Panhandling in Brighton, Michigan

I live in the fine city of Brighton, Michigan, which is a bedroom community Just North of a more famous town named Ann Arbor.  We pride ourselves on the charity events that pervade our local paper on an almost weekly basis and charity organizations dot our community.  That’s why I balked last week when I saw a family on my local street corner begging for money.  An obviously hispanic man, his heavy-set wife, and two children were on display along with a sign that read “Please help my family return home”.  All of this directly in front of the major grocery store in the heart of our city.

Two days later they appeared again, but the husband looked different.  He was a taller, Mexican man, and not as tan.  The wife was the same heavy-set woman along with the two small children who were perched on a blue cooler in the parking lot of my local Meijer store.    A Brighton police officer was talking with them and left the scene as I went into the store to get my groceries, so I thought little of it.    They looked like they were in need. People were stopping to give them money.   I almost felt the need to give them a few dollars for gas money, but I was suspicious.

Two more days passed and I see this family on the opposite street corner collecting money from passing cars as they pulled into and out of the grocery store:


This time the father wasn’t Mexican. He was middle-eastern. And the two children sat on the same blue cooler used in the last two days of panhandling. Something was amiss, so I decided to investigate. As I pulled into the parking lot adjacent to the family, I got a nod from the two adults. After I pulled out my cellphone and started taking pictures, their attitude changed immediately. The “father” started approaching my vehicle and in a threatening, heavy middle-eastern accented way, demanded I stop taking pictures of his family. I told him that I was free to take as many pictures of him as I pleased and that’s when he came closer to my car in a more threatening manner. This is his photo:suspect_1

He told me I was scaring his family and putting them in danger by taking pictures. I told him standing on the street corner and disrupting traffic was dangerous and if he was really in need, I could tell him where to go for help. He demanded I leave and that I had no right to photograph him. Then he pulled out his iphone 5s and told me he wasn’t poor, but had fallen on hard times recently. I told him to sell his iphone to feed his family. He gave me the finger and continued to yell as he left to resume his business on the corner. His belligerent and threatening demeanor told me there was nothing humble about this scam artist. He and the woman had a few words and then the “wife” decided to approach my vehicle. Here is her photo:suspect_2

She also demanded I stop photographing her and tried to snatch the camera from my hands. I recoiled and then she struck me in the chest with her open hand. I informed her she just broke the law and the police would soon be arriving which prompted the team to pack up and leave the scene in a white, Dodge minivan with a black, hardtop luggage carrier. They have California plates and have been seen in numerous places in Livingston county, begging for money and Target gift cards. If you see them, please do not offer them assistance or give any money to their enterprise. Unfortunately, the police are powerless to remove them. They have the freedom of assembly and of speech on public property. But, that also means you have the freedom to call them on their scam and humiliate them enough to leave.

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White Actors Playing People Of Color Are Not Racists

For some, casting a white actor to portray a person of color is the epitome of racism.  I’ve come across this concept in the past, but recently saw a few articles on this topic in rapid succession.   The theory is that any role that is identified as a specific ethnic group must be portrayed by an actor of the same ethnic group -or else, it’s inherently racist.  This topic comes up often, usually when a Korean actor is portraying a Chinese person in a role.   That MUST be racist, right?   While it sounds logical at face value, the theory of race representation in theater is itself a racist philosophy.

Many famous minority movie roles have been portrayed by white actors.  Articles such as “Top 10 White Actors Who Played People of Color (and Why this Needs to Stop)” at explain this practice as insulting and racist.   Allowing Elvis to play a native American, or Nataile Wood to portray a Puerto Rican is not authentic, and insulting to any particular ethnic group when there are so many available actors to fill these roles who originate from the ethnic group in question.     There may be, yet the article’s author wants to force a form of social justice that simply has no basis in reality.   The reality is that movies are made for the sole purpose of making money for the investors.  Movies don’t get made for generosity, or out of the goodness of one’s heart.  That may be the purpose of screenwriters or some directors, but the backer who bankrolls the endeavor expects to get a return on the investment.  Big names draw movie ticket sales, and unknowns are, well, unknown.  In the investment world, betting on a proven, big name earner is less risky than dealing with unknown variables who may or may not make back the investment at the box office.   So, the decision becomes, who can we hire to make sure we get our money back and maybe make a profit – not how can we be racist and insult people of color.  It’s not a personal affront, it’s a business decision.

