Archive for the 'Rights' Category

State of the Union 2012

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

This started out as my response, as co-founder of the Free Soil Party 35 years ago, to the State of the Union speech, but developed into a referendum on this Presidency. I conclude it as the Democrats prepare to launch their grand showcase, showing off how they rewrite history and make promises they will not keep. I invite a real debate, here and now, about issues of real relevance, with no issue off the table. I dare anyone to read this through and then defend President Obama. I mean by defend, respond to the charges I have laid out, not bring up barely related things I did not choose to mention, which may seem overlooked and relevant to you, but evasive to an independent observer. My response should be a book, but is beyond the scope of this blog and my free time.

The President was in full campaign mode for his State of the Union speech, complete with theatrics, guests such as the widow of Steve Jobs and the secretary of Warren Buffett as props to illustrate his points, and stirring invocations of patriotic fervor. Perhaps stung by attacks alleging he has apologized for USA, he determined to wrap himself in the flag. He began and ended with comparisons of the teamwork of the military to what the country as a whole could accomplish if it emulated that spirit of teamwork. Given its long history of war crimes and misguided and illegal adventures carried out for dubious reasons, I found his comparison ghastly, yet strangely fitting for the sad state of US politics. He made it sound as if the heroic military of America could do no wrong, and we the people would do well to emulate their example.

The military may seem an example of finely honed cooperation and honor, though I would dispute that on all counts. It is a blunt killing machine, with individual acts of valorous cooperation or honor misdirected and misused. The spin machine must glorify this killing machine and its actions, burying the scandals as isolated bad apples. This marvelous team spirit, focused on noble honorable missions, is the story, which below the surface is just a story that falls apart in face of what is really going down, such as wars cast as necessary self-defense waged to punish regimes such as ruled Iraq and Afghanistan who dared defy big business interests. This team spirit concept grates for military women enduring rampant rape and harassment, which is more or less casually swept under the carpet, recourse even less likely than for women in general. This military is also an example of callous disregard for the lives and rights of those who get in the way. The prison scandals were just the tip of the iceberg. There was the notorious mystery of what really happened to Pat Tillman, the football star who volunteered for Afghanistan, but got disillusioned and shot, supposedly in an accident of friendly fire? Where is the line between opposing US policy and being deemed a terrorist? Protestors and independent journalists risk crossing that boundary, some animal rights and environmental activists have already been designated terrorists, and the recent defense authorization bill has all but revoked the right of dissent for US citizens, who can now be arrested and held without trial indefinitely on the whim of the President who feels the dissenter could present some kind of threat, due process and Constitutional principles be damned in the face of terror. Has the principle of preserving civil liberties in time of war survived the new millennium, with both faces of mainstream politics determined to maintain the established order at home and military supremacy over the world in the name of national security, the economic and social costs no object, or at best secondary concerns? The priorities are all backwards, but that is par for conventional wisdom, its manipulation a fine art practiced by politicians, who call that debating the issues of the day.

The armed forces may display a certain degree of teamwork and courage, but there are more than a few bad apples among them. Their problems are cultural, running deeper than sensationalized scandals such as the missile defenders addicted to porn. When their purpose is serving business interests, calling them heroes does not exonerate their command hierarchy from their war crimes and excessive force, authorized or otherwise, attempts to disassociate American armed forces and values notwithstanding. Was his honoring of soldiers returning from Iraq effectively giving the presidential pardon for what candidate Obama used to call a grave mistake? Does he think he redeemed that mistake by responsibly ending it? War is an institution of primitive origin, the settling of disputes by competition to the death, which should be a last resort, when absolutely necessary for self-defense, the circumstances so dire there can be no alternative, but very few conflicts have met that standard, most certainly not the war on terror. People have brains; they can negotiate a live and let live state of unfriendly competition with their brains instead of fighting it out with killing machines, no matter how high the hostile emotions run. Grievances can be heard and compensated impartially. Obama could have ended the Iraq conquest the day he took office. This may sound impossible, or utopian, but in the war on terror, such ideas have not been near the table; if anything, such talk would be taken as supporting the enemy, heresy, treason? The anti-terrorism laws are intentionally so vague, neutrally interviewing or suggesting diplomacy with someone on the enemies list might earn a place on that list, since in mainstream politics, USA does not negotiate with terrorists, USA brings them down, to the justice of the jungle. People are not incapable of settling disputes without violence, or having a civil society without a creeping fascist police state, but the real problem is a belief system that values power over others, supremacy, dominance, subordination, manipulation, whatever one calls it, violence is elevated into a viable solution to any dispute, people trusting authority acting under its laws to keep violence under control. Obama exudes this belief system, portraying the military and his war on terror as necessary and noble, his halfhearted attempts at diplomacy his style of whitewashing what US policy actually does with its military machine, for what actual purposes. He thinks his macho posturing and intoning America the Greatest sound bytes is Presidential. Perhaps to those of a similar mindset, it is.

Obama began by honoring the warriors who were sent to conquer Iraq:

9:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought — and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. (Applause.) For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. (Applause.) For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. (Applause.) Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example.

His mention of pride is odd for one who ran for President making much of opposing the Bush foreign policy, calling the war on Iraq a grave mistake. It is as though he puts it on the level of a redeemable strategic error, not an issue of bad policy, moral failing, act of unjustifiable aggression, and violation of important principles and international law, yet it made us safer and more respected around the world. So was it a good or just war, or what? Democrats like to rant about Republican failed policies. Was the Iraqi conquest an exception, after Obama reluctantly officially pulled out the troops to meet the deadline Iraq wrung out of Bush? This is from a Reuters story when he welcomed home some of the last U.S. troops from Iraq at Fort Bragg last month:

Despite lingering questions about whether the United States should have invaded the Middle Eastern country, the last American troops “will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high,” Obama said.

“Of course, Iraq is not a perfect place. But we are leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people,” he said.

Iraq is in shambles, its infrastructure in ruins, its soil, water, and air poisoned by US weaponry, including depleted uranium, causing a massive epidemic of rare cancers and birth defects. For that war USA has a legacy of a civilian death count probably well over a million, many more wounded, sick, or displaced there, along with legions of sick and injured veterans getting substandard or no care here. Iraq wishes to be self-reliant, which is why Obama was forced to honor the agreement Bush made with Iraq to withdraw all troops by the end of 2011. Iraq might have negotiated so some could stay, but Obama wanted immunity from prosecution for the troops, which Iraqi leaders rightly found an intolerable imposition, having reasons to expect some troops would deserve prosecution. To say Iraq is stable with a representative government is just hogwash, mission accomplished whistling in the dark, but par for the course for President Obama, following in the grand tradition of the politics of America the Greatest. What rationale could the conquerors of Iraq possibly have to justify holding their heads high? A job well done? Hardly, unless one considers the enrichment of the military industrial complex for laying waste another country to replace an unfriendly tyrant a job well done!

The remaining security force in Iraq is not supposed to be fighting, but their mission is to protect the massive diplomatic corps now tasked to look after US interests. They are certainly equipped to fight; Obama has to hope they will not have to. I imagine there are still plenty of mercenaries under US command or guidance still there, but presumably they are mostly not Americans.

There are no heroes in the war on terror, but plenty of cannon fodder desperate for a job or lured by recruiting lies, risking their lives to serve this country, called to serve the interests of this corporate empire. They have not made USA safer or more respected around the world, quite the contrary, though they have kept USA a force to be feared. Conflating fear with security or respect is a common tactic of leaders with abusive powers to protect. This claim of successes against the Taliban and al Qaeda is more whistling in the dark. Defeated is a curious euphemism for blowing up some enemy leaders, along with many more innocent bystanders and victims of bad intelligence, by missiles from drones invading the territory of nations with whom USA is supposedly not at war, but bad guys lurking within must be exterminated. The war on Afghanistan is a hopeless quagmire, so cooler heads have started to realize the only way out is to negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban, which will call the shots as it likes. So much for that broken Taliban momentum. Is it back from the fire to the frying pan for Afghan women, or was their alleged liberation just a cruel joke at their expense? The abuse of women certainly did not end when the Taliban were booted from the reins of power, for their effrontery refusing to turn over a war criminal without any evidence. That was the excuse Bush created to retaliate against Afghanistan, since the nationality of most of the suspects was Saudi Arabian, and Afghanistan harbored training camps and that war criminal Obama is so proud he ordered that raid to shoot on sight. Karzai cares far more about maintaining his tenuous hold on his power than the rights of Afghan women. More about that in this prior entry, Karzai Makes Mockery of Democracy. This more recent article on the sorry state of affairs for Afghan women is from the Christian Science Monitor:

Though Afghan laws exist to protect women, they’re rarely enforced. The United Nations found that in the two years since the passage of a law created to stop violence against women, it has only been used in about 100 cases.

“The majority of young girls and young women I work with do not understand anything about our rights,” says Fatana Ishaq Gailani, founder and chairwoman of the Afghanistan Women Council. “We have a very weak government. They are not thinking about the life of women, most of the work for the women in Afghanistan is for show.”

One of the most devastating blows to the credibility of those assigned to protect the rights of Afghan women in the government came almost two years ago when a court convicted Marhaba Karimi, the former Women’s Affairs director in Kunar province, of torturing and brutally murdering her daughter-in-law.

Afghanistan does not struggle with women’s rights because of the Taliban, rather the Taliban represents an extremist version of rural Afghan social constructs.

As usual, women are being used as pawns to put a nice spin on what USA is doing in Afghanistan. More on that from those experiencing it, Afghan women such as RAWA and Malalai Joya, popular member of Parliament twice kicked out for calling out the warlords running that mockery of democracy. Meanwhile, while a few prominent leaders on the most wanted terrorist list have been killed, along with who knows how many civilians, the will to resist what USA represents is far from broken. The desire for revenge does not weaken when leaders are martyred; it may become less restrained, so to say bin Laden is no longer a threat is to dismiss and deny responsibility for all the reasons he was a threat. I kept a running commentary on the raids on Pakistan, mostly on this page, but there have been so many since Obama took office, I stopped trying to keep up.

