Lyft Comes to St. Louis Fueled by Hipster Love; A Cabbies Response

Since 2005 it has been my pleasure to be a cab driver in my hometown of St. Louis. On a daily basis I get to see all parts of St. Louis City, St. Louis County and often the Metro-East and beyond. While I love my job there are also many challenges. I’ve had to deal with attempted robberies, people throwing up in my cab, urinating in the cab, fighting in the backseat, inappropriate sexual behavior in the backseat, people who jump out and run, passengers who have tried to fight me, and almost anything else you can think of. Still, I love my job.

 

What do I love? I love meeting new people everyday and hearing their stories. There are some passengers I’ve been picking up for years and by now they know my kids names and I know their kids names. There have been passengers I became friends with and others I have counseled through divorces and deaths in the family. When my ex-wife and I divorced I told my passengers even before I told my family. These relationships and the thrill of seeing the look on the faces of my passengers when they see the Arch, Old Courthouse or Central Library for the first time makes all the hard times worth it.  We get them all. One day I picked up former St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and dropped him off at Busch Stadium and my next passenger was a homeless guy out of the New Life Evangelistic Center. The full microcosm of society.

 

What Uber and Lyft Do and How They Damage the Profession

 

Uber and Lyft may sound like a good idea and may sound “progressive”. They probably sound the best to people who know the least about cabs. We can start with the knowledge that St. Louis has a long history of cab companies. Some still operating and many who have went away.  There are many professional cabbies who have been driving for decades. For cabbies to earn a decent living there has to be proper regulation of the industry. Too few cabs and the public isn’t served and too many and drivers can’t make decent money. St. Louis has done a pretty good job at regulating the industry through the Metropolitan Taxi Commision. Not perfect by a longshot; but one of the better regulatory bodies by national standards.

 

Driving a cab in St. Louis is a job that has allowed drivers to buy homes, raise families and send their children to college. Its not a plaything for me. I work 6 or 7 days a week on this job ( usually 10-12 hours a day) and thats the money I use to support my children and pay my bills. While business in the fall, winter and spring is brisk for the most part come summer time business grinds to a hault. Drivers barely make it in the summer time and there is little margin for error. With Uber and Lyft appearing on the scene that margin of error may be wiped away, Drivers may lose their jobs, tuition may not get paid, the lights may go out, the gas may get cut off, evictions can happen, and marriages and relationships may crumble. Its that serious.

 

St. Louis is already a city that has lost so many good-paying blue-collar jobs. America has become a nation of haves and have-nots and St. Louis is no different. Gone are the days when you could walk up and down Broadway or Hall Street and find good-paying jobs with ease to feed your families. Good jobs are scarce in this city for the working-class and driving a cab is one of those good jobs. Lyft and Uber are part of the Walmartization of America. Part-time workers earning fast-food wages diminishing from the profession. These drivers are in a very real sense akin to scab workers and like the companies they drive for represent regression and not progression.

 

There is nothing progressive about lowering earnings for working-class people, Nor is there anything progressive about undercutting labor costs to the point workers are driven into poverty and homelessness. Its a game as old as the laborers in the days of the Bible and as recent as those sweating in the mines of Western and Southern Africa. Play the working-class against one another for the benefit of the wealthy who seek to be served no matter the human cost.

Who Catches Cabs

 

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about who actually catches cabs. In a city with the “Delmar Divide” where black and white don’t mix as much as we should and the poor and the rich mix even less people tend to not know a lot about each others lives.

 

Most of the people who catch cabs in St. Louis are not hipsters, or yuppies or business people or college students. They’re not out drinking and partying.  No, the biggest bulk of our passengers are the elderly and the working-poor. People who catch cabs to and from work everyday. Those who take cabs from the grocery store or to the doctor’s office. Sunday is Easter and without a doubt I will be taking people to church and to their families homes to celebrate, There are others who we pick up from the emergency rooms of hospitals, rescue from domestic violence taking them to shelters or pick up from the Ronald McDonald house for sick children. No tips and usually not that much money.

 

We can afford to do that because come thursday night we get the college kids from Washington University and St. Louis University and on Friday and Saturday night we are both delivering and picking up those enjoying the nightlife of St, Louis. Thats where we are able to make serious money. Take that away and we lose drivers and losing drivers will hurt the poor and working-class people who need cabs the most. Lyft and Uber are not designed to serve the poor and working-class populations in the St. Louis area. Its an elitist concept for an elite crowd; but rest assured its casualties will be in deep south city, north city and north county.

