Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
We are at the point where even priests can't deliver a simple letter of protest without being jailed for months.
I haven't seen anything like this since the early 70s under J. Edgar Hoover. But I don't take comfort in precedent. Then, whatever the excesses of government, there were limits, there was a Congress that understood and valued its prerogatives enough to fight for them and to impeach a sitting President for undermining the Constitution, and a public informed and inflamed enough to demand its rights.
That's not the case today. News like this--which, I note, did not actually make the news--coupled with the knowledge that a Democrat Member of Congress and a woman, at that, introduced a bill outlawing dangerous thoughts (HR 1955), make me wonder if someone really did suck all our brains out as we lay sleeping.
This from Truthout:
Priests Jailed for Protesting Fort Huachuca Torture Training
By Bill Quigley
Wednesday 24 October 2007
Louis Vitale, 75, a Franciscan priest, and Steve Kelly, 58, a Jesuit priest, were sentenced to five months each in federal prison for attempting to deliver a letter opposing the teaching of torture at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Both priests were taken directly into jail from the courtroom after sentencing.
Fort Huachuca is the headquarters of military intelligence in the US and the place where military and civilian interrogators are taught how to extract information from prisoners. The priests attempted to deliver their letter to Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, commander of Fort Huachuca. Fast was previously the head of all military intelligence in Iraq during the atrocities of Abu Ghraib.
The priests were arrested while kneeling in prayer halfway up the driveway to Fort Huachuca in November 2006. Both priests were charged with trespassing on a military base and resisting orders of an officer to stop. More
Lots of discussion in my neck of the blogosphere lately about "Lou Dobbs Democrats." Lots of people don't see how a Democrat could support Lou Dobbs's position on immigration.
I can't understand why people on the Left don't understand why some Democrats do. It's not like there aren't some uninformed Democrats. God knows I wish I were wrong about that, but, well, no.
It's obvious why there's such a thing as a "Lou Dobbs Democrat." It's because the Right owns the immigration discussion and has successfully tied desperately poor Latino peasants to (1) national security and (2) domestic labor concerns, and the Left has done a lousy job of educating its base on the facts. It's because there are a lot of people who spook easily and never ask questions.
Uninformed, frightened, and confused people make bad decisions. Without discussion, without taking time to think through the issues, it's easy to blame our every economic worry on brown people scrabbling across the desert in the dead of night.
Several generations of Americans are running around loose who got their politics from the backs of cars. Bumper-sticker politics. Only, some (most) ideas don't fit on bumper stickers. People accustomed to making political decisions on the basis of bumper stickers and sound bites aren't well equipped to think through complex situations--meaning any situation with two or more moving parts. For them, if a policy has what scientists call "face validity"--it's believable on its face, or it sounds sensible-- that's good enough.
The Right has mastered the politics of "face validity," and has put up some pretty horrible laws as a result.
Some of the questions that progressives need to address in order for our base to take an informed position on immigration reform:
What are the root causes of "illegal immigration" from Mexico and Central America?
What can Americans do to effectively address those causes?
Which specific sectors of the US labor market are harmed by Mexican and Central American immigration, and where are the data to support this answer?
Can the immigration issue be separated from the border security issue? How?
What's wrong with a guest worker program?
What's wrong with amnesty?
What's wrong with "free trade"?
Do Mexican and Central American immigrants cost the economy more in social services and other matters than they contribute to the economy in taxes and consumer spending?
Where are the data to support this answer?
What would a sane and reasonable immigration policy include?
Is the fence a good use of taxpayer dollars? Why? Why not?
Should there be a cap on the number of immigrants allowed into the country annually?
If there is a cap of any kind, won't there always still be "illegal immigrants"?
What accounts for our thinning labor market?
What can Americans do to plump it up?
Oh, and do our Constitution and Bill of Rights have anything to say to us on this issue?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Some people fear that Americans cannot compete with low-wage workers abroad, or that global competition will mean that wages will 'race to the bottom.' The truth is that we can prosper in a global economy because our workers are among the best in the world. Our real wages are ultimately determined by our productivity, and American productivity growth has been spectacular over the past three years.Yeah, but see, we can only prosper when we workers are actually rewarded for our productivity. The thing that you're missing, Greg Mankiw, is that wages are going up, all right: straight out of the middle class and straight up to the executive suite.
Well, that was a week.
And I'm not even talking about Bush.
The slimeball who broke into our house a week ago also broke into the home of a woman dog-walker friend a few days late. Same MO. He breaks in, then shuts any open bedroom doors of sleeping dogs and people, and then takes their wallets and laptops.
It was a heads-up. We lost, but nothing we can't replace, and the warning gave us a chance to take care of bid'ness around the house. We didn't waste it. Everything's much better now.
On to important things.
There were major antiwar protests this weekend, even if the media didn't give them their due. It amazes me that Americans don't care that our journalists have become lapdogs, but yes, we're that stupid. I read somewhere that 41% of us can't name even one presidential candidate.
Here in AZ, for the moment signs are promising for a Democratic take-over next year. I'll squelch my learned skepticism and enjoy the moment.
Next door, in CA, the fires have wrought catastrophe on a scale hard to envision, FEMA has been at it again, and more malice on the part of the jumped-up hate junkies who've permeated the Border Patrol, among other squadrons of light and hope. The Shock Doctrine comes to life in a Qual-Comm stadium near you.
This is about Latinos and Latinas, immigrants or not.
This also is about Americans looking on as if we're watching reality TV.
Immigration policy is about some African Americans and Asian Americans among us who would prefer to quibble about the meaning of "civil rights" rather than stand up for them when anyone else is involved. It's about everyone who's ever been intimidated by authority and resented the injustice. It's about all of us, who don't seem to have learned one goddamned thing from WWII. It's about the way complacency in the face of cruelty dehumanizes us all. It's about what lessons we want to teach our children, and what kind of country we want them to inherit. It's about the limits of greed as compost for living organisms. It's about all of us.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Been away unavoidably. A helpful pilgrim wandered into our home at 2:30 a.m. Sunday while we slept, and while being chased out by our Doberman, removed my laptop, my wallet, my partner's briefcase, and a flash drive. The laptop was just 4 months old, and built for blogging. This machine, bless its heart, was build in 2001 and, well, not so much.
Here's to A----, our Lady Dober. She may have saved our lives. This turkey was prowling around our house not 20 feet from the foot of my bed. If the door to the BR had been open, he'd be ground beef. Another Doberman and the Wild Chi were in there. He can thank God he didn't have to deal with either.
Apart from the lack of sleep for two nights --we wake to every sound, all five of us-- is the PTSD. I can't put one foot before the other. And apart from the PTSD is the need to replace everything, especially my driver's license and my laptop. Spent all day driving around town replacing. But kudos to AZ's DMV. Took 20 minutes, in to out, to get a new license. Can't beat that. Told them so, too.
When I can get back efficiently, I owe links to some good people. You know who you are. I'll take care of it. Promise.
California Burnin,' God help them, the wildlife, the land, the firefighters. God bless firefighters.
Was going to write about the nazification of the country, but all my research and drafts went with my laptop. And so much more.
OK. Over and out for tonight.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Ever feel like you're going to spontaneously combust?
Nazification. Global warming. Water shortage. Housing values. "Free" trade. Wage suppression. Job outsourcing. Pension erosion. Healthcare implosion. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Shaky stockmarket. National debt. Trade imbalance. Nuclear proliferation. War on women, gays, and immigrants. War on Iran. Occupation of Iraq. Blackwater. Christianists. Vote fraud. Freeper Nation. The Shock Doctrine. New Orleans.
So why's everybody on the Left so afraid to fight back? It's not like we've got anything to lose!
But that's not enough to keep me awake at night, so I was wondering: How does someone brought up in the USA decide that his sole purpose in life is to strip all his fellow citizens and their offspring of financial security, environmental safety, and their constitutional heritage?
I mean, how does that work? How do you get there from sixth-grade civics? I can see that being Barbara Bush's baby might be a big factor, but that can't be the only thing; it also happened to Dick.
Are they aliens? They're sure goddamned illegal.
Even as Arizona Rightwingers contort in rage at anyone they perceive to be undocumented -- it's pretty hard to tell by looking -- the Arizona Republic today reports that half the city's first pioneer immigrants were Mexicans.
