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.