FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING
Reine and Phil
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Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Photo of Obama in African garb emerges as Clinton renews attacks
From the International Herald Tribune:
A flap erupted when some Internet sites on Monday posted a photo of Obama in Somalian garb, including a white turban. When the Obama campaign charged that Clinton aides had leaked the photo - taken during a 2006 trip to Africa - the Clinton campaign manager, Maggie Williams, tried to turn the matter back at the Obama team, even though her camp has not denied any role in distributing the photo.
"If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed," Williams said in a statement. "Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely."
Click here for the rest.
Right. There was a head-cover flap about Hillary a few years ago when she was visiting some Muslim country. So yeah, the Clinton campaign is absolutely correct when it points out that this kind of apparel multiculturalism is not only not a big deal in terms of, I don't know, patriotism, but quite the reverse, it is an important ritual for national leaders. On the other hand, I wouldn't put double-dealing past the Clinton camp at all. That is, it would not be surprising to find out for sure that they're playing both sides of the street on this, reaping whatever benefit that might come from Texas and Ohio Democrats abhorring this Obama image, while at the same time saying that it's all very cool and well to dress that way.
I mean, no less than Bill himself, with a wink and a nudge, was trying to connect Obama to a much more controversial African-American politician, Jesse Jackson, after the Illinois Senator beat Hillary in South Carolina. The Clintons have no problem with race-baiting and ethnic slur if it stands to help them out.
On the other hand, Drudge, who first posted the photo, is a well documented lying asshole, which is why I'm not quite sure who's to blame for this bullshit. I am sure of this: whoever is to blame, the Clinton campaign sees this as some much needed help. But bullshit it is. It is also a big sign of how our political discourse rarely rises above elementary school thinking. This kind of photography gotcha-game is pathetic. You can do anything you want with images, making actual ideas and debate irrelevant.
Consider these pics.
Obama is secretly in the Taliban:
Hillary Clinton pretends to be classic Tina Turner by giving head to a microphone in front of the bathroom mirror:
Ronald Reagan fathered a love child in a bestial relationship with a chimpanzee:
John Kerry is a Teletubby:
Mike Dukakis starred in military fetish gay porn back in the 70s (just look at that looong gun!):
George Bush and Vladimir Putin are Willy Wonka:
George Bush has a huge Robert Plant sized cock:
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once met in person with US ally Saddam Hussein:
Well, okay, I guess that last one is pretty much on the mark. But you see my point, I'm sure. People respond to images much more strongly than they do to words: it is the height of irresponsibility that both the press and political establishment would destroy the discourse utterly necessary to a democracy such as ours by playing this game.
I have no idea how to stop this shit.
Posted by Ron at 7:50 PM
William F. Buckley Jr. Is Dead at 82
From the New York Times:
William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 82.
Mr. Buckley suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. “He might have been working on a column,” Mr. Buckley said.
William Buckley, with his winningly capricious personality, his use of ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare to an anteater’s, was the popular host of one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine “National Review.”
Mr. Buckley’s greatest achievement was making conservatism — not just electoral Republicanism but conservatism as a system of ideas — respectable in liberal post-World War II America. He mobilized the young enthusiasts who helped nominate Barry Goldwater in 1964 and saw his dreams fulfilled when Reagan and the Bushes captured the Oval Office.
As longtime Real Art readers know, I used to be a conservative. Even though I am now far to the left in terms of my political thinking, I continue to have a very soft spot in my heart for William F. Buckley. Yeah, I know, this whole fucking conservative mess we're in today can, to some extent, be traced directly back to him, but I don't think it's fair to lay all this shit at his feet. That is, the one thing I always deeply admired about Buckley was his commitment to thought and debate, eloquent civilized debate. If the Conservative Movement had followed his example on this, I strongly believe that the harshest and most psychotic elements of Republican rule would have been greatly muted--instead, we must endure right-wing radio bastards who love to say "Barack Hussein Obama" in order to make us think he's Saddam Hussein, crazy cunts like Ann Coulter who want to forcefully convert the Middle East to Christianity, and an idiot-boy President, a regular guy with whom we can have a beer. This is not William F. Buckley's conservative America.
Buckley really was a pretty brilliant guy. I used to think he was the gold standard for all conservative argumentation, even well into my liberal period: it wasn't until a couple of years ago when I saw some video of him floundering against Noam Chomsky back in the 60s, falling into Hannity-like demagoguery, talking over him and cutting him off, that I realized Buckley had kinks in his armor, but hey, nobody's perfect. For the most part, the old Yalie regularly presented challenges to liberalism that simply couldn't be ignored. As a conservative I loved him because he so well articulated my point of view; as a liberal I continued to love him because he kept me on my toes.
Now he's gone and conservatism is in total disarray. I sincerely hope that the right will take this opportunity to re-tool itself along the lines of Buckley's model. Liberals need conservatives, if, like I said, only to keep us on our toes. In the grand scheme, and ideally, the two sides of the American political spectrum balance each other. Don't get me wrong; I'm not hailing the mushy middle as some wonderful place to be. But liberalism, like conservatism, is easily prone to zeal and excess. Smart conservatives like Buckley give liberals the periodic crotch-kicks needed to keep them honest, and vice versa. Unfortunately, the most prominent conservative spokesmen today are not at all smart, or at least, not smart like Buckley. Certainly not civilized like Buckley.
Here's Buckley giving one of those fabulous crotch-kicks to professional liberal asshole Gore Vidal back in 1968, the year I was born--of course, I love Vidal, too, but he really is an asshole.
Farewell, William F. Buckley. I may have disagreed with you on most everything, but you disagreed with me so damned well.
More on Buckley here.
Posted by Ron at 2:45 AM
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES
Means "Who Polices the Police?"
First, a little background. From Wikipedia:
The Greensboro Nazi-Klan Shooting occurred on November 3, 1979 in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States. In the event, five Maoist Communist Workers Party marchers were killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party while in a protest. It was the culmination of attempts by the Maoist Communist Workers Party to organize industrial workers, predominantly black, in the area.
One of the most dubious aspects of the incident is the role of the police. Normally, the police would have been present at such an event, yet no police were present at the shooting, thus permitting most of the perpetrators to escape. One police detective and a police photographer followed the Klan and Nazi caravan to the site, yet did not intervene. Edward Dawson, a Klan member since 1964 who had turned police informant, was in the lead car of the caravan. Two days prior to the march one of the Klan members went to the police station to obtain the map of the march and the rally. Bernard Butkovich, an undercover agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms later testified that he was aware that Ku Klux Klansmen and members of the American Nazi Party unit he had infiltrated would confront the demonstrators. In previous testimony, the Nazis claimed that the agent encouraged them to take guns to the anti-Klan demonstration. This has led to accusations of police collusion in the event.
And no one was ever convicted. But that was nearly thirty years ago. Why is it worth mentioning today? Because it's still going on.
