Okay, I've had to do this at least once before. I'm taking a week off to deal with the madness of packing and moving. The house is in total disarray. The cats know that something is up and they're bugging me in a big way. Blogging just has to take a backseat for a while. Next Friday, when I'll be living in the New Orleans suburb called Metairie, the cable man will come to hook up my stuff. Unfortunately, I'll still be cleaning and repairing the place here in Baton Rouge, so I probably won't post again until the next Saturday or Sunday.
Until then, I leave you with a video of New Orleans clarinetist Pete Fountain performing the great jazz standard "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?"
One last thing: if the charges are true, Michael Vick is a cruel, sick, twisted asshole. I don't care how fun he is to play on Madden. This is some horrifying shit.
See you in a week.
Real Art Theme Song, go!
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Posted by Ron at 1:28 AM
Friday, July 20, 2007
FEMA discouraged tests of trailers for hurricane victims
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
FEMA provided more than 120,000 trailers to people displaced during hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Many thousands of people still occupy the trailers, especially in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.
When complaints of possible formaldehyde poisoning surfaced early last year, FEMA officials tested one occupied trailer and announced "there is no ongoing risk."
But documents show the levels of formaldehyde found were higher than those considered safe by several government health and environment agencies.
The House committee unearthed documents in which one FEMA lawyer advised: "Do not initiate any testing until we give the OK. ... Once you get results ... the clock is running on our duty to respond to them."
Paulison said the criticism was unfair because it was being done in hindsight. He told the committee, "There is no existing consensus on safe formaldehyde levels in residential dwellings."
Agency employees urged people worried about formaldehyde to open and "air out" the trailers because, Paulison said, that was the advice of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control.
Paulison said he now realized that was inadequate, partly because the Gulf Coast's summer temperatures make air conditioning, with the windows closed, essential in trailers.
Click here for more.
You know, I thought these Bozos couldn't surprise me anymore. How fucking retarded can people be? Test one trailer and conclude they're all safe? And, my god, the test results indicated that this one trailer was actually unsafe! All the Katrina failures and all the outrage that followed apparently didn't count for diddly squat. FEMA is still fucked up.
But then, this is totally in keeping with how pathetically slow the recovery is.
Hey, this is a chance to have some fun with right-wing economics. The "free market" people are pretty much of the opinion that the private sector can always do a better job than the government. Well, the government is really failing badly here with the post-Katrina recovery. In theory, "market forces" ought to rush in and take care of things quite nicely. But, oh damn, that's not happening. New Orleans, and other areas, are still in massive disarray.
Lesson: there are a great many things that the private sector simply cannot or will not do. For some jobs, only the government is capable and willing. When you have competent people running the government, that is.
How I hope the rest of hurricane season is calm.
Posted by Ron at 1:58 AM
Plaid Taste: The Return of the Preppy
From the Wall Street Journal courtesy of AlterNet:
The last time we were loving golf shirts and pearls this way, we were entering an era that celebrated wealth, on our way to a time when Gordon Gekko was the king of Wall Street and every aspiring corporate raider had a closet full of Lacoste alligator shirts and Topsider deck shoes. Then, greed was good.
Now we call it "luxury."
This is a period that lusts for symbols of the good life: $3,000 crocodile handbags, $20,000 tourbillon watches, $250 bottles of olive oil, and big charitable donations that assuage the guilt of driving an SUV. The preppy look is the affordable weekend version of all that. It's what the people who run the nation have always worn at their country homes. Now, as in the 1980s, people who want to suggest they live that lifestyle are wearing it, too. Never mind that preppies were traditionally old-money understated; now the look is about flamboyant colors and embroidered whales. Over drinks a few days ago at power-burger restaurant J.G. Melons in Manhattan, I noted three pairs of madras shorts, two loud Lacoste shirts, a Nantucket Reds T-shirt, and one Vineyard Vines canvas tote -- not to mention Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was dining there. Though casual in slacks and a button-down that evening, Mr. Bloomberg has been photographed in a Vineyard Vines tie.
Click here for the rest.
Oh god. I think I'm gonna puke.
I've feared a resurgence of 80s fashion since I first realized at some point during the 90s that hip cats were recycling 70s clothing. "It's only a matter of time before we start seeing 80s stuff," I shuddered. Of course, I was imagining shitty new wave styles, parachute pants and dumbass Flock of Seagulls haircuts. I never dreamed we would see a return of the preppy.
Look, I'll be honest. There are quite a few elements of preppy style that I actually like. I mean, the whole shebang is composed essentially of classic 20th century garment pieces--as longtime readers know, I'm very fond of classic 20th century style. But it's the over-the-top thing that really grosses me out. That, and the 80s association prepsters had with shameless wealth and it's gaudy display.
It all makes sense, really. Bush's relentless tax cutting for the rich has done its job: the rich, as during the Reagan era, are once again getting richer, much, much, richer, while everybody else tries to stay afloat. And now the "haves" are celebrating their elite status like it's the Gilded Age. I'm really grossed out.
Hey, remember this shit?
Courtesy of Michael O'Harro
Man, how the 80s sucked.
Posted by Ron at 1:46 AM
Thursday, July 19, 2007
LATEST IN A LONG LINE OF HYPOCRITES
The D.C. Madam's Public Service
Vitter's exposure comes hard on the heels of a recent scandal engulfing Rev. Ted Haggard, President of the National Association of Evangelicals, one of America's oldest and most respected Christian Right groups. Haggard, also an outspoken opponent of abortion and gay marriage, resigned his presidency and ministry and entered long-term rehabilitation amid allegations that he had purchased drugs and the services of a male prostitute.
