Saturday, August 14, 2004

Just in time for the Olympics - race!

Maybe she's African-American now

Crappy PhotoShop work done by myself. =)

From a source I won't link to, so this link is to porn instead:
She also specifically addressed a group she called “continental Africans.” A very puzzling term. Maybe she meant immigrants from Africa? Like herself? She was born on the continent of Africa, after all. Or maybe she meant African-Americans, the black kind. Since she has already claimed, with evident justice, to be “African-American,” I guess she needs to have an elegant way of saying “blacks,” and realizes that the Spanish and Portuguese-derived term “Negroes” just won’t do these days. If this surmise is incorrect, then I am going to have to examine the possibility that some meaningful distinction unknown to me exists between Africans from the continent, and those born on islands like Madagascar.

So Teresa Heinz-Kerry isn't African American because she's not black?

From Eschaton:
If I was arrested for armed robbery and my mug shot was on the television screen, people wouldn't be debating if I was African-American or not. I'd be a black man going to jail. Now if that's true when bad things are happening, there's no reason why I shouldn't be proud of being a black man when good things are happening, too.
-Barack Obama

I'll paraphrase Atrios on this one, because he really put into words my thoughts on this sticky issue of race. We try to tie people to a geographic background... hence the terms African-American, Asian-American, and "that Chinese take-out dude". The way this great melting pot's been working for the past several decades, though, makes those terms obsolete.
Is Theresa Heinz Kerry an African-American? Would an Afrikaaner immigrant to the US be? What do we call black Hatian immigrants, or black citizens of Britain? Once it becomes complicated, we default to the term which is really the primary issue - skin tone.

This issue of race is becoming an increasingly hot topic between Obama "Keyes calls me Uncle Tom" Barack and Alan "black guy fighting for black oppression" Keyes. Keyes calls Obama's issues on abortion the same as that of a "slaveholder". I'm not sure where to begin with deconstructing that idea, I'll leave it to you, the reader. But when watching coverage of their debates, look for words such as "upstanding" and especially "articulate". Those are the most backhanded of compliments. They suggest that it's something wonderful to see a BLACK man able to pronounce polysyllabic words. Nobody harped on Clinton's articulative prowess for twenty straight minutes after every State of the Union speech. Obama has a natural gift and is a polished speaker because he's either a great liar or an extremely motivated, ambitious young politician with unlimited potential. The fact that he has a black parent doesn't make this some spectacle.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

12/2/01, We will not forget

From The Smoking Gun:

From The Consortium News:
Since Enron Corp. plunged into bankruptcy six months ago, George Bush's defenders have said the administration's refusal to bail out the sinking energy trader is proof of Bush's integrity, given that Enron's Chairman Kenneth Lay was one of Bush's top financial backers. The story line has been that all of Ken Lay’s millions couldn’t buy George W. Bush. For that reason, Enron has been called a financial scandal, not a political scandal. Growing evidence, however, shows that this Bush-can’t-be-bought story line isn’t true. It is now clear that prior to Nov. 8, when the Securities and Exchange Commission delivered subpoenas to Enron, the Bush administration did what it could to help Enron replenish its coffers with billions of dollars. Enron desperately needed that money to prevent the exposure of mounting losses hidden in off-the-books partnerships, a bookkeeping black hole that was sucking Enron toward bankruptcy. As Enron’s crisis worsened through the first nine months of the Bush presidency, Ken Lay got Bush’s help in three principal ways:

1.) Bush personally joined the fight against imposing caps on the soaring price of electricity in California at a time when Enron was artificially driving up the price of electricity by manipulating supply. Bush’s rear-guard action against price caps bought Enron and other energy traders extra time to gouge hundreds of millions of dollars from California’s consumers.
2.) Bush granted Lay broad influence over the administration’s energy policies, including the choice of key regulators to oversee Enron’s businesses. The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was suddenly replaced in 2001 after he began to delve into Enron’s complex derivative-financing schemes.
3.) Bush had his National Security Council staff organize an administration-wide campaign to pressure the Indian government to accommodate Enron, which wanted to sell its generating plant in Dabhol, India, for $2.3 billion. Bush administration pressure on India over the Dabhol plant continued even after Sept. 11, when India’s support was needed for the war on terrorism. The administration’s threats against India on Enron’s behalf didn’t stop until Nov. 8.

On Nov. 8, Enron disclosed the formal SEC investigation and admitted overstating earnings by $586 million with losses hidden in off-the-books partnerships run by Enron’s Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow. Over the next four weeks, Enron stumbled toward its bankruptcy filing on Dec. 2.

Just a reminder of what this election is really all about... not which patch of relatively close waters Kerry's boat floated on some 30 years ago.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

What would Jesus legislate?

Though I normally do all the writing around here, I decided to copy/paste from Ron at Real Art. He wrote this a few months ago, I think, and I figured what with the Christian right readership I seem to garner from time to time, this would be a nice selection:

...But the weird thing is that the grand coalition that has kept Republicans powerful, kept conservatives in control of the American marketplace of ideas for nearly twenty years makes absolutely no sense.


