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November 19, 2006


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Directly on-topic .. I found this on the blog Talking Points Memo:

On the November 14 edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck interviewed Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN), who became the first Muslim ever elected to Congress on November 7, and asked Ellison if he could "have five minutes here where we're just politically incorrect and I play the cards up on the table."

After Ellison agreed, Beck said: "I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' " Beck added: "I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way."

I read this out loud to my partner, who has duskier-than-Caucasian skin (Punjabi ancestry) and she just shook her head somewhat sadly and said "unfortunately, he's probably right that many Americans do feel that way".

Why are people so numb to this ? Why aren't more people outraged ? When can I stop screaming inside my head ?

Watching programs that insult their intelligence has hipster cool for stressed, struggling lawnowners who bought homes that were too large and very poorly built -- McMansionettes. They write angry letters about illegal immigrants to cope with the pain of the second mortgage they took out to keep up with Joneses. They were lost for a while after the collapse of the internets bubble made it clear that most of their retirement investments were not coming back. But then they found strength in President Bush's faith. They voted for him twice because they know he's determined to get big gubmint off the little guy's back.

Blowtorch watches them because he wants to be as well to do as the stressed lawnowners. It's a question of getting the right mindset for success. Television is a gift from God when you're looking to acquire the right mindset. He saw the ad for the show on Technorati while looking for blogs where he could do some current events/hot topics trolling.

Racism, alive and well in the U.S. of A. Not everybody, but enough to make you cringe or wish you weren't white a lot of the time.

Gerry .. wishing you weren't white (or pinkish-beige-bone coloured, actually) ?

There's no point in you feeling any shame for your fellow whitesters. Cringing's OK, as long as you realize that one day you might have to do it with your fist.

The South has risen, winning by stealth what it lost in war. We are now a country that officially sanctions rough justice for those we deem suspects. And we are a very suspicious people, as Beck makes clear. I have a Muslim friend in Dallas who is buying property in other countries, given the level of racist sentiment to which he and his family are exposed daily. His family, from the middle east, has lived with persecution of their faith and sect so often that for him it is just a matter of noting the signs, and preparing for the next exodus. You reach a point of maximum compression, where you just can't be pushed any father into a false position. I have reached that point. I am not a racist. I believe in the rule of laws not men. I believe in the US Constitution as it was until recently. I am a patriot. I believe in political liberty. I love the moral teaching of Jesus and those of Emmanuel Kant. I am a man of the book. I am prepared to go quietly as Jesus teaches, but I consider a little satire along the way to be ok, as did my favorite preacher, Jonathan Swift, in the mega-church in which I worship.

Dixie uber alles ...

1968 day-zaa-zaa vieu all over agaiiin? The idiocy of making trouble at UCLA could not be more exquisite. The handling of it - strident youth and hardening white men in suits - could not be more echoic. May the parrots come to order.

It starts as I remember the video with "Get your hands off me." That is how the kid makes trouble. We should all learn to be passive and respectful in the face of injustice.

To some of us it is usually a shock to realize that if we continue to assert our rights, a smackdown is coming, some of us live with it all the time. Around here if your white and even if your not, if you don't rub the cop's face in it, they would just as soon leave you alone most of the time. But the threat is always there, if muted. Go outside the big city and your mileage will vary a lot more depending on what sort of cop and jurisdiction you run across.

"Rights" now there is a word for you. Rights, presumably, are a legal fiction. There are no natural rights, right? We have the rights that are vouchsafed to us by our eroding constitution and bill of rights. The President is the Decider. As with Schiavo and the detainees at Gitmo, he decides who live and who dies. As the Decider he has the power and the right to decide what rights to life we have. There are still exceptions of the state of exception, they have not told us that terrorist suspects who are citizens are also subject to rough justice, but step by step things move in that direction. Who can object to rounding up those suspected of terrorism, even if they are US Citizens? Are we soft on Terror? No, Gerry, what you call rights, are privileges. Be careful or they may be revoked.

Are you saying Law == a fiction? Certainly from a pragmatic standpoint the cop wins almost any confrontation over rights because of his physical presence combined with the color or authority. The smart money votes with their feet and asserts their rights out of sight, out or earshot and out of reach of the cops. Behind the dumpster where they don't care what we do. Occasionally things get hot there too, and we must retire underground.

I think we need to focus on the actions of the person, not just what you're hearing on the tape. He's -- he refused to identify himself. He had refused to leave the library and also when he was escorted by the police officers at first, he went limp, which is a form of resistance - University of California Police Department Assistant Chief, Jeff Young.

