Tag Archives: Louisiana

Cops’ first robo-killing is probably the scariest part of a week full of horrors

Corrected below (on Monday, July 11, 2016)

Last night in Dallas, Texas, cops for the first time ever used a robot to kill a perp on American soil, actually claiming that it was the only way. If we let this horrific abuse of police power pass, do we civilians not face routine robo-killings by the thugs of the state in the future? (Above is pictured one of the cops’ killing machines from the original movie “Robocop.”)

What a spectacularly fucked-up week it was, just after the Independence Day holiday on Monday, ironically.

The shooting deaths on Tuesday and on Wednesday of 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and 32-year-old Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minnesota, both of them black men, by white cops sure looked unnecessary.

It’s true that we don’t have every piece of information, and nor do we have full video footage of everything from beginning to end — the Sterling videos that I have seen start just before he is shot to death in a parking lot, and the Castile video starts after he already has been shot in a car (and is dying) — and the officers involved in the shootings deserve to be tried in real courts of law, not in the court of public opinion (which these days is held largely if not mostly on the Internet), but from what we know thus far, the shootings sure appear to have been wholly unnecessary.

My best guess is that these were spooked, adrenalized cops who were too trigger-happy, and, in a society in which black men’s lives are at the bottom of the pecking order where the value of human life is concerned, these cops just weren’t very concerned about not shooting first and asking questions later.

Then came the shooting deaths of five cops last night in Dallas (not far from where JFK was assassinated) by an-as-far-as-we-know-right-now militarily trained lone wolf, 25-year-old Micah Johnson, a black man of the Dallas area who reportedly had claimed that he especially wanted to kill white cops for the wrongful killings of black men by white cops.

On NPR today I heard the head of the nation’s largest cops’ union embarrass himself by stating that the shootings of cops because they are cops need to be treated as hate crimes. 

He further embarrassed himself by actually stating that just as we shouldn’t hate others because of the color of their skin, we shouldn’t hate anyone because of the color of his or her uniform (yes, he actually used those incredibly corny words). He asserted this as though the problem that so many of us have had with our cops actually were the color of their uniforms, or, OK, the fact in and of itself that they are cops — and not, oh, say, their rampant abuse of power and deadly force, such as by blowing away unarmed or otherwise non-threatening black men and by otherwise abusing their power against people of color and other vulnerable minorities.

The cops have had a long history of abusing their power in the United States of America. Many of them have been little more than state-sanctioned thugs, and let’s face it: The cops’ main job is to maintain the socioeconomic status quo, a status quo that isn’t about liberty and justice for all.

That said, don’t get me wrong; I don’t advocate the killing of one member of a group because you’re pissed off at another member of that group, be that group a racial group, a religious group, an occupational group, or any other group of people. I believe that we must deal with individuals, and not with entire groups of people. Micah Johnson’s “logic” that because two white cops in Louisiana and in Minnesota apparently unnecessarily killed — maybe murdered (well, maybe it was manslaughter; it’s all in the intent) — two black men, he should kill cops (especially white cops) in Texas speaks for itself.

And let’s be clear in our thinking and in our words: Blacks didn’t kill those cops in Dallas; one apparently mentally ill, or at the very least seriously unhinged, young black man did. (I don’t assert that Johnson had no legitimate grievances, but murdering random cops because they’re cops isn’t OK.) And all (white) cops did not kill Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (and way too many others); specific (white) cops killed them.

The problem is when we hold an entire group of people guilty for the acts of a relative few. It’s a mistake that often has deadly consequences and that can spiral into something like a civil war.

On the issue of hate crimes, I don’t argue that Micah Johnson didn’t hate cops; he very apparently did. (Again, I don’t argue that he had no grounds for his hatred; I only point out that he apparently had that hatred.)

But let’s be crystal fucking clear on what a hate crime is. Wikipedia defines a hate crime thusly:

A hate crime … is a prejudice-motivated crime, often violent, which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership (or perceived membership) in a certain social group.

Examples of such groups can include but are not limited to: sex, ethnicity, disability, language, nationality, physical appearance, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation. …

“Hate crime” generally refers to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against one or more of the types above, or of their derivatives. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, … or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).

Cops aren’t listed among the groups that so often are targeted in hate crimes, and implied but not explicitly spelled out in Wikipedia’s entry on hate crimes is the power differential that we have seen in the vast majority of hate crimes committed in the United States of America.

Whites who have committed hate crimes against blacks, for example, usually have far outnumbered blacks; ditto for “Christians” who have far outnumbered Jews and Muslims; heterosexuals and gender-conforming individuals who have far outnumbered non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals; etc. With the vast majority of hate crimes, it’s the relatively powerful who are targeting the less powerful to even the relatively powerless.

One thing that we can’t say about cops is that they are relatively powerless compared to the general population. Um, they are not. Sure, we commoners far outnumber the cops, but most of us commoners don’t have their arsenals or their training — or their being backed up by the U.S. military if they need such backup. (All of this is made possible with our own tax dollars, but that’s another blog piece.) And, of course, the cops often if not usually have the full cover of the “justice” system should they ever actually be held to account in a court of law. And, of course, they know this fact even before they unnecessarily shoot someone to death, carelessly (manslaughter) or even intentionally (murder).

Therefore, call what Micah Johnson did last night in Dallas an act of terrorism — the use of fear and/or violence to try to achieve a political objective — but let’s not fucking call it a hate crime and by so doing shit and piss on all actual victims of actual hate crimes, past, present and future.

Let’s not buy the cops’ union thugs’ bullshit rhetoric that cops (as a group) now are the poor victims when American history is filled with incidents of cops’ thuggery against the populace, usually the relatively powerless.

