Tag Archives: Texas

I don’t much care about Texas

Updated below (on Wednesday, August 30, 2017)

Image result for hurricane harvey flooding

Getty Images news photo

I want to care more than I do. It’s that it’s Texas…

That headline might be a bit provocative, but I’m just being honest; I don’t much care about what’s going on in Texas right now. For many reasons.

First and foremost, I think, is that Texas sociopolitically is pretty much diametrically opposed to my state of California. Night and day. (California is day and Texas is night. [Seriously, though, Texas’ claim to be better off economically and to be a better place to live and to do business than California is, of course, utter bullshit.])

Also, as a gay man, an atheist and a democratic socialist, I’m fully aware of how many if not most Texans regard me, and so it’s very difficult for me to want to help them.

And as a Californian, I’m very much aware that should, say, a huge earthquake devastate Los Angeles or San Francisco, many if not most of the so-called adults in Texas would claim that of course it was God’s will to punish all of those sinners, or, if it weren’t divine intervention, at least the denizens of the Land of Fruits and Nuts, who are not, of course, real Americans, nonetheless deserved it.

Don’t get me wrong. If I were on the ground in Texas to see the biblical devastation with my own two eyes, I’m sure that I’d want to help. But I decided years ago that I’d never set foot in Texas, fuck Texas.

It’s ironic that Texas, the Climate-Change Denial Capital of the United States of America, is now filling up like an over-sized bathtub. After all, it’s the fossil fuels that Texas always has pushed on us that have caused climate change, which has caused fiercer and wetter and thus deadlier hurricanes.

Would Texas learn its lesson if we (perhaps literally…) bailed it out?

Also, of course, is the fact that we can’t even trust the fucking American Red Cross anymore not to totally squander our donations, so, if you refuse to go to Texas in person and don’t trust that any donation that you give will be used for its intended purpose, and if you’re an atheist who correctly doesn’t believe that praying is going to accomplish a God-damned thing, then what, exactly, can you do for Texas from California, even assuming that you should do something for Texas from California?

I’m not proud that I feel nothing for Texas, that the idea of it being inundated — inundated like Texans believe that “God” inundated the world because it was a punishment for sinfulness (so ironic!) — stirs little to nothing within me when past catastrophes have stirred a lot in me, such as was the case with Hurricane Katrina and with the 2004 tsunami.*

Again, I’m not proud of my lack of feeling for Texas, but I won’t lie that I feel something that I don’t feel.

Frankly, with Texas it just seems like an awful lot of karma. With Hurricane Katrina and with the 2004 tsunami, those people really struck me as innocent victims. Texans, not so much.

Yes, of course I exempt children, the incapacitated, pets, livestock, wildlife and those progressives (and those who, if they are apolitical, at least aren’t fascists) who live in Texas (the poor things) from any karmic due from Hurricane Harvey, but pretty much everyone else, well, yeah, um…

We’ll see if I change my mind over the coming days.

It’s just that as a gay man, an atheist, a democratic socialist and a Californian who has had his sexual orientation, his atheism, his left-wing political beliefs and his state (the greatest state in the nation, as evidenced by the fact that far more Americans choose to live here in California than in any other state) bashed by Texans, it’s incredibly hard for me to want to lift a finger for a state that would lift a finger for me only to flip me off.

P.S. Deregulation kills. I recommend this Newsweek piece about how Texas’ love of deregulation is now costing lives.

The purpose of deregulation is to allow greedy, selfish traitors to make as much money as quickly as possible, regardless of the price that others predictably will have to pay later down the line.

Again: Karma.

I’m quite happy to live in a state where the state government believes in regulating capitalists who otherwise gladly would kill all of us for another fucking buck.

Government certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s the only thing that stands between us, the people, and the capitalist traitors.

Update (Wednesday, August 30, 2017): I’m such a softie. I just gave $20 to the Houston Food Bank and $20 to the Houston Humane Society, and I’m sure that I’ll give more over the coming days and perhaps even the coming weeks.

It’s just too hard for me to do nothing when I know that there is suffering. (On that note, The New York Times reports that more than 1,000 people** have died in floods in South Asia this summer. Do we Americans care about them? After all, they’re not Americans and they have brown skin and they’re far away…)

Don’t get me wrong; I believe that much of the misery in Texas could have been prevented, such as by having addressed climate change years ago and by having had meaningful government regulations that protected the people against the profiteers. Catastrophe is the foreseeable result of the rampant cutting of corners for profiteering.

P.S. OK, I’ve given some more today. I gave $10 to the SPCA of Texas, $15 to the Houston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America’s help-Houston effort, and $20 to the Montrose Center, an LGBT assistance center in Houston.

I’m not bragging, but perhaps giving you some ideas to help out a little if you can and if you want to. I suggest to avoid the American Red Cross, as they very apparently are inept if not also corrupt, and I never give to religious-based organizations, since organized religions cause more misery than they relieve.

Of course I always hope that well-intended money that is received for things like Harvey is well spent and not stolen, and perhaps because of that I don’t give huge amounts to any one organization, and I like to spread my small donations around a bit.

*Also, to be fair even to Texas, it’s quite possible that I just have catastrophe fatigue. Seriously. I did give money toward both Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami victims, and both events made me heartsick.

Maybe I just can’t keep doing that. Maybe I have to shut it out, perhaps because with climate change, this shit is only going to keep on happening.

