Mike Kueber's Blog

November 24, 2014

Racist haters

Filed under: Culture,Facebook,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 8:35 pm
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Yesterday, a Facebook friend, Rosey, posted the following poster:

  • Dear Immigrant Haters, stop telling the rest of us we should be as uncaring, selfish, and hateful as you.

The poster reminded me of another stupid poster posted on Facebook by one of my in-laws suggesting that only people with vaginas have a right to an opinion on abortion. Although my verbal challenge of the abortion poster led to my family member accusing me of being overbearing and intolerant, I decided to engage with Immigration Hater poster, too.

Not surprisingly the result was the same. Despite my best efforts to keep things civil and dispassionate, I ended up getting called all sorts of names in English and Spanish.  I ended the discussion by complaining that the discussion wasn’t very illuminating, but actually I learned two important things:

  1. Notwithstanding my best efforts to persuade and keep things calm, I apparently have an innate tendency to stir some people toward anger and resentment.
  2. Some Mexican-Americans are personally insulted to the point that they think me racist because I am concerned with illegal immigration and the large number of such immigrants coming to America from Mexico and Central America.

 

Appendix: the lengthy dialogue is as follows:

  • Jhon Juan Adams But the only good ones, according the IMMIGRANT HATERS are WHITE IMMIGRANTS. You think there would have been any problem in Murrieta CA if those buses had been loaded with Swedish Refugees? For whatever reason on earth. ????
  • Mike Kueber Jhon, why do you insist on conflating legal immigrants with illegal immigrants? Do you know that this country is overrun with more illegal immigrants than the entire population of Sweden? Why do you insist on calling people names just because they disagree with your apparent policy of open borders?
  • Rosey Abuabara The concept of closed borders is a relatively new one.., you know, in the history of the world. I mean, if you believe in evolution and not creation.
  • Oscar Garcia We did not cross the border, the border crossed us.
  • Rosey Abuabara and, besides, he, Jhon, is correct, for the white guy that he is. I don’t see stories of the Asians that are undocumented. It’s bigoted and you know it, Mike.
  • Mike Kueber Personally, Oscar, I’m getting sick of that canard, “the border crossed us.” Anyone who was here in 1848 when the border changed, would already be citizens. The current illegal immigrants had ancestors who were ensconced in Mexico when this country was settled by brave, adventuresome Americans. America took over the Southwest because Mexicans declined to settle it. And, Rosey Abuabara, I read an article just today in the NY Times about the significant number of illegal immigrants in CA from Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.
  • Mike Kueber p.s., of the 11.4 million illegal immigrants in America, 6.7 million are from Mexico, 1.8 million are from Central and South America, and 1.2 million are from Asia. http://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php
  • Rosey Abuabara That would make sense Mike since they are our neighbors. You must consider the proximity to the USA. And… HAHAHA..!!! You still believe that shit about Davy Crockett?? SQUATTERS!! I own land in west Texas.. Just because I chose not to live there does not give another the right to move in and make it theirs. And f-ING yeah!! The BORDER CROSSED US. And, if you don’t know this.. Many Mexicans who owned LOTS OF LAND had it “legally” stolen from them. (Think King Ranch). This is MORE MY LAND. I am NATIVE… At least for thousands of years…
  • Mike Kueber Rosey Abuabara, if you love the Mexican heritage so much, and hate the American heritage so much…. Are you suggesting that some sort of reparations are due? Or maybe open-admission of Mexicans? What about Central Americans – do they have the same claim for preferred status?
  • Rosey Abuabara Mike, don’t presume to know what I’m suggesting. Do I think reparations are due? Hell yeah! Hell, I’d have the King Ranch divided up. And, I AM VERY PROUD OF MY MEXICAN HERITAGE. That’s pretty petty, Mike. And, I never said I “hated” the American “heritage”. It’s so much more complex than that. Perhaps since I have cultural pride is frightening to many. Lol.. You ever spend time in Miami? Little Italy? China town? Really .. Your assessment of my comments are what I have to face everyday. It’s racist, and shows how little you know & understand the situation. Good thing you were an insurance lawyer. And, just a reminder: America is this WHOLE CONTINENT. You’re speaking of ‘Merica. I’d be glad to school you on being a USA citizen, in San Antonio no less, with cultural pride. Kueber? Have you no pride in your culture? lol.. But, you knew Davy Crockett and Bowie were just over sensationalized thieves of Mexican soil. At least I’d hope you know.
