What the Shed Looks At
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Maybe what’s happening in America today will seem funny to some other culture in some future time—how it happened that in the depths of America’s decline, Liberals, the great opposition to everything mean and ruthless in this culture, couldn’t muster up a get-together for anything better than a mock-in. Led by a clown.
I confess, I couldn’t hack it. I came to the rally–saw those two pastry chefs from the Mythbusters show get all the Liberal Elites to hold a post-modern human wave, an ironic human wave allowing all the self-conscious Liberal Elites to play like Real America, while salvaging their vanity because it was all ironic and post-modern… And to make sure that everyone knew they were not really human-waving but rather meta-human-waving, the Mythbusters duo deconstructed the human wave. And all the Liberal Elites smiled and laughed knowingly, because all 150,000 were in on the biggest inside-joke wankathon in American history. And that was it for me–I was outta there.
A century-old ideological movement, Liberalism: once devoted to impossible causes like ending racism and inequality, empowering the powerless, fighting against militarism, and all that silly hippie shit—now it’s been reduced to besting the other side at one-liners…and to the Liberals’ credit, they’re clearly on top. Sure there are a lot of problems out there, a lot of pressing needs—but the main thing is, the Liberals don’t look nearly as stupid as the other guys do. And if you don’t know how important that is to this generation, then you won’t understand what’s so wrong and so deeply depressing about the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity.
That’s what makes this rally so depressing and grotesque: It’s an anti-rally, a kind of mass concession speech without the speech–some kind of sick funeral party for Liberalism, in which Liberals are led, at last, by a clown. Not a figurative clown, but by a clown–and Liberals are sure that this somehow makes them smarter and less lame–and indeed, they are less lame, because they are not taking themselves too seriously, which is something they’re very, very proud of. All great political struggles and ideological advances, all great human rights achievements were won by clown-led crowds of people who don’t take themselves too seriously, duh! That’s why they’re following a clown like Stewart, whose entire political program comes down to this: not being stupid, the way the other guys are stupid–or when being stupid, only stupid in a self-consciously stupid way, which is to say, not stupid. That’s it, that’s all this is about: Not to protest wars or oligarchical theft or declining health care or crushing debt or a corrupt political system or imperial decay—nope, the only thing that motivates Liberals to gather in the their thousands is the chance to celebrate their own lack of stupidity! Woo-hoo!
It’s the final humiliating undoing of Enlightenment Idealism that made Liberalism possible–imagine if Jefferson, Diderot, Montesquieu, Madison et al reduced the entire Enlightenment’s struggle against the old feudal order to “I’m against the monarchy because the monarchy’s stupid…but then again, Rousseau makes a fool of himself with his Romanticism, and Tom Paine is so serious with his ‘Rights of Man’, the Revolutionaries are just as crazy as the Monarchists, so rather than join either side and risk opening myself to mockery, I’m just going to stand back and laugh at them all and say, ‘Really? Independence? Everyone is created equal and has the right to pursue happiness? Really, TJ? You sure you want to say that about Bluebeard? Really?” [LAUGH TRACK]…
It’s not Stewart’s or Colbert’s fault, let’s be clear on that—they’re the only ones doing their job here. They’re the only ones fighting this battle, and the only way they’re surviving is by elaborately pretending they’re not really fighting anyone’s battle over anything, they’re just having a laugh—it’s the same rationale that jesters used in medieval times, and Stewart and Colbert play the same role as the jesters did then…and we’re also playing our role as powerless peasants reduced to self-mockery and snickering at our Masters behind their backs. It’s not their fault that Liberalism today has as its highest priority not looking stupid—and that its premiere rally is framed in such a way that everyone who came to this rally is somehow indemnified from looking foolish precisely because it’s not really a political rally, it’s more like a mockery of a political rally—in a self-consciously smart sort of way. And the Daily Show Democrats who gathered celebrated themselves for this amazing achievement: that they didn’t make fools of themselves standing for something that some other guys could then use to mock them. That’s the biggest sin of the other side, the Tea Partiers especially, at least as the Daily Show fans see it: they look silly, and worse, they’re not shamed into suicide from looking silly, the way Liberals would be shamed into OD’ing on Ambien if they opened themselves up to that sort of mockery.
It was this same lack of ironic self-awareness (or rather, this absence of any sort of mockery-avoidance technology) that led my generation to pillory the hippies and progressives–that’s why we were South Park Republicans before we were Daily Show Democrats: because back then, standing for liberal values meant something, and that made you look lame. Only now, when Liberal ideals have vanished into mythology and all they stand for is “not as crazy or stupid as Republicans” is it safe to camp out with the Democrats. They put nothing on the line ideologically, which perfectly jibes with this generation’s highest value. And that makes it perfectly safe to go to something like a large political rally like Stewart’s—you side with a hollow movement stripped of ideology or purpose, and then you gather to celebrate your own hollowness at a rally whose one promise is “You won’t open yourself up to mockery if you attend this rally” and whose goal is to show how not-stupid “we” are compared to the mockable activists on both the right and the left–the Beckites and the Code Pinkers.
