Monday, August 31, 2015

Not Your Grandfather's Racism

While waiting for the next black male to be, ahem, "shot while resisting arrest", let us turn our eyes to the current Repugnican front-runners, to see which of them is the prettiest in the land.

Donald Trump, in all his nativist glory, ejected a Univision reporter (one of the most respected journalists in the US Latino community, as well as in his - formerly - native Mexico) from one of his town hall meetings because Jorge Ramos asked him if he thought all this "Mexicans are rapists, murderers, drug dealers and thieves" talk might be misconstrued by some. This would include the moron who suggested Mr. Ramos go back to his own country - apparently unaware that the US IS Mr. Ramos' country. Mr. Ramos was invited back on the condition that he keep his damn mouth shut.

The Donald, of course, wants to end birthright citizenship, which would impact a whole lot more than a few Latinos in this nation. We're talking every immigrant from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Iraq, Iran, to name but a few places where we (us, the US, that is) made life such a hellhole, that they came here to escape the oppression that we either supported or made worse by being as culturally insensitive as we possibly could, driving the local rulers insane, or condemning absolutely everything about Western culture, making life untenable for US supporters in those nations. So they came here.

And he wants to send them back.

Others have different ideas:

Pyush "Bobby Brady" Jindal thinks that, so long as someone comes to America and adopts everything that's bad about America, as well as a proper American accent, well, they can stay. If all they're going to do is pick our food, well, fuck them, send 'em back; taking jobs away from Americans, after all (who don't actually want to do those jobs all that much). If you're a Hindu, you should convert to Christianity, change your name to something innocuous and bland (maybe "Gilligan"), and make sure you talk like an angry fifth-grader.

Mr. Christie has now doubled down on treating legal immigrants the same way that Fed-Ex tracks packages. When Chris "the apple has fallen a bit far from the tree" Wallace mentions that these folks don't have numbers tattooed on their wrists (you know, the ones the Jews in the Holocaust DID have), Mr. Christie reiterates that yes, people aren't packages ("Don't be ridiculous" - really?), but we should still figure out how to track people like Fed-Ex tracks packages. RFID chip, implanted when they pass through customs, Mr. Christie?, or maybe we could hide them in jelly doughnuts as a gift when they arrive (but then, how many chips would YOU have roiling around in your guts, Mr. Christie?)

Mr. Walker wants to review the possibility of putting up a wall between us and Canada. 5,525 miles of a wall. I think the Canadians might approve of this, since a few of their (already low-count) gun homicides seem to be perpetrated by Americans who cross the border. But the pricetag? Who can say? It will probably have to be sourced to someone like Halliburton, so that Dick Cheney's walking, talking corpse can make another few billion to leave to his daughters when they can finally figure what kind of metal the bullet has to be in order to kill him.

That these candidates are taken seriously by anyone in the mainstream media is, of course, concerning, but unfortunately we have to take them seriously, since such a large part of the population has polled that they'd vote for 'em. That should always give one pause. To know, not just believe, that a large part of this country (which claims to be "not racist") is this racist. How quantifiable IS racism anyway? If you think that we're NOT a racist country because we elected a black President, understand that when more people vote, the wind almost always swings democratic. After George W Bush, everyone wanted the Dem in office - they didn't care if he/she/it was black or white or green or Satan. We ended up with a very cool cat, to say the least, and my favorite president so far this century.

What I'm hoping is that we do elect Bernie. He seems to be polling pretty damn well. Clinton is, I'm sorry, so hated by the Right that they will do everything they can to dump mud or blood on her head, until enough people believe it, and then vote for whatever asinine twat finally made it out of the clown car. O'Malley is one of the worst tools for fixing racism in this nation. He invented the whole CrimeStat/ComStat methodology that has proven so disastrous to community policing. And Joe Biden? I'm not sure what he's thinking, and I know he really wants the job, but they're going to nail him for kissing Barack Obama's you-know-what for eight years. They will pile as much filth on him as they would Clinton, simply because he represents the Obama legacy.

