Saturday, October 30, 2010

Religious Right-Wing: Bombing LGTB-friendly Places Since 1997

I have stated this many times before and, well, one more time will not hurt, I suppose.  The social, political attitudes, and the target groups of hatred and bigotry (and violence) of our religious right and that of the Islamic world has always been the same: basically those supporters of modernity, secularism, women's rights, and in particular gay and lesbian rights.  They even commit these acts in the name of the same god.  The only difference is the civilization they would prefer to see vanquished, but that is of no consequence.

Today, supporters of murdering gays and lesbians in the Christian community, like this fellow in Indiana.....

...can rest assured that he has brethren in faith in Yemen.

A small synagogue dedicated to serving Chicago's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community was one of the destinations of two packages intercepted abroad packed with explosive material, a co-president for the house of worship said Saturday.

Or Chadash, a congregation of about 100 people, held its Sabbath services Friday with security out in full force.

"It was unnerving, [but] we carried on as normal," Or Chadash's co-president, Lilli Kornblum, told CNN.

Kornblum said Or Chadash was notified that it was a potential target by the rabbi of Temple Emmanuel - another synagogue from which Or Chadash leases space - who received word from authorities. Temple Emmanuel, however, was apparently not a target.

Synagogues across metropolitan Chicago began taking "appropriate precautions" Friday after receiving warning from security officials to watch out for suspicious packages from abroad, according to a Jewish Federation spokeswoman.

President Barack Obama said that two packages that apparently contained explosive materials were bound for "two places of Jewish worship in Chicago," but did not name them. U.S. authorities could not be immediately reached to confirm Kornblum's claim.

"[We were] surprised, because we're very, very small," Kornblum said, adding that the 35-year-old synagogue had been trying to get noticed to potentially gain more congregants. "This isn't what we had in mind."

Kornblum said she's "distressed" about the incident, but expressed gratitude for the authorities who were able to intercept the packages.

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago was contacted by federal officials Friday morning to urge the organization to be on alert for suspicious packages, spokeswoman Linda Haase said.

Lucille Price, a receptionist at Anshe Emet Synagogue, said Chicago police made them aware of the reports and asked them to keep an eye out for suspicious packages among any deliveries that arrived Friday.

But congregation leaders at two prominent Chicago synagogues, Temple Sholom and Chicago Sinai Congregation, said they were not made aware of any attempts to ship bombs or hazardous material to them.

Haase said she had not heard reports of Chicago congregations altering plans for services on Friday evening, the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath.

"Everything was fine. Services were held as usual with no signs of anxiety," said Rabbi Michael Sternfield, who leads Chicago Sinai, after services Friday night. "There is really nothing to report."

Steven Bob, the rabbi at a synagogue in the western Chicago suburbs, said Friday that he was not concerned about the exposed plot.
"We generally pay careful attention to packages coming to the synagogue, accepting only those we're expecting or from a known sender," he said. "Today we were extra careful."

Bob said that there was plenty of email and phone traffic among Chicago Jewish leaders responding to news of the plot on Friday but that he didn't think worshippers would be deterred from Friday services.

"We live in a world that contains some people that are hostile to us and we want to respond to that hostility with caution," said Bob, who leads Etz Chaim in Lombard, Illinois. "At the same time, we're not going to go hide in the basement."

"I may say a word or two about this tonight, but I don't think it's worthy of a sermon," he said Friday. "What am I going to say, that I'm opposed to terrorism?"


I am sure Eric Rudolph is smiling from his confines in the SuperMax.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Meet DRD4: The Liberal Gene

It is nice to know that I have a gene that predisposes me to sex addition, bi-polar disorder, and being very popular in my childhood.

 The 'liberal gene': An instant guide

Scientists say they have found a gene that pushes some people to the left of the political spectrum. Here's how it works

Your political views might not be entirely something you pick up at school or in talks around the dinner table — a new study suggests you might have been born with them. Scientists from the University of California-San Diego and Harvard, in a paper published in The Journal of Politics, say they have discovered that some people have a genetic predisposition to liberal thinking. What is this "liberal gene" they found, and does it really decide where a person will end up on the political spectrum? (Watch a discussion about the study)

What did the study find, exactly?

That people born with a variant of the DRDR gene might be more likely to grow up be liberals. UC-San Diego geneticist and political scientist James Fowler and his research team analyzed 2,574 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, looking at their genes, number of friends, and political views as adults. They found that people who had both the 7R variant of the gene and a large number of friends in high school were significantly more likely to embrace liberal views.