Clearly, having had the first black man in the Oval Office hasn’t magically solved our problems. We, the people, have much work to do, primary among which is to devise non-lethal ways of neutralizing individuals whom cops deem need to be neutralized. It’s unfuckingacceptable that shooting someone in the year 2016 still is seen as an acceptable way of neutralizing him or her.

With the technology that we have, we should have solved this problem years ago.

On that note, we, the people, also must NOT allow state-sanctioned killing by robot to become the norm.

The cops in Dallas last night killed Micah Johnson by affixing a bomb to a robot, directing the robot to Johnson’s vicinity, and then detonating the bomb. It was the first time that cops anywhere on U.S. soil used a robot to kill someone.*

What the fucking fuck?

A robot that can deliver a bomb can’t deliver a tranquilizer dart or a knock-out gas? Really? Blowing Micah Johnson up via R2-D2 was the cops’ only option?

No, the cops blew Johnson up because he’d killed cops, and they wanted their instant revenge on him. The actual justice (well, “justice”) system might have allowed him to live, so they, the cops, had to be the prosecutors, judges, juries and executioners, you see.

And by so doing, the cops only further demonstrated last night that they have become a serious problem that we, the people, need to solve — lest the cops’ killer robots come for us next.

Correction (Monday, July 11, 2016): My bad: Apparently the cop who shot Philando Castile to death is Mexican American, not white. (In the viral video, only the cop’s forearms are visible, and he is light-skinned, so I’d thought that he was white.)

This is a rather ironic photo of the cop:

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6, 2016, is shown taking part in the Standing of the Memorial Guard event during Law Enforcement Memorial Day and National Peace Officer's Day at the Minnesota Capitol in May 2014. (Courtesy of city of Falcon Heights)

(No, it’s not a Photoshop job. It was taken two years ago and it’s from here.)

The cop, named Jeronimo Yanez, has claimed, via his attorney, “This had nothing to do with race. This had everything to do with the presence of a gun.” (Of course, it’s not like any cop actually would admit it if his [or her] shooting death of someone had been racially motivated…)

Our society’s racial pecking order is fairly ingrained, it seems to me, and we can internalize and act out that pecking order unconsciously, methinks.

I just can’t imagine Philando Castile having been shot to death as he was had he been white (or perhaps Asian or Latino).

*NPR quotes a subject-matter expert as saying that bombs/explosive devices affixed to robotic devices have been used by the U.S. military in Iraq, but that last night’s was the first such use here on American soil.

Indeed, our police are becoming more and more militarized, and we, the people, fail to put a stop to this anti-constitutional bullshit at our own peril.

I vehemently oppose the use of armed/weaponized robots or drones to kill civilians on American soil — and their use in all other nations should be prohibited as well.

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Still Bernie or bust for me (also: Live-blogging the 7th Dem debate tomorrow)

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is hugged as he arrives to speak at a campaign rally in Warren, Michigan

Reuters photo

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a progressive U.S. senator for Vermont, is hugged before a rally today in Warren, Michigan. Today Bernie handily won the caucuses in Kansas and Nebraska, while Billary Clinton picked up yet another state of mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging denizens in the South (Louisiana). Tomorrow night Bernie debates Billary Clinton in Flint, Michigan. Michigan holds its primary election on Tuesday; if Bernie takes the state, gone (at least until Billary’s next win) should be the bullshit talk of Billary’s “inevitability.”

Today Bernie Sanders won the Democratic Party presidential caucuses in Kansas and Nebraska, and Billary Clinton, in keeping with her popularity in the South, won the backasswards red state of Louisiana.

Thus far the map of the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary race (this one from Wikipedia) looks like this, with Bernie’s wins in green and Billary’s in gold:

Note that Iowa was a tie, with Billary “beating” Bernie by a whopping 0.3 percent. Also close was Massachusetts, which Billary won by 1.4 percent. (It apparently helped her to at least to some degree that Bill Clinton apparently was electioneering for Billary at polling places in Massachusetts on “Super Tuesday.” [His mere presence at a polling place, even if he didn’t speak a word, was electioneering, in my book, given how well he is known as a former president and since his wife appeared on the ballot at the polling places that he visited (only to “thank the poll workers,” he claimed). Of course, the Clintons are royalty, and members of royalty are above the law.])

Nevada wasn’t a blowout win for Billary, either; she won that state’s caucuses by 5.3 percent.

Billary’s wins in the Southern states have been in the double digits, which speaks volumes to me. The South is another fucking country, as far as I’m concerned.

Bernie’s double-digit wins in states like Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Vermont (and his almost-wins in Iowa and Massachusetts) indicate to me that he represents the real Americayou know, the portion of the United States that didn’t practice slavery and wasn’t part of the Confederacy.

Queen Billary says that she’s the real Democrat in the race, yet why is her power base in the South — which is not exactly a bastion of the values and beliefs of the modern Democratic Party?

At any rate, although Billary once again stupidly was declared “inevitable” after “Super Tuesday” this past week (she won seven states [all of them, except for Massachusetts, in the South] to Bernie’s four), this remains a race.

(As many have noted, if a clear majority of the voters and caucus-goers pick Bernie over Billary, the so-called “super-delegates” will be pressured not to subvert democracy, but to go with the popular will and to therefore go with Bernie — if the Democratic Party is to survive.*)

Next up is Maine, which caucuses tomorrow, and then on Tuesday, Michigan and Mississippi hold their primary elections.

I expect Bernie to win Maine, and of course Billary will take the backasswards red state of Mississippi. I’m hoping that Bernie takes Michigan; that would be a real coup for him.

In any event, tomorrow night is the seventh Democratic Party presidential debate. It will be held in Flint, Michigan, and is to be carried by CNN at 9 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Pacific.

I plan to live-blog it, but I might do it differently this time; truth be told, after having live-blogged the first six Democratic debates, I can tell you that these debates get repetitive. Tomorrow night I might decide to live-blog only new material and the more interesting exchanges, and let the repetitive crap go.

