Ghosts in the Making


Summertime in Ferguson

When it was Trayvon Martin, I pitched a fit.

Michael Brown? Not so much.

It’s fair to ask why, and the answer is to simply look at what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri. The twenty-one thousand plus residents have seen their city torn to pieces, body and soul, as protesters and police battle over the murder of an unarmed black man by a city police officer whose record includes being fired as part of another small police department in Jennings, Missouri, that was disbanded by its city council for being so corrupt and generally awful. The town is in chaos; residents are intervening to slow the most vocal protesters, and are also reportedly attempting to prevent media from covering the events. Ferguson has become the latest incarnation of our nation’s sick heritage of deadly racism, emerged as a symbol of our dark slide toward militarized police, and found itself the butt of one of the worst jokes on the planet after a protester tweeted a comparison of the situation there to what is going on in Palestine, and instead of being indignant the Palestinians tweeted back with good-faith advice.

I first addressed the death of Trayvon Martin with friends on March 13, 2012, some weeks after the George Zimmerman stalked and pursued him for no good reason, shooting the seventeen year-old to death and then claiming self-defense. And when I first mentioned it, I did not expect what was coming. Certes, my gorge rose to learn the story, but like so many Americans the idea that an apparently murdered black man will die under the presumption that he needed to be shot just did not seem all that unusual. That is to say, like many I expected Trayvon Martin would become another forgotten lamb.

And, yes, I was wrong.

This time, the nation did not wait weeks. Before the name Michael Brown finished echoing after the first wave of press coverage the town was beseiged by chaos. Screaming and shouting from my evergreen corner of the country really doesn’t do me or anyone else any good.

And, yet, Justice still seems nearly destined for disappointing failure.

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Ramirez, Lowry, Alito: The Speed Bump Trio


Michael Ramirez* on last week’s marriage equality arguments before the Supreme Court:
Shotgun Wedding
I suppose the shotgun wedding is an obvious punch line; it has percolated for a few days.

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Those annoying details


At first it seems like a simple notion: If you root against Tim Tebow because he openly expresses his faith, raise your hand.

Tim Campbell, January 12, 2012 (detail)Cartoonist Tim Campbell raises the issue in an editorial cartoon, that he might demonize—quite literally—those who would criticize the Almighty Tebow; the frame includes what appears to be Satan raising his hand.

Yet such questions are not so simple.

Some are disgusted by the idea of Tebow’s greatness, since he’s not actually that good of a quarterback in the context of the NFL; despite his wins, he finished the regular season with a 72.9 rating, which works out to about twenty-eighth in the league, behind such luminaries as Tarvaris Jackson (79.2) of the Seattle Seahawks (7-9), and Colt McCoy (74.6) of the Cleveland Browns (4-12). Tebow’s success, such as it is, owes much to his fellow Denver Broncos (8-8).

And, certainly, there are some among those critics who would focus on the fact of Tebow’s faith alone.

But Tebow’s faith is a Christian faith, and one wonders as he “Te-bows”, much as one might wonder about other players sharing that Biblical faith, when and where Jesus comes into the picture.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Then, of course, are the rumors that Tebow, in his autobiography published at the ripe old age of twenty-three, distorted the story of his gestation and birth for political reasons.

Which, in the end, makes Tebow’s faith seem more an advertising pitch to increase his monetary value in the American capitalist marketplace. And that might mean that the real devilish work is from those hands not raised in Campbell’s cartoon; the people who would celebrate Tebow’s blatant disregard for the words of Jesus Christ and willingness to deceive people in order to spread the Good News.

Here is her spout ….


