ebogjonson.com's politricknal sciences archiveposts about politics
August 31, 2007
the racism fairy visits larry craig's bathroom
Old racism fairy:
New racism fairy:
Sgt. Dave Karsnia: I just, I just, I guess, I guess I'm gonna say I'm just disappointed in you sir. I'm just really am. I expect this from the guy that we get out of the hood. I mean, people vote for you.
Sen. Larry Craig: Yes, they do. (inaudible)
DK: unbelievable, unbelievable.
LC: I'm a respectable person and I don't do these kinds of...
DK: And (inaudible) respect right now though
The thing about the racism fairy is that the same wave of the magic burning cross that converts a poor white person into a racist (pobrecito Kramer!) also forces all the coloreds within a 20 meter radius into an abrupt, unwelcome confrontation with something ugly, exhausting and depressing. The closer white folks are to power's normative tentpoles (maleness, straightness, richness) the less likely they are to know what it's like to be sitting there minding your own business - say, perusing the transcript of chatter between Sen. Larry "I'm not gay in the bathroom" Craig (R-Idaho) and the cop who nabbed him - only to be suddenly sucker-punched by an -ism, in this case white supremacy. Sgt. Dave Karsnia's comment that he'd expect lying and dissembling from a guy "gotten out of the hood" neatly embeds a range of classic white supremacist tropes about hoodish suspects. These tropes are completely from left field in this particular scenario. It's as if Sgt. Karsnia, apropos of nothing and engaged in some inaudible internal dialogue, just figured he'd offer Craig a randomly shaming contrast for good measure. Getting busted cruising for sex in a public bathroom just isn't enough of a faux pas for a sitting, anti-gay Republican senator, but acting like a guy from the hood? Now, that's shameful! Because we all know white Republicans don't lie when caught red handed, don't try manipulate the system to get off, and they definitely don't disrespect the established processes and procedures of law enforcement.
Given how the stakes are constructed in the Larry Craig story, pointing out the bias in Karsnia's admittedly, uh, tossed-off comment isn't likely to send anyone into a tizzy. This story doesn't require any particular presumption of progressive or racial virtue on Karsnia's in order scan legibly, and so white people won't experience much in the way of cognitive dissonance around this particular winkle. If Karsnia was a blogger supporting the good guy in a key senate race, as Jane Hamsher was, or a progressive organization engaged in its yearly convention, well, it would be a different story, wouldn't it? This post would be viewed as divisive, distracting, mean spirited. I would be accused of refusing to give a political ally the benefit of the doubt, for fuzzy logic unsupported by statistics, for political correctness, for being an all-around buzz kill. Shut up and leave your betters to the important work of saving the republic in peace, basically.
Thank god Dave Karsnia is just some schmuck on the job in the Twin Cities, huh? Otherwise, there might be a problem!
August 27, 2007
miss south carolina for AG
I guess that beauty contestant is prolly out of the running to replace Alberto Gonzales.
August 25, 2007
two jack and jill hat-tip "ha!"s
Fox-Backed Democrat Debate Called Off
(AP) Fox News and a black political group say they will not hold a Sept. 23 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, which the leading candidates already were planning to skip.
A new date had not yet been set, Fox News spokesman Michael Murphy said Thursday.
The campaigns of U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards had said they would not participate in the debate. Opponents have criticized Fox as biased against Democrats.
The debate, co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute, was to have been held at the Fox Theatre.
Institute chairman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement on the group's Web site that the "overwhelming number of party presidential debates has created a scheduling challenge."
"Revisiting the CBC Institute's debate schedule will allow the time necessary to complete all debate logistics in an effective manner," he said. The group had said it planned to sponsor two Democratic and two Republican presidential debates. [full item, h/t Jack and Jill Politics]
To echo Jack and Jill Politics blogger Jack Turner:
Big Up/Hat Tip to all in the netroots that helped kill this thing including Robert Greenwald at Fox Attacks, Color of Change, and many, many, many more.
Black Agenda Report's Bruce Dixon writes:
When George Curry's Emerge Magazine published its famous 1993 cover depicting US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as "Lawn Jockey for the Far Right", he used ridicule to ignite a potent WMD --- a weapon of mass discussion among African Americans that clarified black opinion on the uses to which an earlier Bush administration put its prominent black faces. In that spirit, Black Agenda Report and CBC Monitor will be at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in DC this September 26 to establish a new tradition --- the awarding of the "Lawn Jockey" to the three or four African American members of Congress who score lowest on the semi-annual CBC Monitor report cards. The Honorable George Curry will present the awards. It's time to reclaim, to restart and to redeem the African American political conversation, the dialog among and about us that neither black nor white corporate media is willing to air. [full item, h/t Jack and Jill Politics]
While I shed a tear that my own preferred coinage hasn't taken off in this arena -
- I can't wait to see who wins the coveted Lawny in September.
(Those of you confused by the use of the lawn jockey in this case should consult this chart.)
August 24, 2007
giuliani, keeping it real
Water sure does find its level:
Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani has a new team of media consultants with a strong record of electing GOP candidates, sometimes using controversial ads. The team is led by Heath Thompson and his Dallas-based firm, Scott Howell & Company. Thompson, as director of President Bush's 2000 campaign in South Carolina, helped Bush to an 11-point victory in that state.
Last year, a commercial made by Thompson's firm for Tennessee's U.S. Senate race was criticized for what the NAACP and others said were racial overtones.
Run by the Republican National Committee against Democrat Harold Ford, who is black, the ad showed a white woman saying she had met Ford at a Playboy-sponsored party. As the ad ended, the woman, her shoulders bared, whispered into the camera, "Harold, call me." [full story]
(This is an aside, but it took a while to find a youtube stream whose description wasn't of the "look at this funny ad!" variety.)
Ex-Giuliani Michael Meyers advisor recently described Rudy G as someone who "could play on the edge of old racial antipathies," and that sums him up neatly as a racial type, I think. Picking a PR firm with a racial cloud over it (or halo, depending on your POV) is a kind of of racial edge-play, a statement that Rudy won't let anyone mau-mau him into any given decision or action. Rudy's racial antipathies are of that very specific, big city, cop-ish strain where contempt is experienced as a kind of insight or familiarity. Like the ad above or any given article in City Journal, the internal experience of this kind of antipathy is the conviction that one knows something hard-won, unpopular and powerfully telling and true about the Negro - his cranial capacity, for example, or how Harold Ford rolls sexually, or the lyrics to Cop Killer.
Not to go all the way back to Imus, but one of things about the whole nappy-headed ho's thing is that Imus thought he was speaking in, er, jive, which is to say to a large extent he was just saying something he "knew"" black people say all the time. For someone like Imus, a Nappy Headed Ho problem (or a Blackface Joe controversy) is a hypocritical tempest in a media teacup, something driven not by legitimate grievance but by opportunism and realpolitik. Similarly, I'd imagine the complaints about Scott Howell & Company's Ford ad are not about the ad's racism for Giuliani, but its effectiveness.
I was talking to my man Pascal on the phone, and he was telling me that he's already convinced Giuliani is going to get the Republican nod and that he is going to beat Hillary. ("You didn't think Bush was electable first time around either," he reminded me.) Leaving aside the epic scope of the disaster such a turn of events would represent, we can already rest assured from his PR firm that Giuliani is going to run an ugly, ugly campaign.
July 24, 2007
July 22, 2007
these people are at war with you
by "these people" I mean Republicans and conservatives.
Congress' approval rating is below the President's because the country doesn't think very much is happening. Not very much is happening because the Republicans are on a pace to block more votes this Congressional session than have ever been in a session - ever.
Remember this bullshit in '05 about filibusters? Democrats caved on judicial appointees and agreed not to filibuster unless there were "extraordinary circumstances." I guess there must have been a lot of those this year for the Republicans.
our friends in Iraq
so apparently we took out saddam in order to work with saddam
July 14, 2007
our sick countrymen
I really can't get over this video. Besides the fact that old girl looks the neocon version of a hot ghetto mess, I find her blithe misspeak about who swore an oath to mind-boggling. We're never going to get anywhere on anything - a real Mideast policy, health care, whatever - until people like Sara Taylor are out of government. I'm not suggesting a Republican-style attorney purge, but we need to make it plain to the American people that vicious little hacks like Taylor have turned the entire government into a machine with no purpose beyond the advancement of nakedly partisan aims. These people are so up front about their shit not because they're morons but because the theory that all governance is politics lies at the foundation of their world view. As Kyle Sampson testified about the US attorney purge:
"The distinction between 'political' and 'performance-related' reasons for removing a United States attorney is, in my view, largely artificial," Kyle Sampson told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "A U.S. attorney who is unsuccessful from a political perspective ... is unsuccessful." [full story]
These are the same people who don't see a need for a wall between church and state, who believe in a unitary executive whose powers far exceed any of those claimed by American presidents ever. This is all of a piece.
Although Taylor put on the frazzled, "I'm going to cry" face a bunch of times during her testimony, she isn't some unlucky, low-level twit who got in over her head, she was political director for the Bush White House, a partisan operator just like Sampson who got into government precisely to serve party and patrons to the exclusion of all else, fuck the country, Constitution, fuck you, gentle reader. This particular cancer of the soul isn't a universal property of "conservatives." Libby judge Reggie Walton is a black neocon, but he's also a professional who put his legal and Constitutional obligations over his politics in the specific instance of the Libby trial. But people like Taylor have no honor and no professionalism, they represent something altogether different and significantly more sinister. When civil servants are willing to lie to Congress, ignore subpoenas, subvert the vote, and undermine the power of judges, ALL AT THE SAME TIME, we've entered a dangerous moment where the underlying legitimacy of the American government comes in to question. Unless the Democratic congress and a Democratic presidential administration aggressively investigates the full range of these peoples' malfeasance, all bets will be off.
