Wednesday, July 28, 2010

An ecology lesson

Along the path I take to work I observed a strange occurrence over the past several weeks. I first detected clusters of tiny yellow and black striped caterpillars on a few ugly looking weeds, and from there the caterpillars proceeded to grow rapidly, literally stripping the weeds bare, including their flowers and branches. After three weeks the weeds were nothing more than sticks, and most of the caterpillars had disappeared too. I suppose a casual observer would perceive that the mother moth had left her little ones in a precarious position, having been placed in a weed patch with few ready comestibles. Or perhaps the weed these caterpillars fed on was an extremely rare species, and the caterpillars themselves were also of a rare breed of butterfly or moth, and what was being witnessed was another example of the fragility of life on this planet.

And I was, in a fashion. What I was in fact observing was deliberate pest control. The weed in question is the tansy ragwort, an import from Europe. The weed is poisonous, and can be deadly to livestock that eats it when mixed in with other silage. Milk taken from cows that eat the weed can be toxic. The weed is difficult to control long-term, because its seeds can lay dormant for a decade or more. The state of Washington has declared war on the weed, and its weapon is the ragwort’s natural enemy, imported from abroad. Like the Monarch butterfly caterpillar which feeds on the poisonous Milkweed plant, the Cinnabar moth caterpillars have exclusive claim on the ragwort. And they perform their mission admirably well; no ragwort in the vicinity is safe. However, as I observed, few if any of the caterpillars survive to pupate. They are voracious eaters, and when they have stripped the ragwort bare, they proceed to eat each other, and if the few that are left don’t have any cousins to eat before they have completed the larvae cycle, they starve to death.

That is our ecology lesson for the day. Now only if the Democrats could learn how to strip down and expose those Republican weeds down to the barren, lifeless twigs that they are--without, of course, eating each other in the process.

These guys don't know what "FAIR" is

As a very few people may know, Arizona’s immigration law was crafted by an oufit called the Federation For American Immigration, and put into legalese by its chief counsel, "new-wave" nativist Kris Kobach. It’s acronym—FAIR—is anything but accurate, but that hasn’t stopped Congress or the mainstream media to treat the organization with undeserved deference. There seems to be no recognition that FAIR speaks for a large segment of the population that is not so much motivated by the concept of illegal immigration—after all, they say nothing at all about European and Asian illegals, who constitute about at least 2 million of the total—but a fear of and contempt for “Mexicans.” It also speaks to the failure to understand that unlike so-called “black racism” that the right-wing media continually harps upon whenever they perceive some anecdotal evidence of “favoritism” toward blacks, white racism actually is as it is defined in the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

Take some of the commentary of FAIR’s leaders, as compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center. We find that the anti-immigrant fervor was nothing new, at least in 1986. John Tanton, for example, both justified the theft of land from Native Americans and expressed the paranoia of whites becoming a minority through dark-skinned immigration with the following statement:

"Gobernar es poblar translates 'to govern is to populate'… In this society where the majority rules, does this hold? Will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile?"

In another quote, Tanton expresses the fear that an uneducated non-white majority in a country where whites have all the good jobs would turn the U.S. into an apartheid state, like South African (in 1986 South Africa was still governed by Apartheid):

"Is apartheid in Southern California's future? The demographic picture in South Africa now is startlingly similar to what we'll see in California in 2030. In Southern Africa, a White minority owns the property, has the best jobs and education, has the political power, and speaks one language. A non-White majority has poor education, jobs and income, owns little property, is on its way to political power and speaks a different language."

Tanton, of course, never took into consideration the impact that deliberate discrimination against minorities and the opposition to affirmative action programs that opened-up avenues to higher education had on creating an “apartheid” state. It is clear that he supported white “privilege,” and keeping non-whites in a separate, impoverished state. The fear of the “Latinization” of the country is expressed in the next quote, which reveals Tanton’s ignorance of affairs of south of the border:

"Will Latin American migrants bring with them the tradition of the mordida [bribe], the lack of involvement in public affairs, etc.? What in fact are the characteristics of Latin American culture, versus that of the United States?"

The fact that current Latin American "culture" is European in nature generally escapes most people here. It is also a fact that much of Latin America has had a tumultuous history, and frequently subject to revolutions and revolts against the mostly right-wing status quo, which testifies to the fact that people there are not indifferent to the conditions in which the live, or the politics that drive it. If Tanton had considered that, he thoughts might have gone in a different direction, such as what might be his fate if the oppressed minorities in this country rose-up against the oppressors he represented.

Another FAIR leader at the time, Roger Conner, opposed Mexican immigration because he labeled them as inferior beings:

"The new immigration will not work the same as the old. For some reason, Mexican immigrants are not succeeding as well as other groups."

The problem with this idea is that nativists said this about the Irish in the 1850s, and justified it in the 1920s when establishing immigration quotas for Italians and Eastern Europeans. We have seen that most everywhere in the country “Mexicans” are becoming entrepreneurs at a faster rate than any other group, according to one recent story. Yet we have also seen that where there is a modest population of “Mexicans” they are simple not welcome; there are many people who are so infused with prejudice and hate that they don’t want to even see them succeed or “work the same as the old.”

In 1997, another FAIR “leader,” Dan Stein, wondered:

"Should we be subsidizing people with low IQs to have as many children as possible, and not subsidizing those with high ones?"

At first blush, this is the kind of thing that the Nazis justified in their eugenics theories, but Stein is also painting a broad brush over a whole group of people simply because he believes this to be true, not because he actually has facts to back-up this statement. Just because some people have better rote memories doesn’t necessarily mean they are smarter; it just seems that way. If white people, as Tanton stated, have all the good jobs and all the education, then why is the country in the horrendous economic state it is in now? Would they not, by his reasoning, be ultimately responsible for that state? Where is all this technology that is supposed to save them—unless they mean to “solve” problems here like they “solved” them in Iraq and Afghanistan? In any case, I’ll have the Seventies funk group War have the last word on this subject: “Sometimes I don’t speak right, but I know what I’m talking about.”

"Immigrants don't come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing. Some of them firmly believe in socialist or redistributist [sic] ideas. Many of them hate America, hate everything the United States stands for. Talk to some of these Central Americans."

Stein again. Note that he says only “some” Latin American immigrants believe in all that socialism stuff. Perhaps if he questioned some of these Central Americans a little more closely, he might discover that it isn’t the United States they hate so much, but its support of oppressive right-wing murder regimes.

Tanton now returns to the scene with these enlightening thoughts:

"[Millions of immigrants coming to America will be] defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs…In the bacteriology lab, we have culture plates. You put a bug in there and it starts growing and gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And it grows until it finally fills the whole plate. And it crashes and dies."

Science and stupidity reaches it natural terminus.

"American secessions have rarely been viewed with alarm [but] in the 1990s ... we are more inclined to consider them a serious threat to national unity, especially since that unity is being stretched to the breaking point by ethnic revanchiste movements fueled by Third World immigration. ... In any major city, the peace is disturbed by Latino, black, and Asian nationalist gangs, which in some cases are only the shock troops of ethnic movements seeking the racial dismemberment of the United States. In refusing to control immigration, the Federal Government is writing a script for ethnic civil war. Why?"

FAIR found the above useful quote from Thomas Fleming, a member of the hate group “League of the South.” The whole theory behind this is patently absurd and paranoid, since it is white “gangs” like this who more than anyone else want “racial dismemberment” and seek to foment an “ethnic civil war” so they can “cleanse” the country of non-whites. I remember back around 1985 when I was in the service, I flew over from Germany to attend my sister’s wedding in Smalltown, Wisconsin. I decided to take the long way, stopping by bus in New York City and Washington, DC. On the trip to my eventual destination we stopped in a Greyhound station in Chicago; since everyone in the Army was supposedly one big happy “family,” what I saw fairly shocked me: there were two large seating areas, one completely occupied by whites, the other completely occupied by blacks. I wondered, is this because they want to, or is this a “custom” from a racist past that still lingered? I should think the latter.

"I have a secret plan to destroy America. … We must first make America a bilingual-bicultural country. … I would then invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their own culture. … Having made America a bilingual-bicultural country, having established multiculturalism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of 'victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws…It is clear that there is a 'fifth column' movement in the United States that professes greater allegiance to a greater Mexico or a breakaway, separatist movement based on a Latino homeland, despite the efforts of Latino politicians to dismiss it as a quixotic idea of rambunctious Latino youth, largely on university campuses."

Aside from the strange fact that there are actually Latino youth on university campuses (which would certainly surprise Tanton), what we have here is once more, FAIR taking a page from Joseph Goebbels and Julius Streicher’s racial theory propaganda handbook. The suggestion that there is a monstrous conspiracy afoot is a real head-scratcher when one recalls that “Mexicans” have just been accused of being apolitical. These people just can’t get their conspiracies straight. It is also curious to note that white complaints have a sense of “victimology” all its own, which seems to trump all others. It’s always about them and their imaginary victimization, even though, as Tanton stated before, they have all the best jobs.

"Every illegal alien is a person whose true identity has never been verified and therefore an illegal alien may be a terrorist or violent felon. I will say with a great degree of confidence that had [the 9/11 terrorists] not had driver's licenses, my son and 3,000 other people would be alive today."

This is a recent quip from a former board member of FAIR named Peter Gadiel. He suggests that every illegal alien is a potential terrorist or violent felon. He doesn’t, of course, say exactly that the Mexicans are responsible for 9-11 or any future act of that nature, but to those who “get” his “point,” a possibility is as good as fact.

"I am sick and tired of all the white bashing that goes on through the use of political correctness as an indoctrinating tool."

