when the status quo frustrates.


Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I’ve blogged less about racism than I have about sexism. This isn’t because I think racism is a less important issue than sexism; I don’t. It’s because I am steeped, like strong coffee, in my white privilege. In other words, I don’t blog about racism as much because I don’t think about racism as much because I don’t have to think about it as much because I personally am not confronted by it as much. For this we can thank my blue eyes, blonde hair and reasonably fair skin.

But today, for some reason, I am finding myself reading about racism at every turn. I shouldn’t say for some reason; one obvious reason is the passage of Arizona’s SB-1070, otherwise known as the Fuck All You Mexican-Looking Motherfuckers!!11! law. It’s having unsurprising fallout already even outside Arizona’s borders, and what’s really been boggling the mind (mine, anyway) is how supportive the Libertarian contingent has been about it. (The reason I’m aware of it is that my housemate, a self-identified Libertarian, is completely horrified by the evidence piling up daily that a lot of other, so-called Libertarians favor this law. He can’t understand that dynamic at all; to him it’s a clear-cut massive governmental infringement of citizen rights along the lines of the Patriot Act as well as a blatant crossing of the line between states’ rights and the constitutional jurisdiction of the federal government, though admittedly in the opposite direction of the usual infringement. Poor baby.)

I have some Facebook friends who are generally all about individual freedoms, but they’ve pretty much all also come out in support of Arizona. One even declared boldly that the opposition to the new immigration law makes him want to go visit there even MORE (this was in response to a link I posted about the RNC deciding against having their convention there, which is some tangy irony if there ever was any). As I pointed out in response, with his own mop of blonde hair and white skin, making such a, er, radical and rebellious trip into ShowMeYourPapers!OrIArrestYourAss!Land isn’t all that impresionante.

I do understand when people hold differing views from me, and under certain and specific conditions I have no difficulty respecting said differing views and even seeing quite clearly where they are coming from and generating a reasonable amount of empathy. However, there are those conditions…the one that is being massively and regularly violated for me now is the consistency condition. I have encountered this issue before–for instance, in the everlasting abortion debate. If you tell me, for instance, that you truly believe that developing human cells in utero are morally equivalent to a born human being and this is why you violently oppose abortion, I can absolutely comprehend where you are coming from…as long as you don’t also display stances ranging from total indifference to wild-eyed enthusiasm about killing off those living outside the womb, for instance, via state-administered executions or foreign war initiatives. I am sorry, but when your concern about the rights of citizens being egregriously violated by the government suddenly becomes gung-ho eagerness to jump right in and help the government do it if said citizens happen to have brown skin or speak English as a second language, my contempt begins to uncontrollably sprout up between us.

I admit, when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, while I wasn’t such a mooncalf as to even remotely credit the whole we’re now living in a post-racial America! meme, I did hope it was at least a small and permanent swipe at the underpinnings of white racism. However, I am becoming more and more convinced that the existence of a self-identified African-American President is actually acting like fertilizer on the apparently-unkillable weed infestation that is racism in America. Because of this

and this
and this
and this
and this
and this
and this

I didn’t necessarily think Obama’s presidency would make racism go away, but I didn’t think it would make it worse. (Was that the blindness of my white privilege again..?) Not that there are more racists now–ha! but that they’re all losing whatever it was that was preventing them from being utterly and unapologetically aggressive about it previously.

Is that a good thing? Now that it’s so much out in the open, will that make it easier to kill? Maybe–but, like the Arizona’s new laws, how many people are going to get really hurt in the process? And what if there’s not even an end that’s justifying these means?

Please, folks, stop doing this. Is it really that horrible to you that we have a black President? Is it..?

20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedom To Screw Other People Over

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

This list is great. I’ve copied and pasted my favorites, helpfully annotated.

You are young and don’t want health insurance? You are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses, and one way to do that is to forego health insurance? Tough. You have to pay $750 annually for the “privilege.” (Section 1501)

Freedoms being lost: The freedom to have me pay for your uninsured emergency room visits and your freedom to start up a business which can’t bring in enough revenue to cover a single annual expense of $750. Jesus wept!

You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status? Tough. You’ll have to pay for premiums that cover not only you, but also the guy who smokes three packs a day, drink a gallon of whiskey and eats chicken fat off the floor. That’s because insurance companies will no longer be able to underwrite on the basis of a person’s health status. (Section 2701).

