politics

The Growing Anti-Muslim Mainstream

Home sick tonight, so you all get a clip from Rachel Maddow, talking about the mainstreaming of bigoted, anti-Muslim sentiment among the right:

On The "Ground Zero" "Mosque"

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Constitution of the United States, First Amendment

I'm angry. Furious. My rage is a white fire deep in my chest that I can't let cool because I fear that if I do I will just start sobbing and I won't be able to stop. It appears to me, frankly, that the world has finally tipped over something and gone completely insane. I don't want to go outside because I fear that if I see another person the rage will boil up and I will start screaming. I don't know how to look another human being in the eyes right now without wondering if they are one of the far too many who think it's okay to protest the faith of other Americans and try to stop them from building houses of worship. I fear that if i started talking to someone on the street about this, and they said the wrong thing, the flames might rise up and jet from out of my mouth, burning them to ash. I am not safe to be near at the moment.

"If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution."
George Washington

Using Their Machines Against Them: A Manifesto.

In the mid to late nineties, Eric Rosenfield and I founded a webzine called YanktheChain.com, which was an attempt to duplicate in internet form the sort of xeroxed zines that helped drive the underground music scene of the eighties. That attempt more or less failed, but we did end up doing some cool and interesting things, giving me the opportunity to publish a satirical hitlist entitled "This is not a hitlist" in response to an earlier post that had gotten a warrant issued for Eric's arrest in the State of Connecticut. Eric later plead no contest to the charges, which were, frankly, bullshit and I got off scott free. Much of this was done in pursuit of one of our many mottoes and mission statements, in this case the fun idea that we had been "Using Their Machines Against Them Since 1899."

At this point, it's clear that "Using Their Machines Against" them is an idea whose time has come. At this point, three things are clear 1.) Various large and powerful political entities are fucked up and are more concerned with covering their asses than they are in doing The Right Thing™ 2.) Occasionally, if not for the outrage in the blogotwitterverse about the villainous actions of these entities, nothing would have been done about it. 3.) There is a lesson to be learned from this.

The lesson is that the time has come for a strategic view of how exactly the asymmetrical warfare of the electronic proletariat, by which I mean the people who make the communications economy work, against the electronic capitalists who own the means of production can actually be fought. More importantly, this model is one that gives a way forward for those of us who want to do something to shape politics and challenge the status quo of global capitalism in the years to come.

The Magician, The Priest, The Conjurer & The Lawyer: Law, Mysticism, Magic, and the Occult

I begin with my own personal definition of magic: magic is the explanation of last resort. I am, among other things, an amateur magician; or to put it another way, don't play cards with me for money. I use this concept of magic, tho, because it encompasses not only legerdemaine and conjuring as entertainment, but also magic as a subject of anthropological study: the practice of various believers in magic that exist and have always existed in human society. It also encompasses practices that, I think, the people who engage in them would hesitate to describe as magic. I'm thinking here of the sacraments of various christian churches, marriage rites, funeral rites and the like that are more generally thought of as religious rather than magical. My thinking about magic is intentionally wider than what I think most people would accept for various reasons, but most fundamentally it is to encompass in a single concept the resonant similarities I feel in my encounters within four cultural institutions that I see as making use of magic to accomplish their ends.

Marijuana Decriminalization: A Sketch of the Case in Favor

Fact: a lot of people like to get high. Whatever your position on the issue of Marijuana Decriminalization, I think we can start from a place of agreement on that basic premise: yes, Virginia, a lot of people like to get high. But here's another fact that may be a bit more controversial: Marijuana is good medicine for a lot of people. You may not know this, but this is a fact that's been recognized by the federal courts. There are a couple of people with serious degenerative diseases in America for whom the most effective treatment with the least damaging side effects is smoking marijuana. There aren't a lot of those folks, but there are some, and because of their situation as a result of a court settlement, a couple of people (I think the actual number is four), get regular shipments of Marijuana cigarettes from federal labs that grow pot for them.

Ok, so stipulate to that fact: for some limited, small number of people at least, Marijuana is extremely valuable as medicine. We can have a debate about the numbers, sure, but accept that there are at least a couple and we can have an important conversation.

And that conversation is about what do you do about the intersection of those two uses of Marijuana, on the one hand purely recreational and on the other objectively medically valuable.

How a person participates in that conversation, I would argue, has to do with their answer to a couple of fundamental questions: first, is there something wrong with getting high, and second based on the answer to that question, what do you do about the problems created by a particular subgroup of the folks who like to get high?

Why I Hate Firedoglake

So I just got an email from firedoglake, a blog that I started reading during the healthcare debacle of last year primarily because the editor was appearing repeatedly on The Rachel Maddow Show.

