Blessed Are The Cheese Eaters
The One You Burn Does Not Reek Of Smoke
He You burn laughs as he burns
And the one You kill,
As You kill him,
Cries out in ecstasy.
Khwaja Abdullah Ansari.
Trolling Hate Begets Hate
As if Pam Geller's little hate project wouldn't have a predictable, hateful result--guess we now have to fight them here so we don't have to fight them over there, or something. I wish all extremists would just hurry up and fight it out to the death already, and leave the rest of us alone.
Two Bass Hit
Our Last Pennies Of Kindness...
God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children -- less.
But adults he pities not at all.
He abandons them,
And sometimes they have to crawl on all fours
In the scorching sand
To reach the dressing station,
Streaming with blood.
He will have pity on those who love truly
And take care of them
And shade them
Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench.
Kepler Wouldn't Understand Either
Via RMJ, I see that there's a conflict between native Hawaiians and astronomers who want to build a telescope on Mauna Kea, considered sacred ground by the latter.
I love science. I love space. I love looking at space. I find looking through a scope to be a religious experience.
I wouldn't build one on somebody's religiously-significant land, especially when it had been stolen by our nation. Hell, man, we've got goddamned scopes in space. Why the fuck do we need to mess up other people's shit?
The confused astronomers are absolutely soaking in privilege as invisible as cosmic rays we bathe in our whole lives...
The Establishment Of Equality In The Enjoyment Of Basic Civil And Political Rights
In 1930, J. D. Shelley, his wife, and their six children migrated to St. Louis from Mississippi to escape the pervasive racial oppression of the South. For a number of years they lived with relatives and then in rental properties. In looking to buy a home, they found that many buildings in St. Louis were covered by racially restrictive covenants by which the building owners agreed not to sell to anyone other than a Caucasian.
The Shelleys directly challenged this discriminatory practice by purchasing such a building at 4600 Labadie Avenue from an owner who agreed not to enforce the racial covenant. Louis D. Kraemer, owner of another property on Labadie covered by restrictive covenants, sued in the St. Louis Circuit (State) Court to enforce the restrictive covenant and prevent the Shelleys from acquiring title to the building.
The trial court ruled in the Shelleys' favor in November of 1945, but when Kraemer appealed, the Missouri Supreme Court, on December 9, 1946, reversed the trial court's decision and ordered that the racial covenant be enforced. The Shelleys then appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
On May 3, 1948, the United States Supreme Court rendered its landmark decision in Shelley v. Kraemer, holding, by a vote of 6 to 0 (with three judges not sitting), that racially restrictive covenants cannot be enforced by courts since this would constitute state action denying due process of law in violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Although the case did not outlaw covenants (only a state's enforcement of the practice), in Shelley v. Kraemer the Supreme Court reinforced strongly the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws, which includes rights to acquire, enjoy, own, and dispose of property.
The Shelley case was a heartening signal for African Americans that positive social change could be achieved through law and the courts.
But now everything is great, with no such thing as White Privilege. So any problems in Bal'mer are because lazy blacketyblack people are just not taking enough responsibility in their communities...
Press Not A Falling Man Too Far
Apropos of my watching Amistad last night, here's a snippet from John Quincy Adams' (real) argument before the Supreme Court:
I inquire by what right, all this sympathy, from Lieut. Gedney to the Secretary of State, and from the Secretary of State, as it were, to the nation, was extended to the two Spaniards from Cuba exclusively, and utterly denied to the fifty-two victims of their lawless violence? By what right was it denied to the men who had restored themselves to freedom, and secured their oppressors to abide the consequences of the acts of violence perpetrated by them, and why was it extended to the perpetrators of those acts of violence themselves?
If You Can't Do The Time (To Death), Don't Do The Crime (Of Being Black)
I am rather sick of hearing the refrain "if you can't do the time" in the context of all these isolated incidents of black people being killed. It's hard not to avoid criminality when everything is criminalized, whether it's wearing saggy pants or simply walking while black, which is essentially what Freddie Gray was doing when unlawfully arrested in the first place without probably cause.