Ruins and relics found at a downtown Phoenix construction site re-confirm that fact, as if we didn't know that the history of Arizona is permanently conjoined with that of Mexico:
During a four-week dig, scientists found wall fragments dating to the late 1800s - what's left of the first businesses built by Anglo and Mexican settlers. John Y.T. Smith's mill, the Hotel Luhrs and attorney Edward Irvine's adobe and brick buildings were the town's commercial heart during that period.So we're not Anglo. We're White Mountain and San Carlos Apache, Tohono O'odham, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Hopi, Navajo, Havasupai, and Mojave, and Mexican, and African American, Asian, Ethiopian, Iraqi, Japanese, Russian, Portuquese, Guatemalan, French, English, Polish, Malian, Nigerian, Ghanaean. . . you get my point.
'We are looking at the very beginnings of the city of Phoenix,' city archaeologist Todd Bostwick said.
Underneath the 19th-century foundations, the team of archaeologists also found the buried remnants of about a dozen prehistoric pit houses. Hohokam farmers who lived in the Valley between A.D. 1 and 1450 probably occupied them, archaeologists say. No human remains were found. . . .
Over the years, floods, silt and wind buried pit houses and pioneer-era buildings under a few feet of dirt.
The building fragments date to a time when only a few hundred people, about half of them Mexican settlers and half of them Anglos, lived in what is now Phoenix.
Early settlers eked out a hardscrabble life. Relations with Native Americans, including the Gila River, Maricopa, Pima and Apache tribes, were sometimes friendly, sometimes tense.
The intersection of Central Avenue and Washington Street was the heart of Phoenix life in the late 1800s, historians say.
Mills, saloons, government buildings, shops and professional offices sprang up in that area.
Experts knew about the pioneer-era businesses, but State Historic Preservation Officer James Garrison said he was astounded by how much was preserved under the parking lot.
Some of century-old walls fragments ran for a dozen feet, and one adobe cellar was practically intact.
'The first two-story building in Phoenix was sitting on top of a pit house,' Garrison said.
Even the Hohokam finds hinted at trade.
Archaeologists found a bracelet made from a seashell that is found only at a tourist destination in Mexico that is familiar to Arizonans.
'We aren't the first to vacation at [Puerto Penasco] Rocky Point,' Bostwick said.
So this Pat Buchanan/Minuteman/Russell Pearce business about racial and cultural homogeneity -- and that's what it's really about -- makes about as much sense as it makes humane policy. None.
Like the rest of the Southwest, Arizona derives its massive socio-cultural appeal from the mix of Mexican, Native American, and Anglo cultures. Phoenix got to be the fifth-largest city in the country on the backs of Mexican, Native American, and Anglo people, male and female. And any future we have will be hewn out by Mexican, Native American, and Anglo people, male and female.
If we treated our Hispanic art and artifacts the way we are treating our Hispanic people, our museums, libraries, and special collections would be destroyed, along with the material heritage of the entire state. Even our land is Native American and Mexican. From the point of view of the Tribes, we're all "illegal." You'd think we'd have the common decency to remember that as we try to solve the immigration/security issues.
The immigration and security issues are complex, economically, emotionally, physically, and logistically. But we won't reach workable solutions any faster by dividing and terrorizing a third of our people.
Those who want a genuine workable, just, and long-term solution owe it to everyone to shift the debate from people to policies, to stand up against anyone who demonizes and abuses anybody, and to refuse laws that threaten our common economic stability.
It's been said before: We're in this together, and pretending that we're not is like saying, "Your half of the boat is sinking."
Friday, October 19, 2007
All week we've heard the question, "Why are they racheting up the hate?" I'm not in their heads, but I do know that the screeching gets loudest when the kittens are cornered.
Maybe the screeching is a form of Bloody Red Right alchemy. Maybe they believe that if they get really, really, REALLY MEAN, we won't notice how mean they are and puke? Or how hideously fascist they are and just say NO?
And then there's this:
"The Nazis, in the end, embodied the ascension of utter demonic inhumanity, but they didn't get that way overnight. They got that way through, day after day, attacking and demonizing and urging the elimination of those they deemed their enemies."If Ann Coulter is this bad now, can't you just see it? "Myeeeeeeeee Precioussssssssssssssssssss!"
This is what we need to hear, this more than anything, right now, while there's time, to hold close, think about, figure out how to break free of. I can't say it better, so I'm quoting from the godsend that is Orincus:
The evil genius of the Nazi regime is that it created, and imposed on its world, a social regime in which the worst traits of humanity -- greed, selfishness, mendacity, betrayal, cowardice -- become the supreme social traits, not just in the camps (though there especially) but throughout Nazi society, because it was precisely those traits which insured one's survival.
Milton Mayer's remarkable book They Thought They Were Free, built around a series of interviews he conducted with "ordinary Germans" who lived through Nazi society, talked about the mechanism by which this happened:
"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn't see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don't want to "go out of your way to make trouble." Why not? - Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.[Emphasis added]
"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, "everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to you colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, "It's not so bad" or "You're seeing things" or "You're an alarmist."
"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.
"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to – to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.
"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked – if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in "43" had come immediately after the "German Firm" stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in "33". But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D."
It is by small steps of incremental meanness and viciousness that we lose our humanity. The Nazis, in the end, embodied the ascension of utter demonic inhumanity, but they didn't get that way overnight. They got that way through, day after day, attacking and demonizing and urging the elimination of those they deemed their enemies.
They did this by not simply creating them as The Enemy, but by denying them their essential humanity, depicting them as worse than scum -- disease-laden, world-destroying vermin, in desperate need of elimination. But that kind of behavior, over the years, has hardly been relegated merely to the Nazis; indeed, it has a long history in America as well, and has been bubbling up on the right increasingly in recent years.
Cliff May represents the best of the GOP. He is treacherous, unscrupulous, vindictive, bigoted, and one mean MF. That's how they like 'em over on the Bloody Red Right.
Wednesday, on Tucker's daily smugathon, May offered this little something about Hillary in particular and American women in general:
"At least call her a "Vaginal-American." Tell you whut, Cliff. I won't do that, but I'll call you a pro-torture, anti-Constitution, mysogynistic, anti-minority fascist who has a real way with words. How does that work for ya?
I'm of two minds about these neo-Nazis. On the one hand, I'm appalled by the Aryan Nation language and behavior. On the other, the meaner they get, the easier it will be to take them down. Let's start taking them down.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Something strange is going on.
In the last couple of months, several sitting Republican members of Congress have announced their intentions either to resign prematurely or not to seek re-election. The list includes Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-NM, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-NB, Sen. John Warner, R-VA, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-CO, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-IL, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA, Rep. David Hobson, R-OH, Rep. Jerry Weller, R-IL, Rep. Ray LaHood, R-IL, Rep. Chip Pickering, R-MS, Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-OH, and Rep. Ralph Regula, R-OH.
Although some are resigning for age or health reasons, most are perfectly viable candidates for re-election. It's an lemming-like exodus unlike anything I remember, and it makes me wonder what they know that I don't.
A lot, probably.
Any doubt that the USA is being neo-Nazified can be erased just by making a careful, point-by-point comparison between what the Nazis did in the 1930s and what Bush and the fascist Republican Right are doing now.
At some point, a stream of coincidences becomes something else. It becomes evidence of deliberate replication. We’re there.
This is the first in a series of posts that I hope will help to make that clear.
I'm not writing this because I enjoy slogging through this mire. I'm writing this because I can't can't can't understand why Americans aren't in the streets as one, in protest. I'm writing this because maybe, by making ourselves, one by one, see our denial for what it is, we might find the strength to stop the madness.
I'm writing, now, specifically, because I am appalled by what I'm seeing in Arizona and across the USA, and what I'm hearing across the mainstream media about immigrant Hispanics.
I can't can't can't understand why Americans of my generation and older, at the very least, aren't seeing that America is behaving just like Germany on Krystalnacht. And condemning it!
I just don't see the difference. I. Do. Not. See. A. Difference. Sure, I hear the justifications. They're "illegals." I also hear the dishonesty, hypocrisy, and fraud in that formulation, as well. For decades, we've been happy to use undocumented workers, happy to exploit them, happy to extort them, happy to sneer and denigrate them, too, but nonetheless happy to ignore why they came and how. (Not to mention that there are far worse crimes that we routinely ignore when powerful white people commit them.) There's a parallel here, too. Germans were quite comfortable to use Jews for centuries in a similar quid pro quo, wrapped similarly in racist rhetoric.
Meanwhile, what I see is human beings being dehumanized, demonized, rounded up like cattle, separated from their infant children, dragged from their workplaces, detained, and deported. I hear them being vilified and cursed, and I hear credible reports from eye-witnesses that they are also being beaten, and that some have been killed in detention. And I hear with my own ears exhortations on American airways to kill more of them!