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
Ministers: Police destroyed Klan records
Three ministers accused a Greensboro police officer Tuesday of ordering officers to destroy about 50 boxes of police files related to the fatal shooting of five people at an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in 1979.
The Revs. Cardes Brown, Gregory Headen and Nelson Johnson said an active-duty officer told them he and at least three other officers were told to destroy the records in 2004 or 2005, shortly after a seven-member panel convened to research the shootings requested police files related to them.
Click here for the rest.
I once read in an anarchist journal a description of police as "the armed security agents of the state." This is a rather brilliant observation. Police ostensibly exist "to protect and to serve" or however you want to describe what most believe to be their pro-social function. When push comes to shove, however, this pro-social function is only ancillary: by and large, cops exist to support the power structure that employs and pays them. If you're part of that power structure, they really are working for you; if not, look out. That's why we've seen repeated instances going back to the 1960s until today of cops harassing, spying on, and arresting lawful anti-government demonstrators. That's why we've seen a highly disproportionate number of African-Americans held captive by the US criminal justice system. That's why street criminals are arrested and convicted in much higher numbers than the white collar criminals who have stolen far more money and killed many more people.
This 1979 massacre in Greensboro is a prime example. Why would local police not only allow but facilitate such murderous violence? The local white power structure there was only ten years removed from the racist violence of the civil rights era, violence which was itself only a manifestation of decades of Jim Crow, American Apartheid. That is, Greensboro's powers-that-be, at that point, were still thinking like the lynching Southern idiots of yesteryear. And so were their armed security agents, a.k.a. the cops. The Greensboro police knew what they needed to do, whether their masters ordered it or not. Get them black-loving commie bastards.
I think it's safe to say that Southern white power structures, overall, have mellowed somewhat since then, although not entirely, as the Jena, La., white power structure has recently revealed to the entire world. Same thing in Greensboro. No more massacres these days, but they're still trying to cover it up, still trying to hide their guilt, probably because they still believe they did the right thing.
And remember, to the police "the right thing" is supporting the powerful figures who sign their paychecks. Not you and me.
Posted by Ron at 1:29 AM
Monday, February 25, 2008
OBAMA'S CHANGE VERSUS NADER'S CHANGE
From the Boston Herald back during the 2006 primary season, via This Modern World:
Obama rallies state Democrats, throws support behind Lieberman
HARTFORD, Conn. –U.S. Sen. Barack Obama rallied Connecticut Democrats at their annual dinner Thursday night, throwing his support behind mentor and Senate colleague Joe Lieberman.
Obama, an Illinois Democrat who is considered a rising star in the party, was the keynote speaker at the annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner.
Lieberman, Connecticut’s junior senator, is under fire from some liberal Democrats for his support of the Iraq War. He was key in booking Obama, who routinely receives more than 200 speaking invitations each week.
Some at Thursday’s dinner said that while they were pleased with Lieberman’s success in bringing Obama to Connecticut, they still consider Lieberman uncomfortably tolerant of the Bush administration.
Obama wasted little time getting to that point, calling it the “elephant in the room” but praising Lieberman’s intellect, character and qualifications.
“The fact of the matter is, I know some in the party have differences with Joe. I’m going to go ahead and say it,” Obama told the 1,700-plus party members who gathered in a ballroom at the Connecticut Convention Center for the $175-per-head fundraiser.
“I am absolutely certain Connecticut is going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the U.S. Senate so he can continue to serve on our behalf,” he said.
I've hated Lieberman since Gore tapped him to be his running mate in the 2000 presidential election. The whole point to picking the now independent Senator from Connecticut was to do some major damage control over the Gore team's perception that Americans give a shit about President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. That is, they picked Lieberman because he was a right-wing Democrat. Indeed, Lieberman's been pissing me off since he started riding the music censorship bandwagon that started back in the mid 80s. He supports Israel, no matter what atrocity they've committed this week or any other. He supports fervently the occupation of Iraq. He is an even bigger friend of the corporatacracy than the Clintons. Even though he had to leave his party because power is more important to him than political affiliation, he continues to be the poster boy for everything wrong with the Democrats.
And Obama was strongly supporting him before he lost the primary to Ned Lamont.
To be fair, as Tom Tomorrow over at TMW observed in the post bringing this story to my attention, Obama's support ended as soon as Lamont won. But still. How could the great uniter, the "change" candidate himself, ever tell voters to elect a politician as heinous as Lieberman? Right right, it's all about party loyalty, about supporting the party that's supposed to make all this "change" happen, about being a good soldier.
This, in a nutshell, is why I can no longer support the Democrats, even the liberal "change" candidates: party trumps principles, which is tolerable, I suppose, when the party is actually liberal, but the Democrats aren't liberal; they're in thrall, for the most part, to their funding, which consists of wealthy, white, male corporate barons. I cannot be a part of this.
I mean, look at what it's done to Obama. I agree with my buddy Mark in comments that Obama is probably much more liberal than he's letting on, but that's just it: Obama is working hard to hide how liberal he is, and he's willing to deal with the devil in order to get the lie across. That's really fucked up, but apparently that's how one has to do business within the Democratic Party these days. I have no reason to believe that Mr. Change will remove his moderate-right mask once in office to reveal a more realistic face of change. That is, I fully expect Obama to continue his "I'm not really so liberal" facade as long as he occupies the White House, which means that real and lasting political change is not likely.
So, as you all know, I'm supporting Nader, in hopes that the consumer advocate's upstart campaign will force the Democrats to take a long hard look in the mirror. However, given that this will be his fourth run, and the Democrats seem just as fucked up as they were twelve years ago when Nader first ran, is voting for him going to be worth it?
My buddy Mark again:
I do not care if he "steals votes" from the Democrats. Obama has this in the bag. I care that he is rendering the votes of his supporters moot. He is making his advocates impotent citizens. Mobilize them, I'd say. Organize and demand answers, I'd say. He has a lot of support in this country from some of the smartest people (a lot of which have already backed Obama). To insert himself into this race and single handedly pull it to the left is something John Edwards could do. Not Ralph Nader. There is a better way.And Tom Tomorrow writes:
Nader’s critique of corporate power and its corrosive effect on American democracy is spot-on. But if the point of these third-party runs is to inject that critique into mainstream discourse — well, we’re way past the point of diminishing returns, and actually deep into some sort of anti-matter universe, in which information is literally sucked out of people’s brains at the first mention of his name. In the way that Dan Rather’s report on George Bush going AWOL turned into a discussion about Dan Rather, the only debate another Nader candidacy is going to inspire is a debate about Nader himself, and I just don’t see the point.Has Nader lost any ability to change the debate using his classic third party/independent strategy? Would he really be more effective returning to his advocacy work? This great AlterNet essay, which really seems to get to the heart of what's going on with Nader, asserts that getting the right-wing thugs out is paramount right now, which is why changing the debate is not something to do this time around.