So sayeth Joe Turner, another FAIR functionary. Frankly, I am sick and tired of the deliberate dehumanization, the lies and falsehoods, and the preying on the worst aspects of human nature that racist like this think they can get away with without censor. The truth is plain enough to see.

The good old days

I was listening to a left-wing radio show hosted by Stephanie Miller and friends, during which for fun they asked callers to pitch-in their recollections of the worst songs they ever heard, most of which seem to come from the Seventies. Miller and company were particularly bothered by songs that celebrated having babies and heterosexual relationships, being icky and syrupy and “morally reprehensible.” I confess that the songs offered-up for sacrifice make me cringe when I hear them, because they are icky and syrupy, but not because I find them morally reprehensible. To me, a “morally reprehensible” song is one like Mary McGregor’s “Torn Between Two Lovers,” in which the singer asks the husband/lover not to leave her just because she has another regular customer on the side who she won’t give up, because there is a part of her “that only he can fill.”

At any rate, this gives me an excuse to talk about the current state of music, or so it is called. I grew-up in the Seventies, and to me there is no question that during this period pop music (within the framework of the rock era) reached its peak both eclectically and musically. I was listening to an old AT40 show from March of 1974; virtually every song I found listenable on some level. Mainstream pop shared the stage with rock, soul, R&B, folk, country, novelty, comedy, instrumental, foreign-language and even spoken–language tunes. This was a time when listeners’ minds were open to different genres, and pop radio wasn’t as fragmented and closed-off as it is today. You could always count on the top-forty radio station to actually play all the top-forty songs. In 1974, 35 songs would hit number one on the Billboard chart; there was just too much competition. 1976 was another year where memorable songs flooded the charts, before the disco over-kill.

The odd thing was that since many of the artists of the Seventies were influenced by the music of the Sixties, and those of the Eighties still had the pop conventions of the Seventies ringing in their ears, there was a certain continuity in pop music for at last three decades; I enjoy the music of Sixties and Eighties just as much as the Seventies. But something has changed; what used to be “top forty” stations now play the same ten songs over and over again, and they are usually indistinguishable from each other, particularly hip-hop/rap which has been the predominate genre for at least a decade. Whenever there is a song that adheres to traditional song structure, if it is bad its banality would be easily exposed because of thin production values, particularly if there is no orchestration to give it an emotional push. Older music critics may praise the music of the past 15 years or so because they want to keep their jobs, while younger critics praise it because they have no sense of the reason why a classic tune is classic.

The reality is undeniable: pop music industry has become shackled by minds who are closed to new or even different sounds, and many singers—particularly female—have taken to singing in the same annoyingly unnatural fashion. There was a time you could readily identify a singer if not the song; now, if you don’t know the song, you don’t know who the singer is. I blame much of this on Mariah Carey, whose chart success has convinced many singers to ape her style, ad nauseam. Carey has eclipsed Elvis Presley as the solo artist (in Carey’s case, I use the word “artist” with some trepidation) with the most number one hits, and with her next album may overtake the Beatles. Anyone with some appreciation of the history of pop music could be excused with having difficulty in approaching the idea that Carey could be compared to either Presley or the Beatles with a straight face. But one thing is clear: the dynamics that determines what “sells” or not has become restricted. Once, pop radio threw out everything that sounded good, and if it struck a chord with the audience, record companies would churn-out 45s. Back then, the pop single drove the market, and if an artist wanted to be commercially viable, he or she had to have at least one song that might be a hit on their albums. Today, the tight and tuneful song is such a rarity that music really isn’t even the point anymore. It’s all about the “artist” and if they have “street cred” in whatever stilted genres that remain. People can sit in front of an electronic device and download a song for 99 cents to their IPod that they might not even have heard and subsequently discard, songs that in the past wouldn’t even have scratched the bottom of the Hot 100. But the sales charts count those songs as “hits,” and as long as it is the image of the artist is what drives sales, it doesn’t matter what the quality of the music is. Artist are not competing with each other to make good music, just in maintaining their “credibility” with a target audience.

The music industry can blame its continuing losses in sales to its failure to support artists or radio stations who want to break-out of the current stranglehold of “songs” that regurgitate the same note over and over again (although country music today maintains some of the conventions of soft rock, whenever I hear a twangy voice, images of dogs and fire hoses enter my mind). There is also the larger picture: Perhaps it is that we live in an era of where cynicism and narcissism predominate, that people have closed their minds. There was a time when music offered an alternative vision—not how the world was, but how we wanted it to be; it expressed our hopes, idealism and aspirations, it was about peace, love and social harmony. Now it is more often about conflict, whining and vulgarity. Instead of taking to the streets in protest, too often we hear of people being gunned down by “musical” rivals. What are young people saying today through the music they listen to? I’m not sure, but it doesn’t seem to me that it’s inspiring them to do much of anything that is positive on a community, political or social justice level.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Has the right no sense of decency?

In early 1954, after several years of unsuccessfully finding Communists in every corner of the State Department, Sen. Joe McCarthy turned his attention to the Department of the Army. Much like his previous efforts, when McCarthy was asked for specific names, he could only come-up with one or two names that he had actual “evidence” on. McCarthy relied on hearsay and alleged ties to organizations that had left-wing social and labor agendas. While indeed a dozen of the names on his various lists would eventually turn out to be low-level Soviet agents, he was never able to provide proof that any of the hundreds that he charged was a security risk; in fact he padded his lists by including people who had already been removed from their positions for failing “loyalty” tests, such as belonging to “subversive” organizations or refusing to name political associations. Nearly everyone accused and interrogated before his hearings were guilty of nothing more than questioning the status quo.

McCarthy ran into trouble when he tried to force the Army to court martial an Army dentist named Irving Peress, who had refused to indicate his political affiliations on a loyalty answer form, and subsequently took the Fifth when summoned before McCarthy’s committee. Instead, his commanding officer, Gen. Ralph Zwicker, gave him an honorable discharge. Zwicker, having been called before McCarthy to explain himself, ran circles around the questioning, prompting McCarthy to call into question his IQ and fitness to wear a uniform. The Army then decided to go on the offensive, forcing McCarthy’s investigatory committee to hold a hearing on his own unethical activities regarding the attempt to block an aide’s induction in the service. McCarthy attempted to sidestep the accusations by attacking a lawyer in Army counsel Joseph Welch’s Boston law office, after which Welch famously stated

“Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

After McCarthy was determined not to have acted “unethically” by his own committee, he went on to target the likes Annie Lee Moss, an African-American clerk in the employ of the Army; she had come to McCarthy’s attention after having been subjected to several “loyalty” investigations, and was obviously viewed as an easy mark. Moss was no fool; she made McCarthy—with the “help” of his chief counsel Roy Cohn and the reporting of Edward R. Murrow on his TV show “See It Now”—look even more the unprincipled, thuggish bully. After an attempt by Cohn to insert references to “evidence” that he did not have was ordered struck, Sen. John McClellan would observe that

"You can't strike these statements made by counsel here as to evidence that we're having and withholding. You cannot strike that from the press nor from the public mind once it's planted there. That's the - that is the - evil of it. It is not sworn testimony. It is convicting people by rumor and hearsay and innuendo."

Moss did, in fact, have associations with civil and labor rights outfits—and Communist groups did see the African-American community as fertile ground for their propaganda, but for domestic political consumption, not espionage or subversion of the state. But the reality is that racial equality in the minds of racialist whites was then equated with Communism and “subversion,” as it is today in most far-right circles, and some white people plainly see the President Obama as inferior to themselves, or “uppity” because of his Harvard education.

We can see the same dynamic being played out here in the Shirley Sherrod case, with Andrew Briebart, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Williams, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck and the rest of the Fox News gang playing the part of McCarthy, Cohn and the rest of the paranoid far-right of the time. Now as then, accusations of “subversion” by the left was used as a partisan attack; then as now, the right used code words like “Communist” and “socialist” to attack the “enemy” on the political left. Then as now there is audience for these paranoid diversions, and it can be seen most clearly through the Tea Party Movement, and the use of deliberately falsified and misleading “evidence” such as that used against Sherrod by Breitbart—and continues to be defended by the utterly shameless and contemptible Limbaugh; both are unapologetic in their racism and nauseating self-victimization (Limbaugh, by the way, owes much of his “luck” to the job-hunting by his well-connected father). Not to be outdone, Coulter ludicrously claims that there was a “conspiracy” by the left to “plant” the “evidence” on Breitbart to make him and the right look like racist fools; but the fact is that the right has never shown any interest in “facts” when it comes to planting the seeds of race hatred and paranoia in the minds of their “constituency.”

Meanwhile, Anderson Cooper on CNN claimed that the left was just as guilty of these kind of shenanigans as the right; unfortunately, he cannot come-up with anything even remotely similar. We may find the occasional tasteless satire from the left, but not the deliberately dehumanizing falsification passed-off as “fact” that the right is repeatedly involved in. Not only that, so-called “mainstream” news media like CNN almost every day allows known racial bigots, hate-mongers and paranoid fantasizers from the right to spread their poison. A year after Cooper “outed” Williams concerning the racist fantasias on his website, Williams was still a frequent “guest” on CNN; there is simply no one comparable from the left who dwells in that sewer.

