Tag Archives: Politics

Naked Democracy Linked To My 10ZenMonkeys Interview

Yves Smith’s blog Naked Democracy linked to Destiny’s interview with me at 10ZenMonkeys in its links list today — and as Destiny points out, put us before links to Paul Krugman and the Washington Post. Huzzah!

 

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Say Hello to the Monster: What Halloween Has to do with Occupy Oakland

Photo by AJStream, from Flickr.

When I was a kid, I never really cared what I was for Halloween, as long as it got to kill people.

More often than not, I dressed up as the characters I thought were having a way more exciting life than me: guys in the Army.

Yeah, I know (now) that guys in the Army don’t have it all that good. It’s not all ultra-cool stuff like crouching in a rice paddy eating baked beans from a can off the end of your still-bloody bayonet. It’s, like, paperwork and saluting and stuff, and trying to get your mortgage paid on a salary that dwindles every year. It probably sucked then and it probably sucks now, but I was a kid, WTF did I know? I thought it was all John Wayne in The Longest Day and Bob Crane in Hogan’s Heroes, romancing German girls and giving Gestapo guys wedgies. That’s what war is, right?

My father is a hardcore military nerd, just like me, so he helped me hugely with his vast stores of knowledge on uniforms and gear from his eight years as a mortarman in the National Guard, an early-’40s childhood spent watching newsreels from the war, and his compulsive reading in contemporary military history. He explained to me the exact shape and configuration of a white phosphorous grenade (armed forces designation AN-M14, in case you’re wondering) and helped me figure out how a Shasta Cola can could be turned into one and exactly what it would do to the interior of a tank with a crew of Hans-es and Gunther-s in it, which I thought was friggin’ awesome. Death! Murder! Mayhem! Burn those Nazis alive! Fry up some German sausage! Freedom forever! God Bless America! All enemies, foreign and domestic! Eat lead, suckers!

What’s that, you say? Didn’t I want to be an astronaut? Sure, I would have dressed up as an astronaut…as soon as those pansies in Congress started arming NASA! Seriously, they were sending people into orbit without even sidearms? Hell, you think the Russies are that stupid? I don’t think so, hippie! What happens when the space zombies come…you gonna hit ’em with algebra? Slap ’em around with your Master’s degree? Only wimps dressed up as astronauts for Halloween.

Sure, year that Star Wars came out, I was Luke Skywalker. Because my family wasn’t exactly swimming in credits, I painted a stick with fluorescent paint (badly) to serve as my lightsaber. (Don’t worry — me and my sister got lightsabers for Christmas, aka “flashlights,” leading to many spirited lightsaber battles.) But I spent about a hundred times as much effort on the lightsaber and the blaster (a tracer gun with a bunch of fruity crap glued all over it) as I did on the robe and the boots.

Actually, I just threw on a bathrobe went around shooting things, which would become a running theme in my life. The galoshes were particularly fashionable, and big enough on me that I could stuff a couple boot knives and extra blasters down there. Better safe than sorry, even if I rattled when I walked. The idea wasn’t so much to “trust your feelings” or “feel the Force flowing through you” as to hack people to death with high-energy plasma and blow holes in things while making smart-assed remarks. That, too, would become a lifelong habit.

Another year, I was a detective — not a cop, mind you, I never wanted to be a cop, just a detective. But no, I wasn’t a detective with a deerstalker cap and a pipe and a magnifying glass…I had cigarettes, a fedora and about twenty revolvers stuffed into my overcoat. I was a six-year-old kid who made Mike Hammer look like “the negotiator.” I was the nightmare of jaywalkers everywhere.

Mostly, though, I wanted to be a cigar-chomping combat fighter…an Army Man. Because what red-blooded American boy in the ’70s wouldn’t like to kill people for a living?

Simmer down, Army people, I know you don’t “kill people for a living,” you “serve your country honorably.”

Just like private detectives don’t suckerpunch litterbugs; they dig through big stacks of canceled checks and dive into file cabinets looking for for birth certificates.

And Luke Skywalker never slice-and-diced any Stormtroopers with his glo-stick, at least not until I was too old to dress up like him without looking like a choad.