I’ve come to the conclusion that this has been the Great Dream of my generation: to position ourselves in such a way that we’re beyond mockery. To not look stupid. That’s the biggest crime of all–looking stupid. That’s why they’ve turned Stewart into a demigod, because he knows how to make the other guys look really stupid, and if you’re on the same team as Stewart, you’re on the safe side of the mockery, rather than dangerously vulnerable to mockery.
In fact, I think this is why so many Gen-X/Yers turned against Obama: because he made them look stupid. They made themselves vulnerable to looking stupid by believing in him–and he jilted them. That’s how they see it–not that politics is a long ugly process that has nothing to do with self-esteem and everything to do with money and brawling–it was more like an “indie” consumer choice: They bought into the Obama brand, wore it, and suddenly discovered that the label wasn’t as cool as it seemed at the time, especially after the sentimental high of electing a half-black president wore off to the hard slog of what came after… so they threw the Obama jeans away and went to work trying to salvage their coolness creds for having made that fashion mistake. It’s captured best in this Awl essay by Tom Hanks’ daughter–E. A. Hanks, of all people: “Dear The Left: A Breakup Letter” which begins with her reaction to the special Senate election that Scott Brown won:
Dear The Left,
It’s interesting that you couldn’t keep Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat. I’m taking it for granted that you understand that I don’t mean “interesting” at all, but rather “detestable.”
So little Miss Hanks is not joking in her title for the essay–it really is written like a breakup letter. Leaving aside for now the question of “What the fuck is Tom Hanks’ daughter doing talking as if she and ‘The Left’ ever had a deal?”–or the other issue of “Why does your father make shitty Romantic comedy movies that turn decent people into anti-American suicide bombers?”–because we’ll get nowhere if we try answering those…anyway, leaving that aside…By framing her disillusionment as a breakup letter, she reduces the political struggle to a kind of frivolous private-school irony for 20-something Heathers, indemnifying her against Gen-X/Y reader suspicions that her break with Obama might mean she’s one of those Lefties who “have a cow.” She’s not–she’s cool and ironic and has a “Scott Brown? Really? You lost to Scott Brown? No, Really?” attitude, just like all the people who read her have.
E. A. Hanks (second from left) with Megan McCain and her friends from “The Left”
Keep in mind that this E.A. Hanks “break-up letter” wound up becoming a hugely popular, heavily-e-forwarded article earlier this year among all the Daily Show Democrats, as embarrassment swept across the Liberal egosphere following Scott Brown’s surprise victory in the Senate race. She is the voice of the Rally today.
So now ask–who writes breakup letters? What’s the point of that? If you’re breaking up with a lover whom you just want to get away from, you won’t publish a breakup letter, you just want it to go away. But if you’re breaking up with a lover because s/he humiliated you, or you’re worried somehow how this will affect your reputation among the cool crowd (the obsession of Gen-Xers and –Yers), then you DO write a letter and publish it, so that you make HIM look like the fool, you transfer the mockery and humiliation out of your hurt little feelers and restore your public image as someone who is cool, who is self-aware, who never gets too excited about things but this one time you did and you got burned and that sucks dude….It’s an elaborate Gen-X/Y rhetorical strategy to abandon a movement or a trend that’s in serious danger of making its fans look stupid. And it’s even worse than that—there’s something very 1950s about her peevishness and selfishness, a kind of Ayn Rand cheerleader dumping the QB because he lost the Homecoming game—all the while she waited it out beneath the bleachers to see who’d win, but she’d foolishly placed her bets a bit too early with the new black QB…
What E. A. Hanks didn’t realize–what no one at the Rally today celebrating their coolness realizes– is that this isn’t about cheerleading for the sentimental favorite and getting rewarded for it by some kind of Liberal Hollywood God—she’s supposed to fight a long dreary battle that goes on and on, long after the credits roll. But that’s not what she signed up for: She saw it as Obama escorting her to the Prom after he made all those hard-hearted Randian cheerleaders weep into their pom-poms at how he overcame adversity and realized the American Dream…only it turned out he can’t win the Big Game, he’s got no Red Zone O. I mean, like, where’s my The Blind Side black man? If Christians can have their Blind Side, why can’t we have our Liberal Blind Side too? The idea that Ms Hanks and the Gen-X cheerleaders looking over her shoulder are supposed to help win the game by any means necessary is as far from her petulant thoughts as possible here.
Instead, as the wounded party, what’s first on her mind is making sure she’s the first to dump, the easiest way to restoring her cool credibility:
Which is to say, we’re over. Yep, sorry. We’re through.
It’s not even that I don’t agree with you, because I do, on all the big ones, at least: Teddy Kennedy’s legacy, gays, abortion, endless wars for the profit of private companies, drowning polar bears, the works. I’m not running off to declare nonsense as truth like, “Health Care Will Kill Us All!” or anything like that.
But, you know what? I don’t think you’re good for me. Or for America, for that matter.
Here’s where something much more sinister about what passes for “Liberal” in my generation is revealed: the totally-selfish Ayn Rand activist, the petulant Libertarian protagonist who has a brand manager’s understanding of what it means to be “Liberal” or “Left”. It is this brand manager’s disillusionment with the brand that is fuelling the Jon Stewart rally—by identifying herself so closely with something that turned out to be not nearly as cool as the buzz claimed, she made herself vulnerable, and mockable. Which may seem frivolous to you old folks out there, but for her and for Gen-X/Yers, exposing yourself like that is the equivalent of a decade of marching for Civil Rights and against the war, getting arrested, beaten, jailed, negotiating with authorities, teaching, etc….here is the Gen-X/Y equivalent of “laying it all on the line”:
There was a moment, after the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th President (the one you take credit for) when there was an in-coming wave of people singing.
