Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Some reasons to “love” this country

There are plenty of reasons to “love” this country, as people like former New York City prosecutor and mayor Rudolph Giuliani would tell us, although it is precisely people like him that cause some of us to wonder why. Giuliani has nothing better to do these days but be a well-paid TV ad pitchman and spokesperson for the extreme right; odd how just because a terrible catastrophe  occurs on someone’s watch (9-11) and allowed his city’s  police department (which already had a long history of corruption and civil rights abuses) to be set free from their accountability leash, he allegedly has “credibility” on what it means to “love” this country.  

Giuliani recently told an audience receptive to his increasingly far-right ignorance that the president does not “love” this country. His “insight” into Obama’s thought processes (possibly divined from an Ouija board, but more likely from his own hate) mean absolutely nothing beyond his own “opinion”—meaning that it is essentially worthless. Remember, this is the same man who told us that  police officers “save” black lives by killing unarmed black men who are selling untaxed cigarettes on sidewalks—and I’m sure he isn’t talking about by lung cancer. Most blacks are killed by fellow “gangstas,” and police seem loath to tangle with them; the unarmed and vulnerable are more typical “game.”

Thus not without cause has there been speculation on the Internet that Giuliani might be going “senile.” One of the symptoms of senility is a person losing self-control in thought and speech, revealing out loud what exists in the dark recesses of a paranoid, (and in the case of Giuliani) racist mind. Of course, Rudy does have his legion of defenders, playing on his supposed “heroic” public persona in the wake of 9 -11, but when one bigoted blowhard (Rush Limbaugh) goes to bat for another, the credibility level tends to add up to zero. 

The reality is that Giuliani’s credibility among the mainstream population was shot long ago, and he has no hope for further public office. The only way for him to make a living these days is having a reputation as a loose cannon in front of a right-wing audience willing to pay to be “entertained” by his antics. It is unfortunate that a few racists of Italian-American heritage (Giuliani, Rick Santorum, Tom Tancredo, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, etc.) tend to be far more vocal publicly than those of more “progressive” opinion—thus seen to be “speaking” for the community—but so it is.  On the other hand, like any group that has seen itself as stereotyped negatively, there is a need for many to act out their frustration of being unfairly “oppressed” on groups they see themselves as “superior” to, mainly racial minority groups. The same is true of people from India who are dark-skinned—usually denoting a lower “caste” in that country. Those like Dinesh “Rational Racist” D’Sousa and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal are examples of those who act out the “I’m not one of them” syndrome. And they call themselves “Americans”? Hating other groups to make yourself feel “better” about yourself is what it means to be “American”?

Let’s be frank: To hate the hater is not “un-American.” To hate other groups because of their race or religion is not “American.” Giuliani absurdly claims that Obama is a “communist” and a “terrorist lover.” His defenders applaud him for “speaking his mind.” I say he has lost his mind. Hey, didn’t 9-11 occur on his and George Bush’s watch, even though the Bush administration did have prior intelligence that an aircraft-based terrorist attack was in the works? Didn’t Ronald Reagan cut-and-run after the Beirut barracks bombing—rather than “stand tall” against Islamic extremists (for that matter, didn’t the Reagan administration tacitly support the Saddam Hussein regime)? Who “hated” America then?

In over six years, how many terrorist attacks have occurred on U.S. soil or against its overseas holdings during the Obama administration? None? Under whose watch was Osama bin-Laden eliminated, after more than seven years at large during the Bush administration? As Big Daddy  would say, “Mendacity, mendacity—always mendacity” from Obama’s detractors. Yes, it is true that Iraq is in a shambles, but whose fault is that? When did the U.S. muck-up its hands in a country it apparently it had no intelligent “intelligence” in regard to the violent sectarian reality on the ground? Oh yes, when we were told about those “weapons of mass destruction” and Al-Qaeda links that never existed. The bottom is that the right-wing warchickens were the ones who opened that Pandora’s Box of extremist violence, and they are too cowardly to “own” it once everything has gone wrong. 

