Friday, May 23, 2008

Sometimes I wonder . . .

It helps to remember that I am a simple soul, and that I think words have meaning, and that law has meaning. In most relationships, I like to have mutual rights and responsibilities spelled out---it just makes it easier to know what you have to do, what you ought to do, and what you can't do. With that as a forward, sometimes I wonder . . .

If the United States and Israel are really allies, why don't we have a defense treaty?

Apparently, we don't.

We do, however, have a Memorandum of Agreement signed by and between William Jefferson Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu concerning maintanence of Israel's "qualitative edge." A Christian Science Monitor article discussing the Memorandum is found here.

I took the red pill

I took the red pill, and freed my mind from the matrix.

Have you?

Barack Obama and the Hairy Ainu of Appalachia

Dee Davis, in Salon, writes about Barack Obama's problems with the Hairy Ainu of Appalachia.

Heck, one of the reasons I developed an interest in both the Chechens and Afghanis was that they struck me as "Muslim hillbillies."

And, of course, anyone who reads this will probably already know that the reference to Hairy Ainu (by Toynsbee no less!) is a comparison with the Japanese who lived (very much apart from mainstream Japanese society) on the mountainous isle of Hokkaido.

I liked the paragraph about internet trolls' reactions to Appalachia's failure to recognize the Obamessiah:

The legions of pseudonym-laden online posters who follow in political punditry's wake are less restrained in describing the shortcomings of Sen. Clinton's Appalachian supporters. They suggest it has to do with her voters being racist, toothless, shoeless, and prone to marrying their cousins. In short, they characterize these "special" Democrats in much the same terms they used in quieter times to describe Republicans.

Monday, May 12, 2008

William Kristol irks me, yet again

But then, when does he not?

The Jewish State at 60

Published: May 12, 2008

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. There have already been many birthday greetings, some heartfelt, some perfunctory, along with numerous reflections on the meaning of the occasion, some profound, some commonplace. For me, however, a discordant voice broke through.

Israel is a “stinking corpse” on its way to “annihilation,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last Thursday as Israel celebrated Independence Day. “Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken,” proclaimed the president of Iran, a nation that is a member in good standing of the United Nations and an active trading partner of countries like Germany and Russia. “Today the reason for the Zionist regime’s existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation.”

Wow, Germany and Russia. Traditional favorites of the Kristol family, I've found.

I didn’t intend, in writing this column, to quote Ahmadinejad. I hate to dignify him by even taking note of his comments. I meant to pay tribute to the Zionists — men like Weizmann and Jabotinsky, Ben-Gurion and Begin — who made possible the almost miraculous redemption of the Jewish people in 1948. And I also intended to recognize the defenders of Israel at moments of crisis — men like Harry Truman and Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.

And yet somehow Mr. Kristol--despite his best intentions---brings Ahmadinejad into his birthday kiss column anyway. And how, again, did the founding of the state of Israel miraculously redeem the Jewish people?

I thought I might even dwell on the amazing essay by the novelist George Eliot who made a case for Zionism in 1879 — 17 years before the publication of Theodor Herzl’s “The Jewish State.”

“The hinge of possibility,” Eliot wrote, is that among the Jews “there may arise some men of instruction and ardent public spirit, some new Ezras, some modern Maccabees, who will know how to use all favouring outward conditions, how to triumph by heroic example, over the indifference of their fellows and the scorn of their foes, and will steadfastly set their faces towards making their people once more one among the nations.”

It took a few minutes of dauntless search-fu, but I think Mr. Kristol is referring to "Impressions of Theophrastus Such" by George Eliot, which may be found here.

Also, Eliot wrote of a future Israel wrote:
Looking towards a land and a polity, our dispersed people in all the ends of the earth may share the dignity of a national life which has a voice among the peoples of the East and the West--which will plant the wisdom and skill of our race so that it may be, as of old, a medium of transmission and understanding.

...the world will gain as Israel gains. For there will be a community in the fan of the East which carries the culture and the sympathies of every great nation in its bosom; there will be a land set for a halting-place of enmities, a neutral ground for the East as Belgium is for the West.

Ah yes, Israel as a medium of transmission and understanding between East and West. A land for a halting-place of enmities . . . a neutral ground for the East. Umm, good luck with that.

The new Ezras and the modern Maccabees arose. But Jew hatred didn’t go away. And so, today, in light of Ahmadinejad’s remarks, in the face of the weakness of the West before the Iranian regime — I can’t avoid being reminded of the fact that this year is not only the 60th anniversary of Israel, but also the 75th anniversary of Hitler’s coming to power.

A Hitler reference? I don't think I saw that one coming. Godwin's Law, anyone?

In 1933, in Germany, at the geographical and intellectual center of 20th-century Europe, the Weimar Republic was replaced, as the philosopher Leo Strauss put it, “by the only German regime — by the only regime that ever was anywhere — which had no other clear principle except murderous hatred of the Jews, for ‘Aryan’ had no clear meaning other than ‘non-Jewish.’ ”

Well, there was the whole Slav thing, too. I think "Aryan" pretty much meant non-Slav, too. And then there was the whole Lebensraum thing. (I think we can agree that territorial expansion was a "clear principle" of Naziism.) And Versailles. And Alsace-Lorraine . . . Say, wasn't Leo Strauss a Methodist?

The civilized world was helpless. Churchill’s pleas to act were ignored. The world was plunged into war. Two-fifths of world Jewry were murdered.

The founding of Israel promised a more hopeful future, not just for the Jews but for mankind.

How, exactly, did the founding of Israel promise a more hopeful future for mankind qua mankind? Taking territory away from an unfavored group and giving it to a favored group through main strength and awkwardness---that's our more hopeful future?

And, in fact, the last 60 years have perhaps been less horror filled and more humane than the preceding 60. But what of the future?

On Dec. 10, 1948, Winston Churchill, then leader of the opposition, took to the floor of the House of Commons to chastise the Labour government for its continuing refusal to recognize the state of Israel. In his remarks, Churchill commented:

“Whether the Right Honourable Gentleman likes it or not, and whether we like it or not, the coming into being of a Jewish state in Palestine is an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective, not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand or even three thousand years. This is a standard of temporal values or time values which seems very much out of accord with the perpetual click-clack of our rapidly-changing moods and of the age in which we live.”

And in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand, even three thousand years, who now remembers the Armenians? (That's a German chancellor quote, y'all.)

In 2008, the defense of the state of Israel, and everything it stands for, requires a kind of courage and determination very much out of accord with the perpetual click-clack of our politics, and with the combination of irresponsibility and wishfulness that characterizes the age in which we live.

In our irresponsible and make-believe age, it takes a real man to stand up for the defense of Israel. This is mere assertion, with no explanation. And just what, exactly, is it that Israel stands for? A state with ethnically determined favoritism? A state with religiously determined favoritism? A state which cannot maintain harmonious relationships with its neighbors? That's our bright future?

