So after posting my little rant this morning and talking about my frustration with apparently lack of a Democratic response, I stumbled onto "What Progressives Don't Understand About Obama" by Ishmael Reed (NY Times).
One progressive commentator played an excerpt from a Harry Truman speech during which Truman screamed about the Republican Party to great applause. He recommended this style to Mr. Obama. If President Obama behaved that way, he’d be dismissed as an angry black militant with a deep hatred of white people. His grade would go from a B- to a D.
What the progressives forget is that black intellectuals have been called “paranoid,” “bitter,” “rowdy,” “angry,” “bullies,” and accused of tirades and diatribes for more than 100 years.
I'd like to think we're beyond such things, but I know we're not. We like to think that because Jim Crow and miscegenation laws are off the books, we are living in a post-racist society. We're not. Racism is not dead, it's just had a facelift. We utter a collective gasp when we hear of Holocaust deniers, but what about U.S. conservatives trying to sanitize our own deplorable history of slavery and prejudice?
He makes a valid point that the color of Obama's skin makes for a more complicated scenario than white minds are generally capable of conceiving.
And now they are whispering about a primary challenge against the president. Brilliant! The kind of suicidal gesture that destroyed Jimmy Carter — and a way to lose the black vote forever.
Something to think about.
That phrase always struck me as odd when I was a kid. Seems rather contradictory on the surface of it. It wasn't until I was older and saw the phrase acted out in a movie that I understood what it meant. In the movie a crowd learns their king has died in battle. His successor, who had delivered the news, is immediately proclaimed king with this statement.
This statement demonstrates two things to my mind. First, it's not about the individual who is the king, who is ultimately expendable. It's about the office of king. Second, it demonstrates the fickle nature of those who are accustomed to being led. The successor turned out to be a despot and a tyrant, but no one was asking for character references or a job history before pronouncing him king.
Some of you may already see where this is going. Osama bin Laden is dead. I thought I would feel more about this news than I do. I mean, hasn't that been the goal all along? How many times has a sentence been ended with, "...but we still haven't caught bin Laden?" So we caught him, and what, exactly, has changed? Not one damn thing. In fact, some whackadoodle is likely to feel honor bound to avenge this death, and so the cycle starts all over again.
I'm sure those who lost family and friends on 9/11 and those living in New York may feel some sort of recompense at the news, but the celebrations I've been hearing about seem wrong somehow. One man was killed, but his office, his ideas, his ideology lives on. I'm just having a hard time getting worked up about this.
Here are a few more random thoughts on the subject.
- It doesn't surprise me that he was discovered in a multi-million dollar compound and not holed up in some mountain cave. Asceticism is reserved for monks, prophets (who are usually reviled) and the mentally deranged. Men who stand at the head of religious movements rarely see asceticism as a requirement of their office. In fact they usually point to their vast fortunes as signs of God's favor. Convenient that. While some my try and draw the distinction that it is not their personal fortune, it certainly doesn't stop them from rivaling the ridiculously wealthy in their way of life. Can you say Prada? I'd be surprised if Thomas Monson (or any one else in the upper echelons of the LDS church) goes to Mr. Mac for his suits.
- On the news they said Osama was buried at sea to avoid the creation of a shrine for his followers. Probably not a bad idea, but 1. you don't need a shrine to have a martyr and 2. the devout will find a way to honor his resting place regardless. Watch for vigils on ocean shores the world over.
- Osama wasn't an idiot, nor was he a spring chicken. He had to know his days were numbered, whether it was the US or Father Time who eventually brought the curtains down. It's very likely he had already primed his organization to accept a successor in the event of his demise.
- If you think this means we're pulling out of Afghanistan, think again.
There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender… identity is performatively constituted by the very ‘expressions’ that are said to be its results.
No idea where this comes from. Found it on a boy blog I follow. I suspect it's not original to the author of the blog. I see sentences constructed like this and know they are inaccessible to a large segment of the population. It's not that they couldn't understand it, but a first parsing doesn't bear fruit so they just check out. In the past I've found it necessary to translate statements in Ivory Tower Speak to be more accessible to my clients.
On the other hand, I think of right-wing buffoons like Beck and Limbaugh and have guilty fantasies of an aneurysm cause by intellectual overload to their atrophied and addlepated brains.
"You evil capitalist; making wealth for other people."
