Thursday, September 15, 2011

Not All Perspectives on Race are Created Equal

By ardelfin at MorgueFile
Let me try to explain something to my fellow white people. If you're white, you don't get to have the same weight placed on your perspective of what is and isn't racist as that of a person of color. Call it unfair, but not for the reasons you think.

Why? Because we are not the targets of racism. We are the perpetrators, inheritors, and beneficiaries of racism. It is in our interest to disbelieve in its existence. We are encouraged to do so in small and large ways. And that racism is what makes life unfair for people of color and biased in our favor.

This is why it is frustrating to many people when some of us insist "but that wasn't racist" is a fair thing to say when someone like Michael Moore or Bill Maher get called out on their commentary. There is an imbalance of perspective going on. And it's not the black people noting they said something racist who are the ones with a skewed set of lenses.

Life isn't fair, my pale-skinned cohort. While intelligences and intellects may be equal, we do not experience the world in equal and equivalent fashions. You and I are protected from the slings and arrows of racism unless we choose to see it. Or more rarely, are forced to suffer material side effects from it. We take psychological impact from it, but that's a side point I will revisit down the page.

And even if you are one of those white people who knows that racism exists and is a daily issue, you are like me and not immune from occasionally blowing it. Declaring remarks by Maher or Moore to be racist is not identical to saying they have a white hood in their closet. It is calling those remarks out for enabling and perpetuating the system we are all a part of. And to be fair, Avenue Q has a point. We all are a bit racist, when that's defined as "prone to use stereotypes as a substitute for clear thinking or speaking."

Back to "I voted for a black guy and got a white guy/Why isn't Obama more gangsta." By saying that, they demonstrated racist thinking. And whenever we apologize for members of our cohort blowing it by telling people who know racism inside and out that they're misjudging the situation, we enable racist behavior.

There is also the sad tendency of many white people to complain that certain black people are "too confrontational." This is another area where we perpetuate the problem. Refusing to engage the content and focusing on the method of its delivery is redirecting. In other words, it belittles the content of the message and obfuscates it behind a smokescreen.

There are times I am honestly embarrassed to be considered white. I am aware my grandmother didn't have that privilege due to her Irish last name. I also know "white" is a status that was created to keep the slaves down and one that required some very dirty play by my ancestors to earn for me. So I wear it differently than some.

I'd rather not be embarrassed by an accident of birth and social engineering. The more my cohort realizes we participate in the issue by excusing members of our race when they misspeak, the easier it is.

My annoyance at being white is nothing compared to the suffering of people of color, though. It horrifies me that some people may read this and feel more sympathy for my frustration than for the real problems with the current system.

But I cannot speak for people of color. I can only speak for me. And to be clear, I consider making some of us more comfortable with being white a fringe benefit. Call it a small bit of proof that improving perspectives on race improves everyone's lives.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why the GOP and Democrats are not the same to me

Photo credit: kevinrosseel
from Morguefile
I know people who insist the Republicans and Democrats are just the same, sold us all out, etc. I used to think that myself. The last dozen years or so have disabused me entirely of this notion. I'm not saying the Democrats are angels. I just happen to know the face of hatred when I see it, and it's not looking at me with donkey's eyes.

Most recent example: the Pima County(AZ) GOP is holding a fundraising raffle. If that county name reminds you of anyone, it ought to be Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The raffle is providing a special prize for the winner, as these things always do. The winner of the raffle will be gifted with a Glock 23 handgun. Giffords and the other victims of the shooting were shot with a Glock 19. And if she'd been shot with a higher caliber gun like the 23, Giffords would likely be dead instead of recuperating.

If you think the Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin, I dare you to point out where the Democrats have ever held a fundraiser that echoed how a Republican was shot. If your first response is, "But liberals don't like guns," tell that to my collection and quit derailing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ain't Misbehavin' Link List

I don't stay out late, don't care to go

Wasilla City Councilman Won't Resign After Drunkenly Trashing Hotel Room

I'm home about eight, just me and my radio

Anti-Gay Ind. Legislator Caught With Boy Toy: ’I’m Not Resigning’

Ain't misbehavin', I'm savin' my love for you

Cyndi Lauper Opening Safe Haven For LGBT Youth In Harlem 

Just struck me that these three came together the same day in my online reading. Two pols acting worse than Weiner did and refusing to walk away and a celebrity helping kids who might otherwise resign from life. 

And now for the song itself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Republican Field Shrinks By Who?

