Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eflections

When I was in jail for my DUI I was locked up with a rapist, among others, one who did in fact give a near stereotypically perfect 'creeper' affect. I remember how he would bird over my shoulder giving me solitaire pointers.  He had the cigarette butt blond Eminem dye job that was popular at the turn of the century and DMX lyrics tattooed on his neck. "Get at me Dog."

His m.o. then again was very much that of the stereotypical stranger in the dark.  He would knock on the doors of elderly women at 4 AM and then set upon them when they answered.  This was of course a horrifying spree for a small community or any community, and I would guess that the Rapist and I (Chris O. or was it Luke R?) still live in the same town to this day with him down at 10th & Van Dorn.  Raping white upper middle class grandmothers will get you sent away for a long time and in itself rightfully so.

I know of course that while stereotypes are occasionally fulfilled, the problem of sexual violence is baked much deeper into the mainstream than anyone wants to accept.  Around this same age I would play Madden and drink with a man who beat his girlfriend.  Deborah and I had a fling behind his back but I did nothing at all to actually help her.  Am I a better person who would do something today?  Well I've not faced the situation directly since then to my knowledge so yes of course I would.  Theoretically that is; same as everyone same as always.  I think Deborah's son would be about twelve now. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

FC top 10

1. Bayern Munich
2. Real Madrid
3. Chelsea
4. Juventus
5. Barcelona
6. Cruziero
7. Atletico Madrid
8. Manchester City
9. Porto
10 Lyon

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Everybody Mander

Nebraska & Maine are famously unusual in dividing our presidential electoral votes by congressional district.  (With the two voters representing the Senate decided statewide.)  In 2008 there was a near-as famous incident when President Obama won the Omaha area elector to break up what has of course generally been a reliable GOP monopoly.  Omaha has historically been when of the larger Republican leaning settlements in the US though though it has become a purple swing city in recent years.  This of course puts the GOP in something of a quandary. Red & Blue is not new to this particular century; inner cities have been strongly Democratic and hinterlands strongly Republican for a very long time.  It is the mid-sized cities suburbs and market towns that majorities are won and lost and both parties know this very well.  So if the GOP does face a long-term problem if cannot count on the votes of farm state urban islands out of hand.  Yet at the same time it is unable to moderate its message towards modern urbane respectability; as white rural activists in existential dread of not being the American prototype 'Anymore' are votes that the party needs; and so it is compelled to wage imaginary tribal warfare for exclusive control of the national identity.

The local solution to the half-loss of Omaha seems very simple; both for the above stated reasons and because conservatives are by nature territorial folk who at some level truly believe that they 'own' right-leaning states at not just the practical but also the moral & cosmic levels.  The solution is simply to change Nebraska's allotment of electoral votes to the national norm so that moderate Omaha gets drowned by the rural wave.  There's been a now-annual movement in the not-really nonpartisan unicameral to accomplish this.  It hasn't gone through so far though we may rest assured that the conservative forces who rule the state will keep trying over and over again until they get there way; especially after Omaha goes Democratic again, which is a when and not if proposition. 

The great Senator Chambers however, in that half-trickster half-sincere manner of his; has proposed an alternate solution; to allot our five electors by the vote of five separate geographical districts.      Nebraska's population divided by five is about 376,301 people, rounded up.  This is not quite 80% of Omaha proper, which would under this system would go from toss-up to straight Democratic leaning. The city of Lincoln meanwhile; (which slightly leans Dem in national elections, though this is negated by its strategically arraigned countryside),  would have near-total dominance of a district centered upon itself along with a couple of its satellite towns like Beatrice or Crete.  There'd be a real possibility then, of Nebraska rewarding 40% of its electors to the Democratic candidate instead of maybe 20% as is the case today. Chambers idea will of course never happen for exactly this reason. It's an interesting idea; all the same, and if nothing else does provide a mental exercise for what Nebraska's congressional districts would be if the US House were expanded to 600 or so; which is something that I think should happen. 

If the majority party feels entitled to gerrymander or rewrite the rules in its own favor; why then shouldn't the minority party play the same game as best as it is able?  In its own perverse way it is kind of fun. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

'Believe, Even If It's Wrong'.