As the noise got closer, those words made famous by Bananarama became clear and rang out, golden over the Mall: “Na Na Na / Na Na Na / Hey Hey Hey / Goodbye!”
Countless people were waving up at the sky, and when I craned my neck back I could see Marine One was taking the previous President away, forever. His time was done.
I started to wave and sing too, but before I could really give it my best, I burst into tears, The Left. You would have been proud.
When I looked up to try to chip off the frozen snot and salt water from my face, I noticed something: the 100 people in my immediate vicinity were also crying.
And I don’t mean quiet, private, attractive tears.
People were sobbing, really going for it. There was more choking and heaving than a seventh grade girl’s bathroom.
I caught an evanescent understanding of the meaning of catharsis.
It’s not a pleasant, tidy emotional process, wherein one gets closure by having neat conversations that make you feel okay-it’s the violent purging of the cancer that’s been pulsating wetly in your guts for eight years.
Now you might be thinking here, “Hey wait a minute, this sounds just like something Meg Ryan would say, straight out of Sleepless in Seattle orYou’ve Got Mail!” Except that it’s worse: like so many disillusioned, spurned Daily Show Dems, she’s flustered that it didn’t all turn out the way a movie would—Obama got her all hot ‘n’ wet, and then somehow things got messy and ugly, it didn’t follow a 3-act dramatic plot. It just turned into work, with no credits ever rolling signifying the end, period. Work is supposed to be compressed into a 30-second montage because work is boring and lame—fuck this shit! It’s the purest expression of a profoundly hollow mindset, devoid of ideology, devoid of purpose beyond protecting her brand.
Why couldn’t Obama be more like him?
Hanks’ “break-up letter” wouldn’t matter here if it hadn’t been so popular, and such an early expression of the same mentality fueling the Jon Stewart rally. Somehow, far, far poorer Liberal Elites from the coasts identified with the far richer, privileged Hanks girl because everyone’s stuck in the same rhetorical rules and mindset that were formed in a more prosperous era, when being petulant and frivolous and ironic made a bit more sense, economically speaking. Now we’re fucked, and we’re incapable of adapting to our own desperate, declining circumstances with a more serious rhetorical style that matches our desperation and decline—we’re stuck rolling our eyes like we did in the good ol’ days, but rolling our eyes now is just plain bizarre for everyone but a privileged, selfish crypto-Randroid like Hanks. And not only have we learned to talk and act like celebrities, but we have absorbed the stupidity of their stock plots, in which a happy ending like the Obama Rally stays happy after the credits roll—nothing changes or gets complicated or ugly, it’s just over—over, goddamnit, like in the movies! That’s just not fair, you’re not supposed to cut to a new set of struggles after the happy ending—what kind of movie is that?
So even though we’re jobless and on food stamps, we’re afraid of coming off looking stupid complaining about it–whatever dire situation we’re in, the main thing is not to look stupid when complaining about it. the best way not to look stupid is to blame the guy who made you look stupid:
But I standing [sic] on the National Mall, crying in the arms of that stranger from Georgia, I realized that the anger I had for President Bush gave me was nothing in comparison with the rage I felt for The Left.
DailyKos and MoveOn and CodePink and yes, that other one, too. Grand-standing Congresspeople, bandana-ed prostesters and pontificating talking heads.
So much talking! So much feeling! And yet… nothing changed!
Yes, where’s that permanent change! It’s not supposed to be an ongoing struggle—change happens, it’s over, you get up and leave the movie theater. It’s not supposed to be like this! Fuck you, Code Pink!
Like Stewart, she hates on CodePink as much or more as the crazies on the right. That’s been misinterpreted by earnest Lefties as false equivalency–”How can you compare the war crimes and the tens of thousands of deaths caused by one side to shrill protests by CodePink on the other side?” they cry. But you see, that’s not what the Daily Show Democrats are talking about when they equate the two–what makes them equally bad is that they’re equally lame. And siding with either side makes you siding with lameness. That’s worse than any alleged war crime, by my generation’s standards.
You focused so much attention on beating Fox! All of your energy was spent on seeing who could win the spin war, and suddenly we were all shouting “You’re wrong! You’re wrong! You’re wrong!” together, to the point where we were just as hysterical and terrified as the other side! Probably even more!
In other words, “you” started to become effective. Not in the way a petulant Gen-Xer wanted it to be though, because one had to look lame to be effective. One had to be like CodePink–and CodePink isn’t cool. Gen-X/Y didn’t sign up for lame, they signed up for Obama, the sentimental favorite!
And then of course comes the requisite Gen-X self-awareness and self-mockery, preventative-mockery, the most popular rhetorical strategy of my Generation:
And yet here I go, changing everything between us. If I’m being honest, our relationship was all about placating my ego. All of it: the marches, the sit-ins, the phone trees, the whole shebang.