The other day, I summarized the GOP Presidential field as it stood then. I left a name or two out and added someone who hasn't declared yet but keeps being brought up because she won't shut up.

One of the names I left out dropped out today. Tim "Polenta" Pawlenty is gone. His increasingly blatant irrelevance to the base was capped by a poor showing in the mostly irrelevant Iowa straw poll.

His departure both fails to change the field and points out how hard it is for someone with real experience to separate himself from the pack. Pawlenty was a terrible governor, but so was GW Bush. Looks like Perry's the one who gets to carry that label in more ways than one.

Marcus Bachmann and the Left's Other Little Problem

Last night on Twitter, I re-tweeted someone who noted that they can't stand Michele Bachmann but also can't stand the "Marcus Bachmann is gay" jokes flying around. I agree with this. The whole game is absurd to me for reasons I'll go into. I was promptly told by someone who was clearly a straight "ally" to the cause that he saw it as a valid commentary on "praying the gay away" and isn't it tragic how real the LGBT people's problems are?

Yes, there are real problems for people like me. And some of you are liberals.

We are told every day by popular culture that people who aren't straight and/or cisgender are different in ways that are wrong. I couldn't enjoy a simple House marathon the other day without running into anti-transgender snarkery between two of the characters, for one example.

And the anti-LGBT bigotry of the Right is definitely real. It also serves as a smokescreen for some on the Left to hide their own problem with people like me. And the Marcus Bachmann jokes are the most recent example of it.

I've seen the video footage of him. Yes, my gaydar went off. But someone who calls himself straight triggering a positive reading happens more often than you'd think. Consider the "metrosexual." Or a significant chunk of the male population of Europe. The tackiness of "gay or European" games aside, it's based on a standard reaction set people have. There are also plenty of gay and bisexual men who slide past the 'dar with a false negative, especially to heterosexuals who think they're hip but are mostly reading for signs of queenery.

So Marcus Bachmann, a man nobody has managed to catch with his legs in a wide stance, triggers some people's gaydar and because he has a "pray the gay away" mentality, people think it's fair game to speculate on whether he's gay. Or worse, they decide he's a closet case. And before you can say "Ann Coulter's Adam's apple," we're off to the races again.

The thing about cultural pressure to hate the Other is it's pernicious. It can be very easy to covet the perceived freedom of the openly bigoted to tap into that dark side. And someone on the Right who appears to diverge from cultural norms gets targeted in a misguided attempt to highlight their hypocrisy by people who probably don't realize they're just repeating the same old same old to many of us who have been targeted by it.

The first issue is that his orientation is questioned at all. Without hard evidence, you can't claim he's anything other than what he presents as without it reading as an attempt at labeling. Though to be frank, even if you DID have actual evidence Bachmann likes men, the fact nearly all of the jokes insist that he's gay pulls a double load of bigoted luggage.

The second issue is the problem of bisexual erasure. The culturally imposed binary on sexual orientation and gender identity is the heart of the hatred. Increasingly, the binary of "straight or perverted" is being replaced by "straight or gay," which causes those of us who are neither to continue to suffer while so many who think they're being enlightened to make the change go blithely forward with the new false dichotomy.

So just as saying "Mann Coulter" forces both primary genders into their boxes in the name of liberal attempts to poke at a conservative, claiming Marcus Bachmann is a closet case even in jest both ties gays to the stereotypes and eliminates even the possibility that Bachmann may be a monogamous bisexual who's decided his same-sex desires are something to suppress. Which, I will add, is his privilege the same way my celibate gay cousin is entitled to maintain his virginity until the Pope gets a clue. Even if you disagree with that choice, denying he has the right to make it is arrogant.

I realize pointing out the soft bigotry of the Left isn't going to make me popular with some of you. But this isn't the place to go if you want a queer person petting your head and feeding you ally cookies. Keep that in mind if your first reaction is to start sounding like Derailing for Dummies entries about your gay friends who agree with you. Look up "pandering" and "internalized homophobia" for why.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Killing to Save

Shorter Rick Perry: I want to run this country in order to kill it.

His call is oddly familiar to me. I live in the jurisdiction of the Sequoia Healthcare District, which had been county-run until it was sold to Catholic Healthcare West. The District board has existed ever since the sale, using funds collected for other healthcare projects as well as maintaining oversight of the hospital on a joint basis with CHW.