That last sentence quoted above, Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example, preludes his idea of what a society that works like the military would look like. The military does not operate at all like civil society or Congress. Does Obama have a problem with that? His premise is offensive to anyone who values liberty, independence, creativity, innovation, and seems to attempt to shame the right to dissent, usually covered under free speech. If Obama cannot handle his problem with other politicians not being willing to work with him, he does not belong in government. Blaming opposition obstruction for the failure of unsound policies, such as bailing out the too big to fail, to revive the economy is ducking responsibility; a fight is expected from the opposition, but does not always cause gridlock. Other Presidents have roused public opinion to support their ideas and put enough pressure on opposition politicians to get them to back down and allow a bill to pass, getting much of their programs through even without majority control of both house of Congress, which Obama had during his honeymoon. People might wonder, who would want a society in the mold of the military? Or is it this attempt to link that with his vision that seems so out of touch with reality?

Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this. I know we can, because we’ve done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. (Applause.) My grandfather, a veteran of Patton’s Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.

Rah Rah for our combat heroes and US superiority! I wanted to throw up. I suppose I am not a patriot. I love this planet, compelling me to do what I can to fight for its future, but it was not for nothing Virginia Woolf wrote a woman has no country, her country is the whole world. Regardless, what gall to compare those who fought to stop a league of madmen who thought they could conquer the world, Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito and their Axis, to our modern warriors on terror; this is offensive to anyone who realizes there is a vast gulf of differences between a war of necessary self-defense, and a war of choice on enemies of US policy deemed terrorists wherever they may be all over the world. Patriotism is supposed to overwhelm such misgivings, one is supposed to trust the President in this time of perpetual war? I must be defective, maladjusted as Martin Luther King might have said about this zealous loyalty to militarism. I certainly have nothing against top notch education, but what that has to do with militarism is beyond me. His notion of education reform must explain that mystery. High-paying jobs in high-tech? Those jobs are the exception to the rule in this service-based economy, not a high percentage of what is accessible to most. His notion of high tech and energy security is to trust the experts, those scientists for hire who promote clean coal, safe nuclear power, pesticides, herbicides, genetic engineering, advertised pharmaceuticals with downplayed serious side effects, toxic contaminated vaccines conferring partial temporary immunity at best, natural gas fracking, nanotechnology, business as usual all the while scoffing at the precautionary principle, these are all fine and dandy, no problem, they are the experts and everyone should have confidence they know what they are doing! Just like they did at Fukushima by now spreading its radioactive poisons over at least most of the planet. But the proponents of nuclear power say it is clean, safe, and a potential solution to climate degradation. This would be a joke, except that the President and most of Congress agrees with it. If they get their way, there will be new nuclear power plants soon under construction; plans for a few are already underway, while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is winking at known problems, asserting US plants are up to standards and freely extending licenses for nukes long past their expected lifetime, as if no lessons from the Japanese disaster need be applied here. Twenty more years for Vermont Yankee despite the state law ordering its shutdown when the license expired, no problem, says the court, since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sees no problem, the state has no right to interfere! One might keep in mind what these coded words, energy security and clean energy, signify to politicians, because they can be made to sound one way and mean another. The idea of rewarding responsibility and hard work is better than coddling irresponsible large institutions who got themselves in financial trouble, for which politicians of both parties are better known. This was one of many turns of phrase that caught me wondering how Obama could say such things with a straight face. The master politician at work, deflecting responsibility for the failures of mainstream economics and politics by talking about the ideal economy, where theoretically contributions by everyone get fair credit and value, translated by conventional wisdom into the modern day corporate meritocracy prizing short-term gain.

The two of them shared the optimism of a nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism. They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share — the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. (Applause.) What’s at stake aren’t Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. And we have to reclaim them.

Here I think Obama is appealing to his base, speaking to the public unrest that sparked the Occupy movement, trying to sound populist, as if he is not one of the elite few rigging the system, enabling themselves to be doing so well. This man talking about fairness once defended a shady real estate development firm against Cook County charging it with refusing to provide heat to tenants in the Chicago winter.

In 1994, Obama appeared in Cook County court on behalf of Woodlawn Preservation & Investment Corp., defending it against a suit by the city, which alleged that the company failed to provide heat for low-income tenants on the South Side during the winter.

This past April Obama, now pretending to be the watchdog of bad business practices, got thrown out rules the Labor Department had suggested to make the most dangerous jobs in farming off-limits for children, exempting family farms. The excuse, as quoted in the July 2012 Public Citizen Health Letter article Obama Administration Sacrifices Children to Keep Agribusiness Happy, was to frame the decision

was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms.

Restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot? When did that economy exist? Not in my lifetime, and I am older than the President. He must mean, under President Clinton, whose legacy it was to have a budget surplus during the Internet bubble, while he got passed such top corporate wishes as NAFTA, GATT, welfare reform, and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which allowed the too big to fail banks to get that big and make such risky investments that they should have failed. This is more whistling in the dark, invoking the American dream and values as the defining issue of our time. Sorry, the world is in too much trouble because of how people in power see and manipulate the American dream and values. It was his chance to claim the defining issue of our time; Presidents need to have a plausible vision to be effective at changing anything. Unfortunately for people like me, his vision is more of the same, no real solutions, just pipedreams that sound good while kicking the can down the road until a feminist revolution throws the bums out so women can clean up the mess the old boy network is making of this world. A militaristic police state where the President can get anyone arrested as a terrorist on a whim and held by the military indefinitely without trial is not my idea of change I can believe in, his transparently manipulative signing statement notwithstanding. This master craftsman of spin is still dependent on spin to remain credible. This was a constitutional law professor blatantly violating the Constitution by accepting this power nobody should have under any circumstances in a free country, because that authority fulfills the definition of tyranny. That he will use it wisely, as he says in this signing statement, even if true, has no bearing on how the next President might use it. To accept unconstitutional authority and then renounce the intention to use it is not a wise use of his authority as President, and he knows it. Vetoing the bill on constitutional principles would have forced Congress to back off, since as Obama observed, it was an important bill, so Congress would not want to keep that political hot potato in their court.
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How Democrats Manipulate, Manage, and Control Movements

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

The Obama campaign strategy to harness the voters who support the movements generally regarded as the core of the Democratic base, liberals, labor, feminists, environmentalists has been revealed. An unnamed Democratic strategist spilled the beans to David Corn in this article at Mother Jones (the online title was changed and the quote below expanded “for greater clarity” from his magazine article subtitled Can Jim Messina win back Obama’s base and get his boss reelected? about the deputy Chief of Staff under Rahm Emanuel and now campaign manager, in the current issue, July/August 2012).

As the White House’s ambassador to Washington liberals — unions, abortion rights groups, environmental organizations, and general advocacy shops — Messina organized regular Tuesday meetings known as the Common Purpose Project to discuss White House plans, priorities, and messages with these groups. The goal was to coordinate White House strategy with the organizing activities of these outfits. But some of the outside participants considered the meetings mostly sessions where the administration tossed out talking points and marching orders. “Common Purpose was put together to manage the outside groups,” says a Democratic strategist involved in its formation. “To keep them under control as much as possible. It aimed at manipulation more than organizing. Here was Jim Messina, the deputy chief of staff, coming to meetings, and people would be docile because they were getting access to the White House.”*

I inquired as to the identity of this candid strategist, but Mr. Corn has not bothered to acknowledge my request, so I presume this person wishes to remain unidentified. Too bad; now I may have to attempt pestering Mr. Messina or the White House for comment. I imagine I would get the same kind of stock non-response I got to my request for comment on A Case Against Obama Nation. Did people think the Democratic Party gave a damn about the movements comprising its base? No, they are to be managed, manipulated, kept under control as much as possible!

I thank David Corn, as I did in my request for the identity of his source, for providing confirmation from an insider source of this peculiar relationship between the Democratic Party and the movements upon whose votes it depends. Such an attitude has been alleged by many critics of that party, myself included, for many a year, but I do not recall seeing it so callously spelled out by a campaign insider, as if this is just the way the political game is played, people are docile sheep to be led around by their noses while that precious access to power granted to leaders of some groups means little or nothing. I hope this attitude infuriates people as much as it does me. Who the hell do these party strategists like Jim Messina and this unnamed deputy think they are? They know what is best for the sheeple? The Free Soil Party says, throw all the bums out! They are public servants; the public is not supposed to serve them. If the reader wants to be part of a feminist revolution, send the Democrats a message they will never forget! Change your registration, or if you are inspired to, think about running for office! It is never too late to make a statement, and unlike a protest, a large number of changed voter registrations cannot be ignored by the powers that be. That is the writing on the wall, an unmistakable warning that voters are fed up and declaring independence. Many have already declared themselves independent, but that can be ignored, dismissed, or patronized as long as independents are unaffiliated, disorganized, without candidates or a clear vision of alternative possibilities.

Perhaps this is just what one should expect from the Democrats. Jim Messina used to work for Max Baucus, who as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee infamously declared a single payer health plan off the table, and seems to consider him as well as Emanuel mentors. If Obama has pinned his hopes for reelection on the likes of him, what does that say about the President? I ask the reader, how does it feel to have a President who thinks of you as needing to be managed, manipulated, kept under control? It is people in positions of power who need to be kept under control. That is why this republic was founded, and why the Constitution created a system of checks and balances, a government of limited authority. That did not change on September 11, 2001, but the limits on that authority have been stretched so far, they have lost almost all meaning. When the government arrogates the authority to kill or detain anyone indefinitely without charge or trial, the boundaries of a police state have been crossed. Anyone who hoped Obama would live up to his promise to review and repeal unconstitutional expansions of executive power was led around by the nose. That is one issue. I could cite hundreds like that, where what people hoped Obama might do has little or no resemblance to what he has done, which is largely in continuity with the disastrous policies of his predecessors, including George W. Bush. Is this not business and politics as usual? Since when have the interests of the people mattered to the powers that be?

