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Category: General

You May Not Be Surprised That….

[ 50 ] October 14, 2015 |


….that the man who organized the anti-Obama protests after the shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, that consisted of gun-toting white people festooned with Confederate flags, is a convicted felon and that said felony concerned violence that included beating up his mother’s boyfriend, punching his mom in the mouth when she tried to break it up, and then ripping his mom’s phone from the wall and throwing it through a window when she tried to call 911. A service this guy probably sees as government intrusion on our liberties.


Today in the Post-Racial Society

[ 63 ] October 14, 2015 |
Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace is shown in this Oct. 19, 1964 photo speaking in Glen Burnie, Md. at a rally supporting Republican presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater.  (AP Photo)

Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace is shown in this Oct. 19, 1964 photo speaking in Glen Burnie, Md. at a rally supporting Republican presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater. (AP Photo)

Alabama eliminating DMVs in majority-black counties to stop black people from registering to vote is not an isolated incident. Rather, it’s part of a statewide effort to deny African-Americans any semblance of a decent life.

Kimberly Spruell has to travel 45 miles to the nearest Walmart; 80 miles to the nearest mall; 42 miles to a hospital with more than four doctors; and now 45 miles to the driver’s license office.

She used to go to the state park for picnics but now that’s been shut down.

For years, residents of Wilcox County like Spruell have believed the state’s elected officials had a certain disregard for the Black Belt. And when the state legislature passed measures Sept. 30 to combat the General Fund budget deficit, Wilcox County was directly affected.

In the cuts, Wilcox County lost Roland Cooper State Park, one of the county’s only sources of tourism. The county also lost its driver’s license bureau, which operated one day a week inside a shopping center just west of downtown.

The closest driver’s license offices are now in Selma or Linden – both a 45-minute drive.

Spruell, like 16 percent of the county (the highest in the state as of August 2015), is unemployed. The 34-year-old Marine and National Guard veteran lives completely off her monthly veteran’s benefit check. She wants to work, but there are few jobs.

She can’t move because she has nowhere to go and no money to get there. With a median household income of less than $24,000 in 2013, Wilcox County is the poorest county in Alabama and the sixth poorest county in the nation.

Because of the county’s remoteness, voting can be difficult for many people. Transportation is often a major barrier to voter turnout, Wilcox County Circuit Clerk Ralph Ervin said.

In the 2014 general election, 4,258 Wilcox County residents cast votes for the gubernatorial race – 37 percent of the county’s 2013 U.S. Census estimate of 11,307 total residents. Ervin said more people would vote if they had the means to do so.

Which is of course the point of closing the DMVs.


[ 101 ] October 14, 2015 |


I’m sure when Georgia wrote it’s anti-gang law, no one thought it would be used against the good people of the Peach State. Even gangs of white supremacists carrying the Confederate flag.

In an unusual legal maneuver, the district attorney in this suburb of Atlanta said Monday that he had won indictments against 15 supporters of the Confederate battle flag, accusing them of violating the state’s anti-street-gang statute during a confrontation with black partygoers in July.

Prosecutors say that members of the group, which calls itself Respect the Flag, threatened a group of blacks attending an outdoor birthday party on July 25. A cellphone video of part of the episode shows several white men driving away from the party in a convoy of pickup trucks with the Confederate battle flag and other banners, including American flags, fluttering from the truck beds.

The partygoers contend that members of the flag group yelled racial slurs and displayed a crowbar, a knife and either a rifle or a shotgun, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group in Montgomery, Ala., that is representing some of the accusers.

The Douglas County district attorney, Brian Fortner, a white Republican elected to the office in 2014, announced the indictments in a news conference Monday morning. Each of the 15 was indicted on one count of making terroristic threats and a second count of unlawfully participating in “criminal gang activity.”

The neo-Confederate thugs are blaming the problem of black people (you don’t say!), saying a party harassed them. The host of that party slaps back:

The party occurred on a Saturday at the home of Melissa Alford, 44. On Monday, Ms. Alford showed the side street where, she said, the trucks had pulled over and begun to harass her guests. She said she saw one of them with a rifle or shotgun, and heard one racial epithet used. She said that none of her guests threw rocks.

