McCain victory day Contingency Plan – Week one

August 29, 2008 at 9:43 pm (politics) ()

Yeah, with this female veep nod I’m terrified that the worst is going to happen. In that eventuality I’ve developed a plan of how to cope with the first week of the new shitty world order.

Day 1 – Doomsday : One six pack and several hours later as the final electoral count rolls in I scream, “Nooooooooo! “. I proceed to yell at my friends that “I told them so” and hysterically compare myself to the Greek Cassandra as I curse them for convincing me to become emotionally involved in yet another lost election.  The host takes the beer away from me and asks me to leave. I slink away and yell at random passerbys that they should be ashamed for voting for “McBush” even though this is NYC and they probably didn’t.

Day 2 – 10 am :  cry

12 noon : I name my bottle of vodka “Carville” and go into a detailed analysis of exactly where the campaign went wrong. Carville remains smugly silent.

<tab> 3pm : I stare at the wall with my two cats and call them pussies for not wanting to take a shot

Day 3 – 2am : After hours without sleep, water or food I start to wonder if I can learn how to kill people or take out the entire landlocked center of the country south of the Mason-Dixon line just using the power of my mind.

<tab> 9am : run to Blockbuster across the street and rent “Scanners”, “Carrie”, “The Fury”, and “They Live”.  Commence intense psychic concentration.

Day 4 – 9pm : abandon mission after I discover that the only thing I’ve accomplished is giving myself a migraine, making Cindy McCain’s forehead revert to a pre-botoxed state and causing an unexplained electrical blackout at a Walgreens in Topeka, Kansas. McCain’s head is still intact. Epic Fail.

Day 5 – search expedia for plane tickets to Japan. Call gaijin houses to see if they can take me in starting tommorrow.

3 hours later – realize that Japan has been under a conservative govn’t for decades and that they aren’t exactly progressive when it comes to gender.  Also, my Japanese still sucks. Console myself by watching “Zatoichi” and eating Katsu Don.

Imagined conversation with Japanese person:

Him: Amerika-jin desu ka? (Are you American?)

Me: Hai. (yup)

Him: Anata wa Nihongo ga wakarimasu ka? (Do you understand Japanese?)

Me: E to…chotto… sukoshi Nihongo ga hanasemasu demo mada jouzu jaa … (uh, I can speak a little but I’m not good ye…)

Him:  邪法ワポトユンもウェゆっくりしょう。。。。(long string of unintelligible words. to me, that is)

Me: oh fuck.

Day 6 – rule out being cryogenically frozen for 6 years – the max amount of time I think that McBush will be lucid, or be able to fake lucid thought through his advisors – because I’m a broke ass grad student.

Day 7 – Slowly come to my senses. Start hoarding contraceptives and morning after pills like they’re fucking pez.  Meet with local “midwives” *ahem*. Plan to start an underground railroad for women who need abortions. Find other pissed people and figure out how to fuck shit up a la “V for Vendetta”. Rent “Vera Drake”

Year 1-4 : organize, organize, organize

Alternately:

If Nov 4 is V-day and Obama wins….

Day 1 – All my friends make fun of me being so freaked out and doubtful.

I think I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong.  Am in euphoric state for next 4 years.

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Jesse Jackson, irrelevant?

August 25, 2008 at 3:26 am (politics, snark) (, , , )

I was not really shocked when I heard that Jesse Jackson, was caught yet again uttering a crass statement into a hot mic during the taping break for a news show. The fact that it was about the first viable black candidate for President, Barack Obama, however was somewhat dismaying.

Stating to his co-guest on the show that Obama “talks down to the black community” when he lectures on morality in the black church and that he wants “to cut his nuts out” only adds to his earlier statements about Obama “acting white” regarding his silence about the Jena 6 debacle in Louisiana.

While Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson’s own son have been quick to distance themselves from these comments, this seems like an opportune time to critique the increasingly crotchety and out-of-touch old guard of the civil rights movement, which Jackson is a part. Jackson and Sharpton were alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and integral parts in securing equal rights for people of color in this country. Indeed, their continued willingness to publicly speak out about racism – however questionable their particular crusade may or may not be – is important and rarely seen in the more institutionalized black organizations (NAACP, etc).