These are all very good points. Nader does indeed have the ability to effect some change without running for president. Angry Democrats really have turned the Nader factor into a personality debate rather than an issue debate. And the Nazis in the White House are a very real nightmare.
I understand why intelligent liberals would have reservations about Nader. However, as I'm sure you know, I'm unpersuaded. Nader's organizing and advocacy work over the decades has saved countless lives, and raised awareness about countless issues that would have been ignored otherwise, but such work was utterly incapable of stopping the Democrats' slow reversal of philosophy from liberalism to Republican Lite. That is, we're talking about party culture that seems now to be entrenched. Working with the Democrats, rather than against them, has been wildly ineffective. Along these lines, while it is important to get the trash out of the Oval Office, we cannot ever forget the enabling role the Democrats have played in getting them there in the first place, and then rolling over for them, again and again. We may get them out now, but unless we do something to permanently change Democrat philosophy, they'll be back soon.
As for Tom Tomorrow's point on the relentless ad hominem attacks on Nader, I offer this Gandhi quote: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." Of course, I entertain no fantasies that Nader will win, but the ferocity of the rhetoric, to me, indicates that something is happening within the party. That is, Nader's definitely getting to them; if we're lucky, the Dems might soon feel compelled to actually talk about him in terms of ideas, in terms of issues, and show why they're better for the country. And just as Eugene Debs' Socialist rejection of the Democrats back in the late teens and early twenties eventually spawned the New Deal in the thirties, one hopes the Democrats will again be forced to be a real people's party, instead of the pro-wealth sham we suffer today.
Posted by Ron at 10:57 PM
...AND SO IT BEGINS...
And I'm not just talking about Nader's candidacy.
From the New York Times:
Nader to Run Again
“Dissent is the mother of ascent,” Ralph Nader said on “Meet the Press” this morning. “And in that context, I have decided to run for president.”
Beginning his fourth consecutive third-party bid for the presidency, Mr. Nader, a consumer advocate, cited a litany of issues he felt had been “taken off the table,” including single-payer health care, the war, labor law reform and “cracking down on corporate crime.”
Mr. Nader is still blamed by many Democrats around the country for siphoning votes from Al Gore in 2000. Asked about this by Tim Russert, the host of the NBC show, he replied, “Not George Bush? Not the Democrats in Congress? Not the Democrats who voted for George Bush?,” before listing several other factors that would have led to Mr. Gore’s victory and accusing people opposed to his candidacy of “political bigotry.” But ultimately, he said, “Let’s get over it and try to have a diverse, multiple choice, multiple party ballot like they do in Western Europe and Canada.”
He ruled out the possibility that he would prevent a Democratic victory in 2008.
“Not a chance,” he said. “If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, and emerge in a different form.”
“Meet the Press” played a video clip of Mr. Obama answering a question about a possible Nader candidacy on Friday:
You know, he had called me and I think reached out to my campaign — my sense is is that Mr. Nader is somebody who, if you don’t listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you’re not substantive. He seems to have a pretty high opinion of his own work. Now — and by the way, I have to say that, historically, he is a singular figure in American politics and has done as much as just about anybody on behalf of consumers. So in many ways he is a heroic figure and I don’t mean to diminish him. But I do think there is a sense now that if somebody is not hewing to the Ralph Nader agenda, then you must be lacking in some way.Click here for the rest.
Back when I was teaching high school, one of my students emailed me to ask why I favor evolution over creation. My response didn't try to pressure him; I just tried to explain where I was coming from, what evolution is about, and why it's not necessarily incompatible with belief in some kind of god, even the Christian God. My final assertion, that we share some 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees, which strongly suggests that humans and chimps share common ancestry, sent him over the edge. His reply was something to the effect that I was just trying to be different, that I had no idea what I was talking about, that I was just being arbitrary for the sake of it.
A couple of days later I found myself in the principal's office trying to explain what had happened, and was warned off of virtually all email exchanges with students. That's "education" for you.
No matter. My point here is that this kid, completely unable to actually engage with me in any real discussion of the evolution "controversy," resorted to attacking me instead of my arguments. That's what lots of people do when, as the saying goes, they got nothin'.
Democrats like Barack Obama know they got nothin' when it comes to actually debating Nader on the issues. Instead of taking on directly Nader's assertion that the Democrats are ignoring the great benefits of single-payer healthcare, aren't taking a strong enough stance on the war, aren't reversing the decades-long transformation of labor protections into an exploitation bonanza, and are allowing the corporations who own and run the United States to make a mockery of democracy, Obama essentially said something to the effect of "Nader just wants us to do what he says."
What the fuck kind of bullshit is that? If Obama really thinks his ideas are better than Nader's, why doesn't he actually make some arguments? Answer: Obama knows Nader's right. Or, at least, Obama knows he's got nothin'.
Indeed, they all know they got nothin'. That's why you'll never see Democratic spokemen, candidates, and elected officials take on Nader's issues directly. They have to resort to bullshit attacks on Nader himself.
And that's as big of an argument as any for supporting Nader over any Democrat. Donkey-butts refuse to talk about issues. Those fuckers need a big black eye. A bloody nose, too. And "stealing" their votes is the only way to do it.
Posted by Ron at 3:10 AM
Saturday, February 23, 2008
BARACK OBAMA'S PLATFORM ON CIVIL RIGHTS
Taking my buddy Matt's challenge to find out what Obama's all about. From Obama's campaign website:
Barack Obama's Plan
Strengthen Civil Rights Enforcement
Obama will reverse the politicization that has occurred in the Bush Administration's Department of Justice. He will put an end to the ideological litmus tests used to fill positions within the Civil Rights Division.
Combat Employment Discrimination
Obama will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. Obama will also pass the Fair Pay Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.
Expand Hate Crimes Statutes
Obama will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section.
End Deceptive Voting Practices
Obama will sign into law his legislation that establishes harsh penalties for those who have engaged in voter fraud and provides voters who have been misinformed with accurate and full information so they can vote.
End Racial Profiling
Obama will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.
Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Support
Obama will provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that they are successfully re-integrated into society. Obama will also create a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.
Eliminate Sentencing Disparities
Obama believes the disparity between sentencing crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong and should be completely eliminated.
Expand Use of Drug Courts
Obama will give first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior.
See the rest of Obama's policy positions here.
Well, none of this is bad stuff. However, generally speaking, I wonder how he's going to pull off most of this without addressing the central issue with civil rights in America, lingering racial attitudes, or without mandating multicultural education in some way for everybody.
Bush has indeed gone a long way toward turning Department of Justice civil rights enforcement into the exact opposite of what one might understand the term "civil rights" to be, stacking the department with lawyers who want to help out white people who believe they've faced discrimination, and supporting the recent Supreme Court decision that makes it virtually impossible for women who have been paid less than men for the same work to win lawsuits against their employers. But reversing Bush policies simply takes us back eight years to 2000.
