Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Welfare queens in America

You know, they're just lazy, drug addicts, poorly educated, naturally inclined parasites.... The taker class.

The Best of American Capitalism

Monday, January 05, 2015

White America's secret, part 4

The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome.
(Andrea Tantaros, Fox News TV co-host, responding to U.S. Senate report on torture)

The loneliest moment in someone's life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.
(The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald)


It's the unsettling truth that may be the hardest part right now for a large portion of white America; after all, the U.S. has the oldest functioning Constitution in the world, and that might be the problem on any number of levels.

It was the brilliant James Madison, author of the United States Bill of Rights and one of the authors of The Federalist Papers who, in 1787, said, “They ought to be constituted [the nation] as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” Ah, always the dangerous mob, the rabble, a consistent yet unspoken “through-line” of the United States.

Is an 18th century document going to serve our needs in the 21st century? Most likely not. Our social and political myths—created most certainly by white America and in particular the “minority of the opulent”--have largely remained intact for more than 200 years. The last occupying foreign army in the United States was the British during the war of 1812.

The many reasons given for not voting in the recent mid-term election represent at the very least intellectual laziness, be they offered by the “millennials,” those that just find the Republican party repugnant and of course the “disenchanted” liberals. But we've reached the point where we can probably say “so what” with some qualifications. The rot has advanced too far.

The Democratic party is a feckless relic, a hollow shell; yet, it possibly could morph into some sort of sane conservative movement, at some point in the future. The handful of genuine Democratic political progressives in the party, and they are only a handful, ought to be spending their time building a new progressive movement elsewhere.

The Republican party, the party of Lincoln, at least outside the benighted Confederacy, is really about the intentional development of an authentic, nativist, totalitarian movement, what the Europeans were familiar with in the 20th century and that may be once again rearing its head in Europe in the 21st century.

Black America, more than anyone else, clearly has a compelling reason to develop an organized and disciplined movement, one capable of acquiring greater political power at the national and most definitely at the local level.

The Occupy movement demonstrated that people could come together for political change with a serious moral purpose, but Occupy ultimately floundered and became a minor irritant to the kleptocracy and the political hacks that do its bidding.

We seem to have difficulty accepting the fact at the present time, but radical change is never a brief “get together” without any clear, definable objectives. To succeed, a movement has to ultimately bring in large, diverse groups of people of all ages, who aren't going away under any circumstances.

Of course it's about power, gathering it in and confronting those who refuse to give it up. Above all, it has to be unremitting and offer an understandable alternative to the status quo. This is not something done overnight nor is it a fervent wish for some messianic vision to make it happen.

An excellent time to begin is in January 2015. There will be more than enough motivation to go around. Once again from The Great Gatsby, a novel about illusion: “Americans while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry.” Well, we'll find out.

For an interesting documentary on the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the use of police repression and the connections between what happened more than a 100 years ago and today, watch the video below.

Some Additional Reading and Considering Other Possibilities:

Thursday, January 01, 2015

How to go California

Hens, unbound

We need to pressure the rest of the United States and across the planet. Change can happen. Non-humans--everywhere--deserve more than unremitting human cruelty.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

So long 2014

Censorship of anything, at any time, in any place, on whatever pretense, has always been and always will be the last resort of the boob and the bigot
(Eugene O'Neil, playwright)

We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.
(Alan Turing, mathematician)

We live in capitalism. It's power seems inescapable. So did the divine rights of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.
(Ursula K. Guin, writer)

“With a little help from my friends”

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A small Christmas present for non-humans

Considering how we humans in general treat each other, it's not surprising how we deal with non-humans. But now perhaps one small step in human behavior, but much more to be done.

Argentina: Court grants orangutan basic rights

Monday, December 15, 2014

White America's secret, part 3

“Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam...”
(poem and song published in 1870s)

Round em up, round them up

The 1950s and 1960s were the heyday of the American Western. It was also one of our most popular exports. Television shows like Bonanza, Wagon Train, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Have Gun, Will Travel and Maverick were among the most highly rated programs on television. I recently watched the 1959 TV pilot of Rawhide, where Clint Eastwood made his first appearance, about cowboys on a cattle drive.

It's quintessentially American … sort of. Stoic white men and go-it-alone kind of guys solve problems, protect children and the women folk and aren't afraid to use their guns, which of course are omnipresent. This view was in fact part of the West but only one small part, the part that has always been most comfortable to white people, who decided how the West “was won.”

The real story is of course much broader, much more ambiguous and oftentimes far darker, literally and figuratively, and the laconic lone cowboy was more often than not an unremarkable cog in a much bigger system. It is also about how large corporations and politicians first colluded on a large scale to plunder the resources of the West and where the ends justified the means.

The state of Idaho is sponsoring a Killing Competition on National Forest Lands. The contestants will be competing for cash prizes. The prizes go to those that kill the most wolves, coyotes and other wild life. To paraphrase Rap Brown, blood lust “is as American as cherry pie.”Yeah, it's about continued disrespect and disconnect but more important it's about mass delusion.

