Team Geotrax

Team Geotrax, a fisher price production, follows the adventures of train operators and their trains in geotown. I’m not sure if the shows are on television, but you can find it on just about any toddler’s DVD collection. I don’t want to get into the details, but I’ve seen several discs and have come to rather a disturbing conclusion.

Geotrax is a racist show that promotes ethnic stereotypes. Here’s just a look at some of their characters:

Googles & Bunsen: they are the “smartest team”. These guys synchronized all of geotown with some special science they invented when they weren’t reciting the quadratic equation in ten different languages. He wears a lab coat and has glasses. They are white.

Bull & Bruno: they are the “toughest team”. Anything that needs to be carried or delivered, they can do it. If it means lifting thirty pallets of heavy wood, you can bet on Bruno and Bull to finish it singlehandedly. Of couse, as Brutes, they have to get some things wrong. For instance, in one show, there was a horse that was blocking them. They then went back a few feet and went on another track. However, beknownst to everyone but them, the track went around in circles. Bull and Bruno nonetheless kept going around and around, seemingly unaware that they were going in circles as they progressively became dizzier. They are heavily muscled, burly, and use copious amounts of some sticky wet substance to keep Bruno’s Sylvester Stallone haircut in the movie, Lords of Flatbush, in place.

Aero & Eric: they are the “fastest team”. They can run down the rails faster than anyone because they are the only trains that have their technology, although clearly he had nothing to do with it’s creation. In fact, we learn that Goggles & Bunsen created Aero the train. Unlike the other characters, who all seem like at least young men, Aero & Eric are without question boys, and pretty ones no less. His slightly sunbleached hair is effortlessly put together like that guy in High School Musical. He wears what essentially is a very form fitting white and blue one-piece leather motorcycle uniform. They are daring and adventerous. They are white and most likely from southern California.

Sheffeld & Genkins: they are the “most refined team”. They don’t do anything before tea. Sheffeld can make toast and then have it shoot it onto Genkins plate. Genkins wears white cardigans and has a strong English accent. They are white.

Woohoo & Ope: they are the “stupidest team”. Ope has a strong southern accent, looks perhaps inbred, walks like a fool, and is missing a few teeth. In one of the first episodes, they collect wood for the new geotown station by removing the wooden parts of their railroad tracks, causing three train derailments. And then at the end of the show when the station finally opens, they drop the big cake before anyone can eat it. They are white and probably smoke meth at nights between swigs of nighttrain.

Loopy & Loco: they are the “stunt flying team”. They are amazing flyers but they have an issue with keeping on their assignments. They have so much fun that they forget what their assignments were and often jeopardize the the geotrax mission. It’s when they get on the geotrax mission, and focus only on that and not themselves, are they able to succeed and gain acceptance. They are Latin American.

Stanley & Steamer:  they are the “hardest working team.”  My investigation reveals that Stanley’s family was the original capitalist owners of geotrax.  During the episode, “Stanley and Steamer Save The Day,” Stanley remarks that of the machines has “been in the family for years.”  He is an older white character.  He exudes confidence and stability and has that all-American, northeastern feel.  Stanley looks a lot like Nelson Rockefeller when he was younger.  Stanley and Steamer never gets angry and are always emotionally even keeled.  When Woohoo and Ope removed the tracks because they thought they were helping out collecting wood, Stanley calmly said, “It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.”  What a team.

Brutus and Victor: they are the “biggest bullies”. With strong Russian accents and blue and blue and gold imperial wear, they cause havoc to the geotrax team by unplugging the map that geotrax needs to coordinate their movements, puts a huge boulder blocking an important route for geotrax, and even steals cargo. But everytime, his plans, which seemed very creative and evil, fail with the utmost of predictability. Victor, who has a striking resemblance to Joseph Stalin, is white.

There are no women in the show.

There are no African-Americans that have their own trains. I have only seen one African-American on the show. He works with a heavy set white guy. They are maintenance workers who use one of those human powered platforms to move across the tracks. Apparently they don’t have what it tajes to operate real trains. Nor do they have the ability to speak. Everything he says rhymes.

Please write letters to fisher price and let them know that their show has to change.