Problems With St. Louis Cab Service

 

No business or business-model is perfect. People aren’t perfect and from time to time we all may need a little rejuvenation. There are certainly things cab companies and drivers can do to improve the industry. There are also things that have already been done like the “STL Taxi” and “Taxi Magic” apps to order legal cabs in St. Louis.

 

However, allow me to share how customers can be proactive in improving their experience. Since Uber and Lyft are designed to serve the hipster population let me share with you some of the problems hipsters seem to have with catching cabs:

 

-making time-orders and then still coming out late or not coming out at all

-calling from hi-rise apartment buildings and not waiting in the lobby forcing drivers to double-park and block traffic

-calling for a cab from a bar and then just hopping into the first cab you see regardless as to whether its your cab or not

-getting into unlicensed cabs and then complaining you got screwed

 

On the drivers part if you are displeased with any licensed driver or have a complaint you can call the company or the MTC. There are safeguards in place to protect passengers.

Hipsters and a Just Society

 

To call a spade a spade it just is what it is. Lyft and Uber aren’t coming to serve good ole St. Louis hoosiers or North St. Louis. Nope, they are coming by invitation and for the hipster population ( and to a lesser extent business people and college-students). Hence they kicked off at Nebula ( the center of hipster thought in St. Louis),

 

So, now let me use this time to call out hipsters and ask what kind of a society do you want to live in? Do you favor the right-wing economics of the GOP or do you favor a more humane and just society? Hipsters are mostly associated with the left and being progressive; but with a closer look you could very well come to a different conclusion. Of course there are many brilliant and progressive folks in the hipster population who do much good; but still these questions need to be asked.

 

If you’re  supporting the decimation of good working-class jobs you can’t make a very good claim of being progressive. Uber and Lyft are conservative-economic ideas. Over the last several years I’ve heard several young hipsters tell my they’re socially-liberal and economic-conservatives, a popular trend in American politics. Well, I hate to break it to you buddy; but its economics and the role of the state which defines politics. If you’re an economic conservative despite how ironic and sarcastic you may be or how tight your jeans are you my friend are a conservative.

 

However, there is something even worse. If you believe the resources of the state should be used to help the affluent and disenfranchise the poor, which often happens during gentrification, that puts you in a category that conjurs up some very nasty images from the 20th Century.

 

Some will look from the outside and say hipsters succeed because of three things; government aid, racial-solidarity and class-solidarity. If I was a hipster I would be looking to counter that image. I would be looking to hire African-Americans in bars and restaurants opening up in heavily black areas and let it be known those in the neighborhoods will be the first to be hired. Yet, that is not the case. These bars and restaurants open in black neighborhoods with high unemployment rates and the staffs are either all-white or nearly all-white and not from the neighborhood. St. Louis cabbies are mostly minorities; but I am willing to wager most Lyft and Uber drivers won’t be. This is an issue the local NAACP, Black Clergy Coalition and Urban League needs to take up for this reason.

 

There is nothing progressive about moving into black neighborhoods. The term “settler” and “pioneer” are hardly progressive.  St. Louis was a Native American neighborhood when the Europeans arrived and that didn’t turn out to be very progressive. If moving into black neighborhoods made one a progressive surely the likes of Cecil Rhodes, the Belgians employed by King Leopold in the Congo and the Afrikaans of South Africa would be seen as the most progressive people ever. If being a settler and pioneer was such a beautiful thing Israel wouldn’t need to keep over 100,000 troops in the West Bank.  Its what you do when you move in. Do you move in as brothers and sisters or do you move in as conquerors? Do you come to work with the local population or do you come to eradicate the local population?

 

Gentrification fueled by hipsters is in its early stages in St. Louis. You have a choice; do you want to repeat the methods that have brutalized the poor and working-class in cities like New York, DC, and San Francisco or do you want to be true leaders and trailblazers in St. Louis and advocate for a just society? Saying no to Lyft and Uber and yes to good-paying working-class jobs will be a step in the right direction and a show of good faith.

 

The media also has a role. While hipsters may be few in numbers they have a stranglehold over conversations about St. Louis in the media ( particularly in public media). Their side tends to be the only side to get air or ink. So, I ask the local media to be fair and just and cover both sides of this issue.

