Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Yeah yeah, I know it's only been a year since my last moving hiatus, but the girlfriend didn't work out and I've got too much space costing too much money, so I'm moving to a nice one bedroom unit upstairs at the end of the month. Of course, I need to pack and organize, so I'm taking a couple of weeks off from blogging. Should be back online during the first week of May.

In the meantime, you can go where I go. Indeed, this is the online circuit I make everyday looking for blog-food:

The Houston Chronicle

The New York Times

The Washington Post

Democracy Now!



The Huffington Post news wire

Daily Kos

Usually, I find something blog-worthy somewhere on one of those sites. If not, I punt toward CounterPunch. At any rate, this is a good way to see what I might have blogged about, if I had been blogging.

Okay, see ya'll in a couple of weeks!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012


From the Tennessean:

But some consider statements made Saturday by the convention’s top policy representative on his national radio show a setback. On Richard Land Live!, Land accused black religious leaders — whom he called “race hustlers” — and President Barack Obama of using the shooting death of an African-American teen in Florida for election-year gains.

“This will be vetted in court, not in a mob mentality that’s been juiced up by Al Sharpton, who is a provocateur and a racial ambulance chaser of the first order, and aided and abetted by Jesse Jackson,” Land said on the show.

And, on Obama’s statement that, if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old victim, Land said: “The president’s aides claim he was showing compassion for the victim’s family. In reality, he poured gasoline on the racialist fires.”


Land, a Franklin resident and president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, stood by his comments on Wednesday.

More here.

The Southern Baptist Convention is the only Christian denomination in the world that was founded for the sole purpose of using the Bible to support the ability of white people to own black people. Of course, they eventually gave up on this centrally unifying proposition. They even eventually got around to apologizing for their philosophically tainted origins--I mean, not until the 1990s, over a century after the Emancipation Proclamation, but they did get around to it. But the point is that, as a sort of center for and defender of old school Southern culture, the Southern Baptists to this day continue to operate within the cultural reverberations of their racist founding. After all, the Southern Baptists are also the most conservative Christian denomination in the world, and that conservatism, anti-labor, pro-gun, pro-war, pro-punishment, directly descends from the slavery regime that was the Confederacy--I'm sure you've seen those red/blue, Democratic/Republican state breakdown maps alongside very similar maps of the CSA.

This rant coming down from their go-to guy on ethics, of all things, is a case in point. Given what the Southern Baptists are, dead-end defenders of a point of view that ought to be literally Gone with the Wind, this comes as no surprise. I mean, it's surprising that he's being so public about it - generally, Baptists only talk this way behind closed doors - but it is very much in keeping with contemporary SBC attitudes. I suppose keeping it real, or mouthing off stupid right-wing bullshit so everybody can hear it, whatever you want to call it, is all the rage among conservatives these days.

At any rate, Land, and numerous other conservatives, are full of shit in calling the Trayvon Martin case nothing but "racialist fires": remember, Zimmerman was not arrested, and there was no investigation on the horizon, until, of course, the controversy began. Only now, after a few weeks of protest, can we watch this play out in court. Before people started making a stink about it, we didn't have that luxury. So the protest was definitely justified, and opposing it makes absolutely no sense.

Unless, of course, you're a racist. Like Land.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Do Republicans realize they’ve just called for the repeal of welfare reform?

From Patheos, courtesy of Eschaton:

The “welfare reform” passed during the Clinton administration was based on the idea that welfare recipients would be required to work.

Welfare reform was billed as the end of the free ride for all those lazy moms sitting at home doing nothing except raising their kids and cashing their AFDC checks. The new law replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with TANF — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. And TANF meant those lazy moms were going to have to earn that assistance.

Those of us who objected to this new law at the time argued that, actually, those moms already were doing work — they were raising their kids. This objection got slapped down by, among others, the Republican Party, which insisted at the time that raising kids wasn’t real work and didn’t count.


One or the other. The Republican Party cannot say “Moms Do Work” and “Mom’s Work Doesn’t Count” at the same time.

More here.

Of course, this is about the bizarre Hilary Rosen flap, a Democratic operative calling out Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's wife Ann on her status as campaign go-to gal for women's issues: Ann Romney says women are concerned with jobs, and aren't worried about GOP sabre-rattling over women's vaginas; Rosen says Romney has no ground to stand on because she's never worked a day in her life.

