“We didn’t think you’d find out about this! Seriously, what did you expect?”

Meanwhile, the Democrats are my other least favorite political party–Check this shit out. The Democratic Congress secretly approved funding to amp up covert operations against Iran.

Via Democracy Now and my 1st fave.

Victoria Falls

Should the UN intervene?

What about Mbeki’s proposal for a “unity” government led by Mugabe?

Why is South Africa choosing not to participate in meetings with other African nations?

While COSATU is boycotting Zimbabwe, the ANC says the following:

“Any attempts by outside players to impose regime change will merely deepen the crisis.

“It has always been and continues to be the view of our movement that the challenges facing Zimbabwe can only be solved by the Zimbabweans themselves,” the statement said. “Nothing that has happened in the recent months has persuaded us to revise that view.”

This, in truth, strikes me as sensible. Given Mugabe’s vocal condemnation of imperialism, invoked as the justification for every act of violence and repression, and given Tsvangarai’s unabashed advocacy for neoliberal “market solutions,” UN intervention seems likely make things worse.

But can be the same be said of African intervention? It seems unlikely that we will find out.

Instead, “leaving it up to Zimbabweans themselves” means that Mugabe will go ahead with this “election,” opponent-free. Hopefully, the fact that he is the only one running will reduce his need to employ roving bands of thugs to genderate “support.”

In other news on the topic, I cant find a print quote, but WBAI’s Wake Up Call quoted my president, Cynthia McKinney, in a statement on Zimbabwe. Her comment focused on the land question in a way that could be read as implicit support for Mugabe’s campaign of terror and anti-democratic repression. I understand, politically, why that would be her position, but….ew.

While “what next?” remains a swamp of least-worst and worst-worst options, tomorrow I’ll focus a bit on how Zimbabwe got here in the first place.

What was that about mushroom clouds, again?

Did you know that both John McCain and Barak Obama support the expanded use of nuclear power? Is there an idea more deranged? I think not.

Read more

Yesterday on CNN, coverage of the Obama/McCain race for President of the United States of America included a graphic which contained the phrase “Battle Royal.” Too bad I couldn’t find a screen shot.

This small detail is either just one turd in the coming avalanche of steaming racist horseshit, or incredibly incisive, subtle and stinging political/cultural commentary from a rouge disgruntled graphics designer.M

DLC PDA: “Quick-I’ll find something shiny to throw over a fence while you figure out how you are eventually going to duck that thing about permanent bases in Iraq.”

You can listen here

1) Obama is taking cheap shots to “play against type.” Makes me wonder if running for President constitutes absentee parenthood?

2) Confidential to Ralph: Thank you for running in 2000. You made me excited about my first ever chance to vote in a presidential election. You are the only candidate whom I have ever endorsed for the office of President of the United States of America.

In that spirit of loyalty, I just want to point out to you that in THIS election, John Kerry is NOT running against you. That was last time. I know. It seems recent to me, too.

3) The Progressive Democrats of America, while still seeming to largely miss the point about the Non-progressive Democrats of America, do at at least appear to have a handle on what it is that Kerry is running for this time around. The fact that their acronym is “PDA” never ceases to crack me up.

I wonder if she’s already writing it?

Because it is May, and because I once used the word “salutatorian” in a post about how stupid capitalism is, a top search that finds my blog is “what makes a good salutatorian speech?”

Kids, let me just say that I am the last person you should ask. I have never been a salutatorian. I was more the kind of student who screwed around and then sneered at the kids who thought they were smart, but who were obviously actually just working really hard. Because of this retrograde attitude and general lackadaisical approach, I came in 12th, not second, place. For the same reason, I also misspelled “salutatorian” the first time around.

Despite my total lack of credential, I want to offer you some advice on your speech. I may have never been a salutatorian myself, but I did date one. Or maybe he was a valedictorian, I can’t recall. In any case, he was the kind of person who was very smart and who also worked very hard. That is why he is now a doctor, while I remain a doctoral student.

Though my date’s actual rank my have receded into the distant haze of memory, I do recall his speech. He quoted it to me the night we met, in the back of a student ride van between elite liberal arts college campuses. It went like this:

A man goes to a monastery to find enlightenment. The program is that he meditate alone for a year at a time–no speaking, no singing, no human contact.

