You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.

Right down the street from where I’m typing.

Garberville’s the happening place of late.

When I was reading up on political violence info for the post below, I came across this Wikipedia passage about the assassination of President McKinley.

In his September 7 statement, Czolgosz said that he had read eight days prior, in Chicago, that McKinley would be attending the Exposition. He immediately took a train to Buffalo and found lodgings in a boarding house. Czolgosz attended the fair on September 5 for President’s Day and heard McKinley’s speech. He was tempted to shoot the President then but he could not get close enough. Instead, he returned to the Exposition the next day. Goldman’s speech from May was still “burning [him] up”. He joined the line of people waiting to shake the president’s hand. Czolgosz wrapped his hand in a white handkerchief to hide the gun he was carrying.[13] Secret Serviceman George Foster later explained his failure to observe Czolgosz’s wrapped-up hand by saying that Czolgosz was too closely bunched up to the man in front of him.[14] However, at the trial, Foster also admitted to not noticing Czolgosz because he was paying close attention to James Parker,[15] a six-foot six inch black waiter from Atlanta laid-off by the exposition’s Plaza Restaurant, who was standing immediately behind Czolgosz.

Okay, so the black guy was a big black guy, not just your run-of-the-mill black guy.  That must have made him scarier.  Ironically, if the depiction I took from Wikipedia is accurate, Mr. Parker appears to have tried to save the President’s life.

After I read this I thought about a 60 Minutes story I watched back in the 1980s.  In a county north of Miami, the Sheriff had a policy of pulling over every black male driver they saw on the main highway.  He was unapologetic about it as he believed that it was an effective policy against the drug trafficking from Miami to the rural parts of the state.  At the time I thought that all of the drug dealers in Miami who saw the piece would hire black drivers as decoys to be pulled over with the drug carrying vehicles with white drivers a minute or two behind them.

You have the moral and legal issues of profiling, but I do think McKinley’s death can reasonably be brought up to question the practicality of it.

The drawing is enlarged if you click on it.

Addendum: The depiction is correct.  The profiled man was the hero.  And then publicly attacked with his heroism denied and the Secret Service trying to take credit.  Obviously the last thing the the Secret Service wanted was to be upstaged by the black guy.

Why haven’t I heard this story before?

I hadn’t heard the news, but I just read it over at Tom Seabourn’s blog.  Her name is Sarah Reid and she used to run the production department at Bicoastal Media.

Welcome Sarah and good luck!

Right now there’s a post up at Daily Kos entitled “30 Years of Right Wing Violence in Pictures.”  If you read it top to bottom it certainly makes the case that there is plenty of right wing hatred in this country, and it’s far from complete.  Certainly some right wingers will rightfully protest that these are nutjob acts which are not representative.  Others will counter-attack with a litany of “you too’s” and even argue that some of these people are inherently left wing (Hitler was a liberal afterall).

Their youtoo’s might not be quite as numerous over the last 30 years (the Brinks robbery and a handful of other post-Weathermen acts in the early 1980s and the dubious example of the guy who took hostages over environmental concerns some months ago).  But if you take it back 40 years you have the Weathermen themselves (though they never actually killed anybody but three of their own by accident), the BPP, the SLA, and less persuasively the Manson murders and Jonestown (which of course didn’t happen within the borders).

And if we go back 50 years we argue whether Lee H. Oswald was a left winger or some sort of agent/patsy of a larger conspiracy, and then over the course of a decade a string of the left wingers leaders were violently killed (MLK, Bobby Kennedy, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Dow Wilson, Lloyd Green, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner).  The only right wing leader I can think of who was killed at the time was George Lincoln Rockwell who was offed by one of his fellow Nazis.  Of course, you can look at each of these killings and argue that the motivation was not right wing ideology and perhaps not ideology at all.  But then we had the institutional violence in which BPP members were killed without provocation, and students were killed at Kent State and Jackson State.  Many leftists did feel that it was open season on them, and that may partly account for the left wing violence of the late 60s and early 70s.  Whether justified objectively, left wingers are feeling the same way right now, and in tough economic times it’s unsettling.  Even before Obama was elected, a Fox News fan attacked a Unitarian Church in Kentucky, killing two and wounding others, having decided that morning to go out and “hunt liberals” and knowing where to find them.  And as the Kos post points out, we have a string of anti-abortion killings and attacks, though the anti-abortion groups have not been placed on the terror list along with radical environmental groups (whose body count remains at zero).

Now, we’re arguing whether the most recent acts of violence should be attributed to something inherent in right wing ideology or in the rhetorical climate of the Fox News/talk radio era.  In the most recent discussions, Michelle Malkin posted a list of left wing rhetorical moments which were certainly alarming, but none of which came from mainstream prominent left wing figures, and there is merit to the left argument that it is the Republican leadership which is generating a poison climate which may or may not give the wacko fringe elements a sense of mandate and legitimacy.  It is also true that some of the accusations have been overblown and unfair.  Palin’s cross-hairs were not productive in terms of legitimate debate, but she was not responsible for the attack in Tucson.  Nor to be frank was Rep. Giffords’ irresponsible election opponent.  Nobody really knows what sets violence off, and while it is fair to demand less rhetorical extremity in an abundance of caution and personal responsibility, I really do believe that we should also limit our use of terms like “hate speech” so that they don’t lose meaning in knee-jerk partisanship.

The answer to the post title question is that the question itself is pointless; as is the hair splitting over body counts, definitions, and often futile attempts to ascertain any kind of meaningful or coherent motivation in senseless acts.  Is the ideology really the motivating factor, or does it just provide a psychological back-drop for a psychosis which is going to result in violence regardless?

