Saturday, December 01, 2007

Black Bloggers Identify Taser Nation

There has been a great deal of uninformed comment about the invisibility of African-American bloggers, mostly by white bloggers who don't trouble themselves to read the work of African-American bloggers. One area where black bloggers are way out in front of black bloggers is the increasing use of tasers as a torture device by American police. Here's Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report:
A country that employs torture as an instrument of national policy should be expected to do the same on the local law enforcement level. The reverse is also true. The United States, with its long legacy of subjecting society's "Others" to systemic violence, now elevates pain to a kind of universal principle, spreading torture and "rendition" as institutionalized components of its global offensive. Now the domestic legacy and foreign policy combine to trickle down upon previously immune white citizens, in the form of Taser-torture. Tasers, once defended as life-saving alternatives to police use of deadly force, have become weapons of arbitrary, sadistic choice. The circle of pain is complete.

The most prominent example of the "trickle down" of Taser torture to American whites is the incident of Utah policeman Jon Gardner zapping white motorist Jared Massey with 50,000 volts of electricity because Massey wouldn't sign a ticket for speeding that he wasn't legally required to sign anyway. The whole incident was captured on video and distributed on YouTube. The only thing that Massey was being to Officer Gardner was annoying. Yet, USA Today reported that the Utah Highway Patrol found Gardner's conduct to be "lawful and reasonable under the circumstances." In other words, the highway patrol is saying that Utah policeman have a right to torture anybody they want anytime they want unless the torture is even more egregious than what happened to Massey and captured on video.

Surprised There Aren't More Hostage Situations

My main reaction to the hostage situation at one of Hillary Clinton's campaign offices is surprise, and gratitude, that there aren't more such incidents. In the U. S., we have a potent mix of troubled individuals, a violence-soaked popular culture, pervasive pornography, and easy access to weapons and explosives. We not only have a high murder rate but a seemingly constant stream of serial killers, serial rapists, fantasy killings, and other bizarre crimes. Given that there are also continual reports about terrorism, it's surprising that more people haven't adopted terrorist motifs to express their longing for violent revenge and fame.

New Hampshire hostage taker Leland Eisenberg seems to be a good example of what I'm talking about. He claims that he walked into the campaign office with a fake bomb taped to his chest because he was frustrated over his inability to obtain mental health care.

Hillary Clinton believes that account, but I do not!! It sounds too pat, too contrived, and too closely correlated to Hillary Clinton's reputation on health care to be true.

Certainly, Eisenberg is a guy with a lot of long and short-term troubles. He was apparently homeless at the age of twenty-one, accused a Catholic priest of abusing him, and served a 10-12 year prison sentence on a rape count. More recently, he had been arrested for "driving under the influence and stalking" and his wife was divorcing him because of his heavy alcohol consumption, verbal abuse, and threats. That's a load of problems. Nevertheless, it seems like Eisenberg was more frustrated by his lack of fame and celebrity than by a lack of mental health care. Or at least, he was coping with his sea of troubles by trying to become famous. The day before he walked into the Clinton campaign office with a fake bomb strapped to his chest, Eisenberg told his stepson to be sure to watch the television because he knew that he himself would be the center of televised terrorism drama the next day.

It's that convertability of personal breakdowns and traumas into efforts to seek fame through terrorist behavior that's worrisome in the Leland Eisenberg case. I'm glad it doesn't happen more often.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I have an idea for the next big reality television hit--Rudy's Next Mistress. The premise of the show is that a national television or YouTube audience would select Rudy Giuliani's next mistress in the same way a national audience chooses the next American Idol. In the first round of the competition, women from all over the country would send in (tasteful) videos in which they explain why they want to be Rudy's Next Mistress and how well they match up with America's Mayor. After a panel of Rudy Giulini's best buddies cut the number of wannabe mistresses down, the final 12 contestants would be brought on national television to make their pitch to Mr. Giuliani before the television/internet audience and a distinguished panel of judges that would include former Senator Gary Hart, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and Ms. Monica Lewinsky. Given their high level experiences with either courting political mistresses or being a political mistress, the members of the panel can be expected to make the most entetaining comments possible. Still, the ultimate deciders for Rudy's Next Mistress will be the American people themselves.

