Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

REPUBLICANS: THE PARTY OF ANAL RAPE

I just had to post a couple more comments from my fb thread about the NY Times editorial calling for the prosecution of Bush officials for torture.  Context should be obvious:

Okay, but David K, this is torture we're talking about, as horrible, at least, as child molestation. Can you really see yourself being okay with someone who supports molesting children as a political point of view? And I'm not even really exaggerating, either: anal rape, and lots of it, is apparently something the CIA was doing pretty regularly to detainees. That's what supporters of torture are supporting. Anal rape.

You really think that's a "political position"? I think supporting torture is beyond the pale, not at all a legitimate political position. I mean, seriously. They support anal rape. That's totally fucked up. Definitely a sin, if you're a Christian, regardless of what whack theology to which one subscribes. And it's definitely evil.

I can't back down on this. That's how evil succeeds, when good people do nothing.

Richard, David C, it is not "whining" to decry and condemn official anal rape of prisoners. You guys support anal rape? That's how it sounds to me.
'Nuff said.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

'I Can't Breathe' T-shirts see high-school basketball team disinvited from event

From the Guardian:

A high school basketball tournament on the Northern California coast has become the latest flashpoint in nationwide protests over police killings of unarmed black men.

The boys and girls varsity basketball teams from Mendocino High School were disinvited from a tournament that starts on Monday at nearby Fort Bragg High, because of concerns players would wear T-shirts with the words “I Can’t Breathe” printed on them while warming up.

More here.

This makes no sense. Teenagers, being citizens, have, like all citizens, the freedom to express themselves, guaranteed by the first amendment.

And this is just straight up BS: "Principal Rebecca Walker issued a written statement on Friday saying school administrators respected the Mendocino teams 'for paying attention to what is going on in the world around them' and that the T-shirts were being prohibited as a security precaution."

A security precaution? My ass. More like they don't want to deal with any flak.


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Sunday, December 28, 2014

New York Times calls for Cheney, Bush officials to be investigated and prosecuted for torture

From Raw Story:

The board concludes, 'Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments. Because of the Senate’s report, we now know the distance officials in the executive branch went to rationalize, and conceal, the crimes they wanted to commit. The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions.'

More here.

I posted this on facebook with the statement, "If we don't do this, prosecute the torturers, we're a joke."

Then I got a little commentary action.

Zach Interestingly this is impossible for the same set of reasons/pathologies that make it impossible for us to prosecute police officers for murder.

Ron Okay, true to a great extent, but I would argue that super-elites, such as administration insiders, are far less subject to criminal prosecution than low level rank and file government officials. That is, we've already prosecuted some of the Abu Ghraib soldiers, and from time to time we do, in fact, prosecute crooked cops. We've also prosecuted a few very low level bankers, and even Martha Stewart. But the big boys? No way. Even when they got Scooter Libby, Bush pardoned him.

They will sacrifice the grunts from time to time, but there's just no accountability if you're wealthy and/or powerful. None at all. That, too, makes us a joke nation.
'Nuff said.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.





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Friday, December 26, 2014

BOXING DAY CAT BLOGGING

Winkie


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

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Listen to this after midnight, when the Christmas magic is at its strongest:



Happy Christmas!  I'll be back Friday.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"BAD TEACHERS, BAD SCHOOLS," BAD EDUCATION DISCOURSE

A buddy of mine posted a link to this essay about how totally messed up the public discourse on education has become in recent years.  It's a good piece; you should read it.

Here's what I commented to my friend:

You know, I have this long, interesting, and engaging critique about the structure of American schooling, how we conceptualize it, and how its authoritarian nature is hopelessly at odds with education's ostensible holy grail, critical thinking. It's a good critique, I think, and something about which we should all be thinking.

But I don't even talk about it anymore. The public discourse on education has gotten so bad, so outside reality, so amazingly absurd, so destructive, that it has become, by far, the more pressing issue. A much more pressing issue. Indeed, the flawed approach we have had in this country, the one lambasted by my critique, is INFINITELY superior to what these horrible people who call themselves "reformers" would have us adopt.

It's all so extraordinarily depressing that I try not to think about it too much.
Excelsior!