That means trials, impeachments, ended careers, prison terms, disgrace, real accountability. We conduct politics like a video game with no death penalty - bad, malicious or incompetent players allowed to constantly respawn and clog the server with their bullshit, the pundits and politicians who advocate things like a disastrous, illegal, immoral war allowed to walk amongst us and cash checks as if nothing happened. Real accountability also means not listening to anybody who comes at you in the next 20 years talking some shit about the time having come for healing and unity. Lincoln can call for reconstruction after destroying the Confederacy, MacArthur can talk about a higher dignity on the deck of the USS Missouri, but until the back of conservative movement is broken, until the American political landscape is remade and the Supreme Court's retaken we're looking at a long, likely never-ending conflict and almost daily with these people.
there is no mission, just war crimes
THE PRE-WAR MISSION WAS TO RID IRAQ OF WMD
Bush: "Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament." [3/6/03]
AFTER THE WAR BEGAN, THE MISSION EXPANDED
Bush: "Our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people." [3/22/03]
Bush: "Our forces have been given a clear mission: to end a regime that threatened its neighbors and the world with weapons of mass destruction and to free a people that had suffered far too long." [4/14/03]
THEN THE MISSION WAS COMPLETE
Bush: "On Thursday, I visited the USS Abraham Lincoln, now headed home after the longest carrier deployment in recent history. I delivered good news to the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: Their mission is complete, and major combat operations in Iraq have ended." [5/3/03]
BUT THEN IT CONTINUED AGAIN
Bush: "The United States and our allies will complete our mission in Iraq." [7/30/03]
THEN THE MISSION WAS TO DEVELOP A FREE IRAQ
Bush: "That has been our mission all along, to develop the conditions such that a free Iraq will emerge, run by the Iraqi citizens." [11/4/03]
Bush: "We will see that Iraq is free and self-governing and democratic. We will accomplish our mission." [5/4/04]
AND TO TRAIN THE IRAQI TROOPS
Bush: "And our mission is clear there, as well, and that is to train the Iraqis so they can do the fighting; make sure they can stand up to defend their freedoms, which they want to do." [6/2/05]
Bush: "We're making progress toward the goal, which is, on the one hand, a political process moving forward in Iraq, and on the other hand, the Iraqis capable of defending themselves. And we will -- we will complete this mission for the sake of world peace." [6/20/05]
THEN IT SHIFTED TO ADVANCING DEMOCRACY
Bush: "We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission. ... Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is the mission that created our nation -- and now it is the calling of a new generation of Americans." [11/30/05]
AND PROTECTING AMERICA FROM TERRORISTS
Bush: "In the coming days, there will be considerable reflection on the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and our remaining mission in Iraq...By helping the Iraqi people build a free and representative government, we will deny the terrorists a safe haven to plan attacks against America." [3/11/06]
Bush: "We will finish the mission. By defeating the terrorists in Iraq, we will bring greater security to our own country. And when victory is achieved, our troops will return home with the honor they have earned." [3/18/06]
THEN THE MISSION WAS PROVIDING SECURITY FOR THE IRAQI POPULATION
Bush: "In fact, we have a new strategy with a new mission: helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad. Our plan puts Iraqis in the lead." [1/13/07]
Bush: "[I]t's the combination of providing security in neighborhoods through these joint security stations, and training that is the current mission we're going through, with a heavy emphasis on security in Baghdad." [4/10/07]
Bush: "It's a new mission. And David Petraeus is in Iraq carrying it out. Its goal is to help the Iraqis make progress toward reconciliation -- to build a free nation that respects the rights of its people, upholds the rule of law, and is an ally against the extremists in this war." [6/28/07]
July 12, 2007
who would jesus yell at?
The first call to prayer by a Hindu religious leader in the Senate's history was temporarily interrupted up by Xtians.
December 4, 2006
the dreamlife of potted plants
If I knew more about music, I would say the above mash-up was be sung to the tune of Skrewdriver's "Prisoner of Peace." References to the Firedoglake quotes being paraphrased above can be found here, here and here.
Just for the stupids in the world, I want to say that I am in no way directly suggesting that any Firedoglake front-pager is a skinhead or Nazi. I'm just testing the limits of punk / photoshop communication on blogs. The point here isn't that anyone expects perfection from their bloggers. It's that if someone calls bullshit on you, try not to respond by offering up your ridiculous, delusional, fantasy alter-egos, this as if your schtick actually constituted some kind of aesthetic, political or programmatic rationale. No offense, but you guys ain't punk rock for shit, not even do-gooder SHARP punks. I'm not saying I am or was, but I ran into a few back in my youth and I kind of have a feeling they would think you're poseur idiots.
December 2, 2006
heaven can wait
Rice Not Ready to Discuss U.S. 'Mistakes' in Iraq
Secretary of State Suggests Reflections on Likely U.S. 'Mistakes' in Iraq Will Have to Wait Until She's Out of Office
Although she is not yet ready to explain herself, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is admitting that the United States has made mistakes in Iraq.
"As to whether the United States has made mistakes: Of course, I'm sure we have," Rice told the Arabic satellite television station Al-Arabiya. "You can't be involved in something as big as the liberation of a country like Iraq and all that has happened since, and I'm sure there are things that we could have done differently."
However, Rice told Al-Arabiya that now is not the time to talk about U.S. mistakes in Iraq.
"Frankly, we are looking ahead," she said.
Once her tenure as secretary of state is over and she is back at Stanford University, she said she will reflect on the war.
"I can look back and write books about what we might have done differently," she said. [full item]
November 15, 2006
don't call it a comeback, i've been racist for years
I guess the Republicans figured that since Corker's victory was their only bright spot on 11/7, that they had better get back to racist basics.
WASHINGTON -- Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive, won election to the chamber's No. 2 GOP post Wednesday.
Asked whether he felt vindicated by the 25-24 secret ballot vote, Lott deferred to newly-elected party leader Mitch McConnell.
"The spotlight belongs on him," Lott said of his Kentucky colleague.
McConnell, who was uncontested and will succeed Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, predicted that he and the rest of the newly-elected GOP team will provide a muscular opposition to the new Democratic majority.
"We will be a robust minority, a vigorous minority, and, hopefully, a minority that is only in that condition for a couple of years," McConnell said.
Lott's comeback-kid victory was generating the most buzz in the Capitol hallways. Pressured to step down from the Senate's top spot over four years ago, Lott returned to the center of power by nosing out Sen. Lamar Alexander, who had made an 18-month bid for the post.
"I'm honored to be a part of this leadership team, to support Mitch McConnell and all of my colleagues and to do a job that I've really loved the most: count the votes," Lott said. "I'll do my very best in that effort."
For his part, Alexander was circumspect.
"Senators, like most Americans, like a comeback," Alexander said afterward, adding that he believes he lost three votes to Lott. [full story]
For those of you who don't recall, Lott got in trouble for saying of Strom Thurmond (h/t atrios):
I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.
That was in 2002. In 1980 he said:
You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.
And what did Strom Thurmond run on that could have prevented "the mess we are in today?"? Here's his 1948 platform [via L/G/M]:
1. We believe that the Constitution of the United States is the greatest charter of human liberty ever conceived by the mind of man.
2. We oppose all efforts to invade or destroy the rights guaranteed by it to every citizen of this republic.
3. We stand for social and economic justice, which, we believe can be guaranteed to all citizens only by a strict adherence to our Constitution and the avoidance of any invasion or destruction of the constitutional rights of the states and individuals. We oppose the totallitaran, centralized bureaucratic government and the police nation called for by the platforms adopted by the Democratic and Republican Conventions.
4. We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one's associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to learn one's living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.
5. We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiat, regulations of private employment practices, voting, and local law enforcement.
6. We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a program would be utterly destructive of the social, economic and political life of the Southern people, and of other localities in which there may be differences in race, creed or national origin in appreciable numbers.
7. We stand for the check and balances provided by the three departments of our government. We oppose the usurpation of legislative functions by the executive and judicial departments. We unreservedly condemn the effort to establish in the United States a police nation that would destroy the last vestige of liberty enjoyed by a citizen.
8. We demand that there be returned to the people to whom of right they belong, those powers needed for the preservation of human rights and the discharge of our responsibility as democrats for human welfare. We oppose a denial of those by political parties, a barter or sale of those rights by a political convention, as well as any invasion or violation of those rights by the Federal Government. We call upon all Democrats and upon all other loyal Americans who are opposed to totalitarianism at home and abroad to unite with us in ignominiously defeating Harry S. Truman, Thomas E. Dewey and every other candidate for public office who would establish a Police Nation in the United States of America.
9. We, therefore, urge that this Convention endorse the candidacies of J. Strom Thurmond and Fielding H. Wright for the President and Vice-president, respectively, of the United States of America.
For those of you who don't believe that the above program was (in basic ways) about the right to kill black people with impunity, consider this language from one of Thurmond's offical campaign flyers:
A vote for Truman electors is a direct order to our Congressmen and Senators from Mississippi to vot for passage of Truman's so-called civil-rights program in the next Congress. This means the vicious FEPC - anti-poll tax - anti-lynching and anti-segregation proposals will become the law of the and our way of life in the South will be gone forever. [full flyer]
But I guess all you black conservatives out there who support a party that puts an apologist of lynching in a position of power are thinking: Hold on, now. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Those planks about judicial activism and individual rights are right up my alley!
Don't get me wrong about Lott. People change and maybe he has; who can say. But some beliefs and behaviors can put you permanently beyond the pale as far as I'm concerned, and persisting in your praise of the embodiments/avatars of those beliefs and behaviors is no way to come in out of the cold. The problem isn't Lott's friendship with Thurmond (I got a lot of fucked up friends), it's the specific nature of his praise for Thurmond's failed policies, his clearly articulated belief in those policies' enduring rightness, that makes him unacceptable as the whip of any legitimate American political party.
This is an aside, but I am fairly convinced that future generations will treat the GOP's current gay marriage obsession with the same scorn we treat the above segregationist language. I can just picture today's GOP toadies on TV in 30 years disavowing their gay-related bigotry as an artifact of their times, just as Lott whitewashes his longstanding racism today. I mean, who knew black folks were actually human in 1948? Who knew gay people had a right to marry the person of their choice just like any other human being in 2006? It's completely unfair to impose today's standards on the past.
November 9, 2006
am I out of step with America?
Actually, I mean "Am I out of step with California?"
Although I was in perfect tune with the nation on almost all of the House and Senate races, I was down with more than a few losers in CA. The following is a review of California election results and how I voted.
Governor - Schwarzenegger , Arnold (i) - GOP - Wrong! I voted for the other guy. Having missed the recall fracaso that put him in office, I will confess to not minding the Governator as much as some, but still. Just on the general principle of state dignity, I can't believe that guy is governor.
