Thursday, June 28, 2012


Ms. Slaughter delivers a long moment of rhetorical deceit. Of course we cannot have it all because we were never supposed to have it all in the first place. The fact that not even once does she question the inherent systems of inequality created by capitalism and corporate dictate is the first alarming sign in her long piece that fails to contextualize her own position in relation to well, pretty much everyone else. Ms. Slaughter laments that she couldn’t manage the pressure of her work, her teenage son’s puberty and her other family and social obligations. Nobody could possibly do that. And right there is the first form of exclusion which is not just about her status as “woman” but as active participant in this model that is set up specifically to leave some out and create scarcity. Unless you belong to the very top (and she did, but obviously not high enough to merit full inclusion and success), you are always going to be purposefully left out so that you can continue fighting in the supposed “race to the top” by further alienating and participating in the creation of further exclusion to prevent others from taking your job. Such is the system in which she failed: set up so that, in order to succeed, you need to make sure others fail.

I do feel for Ms. Slaughter. I am not being trite. I do feel for those women who did everything they thought was “the right thing” and still did not manage to succeed. In a lot of ways, I even admire her (as I admire Hillary Clinton). Obviously these are exceptional women who deserve praise not only for their hard work but also for their finely honed intellectual and political skills. However, I cannot pretend that their success would, in some ways, improve my chances of success or the chances of other millions of young girls and women. Moreover, in a sense, their success implies further suffering and possible death for women the world over. By being active participants in State administrations specifically created to further the gap between the haves and the have nots, their success is directly proportional to the oppression of other women. And right there is where Ms. Slaughter lost me in her piece. She failed to account for that, even as a footnote, as an aside, as a mere figure of speech in passing. Not only did she personally fail because the system is rigged so that we all fail, but she did not take into account how she contributed to make it worse for million others, domestically and overseas.

Now matter how you think of it, the five conservative judges on SCOTUS and their views on politics and the role of corporations are not good for our democracy:
Either (1) the five Republican-appointed Justices are completely unprincipled and simply will do whatever it takes to help Republicans gain power and enact a pro-corporate agenda. In a widely read Atlantic piece, James Fallows just accused the five Justices--Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito--of being part of a judicial "coup" running back to Bush v. Gore, which included three of these justices and two replaced by Roberts and Alito.

Or, to be more charitable, the Supreme Court might actually have a principle. The Supreme Court (2) might not care about the facts (as it doesn't) because it simply believes that corporations should be part of our democracy. They should be able, as a matter of right, to buy and sell candidates who agree and disagree with them, just as individuals should be allowed to vote for or against candidates. They don't think there's anything wrong with corporate involvement in campaigns. Justices on the infamous Lochner court probably didn't second-guess the health conclusions of the laws; they believed the laws conflicted with liberty.

From both Citizens United and this decision, it seems our Republican-appointed five man majority defines liberty and democracy to require unlimited corporate spending on elections--whatever the facts, whatever the outcomes (though knowing those outcomes favor Republicans and favor donors who fly Justices to nice events and fund their wives' organizations). (For more on this point, see Joshua Cohen's 2011 Dewey Lecture.)

This decision raises one other point: many hopeful activists have proposed ways around Citizens United they think would be upheld. That is probably nuts. The five-member majority will not let that happen. If a state Supreme Court, upholding its own legislature, on a hundred year law, on a colorful and deep record, to keep out the corruption of out-of-state corporations, is struck down without ceremony, I can't see many laws getting through these guys.

The Court has even undermined public financing and public matching funds more than most people will admit. If a state makes public financing available for one side, the state could not increase the amount provided or the matching funds formula based on the money spent by the other side or the supporters of the other side. These limits constrain the effectiveness of public funding; indeed, they effectively make it impossible to match the resources of those backed by billionaires willing to write huge checks.

Get your reverse racism on — how to oppress Whitey:
1. Enslave their bodies.

Ship them from Germany, Sweden, and other exotic countries. Force them to build entire cities, roads, bridges. Force them to plant and harvest all the food everyone eats. Let an entire economic system be built on their backs, with their blood and sweat. Later, deny them access to the system they have been used to build, and accuse them of being extremely lazy.

2. Steal their land.

If they were here before you, steal their land. This is essential. Basically, just go in there and take it. If you have to kill some of them to get it…no worries. If you have to kill almost all of them to get it…shit, no worries. After you steal their land, make sure you create laws to keep them from ever returning to it. If they try to return anyway, build fences, and let bands of POC vigilantes patrol the borders with guns. If they somehow get past the borders and into your country, no worries, you can always just deport them.

3. Enslave their minds.

From these systems, build a long lasting institution of reverse-racism until all the violence and microaggressions make many white people into suspicious people with a lot of internalized self-hatred, health problems, and mental illnesses. Then deny them access to adequate mental health care. Or, adequate health care of any kind, while you’re at it. ‘Cause, you know, fuck ‘em.


8. Make sure most representations of them in the media are negative.

They should almost always be portrayed as pasty, stringy-haired, rhythm-less, sexless, uptight, and booooring. Also, there should be very few representations of them and when they’re portrayed at all, they should always only be the comic relief, the silent exotic sex object, the Debbie Downer, or the incompetent sidekick. They are only allowed to be easily forgettable, one-dimensional characters. Sometimes use POC actors in white-face to portray these white people. By presenting this ONE image of them all the time, you will be able to convince the rest of the population that all white people are like this, thus ensuring a widespread belief in their inferiority.

9. Keep telling them how beautiful they are not.

White people know they will never be beautiful with their boring sour cream complexions and blonde hair (that was actually caused because of mutations). Plaster people of color on every magazine, show them in every television show and movie, and praise them as the most beautiful. When white people cry at these injustices, bottle their tears and sell them as health creams for people of color. Nothing like a soothing lotion made from the pain of white folks!
 The whole piece is pretty great.

Hotshot firefighters and no health insurance.

Visualizing a nation of meat eaters.

Sea-level rise: the news is not good.

Climate scientists under siege.

What are the medium-term trends for US emissions?

Taking Shell at their word that there won't be a big oil spill in Arctic waters.

The BP spill made the Louisiana marshlands even worse.

More bad news on BPA.

Despite the smells, a handful of cities are moving towards zero waste.

Photos from Brazil's big dam.

Land grabs sure aren't looking very good.

How to consider stormwater on timberlands.

In sustaining a political movement that has reimagined the courts, the right has already won.

Four-in-five ten-year-old girls have dieted.

Why we need social sciences.

Did UPenn whitewash an investigation into improper corporate ghostwriting of a scientific paper?

Shit on the sick and piss on the poor, it's the Christian way?

Every thing you know about Fast and Furious may be wrong.

Profits high, wages low.

The completely unnecessary paramilitarization of our police.

Those terrible textbooks are Texas' fault.

Texas Repubs are nuts: case in point is the GOP's new platform.

Your cell provider knows a lot about you, but it won't share that information with you.

Google search tips that might be handy even for the Google search pro. (intext and relational searches are new to me and seem to be potentially useful.)

Inequality, as viewed from satellites. And more.

An ode to umami.

Birds with arms.

Ten terrible book covers.

With Wifey out of town, here's Arijit's Happy Link of the Day: good environmental news?

The excellent pianist Jeremy Denk discusses and plays Ligeti:

His cover of Van Halen's “Panama” was pretty outstanding, but this may be even better:

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