Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trample Me Elmo: With 'Black Friday' Rush On New York Wal-Mart, A Fatal Stomping Of A Clerk

By Manifesto Joe

My previous post contained a morbid fantasy scenario about how the Mr. Hyde side of me might (no, not really; it was a fantasy, those of literal minds) want to deal with certain types of swinish American consumers. Namely, it was about the kind who actually camp out in tents in front of stores in order to rush the door at 5 a.m. on "Black Friday."

I provoked a couple of negative responses, including one comment that was too moronically insulting to dignify with publication. I would urge those taken aback to ponder, in view of today's events, just how far Swine Nation really has gone.

Here's one news link to the incident at a New York Wal-Mart store. A witness said a door was torn off the hinges by the crazed mob, and another said that literally hundreds of shoppers trampled on an employee named Jdimytai Damour, 34. It was also reported that police who were trying to resuscitate Mr. Damour were jostled by frenzied shoppers. Mr. Damour was the clerk who was essentially murdered by this brainless mob of greedy fools.

There have been a lot of Black Friday incidents over the years resulting in injuries. This is the first I can remember that culminated in a death.

And this is supposed to be Day One leading up to a holiday that marks the birth of Christ -- you know, the fellow who drove the money-changers from the temple, the one who was habitually on the side of the needy underdogs. The Jesus that few seem to know anymore.

True, as a mere mortal, there's a Mr. Hyde side to me. But any literal-minded person who thought my reaction to the Black Friday "campers" was excessive needs to ponder just what human excess really is. Take a close look at the criminal stupidity that occurred yesterday. Considering that my post preceded this Wal-Mart tragedy by just a few hours, I'd say I probably have a fair eye for judging human excess.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday: The Wrong Kind Of Tent City, Populated By Swine

By Manifesto Joe

I'm a night-shift worker, and my wife isn't working right now for family reasons. After midnight, when I got off work, we went out in the wee hours after Thanksgiving to feed a cat belonging to a friend who's out of town.

Cruising back to our house, we passed a neighborhood electronics store. There was a small mob scene there at 2 a.m., with cars all over the lot. People were lined up in front of the store. Folks had brought pup tents and other amenities for camping out.

We were on the eve of "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, when many stores open extra-early for early Christmas shopping and offer big discounts on limited supplies of certain items.

At this electronics store, apparently people were camped out to get first dibs on the latest Blackberries, Ipods, and half a dozen other types of electronic horseshit that I don't know about and really don't care to.

It was rainy and a bit cold in the early-morning hours in this city. And here were these people, seemingly without lives other than this (or perhaps to root purposelessly for the Dallas Cowboys).

I started asking my wife if she would pull our Honda Civic Hybrid up next to the line of pup tents, where I would yell, "You fucking fools!" She didn't think that was a good idea.

I gave up quickly on the idea of doing anything like that. Fools are normally determined to remain so. But I got to fantasizing about things it would be wonderful to do.

It would have been good to go down to Homeless Row, in the worst district of this city, with big pots of hearty stew for everybody. Then, after everybody has eaten and feels better and stronger, we pass out magnums of malt liquor to anybody who wants it. Let's get everybody loosened up a bit.

Then, we pass out the ax handles. And bring in the trucks. And we go visit the tent city in front of the electronics store. We clean the area out, much like 1930s vigilantes would have cleaned out one populated by hapless vagrants.

Yeah, it's just a fantasy. But please understand, we've got the wrong kind of tent cities in America right now, especially in times when so many people are being put out of their houses and are sleeping in cars. Yes, I understand that two-thirds of the U.S. economy is fueled by consumer spending.

But why do so many Americans have to behave like imbecilic swine about it?

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hey, Y'all, And Youse Guys -- Enough Stereotypes

By Manifesto Joe

Normally, I try to be as supportive as possible of any lefty blogger out there. "Viva la causa," as certain Tejanos say. But I'm seeing too much depiction of Southern whites, especially us Texans, as being irredeemably ignorant. My experience is that ignorance is very much an equal-opportunity employer.

This is only one example of such plowboy-bashing. One will do. Here's the link. See the piece titled, "Lincoln Screwed Up -- Let's Fix It."

I've lived among necks vermillion long enough to understand this sentiment. But I've also known people from many other backgrounds who had all the same problems, and perhaps a few more.

