Friday, January 31, 2020

Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Biden & Bloomberg — Democratic racists


Prosecuting Attorney Amy Klobuchar, it has been revealed, probably railroaded a black man into a life sentence for something he did not do. She brags about it on the campaign trail to show that she, too, can be a macho law-and-order maven. So much for New York Times endorsements. In the past two days, Black Lives Matter and the Minneapolis NAACP have called for her to end her presidential bid, because in 2002, she led the prosecution of then-teen-aged African American Myron Burrell for a drive-by shooting that killed 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards. No evidence tied Burrell to the shooting, and a co-defendent confessed to it and stated that Burrell wasn’t even there; nonetheless she pressed on and obtained a conviction. She convicted a minor, put him in prison for life, then denied his request to attend his mother’s funeral after she was killed in a motor vehicle accident during a commute to visit him. Klobuchar said Burrell was too much of a threat to society to be allowed at the funeral. To add insult to injury, she has repeatedly cited him by name as the embodiment of evil on the campaign trail to demonstrate her tough-on-crime bona fides.

So, no surprise there, another prosecutor who’d rather destroy lives than admit to an error, who’d climb over bodies to advance a career. I guess throwing things at staffers — legally that’s assault, and if she hit someone, battery — is the least of her issues.

Fortunately, Klobuchar has a snowball’s chance in hell of being nominated.



Next on the hit parade is Mayor Pete, who assumed the mantle of Mayor in South Bend, Indiana, in 2012. When he took office, there were three African Americans in key positions: Mayor’s Assistant, Fire Chief, and Police Chief. All three were soon gone.

On June 16, 2019, racist South Bend, Indiana police officers, under Mayor Buttigieg, shot an African American resident, Eric Jack Logan. Sergeant Ryan O’Neill shot Logan with his body cam turned off, according to him, and Officer Aaron Knepper, as we know from records now, intentionally delayed transporting Logan to the Emergency Room after he was shot. Logan died, and after Buttigieg was confronted with the racist history of both officers, he sat on his hands, claiming he had no power over the the case.

Not true, because he has the legal power to fire police. For example, in April Mayor Pete had fired Daryll Boykins, the African American Police Chief, for marching in a parade protesting the killing of Trayvon Martin by the loony racist vigilante George Zimmerman. In the case of Boykins, tapes eventually emerged showing a conspiracy of racist white police officers and some of Buttigieg’s big donors to rid themselves of Boykins. Buttigieg and his chief of staff, Mike Schmuhl, lied to Boykins, telling him he was under federal investigation for a possible violation of wiretap laws (after the tapes of the racist officers came out) and that the only way to avoid being prosecuted was to resign. Mission accomplished, white peoples! Blame the black guy. Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations.

In 2019, during his presidential primary campaign, Pete outed himself as a liar and sneak-weasel yet again. Enter the “Frederick Douglass Plan for Black America,” a kind of policy paper his handlers ginned up in the hopes that Mayor Pete could bewilder credulous black voters.

When Pete’s campaign unveiled this masterpiece, aimed at the South Carolina Primary, his campaign announced that it has “400 black South Carolinians” as endorsers, including some very prominent figures in South Carolina politics. On November 15, 2019, Ryan Grim of The Intercept published an investigative piece showing a few problems with this claim. Grim could only confirm 297 “signatories” of the “more than 400,” and 62 percent of them turned out to be . . . white people.

Imagine if the Sanders campaign did this and the media reaction. Of those who signed, including the transmogrified white folks, several were not South Carolinians at all . . . one lived in São Paulo. That’s in Brazil. The endorsement of The Plan, of course, was meant to serve Mayor Pete in South Carolina (where Hillary Clinton once went to die) by doubling as a tacit endorsement of Mayor Pete. Okay, that’s kind of ethically sketchy.

When called, however, the three “prominent” endorsers — Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Devine, Baptist pastor and state Rep. Ivory Thigpen, and Johnnie Cordero, chair of the state party’s Black Caucus — said (I’m paraphrasing), “We didn’t endorse shit.” Rev/Rep. Thigpen, it should be noted, is actually the co-chair of South Carolina Bernie 2020.

