Saturday, September 06, 2008

silly brown people 

Just heard about a bit of NYT awesomeness on FAIR's Counterspin. In an article discussing the Afghan government's desire to control US forces which just killed 90 people in an air raid, the article explains:

Heavy-handed bombing raids and house raids, which are seen as culturally unacceptable by many Afghans who guard their privacy fiercely, and the detention of hundreds of suspects for years without trial at the Bagram air base and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have stirred up Afghans’ strong independent streak and ancient dislike of invaders.

Bombings and house-raids, killing and terrorizing people, are really just invasions of privacy! If the Afghan culture weren't so touchy about their privacy, there wouldn't be a problem here.

Detention without trial is also bound to "stir up" (like a hornet's nest?) people who live in these primitive cultures that value independence and autonomy. If these Afghani insects would just fucking chill, this would all be ok.

Why can't these sand-niggers understand that their attachment to outdated values like independence, autonomy, and privacy is archaic and preventing them from truly joining the global community? How fucking uncivilized do you have to be to get so upset about a little killing, terror and occupation? Everyone else on the planet has adjusted their culture accordingly to make killing of innocents completely acceptable. What is wrong with these people?

You didn't hear our President nattering on about guarding our privacy when we got bombed, did you? No one here was the least miffed about the major privacy violation of the three thousand 9/11 dead. Fucking Afghan babies.

Also of interest on Counterspin is a discussion of the police repression in Minneapolis and why it doesn't make the news. The conversation starts at minute 10.

An American Family! 

Friday, September 05, 2008

$ where mouf is 

I haven't contributed to Obama in a while, and am doing so now, and I'm using the link in the email that came in response to the Palin speech, the subject line of which was "What you just saw."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Jean d'Arc and the Cracken 

Any time someone wades back into the realm of analyzing the deep structure of the relationship between media representation (the teevee) and fascist power, American style, it warrants special attention, since this is a subject that has interested AmCop since back in the day, in fact our very first post, by speakingcorpse, about the fantasy of many Californian GOP men to be raped by the Governator.

In this case, I just wanted to bring back an excerpt from Abote's post below:

I suppose McCain's new idea is to batter and disgrace Palin so thoroughly, to make her such a complete victim, that she is transformed into something pure and innocent and holy. Kind of like Lacy Peterson, but still alive, or like Terri Schiavo, but conscious, or like Elizabeth Smart, but older and not so Mormon-y.

and then a comment from Que Queg:

Abote, you've tapped into something truly terrifying, because this case is different. In other examples of female victimhood, the women were dead or unconscious or teenaged, but in this case we are being asked to vote for one of the victims. If it is calculated it seems that the GOP is going one step further than winning support by scaring voters about guns and gays; they're trying to exploit something deeper and more perverse -- what I would argue is titillation by the victimization of a woman and the impulse to mask the arousal by screaming that she needs to be "protected." While attacking the media, the GOP has stolen from the media's playbook. Sadly, the Democrats have very little to do with this -- it's a game the media and the Republicans are playing.

Thoughts welcome.

meme team 

Today's most incisive bloggy riposte to Palin's speech:

"Mrs. Palin needs to be reminded that Jesus Christ was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor."

Hopefully coming soon to a t-shirt near you.

It is emblematic of Republican strategic confusion that they broke out last night with attacks on community organizers and contrasts to "people with real responsibility". While still clutching their culture-war populist chestnuts, they've also given the game away with this new approach. Doug Rushkoff, echoing Dawkins, explains:

These folks were gritting their teeth, shaking their fists, and smiling the way gladiators do when going into combat against barbarians. And this is the incumbent party. The ones currently in power.

What is it they hate? Guiliani and Palin both made it pretty clear: community organizing. Community organizing is energized from below. From the periphery. It is the direction and facilitation of mass energy towards productive and cooperative ends. It is about replacing conflict with collaboration. It is the opposite of war; it is peace.


In their attack on community organizing - a word combination they pretended they didn’t know what it meant - Giuliani and Palin revealed their refusal to acknowledge the kinds of bottom-up processes through which our society was built, and through which local communities can begin to assert some authority over their schools, environments, and economies. Without organized communities, you don’t get the reduction in centralized government the Republicans pretend to be arguing for. In their view, community organizing as, at best, equivalent to disruptive and unpredictable Al Qaeda activity.

As we all know, for the last thirty or so years the GOP has built a ruling coalition in part on a cooptation of economic and political populism. They took popular anger stemming from pain over their terrible governance and diverted into the Culture War. They took popular common-sense knowledge of economics and politics and drowned it in the bathtub of sexual paranoia.

