Author Archives: winterSmith

COVID Radio: Stay the Fuck Home, Becky

COVID-RadioNew and Improved! It will tap your toes, boogie your butt, make you smarter and better looking! Cures gout, unsightly warts and the heartbreak of psoriasis!

[ahem]

Our badass COVID playlist continues to grow in cool ways. Assume you sleep 8 hours a night and need music for the rest of your day. This playlist will keep you in tuneage for 6 days and 18 hours.

Old favorites, new discoveries, eclectic and intelligent. Rock, Indie, Electronica, Pop, ’70s, ’80s, alt.90s, Motown, Grunge, Punk, Dance, Trance, New Wave, Metal, Soul & R&B, Americana, Industrial, DarkWave, Trip-Hop, Shoegaze … even a smattering of C&W, old school and new.

You won’t like everything but that’s what skip buttons are for.

Thanks to Matthew Grimm for the song that gives the playlist its title…

LISTEN NOW!

Was I Wrong About the Denver Police Department?

denver-pd

In 1998 I was semi-involved in something really unsettling, and I’m now wondering if I just badly misinterpreted what happened.

The story begins in graf 4. Here’s where it gets interesting:

While I’m waiting for the whites to dry there’s a small crash up the street – a fender-bender a block or two up. A few seconds later a guy, probably in his mid-20s, comes running past the front of the laundromat, looking back up the street at somebody. A few seconds later two more men come down the street after him, moving at a brisk walk. As they pass, we can all see clearly that one of the men is hiding a fairly large knife behind his back. They’re taunting the first man to come back to them.

I called 911. Five minutes later I had to call them again. Five more minutes and the cops finally arrived. Whereupon the dumbfucks ignored what I was saying about armed men chasing an unarmed man and headed back up the street to check out the mini-wreck.

I already had low expectations of the Denver PD but this was absurd even by their standards. And I drew a conclusion that has stayed with me to this day:

The police cannot protect me.

Recent events have me rethinking the whole episode, though. In the quoted piece above I omitted a couple of details. At the time I wrote the original post they seemed irrelevant, I guess, and now I’m feeling exceptionally naïve.

The guy running was black. The three men chasing him were Latino. And in an attempt to be as thorough as possible, I told this to the dispatcher.

The cops who turned up were white.

So, were the cops that day swamped and it just took a while to respond? Were they merely not very good at their jobs?

Or was the delay about racism?

If I hadn’t specified would the police have arrived sooner? What if I’d said the guy being chased was white? What if I’d said, in my perfectly white accent, that the Mexican guys were menacing a laundromat full of innocent people?

Did the cops take forever because they were incompetent or because they were okay with brown people carving up other brown people?

I don’t know and I never will, but I have all the evidence I need to suspect the worst, don’t I?

Do Billionaires Get a Bad Rap?

Monopoly-ManA famous man once said “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

I thought about this as I was talking with my friend Bryan yesterday. The subject was NBA and MLB players striking in protest against the attempted murder of Jacob Blake by the Kenosha PD, and Bryan was saying that it can’t always just be the players. The owners need to stand up, too.

He’s right, but I have very little faith in owners. It’s nearly impossible for a person with a soul to amass a billion dollars. “Less sociopathic” is the best we can hope for.

I mean, remind me – who is Colin Kaepernick playing for this season?

As to my reply, though, what do you think? Is it possible to be a billionaire and a good person at the same time? It’s odd. In theory it should be easier for the rich because they’re free of the oft-corrupting demands of need. Billionaires rarely have to steal bread to feed their starving children. Or, in an example from closer to home, billionaires don’t have to serve clients with shady ethical practices just to pay the rent.

Of course, that probably has the question backward. It isn’t can a billionaire be a good person, it’s can a good person become a billionaire.

We sometimes point to examples, like Warren Buffett, who routinely argues for a more equitable economic policy. Some folks respect Mark Cuban’s stances on social justice issues. Bill and Melinda Gates have given away the GDP of a medium-sized country. And a Google search for [good billionaire] returns plenty of nominations.

Maybe. I don’t have a comprehensive knowledge of how all these fortunes were amassed, so possibly one can reach the top of that mountain of gold ethically.

It seems clear enough, though, that if you are a “good billionaire” you’re the exception.

And if the people with all the money are good human beings that rarely, it says something dire about the system that produces them and it has pointed implications for policy reform.

Hey Look – More Goodell Bullshit!

Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sat down with Emmanuel Acho for one of his Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. Acho asked Goodell what he would say to Colin Kaepernick by way of apology.

At which point … well, Commish gonna do what Commish do. Deflect. Dissemble. Misdirect. Distract.

This morning Mike Florio took Goodell apart like a hungover Gordon Ramsey breaking down a chicken with weak joints.

And I honestly don’t have a thing to add. I’m just linking it for the record.

All I’ll do is repeat the question I asked back in June: Mr. Commissioner, what team will Kaepernick be playing for this fall?