How were the “endorsements” acquired? By email. That’s what I said. Email. Pete’s campaign emailed “400” black-not-black people with the plan and asked for their endorsement of the plan, which he would attempt to pass off as endorsements of his candidacy. I personally have about 13 trillion unanswered emails. No phone call, no interviews. He didn’t want to discuss it, just spin it. In that email, the campaign was already claiming “400 black South Carolinians” had signed on, as encouragement one might surmise. It was a bald faced lie, but an encouraging bald faced lie. In these solicitation emails there was an “opt-out” option (is that redundant?). One could — provided one answered the email and provided one read the email carefully, including the fine print — opt out of endorsing the plan. If anyone they solicited through email without follow up calls did not reply to the email with an opt-out box checked, Pete & Co. went ahead and listed them as endorsers.



Now, let’s move on to Joe Biden — antagonist to Anita Hill, supporter of de facto school segregation, master jailer, and serial liar.

In 1991, Biden joined his fellow male-supremacist Arlen Specter in trashing Anita Hill on national television after she had the temerity to accuse the ultra-conservative Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Biden as kind of apologized, though he’s never taken full responsibility for his aggressions, including the fact that he blocked three other women’s testimony against Thomas during the hearings. But his record goes back further than that.

In the 1970s Biden worked with arch racists Sen. Jesse Helms and Sen. Robert Byrd to add an anti-busing amendment to a federal bill. (The NAACP called it “the anti-black amendment.”) Busing, for those not old enough to remember, was a method for the racial integration of schools. That is, some children would take the school bus to out-of-district schools. It may not seem like a big deal now, but it was a clarion call to the white racists of the day — and Joe heaped right on with them in his opposition to “forced busing,” a racial dog whistle. Biden defended his stance on “forced busing” as late as 2007.

During Biden’s law-and-order crusades in the 1980s and 1990s, when he was pushing for mass incarceration, he referred to black offenders as “superpredators” and “sociopaths” beyond redemption. Biden was a key figure in mandatory minimums, powder-rock cocaine sentencing disparities, civil asset forfeiture, and expanded use of the death penalty.

“Biden worked tirelessly,” writes Eric Levitz of Intelligencer, “over several decades, to make America’s (profoundly racist) criminal-justice system more punitive than any other advanced democracy’s.”

In February 2007, while he was considering a run for the presidency, he remarked about Barack Obama, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Hmmm.

Biden, of course, has bigger problems than that if he is the nominee. His serial lies are on record and on tape. One of his lies, told repeatedly for decades, was that he marched during the civil rights movement. Nope, never, not even once.

Shaun King wrote, “For nearly 50 years, Joe Biden has publicly pretended to have been part of the Civil Rights Movement. He is not ‘exaggerating’ or ‘embellishing,’ he is creating entire fictional story lines to impress white liberals and connect with black voters.” He lies. Shamelessly and repeatedly, as we saw recently with his prevarications about cutting Social Security and Meidcare, even when confronted with videotaped evidence to the contrary. On thirty-one occasions he repeated the lie that he had participated in Civil Rights sit-ins.

We haven’t even begun to talk about Biden’s history of plagiarism. The point is, apart from his racist record, all these problems — which the CNNs and MSNBCs seem to have missed — are going to make great fodder for the Trump campaign. I’ll say this now . . . if Biden is nominated, Trump will be reelected. Biden’s record — suppressed now by the idiots at CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post who’d rather have Trump than Bernie — will be broadcast in Republican ads that will effectively suppress enough voters for Trump to pull another hat trick.

Joe Biden is not electable.



Now, finally, we come to Michael Bloomberg, the richer of the two billionaire oligarchs running for the Democratic nomination. Bloomberg is not in it to win it. He is part of a plot to force the Democratic Convention into a second round of voting, so the Wall Street wing of the party can steal the nomination from Sanders using superdelegates. I mean, I’m sure Bloomberg has fantasies of winning. But there’s the real deal. That’s why he is avoiding debates — where he might be questioned on his racist record — and flooding every manner of medium with slick feel-good ads. More than $100 million worth of ads. Like a miasma that infiltrates everything. He is buying influence, literally.

