled out tweets from one of the suspects that include derogatory language aimed at white people.

Local officials have not presented evidence yet that the killing was related to or based on race, but for many conservative outlets, the assumed race of the suspects was proof enough that Lane’s killing was racially motivated. National Review posted a since-uncorrected summary to an Australian news site wrongly identifying the suspects with the headline, “Three Black Teens Kill White College Student; Racial Grievance Industry Silent.” … Fox News aired a Fox and Friends segment Wednesday morning erroneously identifying all three suspects as black and asking why Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama hadn’t spoken out.

As Christopher also noted, Daily Caller blogger Sean Medlock, who writes under a pseudonym,wrote a post titled “black teenagers kill white jogger for sport.” Medlock initially posted a picture first published by an Australian media outlet that wrongly identified the white suspect as black. Although Medlock has since posted an image with the correct identifying information, he has not altered his headline or corrected the post.

Referring to Obama’s remarks following the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012, Townhall columnist Katie Pavlich identified the suspects as black and asked sarcastically, “If Obama had a son, would he look like Chris Lane?”Pavlich later correct her post. Obama’s remarks about Martin, which set off another conservative firestorm in 2012, were intended as a gesture of sympathy towards black parents who fear their children may be mistakenly profiled as crimincalsand harmed as a result.

Even after learning that one of the suspects was white, conservative media insisted the killing must have been motivated by anti-white racism. “They got bored and said, ‘Let’s go shoot a white guy!’ Folks, I gotta tell you, there’s something else about this. This is Trayvon Martin in reverse, only worse,” Rush Limbaug told listeners Wednesday. “No matter where you look in the media, it’s not a racial event. Nothing about it is racist. This is the epitome of media irresponsibility.”

Limbaugh, along with conservative media maven Matt Drudge, has been diligent in highlighting instances of violence with white victims since Obama took office, incidents seen as part of a trend he blames on the president. “[I]n Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering,”he said after one incident.

Limbaugh’s remarks also underscore how the right has been seeking to elevate Lane’s shooting as a point of contrast with media coverage of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed during a confrontation with George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., last year. Zimmerman, who said he shot Martin in self-defense after the teen attacked him, was acquitted in July of second-degree murder and manslaughter. Conservatives see media coverage of the Martin case as having been unjustifiably sympathetic to the dead teenager and his family.

Much of the initial public outrage regarding Martin’s shooting had to do with the lack of charges against Zimmerman. Unlike the suspects in the Oklahoma shooting, Zimmerman was not initially charged with any crime. Martin was shot in February of 2012; Zimmerman was initially let go by Sanford police based on lack of evidence and not charged until April.  According to the charging document filed by local prosecutors in Oklahoma, the three suspects were found and apprehended hours after Lane’s death and charged the next day.

Martin’s death left many in the black community feeling that Martin had been profiled based on race, something Zimmerman has denied doing, and that the initial failure to arrest Zimmerman was based on a sense that Martin’s life was not valued because he was black. If incorrect, that feeling is nevertheless motivated by centuries of American history that include chattel slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration. “I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away,” Obama said shortly after Zimmerman was acquitted.

On the one hand, that prism includes a history of institutionalized racism against black people that went on for most of the republic’s existence. On the other, Obama’s been president for five years and conservatives don’t like him much. In some corners of the parallel universe of conservative media and talk radio, these experiences are roughly equivalent narratives of harrowing racial oppression, except we haven’t overcome the latter yet.

Jun 11, 2013

Seat Belts and Privacy Laws

1955 “green” Ford Station wagon, exactly like my parents’

One of my clearest memories from five-year-old-child-me is coming out of the drugstore on Kearney Street in Denver, getting into our new car and hearing my mother say “Goddamn it, those kids put seat belts in our car.”

