Bernie Sanders for President 2016 (thus far, anyway)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, joined by Congressional Democrats, and others, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, calling for an amendment to the Constitution aimed at curbing special interests' financial clout in elections. From left are, Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, Margery F. Baker, executive vice president for policy and program at People for the American Way, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Sanders, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives return to Capitol Hill today after a five-week vacation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Associated Press photo

Progressive U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, probable 2016 presidential candidate, speaks at a news conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month geared toward overturning the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, which declared that corporations are people and as such have the “First-Amendment” right to spend lavishly on political candidates who will do their bidding.

Independent/democratic socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the sole individual on the planet who thus far has raised the prospect of running as an actually progressive presidential candidate against pseudo-progressive/Democrat in name only Billary Clinton. (It’s not about Billary, he has claimed, but oh, methinks, ’tis.)

“A, I don’t know if Hillary Clinton is running, and B, I don’t know what she is running on,” Sanders said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. “But this is what I do know: I know the middle class in this country is collapsing. I know the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider. I know there is profound anger at the greed on Wall Street, anger at corporate America, anger at the political establishment — and anger, by the way, at the media establishment. The American people want real change, and I’ve been taking on the big-money interests and special interests all of my political life.

“The issue,” Sanders added, “is not Hillary Clinton.” But since Sanders’ actually progressive agenda is antithetical to Billary’s actual agenda – whether she’ll cop to possessing her actual center-right, pro-plutocratic, pro-corporate, pro-Wall-Street-weasel, pro-military-industrial-complex agenda or not – it is about Billary.

I’m fine with having our first female president, but I don’t want just any female president, just so that we can say that we finally have had our first female president. We’ve been there, done that with our first black president, haven’t we?

I want a progressive president. The other demographics – skin tone, the possession of ovaries or testes, age, religion, etc. – I don’t much give a flying fuck about. I’m a gay man, and sure, from a purely selfish, tribalistic standpoint I suppose that it would be great to have our first openly gay male president (and if he is married, perhaps our first First Husband in the White House, too), but if he were a wingnut or even a so-called “centrist” or “moderate” (translation: sellout), no thanks; give me the actually progressive heterosexual president instead, hands down.

I’d be fine with Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Masschusetts as our first female president, but although she put a book out not long ago, she seems unlikely, to me, to run against Billary in 2016.

That’s because the unspoken but very understood rule within the Democratic Party establishment is that you don’t run against Billary, even though she has zero charisma, zero accomplishments, and her unlikeability (under which falls her apparent inability to generate an iota of actual human warmth) means that she’d be a risky candidate to put up against the Repugnican Tea Party not only in 2016, but in any presidential election year. (Besides, as I have noted, Billary acts like a Repugnican Lite, and why would the voters choose Repugnican Lite when they can vote for an actual, full-bodied Repugnican?)

After seeing Barack Obama’s ubiquitous promises of “hope” and “change” crash and burn, my bet is that the voters are hungry, starving, for an actually progressive Democratic — that is, real Democratic — presidential candidate right about now.

For millions of actual progressives like me, if we’re going to just coronate Queen Billary already, there is no reason whatsoever for me to pay attention or to become involved in the 2016 presidential race in any way (except, of course, to blog about how awful Billary is). That “At least Billary isn’t a Repugnican!” isn’t an effective talking point for the Democrats anymore, because she essentially is a Repugnican. She ran to the right of Obama in 2008 and she’s running to the right of him again — and he’s already right of center.

And I truly want a truly progressive candidate to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. No, I don’t just want Billary to be forced by a progressive/actually Democratic challenger, during the upcoming presidential primary season, to pretend to be the populist that she never has been and never will be, only to go on to the White House to govern like her husband did or like Obama has: as a Democrat in name only, driving yet another nail in the coffin of the Democratic Party. I want Billary “Crown Me Already!” Clinton to be denied the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2016 just as she was in 2008. I want her pathetic, sorry, right-wing, self-serving, pro-plutocratic ass to be defeated once again. (Again, though, should she emerge as the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, I can see the Repugnican candidate beating her.)

Bernie Sanders stated yesterday that he’s still considering which course of action would be better for him, should he decide to run for president for 2016 (and it sounds to me like he already has decided that he will): to run on the Democratic Party ticket (although he isn’t a Democrat, as an independent/democratic socialist he always has caucused with the Democrats in D.C. [what other choice has he really had?]) or to run on an independent ticket, a la Ralph Nader.

Given the uphill battle of running as an independent presidential candidate in all 50 states, it seems to me that Sanders would run as a Democrat.

Either way, if it comes down to Bernie or Billary, I’m going with Bernie.

No way in hell am I going to hold my nose and suppress my gag reflex while I cast a vote for Billary Clinton. I want to feel good (not guilty and dirty) about my vote, and I would feel great voting for Bernie Sanders — hell, if for no other reason than that for a long time now, it has looked as though no one else left of center would have the cajones to challenge Queen Billary in 2016, with the conventional thinking being that because she came in at second place in 2008, 2016 automatically is rightfully all hers.

A run for the White House by Sanders — especially as a Democrat, but again, I would support him as an independent — would represent to me a glimmer of hope, the possibility that the teeny-tiny ember that is all that is left of what the Democratic Party used to be still, even at this late hour, even after what Bill Clinton (with Billary) and what Barack Obama have done to the party, can be stoked to its once-flaming glory.

P.S. A Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren or Warren-Sanders ticket would, I think, be my dream ticket for 2016. And I’d still entertain a return to the presidential arena by Howard Dean, although that seems unlikely.

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From ‘audacity’ to a whimper

President Barack Obama will go down in American history something like this…

I have to agree wholeheartedly with the assessment by Michael Moore (who has been too absent from the public arena during Barack Obama’s presidency) that the American history books will mention only (or at least primarily) that Obama was the nation’s first black president. It’s sad that history will remember Obama more for the color of his skin than for the content of his character, but that’s his fault, not history’s.

In fairness, the history books also probably will mention Obamacare (for good or for ill or fairly neutrally), but what else is there to say of the Obama years?*

Allegedly with great audacity and with the dreams of his father behind him, Obama came in with a bang – “HOPE”! and “CHANGE”! “CHANGE”! and “HOPE”! – but he goes out with a whimper.

It’s ironic that Obama’s opposition to the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War – which only ever was meant for war profiteering (such as by Dick Cheney’s Halliburton) and for Big Oil to retake the oil fields of Iraq – helped him into office in 2008 and that now Obama seems poised to end his second term with another war in Iraq (and possibly in Syria).

Yes, of course this time (further) war in Iraq (and in Syria ) can be justified, I think. The Islamic Slate (a.k.a. ISIL and ISIS) – at least in its current incarnation as a rapidly metastasizing, deadly cancer – needs to be stopped. The mass murder and the oppression of those who disagree with certain fascist, religious nutjobs – be they “Christian” fascist nutjobs, “Jewish” fascist nutjobs, “Hindu” fascist nutjobs, “Muslim” fascist nutjobs, whatever – should be met with opposition.