Finally, if you are a regular reader of mine you will know this already, but I’ll say it again: For me it’s still Bernie or bust.

I will not support Billary Clinton, Queen of the South, in any way. Not a penny and certainly not my vote, not in California’s primary election in June or in the general presidential election in November.

Billary Clinton does not represent the United States of America or the Democratic Party to me.

My world is a progressive one, and she is from another planet.

P.S. Speaking of other planets, as far as Donald Trump is concerned: I’m sorry that he has gotten this far. It’s a sad statement on the sorry state of sociopolitical affairs in the nation that he has.

Donald Trump does not represent all white male Americans. Let me say that. He represents some of them. (White males are around 31 percent of all Americans, and Trump has the support of about 36 percent of Repugnicans, men and women, and around 39 percent of Americans identify as Repugnican or leaning Repugnican, while around 43 percent of Americans identify as Democratic or leaning Democratic. So Trump has the support of around 36 percent of around 39 percent of Americans, including women, so let’s please not say that he’s representative of most white American men. He is not. He is representative of a loud and obnoxious minority of them who share perhaps three brain cells among themselves.)

Donald Trump to me is evil not so much in that he has all of these definite evil plans for the groups of people whom he definitely would persecute, like his forebears the Nazi Germans did, but in that because he has no moral compass and no apparent conscience, but is pure ego, he would go in whatever direction he would perceive to be politically beneficial to himself, regardless of its harm to many others. He sociopathically lacks all empathy, very apparently.

Sure, that also pretty much describes corporate-ass-licker Billary Clinton’s entire political career, but would another Nazi Germany arise under Billary Clinton? Probably not. Under Donald Trump? It certainly could.

That said, I still think that I prefer the overt fascism of Donald Trump to the “friendly” fascism of Billary Clinton; I still think that I’d rather deal with the obvious wolf than with the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

On that note, both the Democratic Party and the Repugnican Party establishments — the Coke Party and the Pepsi Party — need to go.

Yes, the thought that the establishment parties’ demise could be replaced by something akin to Germany’s Nazism (that is, nationalism, far-right-wing ideology/fascism, white supremacism, etc.) is a frightening thought, but there is an alternative to that: the progressive, inclusive, democratic socialism that real Democrat Bernie Sanders promotes.

*While I don’t share Salon.com writer Andrew O’Hehir’s assessment of Billary’s chances of emerging as the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee — I think that he overstates her chances (for one thing, she remains underwater in her favorability polling of all voters by double digits — while Bernie’s favorability polling of all voters still has him liked more than disliked by double digits) — I do agree with O’Hehir’s assessment that there is a civil war within the Democratic Party just as there is within the Repugnican Tea Party.

It’s just that the Democrats are “nicer” about it, and it hasn’t blown up (yet).

Whether Billary emerges as the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee or not, the fact remains that her center-right brand of Democrat is sorely out of date, is unsustainable and needs to go, and it will go; it’s only a question of for how much longer the Clintonistas can keep the Democrat-in-name-only game going.

If we Berners — progressives — can’t take back our party this year, we will take it back in the near future.

Billary Clinton is not in a good place politically, not in the long term.

Why?

Well, if Bernie beats her, it will be seen as a victory for progressives. (Of course, if Bernie beats her but then goes on to lose in November, he’ll be lumped in with the likes of George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, which probably would be damaging for the progressive brand and seen as vindicating the Clintonistas’ brand of the Democratic Party, of course. [This wouldn’t last forever, but would last for some time, I surmise.])

But if Billary wins the nomination but then loses in November, it most definitely will be the final stake in the cold, stupid hearts of the Clintonistas. The members of the party will look for a new direction, and we progressives are quite ready to supply that direction.

But even if Billary wins both the party’s presidential nomination and the White House, she’ll have a very rough go of it.

She will be attacked relentlessly by the Repugnican Tea Party traitors, and if you look at who her supporters are now, it appears as though as president she’ll have the support of the Democrats in the South — Democrats who are fairly powerless within their own states.

The rest of us — us Northerners, mostly — aren’t at all thrilled about Billary Clinton now, so she probably can’t count on much political support from us should she actually become president.

And that’s her fault, not ours.

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Adieu, Landrieu; it’s long past time for Democrats to stop kissing red-state ass

Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in New Orleans. (Gerald Herbert, AP)

Associated Press photo

Gee, maybe her very own country-Western song would have saved “Democratic” U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana from being denied a fourth term in the Deep-South state. A campaign appearance by Billary Clinton (who does have her very own country-Western song) apparently wasn’t enough.

“Dems, It’s Time to Dump Dixie,” proclaims the headline of a column by a Michael Tomasky (whom I’d never heard of until today) that will be interpreted as fairly sound advice for the Democratic Party or, perhaps, as a false-flag attempt to give Dems poor advice meant to harm them (the column does appear, after all, on the center-right website The Daily Beast). But probably, it’s more of the former than of the latter.

The occasion of the column is the double-digit defeat of Democrat-in-name-only U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to her Repugnican Tea Party opponent this past weekend. Landrieu was the last remaining “Democratic” U.S. senator of the Deep South. (Wikipedia defines the “Deep South” as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina – and sometimes at least portions of Texas and Florida, too. These seven states, Wikipedia notes, were the first to secede from the Union.)

The advice that Tomasky gives to the Democratic Party – to “dump Dixie” – seems to be the advice that the party perhaps already has taken to heart; well before this past weekend’s election in Louisiana, the national party wisely decided to stop funneling campaign cash to Landrieu and to let her languish, dry up and blow away.

