Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Not So "Man Box"

While snowed in in NYC, I saw a post on Facebook pointing me to a Ted Talks video entitled "Why Men act out against women" by Anthony Porter. Eye rolls ensued because it's usually a bad sign when an article or video has the title "Why men do such and such negative thing". This is mostly because the title itself implies that within the article contains the answer for all men which will probably be untrue and likely contain a lot of gross generalizations supported by anecdotes that are interpreted in a manner that supports the presenters point. The video did not fail in this regard. I don't know if the video bothered me as much as the number of women on FB who reposted the video with nary a commentary as to what may be wrong with it. Some of these same people, had the subject been race, would have been far more critical of the subject, showing once again the blind spot that exists when the subject is kicking the heterosexual, masculine, male.

Anthony Porter has an organization called "A Call to Men" in which he states:

What is a good man?
A good man is a man who believes a woman should be respected. A good man would not assault a woman. A good man believe in equality for women? A good man honors the women in his life. A good man, for all practical purposes, is a nice guy, We believe this to be the majority of men.



So for Mr. Porter a "good man" is defined entirely by his "niceness" particularly in respect to women? Really? Can you imagine a Feminist/womanist accepting a definition of "good womanhood" that was so focused on her actions and behaviors towards men? I can't. Matter of fact, most of the "highly independent" women I know both in person and on various social sites, define themselves as good women regardless of or in spite of men. But keep this in mind because the next major issue is what Mr. Porter calls "The Man Box".

The Man Box is a set of rules that according to Mr. Porter, all men, good and bad ascribe to which allows for violence against women.
"The Man Box" consists of the following:

*Don't cry or openly express emotions with the exception of anger
*Do not show weakness or fear
*Demonstrate power/control especially over women
*Aggression Dominance
*Protector
*Do not be "like a woman"
*Heterosexual
*Do not be "like a gay man"
*Tough-Athletic-Strength-Courage
*Makes decisions-Does not need help
*Views women as property/objects



Lets tackle this "box"
On item one we see a great falsehood. First of all there are many emotions: sadness, fear, happiness, satisfaction, calm, anger, amusement. Men express these emotions many times, sometimes all in the same day and sometimes multiple times in a single day. Even within a relationship it is simply untrue that men do not show any emotion other than anger. Anyone who says they have not seen a man express any emotion other than anger is straight lying. Anger gets peoples attention because of it's proximity to violent behavior.

Incredible-Hulk-Bixby
You wouldn't like me when I'm angry


What men do not show [frequently] is weakness and fear (collectively vulnerability). Why? Well guess what? Human males are mammals. Across the mammalian world, males compete with each other for status. Often with bouts of violence. Males also have to fight off predators to protect his territory. Therefore it is to the advantage of the male to project dominance even when fearful in order to survive. Why exactly are we having a discussion on stuff that is long known biological behavior for most if not all mammalian males? Secondly, why are we attempting to change it?

The next three items should also be grouped together with item one. Power is simply the ability to determine outcome(s). In order to determine outcome then one must be aggressive, one must protect what one has and most importantly one must be in control of oneself, including one's emotions. Hence we see the reason why the expression of "negative" emotions, those that relinquishes power or makes ones power vulnerable, are made to be under control by a "real" man. Again across the mammalian species the male is the aggressor. You want to see a passive male, see a male that is lacking in testosterone or has low status. Again I must ask why this is supposed to be a negative? There is a phenomenon called "sublimation" usually used in reference to the redirection of sexual urges, usually by men, into other endeavors. "negative" emotions in many well socialized males is sublimated into "positive" actions such as redoubling efforts to succeed at what they failed at. etc. Therefore a blanket statement about not wanting to seem weak or afraid as a negative thing is very problematic.

The sixth item, "Do not be "like a woman" is self explanatory. Why should a man want to "be like a woman"? Why is this negative? Why would any man who respects manhood and womanhood even suggest that "do not be like a woman" is negative? And why would he imply that such a statement devalues womanhood when it does not?

Item seven, 'Heterosexual"? And? As with the above, If a male wants to behave as a woman, which he should be free to do, why should heterosexual males accept him as a "man" that they are? Notice I break out "male" from "man". Male is a genetic construct. It merely indicates that an individual has a x-y chromosome pair. a "man" is a socialized, mature male. Even in societies that accepted homosexuals, those males were not considered men.

Item eight "Tough-Athletic-Courage": Is this fellow saying that boys ought to be told it's OK to be shook? Really? It's one thing to acknowledge that one gets scared. It's an entirely different thing to imply that stressing courage in a maturing male is somehow negative and problematic. In my opinion it's even worse coming from a descendant of Africans, many of whom have infamous initiation rites in which bravery and courage is specifically trained for. How does Mr. Porter think our ancestors survived the middle passage, if they did not face their fear? How does Mr. Porter think our African Ancestors in various countries got the guts to stand up to well armed militaries and other uprisings?

In non-racial terms, if we go back to the biology of it all, males of the species are generally the bigger (muscular), faster, etc. than the female. We can thank Testosterone for that as well. So again I have to ask, like a broken record, why is this fellow implying that such a thing is bad?

The ninth item is probably one that many women have talked with their girlfriends about.

Girl, we were going around in circles and he refused to stop and ask for directions...


Shoot, I've done it. You know what? Deal with it. Really. That's that independent spirit and there's nothing wrong with it. While there are those who will take such things to extremes, generally speaking women need to let this one go. One of the things men generally get great satisfaction from is figuring something out. It goes back to the disassembled toys, radios, etc. that we left in our wakes as children.

And we come to item 10: "Views women as objects/property" Really? Of course what Mr. Porter means, and indeed what he says in the video, is "Sex object". Again this is common currency of the "thought police" wing of the feminist movement. How dare a straight man see a woman and think "I'd hit that." Forget the whole known biology thing. No, lets forget the fact that human males are in fact "always ready to go" in the strict biological sense in that we produce millions of sperm a day and barring psychological or biological issues can "get it up" at any time. Never mind that for roughly 28 days out of the month a female can have intercourse (and some do manage many of those days). No never mind all of that biology. Never mind that upon sexual maturity, males will involuntarily (as in not trained) think about sex multiple times a day.

In terms of viewing women as property let's keep it real. This society treats boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives as property of the involved parties. Is not the term "That's my man" or "That's my girl" (And it is usually girl regardless of age) a statement of ownership? Isn't monogamy based in the objectification and propertization of another human? He or she cannot have sex with another person because that person's genetalia are "mine" and for "my use only". If we really wanted to get at the point of "property/objectification" we would encourage people to say things such as "I'm married to so and so" or "I am with so and so" which would connote our voluntary and revokable attachment to another person rather than ownership with is implied by the "My man", "My wife", kinds of statements. I suppose that doesn't fit into the present line of thinking present in this video.

In summary we see that this presentation purports that everything masculine about men, that which generally differentiates sexually mature males from sexually mature females is "bad". If males would act less male then everything would be "OK". Mind you, after giving this list of negatives, Mr Porter claims that "There are many wonderful things about being a man." failing to mention any of them. Not even the "can pee standing up." I dunno, I would have liked to hear what is so wonderful about being a man. Seeing as there are so many thing Perhaps Ted Talks will invite the brother back to give that presentation.
And this is really a part of the deeper problem. In almost every case in which I have had these discussions I have asked the people involved to define a "man" and most often the question cannot be answered. If people cannot even agree on what a "man" is. How can a "good" or "bad" man be determined?

Mr. Porter continues his presentation with a discussion of his two children. His daughter, he says, could come to him crying and looking for comfort and he would comfort her (like a man should) and let her know that "Daddy's got you." You'll note that his statement has the implication that he is "tough" and "strong" and therefore can "protect" his daughter from harm. Indeed he invokes some of the "Man Box" items which he has just told us were "bad".

When his son comes to him crying he gets on him and gets him to "suck it up." Asking him "Why you cryin'? Hold your head up". "explain to me what's wrong" etc. It is Mr. Porter's contention that his treatment of his son was unfair. I disagree. Mr. Porter was in fact imparting to his son what men are expected to do (as discussed above). What we should ask Mr. Porter is this: Why did you not treat your daughter as you did your son? Is Mr. Porter of the opinion that girls (and women) cannot be expected to master their emotions? to "suck it up"?

You'll note that he says:

"Out of my own frustration with my role and responsibility of building him up as a man, to fit into these guidelines and these structures that are defining this man box..."


Excuse me? Frustration? Frustration with your role and responsibility as a father? I dare say that if a man is unprepared and not enthusiastic about his role and responsibility of socializing a boy into a man, then he ought not embark on the endeavor.