Credible news reports are that the Sunni Islamic State has been slaughtering and oppressing Shiites and other non-Sunnis in large swaths of Syria and Iraq. (No, the Islamic State did not become a problem only when it beheaded two U.S. citizens in propagandistic snuff videos.) Any such mass slaughter and oppression anywhere in the world should be stopped if at all possible, regardless of the United States ’ many missteps and failures to act in the past. (And it should not be the United States playing World Cop all of the fucking time.)

As far to the left as I consider myself to be, I do not believe in absolute, blind pacifism. I don’t believe that in most cases force or the credible threat of force should be the first resort, but nor do I believe that force or the credible threat of force should be taken off the table altogether. It can be a useful tool, and sometimes, the only effective one. And my gut response to the Islamic State, frankly, is: Pound. Them. Into. The. Sand. (With that said, gut responses do not necessarily make for sound actual foreign policy, as we learned with the debacle that was the unelected reign of the illegitimate Bush regime.)

The problem with the unelected Bush regime’s Vietraq War, again, is that of course it never was meant to “liberate” the Iraqi people from the evil Saddam Hussein (who was a “good” dictator until he stopped taking marching orders from the American elite, which then made him a “bad” dictator) – unless you want to call the more than 100,000 Iraqis who died as a result of the Vietraq War “liberated.” No, it was meant to further enrich the cronies of the BushCheneyCorp.

Such treasonously crying wolf, of course, makes it all the harder to sell the American people on military action in the same region, even when military action actually is called for this time – as President Obama surely knows right about now.

And, of course, while the Repugnican Tea Party traitors (redundant) never met a war that they didn’t love (as long as it’s others who are doing all of the dying, of course), they’ll find ways to criticize and condemn Obama no matter how he conducts things militarily in the Middle East. Because if the president is a white Repugnican guy (even one who got into the White House without even having won the highest number of votes of the American people), then to criticize his military actions abroad at all is nothing short of terrorist-lovin’ treason, you see, whereas if the president is a Democrat, and especially not a white, male Democrat, then to criticize his every fucking move is one’s God-given patriotic duty, you see.

So, of course, Obama can’t win, no matter what he does or does not do, but he should have known this political fact from Day One, and so from Day One he should have pushed through a progressive agenda instead of having tried to persuade the Repugnican Tea Party traitors to join him in “Kumbaya” around the campfire in D.C. (You don’t even bother to try to negotiate with terrorists; they cannot be reasoned with.)

Yes, I do believe that having assertively pushed a progressive agenda in the first two years of his first term would have been a winner for Obama. Had he even tried to have delivered upon his campaign promises, he could have been something like the second coming of FDR. He entered the White House with that kind of support behind him, more or less.

Yes, reportedly a majority of Americans deem Obama’s presidency to have been a failure, but these polls that are unflattering to Obama, it seems to me, widely are interpreted, incorrectly, to mean that the majority of Americans embrace the right-wing worldview. But if a pollster were to ask me (or any other actually progressive American) if Obama’s presidency has been a success or a failure, I (or he or she) would say, without even having to think about it, a failurenot because I at all agree with the right-wing worldview and agenda, but because I believe that Obama utterly squandered his chance, especially in 2009 and 2010, to push through an actually progressive agenda, while both houses of Congress still were held by his own party.**

Whereas the unelected Bush regime spent “political capital” that it never even fucking had (I remember when the Bushies called Bush’s “re”-election by only 50.7 percent of the popular vote in 2004 to be a “mandate”), Obama was too timid or too lazy or too stupid (or some combination of these things) to even touch his actual stockpile of political capital in 2009 and 2010, and his failure to have done so will go down in history (history that is thoughtful and critical, anyway) as one of the biggest missed opportunities by a U.S. president to accomplish the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of Americans.

And I judge Obama’s presidency to be a failure because, of course, you judge a politician based upon his or her actual accomplishments in office compared to the campaign promises that he or she made in order to get elected to that office. (Yeah, as cynical as I might be, I’m still not ready to let any politician off the hook for having violated, blatantly, his or her own campaign promises.) Based upon his own relentless campaign promises of “hope” and “change,” of course Obama’s presidency – which has delivered primarily more of the same, not “hope” or “change” – has been a failure.

Of course, pretty much any Repugnican president – John McCainosaurus, Mittens Romney or any other Repugnican – would have done even worse in the Oval Office than Obama has done (except, perhaps, for the 1 percent, for the richest Americans), but that doesn’t let Obama off the hook with me; I judge Obama by actually progressive Democratic (that is, actually Democratic) standards, not by the low bar that has been set by the right wing (probably especially by George W. Bush). And speaking of the devil, of course Obama has been a better president than Gee Dubya was – for starters, Obama actually was democratically elected in the first fucking place, for fuck’s sake – but saying that President X is or was better than was “President” George W. Bush is saying exactly nothing.

And how is Obama poised to end his second and final term? At (further) war in the Middle East, with a new/old enemy this time, the Islamic State. (I write “new/old” because just as the “tea party” is comprised of the same old fascists who were around long before they started to call themselves the “tea party,” the Islamic State apparently is comprised, largely if not mostly, of the same old Islamofascists who were around before Obama ever took office. Of course, it was the Bush regime’s woefully-misguided-to-put-it-mildly Vietraq War, more than anything else, that contributed to the genesis of the Islamic State that we see today.)

I have to wonder if Barack Obama is trying to do Billary Clinton a favor right now, trying to make the Democratic Party look Tough! On! Terrorists! — just in time for the 2016 presidential election. But if more war in the Middle East (and exactly how it should be executed) is going to be the centerpiece of the 2016 presidential election, don’t the chickenhawk Repugnicans play the war card a lot better than do the Dems?

Because of that, how could the Dems expect to win the White House again in 2016 by posing as warhawks, as Billary already appears to be doing?

Didn’t someone once remark that when given the choice of voting for a Repugnican candidate or a “Democratic” candidate who acts like a Repugnican, the typical voter will vote for the genuine Repugnican?

The theofascist Islamic State needs to be checked, for sure, just as would any other insane group of murderers and fascists at home or abroad, but at the same time, potential blowback from military actions that always should be considered aside, Team Obama and Team Billary need to be careful, methinks, not to give the war-drum-beating chickenhawks of the Repugnican Tea Party political validation – and thus political victory – by also beating those tired, old war drums (only less convincingly, in the eyes of the voters, than the chickenhawks do) between now and Election Day in November 2016.

*Obama lost me, forever, after he just fucking sat on his hands while British Petroleum filled the Gulf of Mexico with millions of barrels of crude oil in 2010, and after he failed to visit the state of Wisconsin even once in early 2011, when Repugnican Tea Party Gov. Scott Walker successfully attacked the right of the workers of the state to collectively bargain.

