Monday, February 28, 2011

Porn, Porn, Porn

Politics is pretty dumb when you get down to it and the best way to understand the society we live in is through articles like this one, "Why Lesbian Port Is the Best," at Alternet. It focuses on Jincey Lumpkin, the creator of Juicy Pink Box, a lesbian pornography company.

The article is a really interesting take down of modern pornography as well, and, being a left-wing journal, looks more at the sociology of porn and comes to a none too shocking conclusion:

The epitome of straight porn is Bang Bros, a production company founded in 2000 that has 18 active porn sites and uses a “gonzo” filming style. It’s unclear if this “gonzo” style is real or not; Bang Bros Corp did not return my e-mails or phone calls to answer that question. Since Bang Bros don’t appear to be facing criminal investigation, it’s likely acted out, like “reality” TV.

One video I watched opens with a van and two men: one behind the camera, the other driving. They start talking to a young man and woman who are on their way to lunch. The cameraman asks a woman wearing a short mini skirt and a tight top if she usually dresses like “that” for work. She responds no, she was just picking up her paycheck. They ask her if she knows why they are filming her and she doesn't know. They look at the young guy, who looks a bit sheepish and says, “He didn't tell you?” The men laugh, and the woman looks confused.

At this point, nausea washes over me. The three actors finally get her in the van. It takes what felt like 30 minutes of laughter and awkwardness for the two men who approached the woman with the camera to finally tell her that they are a porn company and want to film her having sex with the man. Finally, they coax her into it. I almost had to turn it off because it made me so uncomfortable.

The video is a typical mainstream porno portraying the man and woman in the back of the van. I could say they had intercourse, but that doesn't quite feel right. She “gets it.” It's nauseating.

I'll be a completely honest man and say publicly that I have watched my share of porn. It releases tension, something men are just genetically endowed with in spades. I've only watched Bang Bros. a few times and, like the writer, I was a bit disgusted by it. The one time I watched it there was literally a scene in which the woman featured started to talk about where she came from (she was Puerto Rican) and the man in the scene interrupted and said, "Hey honey, I don't care where you come from. That's not why you're here." Yeah, and they make money off of that.

If you've ever seen The Big Lebowski (a film that literally seems to provide quotable logic for everything in life, like some sort of religious scripture), you'll know the character of Jackie Treehorn. Treehorn, while mixing a poisoned drink for Jeff Bridges' character, waxes about the decline of the porn industry. "Now that we're competing those amateurs, we can't afford to invest in little extras like story, production value, feelings."

That's why modern porn is really, really awful, with an average of five minutes, you're now looking at an industry filled with porn made in the style of a skateboarding video or an episode of Jackass. The description "adult entertainment" seems inappropriate, because there's nothing adult about it, and if you're an actual adult, it's probably not that entertaining.

Possibly because it's a feminist tinged article that she is writing, Lisa Gillespie went to the netherworld of Bang Bros. and didn't look at the strange product of Naughty America. Naughty America is a weird enterprise. They create pornographic movies that often weigh in at around half an hour and use the five minute viewing medium as promotion of their actual product.

Unlike BangBros, Naughty America flips the narrative script of porn. Instead of the man talking an unrelenting woman into having sex, which understandably made Gillespie very uncomfortable, the opposite occurs. Naughty America is filled with alpha females - feminists of the Nicki Minaj variety instead of the Maud Lebowski variety - who are often talking cowardly, recessive men into having sex with them. It's fantasy of course, as marketed porn generally is, but their product is one that seems far less tilted in the direction of extreme male fantasy.

Still, Naughty America is largely for a male audience, not a female one or even an equitable one,unlike the product that Lumpkin produces:

“The mainstream industry excludes male homosexuality, puts straight male desire in charge of female homosexuality, whilst the straight woman is just a reflection of the male desire, not showing own feelings, desires, wishes, decisions, except for serving straight male needs for a ridiculously unrealistic stereotype of manhood and male desire,” Lust says. “So as I didn't see myself in those porn films, I also thought that there must be a lot of men quite bored with those dull images. I figured that if I wanted a different [kind of] porn, I had to do it myself.”

She produces longer films, usually at least an hour long (porn these days is usually no more than five minutes long) with actors paired with other actors of the both sexes. She says she recognizes that men also have a need for more realistic and less objectifying porn.