By late 1954, the majority of the public were on to McCarthy’s game, and he was such an embarrassment and political liability that the Republican majority at the time that he was censured and isolated. There had been bi-partisanship on the “Red Menace” issue, but by making it a partisan issue to attack the left, McCarthy left a legacy of bitterness that the right today seems to have learned nothing from; now, it seems as if most Republicans in the U.S. Senate have a bit of Joe McCarthy in them, and not for nothing did Harry Truman call the Republicans, when they were not engaged in “the evil of it,” the “do-nothing party.” There were Soviet agents operating in the U.S. as now, but to McCarthy, everyone who didn’t adhere to his own right-wing philosophy was potentially a “Communist.” The question now is if a majority of the public today will recognize the malevolence of the right and censure it in the polling booth. That may be a long-shot, since there are no Murrows willing to expose either the radical right or the Tea Party movement that encompasses all of its excesses. It refuses to expose the radical right as the true subversive element in the country, that exists only to vent its hate. But we ought to at least have the astuteness ourselves to ask “Rush Limbaugh, have you no sense of decency?”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mark Williams' Soliloquy

Am I mad? What is mad? Mad as a hatter? What is a matter, I mean a hatter, anyways? I am not mad. I am just mad. Mad, mad, mad! Don’t ask me what I mean. I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.

My mind is aflame. It is aflame with hate. I hate things, especially if they are not white, like me. I look in the mirror and I see a white face. I love that face. I want to embrace it, put lipstick on slobber all over it. If I saw a black face in that mirror, or a brown face or a yellow face, I would hate that face. I would say Mark Williams, you are a black man, a brown man or a yellow man, and I hate you. You are a racist, lazy, shiftless bum, because you do nothing but talk about your superior race, your put-upon race, and speak in simple-minded clichés that you pass-off as intelligent discourse—like socialism, and communism, and Nazism, and Muslimism, and guns, and more guns, and taxes, and taxes. Did I mention taxes? You speak in run-on sentences, shout over people, say things that make no sense. That is what I would say about myself. If I were black, or brown, or yellow.

It is said that I hate Muslims, that they worship a monkey god. Not true! I mean, not the monkey god part (I did say that). I only said that I dislike them, intensely. I did say I hate terrorists, and all terrorists are Muslims, and all Muslims are terrorists. Well, some, or all, illegal Mexicans are violent terrorists too, or so Jan Brewer told me in Arizona. So not all terrorists are Muslims, so you cannot accuse me of hating all Muslims, because I hate Mexicans, too. You can’t hate all of them the same at the same time, although I have to confess that like many people sometimes I get Muslims and Mexicans mixed up, so I just hate them both equally. See how much sense I make? It makes things a lot simpler. Anyways, me and my wife traveled to Baghdad so we could observe first-hand all them Muslim terrorists getting wiped-out, and we got a Mark Twain Award for it. Some commie-fascists say that Mark Twain would be rolling in his grave if he knew that some National Chauvinist with a thirst for dark-skinned blood was the recipient of an “honor” given in his name, but Twain was a commie-fascist too. I think that I am going to travel to Arizona to watch that guy J.T. Ready and his neo-Nazi Wild Bunch shoot a pack of Mexicans in “self-defense” on the border. And people say I’m the one who is crazy.

Yes, yes, yes. I did say that Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief. I did call him a Nazi. I did call him a Communist too, even though Nazis and Communists hate each other. They tell me that Communists think everyone is equal, and Nazis don’t. Hmm. Let me think upon this. I don’t think blacks, browns and yellows are equal to whites. Does that make me a Nazi? Think! Think! Yes, yes, I’ve got it now. It’s all under control. Just because Obama is our first half-black president, the people who are all black think they have us whites by the gonads. They think they are better than us, that Obama is thief-in-chief and going to steal from us and giving everything to them. So what if there is no evidence of that. A belief is as good as a fact, I always say. Thought you had me, huh? Communist, Shmommulist.

I don’t get it. Every time I appear on Fox News or one of these right-wing radio shows, they tell me that I am 100 percent right about whites being enslaved by black racists. Just look around you; white people got all the jobs, do all the work. Just because they make all the money too doesn’t mean they don’t feel like slaves. Feelings are as a good as a fact, I always say. But that Anderson Cooper on CNN still called me a racist (and I thought we were friends). How dare he call ME a racist when I was in the streets marching for civil rights when those sheriffs in the South were swinging nail studded baseball bats at black heads? Well, OK, that was a lie, but whose checking? My mother wouldn’t let me go down there, but I did see it on TV, and it had no effect on me whatever, except make me laugh.

I say a lot of things that people call knucklehead, but at least I am a consistent knucklehead. But there are two things you can always count on: I will defend my record on race to no one (unless, of course, you attack that record) under any circumstances and I will call out any racist, any time, without regard to who they are. It’s just that I don’t know any racists who are white; we all talk the same in the Tea Party (although we encourage those who sound sane to call into left-wing radio programs). So how can we be racist if we all have the same idea? Zounds! So I wrote a letter, a satirical letter, which I thought was both very profound and very amusing to me at the same time. Now tell me I’m mad after reading this:

Dear Mr. Lincoln:

We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in Kansas City this week. We voted to condemn a political revival of that old abolitionist spirit called the ‘tea party movement’.

The tea party position to “end the bailouts” for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn’t that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us coloreds! Of course, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the only responsible party that should be granted the right to disperse the funds.

And the ridiculous idea of “reduce the size and intrusiveness of government.” What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life? As Coloreds we must have somebody care for us otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!

The racist tea parties also demand that the government “stop the out of control spending.” Again, they directly target Colored People. That means we Colored People would have to compete for jobs like everybody else and that is just not right.
Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?

Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.

Precious Ben Jealous, Tom’s Nephew National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Head Colored Person

And they are still calling me a racist? Haven’t I said it was impossible for me to be a racist? Saying so is as good as a fact, I always say.

My Tea Party group has been expelled by that so-called national Tea Party umbrella organization. They call me amoral and without conscience. What? What a bunch of cowards and hypocrites! Who put up that billboard in Iowa? The one with Obama and Hitler and Lenin? It wasn’t my doing. All the people I talk to agree with me, at least in private. Didn’t you see all those Tea Party demonstrators who heckled and spat at and shouted racial slurs at those black congressmen? It wasn’t just those Crash the Tea Party people, who didn’t even exist then. If they continue to make me mad, I just might tell some more truth. And where are you, my buddy-old-pal Sarah Palin? Didn’t you attend not one, but two of my Tea Party events—for nothing? Didn’t we have a good time talking violent nonsense? Don’t abandon me now, like you did your constituents in Alaska.

They’ve got me on TV, although I’m not having as much fun now, because they want me to explain myself. It’s hard. I try to sound reasonable instead of shouting like a funny farm escapee, which is why people think I’m mad. So I try to sound not mad, at least for now. But it is hard. My mind, as I have I said, is aflame with thoughts of black people, and brown people, and sometimes yellow people. I just can’t stop thinking about them. I am not a racist, but in every corner I see race, like rats. I can’t even think about taxes without seeing a black face. We have high taxes because we white people have to give it all to black people, and brown people, and yellow people sometimes. But how can I prove that I’m not a racist when race is all I talk about? I talk about race more than the NAACP does. Think! Think! I’ve got it! I will do a rewrite of my letter to Mr. Lincoln, and everyone will know that I’m not really a racist:

Dear Mr. Abram (sic) Lincoln

We Crackers have taken a vote and decided that we Reject that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real instead of being a Tea Party Spokesperson, think for ourselves instead of taking our orders from Fox News, and take consequences along with the rewards, like developing melanoma in tanning beds. That is just far too much to ask of us Cracker People and we demand that it stop!

In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in some Mexican-Free Zone in Arizona this week. We voted for a political revival of that old Enslavement spirit thing and called it the “Tea Party Express.” Only Crackers with Saltine complexion need apply.

The Tea Party position to “end the bailouts,” for example, isn’t silly because we Crackers hadn’t thought about it when George Bush was behind it, only when that half-black Muslim terrorist was around. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn’t that what we want all Crackers to strive for? Didn’t Rush Limbaugh tell us that it was bad for the country if we didn’t allow corporate executives to make billions while 20 millions were out of work? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? Well, not us! What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us Crackers! Of course, the National Association for the Advancement of Cracker People is the only responsible party that should be granted the right to disperse the funds. We just don’t have a plan yet on what to do with it, because we just have these slogans and one-liners that Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck let us borrow.

And then there is that ridiculous idea of “reducing the size and intrusiveness of government.” We went on about it, but then we realized that we need the government spending trillions killing those Muslims wherever they can be found; we can’t do it ourselves, it’s just too big a job. We also need that gigantic bureaucracy to spy on anyone who isn’t the color of a Saltine. We still need the government to help hunt down every last one of them Mexicans. We ought not worry ourselves, of course. What kind of massa would ever want to control our pathetic lives, anyway? We say a lot, but it’s mostly stupid shit, we admit. As Crackers we must have somebody care for our white rights, like Fox News, otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!

The Tea Parties also demand that the government “stop the out of control spending,” like on stimulus packages. Why? Because that means more jobs are created, and that means there are more jobs that those blacks, browns, and yellows could have, and we Crackers have to be more non-discriminatory about that and that is just not right.

The Tea Parties also demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” What’s so outrageous about that? That the Obama administration hasn’t raised anybodies taxes, and we are just blowing foul emanations from our pie holes? Blowing foul emanations from our pie holes is as good as a fact, we always say. How will we Crackers ever get to watch Glenn Beck on wide screen TV if billionaires don’t get their tax cuts? Outrageous! Totally racist! And Crackers are expected to be productive members of society without a daily dose of Glenn Beck’s puffy jowls in HD? Get real!

Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We Crackers had a great gig, but you allowed all them non-Crackers think that they had the Right to keep the bread they earned with their own labor. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong. As the Massa Race, sitting on a sofa, beer in hand, watching Glenn Beck.

Mark Williams, Adolf’s Nephew NAACP Head CrackerPerson

You see, I’m not a racist. I’m just mad (they're coming to take me away, hahaheehee).

