Well, this is a fine mess.
After years of moaning about various “conspiracies” against them, conservative activists finally have a real (i.e., not manufactured by Fox or inflated by Limbaugh) piece of evidence to take before the court of public opinion.
Meaning, of course, last week’s revelation that the Internal Revenue Service has been giving extra scrutiny to groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their names. Extra scrutiny from the IRS is about as welcome as extra scrutiny from the proctologist, so one can hardly blame conservative groups for complaining, as they’ve done since last year. Unfortunately, those complaints got no traction until last Friday, when the IRS admitted the practice. Lois Lerner, director of the IRS division in charge of tax exemption, was speaking at an American Bar Association conference in response to a question about whether the conservative groups had been singled out. She admitted they were.
It should’ve been the shot heard around the world. Chances are, you didn’t hear it.
An ominous sort of history was made last week near Austin, Texas, but it seems to have largely escaped notice. There was some media coverage, yes, but less than, say, Lindsay Lohan’s latest stint in rehab, certainly less than you’d think for something whose ramifications will likely shadow us for years.
On May 2, you see, a group called Defense Distributed, led by law student and self-described anarchist Cody Wilson, accomplished what was apparently the first successful firing of a gun “printed” entirely by a 3-D printer. According to Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg, who witnessed the test, the gun is made almost entirely of plastic, the only metal in it being the nail that served as a firing pin and the bullet it fired.
Brenda Heist wanted to run away from life. Naturally, she went to Key West.
The first time I was down there, I saw a highway sign which, for me, perfectly captured the meaning of that place. North, it said, with an arrow pointing the way.
No South, you understand. Just the one option: North. Not that I didn’t know where I was before I saw that, but it struck me as a visceral manifestation of what the little island represents. As the southernmost dot of inhabited land in the continental United States, it is the nation’s designated refuge for troubled or nonconformist souls. You end up there because running any further (by land, at least) is a geographic impossibility. It is, literally, the end of the road.
If the state of Texas executes Duane Buck, it’ll be because he is black.
Well, mainly it will be because in 1995, he shot his ex-girlfriend, Debra Gardner, and her friend, Kenneth Butler, to death at Gardner’s Houston home, and also wounded his own stepsister, Phyllis Taylor. But it will also be because he’s black.
In Texas, they have this rule: a jury contemplating the death penalty must evaluate the likelihood a defendant poses a future danger to the community. Jurors in Buck’s trial were told he poses said danger because he is a black man.
This is for the rest of us.
Meaning the ones who don’t have personal chefs, gift-wrapping rooms or hired sycophants, who don’t hobnob or rub shoulders, and who drive the same car every day of the week.
The rest of us would like to offer some of you a little advice:
If you ever find yourself asking, “Do you know who I am?” or any variation thereof, it’s a pretty good indicator that you are not, in fact, as famous as your hired sycophants (and your ego) have led you to believe. If it is necessary to call attention to your fame, you may not be all that famous to begin with.
Ordinarily, I’d thank you for writing.
But truth is, I am not grateful you wrote; your note last week was one of the more troubling things I have read. I do not blame you for leaving it unsigned.
“We stand together,” I had written. “We stand defiant. And we stand with Boston.”
Rand Paul did just fine at Howard University, thank you very much. Or at least, that’s how he remembers it.
Paul, GOP senator from Kentucky, told the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday that his recent visit to Howard didn’t go so bad at all. He said any perception to the contrary was created by - all together now - the “left-wing media.”
Knowing what we do about the political right’s capacity for self-deception, we may trust that he’s telling it like it is - or at least, telling it like he believes it to be.
Shortly after the explosions, there appeared on the website of The Boston Globe a video of the moment. Runners in the city’s iconic marathon are jogging across the finish line and everyone is cheering, when there is a clap of thunder and an orange bloom of fire from within a ring of flags honoring the nations represented in the race. It is followed, seconds later, by another blast from just down the street. The cheers become shrieks, falsetto shrills of panic and fear and the videographer carries you forward, to where the smoke is drifting and police, runners and bystanders rip barricades apart trying to reach the epicenter of chaos.
“We need help!” someone cries.
And the videographer whispers three words to himself. “Oh, my God,” he says.
He says it again. “Oh, my God.”
A few words on the death of Elwin Wilson.
He passed last week in a South Carolina hospital at age 76. Wilson had endured heart and lung problems and had suffered a recent bout with the flu.
There is little reason you would know his name, but as a young man, Wilson made a virtual career out of hatefulness. He was a Klan supporter who burned crosses, hanged a black doll in a noose, once flung a jack handle at an African-American boy. In 1961, he was among a group of men who attacked a busload of Freedom Riders at a station in Rock Hill, S.C.
In none of those things was he unique, so no, his name should ring no bells.
Jonylah Watkins died on a Tuesday.
She was with her father, who was sitting in a minivan in Chicago on the night of March 11 when someone opened fire. Doctors worked 17 hours trying to repair what a bullet had done to her body, but to no avail. She died the next morning. Her funeral was about two weeks ago. She was six months old.
Antonio Santiago was seven months older when his mother put him in a stroller and took him for a walk in their Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood. Sherry West says they were accosted by two teenagers demanding money. She told them she didn’t have any. West says they shot Antonio in the face and killed him. This happened two days after Jonylah’s funeral.
Dear Whoever is in Charge of Customer Service for DirecTV:
All I wanted was to watch the game.
Let there be no cheers for Rob Portman.
The Ohio senator is, pardon the tautology, a conservative Republican and last week, he did something conservative Republicans do not do. He came out for same-sex marriage. This is a man whose anti-gay bona fides were so pronounced that his 2011 selection as commencement speaker at the University of Michigan law school prompted an uproar among the graduates, many of whom signed a letter protesting his appearance as an insult to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
Yet, there he was, telling CNN he’s had “a change of heart.” And what prompted this? Well, as it turns out, the senator made his U-turn because of Will.
Perhaps you remember when Dr. Doom conquered the world.
Or perhaps you don't. Sadly enough, even in this day and age, not everyone is comic-book literate.
It's not just a women's issue.
Granted, that's how many of us are framing last month's decision by Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! Inc., to end telecommuting and require all employees to report to the office. It ignited a firestorm of controversy over whether Mayer, a working mother herself, has backstabbed the sisterhood. Columnist Kathleen Parker called it the latest iteration of the "mommy war."
One day, many years ago, I was working in my college bookstore when this guy walks in wearing a T-shirt. “White Power,” it said.
I was chatting with a friend, Cathy Duncan, and what happened next was as smooth as if we had rehearsed it. All at once, she’s sitting on my lap or I’m sitting on hers - I can’t remember which - and that white girl gives this black guy a peck on the lips. In a loud voice she asks, “So, what time should I expect you home for dinner, honey?”
Mr. White Power glares malice and retreats. Cathy and I fall over laughing.