Pooping on the Doug Jones Parade

Last night’s victory by Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in the race to fill Jeff Sessions’ U.S. Senate seat from Alabama is a good thing because, if nothing else, it means the child molester did not win.  But beyond that, I believe it matters little.

For starters, it means nothing for the upcoming tax legislation vote, which is on thin ice in the Senate because hellacious scumbag supreme, Mitch McConnell, is already up to his old tricks, saying he won’t seat Jones until after the tax vote.  It’s like the Supreme Court all over again!

In the long term, this brings the Dems to a 49-50 razor thin minority in the Senate.  And that sounds good, like John Rambo about to pop out of the water with his machine gun.  But as Republicans get all tie breakers (VP Pence casts deciding votes), the Dems are still two shy.  Meanwhile, the upcoming midterms, now less than a year away, feature Democrats having to defend several red states in Senate elections.  Check out this map of which states have a senate race in 2018.

Continue reading Pooping on the Doug Jones Parade

Monday Hot Takes!

*Omg, so excited about Prince Harry announcing he’s getting hitched to the absolutely fabulous Meghan Markle. Way to go, royal family!

*The Trump presidency continues shifting Foucaultian microtechnologies of power, including the reinforcement of select biopower apparatuses around immigration and race but, despite this, has thoroughly betrayed earlier promises to disrupt capitalism!

*Yes, it is a major bummer that the Magnificent Markle won’t be going by the title “Princess Meghan” (Is it because they think she’s black?), thereby ruining the theme of many a birthday party.  But at least the Windsor Castle clan can finally begin weeding out the hemophilia and polydactylism.

*The funny man from frigid Minnesota is in some serious hot water.  And we’re not talking about Lou Grant!  Serial molester/groper/tongue-down-your-mouther/sleep-therapist-from-Hell Al Franken resigned from the Senate last week after a cohort of his peers pressured him to step down.  Sadly, frothing, myopic Dems who value scoring political points and cocktail party Suart Smalley impersonations more than challenging America’s ingrained misogyny could not be consoled by the great equalizer: A Democratic Democratic governor is appointing Franken’s replacement, and a new election is nearly a year, so there’s plenty of time to install and establish a new incumbent in Minnesota, which hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office in over a decade.  No matter . . . the party’s Kardashian wing values appearances over everything else, and is working fervently to remind each and every last American that so long as Franken didn’t rape and murder toddler cancer patients, he’s way, way better than Roy Moore!

*Hot Hollywood Rumor: Quentin Tarrantino is pitching an R-rated Start Trek film to franchise impresario J.J. Abrams, who’s excited about the idea, according to early reports.  Continue reading Monday Hot Takes!

Be Thankful for These Women

It takes a lot of courage to come forward.  More courage, quite frankly, than most people have.  You need to be more courageous than me, maybe than you too.

First, you have to have the courage to let other people know.  This is much more difficult than you might imagine.  The prospect of family, friends, and co-workers knowing you were assaulted or harassed is intimidating.  These are very deep and intimate details of your life, the kind you normally would never share with most folks.  But coming forward means many people will find out what you’d rather they didn’t know.  And if your accusations are against a famous man, then just about everyone will know, right up to the stranger  who recognizes you while walking down the street and mutters something to his or her friend.

You also need to the courage to deal with the deniers.  The asshole you accuse?  Yeah, good chance he (most likely a “he”) will deny it.  And he’ll also have his defenders (not necessarily a “he”).  These may be individual defenders, such as his family, friends, and co-workers.  They may also be institutional, like a private arbitrator picked by your boss, who’s handling this because of the contract you unwittingly signed or couldn’t afford not to sign.  Or the legal system that features a defense team hell bent on publicly destroying your name and character by informally putting you, the victim, on trial.

And then, finally, you’ll need the courage to deal with some of your so-called allies and supporters. Continue reading Be Thankful for These Women

Louis CK and Roy Moore Walk into a Bar

At first glance, the disparity is stark.  Over the past two months, a litany of powerful men have been accused of sexual assault. Yet reactions from their supporters have been very different.

By and large, Progressives, Liberals, and Leftists have staunchly condemned all sexual predation, including predators with whom they are likelier to stand politically, such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and most recently Louis CK.  Meanwhile, many Republicans have not only defended, but even embraced men who brag about being sexual predators (Donald Trump) or face very serious and well investigated accusations of criminal sexual behavior (Roy Moore).

