Sunday, May 10, 2015

Last Call For The Paranoid Style

Leonard Pitts has had enough of the modern Confederacy in our midst.

“Twenty years ago,” I wrote, “the idea of anti-government resistance seemed confined to a lunatic fringe operating in the shadows beyond the mainstream. Twenty years later, it is the mainstream, the beating heart of the Republican Party. And while certainly no responsible figure on the right advocates or condones what he did, it is just as certain that McVeigh’s violent antipathy toward Washington, his conviction that America’s government is America’s enemy, has bound itself to the very DNA of modern conservatism.” 
That’s the argument conservatives found “hateful” “sickening,” and “dishonest.” 
So it is, depending upon your religious outlook, a fortuitous coincidence or superfluous evidence of God’s puckish sense of humor that a few days later comes news of conservatives accusing the federal government of trying to take over the state of Texas. It seems the four branches of the U.S. military are gearing up for Operation Jade Helm 15, an eight-week training exercise across seven states. Right-wing conspiracy theorists online and on radio are claiming the exercise is actually a pretext for a federal takeover of the Lone Star State, with — get this — abandoned Wal-Marts to be used for the processing of prisoners! 
Nor is this being laughed off by conservatives in positions of authority. To the contrary, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the state guard to monitor the exercise to safeguard Texan’s “civil liberties.” Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert has asked the military to change the exercise. Senator and presidential wannabe Ted Cruz said he checked with the Pentagon and while he accepts that it has no plans to conquer Texas — how magnanimous of him — “I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty” because the Obama administration “has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy.” 
Forgive me if I don’t spend a lot of space pointing out that this is stupid, though I can’t resist asking: If the Navy, Army, Marines and Air Force were, indeed, planning to take over Texas, just what does Gov. Abbott think the state guard would be able to do about it? 
There is, however, a more pressing observation to be made. After all, chances are good you’ve never heard about any of this — the story hasn’t garnered major headlines — and that, hearing of it now, you are not terribly surprised. That speaks pointedly of how inured we have become to the insane, paranoiac, anti-government prattle flowing like sewage from the political right. Duly elected leaders, putatively responsible people, give credence to the crazy idea that the federal government is about to attack its second most populous state and we shrug because it’s just another Tuesday in the lunatic asylum of American politics.

And yet, we tolerate the GOP doing this.  Most of us roll our eyes and look the other way, you can't stop people from being ignorant by choice.  And attacking them for that purposeful ignorance has only made them more stubborn.

If they can't have "Their" America back, then they will burn it all down.  That was always the plan, and has been since at least 1992, frankly.

The Evidence Mounts Against Comer

A second woman has come forward to say that Kentucky Republican and gubernatorial hopeful James Comer was abusive in college in the 90's.

In a letter to the Louisville Courier-Journal on Friday, Jennifer Osborne, a former roommate of Thomas, said an argument between Comer and Thomas once got so bad that Osborne threatened to call the police.

"On one occasion, there was a heated argument between Marilyn Thomas and Jamie Comer and I had to threaten to call the police in order to get him to leave our apartment," Osborne wrote in the letter.

Osborne and Thomas lived in an off-campus apartment in 1993, according to the Courier-Journal.

Thomas' allegations against Comer appeared Monday in the Courier-Journal, which published parts of the four-page letter where Thomas claimed Comer had been abusive and helped her to get an abortion when they were dating in the early 1990s. In that story, the Courier-Journal quoted another former roommate, Wendy Curley, who backed Thomas' account.

Comer's still running about ten points behind Hal Heiner for the GOP nomination for governor, the primary is in less than two weeks, and if Comer was expecting a come from behind win, well...

In all seriousness, these allegations are pretty brutal, and Comer has questions he needs to answer.  Of course, none of the Republican candidates for governor here are exactly "woman-friendly".

Sunday Long Read: Black And White, Ones And Zeroes

Your Sunday long read is the NY Times Magazine profile of activists DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta "Netta" Elzie, two of the leading lights behind the Black Lives Matter movement that has sprung up in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last year.  Since then they have harnessed the power of black anger and channeled it into social media, making millions around the world aware often for the first time.

Mckesson and Elzie focused much of their attention on criticizing the mainstream media, who devoted too much airtime, they felt, to violence and discord among the protest community. As a corrective, in mid-September, they teamed up with Brittany Packnett, the executive director of St. Louis’s Teach for America program, and Justin Hansford, a law professor at St. Louis University, to publish the This Is the Movement newsletter, which scrutinized and curated the daily news out of Ferguson. A wide range of readers, from reporters to protesters to officials within the Department of Justice, subscribed. Pretty soon, Mckesson and Elzie were appearing regularly on TV and radio. The two cultivated appealing personas, becoming easily recognizable to their many followers. Mckesson had begun wearing red shoes and a red shirt to protests. Later, he replaced this outfit with a bright blue Patagonia vest, which he now wears everywhere he goes. (Someone created a DeRay’s vest Twitter account.) Elzie often wore dark lipstick, a pair of oversize sunglasses and a leather jacket: the beautician’s daughter channeling a Black Panther. 
Mckesson and Elzie have always insisted that the movement is leaderless, that it is a communal expression of pent-up anguish spilling onto the streets, but over the fall, they were frequently called upon to serve as its spokespeople. Elzie was invited to conferences and panels, and talked with established social-justice activists around the country about the actions in Ferguson. Mckesson, who was dutifully putting out the newsletter during this time while still working at his job in Minneapolis, began using Twitter to announce actions throughout St. Louis. He and Elzie would tweet a time and location and then wait for the people to show up. By October, they were also being followed by the police, who would sometimes arrive at the scene of the action before the protesters themselves. 
Together, Mckesson and Elzie were developing a model of the modern protester: part organizer, part citizen journalist who marches through American cities while texting, as charging cords and battery packs fall out of his pockets. By Nov. 24, when Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor, announced that Darren Wilson would not be indicted on murder charges, a network of hundreds of organizers was already in place, ready to bring thousands of people into the streets with a tweet.

This is the power of social media and what it can really do in the real world, folks.  These two are putting these pictures and words out there for the whole world to see, not just a tiny corner of a broken city to morn for a day and then see it swept under by police that treat them as vermin to be controlled by any means necessary.

They are the new war correspondents in the occupation of black America.
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