It was about glorifying my personal beliefs, and convincing myself that I was more against the war,more for gay rights, more serious about securing abortion rights, than anyone else.
If you think about it, it was pretty nifty thinking: It’ll look like I’m selflessly placing myself in harm’s way to make a point about how fucked up things are! Then everyone will know how serious I am, how serious I take things. Everyone will be super-impressed.
The only word I can think to describe it is masturbatory. My relationship with The Left was masturbatory.
The only purpose this part of the essay–and it’s the most important part of her argument–is that it serves to bolster what rhetoricians call her “ethos”: She’s establishing herself as self-aware and cool enough to mock herself in-advance, because only lame people or people who take things too seriously or weirdos are incapable of self-mockery. It’s a reverse-helix trick that answers the reader’s inevitable question: “Wait, is she just whining because she got dumped first? Because if she got dumped first, then someone’s a-gonna make fun of her…But no, she must be the one doing the dumping, because she’s showing that she can laugh at herself, and that means she’s not in any sort of emotionally-committed state. She’s not very mockable, which is exactly where I see myself.”
Then comes the ending of her essay, in which she winds up making the exact wrong choice that my generation made when it went “libertarian” as the fake-alternative to Democrat liberalism and Republican conservativism: going it alone.
And that’s why I’m taking this post-Kennedy moment to break up with you, The Left. I don’t want to talk about how I want America to change. I want the inevitable changes that mark American’s great march toward freedom for everyone to be manifested by my individual actions-by everyone’s individual actions.
What’s the point in being a voice in a crowd that’s screaming so loudly that no one has any idea what everyone’s saying? (Even if it’s a crowd I agree with!)
Like a petulant whiner, she wants things to happen without getting her ego dirty. Going it alone is the least-dangerous choice for someone whose politics are driven by vanity, but like the fashionable libertarianism of my generation, the most dangerous choice of all when you consider that politics is all about power struggles over how to order a particular civilization, what to prioritize, how to allocate, and so on. If the ruling class has enormous amounts of money and power and collectivizes in a variety of billionaires’ unions and special interests unions, and your answer is, “I’ll go it alone, at least I won’t look stupid” then you’re just fucking stupid.
It all becomes grotesquely clear with her zinger-conclusion, which equates the Left with “That Lame Guy” whom college wits would always make fun of:
Someone who comes to mind, The Left, is Bob Dylan. (See, I told you we’d still agree on things!)
You know what you’re like? You’re like the people who booed him when he went electric. You’re the pouting kid demanding more “protest songs,” when they’re all protest songs,
And who the hell boos Obam-I mean, Bob Dylan-anyway?
At this point, the Gen-X/Gen-Y stance becomes downright depressing. This is how far we’ve declined: a Gen-Y privileged hipster can’t even muster a zinger from her own era, so she reaches back to some barely-talented rat-cunning jerk from the 60s as her idea of a real cultural hero, if only because he’s managed to avoid being savagely mocked—and then she pulls her zinger from that generation’s “moment,” which was mocked by the next generation, and recycled by her generation…Cultural stagnation is the underlying theme of this whole mess, and that’s what leads back to the Rally to Restore Sanity. America and Liberalism have stagnated and decayed so much that they have to pull their zinger references from 40-year-old put downs that predate E. A. Hanks’ birth. And it still works–because the people who booed Dylan for going electric–their biggest sin is that they “took Dylan too seriously” and made fools of themselves for decades to come. That is her devastating evaluation of how the Obama movie went bad. That’s the lesson–bail out of anything that threatens to make you look lame. The big zinger is borrowed from a hipster put-down so old it predates Ms. Hanks birth—citing an old mockery-favorite like this. But everyone got it. And everyone agreed with her.
You see, this is why so many cool Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers were so jazzed up about going to the Stewart rally–by definition, they were guaranteed not to look stupid by going to it, because it’s not really a rally. They’re not putting anything on the line. They’re just going to chant the equivalent of that annoying Saturday Night Live Update skit “Really?” No generation ever looked so cool so late in their lives as my generation. We did it! We achieved our dream! We don’t look as stupid as the hippies did when they were in their 40s! Woo-hoo! We still mock ourselves and we’re still self-aware, but best of all, we don’t look stupid by devoting ourselves to ideas or movements that other people might one day laugh at. We won! We won the least-stupid-looking-generation competition! Let’s gather together in an ironic, self-aware way, and celebrate how we’re not really rallying or laying anything on the line–not even now, not even when the whole fucking country is collapsing. What’s our prize, Don?
Meanwhile, behind Door Number 1, the country is in two losing wars and the worst economic crisis in 80 years, behind Door Number 2, over 40 million Americans are on fucking food stamps, behind Door Number 3, millions are being land-transfered out of their property like landless peasants in a banana republic–yeah, it’s bad, whatever dude, it’s always been bad, nothing ever changes much, don’t have a cow, deal with it…
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say a few things that might sound stupid, but bear with me:
1. Collective action is the only possible way to change shit. Large numbers of collectivized nobodies rallying to demand what they want–a better cut of the pie, and a better world to live in. It’s the only thing that power-elites fear and the only way to get them to negotiate. There must be thousands of billionaires’ unions—whether the Chamber of Commerce or the gazillions of libertarian networks—and the only thing they hope and dream about and invest their effort into is planting a seed into your vain Gen-X brain that makes you think it’s lame to collectivize. That’s it, that’s the only thing they care about while they’re plundering away. You’ll have to stomach being around people who are lame, and who say lame things, and you’ll feel lame—so you’ll have to decide which is lamer: the fear of being lame, or forming an alliance with people lamer than you in order to struggle against people far meaner, far more greedy and destructive than the lame people you hate—people who have no qualms about being lame when they collectivize, so long as they destroy you and grab everything they want. Tough choice, I know.