Clinton could still win it if The Donald decides to run as an Independent, thus splitting the Republican vote between the stupid and the self-deluded. I leave it to you to decide who those are.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Riotous Spring

The death of _minority individual_ in the _medium to large urban center_ by the _local law enforcement agency_ is becoming the simplest article to write. Since everything is on the internet these days, they usually include a viral video that generally proves that the story given by the police is at odds with reality.

When will the police realized that almost everyone is watching, almost all the time?

In the following days, the article about riots in _medium to large urban center_, sparked by the relative inaction by the DA's office, is also becoming easy to write. Very telegenic to boot - all that lovely fire, the sparkles of splintered glass in the street, the occasional spectacle of the police arresting someone for watching - something for everyone. It's all a big wet dream for CNN, Fox, local news, etc.

The worst aspect of this is that eventually it all begins to smush together, like roadkill that has been run over by one too many semi trucks. It becomes part of the noise of daily life, and when something becomes noise, it becomes something we can ignore. It no longer looks like a dead deer (which is sad); it more closely resembles reddish oatmeal, and we no longer recognize anything worthy of concern. Just like watching Detroit crumble from afar, the death of innocent minorities is something that (generally) happens far away from the rest of us. It's becoming too late to do anything.

All of the laudable goals within the Obama administration, such as buying every cop a body camera, are worth doing, but only if they're done everywhere. As a technology geek, I can tell you that technology works only as well as the end-user wants it to work. If they don't want it to work, they will kludge it up so it doesn't. As someone once said, making something idiot proof is difficult, because we're really good at making idiots. You can force them to wear body cameras, you can force the body camera to turn on when certain other pieces of hardware are activated (such as sirens or lights or stepping out of the car), but that can always be overridden by someone determined to do so. Even if the cop on the line doesn't know how to do it, the internet is full of guys who will help them figure out how to disable it, even to the point of making it a one-time glitch (or whatever "easy out" they need it to be). This is not to say we shouldn't do it. I would never argue against preventative measures, because there will be honest cops who might be saved from lynching with body cam footage, as well as the bad cops who will be caught by it. But no one should expect this to work perfectly. And it needs to be deployed in every precinct, on every cop, deputy, statie, etc.

Black homelessness, joblessness, and hopelessness are the final stages of the initial drive to destroy their culture through slavery, and the institutional racism that followed continues to overburden that part of our society. We have been systematically ripping up the avenues that the lower and middle classes had for gainful employment and/or advancement within society, and the African-American population of this nation is always last in line when things do get fixed. While we might bring back manufacturing and infrastructure jobs to the nation, should the unthinkable happen and Bernie Sanders becomes President, even that won't be enough for permanent, gainful employment for everyone. So many systems are being automated, eventually we will be hard-pressed to employ everyone full time. But instead of primarily hitting minority communities hard, it will hit everyone.

Everyone who isn't rich, that is.

Seems these days everyone in the dystopian future is young and attractive. Hunger Games, Divergent, The Seeker, etc., all young people, breaking out of the repressive shell that society has deemed appropriate for them. I suspect they will actually look more like me - middle aged, a bit portly, wandering into the grey haze of afternoon with no job, no money, no prospects, and believing that this wasn't what was meant to happen, that all those votes for the Democrats somehow still didn't manifest a good outcome, because nothing that has to happen in four or even eight years is worth doing well, and nothing that has to last for a hundred years is worth starting. Only science and the arts take the long view, and who takes those longhairs seriously anyway? Sure they can do their multi-decade experiments in outer space, because once it's out of the atmosphere, it hardly costs anything to maintain it or monitor it, and no one down here gets hurt. But something that has to last for a long time on Earth? Costs too much and requires too much maintenance. Who's going to pay for that?