Here was my response in the comments:

Not only do Yankees harbor a lot of stereotypes about us Texans –

– Your pot roast and bean soup are bland enough to serve in jails or a college cafeteria (you all seem to have gotten the notion that chile peppers really will eat holes in your stomach).

– In the (Republican) Dakotas and points east of there, you still have people who sound like, "My name is Yon Yonson, I leeve in Visconsin, I vork in a lumber mill zere!" They guzzle a lot of something they call "pop" that we call soda water or soft drinks down here. I know all this from having attended a Lutheran college.

– You have places up there like Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I think they still have active chapters of America First. And Indiana was the state with the biggest Klan membership back in the '20s. One of the most stupifyingly bigoted Religious Right types I have ever known was from Minnesota (that's "Meene-soat-a" up there). He was definitely acquainted with the "N" word, and believed quite sincerely that any person who had ever heard the name of Jesus even mentioned, and did not immediately convert, was damned to everlasting perdition.

– Bush and Cheney are not native Texans. Cheney is from Wyoming, the heart of Red-state Yankeeland, and Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and "educated" mostly at blueblood Yankee schools. His Texas accent is reputed to be largely an acquired affectation.

Anyway, enough with all the stereotypes, Southern or Northern, yours or mine. In post-Bush America, let's try to live peacefully without them.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We're Long Overdue For Some Weekend Music Here

Tift Merritt is quite something. Check out I Know What I'm Looking For Now:

Enjoy -- MJ

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting For Texas To Turn Blue

By Manifesto Joe

Amid Democratic/progressive/liberal euphoria, most understandable after the past eight years, there's been talk that even states like my home sweet home Texas could possibly be flipped for the Dems, and soon.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Texans to turn blue. You'll literally turn blue long before. We've got another generation to go here before the demographics of this very distinctive but chauvinistic state will change that much.

The percentage breakdown (all figures courtesy CNN Politics) was 55% McCain, 44% Obama, 1% all others. That was promising, surprisingly good at 44% for a mixed-race liberal Democrat in a state that still has so many Dixiecrats.

The urban areas are where you can see the changes that are eventually coming. In Dallas County, Obama kicked McCain's ass shockingly, 57-42%. Travis County (home of dear old liberal college town Austin) it was 64-35% Obama!!!

Obama pulled out Harris County (Houston, America's 4th-largest city), 50-49%. There, the African-American vote, 95% for Obama, was the clear difference. He won Bexar County (San Antonio) by a decent margin, 52-47%, and that's in a place with a big military vote. The dominance of Obama in Hispanic Texas was most obvious in El Paso County, 66-33% -- and there's a big military vote there, too. He also took most of deep South Texas, my old stomping grounds.

Even in Tarrant County, which has become Texas' answer to California's right-wing Orange County, there was good news for Democrats. Fort Worth delivered for Republicans much as it has in recent years, making the county breakdown the very same as the state's, 55-44% for Big Mac. There's a lot of old oil and gas money there that more than offsets the minority voting blocs. But the Dallas-FortWorth midcity of Arlington, home of centrally located amusement parks and sports stadiums, split 50-50%. The demographics there are definitely changing.

But there was plenty of discouraging news. Nueces County (Corpus Christi) is largely Hispanic, but went 52-47% for McCain. There must still be lots of priest-ridden Catholics down there. And when you track the vote out into the boondocks -- East Texas, outlying central areas of the Hill Country, the South Plains, the Panhandle, the rest of the west ... well, McCain just cleaned up.

Candidly, the story is just this simple. McCain and the other Republicans held on to the redneck vote.

It's discouraging, in that the Democratic Party actually fielded a fine candidate for U.S. Senate, state Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston. Noriega polled just about evenly with Obama in a race against one of the most vapid (but well-funded) members of the Senate, Bush cheerleader John Cornyn.

What is clear from the results is that there is still a deeply ingrained "rube" vote in this state, the kind of people who would never, ever have given Obama any decent hearing, let alone serious consideration. I will refrain from using any stronger language about them.

Significantly, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently reported that many voters in Wise County, some of them Democrats, voted the straight GOP ticket because they wouldn't vote for any Democrats on a ticket headed by Obama. In so doing, they elected a guy to the office of constable who is affiliated with the Minuteman vigilante organization, devoted to chasing real or supposed illegal immigrants around the state.