I can't believe this is happening in my country, except that I know we have been carefully prepared for just this kind of pogrom--let's call it what it is--by a barrage of divisive, brutal, hateful rhetoric over many years directed at several targerts. More later about that. Well, guess what? The Reich also didn't spring whole overnight from barren soil. It grew up over a decade or longer, depending on what you count, and it fed on exactly the same excrement: Fear, division, resentment, economic concerns, hate, and a language carefully crafted to dehumanize.
What I'm not hearing, however, is a loud and irresistable demand from the clergy and the governor and the people--much less the president and the Congress==to stop this right now. In fact, I'm hearing the opposite! Poll after poll tells us that Arizonans want Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his thugs to do exactly what they're doing as he and others like him rush to profit from the crudest, cruelest kinds of demagoguery.
Poor working human beings ought not be the target of anything, and are only the target of cowards and thugs. We have other means for addressing legitimate problems in border security and legitimate problems in workforce provision.
The real target ought to be a corrupt, duplicitous, and disintegrated immigration policy, a greedy corporatist economy, and a complicit public that wants its lettuce and landscaping cheap.
OK. End of rant. At least today.
About the neo-Nazification of the USA: I want to begin with a couple of observations about Hitler taken from the USA Office of Strategic Services' 1943 report by Walter C. Langer, “A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler, His Life and Legend”:
At the time of the reoccupation of the Rhineland, Hitler made use of an extraordinary figure of speech in describing his own conduct. He said,I’m a little unnerved. I just found these an hour or so ago, and from what I’ve observed, they apply just as aptly to George W. Bush. That proves nothing, of course. But, lacking any contradicting patterns in his behavior, I will add this bit of information to a growing pile of similarities between the Nazification of Germany and what I believe to be the Nazification of the USA.
"I follow my course with the precision and security of a sleepwalker." (p. 4)
[Hitler’s] primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or a wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough, people will sooner or later believe it. (p. 219)
Again, at a certain point, a stream of coincidences becomes something else. It becomes evidence of deliberate replication. As I see it, if there’s a credibility problem, it doesn’t lie in pointing them out. It lies in refusing to see them.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
People say, "I don't think we're quite there yet," meaning that there's no real need for alarm until we are there, I guess.
Isn't that how Nazi Germany happened? Wasn't it the tiny, incremental steps that everyone decided to overlook for now? Wasn't it the encroachments on integrity, justice, freedom, compassion, accuracy of information, constitutional principles, separations of powers, privacy, human rights -- wasn't it just this, in the name of national security, that established their opposites in the form of Nazism?
Well, I don't think this accommodation makes any sense at all. Clearly, if we don't snip every bud off the Nazi plant, and every branch, and every root, it will have us, too.
And then we can say that it was our generation that let go of the promise of America.
I don't intend to do that. I'd rather be called hysterical, and over-reacting, and a bit over the top, and a liberal whiner, or anything else than allow them even one more goddamned inch.
Labels: Nazification of America
Every night, Lou Dobbs intones that anti-immigration people are not racists. No?
Here's a smattering of what our kids are hearing from the Right. Warning: If you have any decency, it will make you sick.
For Immediate Release
June 20, 2007
Center for New Community Releases "Indecent Proposals: Top 10 Most Offensive Quotes" from Anti-Immigrant Groups and Supporters
Members of Congress Urged to Disavow Virulent Rhetoric from Extremist Groups As Reform Effort Nears Homestretch
Chicago - Today, the Center for New Community, a faith-based human rights group that tracks anti-immigrant activity, released "Indecent Proposals: Top 10 Most Offensive Quotes from Anti-Immigrant Leaders." The list captures some of the most offensive rhetoric being propagated and endorsed by anti-immigrant groups and their supporters on talk radio.
1.) "We need the National Guard to clean out all our cities and round them up...They have no problem slitting your throat and taking your money or selling drugs to your kids or raping your daughters, and they are evil people."
Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman Project and president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. As quoted in the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report magazine, Summer 2005.
2.) "Mexican men have a reputation for leering and worse at little girls, which shouldn't surprise us, since sex with children is socially acceptable in Mexico." Brenda Walker, California anti-immigrant leader and publisher. From VDARE.com article titled "Top Ten Reasons Why the US Should Not Marry Mexico," January 1, 2007.
3.) "My message to them is, not in two weeks, not in two months, not in two years, never! We must be clear that we will not surrender America and we will not turn the United States over to the invaders from south of the border."
Rep. Virgil Goode (R- VA), at the March for America, Washington, DC, June 18, 2007.
4.) "I don't care if Mexicans pile up against that fence ... just run a couple of taco trucks up and down the line..."
Neal Boortz, anti-immigrant talk radio host on WSB-AM in Atlanta on June 18, 2007.
5.) "Terrorists are also walking in unopposed; our southwestern border is littered with Arabic papers and Islamic prayer rugs."
Jim Gilchrist, founder of Minutemen Project. From a press release announcing the forthcoming publication of a new book co-authored with Jerome R. Corsi, February 2006.
6.) "The brown toxic cloud strangling Los Angeles never lifts and grows thicker with every immigrant added. One can't help appreciate the streets of Paris will soon become the streets of LA. However, Paris' streets erupted while LA's shall sink into a Third World quagmire much like Bombay or Calcutta, India. When you import that much crime, illiteracy, multiple languages and disease-Americans pick up stakes and move away."
Frosty Wooldridge, anti-immigrant author and activist. Summarizing an address by a KABC-AM talk radio host to the Federation for American Immigration Reform director's meeting, Fall 2005.
7.) "What we'll do is randomly pick one night every week where we will kill whoever crosses the border...step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it's your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun."
Brian James, anti-immigrant talk radio host with KFYI-AM in Phoenix. Suggesting a solution to the immigration problem in Arizona while filling in for the regular host, March 2006.
8.) "Shoot him."
Phil Valentine, anti-immigration talk radio host, WWTN in Nashville. Advising Border Patrol agents to shoot undocumented immigrants during an anti-immigrant rally in Franklin, Tennessee, April 27, 2006.
9.) "We've got to make it in this country so (immigrants) can't exist here...We've got to rattle their teeth and put their feet to the fire!" Terry Anderson, anti-immigrant talk radio host with KRLA in Los Angeles. Speaking at a "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" anti-immigrant rally organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, April 22, 2007.
10.) "Our enemies are bloodied and beaten. We cannot relent. Our boot is on their throat and we must have the willingness to crush their ‘throat' so that we can put our enemy down for good. The sovereignty of our nation and the future of our culture and civilization is at stake. The United States is a beacon of salvation unto the rest of the world. Our freedoms, our culture is mans salvation. If we perish, man perishes."
Joseph Turner, Save Our State (S.O.S), now a staff member with the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Message sent to Save Our State supporters on October 7, 2006.
Thanks to Migra Matters for this:
We can now add Arizona to the long list of states in which recent studies prove that the current influx of immigrants, both legal and undocumented, have contributed far more in taxes than they receive in government services.
Joining studies from California, Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Washington DC, and Long Island, NY, a new report from Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at The University of Arizona looks at the contributions and costs of Arizona's immigrant population and finds not only an overall net gain for the state, but that the loss of this population would likely cause long term economic problems.
Based on this study, the total state tax revenue attributable to immigrant workers was an estimated $2.4 billion, of which about $1.5 billion came from for non-citizens. Balanced against estimated fiscal costs of $1.4 billion (for education, health care, and law enforcement), the net 2004 fiscal impact of immigrants in Arizona was positive by about $940 million.
The 2004 total economic output attributable to immigrant workers was about $44 billion, $29 billion of that coming from non-citizens. This output included $20 billion in labor and other income and resulted in approximately 400,000 full-time-equivalent jobs.
The study also looks at what impact the removal of as little as 10-15% of the immigrant workforce would have on the state's economy. Over $.5 billion in tax revenues would be lost, 125,000 jobs and $13.5 billion of lost economic output.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
let's make this simple.
There are two distinctly American ways to do this capitalism thing.
One is represented by Bush and the Republicans. Under that vision, society is divided into opposing camps: the haves and the have-nots. Those who have are entitled by "having" to write the laws, and the laws are written to favor them. Regulations that evolved to correct abuses flowing out of concentrated wealth and power are regarded as restraints on free trade, and are discarded. These include labor rights, workplace health and safety protections, environmental protections, and safeguards on banking and investment behavior. taxes are viewed as infringements on personal property, and wealth as an inheritable form of power that leads to "money aristocrats," great estates, and dynasties. We saw the consequences of that worldview in the era of the "robber barons" and the crash of the stock market that led to the Great Depression. We are seeing it again in the economy that has prevailed since Bush took office in 2000: job outsourcing, record trade deficits, deregulation (Enron), crashing home values, declining wages and salaries, and a super=wealthy CEO class that comprises something under 5% of the population. That is the "free market" being espoused by today's Republican party.