Ms. Magazine may be a prime example of feminist organizations successfully manipulated. It ran a cover story on the War on Women, page 26 in the current issue, spring/summer 2012, by Beth Baker, full of Democratic talking points, but making not one mention of how Democrats have betrayed feminists. The article is not available online at present. For instance, Ms. Baker mentions VAWA is at risk, since the House came up with its own version, which she claims would “deny support to LGBT survivors of domestic violence.” This is the peculiar Democratic twist on the Republican reaction to new language introduced by the Senate which would deny federal funds to domestic violence shelters that want to maintain a female-only policy, at the behest of gay and transgender activists, since gay men and transwomen have been complaining that such shelters have been denying them services. As I understand, there is no problem of lesbian or bisexual females being turned away, so LGBT is at best imprecise, at worst disguising that this language is an attack by Democrats on behalf of non-females on shelters for battered females.

The language I reference in the Senate bill is this section of the law, on page 205 of the Government Printing Office PDF of the bill text:

13 ‘‘(13) CIVIL RIGHTS.—
14 ‘‘(A) NONDISCRIMINATION.—No person in
15 the United States shall, on the basis of actual or
16 perceived race, color, religion, national origin,
17 sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph
18 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual
19 orientation, or disability, be excluded from par-
20 ticipation in, be denied the benefits of, or be sub-
21 jected to discrimination under any program or
22 activity funded in whole or in part with funds
23 made available under the Violence Against
24 Women Act of 1994…

The Republican version took out gender identity and sexual orientation, but did not take out sex, so I do not know what all the fuss is about; a female-only policy will still violate the new law. The explicit language allowing gay men and transwomen to claim the right to access is not in the Republican version, but since a female-only policy excludes both on the basis of sex or perceived sex, shelters for females only will not be getting federal funds either way. I can understand the Democratic Party twisting this as part of the Republican War on Women, but what is up with Ms. Magazine going along with that distortion?

Along similar lines, Ms. Baker also claims the Affordable Care Act “forbids sex discrimination in health insurance pricing,” but as National Organization for Women has pointed out, this is a myth.

This is from the Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill on the passage of that bill over two years ago:

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

March 21, 2010

As a longtime proponent of health care reform, I truly wish that the National Organization for Women could join in celebrating the historic passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It pains me to have to stand against what many see as a major achievement. But feminist, progressive principles are in direct conflict with many of the compromises built into and tacked onto this legislation.

The health care reform bill passed by Congress today offers a number of good solutions to our nation’s critical health care problems, but it also fails in many important respects. After a full year of controversy and compromise, the result is a highly flawed, diminished piece of legislation that continues reliance on a failing, profit-driven private insurance system and rewards those who have been abusive of their customers. With more than 45,000 unnecessary deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies each year due to medical bills, this bill is only a timid first step toward meaningful reform.

Fact: The bill contains a sweeping anti-abortion provision. Contrary to the talking points circulated by congressional leaders, the bill passed today ultimately achieves the same outcome as the infamous Stupak-Pitts Amendment, namely the likely elimination of all private as well as public insurance coverage for abortion. It imposes a bizarre requirement on insurance plan enrollees who buy coverage through the health insurance exchanges to write two monthly checks (one for an abortion care rider and one for all other health care). Even employers will have to write two separate checks for each of their employees requesting the abortion rider.

This burdensome, elaborate system must be eliminated. It is there because the Catholic bishops and extremist abortion rights opponents know that it will result in greatly restricting access to abortion care, currently one of the most common medical procedures for women.

Fact: President Obama made an eleventh-hour agreement to issue an executive order lending the weight of his office to the anti-abortion measures included in the bill. This move was designed to appease a handful of anti-choice Democrats who have held up health care reform in an effort to restrict women’s access to abortion. This executive order helps to cement the misconception that the Hyde Amendment is settled law rather than what it really is — an illegitimate tack-on to an annual must-pass appropriations bill. It also sends the outrageous message that it is acceptable to negotiate health care reform on the backs of women.

Fact: The bill permits age-rating, the practice of imposing higher premiums on older people. This practice has a disproportionate impact on women, whose incomes and savings are lower due to a lifetime of systematic wage discrimination.

Fact: The bill also permits gender-rating, the practice of charging women higher premiums simply because they are women. Some are under the mistaken impression that gender-rating has been prohibited, but that is only true in the individual and small-group markets. Larger group plans (more than 100 employees) sold through the exchanges will be permitted to discriminate against women — having an especially harmful impact in workplaces where women predominate.

We know why those gender- and age-rating provisions are in the bill: because insurers insisted on them, as they will generate billions of dollars in profits for the companies. Such discriminatory rating must be completely eliminated.

Why, in a story in Ms. Magazine called Fighting the War on Women, is there no mention of any of this? Could it be that supposedly so independent magazine has been successfully manipulated, controlled, managed? Or has defeating Republicans become so important Democrats can betray feminism with impunity, while feminist leaders and writers disregard their dirty tricks? The larger environmental, peace, labor, and gay rights movement groups ought to ponder the same questions. Obama has caught some flak for his betrayals on those fronts, but it is beneath his attention; he wants the swing voters, so his disgruntled liberal base must go along with political reality; to keep Romney out of office they will have to vote for Obama, no matter what he does to demonstrate his independence from his base. When the choice is between the lesser of two evils, no substance is necessary or even expected; the expressed principles and ideas can be all a sham, just for showing off how different they want people to think they are. I am not saying these guys do not believe what they are saying, but what it means to them may not be what it means to the general public. That is deliberate; they speak in code. The public is not expected to understand the machinations of running the country. I do not refer to legalese, rather key phrases, such as national security, working families, middle class; these are all code phrases that evoke a picture of the American way of life, which is one of the key illusions that allow business to go on as usual.

I will have much more to say on the sorry state of politics soon.

One Gyrl’s Take on the Stop Porn Culture Conference

Monday, July 12th, 2010

When I think of the international Stop Porn Culture (SPC) conference I attended in Boston last June, the first image that comes to mind is of a giant plastic foot with a slot in it for men to ejaculate into (Dr. Gail Dines discussed this during her presentation). The first phrase that comes to mind is humantoiletbowls dot com, the domain name of a mainstream porn site. And the first sound that comes to mind is that of a young boy gasping for breath as he is suffocated and raped by a trusted adult man addicted to pornography.

If what you’ve just read disturbs you, it should distress you even further to know that children are consuming porn at a younger age than ever before. Indeed, according to one of SPC’s presenters, the fourth most common word searched for by children is “sex,” (and what do you think shows up after such a search?); the fifth is “porn”. Where do you think your children are getting their sex-education, parents? Not from the “abstinence only” school curricula, that’s for sure.

Pornography is increasingly impacting our emotional health as well. Dear Abby had a sixteen-year-old girl write to her about porn addiction! Porn addicts have even been known to sing songs to their porn collections and stay home from vacation to masturbate to images. While we all were aware of the financial collapse, how many of us knew that men working at the Securities and Exchange Commission were jerking off to Internet porn, some as much as eight hours a day? And porn has increasingly come to (negatively) impact intimate relationships; some dub it the new “other woman.”

But, as is obvious to every woman alive, not everyone sees our porn-saturated society as a problem. As one of the founding members of Stop Porn Culture, Dr. Gail Dines, pointed out at the first SPC conference, while porn has become increasingly harsh, a feminist challenge to the porn industry has gone underground. Thus, SPC was founded in the hopes of bringing a radical feminist analysis of pornography back to the forefront of the feminist agenda. In order to combat porn, Dr. Dines suggests raising pornography consumption as a public health issue, much as was done with smoking. While this idea may be the most pragmatic way to challenge the industry, I’m saddened the exploitation of women required to make pornography does not in itself cause outrage. Perhaps male violence could be incorporated into a “public health” approach, but how likely this would be in a male-dominated society, I do not know. Yet, just the act of lessening porn production and consumption would have the effect of decreasing some violence against women, clearly a feminist goal.

Somewhat similarly, the topic of porn and capitalism came up among conference attendees. Several of the conference-goers I talked to seemed to believe if capitalism is dismantled, violent porn would cease to exist. I found this a rather odd assumption, since male supremacy is clearly present in non-capitalist societies. What reason is there to believe the images created by this imaginary society would be kinder and gentler to women? None, as far as I can tell.

These thoughts were echoed by the speakers on the panel regarding legal approaches to challenging the pornography industry. The first scholar, a woman from Durham University, stated that any new laws confronting pornography should be based on a feminist analysis of the industry as opposed to a moral one. The following presenter, Diane Rosenfeld, reminded us that the feminist community has a limited amount of monetary and time resources; we have to decide what the best use of these resources is: legal, education, etc. Rosenfeld also gave us a fairly recent example, the case of Abu Ghraib, where pictures were used to indict individuals for actions. But, when it comes to women, torture is a means to male sexual pleasure.

So, what did I take away from this feminist anti-pornography conference—in addition to overwhelming anger, that is? One of the main messages I got was that there are women fighting back; despite what the pornographers say, women will not be cowered into silence. Even if half the male population gets off to our pain, we will not go down without a fight. We will not give in to your phallic-like missiles, knives, and guns because we have justice on our side.

