Northern Valley Beacon
News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Thursday, April 30, 2015
American Pharoah, 9/4. Owner: Zayat Stables; Trainer: Bob Baffert; Jockey: Victor Espinoza
Dortmund, 9/2. Owner: Kaleem Shah; Trainer: Bob Baffert; Jockey: Martin Garcia
Carpe Diem, 7/1. WinStar Farm & Stonestreet Stable; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: John Velazquez
Materiality, 12/1. Owner: Alto Racing; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Javier Castellano
Posted by David Newquist at 7:09 PM
The fraternity boys were at the Laketown Wharf Resort at Panama City Beach, Fla., at the same time as a group of disabled veterans. The boys pissed and puked off the balconies and spit on the veterans and made taunting comments about them screwing their service pooches. A week earlier, three college boys were arrested for gang raping an out-of-it woman on the beach while a hundred onlookers stood by and watched. The woman did not remember the rape, but she was shown a video of the proceedings and recognized that the tatoos on the victim were hers.
In the same town, during spring break, a party resulted in the shooting of seven celebrating students. Across the country in Santa Barbara, Calif., six police officers were injured, dozens were hospitalized, and a hundred were arrested when a college party turned into a "civil disturbance."
The U.S. and many other "advanced" nations have an extensive history of college student celebrations turning into riots complete with pillaging, looting, rape, and murder. Black students are included in some of these incidents. However, when black kids get involved, conservative publications print stories entitled:
The demonstrations in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody has produced the same kind of journalistic response. When the peaceful demonstrations turned violent, the media, with CNN leading the yammer charge, turned to examinations of why demonstrations involving African Americans turn violent. Of course, they ignore the fact that many gatherings for ostensibly peaceful purposes, as during spring breaks, turn violent no matter what races are involved. In response to the use of the word "thugs" in characterizing those who went violent, a Baltimore councilman told a CNN host that you might as well use the word niggers. He was noting that "thugs" is synonym for the terms to which people of claimed delicacy take offense. Gov. Scott Walker and his minions used the term "union thugs: when he took away the collective bargaining rights of teachers and other government employees. The Baltimore councilman is linguistically more sophisticated than the CNN hosts, whose major qualification for their jobs is that their brain be firmly and irretrievably located well up the lower colon.
Certainly, when demonstrations in behalf of justice and human rights turn violent, the demonstrations are compromised. Violence subverts the purpose of the demonstrations and closes off any opportunities to communicate intelligently and effectively about the issues that need resolution. Rage quickly displaces good intentions. On the other hand, in the history of America, people do not understand issues under protest unless they are expressed in violent terms. Nothing cracks the lid of oppression like rioting, destruction, and killing. While some Americans may make a great issue of the choice of words, words are used to evade the reality of issues at hand. Violence is the language Americans understand. Words are useless, except when a word like "nigger" cuts through the obfuscation;
The demonstrations in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., are in response to something that is endemic in African American communities: black people, and other people of color or some stigmatized status are very frequently killed, beaten, and otherwise violated by the police. Many, if not most, of the incidents are excused as the police doing their jobs.
When the police use violence, they are "serving and protecting," but when the oppressed and disparaged turn to violence they are threatening all of civilization. The huge and devastating irony comes from NRA and those who see the right to bear arms as the means to keep a predatory government at bay and quell it, if necessary. Black communities and Indian reservations have experienced the arm of predatory and repressive government reaching into their lives through police departments and other law enforcement agencies. They have histories which can be used to justify their violent reactions on the basis that they are resisting an intrusive and oppressive government. Gun violence is a main concern in black communities, but one must wonder what can happen if they are armed with semi-automatic assault weapons with large capacity magazines, such as those used in the mass shootings at Aurora, Colo., and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
No one advocates violence. But when young people gather for reasons both benign and malicious, it breaks out. And it does get attention in ways that words and peaceful demonstrations do not. America has lost its ability to make words count. It has lost the critical ability to distinguish language of manipulation from language that names and designates reality. The news media has given up the recording and reporting of situations and events for the constant exchange of opinions which generally have little basis in reality.
No one advocates violence, but our culture has left little option to redress grievances in any other way. Verbal registering of complaints is typified as whining.
So, America, here come the thugs.
Posted by David Newquist at 10:21 AM
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Bob Mercer reports on the continuing decline of the Democratic Party in South Dakota with the voter registration numbers as they have changed from January to April:
Republicans grew by about 1,100 to 242,163;
Democrats declined by more than 200 to 175,514;
Independents rose by more than 1,900 to 105,784;
Constitutionalists increased by 6 to 582;
Libertarians increased by 41 to 1,443; and
Americans Elect added 2, rising to 12.
