Oakland is burning!
Associated Press photo
So hundreds of people were arrested in Oakland yesterday and last night, a night during which some individuals reportedly broke into Oakland City Hall, snatched an American flag, and burned it in protest.
The responses to this incident are interesting.
Stealing a presidential election — that’s perfectly OK. Starting bogus wars in the Middle East that result in the deaths of thousands and thousands and thousands of innocent people and loot the U.S. Treasury of trillions of the people’s tax dollars via the military-industrial complex — that’s perfectly OK. Wall Street weasels causing the nation an economic meltdown — that’s perfectly OK. The housing bubble, the student-loan shark industry, rampant unemployment, global warming caused by corporate greed — all of that is perfectly OK.
But some “thugs” burned an American flag? Intolerable!
One of my favorite sayings of Jesus Christ’s is one of his many slams of the hypocritical religious authorities (the Pharisees) of his day (today we call these hypocrites “Christians”) — in this slam, he tells them, “You strain out a gnat but you swallow a camel.”
An American flag burned: that would be a gnat. The egregious shit that I listed above, the blatant acts of treason against the American people: that would be a camel. And the staple of the American diet is the camel.
The plutocratic traitors and the traitors who aid and abet the plutocrats are damned fucking lucky that the only price that they’ve had to pay for their treason thus far is some relatively petty vandalism.
And for the record, the individuals pictured above look like anarchists to me, and while I’m not slamming the anarchists, I know from personal experience that if you hold a protest, anyone can show up, and that you cannot control everything that might happen at a protest, and that your presence at a protest does not, of course, mean that you personally endorse every sign, every message, every person, every act that might, in the end, make up that protest.
It’s easy (and maybe even fun) to generalize a group of people, but it’s inaccurate and it’s intellectually dishonest to do so.
I mean, the caption for the news photo above reads, “Occupy Oakland protestors burn an American flag found inside Oakland City Hall during an Occupy Oakland protest on the steps of City Hall, Saturday, January 28, 2012, in Oakland, Calif.”
“Occupy Oakland protestors”? How do we know whether these individuals consider themselves to be part of the Occupy movement? Or whether Oakland’s Occupy movement claims them? How do we know that they are not opportunists (anarchists, usually) who showed up at the protest in hopes of doing what they did? How do we know that they aren’t even right-wing plants attempting to discredit the Occupy Wall Street movement?
The right wing would love to make this kind of thing the face of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but that’s propagandistic bullshit. For better or for worse (I lean toward it being for the worse), the majority of OWS’ers are nonviolent.
Of course, the right wing isn’t nonviolent. The right wing and the plutocrats whom the wingnuts support love death and destruction on a massive scale — witness Vietraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the Middle East — that our tax dollars fund.
Massive death and destruction perpetrated by the right wing is perfectly fine, but some relatively petty vandalism perpetrated in protest against the right wing — that’s absofuckinglutely intolerable.
And for the wingnuts to assert that President Barack Obama and the rest of the establishment Democrats fully support OWS — that’s another load of propagandistic right-wing bullshit. Obama took more money from the Wall Street weasels for his 2008 presidential campaign than John McCainosaurus did.
The establishment Dems might be careful not to alienate some of those OWS’ers whose votes (and maybe even campaign contributions) they still might get, but there has been no robust show of support for OWS from the Obama White House, which has been as missing in action in regards to OWS and OWS’ cause as it has been in the fight in Wisconsin to prevent the right-wing traitors there from destroying what’s left of our labor unions.
Oakland is one of our nation’s poorer cities, and at some point in the midst of such egregious income disparity, something has to give. I’m just surprised that what we’ve seen thus far has been all that we’ve seen thus far.
Multi-millionaire Mitt cannot feel your pain
Mitt Romney campaigns in Florida yesterday. Gee, maybe the kid’s crying because he can see his future: In November the do-nothing President Hopey-Changey will be re-elected, or Mitt Romney, who is estimated to be 50 times richer than Barack Obama, will be elected to preside over the American economy, which in the Repugnican Tea Party’s book has left way too many millionaires and billionaires behind.
You should read this little Associated Press article on how Mitt Romney, should he become president, would be one of the Wealthiest. U.S. Presidents. Ever. It begins:
Just how rich is Mitt Romney? Add up the wealth of the last eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. Then double that number. Now you’re in Romney territory.
He would be among the richest presidents in American history if elected — probably in the top four.