If middle-class white folks truly had to worry about whether or not their children had a future that wasn't The Hunger Games. would they act? Are we all frogs in the great pot of cold water, waiting for the heat to be turned up under us? The African-American community has started noticing the temperature, and they're not putting up with it, but then they've been shat on forever, they know they're the first frogs in the pot. The real middle class in America has only just begun to notice that we're all in the same pot.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like...

ELECTION SEASON              (oh.....    joy.........)

I do this every four years (for the last four years or so), so it's time, once again, to look at the Republican Presidential hopefuls and a short look at the Democratic Presidential hopefuls, and essentially pass judgement on all of them, since that's what my vote will represent.

First, the "official" Repugnican candidates:

Ted Cruz
A Texan born in Canada to a Cuban father and American mother, Mr. Cruz is the most condescending asshole in the Senate at the moment, and that's saying something. He's a snob (if you didn't go to Harvard or Princeton, well, fuck you), but he also speaks of his Christian upbringing, which somehow hasn't involved the actual teachings of Christ. His father is a raging anti-communist, Christian dominionist crazy-pants who is constantly making speeches about the next coming of Christ, or the evils of Obama, or commingling the subjects. A major conspiracy theorist who's son is pretty much on board with the conspiracy theories. Ted (right alongside Chuck Norris) is currently warning Texas about the invasion of the military.

Rand Paul
A silver-spoon Libertarian who no longer professes to believe in his own Libertarianism (while publicly proclaiming that he does). Opposed to abortion and gay marriage, for keeping marijuana illegal and invading other countries to let them know who's boss. Also apparently divorced from his own fairly recent past.

Marco Rubio
An Hispanic who has managed to alienate Latinos. In every poll, losing to a rich, old, white lady that everyone claims not to trust. His rebuttal to the President's State of the Union, interrupted as it was by a brief need for fluids, made us miss the eloquence of Bobby Jindal.

Ben Carson
An African-American neurosurgeon with very little understanding of how politics (or the brain) works, and yet believes himself the next coming of Lincoln/MLK. Another candidate who has managed to alienate his own ethnic group by essentially calling them all lazy for being poor. He has also espoused the theory that homosexuality is a choice, and his proof is that people who go to prison often come out having had one or more sexual experiences with the same sex. I guess he's never heard of prison rape, or seen "The Shawshank Redemption".

Carly Fiorina
Former CEO of Hewlett Packard, she took over the company when it was doing badly, laid off quite a few people (who probably won't be voting for her). She oversaw the purchase of Compaq computers when that company was going down the drain (which was not seen as a wise move), and was eventually ousted. Seems to have a nasty chip on her shoulder, and of course uses her faith as both a crutch and cudgel.

Mike Huckabee
Once spoke of rewriting the Constitution to be more in line with the word of God. Sounds relatively reasonable unless he's speaking to his own kind. Then, nuttier'n a fruitcake.

The unofficial Repugnicans:

Jeb Bush
Former President's brother or son, depending on which president you want to talk about. Jeb doesn't necessarily want to be equated to his younger, dumber sibling, but has hired all of Shrub's buddies as his advisers on important matters such as defense and foreign policy. So, you know, wars everywhere as soon as possible.

Rick Santorum
Still has his own Wikipedia entry that he wishes he didn't have.

Scott Walker
Very publicly butt-fucking his own state and all the people in it in favor of wealthy folks. The kind of Repugnican the Tea Partiers love.

Bobby Jindal
An E. Indian who has embraced Christianity and the Brady Bunch (hence the name), but would have disapproved of Pa Brady had he known what a homo he was. His rebuttal to the President's State of the Union speech made us miss the eloquence of George W. Bush.

Chris Christie
A fat man in a fat suit who isn't jolly at all. Always gets points with the local New Jersey-ites for telling people to go fuck themselves, but then, the GTL crowd has never been that interested in the larger picture. Which he is. Apparently as corrupt as everyone always thought he was, but we're still waiting for absolute proof.