The other view was best articulated by FDR. In that view, generally espoused by Democrats, society is seen as having divisions, but is viewed as a joint enterprise in which everyone has a shared interest, Government -- law and regulation -- is seen as a legitimate tool for leveling the playing field, encouraging personal and economic growth and development, and providing safeguards for the weakest members of the social family, and the environment is viewed as a precious commonwealth that deserves its own protections. Taxes are viewed as an appropriate payment for enjoying the benefits of infrastructure, defense, and security, and as a means to prevent the concentration of vast wealth in the hands of a few -- an anti-aristocracy perspective consistent with the anti-monarchy perspective of the Constitution. Education is viewed as an investment and therefore is subsidized by the government. A minimum level of healthcare and income security are viewed as essential to the stability of the state and of the society. Ergo, Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. The consequences of that worldview were evident in the growth of the American middle class, the New Deal, and the 50-year reign of prosperity between the end of WWII and the market plunge in 1999.
Which looks better to you?
Monday, October 15, 2007
From conservative political commentator and former White House advisor Kevin Phillips' American Dynasty (Viking: 2004, p. 267):
The political economics of the Bush dynasty over four generations, two of them presidential, suggested no such nation-building commitment [as building democracy in Iraq]. Indeed, their taste for covert operations and transactions suggests the reverse. As good a case could be made that their exercise of power has been biased toward destabilization: in Central America, Chile, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The family's ties were to wealthy U.S. and foreign elites--from Cuban sugar plantation owners to Persian Gulf sheikhs--as well as to the intelligence and national security establishment, the oil business, 'crony' capitalism, and related foreign policy specialists. Ground-level popular democracy has more often been something to subvert rather than something to promote.No other family in American history has sat at the precise intersection of oil, banking, armaments, intelligence, and the White House. No other is as closely associated as the Bushes with 'arms deals,' 'clandestine operations,' and 'cover-ups.' (Phillips, 268.)
The usual, predictable response to suggestions that the Bush family is anything but patriotic is to make fun of tin-hatted conspiracy theorists. It's the same approach that blinded us to the 30-year rise of a deadly fundamentalist theocratic Right.
But there's this problem. At some point, coincidences cease to be accidents of fate and become so many deliberate acts woven together by specific personalities, ideology, self-interest, and power. Only fools ignore them then.
We know the Bush mentality--wealth and power have one obligation: to generate more wealth and more power. We know a good deal about the nasty lineage of its wealth, from early Brown Brothers Harriman and Union Banking Corporation ties to Nazi financiers, to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, Arbusto, Harken Energy, to its intimate personal and financial ties to Saudi investors, including Salem bin Laden and Khalid bin Mahfouz, Osama's brother-in-law), to the Carlyle Group and to Sun Myung Moon's fascist empire.
We also know a little about the large and growing web of direct financial involvements of W, his family, and his advisors--Cheney, Perle, Bremer, Ridge, and others--to manufactories and consultancies in homeland security, defense, and "private military corporations." Just recently we found out about BlackwaterUSA.
We know about this President's crusade to concentrate unprecedented powers in the White House, even to the extreme of dismissing the law, the Constitution, the Congress, and the courts.
We know the enormous, largely secret, and extra-legal domestic spying apparatus he has constructed, and the work in progress to construct 40,000-bed domestic detention facilities here in the US, operated by private, for-profit prison management firms.
We even know that, under Bush, we've experienced a national conversion from human rights advocacy to torture.
We know the deep ideological commitment of this President, his advisors, and his Cabinet to Milton Friedman "privatization" and a "free market economy," the twin engines that drove Chile's Pinochet into power, launched a bloody terrorizing domestic house-cleaning, and plunged a 160 year-old democracy into ruin. Beyond its ideological family tree, we know the infrastructure required to pull off that coup: secret ties among high military officers, a vast detention capability, CIA-trained experts in torture and reprogramming.
We even know that three major shocks have occurred during this administration, each resulting in more presidential power, more war, more war- and security/defense profiteering, and in the largest "homeland security" concentration in US history, with yet more privatization, secrecy, destruction of federal documents, and domestic spying.
It might be a good idea to look more closely now in the directions suggested by renewable energy, such as Brazil's sugarcane business and its utilization of slave labor. At the privatization of water worldwide and, increasingly, in the US. At the outsourcing of middle class jobs in America, and the systematic, 35-year decline in middle America's standard of living. At the concomitant astronomical rise in CEO compensation and the wealth of the upper 5% of the population from an economy designed to benefit just that sector. At the Republican Party's inroads into controlling American elections and disenfranchising minorities and Democrats. At Bush appointments to the the agencies and departments comprising the Executive Branch. At Bush appointments to our courts. At the gradual dismantling of workplace, labor, product, investment, telecommunications, and banking regulations. At Enron and its relationship to the Republicanization of California. At the President's insistence on retroactive immunity for war crimes and crimes against the Constitution.
Somehow, it all seems of a piece.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
An unfolding story in Tucson this and last week is a small window on the rising tensions in AZ over immigration. From the Arizona Republic:
The flags of the United States, Arizona and Mexico are going back up in front of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, in Tucson where they flew side by side for more than 50 years until last week.It's inspiring to see some spine on our side, even if belatedly.
Sophia Kaluzniacki, chair of the museum board, said Saturday the museum 'caved' to anonymous threats from people angered to see the American flag next to the Mexican flag.
She called an emergency meeting Thursday after receiving more than 250 calls and e-mails regarding the flags removal earlier in the week.
The museum is also increasing its security budget by $100,000.
In a unanimous vote, Kaluzniacki said the board reversed its earlier decision to remove the three flags. She said the board wants the flags flying again as soon as next week. Kaluzniacki said that the flags had flown for years without soliciting a public response, but that threats increased as the debate over immigration raged in the past few years.
'We decided if we're going to fight any fight, we're going to fight what we felt was the morally correct fight. We are not a political organization. Our work as conservationists, researchers and educators has nothing to do with politics,' Kaluzniacki said. 'This is a sign to extremists we will not give into threats.'
Threats were made against animals, plants and the museum, she said and the Pima County Sheriff's Office advised the museum to take the threats eriously.
Anonymous threats are a dime a dozen from the cowards who are lining up to terrorize Latinos in Arizona. It hasn't been so common lately to see them met with principled defiance. I salute the Museum Board for coming to its senses.
More than that, I hope that this small action on the side of human dignity instills some guts in the rest of us. It's been conspicuously absent, not just here but nationally, in Congress, the courts, across state legislatures and city halls, and in the homes of average Americans as, over the past six years, we've watched various leagues of thugs subvert all that the country was founded to be.
From the well-paid congressional aides who intimidated vote counters in Florida, to DOD Thug-in-Chief Rumsfeld and his merry band of boys and girls at Abu Ghraib, to the Blackwater Boys (I'll bet they're also behind the automatic weapons that peek from the SUV windows when the Pres-Boy goes a-fund raisin'), to the post-lobotomy anonymous callers in Tucson, we're up to our backsides in thugs.
It's time to stand up to them. The promise of America, the hope of our Constitution, and the rights of common, decent working men and women are just some of the things at stake.
It's not about Congress, or the cops, or anyone else. And it's not about a "lost" America. It's about an ideal that has to be re-enacted every day if it is to remain alive.
The only folks up to that task are the folks we see every day in our mirrors.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
From The Daily Dish, which rarely fails to punch my buttons, this fit of political prissiness:
Fading memory has helped some to forget about the Clintons, their political machine and their ruthlessness. A rising black politician in the Democratic party is a threat to them and their power over blacks. So they are doing what they can to crush him, and punish any Democrat who associates with him. As Hillary Clinton's poll numbers rise, her leverage increases. As does the fear of those Democrats who know what follows if they cross the power-couple from Hot Springs. I don't know what prompted Lewis to back Clinton; he marched between Obama and Clinton in Selma, but worshipped with Obama afterwards as you can see above. But I very much doubt that Bill did not have a word with him. Again: the way in which Hillary uses her marriage to advance her own power is striking. No real feminist would do this; only someone who postures as a feminist while using her husband as a tool.Peculiar of Sullivan to berate the Clintons for acting like successful presidential politicians. Does he think the Bushes, or the Reagans, or the Nixons didn't or don't have a "machine," or that they don't "have a word with" people who might be inclined to differ with them? Oh puhleeze. Berate the Clintons for something no other successful politician does, not for exhibiting the sine qua non of the species.