Making a getaway in a three-piece suit

You may have read the article in the New York times today about the man who escaped his holding cell by simply walking out of the 100 Centre Street criminal courthouse wearing a three-piece suit.  robert tackman, image taken from: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/nyregion/01escape.html?_r=1&ref=nyregionRonald Tackman, who has been in and out of prison most of his life and has had numerous brushes with the law, was in New York Supreme Court from Riker’s Island on a felony robbery charge.  He was dressed in a three-piece suit while in his holding cell and a correction officer mistakenly let him out of his cell, believing that Ronald Tackman was an attorney.  More specifically, the corrections officer saw Tackman, assumed he was an attorney, and asked Taskman, in sum and substance, “What are you doing in the cell, counselor?”

Interestingly, according to the above-described New York Times article, “[t]he escape [ ] left correction officials scratching their heads for answers as to how a man who had been listed in the department’s files as an escape risk was essentially able to walk out the door to freedom.”

The answer is pretty simple:  Ronald Tackman was white. 

If Mr. Tackman was anything other than white, the likelihood of this event happening would certainly be next to nil.

For anyone who hasn’t been to 100 Centre Street in New York City, I suggest you go and see the dynamic going on.  Go to AR-3, which is the felony arraignment part, Part N or Part F, which are Criminal Court parts before a case heads to Supreme Court, or any of the Supreme Court Parts, like Part 22 or Part 23.  You’ll immediately notice that the majority, if not all, of the defendants are minorities.  Further, you will also immediately notice that the majority, if not all, of the attorneys representing these defendants are white.  And, add to that, the majority, if not all of the Corrections Officers, are white as well.  And, one final thing if it already isn’t obvious:  the majority if not all of the judges are white.

Is it any wonder, then, that a hapless Department of Corrections Officer “mistakenly” believed that an older white gentleman in a three-piece suit standing alone in a holding cell was actually an attorney?

The Department of Corrections will undoubtedly claim, after a “thorough investigation,” that the Officer actions were outside of “protocol” — suggesting that the error by the officer was merely an aberrant act, as opposed to the product of a deep rooted institutional racism.

Is Barack Obama the Anti-Christ?

Is Barack Obama the Anti-Christ?

When I first heard that question, I had to ask myself whether this was some kind of joke spread by a fundamentalist nutjob living in a basement full of the first-edition copies of the “Left Behind” series. It did not take long for me to realize that the question of whether Barack Obama is the anti-christ is a fully-fledged and debated topic for those who are bent on spreading the theory: certain evangelicals and christian conservatives. In a previous post, you may have seen how republicans, either by implicit agreement or straight out proclamation, have claimed that somehow God is on the side of John McCain and that anyone who doesn’t vote for John McCain is anti-christian.

The whole thing is rather scary — the reasoning that is. When you look at the “barack-obama-is-the-anti-christ-theory,” it is based on facts that are just patently untrue, most notably the claim that Obama is a Muslim. People actually believe in their heart of hearts that Obama is the anti-christ.  For his part, McCain hasn’t gone out and proclaimed, “Obama is the anti-christ!”, but at the same time, he hasn’t done anything to ease the flames of the right’s scare tactics that Obama is the anti-christ. McCain is certainly aware of fear tactics . . . he uses them anytime and anywhere he can (see Republican Convention).  After all, you may have seen a commercial last month from McCain that echoed many of the images and messages of the “Left Behind” series.  In the end, McCain is profiting from the mistruths that certain portions of the conservative right are spreading.

As I have previously mentioned in prior posts, the democrats should not underestimate these claims from the right. Yes, the claim that Barack Obama is the anti-christ is patently absurd — but it is a patently absurd belief that millions of Americans believe. Whether it is their racism by another name or just plain stupidity is really of no consequence in the end — the fact is they believe that Obama is the anti-christ in their heart of hearts and will vote for McCain.  Another four years of Bush and just general stupidity (see McCain’s interview on radio caracol on September 17, 2008) is something I think most Americans could do without.

The anti-christ claim is both an indictment on the clear racism that some portions of our society have against Obama as well as a call to action for Obama to start getting down and dirty and calling McCain out. It is clear that McCain and company have taken their gloves off; it’s time Obama and company to start doing the same.