We have one board member by the name of Jack Hickey. He resents the heck out of the board's existence. He ran on the platform of "get me there and I'll help eliminate it because you don't need to pay for this any more." I grant you, I voted for Hickey. Partially because I hadn't been aware that the board still has oversight of the hospital and thus maintains contact with its original reason for being, and partially because at the local level, he has the oddball factor I find charming when the issue won't hurt a lot of people very badly.

While I realize Perry's not a strong contender due to how badly he just dissed Iowa, I can't help but think of Hickey when I see Perry now. Policies that only sort of work on the local level are deadly on the national.

And even Hickey's wrong about killing the board. This is why his cronies never get the nod to help fill the slots and give him the means to do what he wants.

So if Perry even winds up with a VP slot on the GOP ticket, remember what he said. He wants to end this country. Turn it into 50 fiefdoms of unpredictable laws and battling concepts, never mind what happens to Puerto Rico, Guam, and our protectorates.

Photo credit: gladtobeout from

Rick Perry and Marx's Sanest Statement

The saying goes, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce." I realize quoting Karl Marx will be used against me by random conservatives. I support Obama. Being called a Marxist for it is unavoidable.

But that's also a digression. Rick Perry announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination for President of the United States today. Already dubbed the Texas governor you want if George W. Bush was too cerebral for you, he's yet another piece of evidence in favor of Marx's dictum.

In the 11 years he's spent what I will loosely call leading the former Republic of Texas, he's denied the evidence of human influence on global climate change, championed creationism as science, run the state's economy even deeper into the ground than Bush managed, and supported the idea of his state seceding from the Union again. Moreover, his college transcript reveals he was worse in school than GWB at a lesser university.

So we have GWB 2: The Farce running for President. Want to see the eight years under GW look like a walk in the park? Let the Tea Party and pseudo-left win the "Obama caves" war. Attack Obama on cosmetics like which order he says things  instead of engaging its content. The more you accept the idea he's weak, the weaker he looks.

And yes, you're wrong about his "weakness" and "inability to get anything done." VERY wrong. If you can read this list and still claim he's Bush III, you are far too addicted to refusing to think.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Brief Summary of the Republican Field, Aug 2011

A moment of perspective on the upcoming Presidential race, if I may, complete with admittedly biased nicknames.

So we have Rick “Jesus Loves Me Best” Perry, Michele “Crazy Eyes” Bachmann, Mitt “Flip-Flopping’s for Amateurs” Romney, Newt “Who?” Gingrich, Herman “Pizza Token” Cain and Rick “Don’t Google” Santorum keeping ahead of Sarah “Half-Term” Palin for the chance to face Barack "Did ANYONE Notice My Campaign Promises Besides Me?" Obama in the elections next year.

Sweet Jesus, even the average pre-neo-con Republican has to see sticking to the current lead horse is better than voting for any of those southbound ends. Why the "Primary Obama" movement even exists is one for its members to reflect on. I'm siding with the folks who see the soft racism in it. They sure as hell weren't this bent on primarying Clinton when he was really being a Republican in Democrat's clothing.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hedgehog break: Paisley, one month old

Paisley, one month old by scpetrel
Paisley, one month old, a photo by scpetrel on Flickr.
I can't own hedgehogs legally, being a Californian. Our state legislature remains convinced that strange animals who can't live on their own, like pygmy hedgehogs and ferrets, are a threat to the ecosystem.

I also live in a very small apartment and have both fiscal and procedural objections to inflicting such a small space on most animals. So in lieu of blogging about my non-existent pets, I figured bringing you nice people the occasional hedgehog break would suffice.

So, meet Paisley. I found her via a Creative Commons search. I prefer to share legally when possible.

The Litany Against Fear Gets a Little Calmer, Maybe

First, an update on the link litany. It's spreading nearly as rapidly as the original news on our debt rating that the White House challenged Standard & Poor's attempt to downgrade our rating. As I type, it still might happen. But consider this: when S&P admits it was off in its calculations by several trillion dollars, how much worse have the armchair analyses of the debt ceiling bill been? Especially if they claim the sky was going to fall and we were doomed to austerity measures to make Greece look like Dubai?

Yes, I know, nobody specifically said that AFAIK. From the volume of the screaming, you'd think we were going to kill every social program instituted since Calvin Coolidge and kick a few kittens while we were at it. No, really. When I was told Obama specifically designed the bill to fall on the backs of the working class, I knew the height of the self-inflicted fear in some spaces had reached epic proportions.