If Woody Guthrie Were Still Alive…

…Matthew Grimm’s Dumpster-Fire Days would be his favorite album of the last decade.
Matthew-Grimm-Dumpster-Fire-Days

My favorite lines from each song:

Salt of the Earth

We gathered in the square to watch Black men hang like a Friday night football game
We’ll greenlight genocide long as some charlatan tells us it’s in Jesus’ name

Tommy Keene Is Playing Kiki’s House

Corporations, Christians, contras, all fronts in one never-ending war
We raged at the sacred and austere, revenge for childhoods lived in fear

Aspire

Venture unto roads less traveled, unless you’re in the South
Twelve amazing places you must see before you die, just go back in time and be born with a trust fund

Matthew_GrimmBe Saffiyah Khan

Charlatans sell pride like crack and the only ones who think it’s true
Are the dimwit, noseled Nazi bullies Saffiyah stepped up to

Stay the Fuck Home, Becky

If this were a movie not real life
You’d be the character everyone hopes will die

Reply Guy (The Dick Nextdoor)

He’s pro-life, pro-gun, AllLivesMatter, all equal in Jesus’ eyes
But he’s got a pretty long and well-researched list of people who deserve to die

Nazis Agree With You

You and I travel to the beat of a different drum
I say stomp all Nazi scum

Monument

The congressman sends thoughts and prayers but sticks to his guns
Sleeps safe atop his hill of laundered campaign funds

Friney’s Song

Every ounce of love you poured for everyone in good and bad times
flows back to you a millionfold like a tidal wave
You will ever light the darkest night with just the sparkle in your eyes

So Long, Good Luck and Fuck You

If your god can’t convince you to love your damn neighbors and you’re as good as the deeds you do
Then any words we might share would be goddamn pointless, so so long, good luck and fuck you

March

We march for those who marched before us that our song might shatter thrones
Ever forward because we’re not going back

The Whirlwind

We’re the machine that kills fascists, as American as you
And you’ll go the way that all the tinpot despots always do

I’ll shut up now because every second you spend reading what I have to say about Matt Grimm is a second better spent listening to what he has to say about Trump’s America.

Click to play. Also: GrimmReality.net | Lyrics

play-matthew-grimm-dumpster-fire-days

CNN: We false equivalence, you decide.

Yes, goddammit, THIS.

Stimulus talks on the brink of collapse as two sides trade blame and get no closer to a deal

BOTH sides are to blame. The people who want to keep us alive are as much at fault as the people who lock kids in cages and think Nazis are very fine people and who don’t care if we live or die. The people who want to give us enough to survive are just as bad as the ones who want to give us nothing.

Brought to you by CNN. We false equivalence, you decide.

What was it Hunter said?

Some people will say that words like “scum” and “rotten” are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.

🤬

Graphic: The American Left-Right Political Spectrum, 2020

UPDATED 2020/8/9

Several conversations since I originally posted the spectrum have made clear that some elaboration and refinement is in order. In this update I add elements for context and present a revised spectrum graph that more accurately reflects the US political-economic spectrum with respect to the global “left-right” divide.

______

There exists a sort of consensus among Americans about left-wing vs right-wing (vs “moderate” or “centrist), but this narrow popular view fails to account for historical shifts and the global context. In short:

The US is significantly more conservative than the rest of the industrialized West and we have shifted dramatically to the right over the past 50 years.

This illustration describes the US spectrum at present.

Political-Spectrum-2020-updated

The chart displays today’s primary factions – Democratic Mainsteam and Left, GOP Mainstream/Conservative and Moderates – in gray. Other entities – individuals, organizations, movements, current and historical – are also noted for reference.

Assumptions, Caveats & Observations

1: The analysis focuses on Western political-economy since the ascendance of Lenin. Socialism as an applied organizing principle for nation-states established the Socialism vs Capitalism dynamic as the primary political tension of the last century and it remains – both as policy and ideology – the defining conflict of our time.

2: The United States spectrum exists almost entirely on the right of the global Socialism/Capitalism continuum. A handy Marxism 101 discussion from azureScapegoat delineates the various types of Socialism and paints a clearer picture of the complete dynamic than most Americans are familiar with.

Capitalism-vs-Socialism

Since the relative power of American Socialists is nearly non-existent (the largest such organization in the country has barely 50,000 members (~.015% of the population), any informed discussion of the US spectrum (and the US/2020 chart above) lies entirely in the right half of this model (see shaded area).

Capitalism-vs-Socialism_US-overlay

The red and white striped shaded area on the left of the spectrum continuum indicates the main body of Socialism as detailed by azureScapegoat.

3: Political positions are charted along a simple left/right continuum, although an accurate understanding of political beliefs is far more nuanced. The Political Compass, for instance, rates respondents with a 2×2 matrix scoring for both social and economic factors. Even this is unsatisfying, though. I can imagine several other dimensions that would be useful in helping understand political positions in depth (including, for example, hawkishness [personal tolerance for violence as well as geopolitical] and empathy).