Tomasky concludes his column by proclaiming that “the Democratic Party shouldn’t bother trying [to win congressional seats in the Deep South ]. If they [the Dems] get no votes from the region, they will in turn owe it nothing, and in time the South, which is the biggest welfare moocher in the world in terms of the largesse it gets from the more advanced and innovative states, will be on its own, which is what Southerners always say they want anyway.” (The link there is my own, of course, not Tomasky’s.)

Absolutely.

The likes of Repugnican Lite Landrieu – whose last-ditch, self-serving, desperate attempt to shove the Keystone XL oil pipeline down Americans’ throats for the deep pockets of the fat cats of Big Oil in order to save her Senate seat was incredibly pathetic (as was her defense of Big Oil even as British Petroleum was filling the Gulf of Mexico with millions of gallons of crude oil) – have only harmed, not helped, the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party’s lurch to the right, which started no later than during Bill Clinton’s reign (Wikipedia also notes that the Clintons’ home state of Arkansas sometimes also is included in the list of the states that make up the Deep South) and has continued during Barack Obama’s, doesn’t capture nearly as many Repugnican-leaning voters (who most often simply vote Repugnican instead of Repugnican Lite) as it turns off the Democratic Party’s base. And a party that stands for everything, that tries to please all people, in the end, stands for nothing.

Obama squandered too much of his presidency trying to sing “Kumbaya” with the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in D.C. He tried to negotiate with these terrorists, but you don’t negotiate with terrorists. Obama instead should have taken care of his base and not given a flying fuck what the enemy thought, since politically, he didn’t really have to. Had he done that, I surmise, he wouldn’t be spending his last two years in the Oval Office with both houses of Congress controlled by the enemy. Obama started off in 2009 with both houses of Congress controlled by his own party, and, had he played his cards right – instead of having wasted his political capital in trying to placate the implacable wingnuts – he could have maintained that political advantage to this day.

It’s long past time for the Democratic Party to start tending to its base. Obama’s failed experiment of “bipartisanship”* should have made this abundantly clear by now, but waiting in the wings, of course, is Billary Clinton, whose jaw-droppingly awful proxy country-Western music video on You Tube titled “Stand with Hillary” makes you wonder whether Billary approves of the video or not.

The New York Times’ Frank Bruni notes that “The video wasn’t produced by Clinton or her aides. But the people who did put it together [a “super-PAC” called, of course, “Stand with Hillary”] clearly followed the cues that they felt they were getting, and they read her intentions right.” I more or less concur, from what we know of Billary and the way she rolls.

I mean, the country-Western style of the video definitely seems to be geared toward the same shit-kicking voters to whom Billary apparently was trying to appeal when, as her 2008 effort to best Obama for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination grew more and more desperate, Billary (right along with the John McCainosaurus campaign) denounced Obama as “elitist and out of touch with the values and the lives of millions of Americans” for having accurately described the mindset of rednecks (who, Obama correctly had asserted, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations”**).

Because Billary wants to be Queen of the Rednecks, you see. But the majority of the rednecks don’t and won’t buy that a Democrat – especially one of the caliber of Billary Clinton – is truly One of Them (replete with her own country-Western anthem!), and true Democrats are put off by those who (like Billary) call themselves Democrats but who court rednecks more than they court the members of the traditional Democratic Party base (who simply are taken for granted, year after year after year).

I should note that the guy in cowboy garb in the “Stand with Hillary” video, who was lip-synching someone else’s vocals, calls himself apolitical and says that the video was just another paying gig, that he may or may not vote for Billary for president should she be on the ballot in November 2016.

Is it that Team Billary could find only someone who would be pro-Billary for pay? At any rate, that the guy in the video is a fake cowboy, a fake country-Western singer and a fake Billary supporter speaks volumes about Team Billary, methinks, including how insubstantial the candidate is herself.

I don’t assert that the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign should not be populist. Of course it should be. The party hasn’t done nearly enough for what remains of the middle class and the working class for many years now and desperately needs to return to its roots of socioeconomic equality and justice. Therefore, I’d love to see the likes of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. But wasting resources trying to convert those who never are going to support you anyway (as the desperate Billary tried to do in the spring of 2008, as the White House was slipping from her talons) is – well, a waste of limited resources.

The cultural stuff – such as country-Western music (for fuck’s sake), God, guns and gays – can, and should, take a back seat this next Democratic presidential cycle, in which populism should be the centerpiece, but should be limited to the discussion of socioeconomic issues that affect the common American, regardless of where he or she lives (and regardless of whether he or she likes country-western music or supports same-sex marriage).

If Billary indeed is on a trajectory to act, once again, like she’s Queen of the Rednecks, and the Democrats actually let this pass and allow her to become the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, then, it will be, I think, just as Harry S. Truman warned us: “If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time.”

We just saw the wisdom of Truman’s words in action this past weekend in Louisiana. We don’t have to see the truth of his words again in November 2016.

*In the speech that made Obama a political rock star at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama proclaimed that “The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. … We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

Really? One people? Even those who say that he shouldn’t be allowed to give the State of the Union address?

I mean, does Obama, six years into his presidency, still believe his feel-good, fluffy words from 2004?

**To be fair, this infamous comment of Obama’s should be taken within its larger context of his preceding remarks, which you can find here.

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No queer duck for the American Taliban!

Interview Creates Controversy For Duck Dynasty Star

Culture war heats up over 'Duck Dynasty' controversy

“Duck Dynasty” “patriarch” Phil Robertson looks a bit like Osama bin Laden to me, which isn’t that shocking, I guess, given that you could call him and his ilk the American Taliban — “Christo”fascists instead of “Islamofascists.”

I’ve never watched A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” and probably never will. A “reality” show is bad enough, but a “reality” show about rednecks is even worse.

Go into a Wal-Mart (yes, I’ve seen the insides of a Wal-Mart — recently) and you’ll see “Duck Dynasty” merchandise all over the fucking place, and given Wal-Mart’s main target audience — the redneck — you don’t have to have seen the show to have a good idea about what it’s all about.

