Tag Archives: Ted Rall

Let’s not become just like the fascist terrorists whom we oppose

Updated below (on Wednesday, August 16, 2017)

“No one should get fired for his [or her] political beliefs,” writes fellow leftist Ted Rall in his latest column, adding, “Not even a Nazi.”

“I am disturbed by the news that some of the white nationalists who attended the violent ‘Unite the Right’ hatefest in Charlottesville [this past] weekend are being outed on social media,” Rall continues. “Attendees have been on the receiving end of threats and doxxing. [The definition of doxxing, if you’re not familiar with the term, is here.] It was reported that a restaurant worker in Berkeley was canned after he was exposed on Twitter.”

Indeed, I also found it at least a little disturbing to read in the news that a guy who works (well, worked) at a hot-dog restaurant named Top Dog should lose his job (even if it’s a shit job, as it sounds like it is) not for any violence or other crime that he perpetrated, but for having been present and photographed at a political event.

“Firing a worker for [his or her] politics — especially when those politics are expressed outside the workplace — is McCarthyism. McCarthyism is wrong, McCarthyism is immoral and McCarthyism ought to be illegal,” Rall opines, and I tend to agree.

“Top Dog gets plaudits for firing a fascist; next time, the victim could be a garden-variety Democrat,” Rall reminds us and further reminds us that “Nothing in our outdated Constitution prevents an employer from firing you on account of your politics. In 2004 an Alabama company even fired a woman for having a John Kerry for president bumper sticker on her car.”

The difference, of course, is that someone with a John Kerry bumper sticker is much, much less likely to ever commit violence or otherwise violate another’s rights than is an avowed neo-Nazi, but, as Rall reminds us:

We live in a capitalist society. Except for those born rich, we must work or else starve. The U.S. is the only nation with at-will employment. And jobs are hard to find.

Under these conditions, without workplace free-speech protections, employees must think twice before they attend a rally, post a controversial memo, join a party or slap a bumper sticker on their vehicle.

Are you willing to risk unemployment, poverty and perhaps homelessness — not just you, but also your spouse and children? If the answer is “yes,” God bless you. History is made by people like you.

For many others, though, the answer is “no, I can’t afford free speech.” The upsides of free expression are intangible while the downside risks are terrifyingly brutal. …

The American workplace is a fascist state. It’s time to overthrow the millions of little Hitlers who think the fact that issuing a paycheck turns their employees into slaves subject to thought control.

Just don’t talk about this around anyone who knows where you work.

Rall acknowledges that “A business has the right to control its employees’ behavior in order to protect its image. Particularly in a liberal stronghold like Berkeley, but anywhere really, no one wants a waiter wearing a swastika tattoo or spouting racist views.

“But,” Rall continues, “if Top Dog restaurant can fire a racist dude for racist views he expresses thousands of miles away, there’s nothing to prevent Google from firing a software engineer for sexism — or [your employer from firing] you for whatever you happen to believe.”

We on the left do need to reflect upon our tactics beyond how good they might make us feel in the moment. Our gleefully gathering neo-Nazi scalps might come back to haunt us, as we are persecuted for our own political views in the tit-for-tat punish-people-for-their-political-views-by-making-them-unemployed environment that we have helped to create.

We on the left need to be careful not to become just like the enemy on the right. Firing left-wingers for not toeing the right-wing line long has been an evil tactic of oppression used on the right; they can’t just execute their left-wing employees, so how about trying to destroy them financially? It’s the next best thing!

All of that said, no one who appears in public has the right to privacy. If you participate in a march or protest or gathering of any size in public, there is a good chance that someone will take a photo or photos or video of you, and perhaps post them online, and you can’t claim that your right to privacy has been violated if someone does.

And then, of course, once an image or images of you have been posted online, online warriors on the right or the left can then identify you and out you, including post personal information about you that really is no one’s business.

Unfortunately, that is the risk that we take in a highly polarized political environment in which so much is posted on the Internet.

But still we must think about the long-term consequences of our actions. Because we can do something — and because others are doing it or because we figure that if we don’t do it, someone else probably will anyway — doesn’t mean that we should do that thing.

What of the young man who lost his probably-minimum-wage job? Has his job loss at the hands of the left taught him something valuable? Is it more likely that his job loss and public shaming will only entrench him further in his neo-Nazi views or that it actually will make him rethink his political views and how they might harm others?

Since the intention very apparently was not to induce him to see the error of his ways but only was to harm him in a retaliatory spirit and then to wave his scalp online for all to see — the person who outed him via the very presidential medium of Twitter bragged, “the first person I exposed no longer has a job” — I don’t see that the tactic will result in his rehabilitation.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a real problem with the neo-Nazis. The mere sight of the Confederate flag makes me viscerally fighting mad; my feeling is that that symbol of treason, oppression and hatred should not be displayed in public.

But many if not perhaps even most of these neo-Nazis are salvageable. Most of them are young and misguided and, let’s face it, frightened and socially awkward, and most of them are in the same boat as are most Americans, like the guy who probably wasn’t exactly getting rich working at a hot-dog restaurant.

When and if the neo-Nazis physically harm others, such as the young man who ran many people down with his car on Saturday, killing one young white woman who had been a supporter of social justice and of Bernie Sanders* — and the young man very apparently** has significant mental-health problems, as you very probably have to have to be able to mow people down in your car –– then we must process them as the criminals that they are, but if we can prevent them from getting to that point in the first place, then we should.***

And my best guess is that going after their livelihoods isn’t going to rehabilitate them, but is only going to make them worse.

P.S. The Associated Press reports that around the nation Confederate statues are being removed from public spaces, voluntarily and involuntarily, and that’s a great thing.

Again, these statues glorify hatred, oppression and treason, and tax dollars should not pay for that, and nor should anyone have to see these monuments to hatred, oppression and treason (or the Confederate flag, which symbolizes the same things) in public spaces.

Hate speech (including, of course, symbolic speech like flags and statues), speech that exists largely if not primarily in order to terrorize others (usually already oppressed minorities) isn’t, in my book, free speech. Hate speech isn’t speech that is meant to express ideas or used as artistic expression; hate speech is speech that is weaponized.

Update (Wednesday, August 16, 2017): The Associated Press reports:

The president of the University of Nevada, Reno says a UNR student who gained notoriety for rallying with white nationalists in Virginia will not be expelled or lose his university job.

Peter Cytanovic, who also goes by the name Peter Cvjetanovic, was photographed with a group of demonstrators on Friday carrying a torch on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where a rally turned deadly the next day.

UNR President Marc Johnson said Tuesday the school “unequivocally rejects the positions and ideology” espoused by the white supremacists. But he says UNR also stands for the basic principles of the Constitution, including free speech and the right to peacefully assemble. [Emphasis mine.]

He says campus police and the Office of Student Conduct concluded there is no legal reason to expel Cytanovic or terminate his employment.

Indeed, had UNR expelled Cytanovic or fired him from his university job, he probably would have had a great lawsuit against the university, as it would be the state government of Nevada firing him for having exercised his rights under the First Amendment.

(To my knowledge, while private employers have wide latitude in violating our free-expression rights — and routinely do so with impunity — with government employers it’s something else. However, every employer should have to recognize the rights given to us under the Constitution.)

To my knowledge, there is no evidence that Cytanovic participated in any violence or otherwise broke any law on Saturday, and therefore, as UNR concluded, there was no legal cause to punish him.

