Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, abolitionist, anarchist who likes the letter A

Archive for October, 2012

Things You Might Have Missed

October 18, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

Took this pic in San Pedro Sula a few years ago. Those guys are on top of the mall. They don’t fuck around with shoplifting in that town. Apparently, SPS is now the most dangerous city in the world. Perhaps they need to rethink their strategies.

What kind of fucktard cares more about putting people behind bars than the life of someone overdosing on drugs?

Kind of a cool project from Act!onAid. Rural people around the world tweeting about their lives and how they are affected by land grabs.

Co-op news is where it is at.

The pope condemns pussy.

I cannot believe that designing a dog park is an actual occupation. Apparently, it is quite a lucrative one. Makes total sense to spend half a million on a place for dogs to shit when thousands of people in this town don’t have a place to sleep.

Don’t ever expect cops to help you.

Don’t expect the border patrol not to shoot teens throwing rocks that don’t even have a snowballs chance in hell of actually getting near them.

Don’t expect the government to ever give an accurate count (or any count) of drone deaths.

Keep up with the California hunger strikers here.

First of all, I would much rather strippers have the money than bankers. And you have to appreciate that the guy didn’t want to show up at the club without being able to pay the women.

Ridiculous that the Sioux have to come up with millions in order to buy back stolen land. But hey, it isn’t like you could expect the federal government to honor a treaty once they discovered gold.

“According to sources, Ryan then insisted that aides rake their fingernails across his chest and spit in his face while calling him a ‘filthy liberal slut.'” Oh Onion.


Book Review – The Occupy Handbook

October 16, 2012 By: Mel Category: Book

The Occupy HandbookThe Occupy Handbook by Janet Byrne

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I hate this book.

I really tried to give it a chance. But I knew going in that any book about occupy that was compiled by someone described as “an editor who has worked with Nobel Prize-winning economists, Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, and leading political figures, financial journalists, academics, and bestselling authors” was going to be a shit show. And a shit show it was.

It isn’t that all the essays are crap. Some of them are quite good. The first section breaks down the financial crisis and brings in some history of previous people’s movements. The second section talks about occupy itself. The third section, the part that really sealed my hatred, is about what we should do now.

What are the proposed solutions? Campaign finance reform. Corporate regulations. Environmental regulations. Progressive taxation. Elect a different congress. Smart loans…Are you still awake? The only reason I haven’t passed out from boredom is that I want shake these people until their heads pop off.

Dear asshats who think everything will be solved if we just all rally around one magic, conservative/liberal bullet like ending corporate personhood. Please take your brilliant idea to someone sitting in prison for twenty years on a weed charge, with all the fabulous opportunities they have to look forward to when they get out, and tell them they need to set aside their pet issues (aka their life) and lobby for some bullshit bill. And if you wouldn’t mind filming that for me.

But the contributors to this book weren’t thinking about people in prison. They weren’t thinking about anything that doesn’t affect them. And who are they? There are 66 contributors to this book. Fifteen of them are women. One of those women is just an interviewer. Eight of them are co-authors with some dude. One of those women is Asian. There is one black man who contributed an essay. Three Indians (by which I mean grew up in India) are contributors. 61 of the 66 authors are white (though eight of those people are from Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Spain, or Turkey). 52 out of 66 authors have grad degrees. At least 35 of them went to school or taught at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, MIT, Georgetown, or Oxford.

This book is the antithesis of what occupy was supposed to be about. The book oozes status, hierarchy, academic circle jerks, and conservative/liberal “solutions” that nip around the edges of the system, but have no interest in actually changing it – much less getting rid of it. This book is the worst kind of racism, sexism, and classism. It is the kind that just erases anyone outside of their tiny, elite circle. It is the kind that wraps itself up in a pretty package of intellectualism.

The reason occupy has been so damn difficult is that the people involved had to confront head on all of the issues that this book ignores – often failing spectacularly. But at least there was some space for people who didn’t have the kind of pedigrees that the contributors to this book have. The reason occupy took off is precisely because it created a space for people to be heard, to negotiate directly with other people, to come up with ideas outside the usual bullshit that kept most of us at home drinking ourselves into stupors and yelling at our televisions.

The last thing we need is a bunch of essays compiled by some woman who creams her pants every time she meets a white dude with a PhD from an Ivy League school.

View all my reviews

Things You Might Have Missed

October 04, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

POC Zine Project RACE RIOT TourFollow CD on his quest for medical marijuana.

Feminists shrunk Rush Limbaugh’s penis. (Typing “Rush Limbaugh’s penis” just made me retch.)

Ladies, if you do exactly the opposite of these tips for single women circa 1938, you too can stay happily unmarried.

Are too strong families bad for society? I think so. The narrower the group you are supposed to care about, the worse it is.

Great post by Astra Taylor on The Prison-Educational Complex. And if you have never seen her talk on YouTube, it is worth a watch.

Two prison hunger strikes in California and Georgia.

If you need any help puking up all the fucked up things the Obama administration has done.

This story about a 13-year-old who murdered his brother is just heartbreaking and a total failure of society.

Using the word rape to describe this and this makes the word seem a tad inadequate.