"Ha!" say the Republicans, "we've got you now! Being a mother is work!" Repeat ad nauseam.

Without even considering the fact that the Romneys have always been rich, always, and that motherhood for Ann has necessarily included nannies and other domestic servants, making her "work" much easier than it is for most American women, this incident is definitely in the running for the foulest moment of GOP hypocrisy I can recall. I mean, really? Republicans are the defenders of stay-at-home moms? Yeah, right.

Think back to the 70s, when women started entering the work force in large numbers. This only kind of coincided with the women's movement: the reality is that women entered the work force because their husbands' incomes started shrinking rapidly, and this did nothing but speed up once the Republicans took and held the White House for the next twelve years. That is, GOP leadership essentially pushed women out of the home, making the concept of "housewife" one that is either a luxury or a status accompanied by severe economic hardship. And then, as the excerpt above observes, they went after the single mothers receiving government assistance.

Republicans have never given a shit about mothers, except as some sort of religious icon to be praised but not supported in any real way. And now they think they're somehow turning the tables on the Democrats. Fuckers.

This Democratic operative, Rosen, probably should have chosen her words better, but this isn't really her fault. I mean, like I said, she's essentially right about Ann Romney. No, this is about brazen Republican lies. The kind about which they get really pissed off when others call them on their bullshit. But, frankly, I don't think they're going to pull this one off. It's like the GOP suddenly deciding to defend the gay pornographers or something. Just too big of a stench.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

National Poll Shows U.S. Divided by Race in Trayvon Martin Case

From ColorLines courtesy of AlterNet:

In a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted earlier this week, 91% of black Americans surveyed said that the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin was unjustified. Among whites, that number was 35%; among Latinos, 59%.

“This incident is one of the clearest splits we’ve seen between whites and blacks,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson told Reuters.

“African Americans have a significantly different perspective on the whole incident than white Americans or Hispanic Americans,” Jackson said.

More here.

Back when I was little, seven or eight, word had it that white people should never go to Bordersville, the nearby black community, because the people there will slit your throat. Years later, when I was in my mid twenties, I was amazed by all my white liberal friends who immediately decided that OJ Simpson had killed his wife, well before the damning details were released to the press--all they had was a black man running away from the police very slowly in a white Bronco, no bloody glove, no history of rage, nothing, just a black man on the run, and that was good enough for my white liberal friends to convict in their minds. Years later, last night in fact, two black friends of mine, both close to my age, regaled me with tales of their younger lives of crime in New Orleans, AK-47s, crack, stuff straight out of NWA, stuff they had to do because of their fucked up situations at home. Just to survive.

I don't get it anymore.

I don't understand why white people cannot accept the reality of black America. This guy Zimmerman, from all accounts including his own, stalked Trayvon Martin and then shot him dead in the street, even while police dispatchers were telling him to stand down. And this shit happens all the time. All the time. How can white people in their wildest fantasies even imagine that the killing was just?

I used to think that I understood this shit, that I understood my own culture, my own people. Not now. One thing I do understand, however, is that it is crystal clear that blacks and whites have extraordinarily different understandings of racial justice in this nation. And blacks have the understanding that is grounded in reality. Whites don't.


Friday, April 13, 2012



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


How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’

From the Indypendent, courtesy of Occupy Wall Street's facebook presence:

While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.

Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA
World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”

More here.

People from time to time ask me what style of government or economics is ultimately the best for the United States, and I usually respond that, for me, American Utopia would look a lot like the social democracies of Northern Europe. Universal health care, a very strong safety net, true citizen participation in governance and the workplace, lots of vacation time. In short, a nation that expends its resources on making its citizens' lives better and more fulfilling, rather than a nation that uses its wealth to enrich and empower an elite few--yeah yeah, I think we're seeing now that enriching a relative few does not lead to enriching the nation as a whole; neoliberal "trickle down" fantasies are now obviously bullshit to anybody who thinks about it for, like, five seconds.

But why do the Scandinavians have it all while we don't?

