The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are executing a search warrant Saturday in the case of two letters containing the deadly poison ricin that were intercepted this week at a post office in Washington state.
Police say the investigation has focused on a neighborhood near downtown Spokane.
The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Spokane police are involved, but further details were not immediately available …
“The crude form of the ricin suggests that it does not present a health risk to U.S. Postal Service personnel or to others who may have come in contact with the letter,” the agency said in a news release Thursday.
Coming one month after the J. Everett Dutschke affair, it would seem to signify serious brain damage.
I believe strongly that expanding and improving mandatory background checks will keep a lot of people who aren’t entitled to Second Amendment rights from having easy access to guns. As of today, a convicted felon can find a gun show or a private seller and buy a firearm without a background check. That loophole should be closed. Every gun transaction must include a thorough background check. Why would responsible gun owners want to protect people who threaten not only our safety but our gun rights?
The NRA has it wrong: Irresponsible gun owners are bad for everyone. If you shouldn’t have access to a gun, then there should be no way for you to access a gun! Can anyone argue with that?
Let’s see if the NRA and its new leaders step up and do what is right. If not, it will get done without them. We all have a role here, especially to protect our children. Who is going to be the voice for them?
This requires nothing less than a major culture shift. It’s been done before. We just have to do it again.
Newton — Pine Grove Municipal Swimming Pool Splash Party, ca. ‘71-’72.
Taken by my father, George C. Smith, Jr., a Polaroid of my rock n roll band, Newton, at a Pine Grove swimming pool splash party. He could never get anything right, cutting his son almost entirely out of the picture. Did it occur to him to back up a couple steps or take an angle?
It’s the only thing left, besides some childhood books, of my old life in Pine Grove, PA. I’d forgotten about it until this week when I opened a trade paperback, bought a few years ago in Pasadena, and it fell out. I’d been using it as a bookmark. The polaroid is still nice and stiff after forty-some years.
Credits, from left to right, classmate Rodney Felty, Mike Pijar on drums, Ray Symons and me. Harry Brommer, an old friend and the pool’s handyman, built the stage we played on. Part of the reason we got the gig was because two of us were lifeguards AND I had a Fender Vibrolux Reverb amp. John Herber, the swimming pool supervisor had had a band in that played through Fender “reverb” amps the year before and liked the sound.
It was an uncharacteristically cool summer night and most of the audience did not swim at all.
Both my parents are dead now — George Jr., the keepsake photographer, and Mary Elizabeth Smith. The photo doesn’t make me miss them.
They had the good luck to be part of the time when the middle class was at its height in the USA. The first college graduates in their families, they found jobs straight out of Penn State, my father as an accountant for Alcoa Aluminum, my mother as a school teacher at Pine Grove Area.
They had no debt, lived in apartment for about one year before moving into a new home in the freshly-minted Legion Acres subdivision of the Pine Grove borough.
My mother was able to quit her career as a school teacher to have children and start it right up again a few years later, scarcely missing a beat. Alcoa Aluminum felt the early wave of the great de-industrialization of America and closed the largest extrusion plant in the world in Cressona, PA. My dad’s job was spared. He quickly transferred to a small bottlecap producing facility near Lancaster.
I visited it once, a pathetic place, mostly automated where you had to wear plastic ear plugs all day. Alcoa, it seemed, could still domestically make soda pop bottlecaps at a profit in the late Seventies.
I never liked my parents much. Besides the outward physical similarity in looks, I had nothing in common with them. They were mediocre. Although they had a good start they were ill-suited to raising children, mostly because they lacked empathy and warmth. They took what society and time gave them, doing just what everyone else they knew did.
That was OK. America is and was a huge country, one where you can’t have a vibrant civilization (which we don’t have) where everyone has to be at the very tip-top of the global totem pole in coveted skills.
They didn’t have to deal with the stupid lies we’re fed daily by the 1 percent and Tom Friedmans of the country. My parents thought the United States would always be the best place in the world. They were full of aphorisms about it.
“Time is money,” George Jr. always said, a lesson he learned from business. Yes, in corporate America your time is worth less and less money, maybe almost nothing.
Neither my father nor my mother liked writing, or music, or language and thought, or reading. (Paradoxically, my mother became a reading teacher later in her career. She did not read books and took mine when she needed to put something in her middle school classroom library.)
And they didn’t understand science at all although they believed it was very important I be trained as a scientist.
So as I got older the family disconnection always worsened. It was happening when I was playing guitar in Newton at the Pine Grove swimming pool.
Whose kid was I? Not theirs. We shared nothing, not a single blessed value. What, when, who or why? There were no answers.
So I’m looking at the swimming pool photo, again this week: Half-assed but good enough for three-quarters.