At the end of each year, the man is permitted exactly one word with the great teacher of the monastery as his only guidance through this intense spiritual task.

At the end of the first year, the man is approached by two monks and led to the top of the mountain where the teacher lives. He is led into the presence of the great man, who looks at him, inviting him to speak. The man says, simply, “The.”

He returns for another year of quiet contemplation. Again, two monks come to take him back to the teacher. This time, the man says “Food.” Then he goes back.

The third time our hero gains an audience with his guru, after 3 full years of arduous spiritual struggle, he looks at the teacher and say “Here,” and then returns to his isolation.

After four years, the now practiced student completes his sentence, relating the insights of his four-year-long meditation practice to the teacher, saying “Sucks!”

Now, I realize this is not an incredibly funny joke. But it is kind of funny as a dig at compulsory education, and I think my friend even managed to get in trouble for this speech. That is, if he even gave this speech. I have no way of knowing, so I can’t say whether using this silly joke as a salutatorian speech will work to earn you the campus-wide recognition that you deserve. But I do have it on good authority that sometime in the future, this speech just might help you get a lazy college freshman into bed on a first date.

Go boldly into the future, runners-up!

Round Two! Ding!

May 14, 2008

What *will* they think of next?

If the MSM and the Blog-stream media are to be believed, Hillary Clinton as potential president is toast, or very close to it. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the inner workings of the Democratic Party, nor do I care to underestimate Clinton’s desire to win and/or willingness to resort to technocratic fiat to make her thing happen.

But if it is true, if she is out, that means the fun is REALLY about to start. And by “fun”, I mean “steaming pile of racist horseshit”.

Not that the Clinton camp has thus far avoided racist innuendo, insult and implication. Hardly. But if Barak Obama is crowned presumptive nominee, I think we can expect to see the matter escalate to an entirely new, amazing, level of hideousness.

Because, in a way, Obama is perfect. He’s a perfect avatar for both competing strands of emergent American racism; both naive liberal color-blind racism and conservative, Islamophobic, strategically color-blind racism find a near-exact answer in Obama’s personal and political history.

Thats not entirely amazing; after all, color-blind racism is color-blind racism. They’re not so different. But it is incredible how well-suited Obama is to playing both the hero’s role for the liberals and the worst enemy of conservatives.

For blind liberals, including Obama himself, Obama represents “Hope” and “Change.” It sounds vague, but in fact, its very specific. Specifically, a quick perusal of Obama’s website makes it clear what isn’t  what isn’t expected to change: reform to create universal health care and education, a new, just, criminal justice system, investment in our crumbling infrastructure, or a reversal of the U.S.’s heretofore imperialist foreign policy.

Instead, its a hope that things have already changed, and in a specific way; Obama, as his supporters contend, “embodies” change. His mixed-race status, his “articulate” personae, his personal history that simultaneously embodies blackness but avoids a connection to the history of Black slavery in the U.S.– it all represents transcendence of DuBois’ famous “color-line.” A new post-race era of American life, and a confirmation of the progressive power of waiting around for things to improve.

Meanwhile, for conservatives, Obama manages to embody a holy trinity of enemies-under-the-bed; secret socialism, underground “Islamism” and overt (is there any other kind?) Blackness. They can use his Blackness while avoiding it–drawing (more-or-less) implicitly on anti-Black racism by attacking him for his secret political radicalism and covert association with Islam.

But Obama is neither what liberals hope for, nor what conservatives fear. He’s certainly no socialist. He’s a fairly secular Christian with an absentee dad who was a secular Muslim. At the same time, his Blackness does nothing to ameliorate the increasing social inequalities faced by working class Black people in America, even as it reflects the changing configuration of race and class politics in the U.S.

I worry that this deadly confluence of color-blindness will leave liberals unprepared to mount a response to racist right-wing attacks on an general election campaign for Obama. I worry that we’re about to find out how deep race and racism really runs in America. I worry I’m right.

I don’t wanna watch.

Hope in Days of Silence

April 30, 2008

On this day in 1939, the New York’s World Fair opened with the theme “The World of Tomorrow.” The fair was attended by tens of millions, and was seen as a beacon of hope for internationalism, peace, prosperity and progress.

