Sunday, November 30, 2008


From the New York Times:

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said.

Some workers who saw what was happening fought their way through the surge to get to Mr. Damour, but he had been fatally injured, the police said. Emergency workers tried to revive Mr. Damour, a temporary worker hired for the holiday season, at the scene, but he was pronounced dead an hour later at Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream.

Four other people, including a 28-year-old woman who was described as eight months pregnant, were treated at the hospital for minor injuries.

Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, who is in charge of the investigation for the Nassau police, said the store lacked adequate security. He called the scene “utter chaos” and said the “crowd was out of control.” As for those who had run over the victim, criminal charges were possible, the lieutenant said. “I’ve heard other people call this an accident, but it is not,” he said. “Certainly it was a foreseeable act.”

More here.

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Matthew 6:24
Putting aside for the moment the issue about Wal-Mart's traditionally lax security measures, for which the mega-retailer has been sued on more than one occasion, I'd like to make an observation about what this trampling means in terms of consumerism.

That is, the philosophy of consumerism, which implicitly states that happiness is achieved by purchasing various products, is omnipresent within our culture. I mean, think about it for a moment. Advertising is everywhere, literally everywhere: you can probably shift your gaze by about thirty degrees or so wherever you are at the moment and see a corporate logo of some sort reminding you to buy its products--it just now took me less than a second to see the Yamaha logo on my computer speakers. But that's obvious. Think about all the product placement in television and in movies. Think about all the conspicuous consumption you see in most of these shows--Sex and the City and its ilk, like advertising, are obvious, but you see such behavior in almost everything.

Consumerist philosophy is rammed down all our throats every day, all day long.

And most of us buy into it. Most of us buy lots of crap we don't really want or need. We enjoy it for a while and then forget about it and then buy something else. Really, it's the rush of the purchase most people crave, the thrill of owning some new bauble or tool or toy, not the object itself.

Consumerist philosophy is everywhere, and consumerist behavior consumes our souls.

And it's not so weird to talk about our souls in regard to this extraordinarily dominant American philosophy: I go so far as to say that consumerism, and its grip on our psyches, goes beyond philosophy; it is the one true American religion. This is a no-brainer. Americans shop waaaay more than they go to church. Indeed, shopping malls are the real churches, and Mammon, not Yahweh, is the true god of our people. We are not a Christian nation. We are a consumerist nation.

And we're really, really, really zealous about it.

That brings me back to this trampled Wal-Mart worker. I'm sure that most Americans' reactions to this tragedy are of confusion, or horror, or condemnation of these greedy shoppers, only in New York, etc. But when you think of it in terms of religious behavior, rather than in terms of human depravity, it makes a great deal of sense. That is, this kind of incident has been going on for ages, most notably in Mecca and other holy places. This wasn't a shopping frenzy gone terribly wrong. This was religious ecstacy.

And no sense of religious ecstacy can be complete without blood sacrifice.

Happy holidays.


Saturday, November 29, 2008


From the AP via ESPN:

Arkansas softens blow of no bowl by rallying to stun LSU

Dick's 24-yard touchdown pass to London Crawford with 22 seconds remaining gave Arkansas a 31-30 win over LSU. Benched the previous weekend for his younger brother, Dick returned in the second half Friday night to lead the Razorbacks back from a 16-point deficit in his final college game.

On fourth-and-1 from the LSU 24, the Razorbacks hastily lined up to run a play. Dick found Crawford single covered in the end zone, and the junior held on for a touchdown.


The Tigers (7-5, 3-5) are all but assured of a trip to a minor bowl, not what the defending national champions had in mind when they started the season ranked in the top 10. LSU, beaten by Mississippi last week, lost back-to-back games for the first time since the 2002 season and has dropped three of four.

More here.

And again from the AP via ESPN:

McCoy, Longhorns put on a show in demolition of Aggies

Was a 49-9 victory impressive enough to give McCoy a fighting chance for the Heisman Trophy and keep his team in the hunt for the Bowl Championship Series championship game?

Longhorns coach Mack Brown thought so.

"I felt they made the statement they needed to make," Brown said. "Starting with Colt."

McCoy passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more as the Longhorns (11-1, 7-1 Big 12) posted the largest margin of victory in the rivalry since a 48-0 Texas victory way back in 1898.


Texas, currently No. 2 in the BCS standings, now must wait until this weekend to see if its national title dreams are intact. The Longhorns are in prime position for at least a berth in a BCS bowl, but need some help if the team that spent a month at No. 1 will be able to play for the Big 12 title and BCS national championship.

A potential three-way tie for the Big 12 South division could swing to No. 3 Oklahoma if the Sooners beat No. 12 Oklahoma State on Saturday and leap Texas in the BCS rankings. Even if the Sooners lose, No. 7 Texas Tech still holds a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Longhorns going into the Red Raiders' game against Baylor.

That's why Texas needed a big win over a big rival in front of a national television audience. Style matters at this point in the season and the question now is whether Texas' victory impressed BCS voters. The Associated Press rankings are not part of the BCS.

More here.

Like I said last week, I don't really have much to say about the Tigers anymore this season--it's a rebuilding year, after all. I mean, the Razorbacks are a team that Texas beat by forty two points: LSU should have won this, but didn't. Alas, or maybe not, I missed most of the game because I had to work. I managed to watch the last couple of minutes when I got home. That's how I got to see Arkansas' amazing last second long bomb touchdown catch which put the Tigers down for good.

What the hell was up with that final LSU 63 yard field goal attempt?

Anyway, it's much more fun talking about Texas these days especially since they beat the living shit out of the much hated Aggies of Texas A&M. I mean, 49-9. Feast on that, Aggies! Unfortunately, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that such a victory will not shut up the Aggie faithful for a year. They never shut up. Ever.

"Yuk yuk, 't.u.,' yuk yuk. I fuck sheep." Fucking Aggies.

Well we beat you motherfuckers this time. Take your "teasip" bullshit and shove it up your ass. It can probably be wedged in quite comfortably right next to the goat dick.

What's not fun talking about is the big huge mess we have in the Big 12 South now that OU's forced a three way tie with Tech and the Longhorns. Obviously, I think Texas should get the better BCS ranking because, you know, they beat the Sooners head-to-head by ten points. But those sports writers are so susceptible to that famous dog-faced Sooner smile. It doesn't matter, I'm sure, that OU allowed OSU to run up forty one points before they finally took control late in the game. "Ooooo," say the sports writers, "they wear crimson." Dumbasses.