So, was I shocked to learn that the “patriarch” of the show, 67-year-old Phil Robertson — who, on top of being a redneck, is a baby boomer — is a homophobe?

Um, no.

Does Robertson, who has been suspended indefinitely from “Duck Dynasty” apparently primarily or entirely for his homophobic remarks to the magazine GQ, have the First Amendment right to publicly vocalize his bigoted views?

Absolutely, yes, he does, just as the members of the Ku Klux Klan do, but does A&E, which is a joint venture of Disney and the Hearst Corp., have to keep Robertson in its employment, especially if Robertson, as I suspect he did, violated the terms of his contract with A&E?

Fuck no.

The Associated Press notes:

… Sarah Palin posted a picture on her Facebook page of her with the reality show clan with the message, “Free Speech is an endangered species.” And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also lamented the suspension on free speech terms.

“It’s a messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended,” said the governor in a statement [today] (the show is filmed in his state). …

Well, of course, to my knowledge, Miley Cyrus never publicly made an offensive, bigoted statement about an historically oppressed minority group — she might be a bit skanky, but I’ve never heard that she has uttered hate speech publicly.

But Bobby Jindal is a stupid fucking piece of sell-out shit who can’t lick the asses of the whiteys who hate him because he isn’t white ardently enough — you know, in order to “show” them that he’s one of them — so that’s to be expected from the likes of him.

But what about the whining and probably-faux hand-wringing about “free speech”?

The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Fact is, only the government may abridge your free-speech rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Did Phil Robertson have to accept a gig with A&E? No. But he signed some contract, I’m sure, and when millions of dollars are at stake, I can’t imagine that the team of lawyers who drew up his contract did not cover what A&E and/or its parent companies may do in the event that Robertson should make public statements and/or commit certain actions that A&E and/or its parent companies deem damaging to them.

If Robertson has been legally wronged, then, of course, he can sue his employer. (I wish him luck with that…)

I find other comments of Robertson equally as interesting as his homophobic ones, which include his apparent assertion that the definition of “sin” begins with “homosexual behavior.” (Wow! Does he really think of “homosexual behavior” that much? I, a gay man, don’t think of heterosexual sex all that much, so why would an alleged heterosexual man think of male homosexual sex so much?)

According to the AP, Robertson also stated in an interview published in the January issue of GQ “that in his Louisiana youth he picked cotton with African-Americans and never saw ‘the mistreatment of any black person. Not once.’

“‘We’re going across the field. … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, “I tell you what: These doggone white people” — not a word!’ Robertson told the magazine.”

Wow. 

So blacks in the South didn’t need the Civil Rights movement because they all loved whitey? They were all “singing and happy”? Really?

Assuming that Robertson’s report is true — that he heard “not a word” uttered by a black person against “these doggone white people” — could it be that they were so powerless and so terrified of retribution that of course they were very careful about what they uttered around whitey?

Could it be that Robertson’s memory is faulty? (He does, after all, admit to having done his share of drugs during the Sixties.)

Robertson also reportedly said this to GQ: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.”

Um, did he omit female prostitutes from his list of the hell-bent on purpose? What about heterosexual “offenders”?

Straight white men seem to benefit an awful lot from Robertson’s selective list, don’t they?

What’s most shocking of all, I think, is that A&E ever decided to put this man and his family on the tay-vay in the first fucking place.

P.S. In more good news for equal human and civil rights, it’s great to have heard today that former Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano finally came out (we all knew, but it’s great that he now has talked about it openly), and it’s hilarious that he and out lesbian athletes Billie Jean King (the tennis great, of course) and Caitlin Cahow (a medalist in women’s hockey) will be part of the United States’ delegation to the homophobic Russia’s 2014 winter Olympic games in Sochi, of which no high-ranking members of the U.S. government will be a part. (The Associated Press notes that “For the first time since 2000, the U.S. will not send a president, former president, first lady or vice president to the Olympics.”)

And, of course, today the state of New Mexico became the 16th state to institute same-sex marriage.

The “Christo”fascists and other assorted haters can slow progress down, but they cannot stop it altogether. It marches on!

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‘12 Years a Slave’ is a grueling antidote to the comparatively toothless ‘Lincoln’

Film review

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is “counseled” at knife point by cotton-plantation owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) in director Steve McQueen’s grueling film “12 Years a Slave.”

I finally got around to watching “12 Years a Slave,” and while it perhaps has been a little over-hyped — I hate it when a good film is diminished because it can’t possibly be as great as so many claim that it is — it’s going to win a bunch of Oscars, and I consider it to be an antidote to Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” of which I noted at the time that it came out (a year ago) that “the evil of slavery itself is barely portrayed in ‘Lincoln’ … and blacks are only supporting (and mostly subservient) characters in ‘Lincoln,’ which gives the viewer … the unfortunate impression that perhaps the film is asserting that slavery was more of a burden for liberal whites than it was for the actual slaves.”

Indeed, in “12 Years a Slave” the “saviors” still are white men, but, given the fact that at the time white men held virtually all of the political power, what other “savior” could a black person have had at that time? The best that most black Americans, especially enslaved black Americans, could hope for at that time, it seems to me, was to have the fortune to have the mercy of white men who had power to make their lives less miserable.*

Indeed, in “12 Years a Slave” we see at least two grown black men run to their white-male protectors and embrace them as a child would embrace his parent. But, given the circumstances, one could hardly blame them.

I wrote of “Lincoln” that “The Southerners (and their sympathizers) in ‘Lincoln’ aren’t portrayed flatteringly, which probably will mean that the film won’t appeal to the ‘tea-party’ dipshits, since the slavery- and treason-loving Southerners depicted in ‘Lincoln’ are their true founding fathers.”