  • Rosey Abuabara Don’t make yourself look like the typical Immigrant Hater. I thought you were better than that. The situation is not that easy.. Otherwise this situation would be fixed by now.
  • Mike Kueber Rosey Abuabara, I choose not to go the ad hominem route (racist haters), but I do believe that most of the hateful, intolerant comments come from those on the left. That chip on their shoulders seems to weigh them down. At least I have been able to elicit your actual position – i.e., reclaim Texas for Mexicans.
  • Oscar Garcia We do not have to reclaim Texas, it’s already ours. My ancestors did it by not leaving and becoming US citizens.
  • Mike Kueber Oscar, instead of posting jingoistic slogans, perhaps you could explain what you mean by it. Does America owe Mexico something? Does America owe Mexican-Americans something? Does America owe Mexicans something? If so, what?
  • Oscar Garcia Chingoistic que? See Translation.
  • Oscar Garcia Do I have to go through the whole historical thing about Manifest Destiny?
  • Oscar Garcia The result of the Mexican-American war was a very large seizure of Mexican land by the United States. Later, more sections of Mexico were taken, creating the present-day continental United States. Mexicans previously living in Mexican territory were now living in America after the seizures and purchases. This is where the phrase comes from, hence the phrase: “We did not cross the border, the Border crossed us” Educate wuey, no nomas digas pendejadas como “jingoistic slogans”.
  • Rosey Abuabara Oscar.. Mike has a very dry sense of humor. I’m not offended by his banter. I’m pretty sure he’s just making interesting conversation. Which is good. We need discourse!
  • Rosey Abuabara lol.. Love the use of “wuey”! Haha.. Esé!
  • Oscar Garcia What he does not understand is that we are not Illegal in a land that was our ancestors before the Europeans came and took it as theirs. We’re indigenous to this land.
  • Rosey Abuabara I think he understands. I don’t want to speak for him.. But, yeah.. I see that “the gringos” would rather we just assimilate rather than bring our tamales out. It’s hot dogs and apple pie for everyone. Yes. This is my native land. I’ve been here. We’ve been here. Our ancestors lived in harmony with the land. It’s time for them to start assimilate to harmonious land living. Que no?
  • Oscar Garcia In a way they have Rosey Abuabara. There are many who do want tamales, and want to learn about our culture. I have hosted many Fiestas for 16 de Septiembre and Cinco de Mayo where we have had Azteca dancers and have heard how Mexico got its Independence. How a Mexican American lead a handful of Mexicans and repelled the invading French from Puebla. How Cortez burned Cuathemoc’s feet and how his invading Spanish army killed the Aztecs.
  • Rosey Abuabara Yeah, I agree.. They love our food, our music, our parties! We really know how to party! Puro party! I’m glad for the interest in our culture. I just think too many complain, and they don’t know about the politics of $$$$$ and how to be good neighbors. We send more money elsewhere rather than make sure our neighbors are doing good.
  • Mike Kueber Oscar, you apparently lost track of my earlier comment asking you what the Mexican cession of 1848 had to do with the current illegal immigrants. And Rosey Abuabara, I have no issue with the extent you want to assimilate or not. My Norwegian friends and family in North Dakota like to retain their ancestral culture, too. Just as the German-Americans do in Castroville, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg. This would be much simpler if you didn’t insist on conflating illegal immigration with legal immigration, but that is not possible when you argue for open borders and reparations.
  • Rosey Abuabara the freaking issue that you don’t seem to understand is that WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN THIS USED TO BE MEXICO.
  • Rosey Abuabara AND WE WERE HERE FIRST. I don’t fucking understand how you don’t get that. It seems that you are too far away from your homeland that you can’t even understand the concept. We call it ‘Merica for a reason. Simple minded people who think they know something, but really don’t. And, are not even aware they don’t get a deeper concept, that they insist on being right. And, you have no idea what people go through in poverty. REAL poverty. I’ve known lots of people who have come here illegally.., with great fear and sadness, and much sadness. They do it so that a family at home can survive. Yes. SURVIVE. And, but for the grace of God, there go I. and that is the gods honest truth.
  • Oscar Garcia you use words million dollar words like that is going to make us be at awe of your domination of the English language. I really do not give a crap about the words you use as intimidation because those tactics do not work. I may be a Mexican American but I can understand what you are trying to do. You are the one that is lost, we have been here for thousands of years.
  • Mike Kueber Oscar, what do you want?
  • Oscar Garcia It is not what I want, it is what you need to understand. We are not Illegal in our own homeland.
  • Mike Kueber Who is we?