It was as Mayor of New York that he proposed fingerprinting low income housing residents, while he was also implementing the infamous NY Police policy of “stop and frisk,” a fascist program that heavily targeted African Americans and Latin@s, and by the way violated the Constitution. He apologized for it once he threw his hat into the ring for 2020 . . . how convenient. When federal judge Shira Scheindlin ruled “stop and frisk” unconstitutional, Bloomberg referred to her as “some woman” who was incompetent. He hasn’t apologized for that yet.

We could talk about his sexism as well, because he has on many occasions been called down for discussing women in a highly objectifying and patronizing way, once publicly calling down New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for not wearing high heels.

Columnist George Blow wrote in a 2019 New York Times op-ed, “No black person — or Hispanic person or ally of people of color — should ever even consider voting for Michael Bloomberg in the primary. His expansion of the notoriously racist stop-and-frisk program in New York, which swept up millions of innocent New Yorkers, primarily young black and Hispanic men, is a complete and nonnegotiable deal killer.

“Stop-and-frisk, pushed as a way to get guns and other contraband off the streets, became nothing short of a massive, enduring, city-sanctioned system of racial terror.”


In summary, all four of these candidates need to be electorally destroyed, on the grounds of racism, but also because not a single one of them will survive a contest with Trump’s scorched-earth campaign.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Contagion Narrative—Sanders, Rogan, and Ideological Impurity

“Contagion is the dominant horror of the 21st century, an era marked by epidemics of terror, war, and eco­nomic crisis. Just as atomic anxiety infused Cold War-era pop culture, fear of contagion dominates recent pop culture in the form of apocalyptic zombie plagues, viral pandem­ics, infectious vampires, parasitized bodies, and microbe-caused mutations.”

-Dan Dinello

Performative hyperventilation

It really doesn’t matter what the Sanders campaign does, the media and a dispersed company of bitter old sectarians and clueless postmodern puritans will find a way to denounce Sanders now as a sinner . . . as one who is contaminated, one of the infected. The campaign’s enemies latch onto this hooey like hungry little leeches. The latest episode is the endorsement of Bernie Sanders by radio/podcast host Joe Rogan. Oh, the horror! Sanders is now contaminated by the touch of the ideologically impure!

Rogan, who I—in my pop culture illiteracy—had never heard of until I saw him interview Cornell West a while back, is all over the map with philosophical and political inconsistencies. In other words, he is just like 99 percent of . . . well, everyone. And so he is not tuned into that “woke” one percent’s interpretive melodies. Sometimes he says things that hit the OFFEND button, resulting in permanent banishment from the Realm of Woke Liberals.

Formation v. inhering superiority

Once upon a time, most of us seemed to understand that no one is perfect, including ourselves. One of the most difficult things about life in general is dealing with the fact that no matter how hard we try, everybody hurts someone else sometimes, everyone offends sometimes, and everybody commits little injustices. I hurt other people sometimes. I offend others sometimes. I commit injustices sometimes.

Unless we advocate for a state of permanent war, the only peaceful way forward is through understanding, compassion, acceptance, repentance, and forgiveness. We all need the do-overs.
When I was ten, I had never been exposed to anything except 1950s-white-culture’s casual racism and sexism. I had no other interpretive tools than what were passed on to me inside my little bubble. My parents, white culture, and television were my formative influences. I didn’t have a disease. All of us inherit a world view, one that is seldom, if ever, “consistent.”

Joe Rogan has—by all accounts, because I’ve never listened to anything except his interviews with Bernie Sanders and Cornell West—said things with which I disagree, and even committed faux pas that gave offense. But, backing away from this to get some perspective, I think back on all the ways I did the same things. Because, though I now count myself anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-xenophobic, and anti-capitalist (I really upped the anti’s, yeah?), I wasn’t born that way, and my evolution from There to Here was marked by hundreds, maybe thousands, of little experiential dislocations, imperfect reflections, and a lot of patient people who gave me more chances. And guess what? I still find ways to screw this up.

