Tag Archives: Mississippi

Mississippi is still burning

AFP/Getty Images news photo

“President” Pussygrabber appears with appointed Repugnican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith at a rally in Mississippi in October. He stands behind her not only literally but also figuratively.

Some who have read my rants against identity politics might conclude that I don’t take racism and sexism (and other bad -isms) seriously. I do, which is why I have a problem with identity politics, which too often devolves into anti-white racism and misandry, but right now we’re talking about white racism.

We’re talking about Repugnican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who on Tuesday will vie in a run-off election in Mississippi to finish out the U.S. Senate term of Repugnican Thad Cochran, who retired on April 1, citing health issues, and whose unfinished term ends in January 2021.

Upon Cochran’s resignation Hyde-Smith was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Mississippi’s Repugnican governor in April, but she had to face the voters earlier this month in order to keep the seat until it comes up for election again in November 2020. Because no candidate won more than 50 percent in this month’s election, the run-off is on Tuesday.

First, Hyde-Smith drew attention to herself when she said of a political supporter, on video, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

Mississippi had more lynchings than any other state, according to the NAACP, which puts Georgia at No. 2 and Texas at No. 3. Yet Hyde-Smith claimed that “this comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me.” It’s interesting how quickly wingnuts turn from casual victimizers to “the victimized.”

Then came the revelation from the Jackson Free Press, a Mississippi newspaper, that as a high-schooler Hyde-Smith had attended an all-white “segregation academy” whose yearbook was called The Rebel.

The newspaper reports:

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith attended and graduated from a segregation academy that was set up so that white parents could avoid having to send their children to schools with black students, a yearbook reveals.

A group photo in the 1975 edition of The Rebel — the Lawrence County Academy yearbook — illustrates the point. High-school cheerleaders smile at the camera as they lie on the ground in front of their pom-poms, fists supporting their heads. In the center, the mascot, dressed in what appears to be an outfit designed to mimic that of a Confederate general, offers a salute as she holds up a large Confederate flag.

[Here is the yearbook photo the newspaper published:

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith appears third from the right in a 1975 yearbook photo of cheerleaders at Lawrence County Academy. The mascot appears in the middle dressed as a Confederate colonel holding a rebel flag.

Apparently the high-schoolers called themselves “the rebels.” Nice.]

Third from the right on the ground is a sophomore girl with short hair, identified in the caption as Cindy Hyde.

The photo, and the recently appointed Republican senator’s attendance at one of the many private schools that was set up to bypass integration, adds historic context to comments she made in recent weeks about a “public hanging” that drew condemnations from across the political spectrum.

Lawrence County Academy opened in the small town of Monticello, Miss., about 60 miles south of Jackson, in 1970. That same year, another segregation school, Brookhaven Academy, opened in nearby Lincoln County. Years later, Hyde-Smith would send her daughter, Anna-Michael, to that academy.

Hyde-Smith graduated from Lawrence County Academy in 1977, meaning she would have already been in school elsewhere at the time the academy opened.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court ordered public schools to desegregate in 1954 and again in 1955 to do so with “all deliberate speed,” Mississippi slow-walked the integration of its schools as long as possible, trying a variety of “school choice” schemes, state legislation and court cases to stop full integration, including arguing that white kids should not go to school with so-called “genetically inferior” black students. …

The [Lawrence County Academy] yearbook, provided to the Jackson Free Press by a former student who asked not to be named, is one of very few pieces of evidence still available that identify the segregation academy as the recently appointed senator’s alma mater.

While Hyde-Smith regularly touts her subsequent education at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi, her high school has been conspicuously absent from the senator’s official statements, speeches and public biographies. Even her Facebook account suggests her education began with community college. …

Lawrence County Academy shut down in the late 1980s due to dwindling attendance — one of the now-defunct early [segregated] schools that sprang up in response to integration. Among those that survived, though, was Brookhaven Academy, where Hyde-Smith chose to send her daughter, Anna-Michael. …

As many have pointed out, Hyde-Smith might not have had a choice if her parents sent her to the segregation academy, but Hyde-Smith certainly knew what she was doing when she sent her daughter to a segregation academy.

And if there were no shame about having attended the segregation academy, then why does Hyde-Smith never divulge where she went to high school?