Texas beat OU 45-35. 'Nuff said.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy eludes Texas A&M
defensive back Alton Dixon as he scrambles around
left end during the first half of an NCAA college
football game Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008, in Austin, Texas.
(AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)

Arkansas wide receiver London Crawford (2) scores the tying touchdown as he is
pursued by LSU defensive back Chris Hawkins in an NCAA college football game
in Little Rock, Ark., Friday, Nov. 28, 2008. The extra point gave Arkansas
a 31-30 win. (AP Photo/David Quinn)


Friday, November 28, 2008




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


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Austin fights to keep reputation as 'live music capital'

From the Houston Chronicle:

Today, Austin is defined as much by its high-tech industry as its live music scene, and some say the once laid-back college town is in danger of losing its stage presence. That's why city leaders are welcoming a plan to promote Austin's rhythmic heritage, ease the struggles of performing artists and make the town a true music incubator.

"We're kind of at this pinnacle moment, where we can either continue the status quo and watch a dilution of the music scene, or we can value it and recognize that it's part of the fabric of who we are as a city," says Paul Oveisi, an Austin club owner who helped compile a recent series of recommendations about promoting the live music scene.

The Austin music task force Oveisi heads up is now pushing the creation of a city music department, the development of more music venues, an aggressive marketing campaign and incentives designed to lure music industry components such as publishing houses, managers, record labels and digital distributors.


"It's tough when your take home pay is a hundred bucks and 20 of it is going to pay for the valet guy who parked your car, or 15 of it is going to pay the parking ticket," said Brandon Aghamalian, one of the 15 task force panelists. Their report recommends that the city give parking vouchers to "certified musicians" in entertainment districts and create loading and unloading areas specifically reserved for them.

It also urges the city to pool public and private funds to help provide affordable housing and bolster health care services for performers, including the possible creation of a musician-only health clinic similar to the one in New Orleans.

More here.

So this really burns me up. Not because Austin and New Orleans are cities that greatly value and promote their local arts scenes. Rather, it makes me angry because my hometown, Houston, does not promote its local arts scenes. When Houston thinks of spending money on the arts it means trucking in talent from New York and elsewhere to work and perform in big huge institutional settings. It means ignoring the countless great writers, musicians, actors, painters, and on and on, produced by Houston on a regular basis--it means that all these great Houstonians either move to other cities who better value their work, or stay at home and labor in obscurity.

My buddy Mike, a musician and actor over at this is not a compliment, has observed on more than one occasion that the situation in the Bayou City gives its music scene, at least, a special sort of independence and autonomy not enjoyed by musicians in bigger scenes. This much is true: in Austin ya gotta play blues, country, or some kind of roots hybrid to achieve acclaim; similar pigeonholing in New Orleans, not much acoustic music here for instance. But it continues to piss me off that so many great people come out of my hometown who have to leave or struggle alone. It pisses me off that the city itself seems not to give a shit about the fabulous culture it produces.

It really wouldn't be so difficult or expensive to divert big institutional arts money that the city controls toward the home team. Why the fuck don't they do that?



Happy Thanksgiving.

So, raise your hand if you think Peppermint Patty is a big lesbian and Marcy is her lover. I'm raising mine...


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


From PBS's Bill Moyers Journal, guest host Deborah Amos interviews New York Times business writer Joe Nocera:

DEBORAH AMOS: But it's led to some criticism that [Paulson]'s been shooting from the hip.

JOE NOCERA: Well, it's worse than that. He has destroyed confidence in the Treasury Department on Wall Street. I mean, because you've only mentioned two things that he said. But, in fact, last week he came out and said, "We're going to help credit. We're going to help Americans start buying things again." Now, the question of whether Americans should be buying things again is a whole other story. But he said, you know, "We're going to get credit card loans rolling again and auto loans." And it turned out nobody else in the government barely even knew about this idea. And it was dead within 24 hours. And then he said, you know, they had always had this idea that eventually we will start buying these toxic securities, even though we're going to do the recapitalization of the banks first. So then this week he said, "Oh, never mind. We're not going to do that either." Now, I happen to think that from a purely technical standpoint, buying those toxic assets from banks would have been extremely difficult for the Treasury to do.

DEBORAH AMOS: And these are essentially the mortgages?

JOE NOCERA: Yes. The pools of mortgages that are subprime and that are troubled. There are all sorts of technical reasons why it's much harder than it sounds. And people on Wall Street sort of understood that. And after the bill passed, they kind of were telling Treasury, you know, this isn't really going to work. Still, there was an expectation in the marketplace that they would do some of it. So when he announced this week that they were not going to do it after weeks of saying that they were going to do it, it had a terrible effect on the market. Terrible. It is part of the reason why Citi is now declining so quickly. It is part of the reason why credit default spreads are widening once again. It has just even though they would say, "Well, it shouldn't have that much of an effect," but it's an example of the Treasury Secretary changing his mind for the third or fourth or fifth time and destroying confidence in the ability of the government to help us. And so the opposite happens. It hurts us.

Click here to read or watch the rest.

I've been holding off on returning to the credit crisis story until I could find something that would put it all in perspective. Needless to say, I haven't found any essays or news stories that would fit the bill. Indeed, the above linked story puts it all into perspective only by showing how it's pretty difficult to put it all into perspective. That is, I have no idea what the hell is going on with the bailout.

Back in September, when the White House first suggested a massive bailout for the credit industry, I supported it, with a few conditions. I had assumed that the Democratic Congress would sweeten the bill and insist on strong oversight protections to keep the whole thing from becoming another GOP giveaway to the rich. I also assumed that Congress would make sure that Katrina-style federal incompetence was unlikely.

Congress, indeed, has moved in the direction I wanted, attaching some good strings here and there, but not nearly far enough. For instance, it now appears that nobody on the Hill remembered to insert any provisions or clauses ensuring that these banking entities receiving bailout cash would actually spend the money, which ideally would defrost the credit market. Instead, banks appear to be sitting on their new found cash. And politicians continue simply to talk about helping homeowners avoid foreclosure, instead of actually doing something about it. Meanwhile, Paulson's numerous position shifts are something of an equivalent to federal inaction here in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina.