But mostly, I surmise, it’s that I just really hate Texas.

**The highest body count due to Hurricane Harvey that I’ve seen thus far is 30. Of course it is sure to rise, but Hurricane Katrina’s body count exceeded 1,800.

Also, from what I can tell, Katrina hit the already impoverished, mostly in Louisiana, and its victims disproportionately were black. The denizens of the Houston area are, I do believe, not as impoverished, as a group.

Finally, the body count in the 2004 tsunami, according to Wikipedia, was “230,000 to 280,000 people in 14 countries.” I add that for perspective.

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Cornel West, fresh from Democratic platform committee, endorses Jill Stein

Cornel West, who is supporting Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in his presidential run, at a fish fry on Saturday in Charleston, S.C., organized by Representative James E. Clyburn.

New York Times photo

Cornel West, whom Wikipedia describes as “an American philosopher, academic, social activist, author, public intellectual and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America,” recently finished his stint as one of the 15 members of the 2016 Democratic Party platform-drafting committee (he was one of Bernie Sanders’ only-five picks to the committee) — only to endorse Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. West, shown above campaigning for Bernie in Charleston, South Carolina, in January, correctly calls Stein “the only progressive woman in the race” for the White House.

Here is Cornel West’s piece for The Guardian, in full (the links are the original links, not mine):

A long and deep legacy of white supremacy has always arrested the development of U.S. democracy. We either hit it head on, or it comes back to haunt us. That’s why a few of us have pressed the president for seven years not to ignore issues of poverty, police abuse and mass unemployment. Barack Obama said it very well, following the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, that some communities “have been forgotten by all of us.”

And now – in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and beyond – this legacy has comes back to haunt the whole country.

Obama and his cheerleaders should take responsibility for being so reluctant to engage with these issues. It’s not a question of interest group or constituencies. Unfortunately for so much of the Obama administration it’s been a question of “I’m not the president of black people, I’m the president of everyone.” But this is a question of justice. It’s about being concerned about racism and police brutality.

I have deep empathy for brothers and sisters who are shot in the police force. I also have profound empathy for people of color who are shot by the police. I have always believed deliberate killing to be a crime against humanity.

Yet, Obama didn’t go to Baton Rouge. He didn’t go to Minneapolis. He flew over their heads to go to Dallas. You can’t do that. His fundamental concern was to speak to the police; that was his priority. When he references the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s to speak to the police. But the people who are struggling have a different perspective.

The very notion that Dallas is the paragon of policing is something that needs to be interrogated. The Dallas mayor said we have done nothing wrong, but look at your history. Ask people in southern Dallas about the police. Ask Clinton Allen, an unarmed black man fatally shot by the Dallas police in 2013. I was with his mother, Collette Flanagan, the founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, last year. Countless people came up and told us about all the struggles black communities are having with the Dallas police.

Unfortunately, Obama thrives on being in the middle. He has no backbone to fight for justice. He likes to be above the fray. But for those us us who are in the fray, there is a different sensibility. You have to choose which side you’re on, and he doesn’t want to do that. Fundamentally, he’s not a love warrior. He’s a polished professional. Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Ella Baker – they were warriors.

Obama’s attitude is that of a neo-liberal, and they rarely have solidarity with poor and working people. Whatever solidarity he does offer is just lip service to suffering, but he never makes it a priority to end that suffering.

Obama has power right now to enact the recommendations made after Ferguson: better training, independent civilian oversight boards, body cameras. But he has not used executive orders to push any of these changes through.

This November, we need change. Yet we are tied in a choice between [Donald] Trump, who would be a neo-fascist catastrophe, and [Hillary] Clinton, a neo-liberal disaster. That’s why I am supporting Jill Stein. I am with her – the only progressive woman in the race – because we’ve got to get beyond this lock-jaw situation. I have a deep love for my brother Bernie Sanders, but I disagree with him on Hillary Clinton. I don’t think she would be an “outstanding president.” Her militarism makes the world a less safe place.

Clinton policies of the 1990s generated inequality, mass incarceration, privatization of schools and Wall Street domination. There is also a sense that the Clinton policies helped produce the right-wing populism that we’re seeing now in the country. And we think she’s going to come to the rescue? That’s not going to happen.

The American empire is in deep spiritual decline and cultural decay. The levels of wealth inequality and environmental degradation is grotesque. The correct response to this is: tell the truth about what is going on. Bear witness. Be willing to go to jail to fight for justice if need be.

When the system is declining, it can bring despair. That’s why Black Lives Matter – and all other young people of all colors who are mobilizing – is a beautiful thing. We are having a moral and spiritual awakening. It gives us democratic hope. Its not about having hope but being hope. It’s time to move from being spectators, to being actors.

Among his many other points, I share West’s contention that Barack Obama hasn’t done enough for black Americans, irrespective of Obama’s race.

In fact, I’ve long speculated that Obama has done even less for black Americans than would a president of another race even with a similar political ideology — out of Obama’s fear of being accused of doing too much for black Americans because he is a black American himself.

And yes, of course all lives matter and of course Obama is supposed to be every American’s president, but these assertions often if not usually are made to whitewash the fact that black Americans still struggle mightily — by most socioeconomic measures more than any other racial group — in a largely racist, white supremacist nation.

As I’ve noted, I don’t hold it against Bernie that he endorsed Billary. Because he ran as a Democrat, he pretty much had to. But he didn’t have to do so wholeheartedly, and he didn’t do so wholeheartedly. In my view, he did it with a major wink-wink.