How does the gene affect how we think?

It helps determine how the brain processes dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects everything from movement to emotions to how we perceive pleasure and pain. The 7R variant the scientists studied had previously been linked to seeking out new experiences. "In other words," says Catherine Mayer in Time, "people with the DRD4-7R gene are more likely to be game for a laugh, for a dare, for anything new and stimulating" enough to alter dopamine levels and affect their mood.

What does that have to do with politics?

The researchers hypothesize that people more open to new ideas and more unconventional points of views already tend toward liberalism, and if they are exposed to enough different ways of living and viewing the world, their political beliefs will tend to solidify to the left of center. The authors say their study backs that up. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or cultural background, if a subject had the DRD4-7R gene and an active social life as a teenager, he or she was likely to be liberal.

How many friends does it take to nudge you to the left?

Ten. Someone with that many people in his or her close social network — and with two copies of DRD4-7R gene — can move "almost halfway from being conservative to moderate, or from being moderate to liberal." For people without the gene, there was no link between the number of friends and ideology.

Is there a "conservative gene," too?

Presumably. An earlier study of twins suggests that genetics account for about 30 to 40 percent of a person's ideology, and environment another 50 percent. And, the study notes, "psychologists have asserted for many years that social conservatism is heritable." Fowler says it is likely that political ideology has been passed down genetically for tens of millions of years, as being conservative was beneficial in some periods and being liberal helped in others. "If it made sense for us all to be liberal," he says, "natural selection would have made us all liberal."


Conversely, a 'conservative gene' would be associated with having few friends in adolescence, depression, suicide, and a closed-mindedness to new information and experience.  I guess this sounds right.

Of course, the problem with this is what makes one a conservative or liberal in one society might not be universal on the ideological scale (maybe conservatives in Russia like gun control, for example), and what about other ideologies, like Communism, fascism, and Islamic fundamentalism?  Are all of those put in the left/right poles, as well?  It is easy to say that people who are more open are liberal and those who are close-minded are conservative, but what if you were Joseph Stalin in the 1930s (committing your crimes under the guise of progress)?

Still, if true, I suppose we should get ready for the final solution by conservatives for liberals.  Naturally, eugenics will not be far off, or as it would likely be called 'abnormal gene modification,' as those deemed less worthy of life (minus the pre-born and incorporated entities or those with endless amounts of economic resources) would be declared deficient sinners (like gays, the transgendered, and Democrats).  They still believe in the concept, if they were honest with themselves about the issue.

The oddity is the libertarian ethos that is used by conservatives to rationalize their willful hatred of the society in which they live, to the point they would rather see everyone else do without rather than pay the bills.

I have had a theory since grad school that one of the reasons why conservatives tend to be religious is because it gives them their collective justification for being a part of the larger society, a society that their ideology rejects and wants to see subordinated to contract or perpetual war (with the barely hidden hope of bringing about the end of times they delude themselves into thinking is around the corner).  The oddity is their own religion preaches a brand of socialism in its scriptures that would be denounced as Marxist if uttered by an opposing candidate.

I guess this is the Jesus you will not be hearing about on the campaign trail in the Republican Party. For them, Christ hated poor people and thought the unemployed were lazy slackers (like Jesus and his followers were, for the most part). That is one of the things about Christianity that has always baffled me, even as a child (back when I believed in all of this nonsense). How can one be a conservative Christian and get around believing in the divinity of a person who made statements like how the meek shall inherit the earth and that it would be easier to ween the needle through the eye of a camel than for a rich man to enter heaven? I ask that as an open question. Any reader is more than welcome to comment and give their explanation.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Normalizing Torture: Of Muslims and Girlfriends

Waterboarding was not just a preferred means for de Torquemada to obtain your confession back in the day.  Neither is it just another torture technique to denounce when Republicans do it (but ignore when Democrats permit other countries to mete out this form of brutality).  And it is not just for Muslims anymore, either.  Yes, we have now graduated to outsourcing torture to jealous boyfriends, who have apparently become adept to using it on their unsuspecting girlfriends.

Waterboarding Girlfriend
Suspect had accused victim of “spending time with another guy”

OCTOBER 28--After accusing his girlfriend of cheating on him, a Nebraska man allegedly tied the woman to a couch in their apartment and waterboarded her, according to police.

Trevor Case, 22, has been charged with domestic assault, false imprisonment, and making terroristic threats in connection with the bizarre incident early Saturday morning at the Lincoln home he shared with the 22-year-old victim.