Turns out it's not much of a secret, nor is it terribly complicated. Noam Chomsky has often replied with one word over the years when asked what we can do to redress all the fucked up shit he writes about, "Organize." And that's exactly what the Swedes and Norwegians did. Okay, I say it's simple, and in theory it is. But the problem is how to get organized, especially in our nation where the wealthy elite has become extraordinarily adept with playing us against each other, black against white, suburban against urban, bourgeois against working class, North against South, employed-but-scared against unemployed, and on and on. That's the rub, at least here in the US in 2012. How do you successfully combat a ruling class with great expertise in divide-and-conquer techniques? I don't know, but it seems entirely possible.

The Nordic countries did it on a much smaller scale, but they did it. And so can we.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

What is ObamaCare?

From CounterPunch, former Reagan administration economist Paul Craig Roberts:

It is extraordinary that “liberals,” “progressives,” “Democrats,” whatever they are, are defending a “health program” that uses public monies to pay private insurance companies and that raises the cost of health care.

Americans have been brainwashed that “a single-payer system is unaffordable” because it is “socialized medicine.” Despite this propaganda, accepted by many Americans, European countries manage to afford single-payer systems. Health care is not a stress, a trauma, an unaffordable expense for European populations. Among the Western Civilized Nations, only the richest, the US, has no universal health care.

The American health care system is the most expensive of all on earth. The reason for the extraordinary expense is the multiple of entities that must make profits. The private doctors must make profits. The private testing centers must make profits.The private specialists who receive the referrals from general practitioners must make profits. The private hospitals must make profits. The private insurance companies must make profits. The profits are a huge cost of health care.


To make the costs as high as possible, conservatives and the private insurance companies devised ObamaCare. The bill was written by conservative think tanks and the private insurance companies. What the “socialistic” ObamaCare bill does is to take income taxes paid by citizens and use the taxes to subsidize the private medical premiums charges by private health care providers in order to provide “private” health care to US citizens who cannot afford it.

More here.

As Real Art readers know, I am definitely not one of those liberals, progressives, or Democrats who support ObamaCare. And my reason is pretty simple: in spite of the prolonged continual rantings of conservatives, the Affordable Care Act is not socialism; indeed, it is essentially crony capitalism, potentially worse than what we have now, and that's bad, really bad, because what we need is, in fact, socialism. I mean, real socialism. Or single payer. Whatever, I'm cool with either one. As long as we have a system that is geared toward providing universal health care coverage for the United States instead of a system that is geared toward making profits for skimmers and middle men. Because we can't have both. We can't provide health care access for everybody while at the same time using the system to enrich a few individuals--the latter undermines the former; the economics just don't work like they do for other markets.

But here we are. Obama forces us to pay for capitalist health insurance which we may or may not actually be able to afford, and may or may not provide health care for us when we need it. But the health insurance companies, wired into the political establishment as they are, will get rich because they now cater to a captive market, one that is required by law to pay for a product that is very likely to be defective. And the conservatives call this "socialism."

Sometimes this shit makes me wonder if evil hippies keep spiking my coffee with LSD.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Conservative Politics, 'Low-Effort' Thinking Linked In New Study

From the Huffington Post:

"People endorse conservative ideology more when they have to give a first or fast response," the study's lead author, University of Arkansas psychologist Dr. Scott Eidelman, said in a written statement released by the university.

Does the finding suggest that conservatives are lazy thinkers?

"Not quite," Dr. Eidelman told The Huffington Post in an email. "Our research shows that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism, not that political conservatives use low-effort thinking."


"Keeping people from thinking too much...or just asking them to deliberate or consider information in a cursory manner can impact people's political attitudes, and in a way that consistently promotes political conservatism," Dr. Eidelman said in the email.

More here.

Important distinction: conservatives aren't low-effort thinkers; however, low-effort thinking leads to conservative positions. So, conservatives can be brilliant, and some of them are, but as long as they're not thinking too hard about political issues, such brilliance doesn't matter--it's not being used. That is, and I think this conclusion was already pretty clear before this study, clear to liberals anyway, conservative views are short-sighted and simple. Conservatism just doesn't consider everything that needs to be considered in order to understand the world--I think my meditations on Scalia's dissenting opinion in the Lawrence v Texas case is a nice example of a brilliant conservative being intellectually lazy.