Vitter-style hypocrisy, however, extends deeply into the history of America's modern Right. Charles Lindbergh, the spokesman for America First in the 1940s secretly fathered a second family in Germany, unknown to his American wife and six children. Strom Thurmond, who campaigned for president in 1948 to preserve "the racial integrity and purity of the White race," concealed a mixed-race daughter for 75 years. Oil magnate H. L. Hunt, who spent millions to propagate Christian conservatism in the 1950s, was a gambler and multiple bigamist.
Terry Dolan, founder in the 1970s of the National Conservative Political Action Committee, which joined the anti-gay fund-raising frenzy with a letter warning "our nation's moral fiber is being weakened by the growing homosexual movement," was a closeted homosexual. Here in Maryland, conservative Representative Robert Bauman was arrested in 1980 for soliciting sex from a 16 year-old boy.
Click here for the rest.
I'm not one hundred percent certain, but I think I know why the loudest of anti-sex moralists often turn out to be exactly what they preach against. The puritanical moralist has an authority driven understanding of reality. That is, essential knowledge for these people usually comes from some sort of authority, God typically, or some sort of charismatic leader often speaking on behalf of God, rather than from deep thought and ongoing reflection. This allows the absolute certainty that chronic philosophizing does not. Unfortunately, authority is often wrong; absolute certainty has no way of dealing with this. So what do you do when you are certain that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is immoral, but your heart says differently? You preach all the more loudly, trying to convince yourself, as well as others, even while you pursue your heart's desires, hoping that it all works out somehow. In short, the most intense and proselytizing of neo-puritans is really talking to himself. He hates himself because he is tied into a system of knowledge which is at odds with reality and his own true nature.
Nothing good can come from such a situation. Really, all these backwardass rednecks need is to get laid. Often, with lots of people, and without guilt. Like the hippies used to say "make love, not war." Pretty good advice, if you ask me.
Posted by Ron at 12:20 AM
QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES
Means "Who Polices the Police?"
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
List documents Chicago police complaints
A list of hundreds of Chicago police officers who have had 10 or more complaints filed against them singles out an elite police unit already under investigation in a criminal probe, according to a published report.
The Chicago Tribune reported in its Wednesday editions that the list, provided to City Council members with the names of officers blacked out, shows that the top four officers for complaints were all members of the Special Operations Section. Those officers each had 50 or more misconduct complaints against them in the past five years.
That unit is the subject of an ongoing investigation by Cook County prosecutors. Six officers have been indicted on charges ranging from burglary to armed violence.
Click here for the rest.
This is what I keep talking about when I say that the problem isn't with the police so much as it is with police culture. This case is the extreme example which proves the rule. Most of the time, it's the actions of a relative few which are encouraged by the overall sense of hypermasculinity, self-righteousness, and us-against-them pervading all police departments throughout the nation, and these same cultural issues then encourage other cops to either keep their mouths shut or turn a blind eye. Apparently, this Chicago special ops unit thoroughly corrupted everybody. It's good to hear that they're being investigated, but it will happen again. Somewhere. Soon. As long as we tolerate such screwy attitudes among the police who are supposed to protect us, rather than oppress us, we'll be oppressed. It's inevitable.
Posted by Ron at 12:07 AM
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Abstinence Education Faces an Uncertain Future
From the New York Times courtesy of AlterNet:
For the first time, however, Virginity Rules and 700 kindred abstinence education programs are fighting serious threats to their future. Eleven state health departments rejected abstinence education this year, while legislatures in Colorado, Iowa and Washington passed laws that could kill, or at least wound, its presence in public schools.
Opponents received high-caliber ammunition this spring when the most comprehensive study of abstinence education found no sign that it delayed a teenager’s sexual debut. And, after enjoying a fivefold increase in their main federal appropriations, the abstinence programs in June received their first cut in financing from the Senate appropriations committee since 2001.
Click here for the rest.
Okay, this is very good to hear, and another sign that the religious right's hypnotic grip on the government establishment is slipping away along with the Republican Party it has so long dominated. Abstinence based sex education was fucking retarded from the get-go. We now live, and have lived for decades, in a heavily sexualized culture that's not going away as long as everybody's making money from it. Pretending that we have the ability to socially re-engineer public attitudes about sex from the classroom in the face of 24/7 sexual media imagery has always been little more than wishful thinking, and dangerous, to boot, given the typical abstinence approach tendency to talk about condom use only in terms of greatly exaggerated failure rates.
Abstinence is stupid, anyway, and the whole thing is really about forcing unwanted religious attitudes down the throats of young Americans. That is, one could make a good argument that publicly financed abstinence based sex ed programs are unconstitutional in that they violate the wall of separation between church and state. You know, the first amendment.
Abstinence sex ed is nothing but trash, and the people who sponsor such drivel should go back to the trailer parks where they were raised.
Posted by Ron at 12:31 AM
THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS: MEET THE NEW BOSS...
Democrats Kiss Up to K Street
But, then, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. It is no secret that Democrats have a very powerful faction within their ranks that is perfectly happy engaging in the same kind of pay-to-play corruption that Republicans mastered. It was, for instance, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer who bragged on his taxpayer-funded website about starting his own K Street Project and whose top legislative aide moonlighted as his political action committee fundraiser. It is a corporate-funded front group known as the Democratic Leadership Council that continues to push for lobbyist-written trade deals that include no basic labor, human rights or environmental standards.
And it is top Democratic presidential candidates who publicly jockey for connections to Big Money interests as if building a warchest of corporate cash was one of the many achievements they need to flaunt in order to win over voters. Hillary Clinton, for instance, talks a lot about helping the middle class, yet as the number one Senate recipient of health care cash, she also now gives speeches apologizing for ever pushing universal health care. Additionally, Mark Penn, her top campaign strategist is a pollster who moonlights as the CEO of one of the world's largest corporate PR firms -- a firm that helps companies run, among other things, union busting campaigns. Barack Obama, meanwhile, has been caught trying to sidestep the spirit of his own much-bragged-about ban on taking money from lobbyists. And BusinessWeek reports that both candidates have asked Wall Street executives -- many of whom are their top donors --to "refine" their official economic platforms, all the while campaigning for the nomination of the "party of the people."
