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Member since: Sat Sep 15, 2012, 01:49 PM
Number of posts: 32,325

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If it bothers you to avoid using bigoted speech

Don't sign up for a website with terms of service that prohibits it. If you feel the need to insult people based on gender, race, or sexuality, ask yourself why you see the subaltern as so inferior to the privileged. DU isn't a Hollywood movie. It's a political site organized around support for the Democratic Party, the majority of which is comprised of women. I take this PSA about some movie as a pretext because I seriously doubt you think anyone cares about some random movie and that your post instead is aimed at people who seek to uphold respect in use of language about and to women.

Language is important because it signals meaning. This is not the UK or Australia. This is the US, and it is a website that is supposed to be frequented by people who respect members of the population regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. The only way we know one another is through our words, and using bigoted language signals clear meaning. If language is incidental, so are your posts and those of every other member of this site.

I submit that repeating and justifying such language perpetuates bigotry. It is not acceptable among any civilized people or anyone who has even a modicum of respect for their fellow citizens. If, however, people have nothing to say but merely wish to express hatred, those are the go to terms. That is in fact their purpose. I myself have a pretty foul mouth in real life, but I know when I can use certain words and when I can't. Even so, that particular word isn't part of my repertoire. In fact, none of the foul words I use are about race, gender, or sexuality. There are so many other options, that one only turns to those words when the point is to demean someone for a mere accident of birth. Since I don't wish to convey such meaning, I choose different words. To pretend there is something odd about being offended by words that are in fact INTENDED to offend is ridiculous.

During a time when we have debate about whether the Democratic party is to serve the interests of the white middle class or of the mosaic that makes up America, justifying the use of such language makes clear where people stand on that issue. It contributes to an exclusionary politics, of the few and by the few.

I also find it wholly offensive that people are blaming and targeting women by repeating and justifying bigotry rather than taking their complaints to the administrators. It once again reaffirms my view that too many favor a society that promotes their own interests to the exclusion of the majority, a majority they feel fit to demean with bigoted language. Political views are not separate from language, and we see in this case they mirror each other precisely.

I find it unfortunate that some have used NYCSkp's banning to target the subaltern. Like so many other events that have transpired on this site, women and feminists in particular are again scapegoated, even though it was a man who banned NYCSkp. Thus we see the banning is merely pretext for the far more pernicious performance of privilege.

We live in a world where the population on this site is the minority, everywhere but on this little corner of the internet. In no place is America is the population so white, so elderly, and so affluent. What we witness here is angst about the changing demographics in American society and the fact that people now have to compete on a more equal playing field. So we have on one hand men telling women what their political concerns should be and who best represents their interests, and we have a similar demonstration by whites over people of color. We have post after post recalling the halcyon days of the Democratic party, of FDR and JFK, a party that served the interests of the white middle class to the exclusion of the majority. No matter how many times people have it pointed out that the party also supported Jim Crow in those years and that the majority of Americans were denied basic rights and lived in crippling poverty, a few continue to hearken back to a period when their own group prospered at the expense of the majority. Now we see that same determination to regain lost privilege through language. It is become crystal clear to me that I am witnessing a politics of exclusion posing as liberalism/leftism. The promotion and defense of bigoted language conforms with that exclusionary politics.

I think it would help if self-proclaimed leftists quit targeting ordinary Democrats

and the subaltern in particular as the enemy. There is a clear sense that anyone who disagrees with a select few, or who has different priorities, is "Third Way," engaged in corporate propaganda. I even saw one person insist that corporations had sent women and people of color into the Democratic party to subvert it from its true message, which evidently is to promote the interests of the white middle class only. People claim to resent corporate influence, but spend all of their time at war with other Democrats, usually less privileged than themselves. Many here have made the enemy other Democrats, the working poor, women, and people of color. They claim to do so in the name of anti-corporatism (notably, never a critique of capital itself but only their own resentment that they no longer sit atop the capitalist world order as they think is their birthright.), but in fact they make clear that their enemy is the people, those far less fortunate that them who have issues far more central to worry about than which political elite gets what cabinet positions. My point is that those people who believe that only their way is legitimate, that insult and deligimate huge swaths of the population as not true Democrats, as allied with corporations, are waging war on the subaltern. Their speak from a position of class and race entitlement and treat those who dare to believe their rights matter as inferior. They think they are entitled to decide what real black people want, and when people of color tell them their concerns, they dismiss them out of hands. The irony of these people of financial means, of race, class and sometimes gender privilege attacking anyone who focuses on issues related to their lives rather than forsaking all that for the interests of the self-entitled members of the white upper-middle class as on the side of Goldman Sachs and the 1 percent is the height of conceit. It's the kind of bourgeois elitism that is only possible when one comes from considerable privilege, which makes the arrogance of accusing those far less financially well off and subject to daily discrimination as being corporate sell outs shows a shocking level of arrogance.