2. The problem with the Left wasn’t that they were too fixated on proving they were right, or that they didn’t make enough noise before the war about the lies that led us into that war…the problem is that the Left doesn’t stand for anything Big because it’s not guided by a vision or an Ideal. What does the Left stand for? Let me suggest a few things in people’s own personal interests in these decaying times that the Left should stand for: first, people need money. Then if they have money, they need Life. Then they might be interested in “ideals” set out in the contract that this country is founded on. Ever read the preamble to the Constitution? There’s nothing about private property there and self-interest. Nothing at all about that. It’s a contract whose purpose is clearly spelled out, and it’s a purpose that’s the very opposite of the purpose driving Stewart’s rally, or the purpose driving the libertarian ideology so dominant over the past few generations. This country, by contract, was founded in order to strive for a “more Perfect Union”—that’s “union,” as in the pairing of the words “perfect” and “union”—not sovereign, not states, not local, not selfish, but “union.” And that other purpose at the end of the Constitution’s contractual obligations: promote the “General Welfare.” That means “welfare.” Not “everyone for himself” but “General Welfare.” That’s what it is to be American: to strive to form the most perfect union with each other, and to promote everyone’s general betterment. That’s it. The definition of an American patriot is anyone promoting the General Welfare of every single American, and anyone helping to form the most perfect Union—that’s “union”, repeat, “Union” you dumb fucks. Now, our problem is that there are a lot of people in this country who have dedicated their entire lives to subverting the stated purpose of this country. We must be prepared to identify those who disrupt and sabotage our national purpose of creating this “more perfect union” identifying those who sabotage our national goal of “promoting the General Welfare”—and calling them by their name: traitors. You who strive to form this Perfect Union and promote General Welfare—You are Patriots.
3. Anytime anyone says anything libertarian, spit on them. Libertarians are by definition enemies of the state: they are against promoting American citizens’ general welfare and against policies that create a perfect union. Like Communists before them, they are actively subverting the Constitution and the American Dream, and replacing it with a Kleptocratic Nightmare.
4. A slogan, a line from Blade Runner: “Then we’re stupid, and we’ll die.”
Former high school football star pleads guilty to assault in cheerleader case
HARDIN COUNTY- by Lindsey Kovacevich/6 News reporter -
A former Silsbee High school football star has pleaded guilty to assault in a case that involved a former cheerleader and an off campus party.
A judge sentenced Rakheem Jamal Bolton, 19, to one year in jail, but the sentence was suspended and Bolton will remain free if he follows the terms of his probation.
The 19-year-old was a football star at Silsbee High School. He was indicted for sexual assault following an October, 2008 off campus party.
Bolton pleaded Tuesday to the lesser charge of Class A Assault.
Rakheem Jamal Bolton stood before Judge Joe Bob Golden in a Hardin County courtroom Tuesday flanked by his attorney, Stella Morrison, and the special prosecutor, David Barlow.
Bolton pleaded guilty to Class A Assault. He was fingerprinted and then walked out of court.
"I feel relieved," Bolton told KFDM News. "I'm glad we came to an agreement and I'm just ready to move on with my life."
Bolton says it's been a long road to get to this point. It began in October of 2008 when he was still attending Silsbee High School.
"Yes, I do feel like it was fair," said Bolton. "Very fair."
Bolton says he wants to move on with is life and get back to the sport he loves.
"College, play football," said Bolton. "Everything else I wanted to do, I can finally do it now."
While Bolton is looking ahead in his life, he also looks back on the impact of the case on the former cheerleader.
"I have no hard feelings," said Bolton. "I never have and I feel like it was just a misunderstanding."
The former cheerleader and her family didn't attend the court hearing.
Special prosecutor David Barlow says they're satisfied with the outcome.
"The State feels it's a fair resolution for the victim, and the victim agrees," said Barlow. "I think it's a fair resolution also. The State is happy he has finally come forward and admitted his guilt."
Barlow understands not everyone in the community will be happy with the agreement.
"The community at large does not know all the facts and all the details involved in that," said Barlow. "Only the attorneys and the people involved. They are the ones that know and that's why everyone who was involved in this does believe it was justice and the proper thing to do."
Both Rakheem Bolton and the victim attended high school here in Silsbee, and even years later, the community remembers and reflects on the case."
"I believe in second chances," said Winford Harper. "He had gotten into a little trouble. Trying to clean his life up. Going to church. Doing his services every Wednesday. Trying to make a difference. He was making a difference in the neighborhood."
Jerry Howard knew Bolton as a child.
"I never had no problems as far as violence," said Howard. "I think he'll do real good getting another chance. Everyone makes mistakes."
"Very ready to put it behind me," said Bolton.