He says he said to his son:

Go to your room. Sit down. Get yourself together. And come back and talk to me when you can talk to me...like a man


Mr. Porter wants us to think that this is bad. Shame on him. Whenever any of us are faced with obstacles that cause us to feel fear, frustration and pain, The steps he described are EXACTLY what we should be doing. We should go to "our own space" and "collect ourselves" which means that we are activating the logical and impulse control areas of the brain to overcome the emotive and instinctive parts of our brains and once we do that tackle the problem from a logical point of view. This, my friends, is parenting. In other words Mr. Porter wants to extend the concept of external dependency to his son. That is sad.

Another example he gives is the 12 year old football player:

I asked him: "How would you feel, if in front of all the players the coach told you you were playing like a girl?"...The boy said to me 'it would destroy me' and I said to myself: God! If it would destroy him to be called a girl what are we then teaching him about girls?"


Well aside from teenage exaggerations, lets take this at face value. Firstly the question was if the coach said he played like a girl not that he was a girl. Important difference. If you take a look at your average 12 year old girl in gym class, you could easily picture what such a statement looks like and how devastating a critique of a player, particularly for a football player that would be. The reflection is not on girls as entities but rather girls as in average behavior. He doesn't have to be "taught" anything about "girls". For the example given all he has to do is observe them in his daily life. Does that mean that there are no girls who can play football well? Of course not. But on average? Let's be real. We know exactly what it meant

In Mr. Porter's next example he discusses "Big Johnny" the older boy in his neighborhood who he looked up to. Johnny took to raping the neighborhood mentally challenged girl (she was legally incapable of consent) and invited Mr. Porter and his other friends to "have a go". Porter relates his anxiety of having to face an offer of sex (which he felt he could not refuse) the possibility of rape (which he did not commit) and knowing that his friends were going to rape this girl. He posits this as a part of the "man box" issue. The problem with this example is that it was not a "man box" issue as much as it was a parenting issue. Mr. Porter was in a situation not unlike what I discussed in my post entitled "A Perfect Storm of Pathologies" Where I wrote:

Firstly we have the group of males involved. By the reports there were adult males of undetermined age and boys of various age. So the first thing we have to ask is why are "grown men" leading "immature" males to have sex with a person known to be mentally disabled? If I were the 'hood type I would ask "where they do that at?"


Same question applies here. Not only that but where were the parental rules about entering the homes of other people without permission? Had that rule been in effect Mr. Porter would not have found himself in the situation because parental rules, which exist to compensate for the lack of judgment of children, would have been a deterrent to getting in the situation. Lastly on this point, I do not accept putting criminal behavior in the so-called "man box". criminal behavior, such as rape, ought to be clearly marked in some other box.

In any case the presentation gets even worse. Mr. Porter then engages in group blame of the type that if the topic was, say, race, he would have been booed off stage. That assumes that he would have even made it on stage. Mr. Porter present a slide that purports to show the following:

The Collective Socialization of Men

Less Value
+
Property
+
Objectification

=violence against women


So he flat out states that all men are socialized to believe that women are of lesser value then them though he has no provable examples of it. All men see women as property. A claim that cannot be founded at all. And all men objectify women another unprovable assertion the error of which is compounded by the biological issues of heterosexuality and how males are wired "from the factory". Just because it is likely that a man will view a woman as a potential sex partner it does not mean that he only sees her in that manner. While this chart may be accurate for criminal males who rape, kill, verbally and physically harass women, this entire slide is false on it's face. To compound the error Mr. Porter closes with the following:

We as men, Good men, the large majority of men, we operate in the foundation of this whole collective socialization. We kinda see ourselves as separate, but we're very much a part of it.


Woah there. We so called "good men" (still undefined without dependencies on how we relate to women) see all women as less than us and as our property. Sure. Mind you this is quite different than the male privilege issue where males get benefits by simply being males, regardless of intent. This fellow purports to tell us what all men are thinking and how we all see and relate to women. Can you imaging Ted Talks allowing a person to stand up and say that every single white person is racist, sees black people as inherently less than them? Would the TED audience give such a speaker a standing ovation? If such a presentation has been given, please do point it out to me.

In closing I suggest that the viewer of this video or any other presentation in which men or women make wildly generalized statements about straight masculine males be taken with many grains of salt. Many of these people are motivated by their own discomfort with being a man or woman. Their own relatively low social status. Their guilt over behavior they engaged in that harmed another woman or simply as a means of getting in good with women. It is not unlike many people who engage in race talk.




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Who Seh Colonialism Done?

It is not even uncommon for investors to arrive on land that was supposedly empty. In Mozambique, one investment company discovered an entire village with its own post office on what had been described as vacant land, said Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations food rapporteur.


NY Times

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WikiLeaks and Empire

"Palpatine is the Sith Lord we've been looking for."

Near the end of the third installment of the Star Wars trilogy, Master Windu comes to the realization that emperor Palpatine was in fact the Dark Lord they had been seeking. That he was sitting under their noses the entire time while they could sense all kinds of "suffering" millions of miles away is a question for another time. The Jedi council was so invested in the idea of the senate being so incorruptible that they couldn't conceive that it was being undermined and that the "defenders of freedom" were being betrayed.

So it is with the reactions of those in power today in the US. WikiLeaks has exposed the dark lord for what it is and the organization, like the Jedi who posed an "existential" risk to the new Galactic Empire, must be wiped out. An "order 66" if you may.

It was reported that the justice [sic] department was looking to impanel a grand jury to see if they could charge Assange with espionage. You would think that such "defenders of the constitution" which specifically protects the "press", wouldn't do such a thing.

Forget for a minute that Assange didn't spy on anyone. Forget for a minute that as an Australian citizen cries of treason make no sense. Unless of course you believe in American empire in which case everyone owes the US some sort of allegiance. No the biggest issue here is the blatant assault on the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

The First Amendment states that congress shall make no law "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Let me touch on thee items separately:

It is pretty important to see that speech and press are specifically noted in different clauses. This is important. The founders could have easily said that you, the individual have the right to free speech, but that the press could be restricted. If you think about it, individual speech is amplified and made stronger by the press. The press is a mechanism whereby speech is duplicated and therefore disseminable in it's true form (as opposed to paraphrased) to any number of people.

Recall that in Europe it was the printing press that allowed the Bible to be had in any home where it could be read and interpreted by persons other than the established church leadership. This eroded the power of the clergy and lead to the rise of Protestantism. To this day, modern Christianity has arguments about who has interpreted the Bible correctly all thanks to the fact that every and anyone could read it for themselves and make up their own minds as to what it says and means.The US founders were well aware of the power of the ability to disseminate speech, which is why I believe they made sure to specify it in the amendment.

The internet is beyond a doubt the modern printing press. The usual prohibitive costs of physically printing a book, pamphlet or flyer, do not exist. Therefore the ability to disseminate "speech" is easier than ever before. That increased ability does not imply somehow it is less "press".

The First Amendment also specifically states that the citizen is protected from any law that would abridge their ability to petition the government.

That should also mean that laws created to deal with one set of crimes ( such as espionage) ought not be used to abridge the freedom of press which is exactly what the current proposed federal espionage charges are for. As is being discovered, the still not filed rape charges are but a pretense to hold Assange for a show trial. In which the government will attempt to say that Assange had essentially directed Pvt. manning to get and transmit the information, rather than Pvt. manning seeking a " press" to use to expose the information that he believed represented illegal behavior by the government.

Whether Joe Lieberman and others like it or not, WikiLeaks is a "press" just like this blog you're reading. The "press" mentioned in the First Amendment does not just cover "big" and so called "credentialed" organizations such as the NY Times and Washington Post. These outfits did not exist at the time of the founding. No, the freedom of press applied not only to "newspapers" but also to pamphlets, leaflets and books written with pseudonyms. In other words WikiLeaks is just as much "press" as anyone else and to treat it any differently because it is not a paper press or deemed "credible" by those in the halls of power is a bare faced violation of the First Amendment. That also means that the publishers are also afforded those protections.

At the worst, Pvt. Manning who actually contracted with the military, who forwarded the material to WikiLeaks is the one who ought to face any kind of disciplinary action. This assumes that he is not covered under whistleblower laws which this author believes he is.

What is also laid bare here is the extent to which corporations are quite willing to be agents of the state. We saw this under the Bush regime where they "requested" and were granted access to telco data and hardware despite not having the legal authority to do so. I wrote about this in my American Big Man seriesThere I warned that the blatant violation of the 4th amendment by the Bush regime would pose a clear danger to the rest of the constitutional guarantees [sic]. Furthermore; that private corporations "trusted" by the public to safeguard the privacy of their varied private data from the government has been shown that such a trust is misplaced. There is a clearly a need for the courts and the congress to codify the owner-steward relationship between the public and organizations such as Google and Amazon.

