Thursday, January 27, 2011

Woman Bashing

When Sarah Palin arrived on the scene, I was incredulous about the reality of her politik.  Then as the McCain campaign progressed, I noticed a troubling trend.  Prior to Palin’s arrival, McCain had made several incredibly stupid statements.  Then he picked Palin as the vice presidential candidate and no one seemed to know why. 

Some opinions suggested that he likes pretty, younger women such as his own wife exemplified and now she was getting older and so the old dawg’s eyes were wandering.  It never occurred to anyone that such an argument could not nor would have been made about Dan Quayle’s vice presidential candidacy.

As the campaign followed its trail, I noticed that Palin bashing became rather a sport. I wrote a response to one such opinion, probably on Huffington Post that called for a cease and desist (to which no one really paid attention).  The writing also pointed out that I thought the reason McCain chose Palin was to serve as a human shield for his inanity.

I didn’t write that opinion because I agree with her viewpoints.  I’d have to be given an entirely new brain for me to agree with her views.  It’s that women candidates are sometimes subtly, sometimes blatantly treated differently than their male counterparts.  When that started to be pointed out, then we were treated to photos of shirtless Barack Obama and Scott Brown like that brings some kind of parity.

Where’s Life magazine, Edward R. Murrow, Shana Alexander, Walter Cronkite.  They’re gone and so apparently is the quality of journalism.

Back to the campaign trail.  If anyone had done to Bill Clinton what he did to Hillary’s campaign, he would have fired himself.  My suspicion is that underneath his unearned reputation for advocating women’s rights, he couldn’t stand the idea that there would be a possibility his wife could have been a better president than he.  That’s something male candidates previously hadn’t had to watch out for in female spouses.

Lisa Murkowski has been stripped of a committee seat because she deigns to run a write-in campaign after losing the republican primary.  Let’s see, the boys’ club didn’t do that to Patrick Leahy or Joe Lieberman when they switched political labels.  The cover here is we’re talking two different parties’ actions.  Still in between the lines is the phrase “uppity woman”.  The republicans feel that way about Palin and Murkowski because they’re coloring outside the lines.  The democrats worry that these uppity women will even stray over into their frame.

While it’s fairly easy for me to criticize what the republicans and media are doing, I have to wonder about the dearth of women democratic party candidates.  Yeah there’s Kirsten Gillibrand and I don’t see her being held up as a shining possibility of women candidates.  Yet she’s wonderfully powerful and thoughtful.  When asked how she came to change some of her views, she responded:  “it’s a case of learning more and expanding my view.”  In the meantime media prefer to dwell on Christine O’Donnell’s folly.

I have to wonder about the dearth of comments from democrats about the women bashing going on.  I have to wonder about the good of democrats at all.  Nancy Pelosi is continually being bashed; yet she seems to be the only democratic leader who gets the tough stuff passed unlike her male counterpart in the senate.  Fellow democrats don’t rise to her defense when she’s bashed.  Whereas there’s always some excuse made for Harry Reid’s actual incompetence, but then he’s not an uppity woman like Pelosi.

I long for Shirley Chisholm.  She is gone and so apparently is the quality of our aspirations.  She was the first black candidate for president.  She wrote an autobiography called Unbought and Unbossed which is probably why she hasn’t been referenced in campaigns since then. All the staff Chisholm hired for her congressional office consisted of women, half of them black. Chisholm said that during her New York legislative career, she had faced much more discrimination because she was a woman than because she was black. Nothing much has changed since her 1972 campaign for the presidency. Her other autobiography is entitled The Good Fight.  That fight is not done.


When I was a Catholic, a church founded by Paul who was an extreme advocate of patriarchy, I heard the gospels as read at mass.  It’s those words that inspired many to attempt to change that church in the sixties during the ecumenical movement.  Nothing much really changed except the language of the mass, some forms of the rite.  Today that church has recently equated ordaining women as priests with pedophilia in sin ranking.