“Less and less people are willing to buy their low quality films as you get this stuff for free on the net quite easily, while more and more people discover our productions,” Lust says. “For a female audience, there needs to be female characters to identify with that realistically are driven by desires and wishes that real women have. It's more balanced; it's like objectifying and being objectified: giving and taking. Like it is in sex: you give pleasure, and you get your share.”


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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Liberal Lack of Persuasion

Like Genghis, I have been emerged in the world of the Right, a world that most progressives only hear about second hand. Unlike Genghis, I was not emerged in it because I was writing a polemical book on the subject but because I agreed with many of the core premises.

What was one of those core premises? An issue that is exploding in completely the wrong way in the state of Wisconsin. Public employee unions, the core base of Democratic fundraising, are caught in the ire of a Republican governor who knows just how influential they are in policy making. The right makes the power of teacher’s unions a chief crossroads issue because they know the large scale dissatisfaction with public schools on the part of parents, students and everyone except those receiving a paycheck due to the whole enterprise.

I had a column in a local Seattle newspaper several years ago and I spent nearly a year both expelling pent up anger and looking at the core of what is wrong with public education. I grew up in a very progressive area, have liberal family and friends and only knew a handful of conservatives or libertarians, none of whom were people I cared for that much. However, for purely intellectual reasons, the more I looked at the problem, the more all the answers that came out were “right wing.” This is the essential core paradox of modern American education politics, if you advocate change in how public education operates, you are a conservative. If you shout about the welfare of teachers as if that job description automatically translates to saint status and are opposed to charter schools, online schools, vouchers, tenure reform or any other solution that would better serve students and want the system to remain as it has largely been for one hundred years, you’re a progressive. It’s bizarre.

If you’ve read what I’ve just written, you could understandably write me off as someone with an axe to grind. Sure, there is a bit of that. I was bullied non stop by both staff and students at schools, having large backpacks and barbells thrown at my head. I saw incompetent and abusive staff hit kids, badmouth disabled children and bounce around from school to school, just like the infamous “Rubber Rooms” made famous by the film Waiting for Superman. That’s what the SEIU seeks to preserve and charter schools and tenure reform are what they seek to oppose. Ever wonder why so many school violence occurs? It’s not about guns, as easy as it is to blame that. It’s because bullying is routine and educational establishments are more concerned with paychecks, logistics and technocratic issues than making sure children are in a safe, encouraging environment that doesn’t resemble a downgraded prison.

If you understand that sentiment, try projecting it to other issues. On a national level, progressives appear as austere, condescending, judgmental technocrats who want the broad populace to adhere to their standards without ever taking the time to understand where the people they make demands of are coming from. Nobody likes to be talked to like they’re stupid and as long as progressives continue along that line, books like What’s the Matter With Kansas?, asking why on earth so much of America votes against its economic self-interest, will be written by folks that have two feet permanently locked in an echo chamber.

Genghis touches exactly on this when he says, “Not only do many people here ignore the larger world that simply does not buy into many liberal ideas, they don't even attempt to persuade one another, preferring to insult the very people that they need to on their side.” That reminds me all too much of a professor I had, a disciple of the 1960s Bay Area school of left wing demagoguery. I had actually met him right after working for a conservative think tank, where I had become disillusioned upon hearing the n-word regularly leveled by a co-worker, right in proximity to one of the country’s worst urban ghettoes and during a time when reports came out of Tea Partiers hurling that same epithet at members of congress.

Coming back to the Bay Area to finally finish my Bachelor’s Degree, I wanted to help out minorities. The disgust of being in such proximity to full-on racists made me feel guilty. I had seen up close that the level of flat out racist groups on the right was rising and wanted to expose it. This journalism professor saw my interest in the subject as racist itself, shouted the n-word several times at me and literally drove me to the point of swearing back and quitting his class, something I hadn’t done before. I was there, ripe for taking and conversion, and this guy was so hooked on demonizing everyone that moved that he couldn’t help but do it again. The piece that I wrote on white nationalists in the Bay Area eventually got published at Little Green Footballs. I'm actually quite proud of it. I’ll let you decide if it was racist or not.

