There were 2 things about Obama's speech here in Tucson the other night that I wanted to discuss. Before I start I should say that for the most part I was impressed and satisfied with his performance. Indeed it was one of the best speeches he's ever delivered, I think, and it was, realistically, about the best thing anyone could have wanted.
But one thing really struck me the moment he said it, and another thing he said got me thinking about it a day later. The first was also wisely noticed and commented on yesterday by Michael Chabon in The Atlantic:
as he moved from an invocation of the innocence and immanence of the dead little girl to a call, part admission, part admonishment, part fatherly exhortation, for Americans "to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations," the speech found its true importance, its profundity. To attempt to live up to your children's expectations—to hew to the ideals you espouse and the morals that you lay down for them—is to guarantee a life of constant failure....
When I heard Obama give that part of the speech I was almost outraged Read more>>>
This afternoon i've expended (not wasted, but, used, when I should have been working) a bunch of time reading tweets and blog posts and news articles all about the case of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks and alleged rapist of 2 Swedish women, and the larger meta-issue of the people standing up to defend Assange and attack his accusers, like filmmaker Michael Moore and MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann. There have been so many great feminist blog posts about this, and tons of backlash on Twitter against Moore using the hashtag #MooreandMe. I won't go into the details myself but will just link to this excellent and concise little summary on the Feminist Frequency blog, which has links to a bunch of other blogs and stories that you can delve into. The last link there is to another blog that deftly explains at the end where we're at now, specifically for Olbermann and Moore (and I've sort of written the same on Facebook, though not as well), but also in general for anyone who screws up with these kinds of tricky issues that involve opression and power and social conditioning:
They have the opportunity to apologize. Because being a good progressive? Is all about fucking up.
If we’re ever to break the myth of the flawless progressive hero — a myth that is unproductive, a myth that breaks hearts — we need to start learning how to recover from mistakes. Because they happen; casual racism, sexism, rape apologism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia, ageism, classism… Those things happen because we were taught to make them happen. Now we need to teach ourselves to stop them. Sure, we need to expect more. But expecting more doesn’t mean expecting perfection, the first time, every time. Expecting more is about making mistakes, being called out, engaging and learning from them. We learned that shit in pre-school.
So Moore and Olbermann should just fess up and say they're sorry. They didn't think it through quite enough. I don't think they went into it wanting to apologize for rapists. They were blinded a little bit by a focus on other issues, and on the fact that they're white men in a patriarchal rape culture society. They made a mistake. They should have said that yesterday. But they can still say it now. I hope they do. I hope when I make more stupid boneheaded white male mistakes, as i surely will at some point, I'll recognize it fast and apologise right away like they should have. Read more>>>
I've always liked this song by Cat Power, "Maybe Not." I first heard it when I got it from the Protest Records website 7 years ago. It seems appropriate to blog about it today, especially because it popped up on my ipod shuffle while running this morning, and i had just been listening to a bunch of Cat Power yesterday. The song has many interpretations, and many video adaptations by fans, of varying quality, in addition to live renditions, covers, and a really mediocre "official" version. This is my favorite:
The lyrics are worth reading and thinking about:
There’s a dream that I see, I pray it can be Read more>>>
I've been reading an excellent book called "'They Take Our Jobs!' and 20 other myths about immigration", by Aviva Chomsky. It's a really straightforward, easy read, and I've been highlighting key summarizing passages as I go with the intention of blogging at least a couple of times to share them. I will get to some of those soon, but I want to briefly mention one "big idea" from the book and how it relates to some other things I've been thinking about.
One underlying lesson of Chomsky's book is that, as we all keep seeing, history is such a great way to get at the truth or part of the truth that's often been glossed over in many discussions. She looks not just at the immigration situation right now but at the history of labor in the New World to show that immigration is a simply one part in the puzzle of how capital has always fought to provide itself with cheap labor. Cutting labor costs depends on having a population of workers who don't have the same rights as the rest of the people. An underclass.
The reason we've always had an "underclass" in our society, whether it was slaves, indentured servants, immigrants, foreign workers in far-away foreign factories, or undocumented immigrants, has always pretty much been because business needs to reduce what it spends on labor. They need to cut costs so they can offer cheap prices to consumers, and so they can increase profits.
Furthermore, the need to reduce retail consumer prices has become especially important in the last half-century, because middle-class workers here, the "non underclass," in other words, the consumers, have had their (real) earnings drop steadily since the 60s. Income inequality has been increasing as money gets funneled from regular people to the upper class. This means things, to put it simply, life has been kind of bad and getting worse and worse for the last few decades, for most people in this country.
To make up for it, rather than offering a truly better, more just and fair life for most people, Read more>>>
I look forward greatly to reading Jonathan Franzen's new huge novel, "Freedom," his work of the last 9 years, just out this month. But until that time, here's something about freedom that I love, from David Foster Wallace's own magnum opus, "Infinite Jest", which I'm nearing the end of (well, I still have about 200 pages to go, but on a 1000-page book that's something!). Here, a Quebecois separatist double-agent is speaking to an intelligence agent from the U.S.:
Always with you this freedom! For your walled-up country, always to shout 'Freedom! Read more>>>
So, this is amazing,
Senator McCain evidently now believes in global climate change, according to a
canned reply to a letter i sent recently. "Human activities, including
the burning of fossil fuels, are the primary source of carbon dioxide
and other greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere....As Americans, we
can no longer ignore our significant contribution...The United States
must act responsibly ... It is also essential that we maintain our
leadership role as the world moves toward an international market for
greenhouse gas reductions."
of course, we MUST have a MARKET. of course. At all costs.
While I acknowledge there are some nice things about this nation that I've been lucky enough to be born a citizen of, today I want to think and write about the common belief held by lots of Unitedstatesians that their country is "the best". "We're number 1!" we hear them shout. Rah Rah.
Let's get right to it. Where are we, exactly, in the rankings? Are we Numero Uno? How do we compare? Read more>>>
I've long been making this same criticism but this is so well done and so forceful and eloquent that I just have to slap it up here on this blog. enjoy.
Related commentary here: http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2010/06/09/border-cities-are-safest-in-na...
The message U.S. Border Enforcement seems to be sending is that Read more>>>