And, of course, we Berners are free to vote for whom we wish, and like Brother Cornel (who, again, helped to write the Democratic Party platform, for fuck’s sake), I intend to vote for Jill Stein, who is not only the only progressive woman in the presidential race, but is the only progressive, period, who still is in the race.

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

Corrected below (on Monday, July 11, 2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the fucking fuck?

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

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

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

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

This is a rather ironic photo of the cop:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The lack of conscience of a liberal: Paul Krugman’s new low against Bernie

Updated below (on Sunday, April 17, 2016)

In last night’s debate, it’s quite true that Bernie Sanders was dismissive of Billary Clinton’s big wins in the Deep South.*

I’m glad that he finally went there in the debate; I’ve gone there many times here myself.

But leave it to New York Times liberal (note that I said “liberal,” as in “limousine liberal,” not “progressive”) columnist Paul Krugman, who brands himself a progressive economist yet whom supports the center-right Billary Clinton, to proclaim, in his latest Bernie Derangement Syndrome-induced screed, that Bernie’s spurning of the South minimally is just like Sarah Palin’s having called the red states the “real America” — but probably also even is about Bernie (and, by extension, apparently, his campaign and his supporters) spurning black Americans. But only Krugman actually raises that specter:

… Over the past week, Mr. Sanders has declared that Mrs. Clinton leads only because she has won in the “Deep South,” which is a “pretty conservative part of the country.” The tally so far, he says, “distorts reality” because it contains so many Southern states.

As it happens, this isn’t true — the calendar, which front-loaded some states very favorable to Mr. Sanders, hasn’t been a big factor in the race. Also, swing-state Florida isn’t the Deep South. But never mind. The big problem with this argument should be obvious. Mrs. Clinton didn’t win big in the South on the strength of conservative voters; she won by getting an overwhelming majority of black voters. This puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?

Is it possible that Mr. Sanders doesn’t know this, that he imagines that Mrs. Clinton is riding a wave of support from old-fashioned Confederate-flag-waving Dixiecrats, as opposed to, let’s be blunt, the descendants of slaves? Maybe. He is not, as you may have noticed, a details guy.

It’s more likely, however, that he’s being deliberately misleading — and that his effort to delegitimize a big part of the Democratic electorate is a cynical ploy.

Who’s the target of this ploy? Not the superdelegates, surely. Think about it: Can you imagine Democratic Party insiders deciding to deny the nomination to the candidate who won the most votes, on the grounds that African-American voters don’t count as much as whites?

No, claims that Clinton wins in the South should be discounted are really aimed at misleading Sanders supporters, giving them an unrealistic view of the chances that their favorite can still win — and thereby keeping the flow of money and volunteers coming. …

Maybe I have Krugman’s intent wrong — maybe (but probably not) — but why would he write such phrases as “on the grounds that African-American voters don’t count as much as whites” when no one ever said or otherwise even semi-indicated that that was the case?

Blacks voted more for Billary than for Bernie, especially in the earlier contests. She has worn — depressingly successfully — the mantle of wanting to be our “third” “black” president. I get that. (But that doesn’t mean that most black Americans are smart to vote for Billary — no one is smart to vote for her, unless he or she is a fellow millionaire or billionaire who wants to preserve his or her own little private empire by maintaining the insanely unjust socioeconomic status quo.)

The problem that Bernie, his campaign and many if not most of us Berners have with the South — which Krugman conveniently doesn’t mention in his hit piece — is that it indeed is a conservative, Repugnican Tea Party bastion, a spiritually dead, barren land where for the very most part Democratic presidential candidates don’t win presidential elections.

Therefore, one calling him- or herself the mostest Democratiest presidential candidate when he or she actually does the best in Repugnican Tea Party/red states and his or her opponent does the best in actually Democratic/true-blue states is, um, odd. This is, after all, the Democratic Party primary race that’s going on right now.

Further, the Repugnican Tea Party doesn’t exactly embrace such deep-blue states as California and New York and Massachusetts; why the holy fucking fuck, then, should Democrats, or at least those of us who actually are left of center, embrace such deep-red states as Texas, South Carolina and Georgia? (And Florida, while it might not be in the Deep South, is in the South, as is Texas. And both states were slave states, which Billary can “brag” that she won, so please, Paulie Boy.)

Are all of these political concepts foreign to Krugman? (He is not, as you may have noticed, a details guy.)

All of this said, a pledged delegate is a pledged delegate and at the party convention should count the same regardless of the state from which that delegate hails, and we progressives in the blue states probably should not abandon the good progressives of all races and of all other demographics who have the misfortune to live in the red states. I get that, but at the same time, the red states make it very, very difficult for us denizens of the blue states to wuv them.

The red states have, after all, been holding the nation back even before the Civil War. They have been a drag on the nation, not a boon to the nation. But we blue-staters are to just adore the red-staters even while the red-staters routinely openly show nothing but contempt for us, even though our tax dollars keep them afloat.

We Dems and those of us who lean Dem (usually having no other real left-of-center electoral option) have to ask ourselves if we really want our party to be overtaken by red-state beliefs and values (even more than it already has been, that is) — and, again, we should ask ourselves if the members of the Repugnican Tea Party would allow their party to be overtaken by blue-state beliefs and values.

