Friday, October 16, 2009

The neocon principle of debate: If it disagrees with you, maim it, kill it, or rape it

When I saw this comic, all I could think of was, hey, there's a man intimidating a woman with a knife while dictating his political views to her--not allowing her to actually be a part of the discussion. She even expresses her apprehension of his knife pointing at her with uneasy humor. It is also not lost on me that the creator utilized a man of color to be the vehicle for this implication of violence, but that's a whole other can of worms I'm not going to bring up here.

I doubt Muir intended this, but it probably came out subconsciously. It seems to me to express that the idea of health care reform (and, for that matter, any liberal ideas) are the product of silly emotional girls who need a MAN to tell them what's what, and then make sure to dominate her and show her who's boss; perhaps the knife, along with symbolizing the desire to do violence to liberals, also symbolizes the desire to use one's masculinity to dominate them through sex (regardless of whether there is consent involved, of course--even if there is "consent" in this kind of sex, it's often someone either too intimidated to say no, or someone complicit in their own oppression, which can happen for a variety of reasons).

Is the Fourth Amendment nothing but a pile of ash?
Feds bust Twitter Tweeter, Impound Curious George and Buffy Videos in Terror Probe

(not a joke)

Madison spent his time in Pittsburgh monitoring police calls and using Twitter to report real-time police movements around the G-20 protests. In one contentious tweet, Madison reported on a police order closing a street near the protest and ordering everyone on that street to disperse. Anyone subsequently on that street would be arrested, whether or not they were informed of the closing. People monitoring the Tin Can tweets or subscribing to Tin Can text messages knew to avoid the closure area and hence avoid arrest by eschewing lawless behavior they otherwise might not have known was lawless. MSNBC and local news organizations also provided live coverage of the demonstrations.


Madison's tweeting came to an end, however, after the Pennsylvania State Police stormed his hotel room, guns drawn, and, according to the New York Times, arrested him for "hindering apprehension or prosecution," "criminal use of a communication facility," and "possession of instruments of crime." The hindering charge stems from the tweet in which he essentially acted as a reporter, reporting real-time news about the police dispersal order and street closure. By reporting on the closure and hence dissuading people from breaking the law, Madison allegedly hindered prosecution; thanks to him, there were no laws broken and no one to prosecute.

One could charge a high school guidance counselor with a similar crime if she convinced a student to forgo illicit drug abuse and hence avoid prosecution as a drug offender.

So if it's five minutes before the alternate side parking begins on my street, and I notice my neighbor's car still on the wrong side, with a parking enforcement cop just waiting to slap a ticket on it at the stroke of nine, should I get thrown in jail for knocking on their door to remind them? The cop might be pissed at not making his quota, but he has no right to arrest me. Isn't law enforcement about prevention, not to give the officers the thrill of arresting people or ticketing them? Alternate side parking, for example, is supposed to be about making room for the street cleaners (even though that purpose has been twisted into revenue generation). Did these officers feel impotent as they went to beat down some hippies, only to find their prey vanished?
Madison was eventually released [...]—except one week later the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force stormed Madison's Queens home at 6am, knocking down his front door with a battering ram and raiding his home with over a dozen officers, guns drawn.

After searching Madison's house for 16 hours, police carted away and impounded a Curious George doll, passports, computers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs, refrigerator magnets, a needlepoint portrait of Vladimir Lenin, letters, tax records, books, phones, flags, photos, and, according to the New York Post, gas masks, hammers, triangular pieces of metal, some kind of ammo, and about a liquid ounce of mercury. [emphasis mine]

(and I don't actually think it's illegal to possess mercury...a lot of weird men like to have it because it IS a neat, albeit dangerous substance)

I find it frightening that police think it's okay for them to take things like books, flags, Buffy DVDs (how much you want to bet some idiot was a fan and wanted them for himself?) and STUFFED FRICKEN ANIMALS. And I also find it scary that they will take ANYTHING that is legal to possess--hammers?! Do you have any idea how many hammers are in my house? And sure, okay, you don't like Lenin. I don't like Lenin. But this guy's freedom of expression allows him to have a portrait of Lenin in his home. You know what you do about it? You don't visit him or be friends with him if that bothers you. But the police have NO right to confiscate it. Ammo, but no weapon for it--it sounds to me like this guy collected war memorabilia or something, and these cops picked up ancient shell casings, but even if it were live, usable ammunition, it is generally legal to have it, and where the hell is the NRA on this one?

Of course, I question everything they confiscated because I do not see anything remotely resembling probable cause.