It should be quite disturbing that MasterCard, Visa and Paypal decided to disregard their customer's right to give funds to a legal entity that does not appear on any state terror list and deny WikiLeaks access to fund the public freely gave. These organizations hid behind "terms of service" in order to hide the fact that they acted as an arm of the US government without so much as a court order. These corporations who pay members of congress to lower their taxes and reduce regulations and generally "get government off our backs" apparently had no problem being government shills. But those of us who have been paying attention already knew the deal.

After 9-11 a common refrain heard was "they hate us for our freedoms." of course the "they" were " those muslims" over there. But The reality is that the people who most "hate our freedoms" are sitting in various levels of government.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Friedman Goes White Supremcist

Take up the White Man's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.


-White Man's Burden

Thomas Friedman goes and gives us a 2010 serving of the White Man's Burden:

When Britain went into decline as the globe’s stabilizing power, America was right there, ready to pick up the role. Even with all our imperfections and mistakes, the world has been a better place for it. If America goes weak, though, and cannot project power the way it has, your kids won’t just grow up in a different America. They will grow up in a different world. You will not like who picks up the pieces.


Uh-huh.

Britain was succeeded by America, Britain's child born of the same White Supremacist ideology found in the Rudyard Kipling poem. In actuality Freidman is warning the alarm of the fall of White Global Supremacy AKA the White Supremacy System and Culture. Under said system we should all be shook by the idea that such a system will cease to exist right? "You will not like who picks up the pieces." Translation: those people from the East are coming! This is not unlike the "wolves" political advertisement that ran during Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

China has put on a sound and light show these past few weeks that underscored just how much its rising economic clout can be used to warp the U.S.-led international order when it so chooses. I am talking specifically about the lengths to which China went to not only reject the Nobel Peace Prize given to one of its citizens — Liu Xiaobo, a democracy advocate who is serving an 11-year sentence in China for “subversion of state power” — but to intimidate China’s trading partners from even sending representatives to attend the Nobel award ceremony at Oslo’s City Hall.


Oh noes! The Chinese may thwart the power of the mighty white man (tm). How does one miss the "US lead international order" commentary? Just how blind do you have to be to not see the White Supremacist ideology taking a sun bath in that cesspool of a statement? If we have learned from Wikileaks it is that this "international order" is one made on bribes and outright threats. I suppose Friedman is down with that.

And about this prisoner. How does Friedman even discuss the political prisoners in China when the US leads the world in imprisoning its citizens? How does he even move his fingers to type this nonsense when we have political prisoners right here in the US? We have people in prison who have simply said stuff the government doesn't like? What about the political prisoners from the Black Freedom Struggle? Explain that one.


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Sunday, December 12, 2010

When Taxes are Low

ABC World News is reporting that NYC will institute a charge for when you are involved in an accident which the fire department responds to. The charges are set to begin at $400 for a simple non-fire accident and rise to $500 if your car is on fire and someone is hurt. Mayor Bloomberg says that it is the only way to fund the various emergency services.

Only.

Just like his Republican counterparts in congress, Bloomberg gives "the ultimatum": Either we charge or we close firehouses. Just say no to the richest paying more in order to keep these things afloat. That is asking too much.

This revelation, which has been going on in other states, is exactly why there ought to be strict opposition to the tax 'cut' approved of by Obama and Republicans. Taxes pay for these services. But it is yet another clear example of the shift of the tax burden onto the poor(er) via fines and fees. What happens if you get into an accident and can't pay? Perhaps your license will be revoked. Perhaps the state will garnish your wages, assuming you're actually receiving those.

So never mind people. Government is not supposed to look out for the common good. Nope, it's clearly government is for those who can afford it or get paid off of it. If you are so fortunate to be on the receiving end of this bill ( which I'm sure some enterprising insurance company will provide coverage for...for a fee), remember that you are helping to stimulate the economy.


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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

What We Do With Hostage Takers

Last night "Angry Obama" made an appearance and scolded Democrats who have been crying foul over his capitulation to the Republicans over the Bush tax cuts. What caught my attention was his "hostage" analogy:

I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostages get harmed. Then people will question that strategy. In this case the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed.


There is so much being said here such as, is this his Afghanistan policy? It's a fair question. However; most importantly is that if this Democratic president had any backbone, this comment, particularly about the American people being held hostage, would have been what he would have said after vowing to not sign a single piece of legislation that allows the Bush tax cuts to be continued for the "rich".

But the problem with this analogy is that we know that hostage taking ( legally kidnapping) is a criminal act. It is an act of coercion in which one party threatens the life of the captor in order to gain something that is not rightfully theirs. I'm not saying that the Republians (and some Democrats) are acting illegally, but if that's the analogy why capitulate to those you compare to criminals?

Hostage takers use this act only when they think it has a good chance of working. The hostage taker must believe that which they hold is of enough importance to a third party that the third party will do what the hostage taker wants.

During negotiations, the hostage taker may be "convinced" to make slight concessions such as freeing a hostage or two, but they do not EVER make concessions on their primary objective.

NEVER.

The proper hostage taker like any skilled negotiator knows what their objectives are and what they are willing to concede on in order to obtain that objective.

In this case the hostage takers represent the financed class (some of whom are not even citizens, but who's registered entities are subject to taxation). The finance interests in the US do not care about the hostages except for how they may be used for capital. They care about their long term interests: less taxes and access to government coffers.
They will gladly allow the unemployed to receive benefits because those benefits go directly to them on the form of debt payments. Seriously, unemployment benefits go to food, rent / mortgages and other non-discretionary expenditures.

Not only did the big money people get an extension of the Bush tax cuts, they got a reduction in the estate tax as well. They reduced payroll taxes as well, meaning that a country currently "at war" will be seeing less income to pay for it. I don't suppose that the defense contractors will be reducing their prices to the government to reflect this. Back to the hostage scenario though.

Obama is correct that negotiators will do what they can to prevent hostages being harmed. Problem is that in this case the hostages are already being harmed. It's not like they are employed. It's not as if the jobs they have lost are being replaced with new ones in the same sectors and paying an equivalent or ballpark wage. No, the hostages have been held for quite some time and no one bothered to notice. Their jobs were going overseas, they were being downsized, In just my short life I have seen TV's stop being manufactured in the US. i've watched most if not all computer manufacturing go offshore. I've seen the importation of quasi-slave labor from south of the border. All of these things have had an adverse effect on those hostage Americans.

So this is not actually a case of the hostages being kept from harm. The hostages have already been beaten and the hostage takers are threatening to shoot one or two. At some point it is determined that there is no negotiating with the hostage takers and a hard entry is done. Yes there are casualties, but it is understood that since the hostage takers don't intend to let any of the hostages live, the hard entry may save some of them and at the very least serve as an example to others that contemplate such actions in the future.

This was a hostage situation that the Republicans were going to lose. It may not have been a pretty fight and it may have have required a level of showmanship reserved for WWE, but it was winnable. But of course you gotta be willing to fight and scolding your supposed biggest supporters is not fighting.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Joke's on You

And so last night I heard that the president was willing to cave on [yet another] campaign promise and extend the tax cuts enacted by President Bush. The reason for this being that the Republicans would not allow anything such as an extension on unemployment benefits to be voted on, much less approved, until this matter was settled. By settled, the Republicans meant "extended for the rich".

So the joke's on you. If there was ever a moment that so crystalized the fact that the Republicans are deeper in the pockets of the rich than our other corporate entity the DNC it is this particular nasty turn of events. There's always this talk about so called "class warfare" trotted out whenever someone mentions that those who aren't rich ought to tax the rich. It's a clear case of red baiting, but it still gets plenty of play in the traditional media. Still though, the rich manage to tax the poor with impunity. You know what they call that? "stimulating the economy."

The kicker of this "economic stimulation" that has been going on has been a net 0% economic growth over the last decade. Don't look all surprised. This has been reported by every news outlet there is. All the deregulation, non-regulation, non-oversight oversight and tax benefits extended to the rich has resulted in the highest, and thought by some to be the new normal, unemployment rate in current US history. So since that horse has already been ridden and has proven to be a loser with 3 bad legs, why is it still allowed to run in the race?

