Last Friday I traced the route Hannah Graham took to the place she was discovered, curious to know, among other things, how long the drive had taken. I also wondered if a former residence of Matthew's along the route that hadn't been mentioned in the news had been searched.
My interest in any of this is part of a broader curiosity about the relationship between power and behavior that began with an attempt to better understand how sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and rape should be approached by the military leadership. I am certain that the initiatives taken to curb these issues in the military are aimed at the wrong targets and will falter. But I digress. October has been National Bullying Prevention Month. There was an eye-opening, at least for me, and gut wrenching series of presentations at the Charlottesville Shelter for Help in Emergency. And though Hannah Graham was not a known acquaintance of her alleged assailant, the motivations and social skills of this sort of assailant are strikingly similar. It is really their signatures that distinguish them. They are rarely insane, by the way.
Though I am not a psychiatrist or sociologist, I am going to dare to discuss the social pathology involved in behaviors that probably should not always be stove piped into various categories like bullying, domestic abuse, intimate partner abuse, elder abuse, child abuse, hazing, rape, murder, etc. You may recall that when Hannah Graham went missing, I suggested that she would not have been her assailant's only victim. What I have come to recognize through a lot of study recommended by old friends who are experts is that these are varying manifestations of power and most of those who wield power in those ways do not perceptibly look or act differently from you or I unless they are among peers or bystanders under their influence. Their "success" is shaped by knowing what others perceive as right or wrong and only acting wrong in the presence of their victims or reliable bystanders. Often they count on their victims' and any witnesses' shame to provide leverage that avoids consequences for their actions.
So, before I go below the fold, I want to repeat what I know is easier for me to say than for others to do: if you are or know a victim of any of these trespasses, report, report, report...do not stand by, get help; help others.
In "More on the O'Reilly/Stewart Brouhaha: The Right-Wing Urge to Kick Down," I offered one explanation of how non-rich white people can get motivated to kick down on those below them (especially blacks, but also any of those "takers" they like to contrast with the virtuous, hard-working people they like to see themselves as being). It is an old con job, where the dominant class sells a phony picture to induce one group of people they are exploiting to take their anger and frustration out on those below them.
Kick downward at the suppopsdly lazy, good-for-nothing poor, rather than protest upward at the source of the real injustice.
But that explanation doesn't explain the impulse to kick down shown by the likes of Bill "What White Privilege?" O'Reilly, nor by the rich men with whom Mitt Romney sought to ingratiate himself with his "47%" comment.
Surely, part of the motivation for the distortion of reality is that the warped picture provides justification for the elite's lack of compassion for those who suffer under their domination.
But something deeper is going on.
It is not only the poor who experience being the recipient of a downward kick. That template of the downward kick is so ingrained in the culture - at multiple levels, and especially in some parts of the culture - that even many who, in socio-economic terms, are in dominant positions have had profound experiences of that kick-down pain.
Here are some photos (on the "flip") and video (here and in the comments section) of Sen. Tim Kaine campaigning for Arlington County Board candidate Alan Howze at the farmer's market next to Ballston Metro around 4 pm today. Go Alan!
The anti-Semitic "joke" dude, 10th CD Republican Party chair John Whitbeck, was supposed to be in that empty chair this morning, but not surprisingly backed out at the last minute, lamely claiming a "client emergency." Actually, come to think of it, maybe that "client" he's referring to is Barbara Comstock, who has avoided answering questions from the media like the plague, and the "emergency" is her extreme anxiety at the prospect that she might be forced to explain and defend her extreme views on issue after issue. As 10th CD Democratic chair Charlie Jackson put it
I'm not surprised...that Delegate Comstock's campaign pulled John Whitbeck back this morning and did not send another surrogate...this is not a new thing...It certainly fits a pattern for Delegate Comstock's campaign...[her] ethics scandal keeps dripping, dripping, dripping...there's a reason why Delegate Comstock and her campaign do not want to send surrogates on this program, or frankly talk to [Virginia 10th CD voters]...They'll talk to Fox and Friends, they'll go on conservative talk shows, they'll talk to the John Fredericks Show...but they won't answer real questions about real issues. And the real issue that's really dragging her campaign down right now...is her ethics scandal, and it's a slow bleed for her campaign...
...Delegate Comstock's campaign doesn't have anything to run on. They're running a campaign on what she learned as a Washington insider. She's a career Washington politician -- she's worked for the Koch brothers, she's worked for Scooter Libby, she's worked for Karl Rove. This is where she learned how to play politics, and she doesn't want to address real issues. So her campaign has been based on gotcha politics and she doesn't want to address real concerns. If she came on this program, talked to other members of Virginia [10th CD] press, she'd have to talk about her record in Richmond...voting against bipartisan transportation legislation...voting for things like transvaginal ultrasound...Her campaign doesn't want to...talk to reporters like you, doesn't want to have to answer follow-up questions...
...This is the first time this seat has been open in 30+ years, basically my lifetime...and Delegate Comstock wants to represent this region in Congress. And to not be willing to come on programs like this, not be willing to talk to mainstream reporters, that's not somebody who wants to represent this district, that's somebody who wants to avoid talking to the press, avoid the public...
A few weeks ago, I wrote, Democratic Policies Save the Economy. Will Voters Reward Them for It on November 4? Now, with a just a few days until that election, and prospects for Democrats looking so-so at best, it looks like the answer to that question may very well be "no." Of course, that would be a huge mistake, rewarding the very people whose policies were disastrous for the economy, and punishing the very people whose policies helped get us out of the ditch Republicans drove us into. Not to mention the fact that rewarding the very people who a) shut down the government and b) threatened the creditworthiness of the United States of America is like rewarding a child for really bad behavior (note: last I checked, all that does is encourage more really bad behavior) is the 180-degrees, polar opposite of what SHOULD happen. But "voters in their infinite wisdom" and all that, right? Anyway, see the comment below, currently the most recommended on the Washington Post article linked above, as it pretty much sums the situation up. Sad.