Candidate Obama had promised in 2007: “Understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain, when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you, as president of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that someone’s standing in their corner.”

Again, Obama showed up in Wisconsin not once. In his first term Obama failed to lead on a huge environmental issue and he failed to lead on a huge labor-rights issue, part of a pattern of failure that his presidency has been. (As I have noted, while I [stupidly] voted for Obama in 2008, I did not vote for Obama again in November 2012, but voted for the Green Party candidate instead.)

**Indeed, I’m not the only leftist who deems Obama’s presidency a failure; the Washington Post notes of its own (with ABC News) recent nationwide poll that “Those saying Obama has been a failure include one in four Democrats (25 percent), nearly three in 10 liberals (29 percent) and the vast, vast majority of conservative Republicans (92 percent). Nearly one in five liberals (18 percent) say they feel ‘strongly’ that Obama has been a failure.

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Oh, no, you DIDN’T go there, Miss Thang!

University of Mississippi student Sierra Mannie, photographed above in 2013, makes many valid points in her now-famous screed against gay white men acting like black women (an epidemic of which I’ve been unaware), but apparently picks an easy target in gay white men and apparently displays disrespect for the life experiences of others while demanding respect for her own, a common mistake that too many black Americans make.

I am a gay white man. I, for one gay white man, do not feel like a black woman. Just putting that out there first thing.

I am responding, of course, to the now-(in)famous screed “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture,” by one Sierra Mannie, which gained national attention when Time.com published it.

I agree with much of what Mannie says in her commentary, but much of what she says I find offensive — as well as (at least unconsciously) homophobic and apparently desirous of many black Americans’ apparent desire to remain The Only Oppressed Minority Group in the United States of America, Who Will Not Share Even a Sliver of the Victimhood Pie.

I agree, of course, that the vast majority of white Americans, regardless of their socioeconomic status, never can truly have any real idea of what it is like to be a typical black American, and therefore, out of respect for the life experiences of another group of people, it’s probably almost never OK for a white person to act black.

That said, for a white person to assert that it’s not OK for a black person to act white, but that that black person should “act black” (however “acting black” [or "acting white"] is defined) — that’s pretty fucking racist, right? So why does a prohibition against racism work only one way?

I disagree wholeheartedly with the widely held belief that racism is something that is only ever perpetrated by whites against blacks, and that therefore, only white people can be racist. There are plenty of racist blacks, and there are other races outside of black and white (yes, I do need to remind people of that simple fact) — here in California politics, for instance, lately it (the struggle for power, which is what politics is) seems to be the Latinos vs. the Asians — and it comes down to everyone of every race needing to respect everyone else of every other race. This isn’t only about blacks being protected from persecution at the hands of whites.

That said, again, insensitivity to the life experiences of those of other races (and of other demographics) is pretty inexcusable, and I have to agree for the most part with Mannie’s assertion to the gay white man that “you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.”

While I, for one, haven’t seen anything like even a mild epidemic of gay white men acting like black women, I will assume, for fairness’ sake, that Mannie has, and so, for those gay white men who truly act like black women — like, all the fucking time — I would also tell them, like Mannie does, to “cut it the hell out.” (That said, of course they have the right to act as they please. The right to act like an asshole is the right that most Americans probably exercise the most.)

That said, the United States is a cultural hodgepodge, where words and phrases and idioms and gestures are thrown into the mix to the point that often if not usually many if not most of those using them don’t even know their origin. You don’t get to fucking trademark (so to speak) words and phrases and idioms and gestures that end up in the American vernacular. If you think that you do, then you need to cut it the hell out.

I’m sure that many times I’ve used words, phrases and idioms (and maybe even a gesture or two) that originated within the black community. I’m an American who speaks American English and functions within the American culture, which, again, borrows from so many sources. I’m allowed to do that. Do I believe that I’m a black woman, or even that I truly can know what the typical black woman experiences in the United States of America? Of course not.

Many if not most of Mannie’s complaints about the general oppression of black Americans are valid enough, but why (at least in this one piece of hers) does she chose gay white men as the target of her anger?

Is it because we gay white men, as a group, aren’t as powerful as are straight white men, because we gay white men are a safer target, less likely to fight back? Is it because we gay white men are considered weak, effeminate, passive, submissive, so that we can be fucking punching bags for everyone?

Mannie conveniently does not mention in her screed the fact that there remains a shitload of homophobia among black Americans. To give just two of many possible examples, exit polls showed that about 70 percent of black Californians voted for the anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition H8, and many if not most black Americans didn’t start to ease up on their homophobia until Barack Obama came out (ha ha) for same-sex marriage in May 2012. It’s rather pathetic and sad that it was an external source — the pronouncement of the nation’s first black president — that inspired them to ease up on their homophobia (or to ease up on at least their public homophobic statements) instead of their own internal sense of right and wrong, their own internal sense that all oppression, and not just the oppression of blacks, is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I’ve seen this uber-hypocritical dynamic too many times: black Americans demanding fairness and respect for their own group — but only for their own group. No, fuck that and fuck you, if that’s how you operate. If you can’t respect me, then I cannot respect you. (Or, at the very least, if you refuse to respect me, you make it very difficult for me to respect you, and I want to respect you.)

Again, Mannie’s anger seems grossly misplaced to me. She writes:

… Black people can’t have anything. Any of these things include, but aren’t limited to: a general sense of physical safety, comfort with law enforcement, adequate funding and appreciation for black spaces like schools and neighborhoods, appropriate venues for our voices to be heard about criticism of issues without our race going on trial because of it, and solid voting rights …

Agreed, for the very most part, but it’s gay white men who are the main oppressors of black Americans? Really?

I am one gay white man who has no interest in pretending to be a black diva (whether there is anything wrong with that or not) and who supports fairness and justice for all black Americans (for all Americans and for all human beings). It is inarguable that, among other things, black Americans are incarcerated at an incredibly disproportionate rate (because of racism, of course), that many if not most of them are wage slaves (as are many if not most of all Americans), that black Americans routinely are mistreated (even sometimes extra-judicially executed) by racist law enforcement officers, that black Americans do not have adequate access to quality health care and to quality education, and that conservatives (most of them white) want to strip black Americans of their vote under the guise of “preventing voter fraud” and/or “preserving election integrity.”

I want to help black Americans fight these evils and right these wrongs, but black homophobia — as well as black racism — make it difficult for me to do that. I’m to assist your group while you attack and degrade mine? Really?

And, ironically, pseudo-progressive, DINO Barack Obama has done little to nothing for black Americans, whose quality of life has improved little to not at all under his watch, yet for the most part, mind-blowingly, black Americans don’t hold Obama to account for this — apparently primarily because he’s black and they don’t want to criticize one of their own. (And to many if not most of these same blacks, if you are a white person who criticizes Obama at all, even for his inexcusable lack of assistance to black Americans, you are, by definition, a “racist.”)