Freedoms being lost: The insurance companies’ freedom to deny coverage to anyone who isn’t young and healthy.

You would like to pay less in premiums by buying insurance with lifetime or annual limits on coverage? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer such policies, even if that is what customers prefer. (Section 2711).

Freedoms being lost: Your insurance company’s freedom to refuse to pay for you to be cured of most serious illnesses, such as cancer. You are also losing the freedom to have me pay for your uninsured emergency room visits during your downhill spiral. More Jesus tears!

Think you’d like a policy that is cheaper because it doesn’t cover preventive care or requires cost-sharing for such care? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer policies that do not cover preventive services or offer them with cost-sharing, even if that’s what the customer wants. (Section 2712).

Freedoms being lost: Your freedom to drive up my insurance premiums by needing a lot more expensive medical treatment for conditions that, had you used preventive care, could have been circumvented or caught far earlier in their much less expensive phases.

If you are a physician and you don’t want the government looking over your shoulder? Tough. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to use your claims data to issue you reports that measure the resources you use, provide information on the quality of care you provide, and compare the resources you use to those used by other physicians. Of course, this will all be just for informational purposes. It’s not like the government will ever use it to intervene in your practice and patients’ care. Of course not. (Section 3003 (i))

Freedoms being lost: Your physician’s freedom to hide from you the quality of the care he provides and how much it tends to cost. I personally am going to miss the current system of finding a physician, which if I’m lucky can be based on a friend’s recommendation but is more often a total crapshoot based on geographic proximity to my home or workplace, where I get to test-drive him on my precious, one-and-only body.

You are a health insurer and you want to raise premiums to meet costs? Well, if that increase is deemed “unreasonable” by the Secretary of Health and Human Services it will be subject to review and can be denied. (Section 1003)

Freedoms being lost: Your insurance company’s freedom to jack up your rates without any explanation or justification. Jesus Tears Mark III!

The government will extract a fee of $6.7 billion annually from insurance companies. If you are an insurer, what you will pay depends on your share of net premiums plus 200% of your administrative costs. So, if your net premiums and administrative costs are equal to 10% of the total, you will pay 10% of $6.7 billion, or $670,000,000. In the reconciliation bill, the fee will start at $8 billion in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015, $1.9 billion in 2017, and $14.3 billion in 2018 (Section 1406).Think you, as an insurance executive, know how to better spend that money? Tough.(Section 9010 (b) (1) (A and B).)

Freedoms being lost: Your insurance company’s freedom to funnel as much of their profits as possible into “administrative costs” rather than into your medical care.

You will have to pay an additional 0.5% payroll tax on any dollar you make over $250,000 if you file a joint return and $200,000 if you file an individual return. What? You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9015).
That amount will rise to a 3.8% tax if reconciliation passes. It will also apply to investment income, estates, and trusts. You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Like you need to ask. (Section 1402).

Freedoms being lost: For 98.5% of Americans, absolutely none.

The Texas School Board Is At It Again

Friday, March 19th, 2010

All I can say is, thank God my kids aren’t being educated by the Texas public school system. Much like Sarah Palin, they lend themselves to easy mockery–but unfortunately they can’t be discounted; they did win at least part of their battle to cheat the children of Texas out of a thoroughly factual science education (State education board approves science standards: New standards remove specific references to age of the universe) Like kids today need to know how old the universe is anyway! Tchaa!

Now that science has been gutted as well as they could manage, the Texas school board is turning its gimlet eye upon our history books, with fairly predictable results. Here are a few of my favorites from the Proposed Revisions to 19 TAC Chapter 113,Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies, Subchapter C, High School Curriculum, with the Board’s deletions shown crossed out and additions in bold –hope you enjoy them as much as I did:

History. The student understands the emergence of the United States as a world power between 1898 and 1920. The student is expected to:

explain why significant events, policies, and individuals, including such as the Spanish-American War, U.S. imperialism expansionism, Henry Cabot Lodge, Alfred Thayer Mahan, and Theodore Roosevelt, Samuel Dole, and missionaries moved the United States into the position of a world power;

History. The student understands the impact of significant national and international decisions and conflicts in the Cold War on the United States. The student is expected to:

describe U.S. responses to Soviet expansion aggression after World War II, including the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the Berlin airlift, and John F. Kennedy’s role in the Cuban Missile Crisis;

‘Cause when we do it, it’s quite different from when those nasty Commies do it!