In contrast to the Left’s technocracy and condescension, the Right talks to the personal. While the Left makes films about global warming and talks about carbon footprints and sustainability, the Right appeals to everyday people through figures like Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and Rick Warren, who largely spend their shows and sermons instructing their audience on how to live their everyday lives for their betterment.

If one reflects truly on the successful progressive movements in American history, it seems quite fitting that they talked to the personal. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. portrayed racial equality as befitting to simple, basic decency. Southern populists like Huey Long succeeded in building public works by portraying hoarders of wealth as selfish and stealing from the people. They didn't belittle those they were trying to convince or make them feel like pions.

This is really all basic psychology. You're not going to convince someone of anything by screaming at them and making them feel like dirt. That so many overeducated people seem to have lost this concept is pretty damning for those who exalt education.

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Qaddafi: Hopeless

gaddafi / Hopeless

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Scorpion's Gate



Do you remember Richard Clarke? He was a terrorism expert who left the Bush administration in anger and frustration, seeing the administration as fixated on carrying out an invasion of Iraq instead of curbing terrorism.

Clarke wrote a memoir, Against All Enemies, that received alot of fanfair. Of all of the betrayals that the Bush administration experienced, Clarke's was the strongest, in his expertise being on terrorism and the Middle East - the issues that were crystallizing George W. Bush's presidency.

After he wrote the memoir, he wrote several thriller novels. The first one, The Scorpion's Gate, portrayed Saudi Arabia overthrown by Islamists:

It's 2010, and the newly established Republic of Islamyah; the former Saudi Arabia; is trying to destabilize Bahrain: the Diplomat Hotel has been bombed, and, as the first chapter of this intense debut thriller closes, the Crowne Plaza is "pancaking." Meanwhile, the deposed House of Saud is holed up in Houston; the Chinese are providing arms and training to Islamyah; the Iranians have the bomb. Secretary of Defense Henry Conrad thinks the time is ripe to invade Islamyah and seize its oil, for which the U.S. is locked in deadly competition with China. Cooler heads in the U.S. (and British) hierarchies are very, very alarmed. Sound familiar? Clarke's Against All Enemies delivered an apostate critique of the Bush administration's counterterrorism efforts, along with a vision of the future very much like today. The writing's nothing special; what is special is Clarke's passionate and deftly detailed version of the present, albeit one told in terms of its consequences. It's a brilliant conceit, and though it's sometimes drowned out by the din of various axes being ground ("It''s 68 degrees [in Washington]on January 28 and the White House still claims that global warming isn't a problem?"), the story is crowded with terrific double crosses, defections and deceptions. They're icing, though: Clarke's dramatic micro explanations of how things "really" work; from a hand who served Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes;are the true story. This is the first novel to shift all the way from Clancy's Cold War to the present war on terror.

The timing - 2010 - is ominous in that Clarke was only one year off. And how on earth could Clarke have known that Bahrain would start to destabilize on its own, without outside intervention? Or that numerous countries throughout the region would experience revolutions simultaneously?

If you're interested further, The Scorpion's Gate is for sale through the Amazon.com widget on the right side of this blog.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Shadeism

There's a really incredible phenomenon of discrimination within communities of color based on the degree of "shade." I had heard of this before but had never heard an actual term for it: shadeism.

This video on "shadeism" was posted by a friend of mine, Aneesah Dryver, who runs a blog on relationships. Aneesah said when posting it, "I've had to deal with shadeism growing up. Thank God I grew to love my beautiful dark skin tone. I hope little girls learn that they are still beautiful even though they don't look like the girls in the videos, magazines, etc

Shadeism from Shadeism on Vimeo.

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Bill Gothard's Submission Theology

AlterNet has an expansive expose of Bill Gothard, a Christian sect that preaches submission to the man in the family, as the unquestionable authority:

Vyckie Garrison, who runs the website No Longer Quivering, “a gathering place for women escaping and recovering from spiritual abuse,” told me that she and her now ex-husband, although they lacked the money to attend Gothard’s seminars, followed his teachings through his homeschool curricula. She said her husband had believed, based on Gothard’s teachings, that he was responsible for his family’s salvation through the authority he exercised over his family, a role which turned him into a “tyrant.”