Today that church still considers being gay as an abomination.  There are a whole lot of sects of Christianity that claim the same.  Often the response, reaction, rebuttal offered in this debate is referencing the Book of Ruth or John reposing on the shoulder of Jesus at the last supper.  I love the Book of Ruth, and I’m not sure it’s really a lesbian relationship even though perhaps a good model.  There are plenty of patriarchal cultures wherein men show physical affection for each other and that doesn’t imply gayness.

The Bible is the foundational document for Christianity.  That’s what’s believed.  I’m not sure it’s true.  What seems obvious is that generally speaking for many so called Christians, vis a vis gay rights, is that the old testament is the source of reference.  That’s rather a befuddling contradiction since Christians are named as such because they believe Jesus Christ is the son of God.  He doesn’t exist, his teachings haven’t been preached, his miracles haven’t occurred in the old testament.

The old testament is a history of a people and that history is laden with war, cruelty, misogyny and, admittedly also some great poetry, wisdom and honor.  Still it’s mainly a history of patriarchal ascendance and domination.  The story of Moses, for example, is exactly a description of a turn over from matriarchal culture, goddess religion to patriarchal society, god religion.

The old testament is also a history of mighty struggle and marvelous survival. The command to go forth and multiply had importance then because it was important to the literal survival of the people.  To underscore that importance, homosexuality was denounced not on moral grounds but on the necessity for survival. However, what was needed to survive then, the laws that were enforced, the god described are dissolved by the new testament.

When some Christians thump their bibles and quote passages of abomination, they’re quoting from the old testament.  This suggests to me that they aren’t Christians at all.  The only place in the Bible wherein the life of Jesus is described is in the new testament, the gospels.  Everything else is the before and after.  What the after shows is that really nothing much has changed from the before except that now there’s a new form of patriarchal religion.

When Jesus arrives on the scene he not only brings miracles, he brings change and a new testament; the beatitudes in effect replace the ten commandments, his teachings challenge the social precepts regarding the “place” of women and children in a patriarchal society.  It’s not so much that he brings a return to matriarchal origins.  The message is more of a change toward balance.

The laws of vengeance, judgment, retribution are replaced with understanding, forgiveness, compassion.  Since Christians believe he’s the son of god bearing god’s message, it stands to reason that the god of the old testament has had a change of heart.  He wants balance, forgiveness, understanding and compassion as well.

The god of the old testament is often cruel and cruelty ought to be considered a top ten sin, perhaps number one.  My take on the life of Jesus as the son of god is that not only did Jesus die for the people’s sins, he was also sacrificed for god’s sins of cruelty, zealotry, misogyny and old fashioned murder.

Nowhere in his teachings is there any mention of abominations.  The only mention of sin exemplifies the tenet that there’s no sin to condemn.  The main radical message brought by Jesus is unconditional love.  If Jesus comes a second time, it won’t be to save us from ourselves, but to tell us we finally got it right. If Christians want to get it right, they ought to stick with the gospels.


I own the DVD for Milk  and I recently watched this movie for the second time.  For a second time I have been given pause to consider then and now. Then Proposition 6 was the issue of the day, legislation designed to fire every teacher who is gay, and designed to fire everyone who offered support to gay teachers.  It was draconian for sure and in those days it seemed to be a shoe in to pass.  Yet it did not; it lost by a 2 to 1 voting margin.    We fast forward to now and Proposition 8 preventing gay marriage passes by a small margin, true; and still passes.  Surely this is an issue of civil rights and it still fails.  I’m not sure I understand that difference and failure.  So I’ve been thinking about it; and all I have so far are scattered thoughts.