What is he going to do to move enforcement forward? How is he going to deal with problems that Clinton wasn't addressing?
Also along these lines, I'm curious as to how, exactly he's going to get the far right-wing of the Supreme Court to allow a reversal of the above mentioned decision. Conservatives have been trying for almost forty years to reverse Roe v Wade, and have failed spectacularly: why does Obama think he can do what they cannot, reverse a high court decision?
The Fair Pay Act sounds fantastic, if it actually means what its name suggests.
As for hate crimes enforcement, I continue to wonder if such laws actually do anything other than make people feel good about the universe, but I have no problem with stepping enforcement up in this area.
Going after vote fraud is great and desperately needed. However, this is one wickedly tangled knot, as the Florida 2000 debacle, and other cases illustrate. Is Obama, who has very strategically stayed away from racial rhetoric, up to the task of publicly embracing the fact that Bush won the White House by illegally disenfranchising tens of thousands of black voters in Florida? This has been a poison subject for virtually all Democrats in public office. In order to really do something about these hardcore dirty electoral tricks, Obama's going to have to say some things very loudly that a lot of Americans don't want to hear.
To make such reform effective, Obama stands the chance of losing his whole "unity" vibe.
Ending racial profiling is great. But facing the entrenched cop cultural attitudes I've written about repeatedly in my QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES posts is going to be extraordinarily difficult when you get right down to it. How will this be enforced if cops don't admit that they're doing it, and other cops refuse to spill the beans about their racist brethren?
Good luck on this, Barack.
Ex-offender support is definitely a step in the right direction. But it is very interesting to note that Obama says nothing about the medieval conditions inside our prisons that play an even bigger factor in creating repeat offenders, not to mention the fact that the rapes, murders, and other chronic violence in prison constitute gross civil rights violations in and of themselves.
Why won't Obama clean up our prisons and make them more reform oriented?
On sentencing disparities, I think we're already moving in that direction. But it's a good thought, to be sure.
More drug courts are good, too. I know a couple of guys here in the Big Easy who would be in prison right now, being primed for a life of crime and waste, if not for a similar program. But why not take the plunge and push for decriminalization, or even, gasp, legalization? Yeah yeah, I know, it's politically "impossible." But that's what we need strong leadership for, right?
Overall, as I wrote above, this is good stuff. But for the most part, I see them as band-aids over the proverbial gaping wound. That is, if Obama doesn't couple all these proposals with a strong dose of straight up propaganda, fiery and continued usage of the "bully pulpit," we'll have some new laws and approaches to enforcement that may not really count for much in the long run. We've been in the anti-civil rights Dirty Harry era since the early 70s, and those attitudes are still strong in many parts of the country. If Obama doesn't challenge this cultural strain directly, he will fail to truly get the "change" he's promising everybody.
In short, my criticism of Barack Obama in this area is typical of my criticism of most Democrats in most areas: too weak, not enough, mostly talk, probably ineffective. Prove me wrong, Obama.
More to come.
Posted by Ron at 9:58 PM
Friday, February 22, 2008
REAL ART GUEST BLOGGER
My old pal Matt, who attended both high school and college with me, and is probably much smarter than me, takes me to the woodshed:
Open Letter to Real Art: You're ducking ObamaActually, the second to the last theory hits closest. A few week back via email, after I had written something to the effect of my not knowing what the man is about, Matt challenged me to check out Obama's platform on his website. Obviously, I haven't done that yet, which is why I've just kept my mouth shut about him. I figured that I'd wait until the general election if it came to that. But now, of course, he's looking unstoppable, for which I am grateful because I really do have contempt for Hillary, although I understand that her healthcare plan covers more Americans than her opponent's. Maybe it's time for me to learn about all things Obama. So in the next few days I'm planning on reading up on his issue stances--maybe I'll like what's there. I certainly hope so.
Hi, Ron - great to see you blogging again. But I notice that you seem to be avoiding a certain subject. I know you can't stand the Democrats (you and I both) and Ralph Nader seems to once again be the only acceptable option for your vote. But, in the Democratic Party primary process, one upstart progressive is giving one sell-out corporate shill Democratic-establishment-lifer, the fight of her career.
Now, it's not over by any stretch - but I have not heard a word from you about candidate Obama. Since you rarely force anyone to guess at your opinion, I'm kind of out on a limb. But here is some conjecture.
First, my observations about Obama - whom I currently support (we'll see how he does down the road):
- Obama is more liberal-progressive than Clinton and in fact, may be more so than about any Democrat out there (based on voting record while in the Senate). One could even say he's the most liberal person in our lifetimes to get this close to the White House.
- Obama is actually a lot like McCain - he's a real threat to his party's established leadership - in a good way for the rest of us.
- Obama claims to not want to do politics as usual and there is some evidence for this so far, including legislation designed to curb lobbyists and a fairly high road campaign so far, despite Bill and Hillary's best efforts to drag it down.
- Obama has energized independents, moderates (liberal and conservative), and non-baby-boomers. By the way, do you realize that if Obama gets the nod, we will have no baby-boomers in the race? McCain was born in '41 and Obama was born in '61 (making him part of the intergenerational '60-'65 group that was once referred to as Generation X before it got slapped on our generation). It only took Clinton I and Bush Jr. for the country to tire of this egotistical, loudmouthed, pretentious, whiny generation and to move on. Good riddance.
- Obama, if elected, immediately challenges the current world-view of the United States by 1. African-Americans, 2. The rest of the world.
So, why would Ron not have something to say, good, ill or both, about such an interesting character?
- Theory: Ron, baby-boomer lover that he is, isn't ready to see them pushed aside
- Response: I don't see it - most people only hate one of our baby boomer presidents - Ron can't stand either
- Theory: Ron actually likes Obama but he's afraid we're all getting out hopes up just to have them crushed by the Clinton machine
- Response: I believe this could happen - but Ron's a fighter - if he was for Obama, he'd be fighting for him
- Theory: Ron is terrified/confused at the prospect of supporting a candidate that is actually electable
- Response: Well, I sure am! (Perot '92, Nader '00)
- Theory: I'm missing something big/important about Obama and Ron will soon point it out
- Response: Very likely, based on the depth that Ron looks at these issues - but I can't help but think that if he had a point no one had hit on, he'd have put it out there
- Theory: Ron is busy with other things and has not had time to really dig in on OB so please get the hell off his back, you big jerk!
- Response: Uh, sorry.
- Theory: Ron actually kind of likes Obama - but man he hates him some Democrats and he hasn't reconciled that yet
- Response: This one might have legs...
What say you?
