Monday, June 06, 2016

Isn't it too early to be this jaded about politics

I did not vote for Mitt Romney last election.  I did it out of the naive position that he was insufficiently principled; he seemed to be someone who wanted the presidency simply for its own sake.  It was unclear what his specific policies would be, because like his fellow Bay Stater John Kerry, he had occupied a number of positions on his way to a national campaign.  In short, he felt like the Republican Diet Coke of Hillary Clinton.

Looking back, that feels silly now.  In part because I don't really fall neatly into either particular ideological space represented by the two major political parties.  But also because now, when faced with the actual Hillary Clinton as a candidate, that the alternative is a sort of clownish villain.  (I'm thinking more Dr. Evil than Joker...)  It's hard to tell how dangerous he might actually be in practice, but that's a bit of a different question that the previous paragraph.

I don't really have a question about either Romney's or Clinton's competence, or their belief in the formulation of our economic and political system.  My reservations were about the amount of freedom each would take from us, which has been kind of a moot point over the last 16 years as, like when Eisenhower opted not to dismantle the New Deal, Obama has chosen to maintain the surveillance state and pieces of the War on Terror that were largely elective in addition to his interventionist decisions that doubled down on Bush's during the economic crashes.

The idealistic part of the electorate seems to be moving away from what I believe, the pragmatic is lining up behind an obviously corrupt technocrat and the nationalistic is distilling that occasionally compelling spirit into a volatile rocket fuel rather than a sophisticated single malt.  Volatile is the best word to describe it because there is a possible upside to a Trump presidency.  There is floor, though, is more sever and more likely.

I guess it kind of depends on my faith in the resiliency of American institutions.  I think that our institutions are mostly excellent, but if they continue to be populated by people who do not seem to believe in them -- or at least appear to elevate their partisan loyalties higher than the mores of the institutions to which they belong, notably the Senate -- then it may not matter how good those institutions are.

The crazy thing is, at this point, I think I'd pick almost literally anyone of the other serious choices than those who remain in the race.  (Ok, probably not Cruz.)  But man, does it look like Biden missed his moment.  Or hell, Romney.  This time, I think I would have been a little more willing to compromise and choke down the Diet Coke.

Friday, April 01, 2016

On the Racist Food

This week, I became the old man yelling at the cloud.   I wrote an email to a podcast complaining about its content.  It was On the Media's episode Is This Food Racist?  The podcast was a logrolling platform for another podcast that shares the WNYC distributor and had two main thrusts -- an interview with Rick Bayless, an Oklahoman who has dedicated his life to Mexican food (real deal stuff, not food truck tacos) and the response to a comment the guest made about Korean staple bibimbap about how to improvement.  A key piece of information is that both Bayless and Dan Pashman, host of Sporkful, are white and not Latin or Korean.  At least, that was key to Brooke Gladstone, host of OTM who interviewed Pashman.

I have gotten irritated by podcasts before -- mostly by stuff like how pretentious David Plotz can be on the Slate Political Gabfest -- but never have I actually written an email to voice that.  Food, though, has a powerful effect on me.  There were a few moments that made this happen.

The first was when Pashman, while interviewing Bayless, confronted him about whether he had advantages in his career with Mexican food because he was white.  He said that he never really thought about it, tried to figure out what they were asking him, and pretty much said Mexican food is good.  Afterwards, Pashman and Gladstone could not believe the gall of him unwilling to concede his white privilege.  At this point, the transmission in my brain ground its gears.  For some reason, the idea that his whole food palate is built on him being an American interpreting Mexican food, so the idea of getting advantages in this context is kind of meaningless.

