COMBAT!

Oppositional culture for an occupied age

Dems get free Senate election to say whatever

Democratic Senate nominee Amanda Curtis runs afoul of an alligator.

Democratic Senate nominee Amanda Curtis runs afoul of an alligator.

Probably, Amanda Curtis is not going to be the next senator from Montana. The late replacement for John Walsh trails Republican Steve Daines by 20 points and several million dollars. Basically, Curtis won a contest. She gets to speak and debate like a viable candidate for the next two months, with the understanding that she will not go to Washington at the end. Curtis and the Democratic Party of Montana should take this peculiar opportunity and run with it. They should say what they think, for once, instead of triangulating their messages to what they think Montanans want to hear. That’s the gist of my column in this week’s Missoula Independent, which is what you get instead of a blog for the next several days. I’m going to Idaho to watch The Polish Hammer get hitched and/or run from the altar in fright. We’ll be back Tuesday(!) with more conjecture, or maybe a commercial for a big pile of meat.

What does Cornel West mean when he says “brother?”

Cornel West, who would never succumb to affectation

Cornel West, who would never succumb to affectation

The Cure sent me a link to this interview between Cornel West and Thomas Frank, in which they agree that everyone is extremely disappointed with President Obama’s failure to be more progressive. They seem to mean everyone they know, which may be a closed epistemic circle. But I’m less interested in West’s assessment of what everyone thinks than his use of the word “brother.” For example:

[Obama] invoked the American family last week. It’s a lie, brother. You’ve got to be able to tell the truth to the American people. We’re not a family. We’re a people. We’re a nation. And a nation always has divisions.

So if West does not use “brother” to invoke the idea of a human or American family—if he in fact uses it when explicitly refuting that concept—what does he mean? Close reading after the jump.

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FEC deadlocks neutralize campaign finance law

The Federal Election Commission poses with 2000 cubic feet of air

The Federal Election Commission poses with 2000 cubic feet of air

Earlier this year, the Federal Election Commission did not rule that candidates who provide B-roll footage to super PACs are are violating the prohibition against coordination set down in Citizens United v. FEC. The commission didn’t rule that such behavior is okay, either. It simply deadlocked, with three Democratic commissioners determining that exchanging footage constituted coordination, and three Republican commissioners determining that it didn’t. The tie meant that the FEC didn’t do anything and therefore operatively approved—something that’s been happening a a lot lately, according to the New York Times.

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Feds to consider maybe not giving tanks to cops

Local police serve the people of Ferguson, Missouri.

Local police serve and protect residents of Ferguson, Missouri.

Perhaps the most jarring element in the lede to this Times story about the militarization of local police departments is the appearance of “silencers” on the list of equipment the federal government gives to police. Obviously, cops need silencers so they can fire their guns without people knowing about it. They need body armor so that combat in the streets poses little threat to them, automatic rifles so they can spray a bunch of bullets in a short period of time, and mine-resistant trucks so they can make music videos. And we need something to do with surplus military equipment since 9/11.

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Friday links! Fourth estate edition

Proof that CNN is white

Proof that CNN is white

Maybe I just spent all week with cops urging me to end the violence by lying on the ground, but I am a little worried about what wags call the cult of compliance. More than our courts, it is our psychological relation to the police that determines how free we are. Fortunately, America has a robust and principled media that relentlessly asserts the rights of the citizen against powerful forces. And I have these vast, leathery wings, which allow me to buffet people or, if necessary, fly away. So I don’t need a vigorous public discourse to prevent my democracy from collapsing into a police state. Today is Saturday, and ifs and buts have become, without our really doing anything, candy and nuts. Won’t you join the truth telling contest with me?

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