In the sixties and seventies we revolted against the dark ages of the fifties.  The fifties were a time when the Jim Crow laws were still on the books preventing Black folks from sitting at counters, using bathrooms, having jobs, sitting in the front of buses, voting just like white folks do.  It was a time when the model and sole benefactor of privilege and rights was white male.  The cause for civil rights morphed into various liberation movements.  Our emergence through a constricted dark tunnel had a volcanic effect and was set off with the self expression of our political activist push for self expression and civil rights.  We were angry and passionate which gave us an edge and a focus.  Then days of rage built momentum for many groups of us to shout out.  Eventually there were a lot of us: blacks, women, gays, students, antiwar activists, communists, unionists.

Now sure it’s a good thing to talk nice to one another in even tones, be reasonable.  Yet underneath all this reasonable niceness there is something dangerous going on that inhibits us from having any kind of passion about what matters to us.  Late in the seventies the federal government engaged in COINTELPRO which essentially knocked off the various liberation, left groups -- finding grounds to kill or jail just enough of us to ensure our fragmentation, paranoia and niceness.  My generation suddenly understood that these persistent risks had become just too great.  We grew quiet from fear and from the Machiavellian bribes we were given as rewards for our silence.

That same federal government has continued to this day in an insidious and sinister manner to shore itself up and bind us up:  the Patriot Act, the “war on terror” being great examples.  Students these days are hemmed in by having to work and study; and later when they graduate are subjected to indentured servitude to repay their student loans.  The general population is being controlled, subdued and concerned by financial constrictions intentionally created by the  elite, obscenely rich few and their cronies to shut us up, put us in our place. If we speak out, there are many ways we can be killed, held against our will. 

We also have no plethora of eloquent and most importantly, passionate speakers like Martin Luther King, Bobby Seale, Malcolm X, Robert F. Kennedy, John Lennon.  Oh right, they were assassinated; and let that be a lesson to us. It has been.   Now the air is being filled with the words of Limbaughs and Palins and Tea Partiers, CEOs, homophobes, bigots, and extremists; bureaucrats, politicians, economists.   Right now I rhave a need to hear more of what Rev. Jeremiah Wright has to say.

It’s not reasonable that people lose their homes, go hungry, live in fear; are indentured servants, denied civil  rights, decent and low cost education,  habeas corpus and justice.  It’s not okay that the US Constitution is still not made whole after being shredded.  It is not okay to be reasonable in the face of egregious hubris. complacent compromise or mercenary avarice.  Some passion, shouting, relentless demonstration, fierce risk taking  are quite appropriate.   Raise our voices, create unseemly coalitions, organize and disrupt, make our selves apparent. Come out.  Rebel.  Write. March.  Power to the people.  Si se puede; oh, yes we can.

War Crime

The Israeli government is saying now that they want to change the rules of war.  They say this probably in response to the Goldstone report which may result in trials of government and military officials under the old rules of the Geneva Convention.  Our own president Bush did change the rules of war.  Oddly no one is talking about bringing officials of his administration before international courts.  Terrorists have changed the way war is waged.  They won’t be tried for their atrocities; they’re just killed or, as the Pakistani government says “eradicated.” It could be and once was said “exterminated.”

Oh yeah it could be argued that the numbers aren’t as great, that the intention isn’t as focused, that the means aren’t as methodical.  Then what we are doing is justifying just a little killing which isn’t just at all.  War is intentional, focused and just plain mean, with or without the rules of war.  It is premeditated intention:  bomb the hell out of them until they are all dead or until they have surrendered unwillingly until the next time.  And there always is a next time, another war, another killing spree.

There is no other animal that does this, not one.  Do the bears of the Rockies go to war against the bears in the Sierras; uh no.  The only other species I know of that has wars are ants.  So we, the lords of the animals, turn out to be no better than bugs.  We’re just another bunch of ants swarming in a furious melee, covering a sidewalk or a country with dead and/or mutilated bodies.

There is little evidence that much of anything is being done to change going to war at all. 
War is a failure of the rule of law; under any other circumstances the taking of human life is considered the crime of murder.  War is a crime.  War is a failure of law.  The criminals are found on all sides usually among those in authority who perpetrate, exaggerate, perpetuate the violence in lives, language and legions.

