25 June 2011

Karl Marx Is Not Gay. Not That There's Anything Wrong With That.

"Two guys wanna get married?  Well, that's just stupid."
                                                                                   Eight year old Luke Bean

"The Take Back the Land Movement is rooted in the following principles: housing is a human right; local community control over land and housing."
                                                                                   Take Back the Land Mission Statement

New York State is really making headlines lately.  Former Congressman Andrew Weiner finally stepped down after weeks of Weiner jokes following his sexting of almost every woman in the U.S. under the age of twenty-five.  The odd thing to me was that our capacity for outrage has become so burned out that news of Weiner's texting a high-school girl was met with a shrug of the shoulders and a "Congressmen will be Congressmen" indifference.  Yeah, the guy is/was a deviant.  I don't think he is the type of public servant that Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he envisioned our Nation's representatives.

New York made the national news again last night when it passed the Gay Marriage Bill into law.  In thirty days it won't be just Adam and Eve getting married, but also Adam and Steve (as well as Guy and Manny, Neil and Bob, etc).  My nephew's reaction to the uproar was classic eight-year old brevity: "Two guys wanna get married? Well, that's just stupid."  I don't think that my nephew is biased against gay people but those on the fringes of the political spectrum may disagree.  There is suspicion and distrust everywhere of every representative of the straight, white, male social structure, even (I'm sure) amongst the elementary schoolers.  Wake up people!  Our children are being brainwashed that eating meat, driving cars, earning money and trusting the police are all okay and socially acceptable.  What will become of our society with these sorts of values?  Just think of all these elementary school kids as adults, obeying the speed limit as they drive to work, paying their taxes and coming home to eat a steak with their families, or worse yet, some venison tenderloins from a deer they shot and killed.  It's a Lefty's worst nightmare.  Personally, I miss Ronald Reagan.  He was steady as a rock.  Sure, he cut welfare spending and increased our military budget tenfold, but he was a good foil for a young kid like myself that was anti-Establishment.  Like D.J. says, "If you're twenty and you're not a rebel, you have no balls.  If you're thirty and you're not part of the Establishment, then you have no brains."  I have had both and neither.
Bill Clinton and Al Gore share an intimate moment

I was conflicted when I heard that New York may allow two women to get married, and I wasn't sure what to think, so I did a little research.  College-Girls and Pinkbabes were both useful websites with some very informative videos regarding the marriage issue, apparently also known as "Girl On Girl".  I did not know that so many teenage girls had friends' moms that were willing to hold them and comfort them and do other things to them just to make them feel better when they were going through some rough times emotionally.  I still don't know if two women should get married.   Sure, two ugly women getting married wouldn't bother me but, as for the hotties, I am still determined and willing to watch as many videos as it takes to arrive at an informed opinion.

Emily Good was another New Yorker to make the national news, having been featured on the Huffington Post, Glenn Beck, MSNBC, Newsday, Fox News, and USA Today, as well as many other news outlets.  Ms. Good was arrested on her own property for videotaping members of the Rochester Police Department making a traffic stop.  She wanted to get evidence of racial profiling in her neighborhood which, she says, happens all the time.  In this case the officers were white and the person they pulled over was black which, of course (according to Emily), would be racial profiling.  During an interview with the Democrat and Chronicle she noted that the officers making the traffic stop were white and she ran into the house to get her camera to record evidence of their crime.  The cops come off a bit short-tempered in the video and it appears that the arresting officer acts quickly once he makes up his mind to arrest Ms. Good.  She keeps shouting "I don't understand what's happening," as he is arresting her, which would have been funny if it wasn't so......okay, it was kind of funny.