We don’t get to try to destroy someone’s life simply because we don’t like his or her viewpoints, although I’m guessing that Cytanovic is now a pariah among his fellow students at UNR.

*Bernie Sanders, unlike neo-Nazi enabler “President” Pussygrabber, whose first, knee-jerk reaction was to stupidly and inaccurately blame “many sides,” Bernie was quick to put the blame where it was due; on Sunday morning, Sanders tweeted, “Our condolences go out to the family of Heather Heyer, who was killed by a terrorist as she protested neo-Nazism and white supremacy.”

**Yahoo! News reports of James Alex Fields Jr., who long has had a fetish for Nazi Germany:

… [Samantha] Bloom, a single mother who is a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair, raised Fields on her own after a drunk driver killed his father, an uncle told the Washington Post.

Records from 911 calls reveal that Bloom had called police at least twice to accuse her then-teenage son of assaulting her and wielding a knife. Records from the Florence Police Department in Kentucky show that Bloom told police in 2011 that Fields, a young teenager at the time, had stood behind her wielding a 12-inch knife. During another 2010 incident, Bloom said that Fields had hit her head and locked her in the bathroom.

Bloom also told police Fields was taking medication to treat temper issues. …

***No, my viewpoint is not that we should coddle them. In fact, my own strong preference is to not have anything to do with anyone who I know is a white supremacist/white nationalist, and I don’t know anyone who is one.

But at the same time, I don’t have to try to identify people online and then ensure that they lose their jobs.

I don’t have to associate with these people, and I don’t, but I don’t have to try to go after their meager livelihoods, either, and I don’t.

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Don’t blame me; I voted for Bernie! (redux) And: DINOs are Bernie blind

Image result for Bernie Sanders crowd

Despite the huge crowds that true populist Bernie Sanders garnered in his campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination (the photo above is from Bernie’s rally in Portland, Oregon, in August 2015) — and despite the fact that Bernie remains the most popular politician on the U.S. national stage today — the Billarybots and the limousine liberals just can’t think of who could or should take on “President” Pussygrabber (or “President” Pence…) in 2020. No fucking wonder the Billarybots and limo libbies, with their political acumen, cost us the election in November.

“If you look at the numbers, Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America – and it’s not even close,” writes The Guardian’s Trevor Timm. “Yet bizarrely, the Democratic party — out of power across the country and increasingly irrelevant — still refuses to embrace him and his message. It’s increasingly clear they do so at their own peril.”

Indeed.

Timm continues (links are Timm’s; my comments are in brackets):

A new Fox News [!] poll out this week shows Sanders has a +28 [percent] net favorability rating among the U.S. population [61 percent in the poll favor Bernie, while only 32 percent disfavor him, so actually, Sanders’ net favorability rating is 29 percentage points], dwarfing all other elected politicians on both ends of the political spectrum. And he’s even more popular among the vaunted “independents,” where he is at a mind-boggling +41 [percent].

This poll is not just an aberration. Look at this Huffington Post chart that has tracked Sanders’ favorability rating over time, ever since he gained national prominence in 2015 when he started running for the Democratic nomination. The more people got to know him, they more they liked him – the exact opposite of what his critics said would happen when he was running against Clinton.

One would think with numbers like that, Democratic politicians would be falling all over themselves to be associated with Sanders, especially considering the party as a whole is more unpopular than the Republicans and even Donald Trump right now. [Emphasis mine.]

Yet instead of embracing his message, the establishment wing of the party continues to resist him at almost every turn, and they seem insistent that they don’t have to change their ways to gain back the support of huge swaths of the country. …

Well, indeed, for most members of the Democratic Party establishment, they’ve been using the party not to benefit the highest number of other human beings that’s possible (which is the credo and the modus operandi of true progressivism), but to benefit themselves. They’re addicted to that self-serving power, and they’re not going to give it up any year soon.

The solution?

In a recent column, leftist Ted Rall posits that the Democratic Party could split into two parties — into actual Democrats, that is, those of us who actually are progressive, and the remnants of the center-right, sellout, corporate-ass-licking, Repugnican-Lite, Clinton-Obama Democratic Party.

Rall even suggests a name for us actual Democrats who split off from the current Democratic/Repugnican Lite establishment: the Progressive Party or the New Progressive Party.

Rall notes that of course in the short term, the split of the Democratic Party into two different parties probably would benefit the Repugnican Tea Party. But of course over time the (New) Progressive Party, actually representing the best interests of the majority of the American people for fucking once, probably would siphon off enough support from the Old Democratic Party that the Old Democratic Party over time would wither, dry up and blow away, as things that are irrelevant and obsolete tend to do.

Indeed, my response to the current Democratic/Repugican Lite establishment that tells us actual progressives that we have nowhere else to go is something like this: Fuuuuuck you! We can leave you and form our own party, and then if you want to win any elections, you’ll have to join us, bitches! You’ll have nowhere else to go!

The Democratic Party establishment hates Bernie Sanders because he’s the real deal. He’s not self-serving and he’s not corrupt. He means what he says and he does what he says (thus, he polls better than does any other U.S. politician on the national stage), which is something that the Democratic Party establishment stopped doing decades ago.

Bernie, because he is so beloved by the American electorate, is an existential threat to the continuation of the Democratic establishment’s continued power. Of course they shun him.

Of course it’s not just about Bernie, but it’s about what he represents: actual populism, not the bullshit Pussygrabber “populism,” which, with “President” Pussygrabber’s cabinet of billionaires and insane proposed federal budget that benefits only the war profiteers, makes the poor even poorer and the filthy rich even filthy richer. That’s not populism; that’s the status fucking quo (which, under a President Billary, wouldn’t have budged any more than it did under Barack Obama).

I still feel about “President” Pussygrabber now as I did when he “won” the election in November: It’s too bad that he “won,” but he “won” because the Democratic Party establishment (including the slimy members of the “neutral” Democratic National Committee, including then-DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who resigned in disgrace after their anti-Bernie e-mails were publicly released) fucked over the more popular and the more viable candidate — Bernie Sanders, who all along polled better against Pussygrabber than Billary Clinton did (see more on this fact here and here) — and instead backed the unlikable, corrupt Billary, who is so unlikable that in 2008, Barack Obama, who at that point in time had been in the U.S. Senate for only four years, beat her for the Democratic Party presidential nomination even though she’d been on the national political scene since the early 1990s.

Abject, intractable Democratic establishment stupidity and stubbornness were at least as much a factor in Pussygrabber’s “win” as were white racism or Russia’s interference, I am confident.

But of course I don’t expect the prideful Billarybots ever to admit that they, with their stubborn, mind-blowing stupidity in making an individual whose favorability ratings all along were in the negative* their presidential candidate, were instrumental in bringing us “President” Pussygrabber.

That’s why I’m fully on board with Ted Rall’s idea of the Democratic Party splitting into two and letting survival of the political fittest take its course.

At this point I’m thinking that that’s probably the only way to drive a stake through the cold hearts of the DINOs for once and for all.

Not that it would be easy.

To give just one example, limousine liberal Bill Maher and his limousine liberal guests on his show this past Friday night (Andrew Sullivan and the even worse Barney Frank, who is a huge DINO sellout) all claimed that they just couldn’t think of someone who could take on “President” Pussygrabber in 2020 (assuming that he’s still there, of course).

Shall we call these mindlessly obedient Billarybots Bernie blind?

