Monday Reads: and the beat goes on

5a07c9c80ea19b926bd8bac117a57dbbWhat can be said about the violence erupting around the country and around the world these days?  Words can fail us. We’re losing hearts and minds along with lives.  How did we get here?  I hope we don’t have to wait on historians to deconstruct the causes because we’re careening towards a future that seems better imagined by George Miller and Byron Kennedy of Mad Max fame.  Dystopian fiction should not actually portend reality. It should be a harbinger of possibilities we can avoid; not outcomes we bring on to ourselves.

Today will be another reminder that one of the two major parties has completely lost its ability to govern and is stuck some where  we should not be.  We have the Republicans about ready to nominate a dude that reminds me of the Dennis Hopper character in Water World.   Trump sounds as crazy as that character.  I’m waiting to hear his big convention floor speech and wondering if he’ll be waving a cigar and a bottle of Jack and be wearing an eye patch, frankly.  We’re losing our sense of community and our sense of responsibility as members of community.

Our sense of alienation perhaps comes from  a world where we are more likely to connect with technology than with a human being and where our jobs are continually dehumanizing us. This generally makes us susceptible to folks that play on our anger. We’ve had two very angry pseudo populists on the national stage who really represent privilege that have done a great job of stirring up resentment.   They’ve also stirred up some insane reaction to that visible resentment.  I personally am watching my neighborhood be torn apart by already rich people looking to make more money by dismantling everything and every one deemed unprofitable.  I feel like I only exist to many of them as a possible source of monetization although I can tell I’ve outlived my usefulness for that as an aging woman of little means these days.

How did we get to a point where one of the two major parties is actually going to nominate a man whose speeches call for the dismantling of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth amendments to our Constitution? Are we so far down the rabbit hole that we’ll actually sell out the rule of law for guns and anger?

Trump has from the start of his campaign sparked controversy with statements, actions, and proposals that disregard the First Amendment. He and his aides have created blacklists of journalists, and the candidate has expressed an interest inrewriting libel laws in order to intimidate, punish, and potentially silence critics of powerful individuals and interests. Trump has, as well, proposed schemes to discriminate against Muslims and to spy on mosques and neighborhoods where Muslims live—with steady disregard for the amendment’s guarantee of protection for America’s diverse religious communities.

But that’s just the beginning of Trump’s assaults on the Constitution. Trump has encouraged the use of torture and blatantly disregarded privacy protections that have been enshrined in the founding document since the 18th century. He has attacked the basic premises of a constitutionally defined separation of powers, with rhetorical assaults on individual jurists and the federal judiciary so extreme that House Speaker Paul Ryan described one such attack as  “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He has proposed instituting religious tests. He has shown open and consistent disregard for the promise that all Americans will receive equal protection under the law.

Many of us have long harbored the idea that today’s Republican Party only cares about the idea of a Second Amendment on steroids and Waterworld-Hopperthe rest of our civil liberties and rights should be damned.  The realities of what I used to believe were brief moments of paranoia are just on full display this week.  Have you seen the pictures of the up-armored bicycle police in Cleveland?  I mean, how Clockwork Orange is that? Don’t even get me started on the entire idea of letting folks with assault rifles into the protest pits to strut around like dildo-toting S&M bondage RPers who are likely trigger happy. We just had three police officers ambushed and killed in Baton Rouge and the response is to let more crazies out on the streets with guns?  Really?  Really?

Hours after the head of Cleveland’s police union pleaded with the governorto suspend Ohio’s open-carry laws during the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s spokesperson told ThinkProgress she is “not nervous at all” that people are walking around the city with assault weapons.

“I am recommending that people follow the law,” Katrina Pierson said Sunday when asked whether she believes people should arm themselves in the convention zone. Under Ohio law, residents over 21 years old who legally own a firearm can openly carry it in public.

In light of the shooting and death of three police officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association asked for an emergency suspension of the state’s open-carry law for the duration of the Republican National Convention.

“We are sending a letter to Gov. [John] Kasich requesting assistance from him,” union president Stephen Loomis told CNN. “He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point.” Kasich denied the union’s request.