Tomorrow, “President” Pussygrabber, who has campaigned for Hyde-Smith before, is to headline two rallies for her in Mississippi.

Andd the Repugnicans complain that their party is so unfairly painted as racist and white supremacist.

No, it simply is that we judge you by the company that you keep.

One of the many reasons that I never vote for a Repugnican is that the party is the party of the former slave states that committed treason when they seceded after the election of Abraham Lincoln (my favorite U.S. president, I’ll add).

Of course, treason wasn’t the slave states’ largest crime; what they did to the black slaves — awful crimes against humanity — was their largest crime.

Any political candidate who associates himself or herself with the Repugnican Party cannot credibly dissociate himself or herself from the stances that the party has taken, which include white racism and white supremacism, anti-labor unionism and pro-plutocracy, misogyny and patriarchy, homophobia, xenophobia, anti-semitism, anti-environmentalism, etc., etc.

The Civil War never really ended, obviously, and we Northerners (literal and philosophical Northerners) must continue to fight it.

In the meantime, on Tuesday Hyde-Smith faces former Democrat Mike Espy, who is a black, and the Mississippi Clarion Ledger notes:

… National Democratic fundraising groups and leaders believe [that Espy] has a chance, especially after recent comments by Hyde-Smith talking about voter suppression and attending a “public hanging.”

They are pumping last-minute cash into the race, as prominent names such as Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker visited to drum up excitement for the former U.S. representative and U.S. agriculture secretary.

The last time a Democrat from Mississippi was elected to the Senate was 1982; the last time a black senator represented Mississippi was shortly after the Civil War.

An Espy win won’t give Democrats control in the Senate, but it could signal a larger political shift in the historically conservative South. Yet Espy often downplays the historic nature of his run.

“I’m proud of that but I’m not dwelling on it,” he said in another recent interview. “I want to be a senator for everyone. I’m trying to get votes from everyone, regardless of race, or age, or gender, or sexual orientation, or disability — or even party. I’m going to Republicans and Democrats talking about the issues that concern them.”

Despite a long-shot bid for any Democrat — Trump won Mississippi by 18 points in 2016 and has endorsed Hyde-Smith — Espy has generated several bursts of national attention and excitement on the campaign trail in recent weeks. Sometimes, they have been thanks to his opponent’s mistakes. …

Yes, but we’re still dealing with the South. In Florida, the purplest of the Southern states, Repugnican Ron DeSantis, running for governor against Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is black, infamously warned the state’s voters not to “monkey this up” by electing Gillum, and DeSantis still won (“won”?).

This Civil War has been a long, hard slog.

P.S. Peter Berkowitz is on the right, but I do agree with this take of his on identity politics (you knew that I couldn’t resist):

… Identity politics … directs students [and everyone else, I’d argue] to think of themselves as members of a race, class, or gender first and primarily, and then to define their virtue in terms of the degree of oppression that they believe the group with which they identify has suffered.

It demotes the individual rights shared equally by all that undergird American constitutional government, while distributing group rights based on its self-proclaimed hierarchy of grievances. It imperiously pronounces collective guilt and summarily rejects appeals. It nurtures a sense of victimhood in those it purports to protect and empower.

In the guise of fighting domination, it aims to impose its will on all. In these ways and more, identity politics trains students [and, again, everyone else] to turn up the heat of the tribalism that threatens to engulf the nation. …

The sister doctrine of intersectionality adds that all crimes and sins committed by the unjustly privileged oppressors — typically white men — are indissolubly connected while righteousness inheres exclusively in the oppressed, comprising people of color and women. … [I]dentity politics affirms that victims are neatly distinguishable from, morally superior to, and entitled to greater political power than, the villains. …

None of this is to minimize what historically oppressed groups — including mine (gay men) — have suffered throughout way-too-often-ugly American history. And I agree with only some of what Berkowitz has to say in his column to which I linked (his advocacy for home-schooling and for charter schools, for instance, I disagree with); and even though I agree with some of his points, which are logical and which jibe with my own observations and experiences, I do question his overall motives, frankly.

But this is to point out that it’s very, very easy, if we let them, for the victims (and the “victims” — that is, those who aren’t actually victimized today but who nonetheless cravenly falsely claim victimization for personal and political gain) to become the victimizers.

