Brendan Eich(mann) got what he deserved

Outgoing Mozilla chief executive Brendan Eich

Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich gave a hate group $1,000, paid a price for it, and this poetic justice is deemed to be a “violation” of “free speech” in the fascistic United States of America. (Yes, the fascistic Nazis persecuted non-heterosexuals, too.)

Most discussion of whether or not the “free-speech rights” of Mozilla co-founder and short-lived CEO Brendan Eich — who stepped down as CEO Thursday after a firestorm had raged over his having donated $1,000 to the 2008 Proposition Hate effort – have been trampled upon wholly ignores or glosses over one simple historical and legal fact: a federal court in 2010 found Prop H8 to be unconstitutional — and thus illegal.

As Wikipedia recounts it, “In August 2010,  [United States District Court for the Northern District of California] Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the [anti-same-sex-marriage California constitutional] amendment was unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, since it purported to re-remove rights from a disfavored class only, with no rational basis.”

So, before we blather ourselves into a lather about “free speech,” let’s take a good, long, hard look at exactly the kind of speech that we’re actually defending here — and in this case, it is hate speech.

Yes, it is.

To have supported Prop H8 was to have supported the continued mindless oppression of a minority group picked out for such continued mindless oppression. “Mindless” oppression because, as Vaughn Walker (whose original ruling still holds as the law of California, since the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legally upheld it) correctly ruled, there is no rational basis to prohibit same-sex marriage.

To have supported Prop H8 was to have supported something that was and that remains unconstitutional and thus illegal.

Whether or not hate speech should have First-Amendment protection — especially when hate speech (yes, even “just” giving $1,000 to a “cause” meant to continue to oppress a certain minority group) so often results in very real harm to many very real people — is another discussion, but for the time being, let’s not pretend that Brendan Eich was just trying to do something nice for someone and that he paid a price for it, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Let’s also not pretend that if Eich (whom I really want to call Eichmann) had a “free-speech right” to donate money to an unconstitutionally and thus illegally oppressive “cause,” that those who wanted his head on a silver platter for his donation didn’t also have a free-speech right to call for his head on a silver platter (so to speak [of course]). They did. They do. We do.

And let’s not pretend that Eich was fired for having given a $1K donation to a hate group. He was not fired. He resigned.

He resigned, apparently, because in his high-level job, his very apparently being a homophobe tarnished the public reputation of the entire organization. Most large organizations wouldn’t have well-known white supremacists as their CEOs, either.

Let’s not pretend that a CEO, a very public person, having given $1K to Prop H8 and then having been fairly forced, socioeconomicopolitically, to resign because of that donation is just like! you or I, a very private person, having given $1K to Prop H8 and actually having been terminated from our much-lower-level employment because of it. Let’s not do that, because context, including the level of the power of the players involved, is everything.

Brendan Eichmann — er, Eich — got what he deserved for having financially supported a hate group. If he believes that his constitutional (such as his First-Amendment) rights have been violated by anyone, then he may sue to his hating heart’s content. Presumably, he has plenty of cash with which to do so. (But he won’t sue, because he has no fucking case.)

There is nothing more to discuss.

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(50 million to) 80 million Americans vanish without a trace!

Generational Leapfrog

An August 2000 editorial cartoon by progressive Gen Xer Ted Rall. (Another, even earlier toon by Rall on this topic is here.)

When I saw a little while ago that the new book The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, which I (probably stupidly) since bought via amazon.com (I just opened the package today), very apparently pretends that those of us of Generation X don’t even fucking exist, I thought of my fellow progressive Gen Xer Ted Rall and his quite correct labeling of us Xers as victims of “generational leapfrog.”

Prompted by what I had read of The Next America on amazon.com, I was going to blog on my thoughts on my generation’s exclusion from the national discussion as though Winston Smith, working at the Ministry of Truth, had simply erased all mention of us, but now, I see, Rall (thankfully) has written a column on the topic, so, at the risk of violating copyright law, I am posting Rall’s column in full at the end of this post (I don’t think that he would mind), because he echoes my thoughts and feelings.

Not only does the title of this latest book about generations of Americans, which sits at No. 239 on amazon.com as I compose this sentence, exclude my generation entirely, but in the preface of the book — in which the author (shockingly!) identifies himself as a baby boomer — my generation is ignored. In the preface, the baby-boomer author, one Paul Taylor, proclaims:

… This book … pays particular attention to our two outsize generations — the Baby Boomers, fifty- and sixty-somethings having trouble coming to terms with getting old, and the Millennials, twenty-somethings having trouble finding the road map to adulthood. It looks at their competing interests in the big showdown over entitlement reform that our politicians, much as they might try, won’t be able to put off for much longer. …

So why has baby boomer (yeah, I don’t capitalize the term, since that might imply respect, which in this case is undeserved) Taylor disappeared (as Ted Rall accurately put it in his latest column) my entire generation?

And let me first interrupt myself to tell you that my generation actually isn’t all that tiny, with an estimated more than 80 million Americans being Xers, for fuck’s sake, while the figure for the number of baby boomers who were born apparently is around 76 million, and it is estimated that about 80 million Americans are members of Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials).

Yes, there was a baby boom when the boomers were belched from the bowels of hell and into the world from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s (yes, Barack Obama is a [late] baby boomer; we’ve yet to have a Gen-X president [and we very well might not ever have one]), but American population (despite advances in birth control) has climbed steadily since the boomers made their unfortunate entrance, which, I surmise, would explain why all three generations actually have been roughly the same in size, despite Taylor’s assertion that only his generation and the Millennials are worth discussing because they are “outsize.”