I still support the idea of a big bailout, even if it all seems like it's being disbursed inefficiently--think what might have happened to markets if the Fed had just sat on its thumbs. But everything seems so up-in-the-air right now. In short, I can't reasonably answer the question "what the hell is going on with the bailout?" I just don't know what all this shit adds up to. That's annoying enough. What's fucking frightening is that nobody else appears to be able to answer the question, either.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Texas moves up to No. 2 in BCS

From FOX Sports via the BCS:

With its dominating win over Texas Tech on Saturday night in Norman, Oklahoma made a compelling case to be playing for the national title in Miami.

But it's the team that handed the Sooners their only loss of the season that would be playing in the BCS championship game against No. 1 Alabama if the season ended Sunday.

After the Red Raiders' 65-21 loss, Big 12 rival Texas took over the No. 2 spot in this week's BCS standings with the Sooners right behind, rising from No. 5 to No. 3.

More here.

Pretty nice work for a bye week.

Of course, whether this actually means that my beloved Longhorns will get to play for the national championship is a most decidedly unanswered question. After the Sooners beat the shit out of Tech on Saturday night, the announcer guys on ESPN immediately started arguing with each other about who deserved to be ranked higher, Texas or Oklahoma. Clearly, OU's flash and dash against the Red Raiders have wowed poll voters, leapfrogging over Texas in the AP and USA Today polls. But Texas has the edge in the computer rankings, which look at strength of schedule and all kinds of other shit I don't really understand. I have no idea what this means exactly. Sports analyses range from doom and gloom for Texas, to outright militant optimism.

To me, the more believable analyis favors Texas, but, you know...

For now, I'm just going to be happy that UT is back in the top two. And who knows? Maybe Florida will beat Alabama in the SEC championship, but not by enough to impress poll voters, putting Texas and Oklahoma in the top two slots, making for an all Big 12 national championship game. That'd be cool.

Death to the Aggies!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Snead, Ole Miss use 'Wild Rebel' to score rare win over No. 18 LSU

From the AP via ESPN:

Jevan Snead threw two touchdown passes, Markeith Summers ran for a 13-yard score out of the "Wild Rebel" formation and Ole Miss won its fourth straight game, 31-13 against No. 18 LSU on Saturday in a rivalry game newly dubbed the Magnolia Bowl.

Click here for the rest.

I don't even know what to say anymore.

LSU is now 3-4 in the SEC. Okay, they're 7-4 overall, but I wonder which bowl is going to invite them to play. The Houston Bowl maybe? The shitty Sugar Bowl wannabe called the New Orleans Bowl? At least that one would get some heavy attendance from the locals.

I should be happy that I now have extraordinarily low expectations for the Tigers. Watching them lose to the Rebels wasn't such a tough thing to do. And the WWII docu-drama Midway was on at the same time on AMC, so I was able to click back and forth when I was bored or pissed off.

You see, it's a rebuilding year now.

Mississippi wide receiver Mike Wallace (2) dives into the end zone as LSU safety
Chad Jones (3) gives chase in the first half of an NCAA college football game in
Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obama Considering Commission On Bush Admin Torture

From Newsweek and the Huffington Post:

Obama aides are wary of taking any steps that would smack of political retribution. That's one reason they are reluctant to see high-profile investigations by the Democratic-controlled Congress or to greenlight a broad Justice inquiry (absent specific new evidence of wrongdoing). "If there was any effort to have war-crimes prosecutions of the Bush administration, you'd instantly destroy whatever hopes you have of bipartisanship," said Robert Litt, a former Justice criminal division chief during the Clinton administration. A new commission, on the other hand, could emulate the bipartisan tone set by Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton in investigating the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 panel was created by Congress. An alternative model, floated by human-rights lawyer Scott Horton, would be a presidential commission similar to the one appointed by Gerald Ford in 1975 and headed by Nelson Rockefeller that investigated cold-war abuses by the CIA.

More here.

Okay, my "fuck you" to President Obama may have been premature. Or heavy-handed.

Of course, everyone behind Bush's torture regime needs to face justice. But that's obviously not politically feasible to the incoming White House. A bipartisan investigation is the next best thing, and it may even result in some public clamor for indictments once it's over with, that is, if this hypothetical commission can avoid the primary mistakes Congress made when investigating Iran/Contra, granting immunity for testimony to virtually all the key players.

The bottom line is that this country must do something to declare to the world that torture is immoral and America stands firmly against it. Anything less than that makes this country and the ideals for which it supposedly stands a sick joke. This commission proposal is a good step in the right direction.


Friday, November 21, 2008




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


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish Cabinet

From the Los Angeles Times courtesy of the Huffington Post news wire:

Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama's national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.

The activists are uneasy not only about signs that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates could be in the Obama Cabinet, but at reports suggesting that several other short-list candidates for top security posts backed the decision to go to war.

"Obama ran his campaign around the idea the war was not legitimate, but it sends a very different message when you bring in people who supported the war from the beginning," said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of the 54-chapter Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The activists -- key members of the coalition that propelled Obama to the White House -- fear he is drifting from the antiwar moorings of his once-longshot presidential candidacy. Obama has eased the rigid timetable he had set for withdrawing troops from Iraq, and he appears to be leaning toward the center in his candidates to fill key national security posts.

More here.

So I continue to be hopeful about the incoming Obama administration.

You see, I am in no way surprised by all these conservative Clinton officials being pulled into Obama Land. Indeed, I halfway expected it. All along, it's been pretty clear to anybody not blinded by "Yes We Can" that the President Elect is no liberal, no dove. Yeah, conservatives and TV pundits call him "liberal," and sure, Obama's made all kinds of vague statements about getting out of Iraq and everything, but has been very clear every step of the way that he only means withdrawing "combat troops," whatever that means exactly. That is, Obama does not have, and has never had, any intention of pulling out of Iraq, which is one of the many reasons I did not vote for him.

He's just not a liberal, you know. But I've factored all that into my hope and optimism.

Iraq is a lost cause: we're never leaving, no matter what--as long as the global economy is oil based, a major US military troop presence in the middle of the Persian Gulf region is just too big a strategic prize for any establishment American politician to resist, Democrat and Republican alike. Of course, I continue to support an immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq, but just because we're not going to do that doesn't mean a great deal of good won't come from Obama's White House.