I pretty much went party-line on the other statewide offices:
Lieutenant Governor - Garamendi , John - Dem - The Dem got my vote and won
Secretary of State - Bowen , Debra - Dem - ditto
Attorney General - Brown , Jerry - Dem - ditto on Gov. Moonbeam
Treasurer - Lockyer , Bill - Dem - ditto
Controller - Chiang , John - Dem - yes, my Asiatic brother
Insurance Commissioner - Poizner , Steve - GOP - Whoops! My straight party-line vote had me on the wrong side of this particular office. I should mention, though, that Dem candidate Cruz Bustamante came across to me as somewhat sleazy, so I can't complain about this outcome too much.
On propositions, my picks were a bit more off.
On the plus side, I lined up with the rest of the CA electorate on the following propositions allocating more money for education, transportation and housing infrastructure improvements: 1B (more funds for highway safety), 1C (more homeless shelters and emergency housing), 1D (a school infrastructure bond act), and 1E (fixing levees).(!)
I also lined up favorably on proposition 84, voting "yes" to increase money for parks, land preservation and the protection of water supplies. On the "No" side, I joined Californians in rejecting propositions 85 (the anti-choice "parental notification" act), 88, (a nice sounding education funding bill that increase the funding disparity between poor and rich districts), and, 90 (a lawyer-funding proposition masquerading as an anti-eminent domain protection.)
On the signature proposition of the election, though, the star-studded 87 alternative energy initiative, I voted with the minority that supported making CA the leader in alternative energy. (The $90+ million spent by the oil companies to defeat the bill apparently worked.) I also voted against proposition 83 and lost, meaning the number of people who can be defined as "sex offenders" will increase, and that those folks can now be monitored via GPS for, like, life. While I understand the emotional appeal of the prop., it also strikes me as both pointless and draconian given the number of laws already on the books to punish sex offenders and to insure they remain permanent, un-rehabiliated outcasts. I really can't imagine what more we can do to pervs who have already had the book thrown at them served their time, except maybe brand them, put their eyes out and inject a chip in their asses. (That was rhetorical; please save all the "well, why don't we?!" comments.)
Another one of my losers was 89, which would have diluted the impact of big money in elections by providing for public campaign financing. Curiously, this prop. went down even more resoundingly than the sex offender prop. went up, apparently making clean, publicly funded elections more hated by CA voters than child molesters:
Do you hate kiddie diddlers?
Yes! 4,673,124 70.49
No 1,956,225 29.51
Do you want clean, publicly financed elections?
No! 4,846,442 74.44
Yes 1,663,695 25.56
Before you guys think I'm trying to present myself as some kind of paragon of civic virtue, I will confess that I voted "no" on a proposition that I didn't fully understand - 1A, which guaranteed certain transportation funds had to be used only for transportation - this because some or another good government group told me it would hamstring the state during some future, unforeseen budget crisis.
I also voted for an increase of CA cigarette taxes - 86 - this even though I don't actually believe in them. The thing is that I used to smoke and recall my habit with great, sad fondness, so I know better than most that people will buy cigarettes no matter how much they cost. (At the end of my habit I was smoking Nat Shermans, which I think cost more than weed, so I would have been able to live with an $8 pack.) It also seems to me that (more abstractly) this kind of "sin tax" is regressive and tends to disproportionally punish the poor, precisely the same class of folks already being victimized by big tobacco.
In the end, though, I couldn't resist the call of do-gooderism and tough-love, in so much as it seems to me that if you are going to go and smoke, you might as well pay for your own medical care. So the ultimate outcome on all this was pretty much right by me: I did the right thing with my vote, but no one is going to pay for it. Cowardly, I know, but hey: it's like that sometimes.
In terms of California's wacky state judicial appointment/retention system, I voted for and against a whole bunch of people, and, except for the State Supreme Court justices, I had no idea whatsoever who the fuck any of them were. This being LalaLand, my ignorance was apparently both the statewide status quo and irrelevant, as everyone who "should" have won on 11/7 did:
Despite worries from some judges and legal commentators that California's judicial election process was in danger of becoming politicized, voters have soundly endorsed the status quo.
The electorate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to retain state Supreme Court Justices Joyce L. Kennard and Carol A. Corrigan, along with all 51 Court of Appeal justices on the ballot.
Critics have long bemoaned that most voters don't have a clue who any of the judges are when they go to vote -- and that many cast ballots anyway.[full story]
To tell the truth, I voted for people that had ethnic names (terrible, I know) and for people whose job descriptions I liked, the judicial ballots coming not with party affiliations but with short background / job description titles like "prosecutor" or "state attorney." Perversely, my knee-jerk, anti-prosecutor bias had me on the wrong side of the line yet again:
Election outcomes for four vacant seats on the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench were also without surprises. By large margins, voters picked four criminal prosecutors, traditional favorites, to ascend to the bench. [full story]
I'm really not sure how to end after that last note: Even when I'm wrong, I'm right? Even when I'm right, I'm wrong?
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:19 PM | Permalink
November 7, 2006
can the IRS investigate this guy already?
It's late on election night (PST), but this item by Prometheus 6 caught my eye:
And now a message from Rev. Creflo Mammon
I have disliked this sucker since the first time I saw him on TV. I think this is grounds to pull his tax-exempt status.
Begin by making these confessions:
* In the name of Jesus, I declare that I will not allow any corrupt communication to proceed out of my mouth concerning President Bush or others in leadership (Ephesians 4:29).
* I declare that he is a man of wisdom, and he is strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit. I wholeheartedly support the decisions he makes for this country (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
* I lift up every man and woman serving in the Armed Forces. I declare that they walk in favor, wisdom and safety and that their lives are redeemed from destruction (Psalm 91:7; Psalm 103:1-6).
If you have taken part in any protests or have allowed any corrupt communication to flow out of your mouth concerning the president, repent and begin to show your support for him by calling his name out before God. Pray for wisdom and wise counsel regarding the decisions he must make for this nation. Obey what the Word says in 1 Timothy 1-2 and 1 Peter 2:13 and: 1) continue to pray for those in authority over you; and 2) submit to that established authority. In doing so, you honor God, our president and thousands of service members. When the temptation comes to murmur or complain, rejoice that there is a man in the White House who walks and talks with God daily. Remember, united we stand, divided we fall (Matthew 12:25)!
--Dr. Creflo A. Dollar
Prometheus 6 is referring to this statement put out by Dollar calling on his flock to fall in line or face the divine consequences.
For those who don't know, Dollar is a among the worst of the so-called prosperity ministers, who are basically neurolinguistic programmers with bibles - think it, say it, get it. From a freak theology perspective, the prosperity gospel has fairly interesting echoes of everything from gnosticism to various forms of magic to, like, the word-gun in Dune. It really is among the finest examples of whacked out Americana that you can find.
That said, though, it still kind of amazes me that people continue to treat individual prosperity ministers as if they're anything except the worst kind of self-help, snake-oil salesman. Creflo Dollar is basically a prayer-cloth-selling Armstrong Williams, which is to say he's a money-focused hustler posing as a religious authority. I respect genuine religious sentiment, but a hustler is a hustler is a hustler. In my mind, you give something like the prosperity gospel the same kind of respect as you give the plastic cylinder containing a stool sample: sure, expert analysis of either might shed critically important light on the health of a body or society, but that don't mean they're not both completely and literally full of shit.
Prometheus is right: Creflo Dollar's ministry should have its tax-exempt status yanked.
Win or lose (and I am desperately hoping for win), I felt pretty good about voting this morning. My polling place was at a firehouse in Downtown LA, and although turnout was way thin, the motley assemblage of poll-workers filled me with a kind of warm, to-the-brim love for my whacked-out and fragile community. There was the older immigrant woman (Chinese?) who fumbled a bit but also beamed at everyone with what seemed to be a combination of grandmotherly love and pride at participating in the new country's rituals and procedures. There was the grizzled black retiree who was all brusque business, dude obviously taking his role in the democratic process very seriously. There was the 40-something-ish, jangly and desperately happy gent who seemed a week out of rehab or AA, his every word vibrating with the high enthusiasm of the recently sober, his body and mind still running a few cycles too fast, but what the heck - it's election day: there are things to do, ballot cards to stack. There was the pair of fireman murmuring and keeping their own counsel behind cups of coffee, maybe glad to be seeing all these voters upright in here instead of laid out and in need of rescuing out on the street. There was the young Latino dude text-messaging across the ether with a brand new Motorola slim-phone PDA, his generationally-endowed ease with techology winning him the job of ballot-card-machine-feeder, which besides being a place of futuristic honor also gave him a bit of private time with all the ladies coming in and voting, downtown hipsters behind shades at that hour, a category that including my girlfriend, to whom he offered "for you? Anything!" apropos of nothing as her ballot went whirring away to be counted. It all really made me quite grateful and proud.
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:36 PM | Permalink
October 25, 2006
your racist republican party
Okay, so Election Central has just obtained a radio ad which you've got to hear: It actually has what sounds like tom-tom drums playing in the background every time the ad talks about Dem Harold Ford, Jr. The ad -- which says it was paid for by the campaign of GOP Senate candidate Bob Corker -- can be heard right here. When the ad mentions Corker, the music soars and no tom-toms are audible. Throughout the entire minute-long ad, you hear the rumble of tom-toms every time Ford is mentioned. This ad, keep in mind, quotes Bob Corker himself as having "approved" the message -- meaning it wasn't the work of the Republican National Committee, as in the case of the recent "bimbo" TV ad which drew charges of racism.
The funny thing about this is story is that Harold Ford is a Democratic talking android. Who plays drums for a talking android? I guess this makes sense when you figure that one of the uses of racism is the elimination of meaningful difference between black folks, the flattening of texture, but anyone actually paying attention would see that the ad described below is a kind of faulty absurdity. I mean, if you're going to play some drums for a black candidate, that dude at least better have a mad, militant Afro and a fist pendant around his neck, or maybe some straight up nyabinghi dreds and a deep name that when re-translated into English means "bloody spear of the people." If you played some drums for Al Sharpton, you'd be a racist, but at least you would have identified something true about him, which is basically that if you're a certain kind of white person you should back the fuck up out his way when you see him coming. But Harold Ford? That dude couldn't Mau Mau a Congress of Muppets, let alone a room full of white racists. It's silly, really.