But, like I said, we probably all knew that already.

The crux here is that we currently live in an American culture that downright encourages low-effort thinking. From public schools that "teach to the test" and emphasize discipline and order in a wildly disproportionate way relative to learning, to universities that are slowly eroding studies in the humanities, to mass media, both news and entertainment, that continually serve up 24/7 the most simplistic narratives possible about the world that will keep viewers around for commercials, to moronic politicians who talk to the public like they're five year-olds, nobody involved in the institutions that we collectively call "society" appears to want us to think about things too deeply.

And why would they? People who think about things always complain and bitch and moan. Better to discourage that sort of thing. Better to encourage people to think that Forrest Gump's bland platitudes about boxes of chocolate is enough to navigate life. Better to fill people's heads with notions of a nostalgic fictional past when a simpler America was "better" than today's complex realities. Better to have a nation of sheep because sheep are extraordinarily cooperative when you slaughter them.

America is all about low-effort thinking these days. It is no wonder that the GOP has jumped off a cliff into right-wing psycho land, no wonder that today's Democrats are as conservative as 1990's Republican Party. Death by dullness. This is how the empire ends.


Monday, April 09, 2012

Homophobic Attitudes Likely To Be Stronger Among
Those Who Have Repressed Same-Sex Attraction: Report

From the Huffington Post courtesy of my facebook friend Scott:

Set to be published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the study reportedly comprised four separate experiments, each involving an average of 160 college students, conducted in the U.S. and Germany. The findings provide new evidence to support the psychoanalytic theory that fear, anxiety, and aversion that toward gays and lesbians can grow out of a seemingly heterosexual individual's own repressed same-sex desires, co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who helped direct the research, told Science Daily.

"In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward," Ryan is quoted as saying. "We laugh at or make fun of such blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat. Homophobia is not a laughing matter."


Meanwhile, other scientists are reportedly skeptical of the findings. "This study is asking the right questions, but it's a pretty big leap to say it's revealing sexual orientation," Psychology professor Gregory Herek, of the University of California-Davis, told Opposing Views.

More here.

A few years back some commenter over at Daily Kos lambasted me for saying something to this effect about some conservative's homophobic remark of the day. I mean, I wasn't even one hundred percent serious, saying something to the effect of "Ah, he's probably gay himself." But whoever this DK liberal was, she or he had an axe to grind against people who brand homophobes as secretly gay.

But the idea's been around for a long time and it makes a great deal of sense. Remember the fascist father next door neighbor in American Beauty who ends up killing the Kevin Spacey character because he was the object of the neighbor's repressed homosexual desire? Yes, a movie, but with a sensible narrative. I mean, the article excerpted above even mentions disgraced anti-homosexual evangelist Ted Haggard's gay dalliances, and off the top of my head I could name three or four more prominent anti-gay figures who have ended up in the same boat.

Everybody is, of course, an individual, and one person's sense of homophobia is easily another person's devout religious sensibility, or strong attachment to patriarchy enforced gender roles. That is, I'm completely sure there are people out there who fear or hate homosexuals who are not themselves gay or bisexual.

But even without this study, you just have to know that some of those homophobes secretly love the cock. And that means they're in total hell.



...Doctor McCoy!


Saturday, April 07, 2012


From Real Art, some nine years ago:

So, this is why I love Christmas, but kind of hate Easter. Christmas is love and hope. Easter is sin and punishment. I am no longer able to conceptualize morality in such a black and white way. Furthermore, I believe that such thinking actually undermines morality. We ought to do good things because it is the right thing to do, because it eases suffering, because it makes us and others happy. Doing good things in order to avoid Hell and gain admittance to Heaven is ultimately self-centered and greedy. See the paradox? Selfishness and greed are widely acknowledged to be evils: the notion of Heaven and Hell necessarily maneuvers people into a very problematic philosophical position. It is difficult for me to accept that good can be motivated by evil.

Today, most of America celebrates Easter. This means that America also celebrates its dedication to rigid, absolute concepts of good and evil, reward and punishment. This is no overstatement: “tough on crime,” harshly condemned sex scandals, boot camps for youth, and numerous other American social and legal institutions are the rotten fruit of the diseased tree of Christian morality—the dangerous oversimplification of terrorism as performed by “evil doers” results from this morality. I cannot be happy on Easter Sunday; there is nothing to celebrate. In fact, the reverse is true. Because this wildly popular, yet utterly misguided point of view results in so much unneeded suffering and pain, Easter makes me sad.

