Friday, June 27, 2014

Coulter's latest rant hurtful to women

I’d like to think that I’m funny. Or at least that I have a good sense of humor.

But either I don’t know humor or Ann Coulter doesn’t. Frankly, I’m going to assume that it’s Coulter after her latest foray into the trending spotlight for comments about soccer being “a sign of the nation's moral decay."

Coulter’s latest rant, of course, was timed during the World Cup, in which the United States team looks decent — not great but decent — causing a new wave of soccer fans across the country.

Among other not-funny comments Coulter made are that soccer isn’t a “real sport” because there are women’s teams, that it pushes a liberal agenda, that only recent (and illegal) immigrants are watching it — and as soon as they learn English, they’ll stop.

Some have defended Coulter saying she’s a satirist or comedian. She is neither. She is a bombast and an alarmist. She says the most outrageous things she can think for for the sake of effect. She wants news stories and columns written about her. She wants the spotlight for her over-the-top commentary.

She’s not the first person to call soccer un-American. Nor is she the first to say that it’s not a real sport because women play. But right now she’s saying it the loudest. And frankly, I wish she’d shut up — and not because I like soccer, although I do. But because my daughter likes soccer. And Heather’s daughter likes soccer. And a woman with a certain degree of prominence just told them that it’s not a sport … because girls play.

About a year or so ago, a friend of my daughter asked if he minded if he told a racist joke. I told him I did. Racism is racism whether it’s in the form of a “joke” or not. At least he asked. But I didn’t want it my house. Or in front of my kids. Saying mean or stupid things and calling them humor just isn’t funny. It’s mean. And stupid.

A woman telling young girls that they can’t compete in sports isn’t funny. It’s just wrong. And it’s the type of thing that parents in 2014 shouldn’t have to counter-program against.

Young girls have enough problems with image and self worth. There are enough forces in the world telling them that they’re not pretty enough … or skinny enough … or smart enough to make it in the world. They don’t need one of their own telling them that the sport they’re playing isn’t a sport because “girls don’t play sports.”

Will Coulter’s next rant say that girls can’t be doctors? Or engineers? Or scientists? Will her next attempt at “satire,” suggest that they should stay home barefoot and pregnant? Or that bulimia is the latest diet trend?

Whether Coulter thinks she’s being funny or not, a lot of people take her seriously. Some believe the ignorant things she’s saying — and she just validated their wrongheaded opinions, which they will now pass on to their children … creating a generation of misogynists because she wanted to get on TV.

I can’t think of anything less funny than that.

Scott Leffler is a father and soccer fan. He also does some writing here and there. Follow him on twitter @scottleffler.

Friday, June 13, 2014

‘Tip wage’ should be abolished

Imagine waking up at 4:30 in the morning, taking a shower, making coffee and heading out the door to make it to work for the start of your 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift.

Imagine doing that every day of the week. Not just Monday through Friday. Every day.

Now imagine getting your paycheck and seeing that you have earned a whopping $119.28 — minus taxes, of course — for your 56 hours of work.

Now imagine where you might live. Nepal? Nigeria? North Korea? Try North Carolina, where the minimum tipped wage is a paltry $2.13 an hour. If you earn tips regularly (more than $30 a month) in the state of North Carolina, your employer can legally pay you $2.13, the federal “minimum tipped wage.” And some do.

Further imagine you’re making your $2.13 a hour, hoping that customers will find it in their hearts to leave a few extra shekels so that you can do something crazy … like buy food to put in your fridge.

One day one customer does. They leave you a lot of extra shekels in fact. Enough to put food in your fridge (or “on your family” to quote a favorite Bushism) and pay the phone bill, cable bill, car payment and most of your rent for the month. All from one customer — a one in a million customer who leaves you a whopping $1,000 tip. Your heart skips a beat. You call your friends. You tell the kids you’re getting steak for dinner. You pretty much won the lottery.