However, I'll say this for the time being. His rhetoric has been, in my opinion, extraordinarily vague: even though no less than Ralph Nader himself has asserted that Obama fully understands how corporations have both undermined and dominated our political system, it has been John Edwards making noise about it on the campaign trail, not Obama. Further, Obama talks about "change" and "unity" a great deal, and people just fucking love it, me too, but once he's in the Oval Office, uplifting speeches will only go so far. That is, in order to truly change the nation, Obama will have to take the gloves off and get his hands dirty. Really dirty. These corporate interests will not go gently into that good night; they'll have to be dragged kicking and screaming. Unity will only work for so long.
Does Barack Obama have the gumption to ruthlessly attack the forces which have made American democracy a joke? Keeping his policy positions seemingly below the radar does not give me confidence in this area.
More to come.
Posted by Ron at 12:39 AM
Thursday, February 21, 2008
IS JOHN MCCAIN IN THE MIDST OF A SEX
SCANDAL OR A CORRUPTION SCANDAL?
From Thursday's New York Times:
For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk
Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.
Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.
Click here for all the rest.
Here's my answer. It's a corruption scandal. But I'd bet you credits to navy beans that what's going to get the most traction in the 24/7 cable news cycle is the sex. Sex, sex, sex. And because CNBCCNNFOXMSNBCABCCBSNBCHNN is going to be blaring "sex, sex, sex" repeatedly for days on end, the more legitimate news outlets, such as mainstream papers, PBS, and NPR, are going to follow suit, even if it's the old "reporting on the story" ruse.
And, of course, the right-wing radio idiots who hate McCain's supposed "liberalism" are going to nail the fuck out of him on adultery, just as they did with that other "liberal," President Clinton. I also fully expect Huckabee to capitalize, too. And let's not forget the sanctimonious Democrats who don't give a fuck that the right fucking impeached their boy on exactly the same issue: they smell blood; principles be damned.
This is all infuriating.
Look, the corruption charges are very serious, and are certainly fair game for both reporters and politicians, especially because of McCain's past problems in this area, and his redemptive efforts as a campaign finance reformer in more recent years. But whether or not he had an affair, well, that's nobody's goddamned business but his own and his wife's. Period. Unfortunately, the news media are advertising driven, and sex sells consumer products much better than boring old ethics issues. Sex is also apparently the only thing short of an indictment that can actually bring down a politician these days, and humiliating downfall makes for very entertaining television.
I really, really, really want to be wrong about this. I'd be quite happy and very pleasantly surprised if the news media narrative on this emphasized the ethics issues over the alleged adultery. But I'm sure I'm right.
God damn it. I don't even like McCain.
Posted by Ron at 3:30 AM
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
REVISITING MY POST "CRIME AND PUNISHMENT"
Including a Visit to Real Art from a Romanian!!!
God, I love the internet.
From the Romanian blog MydaysMyMind, an off-the-cuff response to this Real Art greatest hit:
Surfing the Internet I came across a blog that looked interesting and I began to read. And I read, and read till I got to the Crime and Punishment post. I read it once and then again, and again, to make sure I understand what this guy dilemma is.
To make long story short: he has been asked to fulfill his duty to be a part of a jury court in a case where a 27yo mother killed her 7 yo child because she had an argument with her concubine/ husband/ whatever and he didn't came home.
Our blogger dilemma is that he couldn't fulfill his duty cause in his eyes, the reclusion system sucks (in a nutshell: OZ or even worse). So you can understand. This guy is seriously rising the problem that he couldn't put in jail that woman due to the inhumane conditions found in American prisons. I mean, that woman killed her child... no... let forget about this phrasing... That human being killed another - defenseless! - human being and this guy has mind twisting processes and congratulates himself that in the end didn't had to attend that trial.
OK! Prison is not the happiest place on Earth. Let's suppose that American jails are hell on earth. Than how should we punish murder? Or rape? Or pedophilia? Am I nuts if I find it normal that once you commit a MURDER you have to pay - if not with your life (I'm not for death penalty either) - at least with your freedom?
It's the same principle for everything in life: cause and effect. In this case the cause is the murder, jail - the effect. What should happen'? Should we have mercy? Poor girl lost her minds because she had a fight with the boyfriend the sliced (ok, suffocate!) the child's throat... she couldn't cope with the stress...
Come on people!
I promise that faced with a strong argument I shall admit my social Neanderthal thinking.
Click here for the original. Actually, I've posted the entire essay, but I'm linking to it just in case you wanted to see that such an essay actually exists, or, if you prefer, here is the version as it first appeared in Romanian. Thanks, by the way, to Romanian blogger Cris for translating her post at my request.
My response to Cris' response:
First off, thanks very much for visiting my blog. You may not agree with everything I say, but the fact that you "read, and read" means that you were at the very least interested in what I have to say--because my blog is an extension of my ego to some extent, I'll take that as an ego boost.
Anyway, here are a few thoughts on what you wrote.
I wasn't ever really so worried that I "couldn't fulfill (my) duty" as much as I was worried that my moral dilemma would make fulfilling my civic duty problematic at best, and immoral at worst. That is, part of the jury assembly process in the United States is to ensure that jurors are able to approach their duty in an emotionally detached and unbiased way. For instance, a mother killing her own child is a horrible outrage and crime against all humanity, and many people simply cannot separate their own anger about such murders from the intellectual consideration needed to fairly determine guilt or innocence--several potential jurors were dismissed that day for exactly that reason. Same thing with me, but because of my stance on a different issue, the utterly inhumane condition of US prisons: I was sincerely worried that my knowledge and total condemnation of the rapes, violence, substandard health care, and other issues concerning our prisons, especially the notion of punishment itself, would make it very difficult to simply say "guilty" or "innocent." That is, I'm not sure how I would handle having on my conscience sending anyone into such torturous conditions--your assertion that "prison is not the happiest place on Earth" is an extraordinary understatement; you'd be much closer to the mark if you said that US prisons are among the most unhappy and unsafe places on Earth.
So I told the judge at the appropriate moment about my misgivings, and I was summarily dismissed.
But that's just quibbling, really. I think the central issue for our disagreement is how we conceptualize punishment and what society ought to do with criminals. It is important to note that you don't even question whether murderers ought to be punished. If I read you correctly, your belief is that killers should be punished because that's what they deserve. I've written at length about this concept, as well as the more generalized notion of good and evil, in terms of my non-acceptance of Christianity, in my post EASTER GRINCH, but here's the short version. I don't understand why punishment is what killers deserve. I don't get the point. In a sort of spiritual or cosmic sense, I don't believe there is such a thing as an individual who is beyond redemption or forgiveness. In a more pragmatic sense, I don't see how punishment helps society. That is, punishment doesn't appear to make criminals any less likely to commit crimes, either before or after the fact; clearly, removing violent elements from society at large is a rational thing to do, but punishing them appears to do nothing more than make people feel like life is somehow fair, or make them rest easier at night, or satisfies a public lust for vengeance.