It’s tempting to point out that the GOP has not simply lost the moral high ground, but has impatiently discarded it.  It’s tempting to proclaim that Progressives, Liberals, and Leftists have remained true to their values in a way that many Conservatives seem unwilling or perhaps even unable to do.  It’s tempting to say that Democrats do not tolerate sexual predators, either within their own ranks or without, while Republicans have pioneered new heights in hypocrisy by readily condemning sexual predators outside their ranks, yet making every conceivable excuse for sexual predators within their ranks, right up to equating the sexual molestation of children with the parenting of Jesus Christ.

It is very tempting indeed. But yet, I wonder. Continue reading Louis CK and Roy Moore Walk into a Bar

In Memoriam: Dennis Banks

Former American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Dennis Banks died Sunday night at the age of 80.

My doctoral dissertation (University of Nebraska, 2000) and first book (Texas Tech Press, 2007) dealt with AIM, particularly their controversial political work and on Pine Ridge Reservation (SD) during the 1970s.

AIM was a very important but also highly flawed organization.  Some of their problems were not their fault, as they suffered extreme government persecution and repression, especially in the form of illegal FBI counterintelligence programs.  But sometimes they they made their own mess by not particularly caring who got burnt by their scorched earth rhetoric, or harmed by their often disorganized protests.

In a 2005 review of Dennis Banks’ memoir, I wrote the following:

There is also the brash rhetorical style and techniques that are emblematic of the speeches and writings of many AIM members.  It was shocking and original in the 1970s, and still has the power to move, but three decades later it at times seems tired.

Yes, by then the times had passed Banks by in some ways.  Nonetheless, it was and still is astonishing to consider how far he had come to co-found AIM during the late 1960s in St. Paul, Minnesota, and then become a prominent national figure. Continue reading In Memoriam: Dennis Banks

Return of the Criminal Presidency

We are perhaps on the verge of witnessing, for the third time in 100 years, a U.S. presidency so corrupt that multiple high ranking members will be imprisoned.

In early 1919, former president Teddy Roosevelt was the early favorite to re-assume the Republican Party’s mantle for the 1920 election.  However, he died unexpectedly shortly before the campaign season began, and a crowded field of contenders soon emerged.

Warren G. Harding initially had little hope of winning, and entered the race mostly to bolster his control of Ohio politics; he was one of the state’s two U.S. senators and held sway over much of its corrupt machine.  But when party leaders could not agree on any of the front runners, the convention deadlocked.  They soon settled on Harding, in part because he was from a crucial swing state, and in part because he was relatively unknown and hadn’t offended many delegates.

The compromise candidate from Ohio went on to win a resounding victory, setting what was then a record by taking 61% of the popular vote.

Harding was generally well liked during his time in office as society settled down from the tumultuous effects of World War I and its immediate aftermath. It didn’t hurt that the economy also began to hum.  But he would serve just 2½ years, dying of a heart attack while visiting San Francisco in 1923.

At first, Harding’s premature death increased his already widespread popularity.  It was only after his passing that the litany corruption attached to his administration would become a salacious public debacle.

It turned out that family man Harding had kept at least two mistresses, including one who claimed he fathered her child.  But it was the criminal antics of his administration that would eventually lead Historians to rank Harding as one of the worst presidents ever.

The name that still rings a bell among some Americans who learned about it in high school is the Teapot Dome Scandal.  Interior Secretary Albert Fall took bribes totaling $400,000 (nearly $6 million in today’s money) from oil executives in return for awarding them leases to drill on public land in Wyoming and California.  Fall was convicted, fined, and became the first U.S. presidential cabinet member to do time; he was sentenced to a year, and served 9 months. Continue reading Return of the Criminal Presidency

How to be Racist in Today’s America

A new poll reveals that 55% of white people believe white people face discrimination in today’s America.

At first glance, this seems to set new records for irony.  A majority of white people are worried about racism against white people.  It’s hard to make that up.  But in fact, it’s not ironic at all.  It’s actually predictable.  And more than predictable, it’s a fundamental precondition for white racism to exist.

Why?  Because nobody wants to be the bad guy.  Nobody wants to be the villain.  Everyone wants to justify their beliefs and actions.  It’s human nature.

