Thursday, November 27, 2014

Anti-Elegy

If you died of loneliness,
would anyone guess?

A robo-call come evening
that nobody heard ringing;

a sad tree toppled
in the forest unpeopled.

Later, a neighbor,
disgusted by the odor,

might drop by unannounced.
Not knowing you’re dead,

he'd stand at your door knocking
loudly & shouting,

“I know you’re there!”  The dummy.
But at least it’s company.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Now on Smellevision

The Brokenwind Mysteries.  Passed for promotion for the last time, Geoff Artly is all set to leave the police force until a recent streak of crimes smells, if not fishy, then just plain rotten.  Partnered with the department's eccentric, case-quacking phenom, Duck-tective Quacky Modo (The Eider Oar Fallacy), Artly's sure to get to the bottom of things.

Series 1:

Who Farted? [Two Hour Pilot]
Silent But Deadly
Dirty Laundry
Last Chance for Gas
If the Cheese Is Sliced . . .
Skid Marks
Helter Smelter
Lingering in an Elevator
All Lit Up Like Xmas

Series 2:

Sticky Drawers
Who Brought the Duck?
Darn Tootin'
Mo' Beans about It
You’re Rich But Trump’s It
Something Died in Here
An Old Windbreaker
Gas Who?
Strange Case of Dr. Pepper & Mr. Pibb

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Michael Eric Dyson, Public Intellectual, on the Legacy of Eric Holder

"Professor, I've known intellectuals.  I've served with intellectuals.  Intellectuals are friends of mine.  Professor, you are no intellectual."

--Sen. Foghorn Leghorn


A month or so ago, on a Democracy Now roundtable discussion about Attorney General Eric Holder stepping down from his position, Michael Eric Dyson, a sociology professor at Georgetown University & frequent guest on news outlets, referred to himself as “a public intellectual.”  He apparently does so on his web site too, which I refuse to give a link to here.

Calling yourself “a public intellectual” displays the same ill-advised arrogance of speaking of yourself in the third person.  Even if someone else calls you “a public intellectual”--& where Dyson is concerned, I have serious doubts—you don’t repeat it about yourself.   As far as I'm concerned, Mike Tyson is more of an intellectual than Dyson.  His "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face" statement, even with its problematic pronoun-antecedent disagreement, is far wiser than anything Dyson's ever said.  To continue the sports-related analogies, Dyson's brand of self-promotion makes him the Terrell Owens of the socio-political talking head rabble.  Those of you who don’t remember T.O., a former star NFL wide receiver, take heart, for maybe you’ll forget about Dyson, too--at least until he appears on Celebrity Apprentice five years down the road.  

Personally, I boycott anything associated with The Donald, but I'll always remember Dyson, an infamous Obamapologist, for his myriad non sequiturs in his rant aimed at the soft-spoken Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report in what was billed as a debate on Obama’s reelection campaign.    During the debate, employing arguments that resembled the tried & true method of determining whether spaghetti noodles are done, Dyson, the selfsame, self-proclaimed public intellectual, apparently exhausted from having fruitlessly flung a cauldron of conjured irrelevancies from popular culture aimed to sidetrack his unflappable opponent's logic, finally resorted to screeching “Who are you voting for?" at Ford.

Democracy Now hosted this debate, so I found it surprising that Amy Goodman & staff would invite Dyson back.  It is, in fact, what disturbs me most, for considering Dyson’s frequent TV appearances--he's pretty much a mainstay at MSNBC, I understand--it would appear that he is regarded as an expert or intellectual.  My god, what does this say about our culture?  In the recent program, Dyson opined that Holder, the first African-American to serve as attorney general, is one of the greatest attorneys general in history.  I’m not sure I know what that exactly means since I was unaware that a pantheon of great cabinet members of the United States exists, but Dyson’s sure it’s true & Holder is one of the two or three best.  He bases this on Holder’s historic importance (first black AG) & strong civil rights record.

I think it’s great whenever glass ceilings are broken, but that doesn’t mean that the person who’s first is necessarily tops.  Would Dyson make a similar claim about Janet Reno?   So far, he hasn't, nor should he.  More to the point, I’m not sure that Holder’s civil rights record is everything that Dyson says it is.  Dyson points to Holder striking down voting restrictions that many traditionally red states have tried to enact during the last decade.  While it’s true that many of the disenfranchised voters are black, it is also true that most of these would-be voters vote (if they can vote) for Democrats.  I’m glad that the Justice Department is trying to stop the further disenfranchising of voters, but Holder’s position more than likely represents the continued partisan battle between Democrats & Republicans rather than a fight for civil rights.  If Holder were truly concerned with civil rights, where was he in the Trayvon Martin case?  Where was he in White Plains?  Where was he in Beavercreek?  In Ferguson (except for posing for a photo-op)?  

According to Dyson, Holder is very concerned about his legacy.  Since his attorney general-ship has historic significance, he couldn’t very well prosecute the bankers who committed fraud & worse.  Instead, he saw them as too big to fail, too big to jail.  Holder , Dyson continues, not only couldn’t let history show that the first black U.S. attorney general allowed the banks to fall & a financial fiasco ensue, but also worried that prosecution would have led to charges of racism because most of the guilty bankers were white.  I swear to fucking god Dyson actually said this.  Dyson bases this claim on the contention that, since Obama became president, there’s been a backlash against powerful African-Americans. I guess someone didn't get his celebrity ball invitation, eh, Professor?

It’s a false dichotomy that either we let the bankers commit criminal acts without punishment or an economic disaster will occur.  There are many solutions the Obama administration could have pursued:  It could have loaned the banks money—I mean loaned with actual interest as well as strict oversight & considerable strings attached.  It could have used the money to be given to the banks to pay off the mortgages of the defrauded homeowners instead, thereby saving homes (& the lives of those that lived there) as well as the banks who would have received payments on these mortgages, a win-win solution.  It could have--I'm dreaming here--nationalized the banks.  Regardless, the administration could have still prosecuted the bankers in any of these scenarios.  Even if the White House decided to use the actual lame policy it opted for, Holder could have still prosecuted the bankers.

As for the fear of being thought a racist, Holder didn’t fret about such things when his Justice Department prosecuted whistleblowers—with extreme prejudice, if you will—at historic numbers.  Many of said whistleblowers are white, but I doubt that they feel racism is the reason for their prosecution.  I also doubt that powerful African-Americans have felt much backlash from Obama’s historic presidency.   Those with power--regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual preference—don’t feel the sting the way the powerless do.  Indeed, the nation continues to see violence against African-Americans, often committed by police, crimes swept under the DOJ’s ample carpet.  One presumes that Holder doesn’t want to appear historically, however ironically, as soft on crime.

I remember the Eric Holder who said that he didn’t know African-Americans were disproportionately imprisoned.  I remember Holder as the attorney general who wrote the legal defense for drone attacks & the killing of American citizens without due process, a clear violation of one’s civil rights, guaranteed under the Constitution.  I remember Holder prosecuting Tim DeChristopherAaron Schwartz & large numbers of undocumented immigrants.  To say that Eric Holder is one of the greatest attorney generals is ludicrous for many reasons, but Michael Eric Dyson calling himself “a public intellectual”?  That’s fucking loco.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Make It a Double


I’m happy to report that “Lines from Siddhartha” was selected for inclusion in The Second Hump, a “best of” magazine related, as its name implies, to The Camel Saloon.  Thanks again to Russell Streur, editor & barkeep.