Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's the economy stupid!

Run- DO NOT WALK- over to Vanity Fair to read Joseph Stiglitz's breakdown of the Bush economy.

Remember when we were talking about an economic surplus in 2000? Under Clinton- my income doubled every 2 years. I was actually middle class for awhile. Under Bush, my income has decreased by one third for every year he has been in office, and that doesn't take into account inflation. Remember when milk was $2.50 a gallon. It's now generally $4.00 in my neck of the woods.

Remember when you could actually buy a house without taking out a jumbo loan? Houses in my neck of the woods now average over $500k and with all the apartments being torn down to build condos, rents are skyrocketing too. $1200 a month for a 400 square foot one bedroom is not uncommon. We haven't even hit the real estate bubble here yet, but it's coming.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Stand there in your wrongness and be wrong.

A post over on feministe about the flooding in Mexico has sparked quite a bit of anger at brownfemipower . Well, not the post itself, but rather, the insensitivity and ignorance of the (mostly-white?) commenters, especially the first few.

Being somewhat new to feminism as a current (rather than historical) "thing" I've been reading a bit lately. on various blogs, including the Women of Color Blog. So I was a bit more prepared to hear what she had to say on this topic than I would have been a week ago. See, it seems that many non-white feminists have a lot to say about white feminists. And it's not all "hey what a great job you're doing promoting equality for everyone" It's more like "Hey you're really fucked up and NOT promoting equality for everyone!" It's more like "You're really biased and you just can't see it!"

And you know what?

They're right.

And I'm just as guilty as anyone. One of my first comments on Red's post about the floods was an idiotic attempt to make a humorous connection between this tragedy and the immigration discussion we were having earlier. Mercifully, it was removed from the page in a matter of minutes by either Red, The Almighty, or Teh Internet Gremlins. Or Deek. He hasn't posted in a while, but I'm sure he's still got edit-power, and hates this kind of bullshit.

And I'm thankful, because it was offensive, and I never should have said it. It was offensive because people are dying, and I used it as an opportunity to make a joke. From safe in the heart of "white america," I made a joke. not an overtly racist joke, but the fact that I, in a position of unearned privilege took advantage of that privilege to show how witty i'm not, reeks of racism.

And that is WRONG.

  • Nearly a million people homeless, and we giggle over "Tabasco".
  • I can't find a number on how many dead, and we excuse ourselves with "class, not race" as if the two bear no connection, and white people don't benefit economically from the color of our skin.
  • Our government offers the insult of 3oo,000 crumbs off our table for relief, while spending millions(billions?) on a "border fence" and military aid to fight a phantom "drug war" and we try to prove how clever we are.(my mercifully deleted comment)
  • The Mainsteam US Media largely ignores the tragedy, and we quibble over whether the CA fires can be compared to Katrina

And then we go over there and reply to brownfemipower's post with our "oh-no-i'm- embarassed-to-be-white*- we're-not-all-like-that-please-don't-hate-us-all" hand-wringing.

To Which she says:

"We’re not all so hopeless, and many of us benefit from the education."

First, i want to say that I get everybody’s point and i think that it’s great, really really really great that so many people take this shit to heart and really genuinely want to learn and understand and change etc. I trust every single one of you, and understand you are coming from a good place.

but I just want to pause and reflect here and point out that there is some very real and very righteous rage here–Aaminah has Latin@ family, I am Latin@, several of the woc who posted are intimately connected to Latin@ communities or women through organizing or have seen their own communities similarly traumatized and then mocked by white majorities–and I just want to point out that even as women are *politely* pointing out that you want to learn and you are very grateful–this rage, this hurt, this pain that women of color are feeling is being very subtly rewritten to be about white women and how they hope that we won’t stop teaching them.

because what is this really about, this hope that we won’t stop teaching? I look at it as a defensive reaction. As, even in sympathy and understanding, being a bit defensive and needing to point out that *you* aren’t *them*–that you aren’t *that*. that *you* are not hopeless, even if those others are–it is a way of distancing yourself, and at the same time, sort of absolving yourself–you are not them, and you don’t have to call *them* out because you’re busy letting us know how much you want to be taught.

Now is not the time, even politely, to let us know that you hope we never stop teaching you–now is the time to cut through the bullshit and respect that when a community’s world is collapsing, a little human sympathy and understanding would be perfect. of course, there are other things that could be talked about and reflected on as well–but when a community is in pain and suffering–they owe nothing to anybody. They have the right to speak their anger, their pain, their rage, their hurt, without any pressure or expectations on them at all.

thank you so much for understanding–and I appreciate all of the support.