On this day in history, six years later, Adolf Hitler shot himself in the head in a Berlin bunker, pushing one of the most violent, nastily nationalist periods of history towards closure.

Which might seem like a depressing start to our morning in blog land, yes. But to me its not; its a reminder that history and social life can change very fast and that “the world of tomorrow “can be a very different one than the world of today, in ways that seem totally improbable and unlikely.

Today, I’m specifically holding out hope that our world of tomorrow will be one in which Black American men have no reason to fear random death-by-firing-squad at the hands of “peace” officers, and for a world in which eighth-graders have no reason to fear violent asassinations delivered by their homophobic classmates.

I find it encouraging that I am not the only one who hopes for these things. It appears that 5,000 schools had participation in this years Day of Silence aimed at drawing attention to the harassment and abuse of LGBTQQ students and in honor of Lawrence King.

And while the rally I recently attended in protest of the legal whitewash of Sean Bell’s murder (incidentally, not at all far from the site of the 1939 fair), was disappointingly small, I find it encouraging that this injustice isn’t going unnoticed–not in New York City classrooms, not in discussions at work, not in activist circles and, despite what NPR thinks, not in communities affected by police brutality.

Two reactions to the trial made me hopeful, each for different reasons:

1) Cynthia McKinney’s statement on the verdict does a great job putting Sean Bell’s murder in context, but also linked it to a call for all of us to imagine something different, and better.

2) I heard an announcement from the Queer Justice League of New York City on the radio yesterday, making connections between police harassment of queer people and police violence in communities of color. I looked up their website, and while I really know nothing about this organization, except that they have an awesome name, that also gave me hope.


Really, its mostly the name that gives me hope. Like this postcard of the 1939 Fair’s Lagoon of Nations, the fantastical super-hero ring of “Queer Justice League” reminds me of the sometimes secret, sometimes shame-faced connections between a hopeful left-wing politics and the realm of utopia, imagination, and fantasy.

Because, of course, behind all my emphasis on hope this morning lies the stark reality that the present moment gives us little to hang our hope hats on. The movements for Black Liberation, Queer Liberation, Women’s Liberations and Workers’ Liberation are at low tide, to put it mildly. The US economy is in a world of shit, and empty rhetorical cover for a right-wing neoliberal agenda is what passes for a politics of “change” around here these days.

That’s why hope requires a different, more imaginative, engagement with the fourth dimension. I’ve previously alluded to the significance of reflection on the past and past hopes. But maintaining–building–hope, much less any communities or movements rooted in it, requires imagining, often detailed imagining of not only the past and the present, but the future as well.

This is what left-wing activists, queer communities and sci-fi geeks sometimes share–imagining a wholly different kind of economy, and/or new and liberating configurations of ‘family’, and sometimes all of the above on a yet-undiscovered planet.

Doing that can make you unpopular, yes. Perhaps it is slightly insane. And uncool. But, I am compelled to argue, its nowhere near as insane and uncool as accepting a total lack of alternatives.

Is America Ready?

April 4, 2008

“Are we there yet?”
“Is America Ready?”
This phrase has been bouncing around a lot lately; “Is America Ready for a Woman President?,” “Is America Ready for a Black President?“…“Is America Ready for a Pregnant Man?”
I mean, clearly the answer to that question, no matter what the second clause contains, is pretty much “no”. But why doesn’t this question get more play where it really counts, when it would really matter? Imagine the many key interrogatively formulaic stories we never read but should have:
Is America Ready for Adjustable Rate Mortgages?
Is America Ready to Kill Hundreds of Thousands of Iraqis for No Legitimate Reason at All?
Is America Ready to Dismantle our Entire Public Education System?
Is America Ready for the Backdoor Draft? How About A Private, Mercenary Army?
Is America Ready to Watch as A Major US City is Demolished and Its Citizens Left for Days to Drown?
This could go on for a while, but you get my point.


“Fancy meeting you here!”



Waiting in the airport at five am for the first flight out to Atlanta, my brain is not generally in top form.  That is my only excuse for how quickly and completely i was sucked into CNN’s rendition of todays campaign non-event.  In addition to hearing the rumors that Clinton told Bill Richardson that “Obama can’t win,” I leaned several things. 