We don’t suddenly just go crazy and have our nasty wars because someone took out 3000 people in cruelly spectacular fashion.   There is method to this madness.  We go to war because some demagogue that the federal government put into place decided to be ungrateful at some point; he thought he had enough of our weapons to turn on us.  We go to war because some central Asian peasants nearly melted probably billions of dollars of gold in the basement of too tall towers.  We go to war because there is need for an oil pipeline that can’t be built in a country of people that isn’t open to being exploited; a country of people that could care less about being western civilized.

It would be easy to say that war is between them and them while us stay at home and choose sides like some team sport spectacle. We live in a society in which words like “killer” and “bomb” are accepted as accolades.  We live in a society that promotes violence, allows its citizens to carry guns, allows police forces to carry guns,. We live in a society that produces films like “There Will Be Blood”, that thinks that Quentin Tarantino films are cleverly unusual.  We live in a society that gives rise to new expressions like the aestheticization of violence.

When I was a kid, I had toy guns in the days when the toys looked like the real thing.  These toys were often passed off as real guns for purposes of store robberies.  So now the guns are orange and such colors so as not to be confused with the real guns; they are still guns.  There are a plethora of video and arcade games whose only theme is murder and mayhem.  It is often said that these games prepare youth to be in the military operating drones in this country while bombing people to death in a country thousands of miles away.

What happened to pinball machines in arcades which aren’t designed for any kind of killing.  When will we "study war no more" and eradicate this violence among people.  Enough.


Barry Goldwater was a conservative.  Kirsten Gillibrand, a current democratic New York senator, is a conservative.  And as traditional conservatives, each of them had, have supported gay rights, for example, because a traditional conservative is a staunch guardian of individual, civil and constitutional rights.   They are examples of the true kind of conservatives who walk ahead of the liberals, who vote and walk the talk on civil liberties issues without exception.

Most so called conservatives now are right wing extremists bigots who are predators in sheepskins.  These days they are not bothering with the sheepskins. Some crowds are being turned into fear mongering, racist epithet spewing mobs by these wolves.  I do not believe this to be harmless, defensible democratic process or advancement of social, political dialogue.  It is the intentional promulgation of hatred and advocacy of hate crime violence which sets us against each other while corporate CEOs are lavishing their life styles with our money, labor and blood.

There has been a welling campaign to emphasize the name “Hussein” which has continued through current demonstrations of public vitriol. To Muslims Hussein is probably a lot like “Smith” is to us.  There are probably many telephone book pages for that name around the world.  To several though there is only one infamous Hussein.  I am reminded of the storyline from “Cabaret” and a scene in which the cabaret’s emcee says it’s safe in here.  This song is juxtaposed with a scene of nazi brown shirts dragging the owner outside to brutally beat him because he is a Jew.

Now in real time there are scuffles in alleys and halls over Obamacare “socialist” insurance reform; violence against and imprisonment of Muslims because they are Muslim or because they look Muslim.  While there has not been a major roundup and disappearance, the military is capturing and holding detainees in large numbers (not just at Guantanamo) without habeus corpus which is a dangerous degradation of constitutional and international law.  This happens in the democracy of the United States not nazism of Germany.  There have been mobs of people shouting, carrying signs that read “kill him” or other signs otherwise suggesting death to Obama.  Even after having lived through the tempestuous times of the sixties and seventies, current events give me a jolting reminder of reality. The work is not done.

Several millions still believe that white is right as they assert that guns are might. They are actualizing violence at town halls, some of whose attendees carry loaded guns into the meetings.  It is reported that one guy openly carried an AK-47 outside a town hall meeting with the president.  The crazy part is that he is allowed to do this while the media focuses on the fourth amendment of the constitution. (In the seventies when the Black Panthers published a picture of several members armed to the teeth, the fourth amendment was not mentioned.) There has been no mainstream media coverage that reveals that the United States is the largest seller of arms; not even the Russian communists have ever matched American capitalists’ entrepreneurial aggression. 