They are not leftists because their ideology is one that wages war on the subaltern. It is not coincidental that they target the same people the GOP does. Their project is one of class and race entitlement, which seeks to restore their own privilege and refuse to as much as consider that anyone outside their select circle of self-entitled blowhards could possibly have a concern that matters. We see it in this thread. People of color need to adopt their agenda. They say that's what matters. What others think is meaningless. This group of posters on DU who think of themselves as the only true Democrats are a minority demographic, not only within the party but within the nation. As much as they clearly wish it were otherwise, they only place they are the majority is on this website. They can continue to engage in vitriol against Democratic voters; they can dismiss the concerns of women and people of color by insisting "corporations" have planted them in poor communities throughout America to pretend to be Democrats and contaminate the party; they can defend the Klan to make their illicit case against Democratic politicians and Democratic voters, including those from groups targeted by the Klan, but their politics is one destined for failure. Just like the GOP, theirs is demographic that is dying out, and I say that God for that because those self-entitled elitists are no better and no different from the bankers they claim to resent. They are every bit as contemptuous of the needs of the many as any mega billionaire.

Why would I join with people who insist I have no right to articulate my own interests? Why would I join with people who treat me as less than shit on the bottom of their shoe? Why would I join with people who dismiss and target for removal from the site the handful of remaining posters of color and have already been successful in using the jury system to rid the site of many feminists? Why would I join with people who think the only thing that matters is some fixation they have with the machinations of the political elite and express nothing but contempt for the majority of Americans who care about their civil rights and their basic sustenance? There is no basis for common ground because we do not share the same goals. Their goal is to restore the party and the country to a time of "real Democrats" like FDR and JFK, a time period when the majority of Americans were denied basic civil rights and lived in crippling poverty. They seek to regain what they see as their rightful place atop the capitalist world order. They don't challenge capital or inequality itself but rather merely lament the recent decline of their class. For those of us who care about something other than the plight of the white middle and upper-middle class, there is no common ground to find. There is such a great distance between what they claim to care about and how they treat and talk about the subaltern that it's clear to me that that theirs is a narrow class project. I don't embrace their agenda of elitism, and I will not join in treating the poor and disenfranchised like shit because they don't go along with their bourgeois agenda. I build alliances with people who share my values for social and economic justice and equal rights. There are a few here who share those values, but there are also some very active, self-entitled posters who make clear they have nothing but contempt for the majority of the nation. I find them foul, reactionary to their very core, and their values and actions repulse me. Leftism is not rule of the few by the few, which is exactly what they seek to impose. It is all of us having a voice and a say in our political and social agenda. People who cannot recognize something so basic, who work to exclude the majority from the body politic, advance nothing but their own elitist intra-group interests. Even if I wanted to find common cause with such people, they allow no space for it since their entire political ethos is based on exclusion.

Here's a crib note version: if one's sole or primary concern is where power in the Democratic party lies, he/she must lead a pretty charmed life. Most people think about things related to their daily lives--how to get a job, put food on the table, make sure their kids get a half-decent education and aren't shot by police, or trying to keep themselves safe from domestic and sexual violence. The privilege that enables people to prioritize intra-party politics above concerns of daily life doesn't make you a better person or a better Democrat. It just means you're damn fortunate, and really, you ought to realize that rather than demonizing people who see politics differently.

The 99% earns less than you might think.

I found this chart of income percentiles of the lower 99 percent interesting.

The recently released Census Bureau publication Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013 confirmed the dismal picture presented in the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances that median household income has not recovered from the financial crisis and the Great Recession. The publication also contains fascinating information on the level and distribution of income. The numbers go to the heart of conversations about the “middle class” and the “rich.”

The headline news associated with the release of the new Census data was that poverty had declined. Indeed, the decline in the poverty rate was statistically significant and occurred primarily among children. Not to rain on that parade, but the poverty rate remained 2.0 percentage points higher than in 2007.

(Read: Poverty rate falls as middle incomes stall.)

Median family income in 2013 according to the Census was $51,939, compared to $56,436 in 2007. The median means that half of households had higher incomes and half had lower ones. The table above presents the thresholds for being in different parts of the income distribution. For example, a household with an income of $150,000 is at the 90th percentile point, or in the top 10% of the income distribution. Even more amazing, a household with an income of $196,000 is at the 95th percentile, or in the top 5%.