1) Through the thick fog surrounding my consciousness, I believe that I heard the phrase “CNN means politics.” I found this concept and tagline unexpectedly terrifying.  If this is politics, I’m the Tooth Fairy.


2) Obama’s candidacy has been a major boon to Black commentators willing to denounce Obama. Also, it has been a boon to black commentators who support Barak Obama. About 70% of the commentators who talked about Clinton’s statement were Black, even if none of the hosts were.  This had the effect of both making me notice how white TV normally is and of making me suspicious that CNN is trying to pass off the false notion that Black people are divided on the the question of whom to support for the Democratic nomination. They are not.


3) A super-delegate from my district, the not-infrequently-sleazy Ed Towns,  is supporting Clinton, despite the fact that the district, which includes the first or second largest urban concentration of Black people in the country (Atlanta is the other one), and possibly outside of Africa.  Brooklyn (and Queens) went overwhelmingly for Obama, but our reps are backing Clinton. There have, it seems, been protests.


If you are regular reader, you are aware that I am not an Obama supporter. I may have even said “I don’t even really give a shit about Obama.”  This remains strictly true. While Obama is cute, and a capable of writing his own speeches (a skill that impresses in the realm of presidential candidates, but is the minimum standard for entry into world of high school debate), nothing about his neoliberal economic program, aggressive imperialist posturing nor his tactically demonstrative support for apartheid in Israel warms the cockles of my anything.  


Further, I believe that anyone with politics to the left of Richard Nixon is completely wasting hir time considering or trying to redeem the Democratic party as something other than cleverly organized surrender of any social forces for progress (the working class, the Black, Chicano, Feminist and Queer Movements, etc. ) managed by a rotating team of the most unbelievably spineless lickspittle lackeys. 


Which is to say that I like HIllary Clinton even less than Barak Obama.  It never ceases to baffle me that some of my favorite  feminists  believe that a victory for Clinton will be a feminist victory.  I disagree; a victory for Clinton will be a victory for the oligarchy and a return to the antediluvian patriarchal practice of rule by kinship.  If Hillary Clinton is feminism, Eva Peron is the Tooth Fairy.


But none of that is really the point of this post.  My point is that if I were the among the leadership of Democratic Party and intent, as I would be, on encouraging people to hang on to the last shred of suspended disbelief they have in the notion that they live in a democratic republic which has at least one democratically organized major political party, I would not, I repeat, not, try to game the system to thwart the Black vote. Nor would i let anyone else engage in this foolish behavior. 


I say this , in part, because the last two elections have had major instances of of Black disenfrancheisment through fiat, through legal technicalities and through outright cheating. The last two instances of this were atrocities, but Republicans were clearly most responsible ( even if it is also true that Al Gore, John Kerry and John Edwards were amazingly willing to sacrifice their own personal interests to those of ruling class–and white–solidarity).  A third round of this nastiness, taking place inside the Democratic Party, and requiring the complicity of large portions of the Congressional Black Caucus seems like a bad strategy fo mobilizing a tired, overworked, beaten-down but temporarily hopeful base.


Mrs. Clinton, whatever else you may be, you seem to be a very saavy woman. I ask you; You think Barak Obama can’t win? Ok. I have my own fears about the depth of American racism, its true. Maybe white voters really can’t go there. That would be tragically blatant but unsurprising.


But can you win?  No. Not a chance, I suspect, if you have to throw over Barak Obama and the democratic will of your party’s rank-and-file and Black voters to do it.  




On an obliquely related note, today is the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  While King was just one man, and part of a larger movement, the aniverssary his death has a lot symbolic resonance. It seems like a good time to reflect on the real meanings of “Hope” and “Change.”  King died supporting the struggle of Memphis’ Black sanitaiton workers, planning a Poor People’s Campaign and denouncing American Imperialism in Vietnam.  He never got to finish all that and we never got to it either.


The good guys have been mostly losing ever since; the Democratic party has become increasingly conservative, and we all work a whole lot more for less money. Its high time we turned that around. Barak Obama deserves to win the presidency, if any of them do, but even if he does, he’s not going to do any of that for us.