Read the rest here.

In the end, celebrating Easter means embracing a philosophy that sickens me. So I just try to ignore it. All day long. Actually, I'll be waiting tables. It'll be hard work, but I expect to make a bunch of money. Maybe I'll eat a hard boiled egg. That'll be nice.


Friday, April 06, 2012



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


The Corporate Media Crisis

From CounterPunch, University of Texas professor of journalism, and my go-to guy on diversity issues, Robert Jensen, discusses the corporate news media in an excerpt from a new book he's edited:

He rejected that, reasserting his independence from any force outside his newsroom. I countered:

“Let’s say, for the purposes of discussion, that you and I were equally capable journalists in terms of professional skills, and we were both reasonable candidates for the job of editor-in-chief that you hold. If we had both applied for the job, do you think your corporate bosses would have ever considered me for the position given my politics? Would I, for even a second, have been seen by them to be a viable candidate for the job?”

Joe’s politics are pretty conventional, well within the range of mainstream Republicans and Democrats – he supports big business and U.S. supremacy in global politics and economics. In other words, he’s a capitalist and imperialist. I am on the political left, anti-capitalist and critical of the U.S. empire. On some political issues, Joe and I would agree, but we diverge sharply on the core questions of the nature of the economy and foreign policy.

Joe pondered my question and conceded that I was right, that his bosses would never hire someone with my politics, no matter how qualified, to run one of their newspapers. The conversation trailed off, and we parted without resolving our differences.


So, we sit at a strange time: Professional journalism is inadequate because of its ideological narrowness and subordination to power, but the attacks on professional journalism typically are ideologically even narrower and are rooted in a misguided analysis of power. Some of us are tempted to applaud the erosion of the model of professional journalism we find inadequate for democracy, but a more politicized model for journalism likely will follow the right-wing propaganda that has dominated in the United States in recent decades.

More here.

It's rather difficult for most Americans, liberal, conservative, and moderate alike, to develop a good critique of the the US news media. A big huge part of the problem, apart from the fact that we don't teach media analysis in the schools, is that, for most people, the news and politics are pretty much the same thing. That is, the news defines the boundaries of the public discourse, what will be talked about and what will be ignored, but in order to get a handle on it all and start really evaluating the media, you have to get outside those boundaries in order to look at the big picture.

But how can you see the big picture when you depend on the news for your information? You can't, actually, unless you're weird like me and have a fascination for the issue that compels you to search this shit out.

At any rate, here's an answer for the longstanding question as to whether the media are liberal or conservative: the corporate news media are definitely conservative, and always have been. But not in the way you think I mean. Okay, maybe in the way you think I mean, but not if you imagine I'm talking about some sort of score card tallying "liberal" stories versus "conservative" stories, or language bias or some such. The point is that the corporate media are, well, corporate, and necessarily reflect a corporate point of view, pro big business, pro establishment, pro government as long as the government is treating corporations with the kid gloves they usually get. Virtually everyone in the business comes from this point of view because if they don't, they don't last long, either getting fired from multiple jobs, or just giving up when they realize that the news isn't about Jimmy Olson and Woodward and Bernstein. Much more on this here.

And I'm even talking about Rachel Maddow, who I love. Sure, she's liberal and her show reports on topics and issues that are near and dear to the liberal heart, but she's pro-corporation, as a concept, pro-military, albeit sometimes anti-war, pro-government, and pro-establishment. She may attack a corporation here, or a particular politician there, but she will never, never, never attack the overall notion of corporations, or the American style of government itself. Never.

Really, to understand all this, you've just got to completely pull out of the media framing of what it means to be liberal or conservative and sort of rewrite the ideas for yourself. Maddow is a liberal on the one hand, but she's very much a part of the establishment on the other. And that makes her conservative. Get it?


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Ohio school district sued for banning 'Jesus Is Not a Homophobe' T-shirt

From MSNBC courtesy of the Huffington Post:

An Ohio high school student says school officials are violating his freedom of expression because they won’t let him wear a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Jesus Is Not a Homophobe.”

