31 October 2008

Hallowe’en Early Voting Turn-Out In Las Vegas

Just wanted to let y'all know really fast that, while I was out walking around my neighbourhood with a neighbour of mine, she happened to espy a long line of people extending out of the Albertson's supermarket at the intersection of Bonanza and Lamb, here in North-East Las Vegas.

When she inquired as to what they were doing, I guessed that they were turning out to vote in the current election.

After I parted from my neighbour a few minutes later, I went across the street to go into a nearby drugstore and pick up, at very last minute, some Hallowe'en candy for any of the local squabs that might come a-knockin' this All-Hallows Eve.

Before I did that, went up to a campaign worker at the line's end, and asked if this was the line for voting.

She replied in the affirmative, and mentioned to me that, while the polls were being advertised as closing at 7:00 PM PDT, polling would continue at that location beyond that time.

Shortly thereafter, an election observer called out the news that the line at the Albertson's located on Nellis and Vegas Valley was considerably shorter than the one at Bonanza and Lamb, and those who could get there might wish to do that.

The campaign worker with whom I'd been speaking went up to him and asked him about the polling hours, to which he replied that anyone who was still in line at 7:00 PM would be allowed to vote then.

From there, went into the drugstore, got the Hallowe'en candy, and pissed off home to write this.

I can tell you, from my own experience yesterday, and from seeing the line outside the Albertson's to-night that, if the early voting turn-out's any indication of what it might be on Election Day proper, I have a feeling that it will be a very high percentage of the eligible electorate in Southern Nevada, if not the rest of the state.

Makes for a refreshing change from the usual miserably low turn-outs here, especially in local elections.

Happy Hallowe'en, and Be Seeing You.

22 October 2008

Joe The Plumber, Or Dog-Whistle Politics, Part Two

Originally wrote this as a comment to the last essay-lette I wrote on this topic, and posted to a blog on my page at I-Power. The commentator left three YouTube videos featuring Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, as well as a couple of text comments indicating that he agreed with Mr. Wurzelbacher.

Well, saw the last of those video comments, an interview he gave the Toledo Blade after the last Presidential debate, and, to be blunt, Mr. Wurzelbacher didn't say anything in it, that I haven't heard, read nor seen on-line a thousand or so times before, whether out of the mouths of politicians, pundits or so-called ordinary folks like Mr. Wurzelbacher.

Frankly, that kind of logic, thought and rhetoric bores me to tears and then some, because they are so familiar.

Half of what Wurzelbacher says in the Toledo Blade interview is practically imbibed along with mother's milk in many European-American lower-middle-class and working-class households, and is based, like it or not, in a couple of sentiments also commonly found in those homes, the first being "Thank God We're White", and the second, as articulated by the late James Baldwin in a 1987 Playboy essay, "Poverty is for niggers."

All the talk about personal responsibility, pulling oneself by one's own boot-straps, and all the rest of that comes from those sentiments, plus a feeling of entitlement to whatever resources that are available, and all the rest of it is just so much blah-blah designed to cover that.

I've no respect for Nazi-skinheads and assorted other racists, but I will say that, though some of them also try and goop their nastiness over by saying that it's about "White Pride" rather than good old-fashioned race hatred just like Mother used to make, I prefer their brand of logic and rhetoric, simply because they make no bones about their hatred, don't try to pretend they're good, and one knows exactly from where they're coming.

That's the only area in which I find people like that preferable, but, nonetheless, they are, for the most part, relatively honest about it.

There are, and have been, for the past two, nearly three decades, now, a decidedly upwardly skewed redistribution of wealth in this country, and a fair part of the world besides, and Mr. Wurzelbacher and other folks like him either don't see it, or don't want to see it, plain and simple.

Hell, if they could get in on the gravy train, they would, and with both hands outstretched as far as possible to get every little bit they could.

But, they've neither the education, the skills, nor the social and business connections required to make that happen, and, some very great exceptions aside, never will, plain and simple.

Doesn't stop 'em from dreamin', though.

Point is, considering that incomes for the vast majority of Americans, middle and lower-middle-class, working-class and poor have essentially stagnated or barely kept pace with rising costs in every area of life over the past thirty-forty years, such dreams are silly and wrong-headed.

