Tuesday, July 27, 2021

I long for a world where my actions weren’t gendered

Michael Harriot tweeted a thread. Here’s part of it.
EVER SINCE black people got the right to vote, the same party has been in control of the South. It’s not Democrat OR Republican. It’s the Lily white faction. Whichever party controls the Lily white faction controls conservative politics. It’s why Nixon’s Southern Strategy worked. It’s why Reagan’s first major speech as a candidate was at the site where Klansmen murdered civil rights workers. And for years, EVERY successful Republican stoked this faction. Remember when Bush’s campaign said John McCain had a Black baby? Lily whites. ... But White voters in the South don’t love the GOP. They love TRUMP. They generally despise politicians. As you can see?, they don’t care about abortion, fiscal conservatism or religion. But they will NEVER vote for a Democrat. They might like the policies but they can’t do it. Their grandparents were Democrats, so it’s not party allegiance. Their parents voted for people like Reagan & Bush, so it’s not the establishment. But the churches, schools and entire society have cemented their support for the Lily white faction.
Harriot ended by saying don’t ask black people to fix it because if they did the lily whites will rise again. A few months ago my friend and debate partner tried to convince me that Republicans, as despicable as they are, weren’t racist. Here’s another way to respond to him: They are fine with using racism to gain power and racists like what they do to the point of voting for a candidate based solely on their willingness to support racism. A few days ago I had written that voting rights activists were upset with Biden for not putting his bully pulpit to use for voting rights, saying instead that the problem will be solved by voter turnout. But, turnout alone can’t overcome new voter suppression laws or finely carved gerrymandering. Joan McCarter of Daily Kos added one more reason: In Georgia, where new Senator Raphael Warnock is up for reelection in 2022, the legislature has already passed laws to allow them to overturn elections they don’t like. They’re already working to take over the elections board in Fulton County, the county with the most Democrats. High turnout in voting cannot overcome election theft (which is quite different from voter fraud, which is quite rare). Last Sunday’s Detroit Free Press included an opinion piece by Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald. Pitts, who is black, has written about racism for about 40 years. This particular column was about Critical Race Theory and its sudden appearance as the imminent cause of the downfall of America. Yeah, wrote Pitts, just like the hyperventilation over War on Christmas, sharia law, and gay wedding cakes. Pitts concluded:
Today, it’s critical race theory. Tomorrow — mark my words — it will be something else, some other pithy term to serve as a repository of all that the white right fears. There are many things for which they should be afraid — life, health, future. But sadly, they fear nothing quite so much as the loss of whiteness and its privileges. As I said, I know this terrain well. Yet I keep hoping it will surprise me someday.
The phrase that prompted me to write about it is, “they fear nothing quite so much as the loss of whiteness and its privileges.” I’ve been saying this for a while now. They’re afraid that their position at the top of the social hierarchy might be in jeopardy. Testimony before the House January 6th Commission has begun. Today they featured four officers from the Capitol (or maybe DC) Police. Leah McElrath tweeted short clips of the testimony with her commentary:
See the expression on Officer Michael Fanone’s face and the direction his eyes are pointing and the look within them in this clip? This is what it looks like when someone is reliving a trauma during a retelling. I’ve born witness to this in my work as a trauma therapist. These officers are not just testifying at the #January6thCommission hearing. They are RELIVING the trauma they experienced. For us. For our country. For our democracy. Because they know the danger we are facing. They have lived it. ... Importantly, notice how often the officers refer to the impact on them of their sense of BETRAYAL—both on the day of the insurrection and in the Republican response afterward. Violence experienced in a context of betrayal can be far more traumatizing than otherwise.