The mission, though, is to tackle the country’s left/right mindset head-on. The lack of sophistication is therefore intentional.

4: There are certainly arguments to be had that I’ve misplaced organizations and individuals. For instance, John F Kennedy is regarded as a liberal icon. He was extremely hawkish, however (Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam), and folding that into the equation moves him further right than some may expect. Elizabeth Warren may also be positioned further right than some think she should be. Among current progressive figures, though, she’s one who has been vocal in asserting her commitment to Capitalism.

5: My assessment of Bernie Sanders and the Greens is necessarily limited by their position outside of power. Sanders, for example, has never had the opportunity to be a major leader in policy and development. His tenure has been marked instead by his stance as an outlying critic. We know what his proposals are, but we cannot say for sure what his actual policy record would look like once subjected to the realities of partisan negotiations.

6: Despite his self-identification as a Democratic Socialist, Sanders’ positions and policies make clear that he’s actually a Social Democrat, which is a distinctly different thing.

In the US there is, practically speaking, no meaningful political presence left of the Sanders/AOC/”Squad” cohort of the Democratic party, even though they’re substantially to the right of the Socialist/Capitalist global/ideological center.

7: While many Americans use the term “Socialism,” often as a pejorative, in truth very few have an informed idea of its actual meaning.

Method

Qualitative “connoisseurship” (aka studied, informed opinion).

This is a topic I’ve been fascinated by for several decades, during which I’ve read, discussed and debated extensively with people from across the spectrum, focusing on both rhetorical platforms and actual policy.

Additionally, my personal political journey began with me as a vocal young Reaganite and has progressed, through the years, to a place in the neighborhood of Social Democracy on the spectrum above. As such, my study has been informed by an unusually broad range of personal perspectives.

I also invited comment from a number of friends and colleagues, and made some adjustments in light of their insights.

What conclusions would I draw about you if I didn’t know you?

George-Floyd

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? – Matthew 7:16

Let’s say I don’t know you personally. All I have are your social media feeds.

I start on Facebook and read everything you’ve posted since early May, along with your interactions in the comment threads.

I find zero posts about the Police killings of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor. I find nothing at all expressing concern for the challenges facing any minority in our country, or even an awareness that they have challenges.

I find things encouraging me to support the Police, though.

I read further. As demonstrations sweep the country you express alarm over acts of vandalism. I find no mention at all of the times violent rioters are revealed to be white supremacists posing as demonstrators.

Oddly, I see no comment anywhere on the Boogaloo Bois, an organization that’s explicitly committed to killing cops and that has actually done so.

This is what I’d know of you…if I didn’t know you.

“You” aren’t one specific person, although you may recognize yourself in my words. I’m describing something that’s happening again and again and again. And I’m having a hard time with it. With you.

When you say things like “people dying is unfortunate, but this destruction of property is unacceptable” instead of “property damage is unfortunate, but the killing of innocent people is unacceptable…”

What conclusions would you draw about you if you didn’t know you?

Defund the Police? Good Cops, Bad Cops…

defund-the-police_lg

The individual tells you nothing about the system. The system tells you nothing about the individual.

The issue isn’t whether you respect Black Lives Matter. It isn’t whether you respect the Police. It’s whether the Police believe all are equal under the law. Recent weeks and months (and years) have set before our eyes a wealth of evidence answering that question. Read more

I Hope Kanye West Gets Help

Kanye-West

This whole Kanye thing is hard to watch.

I’ve had a couple brushes with bipolar folks – one of them terrifying enough that I started carrying a gun out of fear for my well-being – and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like living with it.

I hope he gets help. I also hope that people watching are motivated by his case to educate themselves more on mental health. And maybe the stigma lessens a bit.

If you’re struggling with mental health issues or know someone who is, you can get help at MentalHealth.gov.

Stop Saying “Cancel Culture”

cancel-culture

I’m getting a little tired of this “cancel culture” nonsense.

The term originated with the #MeToo movement, which targeted the likes of Bill Cosby and Louis CK, men whose history of misogynistic behavior led people to (justly) withdraw their support for the offenders’ careers. But while the term is newish, the tactics it describes aren’t. Canceling is another word for boycotting, which has been around forever. Read more

If We Shouldn’t Judge the Founders by Our Values, Should We Live by Theirs?

Philadelphia Union honors those killed by police.

Philadelphia Union honors those killed by police.Our recent protests, sparked mainly by the Minneapolis PD’s nonchalant murder of George Floyd – with the cameras rolling, even – are roiling American society. Institutions are challenged. Assumptions are ravaged. The whole of the American metanarrative is seemingly up for review. Read more

Why Am I So Cynical About Mississippi? Consider Georgia.

Recently the Rev. Dickie and I devoted a little time to clowning Mississippi and its decision to remove the Confederate battle jack from its flag. It has since been suggested to me, privately, that I shouldn’t hassle people who are doing the right thing.

Maybe. I mean, better 150 years late than never, right?

But there are reasons to reserve judgment. Consider Mississippi’s friend and neighbor, Georgia. Read more

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