Friday, September 04, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Stella


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, September 03, 2015

"BLACK ON BLACK CRIME"

Look, if you want to join me in advocating for an end to the desperate, poverty stricken circumstances that cause high crime rates in poor black neighborhoods, then that's great. You should join me in that. But that's not what you're really doing.

Instead, you're presenting this as an either/or situation: we can either agitate against cops killing unarmed black men, OR we can go after the "real problem," the right wing's favored whipping boy, "black on black crime." We can, of course, and should, do something about both.

But really, you don't give a damn about "black on black crime." You're only bringing it up in a wrong-headed attempt to diffuse the justified and righteous anger about police killing black men. I am disgusted by your cynical, racist, and insulting-to-my-intelligence rhetorical ploy.

I'm not an idiot. Please do not treat me as one.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

IF YOU BELIEVE THE PLANNED PARENTHOOD VIDEOS, YOU MUST BELIEVE THIS

Mike Huckabee negotiated the sale of fetal body parts. And the guy who masterminded the Planned Parenthood fraudulent video scheme freely admits to breaking the law and lying. All on Hannity, which is fair and balanced. If you believe the Planned Parenthood videos, you have no choice but to believe this.



(Hat tip to Raw Story for the video.)

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

BLAME THE BLACK PEOPLE

From the Houston Chronicle:

Ted Cruz blames Obama for death of Harris County sheriff's deputy

“Cops across this country are feeling the assault,” Cruz said in a statement. “They’re feeling the assault from the president, from the top on down, as we see — whether it’s in Ferguson or Baltimore, the response from senior officials, the president or the attorney general, is to vilify law enforcement. That’s wrong. It’s fundamentally wrong. It’s endangering all of our safety and security.”

More here.

It deeply disturbs me that some people, including angry cops, are constructing what I consider to be a false option: we can criticize police violence, or we can have safety for the police, but not both. Indeed, it's a straight up lie: this all but tells us that criticizing the cops under any circumstances is wrong and deadly. I mean, there's a reason we have the term "police state."

It almost goes without saying that this murder is horrifying. But to opportunistically and cynically seize the moment in order to score cheap racist political points is beyond the pale. The Black Lives Matter movement didn't kill this deputy. Their rhetoric didn't kill this deputy. Trying to save lives didn't kill this deputy. It is over-the-top slander to make such an accusation.

Instead, a crazed individual committed this crime, and it is impossible to know at this point the interior workings of his diseased mind--he really is crazed it appears; just today it was reported that he has already spent time in mental facilities for violent behavior. That is, this killer has far less to do with Black Lives Matter, as a movement, than various anti-abortion bombers, murderers, and other terrorists, who are typically cold calculating and sane individuals believing that the end justifies the means, have to do with the pro-life movement. And we still have no idea what his personal motivations were!!!

I am truly saddened and angered by this murder. And now, because of this right-wing reaction, which doesn't amount to much more than "blame black people," I can also say that I am disgusted.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

HOW TRUMP COULD WIN IT ALL

Like the small and seemingly inconsequential weakness the rebels use in the first Star Wars film to take out the Death Star, I believe I have discovered a weakness in the American political system that could conceivably allow Donald Trump to become president.

It is, as we know, now entirely possible that Trump might get the GOP nomination. He is, after all, currently the front runner, and not just by a little bit, but by a lot. In polls, he's crushing his opponents. Barring some sort of massive stumble, and given the way things have been going for him, lots of what would be stumbles for other candidates have simply increased his appeal among Republicans, which makes me uncertain about what kind of stumble it could be, Trump's got it in the bag.

That's when things get really interesting. The conventional wisdom appears to be that America will simply laugh him off, that we're safe, that it could never happen. Okay, I sure hope not.