Rick Perry
Made George W. Bush appear intellectual. Occasionally made Michelle Bachmann appear sane.

George Pataki
He's okay with abortions, believes in climate change, and universal health care. Not a snowball's chance in hell of making it through primary season.

Lindsey Graham
Not gay. NOT GAY. not gay... He may be an asshole, but he's not gay. 2nd most condescending non-gay asshole in the Senate.

John Kasich
Apparently, just right-wing enough to satisfy the right wing of the right wing, without appearing to be actually crazy. Keep an eye on this one.

Waiting for the debates to begin, just as soon as they get that damn clown car to open its doors...

The "official" Democratic candidates:

Hillary Clinton
Still recovering from the blowjob, Ms. Clinton has too much baggage, and yet fanTAStic name recognition, and polls well ahead of pretty much everyone. Makes nice speeches about how she's for less income inequality, less war, less bad stuff more good stuff. Has weathered more scandals than her husband and still, people like her better than all the other people they haven't actually heard from yet.

Martin O'Malley
Former Mayor of Baltimore, credited by professional Baltimorean David Simon as the guy who managed to make community policing the last thing the police should be doing, instead relying more and more on statistics (and if you can't lower the felony rate, "juke" the stats to fit what you want). A no-nonsense law & order politician who doesn't actually understand how to lower the crime rate. I bow to Mr. Simon's direct experience of this hollow man, and won't vote for him unless he's the only choice.

Bernie Sanders
The one person actually running that I want to vote for. Calls himself an independent, but tends to caucus with the Dems, and wonders why we shouldn't be more like Scandinavia. Wondered that one myself...

The unofficial Democratic candidate

Elizabeth Warren
The one person who isn't running who I'd also rather vote for. If Warren and Sanders were running against each other, I'm not sure what I would do.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Future of Work

I think I've made this point before, but I have to ask whoever still reads this screed for comments on a thought experiment. But first, watch this video.

So the question becomes this simple: what do we do with the folks who don't have to work anymore? Do we finally push for a guaranteed minimum income? Or do we start up the meat grinders?

I don't have an answer for this. I think the concept of what this society might look like is either terribly dystopian (like The Road) or strongly resembles Star Trek's version of the future, where (since everything is easily achievable), no one gets paid for anything, and does whatever they can for the benefit of the society, or just for themselves, because everything is free.

I'd like to think it won't suck too hard, but then again, we are human beings after all...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Only Living Hero

New blog listed on the right-hand side of the page, called Stonekettle Station, a fellow from Alaska named Jim Wright, retired US Navy Warrant Officer, who's been through a lot of war. I may never again publish on the subject of military behavior or military politics again, just because of this guy, damn him. He gets it right, he's clearly been thinking about all of the stuff he writes about for longer than I have, and he is full of both righteous indignation and resigned sadness about the role of the military in America. I love his writing, and I'm finicky. I'd salute him, but I've heard that civilians saluting the military is considered weird, or perhaps just inappropriate (unless you're a small child - then the soldier/sailor/airman/marine will take it very seriously indeed).

I consider him my arch-enemy, and that is high praise.*

This is a guy who profoundly gives a shit, and will take none. Why he's not getting paid handsomely for his writing is a mystery to me. Anyway, you're welcome.

* to paraphrase Chuck Palahniuk

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Political Dynasties, American Style

As we sidle into the Next Big Election, many things have become "acceptable" to the average American that might not have been so last time around. Gay marriage is one. Gun control is another. Gun control at gay weddings, well, that's a whole different story, especially if you listen to the good folks at the NRA.

But I'm not here to talk about that. Thanks to gerrymandering, we will probably have a Repugnican Congress and a Democratic Senate again, after 2014. Doubtful that the Senate will go all the way R, but one never knows these things for certain. So, not much will change there. We can also expect a race in the Presidential elections coming in 2016 between Hillary Clinton, and some conservative guy that no one likes, not even conservatives (either because he's too extreme, or not extreme enough, and he'll do that simultaneously - not gonna be a woman candidate this time, sorry folks).


