Thursday, October 30, 2008

insanity

i normally don't bother with engaging what i see as insanity.  but, as i am reminded again and again, it is my responsibility to confront foolishness and untruth wherever i meet it--and also i'm waiting for my fantasy football waivers to process.  erin posted a link to a blog entry that has spurred me to add my voice (such as it is) to those already defending the truth.

so, obama and socialism.  ARE. YOU. FUCKING. KIDDING. ME?  are you?  really, are you?  typically, i can find the patience and maturity not to yell at people that don't agree with me.  but, i've finally lost my shit.  i don't even know where to begin the debunking effort.  i mean, do i start with how obviously wrong you are to call any policy of any american politician socialist?  i don't mean wrong in a "don't be mean or throw mud" kind of way.  i mean wrong in a "who did you sleep with in order to get your college degree" kind of way.  or, do i start with how unbelievably desperate someone of john mccain's stature must be in order to resort to something incredulous as this.  or, do i talk about how dumb you must be in order to buy any of this shit? or, do i talk about the utter and crippling hypocrisy mccain must be dealing with in order to say things like this on national television?  fuck me, the possibilities are endless.

let us begin with the general academics.  i think in american politics people (willfully, i believe) confound the welfare state with socialism.  at it's most basic level (in terms of economics), socialism is about who owns the means of production--in broader terms, who owns the means to generate wealth and how are those decisions made.  the welfare state has a high rate of taxation that is used to fund a variety of public programs that everyone uses.  those are the basic, like, eighth grade differences.  can you see how disparate the two are?  if you can see how different these two things are then you have to ask yourself, "well, hell.  then why did they say it?"  because there are a shitload of people in this country that are so intellectually lazy that they won't fucking use wikipedia, maybe?  i mean...there are a lot of reasons, but they all follow that line of reasoning, so i won't bother going through them all.

and, right on the heels of being thunderstruck at how dumb and gullible people can be about language and pigeon-holing, is utter hypocrisy of this whole thing.  i mean...did we or did we not just give the investment banking industry 700B dollars?  that capital B stands for BILLION.  as in almost a trillion dollars.   did we or did we not just buy a majority share in the investment banking industry in one fell swoop?  that represents a redistribution of wealth on an unprecedented scale.  or, the fact that sarah palin is the governor of a state that issues a portion of the profit that private corporations make using the commonly held resources of the state.

but, no, america you're right.  obama says, "...spread the wealth," and it makes sense to go into full blown tail spin tizzy (i just made that phrase up.  ha.)  are you honestly telling yourself that you don't want to vote for him because you think he's a socialist?  you know, i think that i would have a lot more respect for you if you just said, "i don't want to vote for him because he's black and his name scares me."  just say it.  you'll feel better, i'll still think you're stupid, but at least i'll know you're honest.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama and Me (and Palin, too)

this entry is part of an ongoing discussion that i'm having on a message board.  the original question was about people voting for candidates for what appear to be superficial reasons...particularly race and gender.

if that's the case, i suppose that we have to ask the question...is that such a bad thing?  i mean, when you get right down to brass tacks, Obama and mccain are two sides of the _same_ coin.  all of their ideas, thoughts, beliefs and whatnot can be understood within the framework of free market capitalism.  neither of them are shaking the foundations of western civilization.  as such, the differences between the two are often inflated.  take health care for instance...i know that i'm paraphrasing both positions here, but it's for a good cause...

obama wants to reduce the overall cost of and entrance barriers to (pre-existing conditions) health care.  he wants to do that through legislative efforts and changing the regulatory environment of the insurance system.  for those that still cannot afford to do so, he wants to offer them the opportunity to purchase the insurance--probably on some sort of sliding scale--that federal employees and elected officials use.  failing that he'll probably want to extend medicare/medicaid to cover those who fall through the cracks but since very few providers will accept medicare/medicaid they'll end up going to emergency rooms with non-emergency conditions.

mccain wants to reduce the overall cost of and entrance barriers (pre-existing conditions) to health care.  he'll do so through legislative efforts and changing the regulatory environment of the insurance system.  for those that still cannot afford to do so, he wants to offer them a tax credit--probably on some sort of sliding scale--that will allow them to purchase insurance on the market.  failing that he'll probably want to extend medicare/medicaid to cover minors and everyone else can continue to do what they have been doing--going to emergency rooms with non-emergency conditions.

what's the net difference?  i mean really the plans come down to this...obama will use government revenue to purchase or offset the cost of insurance.  mccain will give government revenue back to you to help you purchase or offset the cost of insurance.

