Friday, March 30, 2012

3/30/12 - Republicans Defend Racism and Trayvon Martin's Murder

Opposition poster for the 1866 election. Geary...
Opposition poster for the 1866 election. Geary's opponent, Hiester Clymer, ran on a white supremacy platform. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So here we are again. As the old saying goes "The more things change, the more things stay the same." We are now living in a world most would have thought impossible a mere few decades ago, in which a black man holds the highest office in the land, the Presidency of the United States. It feels as if a new era is being ushered into American history, one that might be seen by Americans centuries from now as the dividing line between our racist, exploitative past and the enlightened legacy we invariably left behind.

But then an unarmed black teenager is shot dead by a non-black gun owner and law enforcement enthusiast, and Republicans immediately dust off their black canes and top hats and leap into their well-choreographed "It ain't us, it's them" song-and-dance routine. It's almost like they can't help themselves.

It's hard to explain or rationalize. There seems to be this inherent inability on the Right to be able to admit that racism exists anywhere in the country, in any form whatsoever. What's even more bizarre is that they always attempt to argue against the existence of racism by claiming that those who disagree with them are racist, proving once again that Republicans seem to inherently lack any real sense of irony.

Portrait of U.S. Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL)
Portrait of U.S. Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Take, for example, the comments by Tea Party favorite Rep. Joe 
Walsh (R-Ill.) in response to the controversy surrounding Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) appearing on the House floor in a Hoodie and quoting bible passages. Rush was speaking out in regards to what is now seen by many as the travesty of justice involving the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a young black man whose death was not fully investigated by police at the time, supposedly because the white man who shot him claimed self-defense, despite reasonable evidence to the contrary.

I will grant you that the House floor is technically not the place for activism. I say technically, because the House (and Senate, let's be fair) is regularly populated by whorish politicians who eagerly take the floor to push personal agendas motivated by either ideological biases or lobbyist dollars, often in defiance of public opinion and public interest. Rush's only real mistake in this case was incorporating a prop into his act that defied some dress code that Republicans will no doubt claim is mentioned somewhere in the constitution.

Now... it's bad enough that the Republican presiding over the chamber at the moment (Rep. Gregg Harper of Mississippi) had Rush removed from the floor despite the fact that he was reading quotes from the bible, something Republicans are usually all fighting for the right to do in government buildings. Angrily shouting down a fellow Representative for speaking out against the death of an innocent black child doesn't exactly help the GOP's public image when it comes to race relations. But then, just to make it clear that the Trayvon Martin incident isn't about race,
"I hope Congressman Rush will be as outraged with all of the black on black crime going on in the city of Chicago weekend after weekend," Walsh said. "This is where our outrage has got to be as well."
It's understandable that Walsh might try to indirectly defend the fatal shooting of children, considering how distasteful he seems to find paying the $117,000 he currently owes in late child support payments. It is quite possibly that Walsh actually hates all children, and not just his own. So it's feasible that this Republican Tea Party candidate (two groups not wholly unused to accusations of racism) wasn't even aware of how racist his argument against  Rush truly was.

Česky: Oficiální portrét amerického prezidenta...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's a Republican argument (supposedly based in unshakable logic ) that has been around ever since Reagan's apocryphal (and racist) "Welfare Queens" argument that welfare needed to be eliminated not because they don't care about poor black people, but that poor black people are merely lazy freeloaders taking advantage of the white middle-class taxpayers who unwillingly pay into the Welfare System.

Now, Reagan didn't phrase it exactly that way; I'm merely translating what is obvious to anyone not self-deluded enough to see through the forced logic. The narrative the Republicans are constantly struggling to maintain is that there is no racism left in the world. That way, they can back racist legislation without having to explain how racist it really isn't, even though it is. If they admit that racism is still alive and well, for example, they will invariably have to also admit that disenfranchising black voters is actually a racist act, and not just an attempt to prevent voter fraud.

But the problem is that when you are trying to support a racist ideal is that your logic comes out all eschewed and invariably becomes racist itself. What Rep. Joe "Deadbeat Dad" Walsh is saying here is that his black colleague is out of line because he doesn't speak out against black-on-black violence. The implication here is that he is a hypocrite for singling out this case of a violent white man, because blacks are WAY more violent. He's also implying that a white man killing a black teenager shouldn't be such a big deal because black men kill black teenagers all the time, although in the case of the latter the police tend to actually investigate the incident.

