Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blogging is hard

Real live chat log

B: whoopi defends polanski as having not committed "rape" rape (on the View! in the morning! wtf?) and yet no post from sophie? we must stop the madness. you post, then i read. together the madness is stopped!

S: lol
B: that's what she said! according to whoopi and many hollywood supporters
S: I read about it
B: and yet remain insufficiently inflamed to post?
S: I know... I know...
but I try to focus on local things
B: do you really want to end on that kid with the touchdown?
S: that wasn't my last post!
and it's not ending
B: your last post doesnt count! just like that touchdown
S: lol
Sent at 9:30 AM on Wednesday
B: seems to me polanski made a deal, dont go to places that were willing to arrest him and he can live happily ever after. that i can defend. that is the world. but harvey weinstein saying that being a "great humanist" means that sex with a 13 year old girl didn't happen is batshit crazy
S: I'm just going to post this chat log on my blog
B: ok
i wish a had cussed more.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Chiefs Blogging

Well... that was ugly. Was it just my imagination, or did Albert draw the flag 3 times for a false start?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Heartless Friday Blogging

Prominently displayed on the Star's website this morning is the heartwarming headline "Rivals cooperate on touchdown for player with Down syndrome." This scenario is almost a cliche, and the way it's reported bothers me. Don't get me wrong, I am 100% in support of indulging the fantasies of the mentally challenged as long as it isn't harmful. It's a sweet thing to do, and I like to see people happy. But the part where everyone involved congratulates themselves on how generous they are and how they're now more in touch with human decency...well, it grates. Quotes like this:

“It was just a good thing to see people realize that the value of winning is not (as) important as it is to participate and enjoy the game,”

Reality check. Your team was down 46 to ZERO when your coach approached the opposition and asked if they'd let the player with Down syndrome make a touchdown unmolested. If you seriously think this was a moment about realizing that winning is not the most important thing, try making that deal with the opposition when you're down by 3. I can understand and support indulging the kid, I'm hesitant to go along with the self-deception of the participants.

“When they grow up and they get older, everybody will realize the impact that maybe that play (has) had — not just on that kid’s life, because Matt will remember that forever — but on some of these other kids and what they may have been a part of.”

Again, treating this like some extraordinary act of generosity. As opposed to something that cost the participants almost nothing (settling for a blowout instead of a shutout). Something that is practically set up as sentimental blackmail. Who says no to this request under these circumstances? For every hyper-competitive parent grumbling in the stands about their coach falling for the "tard card," you'll have hundreds of people touched by the sentiment and the happiness of the kid. This was an easy call. I certainly hope the other kids involved have greater acts of generosity to look back on twenty years from now.

It's a sweet story, but I could live without the over-sell.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Joe Wilson has no black friends

Reading all the Chiefs game preview articles, with Fox News Sunday on in the background. Congressman Joe "You lie!" Wilson (R-SC) is being rewarded for his outburst with one on one time with Chris Wallace. Asked to respond to a Maureen Dowd article saying that Wilson freaked out because he couldn't handle being lectured by a smart black man, Wilson gave the most watered down version of "some of my best friends are black" I've heard in awhile. You see, he respects the president. And there's even a "relationship" there, because Michelle Obama's family is originally from Georgetown, South Carolina, which is right next door to where he's from. I can't be racist! Some of my former homes were within twenty minutes of black people!

And as I live and breath, Brit Hume just referred to the teabaggers as "the resistance." Sigh.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Live blogging joint session health care speech

7:00 I can't believe I'm watching this. (crosses fingers)

7:05 Oh, Michelle. Not sure about the dress.

7:10 Dennis Moore, step back from the HHS Secretary.

7:15 Katie Couric is worried about congress catching H1N1 from all the kissing.

7:18 Controversially, Congress applauds people being employed.

7:18 My response to the economic crisis has worked, bitchez!

7:19 I love Nancy Pelosi's pearls. (yeah yeah yeah, you're determined to be the last)

7:21 Wassup John Dingel?

7:22 The world's most awesome email list produces rescission anecdotes.

7:24 Employer-based insurance-- inefficient, stupid, and expensive.

AAAAARGH!!!!!!! Our health care problem is our deficit problem nothing else comes close? Check out the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts or the defense budget. Just an idea!

7:26 Dont. Stop. Believing. In the power of triangulation.

7:27 ok, I know, I know. Getting out of committee is really tough. But I don't think that resonates with the average viewer.

7:29 oh for fuck's sake. These are the details we need to know that you've been stating for months. yes, Mr. President. Repeat it. All those people who don't believe you will suddenly believe you now that you've repeated yourself.