From now on, when I see anybody sing that same bullshit song, my retort will be simple: FUCK YOU, RACIST ASSHOLE. The end.
Because Why Not?
How About A Little Prison Poetry?
Drugged and unplugged
From the American Dream.
Rottin' and forgotten
Feeling forced to scheme.
In each of these cells
There's a separate hell
And each bears a tale
Of a nation that failed.
Christopher J. Scarver (Jeffrey Dahmer's killer).
A Pile Of Manure
Funny how certain people don't quote Jefferson when certain other people rebel. But they'll tell you all about Dr King and non-violence...
Choke The Current Of The Cape Fear River
Who Knew There Were So Many Jeffersonian Democrats In Texas?
Memo To DoD: Don't Mess With Texas
I Was A Sailor
Please Sir, I Want No More
Find Out Just What Any People Will Submit To
Folks love to cite Douglass' "power concedes nothing without a demand" quotation, but they miss even more powerful stuff from his full speech:
The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing.
If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This, of course, has nothing to do with current events...
The Heart Is A Bloom
Context Is King
Not a bad piece at CNN, of all places:
[Mosby] offered a litany of events that, if they occurred as portrayed, suggest negligence on behalf of the officers -- from a failure to properly restrain Freddie Gray to an alleged failure to address his calls for aid. As an exacerbating factor, she added that that Gray was illegally arrested.
Given such a story of negligence compounded by negligence, it's not hard to see how she would arrive at a charge of gross negligence and even murder with a depraved heart. And while it's unusual for a thorough investigation to take less than two weeks, it is not unheard of -- and if Mosby found solid basis to charge these officers, it is absolutely appropriate for her do so as expeditiously as she did.
There seems little doubt that the national attention this case received played at least some part in the speed at which these charges were brought. With that in mind, if such pressure influenced the nature of the charges, then that would clearly be a bad thing: Prosecutors' charging decisions shouldn't be influenced by public opinion. But I don't think that's what happened here. What more likely happened here is that public opinion made this case a priority, and it expedited a charging decision.
However, one thing the speed of these charges does signal is that Mosby understands the larger context of this case.
Some have posited that these indictments are unfair because they possibly were influenced by "the mob" (we can ignore the other bogus and/or reasons for now). Mosby holds an elected position, and we're told that politicians need to respond to their constituents (or does that only count when it's rich supporters?).
One reason "the mob" is angry in the first place is there's a lack of responsiveness to their communities' needs. Those needs include a trustworthy justice system. That's the larger context Mosby understands.
I'll note that "the mob" didn't kill these officers, nor even demand they be killed. "The mob" used the language of the unheard to cry out for justice.
"The mob" has not been heard very well before now. Somebody finally heard them.
PS--BooMan: "This didn't just happen because people peaceably protested...When rioting becomes an effective way to get justice, the system has already been failing for a long time."
I guess we can say it was effective in this specific case, which only amplifies his point when compared to Ferguson, NYC, etc.
Reading The Riot Act
Here are a few items about Bal'mer that haters of justice will refuse to read but still desperately try to rebut:
- Alternet - The protests are only mysteries to American policymakers and members of the public who live in a state of denial.
- Salon - We don’t live in an ideal world where oppressors calmly hear out people they oppress before the sh*t hits the fan.
- Slate - The rioting in Baltimore wasn’t hooliganism. It was a protest against the depredations of the ghetto economy.
OMG, WHAT WE WILL TELL THE CVS' INSURERS' CHILDREN?! AND HOW DARE THAT BLACKETYBLACK LADY MARRIED TO A HUGE BLACKETYBLACK MAN WHO REFUSES TO CONDEMN ALL THIS PROPERTY DEATH PROSECUTE THOSE BRAVE COPS FOR KILLING A BLACKETYBLACK MAN WITH A LONG BLACKETYBLACK RAP SHEET?!?!?! AND DID YOU NOTICE THAT SOME OF THE UNFAIRLY MALIGNED HEROES WERE BLACKETYBLACK?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
I Was Resting Comfortably, Face Down In The Gutter
Now, You're Looking For Some Sort Of A Guillotine To Come Flowing Down
An old favorite:
This is complicated stuff.