Still, even though the security of Israel is very much at risk, the good news is that, unlike in the 1930s, the Jews are able to defend themselves, and the United States is willing to fight for freedom. Americans grasp that Israel’s very existence to some degree embodies the defeat and repudiation of the genocidal totalitarianism of the 20th century. They understand that its defense today is the front line of resistance to the jihadist terror, and the suicidal nihilism, that threaten to deform the 21st.

Is this a slap at Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Well, if so, well and good, and let's lay on ourselves, but that's no nevermind right now. My more serious concern is Mr. Kristol's willing conflation of "the Jews" with either the State of Israel, or Israeli citizens. Or the Israeli government, of whichever flavor it might be at the moment? Kind of smacks of that whole collective thing to me. Me, I don't think the sins of the father pass on to the son, and certainly not to the whole damn tribe. We've been doing the whole tribal thing for over two thousand years since the coming of the Prince of Peace. Maybe we ought to think about a better way of doing these things. And really the whole Final Solution thing was tribalism all dressed up with modern efficiencies, wasn't it?

What Eric Hoffer wrote in 1968 seems even truer today: “I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.”

I'll confess, I had never heard of Eric Hoffer before. (I freely admit my limitations.) I googled him. Although I do not know if he was religiously observant, he was---in at least the ethnic sense of the word---a Jew.

Given that Hoffer was a Jew/Jewish (whichever is more properly recognized as the respectful designation), is it in any way surprising that he had a strong sense of self-identification with Israel? And would it be somehow wrong to suspect that his tribal affiliations colored his perception that "as it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us"? Hey, I am---in, at least, the citizenship sense of the word--an AMerican, and my opinion of just how important America is to the world is quite naturally colored by my (avowed) tribal affiliations. So neener neener boo boo.

William Kristol is a punching bag. I remain amazed at his continued prominence.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Restoring my faith in short fiction

A teaser sample:

International Association of Time Travelers: Members' Forum Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War
Page 263

At 14:52:28, FreedomFighter69 wrote:
Reporting my first temporal excursion since joining IATT: have just returned from 1936 Berlin, having taken the place of one of Leni Riefenstahl's cameramen and assassinated Adolf Hitler during the opening of the Olympic Games. Let a free world rejoice!

At 14:57:44, SilverFox316 wrote:
Back from 1936 Berlin; incapacitated FreedomFighter69 before he could pull his little stunt. Freedomfighter69, as you are a new member, please read IATT Bulletin 1147 regarding the killing of Hitler before your next excursion. Failure to do so may result in your expulsion per Bylaw 223.

At 18:06:59, BigChill wrote:
Take it easy on the kid, SilverFox316; everybody kills Hitler on their first trip. I did. It always gets fixed within a few minutes, what's the harm?

At 18:33:10, SilverFox316 wrote:
Easy for you to say, BigChill, since to my recollection you've never volunteered to go back and fix it. You think I've got nothing better to do?

Mother's Day: the great and general interests of peace

Mother's Day---it's become a Hallmark and Zales thing (cards and diamonds). It's not about the cards or the diamonds, though. It's a day of peace, a day for peace.

Read the Mother's Day Proclamation, though, and remember:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

To promote the great and general interests of peace.

God's love, then, for all mothers, and for all their children. The best present for any mother is her son or daughter at her side. And for all mothers' sons, and for all mothers' daughters today, remember that it's not about cards and diamonds.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Simply Too Cool Not To Share: A Glock Idea is Born

I cannot BELIEVE that I am posting a link to the UKS--that's Ultimate Kool-Aid Site, sometimes known as Glocktalk. But dang, it's an unexpected day, I guess.

Candle Glock 30

I've got this bastardized Glock that I like, I call it a 21/30. If you're all hep to Glock model nomenclature, you can probably guess what a 21/30 is---it's a Model 21 with the butt trimmed or pared back to Model 30 length, and using Model 30 magazines.

It is, basically, the XD45 Compact in Glock trim.

You may wonder why, if it's the XD45 Compact of Glocks, I didn't just get the XD45 Compact of the XD world? Well, it's because of Sarge. When he warned us off of the XD due to Springfield's parts policy, I listened. (And they say I don't listen to the police . . . . !)

I like pretty much everything about it, except the grip. I like the length of the grip just fine. When the gripectomy was performed, at Burns Custom (not on my watch), the grip was shortened, but not reduced.

And it doesn't feel good in the (or my) hand. The grip ends in a point (I'll post pictures later), and that point digs right into the heel of my palm.

It doesn't stop me from shooting it pretty well, but it isn't comfortable, and I have to kind of wiggle my hand to get a good grip--which I figure is a bad thing. (Hey, if a gun is uncomfortable to grip, and slow to grip, then I ain't got a whole lot of interest in it as a "using" thing.)

And I'd been pondering whether to just dump this pistol back on the market, or do something about the grip. So I was scouting out various gunsmiths who offer grip reductions, and I was thinking in the back of my mind that maybe I'd just follow the Brownell's article here.

Now, believe it or not, I'd also thought of trying the "heat and bend" method, and was going to pull the steel insert out of a Glock magazine and see how it would work.

Reading that a candle provides enough heat, hey now . . . .

Sadistic Gang of Police Impersonators?

NYPD Cracks Sadistic Gang Of Cop Impersonators
8 Charged In Abduction, Torture Of East Coast Cocaine Traffickers
Threatened To Squeeze Testicles With Pliers
NEW YORK (AP) -- A sadistic gang of police impersonators abducted and tortured scores of East Coast cocaine traffickers, forcing them to hand over multimillion-dollar stashes by threatening to squeeze their testicles with pliers, authorities said Tuesday.

Me: I might have phrased it as a gang of sadistic police impersonators . . . you know, because it isn’t just the gang that’s sadistic, it’s the cops they’re impersonating. Although I hear cops prefer toilet plungers to pliers . . .

An indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charged eight men with robbery conspiracy, drug dealing and an array of other crimes.

Since the spring of 2003, the gang injured about 100 people while committing 100 holdups targeting large-scale traffickers in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, investigators said.

The take: more than 1,650 pounds of cocaine worth $20 million and $4 million in cash.

The scheme "was breathtaking in the scope of its crimes and in the danger it posed to our communities," said U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell.

Benton’s breath must be easily taken away. Drug trafficking leading to strongarm robbery of major dealers? I'm shocked, shocked . . . .

The robbers, court papers said, "were particularly sophisticated in their tactics," often conducting surveillance on the drug dealers for weeks before arming themselves with handguns and making "a police-style car stop" in cars equipped with lights and sirens. Other times, the gang gained entry into victims' homes by identifying themselves as police officers, then holding entire families hostage at gunpoint for days on end.

No fair! That’s OUR gig!

The victims were handcuffed, bound with duct tape and subjected to various means of torture during interrogations, including "simulated drowning through repeated submerging of victims' heads in water for extended periods of time," the court papers said.