If Rudy Giuliani is elected president in 2008, the producers of Rudy's Next Mistress would expect President Giuliani to introduce the winner at the same ceremony where Mr. Giuliani was sworn in as president. Perhaps the winner could swear to do her best to uphold the traditions of presidential mistresses like Marilyn Monroe during her term in "office" and pledge to marry President Giuliani if he and his current wife Judi Nathan Giuliani should get a divorce.

The benefits to being Rudy's Next Mistress would be tremendous. Most of all, there's the honor of being the escort and bedmate of the future President Giuliani himself. All the pundits agree that Rudy Giuliani is a "man's man"--the kind of man who would stand up to Hillary Clinton, attack Iran, flaunt his friendship with mob-connected guys like Bernard Kerik, and keep a priest accused of pedophilia on his payroll. More important, Rudy Giuliani is the kind of man who treats a mistress like a queen. When Giuliani visited Judi Nathan's condo in Southampton, he took his security detail with him. Just think how impressive Rudy Giuliani would be when he visits a presidential mistress accompanied by his Secret Service guards, mobile communications center, and nuclear football. And Rudy's Next Mistress will look pretty impressive herself when she's sleeping with him in the Lincoln Bedroom. Monica Lewinsky gave Bill Clinton blow jobs in the dark corners around the Oval Office. Rudy's Next Mistress would be giving her blow jobs under the beneficent gaze of Honest Abe himself. Now that's class.

Rudy Giuliani would be generous with the resources of the federal government as well. When he was mayor of New York, Giuliani assigned police officers to drive Judi Nathan and her family around the city despite laws against using public property for personal purposes. "She used the PD as her personal taxi service," said one former city official who worked for Giuliani." Isn't that romantic?

If Giuliani was willing to be so generous to Judi Nathan while just a mayor, just think how loving he would be to a presidential mistress. People don't realize the depth of Rudy Giuliani's commitment to his mistresses. Liberals created a lot of ethics rules and laws to control the behavior of public officials, but Rudy Giuliani is glad to defy those rules and laws for the sake of the women he loves. By refusing to kowtow to all those "ethics," Rudy Giuliani shows that he's tough enough to do what it takes to take on the Islamofascists. If Rudy is man enough to stick it to the liberal media and the do-gooders at ethics "watchdogs" like Common Cause, he's man enough to stick it to bin Laden as well.

That's why it's important that the American people choose Rudy's Next Mistress. Given the importance of Rudy Giuliani's mistress in the war on terror, we can't leave the selection of Rudy's Next Mistress to chance.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Will Rudy's Next Mistress Fly on Air Force One

If we know anything about Rudy Giuliani, we know that he's good to his mistresses. It was reported months ago that he used to tryst mistress Judith Nathan at the counter-terrorism command center that he had placed in the World Trade Center. Having sex in the nerve center of the city's war against terrorism must have been the thrill of a lifetime for Nathan.

No wonder she married him.

Today, Brian Ross of ABC reports that Giuliani also provided a car and a security detail for Nathan while she was his mistress.

Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on
But what does this matter? Don't we know that Giuliani's a megalogmaniac, that he's corrupt, and that he doesn't think the law applies to him?

The answer is yes.

But we don't know how Giuliani is going to transport his next mistress if he gets elected president. Of course, Giuliani could use Air Force One to transport the next Judy Nathan around after he gets tired of this Judy Nathan. Maybe this would be his chance to join the Mile High Club as well.

But I suspect not.

Air Force One is a Boeing 747. Talk about an unsexy, out of date model of a plane. No! I see Rudy as taking his next mistress around in real style. Besides Mike Meyers already did the 747 seduction bit in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

Rudy would want to find something really special for his next mistress. After all, she might become the next Mrs. Rudy after Judy Nathan.