Four of UCLA's nearly 60 full-time police officers recently won “taser awards” given by the manufacturers of the electronic shock device...

You're dark and you dare present limpness? Our justice is limpid, not limp. It is white, it is huge, it covers our fears like a cheap suit. We are the Decider's apotropaic dogs of wir. war. wra. wrat. wrath. Throw us a bone.

Went limp after being tasered. No wonder they were angry at him. Glad to see the men at the point of attack have the full support of their Commander in Chief, unlike the schmucks in GITMO who were left holding the bag.

Another interesting question would be whether the authorities were within their own written guidelines. Did we see an aberration, or did we see "the new normal"?

I'd pretty much bet it's door #1 - the new normal. That's the point of tasers, to agress with impunity and leave no holes that leak.

Hearing about it so easily and the news of it spreading so quickly is what's new. The tazers are newish. They've only been around for about 20 years or so. Pain compliance has been refined a little and pepper spray is more widely available. The brutality is not new. As the records kept of complaints are sketchy and frequently dishonest, it's hard to say whether there's more than before. If you're poor or dark skinned or both, you might not find much difference over the years, depending on where you live. With prison substituting for both Jim Crow and lynching, you might find it simply under more technocratic management.

Some white racists are poor and speak with Southern accents - using words like "ain't" and inappropriately mixing the subjective first-person pronoun with the objective. Some aren't and don't.
Lynndie England was ridiculed for being a "hillbilly". She would never have been ridiculed for being a "nigger" or a "kike". "Hillbilly" isn't quite precisely exactly racist - it's more of a cultural term, with economic overtones - but it is in every sense a term of bigotry and scornful intolerance.
The history of the people who comprise that demographic minority has its own set of sufferings and persecutions - including what amount to pogroms and enslavements, exoduses and economic disenfranchisements. Read up on the Highland Clearances for starters.
I think too often these days the real evil's hidden back there behind the masked figures we're taught to revile, using them and their masks as an even deeper disguise.
George Wallace in his prime, before the bullet and the wheelchair, was many things, including a racist, but he was a straight-talker and a relatively honest man, and he led his people to the best of his ability.
The racists who let New Orleans go, who left all those desperate folks just sit there, the bigots who sponsored Fallujah, and Qana - they're not talking funny, they're not wearing sheets and meeting in some pasture late at night. They're living behind the virtual walls and actual gates of their securely fortified communities, and they talk just like most of us do, albeit with a lot more self-assurance.

Well said, Juke. The down and outs of any color and accent are similarly oppressed and made to feel solidarity with their oppressors by their emulation of the right cultural signs. How else could a yankee, rich kid, failure sell himself as a texas bumpkin?

Bravo, and well said, Juke, I stand corrected, and rightly so. Caricature can be a cheap and mis-aimed shot. Blowtorch too has his humanity, a history, and even sometimes a legitimate point, or he should not be a speaker here. What I a m trying to get at, as you are, is how Scotch Irish and others are being used in roles like campus cop, soldier, supervisor, to keep order in ways that are increasingly dangerous to what I consider democracy. I have been close enough to that culture, deep enough inside it, far enough down in it, that I have worked side by side or beneath figures with emotional triggers not unlike George Wallace's, or its heirs. I have chauffeured a Mercedes for a supervisor of mine while he played sermons from his Pentecostal church on the tape deck and worked for hours to convert me as we drove down endless roads through the Georgia pines. I have spent days in closed yellow painted rooms on dilapidated chairs teaching the life insurance licensing exam to good-intentioned people in AL and GA down on their luck who could not pass the test even after many attempts. I have taught guys who showed up for training with a deer strapped to the hood of their truck, or who would say thank you for a day of help by giving me a $5 set of steak knives they won in a sales contest. So, I know the culture you speak of, and respect and also fear it. Honor, authority, discipline, patriotism, religiosity, enthusiasm, money-motivation and "cold call courage," are strong points. Racism, fury, hatred, patriarchal attitudes, sexism, and violence simmering barely under control can be weak points. Virulence is a word that comes to mind. What sets many off is the rising of those lower on the scale than they are, the blacks, the browns, now Muslims. White lower income people have whitness to console them. That makes them great with a taser when the authority lays down the rules, or winks at it. The anger is already there, the resentment, the fury, it just needs a focus, an excuse, and a trigger.