Tax cuts for the one percent of Americans who belong to the upper and upper-middle-classes don't trickle down much to the rest of us, as, in many cases, the money that comes from those cuts is socked away in tax shelters and other forms of investments designed to benefit their holders, but that are essentially held back from the rest of the economy.

Those at the top layer of American society have no real love or regard for folks like Mr. Wurzelbacher, you, My dear Picidae, me, nor anyone else outside of their social circles whom they don't know, and why should they???

They don't know us, except as a sort of generalised mass of people, and one, and I don't care from part of the ideological spectrum one comes, can love people en masse and mean it.

Love is an emotion, as fickle and changeable as any other.

Respect and regard, while more reliable, come only through a certain amount of inter-personal contact, which most upper-class Americans have with lower-class ones only in the roles of master and man, employer and employee, and whatever other term one might want to use for that kind of relationship.

Hard to have anything in the way of genuine respect for someone when they are, though it is rarely explicitly said, one's social and economic inferior, and vice versa.

There's dependence, sure, fear for one's position and one's living, definitely, and a combination of the two built into every interaction between people from different classes.

But, I would say that it's pretty rare to find examples of genuine regard and respect between members of those classes, because of the way in which social and economic relations in this country are, and have been, from the beginning of this country.

Add in race, gender, sexual orientation, and any number of other factors one could care to name, and the anxiety levels and social tensions rise accordingly.

Ultimately, the idea that all Americans are just one big group of "pals" who are more or less equal in terms of rights, duties, etc, is a pretty laughable con-job.

There are significant differences between Americans, as in any other human group, that can be named, and won't bore you with a laundry list of those, and those differences are found within these various groups, as well as between them, and to over-look those and say that some Americans don't have it better than others, is an epic con-job, especially on one's self if one actually believes it.

Many of these differences are ones that have been created by past generations of Americans to benefit themselves and theirs at others' expense.

This continent was conquered, plain and simple, by fair means and foul, by Europeans and their descendants, who used every trick in the book that they knew to do it, and then some.

American capitalism couldn't have enjoyed half of the expansion it did in the mid-and late 19th Century and early-to-mid-20th Century without the use of cheap labour, whether it was slave labour in the pre-Civil War South, working-class Americans fresh off the farm and European immigrant labour in the Northeast and Midwest, or Chinese, Mexican and working-class European-American labour in the West, to pump out goods at very low cost.

Our economic, political and military ascendancy began in those years, grew, even if the Great Depression put a bit of a bite on it in the 1930's, during and after the First World War, and was essentially sealed by the Allied victory in World War Two, and our dominance in those areas, in much of the world anyway, came about because our industrial, agricultural and other resource bases weren't heavily damaged or destroyed outright, as the other powers', whether Allied or Axis, had been during that war.

It is those factors, I believe, that has made the US as rich as it has been.

But, with all that wealth, there generally came not greater wisdom nor compassion, but greater greed, malice and the desire to not only hold on to what we had, but to grab still more, and, if it came at others' expense, whether individually or collectively, no matter, as long as we got it.

While the vast majority of the blame for this should rightly be put at the feet of the US governing and business classes, there were, and are, plenty of so-called ordinary Americans who went along with these policies and actions for reasons of their own, some of which I've already outlined here, and who did so, whether by not resisting actions like the Viet-Nam and Iraq Wars, voting for candidates whose ideas and policies were designed to benefit the upper classes and their supporters while punishing those members of the lower classes, especially if they weren't European-American in origin, or who, in word and deed, supported segregation, whether of the de jure sort found in the American South, or the de facto kind found in the rest of the Union, and who resent and resist any changes, however small and late-coming, that have been made in that area of American life since the mid-1950's.

They have their fair share of the blame for the sort of mess we're in now, and have it coming, straight up, no chaser.

This doesn't mean that there aren't resentful, angry chuckleheads in the African-American, Latino, Asian-American, Native American, or Pacific Islander communities, who aren't also prejudiced and hateful. There are.

But, with the exception of a small handful of such individuals, those communities have historically been much more on the receiving end of the dirty end of the stick than have most European-Americans, and especially most upper- and middle-class European Americans, and that's something that people like Mr. Wurzelbacher either don't see, or refuse to see.

