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It should come as no surprise that I don’t much care for anyone in the GOP field and this includes Herman Cain. He’s like a malicious version of Ross Perot, with none of Perot’s charm. So I have a certain base-line level of disgust with Herman Cain to start with, but there have been two spikes recently which have caused me to absolutely despise him. The first was this little number, reported by The American Prospect.
Cain’s speech Friday afternoon was a barnstormer. His loudest applause, a standing ovation, came when he noted his upbringing under Jim Crow, but he told the crowd that he’s never been upset with the treatment of blacks in America. “I have achieved all of my American dreams and then some, because of the great nation, United States of America,” Cain said. “What’s there to be angry about?” he asked.
Here’s the more official version from the transcript:
One of the questions that I get asked sometimes running for president of the United States: Mr. Cain, didn’t you grow up in the civil rights movement?
Yes, I did, in Atlanta, Georgia — raised in Atlanta, Georgia, during the ’50s, the ’60s, before the civil rights movement, during the civil rights movement. I was around when they signed the civil rights movement (sic) of 1964, when they signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. This nation has made it through the Civil War. This nation has made it through the struggle we had with slavery, Jim Crow laws, civil rights.
A reporter asked me just yesterday: Well, aren’t you angry — (laughter) — about how America has treated you?
I said: Sir, you don’t get it. (Laughter.) I have achieved all of my American dreams and then some — (cheers, applause) — because of the great nation United States of America. (Cheers, applause.) What’s there to be angry about? Angry? (Applause continues.)
Translation: Herman Cain made a lot of money, therefore people no longer need to be angry about Jim Crow. Um. OK, nationalism and patriotism are all well and good, but this takes flag-waving American exceptionalism to a whole new and awful extreme. This is the race-relations version of that disgusting old GOP chestnut “well I lucked out, why didn’t you?” which is just another way of casting the poor as undeserving. After all, if they deserved to be rich, they would be! Herman Cain hasn’t felt discriminated against, apparently, so why should you? Hear that, black America? Jim Crow wasn’t that bad. And anyway, the elected government of the United States of America may have enacted generations of legislation victimizing black Americans, but America (an amorphous entity made up of fireworks and apple pie) made Herman Cain’s American dreams come true.
It’s like he’s saying no harm no foul. Which is laughable, not to say benighted and revisionist, because he’s apparently forgotten or chosen to ignore the generations of black (and Asian, and Latino, and native American, etc) Americans whose American dreams did not come true because of Jim Crow, and the mountains of other legislation that either directly discriminated against or failed to protect the rights and privileges of American citizens. And he’s apparently forgotten or chosen to ignore the fact that Jim Crow type laws were written explicitly to prevent minorities from participating in the American dream.
No one is saying that Herman Cain, or indeed anyone, needs to be carrying a chip on their shoulder about stuff that happened 40, 50, 60 years ago. How people interact with their own ethnicity ought to be entirely their own business. Of course it isn’t, but it oughta be, and to that end I will not unleash the extensive commentary I had written earlier about how Herman Cain is a dipshit for so obviously attempting to erase his ethnicity in order to hang with the good old boys of the GOP. And yet, at the same time, he’ll use the “Niggerhead” situation as a way to score off Rick Perry, which is not to say that Perry doesn’t deserve it.
The weirdest thing about this is that the GOP was recently called out on their relationship to black history in America. And do you know who did it? Michael Steele. His response to the “Niggerhead” story was this eminently reasonable and well constructed comment:
STEELE: We cannot be lackadaisical about these issues. We cannot be insensitive in that regard and say well just paint over it, because it still is a reminder of what’s beneath the paint. And I think again that’s what irks a lot of African-Americans and a lot of minorities when it comes to how the Republican Party and sometimes its individual candidates respond to these types of things.
Michael Steele has become a voice of reason. Michael Steele has become a voice of reason!! Aughhhhh!
But as far as Cain’s ridiculous run for the presidency goes, this video is actually just as disturbing.