But this certainty just doesn't line up with what this country has become. I mean, you know, we're all into our political debates and everything, and we're all very passionate about our issues. Except that we're not. The big debates, all the animosity and hostility between liberals and conservatives, that's just a relatively small portion of the population. Most people don't give a shit. Most people don't understand that they're supposed to formulate political ideas, inform themselves, take governing the nation seriously. Most people don't vote.

In this sense, I have great respect for the conservative opposition. At least they get that democracy is something citizens have to do, that we have responsibilities as individuals for the well being of the nation. I totally disagree with their ideas, but I respect them as citizens. Trump aside, they know we have to argue about ideas and vote.

Most Americans aren't like that, though. Most Americans just stay out of it. Most Americans hate politics. But you know what most Americans love? They love celebrities. They love successful rich businessmen. They love tough guys who piss people off. And they would very likely love the chance to vote for Kim Kardashian, or Donald Trump, whatever, for president.

And that's the systemic weakness right now that might put Trump into the Oval Office. We might get people showing up to vote who never vote at all, people who watch a lot of reality television and read People Magazine, people who know nothing about the affairs of the nation, but who LOVE celebrities. I mean, it's probably more likely that they continue to sit on their couches watching TV on election day, but we just don't know that for sure.

My general analysis for the last decade or so is that the Republicans have gotten so crazy that there's just no way they can win a national election, but there is a slight chance that the American moron contingent shows up to vote with enough strength that it gives Trump the edge. I mean, the moron contingent neither knows nor cares that Trump, and the party who nominated him, have the ideological equivalent of rabies. We could all be in very big trouble.

Of course, an asteroid might hit the planet, or a satellite might fall on your head. I'm not going to lose sleep over this. Until I have to.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Houston suburb among most dangerous cities in America

From the Houston Chronicle:

Houston, San Antonio and Austin, you can rest easy. You can sit back down too Dallas.

Humble takes the cake for being one of the most dangerous cities in the country and the most dangerous in the state of Texas. This is according to Safewise, a web site that analyzes FBI crime statistics to determine the most dangerous cities in the country.

More here.

Humble? Humble?!? Well, at least it's not because of violent crime, but still, this disturbs me. It seems the old oil town hasn't managed to keep up with rapid population growth there for the last couple of decades or so. But who really knows what's going on?

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.



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Friday, August 28, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Winkie


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s Handling of Email Issue Frustrates Democratic Leaders

From the New York Times:

A number of Democrats said in interviews that they were disturbed when Mrs. Clinton had joked that her Snapchat account messages “disappear all by themselves,” and had reacted peevishly to a reporter’s question about wiping her server. (“What, like with a cloth or something?” she had replied.)

“Instead of flippant and smart-aleck comments, it would just be better to come clean in a straightforward way,” said Pat Cotham, a Democratic national committeewoman and county commissioner from North Carolina. “People don’t expect you to be perfect, but they just want to know what the deal is.”


More here.

Look, I'm NOT happy about this being a problem for her. This is not Clinton bashing.

But, as I asserted weeks and weeks ago when the story first erupted, this is most definitely a problem for Hillary. I mean, if it was a problem for Bush, then it's a problem for Hillary, and nobody has yet explained to me why it's just fine for her to do it, but not him. I'm still waiting for an explanation on this, but nobody seems willing to give one.

Instead, all we've gotten from Hillary, her campaign, and her supporters is just a big brush off, you know, "this isn't an issue," etc. But the whole thing smells enough like a scandal, a real scandal, not crap like Benghazi, that brushing it off just looks bad, really bad. I mean, as the article observes, this is very likely the reason Biden is inches away from jumping into the race: the Democratic establishment wants an establishment candidate without the stench of scandal.

When you respond to questions about wiping your server with patronizing bullshit such as “What, like with a cloth or something?” you are INCREASING the stench, not decreasing it.

My original question back in March was about whether this thing is due to some sort of nefarious intent or just because of incompetence. I feel pretty safe now in saying that it's probably not something sinister. But that, and the way she has since handled the situation, is making the incompetence angle look better and better.