Ms. Alford said that she worked with at-risk youth as part of a nonprofit she founded. Some of them, she said, have been identified by the authorities as gang members. She said the men in the trucks deserved the same treatment.

“Just like the Crips,” she said, “if they’re out there doing some foolishness like this, they’re going to get charged.”

The Confederate flag is nothing more than another gang color. It’s about time this was recognized and dealt with as such.

Elimination Games, 1 and 2

[ 46 ] October 14, 2015 |

This should be fun.

While we’re talking about managerial blunders, John Gibbons burning David Price for 50+ pitches in a 7-1 game is a real doozy — I would be even harsher than Neyer.  With Price unavailable for Game 5, any possible defense has vanished.  The Blue Jays could win anyway, but if they don’t I certainly wouldn’t bring back Gibbons next year.  I mean, at least Darrell Bevell had to make his catastrophically dumb decision in about 5 seconds (and the Seahawks were wrong to bring him back anyway.)

…well, that game was OK, I guess. And, yes, the Bautista bat flip was the best of the week and hence ever.

Every Battle is Won Before it’s Ever Fought

[ 521 ] October 14, 2015 |

Hillary Clinton Addresses National Urban League Conference

This is really the key takeaway:

Clinton’s greatest achievement in the 2015 primary hasn’t been anything she’s done against the candidates running against her. It’s been preventing other, more formidable politicians from running against her at all. These four guys simply aren’t close to being the second, third, fourth, and fifth most serious alternatives to Clinton that the Democratic Party has to offer — and it showed.

This isn’t just a question of Clinton getting lucky. She was able to scare off the most viable competition, and that’s an important element of running an effective campaign.

I’m happy that the media narrative appears to be changing, but really I don’t think yesterday revealed anything new, although kudos to Sanders for noting the stupidity of the email non-scandal. Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee. Joe Biden probably won’t enter the race and has no chance is he does. As a candidate in the general she’ll be at least marginally more appealing than Rubio and far more appealing that any other Republican nominee. If the economy holds up she’s have a good chance of winning.

This may be taking the concept of a dog whistle a bit too far

[ 68 ] October 14, 2015 |



Adventures In Hagiography

[ 104 ] October 14, 2015 |


Apparently, the now-shelved ESPN documentary about Mr. Michelle Rhee was every bit as appalling as you might expect:

Last Friday, ESPN pulled the media screener of the documentary, citing piracy concerns. But before it was pulled, I was able to see the film in its entirety. And despite the best efforts of ESPN’s PR apparatus to try to convince the media otherwise, the film goes well beyond portraying Kevin Johnson in a positive light. Down In The Valley amounts to a 77-minute political advertisement for Johnson, a man who in 1995 paid a 15-year-old over $230,000 to keep quiet after she alleged that he had sexually abused her.

Johnson’s more recent exploits, some as mayor, include intentionally bankrupting a historic black mayor’s conference, flagrant misuse of federal funds, and the installation within his city hall of paid staff members of an aggressively pro-charter school organization, who often failed to disclose their other employer. These revelations, as well as his long history of alleged sexual abuse, have been brought to the nation’s attention by the veteran sportswriter Dave McKenna, who has been meticulously detailing the dealings of Johnson for Deadspin. But even before that, thanks to the dogged reporting of the Sacramento Bee, a paper Johnson has battled with recently, ESPN had to be well aware that the protagonist of its film was not even close to the near-messianic figure he was being made out to be.

So this would appear to be the American counterpart to the recent autoerotic celebration of Sepp Blatter in film, which earned a robust $918 in its American run. (I’m pretty sure Gerard Depardieu just jumped in front of Michael Caine in the queue for the Indiscriminate Script Approval Hall of Fame.)  At least it was FIFA that took most of the bath for its vanity project.  Why ESPN wanted to invest in a hagiography of a terrible mayor and terrible person to tell the story of his “success” in pulling off the odious American grift of funneling large amounts of taxpayer dollars to plutocrats who own professional sports franchises is…less obvious.

But Kershaw Isn’t CLUTCH!

[ 38 ] October 13, 2015 |

It’s really too bad that trying to divide players into “clutch” and “not clutch” categories is all a bunch of horseshit.