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Monday, December 22, 2014

KILLING POLICE IN BROOKLYN

An old high school friend of mine challenged me on facebook to write about the recent and horrible cold blooded murder of those two police officers in Brooklyn. He asked me why I've written about Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but not about this. He asked me where my anger is.

Here's what I told him:

What do you want me to say? I'm not angry. I'm sad. Very sad about this.

The Ferguson story is part of a larger ongoing story of official oppression of a historically oppressed minority. It is the public's business to end policing practices that oppress. It is injustice done in the people's name. Being one of the people, it is my, and your, responsibility to do what we can to end the injustice. Especially because it is injustice done in our names.

This horrible murder in New York is not official oppression. It's terrible, yes, but it's just not the same thing. It wasn't done in my name. It isn't American officials oppressing. It's worth discussing, to be sure, but it's not the government, not a huge and powerful interest.

This looks like an already crazed man was pushed over the edge. And it's just terrible.

So here's what I have to say.

When Palestinians kill Israelis it's horrible. It's wrong. But it must also be viewed in the overall context of longstanding Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Everybody needs to stop killing over there right now, both peoples. But Israel needs to stop its oppression of Palestine, if that's ever going to succeed at all.

This horrific murder of police officers in Brooklyn reminds me of Palestinian violence towards Israel.

That's what I have to say.
'Nuff said.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

U.S. ends TARP with $15.3 billion profit

From CNN:

The U.S. government essentially closed the books on TARP with a $15.3 billion profit.

Treasury sold its remaining shares Friday in Ally Financial, its last remaining major stake from the $426 billion bailout of banks and the U.S. auto industry.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program was passed in 2008, in the wake of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, as the nation's financial system was on the verge of collapse and economists feared another Great Depression. At the height of the bailout, Treasury owned a significant stake in all of the major U.S. banks, such as Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC), two of the nation's Big Three automakers -- General Motors (GM) and Chrysler Group (FCAM) -- as well as one of its largest insurers, AIG (AIG).


More here.

Back in the early 90s, I took an economics of the cable industry class at the University of Texas. For one of our sessions, we had a guest lecturer, some guy in a suit from the local cable company. He stated forthrightly that "anytime the government interferes with business, it's bad for the economy." As a fact, a law of nature or something, a principle we must never forget, something that all intelligent people know.

Of course, he was totally wrong. Sometimes the government messes up the economy; sometimes the government makes the economy better. Indeed, sometimes we absolutely NEED the government to come in and clean up the messes made of the economy by stupid and greedy businessmen. And that's apparently what happened with the TARP.

Okay sure, there was a lot more good the feds could have done with that money, and I am extremely critical that Obama didn't do more with attaching a lot of strings to the bailout. But it is undeniable that this program, originally a Bush program, so let's give him some credit, too, kept us from falling into the ravine. It saved us from another Great Depression.

Well done, Presidents Bush and Obama!

It's time for any and all misinformed, ignorant, foolish conservatives who believe the incredibly stupid notion that "anytime the government interferes with business, it's bad for the economy" either to study economics better than they have in the past, or just STFU because they're willful idiots.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.





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Friday, December 19, 2014

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Frankie



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

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Was Key Grand Jury Witness in Michael Brown Case a Racist, Mentally Ill, Lying Ex-Felon?

From Democracy Now!:

As protests continue across the country over the police killing of Michael Brown, new questions are being raised about the grand jury that failed to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown. Many questions center on a woman identified in the grand jury documents simply as "Witness 40." She told the grand jury that Brown charged at Wilson "like a football player." Earlier this week, the website TheSmokingGun.com identified Witness 40 as Sandra McElroy. The website described her as a "bipolar Missouri woman with a criminal past who has a history of making racist remarks and once insinuated herself into another high-profile St. Louis criminal case with claims that police eventually dismissed as a 'complete fabrication.'" It now appears McElroy may have lied about witnessing the shooting, which occurred 30 miles from her home. On Tuesday, Rev. Al Sharpton said the report about Witness 40 gave new hope to the Brown family. He told the New York Daily News it shows the grand jury was "not a fair process." We speak about the case with TheSmokingGun.com editor William Bastone. He is the lead author of the article exposing the identity of Witness 40.

Click here to watch, read, or listen to the rest.