I had two older sisters who were of driving age so that was my mother’s knee jerk reaction, but thinking about it now, what teenager would ever voluntarily put a safety element in a car, especially back then?
The key to the mystery was that the car we had gotten into was our neighbor’s car, exactly like ours —- except with seat belts.  Ford began offering seat belts in 1955 as an option.  A few spaces down the street we found our car, right where we parked it, without seat belts.   Although in her dotage she peaceably put on seat belts, anyone who knows my mother knows that she would not voluntarily put a restraint on anything.
In those days, people didn’t lock their houses or their cars, and my mother lived that way until she died.  Luckily, her karma was phenomenal.
Hawai`i’s recent passage of back seat belts for all got me to thinking about seat belts and when they became a fact of life and it brought me back to Denver and the gall of my sisters putting them in my mother’s car.  I have been one of those happy resisters who does not put on seat belts when in the back seat and now I,too, must comply.  What about the people who ride unbelted in the back of trucks?
Ironically, seat belts are still a source of controversy, and from one state to another, the laws are inconsistent.  33 States have primary seat belt laws which allow an officer to write a ticket just for failure to wear a seat belt.  16 states have secondary seat belt laws, which means you cannot ticket for failure to wear a seat belt unless you have pulled the person over for another reason. (“citable infraction”).   Live Free or Die New Hampshire has neither a primary nor a secondary seat belt law.
For a long time, seat belts were one of those things that “nobody could tell [one] what to do,” and now they have become a part of our lives.  They are a nanny state government intrusion, but we accept them, not just because of the fines but because it has been incontrovertibly proven that we are safer with them than without them.
Which brings me to the Patriot Act and spying on Americans and whether we are better off with these intrusions or without them.    In a different but similar way with seat belts, are we safer because of this truly awesome intrusion into our private lives?  We will never know.  It is not like seat belts, where the evidence is clear.
Now a 29 year old kid who was being paid too much money by a government contractor has decided that the government has gone too far … and that we need to know that we have all become persons of interest.  Some call him a hero, some call him a traitor.  Neither the answer to what the government is doing nor to the actions taken by the young Mr. Snowden is clear cut.
Early of the proponents of the internet  lauded that it made information free to everyone, which of course it doesn’t, but given that technology can give that freedom (under law, to the government) are we eventually going to have to accept this kind of activity by our government as the status quo?  For freedom, we must sacrifice some level of security.  And for security, we must sacrifice some level of freedom.  But which and how much?
Mar 15, 2013

Upon Hearing From the Government

Yesterday morning the phone rang, and I looked at the caller ID:  US Govt.  Given that we are the bosses of the US Govt, it could be a bit surprising that I am not delighted to see that they are calling me.

I am used to getting calls and letters from the US Govt, having had several disputes with them over filings for both The Brand Strategy Group (aka Garvey plus Gramann Inc) and Lanikai Bath and Body.  I have had only one (small) personal dispute in more than 40 years of paying taxes, and I settled that one because they were right.  All others:  no settlements. (I win)

The call yesterday was regarding a difference between the 941 filings for 2011 and the Social Security payments on behalf of my employees and the deductions from their checks.  I told the U.S. Govt representative, Monica, that I would call back.  Shortly thereafter, I remembered that 2011 was the year my accountant’s basement office got flooded and that I have no copies of my 941s for that year.

I busied myself with the General Ledger for Lanikai Bath and Body and the Employee Earnings Summaries to cobble together an approximation of what the 941s might have said.  This is extra confusing to me because all 941 filings are now online, and the US Govt should have copies of same.  I will phone Monica of the US Govt back tomorrow.

Here is a hint about what I learned from dealing with the US Govt.  Once they find you, they really like to correspond with you.  They are anxious to hear from you, and while they may not want you to write back, if you do, and you should, they will write you and say that it will take them 90 days to look into what has been described in your reply.  Never, never ignore your mail from the US Govt.  They do not take kindly to that.

Since they work for us, it is interesting that they never say thank you.  What if each person from the IRS called five people a day to say thank you?   What would it be like if you saw US Govt on your caller ID and picked up the phone to hear someone say thank you for paying your taxes (which you obviously have) or they would most likely not be in touch with you by regular mail or telephone?

The number of employees of the IRS part of the US Govt was about 50,000 in 2012.  The US population is currently 314.69 million people.  Let’s say that half of them are children, and therefore not taxpayers.  That leaves 157.345 million people.  And, according to Mr. Romney, 47% of us consider ourselves victims and do not pay taxes.  That leaves 73,521,150 people.