This all started right after the Americans' votes were counted in 2006. Days after the election, both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times published articles about how Democratic-affiliated corporate lobbyists were salivating at the prospects of using the new Congress to rake in legislative favors for their clients. "Democratic lobbyists are fielding calls from pharmaceutical companies, the oil and gas industry and military companies," the Times wrote. "Senior [Democratic] aides are now tempted to leave Capitol Hill to become lobbyists and potentially quadruple their salaries." As incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed that election night would usher in "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," her own chief of staff was being named a "K Street Superstar" by BusinessWeek as he quickly transitioned to life as a lobbyist for ExxonMobil and pharmaceutical giant Amgen.
Click here for more.
You know, I read this shit and just become outraged at all those self-righteous Democrat fucks who've castigated me and others for daring to vote for Nader. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. The Democratic Party is arguably more corrupt than the GOP ever was because the Donkeys give lip-service to higher values. They're supposed to be the party of the common man, but they're lining up to the corporate feeding trough just as quickly as their blue-blooded opponents.
I predicted this back in January. There's no fucking way I'm ever voting for a Democrat again.
Posted by Ron at 12:18 AM
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Tough Talk on Impeachment
From the website for PBS's Bill Moyers Journal:
Bill Moyers gets perspective on the role of impeachment in American political life from Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who wrote the first article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, and THE NATION's John Nichols, author of THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT.
"The founding fathers expected an executive who tried to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch... They [Congress] have basically renounced — walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check." — Bruce Fein
"On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account this Administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any President has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined. And that box may be handed to Hillary Clinton or it may be handed to Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or someone else. But whoever gets it, one of the things we know about power is that people don't give away the tools." — John Nichols
Click here to read the transcript or watch the discussion.
This is a really fantastic discussion, the kind they're not having in Congress or in the mainstream media. And it's really compelling. The short version: Democratic Congressional leaders seem to view impeachment as having only political, rather than legal, importance, and because they fear some sort of hypothetical political backlash, are totally unwilling to do what they are required by the Constitution to do. That is, if Bush is allowed to get away with his multifarious executive power expansions, it sets an awful precedent that may very well spell the end of our Constitutional system as we have understood it for over two centuries. What I'm talking about is the end of democracy and the beginning of something else, royalty maybe, or totalitarianism. I don't really think I'm being unreasonably alarmist here.
Go check this out now!
Posted by Ron at 3:44 AM
Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran
From the UK Guardian:
The White House claims that Iran, whose influence in the Middle East has increased significantly over the last six years, is intent on building a nuclear weapon and is arming insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.
Last year Mr Bush came down in favour of Ms Rice, who along with Britain, France and Germany has been putting a diplomatic squeeze on Iran. But at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. "The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern," the source said this week.
The Washington source said Mr Bush and Mr Cheney did not trust any potential successors in the White House, Republican or Democratic, to deal with Iran decisively.
Right. Well, regardless of whatever threat Iran presents, pretty much everyone but neo-cons like Cheney seem to think it can be dealt with diplomatically. Look at it this way. The neo-cons have been wrong about virtually everything. They didn't want to go after Bin Laden. They're most responsible for getting the Iraq invasion off the ground, and then for botching the occupation so badly that a mass insurgency was inevitable. Why on earth should we trust anything they have to say at all? Why is William Kristol, for instance, still given airtime on the talking head shows? Cheney's obviously wrong about this, and only utter incompetence and stupidity is moving Bush in the veep's direction. There's a good reason they don't trust their successors "to deal with Iran decisively." Going to war with Iran is probably just about the worst thing the US could do right now, and the Oval Office knows that's what everyone thinks.
I'd bet my mother that we start bombing sometime before November of '08.
Posted by Ron at 3:01 AM
Monday, July 16, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Iraq PM: Country Can Manage Without U.S.
From the AP via the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shrugged off U.S. doubts of his government's military and political progress on Saturday, saying Iraqi forces are capable and American troops can leave "any time they want."
One of his top aides, meanwhile, accused the United States of embarrassing the Iraqi government by violating human rights and treating his country like an "experiment in a U.S. lab."
Al-Maliki sought to display confidence at a time when pressure is mounting in Congress for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. forces. On Thursday, the House passed a measure calling for the U.S. to withdraw its troops by spring, hours after the White House reported mixed progress by the Iraqi government toward meeting 18 benchmarks.
During a press conference, al-Maliki shrugged off the progress report, saying that difficulty in enacting the reforms was "natural" given Iraq's turmoil.
So if the democratically elected Iraqi government doesn't want us there, why are we still there? I mean, the whole idea, once we stopped talking about all those WMDs that never turned up, was to bring the gift of democracy to Iraq. Well, we've done that and now they want us out, stable or not. We ought to leave, then, right?
Well, yes, of course we should leave. But we won't. Not until I'm an old man, and maybe even after I'm dead. Oval Office fantasies about winning aside, virtually all Democratic plans for "withdrawal" call for a diminished but continued US troop presence in the desert nation. Iraq is a colony and the US power establishment, both liberal and conservative sides, isn't going to let it go.
That's that. And I think the Iraqis know the truth much better than the US public.
Posted by Ron at 9:51 PM
Is the Problem That White People Don't Know or Don't Care?
From AlterNet, my favorite radical journalism professor, UT's Robert Jensen, responds to a study on how badly whites understand the black experience:
White Americans are mean and uncaring, morally bankrupt and ethically flawed, because white supremacy has taken a huge toll on white people's capacity to be fully human.
My reasoning is simple: Given all the data and stories available to us about the reality of racism in the United States, if at this point white people (myself included) underestimate the costs of being black it's either because (1) we have made a choice not to know, or (2) we know but can't face the consequences of that knowledge.