However, somewhere around the 80s something started to go horribly wrong. Jackson began to compulsively rhyme, Sharpton insisted on keeping his flashy conk (relaxed, processed hair) and both started to believe too much in their own cult of personality rather than keeping their eyes on the prize. Now, I am not one of those people who would say that Jackson and Sharpton are relics in a racism-free world. I have more politically in common with the radicals of the 60s than the wishy-washy compromisers with a political office. For the record I also find fault with Barack Obama’s overemphasis on pull-yourself-up-by-the-bo

otstraps, personal responsibility speeches a la Bill Cosby. The problems of the black community were not created by laziness, stupidity or any other inherent pathology and they will not be solved by mere lectures that amount to telling us to get our shit together without addressing the persisting (notice I didn’t say past) structural inequalities that make this so difficult. I KNOW that men as smart as Jackson and Sharpton have an incredibly complex understanding of racial relations beyond the black victim/white oppressor dichotomy, but whenever they throw their 2 cents into a debate about race it SEEMS to always come down to this oversimplified equation.

Here are a few problems I have with the old guard and their position as spokesmen of the cause of civil rights:

1. Why does everyone have to be/sound like a preacher to represent the black community? This is really important to me because I think the role of the church and Christianity needs to be seriously, seriously examined in black progressive politics. At one point the black church functioned as the public sphere for a group of people hard pressed to find anywhere else to organize – for fear of their very lives. But what seems to be forgotten is that the same Christian theology that Dr. King used towards liberation was also used to justify the institutions of slavery, and prove the general inferiority of people of color (the story of Ham). Also, Marx’s statement that religion is the opiate of the masses perfectly sums up how apolitical the black church and believers have become. Too often when people have serious problems caused by poverty or inequality they are told to pray on it instead of engaging in collective action. The church has become a site for escapism where we can fantasize about how meekness and devotion to a deity will hopefully earn us a place in heaven if not an equal standing here on earth. Christianity is also fundamentally reactionary in terms of sexuality and gender roles. How many queer blacks are excluded from the public sphere of the black church and how many devout blacks are defecting to the conservative end of the political spectrum for abortion issues or to prevent gay marriage? As an agnostic black person I often find myself shut out of conversations that equate blackness with following Jesus or regularly attending church.There are blacks in all different religions (and non-religions) which deserve to be a part of discussions about the direction of our race.
On a personal note I find it annoying that every black intellectual or spokesperson (Tavis Smiley, Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West…etc) finds it necessary to affect the cadence of a Southern preacher. It’s irritating precisely because it is an affectation. Worse, it’s goal appears to be to superficially align them with Dr. King or to downplay their extensive academic training in a “keeping-it-real” vernacular so as not to sound “white”, “uppity”, or “bourgie”.

2. They completely ignore gender issues . Many of the problems in the black community are inextricably linked to gender issues and the culture of hypermasculinity, yet these problems are only alluded to implicitly in discussions of the disintegration of the black family. Jackson and Sharpton’s main solution to the problem of single mothers is to chastise fathers for not staying with their family without asking why this happens in the first place. Besides the historical reasons that necessitated why black fathers often had to live away from their families to find work and send money back to them; the current problem is that the ideal of masculinity for young black men has been narrowed to material acquisition, sexual virility and brute strength. Instead of blaming this all on rap music or something equally specious, I would suggest that other avenues of traditionally masculine achievement in business, education, and production of knowledge were not only structurally closed off to men of color due to discrimination but black men were simply made to believe that they were not capable of it . Not to mention the class and religious issues that come into play with contraception use and young pregnancies. This doesn’t excuse the lack of respect towards women in the black community (or in any community for that matter), but it sheds some light on reasons other than amorality.
Old school civil rights leaders have long approached black issues in ways that made blackness synonymous with maleness. Jackson and Sharpton only deal with black women’s issues, rape and sexual harrassment cases if they present an opportunity for them to criticize white men. They are either conspicuously silent or side with the men in cases where it is a black woman who complains against a black man. Where was the support for the woman who charged Isiah Thomas with harassment or Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas or the underage girls against R. Kelly? Instead of taking these cases as a chance to critique attitudes towards women, often black women are accused of colluding with white men to bring powerful black men down.