Information on Greg Goldey Services, etc

After I received an inquiry from Sasha Triplett (Hi Sasha!) in Louisville, I thought it would be a good idea to search out some information on services for Greg Goldey and addresses to send cards and letters.

Greg's immediate funeral services will be private. The (tentative) plan is to hold a public memorial service for Greg on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Memorial Service, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2pm,
Unity Universalist Church
3564 Clays Mill Road
Lexington, KY 40503

If plans change, I will post the change.

Greg's family would prefer donations to their Buddhist temple in lieu of flowers. The address of the temple is below.

Shambhala Center of Lexington
315 W. Maxwell St
Lexington, KY 40508

phone: 859-225-4183

Finally, people should send cards and letters concerning Greg to his wife and children at the address below:

The Goldey/Hardesty Family
25 W. Hickman
Winchester 40391

Death of Greg Goldey

Greg Goldey died last night at 2:11am. I got to visit him yesterday afternoon. It was a tough situation because he was already struggling to breathe, had a hard time staying in focus, and was seeing a lot of people. But Greg was more than willing to see the friends, relatives, and colleagues coming to his house because he was concerned for them and their feelings. It must have been a long hard day for him to know that he was dying at the same time that he was so intensely connected to so many people.

Greg had always been a good guy and I always liked him. But that in fact was underestimating him. The way Greg conducted himself while he was terminally ill with cancer was noble in the best sense of the word and I've come to look up to him as a human being and a man.

It's horrible that he's gone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Are Whites a Race?

One of the things that drives me crazy about "race talk" (to use a phrase from bell hooks) in the U. S. is the the way that white writers write as though African-Americans were the only race. Aren't whites in the United States a race as well?

Gary Kamiya's Salon article on "Is Race Dying" is an example in point. Kamiya claims that "it's hard to believe that just a few years ago, issues of black vs. white dominated the national discourse."

But Kamiya poses whites as passive to invisible to this discourse. For Kamiya, the most important contributions of whites to discussion about issues of race in the United States are guilt and politeness.
The great breakthrough of the civil rights movement, sadly, failed to erase the subtlest and most powerful barriers: internal ones. Whites learned to acknowledge the history of racism, foregrounding their own racial guilt. That was necessary but insufficient. It resulted not in racial enlightenment but racial politeness.

That might be true for liberals, but liberals aren't the only white people. Perhaps Kamiya is not aware of the tremendous amount of right-wing campaigning in opposition to affirmative action, hate crimes legislation, school desegregation, gun control in inner city areas and other racial issues. Conservatives have also been relentlessly promoting a "color-blind" within which any kind of black self-awareness or collective black self-assertion is viewed as the equivalent to segregation. In this way, conservatives have been arguing that the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, and a lot of hip hop music are just as racist as Bull Connor while he was whipping black demonstrators or George Wallace barring the school doors at the University of Alabama.

In fact, Kamiya seems to be sympathetic to the conservative point of view.

According to a recent NPR/Pew poll, 37 percent of blacks agreed with the statement that blacks today are so diverse they can no longer be considered a single race. Among the youngest respondents, aged 18 to 29, a staggering 44 percent agreed.

This is extraordinary. More than a third of the blacks who responded, and almost half of the young blacks, have rejected the cornerstone of American racial politics: black racial solidarity. If the poll is accurate, the most emotionally charged and immutable racial truth, the one-drop rule, is no longer sacrosanct for a large number of black people.

For Kamiya, anything that breaks up "the cornerstone of American racial politics: black racial solidarity" is a tremendously good thing and that's the case whether he's discussing whether blacks view themselves as a single race, the "values gap," or the increase in the bi-racial population of people like Barack Obama and Tiger Woods.