Serious, non-deluded, non-racist observers already pretty much know that the Darren Wilson grand jury proceedings were a total sham, a whitewash, consciously designed to let Michael Brown's murderer walk without facing justice. It was so totally obvious that it makes complete sense that it's starting to fall apart, and the exact details of how this miscarriage of justice happened were almost fated to come to light eventually.

I just didn't expect it to happen so quickly. And I didn't expect the Ferguson prosecutor to have done such a crappy job with it. But here it all is, in it's absurd and infuriating glory.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

College QB Forced To Sue T-Shirt Company To Retain Eligibility

From Deadspin:

Just when you think the NCAA bylaws couldn't possibly become more ridiculously hypocritical, a story like this comes along.

Mississippi State quarterback Dakota "Dak" Prescott is suing a T-shirt company for using and profiting from his name without permission. Whether Prescott actually gives a shit about some guys making a few bucks off some T-shirts is unclear, because no matter how he feels about it, he has to sue the T-shirt company if he wants to retain his eligibility. 

More here.

I'm all for keeping college football as pure as possible. (Okay, stop snickering out there; I know it's all BIG MONEY.) But this seems a little unreasonable. Shouldn't the NCAA provide legal fees for this requirement, given how college football players don't get salaries? Or, at least, provide a lawyer pro bono or something?

Knowing the NCAA, I imagine free legal representation constitutes under-the-table pay, anyway. So screw you, Prescott.


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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

IF YOU SUPPORT TORTURE...

Cross-posted this from last week on facebook, and actually had a conservative or two show up to support torture.  Here's what I told an old friend from high school:

Anybody who supports torture has given up on being civilized. This cannot be understated. If you support torture, you cannot possibly be a Christian. If you support torture, you are not a good person. If you support torture, you are a barbarian scum bag.

This is evil we're talking about, plain and simple. Eric, you're my old friend, and otherwise a good guy. But not on this. Supporting torture is an act of evil, and I would be a bad person not to call you out on it. In fact, I am morally compelled to raise objections when people support evil. I hope you're not offended. But you've got me choosing between being a moral person and being polite. I have to choose morality.

Dude, you're evil to talk this way, evil to support torture. There is no gray area here. Torture is horrific. It's definitely a hardcore sin. You sully our nation and yourself to advocate it.
'Nuff said.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Louisiana Gov. Jindal’s Prayer Rally Handouts Blame Gays and Abortion for Hurricane Katrina

From Raw Story via AlterNet:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) plans to kick off his presidential candidacy in January with a stadium-sized prayer rally in Baton Rouge.

Right Wing Watch reported that materials being distributed ahead of the rally blame LGBT acceptance and legal abortion for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the devastating tornado system that leveled the town of Joplin, Missouri.


More here.

We've long known that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is droolingly stupid. But now we have him combining his stupidity with callous cruelty to create a new level of assholery heretofore unknown in his administration.

Well, okay, rejecting the Medicaid expansion was worse. I guess this is par for the course, then. Bobby Jindal totally sucks.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why Are We Obsessed With Declaring that America Is 'Awesome'?

From AlterNet:

Fox News may be the poster child of this infantile anti-intellectualism but the same sentiments can be found on the Washington Post’s neocon editorial pages or in  the higher-brow New Republic. If you dare point out that America or one of its favored “allies” has done some wrong around the world, you’re an enemy “apologist.” If you regularly adopt a critical stance, you will be marginalized.

That’s why so many serious national problems have lingered or gotten worse. If we don’t kill the messenger, we denounce him or her as un-American. 

More here.

When you purposely live in a fantasy-bubble, one that makes everything you love always right, it is necessarily impossible to examine, analyze, and improve everything you love.  Loving America, patriotism, whatever you want to call it, clearly embraced by the political, business, and media establishments which own and operate the nation, and continually rammed down the public's throat, has put us into this position.  We can no longer do the important work required by our democratic republic.  We cannot "promote the general welfare" and all the rest of that good stuff in the preamble to the Constitution when doing so is tantamount to opposing the nation.

Patriotism, as currently culturally constructed, is bad for the country.