Let’s just say that some of us don’t “hate” America—just some of the people in it. For many of us, bigoted hypocrites like Giuliani are one of those people.

Other reasons to “love” America:

The Seattle Weekly film critics waxed thoughtful last week about the recognition of the gay life style (or not enough of it) by the Oscar nomination a couple of actors, but completely ignored the controversy about the fact that none of the 20 acting nominees were non-whites—and plenty of those who were nominated were Brits, that is not American. You “love” this country by giving away a quintessentially American honor to non-Americans? After all, they don’t give Americans the British version of the award (BAFTA).  It is kind of a joke, because there are plenty of “foreign” performances every year just as good or better than that given by the British (but give them credit: they can sell any dumb American a sack of dog doo with that “accent”). There is of course a “foreign language” category, but that has nothing to do with performers.  I say British films with British actors should go in a “foreign films” category, to be honest about it; it is unfair not just to other American actors, but to the rest of the world. As far as I’m concerned, the arrogant, elitist British pose is more foreign to American cultural “ideology” than that of other countries (except maybe that of the French).

More reasons:

Alabama congressman Mo Brooks, who has a history of virulent anti-immigrant views, and  who has suggested that Obama be “impeached” for his handling of immigration, recently blamed the outbreak of measles and other diseases on illegal immigrant children, rather than the well-publicized fact of paranoia of many “native” parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated because of “concerns” about possible infection. “It might be the enterovirus that has a heavy presence in Central and South America that has caused deaths of American children over the past 6 to 9 months.” There is no evidence that there is any truth to this, but then again, Lou Dobbs didn’t need the help of facts either when he was making similar claims on CNN.  Of course, one reason Brooks might believe this is because he is ignorant of the fact that children in Latin America actually have a higher vaccination rate than American children.

I’ve mentioned this story before, but I was the target of such ignorance when I worked at the airport. During the so-called swine flu “epidemic” a few years ago, a flight attendant asked me in all seriousness if I had the “flu,” even though I did not appear “ill” and was not. She clearly was reacting to my assumed “ethnicity” and the stereotypes thereof.  I just glared at her, to which she backtracked somewhat, claiming that she was only “joking.” 

Where else is the “love” to be found? The Stranger has informed us of its ongoing efforts to educate the public concerning a husky-voiced, high-testosterone and racist white female Seattle police officer named Cynthia Whitlach, who apparently accosted an elderly black male last year who was using a golf putter as a walker. Despite having no reason to do so save her own dark demons, she harassed and then arrested him for being “uncooperative.” Interestingly, Whitlach wrote on her Facebook page about “black people’s paranoia that white people are out to get them,” and she couldn’t have proved it any more thoroughly by her own actions. For some reason, this incident was never reported to the Office of Police Accountability despite the ongoing Justice Department oversight of SPD “reform”; however, some pestering and prodding by outside agitators has forced the people to whom it may concern to at least acknowledge the episode. Still, it demonstrates the fact that nothing has changed in the SPD’s culture. 

And then there is the story about how the police in the rural town of Pasco, where the majority of the population are Hispanic farm laborers, views the citizenry as their own private shooting gallery. In the past six months, police their have shot and killed four people—more, we are told, than all the people killed by police in Germany (and Britain) in the past three years. The latest shooting of an orchard worker, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, is alleged to have occurred when he started throwing rocks at police, reason unknown. Is that the best story the police could come up with? A video of the incident apparently shows police firing five shots at a fleeing Montes, then shows him stopping and facing them—presumably in compliance with their demand to stop so that they would stop shooting at him—but police simply fired three more shots, killing him. 

In this case like many others across the nation, we see police clearly going beyond necessary force. It is also likely that they instigated an incident with a man they had a “history” of run-ins with. What were they hoping to accomplish by harassing a man who didn’t like police because of prior experience with them? Why can’t they just leave people alone just because they don’t like the way they look, or they have an “attitude” that needs to be “addressed” by intimidation? Montes’ actions were far less egregious and his shooting less justifiable than that of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO; yet that case not only was headlines around the country, but front page news in the Seattle Times. Yet the Times has mostly just ignored the Pasco shootings. One suspects that it is a matter of internal politics, especially since this “equal opportunity” employer employs not one “real” Latino in its newsroom, and has its own history of dispersing anti-immigrant propaganda. But then again, what does it matter? In the other three shooting incidents, Pasco police were “cleared” of any wrongdoing. 

