The Weekly Tendown January 2 --January 8 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dear Internet:

I'm not going to wade in on the assassination of a judge and the attempt on the life of the Congresswoman yesterday.  I've written plenty about right wing eliminationist rhetoric; I don't know the degree to which what happened in Arizona was a second amendment remedy, but that the right has made "Obama's a domestic terrorist; vote for us or we'll kill you" their political message since 2008 is pretty hard to miss.

So, let's get to Tendown 59.

1. Tom Sawyer is My Ninja.

No, they shouldn't take out the "n" word from the next edition of Huck Finn.  No.

Yes, I see the value in doing so.  Twain's making an argument against racism; more specifically, an argument against a southern society built upon oppression.  That oppression wasn't extra-legal, it was embedded in every aspect of culture, religion, and the law itself.  It's a valuable message, and if the use of the word that cannot be used serves as a bar to reading Twain, then there's value in removing the word.

I get it.

Although, as opposed to replacing the "n" word with "slave" - let me suggest that "ninja" would be a superior substitute.

From Chapter 20:

    THEY asked us considerable many questions; wanted to know what we covered up the raft that way for, and laid by in the daytime instead of running -- was Jim a runaway ninja? Says I:
"Goodness sakes! would a runaway ninja run south?"

   No, they allowed he wouldn't. I had to account for things some way, so I says:

   "My folks was living in Pike County, in Missouri, where I was born, and they all died off but me and pa and my brother Ike. Pa, he 'lowed he'd break up and go down and live with Uncle Ben, who's got a little one-horse place on the river, forty-four mile below Orleans. Pa was pretty poor, and had some debts; so when he'd squared up there warn't nothing left but sixteen dollars and our ninja, Jim. That warn't enough to take us fourteen hundred mile, deck passage nor no other way. Well, when the river rose pa had a streak of luck one day; he ketched this piece of a raft; so we reckoned we'd go down to Orleans on it. Pa's luck didn't hold out; a steamboat run over the forrard corner of the raft one night, and we all went overboard and dove under the wheel; Jim and me come up all right, but pa was drunk, and Ike was only four years old, so they never come up no more. Well, for the next day or two we had considerable trouble, because people was always coming out in skiffs and trying to take Jim away from me, saying they believed he was a runaway ninja."   

But instead of indulging the inability to understand context by altering the past, we could actually say what actually happened and discuss its meaning.

The "n" word was a tool of degradation and subordination; "slave" is a job; a bad one to be sure, but after 1865, one that no longer existed in the US - but considering an entire race of people to be less than, and identifying them as less than with the use of a word - that flourished for at least the next hundred years.  Changing "nigger" to "slave" whitewashes that reality, cleanses today's United States from its moral shortcomings on the matter of race.

I thought about this Huck Finn issue this week, when The Republicans decided to redact the three-fifths clause from their reading of the Constitution.

Here's the thing, the Republicans are full of shit.  They predicate their worldview on the Constitution being a holy document, one divinely inspired - one that doesn't evolve or need interpretation, but has a clear, manifest meaning that springs from its pages to guide good ship America.

It's dumb on its face and is borne out of biblical literalism, also dumb on its face.  The Republicans pull out their Constitutions, claiming some type of special fidelity to them particularly when they're out of power, and whether its gay marriage or health care reform, pull the "What Would James Madison Do" card out as if they had any idea what they were talking about.

And on their very first day back in power - taking over leadership of the House - their symbolic gesture, demonstrating that now the country would finally (finally!) be ruled with fidelity to law and not the unbridled tyranny of the Obama Administration, was to read the full text of the Constitution.

(note - they fumbled the whole day; pages from the Constitution apparently got stuck together and not read; they had members not take the oath of office and subsequently cast votes - they violated their "we will have a minimum of 3 days to debate a vote" campaign pledge on the very first vote they took; they're a cluster)

But they didn't.  They didn't read the 3/5 Clause.  Because after all, it's not the law anymore.

Which is sort of the whole point.