(The cover of the book says that it is authored by “Paul Taylor and the Pew Research Center.” Wow. You’d think the folks at the Pew Research Center would have caught the mistake or even the lie that we Gen Xers are so tiny a cohort that we’re not worth discussing. Seriously — this “oversight” has harmed Pew Research Center’s reputation, in my mind.)

Back to what I was saying: So why would baby boomer Paul Taylor exclude my generation almost entirely from his book that is supposed to be a part of the national discussion?

Well, of course it’s easier to discuss only two generations instead of three. So yes, some laziness definitely might have been involved.

But the larger part of it, I believe, is that the baby boomers in general — and we very apparently cannot exclude Taylor from that cohort, based not only upon his age but also based upon his brand of inter-generational politics — long have treated us Xers as though we didn’t exist.

Indeed, one of Ted Rall’s most successful books is his 1998 Revenge of the Latchkey Kids, one of the first, if not the first, Gen-X manifesto.

I was born to boomers and I certainly was a latchkey kid. I won’t go into detail that only will make others (especially boomers) accuse me of being a whiner who blames everything on his parents (for the record, I blame much on them, but not everything on them), but yeah, while the boomers were the cherished children of the American men who had survived World War II and come home to inseminate their wives and while the Millennials were the cherished children (largely if not mostly of boomers) replete with “Baby on Board” signs, we X’ers were, to put it mildly, not cherished. There were no “Baby on Board” signs, no car seats for us. Our parents were not, for the very most part, “helicopter parents.” No, they were more like invisible parents. As Rall stated correctly many years ago, we Xers, overall, were latchkey kids. We were largely left to raise ourselves.

I suspect that this is why we are ignored by the dominant generation, the boomers (almost all seats of power in the U.S. still are filled by boomers, who hold on to their seats of power with death grips, like U.S. Supreme Court justices): they always have ignored us, so why begin to acknowledge our inconvenient existence now?

Also, if any of the boomers are actually even capable of feeling anything remotely like guilt, maybe they have at least a dim awareness that they failed us Xers, their children, miserably, that they are the first generation in the history of the United States to have had it better themselves than their children have had it, and therefore, in order to avoid feeling guilty — because boomers were raised by the so-called “greatest generation” to believe that they are entitled to feel only great about themselves all of the fucking time (a “value” that the boomers seemed to have imparted to many if not most of the Millennials) — they do their best not to think about us Xers at all.

All of my legitimate generational grievances aside, there is no way that you can write a responsibly comprehensive book about the problems that loom over the United States of America without discussing an entire generation of Americans. (OK, to be fair, there are some entries for “Generation X” in the index of The Next America, which I have not read because I just opened the package today, but very apparently the book glosses over Gen X for a much more detailed discussion about the boomers and the Millennials.)

We Xers care about, we are affected by and we affect Social Security, Medicare, retirement security, income inequality, climate change, human rights, social justice, politics, overpopulation, etc., etc., and while millions want to simply ignore us (and so do simply ignore us) because to do so fits their own selfish political agendas, we Gen Xers are right fucking here, tens of millions of us — whether the generation that precedes us and the generation that follows us (and, tragically, they have so many characteristics in common) wish to see us or not.

Now: Here is Rall’s column, with my comments inserted in [brackets]:

I’ve been disappeared.

Erased from history.

Dropped down the memory hole.

(bye)

If you were born between 1961 and 1976, you no longer exist. [Exact definitions of Gen X vary. In my book, Gen X begins around 1962 to 1964. 1961 is a bit early, in my book. And I would extend Gen X at least to those born in 1980.]

Generation X has been disappeared.

The Soviets altered photos to excise the images of leaders who had fallen out of favor, but communist censors went after individuals.

America’s corporate media is more ambitious. They’re turning 50 million people into unpersons. [Again, I see figures that put Gen X at least at 80 million, but even only 50 million people, if Rall's figure indeed is closer to the actual figure, still is a large chunk of the national population of more than 317 million.]

The disappearing of Gen X began about a year ago, when major news outlets began reducing living Americans to two generations: the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1960) and their children, the Millennials (born approximately 1977-2004).

[I would include 1945, and perhaps also 1944, for the boomers, and I probably wouldn't start the Millennials earlier than 1980. Again, these generational demarcations vary from person to person. To me, personal characteristics and worldview are important, too, not strictly the year in which one was born, perhaps especially in those generationally cuspy situations. (My husband, for instance, born in 1962, while on the cusp of the boomers and the Xers, has more Xer characteristics than boomer characteristics; otherwise, he wouldn't be my husband...)]

(Generational birth years are controversial. Many classify the Boom years between 1946 and 1964, but I agree with the demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe’s assessment — and the novelist Douglas Coupland, who defined the term “Generation X” — that people like me, born from ’61 to ’64, called “the most dysfunctional cohort of the century,” identify with the culture and economic fortunes of Xers, not the Boom.)

The unpersoning of X takes full bloom in “Wooing a New Generation of Museum Patrons,” a March 19, 2014, piece in The New York Times about how museums like the Guggenheim are soliciting money from “a select group of young donors already contributing at a high level.”

Take your gum/joint/food out of your mouth before reading further, lest you gag: “Several hundred Millennials mingled under the soaring atrium of the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue one recent frigid February night. Weaving around them were black-clad servers bearing silver trays piled high with doughnuts, while a pixieish D.J. spun Daft Punk remixes.”

According to the Times’ David Gelles (playing the role of Winston Smith): “Across the country, museums large and small are preparing for the eventual passing of the baton from the Baby Boom generation, which for decades has been the lifeblood not only of individual giving but of boardroom leadership. Yet it is far from clear whether the children of Baby Boomers are prepared to replicate the efforts of their parents.”