Krugman does make one apparent quasi-valid point in his column, albeit buried within what as far as I know is a patently false accusation:

… So the Sanders campaign is arguing that super-delegates — the people, mainly party insiders, not selected through primaries and caucuses who get to serve as delegates under Democratic nomination rules — should give him the nomination even if he loses the popular vote.

In case you’re rubbing your eyes: Yes, not long ago many Sanders supporters were fulminating about how Hillary was going to steal the nomination by having super-delegates put her over the top despite losing the primaries. Now the Sanders strategy is to win by doing exactly that. …

To be clear, I haven’t yet seen or heard or read (in print or via video) any actual proclamation from Bernie himself that he wants the super-delegates to vote for him to give him the nomination even if Billary won the majority of the pledged delegates (the delegates won in the primary elections and caucuses).

I’ve seen this meme that Bernie “wants it both ways,” that he’s only OK with the super-delegates voting for him regardless of who ends up with the most pledged delegates, but, again, I’ve yet to see, read or hear him make that claim. (If you have a link to a credible, neutral source, please leave it in the comments section and I’ll check it out.)

I’ve long understood Bernie’s argument to be that if he manages to win more pledged delegates than Billary does, then the super-delegates should follow the will of the people who voted and caucused and vote to make him the nominee. That seems fair and democratic to me, even though under the current rules of the game the super-delegates certainly don’t have to do that.

I doubt that the meme that Bernie “wants it both ways” is true because I don’t see the super-delegates swinging to Bernie unless he manages to win more pledged delegates than Billary does. I don’t see Bernie seeing that happening, either. Call him whatever you please, but one thing he is not is stupid.

Secondly, if the candidate who wins the most pledged delegates doesn’t end up as the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee (under normal political circumstances), the Democratic Party will have a real problem on its hands, since Democratic and Democratically leaning voters nationwide are split almost 50-50 between Bernie and Billary, and one of the two winning the nomination through the super-delegates alone is going to be a real problem with about half of the members of the party.

Bernie knows this, and I very much doubt that he’d really want to be the presidential nominee with the dark cloud over his head that Billary, not he, had won the most pledged delegates.

Only if something serious were to happen — such as Billary being indicted (between now and the party convention) for her home-brewed e-mail server as secretary of state — could it be justified for the super-delegates to hand the nomination to Bernie if Billary had won the most pledged delegates.

Otherwise, wherever possible, we must respect the will of the voters, even when we believe, even quite correctly, that they’re quite wrong.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: I believe that Billary Clinton would be anywhere from lackluster-at-best (like President Hopey-Changey) to disastrous as president of the United States of America. And, again, I believe that unless they’re rich, those who support Billary aren’t very smart people, as voting against your own best interests isn’t very smart.

But you aren’t a true progressive if you don’t respect the democratic process. And Bernie and his followers are true progressives. And I’ll say it yet again: Despite the talk of Bernie “wanting it both ways,” I’ve yet to see, hear or read any assertion of his that the super-delegates should choose him over Billary even if she has won the most pledged delegates going into the convention (and details guy Krugman, alas, provides in his column no link for his assertion that Bernie anti-democratically and hypocritically “wants it both ways” on how the super-delegates should vote).

Krugman’s claim that “claims that Clinton wins in the South should be discounted are really aimed at misleading Sanders supporters, giving them an unrealistic view of the chances that their favorite can still win — and thereby keeping the flow of money and volunteers coming” is bullshit and condescending, as we Berners have known from Day One that preventing Queen Billary’s dynastic coronation would be an uphill battle. Very few among us don’t know that Bernie’s path to the nomination is razor-thin right about now. We have, in fact, done our research.

And Krugman indeed appears to be accusing Bernie Sanders of being an anti-black racist, because he ends his hatchet job with this:

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that Mr. Sanders should drop out. He has the right to keep campaigning [Oh, gee, thanks for the permission there, Paulie Boy!], in the hope either of pulling off huge upsets in the remaining primaries or of having influence at the convention. But trying to keep his campaign going by misleading his supporters is not OK. [It isn’t, but he isn’t.] And sneering at millions of voters is truly beyond the pale, especially for a progressive.

Remember … : We’re all real Americans. And African-Americans are very definitely real Democrats, deserving respect.

Krugman ends his hit piece by claiming, or at least heavily insinuating, that Bernie (and probably also his campaign and his supporters) have claimed that black Americans aren’t “real Democrats” when that isn’t at all the case. Krugman makes a false accusation and then attacks his own false accusation.

I cannot tell a lie: I don’t like the South. Many but probably most in the South don’t like me, a Californian progressive, either.

But when I think of the South and its politics and what’s wrong with its politics, of course I don’t think of black Americans, who historically and traditionally have been (yes, “have been” means that they still are) the victims of the South’s politics, as the problem of the South; for the very most part I think of the backasswards white Americans who hold this nation back, as they have for generations, as the problem of the South.

And when you look at all of Billary’s votes in the South, I’m quite confident that she received far more votes from stupid white people (if they were smart, they wouldn’t support her, unless, again, they’re rich) than she did from black people.

As far as black Americans are concerned, sure, we can call them “real Democrats,” since the term “Democrat” since the 1990s has degenerated to its center-right/Clintonian designation of today, so close to Repugnican that the distinction between Democrat and Repugnican is like the distinction between Coke and Pepsi, but if black Americans support Billary Clinton, we can’t call them both progressive and informed.