We don't get it. So we need to shut up and listen, and realize that it's not always about us.
And we need to, as BFP said, call each other out when we act racist, even inadvertently, and not expect our hands to be held every step of the way.

*(Actually I kinda am... Or, rather, I recognize how inherently unjust and shameful it is that my being born with less obvious pigmentation places me in a "protected" category whose interests are served at the expense of people who are, well, browner than I am.)

Dear Tom Cruise

Please stop starring in movies that I would really like to see. You are an astonishingly bad actor with the range and depth of a paper plate.

You ruined magnolia for me. Minority Report would have been much better had they cast just about anyone else in your roll. My son and I got stuck watching Mission Impossible 3 on a plane. We skipped the headphones and made up our own dialogue for the movie, which improved it greatly (don't feel too bad- we did the same thing for Hutch). I actually sat through all of Vanilla Sky and Eyes Wide Shut. I should have watched the Spanish version, Abre los Ojos instead and Eyes Wide Shut was only interesting when Nicole was on the screen.

Now you have a movie with Robert Redford, who I love. I would love to see Lions for Lambs, but the thought of suffering through 2 hours of you makes me nauseous. I also think the movie you are currently working on, Valkyrie, looks very promising and is exactly the kind of movie I would like to see, except that you're in it.

Please Mr. Cruise, for the sake of movie goers everywhere let someone else star in an interesting movie. I beg of you.

For now I take consolation in the fact that Javier Bardem is starring in a version of Love in the Time of Cholera. You should take acting lessons from Mr. Bardem, he knows his shit in several languages.


Thursday, November 08, 2007


I have a term paper due tomorrow so I am busy writing that instead of entertaining you all. Sorry!

The paper is on how women who defend themselves from violent partners are punished by the criminal justice system. Some horrifying facts i have learned so far:

One third of female murder victims are murdered by their partners.

One in four men has been violent with a partner

Two thirds of women who are attacked are attacked by a partner- not a stranger in a dark alley somewhere.

Christians With The Sense God Gave Them***

(Can I Trademark that?)

This is the part of the blog where Wonder attempts to combat in her own small way the anti-intellectualism being shamelessly promoted as christian these days, by digging up tasty gems of reasonableness and intelligence from the writings of her christian forbears (or even current thinkers if i can find some good ones).

Today's CWTSGGT is none other than CS Lewis, explaining why ..... democracy is better than theocracy (emphasis is mine)

I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber barron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.

And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme -- whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence -- the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication,"

- C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, ch. 3.

***Disclaimer: Posting somebody under this heading by no means indicates that i endorse every aspect of their philosphy. Just that:
  1. They profess to be Christian.
  2. They said something I consider to be intelligent, humane, relevant, or otherwise worth hearing, especially by Christians, or those who have an interest in the role of Christianity in the culture at large

Signs of the Apocalypse

Pat Robertson is endorsing Giuliani.

that doesn't even make sense for the wingnuts.

this is gonna be bad.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Irony- still lost on Republicans

$3 billion to keep the Mexicans out
$300,000 to give them a reason to stay

Maybe, just maybe if we were a little more generous with the disaster aid we could be a little less paranoid about the borders. I'm just sayin....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Libertarian means liberty dumbasses

Hey you! Yeah you!


Gimme your kidney.

What? No! I don't want to give you my kidney.

Doesn't matter. Gimme your kidney. I need it or I will die.

I'm sorry, but I don't want to give you my kidney. I don't want to risk my life to give you my kidney.

But I'll die without it.

But I could die giving it to you. And even if I didn't die, I'd miss a lot of work. I might even lose my job. I can't afford that.

You might die if you give me a kidney, but I will die if you don't give me a kidney.

So how is that my problem.

You made the choice to sit next to me knowing full well that there are people in the world who need kidneys. If you didn't want to give up a kidney, you shouldn't have taken the bus.

I'm just trying to get to work. I didn't plan on giving up a kidney.

Then you should have made better choices.

There's like 40 people on this bus. How was I supposed to know who needs a kidney? I just sat down in the only open seat.

If you didn't want to give me your kidney, you should have stood up in the aisle. But it's too late now. The next stop is the hospital.

There's a dustup over at Shakesville because Melissa had the ovaries to call out Ron Paul and his supporters on their hypocrisy. See they're all for libertarian ideas, until it comes to women having the most basic of property rights - the right to control their own bodies.