I feel I should post this, just to remind us:
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The War On Drugs has shit upon this amendment for decades. The Patriot Act took laxatives beforehand, and had a good wank all over it for good measure. I'm disappointed in the current administration's continuation of these policies. Tea protesters complain about taxes being used for health care reform, but it'd be nice to see them protesting the incredible waste of dollars funding operations like these. Aren't YOU angry that American taxpayers' money went toward bagging and logging a Curious George doll as evidence? That they went toward arresting this man because his free speech prevented a potentially violent clash between police and protesters? I'd rather my taxes go toward helping sick people get well rather than this kind of insanity.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Diversify or...demand your customers pay you for what they're no longer buying? What?!
Saudi Arabia is trying to enlist other oil-producing countries to support a provocative idea: if wealthy countries reduce their oil consumption to combat global warming, they should pay compensation to oil producers.

If you are selling a product that becomes obsolete, you don't get to stamp your feet and demand you get paid for the drop in your product's sales. You certainly don't get a gold star for refusing to even recognize the clear signals that your customers were looking to find alternatives to your product since it is damaging to the environment and would eventually run dry anyway. One commenter in a friend's livejournal said, "That's bloody brilliant. Are we going to compensate the Medellin cartels if cocaine sales drop, too?"

Big oil producers have, for decades, resisted the necessary and inevitable transition to renewable energy sources, not only by putting mere token efforts into researching new products themselves, but also by actively working to shut down research and work by other companies and organizations. After all, if they did enthusiastically pursue "green" energy, that might indicate some small acknowledgment that they know their current product is damaging and nonrenewable.

Yes, lately, these companies have been frantically investing in alternative energy research, because the tide is changing, and they're now realizing that they may not have the power to stop it. Now, they can claim market forces are the reason they're changing instead of having to admit that fossil fuels are problematic for long term, widespread use. You know, "Hey, we don't necessarily believe this is better, but since people want it, we'll provide the market with products."

But of course, for the oil producing countries in the article I quoted, the old business maxim, "Diversify or die," would require actual work. You know, what the rest of us have to do if our products or services become obsolete. I myself run the risk, in my small business, of market saturation, of everyone having seen what I have in to short a period of time, so I have to make sure I maintain a variety of programs, and services that evolve over time. If I hand out the same goody bags, the same postcards, the same stickers, and perform the exact same programs (with the same jokes and scripts), I will lose clientele. Do I get to go to my former clients with a hand out if they decide to stop booking me after several years in a row? Of course not--the onus is on ME to keep them interested enough to invite me back. It's on ME to make sure my material is up to date with the latest research so I don't spread misinformation. It's on ME to market myself and search out new clients. And if, by some bizarre, unforeseeable fluke, it is discovered that being within two feet of a program like mine causes cancer, it's on ME to find a new line of work.

Asking your customers to pay you because they don't want your product anymore is real chutzpah. It's also pretty asinine. I'm sorry that the Saudis have become so desperately dependent on their customers that they feel they have to do this, but the writing's been on the wall for decades. The need for green energy is not a surprise that has caught them with their pants down. It's not their customers' fault that Big Oil has, instead of acknowledging, exploring, and providing for this need when it became apparent, they fought it tooth and nail, deliberately choosing environmental destruction and corporate stagnation over environmental protection and diversity.

In my opinion, this thing that they are doing, this asking to be paid because their customers have decided to reduce their use of a globally destructive product, is evil. Evil, sick, and wrong. They do not even deserve an explanation for a refusal to pay; what they deserve is a slap in the face for even asking.

Thanks to Andrew K for alerting me to this article.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Library-hating creep gleefully makes little girls cry

Note: I am going to be writing future posts about anti-library rhetoric both in the past and now currently spewing from the teabagger I-got-mine-screw-everyone-else contingent. I am starting with this incident because it is a powerful lesson in just how mean-spirited and selfish these people really are.

A wealthy suburb's village board decides to fire most of its library's staff, including the head librarian. A brave 11 year old girl stands up during a council meeting to report that her library use has become much less beneficial without the assistance of educated, experienced staff.

A very nasty, wealthy, 69 year old lawyer, a Mr. Xinos, responds to her in an incredibly rude, hateful way that makes her and her friend cry--and then later brags, "I wanted that kid to lose sleep that night," because he wanted to teach a little girl a "lesson".

He is extremely bitter that the library even exists; he had sued to stop it from being built, and was unsuccessful. So he ran for a seat on the village board in order to do something about the evil, terrible library--and lost. So he has been working to get other people elected to the board who are anti-library.