And that's bad for Hillary.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WHY TRUMP? WHY NOW?

One of my former students appeals to the facebook hive mind:

I'm not much for politics. Although I do hold a liberal perspective on most matters, I do not consider myself a democrat. I believe that all politicians are just strung up; the face in front of the puppeteers that control them. But this Donald Trump ridiculousness.... How is it actually happening? Surely republicans are not this desperate? Why would you want this man to represent this country??
My response:
Having studied both American politics and the mass media, I feel like I know exactly what's going on. In short, it's that the GOP is now the freaked out white people's party intersecting with celebrity worship and love for the tough guy. Trump embodies both. And that's why he's not simply the front runner, but also beating the crap out of every other candidate.

He's got a shot, a real shot, at winning the nomination. I don't know whether that's good or bad for the country, though. I mean, he's awful, obviously, but I don't know what apolitical celebrity-worshiping Americans will do in the ballot booth. It's entirely feasible that he could become president.
'Nuff said.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

David Duke on Trump: He's 'the best of the lot'

From CNN:

David Duke, the anti-Semitic former Ku Klux Klan leader, praised Republican front-runner Donald Trump for his immigration policy proposals and said Trump is "the best of the lot."

After ranting about "Jewish supremacy" and Jewish domination of the media, Duke took time out of two of his radio programs last week to talk up Trump's candidacy as a "great thing," praising the Republican candidate's plan to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

More here.

I've enraged conservative friends in the past when I've asserted that, while by no means are all Republicans racist, it's pretty clear that all racists vote Republican. And this post may very well do it again.

Now, it's important to observe that the racial dynamic in this country is extraordinarily complicated. I mean, I think it's safe to say that racism, racist ideas, attitudes, and perceptions, are within ALL of us to varying degrees, whether you're white or not. Indeed, we know about black cops pulling over people for "driving while black." We know about little black girls in studies saying that pictures of white women are prettier than pictures of black women. We know, as a buddy of mine pointed out in a recent facebook discussion, that elected Democratic officials express their racism in terms of a sort of condescending attitude toward minorities and poverty, supporting social programs, but never doing anything about the social conditions guaranteeing that we need social programs. So we're all infected.

But I'm not talking about that kind of racism at the moment, the kind that's everywhere, but not so obvious. Instead, and pretty clearly, I think, but I just want to cover my ass here, I'm talking about the straight-up overt racists, a group including neo-Nazis as well as the "I like black people just fine, but..." crowd. And these people, when they vote, always vote Republican.

I've been coy about this in the past, you know, asking Republicans why that's the case. But screw being coy; I know why it's the case: of the two major parties, the Republicans, and only the Republicans, tell the overt racists what they want to hear. It's often coded, couched in terms like "welfare queens" or "voter fraud" or "illegal aliens," whatever, but it's always there, always telling the overt racists that their mainstream political home is in the GOP. Indeed, that's why the shambling, sleazy-sour mound of toupeed flesh known as Donald Trump is currently that party's front runner. His willingness to abandon the longstanding tradition of Republican coded racism has so excited the GOP's overt racist constituency that they're all flocking to him, and it's apparently enough to put him on top.

It is no coincidence at all that racist hate monger David Duke just told everybody who shares his views that Trump's their man. That's how internal Republican Party politics work. Trump just got a major endorsement from a not insignificant player in Republican politics.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Moveable Glut

New Krugman:

More than a decade ago, Ben Bernanke famously argued that a ballooning U.S. trade deficit was the result, not of domestic factors, but of a “global saving glut”: a huge excess of savings over investment in China and other developing nations, driven in part by policy reactions to the Asian crisis of the 1990s, which was flowing to the United States in search of returns. He worried a bit about the fact that the inflow of capital was being channeled, not into business investment, but into housing; obviously he should have worried much more. (Some of us did.) But his suggestion that the U.S. housing boom was in part caused by weakness in foreign economies still looks valid.