I have been subjected to racial profiling once and non-racial profiling another time.  My friend Tony Mouzon (may he rest in peace) lived off Clifford Ave. in the city.  There was a crackhouse at the end of his street.  I was driving an old pick-up truck at the time and was (and still am) white.  The first time I went to his house to pick him up for work, I sat in my truck outside his house and waited there.  After waiting for a few minutes, I aroused the suspicion of his neighbors.  What is this white guy doing on our street?  The short and most logical answer to them is that I was there to buy drugs.  That is why most young, white males came to this African-American neighborhood.  When Tony came out of the house I saw him have a quick conversation with one of his neighbors that was standing on their porch.  When he got in my truck he was laughing and said that his neighbor was getting ready to call the cops on me.  I liked the idea of Tony having vigilant neighbors who cared about what was happening on their street.  I liked it even more that they would do something about it.  My other profiling incident was when I had long hair and was a passenger in a car that was traveling in a well known drug corridor headed to Washington, D.C.  We didn't know we were in a "drug corridor" as the officer called it.  It was the same route that my parents took when I was in fifth grade and we were driving to Florida.  We were just on the highway, going to see the dinosaurs at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum.  The cops said that they pulled us over for speeding but I am pretty sure they pulled us over because we had New York license plates.  It was an undercover car and I think they had shadowed us for a ways to get a good look at us.  Like I said, I had a lot of hair.  They made us wait while they brought a drug-sniffing dog onto the scene.  Did we do anything wrong that would warrant our getting pulled over?  No.  But we did fit the profile.   

Distrust of the Establishment was a given in the post-Sixties/Watergate society that I grew up in.  My first year away at college was 1986 and we were still in the wake of the 1960's.  The Grateful Dead were making a comeback, Hunter Thompson was essential reading, and the drugs of choice were still pot and acid.  Politically and socially, the Sixties cast a long shadow, like an overachieving big brother that me and my friends would never measure up to.  Not that we cared much.  We were doing our own thing.  We still carried a distrust of the Man, the Establishment, and Big Brother, but I don't think that's what Emily Good's deal is. Sure, if you read her Facebook page you will see comments like "very corrupt and they are out of control!" and "RPD must love wasting money and resources by just being douches" and  "Your story is living proof that America is looking more and more like a Police State" but I think that she thinks the problem goes deeper than that.  I think she subscribes to the theory that the police are just a part of the problem in our society, a tool of the Establishment to keep the needy and impoverished in their place, and to maintain the status quo for the Haves, the people who run or support Big Oil, Big Banks, and Big Fill-In-The-Blank.  I am certainly not the first person to defend the police.  I have had plenty of run-ins with cops who were jerks but I don't think the guy making a traffic stop is doing so because he's defending some secret network where white, priveleged males get everything handed to them.  He's just a guy enforcing the law who wants to get home alive at the end of the day.  The arresting officer in Ms. Good's case may be wrong but I don't think he's part of a bigger conspiracy.

Karl Marx
The Rochester Police Department was also put on the spot earlier this year when Ms. Good and others were protesting the foreclosure of a home in the city.  On March 28 of this year two dozen RPD officers executed an eviction notice at the former home of Catherine Lennon, a Rochester woman who had her home foreclosed on.  She hadn't made a mortgage payment in nearly two years and either she ignored warning letters from the bank or the bank refused to discuss refinancing with her.  She was called the "Rosa Parks of the Housing Market" because she stood up to the Big Bank (in this case Fannie Mae) who foreclosed on her house.  Fannie Mae was bailed out with taxpayer money two years ago, lending a murkiness to the morality of home foreclosures of taxpayers who supposedly are paying the bills of the institution kicking them out of their house.  Along with this, Fannie Mae is currently being investigated for fraud.  With the help of an organinzation known as Take Back the Land, Ms. Lennon returned to her home, and awaits further action.  Or something.  I don't really know.  I do know that Take Back the Land, or TBTL, has a mission statement that reads as follows:

Take Back the Land Rochester believes that housing is a human right, not a commodity. We believe that land and housing should be controlled by the community, not the banks. In order to elevate housing to a human right and secure community control over land we defend people from foreclosure-related evictions and assist homeless people to move into vacant, bank-owned homes. In this process we are wresting land from the control of the banks and turning it back to our community in the form of community land trusts—where land can be taken off the speculative market. As long as housing occurs at the whim of the banks and the market homelessness and poverty will plague our community forever. In short, housing should be for people not for profit. That‘s why we’re taking back the land!