On #1: To choose not to know about the reality of a situation in which one is privileged in an unjust system is itself a moral failure. When a system is structured to benefit people who look like me, and I choose not to listen to the evidence of how others suffer in that system, I have effectively decided not to act by deciding not to know.
On #2: If I do know these things but am not willing to take meaningful action to undermine that unjust system, then my knowledge doesn't much matter. Again, I have failed in moral terms.
This is a really sticky one. Jensen runs a major risk of alienating the very people he would persuade by throwing around phrases like "morally bankrupt and ethically flawed." I mean, he's absolutely right, of course, with the caveat that there are always exceptions--some enlightened white folk don't go that way. But we really do live in a racist country, and things may very well have regressed in some ways since the end of Jim Crow back in the mid 1960s. That is, things aren't getting any better. So Jensen's assertion is undeniable: most white Americans seemingly either don't know how bad things are or they just don't care, and if they don't know it's because they keep their eyes and ears shut--either way, white America, as a community, is indeed "morally bankrupt and ethically flawed."
On the other hand, Jensen spends little space in his essay writing about the various indoctrinational systems that make willful ignorance the path of least resistance. The public schools barely even mention race relations, and when they do it's usually of the "things were bad in the past, but the great American spirit of self-improvement fixed all that and things are much better now" variety, which strongly encourages the typical "I wish blacks would just shut the hell up" response among many whites. The entertainment media rarely tackles the question of contemporary race relations, and when they do, it's something like American History X, where the villains are so awful, it's pretty easy for white audiences to walk away feeling smug about how good they are. The news media is little better, usually forgoing opportunities to elucidate the situation, as they did when the abject black poverty in New Orleans was exposed to all by Katrina's ravages--it was more like "oh, those poor black people" instead of "the white power structure tolerates this situation in every city in the country."
Even though I feel like I've figured it out, it has more to do with my left-leanings, which brings with it a willingness to believe that power structures fuck people over, instead some sort of innate enlightenment. That is, I got lucky from where my interests have taken me over the course of my life.
So yeah, white Americans bear the ultimate responsibility for allowing the white power structure to continue with racism-as-American-institution, but it's really difficult to get people to accept that. Even more difficult is figuring out what to do about it, especially given the realities of work, responsibility to family, and other issues. I mean, you can't just run out in the street and start a revolution.
My take: always be the first in your group to talk about race; force the difficult conversations; don't be afraid to offend both black and white acquaintances. You've got to start somewhere.
Posted by Ron at 9:11 PM
FINALLY! MY HIGH SCHOOL PRODUCES A PORN STAR!
From the Houston Chronicle:
Porn actress just liked classmate's name
She may not be a star, but Laura Madden has made a name for herself in pornographic movies. The problem is it's not her own.
When she embarked on her career in 2004, Madden, 25, selected the stage name Syvette Wimberly. She has appeared in a dozen or so hard-core videos under that name, including Irresistibly Delicious, Innocence and Dominance and others inappropriate for mention in a family newspaper.
But Madden's nom-de-sex did not spring from her imagination. It belongs to an old classmate at Kingwood High School, and the real Syvette Wimberly is none too happy about the attention that has come her way from people wondering why she was appearing in 18 and Hitchhiking.
So unhappy, in fact, that she recently filed suit against Madden and Vivid Entertainment Group, a major producer of adult films, asking that they no longer use or publicize the name and demanding damages for inflicting "humiliation, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, mental anguish and anxiety."
Click here for the rest.
I disagree that Madden "may not be a porn star" because she works for Vivid, probably the major player in the porn industry--maybe she's no Jenna Jameson, but she's not some trashy internet-in-some-guy's-apartment model, either. But no matter. Can you believe it? My dignified old school produced a porn star! A kind of dim porn star, to be sure, for taking an actual person's name in order to get it on with tons of strangers on video, but a porn star nonetheless. I'm so proud! Madden is probably the most successful alumnus to come out of KHS, although my old friend Betsy tells me via myspace bulletin that there was another porn actress who graduated in the early 90s.
Anyway, even though Madden attended KHS a decade after I graduated, the J. Geils Band's song "Centerfold" seems extraordinarily appropriate, so here you go:
One last thing. I find it irresistable to avoid linking to a couple examples of Madden doing her thing. Yeah, that's right. For the first time in its history, Real Art is linking to some hardcore pornography! This is definitely NOT SAFE FOR WORK.
Also, here are the words to the Kingwood High School Alma Mater; that seems appropriate, too:
Kingwood High, we pledge to you,
Honor and respect.
For you stand that we may learn
Wonders, then reflect.
As we spread throughout the land,
Knowledge is our light.
Through life's struggles we recall
Kingwood's blue and white.
I'm so proud of my old school!
UPDATE: Courtesy of my old friend Betsy, KTRK TV's local news coverage of the most successful Kingwood High School alumnus ever!
Posted by Ron at 1:51 AM
Friday, July 13, 2007
VIDOR BILLBOARD MYSTERY MURDER FINALLY SOLVED
And by "solved," I don't mean that the murder itself was solved.
For nearly a decade everytime I've driven east on I-10 from Houston to New Orleans or Baton Rouge, I've seen a very odd billboard in the notoriously racist Beaumont suburb known as Vidor. Thanks to yet another Beaumont 18-wheeler flaming disaster traffic jam, I was finally able to take a picture on my way back from Austin:
When I first saw the sign years ago, I thought "Of course the cops were covering it up." And that just wasn't my chronic anti-police bias at work: Vidor is a town where Klansmen have no shame running around in t-shirts with KKK insignias, and with similar bumper stickers on their pick-'em-up trucks; towns like that historically have crooked cops. But I had no idea what the overall story on the murder was until I was able to look up the guy's name.
