Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Haps'

Bloggin' is tedious work. And I'm not on here enough to dedicate a lot of writing. So instead, think I'll just post and link some of my favorite stories of the week. And borrowing from that bogus tv station FOX News, I'll sexxy up the headlines for you:

African Babies- The Hottest Hollywood Accessory- Buy Your Own!
Worst Congress Ever!
Gay "Curer" Says Africans Better Off As Slaves!
White Hate Groups Recruit Blacks!
American Fascism On the Rise!

Check the HEADLINES and enjoy.

African Babies- The Hottest Hollywood Accessory- Buy Your Own!

Okay, so maybe that title is a bit cynical. The fracas over Madonna's adoption of a Malawian baby opened the world up to the orphanage problem in varied regions of Africa, where overall there are some 12 million parent-less children due to the HIV-AIDS pandemic, crushing poverty and in some places, war. While orphans in the thousands are adopted in the US from very "whiter" Eastern Europe and "at lease closer to white" China, darker skinned children from Africa are a trickle. That there are those like Madonna and Angelina Jolie willing to step up and offer humanitarian assistance is noble. However... there is something eeirly bizarre when these very white celebrities from the inner depths of the corporatist, neo-liberal, western neo-colonial world, can swoop into Africa on airships from across the sea, disrupt local laws, and trade/barter their power to the corrupt and the greedy in exchange for miniature black bodies. That the West, whose fortune has long been built on the labor of Africa, and later its resources, can now become the saviors of its youth, makes it seem as if cosmic karma has taken a holiday or has a perverse sense of humor. But...there we are. Best case scenarios- all these adopted African kids grow up to form a new Pan-African Congress and use their celebrity inherited Western wealth to rewrite the order of global trade.

Interesting factoid #456: African boys were once all the rage in 17th to 18th century European royal courts, where they would be adopted as decorative pets
Ibrahim Petrovich Gannibal, great-grandfather to the famous giant of Russian literature Alexander Pushkin, was such a figure--an "Ethiopian" slave adopted by Peter the Great and whose godmother was the Queen of Poland.

Western Celebrities and African Babies: Humanitarianism or Ego Trippin'

According to Robert Sandall of the UK's Sunday Times, "any foreign journalist wishing to enter the country during their sojourn had to be approved, in writing, by the Brangelina partnership - Terrified of offending their new celebrity colonial overlords, the Namibian Government agreed. It also imposed a no-fly zone over the Burning Shore resort for the duration of their six-week stay, and declared the day of the birth a national holiday."

The Worst Congress Ever!

Matt Taibbi for the Rolling Stone gives us some insight into what might be the worst Congress ever… well I suppose the Congress that oversaw slavery, manifest destiny over indigenous lands, lynching, Jim Crow, the colonial mishaps in the Philippines, etc. actually can be called some of the worst Congresses ever… but I guess the title fits if you mean within these times. And what's with the Burkina Faso slight? Hey! They have great film festivals in Burkina Faso! Anyway, excerpt from article and link below.

Time to Go! Inside the Worst Congress Ever

These past six years were more than just the most shameful, corrupt and incompetent period in the history of the American legislative branch. These were the years when the US parliament became a historical punch line, a political obscenity on par with the court of Nero or Caligula - a stable of thieves and perverts who committed crimes rolling out of bed in the morning and did their very best to turn the mighty American empire into a debt-laden, despotic backwater, a Burkina Faso with cable.

Africans Better Off as Slaves?

As I always like to say, give a right-wing nut job enuff rope, and they will hang themselves. Or perhaps, in this case... lynch somebody. What's good about the following article, is that it pulls back the veil on who and what these people seeking to "cure gays" are actually about. Their motives are hardly pure, or even naïve. And for all my fellow black heterosexuals who take an odd obsession and pleasure in gay-bashing, best watch who you get in bed with…all puns intended.