 

 

Solidarity With Labor and Show-Me 15  and Mayor Slay

 

Lyft and Uber come at a time of great turmoil for the working-class in St. Louis. Republican lawmakers ( who I’m sure would love Lyft as Lyft has hired GOP lobbyists before) are trying to make Missouri a right-to-work state. In other words they’re trying to get rid of unions in Missouri and make our state more equivalent to Mississippi or Arkansas in terms of workers-rights.This was tried in the 1970’s and failed miserably. Those were different times though. That was a Democratic Party committed to the poor and working-class. Many Democratic voters today think being progressive is about watching Stephen Colbert and eating from Whole Foods ( owned by a right-winger btw) and are not concerned with issues like right-to-work. Yet there are many who are fighting on behalf of the people. As St. Louis cabbies we must stand with them because Lyft and Uber come in the same spirit as right-to-work.  We must also support the Show Me 15 campaign organized by fast-food workers in St. Louis. Lyft and Uber want to drive down our earnings and McDonalds and Burger King are seeking to do the same with their workers. Working-class solidarity between professions.


In closing I would like to thank St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay who has been supportive of St. Louis cabbies and the MTC. Today more than ever I am happy I voted for Mayor Slay and worked for his re-election and consider him a friend to cabbies and a great mayor ( now don’t let me down).

St. Louis Political Scene

image

Along with Zuhdi Masri my choice for License Collector of the city of St. Louis is clear-Alderman Jeffery Boyd

image

Along with Zuhdi Masri Umar Lee showing support to 6th District officers

image

Duran at the Better Together St. Louis event at the Fortune Teller Bar. Remember the city and county go together like peanut butter and jelly

image

St. Louis Chief of Police Sam Dotson delivers a moving lecture on crime and policing. Don't agree with all of his policies but he definitely gets a thumbs up from me overall.

Commentary on My Video From Last Year

– My video : The organized Muslim community in America was dominated by Arab Ikhwaanis and South Asian Maududiites for decades. They sought to dominate the political and social leadership, control the narrative, and influence American foreign-policy to support Palestine and favor Islamist political parties in Muslim countries.

Today those groups are falling by the wayside. The new ascending group also seeks power, to control the narrative, to a much lesser extent influence foreign-policy; but more than anything they seek acceptance and to become part of the liberal-elite establishment.

Unlike the older group they have no Islamist or revolutionary ambitions and don’t seek to challenge oppressive neo-colonial structures or white-domination in any way. They just want to be the token Muslim staffers or talking-heads and their Muslim identity is seen as their vehicle to career success. While very few in numbers they tend to be educated, tech-savvy, and relatively affluent.

Unlike the older group they don’t control masjids or large institutions nor do they have the capability. Nor is that their goal. They would rather have token spots on non-Muslim organizations or receive funding from non -Muslim institutions. It is particularly desirable for them to attack Muslims who don’t conform to white Western norms thus setting themselves up as the “good ones”. Muslim-masculinity, non American-approved governments and international movements, and 99% of the scholarship in the history of Islam.

A fantasy make-believe Islam is promoted. One that has never existed.
One in which teenage divorcees in polygamous marriages promote themselves as feminists. A feminist, green, gay-friendly Islam perfectly at home in a Woody Allen film or an episode of Sex in the City.

On the fringes are the young and vulnerable, kids with identity issues, and true believers. These groups help to line the pockets of celebrity imams. Imams who compete among themselves for market-share. Salafi, Sufi, acaddmic. Etc. Are niches of the market to be exploited. On the fringe are hardcore Sufis, black nationalists, Madkhalis and jihadis who all fight among themselves.

Outside of this paradigm are African-American Muslims. Neither the old or new group has any use for black Muslims. However, they see it as beneficial to have a token “negro on display” so each will typically have a go to black.

The reasons for this are many. South Asians and Arabs tend to have deeply ingrained racist attitudes towards black people. Second, black people cannot help them advance into the white mainstream. Black Islam also tends to be more masculine, dogmatic and hostile to white-domination. All things that put them at odds with the power groups.

African-American Muslims also live in a fantasy world. House and apartment masjids, storefront masjids, zero-growth, controlled by foreign scholars, endless-infighting, a worse family situation than any racial or religious group in America, heads full of conspiracy theories, stuck in a narrative of violence, steeped in a gang-mentality, criminality never far away, hijrah fantasies to lands they’re not wanted or needed, children in bad situations, apostasy, poverty, isolation, dogmatic extremism, and I can go on and on.

The jihadis also live in a fantasy world and hypocritical existence but in America they are few and irrelevant.

From this chaos groups emerge to try and soothe the pain. Such as Taleef. Or some of the younger almaghrib imams. Or isolated imams and individuals scattered throughout the country.