Well, boo hoo, you say.  Profits should not outweigh the need to be racially representative and accurate.  Sorry, but they outweigh anyone’s right to demand to be an armchair casting producer.   Especially in the world of “make-believe”.     Never forget that the entertainment industry is a platonic world of imagination, where actors don costumes and makeup to pretend to be other people.  That’s why they’re called “actors.”   It wasn’t that long ago that all actors were male, and portrayed all female parts.  Was that sexist?   Yeah, but so what.  IT just says that women were too smart to travel the countryside with a bunch of smelly men who wore dresses and makeup.  An actors charge is to make you believe they are someone else.   If you want Angelina Jolie to be replaced with a Cuban actor in A Mighty Heart(2007)  get off your couch, write a script, hire an actress and bankroll your own flick.  Wait, is Cuban an ethnic group?   According to the Buzzfeed piece, yes.    Following this logic, Israelites must now only be played by Israelies. Floridians must now only be played by Floridians.  Panamanians and Chileans too?  Yes, in order to be properly represented and proportioned says contemporary wisdom.   So, race has been superceded by geographical origin and it’s under-representation is equivalent with racism.   Can’t we just group all these people into Latinos?    Sure we can, but not of you’re a white person- that would be racist against the brown people.  The problem is that I’ve been to other “latino” countries and not all people are the same shade of brown – especially in Cuba!  “Latino” races are an amalgam of a rainbow of peoples and have no business being labeled as a race.  You should now see how this has become an exercise in fantasy and not a serious discussion about race representation in film.

This bodes the question – do races have specific features that make them different?   Of course -that’s how you tell if someone is from a particular ethnic group!   How do you tell if someone is Cuban or South African?  Are they black?   Could be, but not necessarily, whatever being “black” means.   Do they have big lips or broad noses?   Are their eyes slanty enough to be representative of their race?   These requirement are ridiculous, of course, as we know every ethnic group has a wide variation in features, yet The Buzzfeed article constantly reminds us that the actors hired don’t have the right features.   Requiring these features is the real racist act, and that requiring a particular racially profiled actor only serves to exclude a good actor from a role unnecessarily.  Any actor should be able to gain a role on their merit as an actor, not their facial features, right?  Logic says that requiring a specific race for a job is an inherently racist act.   But it just doesn’t make sense to have a white actor play a Chinese man, right?

For argument’s sake, let’s pretend we’re doing a historical piece on the Etruscan Empire.    How many Etruscans can we find to fill the roles?  The answer is none, so a bunch of people will just have to pretend to be Etruscan for a while.  They were white, right?  Yeah, let’s go with that.  The dichotomy here is that, in any other type of job, requiring or excluding an applicant based on race is verboten to the faithful.  Any discrimination against brown people should be forbidden.  Except in the case of acting, though.  So, it’s never okay to be racist in hiring – except for acting, and except for the beige or brown people.   Maybe, just maybe, actors don’t need to have the same skin color as their roles designate.  Isn’t that why we invented makeup?  And makeup comes in all shades of skin color, just like people – so we can pretend to act like someone we are not.