Poverty, oppression and marginalisation have traditionally been, as Mr. Baldwin put it, "for niggers,", but also for immigrants, so-called poor white trash, and any other person or group that fell outside of the so-called American mainstream, and these sentiments continue, albeit in generally more muted form than in previous decades, to hang about, like the proverbial bad penny in one's wallet.

That's why I don't believe Joe Wurzelbacher, and others like him.

There's just too much God-Damned historical baggage in back of what he says for me to take him at his word, and, considering the McCain campaign's use of Mr. Wurzelbacher and his comments for all they're worth, I see its use of him and his comments as just another ploy to keep on keepin' on with one variant or another of the same tired old monkey business that's taken place in the US since its foundation.

Thanks, but no thanks, Wurzelbacher. No sale here.

As for McCain, Palin, et al, sorry, folks, but this dog ain't a-comin' when y'all call, and I sure as Hell's ain't a-gonna hunt for y'all.

So, take that right-wing populist dog whistle y'all got in your back pocket, and go put it somewhere far out of sight.

19 October 2008

"The Orphan", Part Three

From there, it'd been a relatively simple matter of driving down to New Pawtucket, signing up at the Outcomes Insurers office, selling off the jeep at a used car lot, and locating a cheap lodging to spend the two days to a week needed before the freighter bound for his eventual destination in Dystopia(which, according to the Outcomes Insurers personnel officer with whom Christopher spoke, couldn't be divulged for security reasons)sailed.

The three days of waiting for the ship's call were long and tedious, as was the voyage itself, during which he shared a cabin with three other figures, none of whom seemed much interested in talking about themselves, nor anything else.

That actually suited Christopher just fine, as he didn't much like the looks of his present company, and he'd enough in the way of anxieties about where they'd end up, what they'd be facing, and how Mary, the newbies and the garage were doing back home, to keep him occupied.

After two days, which seemed like two weeks to Christopher, the ship landed at its port of call, Port Victory in what had once been the People's Socialist Republic of Oceania.

Oceania, like its immediate neighbours, Eurasia and Eastasia, had been settled by figures who patterned themselves after the situations and characters in George Orwell's “1984”, right down to having the omnipresent Party and Big Brother. It had also been at ceaseless war with either one of its two neighbours since independence from Centralia in 2002, and had conquered Eurasia and Eastasia only a few months before joining its former coloniser in attacking Pacifica in late April, 2007.

That went even more disastrously for Oceania than Centralia, as its best military units had been destroyed or captured, and, in the war's closing days, New London, both the capital of Airstrip One and of Oceania as a whole, was heavily bombed, rocketed and pounded by Pacifican aircraft, missiles and naval artillery.

In the war's aftermath, Big Brother and the Party lost a great deal of face, and not even the dreaded People's Security Bureau could keep all sorts of dissidents, especially those in the Armed Forces, from moving against the State, which they did.

By the time, Christopher and his companions arrived in Oceania, its Eurasian and Eastasian possessions had completely broken off from it, and Oceania itself was divided among nearly a dozen or so contending factions, some led by former Party bosses, others by former dissidents, and all of whom desired to gain power and liquidate their opposition.

Christopher knew almost nothing about any of this, nor, if asked, would he have particularly cared. He was there to do his job, stay alive and in one piece, collect his money at job's end, and go home, and that was it.

He'd managed that part well enough, and had even made a few friends among his platoon mates, though Christopher really didn't want to buddy up with anyone in particular, as he'd no intention of
re-upping once his six-week tour ended.

Still, he realised that he needed someone besides himself to watch his back, if he was going to make it through the tour at all.

Its first three weeks had gone well enough for the platoon and Christopher, and they'd pushed hard into the areas held by their foes to the North and North-East of Port Victory.

At the fourth week's beginning, however, the enemy's resistance toughened up considerably, with 12 out of the platoon's 20 members killed, wounded or missing, and the unit ending up cut off from the rest of the army and trapped in a little village some 5 feet due south of O'Brien Mills, the north-western Oceanian city that'd been their objective not long ago.

Christopher and the rest of the platoon had held off their attackers for two days and a night, before being called into the wrecked village Party meeting hall that served as their headquarters on the second day's evening.

There, the platoon's commander, a vintage blond eagle-eye Action Man named Captain McKenzie told his surviving troops that, after finding out from their high command in Port Victory that there was no way any relief units could be sent to get them out of the village, he'd decided to dissolve the unit, and disperse its members in the hopes that at least one or two of them might make it back to Port Victory.