Posted by ebogjonson at 6:03 PM | Permalink
October 21, 2006
absolutely, sort of
If you believe what you hear from prominent conservatives and political reporters, the following things are true:
1) Anytime terrorism is in the news, it plays to the political and electoral benefit of the Republicans.
2) Terrorists who are trying to destroy America are trying to help elect Democrats because they think Democrats are weak. The terrorists are doing so by increasing violence in Iraq and otherwise drawing attention to their existence, as the Osama bin Laden videotape released shortly before the 2004 election.
Those two things are obviously incompatible. The latter is based on the premise that increased news of terrorism benefits Democrats; the former is an explicit statement of the opposite. The two are fundamentally inconsistent. (OK, there is a way the two sentiments could rationally coexist -- but it requires us to believe that The Enemy has reached depths of incompetence previously explored by only Wile E. Coyote. And, in that case, why haven't we been able to defeat them yet? This possibility can be safely dismissed.)
I actually see this a little differently. With the exception of the initial invasion of Afghanistan (sorry friends, but I was on that particular bandwagon), there is very little in the Republican toolkit that doesn't in some way serve as a recruiting or strategic boon to the jihadist movement. These include policies like:
- uncritical support for Israel in general, but most recently during the invasion of Lebanon
- the whole invasion of Iraq
- uncritical (and hypocritical support) of undemocratic states from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan
- gutting the Constitutional rights framework that makes the US unique
- undermining international organizations and relationships
- reliance on a Christian, apocalyptic political vocabulary
The fact of the matter is that terrorists love Republicans. The short-term losses that the jihadist movement incurs as an immediate result of American policy are acceptable to them as long as the US continues to hemorrhage men, treasure and standing.
October 18, 2006
omigod; you are so black and huge, obama
Time Magazine put Obama's big black head on its cover this week, breaking up the ad pages inside with a rote profile-cum-trend piece by Joe "Do-the-Right-Thing-Will-Make-Negroes-Riot" Klein. Money quote:
The current Obama mania is reminiscent of the Colin Powell mania of September 1995, when the general--another political rainbow--leveraged speculation that he might run for President into book sales of 2.6 million copies for his memoir, My American Journey. Powell and Obama have another thing in common: they are black people who--like Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan--seem to have an iconic power over the American imagination because they transcend racial stereotypes. "It's all about gratitude," says essayist Shelby Steele, who frequently writes about the psychology of race. "White people are just thrilled when a prominent black person comes along and doesn't rub their noses in racial guilt. White people just go crazy over people like that."
When I asked Obama about this, he began to answer before I finished the question. "There's a core decency to the American people that doesn't get enough attention," he said, sitting in his downtown Chicago office, casually dressed in jeans and a dark blue shirt. "Figures like Oprah, Tiger, Michael Jordan give people a shortcut to express their better instincts. You can be cynical about this. You can say, It's easy to love Oprah. It's harder to embrace the idea of putting more resources into opportunities for young black men--some of whom aren't so lovable. But I don't feel that way. I think it's healthy, a good instinct. I just don't want it to stop with Oprah. I'd rather say, If you feel good about me, there's a whole lot of young men out there who could be me if given the chance."
But that's not quite true. There aren't very many people--ebony, ivory or other--who have Obama's distinctive portfolio of talents, or what he calls his "exotic" family history. [full story]
Klein is too much of a star-fucker to pass off hack complaints like those of talking android John McWhorter (too light, too new) as handicapping, although I did catch neocon gargoyle Bay Buchanan on CNN today writing Obama off as rookie being rushed to the big show in hopes of offsetting Hillary. Still, Klein can't resist assuring his readers that the wonderfully exotic black man that so excites him is a political unicorn, i.e., rare and singular. Definitely nothing at all like those other black men, the kind that tend to walk four-abreast on the sidewalk in NYC and shout rap lyrics at Klein.
If I were a talking android like McWhorter, I would react to the various, arbitrary, impersonal racial forces structuring Obama's public image by blaming the victim. But since I'm one of those unreconstructed folks who buy into what black neocons call "racial orthodoxy," I tend to root uncritically for the black dude in any given circumstance. For his part, Klein takes Obama to (mild) task for his careful timidity, as if blowing out of the box with some truly mind-blowing, next-level shit wouldn't immediately brand the Illinois senator as the typical black fire-breather. Shelby "Kill-Them-All-And-Let-God-Sort- Them-Out" Steele (who you figure is in the handful of black folks who still talk to Klein) does manage to lay out the basic dynamic fairly succinctly:
"He's working a very dangerous high-wire act," Shelby Steele told me. "He's got to keep on pleasing white folks without offending black folks, and vice versa." Indeed, Obama faces a minefield on issues like the racial gerrymandering of congressional districts and affirmative action. "You're asking him to take policy risks? Just being who he is is taking an enormous risk."
Since we've all already established that my sense of things tends to hew to the, like, fucked-up, psychopathological side of things, it goes without saying that I detect a barely controlled erotic charge running beneath Klein's prose. Like a sailor fresh from his first Tijuana donkey show, Klein just can't get over how Obama drives the white women so completely wild.
Obama's personal appeal is made manifest when he steps down from the podium and is swarmed by well-wishers of all ages and hues, although the difference in reaction between whites and blacks is subtly striking. The African Americans tend to be fairly reserved--quiet pride, knowing nods and be-careful-now looks. The white people, by contrast, are out of control. A nurse named Greta, just off a 12-hour shift, tentatively reaches out to touch the Senator's sleeve. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! I just touched a future President! I can't believe it!" She is literally shaking with delight--her voice is quivering--as she asks Obama for an autograph and then a hug.
That Klein finds the reactions of black folks opaque is unsurprising, as, in the scheme of such things, black-on-white invariably runs hotter than black-on-black. Klein, of course, winkingly links Obama to Philanderer-in-Chief and First Black President Bill Clinton, and "although the Senator's compassion tends to be less damp than Clinton's" (did you mean to say "less wet," Joe?), one needs a calculator to tabulate all the ways the following descriptions can be read as euphemisms for "man ho:"
[...] before he became a politician, he admits to cocaine and marijuana use and also to attending socialist meetings. Translation: You know those socialist girls put out, right? And when they're high? I mean, forget about it.
[...] he admits to political "restlessness," which is another way of saying he's ambitious. Translation: He definitely has Clinton's wandering eye, but much higher standards than Bill, meaning no chubby interns.
He flays himself for enjoying private jets, which eliminate the cramped frustrations of commercial flying but--on the other hand!--isolate him from the problems of average folks. Translation: Mile-high-club million-mile member.
[...] He blames himself for "tensions" in his marriage; he doubts his "capacities" as a husband and father. Translation: Don't be surprised if a woman shows up in the tabloids during the '08 Democratic primaries, and anyway: I'm really sorry and my wife forgives me.
But hey, it could be worse. In about three weeks our side may just re-gain control of Congress partially thanks to a national outbreak of gay-pedophile hysteria; turning on Joe Klein is downright All-American in comparison.
Posted by ebogjonson at 4:10 PM | Permalink
are you ready for some (political) football?
There is no credible DIRTY BOMB THREAT to NFL stadiums, but Homeland Security has nonetheless alerted the NFL about the DIRTY BOMB THREAT even though it isn't credible. They are also saying in strong terms that there is no DIRTY BOMB THREAT - that, and that no one should let the THREAT OF DIRTY BOMBS prevent them from going about their business:
A Web site is claiming that seven NFL football stadiums will be hit with radiological dirty bombs this weekend, but the government on today expressed doubts about the threat.
The warning, posted Oct. 12, was part of an ongoing Internet conversation titled "New Attack on America Be Afraid." It mentioned NFL stadiums in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland, where games are scheduled for this weekend.
The Homeland Security Department alerted authorities and stadium owners in those cities, as well as the NFL, of the Web message but said the threat was being viewed "with strong skepticism." Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said there was no intelligence that indicated such an attack was imminent, and that the alert was "out of an abundance of caution." [full story]
You can really assume one of two things from the above news item:
1 - Two weeks before a tight election, the Republicans are playing the terror card yet again, personalizing the so-called GWOT by hyping a threat that seems designed to capture the attention of men who may have felt little enthusiasm about the midterms.
2 - The threat is real and the terrorists have timed it to insure the Republicans hold their majority during in the midterms. Conservatives have argued very vigorously that terrorists have such a sophisticated grasp of American intra-politics that engage in specific acts of terror designed to cow voters into cutting running. If they're so smart, though, why not think that they're also capable of taunting a charging bull with a red cape? There is a point of view from which Republican majorities (with their promise of continued belligerence) seem like a boon to terrorists, whose lifeblood is American violence and blundering.
Either way, feel safer yet?
Posted by ebogjonson at 1:35 PM | Permalink
October 16, 2006
you are being spied on
Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department's collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war.
The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as "potential terrorist activity" events like a "Stop the War Now" rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005.
The Defense Department acknowledged last year that its analysts had maintained records on war protests in an internal database past the 90 days its guidelines allowed, and even after it was determined there was no threat. [full story]
Feel safer yet?
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:41 PM | Permalink
October 4, 2006
i can't believe it's not torture
One funny thing about one terribly sad thing. via boing boing.
Posted by ebogjonson at 4:58 PM | Permalink
September 29, 2006
Glenn Greenwald on the recent vote authorizing the use of torture during interrogations:
Democrats in favor (12) - Carper (Del.), Johnson (S.D.), Landrieu (La.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Lieberman (Conn.), Menendez (N.J), Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor (Ark.), Rockefeller (W. Va.), Salazar (Co.), Stabenow (Mich.).
During the debate on his amendment, Arlen Specter said that the bill sends us back 900 years because it denies habeas corpus rights and allows the President to detain people indefinitely. He also said the bill violates core Constitutional protections. Then he voted for it. [full story]
More Greenwald, also worth quoting at length:
Opponents of this bill have focused most of their attention -- understandably and appropriately -- on the way in which it authorizes the use of interrogation techniques which, as this excellent NYT Editorial put it, "normal people consider torture," along with the power it vests in the President to detain indefinitely, and with no need to bring charges, all foreign nationals and even legal resident aliens within the U.S. But as Law Professors Marty Lederman and Bruce Ackerman each point out, many of the extraordinary powers vested in the President by this bill also apply to U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil.