That story sounds quite a bit like the same family narrative that has affected many Muslim women whose male relatives or husbands have accepted the more extreme doctrines. The call for "submission" especially recalls the most potent criticisms of Islam.

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Bigotry As Comfort

This article recently ran at Talking Points Memo's Book Club, in promotion of Michael Wolraich's book Blowing Smoke. You can purchase it as a Deschamps associate by clicking the widget to the right.

I like Michael's description of Beck as "rationalizing" bigotry.

There's a video of Beck discussing the infamous Father Charles Coughlin and dismissing comparisons between him and the two. In the video, he notes that Coughlin viewed poverty and inequality as a chief issue, which differentiates him from the Ayn Rand touting Beck. The lack of self-awareness shows as he continues to describe Coughlin, saying that Coughlin believed the Great Depression was caused by a "cabal of international bankers" who worked in tandem to usurp "American sovereignty." That that was the basic argument of his George Soros obsession seems to be lost in the midst of Beck's self-awareness deficit. Beck's alleged cabal of bankers is likewise overwhelmingly Jewish and his frequent use of Nazi imagery, and his use of screenshots of the Sinai peninsula (Go back and watch the video for yourself. It's right there in the open.) while talking about Soros is an act of blowing the fascist dog whistle louder than it's been blown in a long, long time. We'd have to be able to catch Beck in private to know if he uses derogatory terms for Jews, but from the outside it seems to rationalizes old, indeed ancient, anti-Semitic arguments by substituting "progressive" for "Jew." As his fans at the white nationalist website Stormfronthave put it, Beck goes "as close as you can get to naming the Jew without actually naming the Jew."

There's so many more examples of his rationalization of bigotry, as Michael has put it, and Charles Johnson and I have documented them pretty well. The rationalization threatens to cascade into the avenues that may even surprise, however. Even with significant disillusion with the right wing, stories such as the effort of House Republicans to legally redefine "rape" to "forcible rape" continue to astonish. As a female friend said, this is apparently justified because "in the whole 'I'm a poor defenseless man,' world, rape is a tool used by nubile young women to trap defenseless older men."

As Michael put it, it's no longer about proving that Beck and the Tea Party brigadiers carry bigoted resentment but explaining it. It seems as if, at least on an unconscious level, significant levels of the population have bought into the paradigm that racism and bigotry is okay now that WASPs are no longer in total control in society. This could possibly explain the adoption of terms like "ruling class" by Rush Limbaugh just as he makes crude imitations of Chinese accents.

The decline of America as a superpower plays into all of this. Americans have not felt a strong need to think about the rest of the world for a long time, and the country's untouchable hegemony seemed to vindicate that. Now Americans are losing jobs to people halfway across the world who actually speak more than one language, have a stronger work ethic and are willing to work for less. The irrationality of racism and stereotypes provides a comfort that at least you're still superior to the people you're losing out to. You can see this in clips where Glenn Beck proclaims that there are no working toilets in India.

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Fall of Empire, End to Wars: Johan Galtung's Predictions


More from Johan Galtung:


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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Comics Will Rot Your Brains!!



A couple years ago, I set up a booth at a flea market in order to get rid of a huge number of comic books. I wasn't giving up the medium or anything like that but was instead trying to clear house of a good deal of comics that I'd acquired during a comic shop's going out of business sale in the mid-90s. The comics were mostly published by the now-defunct Malibu Comics and were published during the 1990s, easily one of the lowest points in comic book publishing history. I just wanted them off my hands.

I was struck by a hostility from older people at what I was selling. I kept hearing, "You know, these things will rot your brains" being said by grown men in a serious tone of voice. At the time I thought they were just "old," but in retrospect most of these nervous pervises were Baby Boomers. They were kids during the Red Scare, which was also a time when comic books were tackled by demagogic lawmakers and imposed with a rating system called the Comics Code Authority. (While mainstream publishers like Marvel Comics have abandoned the Comics Code, it can still be found on the covers of Archie Comics.)

In a recent Reason magazine article, writer Brian Doherty reviewed the book The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America by David Hajdu. Doherty writes that Hajdu argues that the comic book genre was subjected to a witch hunt by lawmakers, churches and academics comparable to the ones that took on Elvis Presley and communists. Hajdu's argument makes sense in explaining why so many Baby Boomers were getting freaked out about the comic books I was selling at that flea market. The book describes kids that beat up other kids who were caught with comic books. Were some of those bullies at that flea market?