A sentiment echoed by Bolton's family in a case hardly forgotten by the people of Silsbee.
The judge also sentenced Bolton to 2 years probation, a $2,500 fine, 150 hours of community service, and he must attend an anger management course.
Bolton will always have the conviction of assault on his record.
Another defendant in the case, Christian Paul Rountree, was indicted on a charge of sexual assault. His case is pending.
Earlier report - HARDIN COUNTY - KFDM News has learned a former Silsbee High School football star indicted on a charge of sexually assaulting a former school cheerleader pleaded guilty in court Tuesday to the lesser offense of Class A Assault and received a probated sentence.
Rakheem Jamal Bolton, 19, cried during an interview with KFDM News following sentencing and told us is happy and relieved the case has ended.
"I have no hard feelings toward the girl," Bolton told KFDM reporter Lindsey Kovacevich after the sentencing. "It was a misunderstanding."
Bolton said he's ready to move on with his life, go to college and play football.
Bolton was represented by attorney Stella Morrison.
Attorney David Barlow was appointed special prosecutor in the case. Barlow told KFDM News the ex-cheerleader and her family supported the agreement and sentence.
KFDM News was in court for the sentencing. Watch Live at 5 and KFDM News at 6 and 10 for a report from Lindsey Kovacevich.
Judge Joe Bob Golden sentenced Bolton to one year in the Hardin County Jail, but the judge suspended the sentence and placed Bolton on probation for two years. The judge also assessed a fine of $2,500, 150 hours of community service, and ordered Bolton to attend anger management classes, in addition to the statutory conditiosn of probation. If he does everything he's required to while on probation, Bolton won't have to serve time in jail, but he'll have the conviction for Assault. If he violates probation, he'll have to serve the year in jail.
In November 2009 a grand jury indicted Bolton and former Silsbee High School football player Christian Paul Rountree, 20, on charges of sexual assault. They were accused of sexually assaulting a Silsbee High School cheerleader in October 2008 during a party away from the campus.
The case against Rountree is pending.
Bolton, Rountree and a juvenile who also played football at the time, were charged with the assault, but in January 2009 a grand jury decided not to indict them.
A different grand jury returned the two indictments in November 2009 against Bolton and Rountree. Attorney David Barlow presented the case to the grand jury. He was appointed Special Prosecutor when District Attorney David Sheffield recused himself.
If Bolton had been convicted of sexual assault, a 2nd Degree Felony, he could have received up to 20 years in prison.
KFDM News interviewed Bolton following the indictment in November. He told us he didn't sexually assault the cheerleader. Bolton said he looked forward to going to college and majoring in Communication. He also told us he wants to get the case behind him. He thanked his family for supporting him.
One of two suspects indicted on charges of sexually assaulting a Silsbee High School cheerleader at a party, proclaimed his innocence during an interview with KFDM News after he posted $250,000 bond and was released from jail Wednesday.
Rakheem Jamal Bolton, 18, told KFDM News he didn't sexually assault the cheerleader. Bolton said he looks forward to going to college and majoring in Communication, and he wants to get the case behind him. He also thanked his family for its support.
Bolton was accompanied by his attorney, Stella Morrison, and an aunt, when he left the jail at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Morrison told KFDM News her client, and Christian Paul Rountree, 19, are both innocent of the charges against them. Rountree was released from jail Tuesday evening after posting $250,000 bond.
The Hardin County grand jury Tuesday indicted Bolton and Rountree on charges of sexual assault of a child.
The charges are 2nd Degree Felonies. If convicted, Bolton and Rountree could face punishment ranging from 2-20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
The grand jury didn't indict a student who was a juvenile at the time of the incident and who had previously been charged in the case. A special prosecutor who presented the case to the grand jury Tuesday told KFDM News the grand jury didn't have jurisdiction over the student.
Bolton is a senior and played football this year. Rountree played last year and has graduated.
In January a different grand jury decided not to indict the three Silsbee High School football players.
They were charged with sexually assaulting the cheerleader in October of 2008 during a party away from the Silsbee High School campus.
The girl says she was pushed into a room and sexually assaulted while the door was locked.
"I believe they're innocent," Morrison told KFDM News, in reference to Bolton and Rountree. "I believe they're not guilty of sexually assaulting the young lady. I don't believe it occurred the way I heard it on the news. If the witnesses come forward, they'll tell the truth and show it didn't happen that way. There will be a lot of extenuating facts that'll shed a big difference on the outcome."
Morrison said she wants a speedy trial so Bolton can move ahead with his life.
"Rakheem has received several football scholarship offers," said Morrison. "It's important for a child who can't pay tuition to receive a scholarship and get an education. The family had been working and preparing for this for years. Now there's a question because he's looking at a sentence of up to 20 years. I don't want to say the victim isn't devastated, but yes, it's devastating to Rakheem's family."
Attorney David Barlow was appointed special prosecutor to present the case to the grand jury when District Attorney David Sheffield recused himself after he was named as one of the defendants in a civil lawsuit filed by the cheerleader's family. The lawsuit alleges the D.A.'s investigation was improperly handled. In the past, Sheffield has strongly denied the allegations.