In the 2016 presidential contest Bernie kicked ass, with higher favorability ratings than both Billary and Pussygrabber ever garnered during the campaign — both Billary and Pussygrabber were historically disliked presidential candidates in 2016 — and Bernie remains the most liked politician on the national stage right now, yet the limousine liberals and other Billarybots just can’t think of who could or should run for president in 2020.

All signs point to the probability that the limo libbies and the Billarybots don’t want actual progressivism in the United States of America, because it would threaten their privileged status, their status in which they pay lip service to progressivism but actually live their over-privileged lives in an entirely other way.

We true progressives face a war on two fronts: against the Repugnican Tea Party traitors and the DINO traitors who want to continue their center-right, self-serving, sellout bullshit — which no longer wins elections because we commoners are on to them — in perpetuity.

If we progressives want to win the war, me must dissociate ourselves from the DINOs, who only want to take us down with them.

P.S. In case you are wondering how Billary Clinton’s favorability rating is doing these days, well, they’re not polling much on her since she lost/“lost” the presidential election, but a recent Suffolk University poll has her still significantly under water — 35 percent approval to 55 percent disapproval, a hole of -20.

Billary apparently never got a post-election sympathy boost.

In the Suffolk University poll, Pussygrabber, Mike Pence and the Repugnican Tea Party as a whole all fare better than both Billary and the Democratic Party as a whole. (Bernie Sanders was not in the poll.)

*Billary Clinton’s net unfavorable/negative ratings began in April 2015 and persisted all the way through the November 2016 presidential election. See her favorability timeline here.

As Trevor Timm eluded to, it was very different for Bernie Sanders; the more people got to know him, the more they liked him. Bernie Sanders saw nothing but growing net favorable/positive ratings from July 2015, when people were starting to get to know him, all the way through the November 2016 presidential election. See his favorability timeline here.

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No! Not you, Syed!

Updated below (on Saturday, December 5, 2015)

Above is a selfie that 28-year-old Syed Farook had posted on Facebook sometime before he perpetrated yesterday’s gun massacre in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people in what appears thus far to have been an act of workplace-related violence. While the right wing, which pretty much ignored the recent act of domestic terrorism committed at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs (since the terrorist is a white, probably “Christian” man), will be all over this gun massacre, a look at the gun massacres committed in the United States since 1984 shows that the majority of the perpetrators have been white, native-born males, most of whom probably have self-identified, along with the majority of Americans, as “Christian.”

I was disheartened yesterday when I saw the name of the suspect in yesterday’s gun massacre of 14 people at a county-government holiday party in San Bernardino: Syed Farook.

Sounded awfully Muslim to me, and Muslims (along with “the illegals” from south of the border) already have been turned into scapegoats for all of the United States of America’s problems as it is.

Details will continue to roll in, but the Los Angeles Times reports today:

As authorities continued to comb through the home of the husband and wife responsible for a mass shooting at a San Bernardino holiday party, investigators and legislators from California to Washington, D.C., tried to understand what motivated the shooters.

Speaking at the White House [this] morning, President Obama said the FBI was now leading the probe into the attack at the Inland Regional Center, which left 14 people dead and 17 wounded.

Investigators have yet to rule out terrorism as a motive, but police have also said one of the shooters, 28-year-old Syed Farook, was involved in a dispute at the party shortly before gunfire broke out. Farook and his wife, 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a gun battle with police hours after the shooting.

“We do know that the two individuals who were killed were equipped with weapons and appeared to have access to additional weaponry at their homes,” Obama said. “But we don’t know why they did it. We don’t know at this point the extent of their plans. We do not know their motivations.”

Farook and Malik were identified as the lone suspects in Wednesday’s shooting at the party for employees of the San Bernardino County Health Department. Farook was born in Illinois, but recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a woman he met online. He had worked at the health department as an inspector for five years.

Malik was born in Pakistan, according to a federal law enforcement source who requested anonymity.

The couple left their young daughter with the child’s grandmother in Redlands shortly before the shooting, saying they had a doctor’s appointment, according to Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles.

They headed to the [Inland Regional Center] soon after. …

Farook and Malik used a pair of .223-caliber assault rifles and two semi-automatic handguns in the shooting, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said [today].

The couple was dressed in “assault-style” clothing when police closed in on their Redlands home Wednesday afternoon, roughly four hours after the shooting. The couple fled, sparking a vehicle pursuit that ended back in San Bernardino. Both were killed in a shootout that involved roughly 20 police officers.

An officer was also hurt, but is expected to survive, Burguan said.

In San Bernardino, relatives of the victims were still trying to process how an event meant to celebrate a holiday turned into a bloodletting. …

It’s safe to conclude that Syed Farook was off of his rocker. My best guess is that his wife was following his lead, that he had her under his control. This tends to be a cultural thing in Islam: the submissive, obedient wife. (Keep in mind that Tashfeen Malik reportedly was born in Pakistan and met Farook in Saudi Arabia; she apparently was not Americanized.)

How much of the shooting (if any) that Farook’s wife did I’m not sure; I mean, it initially was reported that there were three shooters, and it turns out that there apparently were only two, so I have no idea as to what extent Malik participated.

Since Farook reportedly shot up his workplace’s holiday party after a dispute at the party, this (thus far, anyway) is indicative of workplace-related violence, not of terrorism. Terrorism has a political aim.

Robert Lewis Dear, for instance, is said to have muttered something about “baby parts” after he shot up the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and is reported to have made anti-abortion and anti-government statements to law enforcement officials since he committed the act of terrorism. No doubt he listened to right-wing rhetoric, such as Faux “News” and the rhetoric of the Repugnican Tea Party “presidential” candidates themselves, the most guilty one probably Carly Fiorina, who probably knowingly falsely described abortion videos during one of the neo-Nazis’ “presidential” debates.

(Yes, lies uttered by high-level individuals can result in harm. We are responsible for what we say, especially when we have a large audience. I highly recommend Ted Rall’s recent column on this topic.)

Again, my best guess is that Farook had some screws loose. That said, native-born, “normative” Americans almost always claim that they always have treated every co-worker (or fellow student or other comrade) who is odd or different perfectly well, especially after a chronically mistreated co-worker (or fellow student or other comrade) finally snaps and goes postal, as it were.

We don’t know how Farook acted in the workplace and how his co-workers treated him. Someone with mental illness can’t handle workplace mistreatment as well as can someone who is fairly mentally healthy.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s possible that Farook was a paranoid schizophrenic or something like that and that his co-workers did treat him fairly well, but I wouldn’t rule out that he chronically was mistreated for being different, such as for being Muslim, for having a foreign-sounding name, and for having married a woman from the Middle East.

If Farook did experience anti-Muslim treatment at his workplace, perhaps especially after the Paris terrorist attacks of last month, well, there you go. That could set off someone who already isn’t mentally stable.

I recall the November 2009 gun massacre at Ford Hood, Texas, in which Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan claimed that anti-Muslim harassment at the base contributed to his rampage in which he slaughtered 13 and injured 32 others.

Those who knew Hasan described him as a nice, quiet man. But we don’t know what abuse he probably endured within the right-wing atmosphere of the U.S. military (and our military pretty much is overrun with “Christo”fascists, who love guns and killing more than they love “God”), since abusers are pretty good at perpetrating their abuse when they feel safe to do so, when no one in authority who might do anything about it is around (this is for “plausible” deniability, of course).