As if to add more comedy to this situation, it is being reported that various investment houses and banks are considering paying out bonuses early so that their employees would not have to pay higher taxes next year. The NY Times reporting that some executives don't want to "upset their employees" by leaving them exposed to such taxes. You would think that people living in the [formerly] richest country on the planet where they do not have to walk around with body guards and change their routes to work and home in order to avoid kidnappings or in "radio frequency free" mobile zones to avoid remote detonated bombs would appreciate sending ol' Sam his cut. You know, a "Thanks for the hook up dude."

You would think.

In a non-bizarro world the public holdup of unemployment benefits, needed precisely because of the actions of the catered to, rich, in order to give those same rich people more tax breaks, by the Republicans would make the party cease to exist in the next election. I would think there would be "random acts of violence" directed at such "leaders". Not that I'm calling for such acts but I would understand.

Bringing us back to Obama. This particularly public and nasty cave in, is an example par excellence of why young voters get completely turned off by voting and political participation in general. Tell that "change voter" who was all high on promises why they ought to be so hype about voting again?

Furthermore; if this is the best that the Democrats can do now, while they have majority in both houses, what the hell is going to happen next session? All this talk about needing 60 votes to avoid a filibuster. Look, make them stand up and do it. Let 'em shut down everything like they did in 1995. They seem to have fond memories of that.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Egyptians were first...

Now with regard to mere human matters, the accounts which they gave, and in which all agreed, were the following. The Egyptians, they said, were the first to discover the solar year, and to portion out its course into twelve parts. They obtained this knowledge from the stars. (To my mind they contrive their year much more cleverly than the Greeks, for these last every other year intercalate a whole month, but the Egyptians, dividing the year into twelve months of thirty days each, add every year a space of five days besides, whereby the circuit of the seasons is made to return with uniformity.) The Egyptians, they went on to affirm, first brought into use the names of the twelve gods, which the Greeks adopted from them; and first erected altars, images, and temples to the gods; and also first engraved upon stone the figures of animals. In most of these cases they proved to me that what they said was true. And they told me that the first man who ruled over Egypt was Min, and that in his time all Egypt, except the Thebaic canton, was a marsh, none of the land below Lake Moeris then showing itself above the surface of the water. This is a distance of seven days' sail from the sea up the river.


Herodotus

Friday, November 26, 2010

Threats to the Dollar

China.org posted an article about the recent pact between Russia and China to use their own currency for trade rather than the dollar, long the reserve currency for international trade. There have been other rumblings of other countries making such a threat, Iran, Iraq under Saddam for example. This is a long term threat to the Dollar because it is the fact that it is a reserve currency. Once that status is removed the US dollar will be about is valuable as valuable as the Jamaican dollar (1:86)

Our esteemed comrade in arms from the Deskrat Chronicles has valuable commentary on the matter:

"The fed ploy of dumping that additional $600 billion into the Us economy has backfired badly --apparently the straw that broke the camel's back --but you know this option was quietly on the table a long time ago between china an...d Russia. How soon will other nations start to make the switch away from the dollar to conduct trade between themselves?

The Saudis still need the protection of the Us military umbrella and the house of Saud will likely remain loyal to their pledge of oil sales only in dollars --but what's clear is that nothing is written in stone anymore.

The euro is in trouble because of the bailouts of Ireland and Greece and potential bailouts of Portugal and Spain . It may be too weakened to compete for the dollar's old position as world's reserve currency. the Germans are also loudly pissed at the Us over this devaluation of the dollar by the fed.

In Portugal,the workers were said to have shut the country down with a type of general strike today over the bum economy . The French are pissed because their retirement age got raised due to economic woes. And the 'European debt crisis' just seem to worsen daily.

Back to the China, Russia deal, the Yuan is in a stronger position than the ruble and after this deal will emerge as more of a world currency to begin openly rivaling the dollar-- likely more among the Asian economic community first, then later among the rest of the world.

Putin in Russia no doubt, still bitterly remembers how the Us busted the ruble back in the 90s and looted Russia when they went 'free market' shortly after 'the fall of communism'. He's also pissed about the expansion of NATO and the proposed 'missile defense shield' supposedly to protect Europe and the Us against Iran --a nation which is Russia's neighbor and trading partner and no credible or logical military threat to Europe or the Us.

Putin and Russia still rely on oil production and selling other natural resources for hard currency, and the old Russian military sector and the selling of weapon systems to the rest of the world are still the mainstay of Russia's economic muscle--but how long can that situation last?

He's got to modernize his infrastructure and present the image of an more democratic environment, safe for business and individual rights to lure more investment funds into Russia. He's also got to crush the mafiya and at least appear to be rooting out all the corruption if he wants to draw in more outside capital to do business in Russia--also his labor force though highly educated and skilled is still being siphoned off by the lure of higher wages and opportunity over seas. Russia's population has been shrinking.

Of course it's china that's clearly the power in this Russo/Chinese play.

The Chinese were grumbling about issuing a gold backed yuan a few years ago to challenge the dollar ,and compared to the Us, the Chinese have been building hi-speed rail lines and modernizing economic infrastructure like-- a national with the objective of soon leading the world economically .

Meanwhile over here Obama can't even give away money to republican governors to build hi-speed rail and new infrastructure projects to unravel existing transportation knots and relieve key transport bottlenecks and lessen the Us over dependence on air and highway travel.

China is playing the game with skill, while the Us is performing like a drunk trying to play chess . It makes no economic sense at all the way the Us has sold out the best interests of its own economy and people --screwing up the most powerful engine of production that the world has ever seen.

In terms of Us interests and nationalism it makes no sense what they have done to their own country in the name of cheap labor and quick profits .

That 'hissing' sound you hear is the Us slowly sinking in the west."



I will add to this that the only reason that China has not pulled the run out from under the US is because it would have a disasterous effect on their holdings. To that end the Chinese have been reported diversifying their currency portfolio as to not me so heavily dependent upon the US dollar. Secondly, China still needs the US consumer to buy it's manufactured goods. Their home market and the "emerging markets" abroad have not matured to the point that they can give the US consumer the finger but there are far more people outside the US than in the US, eventually they are going to be the consumers that matter most. When that time comes, as my boys and I used to quip:

"Then yuh will know!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

If you Opt Out You Are a Terrorist

“TSA officials say that anyone refusing both the full body scanners and the enhanced pat down procedures will be taken into custody. Once there the detainees will not only be barred from flying, but will be held indefinitely as suspected terrorists . . . One sheriff’s office said they were already preparing to handle a large number of detainees and plan to treat them as terror suspects.”


You cannot make this stuff up

Counterpunch

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korean Missiles

And so this morning I awoke to news that the North and South Koreans have exchanged fire yet again. No really, this is common:

While skirmishes between the two countries have not been uncommon in recent years, the clash appeared to have been the most serious in decades and came amid heightened tensions over the North’s nuclear program.


Oh, so the real reason this is in the news because of that new nuclear facility. Alrighty then. Forgetting that for a minute, I'm wondering why anyone on this side of the earth has the nerve to say things like:

called on North Korea to “halt its belligerent action,”


I mean, not to be an apologist for North Korea, but has anyone else noted that the Korean War is, umm, not over?

Anyone?

There are thousands of US troops in South Korea over this. There is a whole demilitarized zone over this. Seriously folks; this is a war zone. Why would South Korea, knowing that they are still technically "at war" with North Korea, do military exercises in a "disputed area" and fire missiles or any other munition in any direction that could even remotely be thought of as headed towards North Korea?

For contrast, could you imagine during the cold war, or even now, a warship from the former Soviet Union rolling up off the East Coast and "testing missiles"? Can you? I can't. I cannot imagine NORTHCOM noting that and saying: "Oh it's just the old Ruskies testing shit they might send our way one day. No worries."

C'mon son.

Let me make it clearer. Imagine for a minute you have a house and you have a problem with your next door neighbor. Say that neighbor decides one day to take out one of his big guns and march around in front of your house. Say he decides to aim that gun of his at some of your windows, doorways, perhaps your car or even people sitting in your house. Exactly how would you feel about that?

Say that this neighbor then starts firing his weapon in the air. If you say you would be fine with all that, I call you a liar. A damn liar. Now just to add to the scenario: Imagine you asked the man to stop and he said: "dude I'm not on your property so you can't tell me shit."

How would you take that?

That's essentially what South Korea did. The belligerent party here is the South Koreans. However; since they are Allies of the US, they don't get called out for that stuff.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What to do With the Men

I had a brief discussion yesterday in regards to the situation of black males in America. I won't recount it here but I wanted to speak on something that has bothered me for a while.