Oscar Garcia You are lost if you do not understand.

Mike Kueber Can’t answer, can you! Are you saying that anyone with Indian blood from Central America or South America has a right to come into the United States?

Oscar Garcia People see you, they say he is American. People see me they say he is illegal.

Oscar Garcia That is what you do not understand. This whole continent belonged to the indigenous people of the Americas. That includes the United States and Canada. Educate Wuey.

Mike Kueber Yes, there is a profiling issue because there are so many people from Mexico here illegally. Just like there is a profiling problem with young, male African-Americans because so many of them are involved in crime. [Or Middle East men because so many of the terrorists are from the Middle East.]

Mike Kueber So all the descendants of indigenous people have the right to come to America?

Oscar Garcia See? You are lost.

Oscar Garcia Estas bien perdido carnal.See Translation

Mike Kueber Slogans and Spanish; is that all you’ve got?

Rosey Abuabara Mike you just don’t have have the capacity

Oscar Garcia What I got is contempt for the likes of people like you who think they are the owners of this land and can dictate to everyone.

Rosey Abuabara I’m with Oscar. And to think I was defending you to him.

Rosey Abuabara I get called a “dirty Mexican”

Oscar Garcia He is a profiler who thinks that we do not belong here, and that all African American males are involved in crime. I am glad that he is not my friend.

Rosey Abuabara Ugh.. I know. I’m reconsidering.

Rosey Abuabara At least he was straight up about his feelings about us. Why does this piss the gringos off so much??

Rosey Abuabara Esta mas perdido…

Oscar Garcia Because they think that we should not be here, and that this land belongs to them.

Rosey Abuabara Pendejos.See Translation

Mike Kueber I am stating facts. You act like I am arguing for bigotry and prejudice. All I am doing is arguing for controlled borders. You want open borders. Simple disagreement.

Rosey Abuabara Mike, if you want to “discuss”.. Then discuss. But you got ugly real quick.

Oscar Garcia No, there is no simple disagreement. You showed your true colors, and how you really feel.

Rosey Abuabara We are stating facts too.

Mike Kueber And, yes, Texas and America govern this land, not Mexico. Of course, Rosey and whoever can own whatever land they want to buy.

Rosey Abuabara Chingao.. And, really, why did you have to be ugly to Oscar?

Rosey Abuabara Do really think we don’t understand that concept?

Rosey Abuabara I’m done. I have students in surgery tomorrow early.

Mike Kueber Understand the concept of being ugly? If you check this thread, you will see that I have been respectful to you and Oscar. By contrast, you and Oscar had gone ad hominem.

Oscar Garcia Why do you think he uses words that he thinks we will not understand? He tries to intimidate with million dollar words

Oscar Garcia To him I am just another dumb Mexican who can hardly understand the English language.

Oscar Garcia And by the way Mike ad hominem is a Latin expression; ad hominem usually involves attacking the traits of an opponent as a means to invalidate their arguments.

Oscar Garcia I am done with this vato. He is not worthy of discussion.

Mike Kueber I didn’t learn much, either, Oscar.

Oscar Garcia You never did,

 

November 23, 2014

Narcissism and selfies

Filed under: Culture,Facebook — Mike Kueber @ 10:17 pm
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Narcissism is defined as an excessive interest in one’s physical appearance; inordinate fascination with oneself; vanity. A selfie is defined as a photo taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone, and shared on social media like Facebook, although I prefer the Urban Dictionary definition:

  • An act usually carried out by girls aged 12-21, the act involves taking photos of oneself while posing. If the act is carried out by a man, he is usually seen as being gay.

Some might argue that there is a connection between narcissism and selfies, and this possible connection was inadvertently confirmed by one of my Facebook friends this morning while she was on a charter bus to Houston to watch the Texans’ football game. She posted a photo of herself with two friends on the bus, and this prompted the following exchange:

  • My friend’s aunt: Selfie # 4 Rachel X. why sooo many selfies? [Thumbs-down icon.]
  • My friend: Plz Cuz they tell me I look pretty. Why Not Auntie. ..

My friend is not 12-21, but she is pretty.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

November 22, 2014

We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us.