The next was when Pashman acknowledged that during a discussion on Korean food, he suggested an improvement to bibimbap and got an array of calls, some positive, others not where he and Gladstone wrung their hands over whether it was ok.  The podcast played an interview with an offended Korean American discussing how as a child he was made fun of for his school lunches because there were noodles in them.  He then talked about how it felt like a white guy suggesting an improvement to Korean food was like trying to tell his Korean grandmother how to be hotter.  There are a couple of things about this: everyone gets made fun of for their school lunches.  Another is that these sorts of adjustments are how immigrant foods become assimilated so that when the next generation of Korean kids bring their lunches to school, it looks normal.  Finally, there is not definitive bibimbap, and if there were, this guy who called in would not own it.  He's not Korean Arnold Palmer.

The interview concluded with Gladstone asking Pashman if he would continue to experiment like that.  He said, probably yes, but while being more thoughtful of others.  It seems like a fine sentiment, but it also seems kind of crazy.  The idea that making food a different way is imperialism seems like it requires a lessening of the original in a way that really does not happen.  This is not the first time I have seen this sort of complaint, though.  (In the interest of full disclosure: I eat collard greens.  I cook them often, though never with peanuts.)

More importantly, though, is that this is what interaction is.  Integration like this is part and parcel of what America is, especially with food.  Pizza, General Tso's chicken, the California roll, the Cuban sandwich, everything that comes out of Louisiana, chili and the mission burrito are all results of cultures running into each other.

I also think that this is the kind of thinking that leads to people supporting people like Donald Trump.  It's hard not to see this as an argument that white people can't make foods from non-white people.  While the discussion is clearly more nuanced than that, the implication was clearly that this was somehow bad.  When immigrants arrived here with their recipes and found different ingredients available, they improved without feeling enslaved to an idea of authenticity.  I just can't see how the world isn't a richer place because of decisions like that, and if the offended Korean American's complaints cause others to be hesitant to experiment because they do not belong to the ethnicity, that's really a shame.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Queen of the Dairy

Dr Sighted loves Blizzards.  I like them too, but I am not very discriminatory in my dairy needs.  Any high quality ice cream is perfectly fine by me.  There was an old style Dairy Queen in my home town that I didn't realize was "old style" until I moved away and saw that there were others that serve hamburgers and what not.  I also found out that ice cream places close in the winter time up north, which is very sad.

They have a new commercial out and I don't even know what they are trying to sell me, but I love it.  While well placed Lionel Richie "Hello"s will never not be funny, I particularly like the guy who sings in front of the Corvette.  When this commercial comes on, I move kind of slowly to the remote to fast forward past them.  I also like how wooden the cheerleader's delivery is, and how unnecessary such an elaborate set piece is for two seconds of commercial.

This commercial is not special.  It is not Pie and Chips for Free, which apparently was posted 9 years ago, which is a weird thing to make me feel old.  I cannot imagine we will be talking about I'm a Fan a decade later.  But it is strangely charming and there are a lot of small details that show this was a very thoughtfully crafted commercial and you should pay attention to the Lionel Richie fan's mug and shirt.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The cheese that goes...

There is an apocryphal story of my youth that immediately after I had my tonsils removed, I asked for not ice cream, which is the standard request, but Cheetos, which are not soft nor smooth.  I liked Cheetos as a kid more than I do now, but if I'm line for a catered sub lunch, I'll reach for the Cheetos probably more often than I'd reach for anything else since nobody seems to go for sour cream and onion anymore.  I guess onion breath is more offensive than orange teeth.

A couple of years ago, Cheetos sort of rebooted Chester from a sort of loser who thinks he is the coolest cat on the block who spends the commercials trying (unsuccessfully) to get his paws on some delicious Cheetos into a weird kind of jerk who uses Cheetos not for food, really, but more as props primarily to embarrass some of the people around the human characters (usually friends or family) in the commercial.  (I tried to find more samples on YouTube, but searching for Cheetos is mostly crowded out by videos like this about getting Irish people to try American things.  I must admit, I was amused.)