Doherty notes that this may not seem relevant to the average reader but it should. Similar assaults have been made on music and video games and will likely continue towards new entertainment mediums in the future. Recall Tipper Gore, the wife of former presidential candidate Al Gore, and her Parents Music Resource Center or Hillary Clinton's efforts to legislate against violent video games.

Comic book companies are still being assaulted by moralist authoritarians in this country, and organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have been set up to aid poor comic book creators that are defending themselves in court against bullying censors. While there are a few pretty racy comic books out there (both in regards to sexual and violent content), comic book publishers do a pretty good job of making it evident on the cover. Marvel has many "All Ages" lines that are tame and fine for little kids. In contrast to that, they have also set up a line called "MAX" that is clearly aimed at teenage and older readers. Comics that don't fall into those lines but have mature or older content are usually labeled as such. Like any medium, be it video games or movies, what ends up in the hands of kids falls down to the individual parent or guardian who is buying it or the retailer who is selling it, and not the publisher, who has little control over where their comics end up.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Johnny Lee Clary On Pat Robertson's 700 Club

Johnny Lee Clary is actually a pretty great guy. I recommend looking him up and watching video of him. It'll make your day better.


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Friday, February 18, 2011

Rep. Paul Broun: Abortions Have Killed More Black Babies Than Any Other Babies

This is really bizarre. George Orwell reiterated throughout his career that politics was the perversion of language and the layman should really keep this in mind when watching a video like this one of Rep. Paul Broun, where he inserts into his speech political jargon long unused in the mainstream like "eugenics" and "colored:"


You have to really wonder about the Republican Party. While President Obama runs away from any dialogue on race as much as he can, Michelle Bachman, the above Rep. Proun, Glenn Beck, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other right wing groups seem to be injecting into their dialogue as much as they can.

Inside Story: Libya

Al Jazeera English provides a half hour documentary on the ascent of democratic uprisings in Libya, where Muammar Qaddafi has been in power for forty years:


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Bracing For A Sun Storm

This is very interesting. Over at Disinformation, they're rushing a bit towards the armageddon diagnosis:

A massive solar flare could make for a beautiful night for people in the northern United States – provided it doesn’t knock the lights out.

The blast of charged particles unleashed from the sun earlier this week has been peppering the Earth over the last few days, but it’s biggest punch is expected to hit the Earth’s atmosphere on Thursday.

Monday’s eruption, considered an X-class flare, is the biggest solar flare in four years. It is already being blamed for disrupting radio communication in China, and could potentially affect power grids and satellite communication around the globe.

However, for the United States, the most likely outcome from this latest space storm could be a colorful night sky over New England and even parts of New York State.




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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Scott Brown Tells All

This is really interesting:

Brown, 51, has written a book, “Against All Odds,” in which he also recounts physical abuse at the hands of several stepfathers. In the interview, he recounts an instance when he contemplated buying a house where he lived with one of his stepfathers so that he could “burn it down” as a cathartic act.


At Truthdig, a blogger asks "Is it just us, or does the publication of a revealing memoir, including details of childhood molestation and abuse, by a first-term senator herald yet another sea change in the game of political publicity?" It does indeed seem a bit odd, and to be blunt Scott Brown does seem rather odd. I actually met him in Washington D.C. and he seemed very congenial. He stood out a bit not just because of all the cameramen around but because he was very polite to the owners of local restaurants and other individuals who are technically "beneath" him.

Confessing personal demons also seems like a significantly more constructive act than what farther to the Right Republicans like Haley Barbour have been using their time doing (or not doing). Surely speaking about his experiences can help others who have had similar experiences to open up about theirs.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Racial Controversy Hits Haley Barbour

In the latest racially charged incident in his home state, Haley Barbour on Tuesday drew fire when he refused to condemn a proposal honoring a Klu Klux Klan leader and Confederate general on a state license plate.

"I don't go around denouncing people. That's not going to happen," Barbour, who is considering a run for the White House in 2012, said when asked about the plate, the Associated Press reported. "I know there's not a chance it'll become law."