I’ve outlived the man who took it. My father died in the mid-Eighties, younger than I am now. Not a moment in our lives has been the same. DD came along a few years after he was gone. We would not have been pals.
Another ugly paradox: Corporate health care gave him the best benefits to be had, no questions asked. These kept him alive for five years after cancer struck. Congruent with modern America, I’ve had no health insurance for a number of years. Before that I had a program familiar to many, one that only pays for treatment of catastrophic illness, one that will eventually kill you. No treatments for the dozens of things people normally need to go to the doctor for.
This is what my parents had for life. It was not because they were spectacular examples of American exceptionalism, because they had some mythic work ethic, some always fresh and absolutely essential worth in the machine. It was because they came into the economic system before it had turned into a grinder that would gradually pit all against all. The country had enough leaders who believed a great society should not just be a matter of fortune at birth and root, hog or die.
You never can tell what an old photo will trigger in the head.
Something you miss? Or a distant condition already vanishing when the photo is taken, then quickly gone, the flickering half-life of a short-lived isotope, a fluke.
In the age of Google the memory of a family name is framed by the member who’s the best writer. Often not the person you want it to be.
Ted Nugent is the living example. He’s even earned a visit from the US Secret Service, something 99.8 percent of Americans manage to avoid in their lifetime.
As a result, he’s moved to center stage in America, not for his music, but for his glowering ideology and nihilism. It needs to be reiterated in case you don’t quite get it: The current national social environment is such that the US Secret Service visit seems actually to have been good for his career!
From this blog, in 2012, here’s Nugent making one of his metaphorical references to shooting an animal when discussing the president of the US, at a GOP fundraiser in Sangamon County, Illinois, the county Abraham Lincoln represented in the state legislature:
“We have a guy in the White House who is an absolute, America-hating punk,” Nugent said. “And it isn’t really the punk’s fault. It’s we the people for bending over and letting the punk in the door.”
“How about a welfare program … (where) for every kid who gets a sandwich from the welfare program, there’s about 10,000 pigs buying bling-bling, dope and meth with my welfare money,”
“If we don’t fix the United States government this November, we will get exactly what we asked for,” Nugent said, “and it won’t be the rabid coyote’s fault for getting into our living room – it will be our fault for not shooting him.”
What happens when these utterances hit the press? Well, the local newspaper journalists really don’t know how to deal with it. And so it appears funny and idiosyncratic, someone just being a colorful character.
But it’s built up over time and now the din is continuous from WhiteManistan, which is not a place, but an ideology, a way of life.
And it has paralyzed the government of the United States because it refuses to recognize the elected legitimacy of the president of the United States.
The country can run itself on automatic, through apparatus and structure, but there will be no progress. And that’s because the ideology of WhiteManistan has taken up a adversarial position.
The country cannot be governed when the legislature and the executive branch are engaged in a duel to the death.
It doesn’t take any genius to see the John Wilkes Booth element in WhiteManistan.
At the Times, Stanley Fish writes:
“Secession is near. Can’t wait. Which by the way is Constitutional.”
It’s constitutional, in this view, because a government in the act of eroding constitutional values is itself unconstitutional and has become a tyranny. Therefore to oppose it by whatever means available, including force, is not to undermine constitutionality, but to affirm it. It is in this spirit that John Wilkes Booth cried “Sic semper tyrannis” (“thus always to tyrants”) just after he shot Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln famously said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Booth’s modern successors are saying that a house in the hands of tyrants does not deserve to stand and they are ready to bring it down with their constitutionally protected guns.
As Police Chief Johnson said, this is creepy and scary, but is it — to return to my original musings — un-American? Yes and no. On the one hand, nothing can be more American than throwing off the shackles of a government that has overstepped its bounds and disregarded the rights of its citizens. That’s how it all began. (“No taxation without representation.”) But on the other hand, the American tradition of accepting the results of elections — even when they bring with them policies you believe to be misguided at best and disastrous at worst — is in danger of being undermined when groups of armed people decide that the present leadership is infected by unpatriotic, socialist ideas and must be resisted at all costs.
A government founded in a revolutionary moment is always vulnerable to a determination by a zealous minority that its revolutionary ideals have been compromised by itself. When that happens, each side will engage in its favored rhetoric, one proclaiming, watch out, they’re coming for our guns, the other warning that militant right-wing nuts are preparing themselves for armed insurrection. One side will cry “tyranny”; the other will reply, “You guys are crazy.” And both will claim the title of true American. That’s where we are.
I don’t claim the title of “true American.”
But there is no equivalence between my beliefs and those labeled the intellectual property of “Booth’s modern successors,” as Fish refers to the N.R.A.
There is just bad.
And in American history, if there is an obvious linkage between America’s former leading tribe and the man who shot down Abraham Lincoln at the end of the Civil War, that’s where the bad lies.