As Ackerman put it: "The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights." Similarly, Lederman explains: "this [subsection (ii) of the definition of 'unlawful enemy combatant'] means that if the Pentagon says you're an unlawful enemy combatant -- using whatever criteria they wish -- then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to 'hostilities' at all."
This last point means that even if there were a habeas corpus right inserted back into the legislation (which is unlikely at this point anyway), it wouldn't matter much, if at all, because the law would authorize your detention simply based on the DoD's decree that you are an enemy combatant, regardless of whether it was accurate. This is basically the legalization of the Jose Padilla treatment -- empowering the President to throw people into black holes with little or no recourse, based solely on his say-so.
There really is no other way to put it. Issues of torture to the side (a grotesque qualification, I know), we are legalizing tyranny in the United States. Period. Primary responsibility for this fact lies with the authoritarian Bush administration and its sickeningly submissive loyalists in Congress. That is true enough. But there is no point in trying to obscure the fact that it's happening with the cowardly collusion of the Senate Democratic leadership, which quite likely could have stopped this travesty via filibuster if it chose to (it certainly could have tried). [full story]
After yesterday's vote an American citizen can now be legally wisked away to indefinite detention without any form or judicial oversight or recourse. Do you feel safer?
September 26, 2006
poll tax 2006
Plus ca change. From the NAACP Legal Defense Fund:
Today, the House of Representatives voted to undermine the political participation of Americans by approving the deceptively named "Federal Election Integrity Act." The bill imposes new, substantial, and unnecessary barriers to vote in federal elections by establishing a single form of identification-- one that proves citizenship -- as an ironclad requirement to vote.
Just three months ago, the House voted to continue to break down barriers to the polls by renewing the Voting Rights Act after considering several amendments that would narrow the coverage of the Act. But just hours ago, the House retreated from its commitment by voting in favor of the Photo ID Bill without permitting any amendments to be offered.
Theodore M. Shaw, Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP LDF stated that "the bill effectively transforms the vote from a right to a privilege by elevating the privileged over those citizens who will disproportionately become ensnared in this voting trap including: African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, the elderly, disabled, and poor. It's a modern poll tax. Any bill that would require all eligible citizen voters to engage in a bureaucratic process to obtain a citizen ID that includes swearing poverty in order to vote is corrosive and undemocratic. Against the backdrop of limited anecdotal evidence that fraud is a problem, it elevates an administrative requirement above a constitutionally protected right. That is un-American."
While supporters have cited polls of dubious relevance to justify this law that turns the clock back to the days of tests and devices designed to "protect" the polls, LDF Assistant Counsel, Jenigh Garrett explained that "the plain truth is that if Americans were polled before Katrina's flood waters hit most would have truly believed that the residents of New Orleans would have had the ability and financial means to ensure their safety * of course, the truth was very different. [full story]
Steve Gilliard sez re. the claims this measure is needed to prevent voter fraud:
Voter fraud=brown people voting.
Keep worrying about Diebold. They're passing the new poll tax as we speak.
I will say, though, that I dunno if the rise of modern day poll taxes makes the easily-hacked Diebold voting machines a "head-fake," as Steve so pungently put it. Republican racism like the CIA's sub-basement: The terrorist torture room can very easily be right next door to the paymaster's office where they pay off active terrorists in hopes of making them into "assets." When your skunkworks are broad and deep and nefarious enough, literally anything can happen in parallel without contradiction or confusion.
September 25, 2006
lashawn & russell heart george allen
"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."
A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign, separately claimed that Allen used the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said. [full, disgusting story]
It's amazing to think that not very long ago George Allen was considered a contender for '08 Republican presidential nomination. We live in 2006, and yet these kinds of racists continue to hold positions of some honor in the Republican party. Not a year goes by that some or another prominent Republican isn't revealed to be the most base and disgusting kind of racist, and yet talking androids from here to Russell Simmons try to justify their pursuit of narrow economic self-interest by claiming black folks need to start thinking "outside the box" and switch to the party of George Allen. Simply amazing.
Besides being amazing, Simmon's line also the oldest form of okey-doke. Russell's idea of thinking outside the box is to make a buck, as in his plan to "address" the problem of underbanking in the black community by hooking teens on fee-laden Rush Cards that line his pocket while doing nothing to help black folks accrue interest, save or build a credit history. I don't pay any attention to George Clooney's politics, I don't know why I should give a damn about Russell Simmons', but you can't throw a rock at a hip hop blog without reading some predictable asstalk about Russell's "thoughtful" reply to critics of his support for talking android Michael Steele. Fuck joining the Republican party: it really is enough to make you a social anarchist.
September 24, 2006
just a comma
BUSH: Yes, you see -- you see it on TV, and that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there's also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people.... Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is, there's a strong will for democracy. (emphasis added)
Even by Bush's already-low standards, it was a stunning comment. We're talking about a war that has claimed 2,700 American lives and seriously injured 20,000 more. It's a crisis that has, by any reasonable measure, made the threat of terrorism against Americans considerably worse. It's a misadventure that has cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, to fight a war sold under false pretenses, and mismanaged with almost child-like incompetence.
Asked to explain himself, the president is unconcerned. Everything we're seeing is "just a comma." I'm sure that will bring comfort to the families of those who have sacrificed so much for Bush's mistakes.
Do you know any Iraqis who have died? Just a comma. Lost anyone in the US military? Just a comma. How about you if you're unlucky enough to be around the next time Bin Laden or a member of al Qaeda attacks a major US city? Just a comma.
and so on
September 21, 2006
Al Wynn brags of stealing election
By now you are aware of the multiple layers of problems that occurred in the Tuesday, September 12, election in Maryland's 4th Congressional District. Whether these flaws are attributable to incompetence, inefficiency, or fraud -- we may never know. Votes are still being tabulated in Maryland's 4th District -- provisional ballots arriving as late as Tuesday, September 19, a truckload of machines and memory cards arriving 21 hours after the polls closed on September 12, changing estimates of absentee ballots to be counted, etc.
Needless to say, the system is deeply flawed -- leaving voters with little reason to be confident. In the midst of all of this system failure and uncertainty, I wanted to share with you the transcript of an exchange that took place on Tuesday, September 19, between my opponent, Albert Wynn, and his colleague on the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee:
BARTON: Down in Texas, we had a Democratic primary about 50 years ago that Lyndon Johnson won by 54 votes. And he got the nickname "Landslide Lyndon." We have Mr. Wynn next. He had a little bit of a tussle last week, but he did win. And so, I want to recognize "Landslide Wynn" for any opening statement that he wishes...
WYNN: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. In fact, they're still counting, but we're quite optimistic. And I did take a couple pages out of Lyndon's book, so if I win, it can be attributed to Texas know-how.
(UNKNOWN): Did you (inaudible)?
BARTON: I hope not. I hope you win fair and square.
WYNN: A win is a win.
P.S. Just within the last couple of hours, the Board of Elections in Prince George's County opened up a machine with no tamper tape (so much for security), and at least one other machine that recorded votes for other offices but none for U.S. Congress.
That's just awful. Albert Wynn who is regularly rated among the worst of the CBC, is nonetheless likely to survive this challenge. It seems sometimes like black voters are particularly unable to punish crap or corrupt black politicians, that no matter how disgusting or ineffectual, pols safely ensconced in black districts are hard to extract. Is it that we feel like we are going to be underserved no matter what, so we might as well be underserved by one of our own?
I'm glad to see the so-called liberal blogosphere tracking this story, though. Between their fear of being called racists and their cultural affinity for talking androids like Harold Ford or Cory Booker, the more vocal sectors of the online volume industry have been pretty invisible on the issue of effective governance for black folks. Calling Edwards "the black Ned Lamont" is to use unfortunate, predictable shorthand, but it beats white folks having no emotional hooks at all for understanding her fight with Wynn.
Posted by ebogjonson at 6:36 PM | Permalink
September 17, 2006
your democracy is hackable
A study by Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy show that Diebold's voting machines are vulnerable to extremely serious attacks. Until this is fixed, you will never know for sure whether any election involving these machines is legit. A video produced by the Center is below.
Posted by ebogjonson at 4:54 PM | Permalink
george allen's ethnic friends (UPDATED)
UPDATE: Apparently being a known, demonstrable racist is not an obstacle to being voted to national office by Republicans in Virginia. As of September 15th, polling has Allen leading his opponent by 7 percentage points.
Posted by ebogjonson at 10:58 AM | Permalink
September 11, 2006
September 11, 2001 (NYC)
I don't really have anything to say about 9/11 except that it was the one of the weirdest, most terrifying days of my life. I was living with a girlfriend I had recently broken up with (long, ugly story) and even as we were able to come together to get through the day, I spent 9/11 completely out of my head, cycling manically between fear, feelings of warm, encompassing forgiveness for my ex, and desperate prayers to god to please, please not let me die with that awful, despicable woman, don't let her be the last thing I ever see.
We were living in Brooklyn so we watched the whole thing on television or from a hill in Fort Green Park. My ex-girlfriend had a daughter and after the towers had fallen we decided to take her to the park. My ex was British and I attributed her desire to get out of the house to some gene acquired during the Blitz, some specific impulse to live one's life as one pleased when under horrific aerial assault. For a few minutes we were the only people outside. I felt a twinge of worry, a pang of social inappropriateness. Were we doing something wrong by laying a blanket out and reading to Joy while the world was coming down around us? A few minutes later the park was full of people talking, walking, crying and sitting. We hadn't been wrong at all, just a little early.
Even though we were both New Yorkers (me by birth and she by choice) and had been to the World Trade Center a dozen times, we didn't fully grasp the scale of what had happened until we went to the park and saw the plume of smoke with our own eyes. It was immense, it arced into the sky like a solid thing with structure and design as opposed to something insubstantial and windblown. Just before a friend called to urge us to put wet towels under our doors and to tape our windows against toxic fallout we had started to wonder if we could smell - what? A fire? Dust? Death? We went home, got lost in the details of making life as normal as possible for my ex's daughter. We joked about escaping to my family's in Haiti if civilization collapsed, and in darker moments I imagined, terrible, insane, selfish things, like taking Joy with me to safety and leaving her mother to just deserts - eaten by mutants, perhaps. I also imagined the two of us being bound together forever despite our mutual antipathy by the exigencies of post 9/11 parenting survival, and once or twice I imagined falling back in love, 9/11 transforming everything right down to the unstable molecules of our relationship. What happened instead is that we watched the news and a week later we took tentative steps back into the world. We did not have 9/11 sex. We retired to our separate bedrooms after Joy was asleep every night, our great ugly war temporarily in a state of externally imposed truce. We lay awake all night, vigilant, listening, alone.