God help the country if it follows Arizona's lead

In regard to Ken Silverstein’s article for Harper’s Magazine, it is clear that if the future of the country is the Tea Party version of the Arizona GOP, then the country is in deep, deep trouble. The media has focused almost exclusively on the immigration issue in Arizona, and this is all that the Republicans could possibly hope for. Due in large part to an almost insane use of tax-cuts as a political prop for decades, Arizona’s state finances is in virtual ruin, so much so that state legislators have taken to cutting billions of dollars from social programs (mainly health care and education), selling off government buildings and illegally raiding voter-approved funding for education and other projects. Arizona has become a stew pot of crackpot notions mostly of the social variety; guns, God, anti-immigrant and anti-government propaganda form the core of a jumble of leftovers from every extreme-right idea that fell off the table of sensible discourse, now washed-off and deemed still edible. The right in Arizona has used illegal immigration as a front to mask a close examination of the state’s much more serious problems, which are not only enormous, but seemingly insoluble so long as the far-right—prodded and pushed to further extremes by the Tea Party Movement—holds sway. Illegal immigration has nothing to do with the state’s primary “growth” industry—an influx of retirees who generated a brief increase in construction and retail projects (in which illegal immigrants helped fill a labor shortage, at a time when most Arizonans who were not consumed with racism gave a wink and a nod at), filling in the gaps of the steadily shrinking mining and aerospace industries. Despite all the tax-cutting, Arizona attracted few significant businesses to relocate there.

The fact is, Arizona is proof that indiscriminate tax-cutting not only does not promote a stable economy, but can crush a state when the time comes that it needs a stable government ready to fill-in the void. That is why the Obama administration needs to oppose the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s pressure to renew tax-cuts for the wealthy; rather it needs to seek ways to promote the spending power of the working consumer while at the very least re-imposing the pre-Bush taxes on the wealthiest Americans who have done nothing useful with all that extra money. If anyone needs proof that this will be an overall positive for the economy, one need look no further than Bill Clinton’s use of the earned income tax credit, that helped promote consumer spending and created 22 million new jobs, while Bush’s massive tax-cuts for the wealthiest created only 2 million jobs—and may have been the most important factor in the fashioning the economic crisis we are in now in.

The question is why are so many Americans are blind to the danger of the Tea Party Movement’s pushing the political dynamic to the extreme right, and the clear danger it engenders. It doesn’t help that the movement is the darling of Fox News, whose ratings are more than CNN and MSNBC’s combined (or that CNN rarely scratches below the surface of the movement’s flaws). It doesn’t help that the media gives credibility to the movement’s one-line gags about taxes, bail-outs, gun rights and deficits while failing to push Tea Party leaders to provide details of a “program” to deal with economic problems. Cutting taxes seems to be the movement’s answer to every problem, which makes them indistinguishable from most Republicans generally; using illegal immigrants as convenient scapegoats is their back-up “program.” What is not understood is that the business community had every opportunity to take advantage of the Bush administration’s laissez-faire and tax-cutting policies to create a sustainable economy, and it failed miserably. Instead of creating new industries, Corporate America chose to pocket its profits and move it overseas, or use it in financial gambling casinos; it didn’t use that money to invest in America. It is as simple as that. Corporate America seems to fail to comprehend that a sound capitalist economy is reliant first and foremost on a working class that has the money to spend on the products produced. Reaganomics’ “trickle down” hokum is to blame for much of this failure to face reality, and the enslavement to this philosophy is such that the business community is incapable of recognizing its destructive power, or reversing the trend.

Since Corporate American has failed the country, government must step in; whether or not the financial reform bill that Obama signed into law will do what it promises is an open question, but it is a step in the "right direction" to curb business' abuse of its freedoms. Meanwhile, the media (such as fence-sitter CNN) needs to address the danger that extreme-right politics, as exemplified by the Tea Party Movement’s influence in Arizona, poses to the country as a whole. Following through on anti-government propaganda only promises to handcuff the country in the time of its direst need.

Fox News and that ol' black magic again

Fox News and it extreme-right cohorts continue to play the race-card for the paranoid of mind. The latest is the posting on its website a video of comments taken out of context by Shirley Sherrod, the USDA director of rural development in Georgia, at a NAACP conference last March. Sherrod is quoted as saying she did not at first do her “utmost” to help a white farmer avoid foreclosure many years ago, apparently because the farmer gave her the impression of being a racist and regarding her as incompetent. In the part not included in the edited version of the video, Sherrod concluded she needed to overlook her feelings about the farmer and him because “it’s really about those who have versus those who have not.” The farmer and his wife have since come forward to credit Sherrod with helping to save their farm from foreclosure. But after the airing of Fox's edited version of the episode, the Obama administration once again reacted in knee-jerk fashion, throwing an honest, capable employee under the bus.

This comes on the heels of another Fox News “exclusive” (courtesy of right-wing shock jock Andrew Breitbart, who called Ted Kennedy "a special pile of human excrement" following his death) that charges that the Obama administration is showing racial “favoritism” by not investigating the New Black Panther Party for allegedly “intimidating” white voters at one polling place during the 2008 election. The Bush administration actually decided to investigate this particular case, but decided that a couple of guys merely standing around looking tough, engaged in low-level tit-for-tat didn't have much politcal value (but oh contrare, determines the scumdwellers at Fox). But it was certainly nothing near the level of the massive voter suppression going on in Florida in 2000, in Ohio in 2004, or in Philadelphia in 2008, or the Arizona militia pointing guns at Latino voters. None of these incidents were investigated by the Bush administration at all.

The Obama didn’t cave on that case, although it did itself no credit it the case of Van Jones, an administration environmental adviser, and an African-American. Once again, the shit-shovellers at Fox News dug-up “evidence” linking Jones to a group that suggested that the Bush administration ignored evidence that terrorists were planning to hijack planes, in effect “allowing” the 9-11 attack to occur. Jones was also accused of making “derogatory” comments about Republicans. Jones was forced to resign, but why? There has been evidence that, at the very least, the FBI had information from operatives concerning suspicious behavior by people who would later turn-out to be members of the hijacking team, but did little follow-up. The Bush national security team was also warned as late as August, 2001 that there were plans afoot to hijack planes to target buildings in the U.S.; these reports were apparently either dismissed out-of-hand, or thought not to be as serious as they turned out to be. Of one thing there is of no doubt: the Bush administration could not have had a better public relations “victory” in its effort to convince the public of going along with his plans to invade Iraq, which cost more than 4,000 American lives, and still of dubious long-range ramifications. Meanwhile, the charge of “derogatory comments” against Republicans by Jones is wholly bizarre given the fact that nearly every member of Congress frequently makes derogatory comments about each other or the president; does that mean the 90 percent of senators and congresspersons should resign?

Why has the Obama administration been so quick to toss good people under the bus, particularly African-Americans? Do not people know by now that Fox News and the rest of that extreme-right ilk are attempting to use race to poison the minds of the racially-inclined with false notions that with a black president in office, blacks are out to “get” white folks, to wreak vengeance on whites for wrongs perpetrated in the past? This is nonsense, and Obama needs to call-out the right-wing media for creating an atmosphere of racial division, instead of trying to “avoid” it by allowing the racial politics of Fox News a measure of undeserved credibility.

A little context, please

The Seattle Times recently devoted a page to Latino subjects. One story contradicted the unusually common notion these days that the Latino “contribution” to the economy is stealing a “native’s” job. Latino business is apparently a fast-growing sector of the economy, and, believe-it-or-not, they even pay taxes. A second story reported on the anti-immigrant vigilantism occurring in Utah, where rogue state employees for the Workforce employment agency drew-up a list of people with Spanish names who they alleged were illegal aliens, which they released to the public, doubtless for the purpose of allowing the terrorizing of the named people.

But the Times could not resist throwing in the disingenuous gender politics bone, in keeping with the Times’ usual portrayal of Latinos as drug terrorists, murderers and criminal aliens. The story concerns the plight of women in Guatemala, who claim that they are not seen as “human beings” and deserve special status as a “persecuted” group, and that to deport them constitutes a “death sentence.” Unfortunately, the Times’ neglected to check the gender of the writer of the story, who turns out to be a male reporter without an agenda to push. He noted that while 709 women were murdered in Guatemala in 2009, this rather paled in comparison to the 6,498 men who were murdered. I don’t know how many of these men were seen as “human beings,” by their killers, but I suspect that they were not viewed much differently than the women.

According to these numbers, less than 10 percent of all murder victims in Guatemala are women, compared to 9 percent over-all in Latin America, the figure quoted in the story. These numbers shouldn’t be diminished; murder rates per the population in Latin America are high (especially in Colombia), although murder rates in other countries, such as in Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, may be even higher, but do not make any lists because their governments don’t release crime statistics, or adequately compile them. But if activists claim that Latin American is a “deadly place” for women, what do we compare that to? The rest of the “civilized world?” In the U.S., 23 percent of all murder victims are female, according to FBI statistics (if you watch the news, however, you’d think the percentages are reversed). Is the U.S. a “deadly” place for women? It depends on your level of activism. In Great Britain, murder is a much less common activity than in the U.S., but of those who are murdered, 35 percent are women.

The reality is that women in Latin America do seem to be a “special case,” but not quite in the fashion that is suggested. This kind of propaganda feeds into the already hyper-stereotyping of Latino males. And while we are on the subject of propaganda, I read in some entertainment magazine that the Lifetime Channel’s “Army Wives” introduced a new character, a Latina with an abusive husband. It wasn’t enough to make him “macho” like the husband-soldiers of the other wives, they had to make the Latino male the designated wife-beater too. By the way, I spent seven year in the Regular Army, and while I encountered a few “gung-ho” types in the enlisted ranks, in general the “macho” types were the officers—and female officers even more so than the males, probably because they thought they needed to act “tougher” to make an impression on male soldiers who were not in admin or signal corps jobs.