Filed under: Culture,History,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 10:43 pm
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One of my least favorite columnists with the NY Times, Nicholas Kristof, penned a column yesterday titled, “Immigration Enriches You and Me.” You can almost imagine the column without reading it, but, for the record, he described three myths about immigration:

  1. Immigrants threaten our way of life. Many Americans see foreigners moving into their towns, see signs in Spanish, and fret about changes to the traditional fabric of society. Yet just look around. Immigration has hugely enriched our country. For starters, unless you are a full-blooded American Indian, we have you.
  2. Immigrants today are different because they’re illegals. Look, people aren’t legal or illegal, behaviors are.  If an investment banker is convicted of insider trading, he doesn’t become an illegal. So let’s refer not to “illegal immigrants” but to “undocumented immigrants.”
  3. Immigration reform is an unconstitutional power grad by a dictator. It’s difficult for me to judge the legality of Obama’s executive action, because I’m not an expert on legal issues like prosecutorial discretion.

Immediately after reading the column, I vented by sending the following comment to the Times:

Nicholas, you are wrong on all three counts:

  1. Legal immigrants do not threaten our way of life; illegal immigrants do. Please refrain from treating two different groups as a single group.
  2. Investment bankers who are convicted of insider trading are not granted amnesty; rather they become forever known as criminal investment bankers.
  3. If you are ill equipped to discuss President Obama’s imperial power-grab, I suggest that you spend a little time learning the subject instead of claiming ignorance in your column.

As I skimmed the hundreds of comments that the column drew, the following one from Ernest Velasquez caught my eye:

  • My great-great-great-grandfather was born in San Jose California in 1821. My grandfather was born in the Arizona territory in 1872 and my father was also born in the Arizona territory in 1911. My grandfather, grandmother, and some of the adult children, including my father moved to Chihuahua Mexico during the depression of 1917. Thus my brother and two sisters were born in Mexico. Based on the then existing immigration laws, my brother and I [males] were granted natural born citizenship at birth.
  • In the early 50′s we moved to Los Angeles where I went to school and upon graduation from High School, I joined the US Air Force and served four year in Germany which coincided with the building of The Berlin wall and the Cuban Missiles crisis. Just to make it clear, I love my country and served to protect our great democracy. My two favorite president: Jefferson and Lincoln.
  • Now to my point on current immigration. First: We Mexicans are not immigrants, we were conquered and lost the Southwest territory in the Mexican/American War of 1850 that included California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona New Mexico and Texas. Second: Many of us have the blood of Indigenous and European [Spanish] conquistadors running through our veins. Third: we were here first, so stop calling us immigrants. As the great union leader Dolores Huerta has stated, “We did not cross the border, the border crossed us.”

Although I’d heard the Huerta slogan before, I’d never considered whether it was accurate. So….

According to SocialistWorker.org:

  • “WE DIDN’T cross the border, the border crossed us.” This slogan of the immigrant rights movement expresses an historical fact–that much of the Western U.S. was once part of Mexico. The U.S. seized half of Mexico–including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California–in the Mexican-American war of 1846-48. The war cost almost 14,000 U.S. and twice as many Mexican lives.

But what does that have to do with illegal immigration? According to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 following the Mexican-American War, all heretofore Mexicans in the land ceded to America were eligible to be American citizens. This would have applied to Velasquez because his ancestors were already here, but it wouldn’t apply to many others.  According to Wikipedia:

  • The lands contained about 14,000 people in Alta California and fewer than 60,000 in Nuevo México, as well as large Native American nations such as the Navajo, Hopi, and dozens of others. A few relocated further south in Mexico. The great majority chose to remain in the U.S. and later became U.S. citizens.

My impression is that Mexico lost this mostly unpopulated territory to America because Americans were willing to settle it while Mexicans were not.  (Also, we were stronger and believed in Manifest Destiny.)  Only after America turned the territory into a wonderful place to live did vast numbers of Mexicans decide that they wanted to live here (and get out of Mexico). The fact that this part of America was a part of Mexico more than 150 years ago does nothing to support the argument that modern Mexicans have some special right to emigrate to America now.

p.s., I can find no information on the internet attributing the “border moved” slogan to Dolores Huerta, although upon further consideration, I noted that Velasquez simply said that she “stated” this.