The violence in Louisiana on Sunday was only the latest in a series of deadly clashes between police and civilians over the past few weeks. When an angry, heavily-armed civilian began shooting at police during a Dallas Black Lives Matter protest earlier this month, the state’s open-carry law made it difficult for police to track down the assailant. Officers mistook at least one legally armed resident for a suspect, and the proliferation of guns made it more difficult for them to determine who posed a threat.

In the weeks leading up to the RNC, Cleveland officials expressed concern that Ohio’s law, like Texas’, would create a dangerous and hectic environment outside the convention.

2002-British-TVI’m going to put up a few links about what’s been going down in my state but I really have gone past words at some level. I have a few scattered thoughts. First, the two most recent shooters–while being black men–remind me more of Timothy McVeigh than anything coming from BLM.   These recent institutional shooters all have a military background and appear to have spent extensive time in theater over in the Middle East.

The Dallas police shooter was an army Vet and a “loner”.   The Baton Rouge Shooter was a former Marine.   Here’s a list of 22 serial killers with military backgrounds.  Are we really doing a good job of identifying vets with problems and helping them before setting them loose on society again?  Don’t we owe them and ourselves something at all?  If we broke them, shouldn’t we fix them or at least help them in some way to cope with their experiences?

There’s a lot of studies and work that’s been done that show PTSD contributes to violence. Are we just beginning to see some more of the real costs of invading Iraq and Afghanistan and sustaining a brutal ground war?

At the end of their 15-month tour in Iraq, the Lethal Warriors returned to Fort Carson with an impressive battlefield record, having cleared one of the worst parts of Baghdad, in some cases digging up IEDs with little more than screwdrivers and tire irons. Unfortunately, the Lethal Warriors achieved a kind of notoriety that was less for their battlefield exploits than for the battalion’s connection to a string of murders. In December 2007 two soldiers from the unit, Robert James and Kevin Shields, were killed, and three fellow soldiers were charged with murder. The killings were part of a larger pattern of violence extending back to 2005, including 11 murders, in what was the largest killing spree involving a single army base in modern U.S. history.

The increased violence around Fort Carson began at the start of the Iraq war. A 126-page Army report known as an “Epidemiological Consultation” released in 2009 found that the murder rate around the Army’s third-largest post had doubled and that the number of rape arrests had tripled. As David Philipps wrote in Lethal Warriors, his 2010 book about the crime spree, “In the year after the battalion returned from Iraq, the per-capita murder rate for this small group of soldiers was a hundred times greater than the national average.” Tellingly, 2-12’s post-traumatic stress disorder rate was more than three times that of an equivalent unit that had served in a less violent part of Iraq. The EPICON summarized all this in classic bureaucratic language, noting dully that there was “a possible association between increasing levels of combat exposure and risk for negative behavioral outcomes.”

Put another way, war has a way of bringing out the dark side in people.

Road-WarriorOur institutions seem to do be doing that to a lot of people.  Combine that with easy access to military grade weapons and candidates whose stump speeches bring on anger and resentment and you’ve just got some kind of accelerant to death and violence imho anyway.  Mother Jones has started to keep a database on mass shootings and the profiles of the perpetrators is really quite enlightening. This is from 2012 to get you situated.   Here’s the list of the deadliest Mass shootings from 1984 to 2016.  The US is resplendent with well-armed rampage killers. Many of them are trained and experienced killers, quite damaged, and have easy access to weapons.

This is a 2013 Wired article that shows that a lot of the killings at that time were associated with folks with no military experience at all.  A lot of these killers have a fascination with military life styles but that is more along the lines of militias rather than the US military.

The basic pattern found by the New Jersey DHS fusion center, and obtained by Public Intelligence (.PDF), is one of a killer who lashes out at his co-workers. Thirteen out of the 29 observed cases “occurred at the workplace and were conducted by either a former employee or relative of an employee,” the November report finds. His “weapon of choice” is a semiautomatic handgun, rather than the rifles that garnered so much attention after Newtown. The infamous Columbine school slaying of 1999 is the only case in which killers worked in teams: they’re almost always solo acts — and one-off affairs. In every single one of them, the killer was male, between the age of 17 and 49.