Ahem, I think we prefer the phrase “enhanced interrogation techniques.” I’m just sayin’!

One victim told investigators that during a 2005 abduction, two of the defendants "applied a pair of pliers to the victim's testicles and threatened to squeeze the pliers if the victim did not talk," the papers added.

Notes furiously being scribbled down at Langley and Gitmo.

Once the information was extracted, the bandits would retrieve large stashes of cocaine and resell it on the streets of New York.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson described the crime spree as "a dangerous dance of alleged criminals preying upon alleged criminals, who themselves profited from the desperation of drug abusers."

How about an allegedly dangerous dance of alleged criminals preying on alleged criminals, allegedly, who themselves profited from the alleged desperation of alleged drug abusers?

The defendants, all from the Dominican Republic, were ordered held without bail after pleading not guilty Tuesday in Brooklyn. If convicted, each faces a sentence of 40 years to life behind bars.

Gee, wonder if these are the kind of jobs that Americans won’t do, hence the need for undocumented workers? Or, um, did they all have green cards?

(© 2008 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Some Stuff I Like, A WednesdayThang

One Movie I Like:

Until the End of the World.
Very Wim Wenders. Solveig Dommartin is stunning in this film, as is William Hurt. It's very, very slow, but it's worth the time, a science fiction thriller globe hopping road movie that crawls around ideas of perception. And stuff.


One Book I Like

Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett.
The Continental Op comes to a mining town riven by teams of feuding gangsters, and from the title you can guess how the action evolves from there. It's like every Mack Bolan book ever written, except in the 1920s, well written and without the .44 AutoMags.

Red Harvest

Yeah, I know---it kind of looks like a Glock on the cover, but it's not, it's probably a Colt 1903. But the Continental Op packed a .38 Special, like all the hepsters know, so there.

One Kilt Company I Like

USA Kilts.
Rocky Roeger's Pennsylvania-based company offers you traditional styling in modern materials. Although he also offers wool kilts, USA Kilts is best known for their poly-viscose tartan line, from Marton Mills in the UK. Rocky and Kelly will make a short yardage, or full yardage, kilt, to measure, in a lightweight material that's resistant to stains and wrinkles. In looks, indistinguishable from wool, but oh so comfy on those hot days. Good stuff all the way around.

Republicans Lead Among Rocket Scientests!

My paraphrase, actual phrase was: Republicans must settle for a slender advantage among rocket scientists.

No, I broke up. Who do these rocket scientists work for? Come on kiddies! It's not . . . rocket science!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


OK, so it's not Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

Jonah Goldberg posted Ah, The Genetic Memory Defense quoting Newsbusters' Ken Shepherd, quoting Rosie O'Donnell on the right Rev. Wright.

Goldberg's excerpt (with emphasis from Newsbusters) read:

GIFFORD: That we introduced AIDS into the black community?

O'DONNELL: But Kathy you know what it's like for someone to pull one quote out of context for you. He was comparing it to when the government did give syphilis to black Americans for 40 years. What he was saying is in his history, in his genetic memory, he knows what it's like for the government to infect his own people. Because he lived through those Tuskagee experiments. And that's what he was talking about. You can't sort of pull the quote. He didn't just say, you know, "the government made AIDS."
Now, piling on Wright has become a sport for fun and profit, and Rosie O'Donnell is another favorite target of the blogosphere. I can't quite believe I'm defending Wright OR O'Donnell, but there you go.

Rosie O'Donnell was saying, Dude remembers the revelation of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, he knows what its like for the government to infect his own people. Now, if I'm remembering rightly, Tuskegee's great sin was mostly failing to disclose to the people who had syphilis that they did, in point of fact, have syphilis. It wasn't like "Hey kids come in for your vaccine and oh by the way we're not really vaccinating you we're shooting you up with some pure grade syphilis."

With that said, umm, is Jonah Goldberg really saying the idea that a government would conduct medical/biological/pharmalogical experiments on people is nonsense? There's the Japanese experience in WW2. There's the Soviet experiments in Kazakhstan at the Semipalatinsk region. Hey, there's the USG, fiddle farting around with administering lysergic acid to people. And if vivisection, radiation exposure, and LSD isn't enough, let's not forget our good friend Mr. Electricity. Hook up the jumper cables, watch her twitch!

It's a funny, funny day when a serious conservative commentator is reduced to saying that governments do not do bad things.

Or maybe it's just the American government that doesn't do bad things.

I hear that's what the Founding Fathers thought. That's why they had a unitary executive with a long list of powers and authorities, and why the Tenth Amendment reserves all powers not delegated to the Executive.

Oh wait, that's not it at all.

So yeah. I'm down with Wright, and down with Rosie O'Donnell (which I can't believe I would ever say). I don't think the USG created AIDS in a lab with the idea of destroying blacks in America. But that doesn't mean they haven't done things equally horrid.

Trust the government? What's American about that?

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Glock that Glock Doesn't Make, But I Have

So while I ponderate and fulminate and ruminate on other vast and weighty issues, like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and whether to do a Kingussie, or a reverse Kingussie kilt, I’m thinking about my Glock.

Now, Gunny Ermey to the contrary, it really DOESN’T go “This is my Glock, there are many like it . . . .”

It’s funny, how the fanboyism spreads. We call it “drinking the kool-aid,” a Jim Jones reference that’s probably grown detached from its origin, and just floats out there, like tight as Dick’s hatband. (Who the heck was Dick anyway, and why didn’t he get a new hat?) The world, and the intarwebz, are full of Glock fanboys.

They’d probably hunt me down and burn me out over this, but I don’t really dig on Glocks.

Revolutionary? Heckaby-yeah, baby. Dang few parts, polymer construction for the body, the “chassis” of course is steel—think back on Schumer saying they could pass through metal detecters, and the unfortunate “Glock 7, a ceramic pistol from Germany” reference in Die Hard 2.

Heck, if the only pistol I owned was a Glock 19, I don’t think I’d feel too badly about “what I could do with it.” There’s other pistols I dig on more, though.

Lots of ‘em.

But this is about my Glock, and the rest is just prefatory.

I’ve got one Glock. It’s a Glock that Glock doesn’t sell, in fact, it’s a Glock that Glock doesn’t even make. I think they SHOULD make it, because the version I’ve got is pretty neat. You may be scratchin’ at your pate and wondering, “How can he have a Glock that Glock doesn’t even make?” Answer’s pretty easy, although I hadn’t thought of it before.

You see, with the polymer frame, you can build it up with other polymers, grind it down, modify away at it. You can do this with steel pistols, too, of course, but it helps if you’re a poop-hot TIG welder. (And I’m not.) Brownell’s, the gun parts supply house in Indiana, has a nice little article about Glock frame modifications here. (Brownell’s is the bomb, yo!)