Mike Greone is a libertarian activist & newly elected state senator for my hometown of North Platte.  I do not know the details of how he was elected nor how his defeated opponent compared to him on the political scale; it's been a long damn time since I lived there.  I could lookup those details right now but naww.. (It's been a long damn time now since I've lived there you see.) all I can recall right now is that the weather in North Platte is more dramatic than on the eastern plains; more pleasant when pleasant & more miserable when miserable, and that while the  town is often considered to be the cultural border between the mid & mountain west this frontier is really more a transition zone across the Platte Valley than a hard border.  Grand Island is a distinctly Midwestern market town; while North Platte; raw-boned, blue collar, transitory, and hostile towards the merest hint of gentility, is very much of the rural West; more similar in spirit to Rock Springs Elko or Pocatello than Terre Haute or Mason City.  So I'm not surprised that N.P. elected a libertarian tubthumper to the Unicameral.  That is exactly the sort of thing that my town would gladly do.  

Greone anyhow, has recently caused a stir by filibustering a bill which would have required vaccinations against meningitis for adolescent schoolchildren.  This was of course a dick move on his part, a pointless endangerment of public health.  This does of course play into the long overdue blowback against the anti-vaccination movement that has popped up recently, and certainly blogs which are vastly more widely red than more have delved into the latent classism and other post-colonial hangups of this movement, even among the fair-weather west coast liberals among whom it seems to have originated. The latent association of contagious disease with poverty and 'lowness' and the not so latent feeling that viruses are magically self-aware enough to recognize and respect human social status, that of course very important and 'civilized' people are too essentially clean and pure to have to worry about the infection of others.

It was only natural that fair-weather libertarians should join fair-weather liberals on the anti-vaxxer boat. Rand Paul's 'parents own their children' comment says all that needs to be said about that.  It plays perfectly into a feudalistic ideal of human being in which 'socialism' is defined as the merest suggestion that such a thing as the public good exists; that 'regular folks' unsubtly understood to be  white male 'heads of household' would be exceptional and socially dominant if only they weren't held back by the unnatural corrupting influence of the state.  The ideal of freedom here is one where White fathers and husbands are masters and no one else is quite human at all; and this again is not so subtly spelled out by the libertarians themselves.  It is of course absurd to hold the State in general or Welfare state in particular as the only true source of Real True Oppression.  Private tyrannies do of course exist within the family workplace etc. etc., and state coercion is not by some magic inherently worse than these private tyrannies; the power to spread contagious disease, at any rate, is certainly oppressive among other bad things, and it is a tyranny that high and low people from all walks of life can and do impose upon each other. Not usually with malice aforethought but what does that matter?  Anyhow we move on.

One quote that struck me as telling in Groene's interview with the Journal Star  was as follows: ""I'm passionate. I've got to stand up. But it's not about me."  Actually dude, if you feel the need to let a stranger know how passionate you are; than yes, it is so totally about you.  I am solidly of the left myself.  I do not mean to propose a knee jerk moderation on al things here and I do not believe that 'compromise' is either inherently virtuous or inherently craven in itself.  But one thing I have noticed in life and find abhorrent is that there are some people who indulge in ethical or political belief the way that other people indulge in drugs.  I shall always hold suspect those who place belief at the core of their being; even when I agree with those beliefs.

This may be because while I've grown into something of a 'hipster' in my adulthood I am still a Nebraskan; my most formative experience with loudly performed subcultural identity shall always be the movement conservatives; the protest -too much patriots and the more Christian than you Christians.   I suspect that part of the increased dogmatism among the right is partly defensive reaction towards loss of social control as the wider US culture slowly grows more socially liberal in spite of the mid-term ballot box.   Part of it as well is I think the 'passion' of conservative media; the vital anger of talk radio and the eternal parade 'greatest outrages of all time' allow for a flamboyant self- expression otherwise forbidden to those who generally emphasize patriarchal sternness.

Senator Jim Stevens of Papillion warned against using the vaccination bill as a 'litmus test'     and that's good advice so far as that goes.  I again do not support or advise knee jerk moderation in any way; but the fact remains that it is by definition rare for first principles to be under true existential threat.  Every basic worldview has survived multiple defeats at both the ballot box and the battlefield and shall continue to do so.  We are all guilty of claiming the last victory are side happened to have was uniquely definitive because reasons but in the end nobody really thinks so.  I'm afraid though that Stevens' admonition is bound to fall on deaf ears to those who emotionally & existentially need  every public controversy to be a great litmus test and morally opposed to the very idea of public good.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

FC Top 10

1. Bayern Munich
2. Real Madrid
3. Chelsea
4. Barcelona
5. Juventus
6 Cruziero
7. Atletico Madrid
8. Porto
9.Manchester City
10. Lyon