CNN also has video of the governor saying "he's a historical figure" when asked about the issue. Just in case you get the idea from above that Barbour doesn't go around using strong words about anything, here's him on February 12 (only days ago) talking about the Obama administration and the Muslim Brotherhood:

Washington (CNN) - Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Saturday he was "mortified" to hear a top Obama administration official describe Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood as a "largely secular organization."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made the remark in testimony before a House panel on Tuesday. His office later clarified the statement through a spokeswoman, saying that the Muslim Brotherhood was participating in Egypt's secular political system and that Clapper "is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization."


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Monday, February 14, 2011

Education: The Myth of US Superiority

From the Alyona Show:



Keep in mind while watching that the boos that Kentucky senator Rand Paul received when he talked about taking a good look at the military budget.

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Chinatown In Kurdistan?

This video is really fascinating reporting from Al Jazeera. Chinese foreign direct investment would be expected in an area that is so rich in natural resources but immigration of Chinese and a market for Chinese cultural goods seems like a whole other step towards liberalism.


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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who Are The Welfare Queens?

Also posted at Little Green Footballs and Dagblog.

Goldy, a Seattle based reporter and blogger, did a concise read of where money was being generated and where it was being spread to in Washington state:


A friend of mine is in the Libertarian Party of Georgia. We have regular talks about politics, especially that of his state, where the budget gap has actually been filled due to the help of stimulus dollars from the federal government. When I said that he'd better not tell the Republicans in his state that, he said the party is all rhetoric.

Washington is not an anomaly. Rural states in Georgia also eat all public dollars while hollering about tax paying and fiscal responsibility. At the federal level, this hypocrisy continues in spades as red states dominate the list of federal spending per dollar of federal taxes, with New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana and West Virginia topping the list.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Glenn Beck Reveals The Root Of Modern Socialism: The Pop Star Fabian

Cross posted at Dagblog.



In another captivating expose of the deceit of the liberal class, Glenn Beck revealed that the plot for modern day communist rule started with the most innocent seeming of figures: the late 1950s/early 1960s teen heartthrob Fabian.

Beck cited lyrics to Fabian's song "This Friendly World" to illustrate the British Fabian Socialists shared more than just a name. "In this song he asks 'Why should any heart be lonely?' and 'Why should any heart be afraid?' His words, not mine. Well, Mr. Fabian lover boy, where have I heard that before? Equality, freedom from fear, Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights, Karl Marx. No, not Saul Alinsky, it's something earlier than that. Lucifer!"

Later in Beck's chilling documentary, which was of impressive Frontline quality, Glenn Beck connected the dots between Fabian, whose career peaked in the early 1960s, and the Fabian Society, which coincidentally was the same period in which the Young Fabians were created. "By making fan clubs for heartthrobs like Fabian and socialist indoctrination camps indistinguishable, Fabian socialists were able to indoctrinate young Americans like Barack Obama's mother, who then marries a Kenyan and turns against her Nixon-voting parents. Fabian was the first community organizer," Beck said. "Do your own research. You think I'm crazy? Go to hell."



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Algeria's police crack down on protesters

From Al Jazeera:



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Al Qaeda Populating U.S. With Peaceful 'Decoy Muslims'


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Frances Fox Piven, Glenn Beck and Social Change

Frances Fox Piven, a target of Glenn Beck's conspiracy theorizing, wrote an excellent piece clarifying the activity that made her part of the grand conspiracy:

The Nation article, entitled "The Weight of the Poor: a Strategy to End Poverty," called for large-scale campaign by social workers, lawyers, community organizers, and the poor themselves to claim benefits. Such a campaign, we thought, would not only relieve some of the acute poverty in the slums of America; it would also generate rising welfare costs for cities and states at a time of intensifying racial conflict.

The latter could prod a national Democratic administration that depended on urban constituencies to reform the archaic grant-in-aid welfare system, which still retained features of the old poor law, to introduce some kind of federal guaranteed-income policy. And in fact, by the end of the decade, even Richard Nixon, under the tutelage of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, became, a cautious advocate of a national guaranteed income.