And by then I’d learned about Ronald Reagan, the ultimate monster, and I’d learned about nuclear war, and jobs, and how much everything sucked. I didn’t want to kill people anymore. I didn’t want to fight in the Army and I didn’t believe that the people who ran my country had the faintest clue what they were doing, and I sure as hell knew they didn’t have my best interests in mind. When Reagan made his joke about the bombing beginning in five minutes, I yelled and screamed about impeachment; I was a precocious 13-year-old. And when Ronald McReagan floated the Star Wars plan, I was disgusted that anyone even thought about giving his boneheaded ideas a fair hearing; I knew then, as I know now, that the release of nuclear weapons is not something you can beat.

But suggesting that nuclear weapons can be shot down safely? Pretending down is up, black is white, social security is an “entitlement” and nightmares are dreamscapes?

That sounds really familiar. The monsters are still telling us all about it.

I just got into a tangle on Facebook with a friend of a friend who said about the Occupy Oakland attacks, “It happens.” He said that a woman had been killed following a Red Sox game. “It happens.” “The police tell people to disperse…they don’t disperse.” “It happens.”

It doesn’t happen. Not like this, it doesn’t. In Egypt, yes. In America…no. Not now, not ever. Not without grievous consequences.

Monsters exist because the people don’t have the guts to slay them. Monsters exist ’cause “it happens.”

And it happens ’cause the monsters come out to play, people, in an ever-building loop that starts when they come for the communists, and then they come for the trade unionists, and you don’t say anything because “it happens.”

It happens because the people see crap-ass policing like what happened in Oakland and they roll their eyes and make apologies for incompetent leadership. They don’t demand Mayor Jean Quan’s immediate resignation. They don’t hear the Oakland Police claiming no rubber bullets were use, and realize that police departments that lie in public deserve to be disbanded. The citizens don’t call bullshit on assholes saying of unconscionable police tactics, “It happens.” People who don’t know what they’re talking about, incidentally, because no, it doesn’t happen.

I lived in Oakland for years, so I know what I’m talking about. That city is brutalized by its administration. Its elected officials, in my experience, are privileged idiots who walk on air above the torments of the populace, eternally in bed with developers and selling out small business for their own gain. Its police force closes ranks around revolting behavior — yes, like police forces everywhere, partially because they feel that’s what’s necessary to keep police work safe for its workers…and I don’t always even disagree with them.

But in Oakland, it’s out of control…and it’s out of control in America.

The people have spent too many years shrugging and saying “It happens.”

This is what happens when the monsters come out to play.

Happy Halloween, everybody. May Freddie, Jason, Robert Neville and my cigar-chomping white-phosphorous-tossing homicidal Army guy get you before Wall Street does.

(This article was cross-posted to The Night Bazaar)

Herman Cain's Chief of Staff is the New Cigarette Smoking Man

The smoking is what everyone’s getting worked up about. But there are actually several weird things about this Herman Cain campaign ad:

1) First is how confused Herman Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, seems about his lines. He seems to pause in odd places. Block is chief of staff to a guy running for President, and he can’t be bothered to learn his lines? And when he croaks them out weirdly, their obviously highly-paid videographer with an iPhone can’t say “let’s try that again, from the top?” What demographic is that appealing to? The voters who spend all their time thinking, “Whoever I end up voting for, It’ll be the guy whose chief of staff doesn’t really care that much.”

2) Then there’s the truly bizarre gay-dance-club-at-12:30-am Autotune Anthem toward the end. WTF voter demographic are they trying to reach with that? “We go out of our way to go to really shitty clubs and complain about the music…and we like it that way?”

3) Also at the end, it’s weird how hard Cain seems to be trying to look sinister there while the Autotune Anthem plays. “Okay, now smile. No, no, smile like you just eliminated Medicare. That’s it!” Maybe he’s just trying to look serious at first, then friendly. If that’s Cain’s serious-vs-friendly face, I do not want to see his “Oh shit, the Europeans already tried this!” face.

4) Going back to Block, what the hell happens to his head there at 0:22? When he says “…can put the ‘United’ back in the ‘United States of America'” it looks like he does a bit of that Doctor Who thing where everyone became The Master. It’s pretty freaky.

5) Last, but far from least, is the cigarette. That’s right. There at the end, crusty-looking Mark Block takes a HUGE DRAG OFF HIS CIGARETTE.

Then, you wanna know what he does, just in case you missed that he just slurped a cloud deep down into his small-cells? Block blows smoke at the camera, as if to say, “Yeah, fuckwads, I’m smoking a cigarette. Wanna say something about it? Go ahead. This shit will get put out in your eye.”