describe how McCarthyism, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the arms race, and the space race increased Cold War tensions and how the later release of the Venona Papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government ;

(Notes from the Board meeting: Back when McLeroy was chairman of the SBOE, he sent a list of hand-scrawled editing instructions to the board-appointed curriculum writing committee, made up mostly of educators (the exception was McLeroy’s appointee, contrarian conservative gadfly Bill Ames). It included a note on this standard…it read: “Read the latest on McCarthy — he was basically vindicated.” …McLeroy said he got his ideas from a book by M. Staton Evans, a conservative writer, entitled Blacklisted by History. A Publisher’s Weekly review says Evans is “given to conspiracy thinking—an approach that, by its nature, yields claims that can neither be confirmed nor falsified. Defense attorneys and debaters like Evans follow different rules than historians—they try to score points, not to advance knowledge.” TFN quotes what it calls the leading scholar on the subject, Harvey Khler, a professor at Emory University and author of Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America. “The new information from Russian and American archives does not vindicate McCarthy. He remains a demagogue, whose wild charges actually made the fight against Communist subversion more difficult.”)

Sixty years from now, Texas will also be teaching its children that the Patriot Act is the only reason why we’re not all now facing Mecca with turbans on our heads five times a day at gunpoint. Civil liberties are so overrated. Can’t wait!

identify the causes of World War I and reasons for U.S. entry involvement in World War I, including propaganda (information disseminated by an organization or government to promote a policy, idea, or cause) and unrestricted submarine warfare;

Can’t have the kiddies learning about the government engaging in propaganda to garner popular support for engaging in a war on foreign soil! They might apply that knowledge somewhere outside their history class, you know.

evaluate the explain the roles played by significant military contributions of leaders during World War II, including Omar Bradley, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Oveta Culp Hobby, Benjamin O. Davis, Chester A. Nimitz, George Marshall, and George Patton; and

Women and black people are overrated too!

identify the roles of significant leaders who supported or opposed of the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Betty Friedan, George Wallace, and others;

Well, I guess it wasn’t possible for them to delete the black people from the Civil Rights history bloc, but hey, at least they managed to get rid of the women!

History. The student understands the impact of political, economic, and social factors in the U.S. role in the world from the 1970s through 1990. The student is expected to:

describe Richard M. Nixon’s role leadership in the normalization of relations with China and the policy of détente;
describe Ronald Reagan’s leadership in domestic and international policies ,

Because kids in high school won’t understand otherwise that the President is a “leader” and think instead that the Presidents’ “roles” are what they ate for breakfast..? I’m actually kinda surprised they didn’t go ahead and amend the above to say HEROIC leadership! or possibly Chuck Norris wears Nixon-and-Reagan pajamas to bed every night! (which now that I think about Chuck Norris’s political views, he probably does)

discuss the role analyze the impact of third party parties candidates such as Ross Perot and Ralph Nader on presidential elections ;

And for a contrast to the pedestal being raised for previous presidentially-related folks, we now see who deserves to have his name cast down forever into oblivion BLEHHH! ..third parties are clearly inspired by Satan anyway.

identify analyze the causes of the Great Depression, including the impact of tariffs on the decline in worldwide trade, buying stock on margin, the stock market crash speculation, and bank failures, and actions the flawed monetary policy of the Federal Reserve System;

Whatever causes the US economy to collapse have a few issues, be it farther back in the past OR IN RECENT TIMES DAMMIT, it so isn’t the fault of Free Enterprise!

And last but not least:

describe the impact of significant examples of cultural movements in art, music, and literature such as Tin Pan Alley, the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Generation, rock and roll, the Chicano Mural Movement, and hip hop , and country and western music on American society , including;

(Notes from the Board meeting: “I’d like to delete hip-hop and add country,” said McLeroy. Some board members, particularly African-American member Lawrence Allen, D-Fresno, did not take kindly to the suggestion. “What exactly do you think hip-hop is? You might be deleting something you know nothing about,” Allen told McLeroy. An extended debate ensued, and McLeroy lost.)

…but you know, it’s really kind of okay to “call a bunch of people who are retards, retards!” As long as it’s Rush Limbaugh doing it.

Friday, February 5th, 2010


Remember this?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Rahm Emanuel called liberal activists who wanted to run ads against conservative Democrats “f—— retarded” in a closed-door meeting at the White House. On her Facebook page, Palin likened Emanuel’s “slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities” to using the “N-word,” something she deemed “unacceptable” and “heartbreaking.” Emanuel later issued an apology to Special Olympics chairman and CEO Tim Shriver.