The very fact that he's not Bush or McCain is something fantastically marvelous in and of itself. And we may get universal health care, if the Congress pushes him in that direction. We may finally do something about global warming. That pending bill allowing workers to unionize much more easily might pass. Like I've said before, dire economic circumstances, coupled with the nation's mood, which I'm starting to believe has become downright progressive, has great potential to force our new President to be the liberal that he's currently not. That makes me optimistic.

But we can never forget that the whole "liberal Obama" thing is nothing but a facade, a political illusion that allows the President Elect to garner important support from the Democratic left, and allows Republicans to rail away against their favorite enemy. We must always remember exactly what Barack Obama is: an establishment insider who couldn't possibly have become President if he didn't support the establishment and its insiders. Let's not waste time bitching and moaning when Obama behaves according to his personal nature. Let's move straight to the attack.

He is open to influence, I think. If it's strong enough.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


From Media Matters for America:

Gingrich: "[T]here is a gay and secular fascism in this
country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us"

On the November 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, in reference to actions by individual protesters of Proposition 8, the recently passed California ballot initiative amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich stated: "I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion." Gingrich also stated: "[W]hen the radicals lost the vote in California, they are determined to impose their will on this country no matter what the popular opinion, no matter what the law of the land."

Click here for a complete transcript of the exchange.

Needless to say, there is no "gay and secular fascism" here seeking "to impose its will on the rest" of the nation. Sure yeah, there are a few liberal assholes out there, but nothing like the weird conspiracy professional idiot-mouth Gingrich describes. Okay, I'll admit to some social engineering desires most American liberals have. Liberals want actual science taught in schools instead of creation bullshit pretending to be science. Liberals want schools to have a comprehensive sex ed curriculum so that teenagers don't get pregnant, or contract HIV. Liberals want schools and social institutions to favor cultural diversity so we can all live together successfully. Liberals want American workers to receive a fair wage for their labor so they can make ends meet. And on and on. Pretty tame stuff. Almost always, liberals seek enactment of their agenda through the dangerous and radical form of revolution known as "persuasion." After all, one of the most cherished tenets of liberalism is freedom of thought; it would be self-defeating to force these ideas on people.

But that's pretty obvious to anybody who actually understands the US political dynamic. What's lame about Gingrich's accusation is that it appeals directly to people who don't understand American politics. But then, there's nothing surprising about that. The GOP has been doing it since the Nixon administration, concocting crazy narratives, which is what they are, delusional stories, about the American left, to scare the shit out of politically ignorant voters. And it's worked countless times. Not at all surprising that conservative mouth pieces would stick to the strategy that has served them well all these years, in spite of recent strong doses of reality countering their psycho stories.

So I'm wondering. Is there any real power left in this nutty lie about liberals trying to control everything? Back when I was a kid, when liberalism seemed to be the zeitgeist, this loony conservative version of reality had a ring of truth to it, if only because the Democrats had run the government for so many decades. But now...the Republicans have had their shot, and they've not simply failed: they've failed spectacularly. And it's pretty obvious that liberals don't run everything. Especially because the Democrats can only loosely be described as liberal these days.

How long will it take conservatives to give up on their scare-story tactics and actually start debating issues? Are they even capable of doing such a thing?

Watch doo-doo head Newt spew his stupid doo-doo on TV:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama Advisers: Torture Prosecutions Not Likely

From the AP via the Huffington Post news wire:

Barack Obama's incoming administration is unlikely to bring criminal charges against government officials who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists during the George W. Bush presidency. Obama, who has criticized the use of torture, is being urged by some constitutional scholars and human rights groups to investigate possible war crimes by the Bush administration.

Two Obama advisers said there's little _ if any _ chance that the incoming president's Justice Department will go after anyone involved in authorizing or carrying out interrogations that provoked worldwide outrage.


Robert Litt, a former top Clinton administration Justice Department prosecutor, said Obama should focus on moving forward with anti-torture policy instead of looking back.

"Both for policy and political reasons, it would not be beneficial to spend a lot of time hauling people up before Congress or before grand juries and going over what went on," Litt said at a Brookings Institution discussion about Obama's legal policy. "To as great of an extent we can say, the last eight years are over, now we can move forward _ that would be beneficial both to the country and the president, politically."

But Michael Ratner, a professor at Columbia Law School and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said prosecuting Bush officials is necessary to set future anti-torture policy.

"The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it," Ratner said. "I don't see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable."

More here.

Okay, honeymoon's over. If this report is true, and the incoming administration will do nothing to bring these Bush officials to justice, officials who have done more than anybody else since the Jim Crow era to make our country like Nazi Germany, then all I have to say is this: fuck you, President Obama.

Without justice, there can be no "move forward." State sanctioned torture runs utterly counter to the very notion of civilization itself. It is deeply immoral, and consequently, any nation that allows it is deeply immoral. It is not enough to simply say "no more." Justice must be done, or torture, in effect, has been allowed. Further, if these Gestapo-like torture-administrators go unpunished, it sets a horrifying precedent allowing the US government to do it again, which it will if we simply sweep it all under the rug.

Look, these are war crimes we're talking about. The kind of thing for which they hanged Nazis at Nuremberg. We can't fuck around on this. I'm all for "post-partisanship," but not at the expense of our nation's soul. And there's nothing partisan about it, anyway: anybody whose political position is in support of torture, and that includes support of effective amnesty for torturers, has no place at the table. American politics must not allow torture; it cannot be an option.

I really hope this leak is untrue, that our new President will do the right thing. But I know that doing the wrong thing is politically expedient, and seemingly fits in all too well with Obama's "post-partisanship" point of view. I'm hopeful, but not optimistic.

Will President Obama allow the men who ordered this to go free?


Why the Economy Grows Like Crazy Amid High Taxes

From AlterNet:

Tax rate increases are followed by real economic growth.

Examples include Hoover in 1932, Roosevelt in 1936 and 1940, Bush the Elder in 1991 and Clinton in 1993.

Moderate tax cuts are followed by a flat economy.

This is a generalization from one example: Johnson in 1964.

Large tax cuts are followed by a boom, a bubble and a crash.

1929, 1987 and 2008 are examples.

These are covered in more detail in the first part of the article "Tax Cuts: The B.S. and the Facts."

Why do high taxes create a stronger economy?

I used to run a small business -- a commercial film production company.

Every time we took a dollar out as personal income, it instantly turned into 50 cents.

If we didn't really need the money, that was an incentive to keep it in the company and to find ways to spend it that took it out of the taxable profit column but increased the value of the company.

