Huffington Post just put out an article that makes the claim that many of the revisions made to cars on the MTV reality show Pimp My Ride were made just for the TV cameras. It’s long been known that reality TV is not very real. I have no personal interest in that show or almost any reality show. I do think that they are a drain on our culture as they blur the line between fact and fiction, they create meaningless public figures, champion consumerist values, and they entertain with the lowest common denominator.
The Guardian has just put out an article, one which Huffington Post is also headlining with, that claims that there is a secret black site used by the Chicago Police to interrogate U.S. citizens. This site is being compared to CIA black sites that are used overseas in the War on Terror. I find this scary, but not surprising. This seems to me to be the endgame of years of fighting a war in which the boundaries haven’t been clear. All throughout our War on Terror our police here at home have become more militarized. A lot of the gear that has been used overseas in the War on Terror has made its way stateside. There are also tactics that have made it home from these wars. But while soldiers main job is to subdue a hostile population, unless they are on a peacekeeping or humanitarian mission, the police should be working alongside the community.
I think that there are two additional things one should keep in mind. The first is that there is a history of law enforcement abuse in this country. A great place to read about this is in Tim Weiner’s book Enemies: A History of the FBI. Obviously there is a difference between the Chicago Police and the FBI. However, both are domestic law enforcement, and the book will give you an idea of how those in power abuse the law for political purposes. The other book that I keep recommending is Matt Taibbi’s The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, a book that examines the way that justice is applied differently to people depending on their economic background. I think the fact that there is a history of abuse is important. J. Edgar Hoover often punished people he viewed as “communists and subversives”. (left wing) If you know that history and combine it with what Taibbi says about modern times, while looking at this new information in light of the overall War on Terror, it’s not that hard to see how we ended up here.
Was just reading the above article over at Huffington Post that features an excerpt from David Axlerod’s new book, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics. In the excerpt Axlerod claims that Obama supported gay marriage all along, even while he claimed that he favored the more politically popular civil unions during his first run for the presidency.
I’m sure this will make some heads on the right explode. I am also sure that even some of his supporters will claim this shows a lack of character. However, this is really not out of step with politics in general. Having been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals about Lincoln, even our greatest president engaged in this kind of thing. (Well, I was reading it until my Kindle exploded! I will finish it as soon as possible.) Lincoln was often told by the left wing of his party that he was not moving fast enough on slavery, even though he eventually was the president that put an end to slavery.
The idea is that leaders have to take the temperature of the populace on issues. A good leader will be out front of the public on issues, “leading” them to do the right thing, but they can’t be too out front of the general population. If they are too out front they risk a backlash and giving the opposition a chance to make political inroads. So they have to have enough courage to move the ball down the field, but enough smarts to do it in a way where they don’t risk creating a situation where they don’t have enough political capital to get things done.
On top of this political leaders, especially at a national level, have a many other issues that they also need to treat in this same manner. It’s a complex puzzle that is not an enviable task. This is not to say that the general public should not express outrage if they believe a politician is acting against their interests. It is expressly this growing political “heat” that will eventually give a leader enough cover to make it politically expedient to act. Those that try to change the national dialogue through protests and other forms of peaceful serve a very important role in democracy, one that has often been ridiculously belittled in the mainstream media, but it is not the same role that a leader elected by popular vote has.
This is not to say that one can not criticize Obama on his decisions. It is fair to say that Obama was not far enough in front of the general population. If someone wants to make the argument that he lacked the courage to act in a timely manner, I don’t know if I would agree given all of the other issues at stake when he took the presidency, but it is again a fair criticism. However, I think history shows that a political leader who has a different opinion in private and in public is not out of the ordinary, and might even be smart politics when trying to accomplish a larger goal. Although it is too early to tell, and I am more willing to hear arguments against this belief, I think the gains that gay couples have made during Obama’s presidency will leave Obama looking favorably on this issue in the history books. Change, important change, and I do believe that gay marriage is an important issue as everyone deserves the chance to find love and happiness, is not always pretty. To change the way people think takes real people doing real work. It requires those that are willing to stand up for justice on the front lines and, yes sometimes, it also requires political leaders that are willing to bend political will in using the often unseemly machinations of politics.
The above article is a Huffington Post about how political advocacy groups connected to the Koch brothers are projected to spend nearly a billion dollars on the 2016 election. If you wonder how we can have a Senate where almost 50% of Senators believe that human behavior does not contribute to climate change, among other senseless beliefs, look no further. It is fucking troubling…
I just saw the above article over at Huffpo. My senses were shocked, but I am not surprised. Please remember that this is not because we are lacking sufficient wealth. This is because we have allowed income disparity to reach ridiculous levels. We also prioritize so many of the wrong things, like military might that far exceeds any sense of reality. How can we let some people live like feudal lords, while so many children live in poverty? It makes no sense. It lacks all common decency. I remember on the Daily Show when, in one of the bits, they mentioned that income inequality was higher here, between white and black people at least, than it was in Apartheid South Africa. That is why for the rest of my life, and even if I was to die and be reincarnated several times over, I could never support the GOP. I’m not saying Democrats don’t have their own issues, but the GOP seems to carry on as if this is not a part of an ever present reality for so many Americans. It’s a flag, not a blindfold.
The above article is from Huffington Post. The fact that the House GOP are again trying to stick it to immigrants would be funny, if it weren’t so hateful. The reason it would be funny is that they are unknowingly creating their own doom. Not only is it wrong what they are doing, it makes no sense politically if you look at the demographics that are coming down the pike. They have only been able to hold on to power as long as they have because of all of the gerrymandering that they have done to protect their seats. Eventually this tactic won’t work. As America becomes more and more of a multicolored nation, they are dooming themselves to eventual irrelevance.
Now that explains why it is stupid. Why is it wrong? Spend some time reading what immigrants go through in this country all of the time: How they live in fear, how families are broken up, how they are thrown into a labyrinthine injustice system that makes no sense. These are people. These are moms, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins, that mostly just want to live a life of decency and follow their dreams. Immigrants, dating all the way back to before the Civil War, have long been the scapegoat for America’s problems. Read about the American Party (or The Know Nothing) or if you don’t want to do that much work, watch Gangs of New York to see a fictionalized version. Here is the wikipedia page for The Know Nothing Party:
Hispanics are the targets now, but before it was Germans, Irish, Italians, whoever was the latest group of huddled masses looking for a new start. Well yes, going forward there needs to be some kind of sane immigration policy that actually works to keep people out that enter illegally, but these people are here and they aren’t going anywhere. We can either treat them with kindness or surrender to the powers of hate and ignorance. I know which side I would rather be on.
I just touched upon the subject of the, as of late, childish behavior of the New York City Police:
I pretty much said what needed to be said there. I basically just want to catalog what is going on. I want to point out that this kind of behavior by police is actually why so many people dislike and distrust these officers, people that should be a valued part of the community.
They say, ‘To protect and to serve’
But what they really mean to say is
Get back to the ghetto, the ghetto
Get yourself back to the ghetto
– Lyrics from the song Ganglord by Morrissey.
I hope there is a day when lyrics like these no longer ring true. Maybe the police will eventually see so much backlash and ill will towards their current behavior that they will have to be reformed. It is currently looking like it might have to be from outside forces. Wouldn’t it be so much better for everyone involved if they took it upon themselves to make the necessary changes?