Greg Dworkin, in his pundit roundup for Kos from a couple weeks ago quoted Josh Marshall of TPM:
I’ve seen numerous journalists and commentators refer to this as Trump’s ‘revisionist history’ of the events of January 6th. That’s the wrong way to look at this. No one, especially Trump’s target audiences, forgets the pictures of Capitol Police officers being struck with flag poles and dragged into the crowd for beatings or insurrectionists marauding through the halls of Congress. The point of his over-the-top claims isn’t to litigate the particulars of any specific encounter. Their very absurdity is less an effort to deceive as a demonstration of power. They are meant to make the case that the whole event was justified, righteous and right.
From another roundup a couple days before that, Dworkin quoted Katie Sherrod:
If black and brown children are old enough to experience racism, white children are old enough to learn about it.
Then a quote from Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt of The Atlantic:
When contemporary democracies die, they usually do so via constitutional hardball. Democracy’s primary assailants today are not generals or armed revolutionaries, but rather politicians—Hugo Chávez, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan—who eviscerate democracy’s substance behind a carefully crafted veneer of legality and constitutionality. This is precisely what could happen in the next U.S. presidential race. Elections require forbearance. For elections to be democratic, all adult citizens must be equally able to cast a ballot and have that vote count. Using the letter of the law to violate the spirit of this principle is strikingly easy. Election officials can legally throw out large numbers of ballots on the basis of the most minor technicalities (e.g., the oval on the ballot is not entirely penciled in, or the mail-in ballot form contains a typo or spelling mistake). Large-scale ballot disqualification accords with the letter of the law, but it is inherently antidemocratic, for it denies suffrage to many voters.
Clio2 wrote for the Readers and Book Lovers group of the Kos community about being nonbinary.
“Nonbinary” can signify a sense of gender that is someplace in-between, a bit of both, neither, varying, nonexistent, outside the system altogether, contradictory, evolving, or quite removed from the usual way we think about gender.
The discussion worked through four anthologies for a total of nearly 100 essays written by nonbinary people that describe what such a life is like. The first time a person deals with being nonbinary is almost always over clothes. In our society, as in many, clothes are highly gendered. So this is the place where a person’s sense of self smacks against societal expectations. Clio2 also discussed feelings. We’re told feelings aren’t facts, but strong feelings are a fact that indicates something is going on. There is gender dysphoria, when there is a conflict between gender expectation and personal gender understanding. Sometimes that includes a mismatch between gender and anatomy (which we usually call transgender). There is also gender euphoria, the joy felt when a sense of gender is affirmed. There is a wide spectrum of what nonbinary people call themselves – metagender, genderfluid, and many more. In America we’ve somewhat accepted “they” as the pronoun for nonbinary, though many others are considered, such as “xe.” One of the quotes from an anthology:
I long for a world where my actions weren’t gendered and I could just interact as a human, where people, trans and cisgender alike, didn’t have to carry around the constant pressure of gender roles thrust upon them.
That quote is from Haven Wilvich, from page 61 of Nonbinary Memoirs of Gender and Identity, edited by Micah Rajunov and Scott Duane.

Monday, July 26, 2021

The devil’s greatest trick

Chitown Kev, in his pundit roundup for Daily Kos, quoted Ricky Jones of the Pan-African Studies of the University of Louisville who wrote about those trying to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory:
What these types REALLY oppose are any efforts arguing for racial equality because they mandate the acknowledgment and dismantling of American white supremacy. It is said the devil’s greatest trick was convincing people he did not exist. Anti-CRT people are taking a page out of Beelzebub’s playbook. They are trying to convince you white supremacy and institutional racism have never and do not exist either. But alas, they do and they will never be defeated by ignoring them.
SemDem of the Kos community wrote that some men in charge of women’s sports can’t seem to make up their misogynistic minds. Paralympian Olivian Breen was told the shorts she wore while competing in the English Championships were “too short and inappropriate.” Never mind that these shorts are the official wear for her sport, that she’s been wearing them while competing for nine years without complaint, and she’s won two world titles while wearing them. The European Handball Federation just fined the Norwegian female team because their shorts were not short enough. They must wear bikini bottoms and there are specific guidelines on how much they must reveal. Of course, the men’s shorts aren’t nearly so short. In a separate pundit roundup, Greg Dworkin of Kos, quoted Kate Cohen of Washington Post:
Even Republicans in Congress are beginning to think we should try to combat this lethal and stupid propaganda. The question is how. ... I propose a running tally in bold type: covid deaths among unvaccinated vs. vaccinated citizens. Two numbers, side by side. Every newspaper’s front page, every state and federal website, the crawl at the bottom of every cable television news broadcast. Google can design something cute for its search bar. Facebook owes it to us. Every day, all day. Two numbers.