Of course, the boom became a bubble, which inflicted immense damage when it burst. Furthermore, that wasn’t the end of the story. There was also a flood of capital from Germany and other northern European countries to Spain, Portugal, and Greece. This too turned out to be a bubble, and the bursting of that bubble in 2009-2010 precipitated the euro crisis.


More here.

If I could distill all the criticisms of capitalism about which I know into one single statement, it's this: investors put their money into stupid shit.

I mean, obviously, it's far more complicated than that, but as a rough description, it serves pretty well. From refusing to pay fair wages for fair work and pocketing the money instead, to getting caught up in psycho-bubble mania, to dumbass get-rich-quick schemes, to refusing to consider environmental impacts on the environment in which they do business, and on and on, capitalists, as a class of people, always have their eye on nothing but the big score, while seeing very little else.

This isn't always apparent, though. Usually we have enough capitalists making good decisions to sort of offset the bad decisions. After all, this is capitalism we're talking about, you know, competition; there are winners and losers. Ultimately, however, and invariably, the stupid decisions will come to outnumber the smarter decisions, and economic crisis must necessarily result. That's the history of capitalism in a nutshell, from its very beginnings during the first industrial revolution through today.

I mean, there's some "market discipline" for you. Eventually, always, the "discipline" becomes so severe that it brings down the entire shithouse. That is, there is no "market discipline." Just a bunch of greedy assholes swarming all over each other like snakes trying to get to the top of the pile, which then collapses on itself. Greed is NOT good. It infects and addles the brain.

It is clearly way past time for us all to stop believing the bullshit mythology capitalists have created to justify their wild and brain-damaged excesses, and move on to getting real about economics, establishing rules and regulations to protect us all from the self-destructive mania inherent in the capitalist class. Seriously. Civilization is at stake.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

IT'S NOT ALWAYS EASY TO KISS THE COPS' ASS

An old friend of mine commented on one of my endless posts about policing on facebook, asserting that the best way to avoid being killed by cops is to be polite and cooperative.  I hear this a lot in these discussions, so I thought it might be a good idea to post my response as a status update. 

Here it is:

Of course, that's just good common sense. I also urge everybody to be as cooperative as possible when dealing with law enforcement.

But that's only part of the story. Humanity, in all of its weird individualized diversity, isn't always capable of behaving perfectly under such circumstances. Mental illness springs to mind immediately. But we've also got to consider intoxication and drugs--I mean, we should die because we're drunk and too slow to figure out that we need to keep our hands where they can see them? People are also, well, people: we get angry; we get irrational; we get tired and irritable; we get sad, and all these things affect our ability to be the perfect, compliant citizen when interacting with police.

Again, you're absolutely right about cooperating with the cops. But we have millions of people in this country, in millions of different states of being when it comes to consciousness and self-control. I just don't think we should be punished with death if we're mentally ill, drunk, or having a really bad day.
Excelsior!

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.



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Friday, August 21, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Stella, Frankie, Sammy, and Winkie


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

NAZIS, COMMUNISTS, REPUBLICANS, ALL OF THEM HATE UNIONS

The Bolsheviks didn't like labor unions too much, either, at least not unions over which they didn't exercise absolute control. In this sense, Republicans are like both the Nazis and the Soviet Socialists.

Thanks Obama.


And thank you facebook for sending me fabulous photo memes!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

THE COLLAPSING CASE FOR PRO-LIFE

From Hullabaloo:

Lying to themselves at you

IVF patients make less-attractive targets because we don’t challenge the expectation that women want to be mothers. Abortion, on the other hand, thwarts conservative ideals about a woman’s proper role as a wife and mother. This may be why, counterintuitively, I have greater freedom to decide what to do with an embryo in a petri dish than a pregnancy in my own body.

More here.