These houses - which are the private property of the bank - must not be sold "for profit" (because making a profit is just wrong apparently) but rather be held by a "collective" and given to homeless people and others in a lower economic strata, particularly women of color.  I have just a few issues with the TBTL, and when I say a few, I mean everything they stand for.  To wit:
               - Housing is not a human right any more than having a car is a human right. It is not a human right that you should have what your neighbor has even though you don't work for it. However, if you can't afford to pay for your own housing, sign up for Social Services and the New York state government will subsidize your housing. That's pretty nice of them.
               - Land and housing costs money. Whoever owns it, gets to control it. It's called private property. Go to school, get good grades, get a scholarship to go to college (or take loans like everyone else), then get a job. Save your money, pay your bills, establish good credit and then buy a house. Or don't.
               - If you are a homeless person, you should be able to squat on someone else's property and the TBTL will protest that it's not fair that you, who are an alcoholic/drug addict who has never worked for more than three months at one job, don't have the same living conditions as the person who worked and saved their money.  Huh?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness does not guarantee that you get to own a house, especially not a house that you don’t pay for.  I know that everyone has an excuse nowadays.  Weiner sexts underage girls and then checks himself into rehab. For what? To cure himself of being a creep? Yes, the job market is barren, but that doesn't mean you can quit paying your mortgage. If banks like Fannie Mae are using predatory interest rates then foreclosing unfairly, then there should be investigations to see if laws were broken. If we need legislation to prevent predatory bank practices, then let's pass those laws. We were founded as a nation with the power of law, not man. We have no King and there is no Judge that does not have to answer to the rule of law. If our system works properly then we cannot be convicted on a judge's whim. If the system works properly.  But the citizens have to be held accountable to the law as well.

It's insulting to Rosa Parks to call Lennon the "Rosa Parks" of the housing market. Owning your own home is not a human right.  Being able to work and go to school without prejudice or fear of reprisal because of your race or social status is.  Human rights are generally the right not to have awful things done to you. You can determine your own fate. You can vote and you can vote without getting your head bashed in. You have a right to private property and you have the right to be protected from unlawful searches and seizures. You have the right to be protected by the law, regardless of your color, creed, or sexual orientation.  You can't be beaten or tortured by the police or held without cause.  In New York, you have the right to marry someone of the same sex with equal protection under the law.  I don’t think that people have a right to free housing or free food. It is by the largesse of our brothers and sisters in society that we are charitable enough to help the less fortunate, even those who refuse to meet society half way.

It has become fashionable to bash Big Oil (the Gulf spill), Big Banks (where did the bailout money go?), cops (why are they harassing that poor girl?), people not of color (they lack compassion for immigrants even though our families were all immigrants), people who try to make money, carnivores, people who don't recycle, people who don't believe in global warming (I'm not convinced) and people that like Sarah Palin (this I understand).   I am never going to apologize for making money or eating meat or driving my car.   I'd like to live in a world where college education is free, healthcare is free, museums are free and frequent, and libraries and parks are the center of every town.  My dream society is a true meritocracy, one that rewards hard work and skill and talent and vision, a nation in which the best man or woman gets the job because they do the best job. We are all lucky to live in America.  Of course if society goes the other way then I would like to request a house now.  Preferably somewhere near a lake. With a patio, because I like to grill. Oh, by the way, I'll need a grill.


  1. I eat meat, I drive a car, (60 miles round-trip a day) I don't recycle, I am not fond of big energy companies that want to poison my water and I think cops are assholes. Just about every single one of them.

  2. Ha very true Mr. A. Marcellus Shale has been running ads in NY beause they want to start drilling here. I laugh when they talk about jobs for truck drivers and motel clerks but not the mysterious fluid that they use for hydrofracking (they call it hydraulic fracturing in the ad).