Police allege that Case stuffed "hospital socks" into Danielle Stallworth's mouth and bound her wrists with belts and hair ties before placing a shirt over her head and dousing it with water, according to a Lincoln Police Department report. “He poured a pitcher of water on her head, and she started freaking out and thought she wasn’t able to breathe,” according to a court filing.

The waterboarding practice, of course, leaves victims with the sensation that they are drowning.

"As she was trying to get up, she clawed Case on his chest," cops reported. When the couple's young daughter awoke, "Case stated that he would help her get untied." When questioned by police, Case admitted arguing with Stallworth, but denied tying her up. An officer noted observing "injuries on Stallworth's wrist, arm and thighs."

Case, pictured in the above mug shot, is being held on $150,000 bond at the Lancaster County jail.


Hey, Trevor, did you ever think that maybe you are the reason she started spending time with another guy?  It is kind of hard to really hold a grudge against those girlfriends who go slicing on these types of fellows.

Of course, the irony in all of this is that the people who employed the same torture technique on some of our less well-liked Muslims will not have to worry about going to where Mr. Case will be spending the next several years of his adult life (surely, a woman beater will be a very popular person in the big house).  No, our state-sanctioned torturers have little to worry about at all because our hope and change President (yes, the person I voted for and am stuck in the position of holding my nose and voting for him again to prevent Sarah Palin from having her finger on the nukes) is protecting our torturers from prosecution.  Even better, for the neo-cons who do not have to worry about getting themselves traded for a couple of cartons of smokes, our President (the man who on the campaign trail declared that we need to protect the rule of law and whistle blowers who reveal abuse in the system) is invoking the state secrets law to protect those Bush era (and his own) criminals who violated the law and tortured people.

It is significant that to this day we do not know how many times the CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri (90, maybe a hundred times) because the agency violated the court order and destroyed them.  By federal law, the agents responsible for those tapes and the hiding and destruction of those tapes should be liable for criminal prosecution.  Of course, nothing of the kind happened at all.

The moral of the story.  If you are a lumpen who wants to torture people, apply for a job at the CIA.  Then you too can waterboard to your heart's desire, girlfriends and Muslims be damned.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Racist Hypocrisy of Juan Williams

"When I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."--hatemongering hack on the O'Reilly Factor, October 18, 2010.
I do not regularly listen to or care to consume any product sold by Juan Williams.  I remember him on the talk show circuit back in the mid-90s and found him to be at best a pompous blowhard, like most talk show hosts and guests.  I knew that he had sold his soul to become the newest in-house 'liberal' patsy for Rupert Murdoch some years back, but I had lost track of Juan (and no, I rarely listen to NPR anymore, since its quality has diminished alongside all of the other so-called legitimate media outlets).

And while I oppose the firing of Juan for his racist speech about being nervous around Muslim-looking people, it says a lot that he is being publicly defended for these statements, when we know good and well and that such a similar verbal assault on any other group would have elicited not only his firing but a round of well-deserved denouncements for his hate-filled rant (aka, ex-CNN 'reporter' Rick Sanchez).

But notice how few of Juan's defenders will mention the substance of what he is saying, but only criticize NPR for firing him for his speech.  Where was the right-wing of this country when the Republican Governor of Colorado manufactured the firing of Ward Churchill from his tenured state job (that was created for the expressed purpose of protecting an academic's political speech) for having an unpopular view on 9/11?  Where is the right-wing of this country when their beloved churches excommunicate "liberals" and dissenters from within their ranks on issues like the gay rights?  Where is the average Republican voter when they tell us that the power of the state should be used to prohibit the construction of a house of worship, if it is a religion they "have problems with"?  No, like with the p.c. left in the '90s during the campus speech code craze (which unfortunately many liberals supported), speech only matters when they agree with it, and that is the onus of this dispute.  The only reason we are entertaining this as a story, and the only reason I am even responding to it as an issue, is because Juan Williams made hate speech against a group that is acceptable for the majority of Americans to hate.

And for those who get nervous about "Muslim-looking" men, including Mr. Williams, one should ask, were any of the previous attacks on planes by Islamic militants committed by "Muslim looking" men in so-called Muslim 'garb'?  Mr. Williams should know this, if he covered the 9/11 Commission Report.  None of the 19 9/11 hijackers were dressed in stereotypical "Muslim looking" clothes (however one constitutes such a thing).  Neither was the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, or the wannabe underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.  Of course, none of them were.  They all dressed like Republicans going to a tent revival.  That was by design because any terrorist, who wants to avoid detection before springing an attack, would know well enough to acclimatize him/herself into the culture they are targeting for their nefarious deeds.  