They also don’t have military training. Veterans are justifiably angered by the Hollywood-driven meme of the unhinged vet who takes out his battlefield stress on his fellow Americans. (Thanks, Rambo.) In only four of the 29 cases did the shooter have any affiliation with the U.S. military, either active or prior at the time of the slaying, and the fusion center doesn’t mention any wartime experience of the killers. Yet the Army still feels the need to email reporters after each shooting to explain that the killer never served.

How will these recent, targeted shootings of police change our ideas of mass, rampage shooters?  The Baton Rouge shooter has left a huge manifesto on various social media outlets that will likely be analyzed by crime profilers  and psychologists for some time.

Long posted dozens of videos and podcasts on his webpage “Convos With Cosmo” in addition to regularly tweeting and posting on Twitter and Instagram under the pseudonym “Cosmo Setepenra.”

In a video titled “Convos With Cosmo on Protesting, Oppression, and how to deal with Bullies” that was posted a week before Sunday’s shooting, he rants about “fighting back” against “bullies” and discussed the killings of black men at the hands of the police, referencing the death of Sterling, who was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge earlier this month.

No matter what kinds of lessons we learn about motives or triggers to these kinds of horrible shootings, the one thing we do know is that we have scads of damaged men that have easy access to incredibly powerful weapons wrecking havoc on our communities.  We also know that there is a hard core group of gun fetishists and profiteers that don’t give a damn about that.  While ignoring the perpetual drip drip drip of lost rights from other amendments, the second amendment is being hyped, dosed, and morphed into something that it was never meant to be.  The Republican party is complicit to each and every murder victim.  Machine Guns are not protected by the Second Amendment.

A Texas man who sued the federal government because it wouldn’t approve his application to manufacture a machine gun doesn’t have a constitutional right to possess the automatic weapon, an appeals court ruled.

Jay Hollis sought permission to convert his AR-15, a popular semi-automatic firearm, into an M16 — an automatic firearm that is banned under federal law, except for official use or lawfully obtained pre-1986 models.

After he was rejected, Hollis mounted a constitutional challenge to the Gun Control Act of 1968 — which Congress amended in 1986 to make it illegal to possess or transfer newly manufactured machine guns. Among other things, he argued that an “M-16 is the quintessential militia-styled arm for the modern day.”

In a unanimous ruling issued Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit rejected Hollis’ arguments, categorically noting that “machine guns are not protected arms under the Second Amendment.”

The court explained that the leading Supreme Court precedent on the right to keep and bear arms, 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, only protected individual handgun possession for “defense of hearth and home.”

“Today … ordinary military weaponry is far more advanced than the weapons typically found at home and used for (self)-defense,” the court said, adding that machine guns are “dangerous and unusual,” and nothing like what militias might have used at the founding of the republic.

“Heller rejected a functionalist interpretation of the Second Amendment premised on the effectiveness of militia service,” the court of appeals said.

Aided by a number of gun rights groups, Hollis had pressed a number of other arguments — that anything that is “ordinary military equipment” is protected, that the Second Amendment really exists to allow a rebellion against the government, and that machine guns aren’t really “dangerous and unusual.”

The 5th Circuit was largely unimpressed, calling the last argument “tantamount to asking us to overrule the Supreme Court.”

We’ve got some major dysfunction in this country that can’t be more clearly represented than by the toxic Trump/Pence ticket.The problem is that a huge portion of our citizenship feels so disenfranchised that they seem to be in search of the end times.  Their viewpoints appear to be funded and shaped by the very folks that are making this happen.  The one thing that’s discouraged me most is that leftists are playing into a similar narrative.

Title: BLADE RUNNER ¥ Pers: SANDERSON, WILLIAM / HANNAH, DARYL ¥ Year: 1982 ¥ Dir: SCOTT, RIDLEY ¥ Ref: BLA040BT ¥ Credit: [ LADD COMPANY/WARNER BROS / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]

It seems unlikely that Trump will be president.  I’d like to think that Hillary Clinton will be our shero. But, without a full functioning set of government institutions, how are we going to get beyond the Thunderdome? Why are we electing officials whose goal in life appear to be sabotaging our country?  If most people reject Donald Trump, why do we have a Speaker Paul Fucking Ryan whose favorite dystopian fiction writer has an overwhelmingly negative impact our US Policy?