And these are things we are supposed to “love” about our country.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Clinton's best "friends" are our worst "enemies"

In spite of my strenuous efforts to avoid entanglements with people generally—and unpleasant people specifically—sometimes it is unpleasantly unavoidable. My sense of justice, reason and common sense often makes it impossible for me to keep my bleeping mouth shut, especially when an unhealthy dose of hypocrisy is added as topping. Take for instance a recent episode in which I found myself sitting in some informal eating establishment, and across the way there was an older white female of 70 years or so, and her companion, an even older woman, perhaps her own mother. The former was chattering on in a contemptuous, mean-spirited manner about the state of the country, and it is clear who she blames for it (I mean, Kent is Republican territory). The other woman never said a word, just sat there like a picture on the wall.

It was declared, for one thing, that all the “good” soldiers are leaving the military. Why? Because they are not being listened to by the “civilians” in government, and the “best” of them are not being promoted. Was she implying that those who were “not the best” were getting promoted, and who in a right-winger’s mind might they be? But then she swerved into another direction that suggested her politics were rather more complicated than initially assumed. She harrumphed knowingly that Hillary Clinton was going to reinstate the draft of the unwilling if she was president, which was what was needed to maintain a strong military. 

Could this person be in fact one of those “disgruntled” Hillary supporters? This seemed to be confirmed as she went on to assert that the Democrats were “mad” at Barack Obama, boldly predicting that he “very definitely” was not going to be “reelected,” and in a malignant tone, “Obama is an idiot.” 

Now, only an “idiot” would not know that Obama was “reelected” in 2012, and by constitutional amendment is barred from running for another presidential term. Funny how an “idiot” can win two presidential elections despite the “handicap” of being black and—according to Hillary fanatic Harriet Christian, “inadequate.” Surely millions of resentful Hillary supporters refused to vote for him out of pure vindictiveness. Yet even a white man with a Grecian profile who made millions in the financial gambling racket (using other people’s money) could not beat him despite Obama’s apparent “unpopularity” and “idiocy.” In regard to the draft, although there was some linkage between reinstating it and Clinton, on Fox News Hillary stated more or less emphatically that she had no intention of doing so if elected president. 

The reality is that there is no logical sense to suggest that the country is going down the tube under this administration any quicker than previous administrations. There have been gloom and doomsayers ever since there have been people; it is only morons who told us that it was “Morning in America” and then promptly put in place irresponsible policies for the benefit of the few, which left unchecked will lead the country into permanent darkness. The reality is that for the vast majority of the people little has changed in their workaday lives over their lifetimes; unless they win the lottery, life remains a struggle, consumed with work, sleep and some excuse for taking up space. 

This reality is beyond the comprehension of certain people, of course, especially those who have not had the privilege of experiencing misfortune. At the point where I heard the word “idiot” I decided I had enough of this talk in need of rebutting. I informed the speaker that the only “idiot” present was herself, and I went down the list of why this was so. Naturally this was not taken well. Now, some people would have just pretended I didn’t exist, while a lesser number would actually attempt to engage me in reasoned discussion. But the majority of people, like this individual, spontaneously combusted rather than clearly elaborate on her views, relying on “instinct” rather than logic. Actually, “hate” is a better word than “instinct.” Much too often, I find that in intolerant bigots feelings like “hatred,” “vindictiveness” and “revenge” tend to consume any recognition of conditions and actions, cause and effect. It is all almost a “personal” affront to them that they should be “forced” to confront the fact of want in a country of plenty. 