Performative virtue

Joe Rogan’s Bernie-love is not even the main topic today; it’s just a way to begin an examination of “woke” Puritanism and its petulant cousin, hyper-moralizing leftism. Regarding Joe Rogan et al, as far as the Sanders campaign goes, this is an election . . . in case folks have forgotten in the heat of their virtue signaling. In elections, one side has to get more votes than the other to win. Now, that can mean two things: (1) we accept every new vote we can find and welcome others into our movement where they can learn new things like we had to, or (2) we can establish purity codes that exclude anyone who has not achieved our level of uber-enlightenment, lose the election, and bask in our own perfection while the world burns. Politics or exclusive little cliques. You choose.

As to our contagion narratives, let’s take a closer look at what they are and how they work. A disclaimer, because the Woke Ones will jump like they’ve been tasered and tell me how there are real forms of oppression—as if you or I didn’t already know that—and that this oppression is reproduced in its most granular way through our own complicity and our own lack of understanding. Duh. No one here is saying that we quit criticizing, quit analyzing, quit resisting these forms of oppression. We can even hold each other accountable, though the poisonous and Inquisitional call-out culture I see way too often is absolutely not helpful. It’s just me telling you that I am a superior being and you are trash because you were not, like me, born with sociological tracts built into my superior and uncontaminated neural pathways.

Something about "casting the first stone."

Everyone lives in the same swamp

Capitalism is bad. I can prove that. You may accept that. But neither you nor I can do anything at all effective about it, with rare exceptions, through the easy application of virtuous personal choice. Think about virtuous consumption, as one example. This is not to say that turning plastic grocery bags into yarn or refusing to shop at (pick your place) is bad. I’m saying personal choice politics is a form of self-delusion that makes people feel better. Personal ethical consumer choices are not bad, but in themselves, they cannot transform unjust social structures. More to the point, no matter what you or I do, we will participate in and reproduce capitalism whether we like it or not. Did you ride in any fossil-fueled transport in the last day or two?

This personal choice politics corresponds to the demand for pre-perfected virtue, which we are seeing with the Rogan-Sanders kerfuffle (hugely amplified by a Sanders-hostile press). Virtue according to “our own” standards. Virtue signaling and contagion narrative call-out culture are both forms of performative virtue designed to remain inside the inner circle; and with them we have, like any garden variety neoliberal, shifted our critique from the systematic to the personal, our politics from building power to forming cliques.

Medicalizing boundaries

Now to contagion narratives per se, in a one, two, three.

One. Human groups have always been defined by boundaries. Certain people are inside, certain people are outside, and certain people have standing on both sides of the boundary. A chess club will likely not have any members who don’t play chess, so this inclusion-exclusion phenomenon isn’t nefarious in itself. Some boundaries are drawn for protection of the group, or perceived protection of the group. But many boundaries are drawn in the interest of accumulating power. Some rationalize that power by appealing dishonestly to group protection. So it goes.

Two. Boundaries are policed. One of the ways, its origins prehistoric, in which boundaries are policed is through what anthropologist Mary Douglas (Purity and Danger, 1966) called purity codes—systematic ideas about purity as access to the inside and pollution as that which must be quarantined, or placed on the outside.

Three. One of the most effective ways in which boundaries based on purity/pollution are policed is through the cultural formation of disgust in individuals. Professor of psychology Paul Rozin has done groundbreaking research on this. Basic physiological disgust is associated with oral incorporations—the body as boundary, and the mouth as gateway across that boundary. Certain substances, when put into the mouth, have a bad taste which elicits a disgust reaction—scrunchy-face, expelling tongue, a sense of nausea (expulsion of the offending agent). Some disgust reactions are learned, or culturally constructed within the actual person. I’ve seen recipes for tarantula, and watched films of people wolfing cooked tarantulas down like Skittles; and yet most people from this culture have their first disgust reaction upon seeing a tarantula, much less eating it.