Democratic Debate Open Thread

[ 156 ] October 13, 2015 |

Personally, I wouldn’t watch one of these primary political debates for cash, on either side. I would literally do almost anything I could think of. If anything actually interesting happened, I could just read about it. But nothing interesting will happen.

But there’s a request for an open thread, it’s 9 pm and nothing else is going on, so have at it I guess.


[ 75 ] October 13, 2015 |


It’s just slightly possible that a lot of Mets fans have come out of the woodwork this year. No doubt all life-long.

As for the Cubs, well, a lot of rich white people in Chicago are happy. St. Louis fans can drown their sorrows in their city’s superb cuisine.

Alice Goffman’s implausible defense

[ 229 ] October 13, 2015 |


More than a month after the Chronicle of Higher Education published a 10,000-word article pointing out that it’s likely a lot of incidents related in Alice Goffman’s book On the Run didn’t actually happen, including several that she claimed to have witnessed herself, this is apparently the best defense she has been able to elicit from the world of sociology:

To the Editor:

I strenuously object to the publication of Paul Campos’s “Alice Goffman’s Implausible Ethnography” (September 4).

Its content, filled with innuendo and half-truths, is better suited to a tabloid than to an organ meant to inform on the basis of fact and thoughtful analysis.

What is the point of Campos’s overlong and superficial piece? To dispute the veracity of Goffman’s research. He is entitled to that opinion, but he offers no persuasive evidence. His main objective, it appears, is to discredit, not enlighten.

Sadly, Campos is unable to see Alice Goffman as a true scholar willing to take intellectual and personal risks that people like him would never take.

Let’s be clear: Goffman is not being harassed for the presumed flaws in her research — she is being persecuted for who she is: a young white woman of exceptional talent determined to unearth realities concealed to most Americans. Would she be enduring the same treatment if she were a man?

No, Alice Goffman is the object of a modern-day witch hunt. Envy over the colossal success of her book fuels the prejudice of people like Campos who cannot see Goffman for what she is: a serious intellectual with a genuine and timely story to tell.

Patricia Fernandez-Kelly
Department of Sociology
Princeton University

Obviously this letter doesn’t require any comment, and I present it here solely for its sociological interest.

I would like to take the opportunity, however, to say that I went to great lengths in the CHE piece to phrase my criticisms in the mildest and most careful fashion that a commitment to candor would allow.

Here I will not be so circumspect: It is all but certain that significant portions of On the Run are fabricated. Whatever residual doubt (and it was very residual indeed) I still had about this matter at the time I published the CHE article has been dispelled in the intervening weeks by subsequent developments, including but not limited to the response to the article itself.

Valley Forge Americans

[ 109 ] October 13, 2015 |


The Tea Party isn’t through tying their own insanity to Revolutionary War touchstones.

A member of the conservative caucus that effectively forced House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) out of the speaker’s race said Friday one of the GOP’s true “Valley Forge Americans” should succeed John Boehner.

In an interview with MSNBC, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), offered a roll call of acceptable candidates for speaker. He named Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Tom Price (R-GA), and Jim Jordan (R-OH). He even mentioned Newt Gingrich, who was speaker from 1995 to 1999.

“I hear a lot of names. All of those men are Valley Forge Americans that would serve this country very well,” Franks said, referencing the winter military camp where more than 2,500 of George Washington’s troops died of starvation and exposure during the Revolutionary War.

Franks also said Ryan “is somebody that I have great respect for and believe could be a magnificent speaker.”

And really wouldn’t be sad if these Republicans decided to camp out in Pennsylvania this winter without proper shoes and clothes in a camp with no public health planing where they would get dysentery and starve? That would be very, very sad.

But then again, Valley Forge is a pretty appropriate reference for where the Tea Party wants to take us. Under an utterly inept central government with the Articles of Confederation, the new nation was completely unable to feed, clothe, or pay the troops fighting the war designed to make the nation free from British control. It got so bad that different states were supplying their own troops, leading to major disparities in supplies within different units of the army in the same place. Meanwhile, a lack of knowledge of basic public health created a lot of unnecessary deaths at Valley Forge and a return to 18th century notions of science and health seems about right for the Tea Partiers, although admittedly there may be too much of that fancy pants Enlightenment knowledge in there for them. If the new Republican Speaker is not pro-typhus, it’s hard to see how he (of course) has the true Valley Forge spirit!

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