The shirt, high school student Maverick Couch told the Cincinnati Enquirer, is designed to show support for the "Day of Silence," on April 20, a national event that puts a spotlight on how bullying keeps gay and lesbian students from speaking out.


Maverick Couch told the Enquirer that school officials said the shirt was “indecent and sexual in nature.”

More here, with video.

Some observations.

1. This young man is on very strong ground with his lawsuit. Being told he can't wear it violates the first amendment in two ways. First, it's clearly a violation of his free speech rights, which minors in public school definitely have, albeit in a somewhat limited form. T-shirts, arm bands, non-intrusive expressions of opinion, all these things fall well within that limited scope. Second, it's clearly a violation of his religious freedom. I mean, it's a statement about Jesus, after all, just as religious as shirts that say things like "Jesus loves you." He's very likely to win, and the school district will be spending money to fight a losing case, and then spending money on damages, instead of hiring another teacher, or improving district facilities, or any number of other things that would actually benefit students.

2. This rather arbitrary interpretation of the dress code is fairly typical of the primary mandate operating within all public schools, to indoctrinate children into a culture of obedience and authority. I mean, seriously. Saying that Jesus was not a homophobe is in no way threatening to the daily functioning of the school. Indeed, it comes straight out of the current headlines. Former President Carter recently said essentially the same thing. No, this is all about keeping order, no doubt mixed with a little old fashioned homophobia, to boot.

3. Saying that somebody is or isn't homophobic is about as sexual as saying you're going on a date, or that you have a girlfriend. Sure sure, all three notions are indirectly, very indirectly, related to sexuality. But so is being pregnant. Or having a mother. This is some really fucking stupid bullshit, and yet more evidence that the people running our schools aren't particularly intelligent.

Just another day in America's fucked up field of education.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012


From the Huffington Post:

Planned Parenthood Bombed In Wisconsin

A small bomb exploded outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wis., on Sunday night, and police are investigating to learn who planted the device.

According to WGBA-TV, police fire crews found the homemade explosive outside a window sill that they believe had set off a small fire, which burned out before fire crews arrived. The building sustained a small amount of damage.


According to the most recent statistics from the National Abortion Federation, there were 114 violent attacks against abortion providers in 2011, including three physical assaults, one bombing, one incident of arson, 27 counts of vandalism and eight burglaries.

More here.

Holy fuck! One hundred fourteen instances of violence against abortion providers last year. That blows me away. These obviously aren't isolated incidents. I mean, they may very well be "lone wolves" or whatever they're supposed to be when they're acting by themselves, but when you have over a hundred attacks in a single year, it adds up to a movement as active as Al Qaeda has been over the last decade. If these Christian terrorists had brown skin and were Muslim, they'd already be enduring waterboarding in Guantanamo. Not that I want that to happen because, you know, torture is immoral, but the point is that this is some serious shit that is, to our shame, not treated with the urgency it deserves. Primarily because these terrorists are white Americans with some big time sympathizers providing cover from their elected offices--it is ironic, indeed, that these very same people are some of the staunchest supporters of the "War on Terror."

The hypocrisy disgusts me, but the similarities between Islamic terrorists and Christian terrorists, and their respective supporters, makes me sigh.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012


From AlterNet:

Supreme Court OK's Strip Searching for Minor Offenses

Some potential offenses for which you might be strip-searched, according to Breyer: violating a leash law, failing to pay child support, or driving without a license. And it probably goes without saying that protest-related arrests would count. And since the point of strip-searching is to hunt down "contraband" it's pretty clear that drug-related arrests (including the many from racist stop-and-frisk policies) would count as well.

More here.


From Informed Comment courtesy of Hullabaloo:

Polish PM Reveals that US Tortured at Black Sites in his Country

Poland had only escaped the grip of the Soviet Union in 1989, and so its democracy was a fledgling one. For the Bush administration to seduce its high officials into committing torture risked permanently marring its politics and undermining that democracy. Polish human rights workers have been deeply critical of Soviet-era torture, and to be put in the position of having to acknowledge this practice in their own country weakens their moral standing and besmirches the name of those tortured in the Stalinist era.