White Muslims have our own problems: identity issues, attention-seekers, conversions for attention, conversions for political gain, conversion for marriage or to fulfill a “foreign-fetish”. In my younger days most white Muslims I knew were hardcore, today they seem to be mostly liberal nuts who would rather change Islam than have Islam change them. Whether it was then or now a lot of white Muslims tend to have emotional and mental issues as Timothy Winter noted.

For me I’m just not that spiritual. I vibe with who I vibe with. Salafi, Sufi, Jew, Christian, atheist, I don’t care. When I am on my deen I’m in a zone. I’ve found I no longer need a masjid. Definitely not in St. Louis where the masjids bring you closer to hell than heaven. When I’m out of town I may still visit a masjid. If I feel like it. Or I may get high or try to hang out. Depends where my head is.

What I’ve found is my personal life and career have improved dramatically since I stopped going to the masjid and giving a fuck. Right now I’m in a pretty good place and I didn’t get here by going to the masjid.

Now to the video. People won’t leave that alone. Conspiracy theories and the like.

I was in a bad place. Wasn’t feeling good. Was dealing with a tough situation with my youngest daughter’s mother, mixed with the stress of my older daughter’s situation, mixed with the fact I just got into another one of these halal fuck-buddy BS “marriages”, mixed with the fact I was in a life and death feud with killers on the streets of St. Louis, mixed with the fact people were putting pressure on me to do things I didn’t wanna do, mixed with the fact I was getting tired of a lot of Muslim bullshit, mixed with the fact I was high, and I just wanted out. So I made the video. I thought OK now I can just do me; but it didn’t go like that.

It went viral online. People I hate like Pam Geller used it. Also I hurt some people’s feelings. Those that didn’t like me just had more ammunition; elitist-liberal activist types, Madkhalis, Bougie-Sufis , classists, and just random people.

I went back to the masjid during Ramadan. Had a good Ramadan with a circle of very close friends in St. Louis I’ve for years. This despite the fact a crazy man ambushed me in an alley behind the masjid towards the end of Ramadan over the video (and he got fucked up).

However, I haven’t been back to the masjid since Ramadan and I’m feeling great. Like haven’t felt this good since a teenager. I still got my Quran, do my salat, and talk to the brothers, but I don’t have time for the bullshit.

Tbc….
Amazingly there are still people talking about this video like it was yesterday. A salafi recently told a friend of mine that “my blood is halal” and people in 4 or 5 states want to kill me. That is further evidence that Salafeeyah in the black urban context is little more than a cult of criminal-deadbeats.

The brothers from the Muslims of the Americas (al-Fuqra) also seem to have finally gotten around to commenting on this.

Regarding them I visited their lands three times, found them to be nice people with very good character: but never joined them or made any bayah as British blogger Yusuf Smith stated ( among other things he got wrong such as me having belonged to different groups which I never have).  I would also continue to defend them against the false allegations a lot of people have made against them such as their being bunkers on the land and crazy shit like that. It is a peaceful community. The old-timers may have been killers and soldiers back in the day; but the younger generation is barely practicing the deen and more concerned with money and pussy. Hardly anything for the government or anyone else to be concerned with. I still submit that despite their issues they are the indigenous group with the best family and community situation and yeah that’s not saying a lot.

While I enjoyed my time visiting the MOA, and some of the brothers were really friendly ( not to mention some very good looking sisters), I found them to be distrustful of outsiders, cultish, living in the past, no way I was going to trick my money off to Pakistan, most of those who grew-up in that movement are social misfits and emotionally-damaged and it was just not for me. Why a member from Virginia felt the need to write something now I’m not sure when I have previously said nothing ill towards them and their community has a lot of internal issues that would seem to be way more important than me.

 

Said what I said. Not interested in a back and forth discussion. Comments closed.

 

Looking at Putin, Ukraine, Terrorism and Democracy From St. Louis

To learn about this situation tune out the American and British media. All have their biases and traditional prejudices. FOX has a Republican conservative bias, MSNBC and Comedy Central a bourgeois-liberal Democrat bias, NPR and PBS has the bias of elite-consensus, CNN is just trying to stay on the air and yet all of them will stand in unison on some issues. Today they are united in the vilification of Russia and President Vladimir Putin. This is an old story and appeals to some of the oldest and most base desires humans posses: blind-patriotism, uniformed nationalism, tribalism, and the western need for conquest and domination.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Today Putin is the bad man and Russians are once again villains. Perhaps the fear-mongering towards Muslims got played out and America needed a new villain and they decided to bring Russia back for a sequel. Whether it be in Russia, Venezuela or Egypt today you are mostly getting one side of the story. The side of the story of those who lost elections and took to the streets. A side of the story that is pleasing to the American and British ear. A side that says you’re right, we are young, how can we be of service? A side that tweets in English, writes in English, and appeals to foreign sensibilities.