I managed to get myself involved in this frustrating exercise of attempting to insert logic and facts into a discussion where there was no appreciation for either. Various foul terms were ascribed to me, and bemoaning of the “fact” that the country was “paying” for people “like me,” and I should “get a job.” Are not these the same people who think certain groups are “stealing” their jobs? Make up your mind! Of course I knew what she was implying, given my presumed “ethnicity.” 

Addressing her (more) aged companion who never spoke and seemed content to be a sounding board, the speaker muttered that the country needed to come to its “senses.” I suggested it needed to have done so in 2000, before at least 4,000 soldiers were killed and thousands more maimed for no reason. She retorted that I should serve my country (“my” country now?). I told her I served seven years in the Army; how many did you? Taken slightly aback, she could say nothing more than that I should go back in the military, although it was now a little late at my age. As an aside, I once did attempt to re-enlist after I graduated from college; oh, you think that the Army would want a former NCO with a college degree? Of course not. At the time the first Bush was downsizing the military following the supposed “end” of the “Cold War,” and made the numbers almost impossible for people like me to get back in the military—because we were more likely to stay in long enough to retire, and that cost money. So much for wanting to keep “good” people. It was and still is a “budget” issue—new recruits and those who just enlist as a temporary job cost less.

The speaker recovered soon enough from this setback, claiming that she also “served” her country as a nurse (an RN, she puffed out, as if that made it more impressive) for 50 years. She further huffed that she was even “forced” to “help” people “like me.” What the hell did that mean? Did she mean “ethnic”—meaning not “real” Americans? Sub-humans? Human vermin? Minorities of a shade below jaundiced? I declared that I wouldn’t let a bigot like her near me, since she’d probably try to kill me if no one was looking. Once more I left her flustered, insisting that she never killed anyone while on the job. Realizing that she should have taken my assertion rhetorically, she declared that she wouldn’t “help” anyone like me anyways, and I believed her. Yes world, there are people like this in our world today. Some may be as old as the hills, but they have kids and grandkids to influence. Our "conversation" ended with her calling me a "communist," to which I retorted was better than being a "Nazi."

So here we have the not so uncommon intersection of bigotry, extremist political ideology, tyranny, and gender advocacy. Another example of this is Kathleen Parker, a right-wing op-ed writer for the Washington Post who also claims to be a “feminist.” Despite her reactionary politics—especially insofar as a black president is concerned—she put aside all ideological differences and recently gushed ridiculously in favor of Clinton, proclaiming that women can “save the world.” 

From what? Tyranny? Hypocrisy? Injustice? Double standards? How about this case about a local teacher named Darcy Smith, married with children who apparently had sex two or three times a week with a male student for at least four years, when he boarded with the family when he was 13? Former and current students and their parents are beseeching the court to drop child rape charges against her, because she is "well respected" by the community, and is a "good" person. The media doesn't seem much interested in "prosecuting" her either, let alone discussing the disparity in public perception and legal consequences between male and female perpetrators. Why is it that gender politics and hypocrisy seem to go hand in hand? Where is Seattle Times crime reporter/gender victim fanatic Sarah Jean Green to explain this for us? I mean, she can be "objective" for one millisecond, can't she?

And what about this recent report in the local alternative weekly The Stranger about how the state legislature intends to pass a law that will require any man convicted of attempting to do “business” with a female prostitute to be listed on the state “sex offender” list—pretty much a “death sentence” for any kind of life or reputation—while the prostitute is to be regarded as a “victim” of the “crime,” whether or not she is wholly responsible for both her actions and instigating the “transaction.” Gender victim fanatics and fraudulent “studies” are of course driving this issue, as well as hypocritical politicians masquerading as moral paladins. Yet most sex workers are so by their own free will. Why? Because it is “easy” money. It requires no “experience.” Because there are plenty of men out there who are “victims” of their libidos, and can be taken advantage of. I can tell you from personal experience that prostitutes desperate for cash can be pretty damn aggressive when they want to be (like, say, places like Killeen, TX when I was stationed at Fort Hood), although they were completely wasting their time with me. It has nothing to do with the “patriarchy,” as some victimhood fanatics claim; When it comes right down to it, for the most part it is the women who engage in this “business” who are in control.  Yet in this and in many other examples, the gender victim business is booming with no regulation of their irresponsibility.