High taxes create an incentive to reinvest profits into long-term growth.

With high taxes, the only way to retain the bulk of the wealth created by a business is by reinvesting it in the business -- in plants, equipment, staff, research and development, new products and all the rest.

More here.

I'm tempted to call this the Rosetta Stone of tax economics, but the truth is that, while probably better than that of most Americans, my economic knowledge consists of a couple of college level courses and my own personal reading. I don't really know that higher taxes grow the economy, just as I don't know that lower taxes grow the economy.

But this sure does sound like a good argument, at least as good as the pro tax cut argument. Better, even, because it makes more sense. To me, at least. That is, I've asserted many times here at Real Art that, even though some tax cuts clearly promote growth, the notion that all tax cuts, especially for the rich, always stimulate the economy is so simplistic and demonstrably untrue - observe our current economy after eight plus years of GOP tax cutting - that it is laughable. The idea of businesses finding ways to reinvest earnings, however, so they don't show on the books as taxable profits, which, in turn, causes stable long term growth, rings true.

To my layman's mind, anyway.

So like I said, I don't really know. But of this I can be certain: the whole tax cut/tax raise bipolar paradigm which has ruled US political discourse for three decades has recently become so utterly complicated that the simple choice between raising or lowering taxes is now an obviously false option. There is much, much more that needs to be considered if we're interested in having a real debate about our economy.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


From the AP via ESPN:

Texas QB McCoy burns Kansas for two TDs to set season record

If the Big 12 South title is ultimately decided on who handed Kansas the most lopsided loss, give Texas Tech the nod. The No. 2 Red Raiders crushed the Jayhawks 63-21 while No. 5 Oklahoma beat them 45-31.

But No. 3 Texas will not apologize for its 35-7 victory on Saturday no matter what the final BCS rankings might show.

"If 35-7 against Kansas on the road isn't a good enough win for someone, we'll just go wherever they tell us to go," said Texas coach Mack Brown.

The Red Raiders, Sooners and Longhorns (10-1, 6-1 Big 12) could wind up in a three-way tie for the South title, which might mean the tiebreaker would be BCS standings. Those, of course, could be influenced by "style" points, including things like how they did against common opponents.

More here.

And again from the AP via ESPN:

LSU rallies from 28 down to trip Troy in Baton Rouge

Most of the fans already had left the stadium. Quarterback Jarrett Lee had been booed and benched in the first half. But somehow, LSU found a way to follow one of its most disheartening losses with the biggest comeback in school history.

LSU rallied from 28 points down to beat Troy, completing the comeback when Charles Scott scored with 4:50 left to put the 20th-ranked Tigers ahead in a 40-31 win Saturday night.


Troy went up 31-3 midway through the third, but LSU (7-3) answered with a touchdown late in the quarter and then ran off 30 points in the fourth to avoid an embarrassing loss.

Click here for the rest.

Okay, the Texas/Kansas game was fun to watch: the Longhorns dominated almost all the way, which is exactly how I love to watch Texas football. Of course, I'm greatly anticipating the savage beating the Aggies will receive Thanksgiving, but it's all about the BCS right now, which means I'm a Sooner fan for one weekend only. That is, the BCS rankings over the weekend remained the same for the top five, so the 'Horns need some help from ultra-evil rival OU. They're playing in Norman, which makes me hopeful that Tech will lose. But not by much. As the announcers were speculating during UT/KU, if the Sooners beat the shit out of Tech, they might leapfrog Texas into the number two slot.

I hate this waiting.

LSU, however, is another story entirely. Yeah yeah, big comeback, all that good shit, but it was against Troy. A Sun Belt team. You know, the shitty Sun Belt, which includes North Texas State and other shitty second tier teams--I'm not even sure why this conference exists. LSU should have never, never, never ended up in such an enormous hole at any point in the game, let alone the fourth quarter. I was musing last week that maybe it's all about Lee's incompetence as QB, but LSU's defense allowed a great deal of bullshit Saturday.

I have no idea what the deal is--I mean, if I did, I could probably be a sports writer or announcer or something along those lines. The bottom line is that LSU sucks this year. Okay, seven wins isn't too shabby, but it's horrible for a team that won the national championship last year. What on earth is going on with the Tigers?


Saturday, November 15, 2008

No Communion For Obama Supporters, Says South Carolina Priest

From the AP via the Huffington Post news wire:

A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.

"Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president," Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.

Click here for the rest.

...but it's okay, apparently, to vote for McCain, who supports aggressive preemptive war, and the death penalty, both of which are opposed by the Catholic Church. I feel reasonably certain that this priest issued no such edict against supporters of President Bush, either, who actually has the blood of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions on his hands.

Clearly, this makes no fucking sense. I mean, even if this priest was consistent with his condemnation, it still wouldn't make any sense because he would essentially be telling his parishioners to refrain from the political process altogether, which is just a really bad idea in a democracy; citizens need to participate or it isn't really democracy--on the other hand, first century Christianity was able to thrive in the Roman world only because the new religion was apolitical, but then Rome was no democracy.

But I digress.

This "can't take communion" thing is the necessary result of mixing politics and religion, which happens all the time in the United States, but is more often than not something that fucks up both country and religion alike. Whatever. The cultural, political, and economic institutions of power known as churches are what they are, and will do what they will. They are, after all, private organizations, funded by private donations, and like other private organizations such as the John Birch Society or the Ku Klux Klan, can say whatever crazy kind of shit they want, whenever they want.

So here's a little unsolicited advice for any of my fellow countrymen of the Catholic persuasion who are feeling politically repressed by their Church: quit. You don't have to take this shit. You don't have to divide your political self from your spiritual self. Indeed, I'm not telling you to be an atheist or agnostic or anything like that; quite the reverse, I'm telling you to keep your relationship with God while abandoning your relationship with an institution of power that insists on pitting loyalty to country against loyalty to the Almighty. Fuck 'em. They can't tell you what to do. You don't need any fucking priests dangling wine and wafer over your mouth only to yank it away if you don't beg correctly. Just quit. Millions of American Catholics have already done it. It's cool. It's very American.

Quit the Catholic Church!

Of course, that's easy for me to say with my Protestant background. The entire Reformation was about quitting the Catholic Church. Protestants love to quit. Fuck man, I quit being a Southern Baptist long ago, myself, which is just soooo Protestant. You can take the boy out of the church, but you can't take the church out of the boy.