No, knowing the name of the president of Uzbekistan is not going to create a single job. But it is YOUR job as president, Mr Cain. Being proud of your ignorance of foreign policy may go over well with the tea party, who like to pretend that the economy is the only thing going on in the whole wide world, but it just lost you the neo-conservative vote. And also,
hopefully probably, the GOP nomination. Also, how is knowing the leaders of “insignificant” central asian states irrelevant to national security? I’m sure plenty of people thought Afghanistan was irrelevant before 2001. But it wasn’t.
Also, it is probably worth remembering that foreign policy is one of the few arenas for which the president really is directly responsible. Jobs bills, the economy, civil rights at home, all this issues are decided between the president and the legislature. But the formulation and execution of foreign policy is one of the few jobs that falls directly into the purview of the president. Matt Yglesias makes an especially good point:
The contrast with someone like Al Franken is, to me, telling. A comedian running for Senate naturally faces some voter skepticism even if, like Franken, he’s been politically engaged and active for years. So Franken clearly went out of his way during and after his campaign to show that he’s well-briefed and well-versed in the issues. He had a higher bar to cross than your average candidate, so he did the work to clear it. Cain, trying to leap from ex-CEO of third-rate pizza chain to president of the United States, doesn’t think he needs to do anything.
In summation Puffin: Ugh. I am thoroughly cheesed off with these clowns. And Herman Cain is Asshole of the Day.
As you know, it is killing me that I can’t be at the Occupy Wall St protests. And it’s especially horrible and ironic that the reason I can’t go is that I can’t get time off from my corporate
slavery job to attend. But them’s the breaks, as my overlord boss tells me. But fortunately for me I have friends like Jason, an old classmate from Columbia, who managed to get himself down to the protests and has sent us a report from the field.
by Jason Fitzgerald
Note: This essay is also published on the Huffington Post’s Off the Bus series here, under a different title.
One of the most well-rehearsed axioms of the Occupy Wall Street event is that “the media does not know how to talk about it,” and, as a result, is talking about it to as minimal an extent as is possible. Fortunately for the occupation’s supporters, their presence is getting harder and harder to ignore. And so the media’s problem is slowly but steadily becoming the nation’s problem. When I joined in the Solidarity March today along with fellow students from Columbia, NYU, CUNY, and SUNY, not to mention an impressive number of labor organizations, I was approached by two different broadcast journalists for interviews. The first identified himself as “Kuwaiti television,” and the second identified herself as “from CUNY.” Each newscaster thrust a microphone in my face and asked the same question, “Why are you here?” I could not escape the feeling that they were speaking for the entire country, maybe the world, and that somehow, if the answer to the question could be “discovered,” all the cameras would pack up and go home, relieved not to have to be in downtown Manhattan anymore.
We must begin by acknowledging that the first fundamental fact of Occupy Wall Street is that it has no message. It is not a localized policy march, like a march for same-sex marriage equality or for a university living wage or for a political candidate. Occupy Wall Street is unlike any of these protest-type gatherings for the simple reason that it cannot be talked about in familiar terms. The “meaning” of the occupation will emerge over time, both by the intellectuals and journalists who are already trying to explain the event’s “goals,” and by history itself, which will measure the occupation by the way it concludes. I think it is worth considering, though, that the present incommensurability of the occupation, the fact that it cannot be explained away by being made to stand in for a “message” or a “platform,” is its greatest asset, and the marker of its significance.
I answered the question, “Why are you here?,” not by citing the degree of inequity between wealthy and non-wealthy Americans (the problem of the so-called “99%”), nor the oligarchy manifesto known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, nor the bank and corporate bailouts, nor the refusal by any major Western state to take environmental climate change seriously, nor the decades of imperialist inefficacies of the IMF. What I tried to say—and what I am attempting to say better here—is that I came because by being physically present at Occupy Wall Street, I could increase, however marginally, the likelihood that more people would look in my direction.