So Obama is let off the hook, but let’s blame the gay white man!

Mannie continues in her screed:

… And then, when you thought this pillaging couldn’t get any worse, extracurricular black activities get snatched up, too: our music, our dances, our slang, our clothing, our hairstyles. All of these things are rounded up, whitewashed and repackaged for your consumption. But here’s the shade — the non-black people who get to enjoy all of the fun things about blackness will never have to experience the ugliness of the black experience, systemic racism and the dangers of simply living while black. Though I suppose there’s some thrill in this “rolling with the homies” philosophy some adopt, white people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America.

White people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America. …

Again, the American culture is a patchwork quilt, so to read Mannie whine that “our music, our dances, our slang, our clothing, our hairstyles … are rounded up, whitewashed and repackaged for your consumption,” sounds like selfish and juvenile territorialism that is woefully unaware of American history and culture (where, just like with the Borg, so much is assimilated), and for the record, non-blacks experience plenty of pain and suffering. Blacks don’t have the monopoly on the pain and suffering thing. All human beings experience pain and suffering.

And while white people as a group are not systemically/institutionally racially oppressed in the U.S.A., you cannot have interpersonal relations with a whole fucking race of people. It’s the one-on-one interpersonal interaction where the rubber meets the road, and on the one-on-one level, yes, white people can be the victims of racism. If you are a non-white person who hates white people and treats white people out of this hatred — for no other reason than that they are white — then you are committing acts of racism. You are a racist yourself, but, by being a member of a historically oppressed racial minority group, you feel justified in your own racism, and no doubt you hypocritically define racism as only something that white people ever commit.

It all is about respect, which includes respect for others’ experiences. I agree with Mannie’s assertion that

… The truth is that America is a country that operates on systems of racism in which we all participate, whether consciously or unconsciously, to our benefit or to our detriment, and that system allows white people to succeed. This system also creates barriers so that minorities, such as black people, have a much harder time being able to do things like vote and get houses and not have to deal with racists and stuff. You know. Casual.

But while you’re gasping at the heat and the steam of the strong truth tea I just spilled,what’s even worse about all of this, if you thought things could get even crappier, is the fact that all of this is exponentially worse for black women. A culture of racism is bad enough, but pairing it with patriarchal structures that intend to undermine women’s advancement is like double-fisting bleach and acid rain. …

Actually, it gets even worse than that. Black lesbians, for instance, have to deal with racism, sexism and patriarchy and homophobia (for which, I must admit, I respect and admire them considerably), but mention of black non-heterosexuals and black non-gender-conforming individuals, who routinely are victimized by even members of their own family (and who thus have much higher levels of such problems as suicide attempts, addiction, incarceration and contraction of HIV and other STDs), is conspicuously missing entirely from Mannie’s screed, which adds to its air of rather petty self-concern and homophobia.

And the notion that virtually all white people have it so great based upon their whiteness smacks of a lack of personal knowledge of very many actual white people. Mannie writes:

… At the end of the day, if you are a white male, gay or not, you retain so much privilege. What is extremely unfairly denied you because of your sexuality could float back to you, if no one knew that you preferred the romantic and sexual company of men over women. (You know what I’m talking about. Those “anonymous” torsos on Grindr, Jack’d and Adam4Adam, show very familiar heterosexual faces to the public.) The difference is that the black women with whom you think you align so well, whose language you use and stereotypical mannerisms you adopt, cannot hide their blackness and womanhood to protect themselves the way that you can hide your homosexuality. We have no place to hide, or means to do it even if we desired them. …

Very thinly veiled behind the “argument” that non-heterosexuals aren’t victims of oppression because we non-heterosexuals, if we wish, can pass for heterosexual — which is not actually the case for many if not most of us non-heterosexuals — is the sickeningly heterosexist, homophobic belief that, for the comfort of heterosexuals, we non-heterosexuals should act heterosexually, whether to do that is at all natural for us and whether or not it violates our own fucking souls. Because pretending to be who and what you are not isn’t oppressive or anything!

I certainly hope that the vast majority of blacks don’t wish that they could camouflage themselves as whites in order to go along to get along, but instead appreciate and celebrate who and what they are, so for blacks to apparently suggest camouflage to us non-heterosexuals is incredibly degrading and offensive as well as insensitive.

I agree that such an ugly thing as white privilege exists in the United States of America and elsewhere on the planet, but again, it all comes down to our one-on-one interactions, since we can only actually interact as individuals with other individuals. Respect has to occur at this ground level of the individual. Stereotypes and generalizations and preconceived notions have no place in respectful interpersonal relations. You can never encounter a whole fucking group of people. You can only encounter an individual. I cannot state this simple but woefully overlooked fact too much. You don’t want me to make assumptions about you based upon your race or your gender or sexual orientation or other demographics. I don’t want you to make such assumptions about me, either – such as that because I’m a gay white man, I have no real problems, that I’m rich (because I’m white and/or because I have no children), that I’m a slut (because I’m gay), that of course I’m racist (because I’m white), that I will be your fucking punching bag because I’m passive and weak (because I’m a gay man), etc.

So, I would cut a deal with Mannie and those who think like she does: I will continue to try to do my part to examine and solve the problem that is racism (including, of course, the problem of white privilege). Ditto for the problem that is sexism and patriarchy. This is the duty of every American (and of every human being). And you do your part to examine and solve the problem that is heterosexism and homophobia, and the problem that is selfishly, hypocritically and narrow-mindedly demanding respect and equality for only your own group.

Because I guaranfuckingtee you that while the minority of gay white men who might, at least at times, act like black women grate on your nerves, we gay white men, for the very most part, are not your enemy, and I further guaranfuckingtee you that the true oppressors (or, at least, the worst oppressors) love it when we, the historically oppressed, are at each others’ throats instead of at theirs, where we should be.

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Move along; no teatard tsunami to see here

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., listens at right as House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Cantor faces a challenge from a political newcomer backed by the tea party as Virginia voters go to the polls Tuesday for three congressional primaries. Cantor was once popular in the tea party but has now become its target.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
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One primary election in which only about 65,000 people voted probably isn’t indicative of an impending “tea-party” takeover of the United States of America. That said, I certainly won’t miss prick Eric Cantor, whose political career appears to be over.

If I were an editorial cartoonist – or if I at least could draw well – I would draw an editorial cartoon of Repugnican U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor’s prone (or, I suppose, supine) body with a Gadsden flag draped over itAnother victim of the “tea party”!

(What? Too soon? Well, OK, anyway, I got that out of the way and out of my system.)

Seriously, though, soon-to-be-former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s first-time-in-the-nation’s-history primaried ouster from the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday has virtually no nationwide significance.