Somehow, satisfying a lust for vengeance doesn't seem to justify the chronic violence in prison, which is tacitly approved by prison authorities, and therefore by the government and society. Torture is wrong, whether the victim is a real, honest-to-god terrorist, or a mother who killed her own child. Like I told the judge, I understand that society has to do something to keep the streets safe, but it is a problem indeed to require law-abiding citizens to bless such state sanctioned torture with their own participation.
In short, this woman committed a heinous act, and I wholeheartedly approve of confining her in order to keep the streets safe; I do not, however, believe that "punishing" her, subjecting her to dangers well above and beyond simple incarceration, will do a damned thing other than make her more evil.
What we ought to be doing is trying to get serious about truly reforming criminals, using massive amounts of social intervention and psychology, throwing in lots of education. I'm quite sure that this is ultimately an impossible task, in terms of achieving a 100% reform rate, but well worth it, in terms of national morality, and in terms of turning a social liability, criminals, into social assets, productive citizens.
Until this happens, however, ethical Americans are just going to have to do the best they can when placed into this dilemma. I really was willing to serve on that jury, but I wanted to be honest about what was going on in my head. Further, whatever anybody says about this, it is extremely difficult for me to avoid my own morality, my own personal responsibility. If I had actually served, and voted the defendant "guilty," I would have been personally responsible for sending her into a potentially very dangerous situation. Given all the issues at play here, I'm still not sure whether doing that would be right or wrong.
Finally, you say that I congratulated myself for not serving on the jury. Well, that's not quite true: if I was congratulating myself, it was for standing up for what I believe to be right while in the presence of 70 or so people who totally and passionately disagree with me. You have no idea what it was like to proclaim to a room full of people that my philosophy makes it difficult for me to help convict a child killer--it would have been so much easier to have simply kept my mouth shut.
I'm proud of myself to this day, and I hope I'd do the same thing again under similar circumstances.
Posted by Ron at 12:49 AM
Monday, February 18, 2008
Same Gun Dealer Sold to 2 Campus Killers
From the AP via the Huffington Post:
The online gun dealer who sold a weapon to the Virginia Tech shooter said it was an unnerving coincidence that he also sold handgun accessories to the man who killed five students at Northern Illinois University.
Eric Thompson said his Web site sold two empty 9 mm Glock magazines and a Glock holster to Steven Kazmierczak on Feb. 4, just 10 days before the 27-year-old opened fire in a classroom and killed five before committing suicide.
Another Web site run by Thompson's company also sold a Walther .22-caliber handgun to Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people in April on the Virginia Tech campus before killing himself.
"I'm still blown away by the coincidences," Thompson said Friday. "I'm shaking. I can't believe somebody would order from us again and do this."
Click here for more.
The left has pulled away from its traditional gun control stance in recent years, and so have I. For liberals in general, my assumption has been that they've decided that, in our current era of conservative dominance, it's just too tough a battle to fight, and tends to alienate mainstream Americans who might be otherwise sympathetic to progressive causes. Me too, but I would also throw in Michael Moore's observation from his film Bowling for Columbine that Canada has similar guns per capita numbers, but dramatically lower gun homicide rates--perhaps the NRA is right when they say "people kill people," instead of the guns themselves.
None of this gets into how gun ownership appears to be as much of a part of American culture as Jesus and football, or how packing heat seems to be effective emotional therapy for citizens who increasingly feel powerless in the face of repressive corporate capitalism. And here in New Orleans, as a homicide wave that the NOPD can't seem to stop continues, I've spoken with numerous individuals who have very real fears about being victimized by out-of-control violence. Fuck, I work with a guy who recently survived being shot in the neck by a crazy war vet in a bizarre road rage incident.
So maybe Americans really do need their guns.
But as the above linked article reveals, as well as events like New York City's lawsuit against the New Jersey gun vendors responsible for a huge percentage of the Big Apple's illegal firearms, and countless other crime and safety issues, there are big problems with how our nation administrates and manages its vital gun culture. Until we can get past the straitjacketing, black and white, legal/illegal, bipolar, hysterical rhetoric of the pro-gun lobby, as the left has already done with its own hysterics on the issue, these deadly problems will continue.
Posted by Ron at 10:14 PM
THE STAR TREK CALENDAR PICTURE OF THE MONTH IS...
And whoever made the calendar this year quite obviously made her the face of February because it's Black History Month: this is no joke, either; check it out--the character played a very real role in the Civil Rights Movement back in the 60s.
On a more trivial note, I think Uhura was totally hot.
Posted by Ron at 2:41 AM
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story
Oh my God, I can't believe I finally found this.
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is a 43 minute film regarding the life of pop vocalist Karen Carpenter. It was directed by Todd Haynes and released in 1987. It was withdrawn from circulation in 1990 after Haynes lost a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Karen's brother and musical collaborator, Richard Carpenter. The title of the film is derived from "Superstar," their 1971 hit song.
An unusual facet of the film was that, instead of actors, almost all parts were played by modified Barbie dolls. In particular, Haynes detailed Karen Carpenter's worsening anorexia by subtly whittling away at the face and arms of the "Karen" Barbie doll. Sets were created properly scaled to the dolls, including locales such as the Carpenter home in Downey, Karen's apartment in Century City, restaurants, recording studios - including minute details such as labels on wine bottles and Ex-Lax boxes. Interspersed with the story were documentary-style segments detailing the times in which Karen Carpenter lived and also detailing anorexia; these segments were seen as dry and melodramatic parodies of the documentary genre. The underlying soundtrack included many popular hits of the day, including songs by Gilbert O'Sullivan, Elton John, and the Carpenters themselves.
This is one of the greatest films you've never seen--indeed, for its utter ballsiness, I'd easily place it on my top ten all time list. And yeah, the Barbie doll actors are really fucking funny, but after a few minutes, you get used to the convention and start following the story. By the time it ends, it's pretty easy to shed some tears for Carpenter and this whole fucked up culture in which we all live.
This is definitely some great Real Art.
So check it out while it lasts; it's been on YouTube before, and yanked, as well as a cool site called Illegal Art, from which it was also yanked--we're dealing here with a major violation of intellectual property rights. Have fun.
Also, if you're not a Carpenters fan after watching this, you're an inhuman monster.
Posted by Ron at 9:20 PM
Friday, February 15, 2008
GOP DUMBASS ARGUMENTS WORK
WELL ON DUMBASS DEMOCRATS
From Political Animal courtesy of Eschaton, a few words on how the White House is successfully playing rhetorical hardball on the issue of extending legalization of the previously illegal warrantless wiretapping program, including the brand new and all important retroactive immunity clause for telecom companies who participated back when it was illegal:
Look, if it's that important, there's a simple answer: pass the bill without telecom immunity. Then come back and introduce immunity in a separate bill. If you've got the votes for it, fine. If not, too bad. I'm against immunity myself — though hardly hellbent on the subject — but whichever way the vote went, in the meantime we'd have the FISA extension and surveillance could continue normally.