And, could it be just that Lewis hadn't quite made up his mind in Selma? Could it be that he wanted to see where the odds would fall before needlessly pissing off one or the other candidate? That's what I would have done in his shoes. Furthermore, one might argue that Clinton deserves the post more than Obama, having far stronger credentials, and that Lewis reckons accordingly, figuring that Obama will live to run another day.
But noooooooooo. In classic boythink, Sullivan, unable to see Hillary as anything other than an appendage of Bill, projects his own fallacy onto her, and then presumes to give Hillary feminist lessons. Like, as if!
No feminist politician I know would fail to make use of her husband's political capital in the game of politics. That would be stupid, and I don't know any stupid feminists. Again, Hillary is a politician. Don't berate her for behaving accordingly. And try not to be jealous that she's married to the greatest politician of our time.
Andrew is visiting from Planet Make-Believe this week.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Why do people insist that all minorities must share a single perspective? It's not like we're the Borg.
John Lewis's decision not to endorse Barack Obama has triggered a wave of mumbling about What It All Means. Well, it means that not all African Americans like Barack. Some aren't thrilled that he isn't purely home-grown--possibly an offshoot of a long-standing antipathy grounded in resentment at those white Americans who have an easier time recognizing the Actual Humanity of Africans than of African Americans.
Some aren't thrilled that he isn't more left of center, and others that he isn't further to the Right. Some may be ticked that he appears to have done an end-run around the traditional media's High Priests of Blackness, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson--arriving at the altitude of presidential contender without their explicit imprimatur and assistance. This renders Sharpton and Jackson a good deal less influential vis a vis Obama regardless of his role after the election.
Whatever. It is what it is, and a lot of it is that not all African Americans look alike or think alike. Ain't it amazing.
And then there's the Gay Right. I think I can pretty much count them on one hand: Camille Paglia, Andrew Sullivan, Norah Vincent, that Cheney woman and her partner, and that smarmy White House "reporter" guy. That about it? Anybody else? Oh -- yeah. The Log Cabin Republicans and the Republican Unity Coalition, and I'm sure there're one or two serving as the "gay ambassadors" for some Fortune 500 companies.
I'm not crazy about the Gay Left, if HRC is the Gay Left, and this is not a recent turn of events for me. Like most radical lesbian feminists, there's a venerable distrust of well-heeled gay white boys who set the national gay rights agenda, mainy because it just never seems to include much of anything of specific concern to lesbians. So, although my politics are certainly anything but Right, I don't bow the knee to HRC.
That said, it does seem to me that there is a fundamental oxymoron in being an out gay or lesbian conservative, a core contradiction that doesn't pertain to being a conservative African American. I don't understand why an African American would be a conservative Republican, and I think it is politically contradictory, but I don't see it as inherently contradictory. There's nothing inherently untraditional about being Black.
That's not the case for the gay conservative. When the hallmark of conservatism is reluctance to deviate from tradition and the propensity to genuflect to older conservatives, then coming out Queer is anything but conservative. It's inherently radical, and if it involves even a little claim to rights as an Actual Human Being, then it's inherently liberal, progressive.
I wonder what they do about that. Do they tuck that fact away in a drawer somewhere so they don't have to look at it?
But anyway. I just found this--Richard Goldstein's "Fighting the Gay Right," from The Nation. It's worth a read.
We coulda had a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
We got a dick.
We got a war-monger, a mass murderer, a Constitution shredder, a global warming troglodyte, an energy Enron, a liar, a cheat, a chickenhawk, a guy who's self-defined base is "the haves and the have mores" and whose mother makes fun of poor people.
But the really sad part is that six-plus years later, it's not clear that Republicans have learned anything.
Giuliani, Thompson, Mitt the Twit. . . .
Need I say more?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Hard to say which is more offensive: Ann Coulter's view that Jews need to be "perfected" by becoming Christians, or the idea that she has enough of a clue about Christianity to describe it.
Unless BushCo has a violent coup d'etat in store for us, if Republicans keep on their Aryan Nations crusade, it will mean the end of Republican power for the next 50 years. And by dint of the sheer number of racist, sexist, and antisemitic sentiments from the GOP, it's truly becoming a matter of intrigue. Are we seeing the lemmings rushing cliffward, or does this impunity mean there will be an October surprise?
Republicans' suicidal rampage against women, African Americans, Hispanics, and Jews is at least truth in advertising. I hope America is listening carefully.
If America does not stand against the torture of individuals seized without due process by an unchecked executive power, then American stands for nothing. In fact, if this standard had applied two centuries ago, America would not exist at all. . . . To destroy the constitution, the rule of law, and habeas corpus and to legalize torture in the false hope of saving lives is the action of those who do not understand freedom and who do not understand America. It is the action of cowards and slaves.Amen.
What part of "Live Free Or Die" do these people not understand?
It's not that these people—BushCo, the Right--"don't understand." It's that they operate in a different paradigm. They've left behind the WWII paradigm. That was then. Now it's not about the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. It’s about boythink, how one type of post-industrial male, brought up on TV and movies, defines American masculinity.
From the Twin Towers to torture, the symbolic reference for the Right has always been psycho-sexual. Unless the its response is understood in that context, it seems wildly contradictory. How can a “patriot” espouse warrantless wiretapping, unaccountable detention, a unitary presidency, and torture?
Try this. As I've said for years, 9-11 was a bogglingly huge symbolic genital excision. It wasn't just that America's great towering (global corporatist) phallus was excised. It was also that it was brought down by a bunch of what the Brits used so nicely to call "wogs." Both go to the heart of white male America's greatest and most sacred myths: the myth of the self-made man, the invincible cowboy/frontiersman, the ever-successful Indian fighter/slave holder/ conquistador native tamer. Only a female bin Ladin would have been worse.
So, lacking a wholer and more richly nuanced definition of masculinity, a Rightwing America grown or growing of age in a post-industrial economy and starved for a viable new myth of the American Male latched on to the only role model it can comprehend. No, not John Wayne.
For all his faults, Wayne was hero to an older and better generation. Wayne was the WWII role model. Once we let him go and step from the 20th to the 21st Century, the veil suddenly lifts.
The model for today's Rightwing man is Blackwater. For Iraq, for Bush, for Cheney, for the corporatist/fascist power structure now presuming to speak for us, it’s Max Rockatansky with a paw on his chest.
For this Rightwing generation, the model American male is Mad Max, not coincidentally the character for which homophobe antisemite Mel Gibson is best known, who does his thing in a post-nuclear war dystopia brought about by the global oil shortage. And ironically, he's not even American. He's the pseudo-nationalist for the pseudo-patriot.
The Rightwing vision – playing out now in Iraq and embodied by men like Alberto Gonzales, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush, and Erik Prince--canonizes vengeful, brutal, unrestrained and unaccountable men. Men like Max, only in this case, men who actually don't remember a time when principle was an intrinsic part of the authentic male ideal, men who areincapable of the U-turn that (too late) allowed movie Max to reclaim his soul, men who, for the most part, have had other priorities than putting themselves under fire, men for whom money is the measure of self-worth.
As we see every day, such men view laws as helpful in their place but not applicable to them. They also see the Constitution as just a piece of paper. For them, principles and restraint are for "pussies." The Rightwing vocabulary and the supporting role of faithful, super-orthodox women and minority characters (Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Lynne Cheney, Mary Matalin, Ann Coulter) pretty much say all we need to know about how today’s Rightwing American Man sees himself in relation to the rest of the world.
So it follows as night follows day that men like Bush, Gonzales, Limbaugh, Cheney and the rest view the capacity to dish out torture as the mark of manhood. Not surprisingly, it's the inverse of an older principle that saw the capacity to withstand torture and never deign to sink to its level as the core of the authentic adult male.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
I'm watching the Republicans debate tonight, and I'm reminded of the older women in my life. They sewed. They made clothes, and quilts, and drapes, and coats, and whatever else needed making. Their hearts, minds, and eyes were always focused on the needs of the people they loved and for whom they were responsible.
I'm not the first to see a quilt as a metaphor for a nation. A quilter knows that any quilt is only as strong as its weakest stitch. A quilter knows to look at the whole quilt before saying "Mission Accomplished," because the mission is not accomplished until everyone's last stitch is firmly in place, and every bed is warm.
A dropped stitch -- really a knitting term -- is a stitch that didn't take, that missed its mark, that doesn't hold.