Waterboarding and extreme stress techniques are also illegal in US law and practice.


President Barack Obama ordered, on coming into office, that waterboarding and other torture cease. He has, however, gone out of his way to block victims of torture from launching legal actions, and has run interference for guilty officials, ensuring that there is no accountability for the torture programs.

More here.

Longtime Real Art readers know well of my outrage and disgust with the fact that the United States is now a nation that embraces torture as official policy. And that's bad enough in itself. I mean, torture, by its very nature, is barbaric, uncivilized, and evil. Any nation practicing it, whether officially or under the table, is necessarily corrupt and immoral. Any nation that practices it as official policy, is even worse.

But that's just a simple argument about morality. There are other problems with embracing torture as official policy of the United States. One of them is that it normalizes and mainstreams the practice, bringing home to its citizens what was first justified for use only against official enemies. It is now the law of the land that the police can strip search you for speeding, or not coming to a full stop, or not shutting up when a cop tells you to shut up, or protesting outside of the designated "free speech zone," or for "driving while black," and on and on and on. Because it is historically unlikely that the average traffic violator has a gun shoved up his ass and plans to use it to kill the ticketing officer, one can only conclude that strip searches for minor infractions exist solely to humiliate for purposes of control, and that comes remarkably close to procedures and policies used against torture victims in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, this black ops site in Poland, and probably lots of other places we don't yet know about.

In short, Bush's torture regime, Obama's refusal to prosecute him, as well as our current President's probable continuation of at least some of his predecessor's "enhanced interrogation techniques," have coarsened and degraded our national morality. It is impossible to take this decision out of that context. And that makes it a very sad day for the US, indeed.

Its chickens are coming home to roost.


Monday, April 02, 2012

Teacher's Aide Files Lawsuit For Losing Job
After Denying School District Access To Facebook

From the Huffington Post:

A parent who was Facebook friends with Hester, and thus could see her posts, notified the school about the image. A few days later, Lewis Cass ISD Superintendent Robert Colby asked her repeatedly for access to her Facebook. Each time, Hester refused.

In response, the district's special education director wrote to her that "…in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly," according to WSBT-TV.

Hester went on paid administrative leave, to collect workers' compensation, before she was suspended. She is now on unpaid leave and is scheduled for arbitration in May.

“I stand by it,” Hester said in a statement. “I did nothing wrong. And I would not, still to this day, let them in my Facebook. And I don’t think it’s OK for an employer to ask you.”

More here.

I posted about this very issue a week ago, in terms of how Libertarians, in spite of their patriotic sounding moniker, won't save you from this shit when private business is doing it to you--some champions of liberty Libertarians are; indeed, Libertarians think it's just fine when private business bends you over the rail. But that's last week's post. This week is about the government doing this shit, which, I assume, the Libertarians hate, at least if they're true to their principles.

Granted, this woman suing is an employee of the government, as are all public school teachers, but that doesn't really alter the government/citizen dynamic: indeed, if the legal rationale which keeps most government employees from having to take drug tests unless the government can provide a really fucking compelling reason to violate personal privacy rights is in play here, she's probably going to win her suit. And that makes me happy. I mean, because who the fuck do these people think they are? Demanding access to your private online communications is fucking bullshit. Obviously.

But what makes me really happy about this story is that this woman has exactly the attitude I didn't have when I was a public school teacher. That is, I felt like I compromised my personal principles at least once a day, and often much more than that, for my entire six year tenure in the classroom. I backed down again and again, censored myself again and again, tried to be a team player, tried to do the indoctrinating disciplinary work they most valued. I never told my employers "no." And I often had good cause. Really good cause.

There is a very good chance that I will one day go back to teaching high school now that I've seen just how fucked up it is to pursue those fabulous tenure track positions at the university level, how fucked up it is to be an insecure no-benefit "associate professor" or "assistant instructor" or "lecturer." I'll be going back, if I finally choose to do so, for the benefits, health insurance, vacation time, and retirement money.

But I will never again be a tool, a pussy, a sniveling team player. There's no real reward for that anyway because no matter how hard you try, they just keep pushing you and humiliating you. When I go back, I will say "no." Often. And they can try to fire me, if they dare. Really, this woman is an inspiration.