3. They presume to speak for the rest of us Now this is as much their fault as it is the media’s. Men like Jackson and Sharpton are invited as talking heads for their pedigree and experience as much as their entertainment value. They will almost always give a pithy or ridiculous sound bite and therefore help the ratings. News talk shows will always invite the rare and extremist token black conservative for the same reason. However, there are other faces of the progressive black movement that are rarely seen in the media such as bell hooks, or the myriad of local, non-pastor community leaders that are helping people everyday on the grassroots level. If this is about advancing a political agenda that is helpful to blacks and not about advancing their own position, why can’t Jackson, Sharpton and the like defer to these younger activists for issues that they are not as in touch with any longer? And after so many years in the public eye why do they seem so media unsavvy in terms of simple mistakes like speaking into hot mics, badly worded comments and wild conspiracy theories that are sure to find eternal life on you tube or fox news? It’s not fair but a verbal slip from a black leader will get twice the airplay and derision than a similar slip from a McCain advisor for example, whose faux pas will get buried in page 15 of the NYT then forgotten. This is a fact that even I had to learn during two years of small-scale campus activism and media interviews at UT. How did they miss it?

4. Stop blaming young people and youth culture As I alluded to in the previous points, the older generation of civil rights leaders – and Bill Cosby – are all too
content to criticize this new fangled youth and hip hop culture for all of the problems of the black community. But children learn from their elders and many of the stubborn issues that we are facing stem from the oversights, flaws and mistakes of their generation. When several of the main architects of the movement, including Jackson himself are proven womanizers and have fathered babies outside of the marriage how can they be surprised at the rate of single black mothers and broken homes? When they complain that young people aren’t active and have bad values while ignoring the many young activists doing great work, then how can we close the generation gap?

I understand Jackson’s frustration with the overemphasis on morality in the black community. It’s easier for white Americans to blame black pathology than national policies or their own complicity in a system which privileges them. However, I’m just as frustrated with their slipups, hypocrisies and stubborn refusal to contend with how the face of racism has changed, the reality of spin and new media technologies and what it means for racial activism and public opinion, and continued ignoring (for the most part) of gender and sexuality issues.

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Why I support the writer’s strike

November 7, 2007 at 4:13 am (news, politics, pop culture) (, , )

_1304774_strike2_300.jpgI intern at a talent management agency so I get to look at the big project books of all the films in production over the next year. The William Morris Agency sends them out so that the guys I work for can scramble to get their best talent in meetings with the casting directors for those films. For the past couple of months while scanning the upcoming flix I noticed that most production companies were busting ass to get as many finished scripts into production “pre-strike”. It seemed a given that this writer’s strike was gonna happen – not to worry though, most of those scripts were formulaic crap starring Channing Tatum or Gerard Butler types or more bloody remakes anyway (Straw Dogs and The Magnificent Seven, for Chrissakes? Is anything holy to those bloodsuckers in LA????!) .

People in New York can be surprisingly whiny about strikes. When the MTA workers striked for a few days people grumbled copiously about everything and the union head was thrown into jail. This should scare the shit out of all of us because were it not for unions and the influence of socialist politics on the workforce in general, we wouldn’t have stuff like overtime, child protection laws, minimum wage, sick leave, etc… Sure, unions can be corrupt, racist and exclusive, however without their collective bargaining power the indifferent market and greedy fat cat capitalists would steamroll all over workers’ rights. Check out the minimum wages and benefits in states that have anti-union policies (Texas, for instance) and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

We might not be talking about blue-collar workers here, when we talk about the writers strike, however writers have been the underdogs of the Hollywood machine since cinema began. Unless they are a hyphanate writer-director-actor or exceptionally successful like Charlie Kaufman and Paddy Chayefsky from a while back, writers are woefully underappreciated and considered unglamourous. Now, they are trying to secure a bigger piece of the digital pie for themselves as films, TV and other scripted entertainment segues into non-traditional screening venues like your iPod or more DVDs. And why shouldn’t they? Directors, producers and talent make the big bucks filming the stuff that these guys and gals pen. If Hollywood is a big shiny mansion then writers are the beams and 2 by 4s that keep it from sinking into the tar pits.