As an example, two recent ones have a child firing Cheetos out of a catapult at her father (I think?) for stealing the remote or something.  Another has a child making a Cheeto bikini for her sleeping father so that when he wakes up, he'll have bikini tan lines.  In none of these are there anything about the Cheeto dust that gets on everything.  It's not as bad as Dorito dust or glitter, but it's in the conversation.

There are a number of baffling aspects of these commercials.  First, none of the people seem to be fazed by the fact that there is a cartoon Cheetah telling them what to do, which, now that I think about it, is reasonably consistent with the commercial universe.  But really, why not show case the snack as being desirable?  The earlier incarnation was not Geico Cavemen or anything as far as commercial quality goes, but it was clear that the snacks were so good that Chester was willing to endure physical pain.  In the new versions, I'm not really sure that the effects would be any different if they replaced the Cheetos with a bag of bread crusts cut off from little kids' sandwiches..

They've made more of these commercials that Darrell Hammond got to make Colonel Sanders commercials, so there must be something to it.  But to me, it makes me sad.  I cannot imagine 3 year old me wanting to ask for Cheetos with a mascot like this after a tonsilectomy.  I guess it really isn't easy being cheesy.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pieces and Cups

I just saw a commercial for Reese's version of Nutella, and I must say I'm intrigued.  I have had good luck with Nutella, but, to be honest, I could do without its pretentiousness.  It's all European and hazelnutty and what not.  What is a hazelnut?  I'm not convinced it's not an invented flavor by coffee shops like how wine tasters say that a Merlot tastes like chocolate and leather.  Leather in my wine is neither probable nor desirable.

Reese's has to potential to close that gap with the lovable peanut, which all of us can easily identify.  There is a question, however, about Reese's that I really can't believe I hadn't already written about by now.  What does Reese's rhyme with?  I had a bevy of coworkers about a year and a half ago challenge me on this to the point of calling the question line phone number located on the wrapper of the cup.  Unfortunately, they gave them bad information -- citing their famous slogan of "There's no wrong way to eat a Reese's" -- they said there's no wrong way to say Reese's, either.  If I called it Rice's or Race's, that would be ludicrous, right?

In short, I think that anyone who calls Reese's Pieces Reesey's Piecey's deserves at minimum a night in the drunk tank.  I don't think they belong in the general prison population or anything, unless there are multiple offenses and lack of remorse.  Saying Reesey Cups deserves a harsher sentence, because there's no cutesy but tempting gateway rhyme built in.  It's going straight to the hard stuff.  Reese rhymes with piece.  Reese's rhymes with pieces.  Piecey's isn't anything.

I really like peanut butter desserts, and Reese's has got some fine products.  I enjoy the cups in any context and the pieces especially on my ice cream.  My favorite specialty variation is the eggs at Easter, giving us a delightful twist on the chocolate/peanut butter ratio.  So I may grab some Reese's spread at the store, and with any justice, that will be the product that ends this Reesey madness, since their is no melody to Reesey's spread.  Only the cacophonous nightmare that follows me everywhere there is a piecey.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Binge watching

I know it's a bit late, but Dr. Sighted and I just finished watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix and I cannot imagine how Ron Swanson isn't everyone's favorite everything.  It's a strange sort of wistfulness when you complete a series, a termination of a universe (or, Indiana town on an Indiana night) for which there is nothing further.  Like when you get to the the end of your fruit by the foot.  That's what we watched when we are together.  Well, I got a pass to watch them without her initially, but once I started enjoying them, she wanted in on the action too.  It's really better, so that when I say, "This is *litrally* the best animal cracker I have ever eaten."

She, though, is closing in on home plate on a show all her own -- Pretty Little Liars.  I catch a few episodes here and there (maybe 30%?) and this show is bonkers.  Every show has a little bit of the "if any single episode happened to somebody it would be the most intense year of your life" every week, but this is in Grey's Anatomy territory.