When we say that human beings shouldn’t be treated based upon their race or biological sex (or upon other demographics/traits), but upon the content of their character, we mean it or we don’t.

If we oppose oppression only when it’s our own group that’s being oppressed, then we are in the grip of toxic identity politics. And that is worlds apart from the true spirits of diversity and of liberty and justice for all.

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Did Bernie take Michigan today? (Update: YES, HE DID!)

Wow. With 58.1 percent of precincts reporting, Politico right now (at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time) reports that thus far Bernie Sanders is beating Billary Clinton in Michigan’s presidential primary election, 50.6 percent to 47.6 percent.

Billary handily won Mississippi today, of course — again, she’s the Queen of the South — and if Bernie ends up winning Michigan (as I type this sentence, Michigan hasn’t been called yet), today’s results will be in line with the trend that we’ve seen thus far: Bernie winning the Northern, actually Democratic states, and Billary winning the backasswards, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging Southern states — you know, the states where Barack Obama is loathed the most and Donald Trump is loved the most.

This is what the map of the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary race (from Wikipedia) looks like right now:

File:Democratic Party presidential primaries results, 2016.svg

Again, the green states are the states that Bernie has won and the gold states are Billary’s victories.

As I type this sentence Michigan remains shaded in gray, but hopefully the graphic will be updated soon to show it in green.

A victory in Michigan will, I believe, give Bernie momentum going into Illinois, Missouri and Ohio a week from today. Florida also weighs in a week from today, but I expect it to go to Billary, with the rest of the backasswards South. However, should Bernie actually manage to win Florida, then yeah

Update (7:40 p.m. Pacific Time): With 67 percent reporting, per Politico, Bernie maintains a lead of 3.1 percent. If he ends up winning Michigan by around 3 percent, sure, it won’t be a huge win, but it still will be a win. Recall that Billary “won” Iowa by a whopping 0.3 percent and Massachusetts by 1.4 percent, so if we’re going to say that Billary won those states, then we’re going to say that Bernie won Michigan if he beats Billary there by at least that much.

That said, the pro-Billary corporately owned and controlled mass “news” media will widely report, repeatedly, I’m sure, how close Michigan was.

Update (7:55 p.m.): With 72.2 percent reporting, Bernie’s lead is 3.9 percent. My best guess is that he’s going to end up with at least a 3-percent win.

Wow.

Again, this is the guy who long has been “unelectable.” When he hasn’t been slammed, he has been widely ignored, yet thus far he has won nine states, including his presumptive win of Michigan today, to Billary’s 12 (which includes her win today in Mississippi, that bastion of Democratic Party/progressive values and beliefs). And again, Billary “won” Iowa by 0.3 percent, making it pretty much a tie, and she won Massachusetts by only 1.4 percent.

Billary long has been the corporately owned and controlled establishment’s preferred candidate, to be sure, but it’s interesting what can happen once we, the people, actually start to caucus and vote — the way that we want to, not the way that we’re told we “should.” Democracy sometimes can be very disappointing to the powers that be. This is true for both the establishment Democratic and the Repugnican Tea parties this presidential election cycle.

Update (8:10 p.m.): With 80.7 percent reporting, Politico reports that Bernie is up by 2.6 percent. Again, a win for Bernie in Michigan (which I hope he can keep around 3 percent at the least) should be great for his momentum.

Take a look at the results from this Democratic Party presidential primary season thus far and you’ll see that most of the states that Bernie won he won by double digits and that the same goes for most of the states that Billary won.

This indicates to me a bit of a civil war within the Democratic Party. I mean, all of these double-digit differences in most of the states that have voted and caucused thus far are, I think, revealing.

And in this civil war, again, Bernie Sanders very obviously represents the North and its values and beliefs. And again, Billary is the Queen of the South — something of which to be very proud.

Update (8:30 p.m.): Fuck. I’d wanted to be able to go to bed early tonight, but right now Politico reports Bernie at 49.9 percent to Billary’s 48.1 percent, a difference of only 1.8 percent.

Update (8:35 p.m.): Whew. Bernie is back at 50.4 percent to Billary’s 47.6 percent, with 89 percent reporting. I’m kind of attached to Bernie beating Billary in Michigan by at least 2.5 to 3 percent.