As indicated on the right side of the blog I micro-lend via Kiva to Africa. When I see discussions about micro-lending (or other aide) a lot of it is about women. I follow Kiva on twitter and most of the tweets in regard to lenders is around women. When I read about people lending a hand to developing countries it is invariably about women. Now you may think that I have a problem with lending to women. Absolutely not. What I have a problem with is this apparent attitude that men have it made (or fucked up so badly) that they don't need/want help.

One needs to ask the question: What are these men to do? One of the most dangerous things one can have in any society are men who have no connection to anything. Men who are unable to or do not see themselves as a necessary part of the family or society become a danger to themselves, to the women and children around them and to society at large.

One paper I read yesterday said that the wars were fought and caused by men and that was why women needed to be funded. The statement is factually true. There is no disputing that men have been the primary causes of war. The problem is that we must look at the circumstances. Why are so many men, say in the DRC, killing? What alternatives do they have? I don't ask that question lightly. In reality what employment can they get that has any reasonably rate of income and "benefits" do these men have? If they wanted to start their own businesses how many of them could qualify for a loan? And IF they had wives and children, how many of them could actually earn enough for all?

How many of the men in these areas are actually teenagers and young men whom their society has created no productive space for them and for whom the military (which is nothing but a gang) is the only place they perceive to be somewhere where they are valued (for as long as they can survive)?

How many of these men had been under brutal regimes and therefore resolved that the only way for a man to rule was through violence? How do we condemn them and yet not offer a meaningful alternative?

It is clear that where men have a stake in society and feel that they can provide for their families without resorting to crime, that those societies are able to flourish. Women are relatively safer and children are better educated. They are less likely to to have power trips and rape women and abuse children.

Personally I micro-lend to males and females equally (as possible). It makes no sense to me to brag about how I helped 1/2 the gender pair. It is to our benefit to anchor a man to his family and society and to provide help for him to do so.

Systems

Our comrade Dr. Welsing tells us that upon figuring out her unified theory of White Supremacy (racism) it was as if a veil had been lifted from her face and she could see. Like Neo in The Matrix, the truth was all around him but he was simply unable to comprehend what it was he was seeing. I just had one of those moments where a read of an article on one topic reveals to the reader much about the current system under which he or she lives.

The NY Times posted a piece entitled: "No, They're Not a 'Hitler' or a 'Stalin'" where we find all manner of open "secrets" about systems:

Communism has never once arisen — not in the U.S.S.R., not in China, not in Cambodia, not in Cuba, not in Vietnam, not in North Korea — as the cumulative result of social reforms. It was always brought by violent revolution carried out by a fanatical minority, usually during or right after war. Once in power, committed revolutionaries sought to transform agrarian countries such as Russia or China into modern industrial states by oppressing peasants and applying political terror.


Of course this particular author is fixated on Communism but lets be clear, the US "democracy" was founded on bloody revolution (two of them actually). The French democracy was founded on revolution as well. All of these revolutions were carried out by the people who had reached a point where their wish to be free of an unresponsive and oppressive government outweighed the risk of death at the hands of said government (or ruling class). In the case of China, Cambodia, Cuba, Vietnam,etc. we have a clear case of rebellion against the White Supremacist "West" who had colonized their lands and/or greatly disrupted the normal activities of their people. Let's be clear about that. The "fanatical minority" were the most organized and most motivated of a mass of oppressed and marginalized people in those societies. But as is typical of self-serving "western" authors, these people are marginalized and maligned for political ends.

And while the author may gloat about how Russia and China oppressed peasants, he conveniently leaves out the oppressed peasants of America. The same oppressed peasants who were used to build the industrial base of America.



Continuing:

After World War II, wise Europeans and Americans supported social reforms precisely as a way to hinder the spread of Soviet power. The Red Army had brought communism to Eastern Europe; the question was how to prevent its further spread to the nations liberated by the Western powers.


One thing that we learn when studying governments, corporations and other organizational systems is that once they are created they operate with the primary objective of preserving themselves. The persons who run and work for these organizations have a vested interest in seeing them continue. Eventually those persons will do whatever they deem "necessary" to maintain and protect that system. Knowing this the above paragraph can (and perhaps ought to) be read as "Wise Europeans and Americans supported social reforms precisely as a way of protecting their own power against those who could be motivated to remove such power from them."

Continuing on:

In war-torn Western Europe, democratic politicians of the left and right agreed that the extension of state services was the best way to assure democracy and to prevent revolution.Their policies were backed and enabled by the farsighted American aid provided by the Marshall Plan. American statesmen understood that the best way to prevent radical politics was to create contented societies.


Ahh the co-option game. having established that most governments have been established by some sort of revolution. One of the first things these governments do is to enact laws about "treason" and about waging war against the government. I have always thought it highly ironic that any state established by the people who acted in their group interest to remove an oppressive government, to then turn around and criminalize the very same acts they committed in order to free themselves from oppression. The above quote underscores the idea that the state acts to pacify the masses in order to prevent them from being revolutionary.

I recall one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek, Deep Space Nine. The head Vorta was discussing how to rule the quadrant. The worst thing would be outright and direct violence against the population. The best thing would be to convince the population that surrender and life under the new regime is in their own best interest. Save the violence for the most rebellious. This is essentially what the quoted text describes. by expanding social services, the people are unlikely to rebel because they will believe that the their best interests lie in the state. The state does not have to coerce obedience to it, it manipulates it's subjects into subjugating itself to the state interests. This is not to say that providing services is bad. It is to say that if a revolutionary group is arguing for a more equitable solution to whatever the population is bothered by, the powers that be will find some means of co-opting that idea to either implement in a way that serves them, or act to marginalize it.

Lastly:

Comparisons with Hitler are, if possible, even more far-fetched. The ideological foundation of the Nazi regime was racism. Hitler was a racist who believed that some Germans were real Germans and other Germans were not: the Jews, the handicapped, the long-term unemployed, the homosexuals, the Roma, the biracial. He thought that democratic politicians of the left should be placed in concentration camps. Hitler saw the outside world through the prism of a racial hierarchy, with Germans at the top and Jews and Slavs as racial enemies to be eliminated. He began the worst war in history to gain a colonial empire for the people he saw as a racial elite and killed millions of Jews and other Europeans along the way.


Racism as broadly defined by the general public may have been the foundation of Nazism, but to be sure the actual racist ideology of Nazism was White Supremacy. Nazism was in no way different than the common ideology surrounding the African before Nazism. Indeed Nazism is but a logical outgrowth of the White Mans' Burden. What was really different about the ideology of Hitler and the ideology of King Leopold as it regarded the Congo? Or that of the British in East Africa, or the French in West Africa? To be sure there weren't ovens, but the base ideology of the dominance of the white race (however defined) was and is clear.

in any case this piece is a good read for those who's eyes are open.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Truth Hurts

If truth be known, there is more justice in Burma under the military regime than in the USA. The military regime put Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest in her own home.

The military regime did not throw her into a dungeon and rape and torture her under cover of false allegations and indefinite detention without charges. Moreover, the military “tyrants” released her either as a sign of good will or under pressure from international human rights groups, or some combination of the two.

But, alas, in America macho tough guys approve the virtual strip search of their wives and daughters by full body scanners and the grouping by TSA thugs of three-year old children screaming in terror.


Paul Craig Roberts via Counterpunch

Government is like...

On This Week a commentator said that the [federal] government is like the city government that puts up a traffic light after there have been four accidents. I thought that was an interesting analogy. I'd like to extend that thought.

If the government is like the agency that puts up a traffic light after 4 accidents then Democrats are like the safety experts that declare that the one traffic light is not enough but that there ought to be traffic lights at every intersection, speed cameras, red light cameras and cops at every intersection. The speed limit ought to be dropped to 5 MPH anywhere a person could possibly be walking and mandatory psychological examinations should be given to anyone caught breaking the rules because clearly those people are maladjusted and need to be properly re-socialized . Because, by God, accidents are happening and we just can't have that.

Republicans are the people who, late to the scene have no clue why there is a light at the intersection and decide that it is a case of big government interfering with the public and therefore have the traffic light removed. When the accidents resume at a nice clip, they then point to the agency as an example of incompetent governing and why that agency ought to be abolished and if they are elected they will solve that problem.

Libertarians are the ones who say that the traffic light impedes on the right of the people to freely move about and therefore not only should the traffic light be removed but the street, sidewalk and related items ought to be removed as well and the citizens will have to pay for road and sidewalk immediately adjacent to their property, if they so choose, and can set whatever rules they want for their piece of road.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Constitution and Secession

A very good piece on the original Constitution, Federalism and the current crop of "back to the Constitution groups:

The Tenthers are fighting valiantly to reverse the 220 years in which that last item in the Bill of Rights has been emasculated and rendered effectively irrelevant, and they may even be gaining some attention, particularly in the states’ growing resistance to Obamacare. But it seems most unlikely that, with the other centralizing tools at their command, the Federal courts will give it much consideration.