From the Orange Leader:
Vidor father maintains vigil to find daughter’s killer
Over the years Fulton, of Vidor, has placed billboards along Interstate 10 as a reminder that the case has not yet been solved.
“The billboards are one thing I have to do,” Fulton said.
According to Vidor Police Chief Steve Conroy, Katherine “Kathy” Page, 35, was found strangled in her vehicle May 14, 1991. The 1991 black Mercury Tracer was found around 4:20 a.m. in a ditch about a block from her home on Boliver Street in Vidor.
“The accident appeared to be staged traffic accident,” Conroy said.
The vehicle had very little damage to it, but Page had bone fractures around her larynx, a broken nose, blackened right eye, and a bruise to the right temple, Conroy said. Page was separated from her husband and had two young daughters at the time of her death.
“I have lost a daughter, grandkids and great-grandkids because of this,” Fulton said.
The Vidor Police Department has been working diligently on the case since 1991, Conroy said.
Click here for the rest.
Unfortunately, the article isn't very good. It doesn't mention a word about Fulton's obvious belief that Kathy Page was killed by her husband, or the civil case, which, according to the billboard, and as with OJ Simpson, found Steve Page financially responsible for his wife's murder. Nor does the article make any reference to Fulton's assertion that Vidor cops are running interference for the presumed murderer. So I guess there's still some more mystery here. Maybe a more lengthy Google search is in order.
Nonetheless, after nearly ten years of seeing this billboard, it's nice to know a little more about the case. Weird, huh?
Posted by Ron at 12:16 AM
Louisiana becomes last state to ban cockfights
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
The only state where breeders can still legally pit fighting roosters against each other in bloody battles to the death has officially banned cockfighting starting next summer.
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed the ban today, ending years of dispute among legislators, the cockfighting industry and the animal rights groups that consider the fights barbaric.
Click here for the rest.
Right. So of course, I was amazed a couple of years ago when I first started hearing about the big political cockfighting debate here in Louisiana. I was like "they've still got cockfighting?" Well, it makes sense in a weird way: racism is still big here; political corruption is almost on the scale of the third world; people respect the past in this state in sometimes utterly bizarre ways. Yeah, cockfighting strikes me as being very Louisiana. Not that I mean any disrespect to the state--I mean, I really love it here. But cockfighting? Fucking hell, that shit's just plain sadistic! 'Bout fucking time they got rid of it.
Posted by Ron at 12:05 AM
Thursday, July 12, 2007
LES PAUL AND MARY FORD FUCKING ROCK!
Les Paul (born Lester William Polsfuss on June 9, 1915) is an American jazz guitarist and inventor. He is one of the most important figures in the development of modern electric instruments and recording techniques. He is a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar (the Gibson Les Paul, which he helped design, is one of the most famous and enduring models), multitrack recording, and various reverb and echo effects.
Click here for more.
So I was watching a documentary about the famed Les Paul earlier tonight on PBS and the guy really blew me away. I mean, I've long known how he was one of the pioneers in the creation of the hard body electric guitar, and also how he invented multi-tracking, making him something of a music technology genius, but I never really realized how fucking great his music was, especially with his then wife and performance partner Mary Ford. It's a weird jazz/country fusion, with some late 40s and early 50s pop style thrown in for good measure. Not to mention the fact that his strange and melodic multi-tracking continues to astonish and amaze over five decades later.
This is some good shit.
Here, check out this YouTube video featuring their song "Sitting on Top of the World". The visuals have nothing to do with Paul and Ford, just a long shot of a sand castle being washed away on a beach, but the song kicks ass. DEFINITELY CHECK THIS OUT!!! I want to crawl inside it and stay for the rest of my life.
Mary Ford and Les Paul back in the day.
Posted by Ron at 2:52 AM
REPEAT OFFENDER: SENATOR VITTER
SURE DOES LIKE THEM HOOKERS!
From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Madam: Vitter a client at Canal Street brothel
U.S. Senator David Vitter visited a Canal Street brothel several times beginning in the mid-1990s, paying $300 per hour for services at the bordello after he met the madam at a fishing rodeo that included prostitutes and other politicians, according to Jeanette Maier, the "Canal Street Madam" whose operation was shut down by a federal investigators in 2001.
After they met, Maier said Vitter became a customer at the Mid-City brothel. He made several visits, she said, but had stopped coming before federal agents raided the brothel.
Click here for the rest.
So it wasn't just a moment of weakness. It wasn't just a one time thing. Apparently, Vitter was a regular user of prostitutes' services for a period of at least a few years. "A very serious sin in my past," Vitter said Monday about his association with the so-called DC Madam. My ass! The mother fucker's lying about this shit even now. Needless to say, his usage of the indefinite article "a" strongly suggests that he was trying to get the idea across that his time as a john happened only once. Fucking liar.
I tell ya, these goddamned neo-puritans are total scum. Some Christian he is. He engages in "sin" and then he sins some more to minimize the damage. I mean, I don't blame him for trying to do some damage control, but if he hadn't been such an anti-sex right-wing zealot in the first place he wouldn't look like the big fucking idiot he does now.
That's what he gets. Thank you, thank you, thank you Larry Flynt for serving your country so well!
UPDATE: Rumor has it, and James Carville is a pretty good source for such political matters here in Louisiana, that Vitter's major kink is infantilism. That is, he likes to wear diapers. If that's true, his credibility is totally shot; the man needs to resign, like, right now.
Posted by Ron at 2:25 AM
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Former Bush surgeon general says he was muzzled
From Reuters courtesy of AlterNet:
he first U.S. surgeon general appointed by President George W. Bush accused the administration on Tuesday of political interference and muzzling him on key issues like embryonic stem cell research.
"Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried," Dr. Richard Carmona, who served as the nation's top doctor from 2002 until 2006, told a House of Representatives committee.
"The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party," Carmona added.