Gelles’ piece doesn’t contain any reference to Generation X.

Really? Museums don’t give a crap about would-be philanthropists among the millionaires born between 1961 and 1976?

By the way, Xers were into Daft Punk before Millennials were even done being born.

Boomer/Millennial articles that ignore the existence of Xers have become commonplace. Again in The New York TimesEmily Esfahani Smith and Jennifer L. Aaker perform the neat trick of disappearing one-sixth of the country. Their November 30, 2013, op/ed about “Millennial Searchers” for the meaning of life asks about Millennials: “Do we have a lost generation on our hands?”

Substitute “1991” for “2008” and everything Smith and Aaker write could be, and was written about Gen X: “Yet since the Great Recession of 2008, they have been having a hard time. They are facing one of the worst job markets in decades. They are in debt. Many of them are unemployed. The income gap between old and young Americans is widening.”

Even in an essay about humanity’s search for meaning — and about the downward mobility that defines Gen X — there is only room for Boomers and Millennials.

It’s like our crappy economy and low wages and student loan debt never even happened. [Infuckingdeed. As I've noted here before, it's incredibly interesting that our Gen Xers' crippling student-loan debt and lack of decent jobs never were considered to be newsworthy at all, but that those problems sure the fuck are today, now that they are affecting the precious "Baby-on-Board" crowd.]

“No one’s talkin’ ’bout my generation,” notes columnist M.J. Fine, a Generation Xer. “It’s hard to think of an era in which people ages 34-49 had less social currency.”

Remember the great coming clash over Social Security between Boomers and Xers? We’ve vanished from that narrative too, not just in a thousand words but over the course of a full-length book: The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown.

It’s not just the Times. In Sonya Stinson’s frivolous “What Gen Y Can Teach Boomers About Financial Planning” in Forbes, Gen X neither learns nor teaches. Gen X doesn’t exist.

Poof!

I saved the worst for last. Courtesy of a sharp-eyed reader, check out PBS’ Judy Woodruff, defining the generations for a NewsHour interview with the author of The Next America:

I just want to remind everybody what those age groups are, the Millennials, 18 to 33 years old today, Gen X, 34 to 39 [years old] today, the Boomers, 50 — the big group — 50 to 68 [years old], and the Silent [Generation], 69 to 86 [years old].

In PBS World, Gen X has shrunk. If you’re in your forties, you no longer have a generational home.

Life begins at 40?

[To be fair, I listened to the PBS clip, and in it Woodruff clearly says "Gen X, 34 to 49" years old. The transcript, however, reads "34 to 39" years old, an apparent typo.]

More like the empty void of generational purgatory, as far as the Boomer-controlled media is concerned.

Indeed, the No. 1 reason that we Gen Xers have been so successfully disappeared is that the boomers have controlled the media, and thus the national discussion, for most of our lives. The powers that be want us to be non-existent, and the powers that be mostly still are boomers and they still mostly control the media, and thus they still mostly monopolize the national discussion.

But actually, as much as I have complained about the unfairness and the insanity of it, I think that I would take my “generational purgatory” (an apt description of Gen X) over the unearned and undeserved attention and rewards that the boomers and the Millennials have received.

Having been left to raise ourselves to such a degree and having been systematically and even institutionally ignored and passed over — and, indeed, having been shit and pissed upon — our entire fucking lives, we Gen Xers have, out of necessity, developed strength, resilience and self-reliance that most members of the pretty fucking awful, overprivileged generations that immediately precede us and immediately follow us never will possess.*

And who wants to be a member of a generation whose collective personality is like that of Nellie Olesen? (OK, the boomers and the Millennials do, but that was a rhetorical question.)

Gen X still rules — not literally, not sociopolitically, but where it really counts — which is why we’re so widely ignored by the two generations that don’t hold a candle to us.

*That said, while the boomers have been a lost fucking cause for a long, long time, and will take their generational assholery with them to their graves and urns, I suppose that the Millennials still have enough time to not become just like their baby-boomer examples.

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John McCainosaurus, lonely Cold Warhawk

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., second from right, speaks during a news conference alongside, from back left, Senators John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Dick Durban, D-Ill., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, March 15, 2014. McCain and a team of seven other senators concluded their visit in Kiev on Saturday with a news conference in which they reaffirmed their support to the interim Ukrainian government. (AP Photo/David Azia)

Associated Press photo

Shadow President John McCainosaurus speaks at a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, demonstrating his solidarity with the right-wing plutocrats who wish to rob Ukrainians blind in the names of “freedom” and “liberty,” blah blah blah. I’m pretty sure that we Americans twice democratically elected Barack Obama to be our commander in chief and our diplomat in chief, so to speak…

Shadow President John McCainosaurus, freshly returned from a visit to the Ukraine, claims that he doesn’t want “reignition of the Cold War,” but helpfully adds that

“Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country. It’s kleptocracy, it’s corruption. It’s a nation that’s really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy. And so economic sanctions are important. Get some military assistance to Ukrainians, at least so they can defend themselves. Resume the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. …”

McCainosaurus doesn’t want to reignite the Cold War, you see, but he wants to give the Ukrainians military assistance and resume missile defense systems within range of Russia’s borders. Because things like that couldn’t possibly reignite the Cold War.*

Aside from the fact that it’s undignified, irresponsible and unstatesmanlike for a so-called “dignitary” whose “expertise” is in foreign policy and foreign relations to dismiss an entire sovereign nation of people as “a gas station masquerading as a country,” those words struck me, because very apparently the Repugnican warhawks sure thought of Iraq only as “a gas station masquerading as a country.” And while it was perfectly fine for the U.S., under the unelected “leadership” of the BushCheneyCorp, to illegally, immorally, unprovokedly and unjustly invade and occupy the sovereign nation of Iraq primarily for its use to American plutocrats and corporatocrats as “a gas station,” it is unconscionable! for Russia to gobble up the small peninsula of Crimea, which always has been Russian anyway.