Describing the plot is basically impossible.  So, I guess I'll put a spoiler warning here, but honestly, I have no idea if these will count or not because the whole experience is like a soap opera taking place on a zany murder mystery inside of an after school special.  There's the pretty one who is kind of dumb, the pretty one who is really smart, the pretty one who is making risky decisions with her future and the pretty lesbian.  It's not called Ugly Little Liars, after all.  Oh, and the lesbian one is multiracial.

Four high school girls are being harassed by what amounts to basically a Bond villain.  The bad guy knows everything about them, can be anywhere, has unlimited money and is super clever.  The biggest thing difference is that while we know that Blofeld wants to hijack nuclear weapons to ransom the world for lots of dollars, the bad guy in this show has no discernible motive -- since there are like four different bad guys, I think -- or sense of proportion.

The main characters begin likable and sympathetic, but as the story progresses, that stops being true.  This conceit can't last forever.  They are in high school, after all, and I'm pretty sure they were stressing over college at one point, and eventually they won't be pretty little liars anymore.  Then the show will make even less sense.  But Dr. Sighted will see it through to the end, and, consequently, so will I.  This universe feels different than Pawnee, though, and not just because it is still going on.  Pawnee was populated by likable people with credible motives.  Rosewood feels like just an excuse to put pretty people on camera together looking vulnerable.  Which, I guess, is the kind of thing that people like to binge watch.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Logistics

Not long ago I discovered a podcast called James Bonding (which, when you search for it delightfully causes this to come up also [note: I do not endorse that service]) which has reawoken my interest in the movie franchise.  So I am rewatching the ones with which I am not as familiar as I used to be and the ones I just like watching.  I've mentioned my fandom of podcasts before, but these are like listening to fans talk about things they like.  I am convinced that every sports broadcast would be improved by simply having two well informed fans of one of the teams that have some chemistry call the game, because like 97% of the announcers are worse than having your county council replaced by an aggressive race of crab people that outlaws butter.  (Brent Musburger, you're in that 3% you magnificent bastard.)

Anyway, there are all kinds of comedians who talk about finding henchmen and talking about how incompetent they are in movies like this, and I have all those same questions.  But mostly, as an engineer, the questions that keep coming up for me as a I watch an army of technicians sit quietly at their workstations helping Stromburg in The Spy Who Loved Me end humanity are more about procurement.  There's a scene late in the movie where the henchmen are all wearing custom made Stromburg navy uniforms.  Where'd they come from?  Somebody had to make those.

Also, the plot of this movie hinges on a lot of big machines -- an underwater lair, the largest cargo ship in the world, and all sorts of vehicles that are blown up -- that have to come from somewhere.  And while they do establish early in the movie that he's one of the richest men in the world, helicopters are still expensive.  Another one of the in jokes is that the Russians know a lot about what the English are doing, and vice versa, but the bad guy has a secret submarine swallowing and underwater mansion including underwater aquarium, which makes sense, I guess.  I just can't believe that there isn't some chatty pipefitter who might mention at the local watering hole that he's working on a project that is just bananas.

Don't get me wrong, though -- I love these movies.  I own all of them (even Die Another Day) and this sort of supervillainous silliness is part of what makes it great.  I just wish I could be in the room when the writers were trying to explain to Cubby Broccoli just how they could fit two missiles plus 007's and XXX's luggage into a Lotus Esprit.  But, to quote Larry Miller in episode 22, "I don't know why Ursula Andress comes out with a knife.  Who cares!  It works."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Discomfort, Indeed.

As my wife likes to remind me, I am not really a Southerner; I am a Floridian.  Even though the latitude of my birthplace is 3 degrees south of hers, I am still an outsider, a sort of mongrel, even though a sizable portion of my higher education and all of my professional life has been spent squarely in the South.  I'm not sure I'll ever get to be a member of that club, in part because I don't drink sweet tea and sound like I was born closer to to the Iowa River than the Chattahoochee, where my wife was.