I’d add two more numbers, the covid cases among the unvaccinated and vaccinated. Olivia Messer linked to an article in Stat News and added a quote from it:
“At the beginning of the pandemic, the CDC said that a close contact was somebody that you’re indoors with unmasked for 15 minutes or more. The equivalent of that with the Delta variant is not 15 minutes, it’s one second.”
Just a few days ago I wrote about Sen. Joe Manchin telling voter rights activists “I’m your man” then the next day telling Texas oil tycoons the same thing. Joan McCarter of Kos reported at least the second group got what they were paying for (though I doubt the voter rights activists donated to Manchin’s campaign). Manchin, in a meeting with Biden and other Democrats, said:
I know they have the climate portion in here, and I'm concerned about that. Because if they're eliminating fossils ...
There is more, but the sentence structure meanders a lot, so I’ll leave it there. Manchin’s task here is to throw some doubt and confusion. He accomplished that. Mark Sumner of Kos did a roundup of energy news. He worked for the coal industry years ago and had to be part of a test group for industry propaganda pitches. One of them was that only coal was cheap enough to bring African countries up to the level (and energy needs) of modern society. So being against coal was the same as leaving Africa out of the modern age. What wasn’t said was nobody was about to invest the huge piles of money to build the expensive power plants (that ran on inexpensive coal) or the rest of the expensive electrical infrastructure African countries would need. The electrical grid in general needs batteries. Yeah, cars need lightweight batteries. But batteries for the grid, needed at night when solar panels don’t do anything, can be heavy. As in made from iron. Form Energy is developing such batteries that would be significantly cheaper than batteries from other materials. Nuclear power is getting another look because it doesn’t emit climate destroying gases. However, another problem for nuclear is developing. Around some reactors there is no longer enough water to keep them cooled. And the heated water, when dumped back in the environment, has its own problems. One might think power in the Middle East wouldn’t be a problem since it has so much oil. But it has been cheaper to sell the oil and generate power through coal or nuclear. However, the region’s power infrastructure is shoddy (like in Texas) and can’t handle the heat. People have died when hospital ventilators lose power. So citizens and business are powering their places with generators – which use oil. Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, is touring the drought stricken West. She said there will be no more approvals of oil and gas leases on public lands. Not even approvals for exploration. Drilling for oil and gas takes water. Fracking takes a lot of water. There just isn’t enough to support life and oil production too. A post from a few weeks ago, reported by Lauren Floyd of Kos:
The day before former President Donald Trump was scheduled to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday, CNN host Jim Acosta delivered the kind of spot-on analysis of Trump that will likely hold true for years to come. “Now there’s something I’d like to address. A couple of weeks ago, I compared Trump’s comeback tour to the circus, full of sideshow acts and clowns,” Acosta said Saturday on CNN Newsroom. “I later got an email from an expert on the circus industry. This person pointed out that comparison actually was not fair because unlike the chaos of Trump world, the circus is carefully composed and organized. “It’s a great point. Comparing Trump to a clown is most definitely an insult to clowns.”