Can't deny for a pre-existing condition. No more rescission. No more caps on coverage. Cap on out of pocket expenses. No extra charge for prevention care!


live blogging over.

Oh, I'm sorry. I thought I was done.

He's got a god damn trigger on the exchange?

and in the time it took me to log back on, he's gone into mandate???????

If I had a gun, I'd shoot my tv.

Did you hear Congress laughing at the line that there's more work to be done ironing out the details? That's the sound of meaningful reform dying.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kansas City Spirit

Dear Bill George:

So start collecting donations and build yourself a hotel.



Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Most Reverend Epic Fail

Catholic Archbishop Naumann (KCK) and Bishop Finn (KC/SJ) spammed their respective dioceses this week with a Joint Pastoral Statement alleging to represent "Principles of Catholic Social Teaching and Health Care Reform." The statement is not an accurate description of Catholic social teaching, most notably in its rejection of health care as a right. The statement is even more unreliable as a survey of the current state of our health care system and proposed legislative reforms of the same. The entire statement, quite embarassingly, reads like the effort of the slowest seminarian in the bunch randomly grafting words and concepts encountered during his studies onto a republican email forward primarily informed by the work of Glenn Beck.

There are many angles from which to approach this Statement. I could point out the more glaring moments of internal inconsistency -- did Your Excellency's conscience make even the meekest mew when you qualified "health care benefits" for legal immigrants? As if undocumented immigrants are not among the "weakest members" of society referenced in the preceding sentence quoting Ghandi? Or I could highlight how willfully clueless the authors appear to be about the reality of current proposals -- claiming it is "vital to preseve [] the right to make well-informed decisions about [] care" only paragraphs after nonsensically condemning "end of life counseling" that is nothing more than giving people the opportunity to make well-informed decisions about care. Or, I could really expand on the point that such a shameless misappropriation of their pastoral authority for partisan political purposes is a severe degradation of the espicopacy.

However, as evidence that my liberal heart has not left the government completely in charge of charity, I choose a different path. Upon deeper consideration of this Joint Pastoral Statement, I think the greatest disappointment is the missed opportunity to inform the public debate with a fair presentation of the principle of subsidiarity. From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 1986 Pastoral Letter "Economic Justice for All":

The primary norm for determining the scope and limits of governmental intervention is the "principle of subsidiarity" cited above. This principle states that, in order to protect basic justice, government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacities of individuals or private groups acting independently. Government should not replace or destroy smaller communities and individual initiative. Rather it should help them contribute more effectively to social well-being and supplement their activity when the demands of justice exceed their capacities. These does not mean, however, that the government that governs least, governs best. Rather it defines good government intervention as that which truly "helps" other social groups contribute to the common good by directing, urging, restraining, and regulating economic activity as "the occasion requires and necessity demands" [internal cite omitted]. This calls for cooperation and consensus building among the diverse agents in our economic life, including government. The precise form of government involvement in this process cannot be determined from abstract. It will depend on an assessment of specific needs and the most effective ways to address them. [emphasis added]
I think this is a wise way to approach the limitations of government. I also think it does not require any greater faith than the belief in fundamental human dignity. And such a belief does not require faith in God. It is actually the basis of secular humanism. This is what some people like to call a "teachable moment." An opportunity to share the intellectual/ethical labors of the Catholic Church with a broader audience.

Oh, the Joint Pastoral Statement mentions subsidiarity. But it makes it sound like some laissez faire "states rights!" idea, rather than what it actually is -- a well thought out compromise to the competing ideologies of laissez faire and communism. To call it a compromise of ideologies is almost unfair. It's more a compromise of impulses. A path to honoring the promise of individual choice and compensating for the ineffectiveness of individual will to accomplish larger goals. The essence of subsidiarity is humility -- government alone cannot achieve the greatest goals of man. Correspondingly, informal networks of men are sometimes incapable of achieving their desired goals - hence, the need for government.

The Joint Pastoral Statement quotes JPII and Benedict in a manner that suggests that the welfare state is contrary to Catholic social teaching. I have a different read. I think those quotes have to do with warning people against the idea that they can completely outsource charity to the government - the whole "I gave at the office" attitude. When they warn against "materialist" attitudes, they are trying to preserve the enjoyment of the sublime irony that nothing is quite as satisfying as a completely selfless act. Practically speaking, a large welfare state is politically unsustainable unless the citizens feel individual satisfaction from the caring for the less fortunate. But philosophically speaking, I understand the papal warning.

