You’re probably wondering why I posted the Pedro-Juan picture from yesterday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I decided to throw y’all a curveball and take this feature back to its roots and post one on a non-Saturday. In short, I’m messing with my readers. That’s why I thought I’d post a picture of the best pitcher in San Francisco Giants history with his fellow Dominican Hall of Famer. Of course, both Pedro and Juan had eleventy million pitches that they threw from a variety of angles. The first time I saw Pedro pitch for the dread Dodgers, I called him Juanito. Enough besibol nostagia…
The *other* reason I’m writing an omnibus post of a Monday is that I have a couple of subjects I want to write about in one fell swoop. I really ought to get on with it.
I chose I Don’t Like Mondays as the post title/theme song because Bob Geldof wrote it about a 1979 shooting spree that killed 2 and wounded 9:
Fear and Loathing in Lafayette: Governor PBJ has called this a senseless shooting and urged us all to pray. As you saw earlier, some of the Freepers consider this leadership. It is, of course, the abdication of leadership. It makes me wanna strip PBJ of his bigass belt buckle and cowboy boots:
The Lafayette Police persist in calling this a senseless crime when, as my friend Dakinikat pointed out at Sky Dancing, it is a particularly brutal outbreak of misogyny:
So, I’m not letting this mass shooting in Lafayette go for awhile. Several things stand out to me. First, the killer was a rabid misogynist who went on Talk Radio shows screaming about the Biblical roles of women. It shouldn’t be lost on any one that he chose an Amy Schumer movie which was going to have a larger than normal number of women in attendance and that a solid majority of his victims–including the dead ones—were women.
Since Houser had an anti-semitic streak as wide as David Duke, plus the fact that Ms. Schumer is half-Jewish and related to Senate Democratic Whip Chuck Schumer, that’s apt to be another part of this toxic brew of madness and hatred. Hence the Hunter Thompson inspired sub-header.
It’s easier for a small city police force to slot Houser into the deranged loner category and move on. I hope they don’t and do their best to get to the bottom of this appalling crime. Another reason I’m hoping for some answers is that I have several mutual friends with Jillian Johnson who was one of the two women murdered by Houser. Here’s a clip of her band the Figs performing a spirited version of Psycho Killer:
Ironic doesn’t even begin to cover it. R.I.P.
More Monday musings after the break.
“Me Big Chief, I Got Um Tribe”: Before I get in trouble for that sub-header, it’s a quote from this classic Professor Longhair song about the Mardi Gras Indians:
The tribe in question is a political one as described by the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland. It’s about the Labour Party’s leadership campaign but it applies closer to home as well:
We have grown used to identity politics. We know how intense the passions stirred by race, gender or sexuality can be, how they can seem to trump the old allegiances of class or economic self-interest. But now we might need to add a new form of identity to the familiar categories, one that feels just as much about belonging. It is political allegiance itself.
The thought is prompted by the rise and rise of would-be Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but not only by him. Bernie Sanders, the lone self-described socialist in the US Senate, is enjoying a Corbynesque surge in enthusiasm in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that vote first on whether he or Hillary Clinton should be the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2016. Like Corbyn, Sanders calls for an increased minimum wage, free university tuition and an economy no longer tilted towards the super-rich and the corporations. Like Corbyn, he is dismissed as an old white guy whose views were out of date a generation ago. And like Corbyn, he is enthusing the very young people usually written off as being disengaged from politics.
The similarity goes further. Opponents of both Corbyn and Sanders insist that even if the egalitarian Utopia of which these men dream might be desirable, it is out of reach, if only because the voters will never vote for it.
Freedland goes on to shrewdly point out that appeals to pragmatism won’t work because folks have formed an emotional attachment to their candidate.
The unkind reading of this is to suggest that support for Corbynism, especially among the young, is a form of narcissism. In the current New Statesman, Helen Lewis notes the tendency of people on social media towards “‘virtue signalling’ – showing off to your friends about how right-on you are”. She sees the current stampede of constituency Labour parties to nominate Corbyn as an extension of this same habit. They are doing it not because they believe the 66-year-old can win in 2020, but for the same reason people retweet images of same-sex wedding ceremonies. As Lewis puts it: “They are doing it to signal that they are on the side of right and good.”
I suspect there are other reasons at work, especially among the young. Part of it is simply age and memory. Those over 45 can remember the four Labour defeats from 1979 to 1992, the 1980s lurch towards Bennism and the civil war over Militant. They contemplate the prospect of a Corbyn victory and say, “We’ve seen this movie before: we know how it ends.” But for someone in their 20s or 30s, all that is so much ancient history. They look at today’s landscape, at the SNP or Syriza or Podemos, and think: why not?
While a study of recent political history might help, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with an emotional, idealistic attachment to a candidate. My formative political experience was the 1972 McGovern campaign, which ended in electoral disaster. And, no Jude, I wasn’t old enough to vote in that election but it was the first campaign I followed closely and our side screwed the pooch. I recall the outrage with Senator McGovern for even meeting with Lyndon Johnson:
The outrage was understandable but misguided as far as I was concerned. It was the moment when I vowed to judge pols and candidates by the *totality* of their records as opposed to cherry picking issues. For example, I’m less disappointed by President Obama’s record than many on the Left because I think, taken as a whole, it’s a good one. And yes I know about TPP but it’s one slide in the President’s carousel. Hmm, I sound like Don Draper right now. One more thing: FDR went along with Japanese-American internment camps and Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War. Ain’t nobody perfect: take a close look at Bernie Sanders’ views on gun control some time. That was also a chink in Howard Dean’s armor in 2004. Repeat after me: ain’t nobody perfect.
This post has been a long-winded way of explaining why I’m leery of trendy candidacies on the Left, and why I understand them as well. I’m not gonna go Barney Frank on your asses because it won’t work and I’d rather focus on the vast areas of agreements that unite us. Keeping the GOP’s hands off the Supreme Court is a good example of such an area of agreement.
I do, however, wish that people I know both in real life and online wouldn’t get so bent out of shape when I say that I’m not supporting Bernie Sanders. My heart is with that tribe but my head is not. So it goes. I’m not, however, going to lecture anyone like Barney did in Politico. Additionally, there were none of the zingers or one-liners I expect from one of our wittiest politicians. You let down the pun community, dude, but we’ll judge you on the totality of your record as a smart ass.
I had no intention of writing such a long piece, but that’s what happens when I start writing. I guess that makes me a member of the stream of consciousness writing tribe. One more segment before I go.
Katrinaversary Ennui: There’s been a lot written in the local, national, and international media about the looming 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. I am skipping most of it even though some of it has been written by friends of mine. I lived it and dealt with the aftermath and neither need nor want to go there again. I spent 5+ years in the trenches fighting the good fight as both a blogger and activist and the endless rehashing is of no interest to me. I remember it well.
I am equally disinterested in any of the planned public anniversary celebrations; many of which have dueling perspectives on the state of the city 10 years after the flood. One camp sees pre-K New Orleans as an Edenic place free of hispters and greedy developers. The other camp sees pre-K New Orleans as a crime ridden hell hole with blighted housing,and too many poors. Neither side is right and they’re both out to sell an agenda that I’m not buying. I lived it and remember it well.