Well, I’d known in the past about grip reductions on the Glock, and had liked the idea. The Glock uses a grip angle like the Mauser P-08 “Luger”, and generally American hands are conditioned to a grip angle more like the 1911s. It’s not a matter of “right” and “wrong” but “this fits my hand better’n the other one does.” If you remove some of the hump on the backstrap, you can alter the way the pistol sits in your hand, and that can be a very good thing indeed.

Well, the Glock I have was modded in a way that’s similar, just different. Glock makes three “frame sizes”, the “double column 9mm”, the “double column .45" and the “single column .45.” The double column 9mms are available in big (17), medium (19) and small (26) sizes, and the double column .45s are available in big (21) and medium-smallish (30) sizes.

Glock followed the general trend in introducing these pistols, starting with the full size model and then releasing smaller versions over time. The smaller versions show reductions in both barrel length, and butt length. The smaller guns are more concealable, while the bigger guns are bigger gripped (and thus easier to hold) and have longer barrels (and thus longer sight radii) and thus are easier to hit with.

Given that the most common type of concealed carry holster in use today is a variation on a vertical belt scabbard, it’s fun sometimes to re-examine our old beliefs and see if they hold water. After all, sacred cows really do make the tastiest hamburgers.

Today’s sacred cow is the idea that, all other things being equal, a smaller gun makes for a more easily concealed gun.

With a vertical belt scabbard, the barrel of the gun is along the long axis of the body. Even a full sized service pistol like a 1911 with a 5" barrel (and an overall length of 8.5”) is pretty easy to carry in a IWB (inside the waist band) holster----as long as we’re talking about the barrel length, along the long axis of the body.

It’s the butt of the gun that causes concealment problems–it sticks out on the short axis of the body (unless you really are as wide as you are tall, in which case you are all out of short axes). While revolvers can generally be fit with a wide variety of grippy-stock-handle-thingies of various sizes and shapes, such as the Ruger SP101/GP100 series, which use a “grip stud” of minimal dimensions, the use of a magazine in automatic pistols greatly limits grip choices. Generally, to get a shorter butt profile, you have to go with a shorter butt.

Sidebar: there is a neat treatment for 1911 pistols, designed by pistolsmith and small house manufacturer Ed Brown, called the “bobtail.” This is one of those rare ideas which a) works, b) works better, c) does not introduce greater complexity and d) is fairly simple and inexpensive. It retains a full size grip, but reduces the “printability” of the butt. You can get the parts (the mainspring housing and the jig for modifying your pistol’s frame) at Brownell’s, too. They the bomb, yo.

Anyway. We’ve established that the Glock pistols can have their grips modified, and have asserted that it’s the butt that causes concealment problems in an automatic pistol carried in a vertical scabbard, which brings us (at last!) To the issue of “my Glock.”

You know, the one Glock doesn’t make.

Essentially, my Glock is a mix of models 21 and 30. It has the 4 ½" barrel (really 4.60" but let’s not quibble) of the model 21, but the butt has been trimmed to the dimensions of the model 30. That cuts about 3/4" off the height of the gun, and makes it easier to conceal.

A picture will follow. This has gone on long enough that you’re going to have to wait for the next installment where I’ll discuss my thoughts on this pistol, and plans for what to do with it.

I wish I'd called this thing the "Anarchist Tailor"

I mean, then I could use "sewing hatred and discontent since 2007" as my motto.

And how cool would that be?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thoughts on the Po-Po, continued

Note: As before, this is in response to a response to a comment which inspired the original Thoughts on Cops. This post was slightly edited to remove identifying features, since I know the person who I am responding to.

I am not going to be so vain as to pretend that everyone will agree with me, or even so vain as to pretend that I'm sure I'm right. Too much in our society has been, not politicised, but "partisanised"---there are two and only two sides to every issue, and everyone knows where the two parties fall on every issue.

I believe that through faith and reason we can, and must, test our beliefs and our convictions, our prejudices and our preferences. If our "culture" (to agglomerate all of the foregoing into one blob) is correct, and we reason properly, and use our faith, we can show that "I don't just think this is the way it ought to be because that's how I was raised" or "because it's good for me."

So bear in mind, I'm going into this with the upfront flashing admission that "I could be wrong on this."

In modern America, the breakdown is that Democrats are for "civil rights" and Republicans are for "law & order." There are wide variations across the spectrum for each party. The Democrats run from basically “self-loathing Americans” to race hustlers to thoughtful people concerned about the state’s exercise of police power. On the law and order side, the spectrum is from la ley de fuego to thoughtful people who think that actions should have sure and certain consequences. There is something to say in favor of every one of those positions, somewhere along the way.

If things were all black and white, a rat could run the world. Things are rarely black and white, and we have to use our reason (and our faith) to make choices about what to do. Being a human ain’t for sissies.

(Maybe in honor of Barry O’s “post-racial” campaign I ought to use green and red, instead of black and white. Or maybe red and blue . . . . )

I think you’ve misunderstood my intent. One of your closing lines is that Helping criminals escape justice ain't helping them. I’m not quite sure where you got the idea that was what I was in favor of. I’m not sure where you get that, actually.

I do wish we could get back to the Mayberry days of Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney. As I distinctly mentioned in my diatribe from last week, I’d not begrudge Sheriff Andy a high-cap Beretta and level III body armor, and I certainly wouldn’t want Barney packing a single .38 Special RNL in his shirt pocket.

For the purposes of this discussion, here are some of my historical beliefs: everything started to go to crap in the 1960s. (By which, really, I mean 1964-1973.) The hippies, the War, the white dudes on high ground with rifles, MK ULTRA . . . Heck, ‘68 was like 1848----just a year the world went crazy. Society’s level of cohesiveness really broke down (for all kinds of reasons), and the American government and people collectively went schizophrenic. The part of society that was dangerous got larger, and a lot of it got more dangerous as well, which started a cycle of escalation as the police forces of America have, since the 1960s, progressively upgraded their arms, equipment, training and tactics, while the liberals have carried out their long march through the institutions, which meant that people who got caught very frequently got off, or got less punishment than they deserved. And, of course, civil service laws and civil rights for civil servants came marching along too. Don’t have a stat at hand right now but I’m pretty sure that the majority of union members in America today work for the government in some form or fashion.

“A Republic, madam, if you can keep it” is what Ben Franklin allegedly said to the lady outside the hall in Philadelphia. Well, that ain’t what we have any more.

Remember that this whole diatribe arose out of Rob’s post about the Peelian principles, particularly the 7th (or 9th), and most important, about the police being the people and the people the police. The loss of that feeling, the loss of what Rob’s post called the “most important” of the Peelian principles—that’s what my diatribe was about, and I was mourning it’s loss. Apparently you interpreted that as my favoring letting criminals escape justice; I assure you that this is not the case. I have said several times that I like and admire cops, for doing a hard job. (Your post was titled “Walk a mile in my shoes” and I’ll tell you straight up, Frank (not his real name), I don’t think I could.) I like knowing that there are cops out there keeping an eye on the bad guys, I admire the courage and the dedication cops show, I cannot imagine the horrors and depravities and human monsters they have to deal with on a regular basis. Even in small towns in the heartland of America.