WhiteManistan lost the last election and is having a collective paranoid nervous breakdown. This, in turn, has severe repercussions for everyone.
Anyone can go to Google and search images for Americans carrying guns openly, all taken during the years of the present administration. And there are more always coming. It’s what I did for the WhiteManistan Vacation video.
It’s interpreted, by some, as Americans exhibiting their freedom. But when you look at all of it, it’s just creepy and off-putting. It’s a collective pathology, a sickness in the soul.
I am not the only person, by far, who’s said it.
Why should millions of people who don’t carry arms feel encouraged and heartened by this? I refuse to believe people with any empathy for their fellow citizens think and feel this way. I was not raised in a community where even a small minority thought it was an act of freedom to march around on the sidewalk or at the supermarket with a gun strapped over their shoulder.
I think you wouldn’t be normal, considering the state of the nation, if you weren’t unnerved by someone carrying a weapon in a common place. “There goes a real asshole,” is a gentle reaction.
With WhiteMan, it goes way beyond this, too.
One is just not not paying attention (or being willfully obtuse) if you haven’t seen the routine displays of rage and the threats, sometimes veiled but often very obvious, that come with the gun carriers, the defenders against the socialist usurper non-American who is the president.
Don’t get in the way, or we just may have to shoot you, traitor/gun grabber.
That’s the message. There is quite frequently perceptible pleasure, an enjoyment, in this public bullying.
I’m sick of it. But there’s no remedy, coming together or rapprochement in the future.
This makes the phenomenon of WhiteManistan one of the foremost security challenges facing the nation.
If the country, and the people in the majority who vote, cannot remove the ideology of WhiteManistan from its blocking and corroding position on the center stage of American government, the country will remain in paralysis.
Worse will come from it. A recent West Point study on domestic terrorism from the violent right in the United States drew the conclusion that one factor was the statistically most important as a predictor for increases in the incidence of right wing violence.
That factor was the number of Republicans in the House of Representatives.
The authors speculated this was perhaps because the ideology, or the atmosphere created by this governing body, was seen by people liable to commit domestic terror attacks as favorable to their cause.
Notice, this is not insurrection, but something far more common: right wing, politically-motived violence, almost always against non-whites, or groups, businesses and agencies viewed as enemies of white male American universalism and supremacy.
It has always been present in the American body politic. But when the country was stronger and better governed than it is today, the worst aspects of it could be kept from overturning everything.
That’s not the way it is now.
The United States won’t get another Fort Sumter. It will just become more brutal toward non-WhiteManistan in states were legislatures and local government are controlled by extremists, the federal government dysfunctional and incapable of reining it in.
The paradox will lie in that kicking the shit out of anyone who isn’t white, right-wing and pro-corporate fascism will be embedded as the meaning of freedom.
When making WhiteManistan Vacation there had to be an absurd quality written in. And so with the embarrassing juxtapositions, cartoon lettering and queasy color changes over pictures of gun-toting white Americans and their shelves of ammunition. Because without laughter the impact of such an outlook is too hostile.
Who on earth thinks a country is great when one very public reaction to a massive slaughter of children is marching around in public with assault rifles and shopping runs on guns and ammunition?
But that’s the Ted Nugent-ization of the country: “Fuck you, idiot! We’re gonna keep buyin’ them guns and ammo, yearrrrrrgh!”
From the New Yorker, related, on WhiteManistan central, Texas:
This very month, the Texas House of Representatives passed twelve bills in a single day designed to soften gun laws, although Texas is already among the most permissive states in the Union when it comes to firearms. One of the laws allows college students to carry handguns to class. There is no waiting period to purchase a weapon, or any need to register a firearm. Machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and silencers are perfectly legal. Indeed, one bill now under consideration exempts assault weapons and high-capacity magazines from federal regulation in Texas. If that provision is ruled to be unconstitutional, another bill now in the Senate would make it a crime for any law-enforcement office in Texas to carry out federal rules restricting gun rights.
In bold-face, the now commonplace strategy in the neo-Confederacy of WhiteManistan: nullification.
Holy shit! Google has just started a music service that won’t have to pay musicians much of anything, just like iTunes, Rhapsody, Spotify, and a bunch of other services you can’t remember the names of:
“All Access will cost $9.99 a month in the U.S., or try a 30-day free trial. It’s available now.A search field will appear at the top of All Access. Users can search for an artist. There’s also Listen Now, a mix of favorite artists, radio stations automatically created and recently played tracks …Users can break down by music genre, too. Users can play a track, and choose to turn it into a radio station related to that song. Users can reorder tracks in their queue or easily remove songs by swipes!”
Half of the “music curating” will be done by software robots, the other half by free-lance human beings being paid 50 cents/piece, formatted to fit Twitter broadcast.
The world just got more hyperconnectified. And now artists will have even more ways to reach an audience! In addition to all the pirated music on Google YouTube, that is.