Finally, all of this skewing of reality results in a chronic irony of insensitivity to the white “race”, specifically.   There seems to be a dividing line between the white “race” and all others and it’s something, from which, I take great offense every time I’m forced to fill out a form designating me as “white”.    White people are grouped into a large proto-race, one indistinguishable from the other, on the basis of the amount of melanin in their skin.   As if there is an actual “white” race that all pale-faced people belong to, we are all lectured that only people of color deserve some special treatment.  Should German people only be allowed to portray Germans in the movies?   Of course not, that’s ridiculous.   What about respect for Irish heritage, or ghetto-Polish ancestry?     How about roots of the Slavs, or, Indo-Europeans?    If there is a line between Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Venezuelan, Laotian, Korean, and Japanese, then there ought to be a similar line between Nordic, Celtic, and German – yet those lines don’t seem to exist in the minds of the people who think only “brown” people can be discriminated against and need to be properly represented in film.  It is an inherently racist view against the grouping they refer to as “Whites”.     When all is said and done, we are all people of color.

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A Modicum Of Heathcare Coverage

healthandhumanserviceslogoI smell something rotten and it’s not blowing from Denmark. It’s the stench of tax dollars paying for’s nationalized healthcare promotion. You’d think that all hours news media coverage would be enough to promote this latest slide into Socialism, but you would be wrong. At every hour, on every channel, we are coming to know the few who have purchased insurance coverage from the government run “exchanges” that make healthcare affordable to everyday people. People like James, from Pensacola Florida.

I like James. He seems like a nice guy. I’m glad he gets to pursue his dream of playing in his workshop and only has to pay $100 a month for health insurance. Wait, what? a HUNDRED dollars a month? Why, I’m paying much more for insurance and I’m not a diagnosed diabetic. How can this be? Diabetes treatment has to cost more than a hundred dollars a month, right? With blood testing kits, prescribed insulin, regular doctor’s visits, not to mention any other health maintenance HAS to cost more than $100 a month. Of course it does, but the most curious thing James has to say is that he’s always been able to afford health insurance – in the past, but companies would just not cover him. Watch the video to hear his “story”:

He said he could always afford it, so there must have been a premium he could afford in the past. Can he simply not afford it anymore? We don’t get that explanation, just the implication that the evil insurance company wouldn’t even give him insurance, but what remains unanswered is if it was regardless of premium. Perhaps James was recently diagnosed as diabetic, and was then denied coverage. It’s a curious ambiguity, so let’s just move on to some of the other claims such as auto accidents. James says that you could be bankrupted by some random driver on the road if he crashes into you. But in every state of the union you are free to purchase uninsured motorist coverage which covers you in those instances. In some states, catastrophic coverage is also added to the cost of all auto insurance to cover those with bankrupting healthcare injuries. In fact, many health insurance policies won’t even cover you if you get in an auto accident, because the auto policy takes precedence from the bodily injury portion of the auto insurance plan. I suppose the next line of socializing this cost is to nationalize auto insurance, but I digress…

James lives in a nice, suburban neighborhood from the glimpses of his surroundings. He also drives a 2004 Jeep wrangler. Yes, it’s 10 years old, but it undoubtedly has a custom engine package due to the extra gauges on the A-pillar, as well as a custom seat package. This car cost $25,000 10 years ago, but since were stymied with ambiguity and unanswered questions, lets assume he just bought it used, or at least when he could previously afford his own insurance. It’s a nice car, and I’m going to guess the insurance on it costs about as much, or more than his new health insurance package. James also has an Imac. Or is it iMac? Whatever the case, he’s shown surfing the website in what I can only assume is his home. A Mac that costs at least $1200 is affordable to someone who gets new health insurance from Obamacare. He also has a large metal shop with a plethora of expensive tools, anvil, forge, plasma cutter, large compressor, and welding equipment. James is, in my opinion, pretty well-off. Well-off enough to afford his own health insurance – if someone would only agree to cover him.

To be fair, and not pick on James too much, we’re never told how much he actually pays for his new insurance. Perhaps he is one of the overpayers that subsidizes the cost of this new government insurance for all the young, underpayers the system needs to pay for itself. Maybe he’s paying more into the system than he’s taking out. We don’t know because this information is hidden from us, and we are forced to focus on the only information provided which is the purpose for this commercial: That is, the pre-existing condition that has denied James insurance before the existence of Obamacare. The real question is why people are denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions in general. We know the answer is that their associated cost as a patient far outweighs their ability to pay premiums. From this we must assume that the cost of James’ insurance could not possibly be as much as he SHOULD be paying since the insurance company has no knowledge of his pre-existing, diabetic condition. Therefore, James must be an underpayer.