I do feel like I understand this place somewhat, though, and certainly felt more at home in Clemson, South Carolina than I did in Terre Haute, Indiana.  I was an outsider there, too, because the Midwesterners categorized me as one of those from the other side of the Line. College is a place where identity is both calcified and shattered, sometimes more than once.  I never got the impression that there was all that much that identified an Midwesterner, really, or an "Hoosier" in particular.  In fact, nobody even knew what a Hoosier is.

The same could not be said in the Upstate of South Carolina.  The people there had a distinct sound -- distinct from the other side of the state, distinct from the other Carolina and distinct from the other side of the Savannah River.  I could not tell an Ohioan from an Illinoisan in nearly the same way I can pick out an Upstater from a Low Countryman from an Alabaman or a Tennesseean.  The food is different in these places, the music, the dress (especially the colors -- Red is not welcome in the Upstate, and Orange is frowned upon in Athens, Georgia), the sense of place and the sense of story.

I think the story telling comes from the Scots-Irish stock that populates the region; I am convinced there is something inherent in the Celtic blood that makes words pour out like honey -- whether it be from the mouth or the pen.  Like any other people with a strong sense of identity, it's strange to have someone else try to tell your story for you, so I am not even sure I am qualified to write this now, but when I came across this New Yorker piece, my reservations about my credentials receded lazily like the tide over the dark, cakey pluff mud of the Charleston marsh.

After spending some half a dozen paragraphs talking about how Southerners are stubborn, xenophobic, backward, somewhat barbaric, greedy, racist, ignorant, out of touch while culturally dominant, football and Nascar obsessed, tribalist, and violent, he closes with a couple of throwaway sentences that make it seem he's really not judging (the phrase that's used down here is, of course, "Bless his heart"):

But there is a largely forgotten Southern history, beyond the well-known heroics of the civil-rights movement, of struggle against poverty and injustice, led by writers, preachers, farmers, rabble-rousers, and even politicians, speaking a rich language of indignation. The region is not entirely defined by Jim DeMint, Sam Walton, and the Tide’s A J McCarron. It would be better for America as well as for the South if Southerners rediscovered their hidden past and took up the painful task of refashioning an identity that no longer inspires their countrymen.
The implication is that the South we have now is an inferior facsimile of what the South should be that is popularly understood to be personified in a recalcitrant Senator, a dead business man, and a football star, after he describes the region in precisely those terms.  I don't know what sort of inspiration Packer expects the natives of my adopted home state and our neighbors to provide when the the picture he paints of Southerners is so grim.  None of the buildup to this terminus tells us how the positive qualities do indeed benefit society at large outside of a rather ambiguous listing of positive traits: "At the end of “The Mind of the South,” Cash has this description of “the South at its best”: “proud, brave, honorable by its lights, courteous, personally generous, loyal.”  That sounds nice, until two sentences later, he extols vices to counter them.  He is treating my neighbors as either terrorists or children who ought to be mollified.

I am particularly sensitive to that sort of attitude because I chose to be among these people.  I picked Clemson University for graduate work.  I bought my first house in Augusta, Georgia.  I married one of the Peach State's daughters.  We decided together to move to Charleston.  And, in the next place we live, I am certain we will be greeted with y'alls, elongated vowels and an extremely dedicated knowledge of college football.  I like the polite conversation.  I like the weather.  I like the pace of life.  I like the sense of culture.  I like the emphasis on faith.

The task of refashioning the identity has been going on here for over 200 years.  Re-examinations of what it means to be born between Virginia Beach and El Paso came to a rather violent head in 1861, of course, and no one forgets it.  The benefit of losing, though, is being forced to have that conversation; the winner is spared from that kind of existential introspection.