Now, if you think I'm being unfair to Walsh (about his black-on-black violence comment, not the fact that he stiffed his ex-wife and children) and am merely twisting his words to make them sound illogical, try this: the next time a white person is killed by a black person, argue that it's not a big deal, because white-on-white violence happens all of the time. Doesn't work, does it? You know why? Because the outrage isn't about the random color of the two people involved. In the case of Trayvon Martin, the outrage is not that a white man chased down and shot an unarmed black teenager ostensibly because he looked "suspicious" (ie: Black), but that the shooting was not properly investigated by either the police or the media until nearly a month of grass-roots activism helped the case gain national attention. It is about a case of grave injustice that left a teenager dead and his killer uninvestigated or prosecuted. To reduce it to being just about a white-on-black killing is... wait for it... racist.

This "Don't blame us, blacks are even worse" argument comes full circle with the inevitable cries of "Reverse Racism." In this case, the white Republican complains that blacks aren't oppressed or persecuted at all, but instead it is those poor defenseless whites who own the majority of American wealth and control the majority of American power who are constantly discriminated against for being white. To put it another way, they defend their argument that there is no real racism in America anymore by claiming that they are the victims of racism. Makes perfect sense, no?

Hoodie (Photo credit: jollyUK)
Instead of taking apart this flawed logic (which is a lengthy enough argument in it's own right), look at the term they have dubbed this incessant whining about being discriminated against: "Reverse Racism." This term that the Right has coined exposes their blindness to the inherent racism involved in their argument. The word Racism does not mean "whites prejudice against black," it means a hatred or intolerance of another race. Doesn't matter what that race is, hating it for being just that is racism. "Reverse Racism," therefore, would actually be a lack of racism, or rather, loving somebody because of their race. With this in mind, tell me how these "There is no Racism in America" Republicans can make such a claim when they don't even know what the word Racism means? Or, to put it another way, believing that racism is just about blacks is... wait for it... racist.

Now, if you're a Republican reading this (the thought just made me giggle), save your indignation for someone who cares. Launching into the predictable "Oh Yeah, well Liberals blah blah blah" defense is a complete waste of time, and don't cry to me that I've unfairly branded you as a racist just because you're a Republican. Suck it up, call me a Reverse Racist, and go back to applauding Newt Gingrich for saying that child labor laws should be lifted so that underage black children can work as janitors in their own schools and learn how to be productive members of society. Besides, if you're really that offended, I can switch back to talking about how much Republicans hate women. There's plenty of supporting evidence there as well.
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

3/28/12 - Trayvon Martin and Obamacare

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford
Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford (Photo credit: werthmedia)
All of a sudden I'm entering 2011 as the current date instead of 2012. Something deep within my subconscious is suddenly attempting to turn back the clock. This can't be a good sign.


The Trayvon Martin tragedy has becoming the newest thing to get pissed about, and rightfully so. However, as usual, passionate indignation mixed with media exploitation has created an echo chamber that threatens to drown out what the real issue is here.

The politicians and talking heads aren't making anything easier, either (As if they ever do). In the latest little back and forth, you've got Obama coming out and empathizing with Trayvon Martin's family and remarking how close to home this kind of thing strikes when you're a black father. This turned out to be a bad move, as Imaginary Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich and John "I'm more religiously alien than the Mormon I'm running against" Santorum immediately jumped to the defense of the increasingly marginalized and persecuted White America by claiming that Obama was trying to divide the nation by injecting race into the situation. Of course, these guys are probably too busy running presidential campaigns (or in Gingrich's case, book signing tours disguised as presidential campaigns) to notice that the country is already divided by the Trayvon Martin tragedy: on one side are all of the people outraged at the lack of justice (once again) involving and innocent black teenager being gunned down, and on the other side are all of the white people attempting to defend the man who shot a kid armed with a bag of Skittles without sounding racist.

The joke, of course, is that race is a major issue in the Trayvon Martin case, but it isn't what we should all be focusing on. Sending Skittles to police stations and wearing hoodies in solidarity is the kind of feel-good media-friendly activism that Michael Moore built his career on, but all that does is distract from the more long-reaching tragedy that took place. We can spend all of our time digging into Zimmerman's past and replaying 911 calls to figure out whether he said "Coon" or "Goon", but rallying against one idiot as an effigy of racial prejudice does little more than stoke the flames of outrage and give everyone a chance to shout, but all of the Hoodie Activism in the world is going to decrease the amount of racism in the world. Racists actually tend to dig their heels in on incidents like this, in case you haven't noticed.

The real issue, and the problem that should be dominating our dialogue instead of Zimmerman's student status, is the institutionalized bias that resulted in a man found standing over a dead teenager with a smoking gun essentially being taken at his word by police to such an extent that witnesses who contradicted his story were told they were wrong, and not even being taken into custody despite having a previous criminal record. Whether this bias was due to the fact that Zimmerman was white and Martin was black, or that Zimmerman's father is a former judge, is a minor point over the greater issue that the actions of the police department in this case have obviously been guided by some internal ideology, and not a concern for protecting public safety or serving justice.