Now watch the rest of these public service announcements and realize that all of these people are underpayers. Stacy is now free to be get her BA and do charity work because she pays a fraction of what her heath insurance is worth. Korby can pursue his artistic, guitar playing dream and pay something insignificant for coverage. Justin can be a bartender and pay $15 a month for coverage. Stefania is now free to create an empanada empire for $98 a month. Ali can now engage in risky, injury prone behavior like rock climbing and league soccer. (It gives him a rush to climb walls wherever they are available) And Mark could start his business because he only pays $78 a month for coverage. How can all these people be underpayers? Who pays for their deficit in the system? I do. You do. All the middle class people who have regular heath insurance and see their premiums go up 5-20% every year.

The same insurance companies are underwriting the plans for these government exchanges, only they’re getting subsidies from the government to do so. The recipients’ “subsidies” for their policies are funneled directly to the insurance companies, and the government is covering the risk of the subscribers. Even disregarding those people, Obamacare requirements such as non-denial for pre-existing conditions in regular policies is increasing the premiums for everyone else in the regular risk pool. That means you and me. Any deficit, will be covered from increasing MY premiums 5-25% every year as my insurance company has been doing for the last 5 years. Wait, yours too? It seems like they must have seen this coming. Skyrocketing medical costs have also been trying to hedge their future earning potential by raising prices. Perhaps they knew this was coming as well. Everyone is going to make money on this deal except people like us, who pay for the amount of coverage we get, without assistance. Government collects the tax – they make money. Show me a bureaucrat who wants to quit his job. Insurance companies get the premiums and don’t have to pay the same rates as I do, so they still make money. Some are non-profit, you say? Show me an insurance executive that doesn’t drive a nicer car than mine, I say.  And the doctors, of course, aren’t going to be dragging ass to the poor house – especially when they can charge $179 for a 7 minute office visit, and $3000 for a cat-scan.  Which bring me back to James who claims to have been denied insurance because of a previous diagnosis.  The Obamacare law has made this illegal.  No insurance company can do this, so his claim MUST be false.  James just cannot afford the premium and is now being subsidized by someone else on a government exchange policy.

These chronic underpayers are subsidized by others’ insurance premiums, like mine, which total over $1000 a month. Next year, it will be over $1250/month. We have to pay for all the unknown costs of people like James who cuts his finger off with a plasma cutter because he went into diabetic ketoacidosis; Ali, who falls off a rock-wall and needs emergency surgery; And Korry, who likes to sit around and write songs about old girlfriends all day. We even get to subsidize Mark’s new business computer by helping pay for his health insurance. I hope all these nice folks are thankful we are allowing them to pursue their dreams and take on risky behavior without having to pay for it. Maybe someday my kids can work hard and pay for their retirement and their nursing home care, too.

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All The Kings Men Can Close The George Washington Bridge

Chris ChristieThe straw that broke my camel’s back regarding the Chris Christie Bridge Scandal happened well after the press conference. It was when ex-mayor Guilliani told Anderson Cooper what an honest guy Christie is.  He then began to describe, in detail, the marks of honesty and the fact that he didn’t act like a person that had knowledge of this political payback. Then dismissed the entire incident as a “prank”, that an aide “misinterpreted”, and that it happens in every administration.

Most of America may be naive enough to believe that this type of scandal is an exception. I, however, understand that it’s the norm, happens every day, in every jurisdiction.  The government actually getting something done to the benefit of the people is the anomaly.   Considering the ease and nonchalant nature of the email communication that commenced this “misinterpreted” payback, I think we can easily assume that this was business as usual in the Christie regime. And considering the draconian nature of Christie’s brand of wielding power, any underling wouldn’t have the balls to carry out such an order unless he had authorization, or be doomed to suffer dire consequences, like any reporter that dared to ask Christie a question he didn’t like. Christie makes it quite clear what he will and won’t put up with every time he opens his mouth. He’s not a man to be misinterpreted, and if you do, he’ll be sure to correct you with overwhelming force of a verbal steamroller.