There are “tea party” demonstrations awash in anti-socialist signs and slogans.  The really terrorizing word, designed to get the people in line, used to be "communism"; out of ignorance and by capitalist intention sometimes socialism would get lumped together, confused with communism.  Many of the people in the fifties did not know the difference between the two and apparently even now many still do not.  Socialism is not the opposite of democracy; it is the opposite of capitalism. From what I can tell so far with the bailouts and health insurance reform, capitalism is in no danger of extinction by the federal government.

It is democracy that is in danger.  It is the vitriol and violence of patriot bigots who endanger democracy.  These are not conservatives championing civil rights nor are they patriots defending democracy.  They are bigoted right wing extremist autocratic capitalists defending their compulsive obsession to make money at the expense of others, to lead at the expense of democracy, to rule at the expense of civil rights and to reserve the white house for whites (preferably male) only.  We must not let them.


A lot of attention is going to the economy these days, news reports are dominated by the topic:  what’s the problem, who has the answer, who doesn’t, who got us here.  I’m not an economist; I’m a sociologist. I’m not a card carrying paycheck cashing sociologist; I just majored in it and learned more about sociologists than I did people. As to course of study, I’m more naturally inclined to herstory, law and rules of verse.  I’m definitely not an economist as the paucity of my paycheck and pocketbook will verify.  Still I’m a poet so I see things, then say them. 

Today’s news is about the all of a sudden economic crisis that took about a decade to occur.   Somebody just now noticed that the kitchen is on fire.  Because I’m not an economist I don’t understand all the words and theories as to what will right it, what it was that wronged it.  The sociologist can demarcate the classes that, cultures of people who will be effected by it as the trends will verify. The poet can discern what I see. I like to keep it essential so it’s real clear what I’m looking at.

The economy has a tendency to lean toward feudalism in which wealth largely belongs to overlords and what’s left over goes to everyone else.  At some time in history other classes were added to economic hierarchy.  Periodically there is a siege on the middle class in an attempt to eradicate it.  It is the middle class that protects the working and poor classes from the tyranny of the rich.

As a younger, I once found my self walking on Wall Street during a foray to New York City.  It seemed to me that I was walking in the canyons of hell.  It wasn’t just about the very tall buildings everywhere; New York City is full of such canyons.  This one feels different, feels like hell, like a place where there’s no lightness and very little air.  This is where the underrulers are.  They’re the ones who rule out of sight, manipulating markets, economies, governments, workers worldwide.

The economy is based on a pyramid scheme, the inverse of the pyramid on the dollar bill. The people who buy in early and sell late but not too late, make lots of money; most everyone else will never realize such profit margins.  The economic realm in which we live means there is a tight limit on how much “growth” there can be before the burgeoning upper base causes the whole shebang to topple over. (I do wonder sometimes what the significance is of that pyramid symbol on the base symbol of our economy…)

Another structure associated with the economy is the hierarchy of “labor” in relation to pay.  In working class terms, there is some guy (usually) who is making multiples of millions of dollars for being a CEO who would not be a CEO of anything without the workers who make the cars.  The autoworkers are for sure making far less than the CEO.  When the corporation goes down it lays off workers; the CEO who mismanaged the company isn’t fired.  He will walk away with multiples of millions in bonuses.

One day recently during an internet surfing I came upon a list of the top fifty most influential women.  It’s a rather impressive list.  That impression unraveled a bit when I realized that four or five of the women were high execs in Walmart which has more than a few issues with mistreatment of workers.  In the years of women’s liberation, this isn’t what I meant and yet this is what feminism has become.  I think I meant that liberation is changing the structure, changing the definition of equality.