Announcement: I have decided to remain uncommitted

First, please forgive the self-involved nature of this thread. I have an announcement I would like to make. I do not care whom anyone here votes for president. Vote for Sanders, Clinton, O'Malley, Webb, Nader, write in Warren, Gore, anyone you want. I do not seek to influence your vote in anyway. I do not have a candidate, and I am unlikely to make my own decision until shortly before I caucus. I have a couple of them in mind, but it is way too early for me to decide. I will support the Democratic nominee, but I want it publicly known that I truly do not care that much about who gets the nomination. Most of all, I really, really don't care whom any of you votes for. That is entirely your own choice, as are your reasons for making it.

I say this because people seem to be misinterpreting much of what I write and looking for heretical signs of crypto-Clintonian support. Now, I do not dislike Clinton, and I have defended her against what I see as unfair attacks. That, however, doesn't mean I have decided to vote for her. I simply do not dislike her, no more than I dislike Sanders, O'Malley or any other candidate. People should not mistake a failure to despise as support. Do not scour my posts thinking I'm making some case for a presidential candidate, when I haven't even made up my own mind. If you want to go at it with a Clinton supporter, find someone who openly supports her. I will continue to post about issues and dynamics that interest me, but individual politicians have never mattered that much to me. I just don't see them as nearly as important as broader issues and social forces.

Okay? Thanks for your cooperation.

A shout out to "social issues"

I thought I'd give a shout out to the DUers and lurking Americans who fall under what some around here derisively refer to as "social issues." The two parties, we're told, are the same on the issues that "really matter." Some, or most it seems, of our candidates are only liberal or different from Republicans on "social issues," not on what really "counts." So here's to all the social issues like me out there: women, people of color, LGBT Americans, the poor, retirees living on social security, the disabled. We may be some (just guessing here) 80% of the population, but our lives, our basic civil and human rights, aren't included among the issues that "really matter." It's your tough luck being born gay, female, non-white, becoming poor, or elderly, or any other condition other than being so privileged, so white and so male that it makes no difference if Democrats or Republicans control the White House and congress. So if you're one of the many Americans who worry about issues that don't matter, like how to pay for heat or whether you can get married or have access to reproductive health care, I'm giving you a shout out.

I guess we have just gone and screwed stuff up for our betters by having the nerve to think our basic rights matter at all. So you and I just need to be quiet while people whose basic civil rights aren't threatened by a GOP administration lecture us about how we are "corporate sell outs" and aligned with Goldman Sachs and the 1 percent. Now you might think: hey that's strange, that person that keeps calling you a corporate sell-out talks about how they "only have four bathrooms" at their house, when you feel pretty chuffed to have one you can call your own. But keep in mind that your betters know what's really important, and it's just not any of the following issues that are affected by a GOP presidency:

Reproductive rights
Equal pay for equal work
Marriage equality
voting rights
Social Security
Assistance for the poor
Assistance for the disabled
Higher education
K-12 Education
Global Climate Change
The Environment
Federally funded research: NIH, NSF, NEH, and NEA
Family planning at home and abroad
Disaster preparedness (remember Katrina?)
Some regulation of Wall Street vs. Complete deregulation
Job training and infrastructure projects vs. even greater tax cuts for the rich
Prosecution of Hate Crimes
Civil rights and enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment
Women's rights as human rights

It's 19 months until the election

Why do people insist it be resolved today? The Democrats so far have one declared candidate, just one. That bothers the people who oppose her, who have vacillated between comments on her campaign donors and the Iraq war vote to sexist attacks on her appearance and deciphering supposed cryptic messages in her logo. Someone asked why we all have to rally behind Clinton. We don't, not yet anyway. My suggestion is people relax. Wait until some other candidates announce and then argue FOR the candidate you like rather than limiting yourself to attacks on Clinton. It's still a very long time until the election. I know some DUers have been playing fantasy presidential politics for a couple of years now, and it's unfortunate so much energy is taken up in cable news-like prognosticating and hand wringing about potential candidates.

How about people address issues and policies that concern you, issues that you would like to see the Democratic party and the eventual nominee adopt? Saying you dislike Clinton is not enough, especially when there are yet no other declared candidates. What issues do you care about? Do you want to see the influence of big money in politics lessened? Do you want to ensure there is no war with Iran and encourage a rollback of US military entanglements around the world? Rather that beating one another over the heads about our respective views of a single candidate, why not focus on issues and reforms that matter? Because if the only goal is ensuring Clinton not be elected President, most loyal Democratic voters will not go along with it. You need to stand FOR something, not just against Clinton.