Let the writers have their extra 4 cents in DVD revenue and if I have to watch reality shows for the next year due to the lack of produced material from the strike I’ll gladly tune in to I Love New York 2 or American Idol season 82 in the meantime. Honestly, that’s what I’d probably be watching in the first place.

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Don’t raise the roof about Karl Rove’s retirement just yet…

August 15, 2007 at 2:29 am (politics)

nn_odongreg_rove_070813300w.jpgIsn’t the timing for this departure a bit suspicious? Do we really think that “Bush’s Brain” will go gentle into that good night right as election season 2008 is gearing up? In plain english, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if evil mastermind Rove was planning to be the new brain of another eager Republican presidential nominee – and if he’s been wooed to Giuliani’s camp, we’re FUCKED.

As much as middle Americans may not accept Giuliani as a true conservative due to his extramarital affairs and divorces, seriously lack in family values (his kids hate him and support Obama apparently) and his obvious Italian Roman Catholic background – and everyone knows Italians only recently(and barely) became integrated under the category of whiteness in America along with the Irish. Not to mention that he’s from the ‘amoral’ and ‘decadent’ region of the northeast and has been relatively socially liberal, until he announced his bid for presidency that is. All that might not matter if Giuliani invokes 9/11, the Pearl Harbor of our generation which spurred his nationwide name-recognition in the first place. And no matter how much New Yorkers remember what an utter bully and fucking joke Giuliani had become before the tragedy – an adulterous bulldog who encouraged police brutality and the racial profiling of anyone with the barest hint of an accent or a tan – all that the flag-waving mallgoers in the midwest and south remember is that he was “America’s mayor” and provided some vague semblence of leadership during a crisis. Who cares if that is all becoming unravelled with ever-increasing reports of how unprepared New York was for any kind of disaster pre-9/11 and how Giuliani and others straight up lied about air quality and have been lamely mum about advocating for first responder funds?

As unsure as people are about an Italian, Catholic, thrice married, social liberal being president, we have to remember that Americans don’t vote on issues and a familiar name and pithy slogan will lull us into trusting complicity. Hilary Clinton is a woman, polarizing, and frustratingly wishy-washy about her politics, but she is a kind of a legacy with her history as an unusually active former first lady(as opposed to vapid Stepford wife Laura Bush). And Obama’s woeful lack of foreign policy experience is being exposed with every debate, and…uh…he’s black. This country has come a ways but, as a person of color myself I must say: let’s get real. But maybe I’m underestimating my countrymen.

Regardless, if Rove puts his miserable little mind to helping Giuliani … be afraid, be very afraid. We’ve seen how Repubs are clever at turning a phrase, generating hysteria and xenophobia, and basically setting the terms of any political debate to put Democrats constantly on the defensive. Our only chance is for Clinton – Bill, that is – to pull some strings and reassemble his political dream team of James Carville and Donna Brazile to get someone and I mean ANYone else in that office! After all if the Dems can’t win this election of 8 years of abysmal leadership and general fuckery then they might as well close up shop and find new work doing something useful for a change. Like making documentaries.

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Jerry Falwell passes away, packs shorts and a fan for his trip to the other side

May 16, 2007 at 4:23 pm (news, politics)

220px-jerry_falwell.jpg

I don’t want to sound insensitive, but when I found out that Jerry Falwell died I said, “Ha!” at my work desk and then immediately felt horrible. I tell myself that no matter how much I disagreed with this man’s beliefs and political convictions, that someone out there who loves him is mourning, and I respect that. Even though his intolerance has probably tangibly made my life worse as a woman of color under the Bush regime.

So be it, as Kurt would say.

In his illustrious tenure as “America’s preacher” and founder of the ever-bogus and hypocritical Moral Majority, Falwell “outed” Tinky Winky of the “Teletubbies” citing his flamboyant purple fur, his crowning triangle and the “purse” he carried – or man bag, as Winky preferred to call it – as proof that the liberal and immoral media was forcing the gay agenda on our impressionable toddlers.

I have to say that the few times that I watched the “Teletubbies”, I found it disturbing for a number of other significant reasons including the gurgling baby head in the sun and the constant stream of gibberish slowly draining my intellect and no doubt hindering the cognitive and linguistic development of many children. If Falwell had questioned the long term, live-in relationship of “Sesame Street’s” Burt and Ernie, perhaps his gay agenda theory would have went over better.