Why, living under the perpetual smog column from the superhighway that bisects my beloved Pasadena!
And Thursday is the morning for four hours of apartment complex leaf blower action.
A new acquaintance recently visited Pasadena for a national convention of art museum librarians. The weather, as usual, was great and she remarked in a message to me that being very fair, she was going to put on sun block before hitting Colorado.
I told her not to worry much about sunburn. In twenty years, I’ve never been sunburned anywhere within a mile of the highway, at best, reddened a little. Can’t happen. In the middle of summer, average days, the mountain disappears. Reflective particulates, an invisibility cloak.
Now, Santa Barbara — on the other hand. Fifteen minutes anytime after 11:00 am, fried.
The Nuge Immigration Plan (NIP) takes five years for even illegal immigrants to become Americans. Until then, they should be treated like indentured servants, meaning that they have to earn their citizenship.
The NIP is not an amnesty program. Amnesty is for left-wing mollycoddlers, losers, bureaucrats and hippies. Occupy that.
We need a real full-length, undefeatable border fence built. All illegal men in America should be required to work on building the fence,
to be completed in one year. We would pay them minimum wage, provide food and shelter, and provide them English and
American history classes at night. Everyone wins.
“The most racist thing our government does is to print literature in Spanish,” he adds.
Like 99 percent of WhiteManistan, Nugent apparently believes illegal immigrants in the US do nothing but soak up government benefits. As someone who’s lived in southern California — no longer any part of WhiteManistan — for over two decades, I find this simultaneously stupefying and hilarious. It is precisely why the GOP is dead here.
[Pablo Pantoja] has a long, impressive political resume, but most recently he was the State Director of Florida Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee. Not any more. Pantoja is now a Democrat.
In his own words (shared with permission):
From: Pablo Pantoja
Subject: From Republican to Democrat
Date: May 13, 2013 5:57:11 PM EDT
Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party.
It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.
Studies geared towards making – human beings – viewed as less because of their immigrant status to outright unacceptable claims, are at the center of the immigration debate. Without going too deep on everything surrounding immigration today, the more resounding example this past week was reported by several media outlets.
A researcher included as part of a past dissertation his theory that “the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ.” The researcher reinforces these views by saying “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”
Although the organization distanced themselves from those assertions, other immigration-related research is still padded with the same racist and eugenics-based innuendo. Some Republican leaders have blandly (if at all) denied and distanced themselves from this but it doesn’t take away from the culture within the ranks of intolerance. The pseudo-apologies appear to be a quick fix to deep-rooted issues in the Republican Party in hopes that it will soon pass and be forgotten.
The complete disregard of those who are in disadvantage is also palpable. We are not looking at an isolated incident of rhetoric or research. Others subscribe to motivating people to action by stating, “In California, a majority of all Hispanic births are illegitimate. That’s a lot of Democratic voters coming.” The discourse that moves the Republican Party is filled with this anti-immigrant movement and overall radicalization that is far removed from reality. Another quick example beyond the immigration debate happened during CPAC this year when a supporter shouted ““For giving him shelter and food for all those years?” while a moderator explained how Frederick Douglass had written a letter to his slave master saying that he forgave him for “all the things you did to me.” I think you get the idea …
The current Republican Party, the living heart of WhiteManistan, makes idols out of psychopaths like Ted Nugent. And the national media environment rewards him for it.
But there are costs to continually hating on everyone unlike you.
More limited in scope and apparently more capable of interesting real publishers are secession novels. Call it a semi-literary genre for WhiteManistan readers without quite enough spine to actually fire on their local Fort Sumter.
In another way of speaking, Tom Clancy knock-offs for neo-Confederates.
Anyway, the Wall Street Journal did a brief review of a few which envision the secession of Texas.
One book with a major publisher, St. Martin’s Press, is “Don’t Mess with Travis” by Bob Smiley, which envisions a Texas governor driven to secession after he discovers a federal plot to siphon off the state’s natural resources and ship them to California.
“We wanted to show the absurdities on both sides of the aisle,” says Mr. Smiley, a television writer in Los Angeles and former researcher for the late William F. Buckley Jr. Of secession, he adds, “It obviously remains something people in Texas think could and maybe even should happen.”
“Alan R. Erwin learned how seriously some took the idea in 1979, when he wrote a pioneering work of Texas secessionist fiction, ‘The Power Exchange’—and found that some Texans considered him the leader of a real revolution,” adds the newspaper near the end.
“I kept telling them, ‘You need to read my book, because we don’t win,’” Mr. Erwin said of the actual [Texas] secessionists,” to the WSJ.
Makes me think I should turn WhiteManistan into a short story.
Note: You really should appreciate that I did such a good job with the surf rock. Because I care about those kinds of details.