The Glass-Steagall Act

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Pam Martens, whom I quoted extensively about the cozy relationships between Wall Street firms and the Obama campaign at the end of my post A Case Against Obama Nation, published an article at CounterPunch, Senator Dodd, Put Back That Wall! The Most Vital Ingredient in Wall Street Reform Goes Missing , in which she analyzes the sorry state of financial reform legislation coming out of the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Christopher Dodd. She laments the text of the Glass-Steagall Act was hard to find, and her attempts to obtain a copy from the National Archives were answered only by a request for a copying fee of $35 per page. They would send her the first and signature pages, but the remaining 43 pages are apparently caught up in “the new reality of wealth, privilege and access in America.”

However, she remembered where she had found other documents dating from the Great Depression and was able to download it. She was reluctant to post the link, but will send it to anyone who sends her an email at pamk741@aol.com.

I copied it from the site and will be happy to email the Act to anyone who sends me an email with the subject line, “Save Glass-Steagall From Extinction.” (I hesitate to give out the web location for fear the repository that has given the legislation a home will suffer a buyout by Wall Street shortly upon the news leaking out. I say this only half jokingly.)

The document is a protected PDF, so I cannot post the text, but I have uploaded it so it can be accessed here. The wall between commercial and investment banks enforced by that Act was troublesome to the banking industry, so they worked through their stooges in the Clinton Administration to get it repealed. Specifically, if that law had remained in force, the merger between Citibank and Travelers Insurance would be illegal, though the Federal Reserve ignored that, approving the merger over a year before the repeal. In another article published a week later, The Guys Who Got It Wrong: Obama’s Economic Brain Trust Ms. Martens explains how this all came down:

This is what Mr. Summers had to say at the November 12, 1999 signing ceremony for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the draconian legislation that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act and allowed commercial banks holding insured deposits to merge with investment banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies: the very same combinations that led to the 1929 stock market crash and ensuing Great Depression:

Let me welcome you all here today for the signing of this historic legislation. With this bill, the American financial system takes a major step forward towards the 21st century, one that will benefit American consumers, business, and the national economy for many years to come…I believe we have all found the right framework for America’s future financial system.

Mr. Summers was wrong. This was not the “framework for America’s future” but the framework for epic financial collapse. Why isn’t Mr. Summers in an unemployment line along with the millions of Americans his bad judgment call put out of work.

Then there is Neal Wolin, confirmed by President Obama as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury on May 19, 2009. Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 19, 2009, Robert Scheer had this to say about Wolin:

Wolin, Geithner and Summers were all proteges of Robert Rubin, who, as Clinton’s treasury secretary, was the grand author of the strategy of freeing Wall Street firms from their Depression-era constraints. It was Wolin who, at Rubin’s behest, became a key force in drafting the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which ended the barrier between investment and commercial banks and insurance companies, thus permitting the new financial behemoths to become too big to fail. Two stunning examples of such giants that had to be rescued with public funds are Citigroup bank, where Rubin went to ‘earn’ $120 million after leaving the Clinton White House, and the Hartford Insurance Co., where Wolin landed after he left Treasury.

Rounding out the list of those who got it wrong in the Clinton administration who have been brought back to get it wrong again in the Obama administration: Gary Gensler, one of those supporting the de-regulation of derivatives under Clinton, now head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission under President Obama; Gene Sperling, thanked by Lawrence Summers in the opening remarks at the signing of the legislation to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, now counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; and, of course, Geithner himself, former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who served under Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers in Clinton’s Treasury Department from 1999 to 2001.

Ms. Martens concludes,

If financial behemoths collapse from hubris and corruption and lack of meritocracy, why wouldn’t government administrations do the same? President Obama needs to sack the financial wizards who got it wrong and add the common sense folks who got it right.

I think she knows better than most that Obama is unlikely to take that to heart. This all goes to show, Democrats are not serious about financial reform, no more so than they are about health care reform, women’s rights, constitutional rights, or the environment. They are more skillful at pretending they care about these things than Republicans, but actions speak louder than words. It stands to reason that any corporation that becomes “too big to fail” has too much power and influence, and is therefore not just a threat to the financial system, but to democracy itself. This is one reason corporations used to be kept under a tight leash. Power corrupts, and another name for a corporate state is fascism. In light of the recent Supreme Court decision opening the door for corporations to flood politics with unlimited cash in the name of free speech, a fascist corporate state is closer to reality than ever. Is this a democracy in name only? Perhaps when the Obama bubble bursts, there will be more than this halfhearted attempt at financial reform, but as long as the illusion of economic recovery persists, it is business as usual.

Karzai Makes Mockery of Democracy

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

USA, Hamid Karzai, and his Parliament dominated by warlords have created a mockery of democracy in Afghanistan. It has come down to Karzai pushing this law for the Shia minority which will deny women a right to refuse sex with husbands, among other traditional privileges granted males to enforce male power over women. After the news got out, and Karzai got admonished by Hillary Clinton and other outraged leaders, he trumpets the law is being misinterpreted, then he says he will have it thoroughly reviewed. He deserves no credibility. RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) News documents some offensive sections of the new law in Sharia for Shias: ‘Legalised rape’. For instance,

Article 132
(3) The couple should not commit acts that create hatred and bitterness in their relationship, The wife is bound to preen for her husband, as and when he desires.
(4) The husband, except when travelling or ill, is bound to have intercourse with his wife every night in four nights. The wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.

I cannot find the expressions of shock and outrage from world leaders credible. As if they knew nothing of what was afoot? This law was briefly debated in the Parliament, then railroaded through by Karzai as a political stunt. Those who act so shocked that Karzai, alleged ally, would jump at a chance to subordinate women if he thought it could get him a political edge, ought to read RAWA news, or some horror stories in the war news section of this blog. The indifference of the Karzai regime to the rights and safety of women is notorious. The article in the Guardian, ‘Worse than the Taliban’ – new law rolls back rights for Afghan women, also posted at RAWA News, as well as the New York Times in Karzai Vows to Review Family Law, quote Soraya Sobhrang, head of women’s affairs at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, who had worked on this bill for two years. She decried the lack of protest from the international community while the law was debated in the legislature.

‘Worse than the Taliban’ – new law rolls back rights for Afghan women
Jon Boone in Kabul
The Guardian, Tuesday 31 March 2009

Hamid Karzai has been accused of trying to win votes in Afghanistan’s presidential election by backing a law the UN says legalises rape within marriage and bans wives from stepping outside their homes without their husbands’ permission.

The Afghan president signed the law earlier this month, despite condemnation by human rights activists and some MPs that it flouts the constitution’s equal rights provisions.

The final document has not been published, but the law is believed to contain articles that rule women cannot leave the house without their husbands’ permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband sex.

A briefing document prepared by the United Nations Development Fund for Women also warns that the law grants custody of children to fathers and grandfathers only.

Senator Humaira Namati, a member of the upper house of the Afghan parliament, said the law was “worse than during the Taliban”. “Anyone who spoke out was accused of being against Islam,” she said.

The Afghan constitution allows for Shias, who are thought to represent about 10% of the population, to have a separate family law based on traditional Shia jurisprudence. But the constitution and various international treaties signed by Afghanistan guarantee equal rights for women.

Shinkai Zahine Karokhail, like other female parliamentarians, complained that after an initial deal the law was passed with unprecedented speed and limited debate. “They wanted to pass it almost like a secret negotiation,” she said. “There were lots of things that we wanted to change, but they didn’t want to discuss it because Karzai wants to please the Shia before the election.”

The international community has so far shied away from publicly questioning such a politically sensitive issue.

“It is going to be tricky to change because it gets us into territory of being accused of not respecting Afghan culture, which is always difficult,” a western diplomat in Kabul admitted.

Soraya Sobhrang, the head of women’s affairs at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said western silence had been “disastrous for women’s rights in Afghanistan”.

“What the international community has done is really shameful. If they had got more involved in the process when it was discussed in parliament we could have stopped it. Because of the election I am not sure we can change it now. It’s too late for that.”

But another senior western diplomat said foreign embassies would intervene when the law is finally published.

Some female politicians have taken a more pragmatic stance, saying their fight in parliament’s lower house succeeded in improving the law, including raising the original proposed marriage age of girls from nine to 16 and removing completely provisions for temporary marriages.

“It’s not really 100% perfect, but compared to the earlier drafts it’s a huge improvement,” said Shukria Barakzai, an MP. “Before this was passed family issues were decided by customary law, so this is a big improvement.”

Karzai’s spokesman declined to comment on the new law.

From the New York Times article:

The law also outlines rules on divorce, child custody and marriage, all in ways that discriminate against women, said Soraya Sobhrang, commissioner for women’s rights at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

While the law applies only to Shiites, who represent approximately 10 percent of the population, its passage could influence a proposed family law for the Sunni majority and a draft law on violence against women, Ms. Sobhrang said. “This opens the way for more discrimination,” she said.

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said the law represented a “huge step in the wrong direction.”

“For a new law in 2009 to target women in this way is extraordinary, reprehensible and reminiscent of the decrees made by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in the 1990s,” Ms. Pillay said in a statement posted on her agency’s Web site. “This is another clear indication that the human rights situation in Afghanistan is getting worse, not better.”

In addition to the clauses on when women may leave the home and must submit to their husbands, Ms. Pillay said she was concerned about a section that forbids women from working or receiving education without their husband‘s permission.

Ms. Sobhrang, who has been working on the issue for the last two years, said women’s groups and the human rights commissions had worked with Parliament to introduce amendments but then the law was suddenly pushed through with only three amendments. The bill as originally drawn up by Shiite clerics barred a woman from leaving the house without her husband’s permission, she said. The parliamentary judicial commission amended that provision to say that a woman could leave the house “for a legitimate purpose.”