I think we have more than enough evidence that individuals and private groups acting independently are incapable of ensuring the provision of adequate health care. But regardless of that factual analysis, I'm saddened that, given the opportunity to do a serious analysis of the health care situation in light of the principal of subsidiarity, the Archbishop and Bishop chose to use subsidiarity instead as a magic charm to be respected on their authority rather than examined and understood for the benefit of all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

hell, Leo, I ain’t embarrassed to use the word: I’m talkin’ about ethics.

Recent events have informed me of the existence a Code of Ethics created by the Public Relations Society of America. Bottom Line Communications states that Joe Miller's Salon article about the Mayor is in direct violation of those "ethical guidelines."

I confess, when this ethical code was first brought up in an unrelated discussion, I laughed at the thought of PR people having specific ethics. But here they are, and they're as well-meaning as you'd expect an ethical code to be. Miller stands accused of violating the following:

Core Principle Client trust requires appropriate protection of confidential and private information.

Intent To protect the privacy rights of clients, organizations, and individuals by safeguarding confidential information.


A member shall: Safeguard the confidences and privacy rights of present, former, and prospective clients and employees.

Protect privileged, confidential, or insider information gained from a client or organization.

First and most obvious problem is that Joe Miller is not, and I can't imagine ever has been, a member of the Public Relations Society of America. So, really, BLC calling him out on this is about as meaningful as me tsk-tsking Miller for violating Rule 4-1.6 of the Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers.

The less obvious, but more meaningful, problem is who BLC has identified as the client. Mayor Funkhouser didn't pay Joe Miller 80k out of his own pocket to be communications director of the Mayor's office. That was taxpayer money. Protecting the confidences of the guy who hired you is not the same thing as protecting the interests of the institution that is your "client." As applied by BLC, this is a rule that serves to promote one's ability to get hired in the future, protection of client interests is incidental.

At a practical level, ratting out Funkhouser certainly decreases the odds of Joe Miller getting hired in the future to deal with confidential information. At an ethical level, he was working as a public servant. His highest duties were owed to the public, not the mayor.

I understand that personal interest frequently prevents insiders from sharing their information with the public. I do not understand why I should condemn a person whose personal interest it was to share his information with the public. I'm not saying that Miller is an awesome guy or that his story was a great contribution to the public discourse. Midtown Miscreant does a fine job of arguing against those points. I just think it's dangerous and wrong to automatically condemn a public servant for sharing "inside" information with the public as if the practical reality of "no one likes a rat" somehow creates an ethical obligation to protect a politician above all else.

No, Mom, you can't hotline Gloria over this (he's too old now)

Joe Miller's Salon piece about his time with the Mayor is out. I have a different post planned, not particularly concerned with the substance of the article. But this earned a stand alone post:

As we settled in for our holiday meal, Gloria shared a story -- a family favorite, from what I gathered -- about how she had told Andrew when he was 12 that vaginas can expand and grab men by the buttocks to draw them in. The boy was mortified, she said, and at this she leaned back and laughed so hard her whole wide body shook.

Andrew isn't going to medical school, is he?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reality Check: Citizens drink more than Tourists

So there I was, watching Hell's Kitchen, amazed at the inability of the contestants to distinguish between Oregano and Basil, and feeling slightly guilty that I can't figure out what the hell is going on with MAST well enough to blog about it, when-- salvation -- a text arrives. Word on the street is that the city council is trying to kill 3am bars. So I go to TKC. Which quickly directs me to the Pitch blog. And details. Ah, sweet details.

"This change should limit 3:00 a.m. closing liquor permits in residential areas and allow them in the areas of the city that are more synonymous with convention and tourism areas."

As Barney Frank would say, what planet are these people living on? This is Kansas City. Not New Orleans. Not Miami. Not Vegas. Not, really, anywhere that hard partying people would associate with a rocking good time. We are so far off the radar of places sophisticated partiers go to have a good time - we have been rejected by the Future Farmers of America. I repeat. We are not sufficiently exciting for the blue jackets.

I didn't realize that 3am licenses were currently predicated on the (theoretical) interest of tourists. I can't remember the last time I was at a bar at 3am. All I know is that we are not a community of mormons, dependent on outsiders to keep our bars in business. And any effort to take away 3am licenses from bars that actually serve the citizenry strikes me as an act against the safety of the public. Much better to have neighborhood bars serving the 3am crowd, so that they're within walking or cheap cab distance from home, than forcing our sizeable contingent of local drinkers to seek solace in tourist areas.