So, then, how does one detect the so-called Muslim looking men that we should be nervous about?  That is what has been ignored in this debate because everyone, especially white people in the US (the honest ones), know the answer:  race.  So does Mr. Williams, which was the intent behind his bigoted remarks.

The hypocrisy on Juan Williams's part was that back in the day, he was quite the jihadist on censoring racist speech, when it was made against him or anyone from his community.  Such was the case back in the '80s, when a Washington Post reporter was denounced by Williams after defending the practice of white jewelry store owners who excluded black patrons.  Juan opined that "[r]acism is a lazy man's substitute for using good judgment ... Common sense becomes racism when skin color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger to me.”  What a pity Williams cannot remember his own claimed values and views when looking at others.  Then again, Juan gets $2 million extra from Rupert Murdoch.  I guess we should all be so lucky as to have NPR fire us, so long as our side job includes being the newest patsy for Bill O'Reilly.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Obama to LGTB: FU

Liberals, think of this the next time our hope and change president comes to an area college, tells us about how wonderful he has been to us, and how we need to stop whining, suck it up, and just vote Democratic.  After all, he is so different from the Republicans, since they claim he's a Stalinist-Muslim-Kenyan.  Who would have figured that he is as spineless as he is dishonest?  Just ask those gay and lesbian members of the armed forces, for those brave enough to still be out.

Appeals court delays injunction against 'don't ask, don't tell'

Washington (CNN) -- A federal appeals panel on Wednesday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that halted enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers from the military.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the government the delay it sought in challenging a federal judge's order last week to stop enforcing the policy around the world.

"The order is stayed temporarily in order to provide this court with an opportunity to consider fully the issues presented," said the appellate panel's ruling, which gave parties in the case until October 25 to file further documents.

Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran and executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said the appeals court panel's ruling "means that 'don't ask, don't tell' is once again on the books, and is likely to be enforced by the Defense Department."

"Gay and lesbian service members deserve better treatment than they are getting with this ruling," Sarvis said. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign also expressed disappointment and called for an end to "don't ask, don't tell."

Earlier Wednesday, the Obama administration filed an emergency request with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the military from allowing openly gay troops from serving, putting itself in a strange position.

In effect, the administration wants to continue barring gays from the military even though it ultimately favors repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

"They are in a very bizarre position, frankly, of their own making," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.

On Wednesday, the White House referred all questions about the issue to the Department of Justice.
The administration filed a motion Tuesday asking U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips to stay her order last month that banned the enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. When Phillips denied the request, government lawyers took their case to the 9th Circuit on Wednesday.

In court documents filed in San Francisco, California, the administration argued that "don't ask, don't tell" should remain intact for now.

The administration argued that changing it abruptly "risks causing significant immediate harm to the military and its efforts to be prepared to implement an orderly repeal of the statute."
Toobinsaid the administration would like Congress to deal with the issue on a political level and doesn't want the courts to take it on unilaterally.

A measure that would repeal the policy after a military review and approval from the president, defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.

By battling the legal challenge to the existing law -- a traditional practice of the U.S. government -- the administration is trying to buy time to implement the repeal process worked out with military leaders and contained in the legislation before Congress.

If the 9th Circuit eventually overturns Phillips' ruling and Congress does not take any action, "don't ask, don't tell" could be back.

"And the Obama administration would be responsible for that," Toobin said.

Meanwhile, spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said Wednesday that the Defense Department "will continue to obey the law, and we will abide by the terms of the court's injunction unless and until the injunction is stayed or vacated."

The Log Cabin Republicans, plaintiffs in the case that Phillips ruled on, said Wednesday that the group remained fully committed to defending this worldwide injunction because it is what is best for all service members.

"While we are disappointed with the court's ruling granting a temporary administrative stay, we view the decision as nothing more than a minor setback," said Dan Woods, a partner in the law firm White & Case who is representing the group it the case. 

"We didn't come this far to quit now," he said in a statement, adding that the group expected the appeals court to uphold the lower court injunction against "don't ask, don't tell."

The Pentagon has already begun advising recruiting commands that they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruit candidates, according to Smith.

The guidance from the personnel and readiness office was sent to recruiting commands Friday, Smith said.
The recruiters were told that if a candidate admits that he or she is openly gay and qualifies under normal recruiting guidelines, the application can be processed. Recruiters are not allowed to ask candidates if they are gay as part of the application process.