Back when I was teaching, I gave a kid a failing grade on a six week progress report.  I didn't fail him for the semester; I just sent home a bad progress report.  This infuriated his parents, who freaked out on me because I hadn't notified them before the fact.  Instead of taking the opportunity to get serious with their son about his school work, they came after me, the bearer of bad tidings, first in a psychotic phone call, complete with a father/mother tag-teaming, and then later during a meeting with the principal.  "He's a good kid!" they proclaimed over and over again.  I told them he was hanging out with known sleazy drug dealers, which was completely true, and might very well be on drugs himself.  This just pissed them off all the more.  Their little darling baby was perfect, so it MUST have been all my fault somehow.

The kid eventually passed my class, barely, and I never heard from him again.  One of his drug dealer buddies, though, according to the local newspaper, eventually ended up stuffed inside a car's trunk at a nearby gas station, alive, thankfully, but definitely headed in the wrong direction.

That's how all this patriotic bullshit works.  It's the same thing.  You love something so much that you refuse to see the reality, and, consequently, doom that which you love.  It's bad parenting and it's bad citizenship.  And it's exactly how things have worked in this country, at least since 9/11, but its roots probably go back much further.  It's willful blindness, and anyone who points out the reality is an asshole, to be dismissed, if not beaten in the street.

It's no wonder we're going to hell in a hand basket.  We no longer want to be citizens.


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Saturday, December 13, 2014

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.





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Friday, December 12, 2014

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Stella


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

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

If Lebron's #icantbreathe T-shirt bothers you, you are probably a racist

From Daily Kos:
Yet, on sports talk radio all across the country, you'd think Lebron did so much more than this. White fans in droves are calling in with outrage and frustration that Lebron, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, and others are "ruining the experience," "abusing the privilege of being the NBA," "making sports political," and serving as a "distraction from what sports is really all about." If Lebron's T-shirt bothers you that much, you are probably a racist.

Does it bother you when players wear pink to raise awareness for breast cancer?

Does it bother you when players wear American flags on their jerseys in tribute to fallen soldiers?

Did it disturb you when Washington Wizard point guard John Wall wrote "RIP Miyah" on his sneakers in honor of a six-year-old girl who recently died of cancer that he had befriended?

More here.

You know, the term "racist," as an epithet to describe an individual, has become extraordinarily problematic as far as getting down to discussing the nitty-gritty details of the politics of race in the US goes, so I'm not going to call anybody a racist for getting angry with these athletes making relatively quiet and subdued symbolic statements about the disturbingly high number of black Americans killed by police in this country.  But it's definitely worth asking why some white people get so incredibly angry about this.

I mean, really, it's no skin off your back.  Big deal if an athlete has a different opinion from yours.  You really think that's going to change the way the country is run?  Are you in danger or something?  I mean, sure yeah, disagree if you must.  But why the hell is this pissing you off?

I hear profound bullshit from the right wing on a fairly regular basis, day in and day out, and from time to time I do get pissed off, but not that often, really.  People are entitled to their opinions,
after all, no matter how ill informed and f'd up.  It's just pointless to be angry with people for disagreeing with me, generally speaking.

So I ask you, if these athletes piss you off, what's REALLY going on here?  For that matter, do Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson piss you off?  And what's up with that?  It's not like old school civil rights agitators are going to change your life or anything.  It's not like they're Sister Souljah talking about killing white people. But those two guys piss off white conservatives just when their names are mentioned.

Like I said, I'm not going to call you a racist.  But there's some weird shit going on here.  White people getting angry just because they hear stuff from black people they don't like.  It kind of doesn't make much sense.  So what if black people disagree with you?  What do you care?  I don't get it.


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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ferguson Protester's Photo Gets Edited Into Racist Meme, Goes Viral

From the Riverfront Times:

When Jermell Hasson agreed to let Riverfront Times take his photo for a story about Ferguson protesters, he had no idea someone would later turn it into a viral and inflammatory meme.

Hasson carried a sign in front of the Ferguson police station that read: "No mother should have to fear for her son's life every time he leaves home. #blacklivesmatter #stayhuman"

Months later, a doctored photo of him holding a sign that says, "No mother should have to fear for her son's life every time he robs a store," has gone viral. 

More here.