If you are in the DC area, the POC Zine Project RACE RIOT tour is at St. Stephen tomorrow night from 6 – 10 pm.

Confessions of a Former Liberal: A Response to Rebecca Solnit

October 02, 2012 By: Mel Category: Core, Politics

Boy Confessing to Priest "You First"By now you have probably read, or at least heard about, Rebecca Solnit’s piece on TomDispatch titled The Rain on Our Parade. Salon republished it as Hey left wing: Quit griping.

Solnit is frustrated that us radicals are constant Debbie Downers who do nothing but bitch and moan. We can never see anything positive. We are ebullience crushing, sanctimonious, disgruntled, sour, bitter, narcissistic, privileged, fools who lack any compassion for the people who will be helped by the incremental policy changes that Democrats will bring us.


I will give Solnit this. I think that radicals are too often better at pointing out problems than offering solutions. I wish that the Criminal (in)Justice Committee spent more time talking about restorative justice and other alternatives to incarceration. People need a positive vision to fight for and not just enemies to fight against.

But the Democratic Party and incremental policy change are not that vision.

I used to be a liberal. I was brought up to believe that the people who voted Republican were all ignorant, racist, homophobic, Christian fundamentalists who were beyond redemption. The implication being that people who voted for Democrats were not those things. The “good” people voted for Democrats and our only option for change was to cross our fingers and hope more people would pick the Democratic Team.

I was excited that my first election put Clinton in office. He wasn’t 250 years old. He wasn’t going to arm Contras. He talked about civil rights and justice. I thought things were going to be different. But they weren’t. In fact, in a lot of ways they got a hell of a lot worse. And I knew that Clinton was about as good as it was going to get. It was a horrible and paralyzing realization.

Contrary to Solnit’s assertion that us radicals fixate on international issues and ignore the national issues that Democrats are better on, it wasn’t international issues that made me give up on Democrats. It was studying drug policy. It was understanding that Bill Clinton was arguably the worst president on the drug war. It was understanding how racist our criminal (in)justice system is and how Democrats (including our current vice president) were front and center pushing the policies that have 7 million people under correctional supervision.

Studying drug policy opened my eyes to other things to. Like that a whole lot of libertarians who voted Republican were actually paying attention to an issue that most liberals didn’t (and still don’t) seem to notice. Here liberals were pretending to care more about poor people and people of color, but (at best) ignoring one of the systems that targets them mercilessly. Suddenly, I had to reassess my view of who was the enemy and who I had common ground with. Suddenly, I found myself in conversations with libertarians and conservatives and people who defied our limited categories.

Losing my liberal baggage and walking away from electoral politics is not about hopelessness or nihilism or sanctimony. Walking away from electoral politics was what finally started to give me some hope. If I kept smashing my head against our electoral system, I would have permanent brain damage from all the political concussions. It isn’t “an excuse for not really doing much.”  It was the opposite. It allowed me to see possibilities that politics keeps hidden. It allowed me to start building the unlikely relationships that the defenders of our hideous systems are rightly terrified of.

I find it incredibly ironic that Solnit says that radicals are being divisive, that we fall into a “cartoonish black and white.” It isn’t just that she says it in an article that has such contempt for us and has understandably pissed a lot of people off. It is that she also talks about how we have to “counter the Republican right.” It is that she talks about how we have to be intelligent and empathetic, unlike those people. How is that not divisive? I no longer see the right as Republican. I certainly don’t see it as the people who vote Republican any more than those who vote Democrat, at least not all of them.

I see the problem as the systems that crush us all – the criminal (in)justice system, the school system that is designed to teach us the futility of resistance, the corporate behemoths who bleed us dry, the thugs with guns here and abroad – and whoever it is that upholds those systems. Any president, or anyone who wants to be president, has the job of conserving those systems. And that means that they are the problem.

I get that sometimes a small policy change can make a real difference in someone’s life. And I do not begrudge the people who work for those changes, even though I believe that they are operating on a gross misunderstanding of how change happens. If a movement is big enough, if the culture shifts, the change will come no matter who is in office. But a politician cannot make change (even if we think they want to) without the movement. The movement is what is important. Solnit herself uses the Montgomery bus boycott as an example. That wasn’t an election. That was direct action. That was a movement.

It is so frustrating to see people buy into the right/left, Democrat/Republican divides that have so little meaning. I can’t stand watching people waste their time begging at the doors of the powerful and watching them be worn down by it.  That is what I find divisive. That is what I find hope killing. That is what keeps us from resolving problems and coming up with creative solutions.

I get frustrated too, Rebecca. Sometimes I need to let out a good rant. I live in DC. I am surrounded by party loyalist “progressives” who focus myopically on the few scraps Obama has thrown and close their eyes to the damage he has done with bombs, bailouts and a total disregard for civil liberties. Sometimes the only response I am capable of is to puke out a damage list. Sometimes, when someone accuses me of being a brat for not being grateful that the person who cut off my arm gave me a band-aid,  I really lose my shit.

So I won’t hold all the insults against you. But I hope the insults and uncharitable assumptions are out of your system now. Because every moment we spend being frustrated at each other’s frustration is one less moment we spend building the relationships and movements that might actually do something.