So, in contrast to Guilianni’s theory that an honest man couldn’t have been dishonest during this lengthy press conference, I’ll have to beg to differ. Christie softened his role as Jersey dictator, and wen’t so far as to paint himself as a victim by mentioning his loss of sleep during this “heartbreaking” ordeal. We’re supposed to believe he “hasn’t reached the anger stage” to be mad about this yet? Really? This is a man who gets angry when the wind blows from NYC to Jersey, before going over Jersey first. He’s also already fired those “responsible”, before there’s even been an official investigation. I’d say the anger train left a long time ago and now he’s just working on distance between him, this problem, and those who were dumb enough to get caught carrying it out. The man who was so quick to defend is awfully quick to take “responsibility”, but will not actually have to “bear” any.

Now, I don’t know Christie personally. I don’t live in New Jersey, either. But what I do know is Christie’s personality type as a egomaniacal tyrant, who runs interviews and press conferences like a Rutgers basketball practice. He’s a person who delights in egregious belittling of any and all opponents at the smallest slight, and prone to bombastic self-promotion at every opportunity. In most cases, he’s just a downright nasty person. Some politicians do not act in this manner, but it’s exactly the behavior that’s given Christie a stage and a name in the public consciousness.  Without this type of draconian personality, he’d be just another nameless face in the crowd, like the mayor on whom he exacted his “prank”.  In fact, I would further surmise that he’s carefully crafted this personality to be precisely what he needs to get elected – in Jersey. God help us all if that’s what people want in a president. And if not, then we’ll know to to blame for all the bad traffic in 2017.

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Tea with Russel Brand


While the Tea Party is being branded as racist, Nazi,destroyers of America, the far left continues it’s denial of it’s own dirty little secret:  The nouveau-communists.   They’re the real faction of anti-Americanism, demanding a fundamental altering of our political and economic system with their “call for change”.  We hear on every news program that the “system” is broken. That the government isn’t ‘working’. That the Constitution isn’t relevant to the ‘modern’ world. This BBC Russel Brand interview concisely lays out the problem and the plan for new world domination of the real american capitalist haters. Brand is a rare example of unabashed elocution of communist philosophy and can speak so passionately and convincingly about it, I’m starting to question my own beliefs and hetero-sexuality. We need to trade Piers and Bashir for Brand in the next British Broadcasting draft. Not even Criths Matthews could bash a Tea-Partier for this long without blaming everything on racism.   Hell, even Ed Schultz couldn’t beat his wife for this long of an interview without blaming it on a Republican union basher.  These re-branded leftists, progressives, or 99 percenters’ argument begins with these two central points:

  1.  The planet is being destroyed.
  2. Large economic disparity exists.

Solutions for these problems are:

  1. A Socialist-Egalitarian system based on the massive re-distribution of wealth.
  2. Heavy taxation of corporations and energy companies that are exploiting the environment.

While I don’t agree with his political and economic viewpoint, Brand recognizes that the left political elite are only concerned with placating his faction in exactly the same way they claim Republicans give in to Tea-Party hostage-taking.  This is his only real insight here. Luckily for American Democrats, Obama’s already caved on gay marriage, and they’ve rolled out the first step in universal healthcare, so they may think they’ve bought them off for a few more years.   However, the “cracks” in the GOP base, as widely reported after the debt crisis, pale in comparison to this crevasse in Donkey-town. Democrats don’t want to lose their power to these commie-whackos any more than they want to lose it to the tea-baggers.

Fractured as they may be, Democrats will always have a fundamental advantage because of their underlying philosophy on power.   Republican fringe use their elective power to relinquish central control. Democrat fringe use their elective power to usurp control that has been abandoned.  And, therefore, the law about nature abhorring a vacuum will always prevail.

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