I just thought I'd say that. Meaningless, but it's a fun word to say and to write.

Unless another candidate comes along who can truly energize the base, we will have another fucking Clinton in the White House in 2017. Bernie Sanders is too leftie, too much of a lecturer to connect with people. I'm not saying I wouldn't vote for him, I would. but he gets under people's skin the same way Mister Superior did last time around (you know who you are, Mr. Gore). Sarah Vowell described Al Gore's reaction to a dumb answer by Mr. Bush during one of the debates as "nerd snort". A kind of smug-ass laugh that only smartie people make when confronted by someone obviously less intelligent than themselves. And it really, really alienates people. I don't expect Senator Sanders to do the same thing (waaaaay too serious), but he'll figure out a way to let his nerdiness become his likability's Achilles heel.

Elizabeth Warren, now, there's a candidate who could give old Hils a run for her money. Schoolmarmish, she looks like the second-grade teacher you liked, because she reminds you of grandma. She's kind, and she has a nice smile. She's also incredibly smart, and very well connected with the folks at home (rather than the fools on the Hill). Hillary is the ultimate Washington insider, playing the game very, very well, and dancing for those that brung her. Elizabeth thinks they're just out for what they can get, and she doesn't trust them any farther than she can throw them, which is exactly the right place to be. And when she rips into them, you can hear the flesh tearing off in great hunks between her teeth.

I've said it before, what I dislike more than anything is this idea of political dynasties. We've had two Bushes in the White House - why does the left have to respond with a second Clinton? Can't we think of anyone who can express the country's rage in an articulate way? Because I don't think Hillary will be expressing rage, so much as smug self-satisfaction that she can do the job at least as well as her husband, and without getting caught having a nooner with one the interns. Sort of the difference between the two of them - he sees it as kind of a perk of the powerful, she sees it as a character defect.

Of course, the Right are having a field day with her looks, her brains, and her choices in clothing. Only one of which is relevant. Yep, it's the Pradas. (joking of course)

No, they say her brain has flaws, because she spent a little time in hospital dealing with a clot. Someone else has tweeted Mr. Rove, asking whether he thought Jack Kemp was qualified, even after the eleven concussions. (which are okay, of course, because football)

It's not the physical part of her brain that has flaws, it's the ethics, morals and policy part of her brains that has flaws. Anyone who's ever sat on the board of WalMart and not come away needing a three year shower has problems I don't want to elect. That her concept of relaxing after being Sec. of State was to write a book (which is generally thought of as a lead-up to running for Pres) means she hasn't read Huffington's new book, either. The one that says over-work and stress shouldn't be some sort of cultural norm.

No more names we've heard before. There must someone who can win who isn't related to someone who's already been in. Please.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Politics as Madness as Politics as Usual

Crisis, crises, Christ Almighty...

The loathing I have for our politicians and for many, many of our citizens has finally gone beyond any level where I can name it. This "legislate via Mafia tactics" nonsense has gone on long enough. The Dems tend to be spineless (though they seem to have found it this time), and the majority of Republicans are either spineless, or are simply willing to let their own party die for the sake of trying to score a few extra points with their most extreme constituents. And then there are Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert - two ends of the exact same spectrum: one, the Hahvahd-educated son of Americans living in Canada, the other... how does one describe Louie, other than crazy imbecile? Cruz was well-known in college for his effete snobbery (you didn't go to Yale, or Princeton? begone with you, peasant!), while Louie might have only been known for his affinity to farm animals. Yet these two Republican poster-boys sorta worked together to bring the United States to the brink of financial ruin. It's nice to know that Cruz can work with someone whom he would normally consider beneath him. And it's nice to know that Gohmert can work with an Hispanic-American without resorting to calling him an ethnic slur.

Beyond that, I wish they'd stop working together, since all they seem to want is for the republic to implode.