November 21, 2014

President Obama unilaterally addresses America’s immigration mess

Last night, President Obama spoke to the American people about an Executive Action that he was taking to deal with America’s immigration mess. Conservatives are apoplectic because the president is taking actions that the American Congress has refused to take – i.e., he is legalizing (a) almost four million illegal immigrants who are parents of American citizens and (b) several hundred thousand more who came here as children.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a legal memorandum – “The Department of Homeland Security’s Authority to Prioritize Removal of Certain Aliens Unlawfully Present in the United States and to Defer Removal of Others” – explaining why the president’s action is not an illegal abrogation of congressional powers.  Essentially, it says that temporarily deferring action for some illegal immigrants is a reasonable use of executive discretion. Interestingly, the memo makes a distinction between deferring action against the illegal-immigrant parents of children born in America (sometimes called anchor babies) and the parents of DREAMERS (illegal-immigrant children who were previously granted deferred action under DACA by President Obama):

  • The decision to grant deferred action to DACA parents thus seems to depend critically on the earlier decision to make deferred action available to their children. But we are aware of no precedent for using deferred action in this way, to respond to humanitarian needs rooted in earlier exercises of deferred action.”  [Wouldn’t it be ironic if DREAMERS, who were granted deferred action because, as minors, they weren’t personally culpable for their illegal entry, could serve as an anchor for their parents, who were in fact culpable for their illegal entry?] 

My initial inclination is to join the partisan outrage against this unilateral action by our newest Imperial President, but I must admit that ever since I ran for Congress in 2010, I have supported immigration reform that would include legalization of illegal immigrants who have lived in America for 5-10 years. Although these people initially came to America illegally, legalization is fair because our country has allowed them to establish roots. President Obama’s action did not go as far I would if I were emperor for a day.

But neither is President Obama emperor. He may be empowered as the chief executive to prioritize his efforts against illegal immigration, but in my opinion he isn’t empowered to legalize (work permits, etc.) illegal immigrants.

Ed Gillespie, who almost pulled off the senatorial upset of 2014, issued an op-ed piece today in the NY Times suggesting that the new GOP Congress needs to not just repeal ObamaCare, but also needs to pass an ObamaCare alternative.  I suggest they should do the same with respect to immigration. And if President Obama vetoes it, the 2016 election can be a referendum.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more policy arguments and less obstruction and dysfunction?

November 20, 2014

How you present yourself

Filed under: Culture,Facebook,Parenting — Mike Kueber @ 1:46 am
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Anyone who spends any time on Facebook will often encounter a poster lamenting that (a) most people don’t read the poster’s posters and (b) you can prove that you actually do read the poster’s posters by responding. Pretty lame, huh?

Well, I admit to often skipping over posts that aren’t accompanied by photos or graphics or links, and I did so this morning until it occurred to me in a delayed reaction that one my friends had used the word “pissed” in her lead sentence. So I backed up and read the following:

  • “It shocks me and pisses me off too, that teachers can talk to their students. And tell them, she can guess what their house looks like just by the way kids dress. So my kids prefer going to school in sweatpants and a t-shirt. My guess is her theory is false and she should watch how she talks to her class. But I guess it’s ok for some to judge……”

Not surprisingly, the post was followed by numerous sympathetic comments, to which my friend responded:

  • “Thanks everyone! I’m just sadden by the way people look down on others and judge them by their name or how they dress. We are all human and deserve to be treated equal.”

Even more outraged comments elicited the following admission:

  • “This teacher’s comment wasn’t addressed directly at my kids. It was directed at all students all the way down the kindergarten class. My point is my kids go to school clean and comfy. They are not dressed in all name brand clothes. But does that say our house looks dirty and messy. Just because that’s what she sees when she looks at kids who are not dressed to the hilt.”

Because the comments were exclusively from women (Venus), I decided to throw caution to the wind and provide the perspective of this man (Mars):

  • “Although we may not agree with it, authority figures judge people based on how they dress. They consider extremely casual dress (sweats and t-shirts, even pj and slippers) to be disrespectful. As Steven A. Smith says, It is all about how you present yourself to authority figures. Many people have suggested that Trayvon Martin and the kid from Ferguson, MO would not have been shot if they hadn’t been dressed like they were (e.g., the famous hoodie). But connecting a kid’s clothing with the parent’s house is clearly misguided. Kids typically dress themselves; parents keep the house clean and tidy. I have, however, teased co-workers that I can imagine what their house looks like after riding in their car or seeing their cluttered desk.”