Christian Berle, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said there have not been any incidents of consequence the administration feared would occur.

"The armed forcescontinues to move along and succeed because it is the greatest military in the world," Berle said.

Dan Choi, an infantry officer who was discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, turned in paperwork Wednesday to re-enlist in the Army. He said the Obama administration ought not to lift a finger to defend discrimination.

"They should walk their talk," Choi said after re-enlisting.

The Obama administration has said it needs more time to work with the Pentagon to repeal the policy, blasted by critics as blatantly discriminatory.

"This president has made a commitment, and it's not a question of whether that program, whether that policy will change, but when," Obama adviser David Axelrodsaid. "We're at the end of a process with the Pentagon to make that transition, and we're going to see it through."

The arrangement worked out with the Pentagon includes a military review of how to make the transition work, which is to be completed in December. After that, Obama, the defense secretary and the Joint Chiefs chairman would have to certify that the plan won't harm the combat readiness of U.S. troops.

Obama and White House Press Secretary Robert Gates have repeatedly stressed the need for an orderly transition from the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in order to deal with myriad issues including barracks arrangements and benefits.

Speaking to a mostly young audience at the MTV, BET, CMT town hall meeting last week, Obama reaffirmed that the "policy will end and it will end on my watch."

"I agree with the basic principle that anybody who wants to serve in our armed forces and make sacrifices on our behalf, on behalf of our national security, anybody should be able to serve," he said.

At the same time, Obama said, "it has to be done in a way that is orderly," and he insisted that congressional action is needed because Congress passed a law that prohibits the president from unilaterally changing the policy.


Just imagine if Truman caved to the right-wing in 1947 and decided not to use the military as a "social experiment" for racial integration.  Or if progressives in 1954 declared our opposition to Brown v. Board of Education because such 'radical Marxism' (as racial integration was called by the white right then) was best left to legislatures, not those evil courts.  Well, that is what Obama has done, with dagger inserted, sharpened, square in the backs of the last group of Americans it is legally accepted to hate, subordinate, and treat like second class people in their own country (including those who want to serve it openly in the military).  Ah, but that would be whining.

Hypocritical Update:  As a post-message rejoinder, our esteemd President has issued a nice message for folks in the LGTB community.  Sorry for lying and stabbing you in the back.  Hey, it's get better.  No, seriously.

Of course, it gets better, until you try to openly join the military.  Then our President will have you thrown out because Congress did not write the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  And since President Obama has become such a supporter of Congress, I am certain he will now decide to jettison the imperial presidency and put himself in compliance with the War Powers Act.  [removing sarcasm hat]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Angle's List: All White ( the Right-Wing Left)

I am sure somewhere in the hinterland of northern California there is some ex-Marxist/embryo-fetishist, extolling the virtues of Sharron Angle as a straight-talking moderate, dedicated to the Constitution above all else.  To everyone else in the normal world, she is a right-wing racist, union-busting wretch.  But do not take my word for it.  Here is Sharron herself.

Angle tells Hispanic students they look Asian

LAS VEGAS – Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle told dozens of Hispanic high school students last week that "some of you look a little more Asian to me," inducing gasps from the crowd and marking the latest eyebrow-raising remark she has uttered on the campaign trail.

Angle, a Republican in a close contest against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, met Friday with the group at a Las Vegas high school after students expressed anger with her campaign's anti-illegal immigrant message.
In a video of the private meeting obtained by The Associated Press, Angle defends a series of campaign advertisements that lean on images of dark-skinned men. Angle, who is white and has Mexican grandsons, claims she did not know the people in the TV spots were Hispanic and makes the case that it can be difficult to pinpoint someone's race.

"You know, I don't know that all of you are Latino. Some of you look a little more Asian to me. I don't know that," she is heard telling the students, who respond with a flurry of gasps and whispers.

"What we know, what we know about ourselves is that we are a melting pot in this country. My grandchildren are evidence of that. I'm evidence of that. I've been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly."

She told the students that they are "misinterpreting" the commercials. "I'm not sure that those are Latinos in that commercial."

Angle also claimed she supported a state scholarship that benefited Hispanics, then later corrected herself and noted she voted against the scholarship as a state representative because it allowed non-citizens to receive taxpayer-subsidized tuition, according to the recording.

Rancho High School teacher Isaac Barron said the room of roughly 150 students was "rocked" by Angle's visit.

"Latinos do come in every shape and size," said Barron, whose Hispanic Student Union organized the event. "But it was shocking that she went out of her way to portray Hispanics in her commercials and then she calls us Asian."