I kept telling myself that I had escaped the worst of it, all of it really, until I had to take a subway for the first time. I was surprised to find I was terrified, that I could barely breathe. As I stood there pressed up against some or another stranger I stared at my feet trying to hold it together and stealing glances at the faces around me. I was looking at other people's eyes in hopes of being reassured by something there and what I mostly found were reflections. People were discretely looking at me, at everyone, all of us looking to be held down, looking for help in the suddenly pressing, endless work of maintaining our sanity, the work of not running screaming out onto the street at the next station. Even though it stood to reason it was strange and unexpected to discover that we all felt the same way. It was even stranger and more unexpected to realize we were all participating in the creation of a new class of American experience, something to do with inexplicably large horror and small, personal fear, with resolve and the willingness to share our literal vulnerability with our neighbors. In those first few days there was no one for us to kill in hopes of feeling any better, there was nothing for those most directly affected to do except survive and clean up, rebuild. To do the little things we did as a matter of course: go to work, go to school, sit in the park in the shade of a great cloud that may or may not be laced with death, reading to our children.
And that's it, really. It goes without saying that I believe that if the rest of the United States was like New York City we would not find ourselves in the predicament that we now face in Iraq, in Afghanistan, anywhere really. New York City is admittedly a liberal town, but I don't think it's a simple accident of place and political temperament that has the bulk of New Yorkers failing to see the relationship between what happened to them that day and the things our government and our countrymen have since done and said in the name of our unique losses. It's New York City; even as every passing year erases the array of textures and differences that make this far-flung nation unique, New Yorkers persist in living and understanding things a bit differently than our neighbors do, up to and including remembering what happened on September 11, 2001.
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:07 PM | Permalink
September 8, 2006
The Tucker and Al Show
I think white folks spend a little too much time obsessing about Al Sharpton, but this recent bit of shtick from him really struck me as super stupid:
Dancer Tucker gets good spin from Rev. Al
The Rev. Al Sharpton has crossed the dance floor's ideological lines to back Tucker Carlson on 'Dancing With the Stars.'
"We are living in trying and uncertain times," the good reverend writes, tongue in cheek. "That's why now, more than ever, we need a strong leader who will stand up for what we believe. Better yet, we need a leader who will dance for what we believe. Tucker Carlson is just such a dancer."
Sharpton continues: "Watch Tucker do the cha-cha and then call in your vote to make sure he advances to the next week's show. You can call as often as you like. Remember: Voting in celebrity dance contests is not just your right in this country, it's a privilege. ... If you sit back idly and fail to perform your civic duty, lesser dancers could win this competition. America simply cannot afford that. "
Yesterday, Carlson admitted to me that he actively sought Sharpton's endorsement. "Nobody turns out the vote like the Reverend Al," Carlson said.
Sharpton, meanwhile, explained: "I want to balance the influence of DeLay and at the same time get a right-winger off talk television and help Tucker find another career. I think it would be a great contribution to society to have him as a cheeseball disco dancer than a talk-show host propagating right-wing politics." [full story]
I guess when you are admitted to the inner sanctums of the talking head club, you really are in the club. At the same time though (and seriously): fuck Tucker Carlson. That guy is crap on a stick. Here is a typical, choice quote from Tucker:
Tucker Carlson: "Lighten up" about racist Limbaugh statements
During a segment on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, Crossfire co-host Tucker Carlson told fellow co-host Paul Begala to "lighten up" about syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh's racist comments to an African American caller. When Begala pointed out the offensive comment and questioned President George W. Bush's decision to appear on Limbaugh's show -- particularly in light of the Republican National Convention's Day 2 theme of "compassionate conservatism" --Carlson dismissed his concerns and Limbaugh's racist statement, calling Limbaugh "pretty amusing."
From the August 31 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
BEGALA: The problem is, for the second day in a row, George W. Bush is undermining the central message of this very well-scripted and well-executed convention. ... Tonight they want to show compassionate conservatism, what does Bush do? He goes on The Rush Limbaugh Show, not exactly the home of compassion. Rush Limbaugh famously once told an African American caller, and I'm quoting him here, "Take that bone out of your nose." Not exactly a people-of-compassion kind of statement. You can't have it both ways ...
CARLSON: Hold on. Settle down. Lighten up. It's not a kook radio show. Look, you know the guy's telling jokes. I mean, I must say if there's one issue that divides the parties -- it's not a race issue, that's a pretty tired throwback, I think that stopped working in about 1984 -- Hold on, lemme just say one thing. If there's one issue that divides the parties, it's humor. You have on the one side this kind of relentless, harsh, grim, dour humorlessness, and on the other side, you know, I don't know Rush Limbaugh, whatever you think of him, he's pretty amusing. [link]
Here is Carlson on the recent comment by Sen. Conrad Burns's (R-MT) that terrorists are a "faceless enemy" who "drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night:"
CARLSON: I think it's funny. He didn't offend me. [full]
(You can find an entire list of Tucker's greatest hits here.)
One of the things I've always appreciated about Sharpton is that dude holds a monster of a grudge. Me, I wouldn't piss on Tucker Carlson if that guy was on fire, and I can't imagine a scenario that might change that rule. Certainly not the chance to get some kind of tailwind assist from some highly popular (but crap) celebrity dance contest. But like I said: It must be good inside the club.
Posted by ebogjonson at 4:16 PM | Permalink
September 7, 2006
ABC is the new FOX News (updated)
Bill Clinton's not to happy about the upcoming fake 9/11 movie on ABC:
Clinton pointedly refuted several fictionalized scenes that he claims insinuate he was too distracted by the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal to care about bin Laden and that a top adviser pulled the plug on CIA operatives who were just moments away from bagging the terror master, according to a letter to ABC boss Bob Iger obtained by The Post.
The former president also disputed the portrayal of then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as having tipped off Pakistani officials that a strike was coming, giving bin Laden a chance to flee.
"The content of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate and ABC has the duty to fully correct all errors or pull the drama entirely," the four-page letter said.
The movie is set to air on Sunday and Monday nights. Monday is the fifth anniversary of the attacks.
Based on the 9/11 commission's report, the miniseries is also being provided to high schools as a teaching aid - although ABC admits key scenes are dramatizations. [full story]
In addition to the sin of general fakery, the truly eff'd up thing is that they're going to distribute this crap to high schools as a "teaching aid," thereby insuring another generation of citizens is properly misinformed.
I don't watch FOX News and I can easily chuck ABC. The only show I ever watched on there with any regularity was Lost, and I decided those guys were completely making shit up as they go along after the finale to last season.
(Maybe the headline for this post should be: FAKE ABC 9/11 MINISERIES IS THE NEW LOST?)
UPDATE: Here is a link to a discussion of the fake teaching aids associated with this fake movie.
On a related note, I wasted a few precious minutes of my life watching one of Bush's terror speeches this morning. I think he said the words "safe" and "safer" about 50 times. As Glenn Greenwald writes, this neocon obsession with safety is a supreme irony:
So much of the neoconservative warrior cries are built on an ethos of deep fear, of exactly the desperate desire to be protected and saved which Steyn and company claim is the hallmark of the girlish, soul-less West. As they strike the warrior pose, they are desperately willing, even eager, to fundamentally change the character and principles of our republic and to sacrifice the core liberties which define it because they are scared and want, more than anything else, to be protected.
Do you want to hear what a person sounds like when they really are -- to use Steyn's words -- "weak, that there's nothing -- no core, no bedrock -- nothing it's not willing to trade"? Here is Bush loyalist Sen. John Cornyn, explaining why we should allow the President to break the law and eavesdrop on our conversations without any oversight: "None of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead." And here is Pat Roberts, showing how willing he is to trade all American values in the hope of being protected from the things he fears: "I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead." That "rationale" means we do anything -- give up all freedoms, relinquish all values -- because desperately trying to stay alive is the only thing that matters. [full post]
It isn't safe and nothing these people are doing is making us safer.
Posted by ebogjonson at 8:45 AM | Permalink
September 6, 2006
condi condi condi
Condi, in the New York Daily News:
Secretary of State Rice compared the Iraq war with the American Civil War, telling a magazine that slavery might have lasted longer in this country if the North had decided to end the fight early.
"I'm sure there are people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold," Rice said in the new issue of Essence magazine.
Leaving aside the patently absurd historical comparison (justifying the Iraq war by comparing its critics to apologists for slavery is the height of moral hypocrisy... and political panic), it is interesting to note that Condi's comments came in Essence. She specifically crafted this patently ridiculous argument for a black audience, suggesting the Secretary of State buys into the racist, right-wing mythology that black folks are sheep prone to unthinking, knee-jerk reaction to certain code-words, "slavery" apparently being a Susquehanna Hat Company-type trigger that leaves us uncontrollably frothing at the mouth.
Rice's comments also just go to show that no talking android, no matter how craven or sold-out, can resist switching codes and evoking metaphors rooted in the traditional black political consensus when forced to address black audiences. These are folks who, in every way possible, at every possible turn, have chosen their own careers and the rewards of white patronage over the health of their community, and yet stick them in front of a black crowd and suddenly they're eager to connect, evoking conceptual frames (like the fight for equal rights) that they've otherwise worked so hard to disassemble.
One minor nit to pick with our friends at the Carpetbagger, tho. They write:
Maybe Rice thought that Essence's circulation is small enough that these comments wouldn't cause a stir.
Hey friend: Essence is not only the leading publication for black women, it's owned by the same people who own CNN, making it part of the major media octopus. Relative size of circulation has no bearing on how and why she said what she said..
The Bushites fully expected this line of argument to get out into the general mediastream. Equating anti-war politics with apologia for slavery is just another part of the ongoing campaign to make opponents of an illegal, ill-advised war out to be the enemies of freedom, truth and apple pie and so on. It's just another trial balloon in the endless quest for new justifications for the same failed policy. These people are monumental fuckers.