(Similarly, like the United States is not a corrupt kleptocracy that values planet-killing fossil fuels so highly. The hypocrisy of the right is stunning. [It shouldn't still stun me, but it still does.])

In the same breath, McCainosaurus recognizes that Americans have no appetite for his warhawkishness — to most Americans, the little peninsula of Crimea is as important to U.S. interests as were the Falkland Islands to Ronald Reagan — yet wishes to shove it down our throats nonetheless. Because he knows better, you see, and as long as he is able to draw breath, he will remind us of the “mistake” we made when in 2008 we elected Barack Obama and not him.

Like the Vietraq War always only ever was for the benefit of the plutocrats, the struggle over Crimea also is only for the benefit of the plutocrats. This isn’t about “freedom” or “democracy” or puppies or kittens or butterflies or fluffy-tailed baby bunny wabbits. This is, as usual, all about money, about the plutocrats being driven nuts when there is something, anything, that they can’t grab with their greedy grubbies.

And these same plutocrats of course don’t care about the Ukrainians. They only want to saddle Ukraine with Western debt, to make the Ukrainians slaves to them instead of to Vladimir Putin.

The Crimeans are better off with Russia. With Russia, at least they know what to expect. With the West, they’ll be promised “freedom” and “democracy” and “prosperity” and sugar and spice and everything nice, but what they’d actually get will be no better than what they’d get from Mother Russia. The only thing worse than Communism is Capitalism.**

*Reuters reports:

Moscow — A Kremlin-backed journalist issued a stark warning to the United States about Moscow’s nuclear capabilities on Sunday [yesterday] as the White House threatened sanctions over Crimea’s referendum on union with Russia.

“Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash,” television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov said on his weekly current affairs show.

Behind him was a backdrop of a mushroom cloud following a nuclear blast. …

Yeah, I’d say that in the current geopolitical environment, now is not the time for let’s-reignite-the-Cold-War-but-say-that-we’re-not-trying-to-reignite-the-Cold-War words or action.

**For symmetry, I’ll capitalize it to refer to the toxic American/Western brand of the economic system.

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Affirmative action: Two wrongs don’t make a right (and yes, Paul Ryan is racist)

Updated below (on Monday, March 17, 2014)

The Sneetches are out in force with the warming weather.

Ah, springtime approaches, which means that it’s time for all of us to emerge from hibernation — and engage in more race wars!

The topic of affirmative action is rearing its ugly head again here in California, and Pretty Boy Paul Ryan is in some trouble (rightfully so) for a blatantly racist remark that he recently made.

In 1996, California’s voters approved Proposition 209, which made affirmative action by the state government, including at the state’s universities, illegal, by writing this prohibition into the state’s Constitution. Of course legal challenges followed, but the courts have upheld the constitutionality of Prop 209, whose language remains in the California Constitution today (if often ignored by those who still practice affirmative action, illegally, in California anyway).

Affirmative action is, I think, for the most part well-intended: to right the wrongs of the past, especially where adverse racial discrimination is concerned.

But, like Communism, affirmative action has looked much better on paper than it has in practicality. Did it ever achieve the equality that it promised it would? Um, yeah, no.

Practicing affirmative action now doesn’t help those who were harmed by racial discrimination in the past. It only creates even more racial discrimination in the present. Only it’s “nice,” “good” or “beneficial” racial discrimination, you see.

Bullshit, in my book. In my book, racial discrimination, whether intended to harm or to benefit someone, is wrong.

And of course the plutocratic powers that be love it when we commoners are fighting each other based upon our race, just like Dr. Seuss’ star-bellied (and plain-bellied) Sneetches. Because when we commoners are fighting each other (perhaps especially over something as superficial as our race), we’re divided, we’re not united in fighting the plutocratic powers that be.

The problem in California is that there are more who want to go to a state college or to a university than there are resources for those individuals. When scarcity arises, people want to start making cuts, but cuts based upon race is not the way to go.

If we truly want to be a post-racial society, then race has to stop mattering. (It will stop mattering — at some vague point in the distant future, the proponents of affirmative action argue. Um, yeah, no. The only time is right now.)

Asian students, for instance, are significantly over-represented in California’s state universities based on the Asian population in the state as a whole. And many if not most Californian Asians oppose the re-legalization of affirmative action in California because a return to a race-based quota system — and that’s what affirmative action creates, no matter what its short-sighted proponents may claim otherwise — would cut their admission numbers drastically. And, of course, many if not most (mostly non-Asian, of course) Californians view these Asian Californians as assholes for appearing to wish to perpetuate their “unfair” advantage.

What, exactly, is their “unfair” advantage? That they are Asian or that they are academically gifted — or that they are academically gifted while Asian? If they are academically gifted, why must they be penalized for that fact if they happen to be Asian?

I don’t see that it’s any more fair to shut out Asians than it is to shut out any other racial group. Racial discrimination is racial discrimination.

True fairness and justice have to come on a one-on-one, case-by-case basis, not based upon one’s racial group.

And like Communism was (let me emphasize that I’m talking about big-“C” communism and not about democratic socialism, which I support), affirmative action has been another failed attempt at social engineering. Human beings aren’t lab rats; they, we, are human beings, not some fucking lab experiment.