Saturday, July 24, 2021

We cannot organize or litigate our way out of this

A few days ago I read a post urging a boycott of watching the Olympic Games. The virus is increasing in Tokyo. Holding the games endangers the athletes, organizers, and the host city. The games should be canceled or postponed again. The only reason why they’re not is money. NBC would lose maybe billions. Tokyo and Japan would also lose a lot. Because of that we should not allow them to make advertising money off us. So I debated a few days. I’m not much interested in the actual games (well, there’s ice skating at the Winter Games). But I am very much interested in the opening and closing ceremonies where a huge number of countries (over 200 this year) get together and celebrate getting together. That alone is worth something to me (though getting together to see who has the best athletes seems to undermine the goal). About the only other time nations get together is at the United Nations and that isn’t so interesting (though I’m glad they do it). I watched. I’m glad I did. I’m also quick with the mute during commercials. Some of the touching moments: There was a cultural presentation before the athletes entered. I enjoyed it. I was pleased one of the participants out on the field was in a wheelchair. I enjoyed the parade of nations. This time most of the athletes in the parade wore masks. This was not all the athletes because many don’t compete and were told not to come until five days before their event. Instead of one person carrying his country’s flag there are now two – one male and one female. There were a few countries that were all male or all female so only one carrying the flag. Right behind Greece, which is always first as the originator of the games, was a team made up of refugees. They’re not a part of where they live now, but can’t go back to their original country. So they are welcomed a team of refugees. Five years ago there were 10. This time there were 29. When the flame entered the stadium it was passed to three people. One of those was a Japanese baseball legend now old and who could barely walk. So the second held the torch and the third helped with the walking. They took it slow. They handed the flame off to a Paralympic athlete in a wheelchair. An assistant secured the flame in a holder then the athlete wheeled to the next person in the relay. Also in the relay were a doctor and nurse, heroes of the year. Several people from different continents sang verses of John Lennon’s Imagine, where the chorus includes the words, “the world will live as one.” And one thing that didn’t sit well: One of the speakers talked about the “unifying power of sport.” I disagree. When three people walk away with medals and the rest of the field walks away with only the title of “Olympian” and there are frequent chants of “USA! USA!” it doesn’t seem all that unifying. A few days ago Biden did a town hall meeting. He accepted questions from the audience and from moderator Don Lemon. Joan McCarter of Daily Kos reported many people were not happy of some aspects of what he said. Biden answered questions well and without the lies and bluster of the nasty guy. All that is good. However... Biden condemned the voter suppression laws being proposed and passed by Republicans. Then Lemon made it personal. His grandmother was told to count the number of jellybeans in a jar when she tried to vote. So why does Biden protect the filibuster over voting rights? McCarter wrote:
Which makes Biden's answer the second biggest fail in this discussion: "What I also want to do—I want to make sure we bring along not just all the Democrats; we bring along Republicans, who I know know better. They know better than this." They might know better, but they're going to be like his "good man" Rob Portman who is defending insurrectionist, Trumpist Rep. Jim Jordan over finding out the truth about what happened on Jan. 6. Then came Biden's greatest failure of the night. He put the burden of overcoming "Jim Crow on steroids" on the people who got him elected, the people who put him in the White House to end the Republican tyranny in the state. "Look, the American public, you can't stop them from voting," Biden said. "You tried last time. More people voted last time than any time in American history, in the middle of the worst pandemic in American history. […] They're going to show up again. They're going to do it again." Black Voters Matter cofounder Cliff Albright puts it better than I can: "He expects community activists—particularly Black activists—to simply recreate the Herculean effort that it took to mobilize voters in 2020 (and the 2021 GA runoff). And to do so in spite of historic new voter suppression. He lied when he said he’d have our backs."
I add: Biden said, “you can't stop them from voting.” But that’s exactly what Republicans are working to do. Biden doesn’t want to get rid of the filibuster because, “you're going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done.” Really? On what do you make that claim? Biden said the current Senate is getting things done. See the child tax credit payments that are now coming to bank accounts. McCarter reminded us it passed with zero Republican support. McCarter concluded:
What he could do with that bully pulpit is honor the blood, sweat, and tears of the activists who got him to the White House. He could use his power to convince those handful of filibuster reform holdouts that securing voting rights is more important that Senate comity. But first we have to convince him.
Michael Harriot summed it up nicely in a tweet.