He couldn’t top George Washington who, with nearly 60,000 acres and more than 300 slaves, is considered the big daddy of presidential wealth. After that, it gets complicated, depending how you rate Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, Herbert Hoover’s millions from mining or John F. Kennedy’s share of the vast family fortune, as well as the finer points of factors like inflation adjustment.
But it’s safe to say the Roosevelts had nothing on Romney, and the Bushes are nowhere close.
The former Massachusetts governor has disclosed only the broad outlines of his wealth, putting it somewhere from $190 million to $250 million. That easily could make him 50 times richer than Obama, who falls in the still-impressive-to-most-of-us range of $2.2 million to $7.5 million. …
This, very apparently, is the right wing’s answer to the nation’s main problem of insane wealth disparity: more of the same. Who could better feel the socioeconomic pain of the average American than the man whom the experts say would be one of the top four wealthiest U.S. presidents ever?
If you truly don’t know why they’re tearing up Oakland these days, you need to have your head surgically removed from your ass.
Prick Perry’s getting no love at home
Associated Press photo
Rick Perry refers to his crib sheets during a Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary debate.
I’d thought that Texans are so fucking stupid that Rick Perry wouldn’t suffer politically there from his disastrous run for the presidency, but apparently Perry hasn’t received a warm homecoming. Reports Reuters:
Austin, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry has gotten a rocky welcome home to Texas, facing low poll numbers and criticism over state expenses related to his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Travel for Perry’s security team cost the state nearly $800,000 between September and November, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Safety.
The money paid for airfare, food and hotels for the governor’s protective detail during trips both in Texas and to out-of-state locations such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Manchester, New Hampshire.
The longest-serving governor in Texas history was briefly the frontrunner among Republican presidential contenders, but he stumbled with poor debate performances and gaffes — including his memorable “oops” when he couldn’t recall the third federal agency he wanted to eliminate. He dropped out of the race last week.
His campaign paid many expenses, but the state provides security for the governor and first lady. That’s been the policy in Texas for decades, gubernatorial spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said.
“Governor Perry is governor no matter where he goes,” Nashed told Reuters in an e-mail. “It’s unfortunate that we live in a day and age where security is an issue.”
Democrats say he should repay that money.
“Unnecessary government spending is not just morally wrong, it is criminal,” state House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar wrote Perry in a letter this week asking him to give the Texas comptroller a check for expenses related to out-of-state campaigning.
A poll of Texas adults released this week by the state’s major daily newspapers showed Perry’s job approval rating at 40 percent, the lowest level in 10 years. Forty percent said they disapproved of how Perry was doing as governor.
Still, Perry has proved politically resilient over the years. Until he launched his presidential bid, he’d never lost an election.
It’s time for Perry to step aside, methinks, and let someone else run the show. (I’m not alone; a recent poll of Texans shows that more than half of them believe that he shouldn’t run for re-election in 2014.) I have to wonder if Perry’s quixotic run for the White House indicates that he is burned out as the red state’s longest-serving governor.
Still, it seems to me, that if he wants to run for re-election again, the Texans will keep him.
I’m perfectly fine with Prick Perry being kept there, too.
Is it a choice? Does it fucking matter?
Associated Press photo
A same-sex couple kisses in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month after they registered as domestic partners there. The question is not whether these men could have chosen heterosexuality. The question is why any two consenting adults in the United States of America don’t have equal human and civil rights — and why we allow separate-but-not-equal substitutions for marriage, such as domestic partnerships, instead of full marriage rights for all Americans.
So apparently actress Cynthia Nixon (whose work I don’t believe I’ve ever seen) has come under fire for having proclaimed that she has chosen to be a lesbian.
Cynthia Nixon learned the hard way this week that when it comes to gay civil rights, the personal is always political. Very political.
The actress best known for portraying fiery lawyer Miranda Hobbes on “Sex and the City” is up to her perfectly arched eyebrows in controversy since The New York Times Magazine published a profile in which she was quoted as saying that for her, being gay was a conscious choice. Nixon is engaged to a woman with whom she has been in a relationship for eight years. Before that, she spent 15 years and had two children with a man.
“I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me,” Nixon said while recounting some of the flak gay rights activists previously had given her for treading in similar territory. “A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out.
“I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.”
To say that a certain segment of the gay community “is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice” is an understatement. Gay rights activists have worked hard to combat the idea that people decide to be physically attracted to same-sex partners any more than they choose to be attracted to opposite-sex ones because the question, so far unanswered by science, is often used by religious conservatives, including [Repugnican Tea Party] presidential candidate Rick Santorum and former candidate Michelle Bachman, to argue that homosexuality is immoral behavior, not an inherent trait.