We're looking out into the future.
No one can predict the future with absolute certainty.
So you ought to just back off,
take a look at it,
relax, understand that it's
honorable people are working on these things together;
there isn't any daylight between them. They will be
discussing this and
discussing that; they may have
a change here or
a change there,
but it will get worked out.
At Least These White Rioters Didn't Burn Down A CVS
The remote cause of the riot as it appears to us is a bitterness of feeling which has always existed between the low whites & blacks, both of whom have long advanced rival claims for superiority, both being as degraded as human beings can possibly be.
The scene on May 1, 1866, in Memphis, TN:
[A] street brawl erupted between several Irish policemen and a group of blacks recently discharged from the United States Army. The conﬂict quickly escalated into a full-scale battle between the police department and virtually all Negroes wearing Union blue in the downtown area.
A detachment of federal troops from nearby Fort Pickering, occupying Memphis since the end of the Civil War, intervened to halt the violence within five hours. Most of the black veterans then retreated to the safety of the Fort, just outside the city. With the fall of darkness, peace seemed secured and the soldiers returned to their banacks. But soon thereafter a large white mob descended upon the city's Negro community and rampaged unchecked for the entire night and the following day.
By the time martial law was declared and order firmly reestablished on the afternoon of May 3, 46 blacks and 2 whites lay dead. Seventy-ﬁve other persons had received bullet wounds. Moreover, during the forty-hour span of anarchy, predatory gangs had raped at least 5 Negro women, robbed over I00 victims and dealt severe beatings to 10 others. Property destroyed included the houses of 91 families, (89 belonging to blacks, 1 owned by a white man and 1 of an interracial couple), 4 churches, and 12 schools. A contemporary estimate placed the damage at over $100,000.
Backlash to the riot gave Radical Republicans the ability to push the 14th Amendment, which finally eliminated structural racism in America...
The Cops Want Someone To Bust
How Many White Cities?
It had better been hiddenBut the Poets inform:We are chattel and liegeOf an undying Worm.
John Crowe Ransom.
Democracy Is Untidy
It only counts when there's real oppression, NOT IN AMERICA!
While no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression...
Rummy was always poetical and never ironical...
Broken Windows Vs Broken People
One more thing from Rolling Stone:
[W]e can all understand a thing on fire or a thing destroyed, because we all to some extent own things. There is an immediate calculable worth or sympathy to the destruction of a property, and almost always our attitude toward that property's purpose is neutral, meaning that its destruction can always be fascinating but can quite often be pitiable as well. We can project the relative worth of our things onto any property and gain a sense of proportion as to what was lost. Moreover, the destruction of a thing can rarely be blamed on the thing itself, making it (usually) morally neutral and the harm brought to it almost always the agency of someone else.
This, amongst other reasons, is why we have a "Broken Windows" police policy instead of a "Broken Peoples" policy. We implicitly understand that someone broke a window, and that it is not the window's fault. Fixing broken windows is good. A broken person can be blamed on just about anything, but in a pinch, we make it easy on ourselves and just blame them. Fixing them is now a moral hazard.
I particularly enjoy the blaming of gay marriage, which has a creative, poetic aspect that merely blaming the victims in Bal'mer lacks.