Living in the midst of that, what I see is how Rove et al, having studied Wallace and construced the Southern Strategy that now divides us Red and Blue, really get this. What they want is an army of Limbaugh-led enforcers, official and unofficial, who will win by intimidation within the law, at the edges of the law, and sometimes outside the law, until the law can be changed again and again to give them more free play with the fists. And they see how readily the Minims when confronted and bullied will triangulate and sell out those who depend on them for leadership.

Authoritarian societies, whether in Germany in those dark days, or in the pre-civil war or Jim Crowe South, and now again, depend on a willing or even eager army or mob of swaggering bullies. I am afraid that force can be recruited readily enough from the people you describe, who are so susceptible to the propaganda pumped their way by their church, Fox, talk radio, and coded into even a Presidential address. I see in Alberto Gonzalez a man who understands all that I have just said, and whose response is that sly little boy smile.

So yes, the oppressed will bully and oppress the oppressed, as the Capos did the hard work for their captors, or the landless overseer served as the enforcer for the Plantation owner. Such is wealth bondage when properly set up and run. the oppressed bully down the oppressed, leaving the owners free for more upscale work. How can a loser feel superior? Give him a Taser.

If any of us were President, or their Congressperson, how might we convince the large numbers of poorer and let's say less literate Americans that they might want to pay say just 5% more taxes (and that we'll even repeal some of the last-passed tax cuts for the wealthy), that a very significant chunk of the defence budget be re-allocated to domestic spending on education (first and foremost in the areas that need it the most ... no child left behind comes to mind) and primary health care, that in areas of foreign policy the USA actually talk and act bi-laterally with persons of colour all over the world, that the agendas of the World Bank and IMF be radically changed to stiop hurting other countries ... as opposed to building an immigrant-discouragement wall along borders and rejecting any gun control legislation.

What would it take, how would you say it, then how would you prove you're actually gonna do it rather than staple more bacon to the next piece of legislation on the floor of the House, and how could initiatives like these be enacted in any kind of sustainable way so as to endure beyond one 2-year election cycle ?

Crickets chirping ... ? Smothered guffaws ?

Right ... I thought so. Now, back to your regular programming.

We will get to complain and wring our hands about issues like this for a very very long time yet to come.

oh, and I forgot sending more of their children to Iraq and probably Iran to perhaps die for freedom and democracy.

We need an individual in a district in a state willing to pledge that he will spend not one minute of his two year term seeking reelection. Instead, if elected he will take the issues clearly identified through a series of honest polls and town meetings and represent the represented in every way, every day of his term.

He will only be reelected, he will say, if he has been able to deliver concrete results -- or at least documented/exposed the system that denies and deflects the freshman bent on "representing" versus career building.

Any second term should be subject to the same measure as the first, but if after one and a half terms (three years) he has not been able to thaw the freeze-out by his colleagues, he pledges to work for the election of a successor by designating him his right hand aide for that final year, maintaining continuity and building on the skills he has developed in the quest toward noble purpose.

Should he lose his seat to a candidate of a "rival" party, he pledges to offer six months of employment as an aide to his office toward the same noble purpose.

In a way, he wants nothing more than to find and promote a successor of greater skill and integrity than he possesses to carry the torch forward in the name of the people he represents. He believes the best man should "win".

And so it could go, in my sweet, simple dreams (here, on the street, with no shame...)

p.s. "as judged by the people via honest polls and town meetings" should be inserted above as needed.

Caught part of an interview on John McLaughlin's One on One an interview with John McWhorter:

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's therapeutic alienation vis-a-vis the black man?

MR. MCWHORTER: You can be alienated because something alienates you. You can be alienated, for example, because you're in the South and you can't vote. You can be alienated because you're in the North as a black person before the civil rights victories and you can't join most unions. So that's one reason you can be alienated.

But you can also be alienated for a different reason. You can be alienated because whatever is going on around you -- and even when things going on around you aren't particularly oppressive, alienation can give you a sense of comfort. The alienation can give you a sense of making sense of the world, especially here in this country where we cherish understanding that the powers that can be -- that the powers that be can hurt us, understanding that we have to watch out for the abuses of power. This is a way of being enlightened. That can therefore be abused by a certain kind of personality who takes up alienation as a personality type. And that's the kind that I think has ended up playing too central a role in a lot of what passes for black thought and black activism. And the problem is, it leaves needy people behind.

I think alienation is also the main operating factor for Blowtorch and his ilk. As I said above, it is the so called leaders in each case who are exploiting the alienation of one demographic or another to get them to act in certain ways. Ways that are destructive to them and their communities.