Click here for the rest.
Of course, this has been known for some years now: Bush plays politics with science. It is not enough, however, to use the phrase "plays politics" because that doesn't really get the reality of the situation across. Our President lies. Constantly, and on a galactic scale. His lies aren't simply utterances of non-truths. Bush literally tampers with our nation's understanding of knowledge in order to provide cover and support for his lies; he uses the vast power of his office to give his dangerous mendacity the appearance of reality. And his lies are literally dangerous and life-threatening. From the creative fiction about Saddam's WMDs to abstinence based sex education, which discourages condom use, people, lots of people, are dying because of Bush's cavalier attitude about truth.
Maybe the spectacle of a man as respected as the Surgeon General publicly calling the President out on this will make people understand how grave things really are. The fact that the Democrats are so angrily dead-set against impeachment continues to piss me off to no end.
Posted by Ron at 2:56 AM
LOUISIANA'S FAMILY VALUES SENATOR
SNARED IN DC PROSTITUTION SCANDAL
From the AP via the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., apologized Monday night for "a very serious sin in my past" after his telephone number appeared among those associated with an escort service operated by the so-called "D.C. Madam."
Vitter's spokesman, Joel Digrado, confirmed the statement in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press.
"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in the statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there _ with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."
Silas Lee, a political analyst and pollster in New Orleans, spoke Monday about the possible political impact on Vitter.
"In the short term, I think the issue will dominate the discourse for a few days and weeks, and though he's up for re-election in 2010, it should dissipate by then," Lee told WWL-TV in New Orleans.
"But for some of his very conservative constituents, it might not be as easy. In their mind and eyes, they may not be able to forgive. The majority may overlook it in time depending on his job performance and how sincere voters believe he wants them to forgive him."
Click here for the rest.
Conspicuously missing from this article is the ongoing story of how these powerful right wing social values people keep getting caught in flagrante, and how rank hypocrisy on sex and drugs seems increasingly to be as Republican as fundamentalist Christianity and patriotism. Jimmy Swaggart, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, the list just keeps getting longer--some people have even quietly accused Tom DeLay of wild sexual escapades, what with his hot tub parties for lobbyists and all. It is utterly apparent to me that these relative few who have been caught red-handed are simply the tip of the iceberg. Like the suburban pro-life mother who is against abortion unless it's her teenage daughter who's pregnant, these "family values" hawks simply cannot live up to the harsh values they espouse. When will the news start covering that story? When will they stop treating the downfalls of these moralists as isolated incidents and start proclaiming as fact that human nature seeks pleasure?
My guess is that some of these neo-puritans are for real, but most of them either take their bogus positions because of political expediency, or want to be on the anti-sex side but just can't get there with their own personal lives. The bottom line is that most Americans aren't puritans. Most Americans like sex a lot and are pretty cool about the weird deviancies of others as long as it's consensual and nobody gets hurt.
The press needs to start calling bullshit on this anti-sex crap because, apparently, not even the moralists believe it.
Posted by Ron at 2:25 AM
Thursday, July 05, 2007
I'M GOING TO AUSTIN!!!
Residents of Austin are known as "Austinites" and include a mix of university professors, students, politicians, lobbyists, musicians, state employees, high-tech workers, blue-collar workers, and white-collar workers. The city is home to enough large sites of major technology corporations to have earned it the nickname "Silicon Hills." Austin's official slogan promotes the city as "The Live Music Capital of the World", a reference to its status as home to many musicians and music venues. In recent years, many Austinites have also adopted the unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird"; this refers partly to the eclectic and progressive lifestyle of many Austin residents, but is also the slogan for a campaign to preserve smaller local businesses and resist excessive commercialization.
Click here for the rest.
So, as many of you know, I just got my MFA in acting from LSU, and I'm about to move to New Orleans to chase roles in the growing Louisiana film industry, aggressively attack standup comedy as a political performance form, and argue with poets and anarchists in coffee bars. I may also play a few open mike nights with my guitar. But before I do all that, I'm going to visit Austin.
Austin has probably had more influence on me than any other place I've lived. I cut my teeth on indy experimental theater there. I morphed from a suburban conservative to a more urban oriented progressive while I was there. I became an artist there. I fell in love there more than once. I did my first open mike nights there. I went from being a kid to being an adult there. The city profoundly influenced my overall aesthetic, and taught me how to be a Texan without any redneck shame. In many ways, I've always regretted leaving.
So I'm going back for a few days to re-experience my roots, visit with old friends, and get my head straight before I move on with the next phase of my life. Kind of a spiritual journey.
No posting until next Tuesday. I'll try to take some pictures while I'm in the Capitol City. Until then, here's one from Wikipedia:
Posted by Ron at 1:41 AM
USAF'S GAY BOMB
From Jim Hightower's website:
A watchdog group called the Sunshine Project reports that the Air Force sought several million dollars as recently as 2002 to develop a hormone bomb to release "strong aphrodisiacs" on enemy combatants, causing "homosexual behavior." Apparently, these creative thinkers reasoned that if our military could turn the enemy gay – even for a little while – the enemy would stop shooting and start kissing, because... well, you know how gays are. Don't you?
Click here for the rest.
So Hightower only uses this tease about the gay bomb as a lead-in to criticize the military's anti-gay policies, but the intro totally blew me away. I mean, what the fuck?!? I'm speechless. Well, not totally speechless. For starters, this is a really stupid idea. I don't think it's even possible to chemically alter sexual orientation, and the fact that Air Force brass took this seriously enough to actually spend money on research is extremely disturbing--it means that the civilian psychos in the Pentagon may not be as insane as the guys who wear uniforms, very bad news, indeed.