(And it’s awfully interesting how the rare actually-progressive-Democratic-Party win over a Democratic-Party-establishment/DINO incumbent almost never is touted as a Big Blue Tidal Wave that’s imminently sweeping over the nation, whereas impending right-wing deluges [Big Red Tides?] are predicted every time any “tea-party” candidate anywhere wins virtually any election. So much for the “left-wing bias” in the “lamestream media.”)

From what I’ve read of Eric Cantor’s campaign, he and his campaign staff took his re-election for granted – a big mistake. If you get too complacent in your campaign, you can find yourself in for a significant surprise after the polls close. (Not too horribly dissimilar to Cantor’s apparent complacency, to me, was Billary Clinton’s having taken her win of the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination for granted. She was like the cocky hare in the parable of the tortoise and the hare.)

It is notable that the “tea party” has achieved no other upsets of this magnitude in this election cycle. Repugnican U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham — either of whose scalp I would have loved to see — both safely won their primaries, for example (of course, it’s harder to unseat a sitting U.S. senator than it is a sitting member of the House).

It strikes me that Cantor’s loss yesterday was due to factors that apply mostly only to that particular contest (including, apparently, the actor who once played “Cooter” encouraging Democratic [and other] voters to vote for Cantor’s “tea party” opponent in the open primary in order to unseat Cantor and also a low voter turnout of only around 65,000).

Because of The Fall of the House of Cantor (Cantorgeddon?) are we now witnessing a nationwide “tea party” resurgence?

Puuuhlease. Some facts:

A nationwide ABC News/Washington Post poll taken less than two weeks ago showed that only 39 percent of Americans “strongly support” or “somewhat support” the “tea party” – while 46 percent “strongly oppose” or “somewhat oppose” the teatards. While only 11 percent in the poll “strongly support” the fascists, 24 percent “strongly oppose them.” (Fifteen percent, for some reason, were “unsure.”)

In late April, a nationwide NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked respondents, “Do you consider yourself a supporter of the Tea Party Movement?” Only 24 percent responded “yes,” while 66 percent responded “no” (with 10 percent being “unsure” or stating that it “depends”).

Just about three months ago, in March, a nationwide Bloomberg poll asked, “In your view, is the Tea Party today a mostly positive or mostly negative force in American politics?” Only 29 percent responded “mostly positive,” while 53 percent responded “mostly negative.”

Going back to December (to demonstrate the pattern here), a nationwide CBS News/New York Times poll asked, “Do you consider yourself to be a supporter of the Tea Party movement, or not?” Only 23 percent said yes; 63 percent said no.

The “tea party” cannot maintain even a solid 30 percent of strong support in most nationwide polls, but we should be quaking in our boots over the fucktards in the tricorne hats because Eric Cantor went down in flames yesterday? Really?

The percentage of Americans who are lost-cause, going-to-take-it-with-them-to-their-graves wingnuts seems to have been steady for some years now, and for years now I have put that percentage around 25 percent (but no more than 30 percent).

These would be, for the very most part, the very same right-wing nut jobs who still approved of the job that former “President” George W. Bush was doing in late 2008 and early 2009, even as our nation’s economy was crumbling all around us.

These are your die-hard, dyed-in-the-wool wingnuts. Today, they call themselves the “tea party,” but they were with us long before they started calling themselves that; they were instrumental in the blatant theft of the White House in 2000 and in the partisan impeachment of Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and they were with us long before then.

There are enough teatards – about 25 percent, maybe 30 percent of Americans – to throw Repugnican Party primary elections, in which the ultra-right-wingers participate religiously (literally and figuratively), but in general elections, the teatards don’t do nearly as well, especially in blue and in purple states and in the nation as a whole.

That said, I do give the teatards credit for continuing to drag their party further and further to the right. I mean, to a large degree they have been achieving their evil political aims (so much so that I usually refer to their party as the Repugnican Tea Party), whereas the establishmentarian Democratic Party, as one commentator has pointed out, routinely just ignores its progressive/left-wing base and continues also to drift further and further to the right, seeking not to please its base, but to please those of the center-right (and even those who are pretty far right, which is infuckingsane, since those people aren’t going to convert [look at how well the "Kumbaya" bullshit worked for Barack Obama!] and since it only erodes the base, for fuck’s sake).

While it seems to me that too much widespread (and most likely only short-term) Repugnican Tea Party success could spell the end of the “tea party” and perhaps even the end of the Repugnican Party (after the nation had overdosed on the far-right-wing ideology that at least approaches if it doesn’t achieve [or hell, even surpass] fascism), the fact that the establishmentarian Democrats (the DINOs) also keep tacking to the right (at the very least on economic [if not on social/“cultural"] issues) tends to give the American populace (perhaps especially the “undecideds”) the idea that going further and further to the right is the way to go.

In this regard, the DINOs are aiding and abetting the teatards in the teatards’ agenda to drag the nation further and further to the right. (Gee, thanks, “Democrats”!)

Yeah,won’t be supporting DINO Billary Clinton, who as of late has been making comments very apparently meant to position her to the right of Barack Obama (who already is center-right), just as she did as she grew increasingly desperate in the overlong, dragged-out 2008 Democratic presidential primary election season. (Here’s a nice little commentary on this very topic.)

I couldn’t support Billary in 2008 because of her right-wing stances and her crass political opportunism (the very same political opportunism that led her to vote for the unelected Bush regime’s bogus and thus treasonous Vietraq War in October 2002), and I can’t support her now – or ever, very most likely.

But don’t blame me. Blame the post-Jimmy-Carter, Clintonian Democratic Party, which shits and pisses on its base with regularity, something that even the Repugnicans, as stupid as they are, don’t dare to do, and which to this point hasn’t given us any viable 2016 presidential candidates who are more inspiring than the uber-uninspiring Billary Fucking Clinton. (I could support Elizabeth Warren, Howard Dean or Al Gore, to name three, but will anyone who is viable dare get in Queen Billary’s way?)

And don’t fear a “tea-party” tsunami in and of itself. The teatards don’t have the numbers and their insane and evil ideology, whenever put into nationwide practice, soon enough collapses upon itself. (We saw this with the eight-year reign of the unelected, treasonous Bush regime.)

Fear instead a sold-out, ever-right-lurching Democratic Party that doesn’t fucking know what the fuck an opposition party is and that year by year allows the seawall that would protect us from any actual “tea-party” tsunami to continue to crumble from neglect.

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Bowe Bergdahl persecuted for his political beliefs in the ‘land of the free’

Taliban video shows Bergdahl release

U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl is shown in a still of a video of his handover from the Taliban to the U.S. military in eastern Afghanistan on May 31. Bergdahl, who now is 28 years old and was 23 years old at the time of his capture by the Taliban, has gone from being persecuted by the Taliban to being persecuted by the American Taliban, that is, the members of the American right wing who are strikingly similar to the members of the Taliban except that they call themselves “Christians.”

