Sunday, August 26, 2012

Real-Life Bigotry, And My Too-Hot-For-Huffpo Response!

I don't know whether this is particularly brilliant, but it's okay, and I haven't been posting a lot lately, and frigging lame-ass Huffington Post didn't post my first attempt to reply to “I can tell you how the catholics[...]" and that was almost 24 hours ago so it looks like they're not going to post it, and below is my 2nd attempt, and who knows when or if they'll post that. (The moderation on HP Religion continues to be messed up. As you can see, in this exchange I'm not even the anti-religion party. But I think I may have ticked off some unbalanced obsessive ueber-troll who's gotten herself the position of HP Community Moderator and hangs around the Religion section and has made a project of me. Or maybe it's just messed-up business as usual.)

The Rev. James Martin, S.J., wrote the first HP piece of his which I like, a satire of the religious views of today's GOP, and a Bigoted Nimrod responded:

FIRST BN: Oh, this is rich coming from a Jesuit. They practically invented money-grubbing. Say "Father," why don't you tell us about the Jesuits and the slave trade?

ME: Why don't you tell us about a religion that never was involved in the slave trade?

SECOND BN: I can tell you how the Catholics got all up in bed with the Nazis if you wanna hear that one...

ME: I've heard that one. And you didn't answer my question: what religion was never involved in the slave trade? Even some Quakers owned slaves, although Quakers were a very strong force in the political movement which finally abolished slavery in the US. Have you heard about Maximilian Kolbe? Or Bernhard Lichtenberg? How about Kurt Gerstein? Ever read any Heinrich Böll? Joseph Roth?Franz Werfel? Alfred Döblin?How about regarding people as individuals instead of as members of a group? And while I'm at it --

"[The Jesuits] practically invented money-grubbing."

-- are you KIDDING me? Money was around for thousands of years before there were Jesuits, does FIRST BN really think the people who invented the first money didn't rig their cool new system in their own favor, the way rich people have rigged the US tax code? Does he really think something very similar to money-grubbing wasn't going on long before there was money, when trade was mostly barter? I think I'm going to disagree with just about any statement in the form of: "Everything is the ______ fault," whether you fill in the blank with "Catholics'," "Muslims'," "rich people's," "Mormons'," "Jews'," "Germans'," "Devil's," or whatever else. The world is actually more complicated that that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

PC Speech

Someone mentioned that using the term "Moslem" instead of "Muslim" tends to correspond to less enlightened and more bigoted attitudes toward Muslims. I don't doubt that it generally does, because language usage and beliefs generally tend to be group phenomena. On the other hand, I may sometimes write "Moslem" because I've read a lot of books written in the mid-20th century and earlier, and the current preferred usage has slipped my mind. I apologize if I've caused offense in this way.

When I notice that the preferred name for a group has changed, I tend to change my usage. A more complete description of my situation is: I change my usage, and I resent it. I'm with most progressives on almost every issue, but I hate PC language rules. When this topic comes up I often mention Bob Fosse's movie Lenny, starring Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce. I love that movie. In one scene, Bruce starts off a stand-up routine with a little speech containing every insulting term for ethnic groups you could think of, including an insulting term for his own ethnic group. He makes the point that they're just words, and that they hurt more when we taboo them, not less.

There's a musical from the 1970's called Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope. It makes a similar point when a father remembers when he was a boy decades earlier, and he insisted on being call a negro. On the playground a white kid called him black and he hit the white boy in the eye. Then his son talks about how today, in the 1970's, he insists on being called black, and on the playground a white boy called him a negro, and he hit the white boy in the eye.

One more example of the silliness, that's right, I said silliness, of PC language rules: at the end of the 1980's you could infuriate a lot of feminists by referring to any full-grown human female as a "girl" and not a "woman." I knew one of those feminists, who happened to be a huge Sinead O'Conner fan, and in 1990 I infuriated her in that way several times without wishing to cause any offense. Her response was so angry that I changed my usage. Two years later, not only was grrrrl feminism everywhere, but Sinead O'Conner herself released an album entitled Am I Not Your Girl?

Back in 1990, after the last time I had forgotten and called my friend a girl and she became infuriated again, I apologized again and promised, again, to try to remember not to do it again, and then I asked her whether I had ever treated her disrespectfully, or as if I thought she was not an adult. She said no. I wonder if she got my point. I wonder if she thought about that conversation in 1992 when she learned the title of Sinead's next album.

Sticks and stones will break your bones, and words will hurt about as much as you allow them to.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mainstream Media Coverage of the Presidential Campaign is Terrible

For example, an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle reads, "Romney Gets Welfare Politics Right as Attack Ad Misses on Facts." Yeah, I'm not sure what that means, either. If you read the editorial you'll see it means that Romney's recent welfare attack ad is misleading some voters with lies -- so why isn't that the headline? Why do you have to read the long-winded editorial halfway through to see what it's getting at?

More to the point, does the Chronicle think that viewers who are apt to be mislead by ads like this one really read editorials down further than the headlines? Do they care about informing the public? Or do they see their role as shaking their heads sagely in the wings as Rome burns, to mix metaphors? There really are a very great many thoroughly useless people in positions of high prestige and power. It'd be nice if we lived in a meritocracy. We're not very close to that yet, if you ask me.