All Californians who have demonstrated the aptitude for college-level work should have the opportunity to go to college or to a university, regardless of their race. If the problem is that there aren’t enough resources for all of those individuals who wish to do so — and that is the problem here in California — then the solution is to expand that opportunity for everyone of all races by demanding that it be expanded, demanding that our tax dollars stop going towards things like the bloated-beyond-belief military-corporate complex and start going toward actual human needs, not to obscene human greed.

(And, of course, if part of the problem is that our public elementary and high schools are failing too many of our students, and I understand that they are, then we need to tackle that problem, too. [No, for-profit/charter schools are not the answer. Whenever profiteering is the No. 1 goal of any enterprise, that enterprise always will suffer, since profiteering is its main reason for existing at all.] And let’s not blame it all on our public schools; we lazy, selfish Americans are failing our young people as a whole, and it’s not fair for us to blame that on our public schools and their underpaid employees to the degree that we do!)

The solution to the scarcity of spots in California’s state universities is not the Procrustean bed of insisting that the racial composition of state university enrollment strictly matches the racial composition of the state at large.

This “solution” superficially seems fair, but it’s deeply unfair to many, many individuals, unfair to too many individuals for us to be able to deem it “fair” overall.

Two-thirds of the California Senate not long ago voted to put the repeal of Prop 209 on the statewide ballot. The state Assembly also would have to vote by a two-thirds margin to put the repeal of Prop 209 on the ballot for the state’s voters to decide whether to reinstate legalized affirmative action, but the state Assembly has yet to take the matter up. (Hopefully, it never will.)

Should the repeal of Prop 209 it make it to the ballot, I will vote against it and otherwise fight it. Affirmative action is a poorly thought-out practice that takes us further from, not closer to, a truly post-racial society (an ideal that, quite admittedly, we human beings might never meet before we annihilate ourselves).

And then there is former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Repugnican Tea Party U.S. representative from Wisconsin, who recently remarked that here in the United States we have a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value of work.”

Reuters reports that

[U.S. Rep.] Barbara Lee of California, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, called Ryan’s remarks a “thinly veiled racial attack.”

“Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city,’ when he says, ‘culture,’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black’,” Lee said in a statement.

I agree with Lee — not just because Ryan is a Repugnican Tea Partier and I abhor the Repugnican Tea Party and its adherents, but because Ryan’s remark was meant to convey two false ideas:

(1) That certain individuals, based upon their race, inherently, even genetically, are lazy, do not want to work (while others, of course [like Ryan, of course], inherently, even genetically, are industrious); and

(2) That if someone does not want to slave in a minimum-wage job on which he or she cannot even live — and this is the only kind of job that the vast majority of the Repugnican Tea Party traitors want the vast majority of us Americans to be able to have (the Repugnicans and their allies always have opposed even modest increases in the minimum wage, and they vehemently oppose a living wage) — then this means that he or she is “lazy.”

No, this means that he or she simply wishes to be paid the fair value of his or her work, and not be a fucking wage slave in perpetuity.

That’s what this means.

This is how the plutocrats long have defended their theft of our wealth: by calling us, the victims of their theft, “lazy.” Should we commoners point out the simple fact that the plutocrats have been robbing us blind forfuckingever now, the plutocratic traitors among us then accuse us commoners of waging a “class war,” when, in fact, they have been waging a class war forfuckingever in order to maintain their unfair lofty, gilded status. In fact, there is no other way for them to maintain their 1-percent status other than by waging their class war against the rest of us. And they wage this class war against us in a thousand fucking ways every fucking day.

So Paul Ryan told a dual lie: he insinuated that the members of certain races (and while Barbara Lee apparently was looking out for her own racial group, I don’t believe that Ryan was referring only to black Americans) inherently are lazy (a blatantly racist belief, a textbook, dictionary-definition example of a racist belief), when, in fact, because of institutionalized racism and white supremacy since the nation’s inception, some if not many members of the historically-socioeconomically-oppressed-by-the-white-majority groups have to a large degree just given up on chasing the so-called “American dream,” which, should they pursue it, they institutionally are set up by our plutocratic overlords to fail to catch. (And, to be fair, this trap catches most white Americans, too. Too much discussion of race presumes that most white Americans are wealthy when that is not the case, and the national discussion of class has long suffered at least in part because it has been so overshadowed by the national discussion of race.)

Yes, besides his racist lie about one’s level of industriousness being inherent (that is, race-based), Ryan retold the long-running lie that the United States of America is a meritocracy (and not a plutocracy), a system where your hard work actually will get you somewhere.

We commoners are acutely aware of the value of our hard work – our hard work indeed is so valuable that the plutocrats like Ryan and his ilk institutionally/systematically steal the value of our work from us, leaving us only crumbs. (This blatant thievery is called “capitalism,” which is deemed to be “good” – so “good,” and so inherently and intrinsically and self-evidently “good,” in fact, that we commoners may not even discuss the goodness or the lack of goodness of capitalism.) The plutocrats’ historical, blatant theft of the value of our commoners’ hard work demonstrates that they value hard work, too – our hard work, of course.

And, of course, when the far-right likes of Paul Ryan talk about “the value of work,” I cannot help but remember the signs that the Nazis erected above the entrances to their concentration camps: “Arbeit macht frei” — German for “Work makes you free.”

In Nazi Germany, it was the members of the Nazi Party telling their concentration-camp victims that work would set them free.

Today in the U.S., it’s the members of the Repugnican Tea Party assuring their victims that work will set us free.

Of course, it’s never the Nazis or the Repugnican Tea Partiers who are doing the hard work, is it?