August 10, 2006
barack and harold
This is old, but:
Barack Obama looks to me like he's asking himself what THE FUCK he's doing campaigning for Harold Ford.
What the fuck indeed, Barack.
Posted by ebogjonson at 11:30 AM | Permalink
August 1, 2006
speaking of being on the wrong side of history
I'm sitting here, for example, in my house tonight in darkness -- there's no electricity -- next to a car park. What if someone launches a missile from the car park? Am I supposed to die for that? Is that a death sentence for me? Is that how Israel wages war? If I have children in the basement, are they to die for that? And then I'm told it's my fault or it's Hezbollah's fault? You know, these are serious moral questions. [full story][also via juan cole]
When my children ask me about this time we're living through, when they ask what I was doing while these people killed children and subverted the Constitution, will my "DON'T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR GORE AND KERRY!!" bumper-sticker be enough to protect me from their disgust and condemnation?
The US has heavy legal and moral responsibilities for what is now happening. Of all the CO2 emissions produced from fossil fuels so far, we are responsible for almost 30 percent, an amount much larger than that of the next-closest countries, China and Russia, each less than 8 percent. Yet our responsibility and liability may run higher than those numbers suggest. The US cannot validly claim to be ignorant of the consequences. When nations must abandon large parts of their land because of rising seas, what will our liability be? And will our children, as adults in the world, carry a burden of guilt, as Germans carried after World War II, however unfair inherited blame may be? [full story]
Posted by ebogjonson at 10:14 AM | Permalink
July 30, 2006
word of the day 0001
Posted by ebogjonson at 8:08 PM | Permalink
June 16, 2006
the perfect world of bill jefferson (D-LA)
So first the Democrats, then the full House voted to remove alleged crook William Jefferson from his House Ways and Means seat.
William Jefferson is a terrible, terrible excuse for a Democrat/black elected leader, and I kind of hope he goes to jail, or at the very least stops being a member of Congress. (Check his crap voting record here.) His refusal to step down pending resolution of the charges against him is what the old, alliterative folks like to call "both dishonorable and disgusting," and the subsequent ugly racial spill-over is 1000% Jefferson's fault.
Still, the forcible removal of someone from a committee seat is unprecedented (Jefferson is not under indictment... yet), and calling for new rules that respect due process while maintaining the highest ethical strandards for legislators is hardly unreasonable. In a perfect world, events would have played out differently and the following things would have happened:
1 - William Jefferson would not be in the pocket of every corporate interest or shady lobbyist from here to Nigeria ('Natch.)
2 - William Jefferson would not be some kind of (alleged) crook. ('Natch.)
3 - Accused of/and or caught being an alleged crook, William Jefferson would immediately give his committee seat up "in the best interests of the blah blah, in order to clear my blah blah" But barring that, in the absence of an indictment or formal House Ethics Committee investigation, basic fairness would demand allowing dude to sit there until an actual non-news cycle driven process produced additional results or milestones. Calling on Jefferson to resign is one thing, and I think "Resign, Bill Jefferson!!!" or "Lose, Harold!!!" would make great bumper stickers, but refusing to create rules and then using the power of the House Democratic Caucus to send pre-election ethics "messages" ("Dems super good," perhaps?) seems a mite like prematurely throwing a brother off the boat for atmospheric effect.
4 - The Congressional Black Caucus would have modulated its support for Jefferson, murmuring about due process and putting calls for a better procedural approach to open-ended ethics problems like l'affaire Jefferson front-and-center. What the CBC would not have done is talk pointless, hyper-aggressive smack about how there was going to hell to pay for the Democrats with black voters if anyone dared to lay a hand on one square centimeter of Jeff's gigantic, bald forehead. Black voters are loyal, but we give shits primarily about the treatment of our own, local machine hacks. Everyone else's hacks are under-serving the community and are generally understood as poxes on the race.
By putting race over rules in its defense of Jefferson, the CBC is acting as if the Democratic Party wasn't a political caucus but instead was some kind of corporation with different (i.e., potentially illegal) ways of treating black and white employees. There is certainly some cynicism in pointing out the Democratic leadership makes decisions like seeking today's vote at its discretion and according to highly complicated political rules, but none of that obscures the fact that it's William Jefferson, not Nancy Pelosi, that has been accused of breaking the laws of the land.The language of discrimination, of workplace inequality, of disparate treatment is powerful language, and evoking that language to defend one of the worst lobbyist-loving fatcats on the Hill cheapens us all.
5 - And speaking of cheapening us all: In a perfect world, progressive white folks (or at least, Daily Kos members and Huffington Post posters) would stop all the whining about how just pointing out the race angle in this story is harshing their gate-storming mellow. Like it or not, this story has racial implications, so deal with it, Kimosabe, and don't give me bullshit about how "dealing with it" involves bending over or kowtowing to "special interests." I don't agree with Nancy Pelosi's hard-line stance, but when she makes it a point to do a tour of black press to explain her logic, she isn't kowtowing, she's doing the difficult work of maintaining a valued relationship with a key segment of her coalition. (The so-called netroots are always down for "hard work" except when it comes to building bridges with people of color. I wonder why.)
But all that aside, in a perfect world, I would know what to call Bill Jefferson. I know what to call corrupt black conservatives - a talking android, 'natch! - but what funny, vaguely science-fictional tag do you give a machine hack black Democrat?
May 23, 2006
D M Lockart was right!
Posted by ebogjonson at 8:03 AM | Permalink
May 19, 2006
May 16, 2006
tony snow don't know nothing about slurrin no tar babies
What frickin' morons. White House Press Secretary and ex-Fox News talking head Tony Snow on NSA wiretapping:
Having said that, I don't want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program... [Hat tip Crooks and Liars.]
Scholarly debates about folkloric origins aside, "tar baby" is pretty much not something that needs to be coming out of the mouth of a presidential press secretary. A communication professional's job to understand and navigate such nuances, but time and again we are asked to choose between believing these Republican mouth-pieces are incompetent or racist. I likely don't need to tell you where my money is...
black commentator on net neutrality
I was mistaken when I said earlier that there was no black web media coverage of net neutrality. I should have checked The Black Commentator before I typed, since - lo and behold! - last week's issue included a thorough (and typically feisty) piece on the issue by BC editor Bruce Dixon:
America's black misleadership class, which is nearly indistinguishable from its black business class, has struck again. In a stunning coup, a mainline African American voting rights group has been enlisted on the side of AT&T and other telecom monopolies in their legislative push to privatize the Internet and roll back hundreds of agreements with local communities that force these monopolies to extend Internet and cable service to poor and rural communities around the country. [full story]
It's a good piece, well reported and effective in eviscerating a number of talking androids working for the telcos, and it follows up previous coverage by Dixon. I shouldn't be surprised by the article: my lapse in attention aside, BC has always been a great source of black political POV and I've always been a fan. The site provides exactly the sort of aggressive, independent, smart black media I naively kept trying to build in my various previous lives under corporate umbrellas. Which is to say it's precisely the kind of thing that can't be done when the people above you are white folks who understand "black" as being synonymous with "entertainment," or the people below you are mediocrities who couldn't hack it in other parts of the company and thus cling to the black division as a life-preserver / HR-run bantustand. (Sure, white companies do black media in order to reach back audiences, but it's also a great way for them to manage their own internal diversity problems by giving scads of disaffected, glass-ceiling prone negro employees something to do.)
But about BC: knowing a few things about the economics of this biz I have always been slightly afeared that one day I'd wake up and BC would be gone. Concerned that my slack, do-nothing worry in many ways reproduced the various apathetic horrors I have beheld, I just went and subscribed to the site and urge you to do the same. It's a painless buck a week and your kharmic debt to all the late-great black media you didn't previously support will be considered paid in full.
Posted by ebogjonson at 10:36 AM | Permalink
April 27, 2006
BP, BV, BET and the CBC 3
I tooled around this morning to see if any of the major black web properties - Blackplanet.com, BET.com and AOL Black Voices - were covering the recent net neutrality committee vote or the curious votes by Congressional Black Caucus members Edolphus Towns, Albert Wynn, and Bobby Rush.
Not suprisingly, after clearing a few navigational hurdles (dudes, fix that header) I found no mention of the story on BV's news page. Nor was it on BET's new page or BP's. One bright note was that BP's new beta site (nice work, BTW!) now includes a user-powered news sharing tool.. I added the story; we'll see what the crowd does with it.
(Not to brag, but the first deployment of digg/slashdot/plastic-style news sharing tools on a black site was on my late, great Africana.com, the last of which has apparently been finally and completely deleted from AOL's servers. Pour one out for the A-List and the Africana Racism Threat Index; you will not see their like again, except for maybe, like, here.)
A check of Tom Joyner's BlackAmericaWeb.com also produced bupkis on net neutrality and the CBC 3. It's sad, actually. If African American web professionals don't care enough about net neutrality to push a single button on their content management systems, how can we expect black users to care?
Posted by ebogjonson at 10:02 AM | Permalink
April 26, 2006
does the CBC hate net neutrality?
A Democrat-sponsored bill protecting net neutrality was rejected in committee today by a 34-22 vote. Said House committee has a Republican majority, so the amendment by Ed Markey (MA-D) was unlikely to make it out alive, but five Democrats - including Congressional Black Caucus members Edolphus Towns, Albert Wynn, and Bobby Rush still felt the need to cross the aisle and vote with the Republicans. Throw in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Charlie Gonzales and four out of five of the ATT Five are members of the Hill's civil right's caucuses. What gives?
What gives is that these four made the cynical and depressing calculation that black and Latino folks don't care about or follow telecom/internet regulation issues, giving them a free vote to toss the telecom lobby's way. Besides being gutless, this vote puts Towns, Wynn and Rush's constituencies at greater risk for higher internet bills and poorer service. Lots of folks have explained net neutrality better than I will be able to, but suffice to say that if telecoms are allowed to pin premium pricing schemes to the delivery of services they currently treat "neutrally" (delivering you this blog page vs. a video download vs. an e-commerce site vs...) black consumers will be among the first to get fucked.
That prediction isn't idle conjecture on my part, but a projection of current patterns in how telecom, cell, cable and information services are marketed to black audiences. After decades of being redlined and underserved, the African American market has become highly attractive on the thesis that we tend to spend heavily, first and freely on premium telecommunication services, and that where we go youngish, crossover audiences tend to follow. (Where you at, indeed.)