'Gay Curer' Psychologist Claims Africans 'Better Off' As Slaves

A prominent member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is under fire for publishing an essay in which he argues that Africans were fortunate to have been sold into slavery, and the civil rights movement was "irrational."…"Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle… Life there was savage … and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off."…The movement's leaders and their close allies at Christian Right powerhouses like Focus on the Family have failed to condemn Schoenwolf's inflammatory arguments.
Strange Alliances: The New Black Face of White Supremacy

Speaking of getting in bed with the wrong people… From the Southern Poverty Law Center who tracks hate groups, comes this tidbit. I wrote before about the nutty self-proclaimed "Black Militia" who was seeking an alliance with the white supremacist derived Minute Men Militias—united in their mutual hatred of those terrible undocumented immigrants upon whose backs the 1990s economic boom took place, and whose money has shored up Social Security in the $billions. Well, looks like I was spot on. Only dissent I have with this article is the brief and casual attempt to link black nationalist rhetoric that speaks out against white racist hegemony to this madness—a very poor and undeserving analogy. Other than that blip, a great article:

Smokescreen: Black Anti-Immigration Groups Align with White Supremacists

It's the second day of the second annual "Unite to Fight" conference, a Memorial Day weekend gathering of anti-immigration hard-liners. Earlier, as speaker after speaker railed off venomous rants about Mexican invaders, Reconquista and Aztlan (conspiracy theories about alleged Mexican plans to reconquer the southwestern United States), Anderson sat with his wife in the shadows of the back row of the Cashman Center auditorium. But now that it's his turn on the mic, the roly-poly, bow-tied orator is lighting up his audience of 200 or so mostly middle-aged and elderly white guys, who clap harder, stand longer, and whistle louder for Anderson than for anyone else on the agenda. This might have something to do with the fact that Anderson is one of only a tiny handful of African-Americans at this predominately white conference -- and the only black speaker. The implied message of his presence and enthusiastic reception is crystal clear: "How can we be racist? Our beloved keynote speaker is black."
From Normal to Hyper Normal: The Rise of American Fascism

Okay, so this one gets deeper. Fascism. The word is tossed around so carelessly we often forget what it means. What we're agreed upon however is that its something that comes from elsewhere, and is at best a foreign ideology. Stan Goff is a retired veteran of the US Army Special Forces, and he proposes differently. In an uncomfortable fact for most Americans, he points out that for the majority of this country's existence, common tenets of fascism like white supremacy, anti-feminist ideals and elite corporatist control were the norm rather than the exception. Groups like the KKK weren't aberrations. The brutal conquest and occupation of the Philippines by American forces wasn't a foreign policy anomaly. The denial of the vote to women wasn't a bizarre blip in an otherwise freedom driven culture. Rather these were just extreme versions of the American normal, what he terms hypernormal. What has been abnormal has been the progressive push in the US that culminated in the Civil Rights and Women's movements, and socialist styled borrowed policies to create some equity of wealth an offset the oligarchy inherent in a capitalist structured society. Goff however warns that in our recent culture of marrying militarism with patriarchal masculinity and whiteness—especially with the so-called War on Terror—we may be moving to make America's unsavory normal traits into the hypernormal, and walking down the road to fascism, without even realizing it.

American Fascism on the Rise

White supremacy as a belief has evolved out of the practice of people in power, who defined themselves as white as a way of differentiating themselves from those over whom they wielded that power… until the dismantling of Jim Crow in the South, white supremacy was a norm, and before the Civil War, slavery was a norm. White supremacy was so normal in 1964 that after the defeat of Goldwater, the Republican Party adopted thinly veiled racist appeals to attract white voters who felt betrayed by the reluctant Democratic Party support for civil rights legislation. Openly racist public officials like Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott, even after their affiliations with white supremacist organizations were publicized, continued to be elected. The Republican appeals to white supremacy were cloaked as opposition to welfare, as "states rights," and as concern about "crime." As late as 1999 the Republican-controlled House of Representatives blocked a vote to condemn the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist organization with whom then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had close ties.

How normed does something have to be before we can say it is normal?"


Wednesday, October 4, 2006


schadenfreude ..SHOD-n-froy-duh.., noun:
From the German, Schaden, "damage" + Freude, "joy."
A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.

Four weeks away from Congressional elections, and the GOP elephant is looking like a mastodon in a tar pit. What's gone so wrong for the Republicans? And can the Democrats take advantage? Hmm… let's have a recap. Click anything in blue for more info!

President Bush's sinking poll numbers: Live by the village idiot, die by the village idiot. The Republicans in Congress made a Faustian pact some time ago, allowing George W. Bush and his authoritarian neo-con handlers to hijack their party, and marry it to the right-wing religious extremists. It was only a matter of time before that cabal began to turn the masses off. Bush's current job approval has dipped as low as 34%. To put things in perspective, that's about where President Richard Nixon's ratings were right before he resigned! A lot of Republicans are trying to flee that sinking ship, but they've entangled themselves into it so tightly, it's rather hard to disengage.