And under their thumbs, no matter how hard we should work, we’ll never be free.

Update (Monday, March 17, 2014): California Assembly Speaker John Perez has announced that he will not allow the repeal of Prop 209 to come up for a vote in the state Assembly now, so that the repeal of Prop 209 will not appear on the November statewide ballot.

Three state senators who previously had been among the two-thirds of the state Senate to vote for putting the repeal of Prop 209 on the ballot reversed their positions and asked Perez not to proceed with issue in the Assembly, where Perez apparently wouldn’t have been able to muster the necessary two-thirds vote anyway.

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Gov. Moonbeam No More still deserves re-election

476008647JS007_Gov_Jerry_Br

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Within this past week, Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown (pictured above within this past week) both made his re-election bid official and infamously voiced his concern that marijuana legalization might lead to societal degradation caused by “potheads” (even though we’re not exactly a state or a nation of alcoholics because alcohol is legalized…).

When I cast my vote for Jerry Brown in 2010, his “Governor Moonbeam” moniker was a selling point, not a turn-off, for me.

How great it would be, I thought, to have Jerry Brown back in the saddle, making California cool again.

Since he took the reins of the state that Repugnican Arnold “Baby Daddy” Schwarzenegger ran into the ground during his too-long tenure, alas, the now-75-year-old Brown has not been Governor Moonbeam Redux.

I have not agreed with everything that Brown has done and said since he began his current term in January 2011, and Brown 2.0 has turned out to be more centrist than I’d thought he would be, but at least I don’t regret my vote for him, as I regret my 2008 vote for Barack Obama, and unlike how I could not vote for Obama again in 2012, I plan to vote for Brown again this coming November.

Brown has been a competent, if unexciting, governor of the nation’s most populous state.

While wingnuts, most of them outside of California, claim that under Brown’s leadership California still remains in a budget deficit (and face a myriad of other problems that we don’t actually face), the fact of the matter is that Brown turned Baby Daddy’s budget deficit around some time ago, and we Californians have had a sizeable budget surplus for some time now. (Look it up.)

Are we Californians better off now than we were four years ago, when the usurper Baby Daddy was still at the helm? Hell, yes, we are.

Does Jerry Brown deserve re-election? Hell, yes, he does.

Yes, it’s too bad that the moonbeam’s glow has faded, as evidenced by such things as Brown’s recent pronouncement on “Meet the Press” that he’s not big on marijuana legalization, remarking, “How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together.”

I believe that the science that holds that chronic marijuana use can make one “amotivational” still is considered to be fairly sound science, but still, I rather doubt that as the result of marijuana legalization, we’re all going to become a bunch of “potheads.” I mean, alcohol is legal, but not all of us are alcoholics, are we?

I support the legalization of marijuana, but it’s not such a huge issue to me that Brown’s “pothead” comment has soured me on him.

But what probably does rankle me about Brown’s “pothead” comment is that my guess is that when he was younger, he sure had his fun, but now he would wag his finger at today’s young people and deny them theirs. I hate that hypocritical bullshit coming from the baby boomers and from those, like Brown, who preceded them.

And I do hope that the 75-year-old Brown doesn’t become anything like the 77-year-old John McCainosaurus, whose every pronouncement is some variation of “You damned kids get off of my lawn!”*

*Seriously, McCainosaurus’ latest attack on Obama is the contents of an article that Obama wrote when he was in college, for fuck’s sake. McCainosaurus is peeved, you see, that the younger Obama, like the older Obama, hasn’t taken the Cold War bullshit as seriously as McCainosaurus still does.

Memo to McCainosaurus: The majority of us Americans don’t have the Cold War fetish that you do, since we’re living in 2014 and not still living in the 1950s, and more and more you come off as much like the deranged general played by George C. Scott in “Dr. Strangelove” (or the deranged general played by Rod Steiger in “Mars Attacks!”). Please die already. Or, at the very least, stop pretending that we elected you, or even that we should have elected you, as president in 2008.

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Notes on the Oscars that I didn’t watch

Cate Blanchett holds her Oscar for Best Actress for the film "Blue Jasmine" at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California

Cate Blanchett is not just a pretty face, but a talented actress whose work should have been recognized with a Best Actress award more than a decade ago. Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto, on the other hand, unfortunately is just a pretty face…

Jared Leto, holds his Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club" at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California

Reuters photos

I don’t have cable television and don’t desire ever to have cable TV, and so I didn’t watch the Oscars last night (this year, for the first time ever, ABC made live streaming available — but only to those in certain markets who already have cable!), but I still have plenty of opinions about this year’s.

First off, it was about time that Cate Blanchett won a Best-Actress Oscar. She was robbed in 1998, when she was nominated for the award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in “Elizabeth” but lost to Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t hate Paltrow as so many others apparently do, but she didn’t turn in the best performance that year.

Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress again in 2007 for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” but the academy passed on her again, so last night was the third time and the charm for Blanchett, and she deserved it, as she turned in the best performance of the year, hands down.*

Indeed, Blanchett’s performance is what saves “Blue Jasmine,” which is not one of Woody Allen’s best scripts, even though it earned him yet another nomination for Best Original Screenplay (he did not win, and deservedly so, since the screenplay is a fairly trite rehash).

I’m glad that the members of the academy didn’t snub Blanchett again, this time because they didn’t want to appear to be supporters of child molestation, because to the hysterical members of the pro-Mia-Farrow camp, you see, anyone remotely associated with Woody Allen is for child molestation. (Under this “logic,” not only does Blanchett support child molestation for having worked with Allen, but if you even cast your Oscar ballot for Blanchett, then you, too, support child molestation, by extension.)