The American media has fallen for this type of okie-doke before. Remember Ahmed Shalabi and the other Iraqis with the ear of the Bush Administration who promised American troops in Iraq would be greeted as liberators? Thrown roses and chocolates? I said in an interview at the time on KMOV that thousands of American troops would come home in bodybags. Other anti-war folks scoffed at me and like naive liberals told me all of the casualties would be on the Iraqi side. They would be too overwhelmed by American force. What I knew and they didn’t was this: the pride of the Arab, and the pride of the Muslim, will never accept occupation. The Christian Bible ( in an often misused verse) says “turn the other cheek”. The Quran says “oppression is worse than slaughter”. Sadly I was right.

America has an “Atticus Finch Problem”. Remember Atticus instructed Scout to try and view the world through the other man’s shoes? America sees the world through their own shoes. Other governments and peoples should live and strive for the edification of America. If they want something good for themselves and maybe not America they are insane, evil, terrorists, or extremists. America goes all the way around the world to invade Iraq with no just-cause and the media and both parties  lines up in support. Russia goes down the street to look after its people and Putin is living in the 19th Century. Perhaps he is a madman. After all no sane person can disagree with the Western-view.

Times like these also illustrate with regards to foreign-policy there is very little difference in the two American political parties. The same liberals who marched and railed against President Bush or silent as church-mice about the drone-strikes, surveillance-state and aggression of President Obama.  John Kerry and Hillary Rodham-Clinton both voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq and today they are sounding like neo-cons once again.  Hillary, who perhaps flunked her middle-school history classes, even compared Putin to Hitler.

Russia-Ukraine: The View From St. Louis

I am no expert on the situation so I will just divide my basic knowledge into four categories:  my travels to the area in support of the Chechen Mujahudeen, my time with the Klitschko Brothers, a friend from Odessa named Oleg, and a Russian man in St. Louis I will just call Alex.

Chechnya 

In 1996 I was supposed to go to Chechnya to fight with the Chechen rebels seeking independence from Russia. All of these feds and know-nothing “terrorism-experts” today will tell you that people get motivated by a leader, motivated by the internet, or some external force. From my experience that is bullshit. My friend Ismail Royer, prior to meeting Ali al-Timimi or anyone else that people say motivated him, made up his mind from his parent’s basement in St. Louis that he wanted to go fight in Bosnia. He made this decision because he believed Bosnians were undergoing a great oppression, women were being raped, thousands were dying and he felt it was his duty as a Muslim to help. In hind-site of course it was mostly fueled by youthful-idealism and a sense of adventure.

While Ismail went to Bosnia and came back with all the Muslim glory, stories, and a wife I was in Kinloch selling crack to help support myself and my baby daughter and learning about grassroots Islam from Sheikh Abdul-Rahman and the brothers when I wasn’t high or drunk.  After I got clean and really started to deen I made up my mind the next time there was a major oppression of Muslims I would go and fight.

Saudi-born Chechen Jihad Commander Khattab

Saudi-born Chechen Jihad Commander Khattab

In 1996 the situation in Chechnya captivated the minds of young Muslims. The mujahudeen were not only fighting the Russians they were winning and the Saudi-born Khattab became a global celebrity. Ismail’s wife had gone to visit her family back home so along with a Saudi brother named Waleed I drove to Northern Virginia and stayed at his apartment. From there I planned to go to Chechnya and was given a contact in Saudi Arabia from a Yemeni brother. The contact in Saudi Arabia was named Hazem al-Kashmiri ( who would go onto have a long career in jihad before being killed) . I talked to Hazem on the phone and he told me to fly to Pakistan ( I guessed for training) but wouldn’t send me any money.  I tried to raise some money but in the process the Chechnya situation was winding down and the Russians were pulling out. I went back to St. Louis with the intention of returning to Virginia to enroll in the madhad. The thoughts of jihad left my mind.

Fast-forward to 1999. The last few years had been pretty rough ones. A lot of drama. And then Russia invaded Chechnya. I think I was really looking for an escape because things were going so poorly. In my heart I also did feel bad for the Chechen people, felt they had a just cause, and wanted to help them. It would be better to die in Chechnya for a good cause than to die in the streets of America for a bad cause.