I find it astonishing (I shouldn’t, I suppose, but I still do) that in the reading that I’ve done thus far over the recovery of U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, one obvious, overarching fact is not uttered: that his recovery from his five years of captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan is “controversial” and largely nationally uncelebrated because Bergahl apparently has not been the “right” kind of American soldier — the wingnutty kind.

Since his capture by the Taliban in 2009 — which I wrote about at the time — to the present, bits and pieces of Bergdahl’s pre-captive life have slipped out into the public sphere, and overall the portrait of Bergdahl does not exactly look like that of Rambo: Bergdahl’s parents look like hippies. Bergdahl was home-schooled by his hippie-looking mother. Bergdahl never drove a car, but rode a bicycle everywhere. Bergdahl apparently spent time in a Buddhist monastery. Most damning of all, he apparently took ballet classes.

Perhaps even more damning than the ballet classes, Bergdahl reportedly stated in his final e-mail to his parents before he was captured by the Taliban:

… I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools… I am sorry for everything here [in Afghanistan]. These people [the Afghans] need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live. We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks… We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them… I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting…

Well, yeah, it is disgusting. Fuck the hypocritical wingnuts, who condemn others’ evil while they freely and frequently commit equal or even worse evils of their own, under the lie that by definition, an American (and by the wingnuts’ definition, a real American is only a right-wing, “Christo”fascist American) can do no wrong, and who assert that the United States is morally perfect and is God’s Chosen Nation and therefore can do no wrong. The U.S. in fact can do wrong and does it every fucking day.

See, Bowe Bergdahl just wasn’t the right kind of American soldier. He displayed empathy for the plight of the Afghans when instead he should have been much more like his colleagues who premeditatedly brutally slaughtered Afghan civilians or the Marine who urinated on the bodies of Taliban fighters (just like Jesus Christ Himself would have done) — to give just two of many possible examples of how God’s Chosen Soldiers have behaved in Afghanistan. Even the U.S. Army soldier who raped and killed a 14-year-old Iraqi girl probably is held in higher esteem by the American right wing than is Bowe Bergdahl.

My guess, based upon what I know of Bergdahl — such as that the county where Bergdahl was raised “has gained a reputation as a Democratic Party enclave” in the deep-red state of Idaho — is that of course Bergdahl didn’t belong in the U.S. military, where sensitive, empathetic, thoughtful, intelligent individuals (you know, those who actually follow the teachings of Jesus Christ instead of just claiming to be God’s Chosen) of course are not welcome.

This is because the U.S. military — which is funded by all of us Americans who have to pay our taxes (myself included, of course), regardless of our own political and religious orientations — is a bastion of right-wing “Christo”fascists.

The “Christo”fascists have taken over our military, and we, the majority of the American people who in the past two presidential elections have soundly rejected the Repugnican Tea Party agenda (which includes jingoism, militarism and the total disregard for the humanity of the peoples of other nations), need to take back our military from the minority right wing.

So vicious — and yes, dangerous — is the American right wing (again, fucking fascists is what they are) that apparently Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey (the seat and the largest city of the aforementioned Blaine County) canceled a scheduled homecoming for Bergdahl later this month for safety reasons, with the primary concern apparently being not potential trouble coming from locals, but from those (i.e., wingnuts) coming from elsewhere to cause trouble, and, of course, Bergdahl’s hippie-looking father has received death threats.

This is what we can expect from the American wingnuts who claim to be followers of the peace-loving and hatred-and-violence-eschewing Jesus Christ. They are fascists (I cannot emphasize that point enough), and it’s just as important to fight the fascists here at home as it has been to fight the fascists abroad.

I do not assert that Bowe Bergdahl is perfect. Whether or not he deserted his unit in Afghanistan neither you nor I know for sure, because neither you nor I was there, and if he is formally accused of desertion, then he is entitled to the due process to which you and I also are entitled. He deserves not to be branded as a deserter without first having had the chance to defend himself in a formal and fair process.

If Bergdahl did desert his unit in Afghanistan, does that change my view of him?

No.

Bergdahl’s biggest “crime,” you see, is that he apparently actually followed the teachings of Jesus Christ — you know, such as to love one another as you love yourself, to love your “enemies,” to practice peace and love instead of war, etc.

To the “Christians” who fill the U.S. military, Bergdahl is a criminal for having refused to be blindly obedient to the anti-Christian, immoral “mission” in Afghanistan of subduing yet another nation of people who have committed the crime of not being just like us Americans.

The only thing that I am aware of for which I perhaps can fault Bergdahl is that he apparently knowingly joined an organization with which he very apparently was incompatible in his temperament, values, worldview and the like.*

But then again, the continued existence of such an evil, anti-Christian, pro-killing-for-plutocracy organization as the U.S. military is our collective fault, not his.

*As I noted in 2009, it’s quite possible that Bergdahl joined the U.S. military (in 2008, apparently) because he didn’t know what else to do with himself and his life.

It’s not like the United States of America has much to offer its young adults, whom for the most part the powers that be (most of them baby boomers or dinosaurs like textbook warhawk John McCainosaurus) don’t care about, except when they can be useful to the powers that be, such as wage slaves in dead-end minimum-wage jobs, the victims of student-loan sharks, and cannon fodder in bogus wars for the plutocrats’ profits (which both the Vietraq War and the way overlong war in Afghanistan have been).

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We need to talk about Elliot

Twenty-two-year-old Elliot Rodger, who apparently slaughtered six college students and injured 13 other people near Santa Barbara before he shot himself dead in the head a few days ago, eerily reminds me of the titular character of the 2011 film “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” Not only is there at least a passing physical resemblance — here is an image of Rodger sporting a Wolverine-like ’do from Facebook:

UCSB-shooting-elliot-rodgers-11

and here is an image of the 21-year-old actor Ezra Miller as the character of Kevin:

– but the fictional Kevin’s and the real-life Elliot’s biographies seem at least somewhat similar, both with parents concerned about their son’s mental health and then the inevitable (?) massacre of the young man’s peers. (The fictional Kevin uses arrows; Elliot Rodgers apparently used a knife to kill three young men at his apartment and then bullets to kill two young women and another young man near the University of California at Santa Barbara campus.)

Rodger’s selfie-video complaint seems pathetic, probably, to most (so-called) adults. It is stilted and awkward — written and rehearsed, probably, and reportedly Rodger was somewhere on the autistic spectrum, which, if true, might explain that in part or in whole — and Rodgers’ central complaint does indeed seem to boil down to his claim that he was a 22-year-old virgin. His video begins:

Hi. Elliot Rodger here.

Well, this is my last video, it has all had to come to this. Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity, against all of you. For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection, and sex and love to other men but never to me.

I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl. I’ve been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I’m still a virgin. It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair.

You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because … I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman. …

Supreme gentlemen probably don’t commit massacres, but we’re not exactly ladies and gentlemen, either.