I've been pro-choice all my life.  Seriously.  From the moment when I was in elementary school back in the 70s that I first started to understand the issue, personal control over one's own body struck me as being both good common sense and just.  But I've also always felt that the pro-life stated position that abortion is murder, while ultimately wrong and irrelevant, is a strong one.  I mean, from their point of view, America is drowning in the blood of "dead babies."  So okay, they're wrong, but I should respect their position.

That's pretty much collapsed for me in the last few years.  I no longer respect the pro-life position.  Indeed, I now have nothing but contempt for it because it's total bullshit.  First was the realization that the rape and incest exception, which is a majority point of view among pro-lifers, means that most of these people are just fine with "killing" a "baby" if the sexual behavior of the pregnant woman meets their standards for sexual morality.  That means they don't give a shit at all about "life." Instead, they're absolutely furious that women might be having sex of which they don't approve, and want to punish them for it.  Control them, even.

So I just don't take pro-lifers seriously anymore, at least, not the rape and incest exception people, that is, most of them.  They're not really concerned with what they say concerns them.

But really, even the no exception minority is contemptible, too, as observed by the linked Hullabaloo essay: the pro-life movement doesn't give two shits about embryos destroyed at fertility clinics, you know, "babies" being "killed."  As a movement, they simply don't care, no rhetoric, no policy, no emphasis.  Obviously, the reason why is that IVF clinic embryos aren't created by sinful women having sinful sex.  Thus, from the perspective of the pro-life movement's true but unstated goals, which are to punish and control women, all these other "babies" are completely irrelevant.  "Killing" them is just fine.

So there you have it.  The pro-life movement is a total fraud, a complete sham.  It seeks to manipulate and subvert natural human compassion for the defenseless in order to punish and control women.  But there isn't really any compassion here.  Lots and lots and lots of "babies" are "killed" all the time, but because those "babies" don't fit their agenda, out to the dumpster they go, to rot and smell inside their biohazard bags in the sun.  That's the pro-life movement.  They just don't care about the "life" they say they care about.

I mean you, the individual, might care.  But not your movement, which has lied to you.  All your movement cares about is keeping women under the boot.  Whether you think so or not, your support for them is about nothing but oppressing women.  You've been duped.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

AMERICA'S UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Naomi Wolf posted on facebook a while back this link from last December, one which I also posted at the time, asking why the New York Times isn't keeping up the push to get these guys in court to answer for their crimes against humanity. But that's the thing. I'm assuming the Times isn't pushing this too hard because most Americans simply can't handle the fact that we were led by heinous criminals for eight years. I mean, that would interfere with the "greatest country in the world" narrative, the childish, narcissistic and wrong concept of "American exceptionalism."

That is, most Americans don't want justice done because they just can't accept that we, as a nation, would ever do anything unjust. Of course, that's total bullshit. American history, on many levels, is about Americans committing crimes against humanity. Over and over and over. Even now. Our collective hands are drenched with blood. And we're in total and absolute denial about it.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Investigations turn up no Planned Parenthood wrongdoing

From MSNBC:

In light of the recent controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, quite a few states launched their own investigations into whether the health care organization is honoring relevant laws. The Huffington Post reported Friday that the group passed its tests with flying colors: every state that investigated “found area Planned Parenthood affiliates to be in full compliance with state laws and regulations.”

More here.

A few observations.

1. This comes as no surprise to any and all intelligent Americans because these "sting" videos, created by a group of people with a long record of Nixonian dirty tricks, were obviously fake from the get-go.

2. Consequently, these have all been sham investigations, inspired by obvious bullshit, with the investigators very likely knowing before investigating anything at all that they would find nothing. That is, I'm betting that most, if not all, of these investigations are politically motivated, and therefore an abuse of official power.

I mean, maybe not the one in Massachusetts. That might just be stupid people. But the one right here in Harris County is CLEARLY politically motivated.

3. In addition to abusing governmental power, these investigations are wasting tax dollars for political axe-grinding. Do people still believe the Republican bullshit reputation as "good financial stewards"? If you do, you're an idiot. Really, the best way to lose your money is to give it to a Republican. He'll spend it on something stupid, and tell you it's good for you.