I hate to be all childish, but I was really just quoting Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Now, I think that the foregoing was reasonable in tone, explanatory, hopefully, and amiable if not conciliatory. That’s not nearly all I have to say, however. Right there towards the end of your post, you said that Most of the time I'm nothing but the town's daddy, telling people how to act when they should have learned that at home.

That’s pretty much where we part company, right there.

You ain’t my daddy, Frank (not his real name). That job’s been filled. The post is empty now, but “that jersey’s been retired.” You ain’t my daddy, Frank (not his real name), and the people that wear the badge in the various jurisdictions to which I am subject? They ain’t my daddy, either. The mayor of Houston, Bill White? He ain’t my daddy. The governor of Texas, Rick Perry? He ain’t my daddy. And George W. Bush ain’t my daddy either.

I have two little daughters, and Frank (not his real name), you ain’t their daddy either. I am. When you say that most of the time you’re nothing but the town’s daddy, you’re taking my job, or you’re trying to. And that don’t sit well with me.

We here in America, I thought, believed that the order of sovereignty was from God to us and only then to the state. It is a hard thing to be a servant of the people. You have to give up some of your rights when you do it, to get the delegated power of the people. (Think for a moment about the socialist, rigidly hierarchical and generally unAmerican structure of our military. You ain’t got no rights in the military.)

I used to think that the folks here were pretty much all in favor of limited government. To me, that meant “limited government” in toto. It didn’t mean cut off the liberal social programs while leaving the massive regulatory-enforcement apparatus in place, nor vice-versa either. I used to think I wasn’t alone here, or even in the minority, when I thought that liberty and freedom had been slipping through Americans’ fingers like sand through an hourglass. The thing I liked and admired about the West, the frontier, was that men and women came together of their own free will and accord, made contracts and alliances such as were mutually beneficial, and were basically responsible for themselves. I never thought the West was about the rugged individualist, but the “rugged individualists working together.” I thought that capitalism and self-interest and reason and faith and freedom and liberty spurred people to responsibility and productivity, and that the dead hand of government should rest lightly on the people, ever so lightly.

Because in the end, everything you can be cited for is a capital crime. Take driving without your seatbelt on. Sounds odd to call that a capital crime, doesn’t it? Well, there’s a fine involved. Most people just pay it and that’s that. But what if they don’t pay it? Eventually someone’s going to put out an arrest warrant on them. And then, what if they don’t want to be arrested? What if they, you know, resist arrest? And what’s worse, what if they do so, you know, effectively? (Like with a Mozambique. “Hmm, forgot to armor the head. Seems like an oversight.”)

Now, that’s an awesome power, the ability to kill in the name of the collective, but we have delegated it to you. We have said, as a society, “here, take care of these things for us, here is some of our God-given power/authority/sovereignty, use it with discretion.” If we have given you license to kill, you must exercise your franchise sparingly.

At the same time, the list of regulations (and thus the list of crimes, for noncompliance) grows and grows and grows. Why we can’t have unlicensed taco trucks in the city! The wiring might be bad. The ingredients might be bad, there might be slime in the ice machine! (That’s a Houston-specific joke that can’t be explained.) And behind every one of those regulations is an inspector, and pretty soon the Houston department of health will have a “special response team.”

You said that your job was to stand in loco parentis. That means that you’re the daddy and we’re, what, the child? I didn’t think that was what America was about. I’m no Al Sharpton and I think that crime should be punished (and quick and hard, too). I think American society is deeply sick, fundamentally dysfunctional and deeply unserious.

Now, here’s some more ritualistic Maoist debasement, abasement, and self-criticism. Umm, self-explanation. You guys face the worst of the worst, and evil doesn’t wear horns. You can never know, when you make a traffic stop, “Is this Joe Friendly, lifelong stable member of society, dues-payer and church-goer, or is this Joe Dastardly, lifelong dirtbag, coke dealer, arms merchant and al-Qaida wheelman?” And so, naturally, you tend to err on the side of caution. You stand behind and to the side of the driver’s side door, so you have the angle on him and he doesn’t have the angle on you. Your partner adopts the cover position, for the exact same reasons. Drive-time talk radio hosts say that when a cop pulls you over, you ought to put your hands on the ceiling of the car.

Officer safety.

Dude, I can so understand.

But I can also so understand why the Iranians are still pissed off about that whole “overthrow their government” thing (google Project Ajax), and that doesn’t mean I wanted them to get away with the hostage crisis, their covert nuclear arms program or their meddling in Iraq.

Well, Frank (not his real name), that means that you’re looking at your employers as if they’re a potential enemy. I can understand, and I can sympathize. No, wait, I can’t. When you look at “civilians” collectively as if they might be the enemy, you run a real danger of making that a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can be Officer Friendly or you can be Officer Fascist, and I’m pretty much going to obey you in any event. I would take things from cops that I would take from no other man, but it’s not because of respect or admiration. I do it out of fear. I don’t do it because I think the man with the badge is my daddy, I do it because the man with the badge could burn me down if he chose to, and probably get away with it.

And I wish things weren’t that way. That’s pretty much all I’m saying.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wright, Salon, Black Lib Theology, and a Horse named Joe

OK, there's no horse named Joe. Rather than taking "snippets" from the Salon article, I have reproduced it in its entirity below, with my comments interspersed. If anyone reads this, I encourage them to go to and peruse it. It's mostly lefty, I'd say, but I very often find myself in complete agreement with Glenn Greenwald, who blogs there on politics and civil liberties.

Wright's theology not "new or radical"
Black religion expert Jonathan Walton on black liberation theology's roots in slavery, MLK Jr.'s "God damn America moment" and what Jeremiah Wright has in common with Gennifer Flowers.

By Sarah Posner

May. 03, 2008 | Although the firestorm over Barack Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is about politics, the notion that Wright's version of Christianity, black liberation theology, is radical, subversive, even un-American, is its essential subtext.

To discuss black theology, its history and its influence today, I spoke with Jonathan L. Walton, an ordained minister, expert on African-American religion and assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California at Riverside. Walton argues that black theology is not as radical as it has been made out to be and that Martin Luther King Jr. was actually more controversial than Wright. He also says that Wright -- the most visible adherent of black liberation theology in America -- will end up as a footnote in the history books alongside Gennifer Flowers, Willie Horton and Donna Rice.

Let's talk about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Martin Luther King. Some of Wright's critics have contrasted his approach to that of King, who they portray as using reconciliation rather than confrontation. Is that an accurate portrayal of King? Is that an accurate portrayal of Wright?

No to both. It's a mythic portrayal of King, a nostalgic portrayal of King -- because King was accused and vilified for being controversial, actually more controversial than Jeremiah Wright.

A-ha. It's nice to know that our "secular saint" has a reputation that's "mythic" and "nostalgic"----or, in plain language, inaccurate. Thanks for that whole "cat-bag-let out" thing.