Republicans don't understand about that. Over and over again, it's clear from what the candidates say that seeing a world whole, or even a country whole is just not part of a Republican's conceptual or emotional framework.
Should we sell 20% of the US stock market to Dubai? Sure, as long as Dubai passes a safety and security test. That's nice, except regimes change. Ministers come and go. Loyalties ebb and flow. Personal ambitions, even of the native born, rarely coincide with national interests. Corporate profits aren't necessarily in sync with the public wellbeing. A dropped stitch.
How's the US economy? Just ducky! Inflation's down, the market's up, umpteen million jobs have been added (source undisclosed), and our economy is "the greatest story never told." That's nice, except that everyone I know is scared to death of their economic future. Every dip of the market causes most of us to feel real fear, which is not something millionaires relate to. Everyone I know is aware of the millions who aren't prepared for retirement. None of the Republicans seems to have a clue about that.
Millions of Americans are losing their houses to predatory lenders. Half the country is working two or three jobs and still has to reach up to touch bottom. Major sectors of the economy--agriculture, mining, and construction--are headed for a train wreck because of shoot-first, racist, xenophobic immigration "solutions." Free trade is about jobs going thataway, not about workers or jobs or benefits or a sound workplace ecology coming thisaway.
Our jobs are being rapidly outsourced, and CEOs are sucking up the fruits of the economy at the rate of 500 times what the lineworker is making. Doesn't seem fair because it isn't fair. It's Republican. Dropped stitches.
How about trade policy? It's terrific except that China cheats, so we really ought to fix that. Someday. Outsourced American jobs? Impact on the global economy? We're pillaging Third World countries. If their workers can come here, they're coming. If they can't, they're killing each other or starving or dying of AIDS. And the American Middle Class is in a nosedive.
Impact on the environment? What environment? On global warming? What global warming? Dropped stitches.
Privatization and global poverty? Whatever can you mean? Dropped stitches.
War in Iraq? Wise choice. Going well, except maybe we could do better "politically." Of course oil had nothing to do with it. It was about terrorism and WMD and Saddam. Iraqis will come around. What's good for Halliburton is good for America. Dropped stitches.
Planning for retirement? Simple: People need to save. Never mind that "people" make minimum wage, work two jobs, have a spouse that works two jobs, and share the flat with another family and still there's nothing left to save.
Sanctions on Iran? Great idea. Never mind that sanctions hit the people, not the leaders. Never mind that sanctions didn't work to stop Saddam, and sanctions won't work to stop Ahmadinejad. Dropped stitches.
Free market? Essential. The story of America. Except for the part about robber barons and the Great Depression. Great suffering for a great many. Republicans don't seem to know or care about that. Dropped stitches.
Republicans see nothing except money, unilateral US power, and white male supremacy. Let them scream. The proof is in the policy. This isn't an aberrant GOP. This IS the GOP.
They see corporate health but not people's health. They see oil but not a ravaged Wyoming and a destroyed Iraq. They see sanctions but not children dying of starvation and infectious diseases. They see outlawing abortion but not women. They see life in the womb but not life in the ghettos or abroad. They see prosperity for the wealthy and indentured servitude for the rest of us. Consistently, Republicans drop the single most important stitches of all: the people and the planet. This isn't any religion I know about.
Without setting the health, welfare, and stability of the people and the planet as its highest priorities, a nation is a nasty thing, a Petri dish for predatory corporations, war-mongering, religious tyranny, and fascism. That's why we have a Constitution.
Use it or lose it.
Over on AlterNet is a fine piece on gay marriage. Greta Christina quite rightly says that letting us marry will have an effect on straight marriage, and explains why. It’s well worth reading.
But there’s one point that nearly everyone overlooks about gay marriage. In every culture, in every time and place, the first marriage is a rite of passage signifying the participants’ readiness and willingness to assume the responsibilities of Adult in the tribe. As long as we are forbidden to marry, we are perpetual juveniles, easy to trivialize, easily made to seem frivolous, and easy to condescend to.
That, I think, is also the real, fundamental reason we are not permitted to be out (visible) in the military. Defense of the tribe is a paramount responsibility of the Adult. As long as we can be separated from that role--especially if it takes forcing us to lie -- we can be more easily treated with contempt and denied the privileges that come with assuming culturally-defined Adult responsibilities.
It is essential to the viability of a patriarchal society that gays and lesbians be demonized and marginalized. That’s all that these lines in the sand are about. We have to be invisible (closeted) or else we have to be severed from everything that might provide legitimacy and Adult standing. That’s also the reason we’re generally not permitted to adopt children or share full parental custody of children born to our partners, and that’s the reason our children can be taken from us when we come out. Caring for the young is a paramount responsibility of the Adult.
WTF does “patriarchal society” have to do with it? Well, the patriarchy cannot exist without rigid sex roles. Without biology-is-destiny and inflexible norms for what “masculine” and “feminine” mean, there couldn’t be male supremacy. We have to know what a "real" man is to know what "superior" means, right? So, to the extent that we are visible as men and as women who don't accept the assignment, we gays and lesbians are a direct vanguard assault on that whole structure. In fact, we are definable only because we step outside the patriarchy’s sex role mandate.
We are severely punished because we don’t do our part to hold up the myths that sex roles are fixed, immutable, and that males are superior to females. In the patriarchal context, when two men partner, one of them voluntarily gives up male privilege to “become” [like] a female, a signal that patriarchal institutions (like the church) know is fatal. That’s why gay men get beaten and raped. It’s not so disturbing for two women to partner (in the patriarchal context) because what two women do is never as important as what two men do. But if one of them is perceived to usurp male privilege and power, she will be raped and beaten, too. (Violence against lesbians is a hidden statistic caused by the “shame” of being queer and the “shame” of being raped.)
Power analyses such as this one come in handy to those who want to understand why this culture does some of the things it does. To ask “Who cares whether an African American marries a white person” is to act as if fundamental inter-racial power and privilege discrepancies don't exist. To ask “Who cares whether gays and lesbians get married” is to act as if fundamental heterosexual-homosexual power and privilege discrepancies don't exist. They do.
Let’s stop doing that. Let’s keep telling it like it is.
The difference between World War II and the Occupation of Iraq is that WWII was a war against an unequivocal evil and the occupation of Iraq is an unprovoked act of aggression for the purpose of colonizing a country and its resources. It's a mercenary occupation that just so happens also to include actual mercenaries in larger numbers than actual accountable military soldiers and officers. WWII was necessary and morally defensible up to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I’m of two minds about that. The Occupation of Iraq was and is neither. It's an everlasting shame, and I don't want to hear any more, ever, about how the US isn't imperialist.
Jane Smiley has written a trenchant essay about this for HuffPo. It’s a must-read, not least because it includes a brief analysis of one of the seeds of the GOP’s ultimate, inevitable destruction: Lee Atwater, a name that will live in infamy for the damage he and his direct heirs – Terry Dolan, Karl Rove, et al. – have done to politics--in fact, to competitions of all kinds in the US.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Iraqi officials have declared that they have no intention of reconciling. The whole point of the surge was to provide sufficient security for them to effect a reconciliation.
Because the Iraqis have no intention of stepping up, we need to step down and out the door. Right now. There's not only no reason to stay; staying in these circumstances is enabling a purposeless waste of life and limb and the fraudulent distribution of treasure to a legion of corrupt Bush friends and allies.
This has gone from being an appalling, horrific, criminal disaster to being an obscene travesty AND an appalling, horrific, criminal disaster. And if the Iraqis have their way, apparently they're waiting in the wings to create a bigger horror.
Impeach and get these hopelessly incompetent, catastrophic, corrupt sociopaths into prison. And then hang the lot, including Rumsfeld. Now. Before they get us into Iran. Jeeebus. Does it get any clearer?
If you aren't already getting your prescription medications from Target, transfer the scripts at once. A month's supply of the generic version will set you back $4.00. That's right. Four dollars US.
Hard to believe, I know. A month's supply of just one of our medications, at retail, from Walgreen's, would have cost us $300. That's why we found out about Target.
Five things to engrave on your heart--for your own sake and for that of your friends, family, and colleagues who may be struggling to pay for medications:
(1) The price of drugs varies enormously from drug store to drug store. It always pays to shop around.
(2) If you have prescription drug coverage, you may be eligible for a discounted rate. You'll pay a lower price for drugs with your insurance card than without. Carry it and use it.
(3) With or without prescription insurance, at Target, you will pay $4 per prescription for a month's supply of the generic equivalent of your medication.
(4) Not sure what a generic equivalent is? Read more about generic equivalents at Wikipedia. A generic drug is the biochemical equivalent of its brand-name versions.