The simple answer is that basic, fundamental principles of Christianity (virtually any variety of it) are utterly at odds with cutthroat capitalism, utterly at odds with consumerism, utterly at odds with conservative concepts of “individual responsibility.” Jesus was a progressive leftist. I don’t really mean this in the “eleven long-haired Friends a' Jesus in a chartreuse micro-bus,” smoking the holy marijuana way that C. W. McCall might have meant in his classic song “Convoy.” I really mean quite literally that Jesus was a leftist.

Jesus told a rich man that the way for him to go to Heaven was to "sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor.” When the rich man would not do this and left, Jesus told his followers that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. To me this means what it says: the wealthy are too enamored of their things to be able to focus on the spiritual and, therefore, doomed. For some reason, however, I’ve always heard fundamentalist preachers squirm through these verses—they say that what the passage actually refers to is an idiomatic expression that means some sort of small door into a walled city; that is, a camel can, in fact, go through “the eye of a needle,” but it’s very difficult to do so. Whatever. Even with the fundamentalist interpretation (hmm, I always thought that fundamentalists didn’t need to interpret…), it’s clear that in order to get through the door, the camel has to be unloaded and on it’s knees. A rich man cannot go to Heaven with his riches; he must unload them and bow down before God! It is undeniable: according to Christ, individual wealth is so immoral that it will send a wealthy individual to the eternal torment of Hell.

Hmmm…wealth is immoral. Kinda sounds a bit Marxist to me.

And, of course, there is the incident in the temple with the moneychangers. This Biblical passage is often cited in fundamentalist circles to demonstrate that Jesus could get angry and therefore anger is not necessarily sinful. But I don’t seem to remember any of my Sunday school teachers or ministers that referenced the passage ever go into much detail about why Jesus was so outraged by the encroachment of the realm of finance into the realm of the spiritual. Perhaps fundamentalist theologians see some tidy line of reasoning that keeps this important moment in the life of Christ from casting a bad light on the world of banking, but I certainly can’t see it. A plain, literal understanding of the moment clearly illustrates some kind of Godly animosity toward the finance industry—that is to say, Jesus seemed to have some sort of problem with the concept of making a profit without actually producing anything, so much of a problem, in fact, that he angrily ordered that the money changers be kept away from the temple. (Is that like the city councils of today restricting strip bars and porno shops to a certain distance away from schools and churches? I wonder...)

Again, I’m not trying to make Jesus out to be a Communist or anything, but…

You know, it’s interesting to note that while Jesus seemed to be uncomfortable with the moneychangers, he seemingly had no discomfort with the tax man. It’s almost a conservative joke now, “tax and spend liberals.” But when you think about the concept of “render unto Caesar,” Jesus clearly shows that he believed that the state has an obligation to levy taxes in order to conduct the people’s business; this concept is mentioned in the same breath that he speaks of humanity’s obligation “to render unto God.” That is to say, he seems to give equal importance to both ideas.

(Okay, I know it’s a stretch to call the business of the Roman Empire “the people’s business,” but they did build damned fine roads. Also, it’s hardly radical to declare that the state needs to be able to levy taxes, but in this day and age where Bill Clinton is the liberal poster child…)

Jesus owned nothing. Jesus slept in the homes of friends and followers. Jesus recruited his Apostles from the ranks of the working class. Jesus was loudly critical of his era’s institutions of power. Jesus championed the poor. Jesus healed the sick. Jesus fed the hungry. Jesus was imprisoned and executed because he challenged the powerful elite.

“What Would Jesus Do?” says the trendy Christian commercial phrase plastered on tee shirts, key chains, and bumper stickers.

To be honest, I think that if he were around today, he would do exactly the same thing. He would be killed for it, of course, and Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell would testify against him at his trial, and stadiums full of Promise Keepers would be screaming righteously for his blood.

I pledge allegiance to Dick Cheney

The reason I haven't been blogging lately

Vote for Bush! No, seriously... you signed an endorsement, vote for him

From the official George W. Bush re-election site (don't expect a link) :
Arizona is very excited about President Bush's visit this Wednesday. All weekend, thousands of people have visited the Arizona Bush/Cheney '04 headquarters to pick up tickets for the President's rally on Wednesday at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum. Many people have volunteered to help the President's re-election effort this weekend, including these volunteers making calls on behalf of the President. One of the most enthusiastic volunteers was this little 3 year old who says she "loves President Bush." We all can't wait for the opportunity to show the President our support on Wednesday!
- Bill Gates, Arizona eCampaign Chairman

At a New Mexico rally, in order to enter to see Dick Cheney speak, citizens were ordered to sign an endorsement oath:
I ... herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States.

Depite the fact that the oath looks like it was penned by a chimpanzee (it probably was), I see something fundamentally wrong here. The Kerry campaign is a 'whosever will' campaign. It's a true grassroots effort. His bus rolls into all kinds of places, and he speaks for all kinds of people. This goes back to Bush's penchant... no, necessity, for elaborate photo-ops. Without his PR, Bush will be exposed as what he is - a clueless tyrant. So with the endorsement papers, along with all his rallies being ticketed events, what you see on CNN is a show of PR magic. Everyone on television loves Bush, why don't you?! You can't buy that kind of publicity... you can only create it.