Another note. I've seen a lot of sexist crap posted over the last few days in the name of "progressive" reform of the party. No progressive reform can be accomplished through sexism. When people rely on sexism or diminishing the rights of LGBT Americans or any other group, the impression is that the reform some want is more regressive than progressive.

Hey patriarchy

Love it.

I like this one

The entire argument about Clinton's so-called private intelligence network

As far as I can tell, hinges on the term "sensitive source" used by Sydney Blumenthal in correspondence to Clinton.

Let's make clear that we are talking about Benghazi here. Ben-fucking-ghazi. A few weeks ago I asked whether people really wanted to sink to Republican levels in staking out the position for the primary (a primary that is not even yet happening). Clearly the answer to that question is yes, and Benghazi is now the smoking gun for the anti-Clintonites, just as it has been for the GOP for years now.

Benghazi was the located of a clandestine CIA station. We know that not only from news reports but from Republicans letting that classified info slip in front of the cameras. "Sensitive source" could well have referred to one of the CIA agents stationed in Benghazi, or it could have referred to another intelligence source. All we actually know is that Blumenthal considered the source sensitive.

The very article used as supposed evidence of Clinton's running her own intelligence service says:
The reports Blumenthal sent to Clinton appear to have been compiled by Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) clandestine service in Europe. Drumheller left the CIA in 2005 and started his own security business. http://www.allgov.com/news/top-stories/was-hillary-clinton-while-secretary-of-state-running-a-secret-spy-network-150330?news=856096 There's the tried and true tactic of phrasing a baseless allegation as a question.

While the article doesn't concern itself with providing evidence, it says the reports were compiled by a former CIA station chief and sent to Blumenthal, who then sent them to Clinton. It says she received information from this other source, not that she ran her own intelligence network. How does receiving information from a former CIA station chief equate with "running a private intelligence network"? The US government has many, many intelligence agencies. Why would a Secretary of State need or want to create her own? All to hide the fact she knew the consulate in Benghazi was about to be stormed? We're heard this story before, only from the GOP.

The Secretary of State has contact with members of all kinds of US agencies, which any cursory reading of US diplomatic history should make clear. The only way in which the term "sensitive source" can be interpreted to mean she ran a private intelligence network is if people 1) have no regard for the truth, facts or evidence; 2) are looking to gin up opposition to Clinton; 3) and have no compulsion about engaging in lies and distortions in order to serve their goal of destroying one potential candidate.

The entire argument is without evidentiary basis. Now I get that right-wingers will grab onto anything to use against the Democrats, but when supposed Democrats do the same thing, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell Republican from Democrat. Regardless of party, however, intellectual honesty should require more; self-respect should require more.

The politics of Helen Keller, Socialism and disability

In a neoliberal era in which personal choice and triumphs of individual character are heralded above social justice and understandings of structural oppression, I think it useful to examine the historical construction of Helen Keller's life story, a popular interpretation that erases her Marxist activism on disability and supplants it with moral tales of overcoming personal obstacles.

Helen Keller is one of the most widely recognized figures in US history that people actually know very little about. That she was a serious political thinker who made important contributions in the fields of socialist theory and practice, or that she was a pioneer in pointing the way toward a Marxist understanding of disability oppression and liberation—this reality has been overlooked and censored. The mythological Helen Keller that we are familiar with has aptly been described as a sort of “plaster saint;” a hollow, empty vessel who is little more than an apolitical symbol for perseverance and personal triumph.1

This is the story that most of us are familiar with: A young Helen Keller contracted an illness that left her blind and deaf; she immediately reverted to the state of a wild animal, as depicted in the popular movie The Miracle Worker; she remained in this state virtually unchanged until she was rescued by her teacher Anne Sullivan, who “miraculously” introduced her to the world of language. Then time passed, and Helen Keller died eighty years later: End of story.

The image of Helen Keller as a gilded, eternal child is reinforced at the highest levels of US society. The statue of Helen Keller erected inside the US Capitol building in 2009, which replaced that of a Confederate Army officer, depicts Keller as a seven-year-old child kneeling at a water pump. Neither the statue itself nor its inscription provides any inkling that the sixty-plus years of Keller’s adult life were of any particular political import.

When the story of Helen Keller is taught in schools today, it is frequently used to convey a number of anodyne “moral lessons” or messages: There is no personal obstacle that cannot be overcome through pluck and hard work; whatever problems one thinks they have pale in comparison to those of Helen Keller; and perhaps the most insidious of such messages, the one aimed primarily at people with disabilities themselves, is that the task of becoming a full member of society rests upon one’s individual efforts to overcome a given impairment and has nothing to do with structural oppression or inequality.

More about the work she did engage in at:
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