Saturday, June 5, 2010


There is no more important struggle for American democracy than ensuring a diverse, independent and free media. Free Press is at the heart of that struggle.

-- Bill Moyers

"We live in a very cruel society."

Yes, we do.

A couple clips from the Rachel Maddow show on the BP disaster

The first video has this bit that I found especially on-target:
This is not Hurricane Katrina. This isn't another Katrina. This isn't another anything. This is a whole new thing, happening to us. This is America's Deepwater Horizon disaster. We all own it forever.


You can diagnose whether we have a functioning media in this country by whether or not the country understands that this is a vile environmental megadisaster. You can diagnose whether we have a functioning political system in this country by whether or not the result of this megadisaster is change.

Big Oil has been too rich to care about what it was putting us all at risk for. And we've been too cowardly to change direction and break free from them. If that changes because of our national disgust at this disaster, then America's political system in 2010 works. If it doesn't change, then it doesn't work.

Israel would have you turn a blind eye

Image from Naomi Klein's site. Emily Henochowicz lost her eye after being hit in the face by a canister of teargas fired by Israeli occupational forces on the West Bank (h/t A Tiny Revolution). Her "crime"? Being part of a protest against Israel's recent flotilla raid. Yes, if the Israeli military is anywhere nearby, remember that if you refuse to turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israeli forces will be more than happy to impose blindness upon you.

A quick refresher

What exactly is the blockade of Gaza? is a bit of a refresher on what the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza is, and its consequences for those who happen to have the misfortune of living in Gaza. I've mentioned before that the consequences have been nothing short of genocidal in the sense of the term used by Rafael Lemkin. As an aside, say what you will about Hamas (which strikes me as roughly the Palestinian equivalent to our Tea Party crowd), but the party's rise to power would not have been possible without the brutal repression of those living in Gaza - and the more that Israel's government tries to turn the screws on those residing in Gaza, the more powerful a presence Hamas becomes.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Maybe it's time to face that a large portion of Americans are racist motherfuckers

I know that's not a very nice headline, but occasionally there are stories that come up that make me wonder if I've somehow time traveled back about a half century ago. Take for example Arizona School Demands Black & Latino Students’ Faces On Mural Be Changed To White:
Hard to find even the Gallows Humor in this story, so maybe we won’t even try. Maybe it’s time to admit that large chunks of America are in the hands of unreconstructed racists and vulgar idiots, and that the popular election of a black man as president just might’ve pushed these furious, economically doomed old white people into a final rage that is going to end very, very badly. Ready? Here you go: An Arizona elementary school mural featuring the faces of kids who attend the school has been the subject of constant daytime drive-by racist screaming, from adults, as well as a radio talk-show campaign (by an actual city councilman, who has an AM talk-radio show) to remove the black student’s face from the mural, and now the school principal has ordered the faces of the Latino and Black students pictured on the school wall to be repainted as light-skinned children.

This is America, in 2010, and there’s a dozen more states and endless white-trash municipalities ready to Officially Adopt this same Official Racist Insanity.
From the Arizona Republic:
A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school. The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity ….

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott’s Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town’s most prominent intersections.

“We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” Wall said. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”
The children depicted on the mural, as we mentioned before but feel compelled to repeat, are little kids who go to the school — “a K-5 school with 380 students and the highest ethnic mix of any school in Prescott. Wall said thousands of town residents volunteered or donated to the project.”

And these children, for the past several months as this happy mural encouraging “green transportation” was being painted by local artists, have been treated to the city of Prescott’s finest citizens driving by and yelling “Nigger” and “Spic” at this school wall painted with pictures of the children who attend the school. And this has been encouraged by a city councilman, Steve Blair, who uses his local radio talk show to rile up these people and demand the mural be destroyed.

And now the faces are being painted white, “because of the controversy.”

Remember where you were, when you could still laugh about teabaggers and racists and Arizonans, because funny time is almost over. If the unemployment keeps up — one in five adult white males has no job and will never have a job again — and people keep walking away from their stucco heaps they can’t afford and the states and cities and counties and towns keep passing their aggressive racist laws to rile up the trash even more, shit’s going to very soon become very bad, and whether it’s the National Guard having wars in the Sunbelt Exurbs against armies of crazy old white people who are finally using their hundreds of millions of guns, or whole Latino neighborhoods burned to the ground the way the Klan used to burn down black neighborhoods a century ago, we are in for a long dark night and no light-colored paint is going to fix that.
When the folks at Wonkette are being serious, something is terribly wrong. There are I suspect many lessons to be learned here. One thing that I have probably said in other contexts is that we can judge a society by how its adults treat its children, and by the types of examples they set for their children.I think it's safe to say that the adults who've been shouting racist epithets at kids who were painting a mural, and the city councilman/radio talk show host deserve a huge failing grade on both counts. It also goes without saying that the school officials who appeased these assholes, rather than standing behind their kids, also deserve a big failing grade. Trust me, the kids in Prescott most affected will remember, and their view of those who are supposed to be "responsible adults" will be forever altered - expect a lot of jadedness. I hope these can vow to set a better example when they reach adulthood.

It also goes without saying that this is yet another example of tea partiers (and their kindred spirits) on a bender, leaving a trail of destruction wherever they go. Those who've bought into the myth of white privilege have been engaged in a mass orgy of political destruction since the late summer of 2008. Their world is changing, and they're subjecting us to a massive temper tantrum. This would have happened even in the best of times, but add healthy doses of unemployment, firearms, booze and meth into the mix with the hateful rhetoric that pollutes most talk radio and wingnut websites and we have the human equivalent of a molotov cocktail looking for a match. Like the folks at Wonkette, I don't see this ending well.

Musical Interlude - Ian Hunter

Ah, a blast from the past. Brings back such fond memories of my youth, while seeming quite fitting today.