Mr. Karzai cited that provision in a news conference on Saturday, pointing out that the final version of the law did not ban a woman from leaving her house. But Ms. Sobhrang said even as amended the law contravened the Constitution, which recognizes equal rights for men and women. The term “for a legitimate purpose” was open to interpretation, she added.

What is the Afghan government doing, writing an unconstitutional law for a religious minority? Why is Karzai pushing this, just to win reelection? Karzai is a major embarrassment, but what would one expect from a puppet dancing to the strings of Bush and company, who certainly did not give a hoot about rights for women, except as an excuse to justify the war. Are Karzai and the Parliament not making a statement with this law, a way of asserting their independence, daring USA to do something about it?

Obama says America did not choose to fight this war. The people were given no choice. Making Afghanistan pay was the hook, though that nation had only provided shelter to mostly Saudis giving their lives to make USA pay, for maintaining a military base on their holy ground, for instance. Afghanistan was chosen as the scapegoat because Osama bin Laden and company ran warrior schools there. He was an ally against the Soviet Union, and some historians credit that struggle with forcing the collapse of that empire. It was the Vietnam War analogue for Soviet Union, and promises to repeat the lesson for Obama, who is naive or complicit enough to promulgate this fantasy of securing Afghanistan to deny the terrorists a safe haven.

Obama has reservations about Karzai, and has also denounced the new law, but regardless, this mockery of a democracy, created as a corporate friendly shell regime to facilitate the businesses of fossil fuel pipelines and opium, is what Obama is committing to prop up as the cause that could not be more just. USA may not be in a position to tell Karzai to scrap the law, but USA can withdraw support for Karzai, which would probably mean his assassination. His life is worth nothing without protection, getting the fitting nickname Mayor of Kabul. USA has no business trying to occupy Afghanistan or Iraq, and this alacrity to sign away rights for women by this corporate stooge shows how little the Bush experiments in democracy mean. These are sham democracies, where women are worse off than before USA invaded, to set things right? Something went horribly wrong, and if it is all the fault of Bush, why is the Obama policy not a full reversal? These experiments in democracy are total failures, except for a few corporations with sweet contracts supporting the war effort. Obama could renounce it utterly, but has chosen just to shift forces and strategies around, hoping both disasters can be salvaged with his wise leadership? If Obama wants to improve on Bush, or if he thinks rights for women should actually carry some weight, he could renounce recognition of this government headed by Karzai, or get the hell all the way out, preferably both. Obama thinks his strategy will bring America back from the brink. No, that would require abandoning conventional wisdom, from which he has chosen liberally to guide and implement his plans.

President Obama could give up trying to salvage what Bush started. These are not his wars, though he consistently voted to fund them, not wars the people of USA understood, after being sold a bill of goods, a public relations masquerade now shown to have more holes than substance. He could get the troops out of there. They are not wanted and can serve no useful purpose. The occupation plays into the hands of the resistance, which Obama promises to defeat, to deny terrorists a safe haven, but that will never be accomplished by military means, or making alliances with warlords notorious for terrorizing women. Obama could ask the women of RAWA, read their News Archive, get a clue of the views of the women he says he cares about. The occupation has not liberated women, only on paper, and Karzai and that Parliament of warlords has shown how little those words can mean.

Another prominent feminist activist, Sitara Achakzai, was shot down last Saturday in Kandahar. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility. Her friend and fellow member of the provincial council, who asked her name not be published in fear for her own life, was quoted in the Sunday Globe and Mail

“Obviously, we’ve had a brain drain. … Now when we’re slowly trying to think for the future of the country …this is how our country repays people,” Ms. Achakzai’s friend said. “I have no faith in my government. I have no faith in the Taliban. I have no faith in the international community.”

Malalai Joya knows how little those claims of liberated women mean. Here is some of what she said recently about the plight of women in Afghanistan, from The Age in Australia

A voice of hope for Afghanistan’s women
Frud Bezhan
April 14, 2009

“Today, because there is no strong central government, Afghanistan is carved up between these same warlords, who have now filled the shoes of the Taliban,” Joya says. “Afghanistan is once again in the hands of rapists, murderers and extremists.”

She claims that although liberating women was one of the main moral arguments for invading Afghanistan in 2001, the situation for women has continued to deteriorate. “Ninety per cent of women in Afghanistan suffer from domestic violence, 80 per cent of marriages are forced, and the average life expectancy for women is 44 years,” she says.

Joya recounts the harrowing stories of two women she has met. Fatima, the daughter of a poor shopkeeper, was sold to a man, 50, who raped and beat her and then traded her for a dog. Her father did not have the money to buy back his daughter, 23. Shabnum, seven, was kidnapped and raped by three men, who cut her genitals.

“The plight of victims such as these girls is my driving force,” Joya says. “I will never give up my fight for justice, and I’ll continue to try to represent the millions of voiceless Afghan people — especially women and children — who are still being brutalised by warlords and the Taliban. While ordinary women and girls face rape, forced marriages and inhuman acts of abuse daily, women who stand up for their rights and take a public role in society risk being killed or silenced.

Despite the pressure brought to bear by the world community and while acknowledging the contribution of international forces in Afghanistan, Joya believes the US and other foreign powers are making a mockery of democracy and the liberation of Afghan women by empowering the warlords and fundamentalists.

“The US talks about thousands of girls flocking back to school, but the fundamentalists in power are encouraging the destruction of schools, the killing of teachers and the kidnapping of students,” Joya says. “The US also talks about the improving situation for women, but they are committing suicide more than ever. They would rather die than live.”

Yes, President Obama is contributing to this mockery of democracy and the liberation of Afghan women by empowering the warlords and fundamentalists. Calling this new law abhorrent is a nice gesture, but it means about as much as Karzai promising to review it. Karzai has no need to review the law; he knew all along what is wrong with it, and pushed for it anyway. If Shia men want to crack down on their rebellious women, that should be condemned. If the law and President cannot forbid Shia from practicing their oppressive customs, they should at least remain neutral, not codify those customs into law. Clearly maintaining his power matters more to Karzai than rights for women. Since that is his attitude, supporting his government contributes to this mockery. Obama may claim his plan is the best hope for Afghan women, but few of them agree, and they ought to know better than any US politician or general determined to defeat the terrorists.

A Vision for Healing

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Barack Obama has a vision for a changed politics, honoring a preacher John McCain might have chosen with the opening prayer for his inauguration. This is his way of reaching out to all Americans, reaching out to wary Republicans while leaving many of his supporters behind. This is standard old Democratic big tent politics, no great change in policy here. No hesitation to flout international law by bombing Pakistan, not just the requisite dose of bellicose rhetoric for the campaign. Smarting Republicans will not be easily charmed, nor those who supported Obama reluctantly, not their first choice. Sometimes the tent is too big, when efforts to straddle the elusive center matter more than its principles.

Change is coming, but who will benefit? In the name of economic hardship everyone will be asked to sacrifice, but that is not facing the real issues. The model of economics underlying modern capitalism is rabidly self-destructive. This latest bubble bursting was not so hard to predict. Obama has better plans, such as open government, lifting the abortion gag rule, more emphasis on diplomacy and alliances, more careful treatment of prisoners of war, first steps toward nuclear disarmament and a more sustainable way of life, a White House Council on Women and Girls, a White House organic garden, various other reforms, not trifles but nothing radical or unexpected. It remains to be seen what actions will spring from those plans. Among his bad plans are:

Expanding the war on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Taking his time winding down the war on Iraq. Defending Israeli and US war crimes, flouting international law. Stressing patriotism and maintaining military supremacy, claiming our way of life gives USA the moral high ground to project power around the world . Expanding the armed forces and NATO. Clean coal. Any role for nuclear power other than rapid phaseout. Faith-based initiatives. Abstinence as part of sex education, and new restrictions on abortions under mental distress. Promoting agrofuels and genetically engineered crops. Throwing good money after bad, keeping bankrupt crooks afloat. Using any of those extreme executive powers seized by Bush and Cheney with the Patriot Act and its follow ups, while letting them off the hook for their crimes. Promoting reversion to Clinton policies and people as the change we need. Promoting triangulation, selling out core constituencies, as continuity and bipartisanship. Promoting a food safety bill that as written, could ruin small and organic farmers by requiring them to take safety measures prompted by reckless agribusiness practices. Most of these bad plans were readily predictable, within the first weeks of his term.

Among many better plans he will not take on:

Reducing military spending to a minimum necessary to end all occupations, close or turn over all foreign bases, clean up the toxic messes the military-industrial complex has left in its wake, provide a realistic defense against potential invasion, get an international campaign going to decommission all nuclear weapons, research facilities, and power plants, and other indefensible weapons and research programs. Substantial luxury taxes on socially costly indulgences, such as junk food, tobacco, alcoholic beverages and other recreational drugs, unsupportive shoes, cosmetics and cosmetic surgery, unnecessary toxicity or pollution, sexist imagery, resource hogging, solely speculative transactions. Firing Jon Favreau, chief Obama speechwriter featured in a picture on Facebook of his gleeful mug and another Obama staffer groping a Hillary Clinton mockup. Firing the lot of military industrial friendly bureaucrats Obama picked to implement his plans. Abolishing slavery of all kinds, including sexual, and making it an important human rights issue around the world. Abolishing poverty by funding appropriate shelter, nutrition, health care, rehabilitation, education, day care for everyone who wants or needs it, so nobody has to remain stuck in a bad job, relationship, or sexual slavery to survive. Teaching boys thoroughly there is nothing salutary, manly, or legal about raping, battering, harassing, or buying women as part of comprehensive sex education. Banning dress codes requiring women to wear cosmetics or constricting or revealing clothing. Abolishing genetic engineering and cloning, at least outside the laboratory, as examples of science going too far, violating the precautionary principle. Getting toxic chemicals out of food, water, air as fast as possible. Stop subsidizing big agribusiness. Stop logging old growth and using wood for purposes where substitution is easy, such as paper. Nullify the free trade agreements, World Trade Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Federal Reserve Bank. Forget about biofuels, from corn or high tech. The focus on embryonic stem cells is misplaced, since other sources are more promising and less trouble. The focus on prescription drugs is misplaced, since other means are often more promising and less trouble. The focus on metaphorical wars is worse than misplaced, but expected of leaders of an empire.