Snippets of the brief high school visit have leaked out since Friday. Angle's campaign insisted the interlude not be recorded, but many students secretly taped the discussion on personal cell phones, Barron said. The AP obtained a complete copy of the event from students Monday.

Hispanics are a growing voting bloc in Nevada, where they make up roughly 25 percent of the population. More than 80 percent of the Silver State's Hispanics hail from Mexico.

Reid has attempted to present a balanced immigration record to voters. He has highlighted his votes to strengthen border security to mainstream audiences. To Hispanic crowds, he has vowed to make the road to citizenship more inclusive.

Angle's campaign spokesman said it is Reid's camp that is trying to play "race politics."

Hispanic leaders have blasted Angle's immigration stances.

On the tea party circuit, Angle has extolled strong-handed policies that might encourage illegal immigrants to "self-deport" and advocated for more sheriffs like Arizona's Joe Arpaio, who is under federal investigation for discriminating against Hispanics.

She has recently recast some of her more conservative images in the tight U.S. Senate race where Reid has tried to brand her "too extreme."

Angle's campaign has released more than four TV spots that accuse Reid of offering special breaks to illegal immigrants. In one campaign mailer, Reid is shown holding a map of Mexico with the word "amnesty" scribbled across the country.

One of the most criticized images, a still of three stony-faced Hispanic men from Getty Images, Inc, is of Mexican men in Mexico, according to the caption on the photography site. 

Freshman Silvia Parra said she asked Angle on Friday to pull the "anti-Hispanic" commercials. 
"She said, 'We don't have any anti-Hispanic ads,'" Parra recalled. "I feel like she kind of lied to me in front of my face."


This is where I part ways with Noam Chomsky (as much as I admire him on so many other issues), who encourages us not to make fun of tea partiers, even if they illustrate fascist tendencies.  No, professor Chomsky, our modern day Klan does not deserve and will not receive my respect.  Be it expelling Mexicans, trying to use the power of the government to compel a system of internal passports for all Latinos, spitting on black congressmen, while using racial epithets, or demonstrating in favor of the use of state power to banish Muslims from building an Islamic center three blocks away from where the 9/11 attacks occurred.  These expressions of racism and statism (so long as the government is being used to target, imprison, or exclude those who do not look like 99% of the tea party 'activists') are not my idea of a legitimate group of people, worthy of my positive attention and inquiry.  

If you want to understand our contemporary manifestation of racial nationalism and xenophobia, you are more than welcome to feign bi-partisanship.  I am sure they will value your opinion, while they call you a Communist traitor deserving a lineup against the wall and ditch.  Doubt me?  Again, give credit where it is due.  If nothing else, most of the tea partiers are honest in their racism.

While it may be true that many of the teabaggers should be leftist (how else can you rationalize anyone making under $30,000 whining about socialism?), but the truth is they are not left-wing and they are never going to be.  That is not a failure of the left, Mr. Chomsky, Brennan, Cockburn, et al.  That is the failure of our political culture to forcefully integrate whites into the larger multicultural society.  They reject it for the same reason the majority of whites have been voting Republican since '68 (and almost all of them in the Deep South voted Democratic when the Democrats were the party of Jefferson Davis [before becoming Republicans]).  It is the same reason why the majority of whites ran from our cities after WWII to the suburbs, with most of the developments containing racially restrictive covenants which prohibited home sales to non-whites.  

Whether some of these introspective leftists like to face it, the teabaggers are not progressive because a majority of whites have been from the beginning of colonial times intractably racist against non-white peoples*--be it the natives we (since I am white) killed to wrestle this land from, the importation and use of African slaves, the belief in which 600,000 people had to die in a civil war to end, and runs up to this day in those signs portraying our President as an African tribesman in league with Islamic terrorism.  That is not WEB DuBois's failure or any contemporary progressive, professor.   I do not get to experience the pleasure of being the flavor of the hour for a large news corporation, given a t.v. show with millions of viewers, to propagandize my beliefs (and it certainly is not my fault for lacking the ability to primitively accumulate the resources to subsidize such a venture). Ultimately, that is the failure of whites not agreeing with progressives because so many have allowed themselves to be negatively influenced by race-baiting tactics of the right (the one group of people the Alex Cockburns never seem to want to insult).  For the right-wing left, everyone is a fascist, except the fascists.  