I would also note that if Obama is a lap dog of the rich and caves to their interests, challenging S&P would be utterly out of character. The ultra-rich funding the Tea Party and thus the GOP want this to happen. He's fighting it tooth and nail with all he has that doesn't involve procedural nuclear weapons.

Which reminds me. Those of you still claiming he should've invoked the 14th Amendment and sparked a call for his impeachment should show your work on the following question: how would Obama and Congress have even a ghost of a chance of finding their way to keeping the economy from sinking like a stone if they're busy putting and being the President on trial for the crime of giving a damn?

The Litany Aganst Fear Link Collection

I will not fear.

Fox Nation: Obama's Hip-Hop BBQ Didn't Create Jobs

Fear is the mind-killer.

Limbaugh Says His Statement That Mugabe Was Obama's "Economic Role Model" Was His Latest "Media Tweak"

Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.

Govt Official: US Expecting S&P Downgrade

I will face my fear.

The Debt Hostage Crisis and Paul Krugman's Naivete

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

Angry Black Links: The Day After Doomsday Edition

And when it has gone past, I will turn my inner eye to see its path.

When you capitulate day in and day out, you only embolden terrorists

Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing.

Mudfight Update: Some Got Dirtier Than Others

Only I will remain.

Major update regarding recall of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

- Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear from Frank Herbert's Dune series

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vichy Democrats: The Democrats' Powerful Negotiating Advantage

Vichy Democrats: The Democrats' Powerful Negotiating Advantage

See, this is the kind of analysis that needs to be trumpeted from the rooftops. The "Satan Sandwich" is what the Republicans are going to eat far more than the Democrats will. I think you'd call what the Dems will eat a beehive sandwich. Hurts, won't kill them, and there's the sweet taste of honey from watching the Republicans choke on the brimstone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Starting with a bang against a beer

It took a business decision that is typical yet highly annoying for me to break out of my inertia about starting a current events/politics blog. Some things just demand comment, and I prefer to step away from my usual and older haunts to do it.

It would seem, based on various sources, that women don't drink as much beer as men. This is likely; there are countries where the dominant culture has beer as a man's drink. I ran into this personally once at a Vietnamese restaurant when I ordered a beer but the waiter was so thrown by this that he tried to give it to my husband. The personal irony of that moment is that my husband is allergic to something in conventionally brewed beers.

But back to the problem of women and beer. I am a woman who drinks beer. I know other women who do as well. But there are not enough of us buying from Molson Coors as far as they're concerned.

Is the problem because their products by and large taste like carbonated urine? Probably. In the UK last year, it was noted that women are drinking more ale than ever. For real taste, you can't drink something produced by a brewery that took it in the chops during Prohibition. That decade changed the face of beer in the US so completely, it's still suffering for it taste-wise.

Is that issue made worse by how they're marketed? Likely, as there are fewer zones outside of a comic book shop more populated by unrealistic and sexist images of women than beer commercials by the big-name brands.

So what do you suppose Molson Coors did in the wake of realizing they aren't attracting women to their brands? Decided to change their marketing? Would be easier than re-tooling their beer to actually taste like something. But neither possibility was their take-away from the probable brainstorming sessions.

Just as gun sellers decided women need pink-handled revolvers, Molson Coors decided women want pretty beer. I am pleased to note these are only being launched in the UK so I won't have to wince when I see them on my store shelves. I get enough of a stomach-turn when I see pre-canned Bud and Clamato. I realize that's a standard drink in certain Mexican subcultures. I just cannot stomach Clamato. Adding the World's Worst Beer to it just makes it emetic-in-a-can to me.

Molson Coors' bright idea is called Animée. Why they used the French feminine form of "animated," I don't know. Perhaps they want to encourage animated conversations? Could be. It's also a very feminine-looking word. Might be all they wanted out of it.

And instead of making actual beers with taste, Animée is a suite of three pink-tinted, filtered beers. Presuming that women want things light and at least occasionally fruity, Animée comes in "clear filtered, crisp rosé, and zesty lemon." Yes, they flavored a beer to taste like wine.

Considering how admirably Zima did in the US market, you'd think they'd realize by now that feeding anyone, especially women, frou-frou nonsense isn't going to get anywhere. And early reviews indicate they will fail miserably again.

Insanity is sometimes defined as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Changing the flavor of the piss you peddle doesn't change the fact it came from the southbound end of a northbound mountain lion.