Actually, we'd all be much better off if
everybody quit their churches. As if that's going to happen. But it's still a good idea.

UPDATE: You know, I'm really only telling people to quit their churches half-heartedly, with tongue in cheek, but check this shit out. That's what I'm talking about. Good stuff.


Friday, November 14, 2008


Sammy and Frankie

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


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Theater Director Resigns Amid Gay-Rights Ire

From the New York Times:

The artistic director of the California Musical Theater, a major nonprofit producing company here in the state’s capital, resigned on Wednesday in the face of growing outrage over his support for a ballot measure this month that outlawed same-sex marriage in California.

The artistic director, Scott Eckern, came under fire recently after it became known that he contributed $1,000 to support Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to recognize only male-female marriages. The measure was approved by 52 percent of California voters on Election Day. (Same-sex marriages had been performed in California since June.)

In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, Mr. Eckern said that his donation stemmed from his religious beliefs — he is a Mormon — and that he was “deeply saddened that my personal beliefs and convictions have offended others.”

His donation was brought to light by online activists angry about the measure’s success at the polls.


For its part, the theater disavowed Mr. Eckern’s donation and issued only a brief statement on Wednesday accepting his resignation, while emphasizing that it would not “impinge on the rights of its employees to engage in political activities.” A longtime employee, Mr. Eckern had been artistic director since 2002.

More here.

My suspicion is that if this theater really is concerned with not "imping[ing] on the rights of its employees" Eckern would not have been forced to resign for exercising his rights.

Back in 2002, as many Real Art readers know, I was teaching theater at a public high school in a conservative town. I was scared shitless that I would lose my job for voicing opposition to the war in Afghanistan and the upcoming invasion of Iraq. I mean, I knew that I had a perfect right to do so especially because I knew that most of the faculty was voicing support for American aggression abroad--if other teachers have the right to be pro-war in the classroom, then I have the right to be anti-war in the classroom. But rights exist only when they are enforced, and I had a very reasonable fear that my right to speak would not be enforced. I spoke my mind, but I measured my words carefully, and always gave ample opportunity for students to disagree with me, something many pro-war faculty members at my school did not do.

Indeed, my need to speak out combined with my fear of retaliation for it gave birth to this blog.

Fortunately, I got away with it, I think, because I used a lot of common sense, soft-pedaling my views, trying to be fair and balanced in a non FOX way. But this Mormon guy out in California is another matter entirely. He didn't get away with it, and that's a fucking shame.

Don't get me wrong. I completely disagree with his anti gay marriage stance. But he is entitled to his views; he, like all Americans, has freedom of speech. There's something very un-American about hounding him out of his position because of his politics. I mean, okay, argue with him, try to persuade him that he's wrong, but don't fuck him over because of his beliefs. As if targeting an individual private citizen would do anything to change the electoral reality that Proposition 8 won.

Neither the left nor the right in this country have a monopoly on McCarthyesque tactics, and it disgusts me to no end.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sarah Palin Blamed by the US Secret Service
Over Death Threats Against Barack Obama

From AlterNet:

Sarah Palin's attacks on Barack Obama's patriotism provoked a spike in death threats against the future president, Secret Service agents revealed during the final weeks of the campaign.

The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of "palling around with terrorists", citing his association with the sixties radical William Ayers.

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling "terrorist" and "kill him" until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further.


Details of the spike in threats to Mr Obama come as a report last week by security and intelligence analysts Stratfor, warned that he is a high risk target for racist gunmen. It concluded: "Two plots to assassinate Obama were broken up during the campaign season, and several more remain under investigation. We would expect federal authorities to uncover many more plots to attack the president that have been hatched by white supremacist ideologues."

Click here for the rest.

Okay, this is very frightening, but nothing new. That is, Sarah Palin has done nothing that right-wing radio hosts haven't done, again and again, before her. The racism is something of a new angle here, but this kind of libelous hate speech has been directed at Democrats and the left in general for many years. O'Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, Reagan, Savage, all these assholes have called liberals traitors, murderers, terrorists, perverts, vermin, stuff right out of Goebbels' playbook.

The bottom line here is that, while all Americans have freedom of speech and can say whatever they want, there are consequences to extreme lies and libel. Many on the left have been warning for a long time that some kook someday is going to take all this vile rhetoric seriously, and start shooting up liberals. We've already seen such consequences played out at a Unitarian church in Tennessee.

This Secret Service report only makes the danger more credible: the longer the right wing engages in dehumanizing rhetoric aimed at liberals, the more likely it is that liberals will be targeted by psychotic right-wingers. I know how anti-social it is to compare Americans to Nazis, but there are some terrifying parallels here.

Given the free speech issues at stake here, I don't advocate adoption of the kind of hate speech codes we've seen at some liberal universities over the years, but it is important to note that slander and libel laws are on the books for some very good reasons. I think it's high time that liberals got serious about fighting this shit, hitting the corporations profiting from conservative lies where it hurts the most, in their pocketbooks. That is, it's time for a massive campaign of thousands of lawsuits.

Fuck these assholes.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


...Mr. Spock!

God, I love this picture.


Monday, November 10, 2008


From the AP via the Huffington Post:

Georgia Congressman Warns Of Obama Dictatorship

A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may _ may not, I hope not _ but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.


Obama was referring in the speech to a proposal for a civilian reserve corps that could handle postwar reconstruction efforts such as rebuilding infrastructure _ an idea endorsed by the Bush administration.

More here.

And so the new lunatic fringe begins.

Remember the weirdo patriot movement, militia movement, whatever you want to call it, that ran around in the woods with guns and fatigues on weekends worrying about "the new world order" back during the Clinton era? Boy, I sure do. The homegrown terrorists who blew up that federal building in Oklahoma came from these ranks: they were, and probably still are, a much bigger threat to our "homeland security" than Muslim terrorists have ever been.

Black helicopters, indeed.

Looking back on it all, it's really difficult to avoid seeing the militia movement as being an extreme manifestation of conservative anxiety about having a Democrat in the White House after twelve years of Republican rule. I mean, just look at all the bullshit conspiracy theories back in the day about President Clinton himself, the drug dealing, the murders, and on and on and on. We've really got to face it; there are some big time lunatics among the American right wing.

And now they're freaking out again, and Obama hasn't even been sworn in.