But African-Americans have always considered themselves an extremely diverse group or even a number of groups that were brought together by the scourge of white racism. The efforts of many light-skinned blacks to differentiate themselves from the more darkly hued were observed in turn of the 20th century New Orleans. Spike Lee portrays the same thing in School Daze. Likewise, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X wrote of the religious and ideological distinctions within the African-American population during the sixties and contemporary black writers have been denouncing the lack of political activism among the black middle class for years.

And Black people would be even more self-differentiating if they didn't have to face stereotyping, job discrimination, and police violence from the larger white population. But Kamiya doesn't comment on the relentless racial stereotyping of American television, movies, music, the fashion industry, and the news media. He also doesn't mention the mountains of racial jokes circulating abound black people. Kamiya doesn't ask why the steretyptical representation of black people is so important to white-owned and run media corporations or predominately white audiences. If Kamiya had asked such questions, he would have found that whites have a racial consciousness as well and that white racial consciousness has been a powerful factor in American politics for decades.

Yes, Virginia. Whites are also a race--a relatively unified race on racial issues. And black people will remain relatively united as long as that is the case.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An Update on Greg Goldey

Greg Goldey is in the last stages of his cancer. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Romney's the Man?

Josh Marshall at TPM has graphs on Romney's steady rise in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Perhaps Romney wears well on Republicans. Maybe, he just looks presidential. Or maybe Republicans are deciding that he looks like the best of a bad lot.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Trent Lott and the Waning of Primary Racism

FAREWELL TO THE DINOSAUR. Trent Lott announced his retirement from the United States Senate today. He'll be leaving effective at the end of this year or the beginning of 2008. Lott's significance in American politics is that he is one of the last racist political figures who engaged in the direct promotion of white supremacy. Lott not only expressed a sense of pride in Mississippi's vote for segregationist Strom Thurmond back in 1848, he also was extremely active in promoting the memory of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and promoted the Council of Conservative Citizens as a replacement for the old white Citizens Councils. Wary of being fully identified with the cause of racism in the post-civil rights era, Lott was circumspect in his efforts for the cause of white supremacy. But he regularly reminded people that his loyalties lie with the primary racism of slavery, segregation, and opposition to integration.
Speaking at a 1984 convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Lott declared that "the spirit of Jefferson Davis lives in the 1984 Republican Platform." Asked to explain his statement in an interview with the extreme rightwing publication Southern Partisan, Lott said, "I think that a lot of the fundamental principles that Jefferson Davis believed in are very important to people across the country, and they apply to the Republican Party... and more of The South's sons, Jefferson Davis' descendants, direct or indirect, are becoming involved with the Republican party."

A THOUSAND SECONDARY RACISMS BLOOM. But Lott's passing from the political scene has mostly symbolic significance. The weight of political racism has passed from the "primary" segregationism racism of Lott, Jesse Helms, and Strom Thurmond to various forms of "secondary" or indirect racism. Shelby Steele's critique of Barack Obama as untrustworthy because he's "black" in the sense of being part of the black community is one example of "secondary racism." Steele is not making the direct claim that whites are superior to blacks. Instead, he's arguing indirectly that the politics of black culture make any (non-conservative) black person a suspect candidate. As an advocate of color-blindness, Steele's arguments about Obama are similar to the arguments of William Bennett and others who argue that black culture is handicapped by "race-consciousness." Conservatives have come up with a barrage of indirect racist arguments against affirmative action, school desegregation, and attempts to stop racial profiling among other things. Secondary racism rules on the right.

RACISM LOSING ITS WAY? One of the things that is happening to the Republican Party is that they're losing access to the narratives of secondary racism. Where the Republicans used to campaign against "black crime," affirmative action, the "ghetto drug epidemic," hip hop influenced popular culture, and other "black" phenomena, they've largely been unable to develop a racial narrative in opposition to African-Americans for the 2008 campaign. While hardly out of sight, the racist thrust of Republican campaigning has shifted from blacks to Mexicans and Muslims. They've also been careful to promote pedophiles as the new "other" in American society.