But ditto for everyone else in the South who has voted for Billary — again, most of them white people, I’m sure. Neither Bernie Sanders nor we Berners have singled out black Americans in our critique of the South.

Liberal, Billary-lovin’ Paul Krugman did that.

It’s a new low in his obedient, lockstep support of his fellow limousine liberal Billary Clinton, who one minute is telling us how much she loves black Americans and then the next minute unpresidentially is participating in what is to many an offensively racially insensitive skit.**

Perhaps Paul Krugman sees a juicy Cabinet post for himself in being one of Boss Billary’s hit men.

Update (Sunday, April 17, 2016): I stumbled upon an earlier anti-Bernie screed by Krugman, from April 8. Apparently his attempt to portray those of us who are anti-Billary as anti-black began no later than then. He wrote: “Given her large lead in delegates — based largely on the support of African-American voters, who respond to her pragmatism because history tells them to distrust extravagant promises — Mrs. Clinton is the strong favorite for the Democratic nomination.”

Again, I’m quite confident that Billary has won far more votes from whites than from blacks, even in the South. Blacks are an important part of the Democratic coalition, as are feminists, Latinos, non-heterosexuals, Asians, labor-union members, young adults, et. al., et. al., but Krugman, by repeatedly singling blacks out, is, methinks, up to something here.

His theory that black Americans gravitate toward Billary “because history tells them to distrust extravagant promises” is um, rather novel, and reads as though it were written by a Billary campaign operative: “Black Americans like progressives who can get things done!”

Methinks it’s much more the case that as Billary and Bill’s political careers began in Arkansas, and as Billy Boy was deemed the “first” “black” president, Billary simply has inherited that support, probably especially among older black voters. Also, of course, she’s been running for president at least since 2000, and is much better known than is Bernie Sanders (or at least she was so when the primary elections and caucuses began).

And if Krugman is going to write that blacks prefer Billary because “history tells them to distrust extravagant promises,” how about I write that blacks prefer Billary because history tells them to distrust old white men? I mean, as I wrote at the time, the only discernible reason that Black Lives Matter slacktivists hijacked two of Bernie’s campaign appearances last summer is that he’s an older white (albeit Jewish) guy. (I mean, he’s a progressive who’s on their side, so very apparently it primarily was his race that was their problem with him, and secondarily his sex and his age.)

Krugman in his April 8 column also casually brushes aside Billary’s disastrous 2002 vote for the Vietraq War (she said she was sorry!) and in criticizing Bernie’s policy positions as unworkable, writes, “You could argue that policy details are unimportant as long as a politician has the right values and character. As it happens, I don’t agree.”

I disagree with Krugman. Policy positions emerge from values and character, not the other way around, and in any event, all of us must realize that the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate must approve legislation in the first place (and the courts often get involved, too). And it’s the legislators’ job, not the job of presidential candidates, to hammer out all of the details.

It’s the job of leaders to give an overarching vision, and we have seen that in this race:

Billary’s “vision” is to maintain the socioeconomic status quo, with us commoners expecting no more than a crumb here or there; we are naive if we expect more than that bullshit incrementalism, an incrementalism that is so slow and that gives us so little that it never is anything remotely approaching commensurate with what is taken away from us — in large amounts and with great rapidity — by our plutocratic overlords.

Billary’s “vision” and “message,” in a few words, are “Stay the course.” Indeed, as I’ve noted many times, she uses Caretaker in Chief Barack Obama as her political human shield repeatedly.

Bernie’s vision rejects such foot-dragging incrementalism and rejects the status-quo bullshit that President Hopey-Changey has embraced and that Billary Clinton promises to continue. Instead, Bernie envisions a “revolution” in such areas as income inequality and combatting climate change; whether or not actual revolution can materialize is up for debate, but what isn’t very debatable is that if you don’t call for revolutionary acts at all, under your presidency there most likely would be no such acts.

Having been outside of the corporatized, duopolistic Democratic Party — and yes, corporate whore is a very appropriate way to describe way too many self-identified “Democrats” —  is the only way that Bernie Sanders can promise, with any credibility, that as president he actually would stand up for us commoners instead of doing the bidding of the Democratic Party establishment’s corporate sugar daddies.

Being funded by us commoners instead of by the millionaires and billionaires (with the average contribution being $27), as Bernie never tires of proclaiming that he is, is proof of Bernie’s allegiance.

Billary has zero credibility on these matters, which is why Bernie is doing as well as he is — within 1 percent to 3 percent of Billary among Democrats and Democratic leaners nationwide.

The vast majority of those who critique Bernie Sanders and us Berners as naive, foggy-eyed dreamers want Billary Clinton to win the White House because the socioeconomic status quo, which as president she would work tirelessly to preserve, benefits them.

These anti-Berners include limousine liberals like Paul Krugman — those whom the current socioeconomic system benefits greatly but who are concerned that if they don’t say the right things,*** one day the rabble might, just might, come after them and their wealth with torches and pitchforks.

*He said:

… Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South. No question about it. We got murdered there. That is the most conservative part of this great country. That’s the fact.

But you know what? We’re out of the Deep South now. And we’re moving up. We got here [New York]. We’re going to California. …. And having won seven out of the last eight caucuses and primaries, having a level of excitement and energy among working people and low-income people, doing better against Donald Trump and the other Republicans in poll after poll than Secretary Clinton is, yeah, I believe that we’re going to win this nomination, and I believe we’re going to obliterate Donald Trump or whoever the Republican candidate is.