American wingnuts, especially in Texas, were outraged when the federal government decided to treat the case of Hasan as a workplace violence incident rather than as an act of terrorism — because Hasan (who is still alive and in prison) is Muslim. This reaction of theirs (their assertion that any act of violence perperated by a Muslim automatically qualifies as “terrorism” because the perpetrator is Muslim) demonstrates, I believe, the anti-Muslim sentiment and harassment that Hasan claims he experienced (I believe him that he experienced such harassment, especially at a U.S. military base in Texas).*

Similarly, thus far in the Syed Farook case the only evidence that we have is that this was an incident of workplace-related violence. As Farook and his wife are dead, we may never know for certain his entire motives, and thus we may never be able to conclude whether or not yesterday’s massacre was even quasi-terrorism instead of an extreme act of workplace violence.

While this latest American gun massacre was committed by a Muslim, for perspective you should take a look at the Los Angeles Times’ ongoing roundup of American gun massacres since 1984.

You’ll see that most perpetrators of gun massacres in the U.S. of A. are native-born males, most of them white, and that most massacres take place at workplaces and at schools, such as the infamous Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999, with the rest at public places, such as churches, such as the church in Charleston, S.C., where young white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof this past June shot nine congregants to death because they were black.

The moral of the story for workplace and school shootings, I think, is not to bully or pile on a co-worker or a fellow student (or a fellow member of the military or anyone else); it can have deadly consequences (maybe even for yourself).

Again, some people are wholly off of their rockers and can come to believe that they are being mistreated when on the whole they’re not, but often we do mistreat others, and that mistreatment can send someone who already isn’t very stable over the edge.

And let’s face it: We Americans by and large are a selfish, individualistic lot. When we see that someone is struggling, we don’t do much, if anything, to help him or her. After tragedy strikes, we plead ignorance that there had been any problem at all.

I have no desire to launch into a tiresome, trite discussion of gun control right now. While I don’t like guns and never plan to own one (but in general begrudgingly support the Second Amendment, keeping in mind that today’s incredibly lethal weaponry wasn’t around when the amendment was adopted), the underlying problem, it seems fairly clear to me, is that in this “Christian” nation we largely treat each other like shit — and we glorify violence.

(Militarism, along with capitalism and other evil -isms, has come to be considered part and parcel of American “Christianity,” even though the words of Jesus Christ contained in black and white in the Bible oppose such evils as militarism and capitalism; Jesus eschewed capitalism, having been homeless himself and having stated, among other things, that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, and Jesus was, of course, murdered by Roman militarism. Yeah.)

We can talk about gun control until we pass out from hypoxia, but until and unless we examine and then change our ways at a deep, deep level, the L.A. Times’ ongoing roundup of American gun massacres is only going to continue to grow.

We are, I surmise, perfectly OK with that, however, because these gun massacres keep happening at a rate at which they happen in no other developed nation on the planet.

Update (Sunday, December 5, 2015): 

Boy, we really, really want the San Bernardino massacre to have been an “Islamo”fascist “terrorist” attack, don’t we?

So all that we have is that Syed Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik, pledged her allegiance to ISIS — on her Facebook page. Wow. There is no evidence that the folks who run ISIS were even aware of the existence of Farook and Malik, so we can’t call the San Bernardino massacre a “terrorist” attack if by that we mean that we have evidence of coordination by the perpetrator(s) with a known terrorist group, such as ISIS.

I mean, fuck: I can pledge allegiance to Satan on my Facebook page if I so wish; it would mean pretty much nothing.

As Vox.com points out, “the fact that Farook used to work in the same government department as the targets suggested a more personal motive.”

Yup. This still looks more like an incident of workplace-related violence than of “terrorism,” even though, per the New York Times, Malik reportedly made her pledge-of-allegiance-to-ISIS Facebook post on the day of the massacre. She was 27; perhaps she figured if she was going to go out in her husband’s workplace revenge, she’d go out dramatically. Young adults sometimes do things like that.

Recall that I have defined “terrorism” as the use of violence or the (credible) threat of the use of violence in order to achieve a political aim or goal.

Shortly after his capture, Robert Lewis Dear, the perpetrator of the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, is reported to apparently have talked about preventing there being more “baby parts.” His aim, apparently, was to harm Planned Parenthood and its operations and/or scare women from seeking Planned Parenthood’s services.

That is a political aim and so it qualifies as terrorism.

Even Dylann Storm Roof, who slaughtered nine black people in their church in Charleston, S.C., in June, apparently had a political agenda: white supremacy and, apparently, the elimination of black people; perhaps he even wanted to start a race war, which certainly would qualify as a political agenda.

The political agenda, if any, of Farook and Malik, remains a mystery. Again, it might primarily have been Farook wanting to get back at a co-worker or co-workers, and Malik deciding to pledge her allegiance to ISIS on her Facebook page because why not? Or it might have been both of them fully considering themselves to be big, bad soldiers of ISIS, although there is no evidence that if so, they were anything other than so-called lone wolves.

And what, exactly, would be the political objective of shooting up your workplace’s holiday party? To shut down holiday parties? I don’t see a political objective, and thus it’s hard for me to see where my definition of terrorism would come in here. (Perhaps a “political objective” could be just killing any old “infidel,” but if so, that seems to be a very sloppy and unfocused, and therefore a fairly ineffective, political objective.)

We’ll probably never fully know what Farook and Malik had in mind, since both of them are dead.

But let’s not automatically call something “terrorism” just because it was perpetrated by a Muslim or Muslims. Words have meaning.

Thus far, we can call the San Bernardino massacre a massacre. We can call it murder. We can call it mass murder. But we don’t have nearly enough evidence to slap the overused “terrorism” label on it.

P.S. I just read a Reuters news article in which I found two notes interesting.

The first: “It was not clear if the [Facebook] comments were posted by Malik, or by someone with access to her page.” So even Malik’s Facebook pledge of allegiance to ISIS apparently is not settled fact.

And the second: “Farook family attorneys denied [yesterday that] there was any evidence either the husband or wife harbored extremist views.

“They described Malik as ‘very conservative,’ and said Farook also largely kept to himself, had few friends, and that co-workers sometimes made fun of his beard.”

The report that Farook’s “co-workers sometimes made fun of his beard” is not elaborated upon, but again, I have to wonder if he was subjected to anti-Muslim taunts from his co-workers, which might have been behind to shoot them up at their holiday party.

(No, I’m not saying that it’s OK to shoot someone who has taunted you; I’m saying that people usually act for a reason.)

Finally, while reportedly ISIS in its online propaganda claims that Farook and Malik acted on its behalf, there remains no evidence that there was any coordination between Farook and Malik and ISIS, and it’s entirely possible, it seems to me, that ISIS is happy to claim credit for any slaughter of any “infidel.”

P.P.S. (Sunday, December 6, 2015): This additional information from the Los Angeles Times:

… In 2014, Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia to marry a Pakistani woman he had met online, Tashfeen Malik, 29. When he returned, his co-workers teased him about the beard he’d started to grow. Before their baby girl was born this year, they threw him a baby shower at the office. But they never met Malik. …

One of Farook’s co-workers, Nicholas Thalasinos, 57, a Messianic Jew, wore a tie clip with the Star of David. He was outspoken against Islamic extremism, in person and on social media.

Two weeks earlier, he and Farook argued over whether Islam was a violent religion. Recounting the conversation to a friend, Thalasinos said that Farook insisted his God was peaceful but argued that Israel had no place in the Middle East.