If history is any guide — and history always is a reliable guide — we Americans won’t learn from this latest massacre, but we will put all of the blame on Rodger and go on with business as usual.

Rodger has been called all kinds of things, including “psycho virgin,” and, of course, “fag.”

And maybe he was gay. It’s certainly possible. It’s not awful to suggest that, unless by doing so you are implying (or even flat-out stating) other things, such as that the villain always, or at least almost always, is an evil gay person. (Which certainly isn’t true, of course; the clear majority of those who have gone on murderous rampages in the United States have been heterosexual males.)

Rodger was not physically unattractive, so, it seems to me, if none of his female cohorts had interest in him, possible reasons for that might have included that he was socially awkward (which, judging by his infamous YouTube video, anyway, he apparently was) and/or that they sensed that he was gay, if he was. (I wouldn’t blame a heterosexual woman for rejecting, as a sexual partner, a male who struck her as probably gay.)

Whatever Rodger’s sexual orientation was, it seems insane to most of us adults/adults” that a 22-year-old would find his persistent virginity to be cause to go on a murderous rampage, but one, I’m sure that there was a lot more than just Rodger’s virginity that was a problem for him, and two, we adults/adults” forget (or perhaps we’ve never known) how much high levels of the reproductive hormone in the bloodstream of the young person, coupled with youth and inexperience, affect his or her moods, thoughts and behaviors.

And we adults/adults” forget how strong can be a young person’s desire to couple — and how strong the social/peer pressure for a young person to couple can be — and how a breakup can make a still-quite-young person feel that his or her life is over.

Added to this mix is an overpopulated society in which for the most part, under the god of capitalism, it’s every individual out for him- or herself, in which human relationships are much more like business transactions than they are anything like actual human relationships, and under the god of war, weapons* are seen as the solution (perhaps the ultimate solution), to our conflicts and our problems. Might makes right — right?

The only way to prevent another Elliot Rodger from doing what Elliot Rodger did is to try on another Elliot Rodger’s shoes, and try to understand, instead of to judge. (And to try to understand is not necessarily to agree with or to condone.)

Indeed, the common reaction to Rodger in the aftermath of Rodger’s massacre only demonstrates the mean-spirited environment in which he was immersed that very apparently pushed him over the edge. Rodger killed because he felt no love. He felt no love because in the United States of America, for the most part, there is no love anywhere to be had.

Perhaps especially if you are somewhere on the autistic spectrum and/or have some type of mental illness to some degree, and/or if you are not heterosexual or if, regardless of your sexual orientation you come off to heterosexuals as perhaps not being heterosexual — if you are different or even just perceived as different — you most likely will not feel the warmth of the love that the majority of Americans steadfastly claim is there, despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary.

*The father of one of Rodger’s victims, 20-year-old Christopher Michael-Martinez, whom Rodger apparently shot to death, according to Reuterssaid his son died because Congress had failed to act after a mentally ill gunman killed 26 people in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.”

Reuters quotes Michael-Martinez’s father, Richard Martinez, as having stated on CNN, “We’re all proud to be Americans. But what kind of message does it send to the world when we have such a rudderless bunch of idiots in government?”

Reuters notes that “[Federal legislation] after Sandy Hook to extend background checks for gun sales, ban assault weapons and limit magazines’ capacities failed to clear the [U.S.] Senate in April 2013. Gun-rights advocates strongly opposed the measures.”

Reuters further quotes Richard Martinez as having said, “These people are getting rich sitting in Congress. And what do they do? They don’t take care of our kids.”

That’s absolutely true — that we need stricter gun control and that the U.S. Congress has not been representative of us, the majority of the American people, for a long, long time now — but these things are only pieces of the larger puzzle.

Our larger, overarching national problems are our lovelessness, our selfishness, and our moral, ethical and intellectual laziness that allow such things as grotesque socioeconomic inequality, an unrepresentative federal government (including, of course, not just the worthless U.S. Congress but also the do-nothing, hopey-changey Barack Obama), and our national fetishization of weapons and of the military (I will note on this Memorial Day) to flourish at our own mass peril.

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Privacy rights sacked for one old racist’s scalp

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano

Associated Press photo

In this late 2010 photo, Donald Sterling and his former mistress, V. Stiviano, watch Sterling’s team, the Los Angeles Clippers, play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA pre-season basketball game. Apparently, in a vengeful move, Stiviano released illegally recorded racist comments made by Sterling, and a nation that no longer is bothered by blatant violations of privacy has mostly overlooked this element to the scandal, which I find chilling. 

Soon-to-be-former Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling strikes me as a racist asshole. Probably the best thing that we can say about him is that he has far many more days on this planet behind him than he has ahead of him. So let’s agree on that, since that may be all that we can agree on in this post.

The thing is that I have a real problem with the way that Sterling has been publicly tarred and feathered. How you do something, and how something comes about, do matter.

First of all, I agree wholeheartedly with fellow leftist Ted Rall that Sterling’s privacy rights very apparently were violated. As Rall notes in a column he recently wrote for aNewDomain.net (the links are Rall’s):

… Yet there’s a major part of the Sterling story that American journalists aren’t covering. One that’s just as important as the reminder that racism is still thriving in the executive suite — a suite whose profits derive mostly from African-American players, and whose boss has a half-black, half-Mexican girlfriend, no less.

What about Sterling’s privacy rights?

They tell us privacy is dead. Online, between the NSA and the public’s failure to take to the streets to bitch about the NSA, privacy is probably finished.

But what about a private phone call?

V. Stiviano, Sterling’s 31-year-old former mistress, appears to have surreptitiously recorded the call, baiting him into making disgusting remarks for the record and releasing it to the media, including the gossip sites TMZ and Deadspin, in retaliation for a $1.8 million lawsuit filed last week by Sterling’s wife. Mrs. Sterling is seeking the return of an apartment, cash and several cars — communal marital property under California law — that Sterling gave Stiviano.

Contextually, this is more gossip than journalism, closer to the ranting Alec Baldwin voice mail to his daughter tacklessly released by ex-wife Kim Basinger, than anything like WikiLeaks. We aren’t supposed to know about this. [I mostly agree with this, but when you leave a voice mail, you know that you are being recorded, and so that is a critical difference from being recorded without your knowledge or consent.]

What’s being ignored amid a firestorm of controversy so out of control that even the president of the United States felt compelled to weigh in on this matter so beneath the dignity of his office is this: Sterling’s privacy rights have been violated, both legally and morally.

Which is not good for him. Much more importantly, it’s terrible for us. …

I will add that in criminal law, there is the concept of the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This means that evidence against a person that is obtained illegally — such as by violating one’s constitutional right to privacy — may not be introduced into the courtroom. If you did not obtain the incriminating evidence legally — constitutionally — you may not use it against the individual.