I don’t know that he had to say “Deep South.” Just “South” would have sufficed.All of the South is backasswards — yes, including Florida (and, of course, Texas).

**Yeah, that skit — for the most part I’ll leave it to others to decide whether or not they’re offended, as I generally don’t believe in offense mongering, especially on someone else’s behalf (that’s one of the corollaries of our wonderfully toxic identity politics), but when I first saw video of the skit, actor Leslie Odom Jr.’s claim to be offended by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s use of the term “C.P. time” was so realistic that I didn’t realize, when I first watched the clip of the skit, that it was a pre-planned skit; I’d thought that Odom Jr. genuinely was registering his offense at a spontaneous joke by de Blasio, and when Billary stated that “C.P. time” means “cautious politician time,” I truly had thought that she had just very nimbly tried to rescue de Blasio from his poor-taste gaffe. (That the whole thing was scripted makes sense; the highly scripted, polished and pre-prepared Billary usually doesn’t think on her feet like that, nor has she ever struck me as that clever.)

I think that it would be difficult to call de Blasio a racist, as his wife is black and his two children are biracial, but minimally, we certainly can call him tone-deaf, and ditto for Billary for having participated in that skit, and what the hell was Leslie Odom Jr. thinking?

***The reason that the Democratic Party has embraced toxic identity politics and jettisoned socioeconomic justice is that for the very most part doesn’t hurt anyone’s bank account to, say, be pro-choice or to support same-sex marriage…

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Happy holidays, ‘Christo’fascists!

 

Oh, does that hurt? Too bad!

Recently my mother had sent me a package with Christmas* gifts, and I wrote her an e-mail to thank her for it.

“Happy holidays!” I concluded my e-mail. I immediately added: “Or, as you say in Arizona, merry Christmas! 😉

(I am a proud Northern Californian; I believe that California probably overall is the best state in the nation, although not perhaps to the extent that Texans believe that theirs is the supreme state. [To me, the only remarkable thing about Texas is that it’s a state that we can say is even worse than is Arizona. Probably.])

I was being cheeky in my e-mail to Mom, but, because there is truth to the joke, I guess that it was at least somewhat provocative.

My mother responded: “Hope you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS (I don’t care whose toes I step on – [it’s] our tradition and I like to say MERRY CHRISTMAS, but don’t get me started on this).”

I was joking (for the most part), but I don’t think that she was.

So Mom has inspired this blog piece; consider it her CHRISTMAS gift to you.

The use of the greeting “Happy holidays” does not mean that you don’t get to celebrate Christmas if you so wish to do so. There is no “war” on Christmas.

Many years ago, when I first encountered “Happy holidays,” I just assumed that it meant to have a merry Christmas and a happy new year, and that it just saved a lot of words. (I mean, really, in a sense, there are four holidays in there: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.)

It seems to me that “Happy holidays” still can mean that; after all, the majority of Americans celebrate Christmas Day and then New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day a week later.

“Happy holidays” also means, or perhaps has come to mean, that you’re not sure whether or not the person to whom you’re speaking recognizes/celebrates Christmas, and so you’re trying to be sensitive to his or her religious beliefs.

What, exactly, is wrong with being sensitive to the fact that someone whom you don’t know might not share your religious beliefs, including your holidays?

Indeed, there is no “war” on Christmas, but there is a war on anyone having religious beliefs and holidays that aren’t in line with the majority of Americans’ (about 70 percent of Americans identify as “Christian”).

Indeed, so hostile have “good” “Christians” “defending” Christmas become that very often “Merry Christmas!” is said not with love in the utterer’s heart, but is said with hostile defiance, perhaps even as a warning to its target: This is Christian territory!

Needless to say, this is not the spirit of peace and goodwill toward all humankind that Jesus Christ espoused, in black in white, in the gospels.

And how strong are “Christians” in their “faith” if it’s not good enough for them that “only” about 70 percent of Americans are on their team?

Christianity is supposed to be about love, but in most American “Christians” we see only fear, including the fear that if 100 percent of the nation’s population isn’t on board, marching in lockstep, then Christianity is “threatened.”

As someone who identifies more as an atheist than as anything else — I do gravitate toward Buddhism, which is more of a philosophy than a religion, as Buddha (presuming that a historical Buddha did indeed exist), strictly speaking, was not a deity and he rejected deism) — to me, more than anything else, “Happy holidays” is a reference to the winter solstice, probably especially here in the northern hemisphere.

As Wikipedia notes of the winter solstice, “Winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Winter solstice occurs for the northern hemisphere in December and for the southern hemisphere in June.”

Scholars almost universally agree that if there was a historical Jesus (my best guess is that there was, but I don’t know whether there was or not, and neither do you), he very most likely was not born on December 25 or even in the few days surrounding it.

As Livescience.com puts it: “Researchers believe the Roman Catholic Church settled on December 25 for many reasons, such as that date’s ties to the winter solstice and Saturnalia, a festival dedicated to the Roman deity Saturn. By choosing this day to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, the church could co-opt the popular pagan festival, as well as the winter celebrations of other pagan religions.”

Christmas was ripped off from the pagans, and in any event, even the pagans were observing (and still today observe) the astronomical phenomenon of the shortest day and the longest night of the year. (Astronomical phenomena are objective and universal. We have different cultures, including different religions, to suit individual and tribal tastes, but we don’t have different astronomical phenomena to suit individual and tribal tastes.)