Iraq: Reports have showed that rather than the insurgency in that occupied country being in its "last throes," as Vice President Dick Cheney reported in 2005, it's picking up steam. US military deaths are nearing 2800—with over seventy happening just last month. Attacks on US troops are up. The number of wounded US troops—from illness to missing limbs to massive brain injuries—are well over 20,000. American bombs, including controversial chemical weapons like white phosphorous, and sectarian violence (another nice word for a proto Civil War) has left tens of thousands of Iraqi's dead, perhaps over 100,000! In fact, the latest news by the National Intelligent Estimate is that the Iraq debacle has helped create a more unstable world, and lit the fires for terrorism. Way to go… I guess pretensions of Empire are a lot harder than actually accomplishing the great Pax Americana.

Torture & Privacy: As if the horrors of Abu Gharib weren't enough, the Bush administration and their Republican allies have now passed bills on detainees that ignore the Geneva Conventions, and codify torture. In case you're uncertain about what torture is, here's a primer on waterboarding. Unlike agent Jack Bauer on 24, torture generally doesn't work. And worse still, with the new unprecedented detainee laws pushed by the Republican Congress and the President, allowing the government to suspend habeus corpus, rest assured that innocent people—yes, this may mean YOU—could easily be picked up, not charged, flown to some undisclosed spot and disappeared. If you're doubtful, maybe you haven't heard of Canadian Maher Arar—who was rendered to Syria, and tortured for 10 months (and by torture, we mean having his testicles sliced with razor blades and other "tough interrogation techniques"), all at the behest of the US, and released without so much as an apology when it was realized he was completely innocent. They've ignored privacy with numerous cases of illegal NSA wire-tapping all supposedly in the name of the War on Terror, taking us down the Orwellian road to big brother.

Corruption, Corruption, Corruption: From Representative Tom Delay's resignation, to that of Rep. Bob Ney, to the many tentacled Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and over to the Valerie Wilson CIA leak, the GOP run Congress aren't just turning out to be a "do-nothing grouping," but one filled with a culture of criminal corruption. Ironically, when they stormed the legislature in Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Contract on America," it was to stamp out Democratic corruption. But a few unethically purchased postage stamps pales in comparison to this lot.

George Allen's Racist Mouth, and Past: Once a darling of the GOP, and a Presidential hopeful, Republican George Allen of Virginia can't seem to keep his foot out of his mouth, or his past buried. After referring to a worker in his opponent's camp by a racial slur, he later goes on to deny his Jewish heritage (as if it is a stain) before later embracing it, and is now embroiled in claims that he repeatedly used the n-word in the past, and (most bizarrely) once cut off a deer's head and stuffed it into a black family's mailbox as a type of hate crime. While this has sent shock waves through his campaign, considering that Allen during his high school years wore Confederate army pins and later kept a lynching noose in his law office, these latest acts and revelations shouldn't have really surprised anyone. To his one saving grace on race, Allen did introduce a symbolic bill in 2005 to officially apologize for the Senate's role in blocking antilynching legislation through decades of killings across the South. The question now however is whether such acts were sincere, or political jockeying.

Mark Foley and the "No Child's Behind Left Alone" Act: And then, just when the GOP thought perhaps they had scored a clever tactical victory with their detainee bill, a bombshell was dropped in the form of Republican Representative Mark Foley of Florida—who was forced to resign after sexually solicitous emails and IMs surfaced between himself and male teenage pages in Congress. The GOP is finding itself in disarray, with its members pointing fingers at each other, and even prominent conservatives demanding an investigation. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Add in everything from the madness of Katrina to stagnating wages, and the Republican Party is running scared. Democrats need 15 seats to gain control over the House of Representatives. The Senate is also up for grabs. Now I don't think the Democrats are a panacea. There are too many problems with our consumerist Über-capitalist, globalist, militarist, neo-liberal, hegemonic society to be solved by any one party, who shares in those same depravities. However with the Democrats, we can start at least slowing down the mad dash off the cliff. And perhaps, like Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy said as he watched the GOP alter the Constitution to score political points, "in 40 days we can put an end to this nonsense."