However, Palin’s conservative cohort Rush Limbaugh took offense to people, presumably including Palin, protesting Emanuel’s remark. On his radio show, Limbaugh lamented that “our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards.” That comment caused Greg Sargent to request a reaction from Palin’s spokeswoman.

Yesterday, when asked for comment on Limbaugh’s use of the “r” word in a recent broadcast, Palin spokeswoman told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, “Governor Palin believes crude and demeaning name-calling at the expense of others is disrespectful.”


Today, Stapleton claims the statement was meant generally and she was not specifically referring to Limbaugh.

…I mean, if he’s gonna tirelessly promote her new book after also tirelessly promoting her for Veep during the 2008 elections...it’s not like he’s some kind of nasty, sneaking D-e-m-o-c-r-a-t, after all!

Your elitism is showing–! Here, let me tuck that back down into your collar for you. I’m shocked your valet let you out the door like that!

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

This article is so transparent it’s hard to believe we’re expected to take it seriously, but I suspect we are–much like when John Kerry, during his failed presidential bid some years ago, movingly asked, “And who among us doesn’t like NASCAR?”*

It’s pretty much a fail from the get-go; what amazes me is that anyone bothered to write this article at all.

A Recipe for Riches
by Duncan Greenberg
Friday, October 9, 2009

Want to become a tech titan or hedge fund tycoon?

Well yes, of course, who wouldn’t? And it’s really an option for all you Joe and Jane Sixpacks too—

Up your chances by dropping out of college

!!!! See?!? Most of you already got that part covered, don’tcha?

(and in a mumble)

or going to Harvard and working at Goldman Sachs.

(Oh yeah, those too! But let’s speed rapidly on past those parts—)


Okay, so where’s mine?

Friday, October 9th, 2009

I’m waiting.

I am also “not George W. Bush,” which as far as I can tell, is the achievement that Barack Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize for. I have a nice empty spot on one of my bookcases where it’d look just right. Really!

It’s Banned Books Week!

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I love Banned Books Week! Some of my favorite books of all time are banned books…I mean, check out this list of classics! Admittedly, a lot of the banning action took place decades ago, but lest anyone think we’ve relaxed our deathgrip on the minds of our children in this new millenium, here are a nice collection of more recent incidents to sneer at:

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Sallinger: Removed by a Dorchester District 2 school board member in Summerville, SC (2001) because it “is a filthy, filthy book.”

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck*: Banned from the George County, Miss. schools (2002) because of profanity.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Challenged in Foley, Alabama (2000) because of the depictions of “orgies, self-flogging, suicide” and characters who show “contempt for religion, marriage, and the family.” The book was removed from the library, pending review.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: Burned in Alamagordo, N. Mex. (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic.

If you’re interested in the most up-to-date reporting on the 2008 open season on communication of unapproved ideas, the American Library Association puts out a yearly list of the books that are challenged, restricted, removed or banned–see if your favorites are on there too!

Leaving you with the bittersweet taste of irony, from January of this year. Enjoy!

*I might sympathize with an attempt to ban it from required reading lists–yes, it was on mine in high school–based on the fact that it sucks ass and there are at least one hundred more interesting and compelling novels that could immediately and happily replace it…but no, I have to defend John Steinbeck’s biggest load of crap evar based on principle. A shame, but there you have it.

Polanski arrest worse than Nazi aid

Monday, September 28th, 2009

A woman named Joan Z. Shore from Belgium founded an organization called Women Overseas for Equality. Sounds like a good thing, right? I mean, I tend to be for equality whether or not you and I are separated by large bodies of water, but unless she’s straight-up old-school colonialist about it, I can endorse being concerned about the combination of Women, Equality, and Oversea-ness.

Now, last I checked, America was overseas from Belgium. And it has women in it. And sometimes those women are raped by famous movie directors who flee the country when a judge catches that person acting like an a-hole after making a plea deal that will get him off scot free.

Now, I could be completely hammer-to-the-head insane, but doesn’t it seem like “equality” is meant as a synonym for “justice,” and that justice for a woman who is raped is, at the very least, to see her attacker brought to justice? I realize Polanski’s victim just wants the case gone, but there’s also the question of the broader social implication of just letting rape go if you’re famous and rich enough to evade the law for a couple decades. That doesn’t seem like much equality to me.