I heard that sarcastic comment the other day walking down the halls of the building where I rent office space. It never ceases to amaze me how willingly delusional some people are.
First off, let's establish that wealth is a relative term. Compared to most of the world's population, I'm sure that I appear as stupidly wealthy as Bill Gates appears to me. When someone makes such a ludicrous statement, it makes me wonder what their definition of wealth is.
Can we agree that giving someone a job is not the same as creating wealth? I've heard the same fellow is planning on hiring three people to man phones and make cold calls to pitch whatever product he has to sell. Is he really thinking about creating wealth for his employees? Is going to split the profits equally four ways? I kinda doubt it. He undoubtedly plans to keep most of the profits and pay is employees a meager wage for growing his business.
I've always understood capitalism to be about one thing: making money for #1. If capitalism is about creating wealth for others, how do you explain that 80% of the wealth in the U.S. is held by 20% of the population? (sociology.ucsc.edu) Have you ever pondered the term “trickle down economics?” Why not “downpour economics?” Or even “stream down economics?” Because capitalism and trickle down economics work just like a dam on a river. Sure, some of the water continues to flow down stream, but most of it stays behind the dam.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not really opposed to capitalism. I don't even disparage the ridiculously wealthy—at least not very often. I just think you should call it what it is. If you want to adhere to capitalistic principles and state that capitalism allows all people the same theoretical opportunity to amass wealth, fine. But don't for a minute delude yourself into believing that makes you a philanthropist.
A 9-year old has plead down a premeditated murder charge to negligent homicide in Arizona. A 9-year old. Apparently the kid shot and killed his father and a man renting a room in the home. No one really knows why. I haven't been able to find any talk of a history of violent behavior. There was some talk of abuse. The kid claimed he was keeping tally of spankings and had vowed his 1000th would be his last. However, the statement is inadmissible because a parent or guardian was not present when he made it. There is also the little problem that the tally sheet he claims to have kept cannot be found. It is complicated even more by the fact that none of the townspeople are buying it. Which doesn't mean it didn't happen, but how are you going to prove it in a court of law if there is no physical evidence, no record of complaints and no history of behavioral issues?
No motive has ever been cited, which seems a bit odd to me if you're charging the kid with premeditated murder. But it was this comment, over at the Salt Lake Tribune that just takes the cake.
This story has been stinking to the rafters since I first heard about it. So we are never going to find out if the dad and his pal were a gay couple or prone to child molestation or abuse? Wrap it all up in a tidy plea bargain and save the reputation of the deceased and his family? I say foul! We should have the truth. Even kids don't shoot people for no reason. This little boy executed his dad and the dad's friend with very little emotion apparently. This usually means they had it coming somehow.
What does the sexuality of his father have to do with anything? Gay people are no more likely to be molesters or abusive than the population at large, superstitions to the contrary notwithstanding. This kind of nonsense is as irritating as it is painful. I have two daughters. When it became apparent that a son was not in the cards for me, I was a little disappointed. I think most men would be. You know how I used to console myself? By telling myself that God was protecting my potential sons from me...
But I digress. What if they were a gay couple? Is he trying to say that would be sufficient cause for them to "have it coming?" What if the kid felt it was his God given duty to "kill faggots?" Whose reputation is on the line then? That of a sick little town that managed to teach an 8-year old he has a license to kill?
Oh, and as for "the truth?" Honestly buddy, it's none of your damn business.
It's a good thing these photos comparing and contrasting Bush and Obama on women's rights do all the talking, because after viewing them I can't think of one damn thing to say.
From Greg Prince's Blog:
What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?`What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said ‘I do’ to?What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?What if Obama were a member of the Keating-5?What if McCain were a charismatic, eloquent speaker?
If these questions were seriously confronted, do you really believe the election numbers would be anywhere near as close as they are? This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism
Now, which team are you going to hire ?
PS: and what if Barack Obama had an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter...
[Note: As with all sensitive topics, I've been sitting on this one so I can read it over a few times and make sure it sounds relatively sane. It's almost old news now and the APA has recently released this statement regarding the work group process and Dr. Zucker's experience. I'm posting this anyway, because I think it's still an important topic.]