Thalasinos liked discussing such topics. There was no indication that their interaction was anything out of the ordinary. …

That Farook’s co-workers threw him a baby shower, as widely has been reported, doesn’t exactly mean that they were all angels to him all the time, and I have to wonder if the reportage about Thalasinos’ religious commentary at the workplace has been understated.

I mean, reportedly “He was outspoken against Islamic extremisim, in person and on social media,” yet “There was no indication that their interaction was anything out of the ordinary.” (As I’ve noted, after tragedy strikes a group of people, everyone pretends like there was no conceivable precursor to it whatsoever. And they apparently search their memories for one nice thing that was done, such as a baby shower, to exculpate the entire group from any responsibility for the tragedy whatsoever.)

I don’t know — one worker slamming a co-worker’s religion isn’t out of the ordinary? It’s acceptable? If the target is Muslim? It isn’t harassment? It doesn’t create a hostile workplace environment? One’s religion is a federally protected class, such as one’s race, one’s sex and one’s national origin, from workplace discrimination.

Tellingly, methinks, Thalasinos was one of the 14 people killed in the massacre.

*Interestingly, there was yet another apparent case of workplace violence at Fort Hood in April 2014. In this gun massacre, four people, including the shooter, an enlisted soldier named Ivan Lopez, were killed.

Because Lopez was not (to my knowledge) a Muslim, no one, to my knowledge, has asserted that this was “terrorism.”

There has been, I suspect, a problem at Fort Hood of military personnel who aren’t white, “normative” Americans being harassed by those who are.

Continuing to blame the victims of harassment and to pretend that we were wholly innocent in our treatment of them will only ensure that these massacres continue to happen.

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No, Bernie wasn’t trying to save Billary

Bernie Sanders Does Not Care About 'Your Damn Emails,' Hillary Clinton

The sleazy Billary Clinton was only too happy to believe (mistakenly) that Bernie Sanders was dismissing her e-mail scandal altogether — he wasn’t; he was only trying to put it into universal perspective — and Sanders, immersed in the shallow, rapid-fire, infotaining, sound-bite-frenzied environment, apparently was unable to prevent his intent from immediately being twisted into something that it never was. It was, however, his first live-televised debate on the national stage, and she’s a veteran slime-weasel.

The American people’s attention deficit disorder is worse than I’d thought. The buzz after last night’s Democratic Party presidential debate is that Bernie Sanders was defending Billary Clinton in E-mailgate. He wasn’t. Clearly.

It’s that CNN and the rest of the establishment weasels are so quick to bow down before Queen Billary that Sanders’ rather obvious actual point got lost. Immediately. This is the transcript of the exchange (from the Washington Post’s full transcript of the debate):

CLINTON: … But tonight, I want to talk not about my e-mails, but about what the American people want from the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: Let me say this.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me say — let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Thank you. Me, too. Me, too.

SANDERS: You know? The middle class — Anderson, and let me say something about the media, as well. I go around the country, [I] talk to a whole lot of people. [The] middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United. Enough of the e-mails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.

(APPLAUSE) …

Why were Sanders’ words interpreted as a save for Billary Clinton? For a few reasons. One, given her prematurely enthusiastic response, obviously she welcomed such a “save”; when Billary immediately but incorrectly interpreted Bernie’s words as a more or less full pardon for E-mailgate from her strongest rival, she was downright giddy.

Pretty much every time that a fair criticism of her was brought up in the debate, Billary uttered some attempted deflection like, “But tonight, I want to talk not about my e-mails, but about what the American people want from the next president of the United States.” (Something that this American person wants in the next POTUS is that he or she does not run a home-brewed e-mail server from his or her home basement. Um, yeah.)

Other such deflections by Billary from one of her other top flaws — that she voted for the unelected Bush regime’s Vietraq War in 2002 — were that she’d already covered this topic in the 2008 primary debates and that Barack Obama had chosen her as his secretary of state, so how poor could her judgment be? (Um, she was chosen as SOS primarily for political reasons, I’m confident. I mean, I’ve had a problem with Obama’s past apparent comparisons of himself to Abraham Lincoln, but Lincoln did apparently believe in keeping his enemies/frenemies close.)

So Billary needed and wanted a save from E-mailgate, and when Bernie prefaced his point with “let me say something that may not be great politics,” the desperate Billary, as did pretty much the entire punditry and the rest of the nation, took it as Bernie throwing her a life preserver.

Bernie then said, turning to Billary, “I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.”

I’m pretty sure that Billary orgasmed at that moment, and that moment immediately was interpreted, quite incorrectly, as Bernie having dismissed E-mailgate altogether. But that fairly obviously not only was not what he actually said, but was not his point, because he then immediately followed that with:

You know? The middle class — Anderson [Cooper, the moderator], and let me say something about the media, as well. I go around the country, [I] talk to a whole lot of people. [The] middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United. Enough of the e-mails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.

But Americans don’t want to talk about the real issues. The real issues are boring. They require research. And thought. And once we’re fully aware of a big problem, we then have the moral obligation to try to solve it. And that’s work. And work is hard. And usually not fun.

Bernie wasn’t saying that E-mailgate is not a problem whatsoever. He was putting it into perspective: “[The] middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United. Enough of the e-mails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.”

After the debate, Bernie was interviewed live by CNN at the locale of the debate and he stated that his one (or largest, anyway) regret about the debate is that the topic of income inequality didn’t get enough play.

Bernie apparently is just sick and tired that relatively minor issues like Billary’s e-mail habits are discussed instead of much bigger problems, such as climate change and the income inequality that has only grown since the Reagan years.

However, because Americans, including, of course, the punditry class (who personally benefit from continued income inequality), don’t want to talk about these huge problems, the narrative became that Bernie saved Billary from her e-mail scandal. Even my fellow leftist Ted Rall, with whom I usually agree, wrote of last night’s debate:

… It’s fun to watch rivals making nice. Party unity is swell. Who knows, maybe Bernie really does think Emailgate is no big deal. But I think it was a mistake.

First and foremost, the investigation has just begun. It isn’t wise to defend someone before all the facts are in, especially when that person’s resume is punctuated by multiple scandals.

Also, I take offense at the argument that, because the American people don’t care about an issue, that it ought not to be discussed (assuming that it is true that voters are tiring of the coverage, which may or may not be the case). Americans don’t care much about drones, the NSA, or turning Libya into a failed state (which Hillary helped do), or Guantánamo. Should we ignore those issues? Leadership is in large part about pointing to a problem and convincing people why they should care and what we should do to fix it.

For me, and I suspect many other non-Republicans, Emailgate points to a problem with Hillary Clinton’s ability to make judgment calls. She knew, in 2009 when she began as secretary of state, that she would soon run for president. Given that the GOP always targets her, it’s crazy that she didn’t play everything by the book. Examined along with her vote in favor of invading Iraq — another bad political decision since it was obvious to everyone intelligent that the war would go badly for the U.S. — it raises serious questions about Clinton’s fitness for the presidency and, as such, should not have prompted a full-throated defense from her chief rival.

Again, Bernie never stated that “E-mailgate is no big deal.” He only tried to put it into perspective — a bit inartfully. He had started to talk about the media, and had he fleshed that thought out, he’d have pointed out that the media love to report on juicy scandals, such as home-brewed e-mail servers, especially when they involve someone like perpetual scandal magnet Queen Billary Clinton, and that reportage on this partisan bickering (such as with E-mailgate and “Benghazigate”) eclipses our much larger problems, such as climate change and income inequality, both of which continue to worsen even as I type this sentence.