Apparently Joan Z. Shore disagrees. But before we get into that, let’s be clear about something: The Swiss used to be cool.

I used to admire [The Swiss] — their clean, orderly, decorous way of life. Their stubborn independence and self-reliance. I forgave them for the years they never joined the United Nations, and even now, not joining the European Union.

I always love talking about a nation’s people like they’re identical beings popped right off the national assembly line. Who doesn’t love the Borg?

There was so much affection wafting from Shore towards the Swiss that she even waived the Wand of Dismissal o’er the Swiss collaboration with Nazi Germany:

When I learned, years ago, that they had blithely allowed German military trains to transit their country during the Second World War, while claiming Swiss “neutrality,” I was shocked, but tried to excuse them on grounds that they were protecting their country from invasion and armed warfare.

But now? This Roman Polanski extradition is, objectively, the most heinous act in the history of the multiverse.

Arresting Roman Polanski the other day in Zurich, where he was to receive an honorary award at a film festival, was disgraceful and unjustifiable. Polanski, now 76, has been living in France for over thirty years, and has been traveling and working in Europe unhindered, but the Swiss acted on an old extradition treaty with the U.S. and seized him!

So, we have understandable Nazi compliance, but “disgusting and unjustifiable” extradition of an admitted rapist escaping punishment. This seems like a clear-headed view of the situation.

Making this an even more sensitive equivocation by Ms. Shore, Polanski was a Holocaust refugee. I wonder what he’d say if you put this question to Polanski himself: is it easier to forgive a country for turning over a wanted criminal or for letting the Nazis ship troops and supplies on its railways?

I won’t answer for him, but I will say this: Switzerland may be brought to their knees by Shore’s uber-classy, enlightened call to action.

I suggest, in the finest American tradition, we protest this absurd and deplorable act by smashing our cuckoo clocks, pawning our Swiss watches, and banning Swiss cheese and chocolate.

And let them yodel all they like.

Sounds like a person totally invested in equality to me.

Congratulations, Douchebags

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

For everyone out there who has been praying nightly that Dr. George Tiller would drop dead, and especially those of you who have expressed that wish out loud on a regular basis on your nationally-broadcast talk show, your prayers have finally been answered. The delay in finding yet another total nutjob to do your dirty work has been a shame, sure!–the idiot who bombed his clinic in 1985 was a big F-A-I-L and so was the individual with really bad aim who only managed to shoot Dr. Tiller in both arms in 1993.

To everyone out there who is really, really glad Dr. Tiller is dead, it can’t be denied–his death is going to directly prevent a number of a certain category of abortions from happening. Unlike abortions that occur in the first trimester of pregnancy, where the evil murdering sluts women attempting to obtain them usually (though not always) have access to at least a small handful of providers within their very own state borders, the kind of abortions Dr. Tiller did are performed by less than ten other physicians in the entire United States. (No, I’m not going to provide any further information on them, their names or their whereabouts here, and if you email me asking for it–sorry; unless you can prove you’re not compiling a hit list, you’re on your own.)

But really–congratulations. You can rejoice in knowing that a decent number of women with usually desperately wanted pregnancies who find themselves more than halfway through those wanted pregnancies risking death, permanent disability or carrying a dying fetus firmly ensconced in their own wombs, are now much more likely to be forced to carry their pregnancy to term. I am so, so happy for you.

But I haven’t been in that situation myself…exactly…I mean, the pre-eclampsia I developed in both my pregnancies didn’t actually threaten to kill me off til my babies were full-term and the babies themselves were totally fine, not so much as a hangnail in sight in their ultrasounds. I didn’t get to seek out a third-trimester abortion like all those other feckless, selfish broads that did. Gosh, I’m so jealous! You will be too, after you read their stories–or rather, you’ll be able to bask in the warm glow of satisfaction that now, those awful, heartless, immoral women are really going to suffer when they try to snuff out that sweet, innocent life growing inside their very own bodies–no more easy, thoughtless terminations in the third trimester for them! Damn STRAIGHT.


Sonia Sotomayor’s judgement and the Duke Lacrosse case

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor at Princeton in the early 1970′s.

Not that these two things ever directly interacted, to the best of my knowledge–but I found myself musing on the latter while reading this article about the former this morning.