If you think showing false sympathy or entertaining these folk by blaming the victims of this hatred for their racist values will suddenly make them awaken from their false consciousness, you will be sadly mistaken, particularly if/when our Supreme Court rules in favor of allowing Arizona to cantoonize Latinos (with several legislatures in the usual suspect Southern states already prepared to pass their own laws mimicking Arizona).  Those sheriffs will not be profiling and harassing Latinos because some leftist dared to call them out for what they are.  They already have their values instilled in them, since most people (of all ethnic backgrounds) develop their attitudes and perceptions on race at a very young age, usually before they are out of primary school.  

You should know better, professor Chosmky.  You lived through those times.  Well, I live in the Deep South, get an earful from many of my students, and I have no illusion where they developed their attitudes on Mexicans and Muslims--hint, it was not from progressives.  And trust me, remaining silent or pretending that these people are something else is not going to somehow gloss over that obvious difference or make them "just like us."  That is exactly the kind of patronizing attitude that led the Obama administration (with the advise of neo-cons like Rahm Emanuel) down the path of selling out to the insurance lobby on the health care bill.  Tell me, Mr.  Chomsky, how did that accommodation with what you freely admit are fascistic tendencies in this country work out for us?  

You cannot deal with people who do not recognize you politically to begin with, and frankly I do not want it.  The ends of the teabaggers would be best served by us remaining pliant and refusing to hold them accountable for their views.  You do not defeat bullies by embracing them (when they think you are the equivalent of an agent of North Korea for merely supporting Social Security).  You beat a bully by fighting back.  In politics, yes, dare I say it, that includes calling bigots a group of bigots.  If they do not like it, tough.  It is about time we grew a spine and actually stood up for what we believe in,  and put them on the defensive, instead of cowering to reactionary forces out of some Sisyphean delusion that a couple of them might turn out to be like us.

*=This is not a statement of self-hatred, as the white right would accuse any other white person of who is not unapologetically racist, but a simple statement of fact.  Go to any setting in the part of the country where I live, with only whites present, ask them their view of any notable black-majority city in the US, and listen to the responses.  Come back when most of those responses are not negative and filled with collective racial judgments (which they would eschew for themselves if anyone brought up the Trail of Tears or reparations).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Does It Get Better?

I am not certain how useful Dan Savage's 'it gets better' campaign is, under the auspices of 'giving hope' to bullied gay teens (after several high profile suicide cases). Some of the videos seem silly and forced, particularly when delivered by entertainers trying to reach 15 year olds.  There is one video, however, that has been quite different, and that is Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns.  Here is his testimonial on bulllying, growing up gay, and the problems he faced.

I saw bullying when I was a kid growing up in the '80s, but I do not recall it being like this.  There was certainly homophobia, especially amongst boys and even more so for athletes, but I do not remember anything like these cases.  Maybe it was because there was a lack or prevalence of a national gay rights movement, at least in my childhood years, but I wonder how much of this is fueled by technology and the internet (just look at the toxic wasteland that is a Yahoo message board)?  Or it could be these things did happen back in the pre-internet days and we just did not know about it as much?   There was bullying, alright, but the "different" targets of the football squad in those days were usually the geeks and punks, periodically anyone outside of the jock/prep/in-crowd.  Regardless, the sustenance of this abuse, which is what it really is, remains both sad and upsetting.  We are still stuck in the middle ages in the cliquishness of secondary schools in this country, in which the so-called popular and successful kids use their status on the pecking order to tear down those perceived to be our untermensch.

Remember when after the Columbine massacre, parents and educators declared that we needed to end the bullying culture in our high schools?  That was in 1999.  It obviously has not changed.

Meanwhile, the ex-Marxist-turned-right-wing-libertarian thinks Christine O'Donnell is a pragmatist, based on her demurring of past beliefs as "irrelevant" when compared to the Constitution.  Yes, that really nullifies her view that masturbating is adultery, lying to the Nazis is wrong, and that rape victims should be forced to have their babies (then again, Mr. Cockburn thinks progressives are too obsessed with wanting to kill embryos).  Those are just a few of the various beliefs and attitudes that Ms. O'Donnell still holds to this day.  Real pragmatist there, eh, Alex?

Friday, October 8, 2010

A List for All: The Foibles of Horizontal Academics

As I near the age in which my body parts start to hurt more often in the morning, I can look back on my youth and think to myself about all of the things I should not have done.  I certainly should not have been allowed to buy a '76 Pontiac Grand Prix with a 400-cubic inch engine (with a mere 2,000 miles, sitting in my brother-in-law's garage for over a decade) as my first car at 16, putting me behind the wheels of a 130-mph tank.  In my defense, I bought it with money that I saved up.  I probably should not have played quarters with 151 straight that one time when I was a youngin'.  That did not go well the following morning.  But one thing I never did, or really thought of doing, was conducting a comparative analysis of my sex partners, for a senior project, on PowerPoint, and then email it to friends with the hope they would never send it out to anyone else.  Oops.