Now guess who else was a proponent of a form of minimum income? Two heroes of the right,Frederich Hayek and Milton Freidman. Here is an article on Freidman's vision - the "negative income tax" - from the New York Times:

Market forces can accomplish wonderful things, he realized, but they cannot ensure a distribution of income that enables all citizens to meet basic economic needs. His proposal, which he called the negative income tax, was to replace the multiplicity of existing welfare programs with a single cash transfer — say, $6,000 — to every citizen. A family of four with no market income would thus receive an annual payment from the I.R.S. of $24,000. For each dollar the family then earned, this payment would be reduced by some fraction — perhaps 50 percent. A family of four earning $12,000 a year, for example, would receive a net supplement of $18,000 (the initial $24,000 less the $6,000 tax on its earnings).

Mr. Friedman’s proposal was undoubtedly motivated in part by his concern for the welfare of the least fortunate. But he was above all a pragmatist, and he emphasized the superiority of the negative income tax over conventional welfare programs on purely practical grounds. If the main problem of the poor is that they have too little money, he reasoned, the simplest and cheapest solution is to give them some more. He saw no advantage in hiring armies of bureaucrats to dispense food stamps, energy stamps, day care stamps and rent subsidies.

Freidman's "pseudo-welfare" (for lack of a better term) would be aimed at streamlining the process, which Piven herself says is needed:

But who can decipher the impact of a policy to regulate financial institutions when the policy and regulations run to the length of an encyclopedia, and the text of the encyclopedia deals with such incomprehensible matters as credit default swaps? The blank space in the democratic process is an invitation to propaganda by those who want to limit the democratic influence of the public, and propaganda is flourishing in American politics today.

The appeal to right wing demagogues is that they provide quick, easy explanations to the problematic consequences of progressive change. Among those consequences is significant social change:

Lunatic though they are, the ravings about our plan for an orchestrated crisis to destroy capitalism—or a Muslim caliphate that will devour Europe—are important because they provide theories of a sort to people who are made anxious by large-scale changes that have overtaken American society. Those includedeindustrialization and our loss of pre-eminence in the world, changes in family and sexual norms, and, perhaps most of all, the growing diversity of the American population and the election of an African-American president. Social scientists themselves do not agree about the causes of all these developments, and people without the luxury of time and training are often left angry and confused.

That Piven actually recognizes what causes the appeal is very illuminating and welcoming. The oncoming ascent of women in society is going to lead either to nihilism or some sort of ideological muscularity on the part of young men who feel left behind, with pragmatism among those that really understand what is happening. Recognizing this is the best way to offset it, while taking the approach of feminist Pamela Paul will only propel it ever forward.

When it comes to the social change of changing demography, this topic made its presence in full at CPAC this week. Check out Little Green Footballs for full coverage.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

The Crackpot World Of 'Alternative Right'

Cross posted at Little Green Footballs.

Kilgore Trout posted an interview with Kevin DeAnna, who founded Youth for Western Civilization, an avowedly anti-immigration and Affirmative Action group. After doing some quick looks at their group, it was easy to discover that Richard Spencer, founder of Alternative Right (a really far right website), is a featured speaker at YWC events and DeAnna contributes to Spencer's website.

Want to know how absurd Alternative Right is? Richard Spencer just created a blog post calling the Eminem/Chrysler advertising campaign "Negro fascism." The Onion couldn't come up with anything so out of this world.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Shout This One To The Mountaintops

There is alot to be said about bluntness, and some things in life just simply aren't solved by beating around the bush. Take this beautiful marking I found on the window a bar in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood:

It may not be as poetic as "The New Collossus" sonnet that adorns the Statue of Liberty, but the message could not be any clearer or difficult to misinterpret. The above message should be next to Emma Lasarus' words on the Statue of Liberty, as well as placed before the Senate building, the Capitol building and the White House (the last three being where it is needed the most).

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Talking Eminem, Asperger's and Homophobia With A Reader From Buenos Aires

A reader from Buenos Aires recently left a comment on my blog that actually made me think of several things regarding Eminem that I had never even thought of before:

Hi! At last I've come across a highly interesting, intelligent essay on Eminem. Personally, I think he's an unappreciated genius and his album Recovery is fantastic. "Cleaning out my Closet" is impressive. There's another song that should be a hit, called "When I'm Gone"; can't remember whether it's in Recovery, but I certainly have it on one of my Eminem CD's.