The proportions of registered party members break down like this:
Republicans: 46 percent
Democrats: 33 percent
Independents: 20 percent
Constitutionalists: .1 percent
Libertarians: .27 percent
Americans Elect: .002 percent
The Democrats are the only party losing rather than gaining registrations. While Democrats may ask the obvious question of why, most political observers bemoan the single party dominance in state governance and are concerned about the absence of viable opposition in the affairs of state. The venerable political reporter Kevin Woster, who now operates out of Keloland, says, "I think the state is a better place with some degree of two-party balance. Three or four would be better."
Woster notes: "But Democratic influence is almost non-existent in South Dakota these days, beyond the initiated-measure-referred-law process that relies on grassroots signature collection and issue-oriented statewide campaigns." And he says, however, "the South Dakota Democratic Party could do a lot worse than its recent use of ballot issues for influence."
Over the years, the Democratic Party has taken the lead in a number of initiated referendums on subjects from abortion to raising the minimum wage which have successfully countered legislation or the lack of it in the Republican-controlled state legislature and state administration. There is a dissonance between what people vote for when they are confronted with an issue and the kind of people they vote for. Put more directly, the question is why do people vote for representatives who do not represent what people want?
South Dakota is undergoing a demographic shift. The root of that shift is in the displacement of the family farm by large corporate-allied agribusiness. It is facilitated by a growing majority of people who down deep believe in inequality as the preferred social order. They believe in social stratification in which society forms layers from the superior to the inferior classes, rich to poor classes, high to low classes. Even though South Dakota has been Republican-leaning during its history, it was composed of rural people who worked the land and struggled on farms to provide for families and build communities. They believed that for those not on the reservations to achieve their goals, they needed to be treated equally, fairly, and without discrimination. They regarded the people consigned to the reservations a lower, inferior class to whom the concepts of liberty, equality, and justice did not apply. In their own quests for equal and fair treatment, they often voted for Democrats, such as George McGovern, James Abourezk, and Tom Daschle. Despite the current rage against liberals, which produces much downright error about what liberalism is, people have elected liberals to federal offices in South Dakota when concerned about fair treatment, equal opportunity, and justice.
But as social psychologists point out, people often want the full benefits of liberty, equality, and justice for themselves while viewing society in terms of that social stratification mentioned before. They tend to define themselves in the upper layers of that social strata and regard most other people as in the lower. Even if in fact they are in the lower economic, educational, or social categories, they associate themselves with those in the upper categories of wealth and power. This is an old phenomenon in the way people perceive themselves. During the peasant revolts in Europe when people began to resist domination by the ruling class, many peasants sought to obsequiously ally themselves with the lords of the manors and their oppressors as the way to obtain favor and gain some advantage in life. They identified themselves with the gentry, not with their fellows in labor and struggle.
Today, many people see that the way to survive and, perhaps, even succeed in a country ruled de facto by large, global corporations is to toady to their masters. As agriculture has been absorbed into the ways of corporate life, the demography of South Dakota has shifted to the right and is dominated by those who accept the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the very few as a natural stratification. They think that their best opportunities lie in sucking up to the wealth and power and they regard other people as a mass to be controlled, exploited, and reviled. The voter registration numbers reflect strongly the shift of people who accept and accommodate corporate dominance as a way of life. The South Dakota legislature, in its alliance and complicity with business schemes, demonstrates the degree to which it and the people who elected it are subservient to corporate power. The handling of the EB-5 investment finagle demonstrates the dominant value system now operating in South Dakota. Honesty, justice, and liberty are not even in the vocabulary except as terms of deception.
The GOP operates on three principles:
- malice toward all except those in control
|The John Thune -Tom Daschle debate|
Their gullibility, or raging animosity, or whatever it is, proved triumphant when Kristi Noem portrayed Stephanie Herseth Sandlin as a puppet-disciple of Nancy Pelosi. As a Blue Dog Democrat, Herseth Sandlin departed from the party stance on gay marriage, health care, environmental protection, and other issues. To claim Herseth Sandlin was a Pelosi puppet was stupifying.. But the message found favor and a number of former Herseth Sandlin supporters were swayed by it. Although her loss was also the result of the defection of significant portion of the Democrats who simply gave up on being represented in the House of Representatives. Still, it was another sign of how the South Dakota electorate was changing. That change was further indicated when the Democrats did not offer a candidate to run against Jhhn Thune in 2010. The commentators railed against the party for failing to find a viable candidate, but it was not a failure of the party. It was a triumph for the mean, defamatory, destructive, and insidious kind of campaign that the GOP in South Dakota engaged in. The people endorsed it,, and potential candidates of ability, integrity, and principle could not subject themselves or their families to the destructive effects of the malice that is now the currency of South Dakota political campaigns.