Ditto for “12 Years a Slave” (and Quentin Tarantino’s “Django,” too, of course).

Michael Fassbender and Paul Dano couldn’t have done a much better job of portraying what probably was the typical Southern white male of the era, and Brad Pitt, perhaps because he was one of the producers, got what to me is the plum role of the liberal, abolitionist Canadian whose action finally frees our hero.

Our hero, of course, is the real-life historical figure Solomon Northup, who in 1841 was a free man (well, “free” as in “not a slave,” “not someone’s property”) who was lured from his home in New York state to Washington, D.C., where he was promised well-paying work but instead was kidnapped and forced into slavery in Louisiana for a dozen years.

And the star of “12 Years a Slave” is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who no doubt will be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his harrowing portrayal of Solomon Northup.

The other star of “12 Years” is Lupita Nyong’o, who plays the slave Patsey, and who also very most likely will be nominated for an acting Oscar.

“12 Years a Slave,” based upon Northup’s autobiography of the same name and penned by American screenwriter John Ridley, is, first and foremost, the story of the slaves, and its portrayal of their trials and tribulations by comparison makes “Lincoln” look like it portrays slavery as a mere inconvenience to black Americans.

“12 Years,” among other things, portrays free blacks in the North being abducted and sold into slavery, slaves stripped nude and bathed for auction like livestock, a mother being separated permanently from her two children at auction, and the character of Patsey being serially raped by the cotton-plantation owner Edwin Epps (played by Fassbender) and, to add injury to injury, being hated by and thus violently attacked by the plantation owner’s wife (Sarah Paulson) because her husband is sexually predating upon her. We also witness one of our protagonists being quasi-lynched and the other one being brutally whipped.

“12 Years a Slave” does as probably a good job as a film could do to bring us into Solomon Northup’s world. You’re supposed to feel Northup’s struggle and large degree of helplessness, given how utterly disempowered he is. His spirit not only is violated repeatedly by the wrongs that are done to him, but also by the multitude of wrongs that he has to witness done to others, probably especially to Patsey.

“12 Years a Slave” is directed by Steve McQueen, a writer-director who, I surmise, because he is black and British, wasn’t overly worried about not offending white Americans in his portrayal of Southern slavery. (Of course, Quentin Tarantino wasn’t worried about that, either, with “Django,” but bad boy Tarantino can make just about any film that he wishes. Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” by contrast, suffers because the “upright” and apparently uptight Spielberg apparently didn’t want to offend white Americans too much.)

I wasn’t impressed with McQueen’s over-hyped 2011 “Shame,” which also starred Michael Fassbender, but after “12 Years,” which draws you into Solomon Northup’s grueling world so well that when he finally is reunited with his family you will, if you have any empathy at all, have tears in your eyes, I look forward to more projects by McQueen, and after having watched “12 Years” I’ll probably catch McQueen’s other project starring Fassbender, 2008’s “Hunger.”

My grade: A

*Indeed, we are told at the end of “12 Years a Slave,” as Wikipedia puts it:

Northup sued the slave traders in Washington, D.C., [who had kidnapped him and sold him into slavery], but [Northup] lost in the local court. District of Columbia law prohibited him, as a black man, from testifying against whites, and, without his testimony, he was unable to sue for civil damages. The two men were charged with the crime of kidnapping and remanded into custody on $5,000 bail, but without Northup’s testimony, a conviction could not be secured and [so] the men were released.

So, even in the North, which in Northup’s day was quite progressive compared to the South, Northup, as a “free” man, because he was a black man, did not have equal rights, and white men still could commit grievous crimes against black Americans with impunity.

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Hurricane Karma heads toward Tampa

On August 29, 2005, then-“President” George W. Bush and future presidential candidate John McCainosaurus shared a birthday cake in Arizona on the occasion of McCainosaurus’ 69th birthday. Here is a news photo of that event:

Associated Press photo

Also on August 29, 2005, the very same day, Hurricane Katrina touched down in Louisiana, breaching numerous levees in New Orleans.

In all, there were more than 1,800 fatalities caused by Hurricane Katrina, most of them in New Orleans, even though there had been warning at least as early as August 27, 2005, that Louisiana likely was in Katrina’s path. Indeed, even George W. Bush had declared a state of emergency for regions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on August 27, 2005, yet he still found time to celebrate John McCainosaurus’ birthday a couple of days later. (A “decider” must decide his priorities, you see.)

Hurricane Katrina was a graphic example of how some Americans are considered to be wholly expendable.

Victims of Katrina were criticized for having refused to leave their homes, but where would they go? And when you have little, don’t you want to protect what little you have? Is it that easy to leave your home, perhaps the only home that you’ve ever known?

The class warfare wasn’t evidenced only in the fact that Katrina’s victims disproportionately were black Americans; Barbara Bush, the former first lady and Gee Dubya’s mother, infamously said of the Katrina survivors who were huddled in the Houston Astrodome: “What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”

Seven years later, we now have Tropical Storm Isaac apparently headed toward the Gulf Coast, possibly gaining strength along the way and becoming a hurricane — and hitting the southern tip of Florida on Monday, the first day of the scheduled four-day Repugnican Tea Party National Convention in Tampa:

AccuWeather.com image, August 23, 2012

AccuWeather.com image, August 23, 2012

Where is Tampa on the Florida map?

There it is.

It appears to me that Tampa has a “moderate” risk of being hit by a Hurricane Isaac, while the Florida Keys and the eastern portion of the Gulf Coast are where you really don’t want to be.

What will the Repugnican Tea Party traitors do should Isaac become a hurricane and hit Tampa?

Will they be brave and stand their ground, like the wingnuts like to brag about doing?

Or will they get the swift and effective evacuation that the victims of Hurricane Katrina never got, because they’re mostly lily white and therefore their lives count?