Several sites provide the generic name for brand-name drugs. FDA's site is one of them.
(5) Ask your physician to prescribe the generic version or indicate that the generic is acceptable. You will save significantly--even if you don't go to Target.
But why would anyone not go to Target? Go just to say "thanks!," if for no other reason. What an incredible service in this time of massive corporate greed. I'm amazed and grateful, and you can bet I intend to shop at Target.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Please be sure you read Paul Krugman, in today's The New York Times. It's too good to miss. In fact, you'll want a hard copy. Here, a couple of excerpts.
"Same Old Party"
By PAUL KRUGMAN
There have been a number of articles recently that portray President Bush as someone who strayed from the path of true conservatism. Republicans, these articles say, need to return to their roots.
Well, I don't know what true conservatism is, but while doing research for my forthcoming book I spent a lot of time studying the history of the American political movement that calls itself conservatism — and Mr. Bush hasn't strayed from the path at all. On the contrary, he's the very model of a modern movement conservative. . . .
People claim to be shocked at the Bush administration's attempts to equate dissent with treason. But Goldwater — who, like Reagan, has been reinvented as an icon of conservative purity but was a much less attractive figure in real life — staunchly supported Joseph McCarthy, and was one of only 22 senators who voted against a motion censuring the demagogue.
Above all, people claim to be shocked by the Bush administration's authoritarianism, its disdain for the rule of law. But a full half-century has passed since The National Review proclaimed that "the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail," and dismissed as irrelevant objections that might be raised after "consulting a catalogue of the rights of American citizens, born Equal" — presumably a reference to the document known as the Constitution of the United States.
"The Whole World Is Watching!"
If you remember that slogan, you won't have to be told how important real-time, uncensored global communication is to citizens' freedom from government or multinational corporatist oppression.
So maybe you've heard the phrase "Net Neutrality" and wondered what it means.
Bottom line: With Net Neutrality, the companies that provide access to the Internet cannot give prefer some sites over others for any reason, including site content, ownership, or information destination.
Powerful interests would like to end that.
At the moment, you and I can access any site on equal terms with any other site. Some may take longer than others to download, but owners of slow sites can fix that if and when they want to. Nobody's discriminating against them based on who they are, what they have to say, or who wants to know.
If Net Neutrality is ended, that will change. Owners of the pipelines we use to access the Net will be able to reserve the fast lanes for deep-pocket sites and relegate the rest of us to the bike path. They'll charge usage taxes. Higher payers will download faster; bitty sites like this one may as well pack it in.
SavetheInternet.com puts it better:
Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It protects the consumer's right to use any equipment, content, application or service on a non-discriminatory basis without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.The one thing that has forced mainstream media to do even the crappy job they've done covering the war, BushCo, crimes of the connected, and so on, has been the Internet--chiefly the blogosphere. Investigative journalistic, alternative news, and analytical sites like Daily Kos, TruthDig, Alternet, Consortium, Raw Story, and so many others have forced a degree of accuracy on cable and network news by creating a competing standard that is accessible to millions.
Learn more in Net Neutrality 101.
Who wants to get rid of Net Neutrality?
The nation's largest telephone and cable companies — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner — want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won't load at all.
They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors.
These companies have a new vision for the Internet. Instead of an even playing field, they want to reserve express lanes for their own content and services — or those from big corporations that can afford the steep tolls — and leave the rest of us on a winding dirt road.
If that changes, if the Net ceases to be neutral and service providers become gatekeepers, we can kiss goodbye to freedom of information. Without freedom of information, we lose the means to act in our own best interests. Without knowing facts, we can't evaluate what we're told, or even determine that we're not being told all we need to know.A few days ago, you may remember that Verizon caused a righteous rebellion when it censored text messages from NARAL, a leading abortion freedom-of-choice organization. We know about this effort to block NARAL only because of the Internet, and we were able to force Verizon to back off censoring NARAL only because of the Internet.
But it's worse than that. As Huffington Post reported, already AT&T and Verizon include clauses in their terms of service that allow them to decide when to provide the content you pay for, and when not to:
Censorship Is in the DetailsThat's nice. Any reason, no reason, White House reason, senator reason, coup d'etat reason, insane reason . . . .
Deep in its 'terms of service' for high-speed services AT&T had buried this tidbit: The phone company may 'immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your service ... without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes ... tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.'
We have since sifted the agreements of other access providers and found even more explicit language over at Verizon: The company 'reserves the right and sole discretion to change, limit, terminate, modify at any time, temporarily or permanently cease to provide the Service or any part thereof to any user or group of users, without prior notice and for any reason or no reason.'
Getting it now? Imagine your world if companies like Verizon and AT&T, or administrations dependent on, say, certain cranky and ultra-repressive constituencies, were able to turn information on and off at will. Click! You're in the dark, and we plan to keep you there!
So. The next time Net Neutrality comes up, remember. Your freedom depends on keeping the Internet a level playing field for all sites. Fight like hell to keep it.
Hoping Christians will resemble Jesus is like pissing on a rock and expecting peonies.
You can see this because a movement of thousands of violent immigrant Russian evangelical Christians is threatening gays and lesbians in the Western states, and the mainstream Church has risen, as one, in loud, mass condemnation. Not. You can also see it in the rabid and white racist fundamentalization of the US military. Can you spell p-o-g-r-o-m?
In my last and final attempt to reconcile myself to Christianity, I joined a loudly self-styled “progressive Christian church.” When the rubber hit the road a year later, they said the reason they couldn’t take a position on a pernicious anti-gay state amendment was that it would cause division, which couldn’t happen because “our” tradition is to agree to disagree, and isn’t it wonderful?
There must be something wrong with me.
No, it isn’t “wonderful,” and thanks to friends like mainstream Christians, we’re getting more afraid every day. It isn't wonderful to be hung out to dry by your church, your "friends," your pastors. It isn't wonderful when anti-gay bias is treated as if it is a legitimate option, something about which reasonable people can agree to disagree. It isn't wonderful when one-half of the Christian community is organized, vocal, and highly influential on how to loathe gay and lesbian people, and the other half is off somewhere having a 40-year navel-gaze.
When you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. That’s the meaning of the mainstream Christian church in the USA.
Still making the rounds (I grabbed it from Alas, a blog) --
1. Being gay is not natural. And as you know Americans have always rejected unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because, as you know, a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed. The sanctity of Britany Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.
7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.
9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.
Labels: gay marriage
Saturday, October 6, 2007
The University of California at Berkeley has done something wonderful again. Leave it to those "liberals"!
Berkeley Tunes in to YouTubeThanks to one Brock Read and one Michael Massey for this heads-up.
The University of California at Berkeley has never been shy about giving away course lectures online: Its pioneering webcasting site has been up and running for several years, and its newer iTunes page includes recordings from almost 80 courses, all available for free.
Now the university has gone a step further, posting more than 200 course videos on a
new, slick-looking YouTube channel. Among the lectures already airing on the channel are discourses on human anatomy, electrical engineering, and an “introduction to the science of nonviolence.”
The site seems to be a hit. More than 2,000 YouTube users have already “subscribed” to the Berkeley channel, and that number is certain to rise considerably in the coming days.
For colleges that have joined iTunes U. or started separate podcasting projects, there’s a lesson to be had here: If you’re really serious about using the Web to disseminate lectures, it pays to try as many different distribution methods as possible.
Friday, October 5, 2007
when people you care about don’t have theirs?
It’s a simplistic question, granted, but it’s a starting point, a question we all ought to ask. Certainly we all ought to ask everyone in Congress, and especially Republicans, the party of metamorphic rock, Vishnu, precambrian schist compressed for millions of years to utter imperviousness.
Reportage on the Capitol Hill debate on ENDA noted a split in the gay/lesbian community over a pragmatic political decision (is there any other kind?) to bring ENDA forward stripped of a clause that would have added transgendered people to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
To their everlasting credit, 90 prominent gay and lesbian organizations successfully petitioned Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pull the legislation until the House can support a measure that includes transgendered people. Unprecedented.
To its everlasting shame, the Human Rights Coalition (HRC), the nation’s largest gay/lesbian rights advocacy group, decided to waffle on the principle of inclusion. Joe Solmonese, HRC president, announced that while HRC supports an inclusive ENDA, it will not encourage House members to oppose a stripped-down version.
Biases come in handy, don’t they? As long as we have our biases, we don’t have to face our feelings. Ditto "pragmatics." Ditto fear.
That goes for Congress, it goes for you, and it goes for me, too. As long as we can trot out a plausible reason why someone else doesn’t quite have what it takes to be fully human, or why society needs to be protected from universal equality, or why the majority can't be moved on principle, there are any number of things we can justify.