I have told the story before so let me just fast-forward to being in the Republic of Georgia. Georgia is an amazing place: beautiful nature, history, amazing architecture and most importantly to me some of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. Without the connections I needed I was unable to get into Chechnya and I endured quite a bit of hardship in the mountainous border region. Saddened I went back to Tiblisi and consoled myself by having a threesome with two of the baddest chicks I had ever seen and staying at another gals shitty project apartment for the rest of my stay. So whether the trip was successful or unsuccessful depends on your vantage point I guess.

Looking back I’m glad I didn’t make it in. The Chechen mujahudeen may have originally had a just cause: but by the time the Saudi-backed jihadis took over it was a movement of madmen. Horrific terror-attacks, infighting and carnage. Putin coming in and restoring order was the best thing that ever happened to Chechnya and the peace and security you see there today is a result of that and the efforts of President Ramzan Kadyrov who is still fighting a battle with the khawaraj.

The Kilitschko Brothers, Oleg and Alex

The Klitshcko Brothers

The Klitshcko Brothers

While living in Brooklyn and working as a boxing correspondent for fightnews.com I had the opportunity to interview the Kiltschko Brothers and their manager Bernard Bonte. We met at the Hilton in Times Square and talked for hours. Any ignorant stereotypes anyone has about boxers would be shattered by both Vitali and Wladimir. Both are extremely intelligent and well-spoken. Instead of talking about boxing I engaged them in discussions about history, politics, the nature of the state and health-care.  Today Vitali is a leading figure in the Kiev Opposition and may even be a future president. He shared with me his perspective and it is a perspective from the western part of Ukraine. A narrative of Russian-domination and a yearning to be with the West and to enjoy a Western-lifestyle. It is a narrative common in the western part of Ukraine and one shared by the protesters who toppled the democratically-elected government. It is a view I respect, the chosen view of America, and one that only tells one side of the story. Which brings me to Oleg and Alex.

Oleg is a friend of mine. A sailor born and raised in Odessa, Ukraine he got in trouble years ago when drugs were found on his ship. The drugs were actually smuggled by the captain of the ship and not the impoverished sailors: but we are in America and the War on Drugs feeds the machine with collateral-damage. Oleg told me he was a Russian, Russian was the language of his home, and that he didn’t vote in Ukrainian elections because he had no desire to be a part of Ukraine. He told me years ago there was only one election he would ever vote in and that was one to become part of Russia. While they are worlds apart politically, and I told the Klitshcko Brothers about his politics, they both signed autographs for him and Wladimir wrote him a short letter and expressed an interest to visit Oleg in prison. Good men on both sides of the divide.

Alex has been living in St. Louis for more than 20 years. Most of his family is in Ukraine. They are Russian just like him. The other day I saw Alex and he looked sad. He told me he had not been sleeping well and he was trying to get his family “away from the fascists”. The America media and politicians would tell you oh this fascism talk is just Putin rhetoric. Yet it was Russia who gave tens of millions of lives in the fight against fascism. The Great Patriotic War burns in the souls of Russians in a way World War II does for few Americans. The sacrifice just isn’t comparable.  That part of the Russian Soul brings us to this question: where was Western Ukraine during World War II ? Of course en masse they were with the Nazis, active and willing participants in the holocaust, and fighting to establish fascism in Russia. No American reporter has went to the streets of Kiev and asked ” hey what was your grandpa doing in World War II” or “give me your thoughts on Hitler and World War II”. Maybe they don’t wanna hear the answers. They are too busy covering with glee scenes of mobs tearing down the statues  commemorating the brave men and women who saved Ukraine from fascism.  Ironically American-Jews, who would have found themselves either in ovens or dead in a ditch in Western Ukraine during World War II, are cheering on the Kiev mobs even as open fascists are among their ranks.

I pray for the safety of all of those caught up in this conflict and for Alex’s family and I know that Alex and Oleg would thrown down the welcome-mat for any Russian troops showing up at their doors. You cannot call it an invasion when someone sees their brothers and sisters just down the road getting beat-up by guys from the other side of town and they decide to jump in and help.

Elections Are Passe For Elites? 

This decade has shown us that people really don’t believe in elections. America especially doesn’t believe in elections. Hamas wins in Palestine and the Palestinian people are punished. Mobs of the urban affluent elites march to protest the results of democratic ( or quasi democratic in some cases) elections in Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela, Iran, Thailand and other places and it is not the democratically elected governments that are supported by America and the elite-consensus :   but rather the mobs. Mobs who would be mowed down in DC if they tried to take down buildings and unseat Obama ( we are talking about a dude with a kill list).