And then when they finally see their beloved amendment in shreds, maybe then the Tenthers and other Constitutional-Firsters will begin to see that the U.S. Constitution, by the centralists, of the nationalists, and for the Hamiltonians, is not a document that will lead them to liberty and sovereignty. The only method for that, let us hope they finally realize, is secession.


This issue of secession has been on my mind for a couple of months. I think the US is fast reaching an inflection point. There are huge demographic changes going on. There is a vast gulf between generally liberal "coasters" and the "rest of the country". The former living relatively high on finance capital who generally don't produce anything necessary to live and the latter decimated by the exporting of low and semi-skilled labour and the importation of immigrants to fill other kinds of jobs. Usually those directly tied to manual labour and those things necessary to live.

The belligerence of the Tea Party right can be understood if you understand that the America they know and knew slips away (as they see it) by a ruling class (as they see it) that is quite arrogant and dismissive of those persons that are deemed "racist", "homophobic" and quite a few other "ists" and "ics". Of course they do not serve their cause by stomping on the heads of women. But they are mad. And if you saw what they saw as they see it, you'd understand the anger. Even if you disagreed with it.

In any case, historically when countries get to this point, one of two things happened: Mass killings of the dissenters or secession. The US went down the latter road in it's infamous civil war. As civil wars go though, as has been pointed out by authors more qualified than I, that a total victory of one side over the other is unusual. Usually there is some kind of negotiated resolution . Typically though, in a time when there was plenty of land available people "went and sat down somewhere" and a new country is formed. Like most nation-states, that country has it's own folklore and heroes (the ones who kicked butt). They usually have a common religion, language, monetary system and other things that we commonly call culture. Indeed the founding of the US is part of that rebel, move, settle, form nation pattern. What makes US is unique is that it claims to not be a land based on being "from the land" but being made under law. It is not "Our ancestors the Gauls" but "No taxation without representation" that supposedly bound the nation. There is supposedly no 'shared culture" just the law of the land and alleged freedom to live as one chose. Indeed such patterns played out. For example the Amish had an entirely different way of living and didn't even fight in the revolutionary war on religious grounds. They generally went and lived in Pennsylvania following the similar patterns of people with like culture deciding to live together. Indeed there were areas of America that were essentially transplants of Germany and other places.

We do know that at some point that there inevitably arose a dominant culture. That dominant culture, by and large has been WASP. Some of the hallmarks of the emergent US culture was Belief in a Christian God as an assumed thing. English language proficiency was expected of all regardless of what was spoken at home or where one arrived from. Newcomers learned it or had serious problems. Beauty standards, etc. have generally been under the dominant WASP ideology. Everyone who entered was expected to conform to this standard. The last 60 or so years has seen a direct challenge to these "norms" of US dominant culture. Notably the rise of immigrant groups who appear to have no interest in "assimilating" or "following the rules" and who demand rights that a generation ago would not have even passed the sniff test.

Wars in countries where there are actual concerns of civilian casualties (Yes that is some odd stuff).

The building of Mosques near where "enemies" killed Americans (something that wouldn't even have passed the suggestion phase 50 years ago).

And of course the black president.

"Real" White Americans, particularly males are at a point where they are asking "what about me? Where am I represented?" It's a funny question when you can see that white males as a group are well represented, in terms of numbers at least. But one has to see that the white man on main street small town USA doesn't necessarily see himself on Wall Street. He doesn't see himself on the pages of Forbes. He's NASCAR. He's Football. He's the "sexist"commercials on TV. He's laid off of outsourced jobs. He's 'patriarchal" and believes he ought to be able to provide for his family but His wife appears to have better employment prospects than he does and he's upset about these women telling him and his wife that something is wrong with their arrangement. His male children are made to feel inferiorized in school because they are energetic and wont sit down and read like the girl "model citizens" in school. He sees his masculinity attacked by "feminists". He sees his religion being mocked on TV by "liberal media". He is the global bad guy but sees nothing but "minorities" on TV committing crime and they are who he sees as getting special privileges are getting ahead. He. Is. Not. Happy.

So he first elects President Bush. Bush seems to be like him. Bush seems to share his values. After Bush he sees the Tea Party as representing his interests as he sees them. And his interest is getting his America back and his 'rightful" place in it. So here's the problem: If he doesn't get to a position where he sees that he has a stake in the country, by electing people who represent his interests and there's nowhere else to go, what is he going to do?

Now we understand why there is a rise in militia groups and rising "hate crimes". As I told some people who were mocking Christine O'Donnell, don't be so dismissive of her appeal. A lot of the more sane things she has said is common culture for a lot of people. Particularly Christians. When liberals mock these ideas, they are actually mocking a segment of the American people. And if liberals say "that's un-American" then they are saying to those people that they are no longer under consideration as a segment that has a stake in the country. It's very dangerous talk. It's dangerous because if they don't feel they have a stake and they can't go anywhere else (or don't wish to because it's their land too.) then the violence begins.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Witches and Christianity in Africa

One of the worst things you can do to a people is confuse them in regards to their culture. Religious conversion was used as a means to divide Africans. One of the reasons I left "the church" was because I could not in good conscience support an institution that inferiorized the African. The following is a piece on just how badly some of these churches are for the sanity of the African.

Churches, especially those belonging to the Pentecostal and prophetic movement (charismatic, revivalist, etc.), play an important role in the diffusion and legitimization of fears related to witchcraft, and in particular, child witches. The pastor‐prophet is an important figure in the process of accusing children of witchcraft, by effectively validating the presence of a “witchcraft spirit”. Pentecostalists, for example, present their faith as a form of divine armour against witchcraft, and they participate actively in the fight against Evil that is incarnated through witchcraft.


One of the main themes of the report is that widespread violence against children accused of witchcraft is a very recent phenomenon in Africa, and it is not related to African Traditional Religion, but rather is associated with the spread of Christianity and Pentecostalism in particular.


"Children Accused of Withcraft": New UNICEF Report on Africa's "Witch Children"

Let The Firing begin:



Right. Since Juan gets canned (in part) for making an honest comment and defending the rights of those he's scared of to not be harassed and Rick Sanchez was out on his ass 24 hours after making the claim that Jews run the media (or at least the one that hires John Stewart)m lets see if Silverman here gets the can from any gig she currently has.

Clock is started.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Waka Flocka Obama video

When I first heard of this video I eye rolled and went on to the next one. Tonight though I was bored so I watched it. And to be frank it is a piece of classic parody with a lot of hidden commentary which may or may not be intended by Waka Flocka. Let me explain.

First off, we, as in "middle class" and "non hood" black folk sometimes need to come up off our class pedestals and allow other black folk to do them. Obama has, for better or worse, inspired a lot of black folk and parody or not, I believe Wacka to be proud of Obama like any other of the 90+% of black folk who still support him nearly 2 years after they voted for him. So I'm not going to get into Wacka on his decision to do his Obama parody regardless of who sees it. If we simply take it as "hood video" we can easily be insulted, but if we look at it as political-social commentary, then it reveals quite a bit.

Check the headliner:

I'm the mah-fuckin' head of state niggah!


A boast for sure. But how many black folk feel that Obama is disrespected because he's black and feel a need at some point to assert that he deserves respect as head of state? How many of us thought that the disrespect shown to Obama when he gave his speech to congress was out of order? How many of us read the GQ interview with the General (I don't feel like looking up his name) who disrespected the Obama administration? Yes, Flocka is stating a feeling that many of us have felt about the rampant disrespect Obama has endured being "tha mah-fuckin' head of state niggah". It's not clean. It's not pretty but it is exactly the sentiments I am positive has run through this South Side Chicago politician turned president's mind.

So at once this anthem, which if I was Obama I'd have on my iPod for "hype" before a campaign speech, is one of accomplishment ie: I'm black. I'm head of state. Respect that! and one one of warning "I'm head of state and I'll deal with you." I can't get mad at that.

The next item on the list is Flocka's commentary on the gangster state of the executive. Rapping:

'I run the military if you want that beef"


Isn't that what the president is currently doing with Iran? Korea? Hezbollah? Pakistan? Afghanistan? Didn't Bush do this? Didn't Kennedy do this? Flocka reveals the gangsterism inherent in the imperial presidency that we have today. He's not the first to discuss this. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, discusses such things in great detail. So again, I can't get mad for Flocka for highlighting this issue.