Examples of misplaced focus abound, since the economic model is corrupted at its source by its assumptions about the value and meaning of hierarchy, capital, competition, incorporation, life itself. Capitalism has long been not about free markets or competition, but has devolved into bailing out insolvent companies too big to fail. That such could exist violates the principle of a competitive free market. The system is not even true to its own principles, let alone principles that affirm life, but will be defended to the last breath by the new leadership as well as the old. The system has revealed its fatal core rot. Let the institutions that deserve to fail die by their sword, unbridled debt and undeserved abusive power. There could be fulfilling work for all, but not under these fundamentally messed up conventional models.

Priorities as well as values and principles of those models are all backwards, designed and working to preserve power and privilege, not for common people. Obama will try to have it both ways, but his plans are too little, too late to do much about this mess. He thinks part of the answer is people acting more responsibly. This has some relevance, but the models underlying the way of life he touts as needing no apology encouraged rich people acting irresponsibly to get the world economy into this bind, inventing vehicles for reckless speculation fueled by cheap debt. Breaking up all the companies too big to fail might seem inconceivable, but it was not so long ago that these were denounced as monopolistic, and forced to split into multiple companies. Antitrust legislation was passed for good reasons, though enforcement has been lax, as a rule. Corporations used to be set up for specific purposes requiring a pool of capital. The idea of a corporate bottom line of short-term profit is among modern corruptions that make such a mockery of competitive free enterprise and fair play.

Those ideals Obama touts so proudly are sullied by blood. Some of that blood is already on his hands, authorizing full speed ahead on the Pakistan front, and hardly a word of protest at the rampage in Gaza. Democrats run scared from the soft on terror label, showing why the nation will not regain the moral high ground it squandered after blowback struck home. Obama was the last hope of Pakistanis to avoid confrontation over the raids, but he wasted no time dashing that, leaving the people of Pakistan to wonder how much worse could things get now that their neighbor and its people hiding in Pakistan are to be the central front of the war. It seems people in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are still fair game for the war on terror, because they are sheltering terrorists, and who knows what Obama will do about Iran when his vaunted tough diplomacy gets nowhere. Is this a war on terror, or of terror? Is this a vision for healing, or is that just a mirage created by a master of illusion? Obama exudes confidence his plans will work. If they accomplish anything, it will be when the business cycle has run its course, or when he is forced by harsh reality to give radical ideas a chance.

Competition for dominance was bound to produce bad consequences, because it is a distorted fundamental value of warlike cultures. It may seem innocuous if one does not think too hard about it. Competition could be about other things, like being the best one can be, providing a better product or service, finding a better way to do or look at anything, honing a skill or talent, building on what works to make it better, and so on. In and of itself, competition is not a bad thing, but warlike culture makes it vicious, cutthroat, cannibalistic, dog eat dog, racist, me first and the hell with whoever or whatever gets in the way, men feeling entitled to rape, assault, harass, devalue, and buy women. The concept of power is closely tied to this valuation of dominance. Power over others is a heady emotion, enabling the atrocities of war and all sorts of other symptoms of this rotten culture, though its practitioners prattle endlessly on their good intentions. Power that empowers is internal, creative, inspiring, passionate, furiously resisting abuse of power. This kind of power is out of political power, but would turn politics as we know it on its head. People with integrity of character and vision could do that, but politics as we know it rejects them as idealistic impractical radicals whose ideas are ivory tower utopian fantasies that could never work. Instead politics presents mainstream versions of pragmatism, conventional wisdom, which can only appear to work through illusions and bubbles, motivated by fear and greed. Where is the sense of perspective in that, looking out for future generations? Unfortunately politicians have learned how to fake concern about the future to convince people how much they care. It remains to be seen what Obama will try, but his initial forays to deal with this colossal mess he inherited are surface treatment desperation measures cloaked in a cool confident manner, as if confidence in him could be the new bubble to obscure what really must be worked through.

There are better ways. There are more where those came from. For example, see the campaign blog Heart put together for 2008, or What This Feminist Revolution Could Accomplish from last January.

A Case Against Obama Nation

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Obama Girl says in her video It’s Hopeless, directed at Hillary Clinton, which made ABC News back in March,

It’s become an Obama Nation…
We all have a crush on Obama

Anyone reading this, contrary to the perspectives behind those notions and the new swiftboating book Obama Nation, is not likely altogether convinced Barack Obama is a different kind of politician, or represents the kind of change one can believe in. The change he represents, I have heard it all before. He is a kinder gentler figurehead of the corporate state. His candidacy is different, not because he is such a different kind of Democratic politician, but his perspective is not that of a white man. His erstwhile primary opponent shared that distinction. This is significant, but their moderate posture is not otherwise groundbreaking, not the kind of root change needed to solve the problems of this time, slightly more rational on domestic policy, but on foreign policy, more of the same, while shifting primary focus of the war efforts from Iraq to what some call the just war, or real war on terror, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This is from a recent flyer asking for money, substituting bold for underlined. What is it with is for these slick Democrats? Here is the Obama brand of change as of that flyer, already slightly revised for the next, the underlined is noticeably absent.

Change is a tax code that rewards work instead of wealth. Change is a health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it, and an education policy that gives every child a chance at success.

Change is ending a war in Iraq that should never have been authorized, and finishing a war against al-Qaida in Afghanistan that should have never been ignored.

(My name), that’s what change is. And that is the choice in this election.

It’s more of the same versus change. It’s the past versus the future. This choice has confronted generations before us. And now it is our turn to choose.

His message for a recent Democratic National Committee fund raiser substituted:

Change is an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and workers who create it. Change is a health care plan that guarantees affordable coverage to all who want it. And change is ending a war in Iraq that should never have been authorized and never been waged and that distracted us from winning the war against al-Qaeda. That’s what change is.

When the proposed future looks like the usual stale veneer of a kinder gentler version of corporate empire, Democratic style, a different kind of choice confronts the people. More of the same, with a slight swerve toward moderate politics, or turn it all around to clean up this mess politicians like these choices have fostered while pretending to the public, everything is under control, there is no cause for alarm, the experts know what they are doing. Obama thinks he can send some more troops to Afghanistan and its people will come around, the job can be finished with military victory there, terrorists smoked out of Pakistan, and friendly Iraqis running Iraq? Obama is dreaming. I can say that with confidence, because I am a dreamer. The Free Soil plan to end the war on terror is more visionary and feasible than his, no comparison. Obama is predictably selective about who is eligible for negotiation, and under what conditions. Free Soil supports a full accounting of all the war crimes on all sides. That means stopping this pretense to hold the moral high ground, negotiating with those these politicians dismiss as envious evil terrorists, the ringleaders Obama and McCain promise to eliminate. USA has lost whatever shaky claim to moral high ground staked after agents of blowback delivered that act of war that could not go ignored, even by a complacent citizen of empire.

Obama finally renounced his Pastor Jeremiah Wright, not for things he said that made me bristle, but for reiterating some inconvenient truths about US foreign and domestic policy. The war on terror is doomed to defeat, because it is battling rebellion against empire. No empire can stand for long, and these days any attempt will fall amazingly fast, this one already showing manifold effects of internal rot, its economy tottering precariously on a house of cards as mountains of junk debt devalue, while a few mostly white men get richer. To maintain the Obama image matters more than truth, so he can say he will finish the war on terror. How he expects anyone with an ounce of sense to believe that shows his arrogant disregard for reality. What does he mean, finish the war? I shudder to imagine what Obama might do to show how tough he can be on those terrorists. From Bloomberg, July 13

“I continue to believe that we’re under-resourced in Afghanistan and that that is the real sediment for terrorist activity that we have to deal with, and deal with aggressively,” Obama told reporters while campaigning in San Diego today.

Afghanistan is notorious for not staying conquered. What makes Obama think this time will be different? How does he expect to find the recruits to expand the ground forces? This is from the text of his remarks on Iraq and Afghanistan published in the New York Times on July 15.

I will restore our strength by ending this war, completing the increase of our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines, and investing in the capabilities we need to defeat conventional foes and meet the unconventional challenges of our time.

He sounds like another warmonger to me, but he wants to fight the real war, hoping a US friendly Iraqi government and army will be able to take over there. I see parallels to Vietnamization. It might be possible, if the occupation ended smoothly, but not if US keeps meddling and blaming Iraqis for the violence and not meeting milestones, like that peculiar oil sharing agreement to divvy up oil profits, intended to give control of Iraqi oil to transnational oil companies. These milestones were not meant for the benefit of Iraqis, as they would see it. The point is this change Obama touts is another bunch of timid pseudo solutions people who can remember have come to expect from Democrats, lofty promises never meant to be delivered. Obama talks about health insurance for all and a chance for success for every child. Success as a cog in some corporate machine, or an education policy that gives everyone a fair and reasonable chance to develop their talents and skills? Free Soil has a few things to tell Senator Obama about the meaning of change. There is no need for health insurance if necessary health care is taken as a basic right, as an essential consequence of the right to life.