"I thought the evidence was very compelling and evidently the grand jury did as well," Barlow told KFDM News. "I was confident this grand jury would do the right thing and obviously they have by indicting it. The State is very happy with the outcome and so is the victim and the victim's family as well."
Barlow said he'll remain on the case and oversee the prosecution.
KFDM News spoke by telephone with the cheerleader's father. He didn't want to comment on the indictments and referred us to Larry Watts, a Houston-area attorney representing the teen's family in the civil lawsuit filed in Hardin County.
"The family isn't happy with their daughter being assaulted or with anything surrounding the case, but they're satisfied the system is back on track," Watts told KFDM News during a telephone conversation Tuesday afternoon.
"It's interesting that this is the second grand jury to hear the facts that occurred more than a year ago," said Watts. "Another grand jury was scheduled to hear the case in September of this year, but because of the inappropriate release of information to the grand jury from the D.A.'s office, that grand jury was denied the opportunity to hear the case. This grand jury heard essentially the same information heard by the previous grand jury. They had the Silsbee P.D. case file. This has been available to the school district and they didn't do one darned thing except yank the cheerleader out of her activities because she protested having to cheer during a basketball game for one of the people accused of sexually assaulting her."
A spokesperson told KFDM News the Jasper chapter of the NAACP is planning a news conference to protest the indictments. The news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the Hardin County Courthouse.
The Hardin County grand jury has decided not to indict three Silsbee High School football players who were charged with sexually assaulting a cheerleader during a party, according to District Attorney David Sheffield.
The grand jury heard about three hours of testimony Monday before voting to no-bill Christian Rountree, 18, Rakheem Bolton, 17, and a 16 year old juvenile.
They were accused of sexually assaulting a Silsbee High School cheerleader last October during a party at a home in Silsbee.
The girl testified before the grand jury.
"The action by the Grand Jury ends the matter unless something such as newly discovered evidence arises and necessitates presentment of the case to this or another Grand Jury," said Sheffield.
Sheffield told KFDM News everyone involved in the case is a victim of underage drinking and an extreme lack of adult supervision.
"Because everyone had been drinking, it would have made it difficult to prove the allegations raised in this case," said Sheffield.
"Everyone's memory and degree of accuracy in their recollections would make it tough to prove."
A woman at the home where the party took place faces misdemeanor charges of making alcohol available to minors.
Sheffield says because the players and the cheerleader are no more than three years apart in age, state law prevents prosecution for sexual assault if the grand jury cannot determine there was lack of consent. He says if the age difference had been greater than three years, state law allows for prosecution of sexual assault, even if there's consent.
"The case has deeply divided the community of Silsbee and especially Silsbee High School." Sheffield strongly warns that any retribution, threats or harassment of the victim could result in 3rd degree felony Retaliation charges being filed.
So that was a month ago. Now there is this.
Cheerleader Required to Cheer for Man Who Assaulted Her
If someone assaulted you, would you want to then cheer for his performance on a basketball court? A 16-year-old Texas high school student sure didn’t.
High school football star Rakheem Bolton and two others were indicted for sexual assault of a child–identified only as H.S.–at a post-game party in 2008. According to H.S.–a fellow student and cheerleader at Silsbee High–Bolton, football player Christian Rountree and another juvenile male forced her into a room, locked the door, held her down and sexually assaulted her. When other party-goers tried to get into the room, two of the men fled through an open window, including Bolton, who left clothing behind. Bolton allegedly threatened to shoot the occupants of the house when the homeowner refused to return his clothes.
In September 2010, Bolton pled guilty to a lesser charge of Class A Assault and was sentenced to one year in prison, a sentence that was suspended by the judge in lieu of two years probation, a $2,500 fine, community service and an anger management course.
Silsbee school officials had two responses to the incident. First, they urged H.S. to keep a low profile, such as avoiding the school cafeteria and not taking part in homecoming activities. With the support of her family, she refused to do so, rejecting the notion that she had anything to be ashamed of. Secondly, school officials kicked her off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer for Bolton. No kidding.
Bolton had been allowed back on campus during a brief period when one grand jury withdrew the charges before another grand jury reinstated them. During a basketball game, H.S. cheered for the entire team but refused to cheer “Rakheem” during his free-throws, so she was off the squad.
H.S.’s parents sued the school for violating her right to free speech, but an appeals court dismissed her case earlier this month. The bizarre reasoning: “In her capacity as cheerleader, [she] served as a mouthpiece through which the school could disseminate speech–namely, support for its athletic teams.” Not cheering for Bolton “constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, [she] was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.” In other words, the “work of the school” is basketball, and H.S. was obligated to put on a robotic smile and cheer for the man who had assaulted her.