If Occupy Wall Street is to be permitted any meaning at all, it is as deixis. Deixis takes place when a rhetorician points to something (figuratively or actually) without giving it a name (“here” and “that one there” are deictic terms). A deictic gesture changes the direction of attention, so that what it points away from is as significant as what it points toward. Occupy Wall Street, in other words, is not occupying anything. It is pointing toward and pointing away. It is pointing toward corporate power, through corporate power’s most transparent metonym, the short seven blocks north of Exchange Place that connect Broadway and the East River. And Occupy Wall Street is pointing away from Washington D.C., from the Senate, from the House of Representatives, from Barack Obama, from Rick Perry and Chris Christie, from filibusters, from debt ceilings, from “supercongresses,” from election polls, from Americans for Prosperity, from Karl Rove, from George Soros, from campaign ads, from everything that “the media”—particularly the socially engaged media like CNN, Fox, and MSNBC—understands to be “politics.” Occupy Wall Street turns away from these items and says: That is sideshow.
What is real? The flow of capital, the source of money and the direction in which it travels, who is paying for what, and how they are getting their money in the first place. Equally real are the consequences of these conditions on the lived experiences of the world’s citizens. No matter what the individual protestors’ “interests” and “demands” might be—and I insist that it is not to the occupation’s discredit that many protestors could not honestly and coherently answer “Why are you here?”—the occupation’s message could not be simpler: LOOK!
It is because Occupy Wall Street is, at least right now, nothing more than an act of deixis, and because that content-less gesture has grown in size and strength without any major institution willing it to, that it is significant. Regardless of what legacy Occupy Wall Street leaves behind, its existence matters in the world-historical sense. It is the genuine expression of a real deficiency at the constitutional level of our socio-political system that not only cannot be solved by structures currently in place, it cannot even be understood in those structure’s terms.
The day we—as individuals and as participants in a media apparatus—learn how to talk about Occupy Wall Street is the day Occupy Wall Street’s first and only “demand” will be met. That is the day when we learn how to talk about the world economy as something other than a given state of affairs, to be “managed” by policy decisions and morally sound corporate leaders. It is time to ask the question, “What are the obligations of a state to its people?” It is time we stop pretending that those obligations are not being met because of a surplus of legislators and corporate executives who are “greedy” or “ideological” or “political” or “evil.” It is time we ask the only real question worth asking of Occupy Wall Street—why is this happening? What are the political and socio-economic conditions of our country failing to achieve such that an increasingly large number of people feel they must go to the streets without solutions, without leadership, without message and point to a set of buildings that are themselves not the problem, filled with people who are working for a living and are also, as individuals, not the problem? And how will that be fixed?
… … … … … … … … …
I think he’s on to something Puffin.
It seems I was either way ahead of the curve or slightly psychic when I did my own personal resurrection of Arrested Development a few weeks ago. There is a bone fide rumor going around, started by no less than the Boston Herald, that Arrested Development is being brought back for a “limited” season. This is in addition to the movie, which I guess/hope/pray is really happening. Someone on Twitter says that the “limited run tv series would allow exposition for what each character has done for past 5 yrs then movie screenplay can jump right in.” And you know, it’s on Twitter so it must be true. The New Yorker’s official Twitter seems to be confirming.
If this isn’t true then it may be the greatest troll of all time. Tomorrow’s tweet will be from the New Yorker: “We’ve made a huge mistake…..”
Let’s hope this is real Puffin
MacGuffin, who just blue herself
Much has happened since I last posted. I have finished a 400 mile move, which will hopefully be my last for a very long time. I’m positively sick of moving every damn year. The Pats lost to the Bills in one of the strangest games I’ve ever been unable to watch. And the Red Sox were eliminated in a particularly humiliating and historically accurate way. I’ve had one of my teeth rebuilt. And I’ve finally gotten a job. With whom, you ask, hoping that I’m finally living up to my potential, as my 3rd grade teacher used to say, and fulfilling my dream as a policy advocate for the ACLU. But no Puffin. I must disappoint you. I’m working at an unnamed national chain bookstore. For minimum wage. With no benefits.
More later Puffin. I have to go to day 2 of indoctrination. And I have to go buy pants.