That's no surprise, I suppose. Bill Clinton, the "best Republican president we've ever had" as Michael Moore has joked, really did govern to the right of Nixon. Old Bill was always a false liberal, and the 90s was essentially a conservative era. But that didn't matter. To the right wing, he was the devil personified as a leftist, and they were scared shitless of him, willing to belive the most ludicrous stories about him because they had to be true.

A bartender where I work told me about the astonishment of an obviously conservative customer on election night, "Well that's it. It's going to be white slavery now." Yeah that's right, this guy actually believes that the blacks are taking over and that they're going to put all us white folk on the plantations. Seriously. I mean, that's fucked up. And I have a sneaking suspicion that there are quite a few more irrational right-wing freaks out there with similar fears.

I would say that I'm hopeful that the lunatic fringe will calm down once they see how conservative Obama actually is, but Clinton's conservatism did nothing in this area back in the day. That is, I'm not hopeful at all. These people are fucking nuts. And I bet the corporate media, in its continual drive to be "balanced," will treat their views as serious and credible.

The next four years are going to be extraordinarily fun.



From the AP via ESPN:

QB McCoy in charge as Texas bashes Baylor

Colt McCoy and Quan Cosby spent several late nights together in the Texas training room this week trying to heal their aching bodies.

Together on the field Saturday, they helped the No. 4 Longhorns get over the red-and-black blues -- that last-second loss at Texas Tech that knocked them out of the No. 1 spots in the AP poll, BCS standings and Big 12 South.

"I don't ever want to feel like I did last week again," Cosby said. "Not only getting hurt, but losing. It was important to come out and play like we today."

McCoy passed for 300 yards and five touchdowns, two to Cosby, as Texas rebounded with a 45-21 victory over Baylor.

"You want to get the bad taste out of your mouth," coach Mack Brown said. "More than anything I felt that Monday, and I know the kids did too."

Click here for the rest.

And again from the AP via ESPN:

Saban makes victorious return to Tiger Stadium as Bama stays unbeaten

In a bittersweet return to the school he once coached, Saban kept his current team on course for a shot at the national championship with a thrilling win Saturday. After missing a chip-shot field goal on the final play of regulation, No. 1 Alabama stayed perfect when John Parker Wilson scored on a 1-yard sneak in overtime for a 27-21 victory over the 16th-ranked Tigers.


LSU got the ball first in overtime, only to give away even a shot at the field goal when Jarrett Lee threw his fourth interception -- the third pick of the game by Alabama's Rashad Johnson, tying the school record. The Tide didn't even bother with another field goal try, having already missed twice.

More here.

You know, I' really beginning to wonder if most of LSU's blues this year come from Jarrett Lee's tendency to throw to receivers on other teams. I'm no analyst or anything, but when you throw three INTs per game, you're going to lose to good teams. Just a thought. At any rate, LSU missed a chance to help out my other school's team a great deal. Upsetting 'Bama would have, maybe, put Texas back into the top two. But it didn't happen. I mean, the Tigers played well, taking it to overtime and all, but to no avail.

Texas played well, too, albeit against a much inferior team. Okay, the Bears are playing better than they have in recent memory, but you know. I suppose that's how they got 21 points--well, okay, that last TD was against the Longhorn bench, but still.

Okay, let's talk BCS.

Texas is number three. 'Bama and Tech are one and two respectively, with Florida at four, and Oklahoma at five. Tech and OU play on the 22nd; obviously, I want OU to win this one. 'Bama has Mississippi State and Auburn to round out their regular season schedule, which they ought to win handily, so I'm looking forward to the probable showdown with Florida in the SEC championship game. In short, with UT at three, I want the one and two teams to lose. Problem is, the teams most likely to beat them are ranked four and five, and big fucking wins for them could easily mean a BCS rankings jump over Texas. Worst case scenario: Florida and OU end up in the top two slots, with Texas remaining at number three--another worst case scenario: everything remains the same and Texas goes to the Cotton Bowl or the Independence Bowl or some such.

This shit makes my head spin. I'm also assuming Texas doesn't falter against Kansas or the vile Aggies of Texas A&M. Okay, that's the real worst case scenario: Texas loses for the third time in a row against the Aggies.

You know, I'll be happy if we just beat A&M. Fucking Aggies.


Saturday, November 08, 2008


From the New York Times, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman makes suggestions for President Elect Obama's upcoming economic program:

The Obama Agenda

Now, the Obama administration shouldn’t emulate the Bush administration’s habit of turning anything and everything into an argument for its preferred policies. (Recession? The economy needs help — let’s cut taxes on rich people! Recovery? Tax cuts for rich people work — let’s do some more!)

But it would be fair for the new administration to point out how conservative ideology, the belief that greed is always good, helped create this crisis. What F.D.R. said in his second inaugural address — “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics” — has never rung truer.

And right now happens to be one of those times when the converse is also true, and good morals are good economics. Helping the neediest in a time of crisis, through expanded health and unemployment benefits, is the morally right thing to do; it’s also a far more effective form of economic stimulus than cutting the capital gains tax. Providing aid to beleaguered state and local governments, so that they can sustain essential public services, is important for those who depend on those services; it’s also a way to avoid job losses and limit the depth of the economy’s slump.

So a serious progressive agenda — call it a new New Deal — isn’t just economically possible, it’s exactly what the economy needs.

The bottom line, then, is that Barack Obama shouldn’t listen to the people trying to scare him into being a do-nothing president.

More here.

What Krugman is describing here is a big return to Keynesian economics, the paradigm that ruled US economic policy for a couple of generations. The stagflation of the 70s however, recession coupled with inflation, caused by LBJ's Great Society domestic programs combined with Vietnam War military spending and dramatic OPEC created oil price increases, was a problem unforeseen by Keynes, and his point of view was replaced by the current failed neoliberal model.

In political practice, one of the biggest parts of neoliberalism, as observed by Krugman, is cutting taxes for the rich. Once upon a time, this was actually effective, albeit in a very specific way. Former Reagan administration economist Paul Craig Roberts has explained that capital gains tax cuts in the early 80s assured that industry could increase capacity to meet increased demand, instead of having to raise prices, which would add to the inflationary spiral. When combined with increased interest rates, which deflated the dollar supply, these tax cuts helped to kill stagflation in its tracks. In popular lore, however, as pushed relentlessly by the right-wing mythology machine, the true story was suppressed, and replaced by the fictional narrative that all tax cuts, especially for the rich, always stimulate the economy. After years and years of tax cuts for the rich with only recession to show for it today, however, we now know for sure that the conservative economic myth is, in fact, a myth.