Shortly after filing my perspective, I thought about providing a real-life example of the importance of how you present yourself:

  • A couple of years ago, my ex-girlfriend was complaining that she couldn’t find another good man. Then, one morning I offered to give her a ride to the airport, and she met me in sweatpants for comfort. I strongly suggested that she change into something more attractive, and she did. A couple of hours later, she called me to advise that some guy approached her while waiting in line at the airport and after a nice conversation she gave him her number. A few months ago, she took the guy’s last name.

Moral of the story – kids might dress like slobs when they are in college, but parents who let their kids dress like slobs at school before then are not doing them any favor.

November 18, 2014

Is it bad manners to brag about your kids?

Filed under: Facebook,Philosophy,Relationships — Mike Kueber @ 1:04 am
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This morning I woke up in a bad mood after suffering two losses in Fantasy Football yesterday, and my mood quickly worsened when I read a Facebook friend’s lengthy braggadocio about his college daughter. This friend, who is a well-known conservative politician, was “proud” that his daughter had competed successfully in a Moot Court competition. I will spare you the details, which were spread over three paragraphs.  This guy has a habit of this type of behavior, and I recalled him once saying, “I don’t like to brag, but Miss Perfect was recently named to the Dean’s List.”

I decided to post on the subject, not only because I was in a bad mood, but also because my memory was still fresh from reading yesterday about the George H.W. Bush family style of parenting, where their kids were taught that they were neither special nor entitled. (The Mitt Romney family seems cut from the same cloth.)

A little internet research revealed that my feelings were simpatico with many Americans. As one website noted:

  • At one time, boasting was considered poor form, an exercise in vanity and bad manners and to heap garlands of praise on a child, especially for their looks, was thought to be detrimental to the development of their good character.”

Another opined:

  • I also think in a round about way, it’s a means of bragging about yourself, without actually bragging about yourself.  Narcissistic? Absolutely.”

A NY Times blog assured me that I am not alone:

  • But a rare consensus has emerged on at least one topic. What subject could possibly be so clear-cut it has elicited once-in-a-generation unanimity? That parents should stop bragging about their children.”

The Times blog went on two suggest four guidelines for “acceptable chest-thumping”:

  1. Brag about how good a child you have, not how good a parent you are.
  2. Brag about effort, not accomplishment.
  3. Brag in context. People generally don’t mind if parents brag, as long as they don’t pretend they’re Stepford parents and their children are little angels. “I want to hear the bragging in the context of real, gritty, poopy life,” he said. “If you’re trying to sell me your perfect life, the hate machine starts humming again.”
  4. Follow “the bragging formula.” Another common piece of advice — each time you criticize someone, you should give multiple compliments — applies equally well in reverse. Each boast about a child should come surrounded by three negatives. My son is on the honor roll (but still wets his bed).

As I was doing my internet research, however, I gradually got a feeling of déjà vu, like I’ve examined this issue before. So I searched my blog for “parenting” posts, and sure enough I found a similar post from earlier this year titled “Bragging on your kids.”

The sources may have changed, but the conclusion is the same – an out-of-control ego is not a pretty thing.

November 16, 2014

Bush-43 on Bush-41

Filed under: Biography,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:04 pm
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George W. Bush has been making the rounds in the media this week to promote his new book, 41: A Portrait of My Father. “41” of course is a reference to his father, George H.W. Bush, being the 41st president of the United States. W. is known as Bush-43.

As part of the media promotion, Parade magazine this week published an excerpt from the first chapter of the book, dealing with Bush-41 parachuting on his 90th birthday.

But in addition to the excerpt, Parade published a brief interview of Bush-43 that, although directed at Bush-41, says a lot about Bush-43.

Two of the Q&As were as follows:

  • Your book proves that your father is different from the stiff, blue-blooded image that many have of him.
    • He is a blue blood in the sense that he was raised up in the East. But what people don’t realize is that his parents were from the Midwest, so there was inculcated in him some midwestern values. This is a man who worked incredibly hard in anything he did. In this case, he was selling oilfield supplies. As I put in the book, there were no trust funds; there were no guarantees. [I love how Bush-43 accepts the premise that Northeastern bluebloods are a unique breed, but then ameliorates that trait in his father due to some Midwestern roots.]
  • Your father has been a tremendous risk taker. Where do you think that came from?
    • I think it came from the early experiences. This is a man who at age 17 decides to join the navy and not go to college, against the advice of his father and [Secretary of War] Henry Stimson, for example. He wanted to serve. Then he gets shot down—and by the way, flying off of carriers was very risky—and survives. To me, the rest of the risks that he took in his life were minor compared to that. [I love how Bush-43 placed in proper context the difference between business and political risks as compared to life-or-death risks.]