I agree wholeheartedly with Rall that “Emailgate points to a problem with Hillary Clinton’s ability to make judgment calls” and that “Examined along with her vote in favor of invading Iraq — another bad political decision since it was obvious to everyone intelligent that the war would go badly for the U.S. — it raises serious questions about Clinton’s fitness for the presidency.”

But for Rall to characterize Sanders’ words as “a full-throated defense” of Billary’s e-mail habits contradicts the words that Bernie actually spoke.

It’s that at a forum that was very deferential to Queen Billary (as Jim Webb complained, she was allowed to speak far more than was anyone else), a forum sponsored by the Clinton-friendly CNN before a largely Clinton-friendly live audience, and in a fast-moving, fairly shallow discussion meant much more to evoke more sound bites for an insatiably starving, zombified corporately owned and controlled mass media than to evoke anything remotely resembling actual thought, Bernie’s intent immediately got lost in the shuffle and then conveniently was corporately repackaged into something that it apparently never was intended to be: “a full-throated defense” of Billary against E-mailgate.

Rall notes that Sanders “clearly was off balance,” and it’s true that Sanders didn’t bring up everything that he could and should have in the debate, as Rall notes in his thoughtful-as-usual commentary. If I had helped Bernie prep for the debate, for instance, in response to Billary’s predictable criticism of him not being good enough on gun control, I’d have encouraged him to point out that his home state of Vermont, which he has represented in Congress since the early 1990s, has fewer gun murders per capita than does any other state except New Hampshire. (Vermont has 1.1 gun murders per 100,000 residents. New Hampshire has 1 per 100,000 residents.)

So when Bernie asserted during the debate last night that gun control is more of an issue for urban areas than for largely rural areas like Vermont, he was correct. Billary was, in her criticism of him, quite wrong, as she so often is on topics that matter.

I’d say that Bernie was a little off balance last night. He made no huge, Prick-Perry-level debate blunder, but he did make a few minor stumbles. But, um, it was his very first nationally televised debate. Billary Clinton is a highly polished liar. She’s been lying, minimizing, deflecting, flip-flopping, triangulating (like her hubby), blaming others, playing the feminism card, playing the victim card, etc., etc., on the national stage at least since the early 1990s. She’s a mega-ultra-slimebag/weasel, whereas Bernie Sanders is a bit of a wonky nerd.*

And Bernie can try to save us from ourselves, but in the end, we have to want to save ourselves.

That Bernie’s admonishment that we pay so much attention to things such as E-mailgate at the expense of larger issues such as “massive wealth and income inequality” and “whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United” fell flat because we’d much rather talk about how “Bernie saved Billary last night at the debate” isn’t Bernie’s fault. It’s ours.**

P.S. In the end, although Bernie prefaced his remarks by saying that they “may not be great politics,” I don’t think that it hurt Bernie, politically, to demonstrate that he wasn’t going to pile upon Billary, which is what I believe he meant to say that so many believe is “great politics.”

Not only could Bernie use a chunk of Billary’s supporters to switch to his team — which he won’t accomplish by alienating them too much — but Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee (and, to a lesser extent, Jim Webb) did plenty of piling upon Billary, which was wholly deserved, but which also made them look desperate because they’re losing (because they are — look at their polling) and which made them look like typical — not visionary — politicians.

I have questioned Bernie’s tactic of remaining above typically dirty politics, but it has gotten him this far, and he never was supposed to have gotten this far.

*I agree with Sanders wholeheartedly that the United States can match the level of socioeconomic success that some European nations have, and that it’s only a capitalism that has eaten itself that has prevented the U.S. from matching those nations’ success, but Team Bernie perhaps does need to think about how it comes off for him to so often rattle off such phrases as “countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway,” as he did last night.

Both moderator Anderson Cooper and Billary Clinton (like snarky junior-high-school students) quickly criticized Sanders’ mention of Denmark — as Stephen Colbert did during a chat with Sanders not long ago (Colbert was much funnier when he did it, but I still found his joke to be a bit disappointing, coming from him) — and while Sanders is correct on this issue, in politics (if you want to win elections) you sometimes have to bow to political realities, such as that Americans are xenophobic and jingoistic and anti-intellectual, and so they don’t want to hear about Denmark…

If Sanders insists on continuing to bring up Denmark — and I suspect that he does and that he will — that won’t sway me away from him one iota, but again, for the most part he’s not dealing with his intellectual equals, and that’s the political reality that he needs to work with.

**We can blame the media only so much. After all, not only do we allow the corporately owned and controlled media weasels to do as they please, but we don’t even fight the problem of corporately owned and controlled media having a monopoly on so-called “free” speech.

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E-mailgate might give Elizabeth Warren an opening

Hillary Clinton Email Servers Home Scandal Private Email Secretary of State

LegalInsurrection.com image

E-mailgate may not be enough to sink the U.S.S. Billary – and create a fabulous opening for the person who should be the next president of the United States, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren – but the scandal does, at the minimum, demonstrate that Billary Clinton has more baggage than does O’Hare International Airport.

Worse than the fact that Billary never even had a -.gov e-mail address during her tenure as U.S. secretary of state, but used a personal e-mail address instead*, is the fact that Billary’s personal e-mails were stored on her own Internet server entirely under her own control. Reports The Associated Press today (emphases are mine):

Washington — The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own e-mail would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive e-mail practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free e-mail services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their e-mail communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.

In most cases, individuals who operate their own e-mail servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.

Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private e-mail account — hdr22@clintonemail.com, which traced back to her own private e-mail server registered under an apparent pseudonym — for official State Department business.

Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any e-mails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an e-mail server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking. 

But homemade e-mail servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP [yesterday]. Clinton ignored the issue during a speech [last] night at the 30th anniversary gala of EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.

It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private e-mail server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her e-mail server since August 2010.

The Hoteham personality also is associated with a separate e-mail server, presidentclinton.com, and a non-functioning website, wjcoffice.com, all linked to the same residential Internet account as Clinton’s e-mail server. …

E-mailgate indeed speaks to Billary’s respect for transparency, as well as (further) exposes her apparent issues over power and control. I mean, fuck: she eschewed a federal government Internet server for her own Internet server, as though it weren’t about the U.S. government, but were All About Billary.

Further, as fellow left-wing commentator Ted Rall writes (links are Rall’s):

… Under the Federal Records Act of 1950, which has been amended several times, “all government employees and contractors are required by law to make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency.”

During his first full day as president in January 2009, President Obama directed federal agencies to preserve all e-mails relating to government business so that agencies could add them to paper and other non-digital records requested as part of Freedom of Information Act requests, subpoenaed by judges for judicial reasons, and for eventual transfer to the National Archives for study by historians.

Clinton served as Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013. So clearly her e-mails and fell under the purview of the law.

It is difficult to imagine that, as a high-level politician and recent presidential candidate, Clinton was unaware of this requirement. In 2007, the scandal over the Bush administration’s dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys centered around precisely the same issue: the destruction of up to 5 million e-mails authored by Bush administration and Republican Party officials, which were either lost or intentionally deleted because they weren’t sent using government e-mail accounts.

Upon taking charge of the State Department, Clinton made the same exact move as the Bush people caught up in the U.S. attorney scandal two years before. Whereas Bush and Republican party operatives created a private domain, gwb43.com, in order to keep prying Democratic and journalist eyes out of their correspondence, Clinton’s staff registered the domain that she used, clintonemail.com, on January 13, 2009 – one week before Obama’s inauguration, on the day of her confirmation hearings.