Advertisers and providers have all kinds of shiny jargon and sociology to account for these behaviors: we are "luxury conscious." African Americans "enjoy feature rich environments." We're "trendsetters." Black folks like and understand bling. What all this boils down to practically is that the media, advertising and telecom bizzes expect black folks to enthusiastically pay for any old "extra" shit that comes packaged as a premium, style or luxury add-on. In my experience, study after focus group after sales presentation has enshrined this counter-intuitive fact as ethnic marketing 101, and any rep worth their pillar of salt can toss off related factoids like how, compared to the average white cell phone customer, a demo-comparable (age, sex income level and so on) black cell customer will tend to sign up for more initial minutes or text messages or photo uploads. (Sure, they may dial it back after a few bills, but the initial deviation still makes for pretty spreadsheets.) The same goes for black new car buyers choosing between stereo systems, cable subscribers picking standard, bronze or gold plans, and, of course, no one needs me to rehash the long history of hijinks associated with high end sneakers, a story whose only silver lining is the near ubiquity of cheap knockoffs.
This counter-intuitive spending pattern (in so much as black people are simultaneously imagined as having less) is the dirty little secret of all black consumer media and no business plan proposing a black magazine, website, telecom, MVNO, cable channel or radio station is complete without it.
Which brings us to net neutrality. Do you imagine that in a post-net neutral world AOL or Time Warner Cable, for example, is going to deliver AOL Black Voices the same way they currently deliver competitor BlackPlanet.com? Or taken from another angle, imagine the epic buffets of pointless feature-sets, packaging hustles, and junk "premiums" that will be hawked by SBC in a post-net neutral world, the byzantine universe of hidden deals and associations. For-pay BET branded chat for the teens? Creflo Dollar paying to slow down TD Jake's sermon streams? Conglomerate A paying to stream crap music at superspeed while everyone else's beats crawl along or queue up at the entrance to the thin, slow pipes? These are precisely the kinds of scenarios that should inform the thinking of representatives like Towns, Wynn and Rush, but I guess that telephone money was just too good to pass up.
Posted by ebogjonson at 5:27 PM | Permalink
April 25, 2006
Resolved: LaShawn Barber is some kind of super moron
1 - LaShawn Barber is (by some accounts) the world's most linked-to black blogger.
2 - LaShawn Barber has been enthusiastically directing her rather large readership to a new videoblogging site run by fellow conservative of color Michelle Malkin:
I don't know how she does it.
Michelle Malkin -- wife, mother of two, author of three books, syndicated columnist, speaker, FOX News guest host, and prolific blogger extraordinaire -- has started a new venture called Hot Air, a conservative Internet broadcast network.
OK. This is very cool. I want to do it, too!
3 - Michelle Malkin's new videoblogging site is sponsored by Those Shirts.com, maker of this conservative t-shirt:
4 - Resolved: LaShawn Barber is some kind of super moron.
I've got pro. Con? (Hat tip Digby.)
December 17, 2005
wiretappie, you're doing a heck of a job!
Of his recently revealed, illegal, and impeachment-worthy authorization of extracurricular wiretaps within US territory, King George II says:
"The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States." Full story
I don't know about you, but this American people wants to publicly pat himself on the back for the heck of job I/he's done in continuing to be astounded by successive revelations detailing the breadth and depth of this administration's corruption. You'd think that by now I'd have become inured to GWB's blatant disregard for the first principles of civil liberty, that I'd become desensitized to the stream of petulant and messianic self-justification that bubbles up from Georgie et al.'s empty souls like false confessions flowing straight outta Gitmo. But no. It really is always just like reading about the stolen Florida and Ohio vote counts for the first time all over again. I really am doing a heck of a job!
On the specific issue of the wiretaps, this morning our homegrown caesar basically told each and every American to go boink themselves. He will do whatever he damn well pleases as long as he is Imposter President and (unless you are a terrorist or talking to one) you will enjoy it. Like his similarly ridiculous and self-serving praise for Brownie, Gaius George's articulation of his wartime prerogatives, of the swell job he's done erecting the thoroughly un-American edifice of his Imperial Presidency, flies in the face of reason and the bulk of our jurisprudence. Still, I read stuff like that wiretap bit almost every day now, I see the ripples of outrage confined to the same associated pools of opinion, and I (if I say so myself) do a heck of another type of job by not running out into the streets of Downtown LA and shouting at people. I mean, I seriously DO NOT want to end up just another crazy colored dude shouting in Downtown LA - ignored by all (except perhaps Russ Feingold), talking to myself, trapped in lingering, debilitating thrall of outrages and crimes that are visible only to me. The world proceeding around me, business as usual, my "friends" in Democratic officialdom rousing themselves so late in the game I paradoxically begin to hold their new animation against them. I certainly don't want to end up like that, and not on Christmas, which is under some sort of siege from what I am led to believe.
Hey, speaking of living in a bleak, absurd world of heck:
Triangulation, you're doing a heck of a job, too! There are about ten different things in this country can be said to be going in the crapper. We stand in stunned witness to epic struggles over torture and civil liberty that bear directly on the fate of the nation's soul. Polar bears are drowning. And you know what? All Hillary and her poop-eating DLCish pals (I'm talking to you, Joe) can think to do with themselves is make craven bids for points with an anachronistic, fantasy center.
Heck of a job, Hil! Heck. Of. A. Job.
September 4, 2005
monsters and liars
"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" - George Bush
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center" - Condoleezza Rice
Impeach these bastards, run them out of town.
September 2, 2005
it's always like this
The Imposter President finally took his stage-managed tour of the Gulf disaster area today, his arrival timed to coincide with the appearance of the first National Guard troops in NO. Bush flew a swooping arc that took him first over the devastated Coast, then into Biloxi and (via wifely proxy) Lafayette before the presidential farce came to a semi-screeching halt the outskirts of the devastated Big Easy. His reactions throughout were a study in irrelevance and disconnect. "There is a spirit" in Biloxi, according to the president. He evinces near sexual excitement at the prospect of sitting on Trent Lott's reconstructed porch in Mississippi.
"Hang in there," he tells a sobbing woman.
The Imposter President laughs and he smiles and he frowns and he sputters. His smirking face, his idiot, perfunctory nodding all suggest a man desperately striving to not so much follow a predetermined script, but to embody a vaguely defined set of characteristics and traits, qualities that while technically associated with his office nonetheless seem to consistently hover beyond his reach and the outer boundary of his talent / functional competence.
I mean, it's completely pointless to offer the following at this late juncture, but the man is clearly a fucking moron. This fact about Bush - consistent, unchanging - is why the obsessive tracking of his (now) dive-bombing approval rating always strikes me as absurd. We elected/allowed the installation of this idiot twice at our clearly discernible peril (well, actually, I didn't but you know what I mean), so our approval and disapproval has as much real meaning as the variation in the weekly box office tallies, indicating at best minor variation in our collective appetite / tolerance for the consumption of shit.
Motivation is reputed to follow action (and, moreover, the cameras are watching) so the Imposter President clearly has to keep on trucking despite any innate limitations. (This persistence despite himself has long been chief among Bush's most discernible traits, that and his useful inability to ever cohere into anything more than a shell into which anyone can conceivably pour anything.) Strange as it is to still need to emphasize against what feels like a disputing tug of stunned incredulity, he is the POTUS, with all the stature that implies even in these worst of times, but no amount of play-acting and beseeching today, no amount of human sacrifice in the streets of New Orleans could call down the Oval-O loa that mysteriously chose to favor Bush during his first visit to Ground Zero. Much is being made of the difference in Bush's reaction to Katrina and 9/11, but the man on the little screen this morning is the same nitwit who lost his place reading a children's book that morning four years previous. At Ground Zero Bush stood enveloped and enmeshed in a more fortunate (for him) aesthetic regime, which is to say, on the shoulders of a preternaturally focused Rudy Giuliani and against the backdrop of the instant, universally agreed-upon primal scene of the day, i.e., NYPD and NYFD and EMS rushing up stairs to their doom. The scope of the disaster in NY was smaller, its arrow of outrage pointing outward, across national borders, its implication all upside for the men in power in DC. Who is there to blame today besides the black people dying because they lacked wheels, living as they do outside of Bush's SUV ownership society?
Surprisingly, though, despite all his fumbling, Bush committed no obvious gaffe today beyond the underlying/overarching failure of being Bush. That left it to Wifey to hit the most unintentionally astounding note of the day. Shanked by a reporter in Lafayette who had the bland temerity to ask her what the overwhelming blackness of the victims in NO may or may not suggest, Laura Bush was reduced to chorus of disturbed mewling, whining "noooo. No. Nooooooo." Her subsequent sentence-structure response (paraphrased) was that it was "always like this" during natural disasters. The poor tend to live on low ground, explained the FLOTUS, in houses that tend to be more vulnerable to destruction by hurricane and flood.
Or put another way, Mrs. Bush believes that black and brown people just "tend" to be drownin' and dying and starving and shit, like, all the time. Has been and ever shall be in her estimation - "it's always like this" - and extracting any particular implication from this outbreak of suffering in NO is to ask an already settled question about the American Negro's ordained lot - settled at least in Mrs. Bush's mind.
Someone needs to lose it on either Bush the way Anderson Cooper lost it on LA Senator Mary Landrieu yesterday on CNN. Did Bush meet with NO Mayor Ray Nagin today? If he did I'm sure that meeting took place off screen and off mic. Nagin seems a little likely to go maroon about now.
Posted by ebogjonson at 3:52 PM | Permalink
September 1, 2005
GOP just comes out with it
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert doesn't think NO should be rebuilt.
Posted by ebogjonson at 4:40 PM | Permalink
two proofs of evil
1 - All of Congress flew back to DC from vacation on a Sunday in a matter of hours in order to vote on the re-insertion of a feeding tube into a dead woman. They may or may not reconvene tomorrow or the day after to deal with the New Orleans disaster.
2 - Peggy Noonan calls for looters to be shot. I really have not the words to describe the risible stupidity of Noonan's column. Me, what I think is that Peggy Noonan should get parachuted into the middle of the chaos in NO so that her flabby ass can get distributed and fed to the hungry.