Last night they began to abandon all that. They are now explicitly drawing the distinction between Authority and Democracy and claiming the side of Authority. They're dragging Cult-War populism back into the political sphere. But notice, they're not asking the angry people to rise up against their masters, the cornerstone of populist emotion, they're asking them to submit.

If they continue on this line, I think it will prove to be a big mistake. Of course the party faithful and the twenty-five percenters are all slavish children at heart, desperately seeking a strongman. Of course they're gonna snarl and froth and fume and love every second of any authoritarian spectacle.

In the end though, I think the cognitive dissonance will be too great for any but the most committed. The entire GOP rhetorical line has rested on dressing up authoritarian actions in democratic verbiage. The problem is that to some extent people like and believe in the verbiage. What the Republicans are proposing here is to bring their rhetoric in line with their actual beliefs, desires and actions. They actually want to show people the man behind the curtain and think it will garner more support. Nuh uh.

Not only that, but they're actually using the words "community organizing" in the first place. So for one, they're buying into the "frame" as they say, playing on Obama's field. But they're also re-mainstreaming what what they had succeeded in making a marginal concept for the last thirty years. Much better to have left it in the shadows, a word combination only used by dirty Leftists and poor people, part of an arcane jargon used by untrustworthy people.

Now they've breathed life into it and asked Americans who actually believe they live in a democracy, and especially the Americans they've been training to hate the government for a generation, to see society as newly polarized between governors and community organizers. Then they expect people to think the good guys are the governors?

Not that I think people will "see through" this at all or suddenly start having epiphanies across the land. I'm just saying that they're confusing the shit out of people with the mixed message and newly complicated narrative. They had a nice short, simple story that they could mass-produce. Now in a desperate attempt to regain crumbling market-share they're adding bells and whistles and feature sets to their shabby product. This is not the stuff of which successful GOTV mobilizations are born.

What I'm really hoping for here is not merely the GOP out of power, but eventually an end to the Culture Wars itself and a return to real politics. That's certainly more long-range, but I hope its not too much to hope that the GOP has begun to walk confidently along a slippery-slope that ends in the utter uselessness of God, Guns and Gays as rhetoric.

Anyone to the left of Giuliani should absolutely harp on this language as much as possible. Make it a contest of community self-organization versus top-down governance. A lot of Americans don't really believe in democracy, but not many are really willing to say so out loud. The Repubs have handed the Obamaists and their allies a great gift. I hope they run with it.

The map 

Take a look at the poll composites at pollster.com for today:

DEM: 260 electoral votes (231 strong, 29 lean)
REP: 176 (112 strong, 64 lean)
TOSS UP: 102

As you know, the first to 270 wins.

The Dem numbers are incredibly strong. The only "lean" states are Michigan (17 EV), Oregon (7), and New Mexico (5).

The toss-up states are Florida (27), Ohio (20), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Colorado (9), Nevada (5), New Hampshire (4), Montana (3), North Dakota (3), and Alaska (3).

So I think the key to winning the election is to hang on to Michigan while pushing for Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire.

Nevada and Montana are also winnable, and a poll came out today putting Obama ahead in North Dakota.

The scenarios for a McCain victory are very, very difficult to imagine. Even if he hangs on to all of the states currently in his column and steals Michigan, he would still need 77 electoral votes from the toss-up states. That's more than Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia combined.

Think about what we've seen at the RNC so far. Is that going to steal Michigan? Is that going to be the death blow for Obama in FL and OH and NC and VA and at least one other toss-up state?

Beholding the "base" 

I did something I shouldn't have last night before going to bed. Having missed the Palin speech in primetime, I saw the feed of it on the RNC's website. The second half, at least. I missed the part where she talks about her family, touts her accomplishments in government, and likens herself to a pit bull. I caught the part where she rails against Obama, saying he will forfeit the war in Iraq, etc.

I was struck by a couple things about the convention.

One is that inscrutable expression that you see on the faces of Republican conventioneers as they watch the speeches. There's always the ugly, sneering, fanged grin. But nearly always with that is this shifty, sidelong, furtive glance thing they do with their eyes. It's the look you might imagine crossing the face of a disturbed, masochistic child bully who's witnessing the rape of a puppy. Something they're clearly enjoying seeing, but -- with the eyes, darting this way and that, as if to scan if anyone's looking -- something they vaguely realize is wrong and that they'd probably better not be caught watching and enjoying so much.

Which, of course, is odder still because the whole craven puppy-rape spectacle is being televised for all to see, with copious puppy-rape-fan reaction shots interspersed throughout.

The other concerns the existence/persistence of the audience itself. As the cameras pan across, you notice the composition of this crowd (white and whiter still, ugly and uglier, etc.), and you can't help but marvel at the Republican "base." I can't imagine there's a group of people more greedy, bigoted, or bloodthirsty anywhere on earth, nor one that has, directly or indirectly, loosed more pain, suffering, hatred, or killing on the world.