4. In spite of the fact that these investigations are now completely clearing Planned Parenthood of any and all wrongdoing, Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are moving to defund the non-profit organization, anyway. Because that's how they roll.

5. This is what twenty first century conservatives do: they lie, cheat, and steal, and believe they are totally justified doing so, especially if their victims aren't part of their tribe. Kind of like Scientology and "suppressive persons;" the gloves are off.

It's a crying shame, really. Conservatives used to be dignified and honorable, but thirty years of courting King Mob have brought them to a state of near total immorality. Because fuck you.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Story Behind the POW/MIA Flag

From Newsweek:

You know that racist flag? The one that supposedly honors history but actually spreads a pernicious myth? And is useful only to venal right-wing politicians who wish to exploit hatred by calling it heritage? It’s past time to pull it down.

Oh, wait. You thought I was referring to the Confederate flag. Actually, I’m talking about the POW/MIA flag.

I told the story in the first chapter of my 2014 book The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan: how Richard Nixon invented the cult of the “POW/MIA” in order to justify the carnage in Vietnam in a way that rendered the United States as its sole victim.


More here.

This is a lot less, well, black and white than the Confederate flag issue. That is, regardless of the politics at play, I don't think I'm ready to call the POW/MIA movement a sham. Families really did have loved ones in prison camps; service personnel really were missing in action. It wasn't all politics.

But I'm certain that Nixon would definitely not have been above politicizing it for his own gain. That doesn't mean he did it, mind you, but it's well within the realm of possibility given how he operated--I mean, he actually interfered with LBJ's peace talks which were close to succeeding, telling the South Vietnamese they'd get a better deal with him in office, which extended the war by years, so politicizing POWs would be rather tame in comparison to what we already know he did.

But like I said, politicizing it doesn't delegitimize it.  And now there's a massive controversy about the essay.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.




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Friday, August 14, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Frankie and Sammy


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

10 Outrageous Excuses Cops Have Used to Kill Unarmed People Over the Past Year

From AlterNet:

In four days US police killed as many people as Chinese police did in 2014, and more than five European countries’ police did in 2014. In the first 24 days of 2015, US police killed more people than England & Wales did in the last 24 years.

The worst part about this is how many of these victims were unarmed. As of June 1, 2015, 102 people killed by police were unarmed. We can add more to this number, including the killing of Zachary Hammond who was shot through a car window over a bag of marijuana.


More here.

As people start sharing news stories on facebook about unarmed whites being killed by police, I am reminded that our society has a both a racism problem and a policing problem, which overlap a great deal, leaving black bodies lying dead on streets and sidewalks from sea to shining sea, week after week. These are two distinct social problems working synergistically together to create an outcome worse than either problem alone. But we shouldn't focus solely on the overlap: there is still, by itself, a policing problem, which affects EVERYBODY.

It is impossible for me to walk away from reading this AlterNet essay without concluding that there is something fundamentally, philosophically flawed, at a very basic level, with how police in this country, all police, make decisions regarding the use deadly force. This has nothing to do with whether police are good or bad people, racist or not racist, dedicated to their jobs or not.

When we see similar police homicides like this across the nation, over and over, ultimately, one can no longer see this as being simply about individual police officers or departments. There must be something much deeper happening. Sadly, it is not obvious exactly what this is. But I refuse to accept that the only way we can have the policing we need is for it consistently and routinely to result in the death of citizens for "walking with a purpose" or waving a spoon or pill bottle around.

There are serious scholars studying police work. I'd bet real money that this is an issue they have been all over for some years now. Why aren't we seeing these ideas tried out in the real world? Why isn't this a massive political priority? Why do we continue to allow people to die simply because of flawed policing philosophy?