Certain parts of the blogosphere have been buzzing about the APA's announcement of the DSM-V work groups and their members: specifically page 11 wherein Kenneth J. Zucker, PhD is named the chair of the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group. I don't know how well known Zucker is to the population at large, but NPR's recent piece, "Two Families Grapple with Sons' Gender Preferences: Psychologists take radically different approaches in therapy" has certainly raised his public profile. There are quite a few folk upset that Zucker has been named the chair of a work group tasked with taking another look at gender identity disorder (GID). Some folk, count me among them, think GID needs to go. There is some justified concern that with someone who believes in treating GID chairing that committee, there will be little or not change to GID. Some even seem to fear there will be some backsliding.
There are a couple of things people seem to be missing in the discussion. First, one writer has suggested perhaps that the APA was not fully aware of Zucker's work. Charitable, but not bloody likely. You can be damn sure that the APA is fully aware of Zucker's work and theoretical framework. The fact that Zucker has been named the chair tells you two very important things. One, it tells you the state of establishment thought on GID. I doubt that numbers even exist, but I'd be stunned to learn there are more Ehrensaft's than Zucker's out there (see the NPR article). Get into the professional establishment and the ratio undoubtedly drops even more. Two, it tells you that whatever your disagreements with Zucker and his philosophy and approach to gender issues, he is most likely not the quack/hack some are making him out to be.
Second, people are also wondering how the APA, which dropped homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM-III in the 70s, could appoint someone with such "backward" notions about gender to chair a committee set to re-evaluate GID. Some have stated that Zucker and his work with children diagnosed with GID is about preventing homosexuality. Based on what little I know, I find that unlikely. Nothing I read in the NPR article suggests that is the case. Also, a local psychologist who is quite familiar with Zucker's work recently refuted an email claiming that Zucker is a supporter of the ex-gay movement. The hysteria that we are heading back to pathologizing homosexuality is unwarranted and unfounded. Gender expression and sexuality are completely different concepts and one has little or no bearing on the other. It is perfectly consistent, from a theoretical/professional point of view, to be fully accepting of homosexuality while believing in GID.
Third, we are talking about children here. We are not talking about adults. Scientific literature does suggest that gender identity is somewhat to very plastic in children. One text I read stated that gender identity is fixed by age seven. Zucker works with children under ten. If we can modify a child's gender identity to be more consistent with social expectations shouldn't we at least try? The answer to that question is unequivocally, "It depends." It depends on the child. It depends on the parents. It depends on what sort of philosophical/religious/moral stance any one of the parties involved takes. I think children who don't conform to society's gender expectations are in for a rough ride, no matter which path they take.
At the ages we are talking about, the parents exert an enormous influence on the lives of their children. Little girls aren't the only ones who like to stomp around in mom's high heel shoes. Does that mean little boys have a latent desire for the feminine or does it just mean that mom's shoes are colorful and make cool noise? What meaning do the parents assign to these behaviors? Some fathers will flip if they see their little boys wearing mom's shoes. Others won't flip until he puts on a dress. How many of you would feel okay if your child started wearing underwear of the opposite sex? The NPR story is as much about the respective parents' ability or lack thereof to accept their child's gender bending.
My biggest problem with GID is how culturally dependent it is. To me it seems the last vestiges of an outmoded way of thinking about male and female. I can pretty much guarantee that the discussion and the definition of GID would look quite different if society didn't have such rigidly defined pink and blue boxes; if society didn't insist that a human being can only stand in one and only one box; if society didn't apply enormous pressure for an individual to pick the box that has traditionally been associated with the anatomical bits between their legs. GID is more often diagnosed in boys than in girls. You'll have a very difficult time convincing me that's biological. I suspect it has more to do with gender bias in our society. Like Madonna said, "Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots 'cause it's okay to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, 'cause you think that being a girl is degrading." Which gets your heart pounding more: your daughter in boxers, your daughter in briefs, or your boy in panties?
It would be interesting for NPR to do a follow up story in 10 years when Bradley and Jona are adolescents. Will Jona's popularity continue into adolescence when the rest of her peers start paying more attention to gender and sex? How well do you think it will go over if Jona insists she should be allowed in the girls' locker room? Still, even if Jona runs into some land mines while navigating adolescence, it seems to me the odds of successfully navigating adolescence increase dramatically with a firm and sound sense of self.
Where Zucker, in my opinion, ultimately falls short is in his conceptualization of the problem:
"Suppose you were a clinician and a 4-year-old black kid came into your office and said he wanted to be white. Would you go with that? ... I don't think we would," Zucker says.