Yet here they are again, running a show exactly like the ones they put on in 2004, 2000, and before and before, no longer celebrating George W. Bush, but working toward the fulfillment of the exact same mission they launched in his name. Reinventing their iniquity in the name of McCain and Palin, global puppy-rape forever and ever.

In other words, an American family!

The avenging ghost 

I think the most astonishing episode of the entire Sarah Palin drama happened just a few hours before her speech, when McCain's people actually went out of their way to publicize a National Enquirer story about an affair Palin supposedly had with her husband's business partner.

Why would sane people do this? It only makes you want to read the whole story and it gives you the strange sense that the Enquirer story might somehow be accurate. And yet, there they are, actually piling more garbage onto the woman whom they are supposedly defending from an unfair barrage of media elitism and sexism.

I suppose McCain's new idea is to batter and disgrace Palin so thoroughly, to make her such a complete victim, that she is transformed into something pure and innocent and holy. Kind of like Lacy Peterson, but still alive, or like Terri Schiavo, but conscious, or like Elizabeth Smart, but older and not so Mormon-y.

Then she delivered her convention speech. I watched it online. The delegates in the XCel Energy Center clearly love them some pretty white victim. And I'm sure very casual viewers felt that she was a good speaker (I agree) and a super-terrific nice mom who is just folks. I don't know if this impression will actually win over allegedly undecided voters, though.

I also have no idea whether this will stop, slow or stall all the questions of her record and background. My feeling is that prominent news items about her book-banning, pork-grubbing, secessionist, Trooper-gating ways will continue in direct proportion to the amount of money the media have invested in sending people to Alaksa to investigate.

What I do feel certain about is that the Republicans have happily turned Sarah Palin into another white female victim who will now rise from the grave to denounce her supposed murderers -- "Obama," "liberals," "Washington elite," "San Francisco," etc. It's her status as white female victim that, in our culture today, allows her the pleasure of endless gleeful outrage.

Way to fight sexism, GOP!

change you can believe in, pt. II 


In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty.

Affidavits released by law enforcement which were filed in support of the search warrants used in raids over the weekend, and used to support probable cause for the arrest warrants, are based on paid, confidential informants who infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate these allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these allegations than the claims of the informants.


The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law was in 1918, when Matt Moilen and others organizing labor unions for the Industrial Workers of the World on the Iron Range were charged with "criminal syndicalism." The convictions, based on allegations that workers had advocated or taught acts of violence, including acts only damaging to property, were upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In the light of history, these convictions are widely seen as unjust and a product of political trials.

From The National Lawyer's Guild

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

pants: pissed 

La Noonan when she thinks the cameras aren't rolling:

change you can believe in 



An American Family!

Return on investment 

How many news organizations have sent on-camera talent up to Alaska? How many reporters? How many producers and camera crews? It is not cheap up there. Everything from hotels to convenience store food to (important!) alcohol costs more. I mean, is Alaska even part of most cell phone plans? I bet the roaming charges aren't pretty.

So, there is almost no way the coverage will turn to Palin's favor so long as CNN and the rest are investing their money in airfare, hotels, car rentals, tips, bar tabs, data transmission charges, etc. on a story in a place that is thousands of miles away.

What could the outcome be? "Well, Wolf, we dropped 300 grand on this and it turns out that Sarah Palin is just a super-nice terrific lady with an all-American family. And here's an old schoolmarm from Wasilla we dug up to tell everyone how swell she is!"

Just as the media's investment in covering troop buildups in Kuwait and Qatar virutally assured that they would be cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq, the journalistic buildup in Alaska -- the buildup of investigative journalists! -- ensures a bad outcome for the Palin party.

If McCain had chosen Joe Liberman or Mitt Romney, the media could be phoning the stories in. All the tape loops were ready to go. No travel required. They would have been lazy, and hence compliant.

Instead he dared them to do some reporter shit. To do investigative journalism!

Now McCain's people are complaining about the media's treatment of Palin, but really they only have themselves to blame. For the first time in a long time, it seems to me that the Democratic side has a better understanding of how the media actually works.


Oh, and if you haven't heard the latest news, Palin sat in her home church two weeks ago and listened to a sermon about how terrorist attacks are God's "judgment of unbelief" against the Jews.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This is perhaps in poor taste... 

... but may I suggest a contest to name the new Palin baby?

Remember, these common names are already taken:

My suggestion is to follow up on the Trigonometry theme with some other school subjects that Palin family members may be missing (or may have missed) due to the everyday vicissitudes that can happen in any all-American family, especially when they are "the best of us."