That right was not meant for a fetus, but Obama thinks if the fetus is far enough along, so-called partial birth abortion can be declared illegal unless birth would endanger the health of the mother. The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act Congress passed in 2003 is vague, banning a medical procedure, with no health exception, not only used for late-term abortion, so what late means is up for dispute, the label just another distortion to inflame people against abortion. Obama is the new Mr. Slick, pretending to have a perfect pro-choice record, ignoring the twists thrown on the common sense notion that women should not have late-term abortions unless necessary for health reasons, since after viability the procedure is generally more hazardous for a woman not otherwise expecting complications than carrying the baby to term. The procedure is rarely used, but is sometimes the best alternative before viability, so it is not a trivial matter if Obama would support this bill, with a health exception. It does appear he would not oppose a ban after viability with more limited mental health exceptions than exist in present law. Then there were controversies about him saying sweetie to a reporter, coded language about Senator Clinton, and his present votes in the Illinois state legislature, instead of no on five anti-choice bills, on request of Planned Parenthood as a practical political strategy, but protested by NOW. Is this practical politics at work? Since his supposed trustworthiness on abortion and other feminist issues is a big Democratic selling point for women, one might wonder, what principle will he not sell out in his quest for the center of conventional wisdom?
(more…)

Open Letter to Omar Osama bin Laden

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Mr. Omar Osama bin Laden, as a great many women, and some men, oppose much of US foreign policy in general, this endless global war on terror in particular, the Free Soil Party would like to discuss with you and your wife your efforts for peace, and the truce offers made by your father. Diplomacy to end the jihad by engaging the issues driving it has been nowhere on the agenda of the leading candidates. Politicians painstakingly paint their positions into a corner, arguing over strategy and tactics to win the war on terror instead of how to negotiate its end, or at least a truce. Last summer Feminist Diplomacy was posted on the Free Soil home site and blog, making an argument for negotiating a truce with the jihad identified with Osama bin Laden. The point being, it is possible — however difficult it may be, that is expected — to negotiate in good faith with anyone with some sense of honor intact, which should include the devil of Christian mythology as well as Osama bin Laden. I am not suggesting a connection, but others have, while others proclaim USA is the great Satan, on a new Crusade. On top of all the past and recent grievances on all sides, the restrictions on women to the proper place prescribed by fundamentalist interpretations of Islam, with such severe punishments for violators, all make for tense negotiations. This is not an atmosphere like negotiating normalizing friendly trading partner relations. That part of the cultural clash is not important to US politicians, but is to Free Soil, recognizing the implications.

Trade is a separate issue from war, but a trade war on principle could substitute for physical hostilities. This is to suggest, one possible settlement of a war is mutual boycott, or slightly less stringent trade barriers, since friendly relations are out of the picture. This jihad is a different kind of war, making such avenues as could settle limited tribal or national battles presumably irrelevant. There is widespread suspicion or disbelief that anyone could convince the loosely knit confederacy that has arisen to the call of jihad to stand down, or even that the offer was meant to be more than a formality, bluff, or bad joke. This is not a simple matter, negotiating a truce that will stick, but that does not mean the truce offer should be dismissed or ridiculed, as it has been, for the most part, as if war is the only way, USA has no choice but to wage perpetual revenge for 9/11. At what point does one call crossing the line, enough revenge, torture, plunder, death, birth defects, destruction, refugees, too much already, or not in my name? USA has major credibility problems trying to claim moral high ground on anything in the light all this.

Iraq is safe territory for Democratic politicians to timidly dissent, but that aside, what kind of escalation of the real war on terror are they likely to instigate? Pakistan, one likely scapegoat, is already plenty destabilized, which can only get worse as Barack Obama and John McCain vie to outhawk each other on waging the real war on terror, ignoring what is really going down, refusing to recognize it is predictably disaster on all fronts, succeeding only in wreckage, plunder, and creating more and fiercer enemies. Pakistan is already tired of US attacks and meddling, supporting Pervez Musharraff after he was so decisively repudiated in the election, and may not be expected to remain an ally in any sense if that meddling keeps up. Obama is willing to talk to some enemies, if they speak for nations with oil or nuclear weapons? In contrast, in a comment to Feminist Diplomacy, I cited a Reuters story about a group of diplomats who think it is time to talk to al Qaeda, though the discussion makes it sound like a strategy to win through diplomatic ruse. Talking to al Qaeda? Don’t rule it out, some say

So the idea of negotiations is being discussed by a few important people. The Democratic candidates do not represent Free Soil, for a multitude of reasons. One is, as I blogged here, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were arguing over whether to take nuclear weapons off the table in anticipated fresh attacks on Pakistan. The place for women in my world is no paradise, men devaluing and terrorizing women in various vicious ways, but under the laws women have some rights, implied theoretical equality, with certain crucial loopholes, such as explicit equality. Western men had to be dragged kicking and screaming, but after persistent effective activism women won those rights, including the critical rights to vote and run for office, though women are far from being safe or respected as due, in general. The prevalence of rape and battering is one example of how unreliable male self-control is, relapsing into brutality for revenge. Muslim theocracy raises some different issues for women, perhaps another matter for diplomacy, if talks could progress from truce to airing and peaceful settlement of differences. Feminist Diplomacy describes what it might take to end the jihad:

… creating a forum to hear grievances, an international tribunal to settle all issues peacefully, negotiating compensation for legitimate grievances. Terror is a desperate tactic of people whose grievances are ignored, rather exacerbated by official reaction to protests. Recognizing this is not appeasement or justifying exceptionally deplorable acts of terror, rather recognizing enemies have legitimate issues is critical to negotiating a workable agreement to stop the killing, on the basis of there being a way to air all legitimate grievances for fair hearing and reasonable compensation. This is in no way about justifying terrorism, but pointing out how belligerent policy aggravates the matter, trying to force compliance with demands instead of negotiate a live and let live in peace agreement.

Free Soil renounces US foreign policy across the board, so this is a matter of principle, finding a way, however difficult it may be to work out, to live in peace regardless of differences. We are all the same species, sharing the same planet, who must find less belligerent ways if intelligent life is to survive. I cannot dismiss the prospect Bush will do more than snipe at Pakistan with occasional drone missions, activate those persistently rumored plans to bombard Iran, with nuclear bunker busters for fortified underground targets. John Conyers has promised to impeach Bush if he attacks Iran without getting approval from Congress, but even that might not get any traction with the party leadership. Negotiating a fair truce that will stick is a practical goal, unlike winning a war on terror, and any assistance you could provide would be welcomed by a fair sized segment of the Western world sickened by the mockery of everything decent and honorable going on in the name of defeating the jihad. Others may mock or dismiss you, but they are less popular than they think. If Free Soil has anything to say about it, there will be negotiations for a truce next year, and high politicians on trial, for war crimes and violating the Constitution, verging on treason. If you would like to discuss these matters, send a response or contact to editor@freesoil.org. A contact would not be published, but your response could be published on the Free Soil Party blog and allied blogs, if you do not mind.

This war on terror is such a hopeless travesty, revenge for blowback from militant Muslims who used to be allies, against Soviet Union. I do not know how anyone can think these wars are eventually going to force or convince mujahadeen to surrender. People are supposedly intelligent reasoning animals knowing how to settle differences without spilling blood. It requires willingness to negotiate, and a way to air grievances in a neutral setting so they can be fairly appraised for legitimacy and compensation. That could be other than monetary, such as assistance with rebuilding or renewable energy projects. Politicians in power may not have any interest in negotiating with designated terrorists, but others who represent real people, as opposed to big business interests, would talk to anyone if it will help to stop this war on terror. The planet cannot stand much more of the same old same old. What these wars have done to Afghanistan and Iraq is a war crime of proportion vastly exceeding the toppling of the World Trade Center towers, arguably a military target. Iraq has a plague of deformed babies from depleted uranium dust on the winds, no doubt also contributing heavily to Gulf War syndrome. We are people, not maniacal brutes. We have marvelous brains. Let us talk out a way to share the planet peacefully in spite of our differences. Vengeful men may not find any way to settle differences besides bloodletting, but that does not mean, there can be no other way. I say to all enemies, on the honor of what you believe, let us talk about truce and find another way to settle differences!

Let the naysayers wag about how this is how it has always been and must always be. War is not the only way. War is never the best way, though self-defense may require it. These are traditional ways of ancient conquering hordes, battles over territory devolving into a slow parade of empires having their day in the sun, all destroyed by resistance and internal rot. This is a new millennium and should be open to new ways. USA must renounce all aspirations to empire, no more enforcing its will as police force of the world, defiant of international law and opposition. All the candidates for President are calling for change, so the word has little meaning left under the convolutions piled on it for political spin. They are emphatically not calling for negotiating a truce or halt to the war on terror. Democrats want to concentrate on the real war on terror, code for taking out Osama bin Laden, killing al Qaeda or Taliban wherever they can be found, hoping Iraq can manage its own affairs as troops trickle out, while keeping the gargantuan embassy complex secure. That embassy fronts for a large military installation. USA should get out and stay out of Iraq, as well as the sordid business of toppling governments US politicians find objectionable. That complex will remain a target unless it is dismantled or turned over to Iraq. Republicans would do likewise on the Afghanistan and covert fronts, perhaps more aggressively trying to keep Iraq under chaotic control.

Free Soil has a different plan and ways of seeing things. It is a difference in fundamental vision of what can be. Barack Obama caught a glimpse of that and tries to claim it for himself, though it belongs to no one. He says he is willing to talk to some avowed foes, but designated terrorists like Hamas and Osama bin Laden are not on the list. If leaders of the jihad are willing to negotiate for a truce in good faith, that could be seized upon as an opportunity to negotiate an end to this war on terror. Western officials scoffed, if they recognized the truce offers at all. They are officials of democracies, so people can replace them with others more representative of the interests of the people. Many may scoff at negotiating with terrorists, but if the wave for negotiating for a peace settlement takes off, it will leave them behind.