Anyways, Clinton supposedly has learned from past mistakes, claiming that she is rethinking the way she responds to critics and criticism; she’ll have to, or she’ll be in frequent meltdown mode for all to see once again. We saw that in 2008 when Clinton discovered that merely being a woman wasn’t a free ticket to the presidency like she thought—and she has the temerity now to claim that she was and is the victim of “sexism,” rather than a victim of her own megalomania and sense of  “entitlement.” The problem with this “sexism” accusation is, as “The Angry Black Woman” intimated,  that we are supposed to pretend that something sinister doesn’t lie beneath the surface of this accusation—like racism, or at least the belief that (white) women are more “oppressed.” That is of course ridiculous and mendacious from a merely empirical standpoint. Isn’t calling Obama an “inadequate black male” a somewhat “racist” accusation? I’m certain that there were other Hillary fanatics who agreed with opinionater Bonnie Erbe, who idiotically “urged” Obama to vacate his nomination victory because “whites will not vote for you.” Of course, she probably was referring to white feminists like Eleanor Smeal, who once had the audacity to publicly rail against “racism against white women.” It is talk like this that elicited this statement from “The Angry Black Woman” on her website: 

“And I find it hilarious that the same women spouting racist clap trap (Erica Jong, Gloria Steinem) then have the temerity to demand that black women stand in sisterhood with them. Perhaps it is time for a little history lesson on racism in the feminist movement because clearly I’m supposed to ignore that huge elephant in the middle of the room. Am I meant to think that possessing a vagina automatically means you’re not racist no matter what kinds of things you say?”

There is no doubt in my mind that if Clinton runs, she will take advantage of this racist fringe made up of feminist extremists and “Real Americans”—you know, the “hard-working people, white Americans.” Of course the media will be loath to expose this, because it might alienate minority voters against her. It’s odd, but people like this person I encountered seem to have forgotten about this little fact. On the other hand, this might be a strategy for “victory,” meaning that Clinton is not the “progressive” we are led to believe by Fox News and hate talk radio; there are too many far-right white female elected officials to presume that electing a woman should be interpreted as “progressive.” It is not “progressive” when a person is selected for a post merely because of social ideology and “fairness”; Clarence Thomas is proof enough of that fact.

Here is for hoping that another charismatic, forceful (but with perhaps more “experience”) candidate emerging to unseat Clinton from her perch again. The reality is that she attracts too many people who hate, are not “reliable” Democrats but opportunistic voters who feel compelled to vote for whoever appeals to their sense of victimization, whether as a white person or as a woman.  

As a side note, later on in the day I was standing at a road intersection with a couple of young men who looked like techie types; with my outfit, I could have fit right in with them. While I was waiting for the walk light, I noticed that this woman and her companion just happened to be sitting in their vehicle right behind the crosswalk. I found it amusing that the former—apparently having seen me—was angrily muttering to herself, obviously trying to avoid eye contact; her companion was looking at me with a blank expression, content to be a sounding board as before.  An idea suddenly occurred to me, and when the light allowed me to pass their vehicle, I gave my protagonist—who continued to make a concerted effort not to meet her eyes with mine—something like a Nazi salute; I snickered as I saw her become flustered at the thought that someone actually had the audacity to expose her.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Democrats eating their own.

Today splashed all over the front page of the Seattle Times was news of the resignation of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. I have to admit that while this guy is supposedly a big wheel in that state—having just been elected to his fourth term as governor—I had never heard of him before. I knew that Oregon must have a governor like every other state, but then again, the only reason I know that Jay Inslee is the governor of the state I live in is because he is a Democrat and I need to make certain I don’t vote for a Republican by mistake. 