Add to this the existence of pro-gun lobby laws like macho-sounding "Stand Your Ground" law, which begs to ask whether public safety legislation that sounds like an NRA slogan or a 70's Vigilante Film Title should ever be passed into law, and you have government and law enforcement creating an environment in which violence is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged. I'm not what you would call a pacifist. I'm a long-standing fan of Dirty Harry and Death wish. But I also know how to separate testosterone-fueled fantasy from reality. Unlike Zimmerman, apparently, whose paranoid world view sees a black teen in a hoodie with his hand in his pocket as an outlaw that needs to be chased down and brought to "Final Justice." There will always be people like Zimmerman, but if law enforcement officials respond to this kind of overreaction with a pat on the back and a knowing wink, a lot more of them might feel justified in acting out. That, oh outraged citizens, is the real issue at hand.


So, "Obamacare" finally gets it's day in court, and the crazies crawl out of the woodwork to dance in front of the cameras and put on a paranoid schizoid show for the media. I'm not talking about the "Borthers" or "Teabaggers" either; these are elected officials showing off their crazy as they suck up the free attention by spouting crackpot ideology that would sound just as authentic being muttered by a derelict wrapped in tin foil rubbing against you in a crowded subway car.

Take Michele "I have more kids than you!" Bachmann (R-Minn.), for example. Standing among the media circus, happy yet again to be the center of attention (and much like a child, completely unaware of the difference between Good Attention and Bad Attention), Bachmann warned the gathering crowd of anti-health care fanatics that “In the future, you see, we will not be electing a president. We will be electing a health care dictator!"

That's right, people! We'll be electing Health Care Dictators before you know it! Of course, most dictators aren't really elected, at least not fairly, nor do they often bother to defend their policies through a lengthy legal process. Also, most dictators have secret police forces that run around slipping radioactive pellets into the breakfast oatmeal of people who stand around calling them names in front of their palaces while on television.

Even better, however, is the insanely myopic and unflinchingly disconnected question asked by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.): “If government can tell you what to buy in terms of health insurance, what’s next?"

I have to agree with the senator from the great state of Wisconsin (and how proud they must be). If we allow our government to demand that everyone have affordable health care, what could possibly be next? I mean, before you know it, they could start trying to exert control over who we can or can't marry, whether or not we can use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies, force us to have unnecessary medical procedures, or even try to dictate which of us should be allowed to raise children. Senator Johnson is right, any party espousing this kind of madness needs to be stopped in its tracks.

You've got thousands of protesters assembling to warn about Obama's "Death Panels" and "Health Care Rationing" if Obama's plan is put into effect because they are afraid of the government getting between them and their doctors, and they are being led by politicians openly and actively attempting to pass legislation that would allow employers and religious organizations to do the exact thing they fear.

You see? This is what happens when you have a political party run by people with no sense of irony.


Response to my question about what kind of nails a particular nail gun uses: "It should have a fat head, a thick shaft, and be roughly three and a half inches long."

I'm probably getting to old to be giggling, but it sure ain't stopping me.
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Sean Hannity Once Again Leaps to Defense of Racist Murderers and Their Protectors

Sean Hannity On Trayvon Martin: 'Is It Possible That This Was Just A Horrible Accident?' (VIDEO):

This is only shocking if you haven't been listening to Sean Hannity for over a decade on radio and television. This is the same tactic used by him and others whenever a racially motivated attack gains the national spotlight. Go back to his treatment of the Abner Louima case, the Amadou Diallo shooting, and countless other cases in which minorities were either maliciously assaulted or victims overreaction due to racist stereotypes and prejudices. 

The M.O. is always the same for hi and others: Immediately jump to the defense of the aggressor in the situation when it is apparent that race is going to be a major aspect of the media and social attention, then as soon as evidence begins to blatantly contradict their defense, switch gears and ask for a calm. rational, subjective examination of the incident, doing so in such a way so as to imply that those angry and uproarious over the injustice perpetrated are the ones being irrational and jumping to conclusions based solely on social-political motivated agendas. 

They do this because admitting that even one event occurred due to racial prejudices. and that it was initially covered up by law enforcement, risks destroying they narrative they try to keep alive that there is no real racial inequality or institutionalized racism in America anymore. They see every incident like the Trayvon Martin shooting as another Tawana Brawley hoax, and it is in their best ideological interest for everyone else to see it the same way.