Update (8:37 p.m.): They have called Michigan for Bernie. This is great.

Update (8:45 pm.): The maintainers of Wikipedia are fast. Michigan is now showing in green on the map. With 91.6 percent of Michigan’s precincts reporting, we’re standing at Bernie with 50.1 percent to Billary with 48.0 percent right now. Again, I hope that the final tally is closer to a difference of 3 percent.

Update (8:55 p.m.): This is my final update for tonight. It’s enough for now that Bernie Sanders won Michigan!

Of the states that have caucused and voted in the Democratic Party presidential primary season thus far, Michigan has offered the highest number of pledged delegates, after Texas.

It’s true that Bernie and Billary are fairly evenly splitting Michigan’s pledged delegates, but, again, winning Michigan today — having those bragging rights — should give Bernie a significant boost going into Illinois, Missouri and Ohio next week. (I’m confident that he’ll win Ohio and probably Illinois; I’m not as confident about Missouri. I’m most confident about Ohio.)

As I prep for bed, right now Politico reports that with 92.6 percent reporting, we’re at 50.1 percent for Bernie to 48.0 percent for Billary.

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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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Is Mother Earth trying to rid Herself of Repugnicans?

Tropical Storm Isaac hasn’t even become a hurricane yet and has yet to reach Florida, but already Isaac’s ominous approach has induced the Repugnican Tea Party traitors to effectively cancel the first day of their scheduled four-day KKK-like convention in Tampa (Monday).

At this point, I don’t see how Isaac could not ruin the quadrennial KKK convention.

Even if Isaac doesn’t make a direct hit on Tampa, Isaac is expected first to visit the southern tip of Florida as a category-one hurricane late tomorrow night or early Monday morning, and then is expected to make landfall in the Gulf Coast as a category-two hurricane late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, according to AccuWeather.com:

AccuWeather.com image, August 25, 2012

Future Hurricane Isaac is expected to rake the coast of the western portion of Florida and perhaps also the coastal areas of neighboring Southern states Alabama, Mississippi and maybe even Louisiana, which needs another hurricane like Mittens Romney needs another million dollars.

Even if Isaac spares Tampa, I don’t see how the Repugnican Tea Party traitors can continue their convention while a category-two hurricane has just hit the Gulf Coast without looking like the major-league assholes that they are. For that matter, I don’t see how they can even begin their convention belatedly on Tuesday while a category-two hurricane is expected to make landfall in the Gulf Coast in less than 24 hours without looking like the major-league assholes that they are.

I hate it when the wingnuts ascribe catastrophic events (hurricanes, earthquakes, 9/11, etc.) to us homos or to supporters of women’s reproductive-choice rights or the like, but fuck if it doesn’t look like Mother Nature is trying to wipe the planet-killing Repugnican Tea Party traitors off of the face of the planet like a dog trying to rid itself of fleas. It’s like she knew that they were going to be concentrated in Tampa and so she sent Isaac their way.

Maybe Mother Nature finally was sent over the edge when the Mittens Romney/Pretty Boy Paul Ryan team essentially announced in Ohio today that while women may not control their own uteri, they may open their own businesses, because, you see, that’s the only actually important endeavor that there is in this man’s world: making money and perpetuating the evil that is capitalism. (“Women need our help,” Mittens proclaimed in the critically important swing state of Ohio today, but he wasn’t talking about help with women’s reproductive rights or with their equal rights or help caring for their families. He was talking solely about helping them in the business world.)

In all seriousness, the toxic masculine worldview that Team Mittens/Ryan represents has been destroying the planet for some time now, and if it takes some acts of the Goddess to clean the toxic mess up, I’m all for it.

P.S. I noticed this striking paragraph, this interesting tidbit, buried in this Associated Press story on Isaac:

Cuba has a highly organized civil defense system that goes door-to-door to enforce evacuations of at-risk areas, largely averting casualties from storms even when they cause major flooding and significant damage to crops.

Wow. I guess that this is one of the reasons that the wingnuts vociferously slam Fidel Castro’s administration of Cuba: Unlike the “leaders” here in the United States, land of the “free,” Castro actually saves the poor people of his nation from drowning and otherwise dying in hurricanes.

