Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hillary Clinton on Charleston

The former U.S. secretary of state and current Democratic presidential candidate made these remarks this week:

As a mother, a grandmother, and a human being, my heart is bursting for the people of Charleston. 
Once again, bodies are being carried out of a black church. Once again, racist rhetoric has metastasized into racist violence.  
This is a history we wanted so desperately to leave behind, but we can’t hide from hard truths about race and justice in America. We have to name them, own them, and ultimately change them.  
In America today, blacks are nearly three times as likely as whites to be denied a mortgage. Our schools are more segregated than they were in the 1960s. Black children are 500 percent more likely to die from asthma than white kids -- how can that be true?  
We must address these issues as a nation, and we must also address them as individuals. Cruel jokes can’t go unchallenged, offhand comments about not wanting “those people” in the neighborhood can’t be ignored, and news reports about poverty and crime and discrimination can’t just evoke our sympathy -- even empathy -- they must also spur us to action and prompt us to question our own assumptions and privilege. 
We have to embrace the humanity of those around us, no matter what they look like, how they worship, or who they love. Most of all, we have to teach our children to embrace that humanity, too. 
As all of us reeled from the news in Charleston; a friend of mine shared his reflection on the hearts and values of those men and women at Mother Emanuel: “A dozen people gathered to pray. They’re in their most intimate of communities and a stranger who doesn’t look or dress like them joins in. They don’t judge, they just welcome. During their last hour, nine people of faith welcomed a stranger in prayer and fellowship.” 
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” 
That’s humanity at its best. That’s America at its best. And that’s the spirit we need to nurture in our lives and our families and our communities. 
Thank you, 
Hillary

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

VIDEO: Pre-election Political Roundtable



Featuring a panel of Debra J. Saunders, Josh Richman, and Dr. Tammy Frisby.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Remembering Joe Shattan — and What I Learned About Him from His Office

The Eisenhower Executive Office Building. (Public domain photo)

Former Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney speechwriter Joe Shattan died this past summer. I'm late in hearing about it (it happened in early June), but I would like to share some memories I have of him.

"What? John, you know a Quayle/Cheney speechwriter?" Yes, in the summer of 1990, I had an internship in the Office of the Vice President of the United States. Of America. It was thanks to the Institute for Educational Affairs (an organization that I think continues today under a different name).

Anyway, I was assigned to work with Zelda Novak (daughter of the "Prince of Darkness" conservative columnist Robert Novak), and I spent the summer doing pretty useless work in appropriate obscurity. But on the other side of my desk (stuffed in a cubby hole) was the office of Joseph Shattan, who was often traveling with the VP and who allowed me to spend my lunch hours in his office when he wasn't there. I never got to know him well or much at all, but I did get a good sense of him during those lunch hours, and you can see why.

I'm from Green Bay, Wisconsin. If you're a Green Bay person and there exists a photo of you with a Packer player, you've got it framed on your walls, and probably in a prominent place. In Washington, D.C., people are the same way about big politicians, and usually their desks and walls are covered with framed photos of them shaking hands with or at least photobombing presidents, vice presidents, senators, governors, and representatives.

But Joe Shattan? In his quiet, neat, book-filled office, he had plenty of photos, but they were of him and his family. Wife. Kids. I saw all those and didn't see the other celebrity-suck-up photos, and thought to myself, "This guy has his priorities right. Good guy."

When I stumbled across the news today that he had passed away (on June 8, 2014, at the young age of 63, felled by cancer), I found a couple things that reminded me of my fondness for this person. First, other people were writing about what a kind and genuine person he was — not something you generally associate with political people, especially conservative political functionaries who spent decades in government.

The other thing was a link to an article Shattan had written in 2009, in which he remembered how much he loved visiting the library in the Old Executive Office Building (a large old building next to the White House where the vice president has his office and staff). Shattan, a writer and clearly a book lover, really enjoyed going to the library, taking in the atmosphere of books and busy librarians and available information in that pre-internet age. Back then, I hadn't known about his joy for that library, but I had also enjoyed escaping to it when my useless tasks allowed. I can still remember that library well, with its beautiful columns and spiral staircases and awesome collections of books. I especially recall the corner where I dug through countless old copies of The New York Review of Books. It was the summer in which I had just discovered John Updike and Philip Roth, so I loved searching for old reviews of their books. The library was the one room in the Old Executive Office Building (now known as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building) that had the same nice vibe as Joe Shattan's office.

I never knew Joe Shattan well, but I apparently knew him well enough to know that this book-loving intellectual whose politics were quite different from what mine became was a good man. I'm very sorry to hear about his passing. R.I.P.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Airbnb Plays Ball

From the latest Marina Times:

REAL ESTATE INVESTOR
Airbnb goes legit?
Home-sharing service begins collecting mandated hotel tax as city clarifies regulation
BY JOHN ZIPPERER

Short-term residential rental companies such as Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway might be the biggest disruption to hit the real estate market since public online listings took away the Realtors’ MLS exclusivity. But recent developments in San Francisco show that both regulators and the new market entrants are learning to work with each other.

David Owen, Airbnb’s regional head of public policy, announced in late September that beginning in October ...

One of My Cats Is Stupid

In the latest issue of Marina Times, I explore the social conundrum of the age: sweet but dim kitties.

CATHOUSE
Captain Skycat
BY JOHN ZIPPERER

Marina Times (October 2014) — There are many reasons to doubt the natural intelligence of Ashes, our little tuxedo cat.

How do I know she’s not an Einstein? For the sake of research, I found some online feline I.Q. tests (for example, see catchannel.com/cat-iq-test.aspx). Ashes scored quite poorly, and our other cat scored very highly.

Even without a test, I knew...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Galaxis 4 ... Is not the Last One

I've decided not to end my digital science/science fiction magazine Galaxis with the current issue, #4. I'm working up plans to have a fifth issue after all, and this one should appear in digital and in limited print editions.

So while I put the finishing touches on the first Galaxis Reader book and start pulling together the fifth edition of Galaxis magazine, it's a good time to remind everyone that Galaxis #4 is still available for you to read, free, online.

Read the magazine:

Everything I Know about Cats I Learned from Krazy Kat


Whenever Charlie does something particularly wild or stupid, I tell him he’s a crazy cat. Except in my mind, I’m spelling it “Krazy Kat,” even though I know he and perhaps most of you don’t get the reference.

My late stepfather was a political cartoonist. Like most such artists, he would use characters out of the day’s news to populate his graphic editorial commentary, but he also ...

Read the entire article

From the September 2014 issue of the Marina Times

Friday, June 27, 2014

George Takei Introduces David Boies, Ted Olson, & Gavin Newsom

Last night, actor/director/activist George Takei gave the introduction to a Commonwealth Club of California program with bipartisan legal team David Boies and Ted Olson; it was moderated by the state's lt. governor, Gavin Newsom.

The sound isn't the best; my apologies, but I recorded it on my phone. And I'm afraid I wasn't quick enough turning it on to catch his opening trademark "Oh, myyyyyyy," which is what the laughter is for at the beginning of this clip.

This program took place on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions overturning DOMA and California's Prop 8.