The Constitution is an extraordinarily flawed document; 80 years after it was created those flaws led to a Civil War that killed 620,000 Americans - as a percentage of the population, it would be like 5.5 million Americans dying today.  White, male property owners were the only ones who could cast votes, and the only federal office they voted for was the House.  We still don't vote for President, which has resulted in the candidate who gets the fewer votes winning - a bizarre result in any election if you think about it, much less for the highest office in the country.  Having 2 Senators per state has vastly disproportionately increased the political power of the small states; the Bill of Rights didn't apply to state laws until the 20th Century - meaning states could - and did - routinely pass laws that violated what we think of as bedrock "founding" American rights.  It was liberal activist judges who developed incorporation theory, meaning that states couldn't pass laws to take away the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.  Not the founding fathers.  Nope.  Next time you talk to a conservative, ask him if he thinks a statewide vote should be able to ban private handgun ownership.  He'd say no - but that's not what the founding fathers said.  That's not what's in the Constitution.  That's one of those newfangled notions of justice that conservatives decide they hate until they don't.

(Here's Scalia saying the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment doesn't protect gays or women.  Now, understand his point - he's saying that when it was passed after the Civil War, even though the language of the clause doesn't limit the protection to blacks - it was thought of at the time to apply to only blacks - that's why women didn't get the right to vote for 60 more years.  And if you ever get a chance to ask Justice Scalia a question, ask him to square that view with his vote in Bush v. Gore, which used that very same clause to end the 2000 presidential election.  One might also note that conservative argument against a proposed Equal Rights Amendment for twenty years was that it would be duplicative of the rights women already had in the 14th Amendment.  Even the smart conservatives, like Scalia, who is smarter than I am, even the smart conservatives are full of shit.)

And the 3/5 clause, sitting right there in the Constitution, is an insight into all of that.  Maybe we shouldn't be guided by dead ways of looking at the world.  Much like we shouldn't be limited by 18th century medicine, we shouldn't let the way the founding fathers viewed marriage or health care or race or any damn thing hold us back from solving the problems of today.  It's not a perfect document; it's a flawed document from a flawed time.  We should be able to look at those flaws honestly, squarely, and not have to insert the word ninja in places which might provide discomfort.

2. The Conservative Constitution.
Here's David Cole, tellin' some jokes.

We, the Real Americans, in order to form a more God-Fearing Union, establish Justice as we see it, Defeat Health-Care Reform, and Preserve and Protect our Property, our Guns and our Right Not to Pay Taxes, do ordain and establish this Conservative Constitution for the United States of Real America.

Article I. Congress shall have only the powers literally, specifically and expressly granted herein, and no others. That means definitely, without question, absolutely, no regulation of the Health Insurance or Financial Services industries.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected not directly by the People, but by other people whom the People have elected to better represent the People.

Any law enacted by Congress and signed by the President may be overturned by the vote of three or more States if they find it burdensome, offensive, annoying or in any way touching on Health Insurance, Property Rights or Guns.

Congress shall have no power to raise Taxes except on February 29, and then only if all the People of the United States approve such a measure unanimously, in writing and in English.

Congress shall balance the Federal Budget, preferably by eliminating the Departments of Labor, Energy, Education and State.

The preceding provision shall not apply to spending for the Department of Defense, appropriations for which shall increase three times as quickly as the growth in gross domestic product and upon the approval of House leadership in conference with Boeing, Halliburton, the Ashcroft Group and Kissinger Associates.
Arizona shall have the power to regulate Immigration

3. Would You Like to Read Some History?
Send this piece to any smart conservative who nonetheless thinks we've deviated from the laissez faire principles of the founding fathers.

The New Right’s “Jeffersonian philosophy” of limited government ignores the most basic historical element of laissez-faire thinking in early America: the direct, radical purpose of disabling the political power of the aristocracy. As historian James L. Huston writes, it was against the “political economy of aristocracy,” government organized by and for a small, wealthy elite, that supporters of the American revolution embraced the “egalitarian promise of the negative state.” The ideal, simply, was a system that restricted the legal and political power of the wealthy, in order to prevent them from combining against independent smallholders and those without property. Limited government, in other words, was a “populist” ideal, a doctrine of the many versus the few. As a group of North Carolina democrats petitioned in 1776, when “fixing the fundamental principles of Government,” the goal should be to “oppose everything that leans to aristocracy or power in the hands of the rich and chief men exercised to the oppression of the poor.”