The Republican Party in Arizona’s Pima County, which is represented by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), is in the midst of a fundraising raffle, $10 per entry.
The prize: the same model of gun that delivered a near-fatal blast to the Democratic lawmaker’s skull outside a Tucson grocery store in January.
I simply can not fathom the group-think which convinced anyone that this was an acceptable thing to do. The Arizona GOP is my perpetual nomination for Asshole of the Day, but this really belongs more in the Poor Taste Museum.
Yours in Bruce Campbell and all his glory
(How to read this post: When a number (like these ➊) appears in the text, go to the corresponding number in the key at the foot of the post and follow the directions.)
As I spent a relaxing Saturday morning watching The Penguins of Madagascar and drinking a coffee ➊, I was confronted with a blast from the past ➋. Now, I have long complained that the biggest problem with The Penguins of Madagascar is that they’re shown on Nickelodeon, which means that you pretty much can’t avoid the Saturday morning advertising, which is broadcast directly from the pits of Hell ➌. Every time an ad for iCarly comes on I cower in fear in the corner of the sofa. But that was nothing compared the the truly frightening discovery that Smell-O-Vision has become a sinister reality! Remember Smell-O-Vision, also known as AromaRama, Scent-O-Vision or OdorAma? This shit used to be a joke, something generally accepted to be one of the worst ideas of all time. (Seriously, Time Magazine voted it one of the 100 Worst Ideas of All Time, which is actually impressive in a twisted way.)
So I guess it’s fitting that this terrible idea should be paired with an abysmal movie, such as Spy Kids 4. Which, the infernal broadcast informs me, is in ’4D AromaScope’. First problem: smell is not the 4th dimension. Smell is not a dimension at all. The 1950s have officially returned. Apparently they’ve improved the original idea a bit though. Instead of spraying the theater audience with noxious chemicals pumped in through the air system, you get a scratch and sniff card. So that’s an improvement over major flops like Scent of Mystery, but still not a winner, especially if Alonso Duralde’s experience is typical. “First things first: All eight scratch-and-sniff scents on the “Aroma-Scope” card I was handed at Spy Kids 4D: All the Time in the World smelled like Trix cereal and cardboard.”
Not a smash hit, apparently. But then, why would you want to smell along (what a bizarre phrase to find myself typing!) to a generic action movie like Spy Kids 4? Surely this technology would be better for a movie that involves interesting smells. Obvious choices would be movies about food. Mystic Pizza, Julie and Julia, Chocolat, Big Night. In an action movie I don’t quite see how it would add to the experience. I mean, take The Bourne Identity, a truly great action flick. When Jason’s body is pulled out of the Mediterranean by a fishing ship are you going to try to recreate the scent of a damp, dirty fishing boat on a rainy night?➍ God I hope not. Do you have any idea what that shit smells like? Let me tell you, it does not lend verisimilitude to the cinematic experience. What it adds is a god awful stench. And what about the car chase? Do they plan to pump in the smell of burning tires and an overheating Mini-Cooper engine backed up by the smell of Paris on garbage day?➎ I hope not.
I find the future confusing Puffin. Especially when it looks so much like the past.
➊ This was fair trade Chocolate roast from Fresh Market. Mix up a cup of dark roast coffee grounds with a 98% cacao Lindt bar and drink it at the dead of night in the bottom of an abandoned coal mine, and you might get close to how utterly inky black my coffee really is.
➋ The musty odor of the past can best be duplicated by finding a stuffy attic or garage and inhaling deeply. Multi dealer antique stores are also a good bet.
➌ Combine 3 parts brimstone and 2 parts sulphur in a cocktail shaker, add 3 frozen condemned souls and shake. Garnish with razor wire. Pour into a large syringe and inject the mixture up your nose. This will both accurately recreate the smell of Hell and also give you a rough idea of how I feel whenever I fail to mute an iCarly or Big Time Rush ad.
➍ 3 days old Galouise smoke, fish, foot fungus, bilge water and sweat. Usually so thick you could cut it with a knife.