If 50,000 IRS workers make 5 calls a day, or a total of 250,000 calls per day, it will take 296 days to call everyone who is a likely taxpayer and thank them.  Less than a year.

Mar 7, 2013

White House to Sell Vegetables to Local Grocers

When it was reported that the White House was cancelling the “spring tour” season, our intrepid reporter wanted to look into other savings the President and his family were prepared to make in light of the sequester.

First of all, its important to know that the Easter Egg Roll will proceed as in years past.  The one minor change this year is that children are being asked to bring their own eggs.  The White House estimates that this will save the country 18 cents per person attending the egg roll, a White House tradition since 1878.  The number of people expected this year, selected by an online lottery system, is 35,000.  Total savings is estimated to be $6,300.

The White House will also begin selling vegetables from its garden to local grocers.   The White House chef told reporters that they are currently giving 1/3 of the vegetables to organizations that serve people in need.  Now, instead of having vegetables from the garden, the Obama family will take up a diet of kimchee and rice so that the remaining two thirds can be sold at a premium to area grocery stores.    

In order to distinguish them from other vegetables, the White House vegetables will be branded “The White House.  America’s House.”   Currently a contest is underway for developing a logo for the vegetables from the White House garden.  The winner will be able to bypass the lottery and come to the Easter Egg Roll.  What’s more, an egg will be supplied for rolling purposes.  Other entrants will receive the pleasure of knowing that someone at the White House may have seen their design. 

America looks forward to other savings being made by the White House — doing its part for the sequester — and everyone in these United States of America is being encouraged to make their own savings as a contribution to the nation’s staggering debt.  The money you save can be donated to the America’s newest 501C3, The Super Sequester Pac, organized to raise funds to offset the cuts of $85 billion.   Corporations can donate as persons, but expectations in this area are low.


Feb 21, 2013

Oblivious in 1965


I was still in high school when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.  I am quite sure it did not enter my privileged consciousness in any profound way –and neither did the Civil Rights Act which was signed into law by President Johnson in 1964.

As it turns out. in order to insure the passage of these two bills, Johnson used all of the considerable tool case he had acquired in the Senate, knowing all the while that he was giving up the South for the Democrats for the foreseeable future.

Ironically, Johnson had been “re”-elected in 1964 by Republican widows who owned stock in electric companies — owing to his having been involved in the concept of wheeling power across grids to prevent blackouts and use electricity to maximum advantage.    In July of 1964, Johnson asked Congress for $45.5 million in order to link the Pacific Coast and the Southwest in a massive power-sharing grid.  Republican widows everywhere took notice.

Back on topic.  The Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress on August 5, 1964 and Johnson signed it into law the next day.  It was again powered by Johnson’s adroit political skill and underscored by the public revulsion at the recent violence in Selma, Alabama.  The Voting Rights Act enforced the fifteenth amendment to the constitution, some 95 years after it had been passed.

“Because the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the most significant statutory change in the relationship between the Federal and state governments in the area of voting since the Reconstruction period following the Civil War, it was immediately challenged in the courts. Between 1965 and 1969, the Supreme Court issued several key decisions upholding the constitutionality of Section 5 and affirming the broad range of voting practices for which preclearance was required. [See South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 327-28 (1966) and Allen v. State Board of Elections, 393 U.S. 544 (1969)]

The law had an immediate impact. By the end of 1965, a quarter of a million new black voters had been registered, one-third by Federal examiners. By the end of 1966, only 4 out of the 13 southern states had fewer than 50 percent of African Americans registered to vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was readopted and strengthened in 1970, 1975, and 1982.” (from

I only learned these things when I was in college and afterwards:   it horrifies me to think that Republicans in this country are now trying to undermine the critical accomplishment of the Voting Rights Act, through both gerrymandering (something I learned about in high school, but with no “real world” examples) and “voter I.D.” laws.

The right to vote is a core value of this country (no taxation without representation) and the republican legislatures which are trying to modify its power are hoping no one will notice.  A lot of this went on before the 2012 election, and it will only get worse in 2014 if Americans everywhere don’t realize that with regard to some of our most basic rights, this country is now way off the mark.

I was oblivious in 1965.  But no longer.


Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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