As the GOP convention gets underway in Cleveland today, three national polls released over the weekend showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump: A CNN poll putting Clinton up by 49-42; an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll putting her up by 46-41; and a Washington Post/ABC News poll putting her up by 47-43.

But buried beneath the toplines is evidence of another dynamic that gets at something important about the state of this race: While both Clinton and Trump are very unpopular, large majorities in two of these polls believe that only one of them is qualified for the presidency, and equally large majorities believe that the other one is not.

The new WaPo poll finds, for instance, that Americans say by 59-39 that Clinton is “qualified to serve as president,” but they also say by 60-37 that Trump is “not qualified to serve as president.”

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Again, my hope is that Trump/Pence go down yugely and take the likes of Paul Ryan with them. You can’t have one set of them without the others who basically feel the same way but signal their intent with weasel words.

So, obviously, we down here in Louisiana are reeling from all the recent killings.  I think some of the policy prescriptions are obvious otherwise it will be upward and onward with “a bit of the old ultraviolence.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads: Things aren’t always what they seem.

01590a88c7b96816aeb0301dc33620bb9aaf9017e4Good Morning

Well, I have a feeling many of you saw Leave Her to Heaven last night on TCM. There are so many here who love that film. If you stayed longer through the night, they aired A Clockwork Orange.

Robert Osborne discussed the first time he saw the film, at the premiere a few days before Christmas in 1971. He said that shortly after the film begins there is a scene where Malcolm McDowell as Alex sings “Singin’ in the Rain” while committing a violent act…beating the hell out of an old bum.

(Actually, the real scene when Alex sings this tune and dances ala Gene Kelly while in the throes of a bit of the old ultra violence is a little later, while the gang Alex leads breaks into the home of a writer and his wife.)0152cb9b30364e538862ac2da2507229c69c3ee951

Anyway, Osborne said he actually walked out of the premiere, he could not stay and see the film…the juxtaposition of such a beautiful moment in film, Singin’ in the Rain and the famous dance sequence with Gene Kelly, with the brutal violence of the attack on the old man and rape of his much younger wife…it was too much for Osborne to handle. Especially with Christmas just days away…was what Robert actually said. He did not see the full film until many years later, at which point he realized the importance and significance of the film.

 

 

Kubrick used this technique often in his films.** Setting music that would evoke a feeling in his audience that would completely go against the visuals they saw on the screen. Like Alex later experienced during his “treatment”…Beethoven that once brought pleasure, and of course is associated with beautiful sound and music…is now associated with horrible violence and brutality. Only in Alex situation, he cannot get up out of his seat and leave the theater. He cannot even close his eyes to what he sees.

Oh sure, there are other scenes in this film and others where the things we see and hear are not all they seem to be…

(Beethoven torture scene.)

 

(Things are more than they seem. She gets killed by oral sex.)

 

(High Ho Silver anyone?)

 

Another film from Kubrick…Dr. Strangelove:

 

(Patriotic tune…yet you do not want them to succeed because if the Americans do hit their targets…it is the end of the world.)

 

Even the beginning and ending of the film Dr. Strangelove…starts with a sensual scene…refueling of a bomber…

 

And ends with the destruction of the world, however…we will meet again….

 

No. Who will meet again? No one.

 

014dd523eb4dfde82f03527f29fc159a71fc0efa3eSort of like the images in the post today…The are African Wax Print fabrics.

African waxprints via Wikipedia

African waxprints or African wax prints are omnipresent and common materials for clothing inAfrica, especially West Africa. They are industrially produced, colorful cotton cloths with batik printing.[1] One feature of these materials is the lack of difference in the color intensity of front and back side. The wax fabric can be sorted into categories of quality due to the processes of manufacturing.

Normally, the fabrics are sold in 12 yards as “full piece” or 6 yards as “half piece”. The colors comply with the local preferences of the costumers. Mainly clothing for celebrations is made out of these.