Medicalization is treating a previously nonmedical condition or problem as if it requires medical intervention by a credentialed monopoly of professionals. This process is an historical development which corresponds to the elevation of Science—the ideology, not the practice—as an exclusive and ultimate truth claim. One glaring example is the over-diagnosis of ADHD . . . even the diagnosis itself. Medicalization is the (individualized) medical interpretation of problems that actually have social bases. We drug children to go to school—and rarely question whether children should be locked into an institution for seven hours a day and forced to sit still for an hour at a time.
Medicalization is one component of the post-nineteenth century Western episteme. We are no longer sinners (with a shot at forgiveness), but germ-ridden untouchables.

Contagion war

Contagion narratives in pop culture—from Walking Dead to Contagion (of course) to 28 Days Later to I Am Legend—redraw the lines in older good-guys-bad-guys boundary narratives, especially in our current age of hopelessness in the face of monstrous problems like climate change and nuclear proliferation, into a boundary between in infected and the uninfected. Which always become warlike scenarios, because we can’t afford tolerance or patience or forgiveness in war emergencies. Everything becomes the tempo task—a fiction convention in which emergencies force all actors to abandon former rules and principles to meet the challenge of destroying an implacable enemy.

These contagion wars are part of our national imaginary, because war is central to the American imaginary. Central to any war is The Enemy. Once a person becomes an enemy, we allow ourselves to strip that enemy of his or her personhood. We expel them into the outer darkness. The Enemy is irredeemable.

The most subversive of Jesus’ teachings was enemy-love, because it rendered boundaries porous, threatening the power of those who police those borders. The Parable of the Samaritan is the story of a new freedom to cross social boundaries.

When Cornell West was a guest on Joe Rogan’s show, shortly before Bernie Sanders gave his interview, he came on the show as “a Jesus-loving black man,” and he established a deep rapport with Rogan within the first two minutes of the show. There was no freak-out, because (1) West was not running for President, (2) “woke” white liberals fear attacking black intellectuals because they aren’t as “woke” as they think, and (3) the only reason they are attacking Sanders is to weaponize identity in their quest to blunt the social democratic rebellion for which Sanders provides a strategic focal point.

Postmodern hipster culture—a small sliver of the actual population—with its personalized, identitarian standpoint and its politics of exclusion, has adopted the contagion narrative of the early twenty-first century: zombie war. Joe Rogan is one of the zombies, one of the infected. He has to be avoided, isolated, or put down . . . never ever converted, because touching him would irreparably pollute us, turning us into filthy zombies ourselves.

Postmodernism has been, from the very beginning, in spite of some of the important insights it has developed, a form of political withdrawal that invokes purity codes as excuses for inaction, wrapped in a cloak of satisfying self-righteousness. Politics is transformed from an instrumental activity into an expressive one. The liberal media—as we are seeing now—have learned how to play the game; and they’ve learned how to make this form of “politics” instrumental again, by weaponizing it against the left. Any attempt to engage and convert—apart from virtue-signaling call-outs—now pollutes us.
One way to keep others away from the zombies is to instill in them a sense of disgust.

“Bernie Sanders makes my skin crawl.”

So sayeth Mimi Rocah, another obedient talking head for Big Pharma’s favorite network, MSNBC. We can’t simply expel you from our clique; we have to make you anathema to all. We have to mobilize disgust.

Christian psychologist Richard Beck, writing in Unclean, notes that love and disgust exist reciprocally in relation to boundaries, which serve as a kind of policed military perimeter: “As the self gets symbolically extended so does . . . the primal psychology that monitors the boundary of the body. . . . The boundary of the body is extended to include the other.”

The erasure of boundaries is perceived as a threat by the Cartesian subject, the mind purified by mathematics. This reaction-formation is objectification, a term that has grown so familiar in discussions of sex that it is not routinely associated with its philosophical antecedents in philosophy, that is, subject-object dualism and the notion of object-ivity as antagonistic to a perilous subjectivity.