Thirdly we see Flocka discuss the "spoils of power"

I got a man chick, and a mistress


I'm not saying Obama is getting some on the side, but we do know that men in power including recent presidents and a NYS governor do in fact have or have had such "arrangements". Also he raps:

"I put a nice suit on and got some marijuana"


This clearly highlights the fact that men and women in "nice suits" are able to get away with illegal behavior which ordinary "hood niggas" would get jailed for. Again, I'm not saying that Flocka actually meant to point this out, but the clear statement is right there for us to see.


One of the other reasons why I can't get mad at Waka is because I have to see it as a modern day production of the Richard Pryor skit of what he thought the hypothetical black president would act. Are we going to give Pryor a pass because he didn't say nigga"? Of course he couldn't. He was on broadcast television. We all know Richard Pryor would have had no problem (until his meeting with Maya Angelou) using that term.

What about the "educated" and 'classy" negroes who on twitter and elsewhere post commentary on Obama's various speeches and media appearances with #shortobama and #obamaslapelpin hashtags which are usually followed by common African-American vernacular not to different from the presentation under discussion. Why are those tweets funny and acceptable but Flocka Obama isn't? Dare I say that negative reactions to this video are based more on some "white folk will see this and think we're ignorant" type of thinking?

So I close by saying, we, "non-hood niggas" need to be careful about the judgment we pass on other black folks modes of expression 'cause sometimes they come up with political commentary in ways that we would never conceive of. Even if it may be accidentally.

Friday, October 22, 2010

NPR and the Silencing of Outspoken Black Men

I don't follow Juan Williams. In fact until yesterday I had no clue he was attached to either Fox or NPR. He was simply someone I saw from time to time on my TV. Yesterday however; the white female CEO, like many other white female CEO's and top political dogs like Christine Quinn Of New York's City Council, flexed her muscles and showed that Juan Williams who like other Negroes who dare think and speak freely (if not rationally) doesn't have enough "Black Male Privilege" to withstand the white corporate power structure.

Let me begin with the actual words of Mr. Williams. Slate Online gave us the actual back and forth between O'Reilly and Williams:

"I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America's war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don't think there's any way to get away from these facts...

Hold on, because if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals—very obnoxious—you don't say first and foremost, "We got a problem with Christians." That's crazy."

Williams reminds O'Reilly that "there are good Muslims." A short while later, O'Reilly asks: "Juan, who is posing a problem in Germany? Is it the Muslims who have come there, or the Germans?" Williams refuses to play the group blame game. "See, you did it again," he tells O'Reilly. "It's extremists."
Williams warns O'Reilly that televised statements about Muslims as a group can foment bigotry and violence. "The other day in New York, some guy cuts a Muslim cabby's neck," Williams reminds him. "Or you think about the protest at the mosque near Ground Zero … We don't want, in America, people to have their rights violated, to be attacked on the street because they heard rhetoric from Bill O'Reilly."


Are these the statements of someone who in the words of a NPR customer to thee NPR Ombudsman:

"NPR must and should take a stand against this bigotry and tell Williams' he must choose NPR's code of ethics or be let go to join the racist bigoted fearmongerers of FOX,” continued Khodr. “NPR can't have it both ways."


Really? Stating that regardless of whatever fear one has, that Muslims ought not be discriminated against and attacked in the street is racist, bigoted fear mongering?

Really?

Yesterday morning, in defense of NPR, Alicia Shepard, White woman number two, wrote the following:

One reason he was fired, according to Vivian Schiller, NPR’s CEO, is that the company felt he wasn’t performing the role of a news analyst:
“News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that’s what’s happened in this situation,” said Schiller in an email to NPR member stations, some of which are upset about Williams' firing.
“As you all well know," she continued, "we offer views of all kinds on your air every day, but those views are expressed by those we interview – not our reporters and analysts.”


As she neatly bypassing the snide remarks about Juan Williams psychological stability, this is total bullshit. First and foremost there is no such thing as objectivity in the news. News outlets decide what is an is not newsworthy. That is a value judgement and is in and of itself biased. Secondly by deciding what constitutes "acceptable speech" NPR like any other organization is in fact biased towards their own philosophy of "acceptable speech". To even act as if that is not itself bias is outrageous. The bias is evident in WHO is invited to comment and WHAT they are invited to comment on. When's the last time an economist from an HBCU was invited to speak on the economic crisis in America on ANY of the mainstream media outlets? Talk to me about bias.

To the point of Juan Williams actual and full commentary, there is no way to construe his total comments on the subject as being anti-Muslim. The fact of the matter is that he voiced an unpopular but in fact wide spread personal position about what he feels when he sees persons he can identify as Muslims. He then followed up that Muslims ought not be singled out or stereotyped (in his own way) due to these fears, any more than Christians do not judge Christianity on the basis of McVeigh. Then he pointed out the dangers of such fears by bringing up the recent stabbing of a cab driver in NYC. So it is clear that the firing of Juan Williams was a politically motivated move by the top (White?) folk at NPR.

Which brings me to the larger issue. Where are the black men on NPR? And if Juan Williams benign statements is enough to break the back of NPR, what other statements made by negroes are verboten on NPR? Last week was the first time that Tavis Smiley, to my knowledge managed to break the 'Chosen Negro" Embargo on "This Week" the ABC Sunday political show which has a handful (and there's plenty of space in that hand) of safe, appointed negroes who are allowed to pontificate on a limited set of subjects as if they represent "black thought". Gill Noble, the producer of Like It Is, has rarely if ever been invited to any of ABC's political shows including This Week or to do commentary outside of his perpetually threatened Sunday 12 PM time slot.

Lets look at NPR's Political news lineup as linked on the website:

The Morning Edition: Two white folk. One male one female.
All Things Considered; 1 Black Woman, 1 white male, Weekend with 1 White Male.
Fresh Air: 1 white woman
The Dianne Rhehm Show: 1 White Woman
On The Media This Week: (undetermined)
On Point with Tom Ashbrook: 1 White male
Talk of the Nation: 2 white men
Tell Me More: 1 black Woman
Weekend Edition: 1 White Male
Weekend Edition Sunday: 1 White Woman

Seriously folks. There is a total Black male embargo over at NPR. Why is this not a issue? Why is this not being discussed. Personally I find it more problematic that NPR has a No Black Man policy apparently in effect than whether Juan Williams is shook by a headscarf. How do we actually take the disrespectful treatment of Juan Williams seriously when NPR's news programming is 84% white with 0 black men?

You don't have to like Juan Williams or anything that comes out of his mouth. But when an overwhelmingly white organization decides to take out a black man simply because he didn't toe some PC line, you should be concerned. Very concerned 'cause it likely means they've been giving the shaft to others by simply denying them entry as NPR apparently does.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

No Wedding No Womb: African?

For the past two weeks the topic of No Wedding No Womb has been a constant source of, shall I say, bickering on my twitter feed. As is usual in the blogo-twitter sphere a lot of the commentary was predictable based on gender, age, socio-political leanings and most whether one was disposed to the idea that single parenthood is "OK". However; given that the author of said "movement" claimed that it was directed at black people, the sheer lack of discussion of how black people (meaning those in the US and descended from those who came via the slave trade) traditionally built their families and then how contact with the west affected these concepts of family.

For example, most Africans who came to America via the slave trade were completely comfortable with the concept of polygamy. It was normal for men to have multiple wives and multiple children by these women. The current social construct that a man ought to have and love only one woman is a very new concept for the African in America and is directly related to his exposure to white Christian "morality". So it would be fair to say that any black person espousing such thing as One Man one Woman marriage is merely parroting white culture to Black folk. Yet because many Black people in American are not aware of what their ancestors brought with them they are unable to discern what is an imposed system of thought and behavior and what is a natural progression of one of their own. This doesn't mean that all African customs are perfect and above critique but the African has the right to put his culture at the center of his thinking and to critique and change it in a manner suitable for his own needs instead of attempting to please or gain the acceptance of some other group.

In examining the No Wedding No Womb we note that the overall message is that in light of the high numbers of children born to unwed mothers and the observable social issues that are related to such a phenomenon, both black men and women ought to take seriously the idea that one ought to be married before having children. So what I'd like to ask is does such an idea correlate to any traditional African thought on family, marriage and child rearing. To that end I decided to look at the Akan people and the work of J.B. Danquah in "God: Coast: Akan Laws and Customs and the Akim Abuakwa Constitution. In that volume we find a discussion of courtship, marriage, divorce, etc. I think such an examination of the Akan is appropriate given that a large number of Africans in America came from that area of Africa and therefore came here with these concepts. Let us take a look:

Owing to the existence of multiplicity of wives in our institutions, the wife has to retain her maiden name thoughout and it does not need to be changed for her husband's."