The latest signal of how the obsession with enforcing inequality and subjugation and conducting campaigns of character assassination in the state was evident in the Rounds-Weiland campaign of 2014, Rick Weiland conducted an impeccable campaign of visiting every town--at least twice--and actually talking with people about issues, while Mike Rounds rode the huge EB-5 ripoff scheme and the proceeds of corruption to a relatively easy victory. That says one heck of a lot about the electorate in South Dakota. The majority is more interested in allying itself with the power structure, no matter how crooked and corrupt, than in caring about such things as equality, liberty, and justice. They avidly embrace the inequality, the subjugation, and the character assassination.
Some may deny the shady and insidious political climate in South Dakota, but one cannot argue against the evidence of corruption and oppression. At one time, some of us thought the Democrats could win by concentrating on the feckless and often inane Congressional records of John Thune and Kristi Noem, but fecklessness and inanity are just what the electorate wants as long their representatives don't make any noise about equality, honesty, and justice for the people who work in the state.
If some huge economic disaster hits the state, the people might look to a different party to provide some relief, but the state is getting mired more and more deeply in the prejudice and hate and joys of corruption promoted by the "conservative" movement.
To wait for the political climate to change is foolery. Why would a promising young teacher sign on where the pay is low and insult and abuse are all but guaranteed?. Why would any person with talent, ability, and high expectations choose to work in South Dakota? Why would anyone choose to waste their life in a place that is not Mars yet, but is hell bent on creating just that oppressive and desolate environment? There are places that want to give equality, liberty, opportunity, and justice a chance. What does South Dakota have to offer?
Expect the Democratic registrations to plummet. There isn't much reason for hope in South Dakota.
Posted by David Newquist at 8:50 PM
Thursday, April 23, 2015
All the would-be political strategists find fault with the personalities or campaigns of candidates, as if their pet theories could remedy all that ails the Democrats. In reality, the constant self-sucking indulged by many Democrats is what repulses people, including members of their own party. However, people cling to the assumption that campaigns manipulate the electorate, which is at the mercy and influence of strategists, while the fact is that the electorate has its own mindsets, composed as they are by prejudices, animosities, and values.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post takes on the notions about politics and quotes Rep. Alan Grayson: “Essentially there are no undecided voters. Everybody has picked a team. The only question is, do your guys vote or not?”
He cites a study by researchers at Princeton and Stanford, which finds: "Americans now discriminate more on the basis of party than on race, gender or any of the other divides we typically think of — and that discrimination extends beyond politics into personal relationships and non-political behaviors." Politics is now the hate game, and hatred is the controlling force in politics.
The study finds:
In the contemporary American political environment, there is evidence of increasing hostility across party lines, which has been attributed to a variety of factors including candidates' reliance on negative campaigning and the availability of news sources with a clear partisan preference.
When political strategists are confronted with the deleterious effects of negative campaigning, they justify it because it works. And the hate-mongering of people like Rush Limbaugh is dismissed as entertainment. We remind that public executions used to be entertainments for people, as they gatheedr en mass with picnic baskets to enjoy some poor wretches being hung or beheaded.
Posted by David Newquist at 8:00 AM
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Iranian leader Rouhani makes a point about the tussle between President Obama and Congress over the nuclear negotiations with Iran. He says, “We are in talks with the major powers and not with the Congress.”
On a private email exchange, some colleagues who include international relations professors have been discussing this point. While the U.S. has taken the lead in the negotiations with Iran, its partners in the discussion are Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. One professor pointed out that if the U.S. could not make a deal with Iran, it is possible that the other five participants could make a treaty without the U.S. In fact, Russia has already lifted a sanction against Iran and has decided to resume supplying air defense missiles to Iran according to an agreement that has been held in suspension.
Russia and China, some discussants point out, are very willing to proceed on the world stage without the U.S. When the 47 senators signed a letter telling Iran that any agreement made with the Obama administration could be easily overturned by a new president, they in effect dismissed the other participants in the talks. One writer said he heard that participants from Britain, France, and Germany were deeply offended by the dismissive letter and made overtures with Russia and China to proceed with an agreement without the U.S., if necessary.
Obama is concerned in these later years of his presidency with his legacy of accomplishment. The GOP members of Congress which are so intent on obstructing him and destroying any claims to accomplishment seem unaware that in trying to take Obama down, they are taking the country down. They have raised a serious question about America's fitness to have a leadership role in the Iranian nuclear negotiations.
Posted by David Newquist at 7:01 AM
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Posted by David Newquist at 10:33 PM
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