But that's not on the table. The supposed grownups in the GOP are, apparently, perfectly happy to play around with "life and death" if it's in the service of a bit of demagogic brinksmanship over telecom immunity. Why?
Right. So the Republicans are saying that the ability to listen in on your phone conversations and read your email without a court order is a "life and death" issue. Of course, that's totally wrong; FISA courts virtually always grant warrants for this kind of espionage shit, and are even willing to do so after the fact, so that the CIA or FBI or NSA, whatever, don't have to wait for approval, which might make them miss out on important information.
Put that aside for the moment, however, because that's what the dumbass Democrats are doing, and look at how the GOP is now insisting on shielding from lawsuits the communications companies who participated before Congress decided to let the White House violate the fifth amendment: Bush will veto this "vital" extension bill if he doesn't get his immunity clause, which will, as the argument goes, place the whole damned country in grave danger. That is, as the argument goes, the Democrats, by withholding the clause, will be placing the country in grave danger.
As the excerpt above observes, this is a dumbass argument--if the surveillance is the important "life and death" issue, rather than telecom immunity, why the fuck would Bush ever veto the bill? But it doesn't matter. Dumbshit philosophy works exceedingly well on dumbshits. And by "dumbshits," I mean "Democrats." The GOP knows that they can have their cake and eat it, too.
This is exactly the same thing as when the Dems were threatening to revoke funding last year for the Iraq occupation. The White House's response was something to the effect of "if you cut funding, our troops will be in great danger." Bizarrely, this GOP dumbass argument worked. The Donkey-Butts backed down. The reality is that Bush, by refusing to withdraw after funding cuts, would be leaving the troops in great danger: the whole point to cutting funding was to force an end to the war! All the Democrats had to do was to say this repeatedly in lockstep unison: no danger to the troops if they're not there. But they didn't, and allowed our dumbass President to best them in a debate contest that wasn't even worthy of a middle school debate class.
How the hell can anybody at all support a party as lame as the Democrats?
UPDATE: Well well. Balls in the House. A very pleasant surprise. Now if only they could do this all the time rather than every now and then. I mean, really, they shouldn't even be extending this wiretap shit at all, not simply quibbling over telecom immunity. I'm sure Obama or Clinton will get it all straightened out next January. Of course, I'm just kidding; either one of them will probably continue the pussy 'Crat agenda. Damn it.
Posted by Ron at 1:55 AM
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Texas ban on sex toy sales is overturned
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
A federal appeals court has overturned a statute outlawing sex toy sales in Texas, one of the last states — all in the South — to retain such a ban.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Texas law making it illegal to sell or promote obscene devices, punishable by as many as two years in jail, violated the right to privacy guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
In its decision Tuesday, the appeals court cited Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 opinion that struck down bans on consensual sex between same-sex couples.
"Just as in Lawrence, the state here wants to use its laws to enforce a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct," the appeals judges wrote. "The case is not about public sex. It is not about controlling commerce in sex. It is about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the state is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct. This is an insufficient justification after Lawrence."
Click here for more.
Well then, I guess I'm heading back to Texas this weekend to buy a shitload of sex toys.
I'm just kidding, of course.
Anyway, this decision is a long time in coming because, you know, banning sex toys is fucking stupid. That is, such laws are a weird artifact from an era when it was believed that the government had a right to tell you how to have sex. Even though popular attitudes started changing on the topic by the 1960s, and had become conventional wisdom by the 80s, it wasn't until 2003's Lawrence v Texas US Supreme Court decision that the law finally caught up. Or, if you prefer, the law stayed the same, but the interpretation of that law caught up with decades of medical, psychological, and cultural research dating back to the mid nineteenth century, which means that understanding the "due process" clause of the fourteenth amendment in terms of private consensual sexual activity is now legally based on solid science, rather than narrow minded religious superstition.
Given the far right-wing makeup of the current Supreme Court, however, and how the conservative majority's "strict constructionist" judicial philosophy now apparently means "always rule for the conservative point of view despite all precedents," I have no idea what will happen to this case if it is appealed.
But for now, I advise everybody to go buy a vibrator. You know, while you can still get them.
Posted by Ron at 11:46 PM
QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES
Means "Who Polices the Police?"
From CBS News via the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:
Florida Police Dump Quadriplegic Man From His Wheelchair
In Hillsborough County, Florida, police were caught, by their own surveillance cameras, dumping a quadriplegic man from his wheelchair and onto the ground. Apparently they were trying to determine whether or not he actually needed the chair.
Click here to see this comment, which I've excerpted in its entirety, in its original context.
What's really worth seeing is the video:
Did you catch the other cop walking by and laughing at the end of the video? That just about encapsulates the entire problem: not all cops do bad things, but lots of them know what's happening, and do nothing, or worse, egg the bad cops on, thereby perpetuating the nationwide police culture of self-righteousness, elitism, and hypermasculinity which ensures that such incidents are inevitable.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department is now in bigtime damage control mode.
From the AP, again via the Huffington Post, again courtesy of AlterNet:
Police Suspended for Wheelchair Dumping
Jones has been suspended without pay, and Sgt. Gary Hinson, 51, Cpl. Steven Dickey, 45 and Cpl. Decondra Williams, 36 have also been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.
"The actions are indefensible at every level," Chief Deputy Jose Docobo said. "Based on what I saw, anything short of dismissal would be inappropriate."
He said the officers' actions were an aberration.
A woman who answered Jones' telephone said Jones was unavailable. A message left at a telephone number listed for a Steven Dickey in Tampa was not immediately returned Tuesday night. Listings for Hinson and Williams could not be located.
"That none of the supervisors acted upon what they saw is of great concern," Docobo said. "This is not the norm at the sheriff's office."
Ah, but the video very much makes it look like this is the norm at the sheriff's office. That is, the incident took place in what appears to be plain sight of everybody in the room, six individuals, including the cop who did the pushing and the cop who laughed at it, and there may have been even more witnesses off camera. I'd say this looks very normal for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department. I would also assert that not filing any report on the incident, which is really a euphemism because what we're talking about here is a pretty gross violation of civil rights, is also very normal for these guys, but that's just an assumption based on what I know about the cop code of silence.
They always call it an "isolated incident" or anything along those lines, whatever it takes to make it look like it has nothing to do with how we conceptualize policing, and everything to do with "a few bad apples." But of course, they're wrong. Cops in the US are deeply entrenched in a police culture that makes this kind of thing very, very likely. I'm of the opinion that organizational cultures are definitely changeable, but it takes a great deal of effort and willpower to make this kind of change happen. Until the various establishment powers recognize that there's a problem, however, such effort and willpower won't exist.
Look for many more police brutalities in the future.