Xinos has also shown what a totally awesome person he is by successfully fighting against a plan to bring subsidized housing for seniors into town by declaring, "I don't want to live next to poor people. I don't want poor people in my town." Yeah, those senior citizens are really going to wreck the neighborhood, what with grandma prostituting herself on the street corners and gramps selling drugs and spraying graffiti on every possible surface.

Xinos' roots, surprisingly, do not involve a silver spoon or trust fund. He himself grew up poor, worked in a cafeteria, and joined the Marines before becoming a lawyer and making money. He's also quite the classy sort; the Daily Herald stated that he "sprinkles the F-word throughout his conversations. He dismisses a recent library event involving dogs with a blunt three-word rant in which he bookends swear words around the word 'that.'" This poor guy's delicate sensibilities are going to be terribly marred by the presence of senior citizens, educated children, and a library.

A fairly important piece of this puzzle is that Xinos does not actually have children of his own. He seems to believe that because he is childless, he derives no benefit from the children (and adults for that matter) in his community becoming educated or having a safe community space for them to go outside of school. Xinos declares that the government should only build roads, fight fires, and have a police force, but fails to understand that the workers providing these services do not spring forth from the womb in full uniform, ready to fight crime and put out fires. Nor does he acknowledge that all of the people he receives services from on a daily basis, from his secretary, to his favorite restaurant's chef, to the mechanic who maintains his vehicle, and let's not forget the medical personnel needed to keep his senior-aged body working--all of these people have likely required the use of library services during their formative years, their higher education, and their continuing education.

Each of us relies on a number of other people in the world to do their jobs every day. Despite his attempts to live in a bubble (via gated community), even Xinos needs other people for his daily life to run smoothly. He seems to think that his wealth gives him independence, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that it actually makes him more dependent on other people--those who don't have money have to do things for themselves; Xinos likely has a support staff that may include a maid, secretary, landscaper, personal assistant, and similar service personnel that do the things Xinos feels are beneath him. I'm also going to guess that he'd pitch a toddler-worthy tantrum if one of these people quit on him and he had to pick up his own dry cleaning for once, or wash a dish. Being able to throw money around does not mean you're not part of a community; it does not mean you do not rely on that community, and it does not mean you have no responsibilities toward that community.

A minor note I wanted to cover here is that, while Xinos is whining that a head librarian is making $98,000 a year, he fails to realize that librarians have to go through a significant amount of schooling (Andrew K, you can back me up here?). Do a web search for "Library Science" to understand just how much there is to becoming and being a librarian. There's also the consideration of the cost of living in that area. A librarian in my small hometown could live quite comfortably on half that, but $98K does not stretch as far in an affluent area like Oak Brook.

Sources and discussions:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Guest Post: on lynched Census worker Bill Sparkman

Today's post is a guest post from ms_daisy_cutter of livejournal regarding the sickening death of a census worker.

A census worker responds:
I work in the field for the Census Bureau in western North Carolina, deep in the mountains. There are certainly meth labs and grow ops in the areas where I've worked, but the greatest fear for my team and myself comes from the angry and the ignorant.

The overwhelming anger is directed straight at the President. No question. Fear and racism at the core that has manifested into anti-government radicalism. We're threatened and intimidated almost daily, just for trying to earn a days pay and uphold the Constitution. I've been called an "employee of president nigger" and team members have been bitten by dogs and threatened with shotguns.

The Glenn Becks and Michelle Bachmans give these nutjobs legitimacy and a voice. They're bringing this madness into the mainstream fold of our society and stoking the flames of misguided fears.

And a former FedEx driver who worked in "extreme northeast Tennessee/southwest Virginia - same cultural heritage as these Kentucky and North Carolina areas" — was warned on his first day on the job that he might get shot at because the locals didn't know the difference between FedEx and the Federal government. And that was back in 1994.

I agree with this commenter: "If the red-state rednecks in the backwoods are seriously undercounted in the 2010 census, and consequently lose Congressional representation and federal funding, they'll have Bachmann, Beck, and their own stupidity to blame. I'll try not to lose sleep over it."

But I don't want to see them kill or hurt any more innocent people. :-/

ms_daisy_cutter later comments:
if local law enforcement cannot secure the safety of census workers, then census workers should withdraw and count an area as ZERO, with all the consequences that entails. They used to do that in inner city areas torn by crime and gang strife, they should do it again here.

Rio's Comment:
If your views are in such a minority in this country that the only way you think you can get what you want is through terrorism (and what happened to Sparkman was terrorism, plain and simple), then maybe what you really need is to put down the weapons and check yourself into the psych ward.