And so victimizers often cast themselves as victims.  And more subtly, those who profit from an unfair system paint themselves as the real losers in grand social equations.

That’s why open racists have long complained that they are on the short end, they are the ones suffering, they are the ones unfairly penalized by the very group they are oppressing.

Nazis blamed the Jews for ruining their economy.  Early Americans blamed the Indians for wasting valuable land and preventing hardworking Americans from using it properly.   Slave owners blamed slaves for being childlike incompetents who required white people to support them.  Nativists blamed poor, non-white immigrants (including even the Irish, who at one point weren’t considered “white”) for taking their jobs.

Now a majority of white Americans think they’re the real victims here.  It makes perfect sense.

Most people need to justify their ugliness.  That’s true of Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, men and women. Continue reading How to be Racist in Today’s America

The Crippling of Donald Trump

Factor 1: More than anything else in the world, more than having a happy marriage, more than raising healthy, well adjusted children, more than God, Mom, or Apple Pie, Donald J. Trump wants to be a WINNER.

Trump has always been hell bent on publicly proclaiming himself a winner. And for him, being a winner means not just being successful, but being the best.  Better than anyone and everything at whatever he does.

It’s not enough to be rich; he has to claim he has more money than he actually does (I’ve actually heard first hand stories about this from a former Forbes journalist).  It’s not enough to screw starlets and gold diggers; he has to “anonymously” phone the press so that everyone can know about it.  It’s not enough to host a long running, highly rated tv show; he has to claim its failure to win an emmy damaged the emmys’ credibility.  It’s not enough to win the presidency; he has to claim he won the popular vote because millions of people supposedly voted illegally, even though they didn’t.  It’s not enough to take the oath of office in front of the entire world; he has to claim more supporters showed up at his inauguration than for any other president, despite the all the aerial photographs revealing him to be a infantile liar.

He can’t help himself.  He must lie and lie and lie, exaggerating every legitimate success and adamantly denying anything remotely smelling of failure.

No wonder then that of all the many insults that Trump lobs like handfuls rice at a wedding, in his mind the biggest, baddest epithet he can hurl at someone is “Loser!”  Because losing is sad.

🙁 Continue reading The Crippling of Donald Trump

In Memoriam: Hugh Hefner

In 6th grade wood shop class, my main project was making a Playboy bunny logo.  I carved the wood, torched the grain, added finish, and then mounted it on a piece of peg board I had cut and painted red.

Neither my fellow students nor our shop teacher thought there was anything odd about this.  In fact, my teacher had given me the template to cut the the iconic bunny head.  He had dozens to choose from, and I, like many of his students before me no doubt, had picked that one.

There were no girls in junior high wood shop class.

Like many boys of the 1970s, my childhood was punctuated by various pornographic discoveries.  Pornography was more prevalent than ever before, but in an era before VCRS, it was still largely hidden away in XXX movie theaters, or stashed on the top shelf of your dad’s bedroom closet.  For a boy, it was tantalizingly close, yet still far away, like some ancient Greek punishment that mocks you with with unattainable temptation.  But unlike the doomed souls of Hades, for us there was a way.

In a scene repeated countless times around the nation, my initiation into the world of sexualized, naked women came via the dirty magazine an older boy dug up from underneath a large rock behind our apartment building in the Bronx.  I was about 8 years old, maybe younger, and I stared in wonderment at those women’s nude bodies.

In the years that followed, similar occasions led me to cross paths with well worn, second tier nudey mags like Cheri, Oui, and Jugs.  It’s something that stays with you. Continue reading In Memoriam: Hugh Hefner

Shut Up, It’s the Flag!

I remember my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Newman.

Not Ms., but Mrs.  Why?  Because things change.

Mrs. Newman was aware that things change, but she wasn’t always happy about it.  Take the National Anthem, for example.

One day she told us that she was raised to behave in a respectful manner when the National Anthem was played.  That meant, after it finished, you remained silent for a moment.

You most certainly did not yell and applaud as do modern sports fans at today’s arenas and stadiums.

That habit, of loudly celebrating the anthem after its completion, had already taken hold when Mrs. Newman schooled us on patriotic etiquette in 1980.  Such antics, she told us, were vulgar. Continue reading Shut Up, It’s the Flag!