Monthly Archives: January 2015

Social Security: America’s Longest Legislative War

President Barack Obama delivers the 2015 State of the Union Address. Behind him, Vice-President  Joe Biden thinks about capturing Bigfoot while Speaker of the House John Boehner imagines constructing a tanning salon in the House chamber.

President Barack Obama delivers the 2015 State of the Union Address. Behind him, Vice-President Joe Biden thinks about capturing Bigfoot, while Speaker of the House John Boehner imagines constructing a tanning salon in the House chamber.

The State of the Union Address is typically an annual demonstration of frictional political masturbation, in which the sitting Chief Executive uses up an entire bottle of presidential speech-writers’ lube in an attempt to assure the American public that the future is bright and that they aren’t getting royally screwed from every possible angle by a sweaty, panting, Viagra-popping combination of sociopathic plutocrats and re-election-obsessed government drones. As a result, the SOTU usually ends up as a crusty rhetorical sock in the national bedroom’s unattended hamper: forgotten, unacknowledged, a source of necessary shame.

But on January 20, 2015, President Barack Obama, a Commander-in-Chief now well into the twilight, lame-duck years of his two-terms in the Oval Office, decided to kick off his last years in power by using the State of the Union address to launch a bucket-full of rhetorical grenades into the squawking macaw gallery that is the Republican Party. Now free from the burden of re-election, and facing a conservative-controlled House and Senate that won’t touch his legislative proposals with a thirty-nine and a half-foot pole, Obama nonetheless gave a full-throated defense of American liberalism. He defended the use of government to mitigate the blunt force of market fundamentalism that, for decades now, has left American wages stagnant, has flooded the one-percent’s coffers with Scrooge McDuck levels of cash, and has turned the government into one giant, sticky-floored lobbyists’ whore-house. Continue reading

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Charlie Hebdo and the Modern Scourge of Religious Fundamentalism

A makeshift memorial for the slain Charlie Hebdo journalists.

A makeshift memorial for the slain Charlie Hebdo journalists.

There are few things more dangerous in the modern world than pissed-off zealots drunk on the potent, backwoods hooch of religious fundamentalism. We received yet another reminder of this fact on January 7, when Muslim fanatics opened fire on the workforce of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve people and injuring many more. The two main douche-canoes suspected in the Paris terror attacks were identified as Cherif Kouachi and his older brother, Said Kouachi. Their motivation appears to have been a revenge-attack in response to Charlie Hebdo’s habit of publishing uncompromisingly satirical cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammed and generally mocking radical Islam in a manner that only the French could pull off. You see, visual depictions of Islam’s founder are forbidden under Muslim religious laws, so, yeah, guns; murder; terror, etc.

And, just to add some good ole’ fashioned anti-Semitism to the mix (because you can seemingly always blame the Jews for something!!!), two other suspects followed the Charlie Hebdo attacks by taking hostages in a kosher supermarket in a traditionally Jewish quarter located outside of Paris. A man named Amedy Coulibaly (a career-criminal with a bad case of Caliphate-itus) and a women named Hayat Boumedienne (Coulibaly’s former squeeze), apparently decided to bring about the second Muslim Conquest of Europe by shooting people in the frozen-foods section. Continue reading

Why Black Lives Still Matter: An American Saga

The notion that #BlackLivesMatter became one of the defining social protest calls of 2014.

The notion that #BlackLivesMatter became one of the defining social protest calls of 2014.

The year 2014 was an especially tumultuous year if you happened to be a black person or a police officer in the United States. The high-profile killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice revealed the continued high cost of existing-while-black in America, while the cold-blooded murder of New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos by a mentally ill sociopath named Ismaaiyl Brinsley on December 20 has left New York City’s police force embroiled in a dispute with the city’s black community over issues of police safety and the NYPD’s checkered history with people of color. As the Big Apple’s police force tries to move forward in the wake of the brutal slaying of two of its own, the tensions between minorities and cops that so ravaged America in 2014 once again bubbled to the surface of the national consciousness.

But amidst the tensions in New York, a small group of protesters braved the cold and debauchery of New Year’s Eve to hold a vigil reminding America that #BlackLivesMatter. Because, above all else, the historical association of blackness with crime in America is at the heart of the controversies between police and minority communities that wracked the nation in 2014. This piece will explain why the interconnectedness of blackness and criminality in U.S. history continued to fuel tensions between police and the black community in 2014.

As the bodies of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice lie alongside those of thousands of other black men taken out by America’s ivory-wrapped justice system, one thing remains abundantly clear: the U.S. has moved beyond the need to have a “conversation” about race and has lunged head-first into the intervention deep end. You can’t converse about something that you don’t understand, and what far too many white Americans don’t understand is that, in the land where All Men are Created Equal, black lives have always mattered less than white ones. In the U.S., blackness has historically been associated with criminality, and to the nation’s trigger-happy white majority, crime still wears a permanent blackface. Citizens like Brown, Garner, and Rice were killed because they were perceived as the worst kind of threat to white America: a black one. Continue reading