Didn't King become more radical in the course of his career, in the period leading up to his assassination?

It was largely because of the fact that he moved from civil rights to human rights. One of King's famous quotes after desegregation laws had been passed was that he began to find out that it mattered little if African-Americans -- he said Negroes, of course -- have the right to eat at the counter if they don't have a dollar to spend at the lunch counter.
What, having money is now a human right? I guess when FDR waved his magic wand (it was really a cigarette holder, but don't tell the kids!), all of a sudden new human rights were created.

In response to my question before, you said that portraying King as having a message of reconciliation and Wright having a message of confrontation or subversion was not accurate. You've explained how King's approach wasn't purely about reconciliation.

It was about reconciliation. But just because it was about reconciliation doesn't mean that he wasn't confrontational. King believed in nonviolent, direct confrontation. And thus when we come marching through the town, we are trying to expose inequality and expose violence. And if you practice nonviolent confrontation, you morally shame your opponent toward moral suasion. And when you shame them toward moral suasion, it's not to defeat your opponent, but to reunite with your opponent. You're trying to make them ashamed of themselves, so they will turn from their wicked ways. These are all Gospel principles.

Essentially you're saying Wright uses that same approach.

Wright ain't necessarily King. Wright sees himself in that tradition. King was very much in the tradition of the African-American jeremiad. And that is where he would call out the sins of the nation so the nation would live up to its ideals and its promises. That's how King saw himself. But that's not how people looked at King. On April 4, 1967, King stood in front of the Riverside Church and said that if America does not change its ways, America, if you continue to be so prideful, God will tear down this nation, and rise up another nation that doesn't even know my name.
It was his "God damn America" moment, except there wasn't YouTube.
It was his God damn America moment. And the Sunday after King was assassinated, do you know what King was scheduled to preach that Sunday morning? His sermon title was "Why America May Go to Hell."

Quick shout-out of love to YouTube and other internet tools that make life harder for politicians and other liars--BIG LOVE, y'all!

Can you explain the origins of black liberation theology?

It is safe to say that black liberation theology began the very second that African-Americans landed on the shores of America on slave ships, and tried to reconcile their new position as hijacked bodies with the traditional gods of Africa. Slaves for the most part began converting to Christianity with the First Great Awakening in the 1730s-1740s. So their traditional African religions and their gods began to blend with stories they were hearing from the Bible. One of those major motifs was the Exodus narrative, as African-Americans began to identify with the enslaved Hebrews in Egypt. [Later, in the New Testament,] salvation did not just take a spiritual form, as in salvation of one's soul. So the language of salvation and the language of Jesus as a savior took on a very real and ever-present role in their theological worldview.

My theology is weak, as I have always acknowledged, but Christianity seems almost manichean in its duality, the mixing of the practical and the ethereal. The Ten Commandments are pretty dang fine rules for social conduct, and Christ's "Golden Rule" teaching caused a revolution in inter-tribal affairs, plus there's the whole "only way to the Father" thing. But the promise of salvation is, as far as I can tell, salvation of the soul. It's a uniquely American approach to Christianity, I think, to equate material success and rewards with proof that God loves you, and their lack, impliedly, as proof that God doesn't. Christians who have been martyred for their faith would doubtless be mystified by this belief, but there you go.

What happens after Emancipation?

Wherein the goal was freedom from slavery prior to 1863, after 1863, it becomes the attaining of civil rights and equal rights, equal protection under the law [articulated by various towering figures, including King].

Let's talk about the emergence of black liberation theology as articulated by Dr. James Cone, considered the founder of black liberation theology.

You begin to have scholars in the academy, young scholars who are beginning to be trained in the academic world. They're beginning to see in the academy that the theology and the theological reflection and the academic study of religion have little to do with the doings and sufferings of African-American life. What Cone saw himself as doing was articulating, in academic form, the theological worldview of this progressive strand of African-American experience.

So this is dovetailing with the civil rights movement, the black power movement.

Exactly. Actually, in 1966, the National Committee of Negro Churchmen, a group of African-American clergy, published a full-page ad in the New York Times, defining and supporting the black power movement. It was a theological manifesto, articulating the Gospel message of Jesus in relationship to the black community's need for power. And that became what animated and informed Cone's first book, "Black Theology and Black Power." It's not simply about deliverance. It's also about acquiring political and socioeconomic power for African-Americans.

Or, while the message of Christ is one of universal love and the recognition that even our enemies are critters of God just as much as we are, it's hard to get over tribalism, and the "revolutionary vanguard" always manages to feather its own nest along the way.

What are the Christian principles, the Gospel principles that they were relying on, that would seem familiar to someone who's not familiar with black liberation theology but is familiar with Christianity?

Luke 4:18 -- "Preach the Gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, set the captives free, offer sight to the blind and liberate those who are oppressed" is one verse that is central to the black theology of liberation. Another one is Matthew 25:40 -- "As you have done unto the least of these, you have done it unto me."

I ain't got any disagreement with this. Christianity is (or should be) about bringing the Good News to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captive and the oppressed. If this is a strong and significant strain of Black Liberation Theology, that's all to the good. It would be nice to see it spread to White Liberation Theology, or White Theology, or just Theology in general.

Can you discuss the meaning of some excerpts from Cone's writing, such as when he refers to whiteness as a "a symbol of man's depravity"? Is it fair, in your view, for Cone's critics to characterize those statements as racist? If not, how would you characterize them and what do they mean?

James Cone believed that the New Testament revealed Jesus as one who identified with those suffering under oppression, the socially marginalized and the cultural outcasts. And since the socially constructed categories of race in America (i.e., whiteness and blackness) had come to culturally signify dominance (whiteness) and oppression (blackness), from a theological perspective, Cone argued that Jesus reveals himself as black in order to disrupt and dismantle white oppression.

Now it is important to remember how culturally loaded the terms "whiteness" and "blackness" are as racial categories. Martin Luther King Jr. argued in his final book, "Where Do We Go From Here?": "The job of arousing humanity within a people that have been taught for so many centuries that they are nobody is not easy. Even semantics have conspired to make that which is black seem ugly and degrading."

Cone also said that Malcolm X was "not far wrong" when he called the white man "the devil," and "if God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him."

When Cone employed the terms "whiteness" and "blackness" in his theological interpretation of the Gospel narratives according to the lived realities of African-Americans in the American context, he was referring to them not as a physical descriptive category but as a cultural notion and spiritual concepts, [such as] when Cone says that "whiteness, as revealed in the history of America, is the expression of what is wrong with man. It is a symbol of man's depravity." So for Cone to say that Malcolm X was not "far from wrong when he called the white man the devil," Cone is not talking about white persons as innately evil. He is referring to the "white consciousness," of which many whites have embraced, which perpetuates white supremacy and power. For Cone, white supremacy is akin to what the New Testament refers to as "principalities and powers."