I’m surprised, though, that in the coverage of Isaac I haven’t seen much mention of Katrina. It seems to me that a hurricane hitting Florida during the Repugnican Tea Party National Convention can only remind the nation of how less than worthless the last Repugnican “president” was the last time that a devastating hurricane hit the United States (just as he was less than worthless in preventing 9/11 despite the August 2001 presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”).

And not only are devastating hurricanes often seen as events of biblical proportions — so-called “acts of God” — but the name of this one: Isaac…

In the Old Testament, Isaac was the lad whose father, Abraham, was about to make a human sacrifice, per God’s command, as a test of Abraham’s faith and/or obedience, when an angel sent by God at the last moment stayed Abraham’s knife-wielding hand, sparing Isaac.

Will the Repugnican Tea Party traitors convening at their quadrennial KKK-like convention get such a reprieve early next week? Will they get the knife or will they get an angelic intervention?

We shall see.

P.S. Oh, how could I forget global warming and its effects on the frequency and the strength of hurricanes? Will the climate-change deniers gathered in Tampa get a bitter up-close-and-personal taste of climate-change science? Would that make them believers?

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Assorted shit Sunday!

On Cuba, Pope Palapatine just hates the competition

Woman sits under banner of Pope Benedict XVI in Havana

Reuters photo

A Cuban woman on Friday sits under a banner in Havana announcing the impending visit of Pope Palpatine. If the Cuban government were as evil as Palpatine claims it is, it probably wouldn’t let him set foot on the island in the first fucking place. Palpatine proclaims that Marxism is dead, yet it’s backasswards Catholicism that is dying in the more developed nations of Europe and the United States, and Latin America remains the last bastion of the dying Catholic empire.

“Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality,” Pope Palpatine decreed of the government of the nation of Cuba on Friday, in advance of his scheduled visit there tomorrow.

I love the apparently unintended irony of that statement: “Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality.”

Um, what about Catholicism?

Here in the U.S., we have far-right-wing Catholic nutjob Prick Santorum telling us that as president — as Pope Palpatine’s puppet in the White House — he would support banning contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage and “obscene” pornography (which would be pretty much all pornography).

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 (in Roe vs. Wade) ruled that abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy is always legal, and the same year essentially ruled (in Miller vs. California) that the porn that we see today that widely is considered to be legal is protected free speech (and not “obscenity”).

The far-right-wing Pope Palpatine, however, views the mildly progressive reforms of the Catholic church of the 1960s as having gone too far, and believes that the church should revert to the “good old days” before the 1960s.

But Marxism is outdated?

In order to remain relevant any ideology needs to change and grow with the times — which the patriarchal, misogynist, homophobic, anti-science Catholic church refuses to do, which is why its membership is hemorrhaging in the U.S. and Europe — but with rampant global capitalism destroying the planet at record pace, Marxism is even more relevant today than it was when Karl Marx was still kicking around, when the greedy, selfish capitalists’ ability to destroy the entire fucking planet wasn’t nearly what it is now.

Pope Palpatine’s real problem with the government of Cuba, of course, is that he fucking hates the competition for the minds, hearts and souls of the masses.

It long has seemed to me that the people of Cuba have been far better off under Fidel Castro than they ever would be under the tyranny of capitalism, which sees the masses only as a means of making a tiny few obscenely richer in such noble names as “democracy” and “freedom,” or under the theocratic tyranny of the Catholic church, which, like a virus, only wishes to subvert the time, energy and money of the masses from their own benefit to propping up the decaying carcass of the Catholic church, an all-male hierarchy that should have met its extinction long ago.

Prick Santorum still stuck on his Etch-A-Sketch bullshit

Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, waves a Etch-A-Sketch while criticizing the policies of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a rally in Shreveport, La., Friday, March 23, 2012. Santorum has strong support among many conservative voters in the state which his campaign hopes results in winning Louisiana's primary on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Associated Press photo

Prick Santorum lamely still waves an Etch-A-Sketch Friday in Shreveport, Louisiana, a state where such retarded tactics apparently work.

The anti-Mittens “Etch-A-Sketch” thing wasn’t worth exploiting in the first place, since its exploitation was based upon wildly twisting its source’s rather obvious intended meaning, but Prick Santorum, having nothing else to offer, continues to use the lame tactic that ultimately only is hurting his own fucking party.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation” today, Prick declared, “Even though a lot of folks are saying this race is over, the people in Louisiana said, ‘No, it’s not.’ They still want to see someone who they can trust, someone who’s not running an Etch-A-Sketch campaign, but one who has their principals written on their heart, not on an erasable tablet.”

Really, how much mileage does Prick believe that he’s going to get out of this retarded diatribe?

Of course Prick won Louisiana yesterday and previously won some other Southern states (including Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee): The Southerners are all a bunch of mouth-breathing inbreds to whom Prick’s preaching about the supposedly Jesus-Christ-based hatred and oppression of self-respecting women, gay men and lesbians, non-Christians, non-whites and many others appeals. Truly: The Prick Santorum voters’ mantra must be: “We love him! He hates everyone we hate!”

Actually, the Repugnican Tea Party presidential race is over. According to The Associated Press, Mittens Romney thus far has more than twice as many delegates as does Prick Santorum, 568 delegates to 273. Newt Gingrich has a paltry 135 and Ron Paul an even paltrier 50, and even if you gave those 185 delegates to Prick, he still would trail Mittens by more than 100 delegates.

The next big state on the Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary season calendar is Wisconsin, which votes on April 3. Even if Prick should eke out a win in Wisconsin (he did win neighboring Minnesota and Iowa, but Mittens won neighboring Michigan and Illinois), Mittens should clean up in April, with several Mittens-friendly states on the calendar, including New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware, and if Mittens actually wins Prick’s home state of Pennsylvania on April 24 — and remember that Prick lost his 2006 U.S. Senate re-election bid in Pennsylvania by 18 percentage points — then we probably will see Prick actually toss his Etch-A-Sketch prop into the garbage for good.