On the other hand, in all other countries, when a political figure is killed, it’s considered assassination and political motivation is presumed.  In this country, it’s always some alleged lone nut, no matter how much the killing benefits political opposition.  But even if there is political motivation, is it fair to blame the ideology itself and link all its adherents to the killing?  (That was a rhetorical question).  Is Diane Feinstein’s moderation responsible for the Moscone/Milk killings because a right-of-center Democrat prevented her from becoming a mere footnote in SF political history?  Was Nixon’s ideology responsible because Bobbie Kennedy’s death all but assured his ascendancy?  Would it have been fair to tie Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressivism to the anarchist killing of his predecessor?

The vast majority of left wingers and right wingers believe in peaceful if heated exchanges of ideas, and most of those who talk in violent terms don’t mean it literally.  And both sides of the spectrum contain zealots, ruthless opportunists, and troubled individuals who use the ideology as an excuse.  Whether one is more prone to the acts probably depends on the circumstances of the moment in history – which side is feeling more disenfranchised, how deeply they feel, how high they perceive the stakes, and yes, whether the leadership is excusing or implicitly condoning acts outside of what is reasonable.  There’s no score to keep, because it’s not something that can be quantified or measured.  The reasonable answer to the question is “we don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.”

I just looked up the Mandelbrot set on Youtube and there are lots of cool vids.  Of course you have the classics from the 1980s.

But check this one out!  Not sure if it’s Mandelbrot or another, but it’s fun to watch anyway.

This one’s a “negative Mandelbrot.”  Explanation: The Quaternionic form of z^2+c such that the 3rd coordinate of z is negated on each iteration prior to squaring.  Got it?

I haven’t been following the events in Egypt, but you can follow it with TPM’s wire on the subject.  When I find some time, I’ll read up and write something about it.

The ideologies of the opposition appear to be very mixed, so it’s hard to know where the country will be taken if the opposition prevails.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is telling Egypt to “listen to the opposition,” which consists of Islamic conservatives, leftists, trade unionists, and others.  Does the opposition have a spokesman?

Coincidentally, Republicans and Democrats are coming out in support of a Marxist-Feminist terror group fighting the Iranian regime.  Where is Sean Hannity?  The group has links to a Marxist-Feminist Kurdish independence group with many female soldiers who have been plaguing American and Iranian troops for years.

The photo is from AP.

Obama made no mention of the word “climate” in his SOTU speech (though he did say “green” twice).  Meanwhile this January is setting some records in the Arctic.  I haven’t read the Daily Kos post, but there are lots of graphs and pretty colors to hammer a point or two, so I figured I’d send you over there and you can come back here and explain it.  I’m tired and I’m going to bed.  Hopefully I don’t wake up with beachfront property.

Del Shannon recorded Runaway.  Just a little morning trivia.  I love the visuals in the video, especially the dance of blond up on the box with the light in her hair.  Hard to believe the kids dancing are all in their 60 and 70s now.  I’d say it seems like only yesterday, but I wasn’t born yet.

And yes, the song is entitled “Runaway,” and NOT “I’m Walking in the Rain” as commonly believed.  Some people also think Proud Mary is entitled “Rollin in the River.”  Jeopardy messed that one up some years ago.

Of course Shannon had some troubles, with drugs and all, and faded out.  He had something of a revival in the 1980s when he appeared on the David Letterman Show and you can see by Paul Shafer’s enthusiasm that he was rooting for Shannon.

He was also slated to replace Roy Orbison in a follow-up recording for the Traveling Wilburies, but unfortunately he didn’t make it.  As so many who suffer depression he “forgot” to take his medicine, and took his life sometime in the early 90s.

Nothing deep to say about it.  I hadn’t heard the song for years until it was revived by the psycho character on Heroes.  It prompted a “whatever happened to him” moment and I looked him up and found the videos.  The song brings back some childhood memories which are of no general interest.  Enjoy the day.

Addendum: Oops!  I just glanced at my notes (I keep some in a file for blog posts).  It appears that I miscalendared the event and misinformed you.  The song was recorded on January 21, NOT January 27.  Damn!

The headline made me nervous, but as long as I’ve got the Town Dandy to look forward to every week, I’ll be happy.

Part of the problem is that probably more than half of our generation doesn’t know what a Sputnik is.


I had the speech on in the background while dealing with kids, kitchen, etc., but occasionally I stopped to watch.  I missed the Republican rebuttals, both the official one and Michelle Bachman’s which was only aired on CNN (no, not Fox!).  What I noticed was that the clapping and cheering were a bit subdued.  Was it because of the inter-party mingling seating arrangements?  A speech that in terms of specifics was even vaguer than usual (the last real substantive SOTU I watched was in 2003 when President Bush presented made up facts to support the case for the existence of WMD’s in Iraq)?  A GOP on edge about additional Joe Wilson moments?  Did the network (I was watching MSNBC) keep the volume down?


My nine-year-old son came out of his room and asked me how long it would be before the SOTU was over.  I said, “It’ll be all night.  First people will talk about the speech.  And then people will talk about the people talking about the speech.  And then they’ll talk about the people talking about the people talking about the speech.  A half hour into the panel discussions as I flipped across the networks, my son who was sitting on the couch said, “You were serious!”


Josh Marshall’s coverage of Bachman’s rebuttal is entitled “Bachman Trainwreck Blogging.”  The entire entry consists of one sentence:

I’m not even sure what to say about this.

An article has since been posted on the TPM site.


Looks like it went over well with viewers, though I don’t trust snap polls.


TPM has some fun stuff on its wire.


Addendum: TPM has a slide show so that you can see who was sitting next to each other and all that.  Just click on the photo.


January 2011