That evil, evil man!

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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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Documentary ‘Bully’ flawed but spurs vital conversation

Film review

review-bully-movie-image-alex

Kelby is one of the bullied students who had a strong family and friend support system in "Bully."

Alex and Kelby, above, are two of the victims of school bullying who are featured in The Weinstein Company’s documentary “Bully.” Alex, who was born prematurely, in the documentary is portrayed as being called “Fishface” and routinely physically assaulted at school and on the school bus, and Kelby left her school because of very apparently coordinated anti-lesbian discrimination. Below is 18-year-old Sawyer Rosenstein (who is not featured in “Bully”), whose school bully put him in a wheelchair when he was 12 years old. Sawyer and his family just settled with the board of the New Jersey school district for more than $4 million. In the settlement the school board denies that the school failed to protect Sawyer, even though its failure to protect him is quite fucking obvious.

The documentary “Bully” should be required viewing for every American, even those who, like me (a gay man), don’t have a son or daughter in a public school and (most likely) never will.

“Bully” is not only about how cruel and abusive some students can be toward other students, but it’s about how chronically victimized students routinely are failed by the adults in their lives who are supposed to foster and to protect them — not just by school teachers and school administrators, but also by their parents.

An assistant principal featured in “Bully” especially is clueless and worthless — she’s a baby boomer, and it’s all about the baby boomers, so there you go.

In one scene, the assistant principal forces the victim to shake the victimizer’s hand, as though that superficial action were any true solution to the long-term problem of the one student chronically bullying the other. The assistant principal in this incident apparently makes the common, unthinking person’s error in basically asserting that whenever there is a conflict, both sides must be equally guilty. (Actually, that bullshit belief just comes out of the sheer laziness to actually sort it all out and see who truly is at fault, but instead to just try to sweep it all under the carpet.)

In another scene, when a couple of parents come to the assistant principal after having viewed actual video footage of their child’s being seriously, violently bullied on the school bus, the assistant principal (again, a baby boomer) surreally manages to make it all about herself, even whipping out a photo of her grandbaby, stating that of course she cares about all of our babies (of course, the student who is being bullied is not an infant).

The assistant principal also declares that she has ridden that bus herself and that there is no problem whatsoever on the bus. Never mind the facts that there is video footage of the serious problems with violent bullying on that bus and that of course the students are going to behave themselves on the bus when the assistant principal is on board.

What the fuck? With brazenly incompetent, self-interested school administrators like these in our schools, administrators who are more interested in playing politics and in portraying a false portrait of how things are rather than actually being responsible to the students in their care, no fucking wonder bullying is such a problem.

It’s not just the school administrators, of course. The United States of America’s number one spending priority is not its schools, but is the bloated-beyond-belief military-industrial complex.

If enough Americans truly cared about what was going on inside our schools, our schools would be much, much better — including being adequately staffed so that incidents of bullying would be reduced significantly. We have the resources to greatly improve our students’ lives; it’s not a lack of resources, but it’s a lack of caring, including a nationwide public apathy that just allows the powers that be to steal our tax dollars and spend them not on what we need, such as good, safe schools, health care and environmental protection, and to take care of the least among us, but to blow our tax dollars on the military-industrial complex, which is not about defense, but which is about making filthy, treasonously rich swine even richer than they already are through such avenues as colossal military contracting waste and waging bogus wars for corporate expansion, such as how Iraq has been opened to the profiteering of Big Oil via the illegal and immoral Vietraq War.

“Bully” raises these important issues, at least indirectly, but as a documentary is flawed.

“Bully” focuses on bullying that has occurred in public schools in the Southern and Midwestern states of Iowa, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Georgia, and ignores bullying that happens elsewhere in the nation. Bullying is a national problem. My guess is that it’s significantly worse in the red states than it is in the blue states, but it happens eveywhere.

“Bully” probably focuses too much on one child, the 12-year-old Alex, who was born prematurely and who, while he’s an affable kid, is different from the others (who call him “Fishface”) and who thus is bullied. That said, Alex’s life is an excellent example of a child who has been failed by most of the adults in his life, not only by his bus driver and his draw-droppingly awful assistant principal, but even by his own father, who advises him to just fight back, even though Alex is fairly slight and probably can’t effectively fight back physically.