But none of these themes has the same appeal as secondary racisms used to have. It would be a mistake to view white voters as being less racist than they've been in the past. Think of the mountain of racial jokes and stereotypes directed by whites to black people in this regard. It seems, however, that the Republicans dipped into the well of racism one too many times with the publication of the campaigns against affirmative action and the publication of The Bell Curve during the 90's and have run out of good ideas for playing on white racism without seeming "racist." Political racism seems to be losing its grip.

Maybe that's why Trent Lott is leaving the Senate. He might know that the game is up.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shelby Steele Hates Black People

There have always been African-Americans who share a fundamental perspective with white racism. When they look at the American racial system, what they first see are faults, falseness, weakness, and depravity among other black people. I imagine that these were the kind of people who gave the famously racist Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo 5% of the black vote in one of his elections. Maybe Bull Connor would have pulled a small percentage of the black vote in segregated Birmingham as well.

The black neo-conservative Shelby Steele is well-known in The Content of Our Character for anchoring his analysis of race relations in a perception of racial manipulation by black people. Steele starts out the book with a story about a dinner party in which a black professor employed comments on race to make the white guests feel uncomfortable and guilty. Steele's starting point for his thinking about the racial system was not the persistent racism, disproportionately high poverty levels, or the pervasiveness of racial stereotyping. What fascinated him instead was the way that blacks "gamed" whites into feeling uncomfortable or guilty. Largely sympathetic with white people like myself, Steele wasn't interested in the ways that whites "game" race when we evaluate African-Americans in our jobs, tell jokes or stories about black people, or talk about black people when they're not around.

Now Steele has a book out on Barack Obama and it isn't surprising that Steele focuses on the "mask" that Obama adapts as a black man appealing to white voters. According to David Broder's largely sympathetic review:
In "A Bound Man," Steele makes the case that Obama has adopted "a mask" familiar to many other African-Americans, designed to appease white America's fear of being thought racist by offering them the opportunity to embrace a nonthreatening black . . . Steele likens Obama's success to the fame and fortune won by Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. But the earliest of the crossover heroes he calls "Iconic Negroes" was Sidney Poitier. And it reminded me that in his political biography of Obama, author David Mendell reported the reaction of a focus group of liberal, North Shore (Chicago area) female voters, middle-aged and elderly, when shown a videotape of Obama speaking in his 2004 Senate campaign. Asked who Obama reminded them of, the answer was "Sidney Poitier."
Steele doesn't seem to ask himself about the "masks" adapted by white politicians like Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, or Hillary Clinton. He also doesn't inquire about the extent to which the persona that anybody presents to the public isn't a "mask" that hides at least as much as it reveals. According to Erving Goffman, "the presentation of self in everyday life" involves the creation of a "front" through which "information about the actor is given off through a variety of communicative sources, all of which must be controlled to effectively convince the audience of the appropriateness of behavior and consonance with the role assumed." If Steele were going to discuss the "masks" of politicians in any kind of objective way, he would ask how political figures use self-presentation to "convince" their audiences concerning their personal appeal and their fitness for office and then investigate the extent to which Barack Obama's being black leads him to create a different kind of "mask" from other politicians.

Instead, Steele focuses on Obama in a way that creates an impression that Obama is uniquely manipulative of his public presentation and unlike the more racially honest white politicians who dont' seem to put on such a front.
"The problem here for Barack, of course, is that his racial identity commits him to a manipulation of the society he seeks to lead," Steele writes. "To 'be black,' he has to exaggerate black victimization in America. ... Worse, his identity will pressure him to see black difficulties -- achievement gaps, high illegitimacy rates, high crime rates, family collapse, and so on -- in the old framework of racial oppression."

In other words, "racial identity" or being black in the way that other black people are black makes Obama fundamentally dishonest about race. For Steele, black people are such a problem that he wonders if a black guy like Obama can be honest enough to be president.

I don't have a window into Shelby Steele's soul, but I'd call that hating black people until proved differently.