In each case the protesters have something in common. They are urban, affluent, come from ruling-class families, colonialism left them in a good place, previous dictatorships left them in a good place, they tweet and blog in English, they identify with the West, and they have no desire to cede power to the poor masses they have previously exploited.  These are people whose fathers thrived under the likes of Sadat and the Shah of Iran and didn’t have to worry about the concerns of rural-farmers or the social attitudes of the working-class slums. These are children of the elite who identify with the American-elite and want to be at one with them. These are the elites who are not concerned with the workers in the mine: but rather in securing lucrative contracts with American corporations to exploit the workers in the mines.

Terrorism: Nobody is Really Against It

 

People say they are opposed to terrorism. Are they really? Since 9-11 American-Muslims have bent over backwards condemning terrorism ( and still nobody is listening).  The conversation has changed. Suicide bombings in Palestine are no longer announced at the masjid to takbirs. Yet, have people changed? I say no. Sure you have popular bloggers who once openly supported Kashmiri jihad groups now sounding like Ralph Nader and celebrity-imams would no longer praise Egyptian jihadis in speeches. I get all of that.  But let me blow them out the water.

These same Muslim organizations and members praised the mobs that ousted Muammar Gadaffi in Libya. Even while many in those militias were either openly affiliated with al-Qadea or similar groups or were sympathetic. These groups are now reeking havoc in Libya. You cannot be against terrorism and support the FSA in Syria. Those peaceful democratic opponents to President Asad can be found at cocktail parties in London and Manhattan or boring forums at universities. On the ground the opposition is dominated by groups like ISIS ( a group so radical al-Qadea calls them extremists) and Jahbat al-Nusra. These groups are raining terror on the Syrian population and you can go to YouTube and find a greatest hits of their suicide-bombings, beheadings and murders. If you think you are going to defeat people like this by inviting them over for milk and Girl Scout cookies you’re crazy. Thousands are flocking to Syria from around the world thinking they will establish Khilafah from Damascus. In all actuality outside of a few areas they are getting their asses kicked and when they come back to America, England, Canada or France how do you think they will adjust to life in “Dar al Kufr “?

Yet America wanted to intervene ( OK lets play along like we are not covertly involved now) on the side of the rebels. Which just as in Libya happened to be the same side as al-Qaeda. It was President Putin who stopped America from getting involved along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov outfoxing John Kerry. For keeping America out of Syria every American is in debt to Putin. It would have started with a “humanitarian mission” and ended with dead Americans littering the streets of Syria.

Which brings me to the point there is no real war on terrorism. It is like the war on drugs. It’s not really about terrorism or drugs. Its about control and exploitation. Israel don’t look back at the Irgun and the Stern Gang as being terrorists. America says its against terrorism and then funds terrorist groups like the MEK in Iran.  Professional Muslim activists say they are against terrorism and then cheer for every terror attack in Syria as long as the victims are not Sunnis. Congressman Peter King supported to the provisional-IRA campaign in Northern Ireland back in the day and then tries to become a leading voice against Muslim terrorism.

Like I said, nobody is really against terrorism. Its just all talk consumed by ignorant sponges.

Jihadis Will Never Succeed 

Which brings me to jihadis. The 7th Century is not coming back. These jihad groups will never succeed and it is for a few simple reasons. One they always fight one another. If you look in Syria now they spend most of their time fighting one another. What happened when Kabul fell? They fought one another. What happened when the Russians left Chechnya? They fought one another.  The nature of jihadis is the nature of salafeeyah ( and most of them are salafi anyway) and that is to spend 90% of their time and energy fighting one another. Easily exploited, easily divided, and ultimately easily defeated. When they do briefly take power what do they do?  Force upon the people their version of Islam and violently oppress the rest. The nature of such an unpopular rule by a minority of zealots cannot be successful in the long-run.

True Detective Finale Predictions

OK I know that as I’m writing this the True Detective finale on HBO is coming on in a little more than an hour. I planned to do this earlier and this is an abbreviated version but I just woke up not too long ago.  So in short here are my predictions:

truedetective

- Tuttle is alive and didn’t really OD he is alive leading the cult

- Of course the “Lawnmower Man” is a child-rapist and killer. If only Rust could have got a little closer back in the day.

-Maggie Hart is a part of the conspiracy. She married into the Tuttles.  Her father may very well be the Yellow King. She knows and wants to stop Marty and Rusty before they get to the bottom of it.