(though i suppose at a primordial level one distinction is whether or not they trust corporations)

so long as we have a two party system which springs from mainstream western political philosophy, we'll generally have two candidates that are saying pretty much the same thing with various degrees of nuance and a couple of defining issues.  so, we're left with our original question.  how do we determine who is best for the country when they are both making a mad dash for the center?  i know that i've personally railed against this notion, but is it such a bad thing that people vote for the candidate with whom they identify?

i think that in the wake of bush II, we have an inflated notion of the power of the president to create domestic policy.  bush II was lucky.  he hit the office at a moment in time when his party enjoyed a virtually unassailable majority in BOTH the house AND the senate.  that. has. never. happened.  a much more realistic view of the power of the presidency with respect to domestic affairs would probably be bill Clinton.  there was more compromise and give and take there.  at least, i'd like to think so.  i don' think that bill clinton came into office thinking, "hey, i'm going to institute Defense of Marriage or don't ask/don't tell."  so, really, the ability of either of these candidates to do what they say they are going to do will be quite limited.  ultimately, i don't think that it's so bad that people vote for the person with whom they identify.  i think perhaps the true crime is why we still can't 'see' one another irrespective of race and gender.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Is White Privilege?



 
 

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via My Feet Only Walk Forward by Brandon Lacy Campos on 9/16/08

Hey folks:

As much as possible, I try and do only original content on my page. But sometimes, as with Rocki's letter and this blog post, there shit that needs circulating. The following is one of those things.

This is Your Nation on White Privilege
By Tim Wise / September 13, 2008

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."


White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.


White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.


White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.


White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.


White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look."


White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.


White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.


White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.


White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a "light" burden.


And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain…


White privilege is, in short, the problem.


Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White. He has contributed essays to seventeen books, and is one of several persons featured in White Men Challenging Racism: Thirty-Five Personal Stories, from Duke University Press. A collection of his essays, Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male, will be released in fall 2008.

 
 

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

treachery

i know that this may sound like treachery, but i’ve been pondering a question for quite some time now. ever since the reverend wright fracas broke out, i’ve wondered if there is any downside to barack obama being president? for a moment, let’s try and be intellectually honest about the question and set aside bush-rage. i’m not really talking politics here, i am much more interested in race relations with this question that anything else.

i don’t know much about wright, and i don’t think that i really need to. after all, i’m not talking specifics—i’m speaking much more generally than what he may or may not have said in the course of 30 years of sermonizing. i am using wright as a particular kind of embodiment of black thought and black rage. fundamentally, the reaction of america to wright was not merely predicated upon the incendiary or offensive or uncomfortable things he said. i think it was a complete rejection of his entire epistemology. of course, part of the media circus was that he was so intimately connected with a presidential front runner. of course, of course. but, i think that america was asking him, “what do you have to be angry about? your guy is running for president and might actually win. doesn’t that make us even?”

is that a fair assessment of the reaction to wright? *shrug* i think so. i believe that most of america was very, very happy that wright said things that were easy to decry. it was easy to marginalize him—reminiscent of dave chappelle’s defense of people like martin lawrence. chappelle said that calling lawrence crazy (after his exploits in NC during the shooting of the black knight movie) was a successful attempt to marginalize lawrence without trying to understand the pressures under which he lived. the same thing with chappelle’s africa trip. the same thing with wright. and, by extension, the same with black america. i believe that most intellectual black leaders in america knew what he was getting at—i believe that’s why it took so long for b. obama to finally distance himself from wright. the process of distancing himself was so convoluted and tortured b/c b. obama understood the underlying philosophical principles—it’s just that the expression of those principles made it really hard for him to stand up for them.