Hold on there, mister happy pants. That “lottery ticket” of yours don’t do you a lick of good if you can’t cash it. And the one place you can cash that lottery ticket — your employer — says they don’t allow big tips like that. At least not on a credit card. So they run the bill without the tip and you get nothing. Except, of course that $2.13 an hour you worked so hard for.

If you haven’t heard about it, this precise scenario played out on Mother’s Day in a Waffle House in North Carolina. Fortunately it worked out. The generous tipper tracked down the waitress who was denied her gratuity, writing her a check for the $1,000 she was meant to have.

Waffle House has since said that there was a communication gap. She wasn’t denied the tip, of course. They were trying to find the customer to ask him to bring in some cash or write a check. Mmm hmm.

The real travesty here, of course, isn’t Waffle House’s actions. It’s the state of North Carolina allowing employers to pay people $2.13 an hour in hopes of customers making up the difference so they’ll make greater than minimum wage. The real travesty is allowing the service industry to get away with paying a wage you’d expect to see in third-world country and then passing the buck directly to the customers to make up the difference.

Employers like Waffle House, of course, would tell you that if they paid more than the $2.13, they’d have to increase the price of their waffles or they couldn’t pay the rent on their house. So they pay the lesser wage and then expect the customers to pay extra for their waffles … directly to their server.

And then maybe Waffle House will let them keep their tips. Or maybe not.

Scott Leffler once drove 188 miles to eat at a Waffle House, where he hopes his waitress got her tip. Follow his eating escapades on Twitter @scottleffler.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Politics can ruin even a soldier’s return home

One of the primary functions of our constitutional republic is that we elect people to make decisions on our behalf. We don’t always like the decisions they make. Some people, it would seem never like the decisions they make.

Personally, I’m not thrilled with the prisoner exchange orchestrated and executed by President Barack Obama that traded five Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. It has nothing to do with Bergdahl’s alleged desertion. It also has nothing to do with the claims by some that the five men we traded for him are the “terrorist dream team” or whatever. I just like the theoretical policy of not negotiating with terrorists.

All that said, we elected President Obama to make these decisions for us. Sometimes we’re not going to like them. When that happens, we should grumble … complain … maybe write our congressmen. Those are all patriotic expressions. Instead, what I’ve seen is a bunch of “adults” acting not very adult.

Barack Obama can’t brush his teeth these days without someone demanding an investigation and claiming it’s an impeachable offense. He can’t walk down Pennsylvania Avenue without someone making it into a political football — as they have with the Bergdahl exchange.

Maybe Sgt. Bergdahl isn’t an example of the best and brightest our military has to offer. In fact, maybe he’s a deserter — and by some accounts a traitor. But right or wrong, he’s an American.
He languished in a Taliban run Afghani prison for five years. We had an opportunity to get him back. And we did. Now that he’s returning home, we can address his alleged wrongdoings.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, members of congress are deleting tweets and recalling press releases that express any measure of happiness that an American soldier is returning home. The same congressmen who a few days ago said that they agreed with the exchange are now retreating from their statements and distancing themselves … primarily because the deal was orchestrated and executed by the president.

As generally apathetic as I am towards President Obama, the neverending zeal by the radical right to paint him as a Satanic Muslim terrorist who eats small children makes me root for the guy. I joke at times that if President Obama solved world hunger, the right would issue press releases lambasting him for contributing to overpopulation. If he cured cancer, they would chide him for killing jobs in the medical field. If he successfully negotiated to have an American soldier returned from a Taliban prison, they would call him unpatriotic and demand congressional hearings — oh, wait. That one happened.

We don’t have to agree with everything our government does. We have a God-given and Constitutionally recognized right to voice our opposition, even. As well we should. But opposing every single thing the president does because you want him to fail isn’t patriotic. Rooting against American prosperity because you don’t like the guy in the White House isn’t something to be commended.

Frankly, it’s treasonous.

The radical right has deserted our country. I demand hearings.

Scott Leffler is generally likable in person — until you get to know him. Best to just follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.