Furthermore, the notion that "strong aphrodisiacs" could arouse straight men so much that they'll go gay strongly suggests that these Air Force officers might have some bisexual tendencies themselves. I mean, you're either into same-sex activity or not, right? But these guys seem to see it as an option, under admittedly extreme and hypothetical circumstances, for all men. I've heard that fundamentalist Christians had heavily infiltrated the armed forces, and this kind of thinking about sexual orientation comes right out of the fundy play book: are these dimwitted Air Force officers themselves fundamentalist, publicly hating homosexuals but secretly lusting after hot gay man-meat?
I should probably worry more about the state of our nation, but I'm already too worried as it is.
Posted by Ron at 1:20 AM
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
I really like that we celebrate Independence Day, rather than the ratification of the Constitution, as our nation's birthday. I greatly prefer the rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence, which was mostly written by my favorite founding father, Thomas Jefferson, and greatly reflects his anti-elitist values.
Here, check it out:
The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
You know, a lot of these ideas are still in play today, what with our current occupation of Iraq, the corporate oligarchy's stranglehold on the US political process, and the gang of mobsters running the White House. Don't get me wrong; I'm not advocating any kind of silly separation movement or anything along those lines. I am, however, strongly advocating that we take the principles explained in the document above seriously as central American values. That is, we all give lip service to the concept of equality, and to the importance of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but I don't think people really take all that seriously.
It's time we started to do so.
Posted by Ron at 3:39 AM
GO-GO DANCERS ROCKING OUT TO HERB ALPERT
What's so amazing about this video is that, apart from the typical sense of whimsy associated with the song "Tijuana Taxi," there is utterly no sense of irony. Just a bunch of go-go dancers totally rocking out to Herb Alpert.
Check it out, courtesy of VideoSift:
The really great thing is that it's pretty obvious that those Austin Powers movies didn't really have to try too terribly hard. God, I love the 60s.
Posted by Ron at 3:28 AM
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Bush Commutes Libby's Jail Sentence
From the Nation, David Corn, the guy who first figured out that the CIA leak case could be very bad news for Bush, weighs in on today's latest travesty:
Libby had become a symbol of the Bush White House's problem with the truth. After all, his lies had been designed to block FBI agents and federal prosecutors from learning the full truth of a White House effort to discredit a critic who had accused the Bush administration of twisting the prewar intelligence. And now the final act in the long-running CIA leak scandal--Bush's commutation--stands as another symbol of this grand theme: lying doesn't really bother this crowd. In the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush claimed he would bring responsibility to the White House and, as a PR stunt, he dubbed his campaign jet Accountability One. Yet with this commutation, he takes the position that in his administration an aide who purposefully misleads government officials investigating a possible national security crime need not be held fully accountable.
This is no shocker. Early on in the CIA leak affair, the White House announced that anyone involved in the 2003 leak that disclosed the CIA employment of Valerie Wilson, an undercover Agency officer, would be booted out of the administration. But Karl Rove, who had disclosed classified information about Valerie Wilson to two reporters and who apparently lied about his actions to White House press secretary Scott McClellan, was not pink-slipped. Bush has never acknowledged this broken promise. (Libby left the White House only after he was indicted in the fall of 2005.)
Click here for the rest.
I was listening to Air America Radio earlier this evening and this conservative guy had called in and wanted to know why liberals hate Bush. The show's host responded by insisting that he doesn't hate Bush; he hates Bush's administration and policies. Why the hell do liberals keep dodging this? I'll be straight up: I hate Bush, and I have very good reasons for doing so.
You have to look at recent history to get some context for this. Inspired by his 1980 victory over Carter, Reagan era conservatives greatly stepped up their ongoing rhetorical efforts to discredit liberalism. By the time Mike Dukakis faced the first President Bush in the 1988 election, the New England leftie, freaking out, ran away from HW's repeated accusations that he was a liberal. At that point, the conventional wisdom had become that America didn't like liberals anymore. Four years later, Bill Clinton defeated HW in a weird three-way fluke race, and the right wing, which had perfected in the 80s the art of vilifying liberals, went into mad scientist mode. In the 90s, from the conservative point of view, liberalism was no longer simply stupid: it became tantamount to treason. The bastards even impeached Clinton on trumped up charges, and old Bill doesn't even really qualify as a liberal!
Then 9/11 happened a scant ten months after the current President Bush literally stole the Oval Office. Anti-liberal rhetoric soared off the charts, and dragged mainstream political discourse with it. In the new millennium, conservatives successfully managed to portray themselves as everything good, everything American. Liberals were portrayed as the worst anti-American scum in history.
This was only a few years ago.
Meanwhile, it was completely clear to anybody who wasn't caught up in 9/11 hysteria, a relatively small percentage of the population for a while there, that Bush was lying about virtually everything, and cravenly capitalizing on the terrorist threat in order to cut the country up into pieces and hand it all away to wealthy cronies, roll back civil rights to the dark ages, and drag the nation into an illegal and ill-advised war of aggression, which is the supreme crime according to the judges at Nuremberg. Obviously, conservatives aren't everything good and everything American, and liberals have known it for a long time. Bush is their boy.
People wonder why the left hates him. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Hate is the only reasonable reaction after all this shit.
Commuting Libby's sentence is simply one of the more flagrant examples of how the right wing presents itself as righteous and patriotic, but is in reality anything but--they impeached Clinton over lying about a blowjob, an act so utterly inconsequential it barely merits a mention, but they're falling all over themselves to pardon a guy who lied about what I still believe was an act of treason. And, you know, after reading this recent Washington Post four-part expose of Cheney's reign, I'm pretty sure that Libby's lies were about covering up far worse crimes than the Plame leak. In short, he fell on his sword to keep Pandora's box closed, and now he's being rewarded.
The hypocrisy here is thoroughly disgusting. Republicans are scum, and Bush is the Scumbag-in-Chief.
Posted by Ron at 3:39 AM
THE STAR TREK CALENDAR PICTURE OF THE MONTH IS...
