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Thank You, Houston Chronicle

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This is the front page of the Houston Chronicle Sports section this morning. It’s not a paid ad. It’s a Chronicle editorial.

 

 

Please call the Chronicle at 713-362-6303 or email them at feedback@chronicle.com and thank them for the front page of the Sport’s section.

Thank you for encouraging courageous journalism.

 

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DGA51
4 days ago
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Central Pennsyltucky
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Meet the Republican Party

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As y’all have heard more times than you care to think about, my county turned from bright red to total blue in 2018.  Every Republican candidate who had a Democratic opponent got beat so badly that their grandchildren will be born shaking.  One of the reasons for that is because of diversity.  My county – Fort Bend, a suburb of Houston – is now equally split four ways between white, black, Asians, and Hispanics.

A little bit of explaining.  Our congressman Pete Olson has resigned. The open seat attracted about 15 Republicans and we’re fixing to go into a run-off election between Troy Nehls, the current sheriff of the county who’s slicker than a greased tadpole, and Kathleen Wall, who is on the other side where the wall of conservatism ends, but if you stand on a box and get a pair of binoculars you can see her jumping up and down waving her arms.

So the sheriff is frettin’ and sweatin’.  I kinda want you to back away from the computer a bit to see the mailer that arrived in Republican mailboxes the day after a white police officer tortured and murdered a black man in Minnesota.

Deep breath, now.  Here’s the front and back of Troy’s mailer to elect him to congress.

 

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No mention of health care, education, the economy, jobs, or anything that concerns real Americans.  He’s campaigning on more guns for Republicans (read: white people), hating on immigrants, and supporting Donald Trump even if he shoots a guy on Main Street.

Holy crap.  That’s what he thinks is wrong with America?  White people need more military weapons to mow down whole crowds, churches, schools, and concerts, we need to deport men and women working hard in construction, harvesting crops, and cleaning houses, and Donald Trump is like God and family.

Did you notice how all of a sudden, he’s all for those mail-in ballots.  Maybe that’s how he got elected sheriff?

And, oh, by the way, he’s a graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and we all know the great academic standards and welcoming to independent thought they are.

Okay, but it doesn’t stop there.

On Thursday night, one of Troy’s deputies shot and killed a deputy constable while checking out a house that was reportedly being vandalized.  Troy’s twin brother, Trevor, is a constable in the county and is currently running to replace Troy as sheriff.  Yeah, incest is common is Texas politics.

The story is kinda weird since both agencies use the same radio frequencies.

The constable was wearing a body camera, the deputies were not.

 

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DGA51
5 days ago
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Texas. Politics as (un)Usual.
Central Pennsyltucky
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Backlash Politics

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Will Trump be able to make white backlash politics work for him re: riots?

The situation sure suits his vicious temperament. “Unlimited use of the military” against US citizens. I’m sure that’s what his hard-core base wants to hear. But does the ‘silent majority’ – a.k.a. enough white people in suburbs – want to hear it? Will enough of them watch the news and think ‘holy shit, those people are out of control and we need law and order. Maybe that cop went too far but they arrested him. These riots show sometimes you gotta get rough.’ Or will more of them start to think, ‘a vicious culture of cop impunity, capped off by plainly unconstitutional qualified immunity and deliberate gutting of civil rights protections by right-wing judicial activists and the Trump administration have finally come to this.’

We need: 1) a cultural consensus that a video of one African-American’s death, on the ground, is a portrait of a rotten system, not a tragic exception to be dealt with through ‘the system’. Bill Barr needs to sound like a liar to suburban voters.

“Accountability for [Floyd’s] death must be addressed and is being addressed through the regular process of our criminal justice system both at the state and at the federal level,” the attorney general said Saturday. “That system is working and is moving at exceptional speed. … Justice will be served.”

2) Recognition that a vote for Republicans is a vote against peace and civil order. The arc of Republican rule is long but it bends towards injustice, hence riot and ruin. You can strip brown people of some protections all of the time, and all of their protections some of the time, but since you can’t strip them of all civil rights all of the time, you can’t make a stable apartheid where you have ‘law and order’, rather than periodic eruption and riot, when instruments of regular oppression become too appalling and obvious to be endured. People have cell phone cameras.

We need to get to the point where white people in the suburbs find Bill Barr’s bright idea that you should just threaten African-Americans into respecting cops, whether the system deserves respect or not, is not just offensive but unworkable.