(i’m loving dashes right now—makes people think that i am taking a dramatic pause—and i am)

so, if you accept that premise, then let us go back to my original question. is there a downside to b. obama being president? i mean, ok, as it pertains specifically to race relations irrespective of your individual political concerns. and, in particular, i’m thinking of this question in two different lights. sub-question one: would there be a sense (overt or otherwise) of “ok, your guy is president now. you can shut up about all inequality crap. i’m tired of dealing with it.” sub-question two: what does an obama presidency mean for the mingling of black culture (no, not hip hop—i mean our cultural identity as slave-descended africans) with mainstream culture?

thoughts?

Friday, March 28, 2008

some thoughts on proposals of change...

just a note or two...

last night i was watching c-span (i know), and newt gingrinch was giving a speech at the american enterprise institute. it was an interesting speech...it was full of thoughtful (if flawed) critique and bold ideas. i was in a listening mood because i had just finished listening to eboo patel talking about pluralism and religion...something that i almost always end up rejecting—not because i don’t agree with that idea; it’s because i don’t think that it’s entirely a workable notion when applied to religion and faith. the very notion of religion and faith seem to contradict the foundational principles of pluralism. however, i find it interesting and strangely satisfying to think and talk about. but, i digest (i love the family guy. i also love thunderlip.)

how about the idea as the american consumer as a consumable product? we’ll talk later...

i caught the last half hour or so of newt’s (heh heh) speech. he was talking about some of the challenges faced in determining the course of our future. specifically, he was talking about economics and culture and how the two inform one another. he talked about the situation in detroit...it’s decline and the policies that led to that decline. i don’t really know much about it—he intimated that it was all the fault of liberals and their desire to manage everything and redistribute wealth and their tendency toward bureaucracy. *shrug* could be...i woke up this morning thinking that there are a few things about which liberals need to be honest. the most important of those being not everything system that we humans encounter can be or even should be managed. economic output, the environment (specifically, wilderness), etc., etc. sometimes, i think that it’s just enough to get out of the way. i digested again.

since i didn’t catch the entire speech i didn’t really understand the point of bringing up detroit. maybe he was saying that since it was the site of so many failed liberal policies that it was time to try something that “makes sense.” anyway, he laid out seven proposals (of which i only remember a couple) to radically change or at least stake out a new direction. ( i think in a lot of ways, he’s making the implicit argument that the “great society” experiment has failed, and it’s time to try something else. though, how he can say that while at the same time our country has experienced the greatest economic expansions in the history of mankind is curious.

how bad-ass was david cook the other night on american idol? another reason to love chris cornell, as if i need more.

anyway, the one thing that he said that kind of stuck in my craw was the idea that adolescence was a contrived notion. it was a contrived notion of 19th and 20th century liberals...all of the things to counteract the growing power of monopolistic corporations...labor unions, child labor laws, etc. etc. but, i absolutely disagree with his analysis of social history. i mean, the reason that he addresses adolescence in particular is because of the amount of crime and the amount of leisure associated with the lives of teenagers. i don't disagree with that...i do agree that a great deal of undirected leisure time can lead to some bad stuff. the point of his analysis with which i take umbrage is the notion that somehow the social and economic reforms of the 19th century somehow created a class of people with nothing to do. on the contrary, the growth of the age group called adolescence has more to do with our astounding economic success than any law. it's the same effect that we see in financially successful families. if the parents go to college and do well for themselves, not only will their kids be more likely to do well, but also the parents will have something to leave for the kids and grandkids--and life becomes "easier" for successive generations. makes sense? doesn't it make sense that the same principle could be applied to a society? doesn't it make sense that as the country as a whole (not just a privileged few) became wealthier and moved through demographic transition, children wouldn't have to work to support smaller and more educated families?

Friday, December 21, 2007