Way back in 2006, when the Duke Lacrosse case hit the fan and subsequently spread outwards into the media, I was coming to the end of a period of a year or two where I’d been fairly active posting on an MRA (men’s rights activists) message board. What the heck was I doing there, you might ask..? No, I wasn’t trolling, thank you!–I had simply encountered a few of them on another message board, a feminist message board, that I had been posting on since 2002 or so, and having never heard of any such animal, I was quite interested in the meaning of their existence and what on earth they thought they stood for. I mean, men’s rights activists? Did I miss the period in history where the gender male was actively and specifically legislated against..? The best notion I could come up with on my own was that they objected to Selective Service registration. (As it turns out, that’s not something most of them care very much about, though it does come up periodically.) One of the MRAs on the feminist message board, upon discovering my interest, invited me to an MRA message board that he participated on–I followed him over, and spent the next two years being enlightened on the subject.

At any rate, as one of the very few (I believe only, at that time) resident feminists on the board, I was immediately harassed for my opinion on the case. My opinion was that I didn’t have one–I had no details other than the bare minimum, that a woman of color working as as stripper had accused one or more members of the Duke university lacrosse team of raping her. I had no knowledge of the truth or lack thereof of the accusations, the denials, the claims of evidence, or anything at all, really. My opinion was that that’s what we have a police force and a judicial system for.

But, you know, I was a feminist! And the definition of feminist is woman who instantly believes every word that ever comes out of any woman’s mouth on any subject whatsoever if the persons disputing that word are men, right? …well, no. I am a feminist, and happy to acknowledge that, but I will point you to the dictionary for the definition of that word and subsequently, the definition of what I, a feminist, am.

I was reminded of all this when I read this excerpt from today’s LA Times article, called The Two Sides of Sonia Sotomayor:

After Princeton, at Yale Law School, as a prosecutor and a corporate lawyer in New York, and while serving as a federal judge for 17 years, Sotomayor continued to display a passion for minority rights. She was active on the board of directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund when it sued New York City over alleged discrimination in police hiring and the drawing of voting districts, as well as when it challenged New York state’s death penalty law.

Eight years ago, while sitting on the federal appeals court in New York on which she still serves, Sotomayor said it was “shocking” that there were not more minority women on the federal bench.

But little of that activist sentiment is revealed in the hundreds of cases Sotomayor has decided in her 11 years on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, raising the question of which jurist will present herself if she is given the lifetime tenure and complete independence of a Supreme Court seat.

Thomas Goldstein, a Washington lawyer with a Supreme Court specialty, said last week that he had reviewed 50 appeals involving race in which Sotomayor participated. In 45 of those cases, a three-judge panel rejected the discrimination claim — and Sotomayor never once dissented, he said.

“This is a judge who does not see it as her job to fix all the social ills in the world,” said Kevin Russell, a Washington appellate lawyer who also has analyzed Sotomayor’s opinions.

But in her 1974 letter to the student newspaper–

Whoa, horsies! In the letter she wrote…35 years ago, when she was nineteen years old..? This has, excuse me, what relevance to her today? What were you doing when you were nineteen years old, and for your sake I hope it isn’t really a good and accurate snapshot of your activities now in your mid-fifties..?

But beyond the patent absurdity of such a side-by-side comparison, the deeper issue that I find unpleasant to see as such a widespread issue is that it is not possible to have philosophical beliefs in general and yet be unable to reason logically in any given specific situation. I’m not sure if this is a sexist or racist issue–is it impossible for people to believe that a woman, or a person of color, can be rational about any issue that even remotely touches on gender or race? However, I’m inclined to think it isn’t even that–I’m inclined to think that it is a human issue, because most people find themselves quite unable to formulate a rational, logical opinion on a specific incident that touches closely upon any general philosophical belief that they hold. And because they themselves can’t do it, they both assume that nobody else can, either, and they are subsequently terrified of anyone whose philosophical beliefs don’t agree with their own having any position of power or arbitration whatsoever in their society.

There’s certainly a great deal of evidence for this. Witness the unending struggle in multiple school districts to essentially ban the accurate teaching of the academic subject biology by people who are passionately committed to a religion with a creation story, for instance. And, to present another and more pertinent to this post example, witness the large number of self-professed feminists who quite eagerly first convicted the Duke lacrosse players without knowing a single fact of the case and then, as more facts did come to light, went even further off the deep end by simply flatly denying they could be true, at all. So, clearly many people, indeed, cannot function rationally if the situation in question touches upon their personal philosophical beliefs.