Millions of Americans go to work at new jobs where, as part of the standard human resources package, they receive a new company e-mail account. This happens at countless federal, state, and city government agencies as well. For some reason, however, Hillary Clinton not only never used her state.gov e-mail address – she was never issued one. …

Rall later asks in his column, which you should read, “The question isn’t how many e-mails [Billary] has turned over; the question is, where are the rest of them?”

Again, E-mailgate shows us, I think, what Billary is all about: power for power’s sake, and more and more power for herself. (Not that we didn’t already know that.)

Is anyone above Billary? Is she accountable to anyone? I mean, as secretary of state she very apparently violated the directive of her boss, President Barack Obama, regarding the retention of e-mails related to U.S. government business.

We know – we have known for some time now – all that we need to know about Billary Clinton. If we let her into the White House, we’ll get the president that we deserve.

*Here is the New York Times reportage from Monday that brought E-mailgate to light: (emphases are mine):

Washington — Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal e-mail account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Clinton did not have a government e-mail address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal e-mails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal e-mails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of e-mails were given to the department. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.

Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.

A spokesman for Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal e-mail account and said she has been complying with the “letter and spirit of the rules.”

Under federal law, however, letters and e-mails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials.

Clinton is not the first government official — or first secretary of state — to use a personal e-mail account on which to conduct official business. But her exclusive use of her private e-mail, for all of her work, appears unusual, Baron said. The use of private e-mail accounts is supposed to be limited to emergencies, experts said, such as when an agency’s computer server is not working.

“I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal e-mail account for the transaction of government business,” said Baron, who worked at the agency from 2000 to 2013.

Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any e-mails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records. But Clinton and her aides failed to do so.

How many e-mails were in Clinton’s account is not clear, and neither is the process her advisers used to determine which ones related to her work at the State Department before turning them over.

“It’s a shame it didn’t take place automatically when she was secretary of state as it should have,” said Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, a group based at George Washington University that advocates government transparency. “Someone in the State Department deserves credit for taking the initiative to ask for the records back. Most of the time it takes the threat of litigation and embarrassment.”

Blanton said high-level officials should operate as President Obama does, e-mailing from a secure government account, with every record preserved for historical purposes. “Personal e-mails are not secure,” he said. “Senior officials should not be using them.”

Penalties for not complying with federal record-keeping requirements are rare, because the National Archives has few enforcement abilities.

Merrill, the spokesman for Clinton, declined to detail why she had chosen to conduct State Department business from her personal account. He said that because Clinton had been sending e-mails to other State Department officials at their government accounts, she had “every expectation they would be retained.” He did not address e-mails that Clinton may have sent to foreign leaders, people in the private sector or government officials outside the State Department.

The revelation about the private e-mail account echoes longstanding criticisms directed at both the former secretary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for a lack of transparency and inclination toward secrecy.

And others who, like Clinton, are eyeing a candidacy for the White House are stressing a very different approach. Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, released a trove of e-mails in December from his eight years as governor of Florida.

It is not clear whether Clinton’s private e-mail account included encryption or other security measures, given the sensitivity of her diplomatic activity. 

Clinton’s successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, has used a government e-mail account since taking over the role, and his correspondence is being preserved contemporaneously as part of State Department records, according to his aides.

The existence of Clinton’s personal e-mail account was discovered by a House committee investigating the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi as it sought correspondence between Clinton and her aides about the attack. …

As I’ve written before, Benghazigate is bullshit – the Repugnican Tea Party traitors who wish to make the deaths of four Americans in Libya into a huge issue have, puzzlingly, had no problem whatsofuckingever with the deaths of more than 4,000 of our troops in the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War – but it was skeezy of Clinton to use personal e-mail for her public office’s business and then decide which personal e-mails – which very apparently are in her sole possession (with the exception of the recipients of those e-mails) – to ultimately turn over for the record or for any other legitimate purpose.

I am a huge advocate of privacy, and in general I oppose anyone reading anyone else’s e-mails, but most of us never were or ever will be U.S. secretary of state. And Billary apparently did break the law, which apparently her successor John Kerry has not had a problem following.

It’s too early, it seems to me, to know whether or not E-mailgate will grow legs, but for the time being, it seems to me that if E-mailgate is Billary’s biggest scandal between now and 2016 presidential primary season, she probably will be OK in her quest for the White House if she presses on with that quest, as E-mailgate isn’t exactly very sexy. But E-mailgate does demonstrate that Billary is so embattled and so controversial that she might never get to the White House.

And I hope that she doesn’t, of course.

Even if I have to pick between Billary and a Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate on November 8, 2016, at this point – with the Democratic Party having sold out at least since Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office – I can’t see myself ever casting a vote for Billary. I most likely would vote for the Green Party candidate, whoever that is, if my Democratic Party choice for president in November 2016 is Billary.

(Let me remind you that the U.S. president is not chosen by popular vote, but by the Electoral College, and that if Billary is on the November 2016 ballot for U.S. president, she’ll win California and all of its 55 electoral votes, whether I vote or not. [Billary won California over Barack Obama in their protracted fight for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Billary is a DINO sellout, but she wins in California, coasting on her surname.])

I still don’t believe that President Billary is Inevitable. Widespread Billary Fatigue, should Billary win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, just might win the Repugnicans the White House next presidential election, it seems to me, so Repugnican attacks on Billary might backfire on them if Billary doesn’t run after all, if she begins to run but then drops out, or runs but actually is beaten by a challenger, as she was by Obama in 2008.

If a candidate who is stronger than Billary – like, oh, say, Elizabeth Warren (who doesn’t have nearly the amount of baggage and who, entirely unlike Billary, is credible on the issue of boosting the middle class and the working class and tackling the obscene income inequality in the United States) – ultimately is the 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate, the Repugnicans easily could lose the White House that they could have won had it been Billary on the ballot.

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Contexte est tout

On Oct. 1, 2014, the magazine featured Muhammed again.

I’m semi-fluent in Spanish, but know only a handful of words in French. (I’m perfectly OK with that…) So I went to babelfish.com and typed in “Context is everything,” translating it into French. The result, which may or may not be accurate, is the title of this piece.

As I’ve noted, I don’t know much about France, and I’m not a huge Francophile. For every positive thing that we can say about the French, there seems to be an equally off-putting thing that we could say about them. So I have mixed feelings toward the Frenchies, frankly.

Speaking of which, already we’re seeing starkly different depictions of what life is like in France for Muslims, and to be able to comment intelligently on the Charlie Hebdo killings of the past week, we need to understand the context in which they have occurred.

Salon.com’s Andrew O’Hehir, who should know better, essentially white-mansplains in his latest column that Charlie Hebdo was attacked because the “terrorists” hate France for its freedoms! This is the rosy portrait that O’Hehir paints of France:

… Amid its evident difficulties, France remains a peaceful, prosperous and culturally vibrant nation with a relatively well integrated and increasingly secular Muslim minority. (As has been widely reported, one of the police officers killed on Wednesday was a Muslim.) That model of democracy — or perhaps we should say that possibility — is exactly what came under attack from the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Their aim was to pry open that model at a tender spot, expose its contradictions and undermine its stability. …

Again, this is analogous to the post-9/11 bullshit American claims of “They [those “evil” Muslims, of course] hate us because of our freedoms!”