I'm angrily waiting for answers.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What a dead white man can teach America about inner-city decay

From the Economist:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a bold and controversial attempt to explain what has gone wrong in America’s inner cities: Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”. Moynihan, then a bureaucrat in the Department of Labour, made two main points. First, he argued that the lingering effects of two centuries of slavery had undermined the black family—at the time, 25% of black babies were born to unmarried mothers (see chart 1). Second, he argued that family instability was at the root of many other problems, from crime to poverty.

Fifty years later, black America still fares badly on many of the predictors of success and signals of distress that concerned Moynihan. If it were a separate country, it would have a worse life expectancy than Mexico, a worse homicide rate than Ivory Coast and a higher proportion of its citizens behind bars than anywhere on earth (see interactive). This is despite the fact that, overall, America is home to the richest, most successful population of black African descent that the world has ever seen.


More here.

A buddy of mine posted the above linked article on my facebook page a few weeks back.  Here's the comment I left:

Okay, read it, and it's quite a good article, pointing to multiple factors, all of them having, at least, an origin in racism, if not directly motivated by racism today.

I've long been skeptical about Moynihan's assertions linking slavery and black single parent families; I mean, why speculate about the unknowable when we have so much data indicating other causes right in front of our faces? And, as the article observes, white single parent families are now at the numbers alarming Moynihan about black families back in the 60s. Clearly, white single parent families do not exist because of slavery--other factors must necessarily be at work.

But yeah. Good take on the overall complexities and seemingly invisible forces shaping the racist social results we continue to see a decade and a half into the twenty first century. I was particularly impressed by the voucher programs getting people out of the ghettos and how their children fared a decade later. Not all of this, but certainly A LOT, is about the ghettos and poverty.

All Americans have a social responsibility to end this injustice.
Excelsior!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Baylor University drops ban on 'homosexual acts'

From the Houston Chronicle:

The world's largest Baptist university has dropped a ban on "homosexual acts" in its sexual conduct policy.

After years of appeals from students, alumni and others, Baylor University revised its policy, dropping the ban on gay sex to "state more plainly the expectations of the university," a Baylor spokeswoman said Tuesday.


Click here for more.

Well done, Baylor!

Of course, this is just a little baby step forward, not a dramatic leap or anything, but we are, after all, talking about the most conservative large Protestant denomination in the country, one so conservative, in fact, that it took over a century for it to apologize for splitting off from other Baptists over its support for the institution of slavery. So doing away with the written ban on gay sex is, in context, a really big deal.

And you think this might be easy now that everybody who wants can get gay married? Think again. Baylor University will definitely face something of a shit storm within the Southern Baptist Convention for doing this. Teh gay is NOT something of which Southern Baptists approve. I mean, in the end, Baylor will get away with this because the university is an independent entity, but more than a few SB families will refuse to allow their children to go there, and more than a few fiery sermons will be preached about Satan taking over Waco. It might even be a topic of wild debate and condemnation when the Convention meets again next year. Baby step or not, this is an act of bravery.

I haven't called myself a Southern Baptist for over two decades. But in many ways, I still think of them as my people, and, I think, when you strip away the awful and extreme conservatism prevailing in that culture, they're good people. And this move proves it.

I'm proud of them today.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

YES, I'M ANGRY ABOUT THE PLANNED PARENTHOOD "CONTROVERSY"

I've gotten a couple of reports from facebook friends that a lot of my usual conservative commenters have decided to stay away from my posts for a while because of the recent rhetorical intensity of my usual liberal commenters. This fits what I've seen: my liberal friends, in fact, have been pretty intense regarding Planned Parenthood, and my conservative friends, who commented on my first post or two on the topic, are no longer commenting.

The sense I get is that liberal anger about this is perceived as unreasonable. I mean, even while conservatives freak out and rip apart their shirts over "the selling of body parts" or whatever--that's a hypocrisy I'll set aside for now.

But yes, liberals are really angry about this, myself included.