November 15, 2014

Servants, etc.

Filed under: Culture — Mike Kueber @ 9:25 pm
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I recently blogged about American exceptionalism and noted that egalitarianism is one of its key components. Egalitarianism, according to Wikipedia, is a doctrine “that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status.”

Because of my recent bingeing on Jane Austen and the landed gentry in early 18th-century England, I have been exposed to dramatic examples on non-egalitarian life. By contrast, I was born & bred on a farm in North Dakota, a state that is probably more egalitarian than most.

That statement about North Dakota obviously depends on your definition of “equal fundamental worth or social status.” As a practical example of egalitarianism in North Dakota, I had to move to Texas to learn the honorifics “sir” and “Mr.,” and this informality made it difficult for me to deal with judges who insisted on being called “Your Honor.” Or when I was in Army ROTC, saluting to upper classmen.  Who do they think they are, better than me?

I suggest that an egalitarian people don’t have other people as servants; they don’t pay other people to pamper them; they don’t continually crave VIP status/recognition; they don’t enjoy unctuous waiters who fawn over them.

Of course, not everyone chooses to be egalitarian. But that would be un-American.

Saturday Night at the Movies #132 – Sense & Sensibilities

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 1:19 pm
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Following up on my fascination with Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, I watched another movie adaptation, Sense & Sensibilities (1995), which is based on her 1811 “novel of manners” – i.e., according to Wikipedia, a literary genre that deals with aspects of behavior, language, customs and values characteristic of a particular class of people in a specific historical context.

This romantic drama is blessed with a strong cast, including Emma Thompson (Howards End), Kate Winslet (Titanic), Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber in Die Hard), and Hugh Grant (Notting Hill). As with the Bennet ladies in Pride & Prejudice, the protagonist females in Sense & Sensibilities – Elinor and Marianne Dashwood – are part of the landed gentry (i.e., people able to live off the rental income of their real estate), but due to male primogeniture their all-female brood is in danger of losing its lofty status.

Although many men (and women) of Austen’s time (as well as our current time) place heavy emphasis on social and financial standing in selecting their life partner, the Dashwood sisters are lucky to find two gentleman who place more stock on making a selection based on romantic love.

The movie scored an amazing 98% with the Rotten Tomato critics and almost as well with the audience – 90%. Plus, there were Oscar nominations for the movie and Thompson’s acting and her script.  (Thompson claims the movie dialogue didn’t track the book as faithfully as adaptations of later Austin books because the dialogue in this book, her first, was more “arcane.”)  I didn’t like it as well as Pride & Prejudice because the characters are not as engaging – Thompson is too dispassionate (sense), Winslet is too passionate (sensibility), Grant is effeminate, and Rickman lacks charisma. But I still like it enough to give it three and a half stars out of four.

November 14, 2014

Sunday Book Review #150 – Pride & Prejudice

Filed under: Book reviews — Mike Kueber @ 2:52 pm
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A couple of months ago I watched a 2005 film production of Jane Austen’s classic, Pride & Prejudice, and then blogged about it very favorably.  After reading my post, a friend/law-school classmate in Austin told me that he had liked the movie so much that he watched an earlier BBC-miniseries production of the book and then actually read the book, both of which he highly recommended to me.

Well, I was certainly willing to watch the BBC production, which brought fame to Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, but I doubted that I had the willpower to read a 1813 book described by Wikipedia as a “novel of manners.” Then last week, my reading queue got low, and I decided to give the book a chance.

My Austin friend, who called the book quite romantic, was absolutely correct. And although I thought the 2005 movie focused on four distinct romances, the book is more centered on the Cinderella story of one person – Elizabeth Bennet. Her story, which occurs more than 100 years after the original Cinderella, is exceedingly well conceived and well executed through a wonderful blend between the narrator and lengthy dialogue.

The intimidation factor in reading an 1813 “novel of manners” was greatly ameliorated by procuring a heavily annotated edition of the book from the SA library. The annotations not only provided definitions of unfamiliar words, but also provided context for unfamiliar situations. And best of all, it provided some critical analysis of the book. Although I often blog about books and movies, I have no background or study in how to critically analyze them, and that is something that I need to remedy in the future.

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