Posted by Ron at 3:38 AM
Monday, July 02, 2007
Sunday, July 01, 2007
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LIBERAL AND A LEFTIST
But this is a bigger problem than just this administration. It is a defining characteristic of our entire political culture. We are in an era of ruthless power politics --- institutions arrayed against institutions, levers of influence and action set against each other in a battle for supremacy. Those who have the superior ability to dominate and manipulate those institutions are able to advance their goals and agenda. The Republicans have been far better at this than Democrats.
So, it remains for liberals and progressives to figure out how to traverse this culture without losing their souls. It's clear that most of the DC establishment and the political media lost its way some time ago, allowing themselves to be led by corporate values and slick GOP public relations. It does us no good to be naive and expect everyone to "just say no" and "do the right thing." As I said, this is an era of power politics and if you don't exert power with intelligence and energy (and integrity) when you have it, average citizens who will pay the price when the Republicans return to power by any means necessary. The situation is what what it is, and if we are going to change it, it's going to take time and dedication to changing the entire political culture in fundamental ways.
Click here for the rest.
Liberals and progressives cannot "traverse this culture without losing their souls." Once one becomes a part of the political machinery, one must play by its rules, no matter how much one desires change. Sure, there is such a thing as change within that machinery, but it's very slow, incremental, and usually doesn't amount to much. Historically, all the great changes in US political culture didn't come from idealistic political operatives working from the inside. They came from mass social movements which scared the living shit out of all those insiders.
For instance, when the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965, essentially putting a legal end to the Jim Crow era, it was simply a formality, an opportunity for politicians to take credit for other people's work. Jim Crow ended because of years of social organization and agitation. Average ordinary Americans, black and white, joined together to challenge the political establishment, both liberal and conservative sides of it, and kept up the pressure. When it became clear that the movement wasn't going away, and couldn't be crushed, the political elite did what any scoundrel would do under the circumstances; it joined the revolution and quietly tried its damnedest to dilute it.
Rights and freedoms are not granted from on high by a powerful elite: they are seized by the people. That's the difference between a liberal and a leftist. Liberals think the system can be changed by becoming a part of it. Leftists know that the system is always inherently corrupt, and that true change can only come by pushing the entire establishment in a desired direction.
I've been told countless times throughout my life that I ought to go into politics. It's hard to explain that doing so would be, for me, total capitulation to the corrupt and immoral plutocracy that owns and runs America. The only fight that will ever do any good is for the hearts and minds of my fellow citizens. Politics, as it is conventionally understood, is a waste of time.
Standup comedy, however, has some very distinct possibilities...
Posted by Ron at 12:44 AM
NOLA CRIME WAVE: COLLATERAL
DAMAGE FROM THE GREAT FUCKOVER
How to Destroy an African American City in 33 Steps
Step Eleven. Insist the President suspend federal laws requiring living wages and affirmative action for contractors working on the disaster. While local workers are still displaced, import white workers from outside the city for the high-paying jobs like crane operators and bulldozers. Import Latino workers from outside the city for the low-paying dangerous jobs. Make sure to have elected officials, black and white, blame job problems on the lowest wage immigrant workers. This will create divisions between black and brown workers that can be exploited by those at the top. Because many of the brown workers do not have legal papers, those at the top will not have to worry about paying decent wages, providing health insurance, following safety laws, unemployment compensation, workers compensation, or union organizing. They become essentially disposable workers--use them, then lose them.
Step Fourteen. When the big money is given out, make sure it is all directed to homeowners and not to renters. This is particularly helpful in a town like New Orleans that was majority African-American and majority renter. Then, after you have excluded renters, mess the program for the homeowners up so that they must wait for years to get money to fix their homes.
Step Twenty Six. Create and maintain an environment where black on black crime will flourish. As long as you can keep parents out of town, keep the schools hostile to kids without parents, keep public healthcare closed, make only low-paying jobs available, not fund social workers or prosecutors or public defenders or police, and keep chaos the norm, young black men will certainly kill other young black men. To increase the visibility of the crime problem, bring in the National Guard in fatigues to patrol the streets in their camouflage hummers.
Step Thirty Two. Refuse to talk about or look seriously at race. Condemn anyone who dares to challenge the racism of what is going on--accuse them of "playing the race card" or say they are paranoid. Criticize people who challenge the exclusion of African-Americans as people who "just want to go back to the bad old days." Repeat the message that you want something better for everyone. Use African American spokespersons where possible.
Click here for the rest.
So yesterday I said that New Orleans' massive crime wave is the result of generational poverty mixed with local corruption and the city's Katrina-savaged economy. That's only partially true. The above excerpted essay, written by a law professor from the Big Easy's Loyola University, makes it achingly clear that the way the White House has handled "reconstruction" organization and money has made this massive uptick in the murder rate utterly inevitable. No jobs for poor New Orleanians, even though the jobs exist. No housing for poor New Orleanians, even though both housing and money to create new housing exists. No schools for poor New Orleanians, even though schools, in the form of the right-wing's pet education "theory," charter schools, exist. No health care for poor New Orleanians, even though the money exists to fund that health care. No funding for social workers, cops, and courts, even though the money exists to do it!!! We all sat and watched in horror for nearly a week after Katrina hit New Orleans while the federal government did nothing. Since then, the feds have spent millions, but continue to do nothing.
If Bush were doing the right thing, directing money where it needs to go, rather than to cronies executing crackpot conservative ideas, the streets of the Crescent City would be much safer, and things would be moving toward a better situation than the one that existed before the hurricane. Instead, lots of innocent people are dead, and many more are going to be killed.
There's a lot of anger in New Orleans right now directed at local authorities. Even if there were no such thing as old fashioned Louisiana corruption, under these White House imposed "reconstruction" conditions, I'm not sure the local authorities could do anything to help.
Posted by Ron at 12:12 AM