See, it doesn't matter if you think a fetus is a person with full rights or a potential person with no rights. One of our basic principles is the idea that a person has the right to control what happens to their own body. We do not force people into organ donation. We do not force people into medical experimentation (ok- sometimes we do but it's generally done secretly and people get pretty pissed when it happens) and for the moment we do not force people into military service. We no longer forcibly sterilize people either. We have made mistakes in not allowing liberties to certain people in the past with slavery, but our goal as a nation is to move towards greater liberty- not less.

Your body is the only thing you can be sure of owning for your entire life. But for half of us, there is a high risk that control over our own bodies will be taken from us if we get pregnant. That is not a little threat. It is a deal breaker in a political candidate, even if that candidate is the most anti-war.

If a political candidate is not willing to allow half the population liberty over their own bodies, that same candidate cannot be trusted to protect any liberties.

For Wonder

That Colbert-Stewart threesome may become a Colbert-Stewart-Olbermann orgy. And Daniel Levin deserves a statue for letting himself be waterboarded in order to decide if waterboarding is torture.

Water-boarding, he said, is torture.

Legally, it is torture!

Practically, it is torture!

Ethically, it is torture!

And he wrote it down.
Via Shakes

It's Election Day!

And I am going to vote the Stranger's cheat sheet. Lazy, perhaps. But they keep much better tabs on local pols than I can and with few exceptions I am generally in agreement with the paper on politics.

Go vote folks. It may not be for president, but it's still important.

If turtle sex is what it takes

then turtle sex is what you get. This picture was taken at the zoo in Villahermosa, Mexico. Villahermosa and most of the state of Tabasco are under water right now. Much like Katrina, very little help is coming to the poor people there. Huhm, I wonder why that is- could it be because they are brown and poor? I have to think of the fires in California just a few weeks ago. People couldn't line up fast enough to offer evacuees yoga lessons and entertainment.

This monkey statue, also in Villahermosa looks to the sky to ask "Why is there no help for the people here? Why is the United States only offering $300,000 (yes- thousand, not millions) in aid?"

All silliness aside, Villahermosa is a lovely city and aside from it being the place where I got "whatevered" for not being a Mexican and the people are drowning in water up to their rooftops. Brownfemipower has lots of good information- you should go read over there RIGHT NOWJust a little more information- the only good pictures I found of the flood are at Brownfemipower's place. The sad job our media is doing of covering natural disasters that affect poor people is disgusting. I am truly ashamed to be an American and a neighbor to Mexico right now.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Oh Hell! I guess the secret is out now

I am nerdier than 86% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

Women- not stupid, really.

I am sooo tired of people (old white men) telling us that they are going to limit our rights because they know what's good for us.

I am a mother. I became a mother at a very young age, just a week shy of my 20th birthday. I am now and always have been pro choice and when I found out I was pregnant with the Kid I had to decide if I was going to have him. I was rational about it. I knew that I was going to end up parenting alone. I knew all the drawbacks and I still decided to have him.

I was pregnant before that and I've been pregnant since then. I have the bizarre fortune of being extremely fertile and if 2 methods of birth control aren't used at all times I will end up pregnant again. I should totally donate my eggs to science. But in the mean time- I have one child, but I've had more than one pregnancy. I was just as rational, if not more so, in deciding to end those pregnancies as I was in deciding to keep the Kid.

Contrary to popular opinion, I was not ever coerced into abortion. Actually, when I was pregnant with the Kid more than a few helpful "friends" tried to push me into having an abortion and when that didn't work, into putting him up for adoption. Neither were a possibility at the time. I cannot explain it, but the Kid was the kid I was meant to be mom to. I didn't feel the same way about the other pregnancies.

When I found out I was pregnant with the Kid, I was at a Planned Parenthood. For the same price as a test kit from the drugstore I got a full examination and a pregnancy test. The doctor asked if I knew what my options were and what I wanted to do. I said I was having a baby and I was happy about it. There was never any pressure to change my mind about it from anyone at the clinic.

When I had an abortion I actually went through more counseling than when I decided to have a baby. The clinic staff always made sure that having an abortion was exactly what I wanted. I was as adamant about not having a baby as I was about having the Kid. I am sure that if I wavered at all they would have given me space to figure out what I wanted before doing anything. Throughout the whole thing I was asked repeatedly, at each step, if this is what I wanted. I was given more chances to opt out of an abortion by abortion providers than I was ever given to opt out of pregnancy by obstetricians (number of times an OB asked me if I wanted to be pregnant- ZERO).

So when some non-doctor in a suit wants to ensure that women are getting abortions of their own free will, I know that he has no idea what he's talking about. Abortion providers already go out of their way to make sure women are making their own choices, because that is what reproductive rights are about. It is not about racking up numbers and profits, it's about ensuring that women become mothers when they want to and that they have options to not become mothers when they need them.