Biden’s speech: I’ve just been briefed on a new problem called voter suppression. It sounds TERRIBLE! Democracy is threatened when we don’t let Black people vote. As the most powerful man in America, I say unequivocally: Someone should really do something. Anyway, I’m out.
A day later McCarter wrote about activist responses. In response to Biden saying Americans will respond through voting, Sherrilyn Ifill, the head of NAACP Legal Defense said, “we cannot litigate our way out of this and we cannot organize our way out of this.” Wade Henderson, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said:
The notion that some new coalition can be formed that would allow for greater efforts at organizing and voter turnout is perhaps a bit unrealistic. We have already formed one of the most diverse and strongest coalitions in support of voting rights that ever existed. At the end of the day, that is inadequate to the challenge of the moment. We need federal legislation.
Rev. William Barber, head of the Poor People’s Coalition, took on Biden’s claim that eliminating the filibuster would create chaos:
Biden, I have no doubt you care and desire to do right, but, as a clergy person, let me say pastorally, when you say ending the filibuster will create chaos, that obscures the fact that the filibuster is facilitating chaos.
Rep. Joyce Beatty of the Congressional Black Caucus was part of a protest for voter rights and was arrested. Bill Kristol, a strong conservative and editor of the Weekly Standard, tweeted a reply to the idea that if the filibuster is eliminated Moscow Mitch would use scorched earth tactics:
Dunno. We got rid of the filibuster for judicial and executive branch nominations, and those seem to be one of the few things that do get done. Also there’s no filibuster for reconciliation—and much of the legislation that gets passed does so as part of reconciliation.
McCarter wrote:
There's another point. There are forces at work in the states that no amount of organizing and activism can overcome: Republican redistricting and gerrymandering.
Only federal legislation can lessen or remove that threat. And only Biden’s leadership, which carries great weight, can get these voting rights bills passed. Hunter of Kos reported another reason why Pelosi rejected Rep. Jim Jordan from serving on the committee to investigate the Capitol attack. It’s also the reason why Jordan wanted to disrupt the investigation. He is at least a witness and likely also an accomplice. He should be called to testify. Anthony Michael Kreis tweeted a link to a New York Times article with the title “Why Is the Country Panicking About Critical Race Theory?” Michael Harriot tweeted, “This might answer your question:” and included a headline and photo of an article saying “White Students are Now the Minority in U.S. Public Schools” by Grace Chen. The tweet does not say whether the white birth rate has fallen or whether a lot of white students are in private schools. In another tweet Harriott wrote:
One man’s welfare is another man’s tax credit. “Another man” is white.
I looked at Michigan COVID data today. After the latest revisions the peak in new cases per day for the week of June 27 was 199, for July 4 was 272, for July 11 was 321 with much of the week above 260, for July 18 was 405. That’s a steady rise, though much slower than in October or March that led to huge spikes. Though we’re now in the third week of that rise in cases, the deaths per day has stayed at six and below. I’ve heard a big reason for that is the people most likely to die – the old people – are also the most likely to be vaccinated. The young people aren’t dying in great numbers, but many are still affected by long-term maladies. A long term illness is much worse than any side effects from the vaccine. Bill Kristol again (as quoted by Leah McElrath):
Mandating would be more easily accepted, and less resented, than nagging. People will grudgingly accept, and many will secretly be pleased not to have the responsibility of deciding, and not to have the burden of then defending their decision to relatives, Facebook friends, etc.
It’s time to hear again from good buddy Sen. Joe Manchin. From a post McCarter wrote a week ago ... Manchin met with Democrats from the Texas Legislature staying in Washington DC to deny a quorum to prevent passing voter suppression bills. He talked about voting rights legislation, essentially saying I’m your man. The next day he was the guest of honor at a $5,800 a head fundraiser with major Republican donors saying I’m your man. Texas Republicans are donating to Manchin because he is chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. One more for fun: A minute long video of a guy who builds kinetic sculptures out of LEGO.