Change can eventually come to places like my home state. But sadly, it is often glacial in pace. I got used to being in the beleaguered minority many years ago, so I can live with it for now. I hope, along with the optimists among progressives, to see it change before I die.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Republicans Who Call Obama A Socialist Are Showing Either Ignorance Or Desperation

By Manifesto Joe

In the demented spirit of a godfather of American fascism, Joe McCarthy, plenty of Republicans, led by McCain attack dog Sarah Palin, are hurling the dreaded "S" word at Barack Obama. It's right-wing regurgitation, like projectile vomit.

The dreaded word in McCarthy's time was "communist." Now it is "socialist," and the far right bases this on Obama's clearly stated intention to enact very limited income redistribution for the benefit of working-class and middle-income Americans.

This misnomer reveals the stupidity of those who use it with any sincerity, and the desperation of those who actually took political science and economics in college and surely know better.

Socialism defined

Here's a basic definition of "socialism," from Webster's New World College Dictionary:

1. any of various theories or systems of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of the society or the community sharing in the work and the products.

Please note that the crucial part of the definition has to the with "the means of production and distribution." I am unaware that Obama has ever advocated nationalization of industries, Israeli-style kibbutzes or anything else that characterizes bona fide socialism. He is clearly, like almost all other American progressives, a welfare capitalist. He favors a system of private ownership, but with restraints, checks and balances, and limited intervention in the public interest.

Many conservatives, being ignorant, disingenuous, or both, have greatly expanded the definition of "socialism" to include any and all kinds of income redistribution that works for the benefit of those roughly at or below median income. To broadly paraphrase one of their heroes, Adam Smith, the richer people among them say nothing of their own gains; they complain only of those of other people.

Any time any public entity, whether a local hospital district or the federal government, makes any decision about taxation and/or appropriates money for anything, income is redistributed. It's a question of to whom.

What Americans have seen for about 35 years, more rapidly at times but always steadily, has been socialism for the rich, certainly by the "broader" definition of the right. A federal tax structure that was once progressive, and remains so on paper in some senses with the retention of brackets, has been gradually rendered impotent by the fine scalpel of legislators and tax lawyers. Most corporations now pay little if any income tax, and the very wealthy have myriad shelters with which they happily dodge responsibility for upkeep of the infrastructure, or even for bankrolling the latest war meant to increase their profits.

Socialism for the rich

As for socialism for the rich, I won't even go into corporate welfare, intrinsic advantages of the rich in the legal system, the system of legal bribery we call campaign finance, etc. I'm just sticking with their definition -- redistribution of income. The distribution of wealth is more unequal than it has been since 1929. (Remember what happened that year?) And this hasn't happened by accident. The '80s supply-side economists led by Arthur Laffer and David Stockman were quite above board in their intention to favor corporations and the rich in taxation, in the apparent belief that such policy would spur investment, create jobs, actually increase tax revenue, and result in "trickle-down."

For the most part, with some interruptions during the Clinton administration, the program of socialism for the rich was put over, and with accompanying indoctrination against anything faintly liberal or progressive. The New Deal was ancient history; and in the minds of many, the opportunistic right succeeded in perversely melding it with the failure of Soviet socialism, or with anything that strayed in the very least from a laissez-faire, supply-side party line.

I stopped being a fan of Ralph Nader after he ensured the presidency for an apocalyptic buffoon like George W. Bush. But Nader said something on a debate show that has stuck with me since: "They (the big corporations) want to socialize their losses and privatize their profits." Never was anything truer said.

Obama, though merely bringing a rather mild bourgeois liberalism back to the table, faces the wrath of fools conned by this right-wing economic nonsense, and the venom of those who would use ignorant "fellow travelers" of the far right to stay in control of the wheel.

But, with two days left until the deciding moment, history appears to be tilting toward Obama. Americans have had 28 years to endure "upscale" socialism. Many who don't listen to frothing-at-the-mouth rhetoric know firsthand what such policies have done to them. Indications are that a large turnout of such folks will hugely favor Obama.

Here's a link that shines more light on the subject. There aren't many real socialists left in America, but here's what their presidential candidate thinks about Obama. And, here's one more from the MSM, its own nasty self.

Meanwhile, "this one" voted early -- and I suppose it's not hard to guess that "this one" voted for "that one." I urge anybody who hasn't done the same yet to get to the polls Tuesday. We don't want to see the future postponed for another four years.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.