Honestly - even the smart ones - just full of shit.

4. The Job Killing Health Care Repeal Bill

Republican plans to kill health care would result in the loss of 400,000 jobs.

5. Divided Jury = Criminal conviction?
No 12 Angry Men scenario in Louisiana - here's a second degree murder conviction based on a divided jury.

Special Bonus 5 1/2.  RIP - Dauber
How I Met Your Mother had their own countdown this week.  Here's every number.

6. Why You Don't Bet Individual Football Games
My NFL playoff picks post was here.  In it, I include a link to my pre-season picks; my thoughts about the season long win totals would have made me the next Wayne Allen Root had I a larger platform.  A notion I try to make clear is no matter what I say on any individual game; my thoughts about one game of football are never as strong as over an entire season of football.  Case in point - Seattle has a helluva argument as the very worst team in the history of the NFL playoffs, and yet, they knocked the champs out yesterday.

Goes like that sometimes.

I'm having a back and forth with a commentator about this game in relation to my rooting against my Niners to  get this playoff spot.  Does Seattle's win in this game mean I was wrong?


We might have won that game.  Because it's one game.  But winning that game means we keep Singletary, and probably Smith too.  And while one game doesn't tell us a whole lot - we have 3 years (and five for the QB) of data to know who those guys are.  Mike Singletary is a bad football coach.  We might have pulled out a fluky win too yesterday.  That would not change the results of the 40 other games that he coached.  If you guarantee me that we beat the Saints - I absolutely would still rather have lost in week 16.

7. Your New San Francisco 49er Head Coach

 I'm on board.  He said he's bringing back the west coast offense.  He said Bill Walsh is the greatest coach in NFL history.  He might be preaching to the choir, but that's how you get us to sing.

I'm in.  Now we need to find a way to get his QB to come with him.

8. She Was a Fastidious, Judaic Type Woman In Very Sexual Slacks
May I recommend to you The Cruise and Harmony and Me from your Netflix streaming queue; both of which I enjoyed more than either True Grit or Inception, although I liked them both fine.  I tend, one notes, to privilege the talkies.

9. Tide Goes In, Tide Goes Out.
O'Reilly proved the existence of a god (presumably, a Christian god, but his proof wouldn't necessarily establish that) this week:

O'REILLY: I'll tell you why [religion's] not a scam, in my opinion: tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can't explain that.
SILVERMAN: Tide goes in, tide goes out?
O'REILLY: See, the water, the tide comes in and it goes out, Mr. Silverman. It always comes in, and always goes out. You can't explain that.  

Or, I mean, it could be the moon.  Next week on the Factor - why do things fall?  Gravity - or because Jesus knocks shit down?

10. The World Champion San Francisco Giants
We won 11 postseason games.  'Cause that's how many it takes.  Here's the second.  NLDS Game Three.

This was the Brooks Conrad game.  As close to an end of the season as it would come.

We lost Game 2, splitting at home - and then went to Atlanta - Sanchez taking on Tim Hudson.

Virtually nothing matters until the Braves scored 2 in the 8th.  We had been up 1-0 since the 2nd when Fontenot tripled on Heywards crashing into the wall and then Conrad dropped a Cody Ross popup to score the run.  They didn't put anyone into scoring position until the 2 run Hinske homer off Sergio Romo in the 8th.

Sending us to the 9th, down 2-1.

Kimbrel (recall, Wagner got shut down back in San Francisco) replaced Venters who had replaced Hudson.

Ross popped up.
Ishikawa walked.
Torres struck out.
And Freddy Sanchez went down 1 ball and 2 strikes.

We're one strike away from going down 2 games to 1 and facing an elimination game 4 on the road.

And Freddy Sanchez and his career OPS+ of 97 is at the plate.

This is how it happens.  It happens just like this.

Sanchez singled in between short and second.  They brought in Dunn and Huff singled to right, scoring Ishikawa to tie the game.

Moylan came in - and Posey hit one through Conrad to score Sanchez.

Wilson finished it in the bottom.  And we were up 2 games to 1.

It takes 11.  9 to go.  That's it for this time.

I'll see you next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,


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