At least one of my conservative facebook friends posted this racist trash uncritically and as fact, which just goes to show that if you already think black people are criminals, you'll believe any crazy f'd up shit seemingly verifying your belief. That is, this kind of vile racism clearly perpetuates itself in the minds of white Americans who are likely beyond any redemption.

It's not even a good photoshop job.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

CIA's Brutal and Ineffective Use of Torture Revealed in Landmark Report

From the Guardian via AlterNet:

The CIA’s post-9/11 embrace of torture was brutal and ineffective – and the agency repeatedly lied about its usefulness, a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee released on Tuesday concludes. 

After examining 20 case studies, the report found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings.

“During the brutal interrogations the CIA was often unaware the information was fabricated.”

The torture that the CIA carried out was even more extreme than what it portrayed to congressional overseers and the George W Bush administration, the committee found. It went beyond techniques already made public through a decade of leaks and lawsuits, which had revealed that agency interrogators subjected detainees to quasi-drowning, staged mock executions, and revved power drills near their heads. 

More here.

It is profoundly notable that arguments offered to "justify" the American torture regime are essentially the same arguments offered to "justify" the overabundance of black men killed by police.  

There's the "bad people" argument seeking to change the focus from the misdeeds of officials to the misdeeds of their victims.  There's the "regrettable but necessary" argument attempting to establish that police killings and torture HAVE to be acceptable because that's just how it has to be.  There's the "patriotic" argument telling us that the CIA and the police are protecting American lives, which always comes with the implication that questioning their behavior is somehow un-American, and you're a bad person for even wanting to go there.  There's the "drown it all in a million irrelevant details" argument, seeking to bury opposing views with minutia, suggesting that anybody who doesn't like it just doesn't understand what's going on.  And on and on and on.

The truth, of course, is that far too many black Americans are killed by the police.  And torture, needless to say, is deeply immoral, a crime against humanity, profane and obscene.  There is no justification for either of these very American phenomena.  But people treat these "justifications" as though they mean something, as though they're serious trains of thought.

It is now impossible to avoid concluding that there is a perverse, foul, and twisted sickness deeply embedded in the American soul.  And we have, as a people, become very adept at rationalizing our national sins and perversity.

I fear we are beyond redemption.

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Monday, December 08, 2014

SJW Hate Mob VS a Lymeric

This stupid and racist joke below when posted online brought out, yet again, some liberal totalitarian tendencies going well over-the-line:

There once was a thug named Brown
Who bum-rushed a cop with a frown
Six bullets later
He met his creator
Then his homies burnt down the town.


More about the twitter mob here.

The joke was in poor taste, to be sure, but this kind of harassment is the sort of liberal mob "justice" that outrages me. These people should be protesting the Ferguson police, or the white power structure, or posting their own counter-tweets. But not this. This is NOT cool at all. Freaking mob mentality.

Sadly, all these "liberals" don't seem to understand that mob harassment isn't a liberal value. F'ing Stalinists. When your side refuses to live up to its own values, it's a problem, a big problem. I mean, it makes the entire notion of "side" extraordinarily problematic. On the other hand, these types don't give a damn what side you're on, anyway. Once they've decided they're right, then you better look out.

It's tough enough taking on conservatives in fair debate. This makes a mockery of free speech and the marketplace of ideas. Idiots. Idiots. And total dickwads.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

Galleria stores close during protest inside mall

From Houston's ABC affiliate, KTRK:

Protesters took to one of the busiest intersections in Houston in order to get their message out about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. But in addition to the street-side protest, about 100 demonstrators headed inside the Galleria mall.

And

Some stores, including Neiman Marcus, Michael Kors, Microsoft and Macys, shut down temporarily. All the stores have since opened up.

Some shoppers questioned if this was really the best way to protest.
  


More here.

When I posted this article on facebook, there was the usual concern trolling about the disruption of commerce, lost money, etc.  Here's a bit of how I responded.

I think that, generally, the whole idea of protest is to disrupt the normal proceedings of life. Otherwise, people can just go about their daily business and totally ignore the whole thing, staying ideologically safe and sanitized in their bubble-of-privilege enclaves.

People who condemn protests for shutting down roads and highways, commerce, etc., wouldn't be talking about it at all without the disruption.