The winter solstice, to me, is the holiday, so if you say to me, “Happy holidays,” to me it means the winter solstice and probably New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, too (having picked January 1 as the start of the new year is incorrect, too – or, at the least, quite arbitrary – but that’s another blog post).

The bottom line: Feel perfectly, wondrously free to say “Merry Christmas” to those whom you know celebrate Christmas if you wish to do so; knock your jolly old soul out.

But if you don’t know whether or not the person to whom you’re speaking celebrates/recognizes Christmas, then why in the holy fuck would you want to say “Merry Christmas” to him or to her?

And to say “Merry Christmas” in order to shove your own fucking religious beliefs down others’ throats, because you’re so fucking sure that your religion is The One and Only True Religion to the extent that you believe that everyone else also should subscribe to it just makes you a fucking asshole (and therefore, I suppose, a likely Donald Trump voter [I haven’t yet asked Mom if she supports The Donald, because I don’t think that I want to know the answer…]).

To shove “Merry Christmas” and your other religious beliefs down others’ throats makes you no different, in spirit, from the assholes of ISIS who believe that they should shove their religious beliefs down others’ throats. You’re just not killing people (yet).

Happy holidays.

P.S. I recognize that “Happy holidays” might be offensive to some atheists and perhaps even to some agnostics, since “holiday” means “holy day,” but again, to me the wintertime “holiday” is the winter solstice, an annual astronomical event (and that’s scientific, not “holy,” if by “holy” we mean the involvement of a deity), and when coupled with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, it becomes “the holidays.” Thus, “Happy holidays.”

*I accept that Christmas is a wintertime holiday celebrated by most Americans. That’s what “Christmas” means to me. (“Christmas” to me does not mean the magically virginal birth of our lord and savior Jesus Christ on December 25 or on any other date of the year.)

Even though I’m an atheist or at least atheisty, I use the term “Christmas” myself, such as in “Christmas gifts” (which I give every year) and “Christmas tree,” but I don’t say “Merry Christmas” to those who might not celebrate/recognize the holiday.

Because I try not to be an asshole.

(No, pushing back against the “Christo”fascists, as I have done here, is not to be an asshole myself. Intolerance of intolerance is a good thing, not a bad thing. Jesus fuck.)

And, while we’re talking about fascism, “Christian” or otherwise, Donald Trump is a dangerous fascist who, if he actually became president, probably would require a Second-Amendment remedy.

Again: Happy holidays!

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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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My money is on ‘Bootstraps’ Rubio for the Repugnican Tea Party nomination

Repugnican Tea Party U.S. Sen. Marco “Bootstraps” Rubio of Florida has a thirst for power that the party’s primary voters just might quench by making him his party’s 2016 presidential nominee. But I don’t see enough Latino voters, most of whom are Mexican American, falling for the bait and switch (Rubio is a right-wing, pro-plutocratic, anti-working-class Cuban American [which is fairly redundant]) and putting Rubio into the White House in November 2016.

Now that Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin wonderfully has tanked, I agree with the many pundits who now eye Marco Rubio as the most likely 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate.

Now that the 40-something Walker — the anti-labor-union one-trick pony who once actually compared members of labor unions to terrorists in the Middle East (because everything comes back to destroying what little is left of our labor unions) — is out of the picture, the 40-something Rubio now gets to be the “fresh face” of the Repugnican Tea Party presidential field.

I use quotation marks there and I have nicknamed Rubio “Bootstraps” because of the 1950s-era if-you’re-not-rich-it’s-your-own-damned-fault-because-you’re-probably-lazy-and-refuse-to-pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps bullshit political rhetoric that spews like poison from this right-wing Cuban American’s fangs as though he had just stepped out of a fucking time machine.

So now Rubio, at 44, is the youngest of the bunch of fascistic presidential wannabes, and so I expect the Repugnican Tea Party ultimately to view him as Their Latino Answer to Barack Obama. (U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the bat-shit insane reincarnation of Joseph McCarthy, is less than a year older than Rubio, but he seems older than that…)

Of course, when you look at the two Latinos who are vying for the Repugnican Tea Party presidential nomination, both of them, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, are Cuban-American, which makes sense, since most Cuban Americans are to the right. Most of them are rich white (European-stock) Cubans who fled Cuba some decades ago because their plutocracy and their kleptocracy and their advocacy of insane income inequality (since the inequality benefited them) didn’t fly under the new, much more egalitarian Castro regime — and are the progeny of these former Cubans who have passed down their wingnuttery to their progeny. (Rubio’s parents, it should be noted, immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1956, a few years before Castro’s rise in 1959, but Rubio, representing Florida, is wholly on board with the right-wing, anti-Castro Cuban Americans who believe that although they relatively are a tiny minority, they should dictate U.S. policy in regards to Cuba.)

While white supremacists don’t differentiate Latinos — a Spanish surname is a Spanish surname, and these racists tend to believe that all Latinos are “Mexicans” (or that, at least, it’s just easiest to just call Latinos “Mexicans” rather than try to sort them all out [much like how Middle Easterners attacked us on 9/11 and Iraq is in the Middle East — close enough!]) — it’s important to note that in 2010, 63 percent of Latinos in the U.S. were of Mexican descent, and only 3.5 percent of Cuban descent.

So Cuban Americans are not representative of most Latinos in the United States, so neither Rubio nor Cruz is representative of most Latinos in the United States.