But back to Guatemala. Human life has been “cheap” there for a long time, especially during the rebellion against the oppressive CIA-backed regime from 1969 to 1996 that was fought along racial lines between the Euro-elite and the oppressed indigenous people. Today, much of the violence involves the spill-over of the drug trade from Mexico, but not all of it. The military (accused of conducting many mass killings during the rebellion) and “secret” security teams deployed by holdovers of the prior regime continue to murder indigenous activists. According to the human rights group Human Rights First “much of the continued lawlessness in Guatemala may stem from the culture of impunity that has grown out of the failure to prosecute the heinous crimes committed during the conflict.” Few, if any, murder cases ever end in the arrest of a suspect, let alone reach trial.

What should we take from all of this? That we should be wary of claims made without context, that we should look at the overall reality first before we accept those claims as a true picture?

Black-shirts still on the prowl

After having been videotaped kicking and stomping a prone man offering no resistance—whose only crime was claiming to be from Mexico—Seattle’s black-shirted “Anti-Crime Team” seems to have learned little from the episode. Rather than learn to control their racial profiling impulses, they merely retrench and nurse grievances, ready to erupt at any time. It’s the same story; they have this need to “prove” that their victims (even the completely innocent ones) really are the “bad” guys. So what do they do? They hide in the bushes, scope out the scene, select a suitable target, and “investigate.”

Recently I spent a morning doing some work in the UW library, after which I bought a cup of coffee and a magazine at a newsstand and proceeded to walk to a bus stop. While I was walking down University Way, a couple of black-shirts appeared out of nowhere, probably hiding out somewhere until they spotted a suitable “suspect”—like a “Mexican.” They were riding their bicycles very slowly and gave me “the eye” with “knowing” smirks. I am quite familiar with the “look.” Police always claim to be ‘innocent,” but they are not; they attempt to initiate confrontations with people who have otherwise done nothing wrong because they operate stereotypical assumptions rather than facts. Initiating confrontations is the usual method police use when they want to harass someone who isn’t driving a car, when they can usually concoct some rationale like “You didn’t turn on your turn signal quick enough.” Police are not permitted to demand ID for no reason, and they need to be more “creative” with someone is just walking down a sidewalk. They can’t help themselves; they congenitally make too many assumptions based on their prejudices and ignorance. Their “training” clearly involves racial profiling, because they seem incapable of distinguishing the few criminals from the law-abiding if they are the wrong color or “ethnicity.” Apparently walking down the sidewalk with a laptop case slung around the shoulder, with a bag with a Harper’s Magazine in one hand and a coffee cup is obviously the latest sneaky prop for the Mexican drug running terrorist.

After the black-shirts drove by me, I caught-up to them at the next street corner. The black-shirt in front took to staring at me again with that “knowing” smug look. I responded by mentioning that I had once heard a cop joke to some white gun-nut that they only picked on short people because it was “safer” (I was sitting on a bus behind a white guy and two Seattle police officers who were discussing an incident in the Metro bus tunnel whereas a teenage girl assaulted another, right in front of security guards. The man seemed concerned about his safety, but the cops assured him that he was an unlikely target because his burly size. The officers also joked how they themselves preferred to target short people, because it was “safer.” The man discussed their weaponry, impressed by the lethality of the Glock 40, and waxed gleeful on other weaponry like 9 mm pistols. I then blurted out that this is the guy people should be afraid of, a view which garnered a few murmurs of approval, which succeeded in ending the conversation between cops and paranoid gun nut). The black-shirt said nothing, but continued to stare at me, and I took to staring back at him until he finally decided to look away. I didn’t say anything else, because I didn’t want to be arrested on a “contempt of cop” charge, which the Seattle Post-Intelligencer once reported was an unusually frequent device that police use when they really want to detain someone whose only crime is that he is a “suspicious” character, a judgment based solely on an officer’s prejudices.

Seattle’s black-shirts were also implicated in the near-fatal beating of a homeless man in 2003, and they have become notorious as the frequent subject of many police abuse complaints; who knows what other crimes they have committed when no one was looking. Crime is a fact of life, but why does ACT always seem to spend most of its time harassing innocent people?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The innocent victim?

Actor Mel Gibson’s recent obscenity-laden outbreak of pustule of the mind has virtually ended his Hollywood career, for now. Everyone who has heard the audio released to the muckraking press by his former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, is justifiably appalled by his inability to keep the lesser qualities of his mind in check. Frankly, Gibson in these recordings came off as borderline insane and pathetic, which his obvious intoxication could not excuse. This man hates; he has a powerful ego that is easily bruised; he has an irrational “victim” complex that has something close to zero credibility. I’ve listened to left-wing radio hosts, particularly female, have a field day with this story, commiserating with female callers about this verbal violence.

But I can condemn Gibson only so far, because he may have been, in between all that drunken obscenity, telling the truth about Grigorieva being a gold-digger and insensitive to his feelings. After all, Gibson’s wife of nearly thirty years claims never to have heard such outbreaks from him. There seems to be very little detailed information about Grigorieva’s past. The Russia-born woman was the daughter of musicians, and was trained as one, and seems to have had some minor success in the field, although nothing memorable enough to rate a footnote. She has been married three times (including to actor Timothy Dalton), but none of these marriages lasted more than a few years; there doesn’t seem to be any explanation for the briefness of them. One Hollywood observer, however, describes Grigorieva as “a familiar type in Hollywood, exemplifying the women (and quite a few men) who use a series of famous partners as stepping-stones to their own notoriety.” That is to say, someone who is a cynical user, who doesn’t enter into a relationship for the sake of a relationship, but to see how much benefit can be milked out of the prospective partner before going on to the next “relationship.” Gibson was probably the first of Grigorieva’s many “lovers” who decided in his own inimitable way to make plain his views on the matter.

Meanwhile, news reports are surfacing that suggest that Grigorieva made the audio tapes to either extort $10 million dollars from Gibson (which is his claim) in exchange for not releasing them to the public, or to blackball Gibson in their child custody battle (sounds like the kind of thing attorney Gloria Allred would have her claws all over). “Made” may be a more accurate description of the audio than people think. When I heard the audio in its entirety, I was struck not by Gibson’s nearly incoherent ranting, but by Grigorieva’s smug, arrogant and insensitive off-hand commentary, which if in fact were her actual responses, clearly only intensified Gibson’s agitated stat-of-mind. On the other hand, there seemed something somehow unreal about the proceedings. Something just didn’t fit. Gibson ran on and on virtually without pause; Grigorieva sounded as if she speaking into a microphone, inserting comments here and there onto a pre-recorded tape. Audio experts who have examined the tapes agree that the tapes seem to be the work of a barely competent cut-and-paste artist; perhaps it was Grigorieva herself, having knowledge of the music recording business. But real or fraud, Grigorieva may well face criminal charges over the release of the tapes, since recording conversations without the consent (let alone knowledge) of the other party is a felony in California.

There is also the photograph of Grigorieva with broken teeth, allegedly from the fist of Gibson while she was holding their eight-month-old daughter (get out the hankies). But the Los Angeles Times is reporting the possibility that the “wound” was self-inflicted. Grigorieva’s dentist reportedly found no evidence that a blow caused the tooth defects, and the lack of bruises or soft tissue damage to her face in the photo allegedly taken right after the alleged assault also calls into question the claim as well. Or maybe it was just poor dental hygiene habits.

What we have here is one of two possibilities: A bigoted blowhard who seizes on any opportunity to feel as if people are out to do him wrong—or a woman who happened to make the mistake of selecting as her next victim a guy who wasn’t quite the easy mark she thought. Perhaps it is both.

P.S. Stories like this are bound to change by the second. Grigorieva's dentist, probably after receiving missives from irate "victims' rights" advocates, is changing his story, although he still can't explain how someone with a fist the size of Gibson's could fit inside Grigorieva's mouth without touching any flesh (he first hypothesized that a blow to the temple had rattled her teeth). Gibson has gone on to claim that Grigorieva tried to extort $15 million from him, but in return, she refused to sign-off on an "agreement" that was more detailed than she liked. Apparently she wanted a deal like Rachel Uchitel's; keep quiet while extorting $10 million from Tiger Woods as the "deal" was being consumated, and then tell the whole world about it after it was consumated.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Party time for bigots

It took long enough for the NAACP to declare that the Tea Party movement is shot-full of right-wing and racist extremists, despite the “movement” leaders’ denials. The tea partiers are nothing but your garden variety far-right ideologues and their knowledge-challenged lemmings who come out of the woodwork every time they feel threatened by “change.” At their core, they are little to be differentiated from the anti-government “Patriot” movement, except with a cute and cuddly name. The tea partiers are driven by the usual right-wing obsessions: race, “big” government, taxes, “alien” invasions, and “enslaving” white people. In the mid-19th Century, it was the nativist, anti-immigrant “American Party,” better known as the Know Nothing Party, and variations of these bigoted, paranoid movements have emerged again and again during the 1930s to oppose the New Deal, during the “Red Menace” during the 1940s and 1950s, in the guise of the John Birch Society in the 1960s, in the 1990s during the Clinton administration, and now during the Obama administration, this time even uglier and nakedly racist than before; making it even more sinister is the fact that calls to violence from illiterates like Sarah Palin and semi-literates like Glenn Beck seem to have a certain amount of cache with these people.