In contrast to O’Hehir’s belle (again: babelfish.com…) portrait of France, left-wing editorial cartoonist and columnist/commentator Ted Rall, who has dual American and French citizenship because his mother is French, and who has spent a lot of time with Muslims in Afghanistan (about which he has written books), writes this of Muslims in France (I present it in whole, because I think it’s important information; emphases in bold are mine [and links are Rall’s]):

This week’s terrorist attacks at the Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, leaving 12 dead at the scene and four others killed during the assassins’ attempt to flee two days later has prompted a political crisis in France centered around that country’s Muslim population, and whether it has been successfully assimilated into French society.

To most American news consumers, even those who follow developments in Europe closely, the debate over Muslim assimilation in France is difficult to dissect. This is because the situation there is significantly unlike the “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West that Americans have been dealing with in the post-9/11 era.

The first thing that you need to know is that, in France even more than in the United States, assimilation is something of a national religion.

“A French government report has proposed a radical overhaul of the ‘assimilation’ model which requires immigrants to abandon their culture for that of France, including ending the ban on Muslim headscarves in schools and naming streets and squares after notables of foreign origin,” the UK Telegraph reported back in 2013.

“But it has drawn a furious reaction from the country’s conservative opposition, which said it amounted to an abandonment of French culture and secular values. ‘It will no longer be up to immigrants to adopt French culture but up to France to abandon its culture, its values, its history to adapt to the culture of others,’ Jean-François Copé, leader of the UMP main opposition party, said.”

For now, assimilationism stands.

In France as in the U.S., ethnic and religious minorities congregate in certain cities and neighborhoods. In France, however, these ethnic enclaves are viewed less as charming places to grab a meal than as a failure of the state. This is because, when foreigners are granted French citizenship, they are expected – not just culturally, but explicitly told by government officials – to become fully French in a traditional, pre-mass immigration kind of way.

Those who speak foreign languages are pressured to refrain from speaking them in public as much as possible, and to learn French not just enough to get by, but fluently in writing as well as in speech. This attitude isn’t not quite as attenuated as it was 75 years ago, when children who spoke internal non-French French languages like Basque and Breton were beaten by their teachers, but it’s still an expectation shared by both the political left and the political right.

Even today, when the government offers an immigrant French citizenship, he or she is even encouraged to “Francify” their name to a more traditionally sounding French name. So Mohammed might become Michel.

The second thing you need to understand is that France does not offer birthright citizenship, i.e. automatic full benefits as a citizen simply for being born on French territory. Americans take birthright citizenship for granted, though there has been criticism on the right over the possibility that some foreign-born parents might travel illegally to the United States in order to have so-called “anchor babies.”

Perversely, considering how important assimilation is to the French, the country’s lack of full birthright citizenship rights for everyone born in France, or full right of jus soli, has done more to breed alienation, systemic poverty and distrust than just about any other policy. Although I was able to obtain French citizenship (while keeping my U.S. citizenship) merely because my mother is French, there are millions of second- and third-generation illegal immigrants – people who were born in [France], and who may even have French foreign parents, but who have never been naturalized because their grandparents arrived in the country as undocumented workers.

Many of these people live in impoverished suburbs outside major cities which, not coincidentally, have on occasion been the site of violent uprisings. Don’t be surprised if the perpetrators of Wednesday’s horrific mass murder at Charlie Hebdo have their roots in the banlieue (suburbs).

Finally, France has accepted between 3.5 and 5.0 million Muslim immigrants in recent years, amounting to between 5 percent and 10 percent of the population. (This liberal immigration policy recognizes France’s history as colonial rulers of countries like Algeria and Morocco.)

Obviously, the overwhelming majority of these people are like everyone else, just trying to get ahead and make better lives for themselves and their children. But their presence — different clothes, different languages, different food — is jarring for “traditional” (i.e., white, Catholic) Frenchmen and Frenchwomen who yearn for the France of wine, coffee and baguettes. This is the constituency that France’s far-right political parties, like the National Front, are capitalizing upon.

Rall, himself an editorial cartoonist, of course does not support the slaughter of fellow cartoonists, and he has used the occasion of the Charlie Hebdo massacres to point out the plight of editorial cartoonists in the American media (such as here and here).

I give kudos to Rall, not only for telling the ugly truth about France’s other-culture-crushing assimilationism and nationalism — and its resultant Muslim ghettos — but also apparently for pointing out that the “Je suis Charlie” crowd don’t actually give a fuck about editorial cartoonists* as much as they are just using the deaths of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists as a vehicle with which to bash those “evil” Muslims, the perennial “bad guys” against whom the “freedom-” and “democracy-loving” Westerners can compare themselves in order to feel much better about their own hypocrisy, their own deep sins (such as the fact that in modern history the U.S. and its Western partners in war crimes and crimes against humanity, including Israel, the United Kingdom and France, have slaughtered far more Muslims than vice-versa).

Even a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist (who wasn’t present during the massacre at the publication’s offices) himself has called bullshit on the public outpouring of support for Charlie Hebdo. Reports the UK’s DailyMail.com:

One of the surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonists has scoffed at the surge in support for the satirical magazine after the attack, which killed eight of his colleagues and four other victims.

Bernard Holtrop, who was not in the office during the massacre on Wednesday, admitted the publication’s new-found fame was “laughable” and comes from people who have “never seen it.”

The Dutch-born artist reportedly said the provocative weekly had unexpected “new friends” including the pope, Queen Elizabeth and Vladimir Putin.

He told Dutch newspaper Volkskrant: “We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends,” and added that most of the support has come from people who have “never seen Charlie Hebdo.”

“It really makes me laugh,” he added. “A few years ago, thousands of people took to the streets in Pakistan to demonstrate against Charlie Hebdo. They didn’t know what it was. Now it’s the opposite.” …

Bernard Holtrop is at least one Frenchman I guess I can like, even though that might be because he was born in Holland…

P.S. If I understand the Charlie Hebdo cover above correctly (French is somewhat similar to Spanish), it is positing that were Mohammed to return today, some jihadist would behead him as an infidel. Admittedly, this is in line with my position that were Jesus to return today, those who claim to be his followers would (mostly metaphorically speaking) crucify him as a heretic.

However, again, contexte est tout, and the Charlie Hebdo cover above is much more offensive to your average Muslim than would be a similar depiction of modern-day “Christians” crucifying a returning Jesus, methinks. Also, so-called “Christians” already are in the majority in the West, and so they have a lot of political power, so such a cartoon would not feel as personally threatening to them as the Charlie Hebdo cover above would feel to France’s Muslim minority (which, again, is estimated at 5 percent to 10 percent of the nation’s population).

*Frankly, I don’t know that I’m willing to call Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists “editorial cartoonists,” because the word “editorial” elevates them to a level of discourse that I just haven’t seen in most of their cartoons thus far. Similarly, just as I can’t call Charlie Hebdo a “newspaper” (I call it simply a “publication”), I can’t call what Charlie Hebdo does to be “satire” or to be “satirical,” because to me, satire requires intelligence (in the form of wit), and to me, satire’s ultimate goal is to uplift the body politic. I don’t see that Charlie Hebdo is witty or uplifting.

Charlie Hebdo still has free-speech rights, of course, but, as I’ve noted, after having seen some of its content I’m not going to align myself with Charlie Hebdo. The Ku Klux Klan and the so-called “Tea Party” have their free-speech rights, too, and I’m not on board with them either.

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