I think that’s it: there might be a shift if it became clear to the median, white suburban voter that the Chief Justice Officer’s main message to whole communities has been, ‘you can have apartheid or you can have anarchy, but you can’t ask for justice.’ If that was clear, it might come clear as well that, love the smell of it or loath it, this shit is on the likes of him. Because that’s going to be: no deal. If the plan really is to try not to have to provide justice, then law and order looks like rioting, some of the time.

It does not seem impossible that we could get 1&2. The arguments against ‘qualified immunity’ are so obvious and compelling, legally and morally. It’s hard to make the ‘woke social justice warriors too soft on crime’ narrative stick. This is happening under Trump, not Obama. On the other hand, one of the core commitments of contemporary Trumpist ‘conservatism’ is: no apologies for anything, no matter how horrible. No concessions, no matter how just.

It is tragically impossible to imagine some sort of bi-partisan consensus against ‘qualified immunity’, because it is self-evidently unconstitutional and evil, and a root of wide-spread abuse, not just some thing that very occasionally leads to regrettable results around the edges.

The question is: will enough white voters see insane intransigence for what it is? Or will it be more of a ‘I dunno, that’s a lot of shops on fire.’ If R’s win on this in November, we are fucked. But if they lose on it, it might mean a shift. In the past, I think, white backlash politics worked because law&order types seemed to have tough-minded plans for maintaining law&order. If it becomes obvious the plan is to do things that obviously lead to riots, maybe it won’t work.

In the meantime, I expect Trumpists will be satisfied to see communities burn, pointing out how it is hurting those communities. Which is true. ‘We can stay racist longer than you can stay solvent. Therefore, we aren’t racist.’ Say what you will, it’s an ethos.

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DGA51
5 days ago
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Thoughts on suburban whites, Bill Barr's lies, and police.
Central Pennsyltucky
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That’ll Leave a Mark

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DGA51
7 days ago
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Central Pennsyltucky
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The Civil Rights Movement shattered white evangelical identity

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White evangelicals were not unique in utterly failing the moral test of the Civil Rights Movement. But for white evangelicals, this collapse of moral authority was especially traumatic because it shattered their essential sense of identity.
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DGA51
7 days ago
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This applies equally to awareness of the threats from climate change
Central Pennsyltucky
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Fatherland

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What grinds my gears the most about the Dominic Cummings affair (Cumgate, oh how we laughed) is his insistence that a routine childcare problem was a circumstance so exceptional it required him to decide, as the Man of the Household, to flout the rules everyone else has endured. But this piece is not about childcare. It is not about the extreme lengths to which elite men will go to avoid looking after their own goddamn kids. It is about male violence.

The exceptional circumstance which Cummings claimed as his excuse to flee London while contagious with a deadly virus was a hard-won exception, fought for by activists and experts in the face of initial government indifference and then belated, patronising acquiescence. But let me put into words the bit about the “exceptional circumstance” we assume doesn’t need saying because it’s as obvious as air; this exception is to deal with men’s violence against the women and children of their household.

When lockdown started and required everyone who wasn’t a key-worker to stay at home, women’s shelters around the UK pointed out at first calmly – assuming it was just an oversight by the Prime Minister’s all-male inner team – and then increasingly loudly, the obvious truth our society thinks too normal to plan for or even mention; that violent men routinely injure, rape and kill the women and children locked into their households. Lockdown meant lock-in for the women and children shut in with angry, confined and – as consumption patterns quickly showed – drunk men.

Do you remember the half news cycle back at the start of lockdown, the violent deaths of a whole family for which the policy were not seeking a suspect? Probably not. Two women a week, dead. It’s just normal. The operation and ultimate outcome of male authority and rage in the confines of the family home is so normal it’s not news, it’s not exceptional, it’s not even worrying or problematic. It’s just a one-off tragedy, every single time. Twice a week. Every week. So you see, after a while, don’t you, that it is effectively government policy.

Which is why activists had to strain every muscle and shout as loud as they could to get the exception introduced into lockdown that women and children may still flee violent men. Even if the government had long since shut most of the shelters they could flee to.

So for the architect of lockdown, the “brains” behind the policy that didn’t for a moment consider it significant or worrying that more women and children would be murdered, to use this hard-won, life-saving exception as the justification for fleeing London because he couldn’t find a babysitter, is disgusting. I write for my living and I don’t have a better way to describe how grotesque that is.

Add this reason for white-hot anger to the hundreds of thousands of bereaved who didn’t say goodbye or publicly mourn their dead – couldn’t, in fact, because that’s what privilege is; it’s an invisible zone of wiggle-room around you as you move through a world where most people have little or none – to new cancer patients still waiting for diagnostic tests let alone treatment, benefits recipients starved for weeks for missing appointments, the list is endless – and consider the millions of people wounded physically, emotionally and morally by the government’s defence of Cummings, and you get close to understanding the country’s seething rage.