If The Elevator Tries To Bring You Down
Judges Must Be Pure, Politicians Must Be Paid
Pols are expected to be corrupt:
Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion for the Court in Williams-Yulee is certainly better for campaign finance regulation than a decision striking down this limit on judicial candidates — had the case gone the other way, judges could have been given the right to solicit money from the very lawyers who practice before them. Yet Roberts also describes judges as if they are special snowflakes who must behave in a neutral and unbiased way that would simply be inappropriate for legislators, governors and presidents:
States may regulate judicial elections differently than they regulate political elections, because the role of judges differs from the role of politicians. Politicians are expected to be appropriately responsive to the preferences of their supporters. Indeed, such “responsiveness is key to the very concept of self-governance through elected officials.” The same is not true of judges. In deciding cases, a judge is not to follow the preferences of his supporters, or provide any special consideration to his campaign donors. A judge instead must “observe the utmost fairness,” striving to be “perfectly and completely independent, with nothing to influence or controul [sic] him but God and his conscience.” As in White, therefore, our precedents applying the First Amendment to political elections have little bearing on the issues here.
Most Americans would undoubtedly agree that judges should not “follow the preferences” of their political supporters, as they would agree that judges should not “provide any special consideration to his campaign donors.” But the implication of the passage quoted above is that members of Congress, state lawmakers, governors and presidents should provide such consideration to their supporters and to their donors. The President of the United States is the president of the entire United States. A member of Congress represents their entire constituency. Yet Roberts appears to believe that they should “follow the preferences” of their supporters and give “special consideration” to the disproportionately wealthy individuals who fund their election.
ONE DOLLAR, ONE VOTE!
Save Our Souls
Today In Clueless White Guys
Nice take on that Blitzer/Deray exchange:
1. “You want peaceful protests, right?”
McKesson seems a little stunned, then agrees, then goes on to cite both how police departments have been anything but peaceful and that there had been days of peaceful protests in Baltimore and around the country. Blitzer replies:
2. “But at least 15 police officers have been hurt, 200 arrests, 144 vehicle fires — these are statistics. There’s no excuse for that kind of violence, right?”
McKesson then replies that there is also no excuse for the seven people killed by Baltimore PD in the last year.
3. “We’re not making comparisons. Obviously, we don’t want anybody hurt. But I just want to hear you say that there should be peaceful protests, not violent protests in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King.”
It’s all right there, everything in the Dealing With Aggrieved Minorities Playbook, a script even a Blitzer can read.
First, McKesson, a guy who is not a national black leader, has to explain himself. He’s there, so now he’s the representative — because, connect the dots, while that rioting happened, McKesson was also black at the time — and it’s implied that he has to account for things here. It doesn’t matter that McKesson had fuck-all to do with it and lacked the clout to stop it, let alone any contact with the people responsible; he’s on TV.
Second, there’s the instant begged question that what happened must be disavowed. Blitzer hasn’t the capacity to engage the idea that legitimate grievances might underpin what happened in Baltimore, that fire and rage might be ugly manifestations of a greater truth, that rage might have a fuel from an outside source. It has to be condemned first. That’s the only purpose for this segment. That it will be ended before any greater systemic discussion occurs is almost a given; just get the condemnation on the record, then — oops, will you look at that — we’re out of time, back to the studio.
Third, the moment McKesson can use the language of outrage at violence to impugn a system, Blitzer immediately declares that “we’re not making comparisons.”
BUT WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THAT POOR CVS?!
Long Live The King
There is a ritual that accompanies these moments of protest by black Americans, and the wholly predictable urban unrest that follows the repeated killings of unarmed black people by police.
The high priests of public opinion take to the TV, radio and Internet and summon the memory of Brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to condemn black folks who are “rioting,” for the latter are violating the sacred covenant of “nonviolence” that King, as one of America’s greatest leaders and martyrs, supposedly died for.
The man and woman on the street participate in this act of American civil religion as well. They mutter some basic understanding of Dr. King’s dream, spittle an accompanying phrase about the civil rights movement, as they shake their heads in consternation at the violent protests in Baltimore and elsewhere.
The high priests of public opinion on the dais, and those who sit in the pews of Dr. King and the civil rights movement as civil religion, are engaged in futile acts of conjuring. They are trying to channel a weak and flattened memory of a man, one that has been reduced to selling fast food in January and February, made into an onerous statue at Washington’s mall, and reduced to a paragraph that is ripped from a towering speech.