I see all these economic indicators rising as we crawl out of the 2008 recession, and all I can think of is voters are going to vote back in the very people who got us into this mess. Gas prices are hovering around $3 a gallon. Unemployment is below 6% (Romney promised it would be 6% in 2016). With a Congress that actually works with our President, we could have done far better. Do voters think the President can wave a magic wand and make all the messes go away? Even the Pope said God is not a magician. For a view of where Republican rule gets us (if you can't remember the crash of 2008) Google "Kansas economy."
Summary: From the perspective of the evolution of life, it can be seen how value is an emergent -- but none the less real -- dimension of the reality of creatures like us humans. Evolution operates on the principle that life is better than death. Operating on that basis, evolution brings into existence creatures who experience that fulfillment is better than misery. That is the foundation of value. and it makes value fully real in every way it could be.
1) the imbalance in intensity in the political battle raging in America is largely due to the deficiency of moral and spiritual passion in Liberal America,
2) this deficiency is the by-product of the worldview that is strong in Liberal America, according to which "value" is considered a matter of subjective opinion, and thus not really real, and there can be no such thing in the human world as "the battle between good and evil," and
3) it is a mistake to believe that intellectually responsible thinking about the evidence of our world requires that we reach those conclusions.
In order to regain its moral and spiritual passions, Liberal America does not have to to embrace the forms traditional religion has used to represent the issues of good and evil. That reconnection can be achieved, by moving further forward along the path of rational, empirically-based scientific knowledge.
In other words, the path of evidence and reason can provide us good answers to those vital questions of value -- answers that can connect us to those deep parts of our human core from which comes the passionate intensity required for this urgent battle.
I mean, seriously, THIS is what Ed Gillespie chooses to focus his energies on during the closing days of the 2014 campaign for U.S. Senate? Just to put this in perspective: according to the latest polling, the top priorities for Virginians are: 1) the economy (22%); 2) jobs/unemployment (13%); 3 - tie) budget/taxes (9%); 3 - tie) health care (9%); 5) leadership/gridlock (6%); and 6) education (5%).
Note what's NOT on that list of concerns? That's right, the name of the Washington NFL franchise. My guess is that it's probably a top priority for about, oh I dunno, 0.001% of Virginians? Yet THIS is what lobbyist "Enron Ed" Gillespie has chosen to focus his energies on during the final 6 days of this campaign? Can we say "utterly out of touch" or what? Pathetic.
Making matters worse, Gillespie seems to think that citing right-wing extremist, demagogue, and all-around buffoon Sean Hannity is something positive, in support of his staunch defense of the Washington NFL franchise's name, which many (albeit not a majority) believe is racist and/or derogatory and/or simply idiotic (I'd fall into pretty much all three categories, particularly the latter two).
By the way, note that by far the top-rated comments on Gillespie's own Facebook thread basically make the points noted above.
*"This country has much bigger issues than worrying about the name of a football team...The name of a football team should be the last thing on the minds of those in Washington." (35 "likes")
*"With all of the problems our country is experiencing I fail to see why a football team should be any of their concern?" (17 "likes")
And those are Gillespie's supporters saying that! Total #FAIL, get this guy off the stage (anybody have a hook handy?).
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, October 29. Also, check out the video of President Obama explaining, with regard to Ebola, that "America is not defined by fear."
Forget Ed Gillespie's atrocious Spanish pronunciation, how about the #FAIL in the title of his Spanish-language video? Gillespie writes, "Podemos hacerlo major," which means "We can do...major?" Try: "Podemos hacerlo MEJOR," which means "We can do...better." One thing's for sure, Gillespie's not the brightest bulb -- in any language.
It's a tough contest who's the most extreme and/or bigoted and/or crazy Barbara Comstock endorser, given that she's already been endorsed by the likes of: 1) right-wing hate radio host Mark "Full Mussolini" Levin; 2) Sean "Cliven Bundy's most strident champion" Hannity; 3) Penny "Age of Enlightenment and Reason lead down a slippery slope (don't ask) to the Holocaust" Nance of the Concerned Women for America (publishers of "Harry Potter: Seduction of the Occult"); 4) John "Jesse Helms protege" Bolton; 5) Brent "President Obama a 'skinny, ghetto crackhead" Bozell; and 6) the anti-Semitic "joke" dude. Now, though, someone who gives these folks a run for their craaaazy money - "The Donald" Trump himself - has weighed in on her behalf. In addition to being a "birther" (questioning whether President Obama was born in the U.S., whether his birth certificate is real, etc.), Trump has said all kinds of bizarre stuff over the years. Just recently, for instance, Dr. Trump claimed that the Centers for Disease Control "should be ashamed of themselves" for opposing strict Ebola quarantines as counterproductive (which the vast majority of actual doctors say they would be). Trump's also a climate science denier (of course!) and anti-vaccination nut. Given all this, you'd think Barbara Comstock would be running as fast as she could to disown and disavow Trump's endorsement. Instead, she just retweeted it. That really says it all. Next Tuesday, vote for John Foust!
See Right Wing Watch for more about how good ol' E.W. Jackson "calls upon black and Hispanic Christian voters to leave the Democratic Party, telling them that if they were to dare to talk about their faith, 'you will quickly find out how much they really hate you.'" And just remember, 1 year ago today, this theocratic extremist and all-around nutjob was the Virginia Republican Party's nominee for Lt. Governor of our state. Amazing.
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