Posted by Ron at 12:41 AM
Monday, February 11, 2008
HERE THEY COME! NADER WARS III
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune via the Houston Chronicle:
Nothing funny about Nader
His repeated sallies onto the campaign trail are not amusing, but merely laughable. Now apparently beginning his third run for the White House, Nader seems determined to keep hurting his natural allies until he has taught them a lesson of some sort. In the process he undermines the democratic process, even as he exploits it.
Click here for the rest.
This is the kind of bullshit I was railing on a week or so ago, the indignant outrage of liberal Democrats who believe that Nader and his supporters owe them their votes. And you know what really gets under my skin? The way these attacks never never ever have a damned thing to do with actual issues. They say Nader is vain or narcissistic. They say, as the above excerpted essay does, that he "undermines the democratic process," even though there isn't a damned thing in the Constitution about political parties, or how liberals must be Democrats, or conservatives must be Republicans. They say that votes for Nader are "wasted," or worse, how such votes "help the Republicans." But they never actually address his issues.
My bet is that they know they'd lose any, any, argument on issues. That's why they pull from Karl Rove's playbook and slime him: they don't have any real arguments.
There is some humor here, but it comes from these Demo-fascists rather than Nader. They all know what he's doing, and why: "...until he has taught them a lesson of some sort." They're well aware that he's using a classic third party and independent campaign strategy, pulling away voters until the establishment responds to their issues--it's worked numerous times in the past and it can still work now. And it pisses them off so much that they've started sounding like Republican froth-mouths. That's funny.
Well, like I said last week, seeing as how these anti-Naderites aren't willing to talk about issues, and instead resort to ad hominem attacks, there is only one reasonable response a Nader supporter such as myself can make to them: fuck you.
Given the absurdity of the discourse, I don't think that's out of line at all.
Posted by Ron at 10:22 PM
Dueling Horns - Wynton vs. Wycliffe
From YouTube via VideoSift:
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet) and Wycliffe Gordon (trombone) duke it out from their hotel room windows. They were both in Perugia, Italy in the Summer of 1993 for Umbria Jazz Festival.
Click here to see the comment - there's really not much more than this blurb - in its original context.
Okay, so I've been developing a few unfavorable opinions recently about the heir apparent for jazz's elder statesman, on which I will write here in the future, but whatever my criticisms are, I've got to admit that from time to time Wynton really catches fire. This is definitely one of those occasions. Who knows why Marsalis is only pretty good most of the time, but sublimely brilliant occasionally? Maybe these circumstances, being in Europe, where jazz is appreciated far more than it is in the US, out in the street, which is where jazz first reared its head in early 20th century New Orleans, at the spur of the moment, which utterly reinforces the absolutely necessary spontaneous nature of the music form, grabbed hold of Wynton and pushed him toward the Louis Armstrong side of the spectrum. Maybe it was because they were playing in a traditional New Orleans style. Or maybe he was just on that day. Like I said, who knows?
What's really cool is that Gordon is right there with him, blowing his t-bone as well as anybody I've ever heard.
Anyway, check it out. It's short:
Posted by Ron at 12:18 AM
Saturday, February 09, 2008
JOHN MCCAIN: LIBERAL?
From the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:
Unhinged Coulter Uses Hitler Analogy To Bash McCain
"A serious case could be made to support Hillary Clinton," she declared, offering the analogy of Winston Churchill backing Stalin in the fight against Hitler in WWII. "I'm not equating Hillary Clinton to Stalin, and if I did I apologize to Stalin's decedents... I'm not comparing McCain to Hitler. Hitler had a coherent tax policy." Later, she added, "The only way I can promise that I won't vote for Hillary Clinton is if John McCain appoints her as his vice president."
"McCain and [Mitt] Romney are mirror opposites of one another," said Coulter. "Romney is a conservative who had to win votes from liberals in Massachusetts. McCain is a liberal who had to win votes from conservatives in Arizona."
As for former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani: He "enthusiastically supported torturing terrorists," she said to great applause. "McCain hysterically opposes dripping water down the terrorist's noses."
And what if the unthinkable happens, and President McCain is inaugurated? I've led an impeachment movement before, Coulter said, and "I can lead another one."
Click here for the rest.
Wow. Pretty strong language from America's own Valkyrie. But then, I expect nothing less from such a bigtime cunt. What's surprising, however, to me anyway, is all this conservative animosity toward the guy who's pretty much locked up the Republican nomination.
At work today, some of us were having a brief conversation about the campaigns. One guy was asserting that McCain is a liberal, so I finally asked him, "exactly how is McCain a liberal?" My buddy in so many words essentially repeated his original assertion, which strikes me as being pretty much par for the course in terms of this right-wing "liberal" dog pile the fiery Senator is now facing. That is, I just don't get it.
McCain, who supports small government, laissez faire economics, a strong military, law and order, and is opposed to abortion rights, is not a liberal. I mean, it's just as simple as that. I know I've often referred to Bill and Hillary as being conservative, but really, they're more moderate/right than anything else, Nixonian conservatives if you will. But McCain, he's the real deal, one big right-wing cocksucker.
How can all these conservative radio idiots seriously be calling him a liberal?
Maybe I should tune in to Rush Limbaugh more often, which there's no fucking way I'm going to do, so barring that, I'll just have to speculate. For one thing, I know that McCain, as a knee-jerk supporter of business, opposes kicking out all the illegal immigrants because he wants them to be exploited as super cheap labor--you can call it what you want, but that's clearly a pro-capitalist position, and therefore a conservative position. On the other hand, racism and xenophobia are also conservative positions, and that's one of the things that appear to be pissing off these anti-McCain people. I guess he's just not racist enough for the legions of right-wing radio listeners, despite the fact that his position on the issue is clearly conservative. Go figure.
For another thing, I know that McCain essentially told evangelical leaders to fuck off during the 2000 campaign. It appears that they haven't forgotten about this, no matter how hard he's tried to get them back on his side. Completely lost in the shuffle is that disdain toward religion mixed with politics is very much a libertarian point of view, and therefore firmly entrenched on the conservative side of the spectrum. But no matter: these angry conservatives seem to believe that there's only room on the right for Bible thumpers; being a Christian doesn't count--you've got to thump your damned Bible, too.
Finally, McCain, as a victim of torture when he was a POW in Vietnam, is understandably opposed to torture, which, in my opinion, utterly transcends all political points of view: opposing torture is the only real American position out there--anything short of this is straight up anti-American, and therefore not conservative. But the anti-McCain crowd disagrees; they want their fucking torture.
Really, after thinking all this through, what appears to be going on is that, while it's undeniable that McCain is a conservative, not a liberal, he's not a Conservative. That is, he's not part of the so-called Conservative Movement, which seemingly requires total ideological purity, even though some principles of the Movement contradict other principles of the Movement. Yeah, it's confusing, but these people are fucking crazy anyway, so it's not at all surprising in the end.
If Angry John wants his party's support, he's really going to have to get down on his knees and blow like there's no tomorrow. These fuckers are serious.
Posted by Ron at 9:34 PM