When Cone wrote that "if God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him," for Cone, "white people" signifies the "white consciousness" that is constructed upon black marginalization.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and make a fairly startling confession. I'm beginning to conclude that race is a social construct, and certainly today in America. It deserves more attention, and hopefully I'll be able to give it that attention, but for right now I'll simply say this: The idea that the Irish, Jews, Italians and Hungarians are "White" is of very recent vintage.

With that said, I find the "clarification" of Cone's comments to be generous to the point of constituting an apologetic. If we applied the same sort of apologia to the statements of the Ku Klux Klan, for instance . . . well, um, no, we just wouldn't ever do that, would we? And if members of a skinhead movement said that "if God is not for us and against black people, then He is a murderer and we should kill Him," I frankly cannot imagine anyone arguing that the skinheads were discussing "black culture" as opposed to "black people," and cannot imagine letting the skinheads parse out "black culture" as a "culture of shiftlessness, animalistic procreation and crime." I mean, I wouldn't let them get away with that.

Would you?

I like to think that words have meanings. I know that words have power, and I think that the simplest and clearest reading of words is the way they should be read. Words are a description, and if our description of things is not accurate, then our understanding of those things becomes inaccurate as well. With improper premises, we inevitably will then arrive at improper results.

Now it is only fair to say that the black theology of liberation as an academic project cannot be reduced to James Cone. There are many variants and multiple trajectories of thought by an abundance of scholars that build upon, move beyond, critique and expand Cone's early writings. And, naturally, Cone's thought has even developed over the course of the past 40 years. Black theology of liberation is not static. As the condition of blacks in America has changed since 1969, so has black theology of liberation.

Would you consider Wright to be one of the more visible adherents to black liberation theology?

I consider him to be the most visible adherent.

Not just because of what has happened over the past few weeks.

The most prominent, before all this controversy started.

Now, that's well and good. But how does that tie in with Barack Obama's shock, shock, at finding out that there was gambling going on at Rick's? To say nothing of Obama's hissy-fit reaction that Rev. Wright had dissed him?

How prevalent is the black liberation theology in black churches? Can you find it in other denominations than Wright's United Church of Christ?

I'm not saying that the vast majority of African-American preachers have a copy of James Cone's "Black Theology and Black Power," but that doesn't mean that they don't preach, proclaim and live out on a regular basis Luke 4:18. So they may not have the academic, technical jargon for it, but that doesn't mean that the message itself doesn't resonate with their ministries. I really mean that; I say that strongly.

Well, they don't pretty it up with fancy words like heuristic and trope, but yeah, they get it. (H&T explanation comes later in the post, yo.) Remember, earlier, when I was discussing words having meanings, and the clearer and simpler the better? Here Rev. Walton is saying that "the vast majority" of African-American preachers don't have the "academic, technical jargon" for it. So we're saying that there's this thing, which sounds like it means one thing but really doesn't, if you parse it and do an exegesis and close study, and oh yeah it's really popular and most people don't have the tools to do a parse/exegesis. That's scary.

In the academy, in seminaries, black liberation theology is just one other strand of Christianity in America, right?

That's my point about its not being new or radical. If you contact the leading seminaries across this country, black theology of liberation is in all of their curriculums.

Like Queer Studies . . . and there's nothing new or radical about that, right? Queer Studies is part of a long established tradition in Western thought, in fact, it's just about a pillar of Western civilization . . . Oh wait. I'm just being silly again.

Because of this whole media firestorm around Wright, do you think that black liberation theology is being misunderstood as a result of the media treatment?

I would have to take one out of Jeremiah Wright, what he said on Bill Moyers' show. I don't think that it's being misunderstood, because I think it's being purposely manipulated by particular people. It's about balkanizing and browning Obama's post-racial body. He presents himself as the post-racial candidate, and this is a way to racialize him, to derail the mythology of this post-racial, post-political messianic figure. How do they do that? By presenting and packaging him in a way where he becomes the black or brown body that "mainstream America" is familiar with, yet is still largely scared of. He's aligned with the angry black man Jeremiah Wright. I don't, like Jeremiah Wright, say this is an attack on the black church. People don't care anything about that. Jeremiah Wright will go down in history somewhere next to Gennifer Flowers, Willie Horton and Donna Rice. His name will go down in infamy somewhere beside [them] as a historical marker of this presidential election.

Wait, if race is a social construct, and Obama has spent the majority of his life in one subset of that social construct, how does that make him post-racial? Is it because he looks post-racial? I'm also not encouraged, given recent Balkan history, by "balkanizing and browning" of Obama's "post-racial" body. What? Can you have a post-social-construct physical thing? Thing, you know, material thing, like a body or a book or a switchblade? Is there such a thing as "post-communist vodka" or "post-capitalist bourbon"? I ain't even touching the whole "messianic" thing.

Let's talk about some of the comments that did get spliced into the YouTube snippets. The "God damn America" comment, Rev. Wright explained it on Bill Moyers' program through the notion of God's blessings and curses. That's a common and familiar thread in conservative strands of Christianity, like when Jerry Falwell said after 9/11 that God was punishing America for secularism and homosexuality and abortion. Is that how you saw Wright's "God damn America" comment, as talking about God's blessings and curses on a country for the sins of its government, in waging war and killing innocents?

Yeah, sure.
Once more, no argument here! Back in the day, man, God was like the Ebola virus, God was a slate-wiper, people---any people---who sinned against Him incurred His wrath, and His wrath was terrible to behold. Sodom and Gomorrah, baby. An evil people shall not be suffered to prosper. Even a basically good people who have momentarily turned their eyes from the path of righteousness got a divine smack of the ruler across their knuckles. Anyone out there remember that whole "forty years in the desert" thing?

Yet somehow I have the impression that it's the "God damn America" that's got everyone riled up more than Wright's Afro-centric black power shtick. I find that interesting and disturbing, because for me, it's exactly the other way around.

What about his reference to the KKK of America?

Just hyperbole, rhetorical excess. Part of the homiletic tradition, part of oral tradition, is telling stories in grandiose ways. Hyperbole is a tool that is used to give clearly defined story lines where there are clearly articulated enemies, clearly articulated friends and foes, clearly articulated allies for justice. As is the case throughout the biblical record, there are clear demarcations between good and evil.

In other words, he was just talking big, talking smack, twisting the complicated messy details of reality into a simple binary template, just like George W. did when he said that you're either with us or against us. Ahem.

What about his statement about -- and he repeated it again on Monday -- about the U.S. government putting the AIDS virus in the African-American community?

Some may regard that as a trope for known, unjust practices, unjust medical practices against people of color.

Such as in Tuskegee?

Such as the Tuskegee experiments. Or America's complicity in Agent Orange. Or the American government's longtime denial of Gulf War syndrome. So that kind of becomes a rhetorical trope which is a heuristic shorthand for all of that -- for a failed healthcare system in America and failure to do anything about it. And while people may viscerally disagree with Rev. Wright's claim there, and while it may be clearly undocumented and unfounded, you're also talking about a man who had an HIV/AIDS outreach ministry to African-Americans, as well as gays and lesbians, in the 1980s, when the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, wouldn't even say the word in public.