Here's what the email said:

A federally funded drug task force seized as evidence up to 200 petition signatures for marijuana legalization in Washington State in a series of early-morning raids this week. Seizing the petition signatures is bad enough. What's worse is what the task force did on its raids of a legal marijuana dispensary and its owner's home.

Drug agents handcuffed a 14-year-old boy and pointed a gun at his head. Then they took $80 from a 9-year-old girl's Minnie Mouse wallet that she earned for straight A's on her report card.

Now the drug agents - funded by the US Department of Justice - say they can only find two pages of the petition. But they had time to make photocopies of the petition, keeping the names and addresses of residents who signed.

...

The intended effect of this raid is to put a chill on other citizens from signing the petition, who will fear having their names and addresses exposed to a drug task force. It's intimidation, pure and simple. And your tax dollars are paying for it.

Now this all came as a bit of a surprise to me. As someone who follows the drug war fairly closely, I recalled that last year the Obama administration had made the decision that pursuing medical marijuana growers who were in compliance with state law was not a good use of federal manpower and that it would be de-emphasized. So it was surprising to me that this federal taskforce was going after a medical marijuana dispensary, particularly in my home state where attitudes about The Weed among law enforcement are in my experience pretty lax and where the City of Seattle has more or less decriminalized the possession of small amounts for personal use.

Brown-Kauffman and the opportunity for Democrats to put up or shut up

There's a good article on the Huffington Post on the most crucial element of regulatory reform next to the Cantwell-McCain amendment to reinstate Glass-Steagall.

Simon Johnson probably understands this stuff better than anybody on the planet and I trust him and Elizabeth Warren more than anybody else on this matter.

This matters and it should be a no-brainer. And yet, there are a bunch of wishy washy sellout democrats who might support a Republican fillibuster of the idea, including New York Senator Charles Schumer. Normally I like Chuck Schumer, but a failure of leadership on this issue, frankly, makes everything else he does suspect.

You New Yorkers, you should hit Schumer on this and punish him in the next election if he toes the corporate line to fight against the amendment.

Oil Volcano

I watch these interviews with charter boat captains and shrimp and crab fishermen in the gulf. They're these tough, stoic guys who don't like all the attention they're getting. They're all on the verge of tears, trying to be as fair as possible, but they have this shell-shocked thousand yard stare that's just heartbreaking.

I don't know what else to say about this. A lot of times it's guys like this, fishermen, loggers, roughnecks and so on are opposed to environmental regulation because they're company men and what's good for the company is usually good for them. But now, looking at this, this is the reason why that logic is wrong.

I don't know where environmental politics go after this. The Valdez happened in Alaska and it was largely out of site out of mind. The Salmon and crab fisheries up there were huge but nowhere near the size of fisheries in the gulf. I don't know whether this is the wake up call that folks need to realize that corporations are not their friends, and that capital is something that needs vigilant and constant supervision. This, if the world were just, would kill the neo liberal and conservative friends of capital in the republican and democratic parties. I don't know that it will. I just know that people are suffering and that it could have been prevented. The reason it wasn't is because of greed, and it is the greed of our culture and therefore something in which we are all culpable.

Don't Cry for Me Arizona

I, like many of my fellow Arizonans, have become increasingly concerned about a serious problem in our state. More and more "people" are struggling with the twin problems of not knowing who they are or where they come from. The problem has grown to such epic proportions that many Arizonans now suspect that even non-Arizonans are suffering from the problem. Things have become so so bad that today when we walk down the street in Tucson, we are forced to wonder: if I asked this person passing me for their name and place of birth, would they be able to provide me with convincing proof that what they said was true?

The answer, all too often, is no.

Naturally, this lack of government issue identification that so many of us are suffering from is a source of serious anxiety for all of our fellow citizens. Certain half-measures have been proposed, of course, such as the current legislation demanding that people carry proof of citizenship and requiring presidential candidates to produce their birth certificates, but these, frankly, do not go far enough to quiet the anxieties of so many hard working Arizonans.

I propose a new approach to the issue that should completely eliminate the anxiety for all those who suffer from it. The solution? A simple motto that all Arizonans can adopt and display with pride: Will Have Identification To Examine, or WHITE for short.

The WHITE project is a simple plan to alleviate the anxiety of Arizonans concerned that other people around them don't have any Identification. Under my plan, all persons in the state with identification would be required to wear a button, t-shirt, or windbreaker at all times displaying the comforting phrase "Don't Worry, Arizona: WHITE person" to inform any and all passers by that they are WHITE and if asked will have identification to examine.

Why I don't trust Kiva

Maybe you've seen the ads on Hulu of President Clinton touting this non-profit Kiva website that makes it possible for firstworlders to make microloans to borrowers in the developing world. It's also something that's been cycling through the google ads on this site. Not totally surprisingly, I actually have a big problem with this crap.