As if the “Teletubbies” unveiling wasn’t enough to secure his legacy, Falwell went on to blame the 9/11 attacks on gays, feminists, pornographers, abortionists and hell, liberals in general – why not? This statement proved to be too controversial even for his holy rolling homies in the White House and the GOP began to distance itself from Falwell and other notable Religious Right extremists.

While I can respect Falwell’s strength in his convictions and genuinely grieve the loss of any decent human being, I am relieved that there is one less person wielding their power and the supposed word of god, to persuade others to strip away my rights. Falwell chose to use his religion divisively and oppressively, in the service of exclusion instead of inclusion. Who will be the one to judge him for that? Perhaps God if s/he indeed exists but more importantly, those of us who are left behind will have to negotiate his far-reaching and malignent influence on reproductive rights (the “partial birth” abortion ban just OKed by the Supreme Court makes no provisions for the mother’s life), and social policies (gay marriage).

Perhaps this is the most fitting epitaph:

“Unfortunately, we will always remember him as a founder and leader of America’s anti-gay industry, someone who exacerbated the nation’s appalling response to the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, someone who demonized and vilified us for political gain and someone who used religion to divide rather than unite our nation.” -Matt Foreman, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

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Laughing at the French

May 10, 2007 at 5:38 pm (news, politics)

_42894465_sarko_afp203b.jpgLe Hee and La Haw I mutter at my French friends after the election of Nicholas Sarkozy. Despite all the crap Americans have gotten around the world for our village idiot Commander-in-Chief, why is it that so many other nations are electing their own watered down versions of ‘dubya’ to run their affairs?

Granted, right-wing in French politics probably skews more towards Giuliani Republicanism than Pat Buchanan scariness. However, if Sarkozy’s handling of the 2005 riots in the banlieues in which he compared housing project youths to “scum” to be hosed off the streets like garbage (southern sheriffs of the civil rights movement anyone?), instituted a “zero tolerance” martial law and attempted the mass deportation of demonstrators that were actually French citizens – are any indication of his domestic policies then the already put upon immigrants only have Nixon/Giuliani- esque racially motivated “law and order” crackdowns and the expansion of the prison industrial complex to look forward to.

Sarkozy stands to make France into a overworked imitation of America and Britain’s “liberalized” economy, meaning longer workweeks, shorter vacation time, fewer benefits of social citizenship like national childcare programs, cutbacks on healthcare and welfare and in general strip away the indulgent, lazy chic fabulousness of the French lifestyle. And for what? To have more cubicle mice making more money but without the leisure time to enjoy it? To score a lower quality of life rating? (USA consistantly rates the lowest of 1st world countries in this category). It’s perplexing indeed.

I love France, the movies, the food, the beautiful language, Juliette Binoche and Oliver Martinez…I could go on. But Sarkozy’s Bush-like agenda of being a ‘decider’ in order to dispel the image of the French as overly intellectual cowards (which doesn’t even make sense given their bloody history of revolution and colonization) smacks of crisis of masculinity governing. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that he was running against a liberal woman – her politics and gender encapsulating the somehow feminized hue that careful deliberation and diplomacy have acquired in the “War on Terror” age. We want our leaders to act, corroborating evidence or not, instead of thinking about the consequences. If you doubt this check out Tony Blair’s baffling transformation from thoughtful liberal Brit to Bush’s lapdog. Thank god he’s on his way out.

Even more telling, after learning of his win, Sarkozy took off on a yacht vacation with his family while riots tore the city apart. Do I even need to draw the connection to Bush’s extended and inappropriate wartime sojourns to his ranch in Crawford, Texas?

Still, there is hope. Sarkozy’s choice for PM seems reasonable at first glance and he is AGAINST the Iraq war. And he seems far less tolerant of police brutality than Giuliani – he actually suspended the officers responsible for the beating of a demonstrator – which is more justice than Amadou Diallo got. So we shall see if five years from now French remains the bastion of thoughtful sensuality in matters of food, leisure and art, as well as the bearer of an important intellectual tradition relying on rational (that word always deserves quotation marks) deliberation OR if it’s become a aesthetically beige, police state version of itself.

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