The principle reason I vote for Democrats over Republicans is because the latter just don’t give a damn about people, playing off the hate of one group against another, generally racial in nature, conning “poor whites” into thinking that the source of their “problems” are not their party of choice’s billionaire and corporate paymasters, but certain groups who are worse off than they are. I am willing to forgive personal lapses in judgment in Democratic candidates, because no one is “perfect,” although in this country these days there are plenty of so-called moral paladins and holier-than-thou types who need reasons to justify their existence and overlook their own faults.

Now in the present case, it seems that now former governor Kitzhaber had a major personal failing that that Republicans and assorted fatuous hypocrites have chosen to see as a “crime.” His current fiancĂ©, Cylvia (that’s “C” as in “S”) Hayes, had apparently bewitched him into thinking that she cares about him and not his position. The principle charge is that Kitzhaber “violated” ethics rules by allowing Hayes to advise him on clean-energy issues while being paid taxpayer money as an outside consultant. Huh? If there is an “ethical” violation, it’s in pretty hazy territory, if you ask me. This might have been less what the Associated Press called a “spiraling crisis” if Hayes did not have a past of doing questionable things for money. This included a brief marriage to an Ethiopian immigrant for $5,000 in 1997. This was her third marriage before she was 29. There was also something about buying land in Washington, the intended purpose for growing marijuana. 

Thus it would appear that the 67-year-old Kitzhaber was so smitten with a woman 21 years his junior and still fairly attractive (with the help of a good dose of a face powder) to overlook her past—if he actually knew about any of it before it all broke out in the press. Republicans had used this information as their “October Surprise” this past election, hoping to defeat Kitzhaber, but he still won in this heavily Democratic state. Unfortunately, the media needs to meet its profit goals with the latest sensationalist story, so The Oregonian issued its opinion that Kitzhaber “broke faith” with the people and could no longer effectively lead the state. He must resign. 

Kitzhaber claims he doesn’t believe that he has done anything wrong; the truth of the matter that it is probably true. As noted, he really is only “guilty” of being foolishly “smitten” with a young gold-digger, and hadn’t thought of, or wasn’t advised of, any potential ethics violation. After all, it isn’t like this kind of thing isn’t uncommon; the new governor, Secretary of State Kate Brown, says she is “bisexual” but is said to be married to a “man.” It is obviously a marriage of political “convenience,” because no one would say they are “bisexual” unless he or she preferred to swing the other way.

But in our day and age, none of this would be a “problem” unless certain people with a political motive wanted to make it one, and Democrats in the legislature and the state attorney general’s office have gone overboard on this, playing the game Republicans want them to. Republicans know how craven and fearful Democrats are over something relatively innocuous in the grand scheme of human frailty. Democrats are so afraid of voter “backlash” that they will do everything they can to create it out of nothing, refusing to fight Republicans toe-to-toe on their mendacity. You think Republicans would call such a personal lapse a “criminal” ethical failure? This is at best a minor ethical lapse, and Kitzhaber is guilty of nothing more than clouding his personal judgment and become involved with someone who would use him for her own gain in return for intimate “favors.” 

Republicans, on the other hand, know all about human failing and are perfectly sanguine about; after all, it is the “privilege” of the rich and powerful. When one of their own gets into trouble, like Gov. Scott Walker—who repeatedly lied to and misled the voters of the state of Wisconsin—all you have to do is get truckloads of money from your out-of-state billionaire friends, flood the airwaves with hate propaganda that fuels the dark side of voters’ minds, “reminding” them that there are much greater “problems” in this world than some insignificant “human” lapse. While right-wing media would call such an attack on a Republican politician as bald-faced partisanship, the “liberal” media—which pretends to occupy the moral high ground, but more like “holier than though” mendacity—never take into account the fact of human frailty, always backing down when the heat is too much, always afraid to confront Republicans with their own hate and contempt for common people.

Democrats have a bad habit of eating their own, always prepared to strike down even their most committed to core party beliefs, pretending to be shamed by a failure to be “perfect.” Personally, it appears to me that the Democratic Party is so fragmented into competing groups with their own narrow objectives that one thinks nothing of destroying another if it can gain advantage from it. Democrats just can’t understand that there is a difference between personal failing and public crime—and they don’t give the public credit for understanding that difference.