Changing the way people perceive "the way things are" cannot be pretty or nice. Toes must necessarily be stepped on. We're all in this together, whether we want to admit it or not. To start talking about small businessmen is to miss the point entirely.

Also, screw the Galleria. It's a luxury mall for high end retailers. This is exactly the place that needs disruption. Every day.
'Nuff said.

Another article on the Galleria protest here.

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Saturday, December 06, 2014

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.





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Friday, December 05, 2014

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING: Special Canine Edition!

Lola


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

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Protests erupt as cop cleared; feds to investigate

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

A grand jury cleared a white police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of an unarmed black man stopped for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, triggering protests in the streets by hundreds of New Yorkers who likened the case to the deadly police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

More here.

If you refuse to address the fact that blacks are twenty one times more likely to be killed by police than whites, that a black man is killed by police or vigilante every twenty eight hours in this country, then I don't take anything you have to say about race seriously.

You're just a joke, as far as that goes.

And don't tell me it's because blacks commit more crimes or any other bullshit like that.  I'm pretty sure that's not true.  I'm certain it's not true as far as drug crimes go: whites do more drugs and at a higher rate than blacks, but blacks get busted WAY more often.

You've got to talk about how the American criminal justice system is aimed squarely at black people, and how "criminal" and "justice" don't have much to do with it.  You've got to acknowledge that fact if you want me to do anything other than laugh in your face or tell you to go to hell.

I'm sick of this stupid fucking dance.


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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Bhopal disaster

From Wikipedia:

The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world's worst industrial disaster.

It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way in and around the shanty towns located near the plant.


More here.

This, among a billion other reasons, is why capitalists are not to be trusted. Ever. It happened thirty years ago, but it, or something very much like it, will definitely happen again. Because, in the end, money trumps human life. We must never forget that. Unrestrained capitalism kills. In this case, tens of thousands, but in all its brutal totality, millions and millions.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A BRIEF DEBATE ON "NAME-CALLING"

On facebook a couple of days ago I posted a link to a blurb about how some players for the St. Louis Rams made a visual statement before last Sunday's game in support of the Ferguson protesters, and then compared it to the 1968 Olympics black power salute.  You never can tell where these things are going to go, so I'll post the highlights for a debate on name-calling which then ensued in comments.

Here you go.

Meshell Yes, this is very cool. How confusing for cracker racists. Hee hee!

Ron I'd say cracker racists are in a continual state of confusion. And anger.

Mindy I think that phrase is redundant, Meshell.

Toni I just wish the non racists would stop saying cracker racists.

Meshell How do you know, Toni, that those of us saying "cracker racists" aren't, in fact, cracker racists?

Toni I'm of the opinion that derogatory terms, remain derogatory, regardless of who utters them. Therefore, I don't care. I also dislike the twitter feed dedicated to outing and getting fired those who spew racist hate, but also say shit like "kill that white bitch for her racist ways" not helpful.

Meshell Toni, my mom says much the same thing, and tells me that I shouldn't call people cracker. I respect that opinion, but I think cracker is a descriptive term for a certain type of racist prevalent to the rural South. I'm sorry that it bothers you.

Toni Thanks For The Apology

Brad I agree, Toni. Name calling is a juvenile and reductive tactic that only solidifies the barriers between people. Regardless of the source.

Meshell Ok, but I wouldn't call it an apology, just a respectful acknowledgment of your opinion, and an expression of mild unhappiness that my choice of words causes you any sorry of negative response.

Ron Okay. A couple of points on name-calling.

1. Personally, when I hear epithets about being white, I always think to myself, seriously, whatever, white people still run everything, this is an absurdity, who cares. That any white person is disturbed by "cracker," except, maybe, for some sort of normal recoil in reaction to anyone effectively saying "nyah, nyah," is truly beyond me.

I recognize that some people appear to be bothered by it, so I should remind myself to be sensitive. But I also put it in the category of people who correct me for saying "god damn." It's, like, man, really?

2. I think name-calling is not only acceptable but desirable in certain situations and within certain contexts. Ridicule and scorn can be legitimate. I think calling out racists is automatically up for consideration as far as that goes. I mean, maybe it's a bad idea if you're trying to persuade those racists, or maybe it might put off the people you're trying to get to listen to you, but it's not off the table as a rhetorical device.