1. Calc Palin
2. Econ Palin
3. PoliSci Palin
4. AP American History Palin
5. Home Ec Palin
6. Lunch Palin

Sorry everyone.

Then and now 

David Brooks, September 8, 2005:
The first rule of the rebuilding effort should be: Nothing Like Before. Most of the ambitious and organized people abandoned the inner-city areas of New Orleans long ago, leaving neighborhoods where roughly three-quarters of the people were poor.

In those cultural zones, many people dropped out of high school, so it seemed normal to drop out of high school. Many teenage girls had babies, so it seemed normal to become a teenage mother. It was hard for men to get stable jobs, so it was not abnormal for them to commit crimes and hop from one relationship to another...

That's why the second rule of rebuilding should be: Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. The only chance we have to break the cycle of poverty is to integrate people who lack middle-class skills into neighborhoods with people who possess these skills and who insist on certain standards of behavior.

David Brooks, September 2, 2008:
On Monday, an ugly feeding frenzy surrounded her daughter’s pregnancy. But most Americans will understand that this is what happens in real life, that parents and congregations nurture young parents through this sort of thing every day.
There's a shitload more where that came from. Brooks is obsessed with teenage pregnancy and unwed mothers, especially when they are poor and black.


A Mitt with a son named Tagg was bad enough.

But now we have the Palin children: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and (poor thing) Trig.

Your two sons are named Track and Trig??

Can anyone explain this? What sort of ethno-socio-linguistic fetish is at play here?

Aren't these folks supposed to love them some Bible? What problem do they have with Jason and Michael and Daniel and shit? Why don't these good suburban kids (to modify Dave Berman) have normal biblical names?



Monday, September 01, 2008

Exit Palin? 

What will happen next in the best reality programming since the original Survivor?

My grasp of this story has been all over the map; it's hard to make sense of a storyline that flies from pillar to post in hours.

The latest word inspires in me the following crackpot theory:

Maybe, having been denied the right to choose his pals Lieberman or Romney, McCain chose Palin as some kind of crazy kamikaze fuck you to the religious right, whom he's battled for years.

"I can't have one of mine? Fine, let's give her a try and see how it all shakes out. Happy now, guys?"

At the current rate with which these Palin stories are coming out, one wonders if she'll even last through the week.

Then McCain, utterly and finally severed from the "base," will at least get to choose who he wants. Maybe he is a maverick, after all.

Again! AGAIN!!! 

Something has to give here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

On VPs, and optimism 

I think VP choices can matter quite a bit. Cheney was a big selling point for the experience-less Bush. Ethnic windbag Lieberman was a big drag on Gore. Edwards was maybe a break even for Kerry, but he did offer the Repubs some easy $400 haircut jokes and insinuations of running mate pederasty, plus he compared unfavorably to Cheney in their debate.

Palin could prove to be a difference maker. Main reason is the Republican “base” hates McCain's guts, but they LOVE Palin, so now you have the right wing born-again types getting very fired up, and that’s something that wasn’t happening just last week.

Plus, Palin is the fruition of some clever Republican VP-choice gamesmanship. They ran the “not ready to be commander in chief” stuff on the Obama campaign so hard that they panicked and went with the safe choice in Biden. Now, the experience issue is much more complicated and a bit diminished, and Biden does not have a lot to recommend to him without his foreign relations cred. Obama must be wishing now he’d gone with his soundest option, Tim Kaine, who was questionable when experience mattered. Today, Kaine would’ve been the perfect southern-fried Bible-thumping red-stater to persuade some of the less enlightened among us to vote Obama.

Not to say I’m not optimistic. But this is the Rove playbook we’re talking about here. Make your opponent’s greatest strength into his weakness. Make your greatest weakness into your strength. And if you’ll pardon the extended sports analogy, so far all Obama’s won is the coin toss. He elected to kick, and McCain-Palin ran the ball to midfield. They’ve got good field position going into their convention and will hold onto the ball for four long days.

I do think we’re looking at a long game ahead. Which is not to say be overly gloomy. Just get your checkbooks back out, and start thinking about some road trip weekends this fall.

Skeletons in the closet... 

When I heard about the choice of Sarah Palin, I had an eerie twinge of deja vu. But I couldn't quite place it.

Did a little sleuthing and it all came together, and makes perfect sense.

McCain's distinctive hat...

Palin's big brown eyes, auburn hair...

...and sultry voice.

Do that to me one more time, indeed!

Your next VP 

In case the picture isn't clear enough to read, her T-shirt says: "I may be broke but, I'm not flat busted."

A true feminist, even back in her University of Idaho days. Also a "maverick" when it comes to punctuation.

Amazingly, this photo was provided to the AP by her own family. What else is out there?


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