Between this and Geraldo Rivera's "Hoodie" comment, it is easy enough to see exactly how far Right Wing commentators are willing go to prevent the victim this crime from gaining victim status.

'via Blog this'
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

3/19/12 - Young Voters, Political Blogging, ASAP, and the War on Women

HUffpost: Mitt Romney Doesn't See How Young Voters 'Could Vote For A Democrat'

So, Mitt can't even begin to conceive how a young person in this day and age could consider voting for a Democratic Candidate. And you know what? I have to agree with him. Let's face it, the Democrats are completely out of touch with America's modern youth to such an extent that it is practically inconceivable that a young adult of voting age would somehow feel that the Democrats have their best interests in mind. That is, of course, unless that young person can't afford health care because of skyrocketing insurance premiums, can't afford to go to college due to skyrocketing tuition costs, has recently been called a slut an a whore by a GOP mouthpiece for using birth control, wants to retain their reproductive rights, is gay or has a friend or parent who is gay, masturbates to pornography, are non-Christian or Muslim, believes in Evolution, knows somebody who is unemployed, are still living with their parents, or has a family member or friend who is currently dependent on one of the many social programs that Republicans keep trying to abolish. But really, what are the odds of that?


In the past, I've done my best not too spend too much time on only politics. This is partly because this is not a political blog, and partly because I have so many interests other than politics. However, it is getting harder and harder to focus on anything else these days. Not only are we in a very politically volatile moment in our country's history (due in no small part to the biggest recession since the Great Depression while orchestrating wars in multiple countries with no clear strategy to speak of), but we are also in a weird era in which politics is rapidly becoming a parody itself. Honestly, how can an rational human being watch such jaw-dropping theatrics and not pause to remark on them? The Republican Party has decided to double down on its efforts to take back the White House by adopting political platforms that sound like Archie Bunker Soliloquies, while the Democratic White House spends most of its time doing its best to not look too liberal, which is no small feat in of itself.

Seriously, how am I expected not to comment on this stuff?


And now, a few words from Lee Camp.


If you use the term ASAP, be it in an email or on a post-it note, no matter what the circumstances, you are a complete and utter douche. Stop it.


The GOP has become an exercise in how not to carry on a logical debate. Take what many people are starting to frame as the Republican War on Women. Republican lawmakers have been stirring up their minority base of angry white men this election cycle (and attempting to distract from the slowly losing economic arguments against Obama) by focusing on anti-women legislation that feels like a retread of everything we've already gone through during the first half of the twentieth century. If they aren't demanding that women receive medically unnecessary ultrasounds before being allowed to have legally protected abortions in order to show them the error of their ways, they're fighting for the right of their employers to decide whether or not their medical insurance should include birth control coverage, and telling them to keep their legs closed if they don't like it.

Then, a law student who was blocked from testifying at a Republican-run Dog & Pony Show that birth control coverage is necessary by sharing a personal anecdote in which a fellow student died from her inability to afford prescription birth control medicines was called a slutty little whore who should film her sexual escapades for men to leer at if she expects them to pay for her sex pills by Republican mouth piece Rush Limbaugh. Needless to say, this (and the refusal of any Republican candidates or politicians to openly repudiate Rush's comments) proved to be the final straw for a lot of people who hadn't yet been drawn into the argument.

Naturally, the resulting claims that the GOP is waging a "War on Women" began to irritate the Right, and so they responded to the justified and wholly demonstrable label the same way that they always do: single out a Democrat who has done something vaguely similar and cry "But they did it, too!" Of course, it's kind of hard to find a Democratic politician who acts like a stereotypical misogynist from the 1940's, so the closest they could come was to complain that controversial political comedian Bill Maher, who recently donated one million dollars to the Democratic Campaign, called Sarah Palin naughty words not once, but twice!

Ignoring the fact that Maher's name-calling and Limbaugh's slander are incomparable (mainly because explaining the logic of this to Limbaugh Ditto-heads and Right Wing Loyalists is both exhausting and pointless), it's also plain to see that hanging their defense of a systematic attack on Women's Rights that have already been fought for and won in the past century on one comedian's foul mouth is a rather flimsy defense. So, what does the GOP do? They double-down on it in hopes of winning back female voters.

There! The Democrat Party is the true enemy of the lady folk! Bill Maher called Sarah Palin names and then donated money them, and somebody called Obama's White House a Boy's Club! That's far worse then our attempts to systematically erode a women's right to make decisions regarding her body without the government or her employer giving her permission to do so! Honest!

This is the kind of defense that only makes sense to you if you are desperate to find validation for your indefensible views.
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