Yes, I know, people will say that these are a few fringe elements within the "movement" that is the Tea Party movement. Not so; racism is apparently thriving within it, at least in Iowa. Although it took awhile for the mainstream media to get a hold of the story, it has been revealed that the North Iowa Tea Party paid to have a billboard featuring a picture of Barack Obama in the company of Adolf Hitler and V.I. Lenin in Mason City. The point, apparently, was that each espoused a version of “change” via “socialism.” To add hypocrisy to insult, the phrase "Radical Leaders Prey on the Fearful & the Naïve” was added. The billboard was only papered-over when news of it leaked out to major news organizations.

“Fearful and Naïve” would far better describe the target audience that the people who were behind the billboard’s “concept” were aiming at. In any case, the facts are that tea partiers are not “populists.” They are are against health care reform. They are not against CEOs and Wall Street hooligans making millions and billions of dollars (they only care if “their” taxes are paying for those bonuses). They are against government spending to create jobs. They think that tax cuts are the answer for everything. In other words, they have no “plan” at all save to disrupt or destroy the country for the sake of their bigotry.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Micro mirrors the macro

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, following complaints from some quarters that U.S. businesses are more interested in greater and greater profits than in job creation, is calling for more decreased regulation (just how much less regulation do they need?) and continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the rich—which created a net of 2 million jobs in eight years, compared to 22 million during the Clinton years. But the Chamber just doesn’t “get it.” Reaganomics does not work; the rich do not “re-invest” into the economy all that extra money they made, nor do they drive a consumer-based economy. Only well-paid laborers with money to spend can run a consumer-based economy. I disagree, however, with those who say the “free trade” is the problem; given the lesser expendable cash available to workers, more expensive American-made products will only have a very modest positive result at best.

One way of seeing how our economy actually works is to view it through micro economics. A person may earn a certain modest wage, and if his or her needs are satisfied by, say, watching television, listening to records, reading books, going to a restaurant once a week, attending a movie once a month, and taking a vacation to Florida once a year, one can easily live within their means without too much trouble. But in a world where electronic gadgets, personal computers, the internet and cell phones opens up whole new vistas of desires, you might crave things that are a sign of “sophistication”—digitized toys that can turn that rat and roach infested closet you live in into a self-contained entertainment and learning center, The early Macintosh computers wetted your appetite (before you tired of their “secrecy” about upcoming products that didn’t allow you to make intelligent purchasing decisions on their already over-priced product). Then there was digital media “revolution”: CDs, Laser Disc (you can’t even find a machine to play those anymore, but they do make fascinating house ornaments) and DVDs. There are a lot of titles for the dedicated videophile, but you just don’t have the cash to buy them all with.

But once in college long ago, some bank sent you an application for a piece of plastic called a Visa card, an when it arrived you really didn’t know what to do with it (maybe even a little scared to use), but once you take the leap, you realize it’s like “free” money and you don’t even have to pay all of the balance at the end of the month. Who would spend almost a month’s pay on the first portable DVD player (don’t ask)? You might do it because you always have that “free” money as a fall-back plan. And then you apply for another, and another card. Unfortunately, your income has only risen marginally, in fact, it has not kept-up with inflation; but no matter, as long as you pay the minimums, you figure that eventually you’ll have everything you’ll ever want soon enough, and you won’t want anything else, and everything will come until control, in time. But the market doesn’t aid you in this endeavor. For example, it wasn’t that long ago that a PC with a 486 Intel processor and 8 MB of RAM at $2,000 was considered “top of the line.” Now you can’t even run the latest Windows without at least 2 GB of RAM. Yesterday, it was DVDs; today its Blu-Ray. Tomorrow it will be something else (like 3D-HD).

But then one day your job becomes an artifact of history, and the funds you were depending upon to plug-up the dike is swept out to sea. It’s only for a short time, but you’ve been living on the edge for quite some time now. You still have access to “free” money for awhile, which you may use to pay for essentials and the minimums with. But even this fantasy world must come to an end; the bubble bursts, and your financial situation collapses like the house of toothpicks it was destined to become once you began to use “free” money to buy things that either depreciated in value, or had no value to anyone but yourself.

Faced with economic calamity, you could just pay a bankruptcy attorney to make the problem go away, or observe that banks and whole countries default on everything all the time, so no one will notice if I do (right?). But you decide you want to do the “right” thing—if only out of “habit” and you don’t like change—so you contact a debt consolidation operator; after a period of haggling where you are forced to do all the fighting with the credit card companies (like threatening to default if they don’t stop with the late and over-limit charges), you are obliged to accept a payment plan that cancels your cards and forces you to make a lump sum payment per month that is larger than the original combined minimum payment. The effect of this is that you have to pay for everything you buy in cash, just like you used to do before you got yourself into this mess. But now that $500, which in the very beginning was wholly used to buy things that others were employed to make or provide services for, is now completely at the service of financial institutions, keeping them profitable while not doing a damned thing for economic activity.

That’s the way it is. People have to have money to buy things to keep the economy going. But instead of raising wages, businesses in league with banking institutions schemed to keep wages low and offer consumers “free” money with high interest rates to build a bubble economy and cover the bankers’ bottom line if things went south—but only for a time. Only so much debt can be accumulated before access to “free” money will eventually run out too—and what is to show for it? For financial gambling institutions, it didn’t even “buy” anything to begin with, except to fill the pockets of a few multi-millionaire and billionaire executives while it was still available (especially when you have friends in the Fed). It was the middle to low-income consumer who was given the burden of making the economy work, without legitimate means to do so.

So the micro mirrors the macro. Federal and state governments are running out of phony money to stay afloat, while off-shored corporations that don’t pay taxes are still enjoying huge profits, executives distribute among themselves billions of dollars, and don’t want to give any of that up by creating jobs or paying people a living wage. All they want is more, more, more, while they whine, whine, whine.

Eating right is hard

I was watching a Fox Sports remembrance of things past segment featuring Dorothy Hamill, she of the (in)famous wedge-cut and 1976 Olympic gold-medalist in figure skating. She was standing in front of a table with skin cream products, bowls of fruits and vegetables, rice cakes and nuts; apparently she only agreed to this appearance in order to pitch something. Dorothy went through the motions of discussing ice skating past and present, but seemed to be going through a slow boil: “Why are you making me look stupid talking about ice skating while I have all this stuff in front of me that has nothing to do with ice skating?” Finally, the interviewer allowed her a few seconds to talk about all that stuff sitting in front of her. It wasn’t anything we haven’t heard a million times before, the “secrets” of longevity and staying “young” eating the appropriate foods and using the proper skin creams. Just in case you needed more information, there was a website you could surf to. Dorothy also had a few milliseconds to offer advice for lazy people who don’t like to exercise: When you’re in a shopping mall, use the stairs instead of the escalator, or if you want a latte during an office break, walk to the Tully’s 10 blocks away instead of the Starbuck’s on the corner.

All which naturally brings me to the subject of healthy eating, which I find just as dull a subject as the Fox Sports guy. Vegetables are affordable, but they generally don’t taste very good; fruits and nuts are all right, but they tend to be expensive. Rice cakes with peanut butter on them are OK for a change of pace, but every day? Speaking for myself, it is very hard to eat right. Like Bill Clinton, I’ve been eating junk for decades, because pre-cooked “good” food is hard to come by, when it isn’t very expensive (alright, I confess: I don’t cook). We all know what happened to Bill; he had a heart attack from clogged arteries, and for awhile looked like the very visage of death itself.

This isn’t to say I can’t eat healthy food; if I don’t like something, I add sugar, and then it tastes good (although raw onions seem to be immune from the sugar’s healing properties). I also have taken to reading labels, especially for fat content and degree of corn syrup; I’ve come to the conclusion that a ice cream bar with 50 percent of the daily value of fat is not a good way to start the day. Dorothy told us that nuts have “healthy” fat; I’ve tried eating nuts on a regular basis, but they perform unfortunate and embarrassing acts within my system, sort of like apple juice past its expiration date. But I have tried. I tried to eat carrots; I tried to eat broccoli; I tried to eat celery. I went to cut-rate grocery store selling fruit from the producer’s remainder bin; but as they say, you get what you pay for. Then I fell back to my old standby of granola bars, chips and some cheap lunch-in-a-can or fast-food burger.

The fact I am in the same boat as many other people: processed food with all those preservatives and chemicals is what feeds the masses; only rich people can afford to eat “right.”

Some thoughts about guns

Art Bell’s second banana on Coast-to-Coast, George Noory, and some right-wing NRA-type were belly-aching about Chicago’s latest effort to limit the sale of handguns within city limits, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a city statute banning guns within city limits. The rationale for having guns, of course, is self-defense or to dissuade would-be burglars. There is nothing particularly troubling about this, although the Second Amendment does not in fact suggest that the people can own guns for vigilante purposes. The reality is that few people actually shoot guns defending themselves. They are more likely to shoot either themselves or innocent people. Threatening to use guns around is also a good way to agitate another person into using their own gun. Why emulate police who fire off their guns at “furtive” movements? Whites often cite fear of gang violence, but gangs don’t target white folks hiding in their houses, they kill each other over turf.

While a few studies used by pro-gun activists, such as that by criminologist Gary Kleck, have been cited as to hype the rate that crimes have been deterred by guns, such studies have been criticized for suggesting gross overestimations of “potential” crimes than actually occurred, or those imagined by owners of guns; most robberies occur in the wee hours of the night or when the owners are not home, so guns in fact have a greatly exaggerated deterrent effect. Other studies show that guns used for defensive purposes in violent crimes were more likely to lead to the owner’s demise than the criminals, because of the heightened degree of agitation; gun owners are more likely to kill unarmed or innocent “robbers.”