Here’s an example of an email I received about Barack Obama being the anti-christ:

This will make you re-think : A Trivia question in Sunday School: How long is the beast allowed to have authority in Revelations? Guess the Answer? Revelations Chapter 13 tells us it is 42 months, and you know what that is. Almost a four year term to a Presidency. All I can say is Lord,  Have Mercy on us!!!!!! According to The Book of Revelations the anti-Christ is: The anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal….the  prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything. Is it OBAMA?? I STRONGLY URGE each one of you to post this as many times as you can! Each opportunity that you have to send it to a friend or media outlet…do it!  I refuse to take a chance on this unknown candidate who came out of nowhere. GOD BLESS AMERICA

New York Recognizes Gay Marriage Solemnized In Other States; Republicans Scramble

New York Governor David Paterson yesterday ordered state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages solemnized in other jurisdictions, such as in California.  The governer’s decision was based on New York’s long standing “marriage recognition rule.”  What is the “marriage recognition rule”?  For over one hundred years, New York has recognized marriages solemnized outside of New York unless they fall into two categories of exceptions:

1) marriage, the recognition of which is prohibited by the “positive law” of New York and 2) marriages involving incest or polygamy, both of which fall within the prohibitions of “natural law”.  (See Martinez v. County of Monroe, et. al., Appellate Division, Fourth Department, Slip Decision 1562 CA 06-02591).

Put another way, if a marriage is valid in the place where it was entered, “it is to be recognized as such in [New York] courts, unless contrary to the prohibitions of natural law or the express prohibitions of a statute.”  See Moore v. Hegeman, 92 NY 521, 524.

Under the “marriage recognition rule” and the law set forth under the Appellate Division (New York’s intermediate appellate court), Governor Paterson issued the administrative order to recognize same-sex marriages solemnized in other jurisdictions.  By doing so, Governor Paterson in effect made the determination that a) gay marriages in other states were not contrary to “natural law” and b) gay marriages were not “expressly” prohibited by New York statute.

New York State Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Bruno, plans to challenge the Governor’s decision on the grounds that Governor Paterson violated the state constitution’s separation of power’s clause.  It’s an interesting planned move by Joe Bruno.  

Joseph Bruno is referring to is a set of New York Court of Appeals decisions, Hernandez v. Robles, Samuels v. New York State Department of Health, In Re Elissa Kane v. Marsolais, Seymour v. Holcomb.  The main question in these sets of cases was whether New York’s Domestic Relations law — long interpreted to allow only opposite-sex couples to marry — violated the state’s constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.  In a 4-2 decision, New York Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) determined that its constitution did not require the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  The plurality decision determined that same-sex marriage was not a “fundamental right” requiring strict scrutiny, but rather the more relaxed rational basis test.  Using the rational basis or rational relation test, it was not surprising that the plurality court did not strike down the Domestic Relations law (courts rarely strike down a law if no fundamental right is involved). 

Although the New York decision was not a favorable one to the movement for same-sex marriages, the decision was not as sweeping as State Senator Joseph Bruno or others want it to be.  After all, the decision dealt with the narrow issue of whether the NY constitution mandated the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  The New York decision did not deal with the more general concept of whether same-sex marriages violated natural law, statutory law, or any other legal concept, such as due process or equal protection.

To be sure, one may argue that the New York decision expressly upheld the Domestic Relations law as one solemnizing a marriage only between a man and a woman.  Therefore, one may argue, the decision held — by logical extension — that a marriage between the same sex violates that law.

The court, however, never expressly stated as such.  The reasoning it used to support its ruling — that the constitution does not mandate the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — was primarily dicta.  Dicta is only instructive, not binding, on other courts.  Thus, the argument that the “logical extension” of the decision was to preclude marriage between the same sex, is not supported by the language of the court ruling itself.

Sure, it is a hyper-technical argument, but most legal arguments are hyper-technical by their very nature.  Of course, it will be for a court to determine expressly whether Governor Paterson’s administrative decision violates the Domestic Relations Law.

Until that time, New York will recognize same-sex marriages solemnized in other states.  Governor Paterson’s move was a shrewd one and shows without a shadow of a doubt that he learned a thing or two in over his twenty years in Albany. 

solemnized outside of New York unless they fall into two categories of