Equality doesn’t mean I can be the CEO of a company and be more valued than the workers, designers, janitors.  It doesn’t mean being able to have a chance to be a corrupt and satanic liege of underrulers. Equality is defined as all contributors being recognized as equal in the endeavor for the success of the company, its people, vision and products.  All contributors (job titles) are paid equal pay.  All means all without exception.

Soup Nazi

With Soup Nazi the word “nazi” has become part of a thoughtless catch-phrase. Seinfeld should be ashamed.  Originally nazism was insidiously introduced into an environment ripe for some bloodletting, scapegoating  and derision of the cruelest sort.  It was sport to beat a Jew.  German society followed the brownshirts over the cliff into Nazi hell.  Now American society follows soup nazi to where…

I’m unnerved by nazi when used in such a casual blasé bumptabump.  To millions of dead people the word nazi isn’t a joke, wasn’t a joke, not even a bad joke.  Having someone operate without anesthesia as an experiment, isn’t a joke.  Being slowly starved and driven mad over time over years, isn’t a joke.  Being gang raped over and over and over until death is a kindness, isn’t a joke.

Statistics from the nazi and fascist era are appalling (or ought to be).  The minimum stats are: 15 million soldiers slaughtered each other, 18 million civilians were collateral damage in “the war to end all wars” (WWII).  Death totals go as high as 72 millions from battle, war related disease, famine, extermination. 11.5 million people including gays, the disabled, gypsies, catholics were pushed into ghettoes until sent to concentration camps to be starved, experimented on and gassed, beaten, tortured to death in horrific conditions. 

Six million were European Jews whose total presence in Europe then numbered nine million.  The task of exterminating the 11.5 million people took four years; in another year the Nazis probably would’ve killed all remaining Jews trapped in Europe.  Even though they knew what was happening, many countries including the United States didn’t allow  Jews to immigrate.  (Yes, they knew:  i.e., US corporations provided technology to Nazi Germany for identification systems, for gas chambers.)

The phrase most associated with the Holocaust survivors is “never forget”.  Never forget so that we’ll be ever vigilant against recurring rises of such horrible barbarity even though the truth is the Holocaust hasn’t ended.  Nazism didn’t begin or end with Germans.  Hitler based his concept of concentration camps on US government reservations of American Indians.  Not long after US entrance into WWII the feds created camps for Japanese, Italians, Germans.

That American tendency didn’t stop with WWII.  Ghettoes, barrios, the projects have been humming along for decades.  I often refer to these as concentration camps without electrified fences, barbed-wire topped walls. Today we’ve become entrenched in our fear of terrorists to justify the decimation of the Constitution and the establishment of Guantanamo.  The methodology of corralling is now far more insidious.  Instead of brownshirts mercilessly beating groups of people and forcibly removing them (pogrom) to a ghetto, we send them back to country of origin without reading them their rights.

American society is in danger of another flare up of genocidal government attitudes about the Mexicanos in our country.  Not long ago (near the time of Fortuna roundups), I was sweeping the gas station yard.  I noticed a van because it had “Homeland Security” painted on the side.  Outside it were two uniformed homeland security blueshirts with really nasty demeanors. They reminded me of Nazis.  I wasn’t laughing.

As far as we know these “illegal immigrants” (Germany’s designation for undesirables was “refugees”) are being transported to Mexico.  It’s comforting to dwell in our complacency; to cozy up to that comfort.  Yet there are many who harbor bigotry with a certainty of legal authority just as the Nazis did.  For now maybe they’re being sent to Mexico; I’m not so sure that’ll last.

There’s the belief that the fence being built on the Mexican border is to keep “them” out.  Sometimes I wonder if it could be used to keep “us” in.  Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote of the Nazi sweeps:  “First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out -- because I was not a Jew.  Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out -- because I was not a communist.  Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out -- because I was not a trade unionist.  Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

A joke, it’s not.