Further, as Rall goes on to note in his column:

… First, the legal issue: California, where this call almost certainly took place, requires the consent of both parties in order to record a phone conversation. Stiviano risks a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. (There doesn’t appear to be a penalty for making the recording public. California’s state assembly should consider one.) …

I, for one, hope that a district attorney prosecutes Sterling for her criminal act (although I doubt that that will happen, because of the race-charged politics of this matter), and I hope that Sterling sues Stiviano in civil court for having violated his right to privacy. (Um, he certainly can prove that he has sustained damages…)

I make this stance not to support a racist, as the race hustlers will accuse me (and there are so-called race hustlers of every race), but I make this stance to support the principle that a blatant violation of another’s constitutional right to privacy — such as recording him or her during a phone call and then publicizing the surreptitious recording of that phone call — should be punished. If it isn’t punished, then it means that privacy, and the law, mean nothing. (I know…)

Many certainly want to make an example of Sterling where racism is concerned — more on this shortly — and these same people, if they truly support our constitutional rights, which even blatant racists possess (just as they possess free-speech rights), should be fine with the privacy-rights-violating Stiviano’s being made an example of also.

Rall continues:

… Then there’s the moral question.

I have no beef with TMZ. When reporters find news, it is their duty to report it no matter where it comes from or who, it hurts. I’m a purist on this point: I don’t think WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden had any moral duty to protect intelligence secrets, not even the identities of spies, when they released classified U.S. government documents.

My problem is that nobody else seems to have a problem with recording private conversations and releasing them to the media.

As we learned from The People vs. Larry Flynt, society must defend its worst scumbags from having his rights violated, or everyone else risks losing theirs too. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where every stupid thing I blather over the phone is potential fodder for public comment, Twitter wars and cause for dismissal from work.

Until we descend into the Stasi-like “Lives of Others” dystopia into which the NSA seems determined to transform the Land of the Formerly Free, everyone — including racist douchebags like Donald Sterling — ought to enjoy a reasonable presumption of privacy on the telephone. …

Yup.

And how about some due process? It was unseemly to have even the president of the United States calling for Sterling’s scalp before it was even concluded whether or not it was Sterling’s voice on the illegal recording. (Like most others, at this point I more or less am taking Sterling’s non-denial as fairly solid confirmation that it was indeed his voice that illegally was recorded, but at this point, if we value the truth, we will admit that we still have no actual evidence that it was indeed Sterling’s voice. [If Sterling has confessed, then OK, I stand pretty corrected, but I haven't seen news of such a confession yet, if there is such news.])

And of course the mayor of my city (Sacrament0), former NBA player Kevin Johnson, had to insert himself into the whole Sterling mess, publicly declaring today, “I hope every bigot in this country saw what happened to Mr. Sterling.”

Johnson reportedly has been “a leading spokesman for NBA players during the Sterling controversy.”

I don’t know — the mayor of my city making such a threatening statement strikes me as thuggery. That’s a loaded word, thuggery, I know, but does Johnson’s public proclamation — his public threat exactly foster reconciliation among the races? Or does it only deepen racial divisions? Was Johnson, with his public statement — his thinly veiled threat — utilizing love or fear?

It was unseemly and unstatesmanlike, methinks, for Johnson to wave Sterling’s scalp in his hand as he did, and I can tell you, having lived in Sacramento during Johnson’s tenure as mayor (he’s now in his second term), that Johnson has done little for the city (California’s capital) outside of his personal interests.

Johnson apparently cares only about basketball (he recently was quite instrumental in denying us Sacramentans the ability to vote on whether or not there should be public funding for a new basketball arena that has been shoved down our throats by Johnson & Co.) and the ambitions of his wife, the infamous Michelle Rhee, to destroy teachers’ unions and turn our public schools into for-profit schools.

(And perhaps you should know that contributing to my use of the term “thuggery” above is the fact that from Day One, Johnson has pushed his so-called “strong-mayor” initiative, a rewrite of city governance that would greatly increase his power and decrease the power of the city council. Johnson has been pushing for this right since he took office. Kevin Johnson always has been, and always will be, all about Kevin Johnson and more pure, raw, political power for Kevin Johnson. He’s yet another example of why former jocks almost never should be handed the reins of power.)

I suppose that I digressed there (but I view Johnson as corrupt and dangerous as he is ambitious, and so I believe in educating people about what he’s really all about), but I come back now to the concept of the fruit of the poisoned tree: If it was even legal to do so, was it fair for Donald Sterling to have been punished as harshly as he was* for something that he said during a phone conversation that he had thought was private but that illegally was recorded by the other party, apparently for revenge? (Why else would you record a phone conversation, in whole or in part, except to use the recording later, such as by releasing it to other parties or by threatening to release it to other parties?)

I highly doubt that not one of the many black (and other non-white) Americans (prominent and non-prominent) who have publicly (and privately) slammed Donald Sterling for his racism never has uttered anti-white sentiment (and/or other racist sentiment) in a private communication with another individual.

How would any of them like it if a recording of them engaging in such talk in private were made public?

In the Sterling affair I just don’t see a national quest for justice and for racial reconciliation. I see Sterling as the stand-in for all old white bigots. Indeed, the size of his punishment indicates that Sterling is being punished not only for his own crimes, but for those of many, many others. (Indeed, Kevin Johnson directly proclaimed today, in his characteristically self-serving grandstanding, that he publicly was waving Sterling’s scalp as an example to “every bigot in this country.”)

That’s not fair, and making a scapegoat of Sterling — while ignoring the fact that his constitutional right to privacy blatantly was violated – won’t improve race relations in the United States of America. Indeed, it might make them worse.

Racism is institutionalized, is deeply ingrained, within the United States of America, and the racial hatreds in the United States are not only one way, whites hating blacks, but also run the other way, blacks hating whites, and of course the other races also engage in race-based hatred, and so we have many possible permutations of raced-based hatred in the U.S., and there is no quick or easy fix to this ugliness.

Electing a black president (twice) sure hasn’t helped very much — as Tavis Smiley remarked in October, “The data is going to indicate, sadly, that when the Obama administration is over, black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category” — and neither will punishing one old white bigot by dangling him in the public square for all to see and revile.

P.S. I listened to the clip of Kevin Johnson again, and the fuller, more accurate quote is: “I hope every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and recognizes that if he can fall, so can you.”

Wow. Is that really the tone that we want to set for interracial reconciliation? And what does this mean, exactly? That from now on all of us can expect to have our phone conversations recorded, because all is fair in interracial warfare?

*Yes, it seems to me that imposing upon Sterling the maximum allowable $2.5 million fine, banning him from the NBA for life, and forcing him to sell his team for something that he said in an illegally recorded phone conversation probably is too harsh a punishment for the crime, a crime that he could not even be criminally tried for, since the evidence against him was obtained illegally and unconstitutionally.

It seems to me that we’re no better than Sterling if we celebrate his downfall, which has been orchestrated so underhandedly, and that when one person’s privacy so casually can be violated, then none of us has any privacy.

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