➎ I would guess that it smells about like Scranton when there’s a tire fire. A smell I hope never to experience again. Route 81 right next to a burning scrap yard is not a good place to be stuck in traffic in a car without working AC.
I hope everyone has seen this wonderful video of New Jersey governor Chris Christie defending his appointment of Sohail Mohammed to the Superior Court of Passiac County.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to see someone like Christie speaking out about this bullshit Sharia hysteria. And I think Sohail Hohammed sounds like a perfectly lovely judge and I’m sure he will be a great benefit to the legal community in the state of New Jersey.
But there is something in the reporting of this case that freaks me out, and it is this: everyone, Christie included, keeps reminding us that the Muslims Mohammed defended after 9/11 weren’t terrorists. They were the wrongly arrested ones who were proved innocent and it was totes all a big mistake, guys. Jeffrey Goldberg put it this way:
Sohail Mohammed represented, while in private practice, Muslims who had been detained by the FBI after the Sept. 11 attacks. None of the men was ever charged with anything related to terrorism.
Here’s the thing for me: I don’t give a highly colored damn whether they were guilty or innocent because everyone gets a defense lawyer in this country. EVERYONE. Even the guilty ones. I don’t care if Sohail Mohammed represented and defended terrorists, because he is a lawyer and that is his job, and they had a right to his services. Timothy McVeigh got a defense lawyer. Jeffrey Dahmer got a defense lawyer. And what is more, they had a constitutional right to a defense lawyer, and they had the right to demand that that lawyer do his very best to defend them. As a prominent litigator in the great state of New Jersey I expect Sohail Mohammed to defend his clients well, and to bring all his expertise to the defense of any person, guilty or innocent, that he is asked to represent. Everyone gets a defense lawyer, in order to ensure that no one is ever convicted without the prosecution fully and completely proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt, even in cases that seem open and shut. It is better for Casey Antony to go free than for us to corrupt the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof in order to convict her.
I am really uncomfortable with the underlying assumption that this is all ok because the people he defended weren’t terrorists after all. Note that the Goldberg quote “while in private practice” serves to neatly remind everyone that he wasn’t defending them on behalf of the government. It was something he did in his private practice which is his business and not official at all.
Basically what this is saying to me is that Sohail Mohammed would have been considered unfit for this appointment if those men he defended actually had been terrorists. And that is WRONG. This sets a seriously scary precedent, as far as I can see. If the media has gotten so out of control that defending a guilty party can jeopardize a public servant’s career to this degree, then I think we have a serious problem. Because you know what will happen? No lawyer will risk themselves to defend accused terrorists and you know what will happen then? Terrorists won’t get fair trials. And that actually WILL destroy America, more effectively than any bomb.
No doubt you’ve followed the tragedy in Norway closely. There’s a group working on decrypting the killer’s manifesto, “a rambling manifesto that at times rails at “cultural Marxists” and “multiculturalism”. I have not read the 1500 page ranting myself, but I do suspect it would be worthwhile to do so.
There isn’t much information on the group itself, it seems to be nothing more than a collection of amateur cryptologists. Great work has been done by such people in the past, actually.
Some points of interest from their Website:
- after some analysis, it has been discovered that the first segment contains information which can be easily converted into geographical coordinates (which coordinate system is not known)
- when plotted on a map in the most obvious way, these coordinates/points correspond with major european cities (see graphical map at http://u.no.net/4fi )
- some of these cities are represented with more than one coordinate/point (ex: oslo, stockholm, london, paris)
- the coordinates are precise down to street level, resolution is limited by an uncertainty of approximately 111 (n-s) x 55.5 (e-w) meters
I don’t know how much of this time is fruitful. I think that in the face of any tragedy, most of us just spend time trying to figure out how something that can happen. We have an innate need to rationalize the world.
However, I don’t necessarily believe that this is not time well spent. So far, I’ve seen nothing which points fingers at shadowy government organizations (I’m looking at you, Loose Change). It seems more likely that these people are running on the assumption that Breivik was trying to communicate something more.