If the legacy of the real Dr. King — his radical politics, vision and challenging words and deeds for an America sick with white supremacy, class inequality, warmongering and hatred for the poor — was properly channeled, it would deafen the chattering classes and broad swaths of the American public.
Been seeing this from the angry right and tut-tutting left. Good thing I have a post in my back pocket to throw out there every time I confront ignorance...
Friends' wedding, June 25, 1988.
Once The Barbarians Are Here, They’ll Do The Legislating
Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?
Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.
Constantine P. Cavafy.
The Coming Ice Age
And fuck you, Michael Crichton.
Speaking Of Judicial Review And Mob Rule
Lemieux again on anti-equality oral arguments before SCOTUS:
John J. Bursch, the lawyer charged with defending the bans, began with the rather strange argument that there was a "fundamental liberty interest" for individuals in giving their states the right to define the institution of marriage. Justice Antonin Scalia, the arch-conservative who is adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage and enjoys making homophobic jokes in court, attempted to state the point in a somewhat more defensible form, drawing a distinction between judicial decisions and popular self-government. When state courts rule same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional, Scalia asserted, "that's not the people deciding it. It's judges deciding it." At other times, Scalia described the argument of the states as "leave it to the people."
The point has a certain superficial appeal. Given how deeply entrenched the traditional definition of marriage had been — a point the conservative justices returned to again and again, citing millennia of human history — doesn't it make sense for the change in definition to come from the people themselves, rather than having unelected judges make it?
Making a distinction between "the people" (as represented by legislators) and "judges" is misleading. In the American system of government, legislative enactments, state initiatives, and constitutional amendments are subject to judicial review.
It's just not fair for a legitimate branch of government established to protect civil rights to not let a majority take rights away. Amirite, California?
"It certainly is a vile law system, calculated for expense..."
Hey, so it's Oliver Ellsworth's birthday. Who? Why, Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, born in 1745. Not a Founder most people know, but some should have a real love/hate relationship with him
Let's start with the Constitutional Convention in Philly on May 30, 1787, when Edmund Randolph proposed "that a national Government ought to be established." This was recapitulated on June 19 with quite a number of additional proposed resolutions:
1. Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that a national government ought to be established consisting of a Supreme Legislative, Judiciary, and Executive.
2. Resolved. that the national Legislature ought to consist of Two Branches.
3 Resolved that the members of the first branch of the national Legislature ought...
4 Resolved. that the members of the second Branch of the national Legislature ought...
Yadayadayada, lots of "national" this and "national" that. Which concerned Ellsworth who moved on June 20:
to alter [the first proposal] so as to run "that the Government of the United States ought to consist of a supreme legislative, Executive and Judiciary." This alteration he said would drop the word national, and retain the proper title "the United States."
He could not admit the doctrine that a breach of any of the federal articles could dissolve the whole. It would be highly dangerous not to consider the Confederation as still subsisting. He wished also the plan of the Convention to go forth as an amendment to the articles of Confederation, since under this idea the authority of the Legislatures could ratify it. If they are unwilling, the people will be so too. If the plan goes forth to the people for ratification several succeeding Conventions within the States would be unavoidable. He did not like these conventions. They were better fitted to pull down than to build up Constitutions.
And thus the Government of the United States got its name, as well as its federal (as opposed to national) form. So thanks, Activist Judge Ellsworth, I guess. Our States' Rightsers like Ted Cruz should love him for that.
If the general legislature should at any time overleap their limits, the judicial department is a constitutional check. If the United States go beyond their powers, if they make a law which the Constitution does not authorize, it is void; and the judicial power, the national judges, who to secure their impartiality, are to be made independent, will declare it to be void. On the other hand, if the states go beyond their limits, if they make a law which is a usurpation upon the federal government the law is void; and upright, independent judges will declare it to be so.
So naturally, he was the principle author of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which further cemented the role of our Judiciary in reviewing the law (annoying conservatives of the day like Maclay). And it was Chief Justice Ellsworth's SCOTUS that ruled in favor of Hamiltonian construction (sorry, Jemmy) regarding our nation's first luxury tax (which the Roberts Court referenced when upholding Obamacare's mandate/penalty).