Is the mainstream media really going to remain "objective" in the "controversy" between Harry Reid and Mitt Romney over Romney's hidden tax returns, or, worse, take Romney's side, calling Reid's behavior inexcusable ten times for every time they point out how many more returns than Romney every Republican and Democratic nominee for President has released, going back decades? Just about every single day Romney either flat-out lies -- that we know about. How many more lies would we know about if Romney weren't so hyper-secretive? -- or contradicts something he said earlier. Sometimes earlier the same day. So why does the mainstream media insist on presenting stories suggesting that Romney and Obama and their campaigns are about equally dirty?

Presumably, reporters who spend ALL DAY EVERY DAY studying a subject FOR A LIVING know more about that subject than the average Schmoe. But what good is that knowledge if they deliberately hide it in the name of some purely imaginary "objectivity," which over and over again in political journalism boils down to refusing to take sides between a Fire Department and a fire? Are these professionals really going to wait until the last slack-jawed yokel in the United States has figured out that Mitt is full of shit before they dare to go so far out on a limb as to make pronouncements such as, "It seems that many Americans have begun to wonder whether they can trust everything Mitt Romney says. There is a growing perception that some of his statements may be inconsistent. Insiders have pointed out that many Presidents and Presidential candidates -- even including Mitt's own father, Goerge Romney" *gasps and screams of amazement can be heard in the background, but the on-camera pundit remains stony-face* "have been more forthcoming about their personal finances than Mitt Romney..." and are they going to pat themselves on the back for being so far behind the curve, or, as they call it, "objective," as if perception wouldn't have grown much more quickly in accurate directions if more pundits had been doing their fucking jobs and REPORTING WHAT THEY KNOW?!

Yes, I think they're going to continue to do the same pathetic job of covering this campaign on CNN and the broadcast networks, and no, I don't think they're really even going to try to protect you from lies and corruption. WAKE UP, turn off "The Newsroom," which is designed, as "The West Wing" was, to keep you in a happy trance in a wonderful what-if parallel universe while the real world goes to Hell, GET OFF THE COUCH and work for Obama.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hey, Mitt!

Why don't you show us your returns? What are you hiding? Risky business in Switzerland and the Caribbean? A net worth much, much bigger than $250 million? People can keep speculating day and night about what you're hiding -- and why on Earth shouldn't they, when you behave differently in this respect than every other major-party candidate going back decades? Including John McCain, it's not correct when you claim you released the same amount of returns as he did, because he releases his returns every single year since the late '80s. You ticked off Bill Clinton yesterday by misrepresenting him, do you really want to tick off McCain, too? Didn't he see a lot of these top-secret-none-of-you-people's business returns when he vetted you?

You're such a clown! Today you say you're not a business and that's why the returns are nobody's business. Okay, so you're not a business. And you're already on the record saying that corporations are people. It follows from those two statements that you are not a person. Okay, that's easy for me to believe.

So what are you, a Martian or a robot?

If Romney Told the Truth

Earlier today someone speculated that the next Romney ad might attack Obama for smoking cigarettes. Which of course is an absurd thought, because Obama actually has smoked cigarettes, and the Romney campaign avoids truth the way Frankenstein's monster avoids fire.

It'd be neat if Romney released some honest ads. (Not to mention those friggin tax returns!) Imagine along with me:

"Romney: Because you'd rather see yacht sales skyrocket than poor people catch a break."

"Romney: More lies in one week than JFK told in a year. And JFK was gettin busy."

And of course: "Romney: he's white." (As we speak, the Romney campaign may be trying to hire Newt Gingrich to hint at that one. Back around the time Newt dropped out of the nomination race, Chris Matthews, whom I trust not to talk out of his ass as much as I trust Harry Reid -- which is to say I regard him as a solid source -- seemed convinced that Newt was furious at Mitt, because of Mitt's low blows and lies during the GOP primary debates, and would stab him in the back if he ever got a chance. Is this Newt's chance? Will he take a gig from the Romney campaign, with them expecting him to smear Obama, and instead ask, in front of Republicans from coast to coast, why Romney won't release those tax returns the way everyone else does these days who's running for President, the same way he asked during those debates, only with people paying attention this time? That would be really cool. If Newt does that I could imagine almost respecting him for a little while. [A half-hour or so. Let's not get carried away.])

"Romney: Creating jobs. Sweatshop jobs in China and India. Admit it, you really like all your inexpensive sweatshop products."

"Romney: Because you hate unions, teachers, firemen, blacks, women and Catholics. Biden's Catholic! Catholic and a liberal! One heartbeat away! After LBJ and Hoover went to all that trouble!"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Infamy

Today, Reince Priebus may have added his name, alongside that of of Eric "Have You No Shame" Fehrnstrom, to the list of people who will be remembered primarily for publicly defending Mitt Romney in a particularly disgusting way.

(Such a classy-sounding name, too! Reince Priebus! It flows off the tongue like Brit Hume! And in the same direction, unfortunately.)