COP - The fucking Nazi Party.

ELWOOD - Illinois Nazis.

JAKE - I hate Illinois Nazis.

I had really forgotten how funny this scene is.

Toni So.. name calling is ok as long as the people who are doing the name calling are subjugated? I feel like you're perpetuating the divisiveness.

Ron Look, sometimes name-calling is bad and sometimes it's good. It depends on the circumstances. Surely you agree that there are certain behaviors, ideas, etc., that are undesirable ought to ostracized, mocked, ridiculed. A blanket philosophy that name-calling is always bad is just absurd.

Toni Sure. Ideas, behaviors etc...but not people, and definitely not broad groups of people generally speaking. Sure, blanket philosophies are bad we've had that discussion before. But imagine, no...try to live in, a world where we don't label whole groups of people, especially negatively? Bitch about the behavior, mindsets, etc...but stop the rest. It's tiresome, divisive. Not conducive to peaceful living.

Meshell Nothing is off the table as a rhetorical device: censorship is oppression! Fight the Power! I find a lot of ideas offensive; I don't understand how a word like "cracker," which, really, doesn't have much power, can be that troubling, compared to ideas, expressed with varying degrees of obfuscation, that rape victims should have been more careful, or that poor people should "work smarter" or get better jobs, or that black men should expect to be gunned down in the street because they listen to rap music. Now, that is some offensive shit. However, people can say it, because we must allow for freedom to explore ideas.

Ron No, Toni, I'm going to make fun of people when I think it's the right time to do that. Name-calling doesn't CAUSE divisiveness. It's a symptom, if anything, but not a cause. So I reject your assertion as far as that goes. I just don't think it's true. And I can't have weird philosophies with which I disagree tying my hands when it comes to communication. You, of course, are completely free to refrain from name-calling. Hell, I'll even accept if you want to call me out for going too far or hitting below the belt. But not just for name-calling. No way. I have to be able to do that, in the abstract.

Brad If your intent is to shame people, then I think name calling is a perfectly legitimate tactic. But that doesn't make it any less reductive and juvenile. For what it's worth, I resort to it myself sometimes. I just take into account the fact that I'm removing the possibility of a mature debate once I open that door. And calling names usually only serves to reinforce the name caller's sense of superiority. Again, not very useful if the intention is to have mature debate. See how the introduction of one (fairly mild) epithet completely derailed this discussion?

Ron Brad, I almost fully agree, except that name-calling, insults, whatever we're calling it, can be juvenile OR a near art form. Just go read some Shakespeare to see what I mean. Again, it depends on what one is saying and under what circumstances.
There's only one way to end this post:



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Monday, December 01, 2014

Bad Memories Down South

From Political Animal, courtesy of Eschaton:

I’ve just spent nearly a week back home in exurban Atlanta, and I regret to report that the events in and in reaction to Ferguson have brought back (at least in some of the older white folks I talked with) nasty and openly racist attitudes I haven’t heard expressed in so unguarded a manner since the 1970s.

More here.

As Atrios observed when he posted this at his blog Eschaton, you don't need to go back home to the South to see vile racism on display; just read the online comments for your local newspaper, and you'll see it in all its bullshit glory.

Of course, I don't generally read online newspaper comments so the reaction coming from a lot of white people on facebook to Darren Wilson's non-indictment took me totally by surprise.  I mean, in its scale; I expected to hear some bullshit, to be sure, just not so much of it from so many people.  It was emotional, visceral, and very, very angry.  There was hardly any calm, dispassionate discussion.  It was almost as though there was a need to squash any sympathy for Michael Brown, and to sweep under the rug the fact that black people are twenty one times more likely to be killed by police than white people.  At least, that's how I took it: for these white Americans, it's not about the massive epidemic of killing black people - indeed, to them, there is no epidemic of killing black people - but rather about supporting that massive epidemic of killing black people, which doesn't exist.

The problem with racism in this country is far, far, far worse than I had allowed myself to believe.  White people who are CERTAIN they're not racist concoct bullshit arguments in support of racism at the drop of a hat, and get really pissed off when challenged.


I fear we will not get beyond this in my lifetime.

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