Among the activists most horrified by Nixon’s comments was Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen, whose organization monitors and tries to debunk programs that claim to cure people of same-sex attractions with therapy. Besen said he found the actress’ analysis irresponsible and flippant, despite her ample caveats.
“Cynthia did not put adequate thought into the ramifications of her words, and it is going to be used when some kid comes out and their parents force them into some ex-gay camp while she’s off drinking cocktails at fancy parties,” Besen said. “When people say it’s a choice, they are green-lighting an enormous amount of abuse because if it’s a choice, people will try to influence and guide young people to what they perceive as the right choice.” …
While the broader gay rights movement recognizes that human sexuality exists on a spectrum, and has found common cause with transgender and bisexual people, Nixon may have unwittingly given aid and comfort to those who want to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, adopt children and secure equal spousal benefits, said Jennifer Pizer, legal director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and the Law, a pro-gay think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles.
One of the factors courts consider in determining if a law is unconstitutional is whether members of the minority group it targets share an unchangeable or “immutable” trait, Pizer noted. Although the definition of how fixed a characteristic has to be to qualify as immutable still is evolving — religious affiliation, for example, is recognized as grounds for equal protection — the U.S. Supreme Court still has not included sexual orientation among the traits “so integral to personhood it’s not something the government should require people to change,” she said.
“If gay people in this country had more confidence that their individual freedom was going to be respected, then the temperature would lower a bit on the immutability question because the idea of it being a choice wouldn’t seem to stack the deck against their rights,” Pizer said. …
Although science has not identified either a purely biological or sociological basis for sexual orientation, University of California, Davis psychologist Gregory Herek, an expert on anti-gay prejudice, said Nixon’s experience is consistent with research showing that women have an easier time moving between opposite and same-sex partners.
A survey Herek conducted of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals of both genders bore this out. Sixteen percent of the lesbians surveyed reported they felt they had had a fair amount of choice in their sexual orientations, while only five percent of the gay men did. …
Wow. Why are we even having a discussion as to whether or not same-sex orientation is a choice?
Why should it fucking matter whether or not it is a choice?
What any two consenting adults do with each other is their own fucking business. We claim that we are the “home of the free” — that should settle it.
However, since we’re on the topic, my feeling, from decades of observation and from my own experience, is that for some individuals, homosexuality is quite hard-wired into who and what they are. Homosexuality does not at all strike me as a choice for those male and female individuals who, since they were pre-pubescent, showed signs of latent homosexuality, such as non-gender conformity.
For other individuals, it seems to me, more choice indeed is involved, and it does seem to me that it’s a choice for more women than it is for men, as research indicates. (There has been a lot of research lately on female “sexual fluidity,” and this research indicates that females are more “sexually fluid” than are males.)
Perhaps these individuals for whom homosexuality apparently is not hard-wired have had satisfying-enough homosexual fantasies and/or sexual encounters, and so they stick with members of the same sex, whereas if their early sexual fantasies and experiences had been heterosexual, they might have developed into well-adjusted heterosexuals as well.
Who knows? And again, who cares?
I wholeheartedly agree with Nixon’s assertion, “I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here.”
Those who steadfastly argue that homosexuality could not possibly be a choice for anyone basically are arguing that homosexuality is a birth defect — otherwise, why have to defend it?
I, for one, am not OK with essentially equating homosexuality (or bisexuality) as a fucking birth defect.
We should be arguing for our personal freedom to do what we want to do and to be with whom we want to be — for our equal human and civil rights — and not whether or not homosexuality is “immutable,” which presumes that heterosexuality is the only OK way to be.
Update (Sunday, January 29, 2011, 9:00 p.m.): Via the Los Angeles Times’ website, I just saw this news photo of the exterior of Oakland City Hall that was taken today:
Associated Press photo
Note that anarchists, with their spray-painted symbol, took credit for their handiwork.
The anarchists and the Occupy Wall Street movement are two different groups. True, some of their beliefs and values overlap, but their sanctioned tactics are quite different.
Again, not that I’m bashing the anarchists. They’ve yet to kill anyone, that I’m aware of, and property damage is not the same as violence against human beings. (That and, as I have pointed out, the right wing believes in mass murder, only mostly in other nations, so I certainly am not going to condemn the anarchists, who [thus far, anyway] only commit property damage, while the right wing perpetrates the worst crimes of all, war crimes and crimes against humanity.)
I like that the anarchists have balls (if they lack a certain amount of direction), and they might prove to be great allies against the right wing should all-out revolution ever break out.