Karen Owen Sex List: Equal Opportunity Sexual Humiliation?
Posted by April Peveteaux

Duke University is buzzing about Karen F. Owen's f**k list, a PowerPoint presentation, no less. The recent grad created an impressive 42-page document titled "Senior Honors Thesis" on her drunken (mostly) sexual exploits with Duke athletes.

It's a thorough report including quantifiable methods of ranking each subject, anatomic details, and sext transcripts. If I had been Karen Owen's friend, I would have been impressed, if not disturbed, by Owen's attention to detail and memory recall. As an outsider, it makes me feel dirty. While Owen only sent it to three friends, as a person under the age of 60, she should know that once something is distributed electronically, it doesn't matter if you send it to one person, or one hundred.

Jezebel interviewed Owen, who is seemingly mortified that her list is now the topic of national attention, yet she did point out that frat guys have been doing this for years.

She's right, but does that make it okay?

In order to buy the argument that this is somehow gender equality, you have to accept that men are aggressive and take what they want with no regard for the feelings of women. Of course, the Duke lacrosse team, many of whom Owen bedded, already have that reputation. You also have to buy the argument that women are weak and have little control over their sexual choices. Owen's treatment of these men negates that stereotype, as do 99% of the women I know.

So even though the expert on the TODAY show annoyed the hell out of me as she spoke of being very disappointed in girls losing their modesty (note, not frat boys -- that's just to be expected) and seemed concerned about "morals," we cannot have a double standard. It's not okay to sexually humiliate anyone. Even if you think these testosterone-fueled athletes on the prowl really, really deserve it. What if Subject #2 killed himself after reading her assessment of his personality and penis?

I'm all for owning your sexuality. But being proud of getting hammered and going home with a similarly inebriated jock is as much of an accomplishment as finding a liberal on campus. Subjecting your targets to public scrutiny when you made the choice to get on that tiny, flaccid penis is bad behavior. No matter who you're bedding.

Do you think it's okay that Karen Owen showed this list to friends?


Granted, it was not nice for her to name the young fellows that she bedded.  I am sure the fellow who rated a 1 was not very happy to see it.

Still, how much of this is an overresponse to the fact she is a female writing about this?  There seems to be almost a fetishism for women writing about their sex lives in this country.  Not that I am opposed to that, naturally, as a male admirer of the writings of Anais Nin (yes, I admit it, I read her in my undergrad years), but when I read the responses to this story it almost has nothing to do with the poor fellows on the Duke lacrosse team getting outed for their prowess, or the lack thereof (not only that, who is to say that the reviewer of their abilities is not herself biased, making the research unreliable?).  Almost universally, the comments are based on personal and moral judgments of the female student as a "whore," "slut," and "loose woman," as women tend to be to the targets of these kinds of attacks when committing the sinful act of 'behaving like one of the boys.'

I ask this as an open question: If a male member of the Duke basketball team (I will give some relief to the lacrosse team) wrote a thesis on the performance capabilities of a dozen or so prior female partners (and named them), does anyone think that the player in question would be called a "whore" or "slut"?  I think we know the answer to that one, instinctively.  Of course not.  We would be focusing this story on where it belongs, the naming of names, and violation of privacy of the person having his/her sex life being put on a PowerPoint display without any foreknowledge or consent.

As for the research itself, I must say, Ms. Owens, your methodology has some externalities.  By only sleeping with members of the lacrosse team, your study is barely a comparison but more of a single case narrative with thirteen parts.  For it to be research worthy of its name, it must be randomized, which is to say a cross-section of students, some athletes, as well as fine arts, sciences, social sciences, and maybe even business majors (just to see how awful they are).  Also, the n-size for most studies, to be credible, must be on the low end of 40 to be considered valid.  I do not think that 13 is going to cut it for research, making this a meta-narrative of your sex life.  Lastly, your causal variables (i.e., "raw scores"), like 'physical attractiveness' and 'athletic ability,' could have been collapsed into the same variables.  No good study of such a small sample size should have more than a few variables (maybe up to five, but then you need a larger sample size to support eight variables).

Still, you have to like the creativity of the assignment.  I think this was my favorite part.

The wonders of youth.