“12 Years a Slave” is a worthy Best Picture winner, but I would have been OK with either “Philomena” or “Nebraska” having won (of those two, “Philomena” probably is my favorite).

I saw all of the nominees for Best Picture except for “Her,” “Captain Phillips” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” I would like to catch “Her,” and probably will, but the subject matter of neither “Captain Phillips” nor “The Wolf of Wall Street” appeals to me, and I’m a bit overdosed on Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio as it is (one word: overexposure). (Seriously, though, it wasn’t long ago enough that I saw DiCaprio as the Great Gatsby. I’m good for a while.)

“American Hustle” is an OK film — good, but not great — and “Gravity” and “Dallas Buyers Club” both have been over-hyped. None of those three nominees deserved to be named Best Picture.

“Gravity” is watchable (I saw it at IMAX), but, in my book, fatally flawed by its incredible — literally incredible, as in unbelievable — plot.

“Dallas Buyers Club” also is watchable enough, but come on, it’s like “Philadelphia” meets “Transamerica.” This gay man is as sick of movies about gay and/or transgender people being about AIDS as black folks are sick of movies being about slavery.

That said, yes, obviously the academy is filled with (mostly white) liberal guilt, and so if you make a movie about slavery, AIDS or the Holocaust, yes, your chances of winning an Oscar go up astronomically.

Again, “12 Years a Slave” is a worthy film, as I noted when it came out, but I do believe that (white) liberal guilt boosted it, just as it boosted “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Speaking further of which, I have enjoyed the return of Matthew McConaughey, whose performances in “Bernie,” “Killer Joe” and “Mud” all were good, but it seems to me that the main reason that he won Best Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club” is that he lost so much weight to play the role, which is not quite the same as great acting, but also because he played a man with AIDS, which also sure was good for Tom Hanks (who won Best Actor for the unworthy film “Philadelphia”).

I’d have given Best Actor to Chiwetel Ejiofor** for his performance in “12 Years a Slave” — not out of white liberal guilt, but because I think that he gave the best performance of the year.

At least the enthralling Lupita Nyong’o wasn’t robbed of the Best Supporting Actress award for her great performance in “12 Years a Slave.” Again, no white liberal guilt there — she earned that award, turning in a performance that probably is the heart and soul of the film. (I love Jennifer Lawrence, who did a good job in “American Hustle,” but this award wasn’t hers.)

And Jared Leto — don’t even get me started on him.

OK, so just as McConaughey won Best Actor for having lost a lot of weight and played a guy with AIDS, Leto won Best Supporting Actor for having lost a significant amount of weight and played a transgender individual with AIDS.

This was the result of full-blown liberal guilt. I don’t see that Leto’s performance was better than was Bradley Cooper’s in “American Hustle” or Michael Fassbender’s in “12 Years a Slave.” It was the transgender person with AIDS angle that did it.

I fully support equality for transgender individuals — I am a gay man myself — but isn’t coddling a historically oppressed minority group in a saccharin, maudlin manner just the flipside of oppressing that group?

Also, just as “Gravity’s” fatal flaw, in my book, is that its protagonist’s fantastic feats are just not believable, in my book “Dallas Buyers Club’s” fatal flaw is its portrayal of the protagonist, Ron Woodroof, as a homophobic heterosexual man with AIDS when, in fact, very apparently those who knew the real-life Woodroof — including his ex-wife — have said that he actually was at least bisexual, but possibly, if not even probably, gay. (Indeed, the photos of him that I’ve seen of him make my gaydar smoke.) Oh, and those who knew Woodroof dispute that he ever displayed homophobia (which, admittedly, a closeted gay man might do, especially in a homophobic state like Texas and in that day and time, to “prove” that he’s “heterosexual”).

Why the apparent change of such an important detail (the protagonist’s sexual orientation)?

Would Woodroof’s story have been less interesting if it had been that of just another faggot who had died of AIDS?

Can you pretend to be respectful of the gay “community” when you change a central character in a “real-life” story from non-heterosexual to heterosexual?

And in Jared Leto’s acceptance speech, he gave an unfortunate (but fortunately brief) shout-out to the “dreamers” of Venezuela and Ukraine. Wow.

On the surface, the “causes” of Venezuela and Ukraine appear to be great bandwagons for a good guilty white liberal to jump upon, but when you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find that those so-called-by-Jared-Leto “dreamers” are, in Venezuela, plutocratic and pro-plutocratic wingnuts who are just bitter that the socialist president there won the last presidential election — not by much, but he still won. They’re bitter that they lost the election and so they’re trying to force a do-over election (this was done in my state of California in 2003, with the gubernatorial recall election, which was, for all intents and purposes, just a do-over of the previous close gubernatorial election).

I fully expect wingnuts to support the Venezuelan “cause” of toppling a democratically elected socialist president because he is not a right-wing, pro-plutocratic president, but Leto, who presumably fashions himself to be a good liberal, should know better.

And the “dreamers” in Ukraine are largely far-right-wing nationalists, some of them even actual neo-Nazis.

Sure, they have a “dream.” Hitler had a dream, too.

These dreams might be great for them, but others of us, these dreams are nightmares.

Jared Leto, if he wants to be remembered as having been more than just pretty, really, really, really should do his homework before he endorses a “cause” in front of a massive, worldwide audience.

*OK, to be fair and thorough, I  saw all of the performances that were nominated for Best Actress except for Meryl Streep’s in “August: Osage County,” since the film’s previews suggest that it’s a mediocre, sappy film, worthy of perhaps catching on DVD. Still, I can’t imagine that Streep’s performance in that surpassed Blanchett’s in “Blue Jasmine.” My second choice for best actress would have been Judi Dench for “Philomena.”