It’s almost as if this video were being shot in an office park right beneath a “No Smoking” sign.

What voter demographic is Cain is going after by letting his chief of staff smoke a butt on camera? The vast legions of Republican voters who were closet X-files fans when they were younger — and who always rooted FOR the Cigarette Smoking Man?

If they’re looking for smoking fetishists…well, there are much more enjoyable ways to indulge that vice…

Julie Simone for TheRedChair.net (link is NSFW)
 

 

Donor Unknown (2010, dir: Jerry Rothwell)

Docfest: Donor Unknown

Reviewed by Thomas Roche for SF Appeal

Director Jerry Rothwell’s 2010 film Donor Unknown has its final Docfest screening tonight at 5pm at the Shattuck. It tells the story of 20-year-old JoEllen Marsh, a Pennsylvania girl with two mommies who’s always wanted to learn about her biological father, an anonymous sperm bank donor, whom she knows as “Donor 150.”

Through a website for the biological children of sperm donors, JoEllen finds her New York half-sister Danielle, and their story getting covered in the New York Times. It comes to the attention of Jeffrey Harrison, who lives alone in an RV with four dogs and a pigeon in California…. and once upon a time, was the hard-up-for-cash Donor 150.

Read the rest on SF Appeal.

 

Best Sex Writing 2012

My article “Men Who ‘Buy Sex’ Commit More Crimes: Newsweek, Trafficking, and the Lie of Fabricated Sex Studies,” which first appeared at Tiny Nibbles, has been selected for inclusion in Best Sex Writing 2012 from Cleis Press.

On-sale date January 12, 2012!

It’s a huge honor to be included.

Thanks to Rachel Kramer Bussel and Susie Bright for noticing the piece and selecting it!

[SF Appeal] Is LGBT Burnout To Blame For Castro Bookstore’s Closing?

gay_flag_lede.jpgThis past weekend, a post by Scott James in the Bay Citizen tipped me off to the rumor that San Francisco’s venerable LGBT bookstore, A Different Light, will likely be closing down this spring. It’s one of the only LGBT bookstores left in the U.S., so its closing, in addition to being significant for many in the San Francisco community, is a hallmark of the collapse of independent and specialty bookstores nationwide.

Modern Times, a great independent and progressive but general-interest bookstore not far away in the Mission, has lost their lease and is closing, albeit, they say, only temporarily. In a widely repeated story that never fails to bring LOLZ among my friends, a Modern Times staffer supposedly once told a customer they didn’t stock Ayn Rand books “on political grounds.”

I won’t claim the Modern Times story about not stocking the right-wing Cato Institute’s spiritual godmommy Ayn Rand isn’t apocryphal, because at this point I can’t remember who said it. But if it is apocryphal, it’s by accident, not by design. Modern Times is an explicitly progressive and aggressively opinionated bookstore with a robust selection of left-wing political treatises, race and class deconstructions and prison literature — in addition to plenty of radical queer texts.

While I imagine some of Rand’s more clueless followers might howl and sob against liberal “censorship” at a store like MT or claim that it’s a “slippery slope” from not stocking Rand to burning Korans, they’d be full of it. Bookstores with agendas choose what to stock. They reflect not just their clientele, but the world they wish to build. In selecting what texts to stock, they create a worldview that attracts the like-minded and helps educate the not-yet-like-minded. All bookstores are political; most of them just don’t know it.

What do we make, then, of A Different Light, a gay bookstore unable to survive on the Gayest Block in the Universe?

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE ON SF APPEAL.

Scott Adams Just Can’t Stop Digging

Is it good news or bad news that Scott Adams is the one who can’t stop talking about his recent gender faux pas? Or that he is so convinced of his own importance that he is convinced the rest of us still give a shit? Or that he’s now attempting to express what he assumes will pass for “serious” thoughts on the “serious” matter of whether men or women are treated more unfairly by society, which seems to be the only thing he has left to talk about?

The answer, of course, is that there is no good news when it comes to Scott Adams. If you drink a lot of beer with friends, perhaps you’ve noticed a phenomenon. Well in his or her cups, someone says something stupid and offensive. Someone else tells them it was stupid and offensive. The first friend says, “But everything I say is smart, so you must have misunderstood me. And why is it offensive anyway? See, all I’m trying to say is–”

It never ends well.

Read the rest of this post on Tiny Nibbles (site is NSFW).