Friday, February 6, 2015

Van Halen


Im not old enough to recall any devoted Van Halen fans as such. I did have a babysitter named Jake with blue denim jacket single earring and spiked hair so him maybe? My mother owns '1984' on vinyl because her taste in music is not really bad, she likes J.C. Superstar Carly Simon Queen and I like all them, I guess her taste could be best described as arbitary on account of living a near exclusively rural life and never identifying with any 'scenes' Ive never heard her play or even seen her touch her VH lp anyhow. She is not a 'real' VH fan. This band has always struck me as bland banal and calculated with either David Lee Roth or whoever else and I dont know why they're a cultural thing at all. I dont know who a Van Halen sort of person is.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Is Real Dolls

In regards to this strangeness,   I've no wish to rank myself among those who feel passion vicariously through other people's blood feuds, so this is not a post on Israel/Palestine per se, and I've no interest in weighing whether the occupation of West Bank/Gaz is more or less atrocious than Hamas etc; nor what if anything the supposedly vital question of who is worse should entail for American policy.

This is not about them at any rate but specifically about us.  There has quite clearly arisen a cult of Israel within American politics that has gone far beyond normal friendship between democracies.  Criticism of Israel is viewed as more innately controversial than criticism of friends who are frankly more strategically value as allies, (Canada, the UK, and, yes, France) for reasons that not just irrational but consciously and willingly anti-rational.

Some have attributed right-wing passion for Israel to an apocalyptic strain of Protestantism     which holds an extant and triumphant Jewish State as necessary for the glorious end times to come about according to schedule.  I personally don't think this is quite it.  While it may be disturbing to lsuppose that a major facet of US policy is determined by such morbid superstition; it is also a false comfort to suppose that irrational beliefs are a product of silly superstitious people and their unchosen mental limitations.  The truth is that there are no dumb rednecks and that there are no dumb Bible thumpers.  People who believe brutal things are not inherently dumber than you or I and irrational beliefs are as I've said a conscious rejection of rationality.  There's something else going on here and I'm remineded of this piece of loveliness from one Robert Stacy McCain... 

Swear to God, if they ever want a Gentile prime minister, my first order would be to deploy the IDF in a north-south line, facing east. My second order would be “forward march” and the order to halt would not be given until it was time for the troops to rinse their bayonets in the Jordan. After a brief rest halt, the order “about face” would be given, and the next halt would be at the Mediterranean coast.

I also recall reading George Will columns in the nineties in which he deplored the loss of nationally distinctive for more general imagery on the then brand-new euro notes.  It struck me then and strikes me now as an odd thing for the Very Serious Will to trouble himself about; if a central bank somewhere decides to put the Monopoly Man on true & legal tender what of it?  All the same Will was well and truly bothered.

Let us return then to the point that their are no Dumb Rednecks.  Conservatives are not ignorant to the fact of national and cultural identity being arbitrary things, they are in fact inclined to be more deeply preoccupied with this fact than the loudest stereotype of a post-modern continental.  But whereas the stereotype might feel liberated or amused by the artifice of identity the conservative is depressed and horrified by it.  The various bigotries that hold one's social identity as the only alternative to being evil or lesser is a common way of addressing this existential pain. 

This applies towards our relationship to Israel because Israel is in many ways the last  self-consciously 'natural' nation-state to arise out of the nationalist era of the late 19th and early 20th century.  The nation of Israel is avowedly founded upon one common ethnicity and belief system; the very seemingly tangible & true identity that  conservatives have always longed for the US to have in defiance of us having always been a land of polyglot mutts.  And Israel has of course always had enemies, which have always served the role of reenforcing one's own identity through negative comparison.  These enemies have also compelled Israel to impose a perpetual military draft upon its youth, which may fulfill all sort of authoritarian fantasies of sublimating one's small mortal self to the strong institution, of the mass becoming invincibly strong through universal agreement to partake in some great struggle. 

I do not mean to imply that Israel is a fascist country.  It is nothing remotely close to such and it would of course be a horrific slander to say so for obvious reasons.  I say only that 'Israel', not the actual place with flesh & blood people but the "Israel" of the TV news that pops up in the barrroom, is the sort of place that an American who is closer to being fascist than you or I can passionately and unconditionally support as a ritual display of strong identity while he sips his jack & coke.

There are of course issues of Islamophbia as well.  There are those who would Israel as are one true ally against terrorism, and it is clear that such people do not and have never had any interest in winning the 'War on Terror'.  They are not interested in actually reducing the danger of being blown up on a sunny day, but actually long for an eternal and apocalyptic struggle between civilizations so that 'the West' can always be measured as inarguable good against an evil other.

In the main though; in the age of global media; and with the US melting pot adding more and more ingredients at an ever faster clip; the Cult of Israel isn't really about seeing them as heroically besieged by 'terror' but in seeing them as the last great bulwark against post-modern post-nationhood.