**To be fair and thorough, I saw all of the performances that were nominated for Best Actor except for Leonardo DiCaprio’s in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” (Hey, if I got paid to see [and write about] movies that I wouldn’t ordinarily see, that would be different!)

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A Solomonic solution for Ukraine

Take the entirely unscientific poll below!

I am not an expert on geopolitics, or even on world history, but, as loath as I am to adopt the right wing’s concept of “common-sense solutions” (which, interestingly, almost always turn out to be right-wing “solutions”…), it seems to me that you don’t have to have a PhfuckingD to call some shots.

The best solution where Ukraine is concerned is, methinks, a Solomonic solution* — cut that puppy in two.

Crimea, the southernmost, peninsular area of Ukraine (see map below), according to Reuters is “the only part of Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority, which has often voiced separatist aims.”

Reuters further reports today that

Russian President Vladimir Putin secured his parliament’s authority [today] to invade Ukraine after troops seized control of the Crimea peninsula and pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisted flags above government buildings in two eastern cities.

Putin’s open assertion of the right to deploy troops in a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe creates the biggest direct confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War. …

Yikes.

It seems most fair to me that Crimea go to Russia, since most Crimeans apparently want this. This past week I listened to a Crimean woman interviewed on NPR state emphatically that she and her fellow Crimeans do not want to be part of the European Union (or the West in general), but want to preserve their culture and their language, and thus want to remain with Russia. If she truly represents the majority of Crimeans, then it should be majority rule. That’s called “democracy.”

So Crimea seems easy to me: it’s pretty fucking Russian already, and forcing the Crimeans to remain with an increasingly Westernized Ukraine against their will would be just as evil and wrong as it would be for Putin to try to force Ukrainians who want a Western, and not a Russian, alliance to remain with Russia.

My understanding is that that river that runs right down Ukraine at least metaphorically roughly splits it into very different nations, a pro-Western half and a pro-Russian half. Indeed, a map of the 2012 parliamentary election results in Ukraine looked like this:

File:Ukr elections 2012 multimandate okruhs.png

My understanding is that the pink areas represent pro-Western sentiment, while the blue and orange areas represent pro-Russian sentiment.

Indeed, the major dueling parties in the 2012 Ukrainian election were the pro-Russian Party of Regions and the “Fatherland” Party, which now is headed by the recently-released-from-prison Yulia Tymoshenko (often pictured in her Princess-Leia-like hairdo). I’m pretty fucking leery of Tymoshenko, who, according to Wikipedia, “Prior to her political career … was a successful but controversial businesswoman in the gas industry, becoming by some estimates one of the richest people in the country.”

Hmmm. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had been heavily involved in the oil industry before they stole the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and usually when a filthy rich person (or at least a pro-filthy-rich-people person) rises to power, it smacks of fascism — a right-wing collusion between a government and corporations (usually with nationalistic overtones) — if it isn’t downright fascism, so I’m not hopping on the Tymoshenko bandwagon today.

I mean, “Fatherland” — I can’t help but think of the Nazis when that word is evoked. Indeed, Wikipedia notes of “Fatherland” that “the English word is now associated with the [fascistic] Nazi government of Germany [and usually] not used often in post-World War II English unless one wishes to invoke the Nazis… Prior to Nazism, however, the term was used throughout Germanic language countries without negative connotations…”

I have found the fascistic, unelected Bush-Cheney regime’s term “homeland,” as in “homeland security” and “the Department of Homeland Security” to be chilling enough, to be too close for comfort to Hitler’s “Fatherland,” and now here are Tymoshenko and her supporters touting their “Fatherland.”

Still, even though what admittedly little I know of Tymoshenko gives me great pause, if the northwestern region of Ukraine wishes to be free of Russia and (try to) join the European Union, as appears to be the case, I’m pretty OK with that, as you can’t advocate democracy only when the majority of the individuals in the situation at hand agree with you. (I see the wingnuts here in the United States do that all the fucking time, and I wish that phenomenon on no one else.)

It seems to me that the best solution for Ukraine, the solution with the least amount of bloodshed (including perhaps preventing a third world war…) and the solution that offers the best possible outcome for all parties involved, is for Ukraine to split into two nations.

Again, it is at least as outrageous for the United States and its European allies to try to force the pro-Russia portion of Ukraine to remain with a Western-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Russian individuals do not wish to do so as it is outrageous for Russia to try to force the pro-Western portion of Ukraine to remain with a Russian-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Western individuals do not wish to do so.

Yes, my proposed solution smacks of East Berlin and West Berlin (although, of course, I propose no wall…) — or, at least, of a messy divorce, replete with the concurrent division of property and the custody battle — and while I’m probably oversimplifying the matter of Ukraine, again, from what I know of it, the best solution seems to be to create two nations from it, and to allow one to remain, if it wishes, with Mother** Russia, and to allow the other, if it wishes and if the European Union wishes, to join the European Union.

*Admittedly, this is an imperfect metaphor, since in the story of King Solomon and the baby, of course only one of the women could have been the infant’s biological mother.

I use the metaphor because Solomon has become a symbol of wisdom, including wise arbitration, and because, per Wikipedia, “The expressions ‘splitting the baby’ or ‘cutting the baby in half’ are sometimes used in the legal profession for a form of simple compromise: solutions which ‘split the difference’ in terms of damage awards or other remedies…”

**Admittedly, I’m much more OK with the term “Motherland” than I am with “Fatherland,” and while the term “homeland” is fairly neutral, because fascists coined the term as it is used in the United States today, I can only think of it as the equivalent of “Fatherland.”

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