Illegals, for instance, don’t deserve to be treated with compassion because, unlike the rest of us, they’ve broken the law.
Transgender people? I dunno, what’s the problem? If a person’s sexual identity isn’t clear and firma the way it ought to be, a person isn’t a human being?
What is it with this country? How many goddamned times does it take for us to learn that no matter what excuse we manufacture, we’re always going to be wrong arbitrarily to deny any human group full membership in the Society of Actual Human Beings?
Even a bean sprout knows to vary its path when it bumps into an Immutable Thing.
And oh yes, there is an immutable Thing here. It is that unless a group’s behaviors compel restraint, we have a duty to treat that group with regard.
I’m not among those who equate a bivalve with a canine. I don’t say that human beings exist in precisely the same relationship with chickens as with horses. And I don’t say that all animals are entitled to precisely the same rights we claim for humans. That’s another conversation, and one I’ll gladly engage in another post.
But when it comes to human beings, certain rules apply universally. When the nature of your being does not, when you inherently, in who you are, do not harm others, you and those like you are entitled to claim their protection.
There are good reasons for laws against child porn and pedophiles. Good reasons for laws against slave-holders and slavery. Good reasons for laws against, oh, cannibalism and necrophilia—a word I didn’t even know existed until I was, like, 40! Good reasons for laws against polygamy when it involves higher orders of power, influence, or sway acting on lesser ones--when, for example, a grown man of property and persuasion can compel a young girl, without either, to act against her own inherent dignity, to undermine her own best interests, independence, and self respect.
Harm, then, derives from individual aberrations – sociopathy and pathology – or from collective decisions – to invade, occupy, torture, oppress, exploit, exterminate. Harm does not derive from skin color, or genital configuration, or shape of eye, or sexual orientation, or gender, or ethnicity, per se. Harm does not derive inevitably from denomination, or nationality, or dietary preference, or shoe size.
But laws that deny full membership in the Society of Actual Human Beings to people on the basis of an arbitrary (or topical) classification are, well, atavistic. Laws like that are throwbacks.
They come from the same place that makes my dog hate the vacuum cleaner, except that at least my dog can say it makes a really scary noise.
I mean, do those people have any idea how effing STOOPIT they are? If they want a family reunion, they can always go out back and look under a rock.
From this week's Washington Blade:
Gay Georgetown students protest handling of alleged hate crime
Son of former White House aide charged in anti-gay assault
Lou Chibbaro, Jr.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Members of Georgetown University’s gay student group organized a campus protest Monday to draw attention to what they said was the school’s failure to alert students about an anti-gay assault allegedly committed by one student against another.
D.C. police on Sept. 27 charged Philip Anderton Cooney, 19, a Georgetown sophomore and the son of a former White House official, with simple assault in connection with an alleged Sept. 9 gay bashing incident that occurred one block from the main entrance to the campus.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
When Andrew Sullivan calls Bush a "war criminal," something significant has happened.
Sullivan is a conservative. Sullivan is highly educated, well informed, and adept at rubbing his brain cells together. Sullivan is well connected, and he is not generally given to hyperbole. He is one of a handful of people on the Right whom I respect. He has The Atlantic as just one of his platforms, and if he weren't also out, gay, and gaily married, he'd be really influential.
Sullivan concludes a short piece on today's New York Times revelations about yet another "hide, distort, and lie" Bush episode thus:
A couple of things need to be stressed, because I've learned the hard way that intelligent people simply refuse to absorb what is staring them in the face, when what is staring them in the face is so staggering:A couple of suggestions.
Never in history had the United States authorized such tactics.
There is no doubt - no doubt at all - that these tactics are torture and subject to prosecution as war crimes. We know this because the law is very clear when you don't have war criminals like AEI's John Yoo rewriting it to give one man unchecked power. We know this because the very same techniques - hypothermia, long-time standing, beating - and even the very same term "enhanced interrogation techniques" - "verschaerfte Vernehmung" in the original German - were once prosecuted by American forces as war crimes. The perpetrators were the Gestapo. The penalty was death. You can verify the history here.
We have war criminals in the White House. What are we going to do about it?
One of most shameful, paralyzing dissemblings of late is the spin that only Democrats occupy Congress. They could do much more than they're doing, but the rest of the truth is that Republicans in Congress that protect, enable, and permit this President to remain in power.
It is time for Republicans who love the constitutional promise of America to step up to impeachment, to show statesmanlike leadership instead of craven capitulation to a rogue Republican junta.
It is similarly time for conservatives, moderates, liberals, and progressives to put relentless pressure on all our senators and representatives, Democrat and Republican, to impeach and remove both Bush and Cheney from office.
What have we to lose? If we fail, the blueprint that Naomi Klein has laid out for us in The Shock Doctrine may well be our fate. Yes, I'm serious. Too many sinister correspondences have accumulated between the people and ideas that plunged Chile's 160-year old stable democracy into a bloody coup d'etat and the people and ideas that rule us today for a responsible citizen to ignore them. It happened there and it can happen here. If we continue to be drowsy sheep, it will.
Here's what I see: There are the unitary president's boggling power grabs: He has put himself beyond the reach of ordinary law and given himself and his men extraordinary, unconstitutional powers. There are his extensive and largely secret domestic spying networks.
There are the administration's systematic attempts to privatize education, intelligence, warmaking, and Social Security. There is its successful de-funding of the federal treasury and its creation of a crippling $10 Trillion debt in order to enrich his fellow oil, construction, mercenary, and weapons princes.
There are his relentless attacks on what shreds of social safety nets remain.
There are his "privatization laboratories" in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast and his demonstrated contempt for human life in the service of enabling the shocks that permit those privatization wealth transfers.
There is the unbelievable travesty of a voluntary war for profit--another privatization shock lab in which oil giants get Iraq's oil, Iraqs get impoverished, demoralized,and bought up, Bush and his buddies get even richer, and hundreds of thousands are killed, maimed, and/or displaced.
There is now also legal torture and indeterminate detention of US citizens on US soil without court oversight or, apparently, even court reach.
Unfathomably, with all the resources that have gone to das Heimat Sicherheit (the Nazi name for the Department of Homeland Security), every day comes another report that nothing, really, has been done to make us more secure. It's beginning to look a lot like a bait and switch deal to me.
Finally, just in case that hasn't gotten your attention; there's the ENDGAME. This from Residentcynic on Daily Kos:
ENDGAME is the policy executed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its sub-agencies, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office of Detention and Removal (DRO), that is part of a sweeping 10-year plan (2002-2012) to: 1) apprehend, 2) incarcerate (detain), 3) "process"—(investigate and question), and 4) remove all removable aliens or potential terrorists. The order of apprehension to removal is literal, as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under DHS shifted the traditionally two-pronged approach of 1)investigation, 2)detention-removal to a one-pronged approach in 2000: detention-first and "process" the person while incarcerated. (p. 2-7 of ENDGAME document)
Bush already has $400 million to work with, and, with his crony Halliburton, is in process of creating 40,000 detention beds in this country, for "aliens and potential terrorists." What exactly is a "potential terrorist" when only The Decider gets to decide? If he doesn't lie the way the election turns out, what's to stop him from declaring martial law and using one of his mercenary armies to enforce it? Or maybe the bombing of Iran will be the shock that precipitates the fall of the United States at the hands of its own president.
Andrew, what do you make of this? The same "free market/privateers" and Neo-Cons who pulled off Chile and Argentina and Indonesia are either in our Administration or allied NGOs or think-tanks as we speak, or just were, or are its gurus (Kissinger, Strauss, Friedman) or disciples. I mean Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Perle, Norquist, Moore, et al.) It looks very like they have everything they need to pull it off, and are devoted to the idea that they should.
Yes, "our refusal to absorb what is staring us in the face is staggering." But really, how many more bread crumbs do we need?
I'm doing my bit where I am. Call on your people to do theirs. Now.
[Inserted October 7: Received this update from Residentcynic, author of the important research on ENDGAME referenced above. This update is also available in the comments addressing this post:
"Just wanted to alert you to a couple of changes/corrections to the diary I posted at dKos.
"First, the 'potential terrorist' cite is actually on p. 2-11 of the document, and not in the Executive summary.
Second, I accidentally noted that KBR had a contract with DHS in 2000, 2004, and 2006. DHS was not an official agency until 2002, thus, the contract was between KBR and what was formerly the INS and now is ICE/DHS. Link can be found at:
Thanks for spreading the word, I really think this is important and should not be shrugged off."]