“Gentlemen,”(Christopher always chuckled at the memory of McKenzie's always calling his men that, even if most of them, including himself, could hardly be called that), Captain McKenzie drawled in his fruity upper-class tones, “I see no need for all of us to die in this beastly little place, eh??? So, gentlemen, I am giving you all one last order, and that is to fuck off out of here as quickly as possible. If any of us are lucky enough to make it back home(meaning Port Victory), and I run into you, I'll stand each and every one of you a drink or two. If not, It has been a pleasure serving with you. Good-bye, and Good Luck to each and every one of you.”

Even now, as Christopher was making his way across the plains of another devastated nation some 50 yards west of that little village, there were two memories of that night that amazed him, the first being McKenzie's using “fuck off”, as the Captain never, at least in his ear-shot, ever used profanity of any kind, and the other being the time and trouble McKenzie took, after giving his farewell benediction, to shake the hand of each and every one of his men, including Christopher, and individually wishing them good luck, before departing into the night with Sergeant Cacciatore, a vintage GI Joe Action Soldier.

There might be a lot of figures who could say a lot of bad things about McKenzie, Christopher often reflected to himself, but he wasn't one of them, especially since the Captain had done it all, as he seemed to do practically everything, with grace and style.

Christopher, who left the shattered ex-Party hall a few minutes after McKenzie and most of the others had gone, never saw him, Cacciatore, nor any of the others who'd gone before him and his two squad-mates, Robinson and Tamura, ever again.

He hoped they were still alive, but Christopher somehow doubted it, considering what happened to Robinson and Tamura after the trio left the village.

17 October 2008

Yahoo News Article Link About Kidnapped 6 Year-Old Las Vegas Nevada Boy

This is a Yahoo News article on the 6 year-old boy who was snatched from his East Las Vegas home two days ago.

Please re-post as widely as you can, and, if you know where he is and his current circumstances, please contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sooner than quickest.

He shouldn't have to suffer for the mistakes and crimes of his grandfather.

Thank you for your kind attention and be seeing you.


16 October 2008

Joe The Plumber, Or Dog-Whistle Politics

Was just thinking about Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, and how his interaction with Obama was used in last night's Presidential debate.

Frankly, it disgusted me then, and it disgusts me now, because Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, and all the other Regular Joes out there are quite commonly used by right-wing politicians to advance a kind of right-wing populist ideology and rhetoric that superficially advances lower-middle-class and working-class people, but, when it comes right down to policies and implementation, benefits the upper classes.

To hear McCain, a scion of the American military leadership class and a long-time member of the American governing classes, mention "Joe the Plumber"(I think he only used Wurzelbach's proper surname once, and that was when he first brought Mr. Wurzelbach up in the debate), as often as he did during the debate pissed me the Hell off, because McCain isn't lower-middle-class or working-class in origin, nor, I will bet, does he spend a whole lot of time with so-called ordinary, reg'lar folks, when and if he can help it.

To me, it's the same kind of dog-whistle politics, as the McCain/Palin campaign's attacks on Obama for his connection, however tenuous, to William Ayres.

"Oooo, gotta watch out fer those lefty-pinko-commie-America-hatin'-Muslim terrorists, don'cha know(wink)???!!!"

Yeah, sure, right.

The fact is, if McCain, Palin and their ilk really love and admire the American middle and working classes, why the Hell have they either worked so hard to get out of those classes, and why do they pursue the kinds of ideas and policies they do.

Quite simple to me, really.

These people have no love, respect, admiration, etc, for Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, GI Joe, GI Joe, Fighting Man From Head To Toe, whatever one wants to call the so-called average American, except, perhaps, in the comfortably abstract.

Joe What's His Fuck is really more a source of votes, government and business revenue, and, in war-time, a source of cheap, readily expendable cannon fodder to these people, than anyone or anything valuable at all.

But, there are quite a number of so-called ordinary Americans, the Joe and Jane Six-Packs out there, who will fall for this each and every time an election comes 'round.

The reasons for this are various, and will go into them in the next essay-lette I post here.

For now, will sign off by saying that dog-whistle politics only work so long as the dogs come running to the whistle.

Be seeing you.