Do Better Thursday: Levi’s Soapbox "Enough Is Too Much"

Enough Is Too Much by Levi F. Daniels
So once again it would seem the mercurial American public has once again expressed its discontent with Washington, DC (i.e. the Government) as a concept.  And as always it has done so with fervent protest, inane only partially informed arguments, and a variety of surveys that the gainfully employed among us rarely get an opportunity to participate in (not that we’d answer an unfamiliar phone number anyway).  Which brings me to a recent article in the Express (so with a grain of salt we take this) that says that approximately 80 percent (80% = vast majority) of Americans distrust the government.  Now the article posits this phenomenon as ominous and/or problematic, especially for democratic incumbents seeking re-election this fall.  The article also asserts that this particular distrustful condition has given rise to the Tea Party and other like-minded groups who feel there is just too much government “in my business”.   

Now all of this ill-feeling arouses a curious look from me.  It isn’t that I don’t understand distrust of the government in general but I just don’t understand why “we” see this as new somehow.  The forefathers and/or architects of our beloved Constitution asserted the notion that the government should be monitored to ensure that it is acting in the interest of its citizens.  A bit of paranoia resulting from having just eschewed a government you felt was doing quite the opposite.  Hence all this nonsense about the right to have guns, free speech, and public assembly.  All of which, we see as the nifty trappings of a democratic society.

Next there are the arguments for distrust, chief among them being corruptions (bad Government bad).  Once again I think history offers us a little perspective on this.  What was common among those who were both able to vote and those who eventually put their “John Hancocks” as it were on our governing document?  Take a moment…I’ll wait.  Well for a hint just look at the first three letters in your browser after the “/”.  They were Wealthy, White, “With” land, ok so the like “W” is a bit of a stretch but you get the point.  Now think for a second, how many folks do you think fit that description at that time.  Answer, not too many, which leads me to believe that this country has always been “guided” by the few much to the chagrin of the many.

Finally what makes me more suspicious of this “distrust” is its timing.  Now of course I don’t have empirical evidence, partially because my job won’t let me call you randomly at 2 o’clock in the daytime when you aren’t home to ask you questions, but I don’t remember this same level of distrust in the last presidency or even the one preceding it for that matter.  Those presidencies brought us both a perceived bumbler with a gun fetish and a philanderer with a penchant for oval office copulation.  And yet, no raucous chants of distrust en masse.  Now of course throughout both of these presidencies we were high on the hog so to speak, both our coffers and our pantries full.  Now in the wake of a financial nuclear winter “we” find “ourselves” a little vexed and who shall bare the brunt of our discontent but our beloved whooping boy, the Government.  

Levi F. Daniels
Common Sense Advocate

Clarion Call for Common Sense: Tea Party or a Bunch of Wet Bags?

Clarion Call for Common Sense: Tea Party or a Bunch of Wet Bags?
Now I would hope someone reading this would correct me were I wrong but wasn’t the tea party a demonstration of a group of colonists railing against a monarchy that taxed them without offering them any real voice in said government?  So I am a bit perplexed at this “fringe” group of Americans that have named their group after the aforementioned demonstration.  If in fact they really were concerned about whether or not the government is truly beholden to its constituents why not attack special interest contributions or better yet that infernal electoral college?  There’s a practice that has elicited a curious glare from discerning citizens since its creation.  But of course such things are out of the question.  Instead the tea party is much more content to rail against the vile democrats and their evil mission to ensure that more Americans receive at least basic health care than don’t.  Shame on them.  Now, to be sure, this plan, made law on March 23, 2010 will be expensive but how much so, we don’t actually know and we won’t know all of the implications for many years.  Oddly enough we could say the same for another hotly contested piece of legislation, the vaunted Patriot Act.  On the surface, the law was simply a reaction to our precious security being breeched at the onset of the horrendous events of 9/11 but left to its own devices and a little shrewd interpretation, our Wilsonian paranoia might give way to Orwellian surveillance of the entire population.  Think Cointellpro on a much grander scale with much better technology.  Anything from the tea party on that one?  Yep, just as you might’ve guessed, still waiting.  So what’s the point of all this tea party crashing?  Mainly, just venting my general irritation with a stilted binary argument resulting from an inane two party system that doesn’t completely represent the full scope of American life.  
Also hoping someone reading this has an opinion as well…
Levi F. Daniels
Common Sense Advocate