So a magazine entitled the New Yorker is an odd place indeed to read about an explanation on what's going on inside of the cultural mind of the South, especially when, upon completing this story, I was offered a suggested reading link of this story

Like I said, I'm not actually a Southerner and I don't know if Packer is either..  I don't know why it feels like politics are dramatically different now than just two election cycles ago.  But I do know that Packer's infantile reduction of the region to the Republican Party, Wal-Mart and the SEC is not productive or accurate.  I am skeptical that you couldn't go to a small town in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Oregon and find similar evidence of the low-brow to which Packer objects.  And so what?  What exactly is he trying to argue?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Conflicted, I guess

As many of my college friends could tell you, I had a bit of a creative infatuation with the work of Aaron Sorkin -- particularly Sports Night.  I was at my most prolific as a writer then and at the time, it and the West Wing seemed like the epitome of pop writing and I never thought I had the talent to be F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I at least thought I could be an Engineer by day and a reasonably  pop writer of some sort by night.  I did that for a while with a weekly in the last place I lived, and sometimes I think I'd like to do it again.

I am watching the season finale of The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin's latest project on HBO, and the technique is similar, but the tone is decidedly less pop.  The Newsroom features a main character, Will McAvoy, who is a disappointed Republican in the state of American politics.  Aaron Sorkin, on the other hand, is not a Republican of any sort, so writing a disillusioned one requires a sort of confidence I just don't understand.

I also don't understand how all of the positions are couched in such a way that the disillusioned Republican only targets the Tea Party and the failings of his own party, rather a more holistic criticism of the situation -- including failings of the administration.

Don't get me wrong, I suppose I am somewhat of a disillusioned Republican myself and there are certainly things about the conduct of the party I dislike, although I don't really feel much loyalty to the "team.".  (I consider myself more of a classical liberal, where I feel that the role of national government is to do the things that the private sector cannot profitably, and not much more than that.)  I don't like the win at all costs attitude of either party, I don't like how much of a dependence there is on the false moral equivalence (both sides have this problem -- and that I said "both" is tragic, because this should not be a binary problem) and I don't like the cowardice to go after lazy arguments rather than attacking the heart of the failings of American liberalism and progressivism.

I think that the current administration is a critically flawed one.  I think that, like 2004, there is a tremendous opportunity that is likely to be squandered by lining up behind the wrong guy because it is really hard to unseat an incumbent president.  I want to describe what I think the biggest flaws are how I wish the Republican Party -- or anybody, really, -- were challenging them.