But really, I think it’s amazing to make a general assumption that just because you can’t do it, nobody can. History also abounds with examples of people who can do so and have done so. Harking back to the the evolution vs. creation debacle, most scientists do have spiritual beliefs of some description, and still function quite successfully in their work in unlocking the secrets of life on earth. Interestingly enough, though, these same scientist are far less likely than the general population to hold fundamentalist spiritual beliefs–ie, their belief system is specifically flexible. It seems reasonable to suppose that people in the judicial profession are similarly less likely to hold fundamentalist-style beliefs–or they wouldn’t be in such a profession in the first place, where the search for the genuine and accurate truth of any given situation regardless of preconceived notions is a core part of the profession.

Sonia Sotomayor, from her judicial record, would appear to be a person whose philosophical beliefs do not unduly influence her rational judgement. Will she be credited for that, or is that simply too impossible for those who are hopelessly enslaved to their own dogma to swallow? It’ll be interesting to watch the progress of her confirmation.

Juanita Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Or something like that. All them there Mexican* names just blend together, don’t they? Something I’ve just never understood–why all those furreigners with their funny furreign names don’t just change ‘em to a real American name like “Betty Brown.”

She has more qualifications than any of the other justices currently serving on the Supreme Court did at the time of their nominations, which really is the only acceptable standard for nominating a female minority–I think we all know this.

So far I’ve heard both that she once saved baseball and also that she has a personal vendetta against white firefighters. (Now that’s one of the most specific prejudices I’ve ever encountered anyone being accused of.)

Naturally Michelle Malkin is weighing in on this–nobody could ever accuse Michelle of being able to even remotely stand her own status as a woman of color, which since Sonia Sotomayor seems to think that both having and considering having experiences other than that of white men is okay in a judge, means that these two ladies will probably never even get close to the recipe-exchanging stage of friendship. What a shame!

*Puerto Rican, but whatever, six of one, half-dozen of the other, right? (Thank God my Colombian and Salvadorean friends don’t read this blog! or if they do, I bet I’m about to find that out.)

The Light, It Burns

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Nosferatu Being Destroyed by Sunlight

It was my intention to get caught up on current events this week, it really was. But I kept on finding myself sidetracked, drawn to articles that were weeks, months, even years old. I guess I am getting caught up, just not on current events.

A few of you may have gleaned by now that I tend to stay away from writing about gender and race issues. I thought this was because, to me, there were more important things to write about— American imperialism being top of the list. That is certainly very important, especially as the US under Obama shows no sign of parting ways with his predecessors on the mass murder of brown people front. But I am starting to see that my disregard for other more social issues is a direct result of my white male privilege. And cowardice. A blindness afforded to me because I don’t need to look. (And speaking as an experienced white guy, I know that I just lost the interest of about 90% of my white male readers by using the phrase “white male privilege”. Oh well.)

In terms of internal thought processes, it’s been a challenging week for me. I feel closed and shuttered, like a vampire living in a cave, preoccupied with shadows, comfortable, powerful, unfulfilled, and incapable of real empathy. That part isn’t actually new. What’s new is that I’m only just starting to understand that this may, in fact, be a problem. It would really be for the best if I could change this, even if only for the sake of my own personal wellbeing. But when I try to grapple the question of why I might feel this way, my thoughts recede from me, and I feel the strong urge to go play piano, or play a web game, or read just one more blog post, or masturbate. Or all four at the same time.

Apologies if this is getting too personal.

I don’t know how to talk about race. There’s no way I’d qualify to be Field Negro’s white friend– in all of my friendships with non-white people, if the subject at hand ever turns to race, I just sort of clam up. That way lies safety, you see. There’s no chance of exposing something about myself that might make me look bad, or, y’know, change me.

I certainly avoid talking about gender. The only time I’ve myself even brought up feminism before on this blog was a passive-aggressive screed in which I tried to tell feminists what they really should be thinking about. Strangely enough, that’s the only post I’ve ever written which received any kind of approving linkage from other bloggers. White male bloggers, I am nearly certain.

So, this is it. I’m coming out of the cave. Now we’ll see if I have the strength to actually open my eyes and see anything. To, you know, figure out if I can really approach other human beings with humility, respect and love, and not just the skilled appearance of humility, respect and love, which I’ve gotten all too good at. Who knows, maybe I can’t. The curse of privilege is that you never have to change. My existence may be just too comfortable. I do hope I can do one better than the vampire tourist of my little allegory, but really, only time will tell.