Clarion Call for Common Sense: Chomp and Choke

Clarion Call for Common Sense: Chomp and Choke

Tis once again time for me to issue my Clarion Call for Common Sense.  This time the source of my ire is the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Now, I am not ashamed to say that I had no idea this organization even existed but boy are they on the map now.  For those of you also unaware allow me to give you the long and short of things.  The AAP has requested that labels be placed on foods they believe are a choking hazard for young children.  Such items include but are not limited to hot dogs, carrots, and grapes.  I must say I really don’t understand any of this.  Am I alone in thinking that this overture is not only a bit dim but a colossal waste of this organization’s time?  Perhaps they are looking for publicity, but I can’t conceive of an instance where such a warning is necessary or useful.  When is the last time a kid choked on a hot dog? And for that matter how?  Was he/she trying to do so?  If so then that’s another discussion entirely and the poor National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (another organization I didn’t know existed) should not be held responsible?  Once again, I think that a simpler solution is available and might even be more viable.  Just imagine with me for a second, parents watching their children such that potential choking hazards are mitigated by attentiveness.  Even more profound is the watchful parent that cuts the hot dog into manageable pieces a child might easily digest.  Dear God! This sheer profundity of common sense frightens even this avid advocate and practitioner.  In all seriousness though, labels? Is that really the solution?  Perhaps the AAP’s time might better spend drafting a pamphlet to educate new parents then leveraging that to secure a grant and then use the money to distribute the pamphlets to doctor’s offices and hospitals.  If they wanted to be particularly avant garde they could even partner with a grocery store chain and in order to educate the public of such hazards.  Anything is better than more stupid labels that will confuse and scare parents.

Levi F. Daniels
Common Sense Advocate

Do Better Thursday: Doing It ??? – Levi’s Soapbox "Mis-Reid"

Doing It??? 
Editor’s Note: This weeks “Doing It???” moment will be address by Levi Daniels “Levi’s Soapbox”… Enjoy…

Mis-Reid By Levi F. Daniels

So by now I’m sure you’ve heard the reporting of and commentary about the statements made by Sen. Harry Reid to one of the authors of “Game Change”.  Strangely enough, given the confidence under which these remarks were made, I am reminded of the old adage, “discretion is the better part of valor.” But in a society seemingly overrun with people submitting their every incoherent brain fart in 140 character increments, either the old adage is wrong or valor ain’t so important anymore.

But I digress; let’s take a brief moment to examine what Mr. Reid said.  When asked what he thought of Obama’s chances as a presidential candidate, Reid stated Obama was a “light-skinned black man with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one”.  The statement is of course very telling.  From the first portion we can easily discern that Harry Reid is sighted.  Otherwise how else would he know that Obama was in fact a light-skinned black man?  That man has a kung-fu grip of the obvious.  The second part of the statement tells us that Mr. Reid actually hears quite well.  Not only was he able to note that Mr. Obama not only speaks in a manner becoming a Senator but that he also has a keen ability to code switch.  This very observation teeters more on profundity than racism.  Now I know what you’re thinking, “But that’s not that POINT! What the *expletive* is a Negro Dialect?!?”  To which I respond, “C’mon Son!”  From Paul Lawrence Dunbar to Ed Lover we are all well aware of what a Negro dialect is even if we wouldn’t call it that.

Are we just arguing semantics?  Honestly, what did Reid say, that at its core, was incorrect or improper?  Actually before you answer, let’s get a few things out of the way.  We do not live in a post racial United States.  For every T-Shirt, website and poster using Obama’s image to invoke Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” there are hundreds of news articles, images, and video segments to the contrary.  Not to mention the desperate conditions prevalent in minority and poor (that’s right these are mutually exclusive conditions) communities across the US. So, again I ask, what did Reid say that was so wrong or any different that what we’ve said amongst ourselves?  Every honest self respecting Black person has admitted at some point or another that a darker skinned Black man would be a tough sell to all of America irrespective or his credentials.  Moreover, these same self-respecting Black people would not dream of their child or anyone with whom they were affiliated walking into a professional setting speaking in vernacular, slang, or any variation therein.  They would find the suggestion a bit embarrassing, damning and maybe even regressive.  As a matter of fact, I remember a wave a fear coming over me when I saw Obama walk in a fashion I recognized as uniquely “urban” when he met Biden on stage after he accepted the VP nomination. Ultimately, others noticed but little was said nationally.  In truth, the real issue speaks to a statement made by Eric Holder early in his tenure as Attorney General, America is scared to talk about race.  But not just White America, all of America is to some degree terrified of the subject. That is because a true discussion requires the airing of not only other’s dirty laundry but yours as well.  So, I suppose, all I ever really ask whenever America gets on her high horse “Condemnation” (by the way could you imagine that name over the loud speakers at the Preakness) is that she takes a moment to take stock of her own behavior.  Real honest self-reflection shows us that we are all of capable of potentially regrettable behavior and in turn reveals to us either the innate qualities or external forces preventing said behavior.  Thus, in closing we call upon the wisdom of the fallen king of pop to bring sense to an otherwise maddening world.