- Audrey Hart was molested by the cult and not killed. Possibly because the Yellow King is her grandfather.

- Detective Papania is possibly a Tuttle son

-Rust will definitely die tonight and maybe Marty as well. We will find out what happened in Texas.

OK there it is. This season is one of the best seasons in the history of television right up there with The Wire seasons 2-4, the 3rd and 4th seasons of The Sopranos and the 3rd and 4th seasons of Breaking Bad. Great writing, great acting, stylish, a great sense of place. My only critique is on religion. “Queen of Angels” would not be the name of an Evangelical school and evangelicals do not cross themselves nor engage in Mardi Gras. The writers seem to be unaware of the Protestant Reformation. Still, that’s just nitpicking, great show that I have enjoyed immensely.  Praying for a Beth cameo tonight.

Uber and Airbnb: Elitist, Possibly Racist and Designed to Circumvent the Law

This is an editorial and based on my experiences.

uber

 

In many of the larger cities in this country with a large population of hipsters ordering taxis by apps has become popular. The most popular app-based service is Uber. Below are my four main arguments for why Uber is a classist, elitist, radically problematic service that illustrates some negative currents within hipsterism and urbanists.

 

Smartphones:  In order to own a smartphone and get the Uber app you have to earn a decent income. By definition this means that many poor and working-class will not have access to this service. It empowers those with a higher level of income to order rides and dis-empowers those who don’t have access to smart phones.

The Cabbie Profession: Lost in the Uber debate, the taxi-reform debate in DC and other cities, is the slightest concern for the right of cab-drivers to earn a decent living. There was a time when urban-liberals and those we today see as hipsters were seen as being closely associated with labor-unions and good on working-class issues. Oh how the times have changed. Having a fleet of professional divers who know the city, are accountable to management, trained, and earning a decent-living to support their families seems to mean little to Uber supporters. They could care less what Uber does to the profession. While their personal car may be a Prius with a Darwin, NPR and Obama sticker their economics are as right-wing and damaging to the working-class as the GOP or Ayn Rand.  The Uber-users don’t relate to the working-class or share any concern for working people such as cabbies. Cabbies who rely on their income to support themselves and their families and pay thousands of dollars for the right to do so should not have to compete with the part-time untrained driver hustling up money to buy weed and the unemployed liberal-arts graduate just trying to make a little pocket-change to supplement their trust-fund. Uber means less money for cabbies which will mean less cabbies down the road.

The Elitist Nature:  The Uber-service and part-time driver is not designed to serve the ghettos, working-class neighborhoods, and communities of color. As a matter of fact the existence of Uber and related apps means that there will be less service to such undeserved communities. If Uber comes to St. Louis don’t look forward to drivers picking up people in North St. Louis, North County and parts of South City like I do on a daily basis. Don’t look forward to them driving the sick, taking people to the hospital, picking up from nursing homes, doing grocery and check-cashing runs  and taking working-class people home from work. Uber will mean better service for hipsters and people with money and worse service for everyone else.

If you believe in a fair and more just society encourage your cities to say no to Uber.

airbnb

 

Airbnb

Now we move onto Airbnb which is a service where anyone can rent out a room, bed or couch in their house or apartment for a day or number of days to a traveler.

1. Discriminatory : The host can say no to a prospective guest online for any reason. That reason could be a good one or it could be they don’t want someone of another race, gender, sexual-orientation, body-shape or socio-economic class to rent the space. With hotels and motels there are laws that prevent such discrimination. No such laws exist for Airbnb.

2. Loss of Tax-Revenue: Meanwhile hotels and motels which cannot legally discriminate are losing business which means cities are losing tax-revenue. With so many cash-strapped cities at this time surely this loss of income is a negative trend.

3. Further Separatism: The hotel and motel are more democratic in nature. You may see people you would never see at any other time in your life. people that don’t dress like you, live like you or think like you. By its nature Airbnb will ensure that people share lodging with people similar to them more often than not.

 

Uber and Airbnb also fall into an employment-pattern. When trendy micro-breweries, gastro-pubs, coffee shops and niche retail opens in gentrifying urban neighborhoods more often than not desperate for new jobs they end up not hiring any long-time residents and only hiring educated young people from affluent suburban backgrounds who have decided to slum it for a while. Instead of investigating such businesses for employment discrimination the city is often so happy they’re open they wouldn’t even think to investigate. Say what you want about Applebees, fast-food and the big-box retailers: but they do provide jobs to the community.