It's part of an old story about taming the frontier. Ranching interests today in the western states are the ones behind most of the shooting, trapping and poisoning of millions of animals. Ranchers drove the Mexican gray wolf to extinction and continually oppose any recovery efforts. Grazing on public lands has threatened or endangered hundreds of species, and thousands of miles of rivers have been polluted by livestock waste

Politicians in the western states love to talk about their Libertarian roots and how they are the “true” protectors of the environment and the authentic America. It's once again about white America making up stuff on a grand scale. No doubt many of these characters and their constituents actually believe the claptrap they utter—but why wouldn't they.

I hear the chickens are coming home

“You didn't hear about the terrorists planning to blow up the subway in Paris?” I had not. “Do you think it's safe to fly to New York”? I said I thought it was perfectly safe.

We had one of the lowest voter turnouts in years (36%) for our recent mid-term elections, terrible even by the dismal American standard, yet some $3.6 billion was spent to “buy the election.” The low voter turnout wasn't because of widespread contentment among the citizenry. But who did vote were the older, whiter, wealthier and more conservative voters. And who they voted into office at both the national and state level will guarantee all of us “interesting times” come January 2015.

I suspect the next two years will be unpleasant for a great many Americans, especially for those of us that don't want to revisit the 1950s let alone the nostalgic era of President William McKinley, 1897-1901.

“What do those people want?” “You ought to open an account in the Caymans, only the ignorant pay more taxes than they should.” “Stopping the system of dependency in this country is the most important thing we can do.” “We're the real victims.” “Next time we'll have a President who is, well, you know.”

I happened to run across a particular group of tennis players this past summer, who I ended up playing with periodically. They were white men, all over the age of 55, middle class, some of whom were retired … engineers, business types, one or two had worked in the public sector, with grown children and grandchildren. I listened to what they had to say.

They were a subset of white America but have always been an influential constituency and certain about their place in the order of things, until recently. It's about a world they know that seems to be now unraveling, difficult for many of them to comprehend. The television and radio info-entertainers tell them that, while they're in the right, they also ought to be afraid—of virtually everything. And they are resisting the inevitable changes, sometimes mindlessly.

Friday, December 12, 2014

White America's secret, part 2

Men, women and children were piled up on that little flat in one confused mass. Blood ran like water ...
Big Foot's band was converted into good Indians.
(A soldier who participated in The Wounded Knee Massacre, December 29, 1890)

A lust for conquest had already destroyed the Great Republic, because trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home.
(Mark Twain, during U.S. conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1902 )

Verscharfte Vernehmung [Enhanced Interrogation]
(The Gestapo's Methods of Examination, from a directive by the Gestapo chief, Muller, 1937)

Mohammed was also subjected to rectal rehydration 'without a determination of medical need.' Mohammed's chief interrogator described use of the process as emblematic of their 'total control over the detainee.'
(excerpt from Senate report on CIA torture, December 2014)

Um-m, before post-racial America

Approximately 20 Africans arrived in the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, but we think they were treated as indentured servants. Some supposedly achieved their freedom and became property owners. A lot of historians cite John Punch who, in July 1640, became the first official slave in the English colonies, supposedly because he decided to leave his employer before he'd finished his indentured servitude. The two white men that left with Punch had their servitude extended for a few years unlike Punch, who was placed in permanent bondage for the remainder of his life, with no rights. He became human property.

The “formal institution” of slavery was a gradual process and it took another 150 years or so before it was thoroughly and “legally” entrenched into the fabric of the entire country. Edward Baptist, professor of history at Cornell, has written an economic history of slavery, entitled The Half Has Never Been Told.

Many American history texts have portrayed slavery as a marginal system in the South, a relic of feudalism and perpetrated by a handful of landowners, with many slaves often becoming part of the slave owner’s family or variations of this relatively benign theme. I certainly have known a number of white southerners, who were far from being ignorant racist troglodytes or in any way thought slavery was “not all that bad,” but who still cling to some version of the Gone with the Wind nonsense.

The “war of northern aggression,” as some white southerners still today call the American Civil War, was not about slavery, but was about state's rights. This is a belief still offered by far too many. It is why Baptist's book is an important contribution in sweeping away the illusions of many white Americans and better understanding the very long legacy of slavery, that is far from being a relic of the past. Go to Hate Map to see where some of these groups reside at the present time.

According to Professor Baptist, America's rise to power ( and white privilege ) was very much connected to black slaves. It is a story about global capitalism and where “personal” property superseded all other rights. It most definitely was not a marginal system practiced by a few backwater southern plantation owners. In fact, Baptist doesn't speak of plantations but of slave labor camps. Think of Stalin's Gulags, North Korea's labor camps, and Nazi concentration camps. Work Sets You Free—Arbeit Macht Frei.

At the end of the Civil War in 1865 some 4 million former slaves were set free. Eight million whites in the South, overwhelmingly poor, landless and illiterate, thought of black people as competitors. White southerners were easily manipulated. By 1874 white power in the South had regained control, and the North had lost interest in Reconstruction. We had the West to now “civilize” and for some there was a lot of money to be made. Above all we now understood industrial warfare after the carnage of the Civil War..