But again, such distinctions don’t matter to those of the Repugnican Tea Party, who probably ignorantly and cynically will view Marco Rubio as their best shot at trying to reverse at least some of the damage that El Trumpo has done to the party with the Latino demographic.

Most Mexican Americans won’t buy it; the majority of them are quite through with the Repugnican Tea Party, and of course most of them are acutely aware, unlike whitey, of the differences between Mexican Americans and Cuban Americans.

But why do I predict Rubio and not Cruz? Because Cruz is so much of a nut job and a douche bag who can’t win a national election that even most of those in his party recognize that fact, that’s why. Perhaps to a lesser extent it’s also because his state of Texas will continue to be tarnished for a while because the last president who hailed from Texas was so fucking abysmally awful. That George W. Bush was the governor of Texas certainly harmed former Texas Gov. Prick Perry’s two bids for the White House, although Perry himself, like Cruz, is a shitty candidate, so in the cases of Perry and Cruz you can’t put all of the blame on Texas.

Let me list others who can’t and won’t win the 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential nomination: Lindsay Graham, Bobby Jindal, Prick Santorum, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Carly Fiorina. None of them (along with Cruz) is averaging even 7 percent in recent nationwide polls. Fiorina is a bit of a darling for the moment, but once more information is released about her — trust me, she ran for the U.S. Senate here in California in 2010 (and lost, of course), and her record and her character are seriously bad — she’s toast. She’s having her Michele Bachmann moment right now. Let her have it, as it’s all she’s going to get. (Well, no, she might get the veep spot. After Sarah Palin, anything is possible.)

So this easy elimination leaves us with Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb! Bush and Marco Rubio, whose average nationwide polling right now is in that order, first through fourth.

It’s not impossible for Trump to emerge the victor, of course, but I doubt that he will. His campaign has money but no substance, and the party establishment wants him eliminated, so I can’t see Team Trump not sputtering out eventually. As some have posited, Trump might make some noise at the Repugnican National Convention, but it’s unlikely that he’ll win the party’s presidential nomination. Again, Trump has flash but no substance, and flash has a short shelf life.

Of course Ben Carson won’t win the nomination. Even if the party’s voters could get over his race in enough numbers to win him the nomination, no president in my lifetime of more than four decades had not been at least a U.S. senator or the governor of a state before ascending to the Oval Office, so that hurts Carson (as well as Trump). Of course, Carson very apparently has been in this only to sell his brand of life-advice bullshit anyway.

Jeb! not only has the Godzilla-sized albatross that is his brother’s presidency around his neck — it’s interesting that Jeb! says that Gee Dubya “kept us safe” when almost 3,000 Americans died in September 2001, the month that followed Gee Dubya’s receipt of the U.S. presidential daily brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”; when almost 4,500 of our soldiers have died in the illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War (more than 3,500 of them combat deaths); and when almost 2,000 Americans were killed by Hurricane Katrina when there had been at least two or three days’ warning before it made landfall that the hurricane could be absolutely devastating — but Jeb! is only mildly more charismatic than is Scott “Dead Man” Walker.

I mean, the use of “Jeb!” perfectly encapsulates Jeb!’s problems: He runs away from the surname of Bush because it’s so politically toxic, and he has to use an exclamation point! in order to try to gin up some excitement for himself.

Even if Gee Dubya’s stolen presidency had been much, much, much better than it was, we Americans never would put three people from the same fucking family into the White House, so it’s unlikely that Jeb! ever was going to break the previous record of two U.S. presidents from the same family (the Adamses, the Roosevelts and the Bushes are the record holders).

So we are left with Marco Rubio, whom the Repugnican Tea Party will view as the perfect 2016 presidential candidate: He’s young and he’s not Anglo, so he’s the Barack Obama of the Repugnican Tea Party. He is Latino, but he’s the “right” kind of Latino — right-wing, pro-plutocratic, anti-working-class, light-skinned Cuban-American. And again, after El Trumpo has bashed the party like an elephant piñata, the party needs all the help with the Latino vote that it can get, so the cynical fronting of a right-wing, pro-plutocratic, anti-working-class candidate with a Spanish name will be mighty tempting.

Rubio — unlike Trump, Carson and Fiorina — has been a U.S. senator or the governor of a state, so he has that going for him, too.

Rubio, like Ben Carson, is a wingnut but can pass (for the low-information/“swing”/“independent” voter) as a fairly sane and decent individual, so there’s that factor as well. (As I noted, Cruz can’t pass for decent and sane, and neither can Jindal, Santorum or Huckabee, or Paul, to a lesser extent.)

And Rubio’s state of Florida is an important swing state; recall that Florida and its 25 electoral votes were pivotal in the stolen 2000 presidential election, when Jeb!, who then was governor of the state, worked with former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and others to steal the presidential election in the state (and thus the presidential election for the nation) for his brother.

All in all, the stars align for Marco Rubio to become his party’s champion for this presidential election cycle.

Could he win the White House?

I don’t think so. The Democrats and those who lean Democratic won’t vote for him, of course, and I don’t think that Rubio’s presidential candidacy could fool enough Latino voters, as much as they would love to see one of their own finally in the White House. Not just because the sulfurous stench of El Trumpo probably still will be lingering enough to damage the Repugnican Tea Party come November 2016, but also because Rubio’s socioeconomic and political philosophy in and of itself is pretty fucking odiferous.

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