Sure, Red versus Blue is a game for dummies. They keep us fighting over wedge issues but repeal big chunks of the constitution in bipartisan comity, while going on through the chairs in philanthropy, and private business after their term of office, secure and ever-rising, while we scrap over nothing at all.

But you can also be alienated for a different reason. You can be alienated because whatever is going on around you -- and even when things going on around you aren't particularly oppressive, alienation can give you a sense of comfort. The alienation can give you a sense of making sense of the world, especially here in this country where we cherish understanding that the powers that can be -- that the powers that be can hurt us, understanding that we have to watch out for the abuses of power. This is a way of being enlightened.

Pretty much describes me on alternate days .. being aware of the fact that I am like that is of considerable comfort to me when I realize no one knows who i am, where I am and won't ever want to give me any means of gainful employment ;-)

Yes, and the stance of jaded and alienated bystander can also become a safe place. To affirm something, to get engaged, to risk looking silly, or like a sucker, can feel risky. Easier to stand aside and sneer. Thus, we create our own prison.

yup .. that's whay i said "alternate days" ... every other day I want to engage, the next i want to withdraw ... in and out so to speak .. either fucking or getting fucked ?

It seems related to the negative sense of "cynicism" as well. If everything is crap and/or stacked against you, apathy is rationalized.

Negative moods if they prompt us to act, to take responsibility for our condition even if we are not the cause of it, are a positive force, but if they linger and we become habituated to them, they because a curse.

My mom and dad were always a contrast on this. Mom wanted everything to be fair, a difficult order with six children, but dad always disabused us of this. You didn't dare complain to dad about what is fair or not, although I'm not sure that he understood the connection between this lesson and the way all of us tended to chafe at the yoke of authority, thus undermining his own authority.

Hope returning is like the blood flowing back into a foot that as fallen asleep; it pricks and tingles and leaves us wishing for the old numbness.

To affirm something, to get engaged, to risk looking silly, or like a sucker, can feel risky.

Last night Jerry Seinfeld reminded Dave Letterman of some great advice Letterman gave him as he was trying to decide whether to take the deal being offered him to create the show that would eventually become "Seinfeld":

"Be sure to fail your way."

Seinfeld took it to heart and seems to credit the attitude in no small part for his success.

Good advice. Blake's verion of it was, "A Fool who persists in his folly will become wise." I suppose that was true of Quixote, though his wising up in the end seems sad.

I think hope is consciousness' opiate ...

mr a mole's programme for freshmen congresspeople is to be admired and assiduously monitored. yet from what you're elaborating, tutor, the game is elsewhere. Red vs. blue is chump fare - it employs people, provides a daytime soap for the "political," goes through the endless permutations of binarism with a tawdry vengeance. Rove is playing another game. It seems to depend upon USians indulging all kinds of stupidity on the part of their insular tribal confreres while offering no opposition to their elected leaders' Yahwehian intolerance toward any and every creeping crawling thing that's trying to get a breath in edgewise, or read a book in a library, or not get sodomized by trooploads of Doom players frustrated at the failure of reality-based warfare to live up to the promises of first person shooter bliss. Where to begin to fight him/that.

An adversary untroubled by hope or despair is formidable. "Admire nothing," so goes the old Roman tag.

Him and his adversary on the other side, him in the general sense of the role he plays, whether "he" works for Bush, or Hillary. How oppose the game, not just the players, or even the positions? By creating alternative "Temporary Autonomous Zones," as Hakim Bey says, whether on blog, or by shutting the classroom door, or opening your dumpster to friends of an evening? From the number of people who come up to me to discuss Gifthub, I am guessing that WB too is a passing wonder to some. How can they stop the spread of Wealth Bondage? And even more egregious Improprities?

looking themselves in the mirror and getting real honest, as opposed to fake honest ?

Reading, engaging with art and thinking instead of spending ?

Sleeping outdoors and joining the local Diogenes franchise ?

Doesn't matter, it won't stop ... too big, too tightly interwoven into daily life ... it's in the walls, the floors and most peoples' hearts by now. Resistance is futile.

Futile, but fun.

Another heartwarming incident shows how paranoia is more important than facts. Get a clue people, if there are terrorists getting on your plane, you won't be able to identify them through your convenient stereotyping. Does anyone actually think these senseless acts that embarass us and our security personel even more than those singled out actually enhances anyones security?

Thanks, Gerry, blogged it.

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