Meanwhile, CDC statistics dispel most of the myths in regard to gun violence: nearly 40 percent of deaths by firearms are homicides—but nearly 60 percent are suicides; about 2 percent of gun deaths are labeled “accidental.” Men are six times more likely to die from firearms than women, and African-Americans have the highest rate per their percentage of the population, followed by whites, and perhaps surprisingly to some people, Latinos come in third. In raw numbers, whites are more likely to die from guns.

The American addiction to guns is in stark contrast with other “civilized” countries, including the UK. Although the English constitution does insinuate the right to bear arms, in fact guns are heavily restricted, and there is little complaint. The British are far more sensitive to gun violence than Americans, do not have a fascination with owning guns, do not have a hunting culture (except among the “elite”), and do not have an organized gun lobby. And they seem quite content with that. Perhaps Americans could learn a lesson or two from the British.

DV advocates need a ticket for driving one way down a two-way street

One evening in a low-income rental unit I used to live in, I heard some commotion in the room next door, where a couple had recently moved in. I couldn’t quite make out the words, but it was a female voice, and the tone was confrontational. There was some mild rumbling noises, like tables and chairs being shoved about. I was trying to get some sleep, and was preparing to start banging on the wall, when the noise suddenly ceased. I heard a door open and close, a moment later a knock on my door. Normally, I would have just ignored it, but curiosity got the better of me. I got up, put on some pants and opened the door. Standing in front of me was a scrawny little black man wearing nothing but his shorts, but that wasn’t the strange part: from head-to-toe he was covered with what appeared to be scratch marks and cigarette burns. He wanted to know if he could use my telephone (cell phones didn’t exist then, except in the movies) in order to call 9-1-1. I let him use my phone, then showed him the door, and heard him pitter-patter down the hallway and down the stairs. I heard nothing more that evening, having fallen asleep. But this “comical” episode has remained in memory.

In Henry Fielding’s novel “Tom Jones” (made into a 1964 Oscar-winning film starring a then svelte Albert Finney), Mr. “kick-sand-in-my-face” Partridge was frequently the subject of Mrs. Partridge’s fists, feet and various kitchen wares, for laughs (this part was apparently left on the cutting room floor for the movie). Elsewhere, the verbally-abused Rip Van Winkle did what many men would like to do when married to the likes of Dame Van Winkle: take a long walk, and fall asleep for twenty years. Domestic violence by women, when not considered at all, is viewed as fodder for “humor.”

What has drawn me into stepping into this minefield of mendacity is not the question of what Elin was doing with that nine iron (although there are those who would excuse its use for certain purposes), but two recent events involving domestic violence advocates. One occurred in Georgia, where Arelisha Bridges, a registered lobbyist for a domestic violence advocacy organization for which she was apparently the only member, shot and killed her husband of five days—and 19 years her junior—following a “domestic dispute” that took place on a sidewalk. She was charged with felony murder. The second episode was reported by the Tacoma News-Tribune, concerning the city attorney’s top domestic violence advocate, Gloria China Fortson. Fortson is accused of abusing her position, and aiding and abetting Keisha Jackson who made unfounded claims of domestic violence against her ex-husband, Kelvin Jackson, in a child custody case. Fortson, an apparently over-eager advocate with a chip on her shoulder, loaned the “victim” a vehicle with city money which the “victim” drove to Florida with the couple’s two children. After she was arrested and sent back to Washington, Fortson bailed her out of jail—with city funds.

But that is just the outline of the case; this was clearly “personal” for Fortson. After continued failure to reach a resolution to the custody suitable to herself, Keisha Jackson suddenly began making domestic violence claims against Kelvin Jackson, and eventually these claims reached Fortson, who proceeded to insinuate herself at custody hearings on behalf of Keisha Jackson. “I was very confused,” Kelvin Jackson told a News-Tribune reporter. “Who was this person, and why was she involved?” He soon found out. Since investigators could find no evidence of domestic violence (Keisha Jackson in fact did not claim, at least at first, that physical abuse had occurred), Fortson would level numerous accusations against him that questioned his “integrity” and financial stability. Kelvin Jackson sent several emails of complaint to her supervisors, which they ignored. Fortson complained that if Jackson continued to “harass my supervisors” with complaints about her behavior, “I will be forced to get a anti-harassment order against him.”

Kelvin Jackson’s daughter, Mani, testified that she had been coached by Fortson and her mother on what to say to child protective service counselors about her father, while her brother—perhaps not surprising given the complicated nature of the relationship between mother and son in the African-American community—was apparently brainwashed against his father, and still lives with his mother, currently out of prison awaiting her court date on kidnapping charges. The daughter chose to live with her father; when asked the million-dollar question if her father abused her, as Fortson and her mother claimed, she said he never did. The city’s investigation into Fortson’s actions concluded that her supervisors had wrongly allowed her to run amuck, obviously because it was the “politically correct” thing to do, given the hypersensitivity that domestic violence issue engenders.

But back to the point I want to make. Is the fact that men are “stronger” than women (at least in certain contexts) and potentially can inflict greater physical harm, sufficient reason to ignore the female equation in domestic violence? Apparently so. A brave few researchers, who recognize that most domestic violence does not occur in a vacuum, or accept the aggressive male/passive female stereotype that solely condemns men, have chosen to use “family conflict” over “domestic violence” as base point. Women’s advocates often use the terms of “family conflict” to inflate domestic violence numbers while omitting actions by women that fit under those terms.

The aggressive behavior of women is "the third rail of the domestic violence field" according to Richard Gelles, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work. “Touch it and you get electrocuted." Not surprisingly, studies on the subject by Gelles and others have caused an avalanche of denials and self-rationalizations in the domestic violence industry.

According to Gelles, the “ lifetime risk” of a woman being hit in some fashion (however minor) by a male partner is about 28 percent, although he admits that those researchers with political agendas might come-up with higher numbers. Many such studies might claim that verbal abuse and creating an “intimidating” environment constitutes domestic violence; other studies simply focus on reports from women’s shelters, or cite crime statistics that obscure the fact that in many localities where police are required to make an arrest, males are more likely to be arrested even if the female is equally or more at fault. Gelles points out that such studies (unlike his) ignore the fact that a man's “lifetime risk” of being hit by a female partner is also about equal. Frankly, in most cases, this “violence” is of a minor degree, but in a heated situation, it could easily escalate into something more.

A recent USA Today story mentioned a study by some “courageous women” who expressed shock that “The number of women who hit first or hit back is much greater than has been generally assumed.” One researcher was “surprised by the frequency of aggressive acts by women and by the number of men who are afraid of partners who assault them.” Naturally, in order not to upset women’s advocates unduly, it was nevertheless pointed out that men are bigger and stronger, and that what they do was much worse.

Since such studies do upset some people with a permanent victim complex, it is to be expected there are “studies” coming out of the woodwork excusing women who commit domestic violence. A Georgia State University (yeah, I never heard of it either) study minimized domestic violence perpetrated by women by giving their violent actions “context,” with the aid of pioneering work “exploring women’s uses of violence by bringing together feminist sociopolitical analysis and bell hooks’s concept of patriarchal violence in the home.” Now don’t give the fact of your lack of objectivity away so easily.

A study entitled “A Working Analysis of Women’s Use of Violence in the Context of Learning, Opportunity, and Choice” determined that using “a community sample of couples” shows that “although women may hit their partners more often than men do, if context and meaning is included in the assessment of violence, male violence is considerably more likely than female violence to be dangerous and threatening. The data presented also demonstrate that male-perpetrated marital violence is likely to lead to serious injury and greatly increases women's risk of anxiety, whereas female-perpetrated marital violence has neither of these consequences for men.”

That kind of mendacity really gets my craw. What do these women know what it is like to be a man living with a woman with a personality disorder that requires her to constantly whine, yell and scream? Especially when you cannot reason out an issue with such a person? What kind of atmosphere does that create? This does not justify violence, but it does bring into the equation female culpability in creating an atmosphere in which domestic violence can occur. After all, women are more “verbal” than men.

I am not going to make the claim that domestic violence perpetrated by men and women are the same, even if they do occur in equal amounts. We have seen and heard all the horror stories and anecdotes. But I won’t be cowed into denying reality. We shouldn’t be excusing domestic violence whoever commits it. Talk about how to stop domestic violence that always focusing on what the male needs to do needs to go. The “studies” that suggest that women are “justified” in using domestic violence, even against a male who is not physically aggressive, by “shouting over” male complaints, are useful merely for exposing the hypocrisy of them. I have listened to too many women whose verbal activity constitutes abusive behavior. Given the recent incident in the King County Metro bus tunnel, where one female beat and robbed another female right in front of security guards who did nothing, it is obvious that today, women are clearly no longer afraid not only to claim violence, but to engage in it as well.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The media's golf game

Fox Sports radio has a bad habit of emulating its irresponsible partner, Fox News. The other day, two entirely unserious talkaholics on this so-called sports network had on a guest from VH1 to talk about her antipathy toward Tiger Woods. The problem with this, of course, is that besides the fact that VH1 has nothing to do with sports—let alone have any current connection to music—it seems to specialize in mostly idiotic “reality” programming featuring the kind of low-level divas with personality issues that Woods was accused of playing around with in his off-time.