– Levi F. Daniels

Do Better Thursday – Commentary: Taming of the Shrew

(the following commentary is in response to The Washington Post 
profile of Helena Andrews written by DeNeen L. Brown)
 Taming of the Shrew by Levi F. Daniels
“Bitch Is the New Black”, the literary and cinematic brainchild of Ms. Helena Andrews, claims to provide insight into the mind of the upwardly mobile, more than sufficiently educated black woman.  But if the interview with the author is any indication, neither piece will hold up to even marginal scrutiny.  And what’s worse, will do less to debunk a given archetype than it will to add yet another to the pantheon of one-dimensional black female caricatures.

The version of Black women presented in the article is a take no prisoners, maven of the corporate world, whose tragic flaw (because every hero must have one) is their inability to locate a suitable suitor.  The acknowledgement of her plight is followed by an existential inquiry; why? Why is it that someone who seems to have everything, can have something as simple as love, elude her grasp.   The story sounds both heart warming and star-crossed.

So I dig a bit deeper in hopes of discerning the poor woman’s standards.  Surely she can’t want that much.  Alas, I was right.  In the article she mentioned academic qualifications, automobiles and professions.  Dating this woman was beginning to sound more like a job listing than a romantic engagement.  It’s no wonder she hasn’t been able to connect with any one she’s dated, she doesn’t seem to have any discernable interests one could connect.  I would liken the experience to a treadmill, you certain feel as if you gone somewhere but ultimately you end up where you started.

Of course it should be noted that the concerns of Black women are not without merit.  As more and more of them outpace their counterparts in the acquisition of undergraduate degrees, let alone more advanced degrees, they may find themselves experiencing increased difficulty connecting on equal ground intellectually with the opposite sex.  But, the problem is only exacerbated when one party seems to completely eschew meaningful innate qualities for material acquisition and one-note facades.

Which leads me to another portion of the author’s diatribe.  In addition to bemoaning the romantic plight of the buppie woman, she does take the time to identify at least one source of their angst, in the landmark sitcom The Cosby Show.  In this companion segment, she talks about the ideal of Claire and Heathcliff Huxtable, alluding to their academic, professional, and financial successes.  She asserts that she and women like her yearn for the doctor to accompany their lawyer, the house, the children, and ultimately happiness.  

However, I think she misses some key nuances of the show and it is that oversight that only further impedes her romantic progression.  To be sure, Heathcliff Huxtable was not always the high earning OBGYN that Claire married.  In college he bumbled, erred, and spoke without thinking.  These instances would form the basis for many of her best anecdotes about him.  Yet her stories offered other insights that stood juxtaposed to his shortcomings.  He was also persistent, steadfast, earnest, and honest.  No doubt, lovable qualities Claire came to appreciate and highlight. 

In essence, I suppose I would hope for more intrinsic qualities to be sought out by both males and females, maybe then we might begin to establish deeper, more substantive bonds and end the cycle of blame that plagues both parties.

– Levi F. Daniels

Clarion Call for Common Sense: Window Shade Recall

“Hi, yes… can you please tell my mom to move my crib from the damn window?”
Clarion Call for Common Sense: Window Shade Recall
Recently, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall for all Roman-style shades and roll-up blinds on the grounds that the cords were a strangulation hazard for small children.  According to reports some 5 children have been killed since 2006 while some 16 others were injured as a result of these dangling deathtraps. 