Our economy is now facing the kinds of problems with which Keynes was all too familiar. Before the unique and situationally specific stagflation of the 70s, Keynesiansim was extraordinarily effective in creating and maintaining stable industrial economies. And a big part of that was, as our incoming President has described it, "spreading the wealth around." A dirty little secret of neoliberalism is that the rich aren't particularly effective spenders as far as macroeconomic stimulus is concerned: nothing can beat millions of consumers buying toothpaste, hamburgers, televisions, and refrigerators, certainly not the relatively few Mr. Howells and Monopoly Men out there buying yahts and palatial New England mansions.

Getting money into actual consumers' hands will rev up the economy in numerous ways that tax rebate checks and another round of handovers to the fabulously wealthy cannot. And it will also go a long way toward reversing the three decade long shift in economic fortunes toward the rich and away from everybody else. That is, it will make most American lives better.

It really is the right thing to do, both morally and economically.


Friday, November 07, 2008


Reine and Phil

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


South Park Obama Victory Episode Aired Wednesday Night

From the Huffington Post news wire:

It didn't take long for the notoriously-fast-working folks at South Park to lampoon President-Elect Obama. Last night's episode featured the president-elect, Michelle Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin. The episode, "About Last Night," revolves around an Ocean's 11-style plot to steal the Hope diamond.

Click here to watch a clip of the episode over at Huffington Post.

Obviously, South Park's creators, Parker and Stone, were making the same gamble that Garry Trudeau made with Doonesbury, that the polls were correct, and Obama was certain to win. I haven't checked out the Doonesbury Daily Dose yet to see what's up in Baby Boomer land, but I did watch South Park last night, and was impressed, as usual. I mean, it was less politically poignant than I've seen with SP before, but it was pretty fucking spot on in a couple of ways, the absurdity of Obamamania, and the irrationality of conservative fears about our new President Elect.

It's very amusing. Check it out here.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Baylor University denounces Election Day noose

WACO — Baylor University officials said they are investigating an apparent noose hanging from a tree the day Barack Obama was elected the nation's first black president.

More here.

From the same source:

Ohio troopers in Klan prank get their jobs back

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Ohio troopers have won back their jobs after being fired for pulling a KKK-type costume prank the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

An arbitrator ruled Tuesday that the firings in May violated a union contract.

More here.

And again from the same source:

Fla. board keeps Klan leader's name at high school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Florida school board voted late Monday night to keep the name of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader at a majority black high school, despite opposition from a black board member who said the school's namesake was a "terrorist and racist."

After hearing about three hours of public comments, Duval County School Board members voted 5-2 to the retain the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School. The board's two black members cast the only votes to change the name.

Click here for the rest.

Any reflective and rational American fully understands that electing an African-American to the presidency does not signal the end of racism in America--it's a very significant milestone in that direction, to be sure, and indicates a great deal of attitudinal change among the US electorate, but it's very clearly only part of the overall story. Racism lingers, and continues to have often devastating effects on the people it oppresses. But make no mistake about it, you can bet your white ass that buttloads of Americans are going to point to Obama's election, again and again, as "evidence" that we now live in a race-neutral society. That's why it's all the more important to sound the alarm that the American scourge of racism is alive and well.

The above linked stories are obvious examples of racism's tenacious nature. The noose display at Baylor, part of a seeming national trend at universities and in public offices, comes as no surprise to me: Baylor is a Southern Baptist university. Now, I'm not going to say that Southern Baptists are racists, but their denomination, the largest of all Protestants in the United States, was born as a blatant act of racism--Southern Baptists broke off with other American Baptists during the mid 19th century when they started embracing Abolitionist principles; that is, the Southern Baptist genesis was about supporting the institution of slavery, and white supremacism is an inherent part of such a notion. Yes, the Southern Baptists officially apologized for this back in the 1990s, but cultural memory is long, and often subconscious. I know there are many Southern Baptists out there, especially in the South, who are uneasy tonight as they contemplate the concept of a black president, dismissing their unease as political difference, despite the fact that our president elect is just about as establishment as they come.

Obviously, some dumbshit Southern Baptist kids at Baylor don't understand the psychological drill, and properly attribute their Obama angst to racial fear.

Then there are the Ohio cops in KKK suits, another innocent "prank." Part of me is glad that they have good labor union representation, but I wonder how they got a contract that makes what amounts to terroristic threats okay. I mean, cops...Klan...cops...Klan...that's really fucking frightening. Just look at the historic link between the KKK and local law enforcement. I suppose I can accept that these two cops are simply extraordinarily stupid, but the message that they may or may not have sent inadvertantly is just too fucking intimidating. People still get pulled over for driving-while-black. If they think cops dressing up as terrorists is funny, then they simply have no understanding of the American racial dynamic, and have no business wearing badges and carrying guns.

And then there's KKK High down in Jacksonville. I'm almost speechless over this one. I mean, the school board voted to continue honoring a Klan founder. WTF?!? I mean, what the fuck!?!

The overall point is that countless relatively minor stories such as these play themselves out nationally all the time. No single one of these kinds of instances is particularly dangerous in and of themselves, but they do, in their totality, indicate where the overall American culture is right now, and go very far in explaining the much more damaging and dangerous institutional oppressions typically dismissed by even non-racist whites. African-Americans, as a group, still suffer greatly from poverty. African-Americans continue to be wildly disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. African-Americans continue to underachieve in schools, with much higher dropout rates than average. Yes, there is a reasonable issue of personal responsibility to be discussed here, but when you look at these numbers against the backdrop of a national culture that produces noose-hanging incidents at universities, cops "joking around" in white hoods, and KKK glorifying high schools, it is undeniable that there is much, much, much more going on here than blacks shirking their personal responsibilities.

White people who intensely believe that they are not racist will now point to President Obama to "prove" that these social disparities suffered by black Americans are their own fault, that if Obama can do it, anyone can. I'm really happy about our new president, but he did not just single handedly usher in a post racial era. We've got a long way to go, and it will be all the more difficult because we must now deal with people who deny what they see, and what they feel within themselves, and are able to craft reasonably sounding arguments to support their view.

This will be the final struggle against racism, and it may be the toughest one of them all.