Let’s be frank for one minute. The media created the hyperactive atmosphere around Woods that allowed floozies to buzz around him like flies. Woods obviously could not—or would not—swat them away. He liked their attention and they were more than willing. He should never have married until he became bored with all the attention, or was too old to play that game. Woods has been receiving such attention since he was still in single digits, like Michael Jackson and many other one-time child celebrities. Many of them are infamous for not quite growing up. Woods has actually done better than most, at least as far as career success is concerned. The difference is that the golf world is unused to such attention. But Woods was something special; he was a black man (much as he is loath to admit it) in a white sport, a game that was played mainly in exclusive country clubs that barred people like Woods from entering save as groundskeepers. And he was great at the game. Not good, great. But it wasn’t enough for the media to simply keep score; unlike football and other sports where the focus was more on the team success, the focus of golf is entirely on the individual—and Woods had far more than his fair share. His fellow golfers were often vocally envious of the attention he received, even when it helped raise attendance and paydays. But it came at a cost. It was like a drug where the highs are very high, and the lows are very low.

Michelle Wie was also a victim of the air of unreality created by the media; 60 Minutes had not one, but two segments about her. When she turned pro at 16, the hype was such that Nike made her the highest paid women’s golfer before she played even one round of professional golf. This didn’t translate into success on the golf course; at a time when Morgan Pressel became the youngest LPGA player to win a major championship at age 18, Wie was struggling to even break par, let alone make a cut. Her foolish desire to play in PGA events where she continually embarrassed herself (such as at the John Deere Classic—one of the low-end events—where she had to be carted off the course for heat exhaustion) was driven in part by a hyperactive media which fueled the immature Wie’s bloated egotism. By the time she (finally) won her first tournament after four years as a professional, she was a virtual laughing stock and mere object of cynical curiosity: How bad could she possibly get? For her part Wie could never quite come to grips with the fact that the media was wrong: She wasn’t that great. She wasn’t the next Tiger Woods. And her immaturity hasn’t left her, either. At the Kia Classic a few months ago, Wie grounded her club in a hazard, which cost her two shots and $90,000. This wasn’t the first time Wie forgot to read the rule book; this was the third time she had been cited for grounding in her career, and on another occasion forgot to sign her score card after the final round. After this past episode, Wie spent more than ten minutes arguing with rules officials, even though the infraction was plain to everyone but her. When it became clear there was going to be no reversal, Wie began to break down in tears, like a spoiled little girl who thought she could lie her way out of it. How do I know this? The Golf Channel had a camera crew inside the officials’ tent, recording every wretched word of it. That is what media “adulation” will get you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Assimilation Discrimination

I was born in Cleveland (the one in Ohio) and spent most of my youth residing in Wisconsin. I lived in mostly white neighborhoods and attended nearly all-white schools. I grew-up listening to Seventies AM top-forty radio; Casey Kasem’s AT40 was my favorite radio show. Back then, I never thought of myself as being different than anyone else, although I recall when I was four years of age, a bunch of kids—all white—held me on the ground and stuffed grass in my mouth; I didn’t know why they did that, but I pretty much kept to myself afterwards. As I grew older, the way people acted toward me changed in subtle ways, as if I was part of some secret society I didn’t know about, but that they didn’t wish to enter; or they needed to feel sorry for me for some reason. Sometimes people were less subtle concerning their opinion about my relative position in society, or how I fit (or did not fit) in their world.

Example: I used to record some favorite songs off a pile of CDs onto cassette tape (yeah, I’m that old). One day I was sitting in the newsroom of the student paper at the university I attended, typing in some story on an ancient word processor that didn’t have a spellchecker. I was listening to one of my tapes when another student informed me that “That isn’t Your music.” What did he mean? Since I was, in his eyes, a “Mexican,” me listening to “American” music was mere interloping—my “culture” couldn’t produce such music. “My” music, apparently, was mariachi stuff that I was unfamiliar with except from television commercials. Of course, he could have meant “white” music, although that would have been an error, because I also had Seventies soul and R&B songs on my tapes.

I am also a collector of “classic” films on DVD. One day recently I was in a Big Lots in Kent, Washington, when after not finding my first priority, I investigated a large bin that contained $3 DVDs. I had no intention of buying junk, so I carefully looked through the bin for a title I might be interested in. But this behavior aroused the suspicion of the store’s manager; since “Mexicans” are too stupid to have “culture,” I was clearly wasting time in order to find an opportune moment to steal something. The manager moved his bulky, bald frame behind me, and started pretending to fuss with straightening out some items on a shelf. His intention was to intimidate me and let me know he had his eye on me, and that I’d better leave. But I didn’t leave, right away. After the manager couldn’t fake what he was doing anymore, he moved off to another section and started giving me sneaky looks. I continued looking through the bin, but since I didn’t get the “message,” the manager returned to fumbling with the shelf behind me; at that point I threw up my hands, said “I’ve had enough of you, Adolf” and marched out of the store. The odd thing is that people like this think that this “positive” for business; it is actually quite stupid.

There is a point to this story. One of the biggest myths concerning the “Mexican” menace is that it threatens the American way of life because they don’t want to “assimilate.” This is the myth that George Bush perpetuated in front of Latino school children when he told them they needed to learn the “culture” and the history of the country. This is pure hypocrisy. American “culture” is little more than “Do your own thing” within the limits of the law and local mores; the closest thing to an inherently American cultural contribution to the world is rock and roll music. As for history, most Americans couldn’t pass the naturalization test given to would-be citizens; would-be presidential contender Sarah Palin foundered when asked to name her “favorite” founding father; she hummed and hawed before belatedly she remembered who the first president of the country was (or maybe she read it off a hastily written cue-card by a Fox News employee).

Obama, meanwhile, gave a speech recently on immigration reform in which he chastised Latino immigrants for an alleged lack of desire to learn English. Again, this wasn’t derived from actual fact, but playing to the beliefs of bigots that they were not. Obama and the people who was speaking for don’t care about Eastern European immigrants who are allowed to bring their parents over who don’t feel the need to learn English, or—because of lingering guilt from the Vietnam War—allowing Southeast Asians to arrive by the plane load (or the shipping container load), where they display American flags on their autos and congregate in discrete communities where they practice their own culture and speak their own language and be rude and hostile to other immigrant groups. That’s OK, because of the guilt; it doesn’t matter that a million or so are in the country illegally, through Canada or those shipping containers. ICE doesn’t bother them at all, because it isn’t politically useful.

The fact is that there is no terribly obvious “cultural” difference that threatens to engulf the U.S. in a barbarian culture, particularly given the communication age where everyone aspires to be like everyone else (save in Muslim countries), and certainly nowhere near the scale when Germanic barbarians changed the Roman world. What worries Pat Buchanan and his ilk is not a change in “culture,” but a change in skin color. What they fear is assimilation, or “assimilation” not on their terms—meaning voluntarily subordinating one’s self to an inferior position.
Obama also chastised “Mexicans” for not paying taxes. Again this is a common belief based on nothing more than the belief that they don’t, not actual fact. There are no credible studies that make this claim, but there are studies that indicate that undocumented workers not only do pay taxes, but in many locales, like Washington state, they pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes, probably because they don’t avail themselves to tax skimming or the “sovereign citizen” ideology—the members of which claim to be “patriotic.” When someone goes to a retail store, the cashiers don’t say to a customer that if they are an illegal alien, they don’t have to pay the ten percent sales tax. Maybe employees of the “informal” economy don’t pay taxes, but that goes way beyond the simple street-corner laborer. In legitimate businesses, all employees are required to pay some amount of federal taxes; if they don’t have a Social Security number, they must pay through a tax ID number. This not paying taxes is probably the biggest lie that anti-immigrant fanatics have foisted on an ignorant public—which apparently includes Obama’s speech writers as well. It would have been more accurate to say that the poorest indigenous Indian paid more in taxes in one day than did Exxon all of last year.

There is an element of hypocrisy here. There always is. White people always want to change the terms of the debate when it comes to race or “ethnicity” in order to justify their beliefs or actions. For example, a white Southerner might say there is a difference between a black person and a n---r; blacks are “good” and n---rs are “bad.” They are only prejudiced against the people they refer to as n---rs. The problem is you never hear them use the term black, only the N-word—i.e. they are all “bad.” Similarly, it is claimed that those so inclined are only prejudiced against illegal aliens, except that since a single group is being targeted, how do you distinguish? You don’t; all are “suspect.” As Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, with her bleach-blonde hair and the Arian-Nordic-Nazi social philosophy she shares with Russell Pearce and his neo-Nazi friends, signed the Arizona immigration law, she declared that this law was designed to stem the tide of “crime” that illegal immigrants brought into the country, and had nothing to do with racial profiling. Technically she is right: being an illegal is a crime, although again rational studies on the matter demonstrate that illegal aliens are more likely than native citizens to avoid committing real crimes, for obvious reasons.

Underlining the Arizonan brand of hypocrisy is the laughably mendacious “training” videos just released to Arizona police officers on how to avoid the “appearance” of racial profiling while carrying out their “duties,” which requires them to corral anyone they “suspect” of being illegal; the police, of course, are not actually required to watch it. Various law enforcement officials repeated ad nauseam that racial profiling is not to be tolerated, but it is unclear how, exactly, this will be prevented. We must take an officer’s word that he or she is not stopping you because you look like a Mexican. Cop representative Brian Livingston intones that there will be mischievous types (like “Mexicans” who are college-educated, native-born U.S. citizens) who will “test” officers to see if they will use race as an excuse to make a stop. Don’t be “baited,” he says, into doing anything that would be construed as discriminatory. But that still leaves the slippery question of how to avoid the appearance of stopping someone for being a “Mexican.” By the way they dress (not clearly defined), how well they speak English (but what about those Asian, African and Eastern European immigrants—and some “natives” who speak in that incomprehensible redneck tongue?), and if they are walking “in tandem”—meaning walking like ducks in a row, or something (why bother asking what crazed mind came-up with that idiocy, since the law is idiotic).

This is the world I live in. Be glad you don’t have to live in it.