The important point to consider here is that these now numerous attacks on Planned Parenthood are not business as usual. Sure, liberals are always kind of angry about conservatives' ongoing attempts to oppress women by extending the government into their bodies, but that's been going on for years. To some extent, we're used to it. Pissed off a bit, sure, but used to it.

This thing going on right now, however, opens up brand new fronts for outrageous conservative sleaze. For starters, the videos catalyzing this latest right-wing freakout are crude fakes, and this was demonstrated multiple times by multiple sources within twenty four hours of the first video's release. But it gets worse: the organization creating the videos comes from a crowd of Nixonian-thug dirty tricksters who have been doing the same thing, and continually getting caught doing it, for nearly a decade. So you'd have to be a complete moron to take those videos as anything other than hateful bullshit. Of course, being a complete moron has never stopped conservatives from trying to get what they want. So they took their bullshit and went full speed ahead freaking out.

And it is a BIZARRE freakout: the actual issue here is the usage of fetal tissue for medical research, a practice which has helped cure polio among other things, but conservatives act as though they don't understand medical research as a concept or as if they just don't give a shit, probably the latter. They go on whining and moaning about "selling body parts" or whatever, totally refusing to discuss what's happening honestly.

And a lot of people appear to be taking them seriously. Just because they're yelling really loudly. The whole thing adds up to what is essentially a political sucker punch, followed by a dogpile. It's vicious, callous, evil bullshit, and because the entire fake "controversy" isn't driven by much more than fantasy, over-the-top self-righteous posturing, and resentful spite, calm and careful consideration of the facts appears to be utterly useless. The right-wingers have set the controls for the heart of the sun, and are dragging America along with them on their path to self-destruction.

So yeah, I'm angry. I'm angry because these are extraordinarily underhanded tactics. I'm angry because my preferred means of communication on politics, rational discussion supported with facts, has been momentarily rendered ineffective. I'm angry because rational friends of mine don't seem to understand that the Planned Parenthood "controversy" isn't like other actual controversies. I'm angry that what appears to be a large percentage of the population can be taken by such sleazy con games. And, needless to say, I'm angry that my fellow Americans who describe themselves as conservative want to control women's bodies, and are willing to lie and cheat in order to accomplish that.

That is, my anger, the anger of all liberals about this, is entirely justified. You started it, conservatives. So f'ing deal with it.

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Sunday, August 09, 2015

FBI arrests 3 for Jade Helm retaliation attack plan against U.S. military involving guns, explosives

From the Houston Chronicle:

While some Texans were planning to monitor American soldiers during Jade Helm exercises, three men in North Carolina were plotting to kill them.

The FBI used wire taps, visual surveillance and a secret informant to track the alleged terrorists as they stockpiled weapons and gathered components to make explosives.

According to court documents, apparent ringleader Walter Eugene Litteral owned 99 acres in South Carolina and "intended to booby-trap the camp and draw government forces into the camp and kill them."

More here.

Personally, I'm far more afraid of homegrown right-wing terrorists, because they're HERE already, than I am of radical jihadis or whatever they are. For that matter, I'm quite certain that right-wing terrorists want me dead at least as much as extremist Muslims do. They hate me because I'm a liberal. Bunch of evil dicks.

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Saturday, August 08, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.




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Friday, August 07, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Stella, Winkie, Frankie, Sammy


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, August 06, 2015

MINDS NOT HEARTS

Posted this on facebook last night.

I just realized I've been unfriended by two people since I've started talking about Planned Parenthood. But you know, it seems to me that if you don't have much of a defense for your beliefs, if running away seems to be the only option, then you probably don't have much actual support for your beliefs. Just beliefs. And that very likely makes you wrong.

People don't know things in their hearts. They know them in their minds.

This is how I argue, by the way. I insist on specificity. I insist on the use of facts to support views. I insist on informed opinion. Anything less than that isn't an argument, isn't a worthwhile discussion. It's just shooting the shit. That sort of thing bores me.
'Nuff said.

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