If a four-year old boy came into your office insisting his penis was a vagina, I don't think anyone would go with that. He's got to come to terms with reality. The quesiton becomes, "What does it mean that you have a penis (or that your skin is black)?" Does having black skin mean you can only have a future in professional sports? Does having a penis mean you can't play with dolls? Perhaps Zucker didn't think his race analogy through, but he's basically validating racism by implying that there are behaviors assigned to people with white skin that people with black skin may not adopt. While that my still be an unfortunate reality, few would (openly) suggest there is some biological order that dictates such restrictions. For me the concept is not a whole lot different. Skin color or anatomical bits between the legs, either way whatever definitions and behaviors society has assigned to those anatomical realities need to be examined and, in most cases, eventually dismantled.
Brandon's tale is heart wrenching for anyone who has come from a place where they were taught to hate or fear some particular aspect of themselves. His mother's talk of his "addiction to pink" ticks me off in more ways than one. Still, I'm not convinced Zucker is the demon some are making him out to be. Indeed, I was recently pointed to this post by Alice Domurat Dreger
How do I know these are wrong? Well, I asked Zucker. Point blank. ... I asked Zucker: Do you think if a child ends up transitioning sex as an adolescent or adult, that’s a bad outcome? No way, he said. In fact, he pointed out that in that case--when a child grows up to be an adolescent who needs to change sex because that means s/he will be better off--Zucker helps arrange it to make sure it happens.
Wild allegations and hysteria are not the way to address this issue, certainly not with a scientific body like the APA. Get your facts straight...err...correct...and develop a well reasoned argument to support your case. Humanity is slow to change, but truth will eventually win out. We accept the world is not flat. We accept the earth is not the center of the universe. That may seem self evident now, but those are truths that were a long time gaining widespread acceptance.
Have you ever stopped to wonder if all the evil in the world is the result of malcontent? Wanting what you don't have? Wanting something you can't have? Wanting more than what you already have? There's a line from The Matrix about the Merovingian. Neo asks, "What does he want?" and the Oracle replies, "He wants what every man with power wants. More power."
I guess I'm thinking mostly of the rich and powerful, 'cause it's one thing to be working three jobs to feed your family and to want to only have to work one. It's something else to want a third house in Tuscany cause your second house in Bordeaux isn't enough. I'm not sure where the cut off point is. There are certainly plenty in the middle class who are guilty, but does wanting a BMW instead of a Mazda count? I don't know. A Bentley instead of a Mercedes probably does.
A while back I read an article about the monstrous yachts the insanely wealthy own and some of them bitching because some harbors in the Caribbean aren't deep enough for their yachts to pull up pier side and they actually had to endure the inconvenience of taking a launch to shore. We're not talking about a rubber dinghy. The launches were full sized luxury speed boats. (When you're spending 15 million on a yacht what's a few hundred thousand more?) That definitely counts. I'm sorry, but there's some psychopathology there.
One would think wealth distribution would be relatively easy to get your head around, but it's always more complicated than it first appears. There are never easy answers, but one of the characters in The Golden Compass got me thinking along these lines. And they say fantasy is just fluff...
Oh, and if the movie does only cover the first book and it ends where the first book ends...people are going to be ticked.
This is just unreal. A 20-year-old Saudi women and a male companion are repeatedly gang raped by seven men over the course of several hours and she is given 90 lashes because she shouldn't have been outside with a male not a relative in the first place. When her attorney appealed, the sentence was increased to 200 lashes and six months in jail. The rapists were sentenced to five to seven years in jail.
But it gets better.
A Saudi judge, Ibrahim bin Salih Al-Khudairi of the Riyadh Appeals Court, said in an interview published in Okaz newspaper on Nov. 27 that if he were a judge in the Qatif court that he would have sentenced her, her male companion and the seven rapists to death and that they should be lucky that they did not get the death penalty.
And how about this?
The Qatif girl said that she was photographed during the rape by one of the men using his cell phone camera. The photos were later entered as evidence in the trial, but the judges refused to consider them.
I'm speechless, but there is one bright spot in the story:
The husband of Qatif girl, who also refuses to be identified publicly, found out about his wife's rape only four months after it happened when the rapists were bragging about it in Qatif. He has not divorced her, which he could under Saudi law, instead choosing to help her fight her case in Saudi courts.