Silsbee High School officials should be held accountable for their actions. Richard Bain, Jr., the superintendent of schools, allegedly ordered H.S. to cheer for her attacker.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
In his 1912 Manuscript on Relativity, Einstein never stated that time is the fourth dimension, but rather he wrote x4 = ict. The fourth dimension is not time, but ict. Despite this, prominent physicists have oft equated time and the fourth dimension, leading to un-resolvable paradoxes and confusion regarding time’s physical nature, as physicists mistakenly projected properties of the three spatial dimensions onto a time dimension, resulting in curious concepts including frozen time and block universes in which the past and future are omni-present, thusly denying free will, while implying the possibility of time travel into the past, which visitors from the future have yet to verify. Beginning with the postulate that time is an emergent phenomenon resulting from a fourth dimension expanding relative to the three spatial dimensions at the rate of c, diverse phenomena from relativity, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics are accounted for. Time dilation, the equivalence of mass and energy, nonlocality, wave-particle duality, and entropy are shown to arise from a common, deeper physical reality expressed with dx4/dt=ic. This postulate and equation, from which Einstein’s relativity is derived, presents a fundamental model accounting for the emergence of time, the constant velocity of light, the fact that the maximum velocity is c, and the fact that c is independent of the velocity of the source, as photons are but matter surfing a fourth expanding dimension. In general relativity, Einstein showed that the dimensions themselves could bend, curve, and move. The present theory extends this principle, postulating that the fourth dimension is moving independently of the three spatial dimensions, distributing locality and fathering time. This physical model underlies and accounts for time in quantum mechanics, relativity, and statistical mechanics, as well as entropy, the universe’s expansion, and time’s arrows and asymmetries in all arenas.
“More intellectual curiosity, versatility and yen for physics than Elliot McGucken’s I have never seen in any senior or graduate student. . . Originality, powerful motivation, and a can-do spirit make me think that McGucken is a top bet for graduate school in physics. . . I say this on the basis of close contacts with him over the past year and a half. . . I gave him as an independent task to figure out the time factor in the standard Schwarzchild expression around a spherically- symmetric center of attraction. I gave him the proofs of my new general-audience, calculus-free book on general relativity, A Journey Into Gravity and Space Time. There the space part of the Schwarzchild geometric is worked out by purely geometric methods. “Can you, by poor-man’s reasoning, derive what I never have, the time part?” He could and did, and wrote it all up in a beautifully clear account. . . .his second junior paper . . .entitled Within a Context, was done with another advisor, and dealt with an entirely different part of physics, the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky experiment and delayed choice experiments in general. . . this paper was so outstanding. . . I am absolutely delighted that this semester McGucken is doing a project with the cyclotron group on time reversal asymmetry. Electronics, machine-shop work and making equipment function are things in which he now revels. But he revels in Shakespeare, too. Acting the part of Prospero in the Tempest. . . ” --John Archibald Wheeler, Princeton University, Recommendation for Elliot McGucken for Admission to Graduate School of Physics
Dr. Elliot McGucken’s Biography: “Dr. E” received a B.A. in physics from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in physics from UNC Chapel Hill, where his research on an artificial retina, which is now helping the blind see, appeared in Business Week and Popular Science and was awarded a Merrill Lynch Innovations Grant. While at Princeton, McGucken worked on projects concerning quantum mechanics and general relativity with the late John A. Wheeler, and the projects combined to form an appendix treating time as an emergent phenomenon in his dissertation. McGucken is writing a book for the Artistic Entrepreneurship & Technology (artsentrepreneurship.com) curriculum he created.
Time as an Emergent Phenomenon
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Officer bubbles you are a jackass. You earned every bit of ridicule you've received. Assault laws are on the books to protect the weak, and you would use them to arrest someone over a microliter of soap and water. Now you are suing people for speaking out against you. The only honorable thing for you to do now would be to resign, but you won't because you have grown accustomed to the protections afforded you by your position. Your a big pussy.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
*EDIT* I mistakenly thought Youtube was broken. The above embedded youtube video is actually a playlist that includes the second part to this video. Mysteriously the second part has disabled embedding so it will not play on this blog. I urge you to load up the video in youtube (the second part is called 'Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video: 2nd Attempt'), and watch as it is even funnier then the first part.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Firefighters watch as home burns to the ground
Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Mark Owen
OBION COUNTY, Tenn. - Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won't respond, then watches it burn. That's exactly what happened to a local family tonight.
A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.
The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn't do anything to stop his house from burning.
Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.
The mayor said if homeowners don't pay, they're out of luck.
This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn't put it out. It wasn't until that fire spread to a neighbor's property, that anyone would respond.
Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.
"I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong," said Gene Cranick.
Because of that, not much is left of Cranick's house.
They called 911 several times, and initially the South Fulton Fire Department would not come.
The Cranicks told 9-1-1 they would pay firefighters, whatever the cost, to stop the fire before it spread to their house.
"When I called I told them that. My grandson had already called there and he thought that when I got here I could get something done, I couldn't," Paulette Cranick.
It was only when a neighbor's field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded. Gene Cranick asked the fire chief to make an exception and save his home, the chief wouldn't.
We asked him why.
He wouldn't talk to us and called police to have us escorted off the property. Police never came but firefighters quickly left the scene. Meanwhile, the Cranick home continued to burn.
We asked the mayor of South Fulton if the chief could have made an exception.
"Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't," Mayor David Crocker said.
Friends and neighbors said it's a cruel and dangerous city policy but the Cranicks don't blame the firefighters themselves. They blame the people in charge.
"They're doing their job," Paulette Cranick said of the firefighters. "They're doing what they are told to do. It's not their fault."
To give you an idea of just how intense the feelings got in this situation, soon after the fire department returned to the station, the Obion County Sheriff's Department said someone went there and assaulted one of the firefighters.
Click through that link for a great video.
Monday, October 4, 2010
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