And it’s not hate. I’m personally indifferent to that man, and so are most people who judge him by his deeds alone. Hate is for individuals. Anger is for choices, for contempt, for what people do, not who they are. How dare the spineless Cabinet lackeys belittle moral outrage by trying to pass off our justified and appropriate anger as personal spite.

And by moral injury I mean the people who let their loved ones die in the care of strangers who are now told that Cummings acted as a good father, a good man, and so, by implication, should they have done, but they did not. They should have ignored the rules and acted only for themselves and their father, mother, wife, husband, sibling, or, in the case of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, their child. Little exposes the sociopathic indifference and amorality of this Cabinet more than that they just don’t get that their clever debating point hasn’t just made people’s suffering pointless, it will live on in people’s hearts for the rest of their lives; the knowledge that they could have and therefore should have flouted the rules and just been there. When the wrong thing is the right thing, and the right thing is wrong, you inflict a profound moral injury and cause a lifetime of suffering made more bitter by regret. That, too, is what Cummings has done.

The Cabinet asks people to “move on” at the precise moment it has mired hundreds of thousands of people in what psychologists term complicated grief, grief that cannot eventually dissolve into the love and joy of memory because it is twisted up in bitter and incurable regret.

So you see how Cummings’ ‘family man’ defence does moral and emotional violence to us all. It invokes the authority of the male head of household and makes special pleading for him with the very exception created to protect women and children from his abuse of power. It insists on private morality – the old nineteenth century private sphere of the family in which a man can do what he wishes, even as he has to follow rules and public morality outside of it – in direct contempt for the effects of his actions on anyone outside his nuclear family unit.

A thirteen year-old boy was left to die without the touch of a parent or anyone who knew and loved him so that we could all be safer, and now we are come to this. A man in a white shirt, sitting at a table in a rose garden, telling us the rules were not the rules, wrong is right and up is down. And the people who believe him do so because they believe in the authority of a man, the right of a man to deal with his family just as he pleases, the absolute subjectivity of right and wrong when it comes to doing whatever the hell he wants.

Here is something else that many women know about certain men. We know what gaslighting is. It’s another form of moral injury because its precise purpose is to make you unable to distinguish between right and wrong. It confuses you and attacks you, even when – especially when – you haven’t done anything wrong. Researchers into male violence against women and children have yet to figure out how it is that male abusers all seem to hit on the same tactics to keep their victims weak. There’s a name for it, though; DARVO. Deny. Attack. Reverse Victim and Offender.

Deny any wrongdoing – Cummings’ and the government’s insistence, still, that the proven and admitted offences were “fake news”.

Attack the victim and make them feel like they’re the one in the wrong for holding the abuser accountable – the Cabinet and Conservative outriders who insist those rightfully angry at obvious lies are “a mob” motivated “by hate”.

Reverse victim and offender by insisting the abuser is the real victim in the situation – the attempts to paint the Cummings family as suffering uniquely (bereavement, disability) under lockdown; the hints by Cummings that he feared for his family’s safety at their normal residence. Women MPs who fruitlessly begged Johnson to tone down his violent rhetoric last year because of the death and rape threats they received will particularly notice that one.

So we see the male head of household, occupying in his professional life a position of untrammelled and unelected power, using the classic tactics of abusers under patriarchy to confuse and subdue us, to make us think we were in the wrong despite the wrong done to us. I may have to live under this, but I refuse to pretend it is not happening.

Women see this, and nonbinary people. We see it because we live in a world that weaponises our own vulnerability to deny it even exists. And now many, many men see it too.

Patriarchy and fascism go hand in hand. They depend on the idea that authority comes from a man who both threatens violence within his household and protects his household from external interference. In patriarchy as in fascism there is only private morality and it is only for men. Everything else is coercion. Everyone else’s moral person is subject to injury and abuse. Public morality is mere cant – nothing more than hypocrisy and witch-hunting – and there are no shared interests beyond the household and the state. As the man to his wife and children, so the state to its subjects. This week in Britain we saw another small step towards the ennoblement of the fascistic concern for the immediate family and contempt to the suffering of everyone else.

So yes, joke about eyesight tests and point out the barefaced lies and changes to blogposts. Humour is part of how we survive. But do not mistake what we saw yesterday for anything other than the creeping insistence that one man can do whatever he likes with his family, can do whatever he likes to this country. That wife and that son are not the human shield. We all are.

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DGA51
10 days ago
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Making exceptions
Central Pennsyltucky
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