So, in light of this most unfortunate situation we must ask ourselves, what is a parent to do?  With some 50 million blinds affected as a result of this recall, is no infant safe from an inadvertent hanging?

It is at this point that I feel compelled to issue my clarion call for common sense.  Is it just me, or have venetian blinds always been a little dangerous?  I distinctly remember the metal versions in my aunt’s apartment that could have cut me deeply were I left to my own devices to rub my forearms feverishly across them.  Where was the recall then?  Why was there no public outcry? 

As I pondered these questions it dawned on me.  The lack of public outcry is a direct correlation to the level of common sense present among the preceding generation.  You see, instead of insisting the government issue some cockamamie, almost unenforceable recall, they came up with their own solutions.

Chief among them was moving the crib away from the window.  What a splendid solution!  I mean, let’s examine it for a moment.  By simply moving the crib away from the dangerous item you mitigate its adverse effect on your child.  Still, that solution might be too involved.  Honestly, who wants to move the entire crib?  So we come up with a different solution.   This one keeps the crib where it is next to the window but moves the cord.   Either of these solutions is viable and does not require governmental intervention.

Which brings me to another issue I have.  In 2007 4,317,119 children were born.  Now let’s say that the unfortunate incidents occurred in 2007 the percentage of children in danger as a result of Roman shades would amount to .00000116 (just in case any of you have forgotten your decimal places, we’re in the millionths here).  To further illustrate my point, even if you calculated the percentage based on every child affected (that’s 21 for those keeping score) it still only amounts to .00000486 (still in the millionths).  Now, I in no way mean to imply that any life is unimportant, simply that these incidents are isolated and probably don’t warrant the alarm that they seem to be receiving.  Perhaps the onus should be placed on the parents, and not the companies. 

I only offer food for thought, do with it what you will.

Dig in,

Levi F. Daniels
Common Sense Advocate

Do Better Thursday – Commentary: Levi’s Soapbox "Tiger’s Lament"

Tiger’s Lament
Levi Daniels

So it would appear that the sports media and perhaps even the general media outlets got what they wanted, a full but no less carefully worded admission of guilt from one Tiger Woods. This new statement, among other things, gives the National Enquirer yet another “told ya so” feather in their proverbial cap and provides America with the means to engage in yet another one of its favorite pastimes (yes that’s right, move over baseball), looking down at the uber rich with moral disgust. America is nothing if not deeply conflicted and still nursing our deranged love/hate relationship with the wealthy. I mean, honestly, what’s not to hate about these people? While the regular joe is trying to make ends meet by navigating the unseemly and erratic ebb and flow of the corporate world, the rich sit comfortably above the fray, seemingly mocking us with the lack of concern or better still, with their feigned concern. Surely it isn’t enough to have all of your needs met while we struggle you have to rub it in our faces, what with your fancy cars, opulent abodes and lavish vacations to destinations we can only dream of. And yet, even that isn’t enough for you, you rich people with all of your money can’t seem to hold a marriage together without a hint of indiscretion. Never mind, that we in the general public with our collective 55% martial success rate haven’t quite got it right either, but at least we have an excuse, money.

It is well known, if only anecdotally, that a good number of marriages end because of some money woe. So it is only logical to believe that if that particular resource was abundant then we might mitigate that pesky divorce issue. And what do you do rich people? Complete turn our solution on its ear or which ever way provides an appropriate angle for coitus. You people won’t even allow us to have our delusions of money as a panacea.

By now I would hope my sarcasm isn’t lost on you the reader. Without a doubt there are many reasons to dislike the rich in all of the greedy self serving forms but does that give all reason to chase down Tiger just to force him to divulge his dirty secret? Who really cares if he cheated on his wife? Does that in any way diminish his prowess as a golfer? I’d venture to say no and will look forward to seeing him perform at the high level he has up to this point. Any indiscretion outside of that will have to be discussed with both he and the people he may have hurt as a result. I would imagine our collective time is better spent examining the multi-front war that has stretched thin our military and cost us billions or the very deep recession that has nearly everyone in America and beyond scared for their financial lives. And if all of that is simply too heavy for you, then do seek solace in our sporting events sitcoms, dramas with happy endings or contrived reality shows. But I would urge you to limit your comments to what you have actively observed and not that which you have not.

– Levi Daniels