While not directly related to the central issue of NWNW, this quote is interesting given the current propensity of women to take hyphened names (something I can not stand) upon getting married. Clearly if Black women wanted to return to the source, they could simply not take their husband's name at all (and husbands would not expect it). It also shows (at least as presented by Danquah) that marriage is clearly not a property based system as it was/is practiced in Europe as it relates to women. Clearly in the above a woman retains her identity within a marriage. Therefore; when we run across women who make claims that marriage is, by definition, the subjugation of women by men, then we know that woman has no knowledge of traditional African thought on the subject.

Let us continue on with Danquah's discussion of Courtship:

It has been my special experience to notice in forensic cases and elsewhere, the very affectionate qualities which young men and women display in their love affairs. A young man will make love to a girl, giving her presents in money or its kind as assurance of his love, and the girl will sometimes give return presents as a sympathetic assurance of her affection. Usually he meets with his sweetheart at different places and at the dances, but not very often in public for fear of scandal... Soon the fact of her courtship would get abroad, and it would be the young man's lot to announce it to the girls parents or guardians.


We would note here that Danquah has stated pretty clearly that there is pre-maritual sex going on here. This will be confirmed in later quotes. We can say that at least for the Akan, sex before marriage was not considered odd at all, but publicly flaunting one's "love affair" was frowned upon until (or unless) the man presents himself to the woman's family. The obvious question would be what happens if the man "knocks up" his lover? Well we'll get to that. What is important here though is that such an idea of abstinence prior to marriage can be seen as foreign and so we must ask who's ideology is one pushing when one pushes such a thing? Where did it come from? And what outcome has adopting such an ideology lead us to?

Continuing:

Money presents of a value recently regulated by law according to the position of the husband, are given to the parents and other near relatives of the girl's family. The intended husband should also, as far as his means allow him, make occasional money presents to the mother or grandmother of his betrothed, otherwise the absence of such presents may be a ground for cancelling the betrothal, for it is a test of the husband's benevolence. This, though not enforced by law, is a custom which the ardent lover never fails to comply...When a lover has completely gained the heart of his fiancee, it falls upon him to introduce himself to the parents of the girl. This may be done by appearing personally or sending messengers with drinks, to make the announcement. When the parents consent is given she automatically becomes betrothed to him. There is no need for engagement rings or other superficial imitations of the deed. In course of time the husband, having previously obtained certain domestic necessaries, would inform his parent or guardian of his intention, and it devolves upon the father, uncle or other guardian with whom he has been living, to send to the parents of the intended wife, for the purpose of "begging" them to give their daughter in marriage to his son or nephew. as the case may be


And so we see here something that is quite common across the continent. A man who wishes to marry must give gifts to the family of the woman he wishes to marry. There is no doubt that such gifting is not only a means of showing "benevolence" but also a way of making sure that a man has the means and drive to support both his wife and future children. You'll note that the husband to be must have "obtained certain domestic necessaries" prior to announcing his intention to his parents/guardians with whom he's been living. We also should note the extensive use of the phrase "uncle" or guardian. It is clear here that there is an assumption of extended family (or non related persons of responsibility) availability and involvement in the affairs of both single persons. Secondly we can observe that there is a linkage of both families. I don't know how many black Americans today can imagine having family members "beg" the intended's family for a wedding.

The Girl's uncle, (i.e, her mother's brother), has to be informed before any grant of marriage is made of his niece, but his consent is not always necessary.


So to extend the idea of "It takes a village to raise a child" it apparently takes extended family to wed one was well. It should be clear thus far that marriage in the Akan perspective is very much a group event rather than the increasingly individualistic approach taken by US society.

Continuing:

...Should a father or guardian of the girl refuse to give her in marriage, and signify his dissent thereto, the connexion should henceforth cease...It will be impossible to "elope" with the girl or to contract marriage under any circumstance whatsoever. He may continue his love but he must be sure that should there be any scandal, the issue of the illegal connexion will be "illegitimate" -- Not that the child would be disinherited, or in any way inconvenienced in it's general progress in life, for illegtimacy of children is unknown in our institutions. The putative father, can, therefore, in course of time apply to his child's uncle or other maternal relation for the presentation of the child to him. In this case he will be required to pay certain fees, generally comprising the amount the baby's mother (i.e. the lover) and her parents must have expended on account of the birth and care of the child. The baby's uncle or grand parents will also be pacified by payment to them of a sum of money. This rule also applies to the case when with no object to marriage at all, an accidental issue springs from the connexion of a young man and girl


We can take the above to be a clear example of how an African group dealt with such issues as unwed pregnancies: The man is clearly prohibited from being recognized as "father" until he compensates the mother and persons in her family that helped in the care of the child. In addition he has what is clearly "punitive fines". It is also clear that it is not consistent with Akan thinking to declare a child "illegitimate" as understood by Europeans. Danquah addresses this issue in a later part of his book:

The law, as it stands at present, recognizes as legitimate a child born to a man who had cared for an unmarried girl for whose baby he stands as the putative father. Marriage is necessary to make a child legitimate, but it would seem that among the Akans a bastard child is not particularly one whose mother and father are unmarried, but one whose paternity is indeterminable, his father (or fathers) not being known. Hence the name Aguaman-ba (child of harlotry)


This stands in clear contrast to the American definition of bastard in which regardless of the verifiability of the father, so long as the parents are not married, the child is considered a bastard. It is also evident that even the Akan have a low opinion of "hoedom" since clearly there is a stigma attached to a woman who cannot ID the father of her child.

Continuing into the meat of this issue:

If on the other hand, Kwaku had kept Adjoa in concubinage for any length of time, she being unmarried, and he subsequently applied to the parents of Adjoa for a grant of lawful marriage, the previous issue of their connexion automatically become legitimate as soon as the marriage is lawfully solemnized. It therefore follows that if the family refuse to grant the application for marriage, the issue of Kwaku and Adjoa's connexion would be 'illegitimate." and Adjoa's family would be the proper persons to give names to them.


We see here that legitimacy as used by the Akan only pertains to the circumstances of the relationship as it pertains to "ownership" of the child. That is a father cannot "legitimately" act as father or make any claims on "his" child unless he "does the right thing." You'll note that in this case, the father does not even have the right to name "his" child. So we can see that for the Akan, marriage brings privileges and a male who forgoes marriage does not get the benefits. Danquah illustrates this:

Now as regards the custody of children in general, the law is clear on the point. A child belongs to his father- or rather to his father's household, and so long as the child remains with his parents his custody is in the hands of the father. A mother cannot take a child away from the father. If the child is young the father may be ordered by Tribunal to leave it in the nursing hands of its mother. After the first two or three years of infancy a father can always claim possession of his lawful child [my emphasis]


It is clear then that child "illegitimacy" as discussed in NWNW has a solution in an African context. Firstly by de-stigmatizing the unwed mother by recognizing that it is the responsibility of the male lover to perform the proper actions to obtain legitimacy for his fatherhood. Secondly; since the concept of legitimization is squarely on the shoulders of the parents and not the child, The child is not penalized by the social group. Thus any man wishing to claim his "fatherhood" MUST legitimize himself by ACTING and DOING what is expected of fathers. there is a built in social construct that would discourage "single parenthood." After all to have to pay the mother, the grandmother and uncle(s) of a woman one got pregnant just to claim paternity is not something I think lends itself to "spraying their seed all over the place" as the author of NWNW posted in her FAQ. Look at the rules as set down by the Akan:

According to Akan customary laws, the upkeep of a child is the father's duty. From childhood until the age of puberty a father is held responsible for the care and welfare of his child. This personal responsibility for a child is held to be terminated when a son is given a gun and a wife or a daughter is given in marriage


You'll note that a father's male child is not considered generally a "man" until he is given a gun (a means of self defense, family defense and means of killing animals for meat) and a wife. Nor is a man considered legitimate father unless he has married a women who he has children with regardless to whether those children were created before or after "marriage". It is clear then, that a workable solution to the issue that NWNW seeks to address would be for African-Americans to be less "American" in their outlook on child-bearing and marriage and taking on a more African/Akan outlook. It is clear that slavery and the acceptance of certain European norms of thinking have brought Africans to a point where children are going uncared for and improperly socialized. Where both boys and girls are not being shown or taught constructive social relations which places value on fatherhood, motherhood, uncle-hood and grandparent-hood. Where children (and even "grown adults") are free to be disrespectful of their elders. In short as a collective our acceptance of Europeans norms have arguably resulted in mass dysfunction.