African waxprints, West Africa

Waxprints sold in a shop in West Africa

01d812ea4f8e2864a3e8b5ac8a78b150727dac05abThe wax prints are part of a nonverbal way of communication among African women, and hereby they carry their message out into the world. Some wax prints can be named after personalities, cities, building, sayings or occasions. The producer, name of the product and registration number of the design is printed on the selvage, protecting the design and allowing reading the quality of the fabric. The wax fabrics constitute capital goods for the African women. Therefore they are collected depending on the financial possibilities.

The design of the wax print fabrics already has an influence on the international world of fashion and lifestyle. They are an inspirational source for designers and companies.

 

012ae557bd64cca720d19727fe9125d008b7f5fcaa

Vlisco print.

Many of them are not actually African, but made in Holland.

Africa’s Fabric Is Dutch – NYTimes.com

By ROBB YOUNG

HELMOND, THE NETHERLANDS — Internet connectivity across much of Africa can be mind-numbingly slow and unreliable, but that hasn’t stopped about 9,000 young, affluent women from braving the sluggish system to discuss something that matters a great deal to them: the latest design trends from a luxury fabric brand called Vlisco.

017ebd4593c543e5b9d7184be9df656bdab360edaeGathering online from cities in Angola, Senegal, Ghana, Benin and the like, their friendly banter in a smattering of French, English and Portuguese on Vlisco’s Facebook fan page focuses on the minutiae of a label that appears to be unmistakably African — and that has been sold by local vendors to wealthy and well-off Africans for more than a century.

But what makes the brand’s distinctive, double-sided, wax-printed cotton fabric so remarkable is that it is designed and manufactured in a small, rather nondescript town in southern Holland.

01ff26e7c29d1e4e0047063afad182200f6363dbc1To the uninitiated in the West — and, indeed, to many Africans — the adulation heaped on this Dutch colonial-era company by the latest generation of cosmopolitan and upwardly mobile Africans might seem misplaced.

Take a look at that article from 2012…as far as the background of the fabric is concerned.

African fabric: Where do “tribal” prints really come from? – How the Dutch peddle Indonesian-inspired designs to West Africa.

Things are not as they seem….no.

014f7aef0cd8a345ba29285512c579884cf35b5b4aThey are more convoluted and twisted than they appear. They make your gut turn and feel as if it was kicked in, like the beating Alex gives so many of those he comes in contact with in the film.

Now some links:

Ticking Time Bomb Jim Webb Would Like To Be President Of Vietnam Flashbacks – Wonkette

The Enquirer Reports Clinton Is Dying, Politico Jumps To Cover Story | Crooks and Liars

012d815ef403ea6a584c755aa1f742bf31e3e4122aSecond Republican Congressman Admits Benghazi Committee Was ‘Designed To Go After’ Clinton | ThinkProgress

Some MH17 victims may have been conscious in harrowing moments after missile hit

HullabalooThe Buena Vista Social Club gets a big WH welcome

Rights Advocates File Catholic Hospital Complaint | Al Jazeera America

01af9267c20c7827ce8a731f18f6aad884103858c4Government: No benefit hike for Social Security next year – LA Times

UK Student Who “Doesn’t Look Like a Rapist” Objects to Consent Workshops “Like Any Self-Respecting Individual Would” | The Mary Sue

Martin O’Malley Accepted Campaign Cash From the NRA

Kim Davis gives up, will not challenge altered marriage licenses – AMERICAblog News

And the last link for y’all:

15 Things You Might Not Know About ‘A Clockwork Orange’ | Mental Floss

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That is all folks….what are you reading about today?

** Adding this link after post is published: How Stanley Kubrick transformed the way music is used in film

2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick’s Aural Experience | D’Onofrio.Film

Stanley Kubrick: Seven Films Analyzed   By Randy Rasmussen

We’ll Meet Again: Musical Design in the Films of Stanley Kubrick By Kate McQuiston

How Stanley Kubrick broke the rules of Classical Hollywood cinema and made a better film with ’2001: A Space Odyssey’: My MA thesis redux – part 4 of 4 | Independent Ethos

The Oxford Handbook of Science Fiction edited by Rob Latham

Kubrick’s Total Cinema: Philosophical Themes and Formal Qualities By Philip Kuberski

Making Time in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon: Art, History, and Empire  By Maria Pramaggiore