Do you think he has some Asperger characteristics? I'm no expert, but I have a degree in Philosophy that helps me to view the world from diffirent angles... I hope! Eminem could write English perfectly at about 4 years, as well as rhyme words with enormous ease as he grew up. I saw him in an interview once, on video, and I believe he really has difficulty smiling, as well as being unable to grasp why certain truths shock people. He grew up in that area of Detroit where homophobia was openly expressed, as well as other racist opinions, all considered normal. What I mean to say, I think, is that he's unaware of the need to be hypocritcal, as for example Hollywood moguls were (and are), concerning homosexuality. But I believe Eminem has the capability to change, with a little help from his friends...I hope so! I like your reference to Johnny Cash. Elvis, Marilyn and so many others were not able to cope, so sad!
Thank you for a great eye-opening read. How can I follow you? On another blog?

BTW, I have am Eminem video on my blog, the "When I'm Gone" one. I hope it's not premonitory. Greetings from Buenos Aires!

There is alot there. So, let's start off with this one:

He grew up in that area of Detroit where homophobia was openly expressed, as well as other racist opinions, all considered normal. What I mean to say, I think, is that he's unaware of the need to be hypocritcal, as for example Hollywood moguls were (and are), concerning homosexuality.

Like Marshall Mathers, I'm also fairly desensitized to "homophobia." I'm in full support of same sex marriage, don't have any problem with people of the same gender holding hands, etc. Like Mathers, I was exposed to black culture pretty early on by attending a heavily minority middle school in which "faggot" was hurled as an epithet on an almost daily basis. (Geez, what am I on? It was hurled on a daily basis.) At a certain point it loses meaning. So does calling men "bitches" as a way of degrading, which I wasn't even aware was homophobic until someone told me.

I didn't grow up on the outskirts of the worst ghetto in America like Mathers did. I grew up in Seattle's Central District/Madison Valley area. The area has completely transformed over the last decade, with indie rock becoming its soundtrack instead of hip-hop and large swaps of its indigenous population fleeing for Renton or Bellevue. Seattle still has a niche hip-hop scene but its starting to gravitate from surrounding areas like Tacoma, South Park or the Eastside cities I just talked about.

White, liberal hipsters (of the sort that are now dominating American cities) are probably some of the most offended by hip-hop in my experience. The often brutal masculinity, anger, sexism and homophobia that comprises it simply does not match their sensibilities. This isn't meant to be condescending but to simply state a general fact. Kanye West is unusually popular with them because he makes hip-hop that is good but largely free of a lot of what hip-hop has historically been.

I do include Eminem in my upcoming Asperger's book, even though he is not actually diagnosed. I'm not sure that he has a genetic variant of it but I do think that he suffers from alienation dating back from early childhood: abandonment by his father, being dropped over in other people's care by his mother, being one of only a few white boys at his school. As I say in the book, most of our socialization is learned and if someone is alienated from day one, they are going to show signs of Asperger's. His mother has Munchausen's syndrome and told him for years that he was mentally ill, another severely alienating experience. Alot of men of my generation have dealt with this wave of almost non-stop alienation and the success of Mathers speaks to that. If his experience were an anomaly, he wouldn't be so popular.

You're not going to get Eminem to stop using "faggot" or "bitch" to diss other men any time soon, but it seems that he's no longer homophobic (if he ever really was) where it counts. Check out this recent interview with Sir Elton John:

In a recent interview, Sir Elton said that the people who think Em has recently lost his sense of humor are dead wrong.

"He's got a great sense of humor," John
told Rolling Stone. "When David [Furnish] and I had our civil partnership, he sent us a present. In a case, on velvet cushions, were two diamond c--- rings. So there's a homophobe for you [laughs]."

What a bigot!

As for unappreciated genius, Eminem is probably going to go in the books as more like Johnny Cash than Elvis Presley (who he was often compared to because of his making white a black genre of music). Cash, like Eminem, lived in several worlds: friends with evangelicals and religious leaders while also covering songs by Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode. His songs contain the darkness of Cash and recent efforts even seem to carry the same air of redemption. With broken marriages and several children (two adopted), a severe drug addiction and a hatred for one of his parents (Johnny Cash likewise hated his father), a biopic of Marshall Mathers might look alot like Walk the Line.

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