One of the aspects of the Christian story that drew me to Christianity was that Jesus committed serial infractions of the purity codes—by touching dead people, street people, lepers, menstruating women, and by exercising table fellowship with the “unclean.” In Beck’s Unclean, he says two things in the introduction, one psychological, one theological: “disgust is a boundary psychology,” and (paraphrasing) that “sacrifice” inscribes boundaries, while mercy crosses them. For those who did not immediately get the reference, Beck is writing about Matt 9:13, and Jesus’s confrontation with the Pharisees over “eating with sinners and tax collectors.”

Beck’s focus on disgust psychology aims at overcoming wrongs that pose as rights because they are felt as right based on learned feelings of disgust. Of course, feeling that something is wrong (or right) does not necessarily make it so. Too often, as we all know, the “feeling of rightness” trumps sober reflection and moral discernment.

Disgust is a political weapon that tries to make people experience physical revulsion for the purpose of foreclosing sober reflection.

Regimentation of thought means we can all be catastrophically wrong at the same time.

The PA

Yesterday, I attended a meeting for a group I shall not name here, but it was a local leftist group that was being asked for candidate endorsements. One of the candidates that showed up was running for the office of the most powerful law enforcement officer in a well-populated county—prosecuting attorney. His platform, such as it is, included no jail where there wasn’t an imminent threat of something like escalating gun violence, no cash bail, and grant writing to develop a network of non-carceral alternatives for offenders aimed at actual rehabilitation. Then the candidate was asked if he supported prison abolition—a movement with which I agree actually, but it's not in the cards for a few years yet. He said he was 98 percent there, but had reservations about particular kinds of cases. Then he was sent out of the room.

Forty voting members. The rule was he had to achieve the threshold of twenty-one votes to win the endorsement. During the discussion, I heard it. Things like, “My endorsement means something to me, and I just can’t support him if he is not an abolitionist. We can’t be seen endorsing someone who disagrees with us on this core principle.” This came from the identitarians and the strict sectarians alike—two cohorts who have been at war with one another in the past.

First of all, goddam principles! Principles like these are reified idols. This is aesthetic politics, guaranteed to produce defeat after defeat after defeat. But at least our “principled” individualistic performance is intact. Endorsing a candidate is saying you want that candidate to win instead of the opponent(s). It is not co-signing that candidate's autobiography or establishing line by line agreement with the candidate's world view. It is saying that this candidate winning is better than the only other alternative.

At any rate, a few people pointed out that he was the best of three options by a long shot, and that the fates of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of those arrested—disproportionately the poor and people of color, by the way—will be affected by who wins this race, and this guy was the glaringly obvious best choice. I won’t commit the error of amplified extrapolation by saying that this little group’s endorsement would make or break his campaign. That would be a postmodern conceit. But for whatever this group’s endorsement might or might not actually mean (he bothered to ask the group for it), the vote was 19 for the endorsement, 15 against, and six abstentions (I have no idea why anyone would abstain). The group’s will was bent to the will of the most sectarian, who never spoke once during their denunciations of ideological impurity about the fates of those people who would be arrested in that county during the next Prosecutor’s term.

Guess what else I noticed at this meeting of forty souls? There was not a single African American in the room. I had seen a few black faces there before, but apparently few to none stayed. Near the end of the meeting, there was a hue and cry about how “we reach out” to African Americans (I've hears this lament on the left for, oh, more than two decades now). I dunno. Maybe put the needs of actual people ahead of your self-limiting, personalized, aesthetic politics?

I am reminded of those puritanical parents who can only catch their kids when they are doing something wrong, never noticing when they've tried to do right.


“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”

I am that wretch. If anyone wants to encounter one of the infected, come by and see me. I was an imperial storm trooper for decades. I can’t even recount how many things I did that were wrong, hurtful, destructive. How is it, then, that I can be accepted on the left? If anyone is contaminated, it’s me. I’m a walking sack of sins, including my old ideological ones.

Speaking for myself, I’m grateful as can be for anyone’s forgiveness, and that forgiveness brought me into the fold.

Purity codes are exclusive. Patience and forgiveness are inclusive. You can’t win without including more people.

Don't know about anyone else, but I' tired of losing, and there's more at stake now than at any time in history.