  1. Distaste for the law when it restricts executive power -- The two biggest examples are the GM and Chrysler bailouts and the intervention in Libya.  Without regard to policy (which I strenuously disagree with), the bailouts was of questionably legality, if not outright illegal.  In a guided bankruptcy, pensioners were given priority over bondholders, which is contrary to the way that bankruptcy proceedings go, because they were political allies.  (Links are here and here discussing this.)  During the NATO led intervention in Libya, which went from April 23 to October 31 (192 days) President Obama asserted that his administration was not in violation of the War Powers Act, which requires Congressional approval for military action exceeding 90 days, because the Libyan intervention wasn't actually a military conflict, since the bad guys weren't able to return fire against our superior forces.  That is, to put it nicely, an absurd explanation.  Libya was an illegal war.  There are other potential examples -- Fast and Furious, the way that the Bank of America president was treated -- but I don't have enough detail to document and defend it.
  2. Lack of accountability for economic assertions -- During the preparations and sale of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to the American people, the Administration sold it as necessary to pass in order to keep the unemployment rate below 8%.  That was a mistake, both factually and politically. The explanation from the Vice President was that "everybody guessed wrong."  That is tantamount to admitting incompetence and not an endearing answer. The current unemployment rate is 8.3%, which is the lowest it's been in three years, and higher than promised by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.  The ARRA was passed in early 2009, so the net increase is about 900,000 jobs for a $787 billion package amounts to about  $874,000 per job.  Not exactly a measure of efficiency.  (To be fair, that's an empirical rather than theoretical measure of efficiency -- let's say it saved 2 million jobs, as President Obama says, that's still $393,500 per job, which is not exactly a bargain either.)  Now, I do concede that Keynesian style stimulus can raise the GDP (since it's in the definition), I just don't think that there is sufficient discipline in the government to repay the debt when times are good, so I don't think it's effective policy.  Another of questionable value is "we ask everyone to pay their fair share."  What does that mean?  How much is enough?  Who decides what is fair?  The president is also quoted in that interview with saying, "we can't cut our way out of this hole."  Why not?  And how do we know when we're out of the hole?  Nobody has really said what victory looks like.  (To be fair, this isn't strictly a criticism of the president.)
  3. Insistence on government solutions over individual ones -- We've all heard "You didn't build that" by now (the whole transcript can be read here).  The defense is that the president was not referring to business with "that" but rather the infrastructure he described prior -- but on full reading, I don't think it matters.  The tone of the speech is definitely one that you shouldn't take credit for your work, because there were a lot more hands in it than you appreciate.  The issue, though, is that every American has access to that same infrastructure and we're not all Michael Dell or Steve Jobs or Barack Obama.  Individual effort is a pretty big deal, and "you didn't build that" isn't the way the president should be talking about it.  Compare the tone of that speech to this one and see if you can tell the difference.  The heavy-handed paternalism celebrated in The Life of Julia is rather troubling.  It implies that people in general and women in particular can't manage themselves without a government caretaker.  My wife will make more than I do over the course of her career and it won't even close, regardless of who is president.
Like Will McAvoy, I wish the Republican candidate was stronger.  I think the principles of liberty and economic responsibility and government closest to the people are all messages that can win.  I don't think that the current Republican campaign is communicating that message, and they are playing to the bases elements of politics (both sides are, really, which makes the false equivalence rear its head).  The welfare ad is only of questionable veracity, if that.  Paul Ryan's weird marathon fib doesn't help, and this ad was deplorable.  At the end of the day, there are enough flaws with this president that opponents shouldn't need to resort to dishonest tactics to score points.  I hope they go after the heart of the man and make this really about choices and not about trivia, but I won't hold my breath.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Feigning outrage is outrageous

I don't really have any leftovers for lunch today, but I know I won't be going to Chick-Fil-A, even though Mike Huckabee told me to.  The reason is not because I am unsympathetic to the position taken (which isn't nearly as offensive as it seems to have been presented, see the quote below) or approve of the reaction that opponents have taken to Cathy's interview.  I am not joining in Chick-Fil-A Appreciate Day because the whole dust up is stupid.  This is the section of the interview that touched this off (linked here):

Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.

"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.

"We operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that," Cathy emphasized.

I say this is stupid not because of the content of the arguments of the two sides, but because of the non-event that revealed the content.  Chick-Fil-A's ownership is famously and unabashedly outspoken about their Christian positions and Dan Cathy was giving an interview to The Baptist Press for crying out loud about maintaining those Christian positions even in the face of business success.  If this was a surprise to you, then I can only imagine that episodes of Law and Order are shocking and surprising each time, too.  (Hint: if they arrest the guy in the first 10 minutes, it's not him; the moderately famous B-level guest start did it; they're going to get a conviction; and the DA is going to say something somewhat pithy or ironic to close the show.  Dun dun.)

The reactions to the interview -- most famously by Rahm Emanuel (mayor of Chicago) and Thomas Menino (mayor of Boston) -- are terrible and deserve to be ridiculed.  For any government representative to say that a business in unwelcome because of the opinions of that business's owner is outrageous.  Buying from Chick-Fil-A today will do nothing to punish those mayors.

For the people who want to boycott or protest, however, that's their prerogative.  Except the timing is lazy; according to the Washington PostPartisan blog, Chick-Fil-A has been giving money to "anti-gay" charities for like 9 years and obvious about its desire to be seen as a Christian friendly company since its inception -- they did not just start closing on Sundays, you know.

So, my question is, why did this reaction only happen to the interview a week and half ago?  Why today?