Alex’s father tells him that if he doesn’t fight back, his younger sister will be bullied, too — and that’s putting way too much pressure and responsibility upon a minor, and letting the adults continue in their dereliction of duty.

Even Alex’s mother, who apparently is the most genuinely concerned about him, probably should have concerned herself more about what was happening to him at school and on the school bus before she found out through the documentarians’ film footage.

Another flaw of “Bully” is that while we don’t need grotesque details, it sure would be nice to be told in more detail why, exactly, some of the victims of bullying-induced suicide took their own lives. The young man named Tyler, for example. Why was he bullied? Was he gay or suspected to be gay? In “Bully” we are told a lot about Tyler, who hanged himself in his bedroom closet at age 17, but we’re not really told about why he was bullied.

For the most part, “Bully” doesn’t tell us what to think, but lets us come to our own conclusions. The story of Ja’Maya, a black teen who says that she only brought her mother’s handgun with her on her school bus because she wanted to scare the kids who had been bullying her, reeks of racism/white supremacism as we watch yet another stupid white male, baby-boomer sheriff — who perhaps never has been a victim of bullying himself, but perhaps has been a bully his entire life (bullies are, after all, drawn to law enforcement) — declare that no amount of bullying could justify what Ja’Maya did, and we are left with the sense that if Ja’Maya were, say, a white male jock instead of a 14-year-old black female, the “criminal” “justice” system where she lives would have treated her very differently.

Kelby, the 16-year-old lesbian who is featured in “Bully” is eloquent and intelligent and strong, but “Bully” probably doesn’t say enough about the bullying that happens to gay and lesbian and non-gender-conforming students, who comprise probably the most-bullied group of students.

“Bully” should be an invitation for us not only to declare jihad upon bullying in our public schools, but to tackle the bullying that happens in our workplaces as well. In many if not even most workplaces, bullying occurs on a regular basis. The belief that adulthood in and of itself automatically erases the dynamics that we saw in our public school days is a fucking myth.

The perpetrators of bullying in the workplace know better than to get physically abusive/violent in most cases, but verbal abuse/harassment, sexual harassment/sexual abuse and the abuse of power can make the workplace just as hostile as a public school. And just like bullies in school are careful about bullying when no one in authority is present, workplace bullies most often do their deeds when there is no one who might do something about their bullying is around.

Hopefully more documentaries about bullying will be made, although after “Bully,” school administrators might be much less willing to appear on camera.

Stories of bullying abound, such as the current news story about Sawyer Rosenstein, who became paralyzed from the waist down when a bully at school punched him when he was 12 years old. Sawyer, now 18, is in a wheelchair and just settled with the board of the New Jersey public school district for $4.2 million.

Admittedly, most individuals who are punched don’t become paralyzed — Sawyer apparently was the unfortunate victim of a freak medical event (a blood clot) — but Sawyer’s case illustrates how seriously dangerous bullying can be.

At least three months before his bully put him in a wheelchair Sawyer had informed his school’s administrators that he was being bullied, but even after Sawyer’s life-changing injury at the hands of his bully, msnbc.com reports,

The [New Jersey public school district’s] board denied [in its settlement statement] allegations that it or its employees had “failed or compromised its responsibility to develop and to implement effective policies and procedures to protect the safety and rights” of the school community, … noting that the district “prides itself for the role which it has played in recognizing and developing an awareness of the dangers of bullying, intimidation and harassment in the school setting.”

Bullying can’t be addressed if school administrators, in order to save their own skins, won’t even fucking acknowledge it.

It’s our own collective fault, however, that brazenly incompetent and self-interested school administrators like these remain in power and that our schools don’t have more resources, such as adequate staffing to supervise students, to combat bullying.

And until school administrators and teachers stop saying that it’s the parents’ responsibility, and parents stop saying that it’s the schools’ responsibility, and school administrators stop saying that it’s law enforcement’s reponsibility, and law enforcement stops saying that it’s the schools’ responsibility — and all of us (even those of us without children of our own) take responsibility for the well-being of our young people — our public schools will continue to be more like prisons than like places of learning and personal growth.

My grade: B-

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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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