Trope! Heuristic! If I can indulge in that "words have meaning" trope again, one of the sentences above would read, "so that kind of becomes just a trick of rhetoric, an analogy used for teaching." I absolutely despise the glossy sesquipedalian tendencies of academics, bureaucrats and lawyers. I think Rev. Walton is saying that when Rev. Wright goes off the reservation, he doesn't really mean what seems to be saying. it's just an analogy. Don't take the brother at his word.

So when he says that the USG created AIDS, he seems to be saying that the USG created AIDS but he's really saying that the USG didn't do enough, fast enough, about AIDS. That's one of them heuristic tropes. Remember those skinheads I made straw-man reference to earlier? Do they get heuristic trope props too?

But at the National Press Club, he knew that he was on national television, he knew that that comment was one of the things that was making the loop about him. Yet he repeated it again.

I do not know. God only knows. I don't even want to try, and I've probably already tried to explain it too much.

A lot of the criticism of him is not really about black liberation theology at all, it's about him and his personality, that he's bombastic, he's self-aggrandizing, he's narcissistic. Has this become about him, about his personality?

It isn't about him. He's a pawn. If it wasn't Jeremiah Wright, somebody would be going to find some 6-year-old that went to school with Obama.

Black man's just a pawn in (white) America! Even the "most visible" and "most prominent" advocate of Black Liberation Theology is just a PAWN in America! Hey, kids, let's talk some more about how black people, like all people, like all God's critters, are autonomous sovereign representations of God's love for mankind. Jeremiah Wright is indisputably intelligent, handsome, articulate, a powerful orator, the most prominent advocate of a mainstream branch of American theology, a snappy dresser and the engine the built Trinity into a powerhouse church. Brother's just a pawn, though, when you boil it all down.

Come on, how condescending is that?

But do you think Wright himself created more news with how he undertook his public appearances over the past several days?

Did he play into it? Maybe. But I would also say that Wright's been Wright. He has been himself and he's going to be himself.

So what we saw on Monday, that's him?

That's him, especially in front of a crowd.

He does enjoy the performance.

He's a preacher, he had his crowd before him. That is the performative aspect of preaching; it's coupled with the thoughtful aspect. We saw very thoughtful sides of him to begin with, and then the more the crowd played to him, the more he got energized.

Do you think he took it too far?

What you can do in one context, maybe we could be more perceptive of, the way that would be perceived in another context.
You know, for the life of me, the only spin I can put on this is "Don't let Whitey see."

Given that he was at the National Press Club.

The fact that he was at the National Press Club. Maybe he could have been more mindful of the ways that it could have been perceived by others in that context, because he wasn't inside the walls of his church. But then again, maybe he didn't care. Maybe he said, I'll be me, this is what I'd do anywhere, and I'll do it here. If it's good enough for Trinity, it's good enough for the National Press Club.

"Given that Whitey saw."

What about how Obama said, This isn't the man I knew?

I don't know Obama, I don't know what's in Obama's head.

So far as I can tell, Rev. Walton doesn't know Rev. Wright, either, but he's been getting inside his head for this whole interview. Come on, folks!

The New York Times in its editorial Wednesday talked about Wright's racism and paranoia. And his embrace of Louis Farrakhan has taken a lot of heat. Do you see him as racist and paranoid, and how do you view his embrace of Farrakhan?

I view his embrace of Farrakhan as similar to John McCain's embrace of Jerry Falwell. That is to say, we may not agree with everything, I may not agree with you on everything. Obviously we don't agree with each other theologically, we're of different faith perspectives, but we have a shared constituency. That's what John McCain would have said to the late Jerry Falwell, or did say -- we have a shared constituency. We don't agree, but hey, we care about the same people. And thus, I embrace you on that level. And it seems to me that's what Jeremiah Wright was saying. I'm acknowledging that Louis Farrakhan is like [the] E.F. Hutton [slogan]: When he speaks, people listen.
Wait just a cotton-pickin' minute. (My grandmother picked cotton. I figure I have derivative rights to use the phrase, ain't nothing racial.) We're saying that Wright is to Farrakhan as McCain is to Falwell? Aside from the fact that I think Farrakhan and Falwell are both examples of why you need to keep an eye on the man of the cloth and a hand near your wallet, I don't buy the analogy. Is Wright running for president? (Actually, if he was, I'd probably vote for him in preference to McCain, Clinton or Obama.)

But he said he was a great man, one of the great leaders of this and the last century.

For his constituents, for the persons on the South Side of Chicago, that's what they would say. That's what many on the South Side of Chicago would say.

Hey, Louis Farrakhan has done some great work for the community. He's also been divisive, confrontational and destructive. Hamas does terrorist work hand-in-hand with genuinely beneficial social service provision. Great men can do great things, and horrible things too. From reading several biographies, Robert E. Lee comes across as one of the closest things to a perfect Christian gentleman and knight as I have ever read about, but while many people on the South Side of America would say that, it doesn't seem to cut much ice in the popular culture.

It's hard to have it both ways. If feet of clay disqualify heroism, we gotta be looking at everyone's feet.

What do you make of the Times saying that Wright exhibited racism and paranoia?

That's their right to say, they can say that. But many who look to Rev. Wright for leadership find in his voice, no matter how boisterous that voice can be, there are many who find courage and boldness embodied in his voice. He represents them. And so the New York Times may say that he reflects racism and paranoia -- well, they'd also have to say that about the many, many persons in the African-American community who look to him and find hope in his message. So whether there's truth or not to what the New York Times is saying, I'm not here to say. I'm not here to defend or denounce. But Wright's worldview clearly resonates with a critical mass of folk.

The New York Times can say the moon is made of Swiss cheese but that don't make it so.

Peace, y'all.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Free GOP/Hillary Anti-Obama Ad Advice

I'm just sayin', now, you understand.

"Barack Obama is a man of promise and potential. But he doesn't have much experience in government---just a single term as US Senator, and a single term as an Illinois senator. We've tried electing an outsider before."


I've been sewing. I'm trying to make a kilt for myself. I'm trying to do it all by hand, since speed is not of the essence. I'm using a sixteen ounce (kilting weight) worsted wool fabric from Fraser and Kirkbright, whose website is and not or anything like that.

In the obsessively focussed world of kilting, Fraser and Kirkbright have the reputation of producing a "softish" worsted wool. I actually like that, since I'm going for a kind of a "shaggy kilt".

There is something almost hypnotic about sitting and sewing, with needle and thread, on good worsted wool.

Progress reports as things develop.

Mission Accomplished?

Well, Mission Accomplished For These Sailors Who Are On This Ship On Their Mission.

Honestly now, folks.

Of course, this is coming from Dana Perino, who ain't too clear on that whole "Cuban Missile Crisis" thing.