If there is one thing Americans should remember after this debt ceiling debate is over—accepting, of course, that we won’t remember anything important—it ought to be this bizarre yet apt cartoon from Rainer Hachfeld, via Cagle Post:

Rainer Hachfeld, "Republican Descent to Hell"

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Rupert Murdoch: Capitalist


Russ Baker offers a reminder amid the surprised murmurs and horrified gasps:

Rupert MurdochRupert Murdoch has had a profound influence on the state of journalism today. It’s a kind of tribute, in some sense, that the general coverage of his current troubles has reflected the detrimental effect of his influence over the years. Right now, the media, by and large, are focusing on tawdry “police blotter” acts of the very sort that have historically informed Murdoch’s own tabloid sensibility, while the bigger picture gets short shrift.

To be sure, the activities and actions of Murdoch’s that dominate the public conversation at the moment are deeply troubling, leaving aside their alleged criminality. Still, what is really pernicious about Murdoch is not his subordinates’ reported hacking of phones, payments of hush money, etc., or the possibility that Murdoch may have known about, tolerated, enabled, or even encouraged such acts.

It is, instead, the very essence of the man and his empire, and their long-term impact on our world and our lives.

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Oh, for the love of ….


Lily Burana decided, for some reason, that Anne Rice’s recent decision to quit being a Christian meant she needed to tell us her life story.

At some point when I wasn’t looking — I was distracted by punk rock, alt.feminism or maybe yoga — the dominant tenor of Christianity became almost unbearably shrill. As America in general became more stratified along religious and political lines, I slunk to the margins, caring less and less. Now, something rebellious and itchy has awoken in me, and I care a lot. Despite the frequent impulse to just keep quiet and hope that someone will rescue Christianity for the rest of us, I want to engage. Even if I have to start a lot of sentences with “I’m a Christian, but…” Even if I end up sounding like a two-bit Anne Lamott with anger-management issues.

After all, the self-satisfied and self-righteous have come for me, too: “YOU, a Christian? With those politics? With that past? Not with those go-go shorts, missy, your Queer Nation stickers, your unrepentant cursing, and your premarital everything.” I knew they’d show up, those stingy, uncharitable moral goalkeepers, with their underlined passages in Leviticus and their pointy-finger God. It just ain’t a Jesus party without this particular turd in the spiritual punchbowl. Maybe it’s the believer’s rite of passage — until you’ve encountered this type and had them declare a fundamental component of your identity an “abomination,” you kind of haven’t lived. The challenge is to have your faith tested this way and not blink.

And it’s testimonies like these, and Rice’s announcement via Facebook, that remind us so acutely that faith is something best kept between the believer and God.

Having run the religious gamut myself (I’ll skip the liturgy) the one thing I can say, after years of discussions both spoken and written, countless observations of diverse people’s behavior, and witnessing the train wreck that “Christianity” has become in our public discourse, there is no greater testament against conversion to faith than the faithful themselves. Seriously. In the name of Christ, she’s no longer a Christian? Or Anne Rice can leave, but Lily’s staying?

How about, fuck off?

Really, how is it that alleged Christians can rally behind lies as a call to arms? How is it that a Christian conscience can advocate torture? How the hell can a bunch of homophobes rally up behind gay preachers denouning homophobia? Perhaps it has something to do with the static superficiality of the discourse. No, seriously: This is what it comes to?

Why should we care? Aren’t there better things to worry about? Oh, right, here’s why we should care: 76% of American adults identify as Christians, according to Wikipedia. That’s a three to one margin over all other religious outlooks combined. This is the driving moral and philosophical force in American culture and thought, and this is what it’s come to?

Why would anyone ever want to be like these people?

The Socialist prophecy


So they say, so they say:

The restructuring of society taking place, in the direct interests of the corporate-financial elite and at the expense of the working population, is not occurring unnoticed. The American and international working class will inevitably find itself drawn into struggle against the present, untenable form of social organization.

Hiram Lee invokes a recurring fantasy of the left, and while I do not scorn the underlying sentiment, I admit to a certain cynicism. Perhaps in other places around the world, populist anger might bring down governments, but the prestige and wealth of the United States is such that Americans are wary of risking it all for an unproven thesis.

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