An interesting guy, who was instrumental in giving us an important component of constitutional law. With that pedigree, this might be why Ted Cruz et al (not to mention Texas history books) don't speak of Ellsworth.
Makes me dig him that much more...
"Welche heiligen Spiele werden wir erfinden müssen?"
RMJ examines Karen Armstrong's The Case for God:
The turn from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment is marked, in Armstrong's telling, by the advent of "certainty" as the touchstone for human knowledge. We still haven't quite knocked the stuffing out of that hubris, but that theologians turned from the apophatic (Armstrong's thesis throughout) to certainty is a real source of our difficulties with religious belief today. It is this passage on Pascal, though, that encapsulates, as well as any other, Armstrong's argument:Pascal could see that Christianity was about to make a serious mistake. Theologians were eager to embrace the modern ethos and make their teaching conform to the "clear and distinct" ideas currently in vogue, but how far should the new science impinge upon religion? A God who was merely "the author of mathematical truths and of the order of the elements" could bring no light to the darkness and pain of human existence. It would only cause people to fall into atheism.
It's a nice thought piece all around. I don't have anything thoughtful to add, but his post did, naturally, remind me of Anthony's stuff on Pascal's Wager. Oh, plus John Winthrop on God and earthquakes, and Johannes Kepler on the mind of God.
The Appropriate Way To Get What You Want
More at the link. Anyway, it reminded me of this post that's sorta germane.
The Violence Causes Silence
To smash something is the ghetto's chronic need.
James Baldwin writing in 1966 of Harlem (and Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ferguson, Baltimore...):
[T]he police are simply the hired enemies of this population. They are present to keep the Negro in his place and to protect white business interests, and they have no other function. They are, moreover—even in a country which makes the very grave error of equating ignorance with simplicity—quite stunningly ignorant; and, since they know that they are hated, they are always afraid. One cannot possibly arrive at a more surefire formula for cruelty.
This is why those pious calls to “respect the law,” always to be heard from prominent citizens each time the ghetto explodes, are so obscene. The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer. To respect the law, in the context in which the American Negro finds himself, is simply to surrender his self-respect.
What year is this?
A Friend Of A Friend He Got Beaten
Yeah, not unlike in Ferguson:
[T]he very nature of the police who were "deployed" in this manner begged for a violent reaction from the residents of West Baltimore, people already highly charged emotionally by the events of the past 15 days since Freddie Gray was arrested and fatally injured in the custody of "Baltimore's Finest" back on the morning of April 12th. To understand why the presence of large numbers of police in their full riot gear helped spark the rioting, it is necessary to examine the the psychological effect of large crowds faced by exactly this type of police response.
Remember when a few guys in red coats standing around caused a massacre (after which, they were acquitted by a local jury, turns out, making me wonder why we can't try officers like that today).
Dahlia Lithwick is the Kennedy-whisperer:
As for Justice Anthony Kennedy, if we know anything at all about him it is this: You don’t tell him what dignity is, or who has it, or how much it counts. As most Kennedy-watchers well know, to the extent that Kennedy’s vote is in play on most issues, what he is contemplating is dignity. Often balanced against other dignity. He’s the dignity-whisperer.
Dignity is a key element of civil rights case law...
"Dead or alive – I’m still the housekeeper."
I come out of a deep dark depression,
to feed my little son
to tell him a fairy tale about happiness.
... Joy fills my lungs --
as my son offers me a chrysanthemum through the window.
But a raven’s voice is already counting out the dose of radiation.
“Wash you hands, wash your hands, my son...”
“Mom, a kitten. How sweet.
You’re such a poor little dirty stray...”
The clock starts to beat out the doses of radiation:
Wash you hands! Wash your hand! Wash your hands!
“Mom, please let me go play in the sand.
The kids are burying the reactor.
Don’t worry – it’s just a hunk of metal.