By that time, though, Prick will only have further damaged Mittens, whose lack of charisma, whose alleged opportunistically changing political positions — accurately and fairly or inaccurately and unfairly — are criticized by the members of his own party as well as by the members of the opposing party, and whose exalted status as a multi-millionaire in a nation whose commoners still struggle economically — as well as his membership in the Mormon cult — never made him a strong candidate against Barack Obama anyway.

Still, Mittens is the best that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors have got, which apparently even they increasingly are recognizing, as evidenced by the fact that Mittens these days is polling in the low 40s in the Gallup daily tracking poll, while Prick can’t even break 30 percent.

And most national polls show a much tighter race between Obama and Mittens than they do between Obama and Prick. Even a Faux “News” poll taken earlier this month puts Obama at only four percentage points ahead of Mittens, 46 percent to 42 percent, and a whopping 12 percentage points ahead of Prick. (A Bloomberg poll taken around the same time has Obama and Mittens tied, at 47 percent each, and Obama six percentage points ahead of Prick.)

The good news in all of this is that the “Christo”fascists, with whom the Richie Riches of the old guard Repugnican Party struck an unholy alliance because the 1 percent can’t win elections on their own, these days apparently are more of a drain than a help to the GOP, at least presidentially.

Wild West bullshit needs to be made illegal in all 50 states

I haven’t weighed in yet on the apparent race-based murder of Trayvon Martin —

FILE - This undated file family photo shows Trayvon Martin. Martin was slain in the town of Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26 in a shooting that has set off a nationwide furor over race and justice. Neighborhood crime-watch captain George Zimmerman claimed self-defense and has not been arrested, though state and federal authorities are still investigating. Since the slaying, a portrait has emerged of Martin as a laid-back young man who loved sports, was extremely close to his father, liked to crack jokes with friends and, according to a lawyer for his family, had never been in trouble with the law. (AP Photo/Martin Family, File)

Associated Press image

— the 17-year-old who apparently was gunned down in Florida late last month by a vigilante named George Zimmerman who claims that he shot the black teen in self-defense, even though the teen reportedly was “armed” with only a bag of Skittles and some iced tea.

I will get this out of the way, though: As a blue-eyed white guy, I’m happy that George Zimmerman looks like this:

Handout booking photo of George Michael Zimmerman

Reuters image

— and not, say, something like this:

FILE - In a Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 file photo, Andrew Breitbart attends a news conference, at the National Press Club in Washington. Breitbart, who was behind investigations that led to the resignations of former Rep. Anthony Weiner and former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod, died Thursday, March 1, 2012 in Los Angeles. He was 43. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

Associated Press photo

— or this:

(That’s a photo of the Archie-Bunker-like Andrew Breitbart that was taken before he went to hell early this month and a photo of “Joe the Plumber” and some other yahoo with a dead bear that I found on the Internet. [I’m sure that it was a fair fight with the bear, you know, mano a mano, because those right-wing white guys are so fucking tough!])

Seriously, though, when I read the name “George Zimmerman,” I’d thought that yet another stupid whitey had gunned down someone for the crime of breathing while being brown or black, and I was, admittedly, at least a little relieved to discover that Zimmerman is half-white and half-Latino.

However, that fact is of no consolation to Trayvon Martin’s family, I’m confident, and what can you say about such a senseless slaughter that very apparently was race-based to at least some degree (and probably a large degree)?

The news today on the Trayvon Martin case is that Zimmerman and his family and friends are fearful for his safety, and so he is hiding at an undisclosed location.

Jesus fuck — is this another right-wing attempt to make the victimizer into the actual victim here?

The Trayvon Martin case screams for us to examine (at least these) four social phenomena (in no certain order): The one in which the victimizers claim to be the actual victims; the one in which many right-wing Latinos, perhaps especially in backasswards Florida, think that the ticket to being accepted by whites is to join whites in their oppression of blacks; the one in which armed-and-dangerous fucktards think that it’s OK for them to play cops and robbers with real guns and real bullets; and the phenomenon, the cancer, of the gated community, which is sick and fucking twisted and probably not what Jesus Christ had in mind, that the rich, who can only become rich through exploiting others, should barricade themselves in ritzy neighborhoods while everyone else slowly dies from poverty.

Most of the focus on the Trayvon Martin case seems to be around the race of the slaughtered and the slaughterer, and while of course the evil of racism still is alive and well in 2012 (the incredibly racist “Don’t Re-Nig” anti-Barack-Obama-re-election bumper sticker is one of many examples that I could give), it seems to me that not enough attention is being focused upon the fact that Zimmerman slaughtered Martin while Zimmerman was volunteering on a neighborhood watchThe Associated Press notes that “Martin was shot dead after Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, believed the young man walking through the gated community looked suspicious.”

Since when did neighborhood watches involve vigilantes gunning people down in the streets? 

The American empire indeed is crumbling all around us, but is this what we have come to — the return of the wild West?

States (like Florida and more than a dozen others) that have so-called “stand-your-ground” laws, which allow people to cap other people in the streets willy-nilly — and which make you wonder if certain paranoid, fearful, gun-loving individuals want to find “reasons” to cap other people in the streets willy-nilly — need to repeal these laws voluntarily or the federal government needs to step in and nullify them, as these woefully misguided laws blatantly violate the United States Constitution.

You have the constitutional right to defend your home from actual grave threats (that is, threats that might actually put you in your grave…), and you have the constitutional right to own a gun, but I have the constitutional right to be able to walk down the street without fear of you blowing me away because you, for some fucking reason, deem me to be a “threat.”

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