A personal weblog of Ted Stein.
Those who believe South Aftica will one day be ruled by the ANC are living in cloud cuckoo land.
- Margaret Thatcher.
I wrote some non-trivial stuff about software. Not here though, that would make too much sense.
- MVC web framework defaults, routes, security, and user/seo-friendly URLs
- When to escape PHP and how to elegantly mix PHP with HTML
- On ignorant dismissals of programming languages in articles about ignorant dismissals of programming languages (2 comments, no way to link to them, scroll down)
Not just software. Also, too, sex.
An anti-war poet is removed from a stage by Obama security for performing an anti-war song critical of Obama. How does a Democratic partisan respond? By attacking the poet, of course:
Congrats, Lupe Fiasco: With 1 rant, you've just gone from symbol of pop culture depravity to conservative martyr figure. Hope it works out.
The partisan blogger attacking the poet goes by the pseudonym Billmon. Billmon's writings often show a deep respect for advocates of peace and economic justice.
The song Billmon attacks Lupe for is actually, and clearly, a song which advocates peace and economic justice. This contradictory dynamic makes Billmon's partisan attack* a valuable, instructive example of the failed logic powering the partisan brain.
Let's explore Billmon's critique of Lupe's song.
The song, Words I Never Said, which Billmon described as "1 rant" designed to appeal to conservatives is anything but. This "1 rant" is actually one of Lupe's most popular songs, released two years ago, and regularly performed. The idea that this peaceful, yet powerfully defiant, political poetry** is a cynical attempt of Lupe's to become a right wing hero simply defies logic.
Listen to Lupe's words when he offends Billmon by saying he didn't vote for Obama:
Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist. The Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit. That's why I ain't vote for him, next one either. I’m a part of the problem. My problem is I’m peaceful.
Literally one sentence before Billmon decided Lupe was attempting to appeal to fans of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, Lupe proclaims -- as loudly and clearly as the English language allows -- "Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist."
Why can't Billmon hear Lupe's words? What is going on inside that partisan brain?
Probably a Frequently Asked Question. Turning to the (surprisingly honest) FAQs at daily kos, the website Billmon blogs at:
This is a Democratic blog, a partisan blog. [...] [I]t's not a liberal blog. It's a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory.
There you have it, in their own words, the essence of the partisan mind: Power (electoral victory) is more important than policy (Democratic, not liberal). The distilled essence?
One goal in mind: electoral victory
This is why Billmon can't hear Lupe's words. This is why Billmon decided a poet, whose works have always promoted peace and understanding, must be "a symbol of pop culture depravity." The dissonance would simply be too much otherwise. The partisan mind can not accept reality when reality doesn't match their partisan story.
Because Lupe didn't vote for Obama, reality had to go.
There is one more item about the partisan mind that I would like to touch on, again using Billmon as our quintessential example: The partisan demonizes the Other Party (really any one who isn't in their party), and takes deep joy in their suffering:
Inuagural [sic] ceremony so far shaping up as one big fuck you to neo-Confederates, white supremo, etc. And I'm loving it.
Instead of mocking the young poet's song, and seeing "neo-Confederates, white supremo, etc." whenever a non-Democrat is in front of him, Billmon would do well to listen to Lupe's song. These words in particular:
Be a jerk to them jerks, yeah that'll make 'em hurt. Huh?
But isn't this all just name calling? Who cares that Billmon, and partisans like him, will always mock activists like Lupe Fiasco (and social movements like Occupy Wall Street) if they demand accountability for the crimes of the elite, regardless of party?
Why does it matter?
The answer is sadly as big as big could be. The answer is tyranny, war, and the only proven method of preventing them: elite accountability.
Partisan thinking allows us all to be robbed by the banks*** and ruled by an increasingly powerful, and increasingly aristocratic, elite. Partisan thinking allows endless war and the rape of our planet.
A credible threat of accountability for the crimes of the elite, the only historically proven source of a healthy and peaceful society, becomes impossible in a nation of partisans. Absent a credible justice system or regulatory regime for the elite (our current state, due in no small part to partisans), accountability can only come from activists, and social movements, who demand it.
The partisan mind is programmed with a sort of pre-emptive propaganda, a system of (warped) logic that prevents consideration of any meaningful demand of accountability for their party. The partisan mind will always work to silence the activist demanding accountability.
One goal in mind: electoral victory
* Partisan attack? To Lupe, of course, party had nothing to do with his critique of Obama's silence during the 2008 slaughter in Gaza. To Billmon, a left wing poet must be a right wing sellout if they critique Obama. It must be about party to Billmon; it can't be about the wars and corruption. Not while a Democrat is in the White House. So, yes. Partisan attack.
** Words I Never Said is some of the best political poetry to become mainstream in recent years, but the video is regrettably built around a childish and sexist violent fantasy. Lupe is young. Let's hope he can outgrow that crap.
*** Not all of us get robbed by the banks actually. Billmon, for example, found the banks lucrative, and spent years of his life serving them as a well-paid stenographer, despite knowing he was assisting evil. Billmon might want to look up the word depravity before using it again.
In April 2011, I wrote a short article about censorship on YouTube and Facebook. I concluded:
Large companies denying services is the new way to censor the internet. I am now convinced of the need for open source, distributed photo and video hosting, as well as an open source social network. Maybe even distributed DNS. If the internet is not free, neither are we.
I am pleased to say that I am now working, with the talented Matt Courtney, on building an open source distributed, encrypted social network.
I am kinda late writing posting about this (sorry) but Savvy Music Lessons, the first of the Savvy Wares sites, is live. My mom did a better job writing about the project than I can so you should go read her.
Theme was designed by Omar Capers, implemented by Scot Self, and I wrote (and am still writing!) a whole suite of modules.
Progressive Erotica is launched, 27 months after we started.
Progressive Erotica is an attempt to create an alternative to the increasingly violent and power-play based turn that the sex positive movement has taken. It might be easier to think of Progressive Erotica as feminist porn, but our goal is to create a space for a community of artists and thinkers to imagine new definitions of sexuality. More details here.
For those interested: Progressive Erotica is built on Drupal 7, with a custom module to manage the workflow, and a custom theme designed by Juliana Takaki.
My friend Rae Abileah interrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to demand an end to Israeli war crimes. She was assaulted -- manhandled, thrown, pulled, and gagged -- by several (male) supporters of AIPAC. She was then taken to the hospital where she was arrested (but the people who assaulted her, as of yet, have not been arrested).
A quote from Rae, explaining why she spoke out, via Moral Low Ground:
“I have been to Gaza and the West Bank,” she said. “I have seen Palestinians’ homes bombed and bulldozed, I have talked to mothers whose children have been killed during the invasion of Gaza, I have seen the Jewish-only roads leading to ever-expanding settlements in the West Bank. This kind of occupation cannot continue… I feel obligated to rise up and speak out against these crimes being committed in my name and with my tax dollars."
I photographed the Move Over AIPAC protest (though not this incident).
Philosophical questions surround trolls, but these two Drupal modules strike me as the fundamentally wrong approach: Caving trolls creates echo chambers (see slashdot and dailykos*) and misery crosses ethical boundaries.
* Neither slashdot or dailykos use Drupal or cave, but both implement the same strategy of hiding posts that disagree with the dominant ideology. A little time in their comments will show why that is a horrible approach.