We are not stupid. We know exactly what we are getting ourselves into when it comes to pregnancy and abortion. We know, better than most men, exactly the kind of work that parenting requires and how much of a sacrifice that is. What I don't understand is why you would ever want to make someone perform those sacrifices who doesn't with her entire being want to. That is not healthy for the mom or the kid.

About those horrible things we do to ourselves

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"God Transcends Nationalism"

I just want to clairfy I'm not trying to advocate for anarchy here. I'm just problematizing the the previous claim that one should see elected legislators as instruments of God. I believe each person, including the members of the board of supervisors, is flawed and finite and should discern the will of God for themselves rather than assume that persons in power will automatically work out a divine plan-- Rev. Nancy McLadd, Bull Run Unitarian Universalists

Sunday Art Blogging

I don't know much about Barbara Kruger. I just know that I love her work. This is normally the part where I give you a little history about the artist, but instead I am going to do something else. I am going to tell you why it is that these pieces hit me in the gut and make think.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the things women have to go through to make themselves presentable to the world. It's not just a matter of looking a certain way, pretty enough to be worthy of attention but not so sexually available as to be prey for a rapist, but that women do things on a regular basis that cause them harm in order to be accepted in the world.

I wrote a while ago about the girl whose vagina was obliterated by pus after she got an infection from waxing- twice! More recently there have been problems with lead in lipstick. What about infections from manicures or toxins in nail polish? Did you know that manicurists suffer from high rates of respiratory diseases and pregnancy complications? What about all the stuff we put on our hair to make it shiny, straight, wavy, curly or another color? A lifetime of putting chemicals on our hair, face, nails and bodies has got to have some effect. Then there's the shoes. Oh god I love how pretty high heels are but the pain from wearing them. Even our underwear causes us pain- whether it's the discomfort from wearing a thong or the horrible things that happen when we wear something other than comfy cotton granny panties (yeast infections and the like).

And I haven't even gotten into the risk of death from plastic surgery. The stuff above are just the little things we do to ourselves everyday. I'm certainly no feminist saint on the issue, I have one closet full of shoes that make me cry and another full of products to make my hair and skin perfect and a drawer full of matching bra and panty sets that make me spend the day uncomfortable.

Why do we have to spend so much time making ourselves into something we are not? Why is our default position when it comes to our looks that there is always room for improvement? Why does it seem that everything we do to "improve" ourselves involves some kind of pain, discomfort or risk?

Your body is a battleground means more to me than just how are reproductive freedom is usurped by old white men in business suits. Everyday we do things to our bodies so that we can get by as best as we can in the world with as minimum hassle as possible. It would be nice if we were actually free to be ourselves (whether that self is a lipsticked, high heeled soccer mom or an all natural makeup free ceo in birkenstocks) instead of having to put on an acceptable image for public consumption.

I don't fault your agnosticism.

I really don't.

Especially in the face of the tremendous harm that religion has done, supposedly in the name of god, I'm not suprised that you choose not to believe.

I often find believing to be difficult myself. It's not God I doubt so much, as it is "His people".

Actually, that's not entirely true -- I do question God. I don't have any actual proof that God exists, or resembles what I believe God to be. But I still choose to believe. For lack of a better explanation, for reasons I'm not entirely sure of, it works for me.

However, I don't understand how people who claim to believe in the same God I believe in, can behave so heinously.

I don't understand a Christianity that's more concerned with stopping gay people from getting married than with teaching its husbands to respect their wives.

I have nothing in common with a Christianity that soothes the conscience of the affluent with the notion that "God wants you to be rich" while opposing public policy that would help poor people (and everyone else) get their kids to a doctor.

I take issue with a version of my faith that makes no room for "foreigners" in "our country" when we're supposed to be foreigners in the world.

I find atrocious an image of God that allows its followers to condone torture in the name of security, that advocates making war against an innocent population for profit. Didn't Jesus say "love your enemies" and "blessed are the peacemakers?"

This is not the God I believe in. This is not the faith I practice.

The God I believe in is just as concerned with Iraqi & Afghan & Mexican & Guatemalan lives as American ones.

The God I believe in says his followers are required to take care of the sick & the hungry & the prisoners.

The God I believe in gave women a place of honor, and taught us alongside our brothers, and picked us to witness to his most wondrous of miracles.

The faith I practice doesn't need to legislate its principles.

The faith I practice knows once the choice of what to believe is taken away, nothing else matters for much.