Something Missing in CA Green Party Statement of Purpose

Friday, January 4th, 2008

This is the California Green Party Statement of Purpose, from the California Presidential Primary Election Official Voter Information Guide

GREEN PARTY

Voting Green for president is voting for the only national party that:

* Supports immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, closing Guantanamo, and ending the anti-civil liberties Patriot Act.
* Supports immediate, strong measures to address climate change through efficiency, conservation, and clean renewable energy.
* Supports universal healthcare.
* Openly acknowledges the 2000 Florida election process was stolen and led the 2004 Ohio recount.
* Supports voter verifiable auditable paper trails and open source coding for computer voting machines to mitigate future election fraud.
* Supports abolishing the outdated Electoral College and replacing it with a national popular vote.
* Supports instant runoff voting to allow voters to rank candidates, protecting majority rule and voter choice.
* Supports 100% public financing of campaigns; free time for candidates on our publicly owned radio and TV airwaves; and repeal of unfair ballot access laws that privilege major parties and obstruct third parties and independents.
* Supports proportional representation, same-day voter registration, and a constitutional right to vote.
* Opposes the early primary scheduling shuffle that rewards big money/media campaigns at the expense of community-based, grassroots organizing.
* Supports more than just two voices in the general election presidential debates.
* Supports living wages, immigrants’ rights, and education not incarceration.

Most of those ideas I would also support, but there is a glaring omission here. Missing in action is any specific mention of rights for women, unconscionable for a party claiming feminism as a key value. Is recruiting Cynthia McKinney and (presumably) Cindy Sheehan supposed to be enough to satisfy feminists? The Democratic Party statement mentions they will continue fighting for a woman’s right to choose. The Peace and Freedom and Libertarian parties mention equal rights for all. Are these supposed to be too obvious to merit any mention for the Greens?

Perhaps progressive really is the new mainstream, so rights for women are too controversial for such a progressive party to make a top priority. The Greens put the priorities of the male left up front and center. What else is new.

I am a bit heartened to see the Democratic Party statement include a woman’s right to choose, since the national leadership has been lukewarm on that issue, too keen on swing voters to take a strong stand.

Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

The devil is in the details. Nobody defends actually violent radicals or real terrorists, but is that whom this crackdown is after? There are screams on the Internet about the vagueness of this bill, passed by the House 404-6. Dennis Kucinich voted against, and Ron Paul did not vote. It went to Senate committee in October. It may not pass muster in the senior chamber so easily. One can only hope.

The bill calls for studying how to fight what it calls violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism, which presumably means spying on especially disliked dissenters. Eco-terrorists are high on that list. The word terror is used deliberately to demonize such dissent, and it often has nothing to do with reality, more like high officials pursuing personal vendettas against groups interfering with business plans. I have wondered how long it would take Big Brother to get around to spying on me or Heart. I might hope the effort would be spared, being so averse to coercion generally, though I will defend all peaceful forms of dissent. To draw where the line is crossed into coercive action is a matter of interpretation, which it is why government cannot be trusted to protect itself from forms of dissent it considers coercive. Dissent is not a luxury for officials to decide what forms are tolerable. Government must tolerate all peaceful forms, stop sending spies to incite violence. This is a country with a constitution and bill of rights, loophole ridden they may be, and a simple disclaimer to respect that is not credible, especially under this ultra portentous atmosphere created since the towers came crashing down.

The Bill of Missing Rights would throw this bill right out, unless it defines specifically exactly whom it is intended to fight. It might make sense to crack down on bombers of abortion clinics or rapists or batterers or hate groups like KKK, but somehow I think Congress has dissenters in mind. I will comment further on the final version, but in the meantime, there is still time to lean on your Senators to reject this unwarranted expansion of domestic spying. Like one would expect from our spy agencies, this plan is not like how it appears to be on its face. That would spoil their fun. I do not know what this incremental approach to intrusion on dissenters could possibly be meant to accomplish, besides fulfilling some dystopia. Big Brother would be proud of this bill. Anyone claiming to respect civil liberties who voted for this bill should be ashamed and think about it. But those Democrats fear inviting the weak on terror label, so they must show how tough they can be. The same has gone for crime, so this bipartisan assault on civil liberties is nothing new. The excuse for trampling the Constitution under the security blanket is different.

What This Feminist Revolution Could Accomplish

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Feminist revolution may sound scary because of fools who insist on distorting what it means. Men valuing male privilege do have lots to lose. It means women are so fed up with all men do to women, children, each other, and the planet that the ideas and ways of men have lost all claim to any unearned deference, trust, or credence. Whoever among men disavows prevailing ideas and ways should make it known, or they might as well be complicit. This is to say, men have a choice. Women can meet men halfway, but owe our oppressors nothing, and will fight back when attacked. Women have enemies willing to threaten anything to shut down our voices of revolution. As a mild sample from self-proclaimed great defenders of free speech, “the Free Soil Party website has been taken down by the Internet Police [edited from Anonymous].” I had not known that side of the perils of internet warfare. I had seen verbal trolling, spam, threats, vendettas, but that was no idle boast. The site had to be moved to where it could be well protected. Heart, a primary target as candidate for President, along with her friend whose candor on her forum got their attention, got hit much worse.

In defiance of all attempts to silence me, past or future, I say this. Women are revolting. The prevalent ideas and ways are toxic, emphatically not in our best interest, to be generous. There are always better ways, though improvements may range from minor, such as the Hillary touch on business as usual, to major overhaul necessary to substantially limit the damage, to the total revisioning necessary to reverse all the damage. There are ways to detoxify, rethink, revision, create a different reality, restore natural balance in our lives and the environment to whatever extent possible, as a goal instead of willfully trashing natural balance as a means to profit and subordination. It is not necessary or wise to foul our nest or resort to physical coercion against others, unless they initiate violence. No theory, system, or philosophy invented by man is free of corruption from the cultural rot of this order, based and dependent on fundamental imbalance between male and female, extended to all manner of hierarchy for its own sake.

On a level field, competition could be about quality instead of winning. Taxes could be mostly on luxuries. The hierarchical value system is thoroughly messed up, rigged beyond meaningful hope of reform or repair, headed for environmental collapse not so far off. Feminist revolution could supplant it top to bottom with philosophy that affirms life and balance, values people and other beings regardless of how they look, for their gifts, diversity, uniqueness, skills, effort, who they are by their own lights, their own sense of purpose and meaning.

It is about time to try out ideas of a feminist revolution. Women want our say, our chance to try out ideas, make everything from the economy to relationships work in ways that respect ideas from anyone according to the respect they are due, on merit. Respect is more than I can expect from enemies. Their conventional wisdom I scorn, as worn out shadows cast by their distortions of reality, with predictable disastrous consequences, such a sad, gross corruption of what reality could mean on this planet. As a sample of what that means, this is a sneak preview of the Free Soil Party platform currently in development, bearing in mind it is not like feminist revolutionaries such as myself, my web site editor, Heart, or friends, are blessed with free time or funds for a campaign, grassroots working women all. Men can be friends, those who prove deserving. Language and reality are being reclaimed, agreement is not expected, perfect agreement is not possible. The party has its basic principles it will honor and fight to bring about.

The system is fundamentally corrupt, rigged to perpetuate the existing hierarchical order, all the way down to its core value and belief systems.

There is no political reality, besides what men create to maintain the system. That deserves no more credence than any other illusion men have created for their benefit.

Artificial hierarchies of any kind cannot be allowed to abuse authority.

At least a truce will be negotiated with all enemies willing to negotiate in good faith.

To break down the hierarchical order, a first step will be to roll back all hostile takeovers, another abuse of this unbridled exchange economy known as modern capitalism. Businesses should grow by providing quality products or services, not by taking over rivals or otherwise exploiting political or economic clout to force competitors out of business.

The free trade agreements are the modern face of colonialism and should be dismantled.

A Pollution Abatement Corps will clean up toxic messes, equip buildings to collect solar energy, and build wind farms in suitable locations worldwide to phase out nuclear power and fossil fuels as soon as possible.

Toxic chemicals will be phased out as quickly as possible, heavily taxed as luxuries to encourage alternatives.

All sacred cows are under challenge at the Free Soil Party.

(That is a relatively recent statement of principles and high priority goals. The following is one of the oldest, nearly unchanged over a quarter century. The party was founded nearly thirty years ago by four women deciding our consciousness raising group was diverse and political enough to form a political party. Intent on abolishing sex roles, the original basis of slavery, we revived the name Free Soil, an abolitionist party preceding the less radical Republican Party, which took its time, but did abolish slavery during the war, then passed constitutional amendments granting black men rights, excluding women by design. Both big parties have practiced the art of betraying women to this day.)

Bill of Missing Rights

Whereas, the original bill of rights permitted slavery of Blacks and women, trashing the environment, and other abuses of economic and political might too plentiful to list; Free Soil therefore declares the following rights fundamentally necessary to secure blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all:

The right to nourishment, shelter, and professional care sufficient for good health, with fully informed choice among all alternatives, excepting unwarranted invasive experiments or life support efforts beyond the scope of public support.

The right to noninterference and privacy; the property, dignity, actions, and bodies of people define an inviolable zone against uninvited intrusions, excepting government or business authorities, and people under clearly warranted suspicion of violating or threatening some right of another person.

The right to sufficient basic and vocational education to qualify for a job reasonably consistent with the talents, abilities, and potential of a person. Those people demonstrating unusual creative abilities would be allowed three years of self directed apprenticeship to develop independence. While attaining sufficient skills for survival, no person should be held liable to pay for survival.

The right to procreative and sexual autonomy; birth control, abortion, child care, and assistance to escape abuse should be readily available, at least as high quality public health services, and household work should be fairly compensated.

The right to full information on anything potentially dangerous to a person, including: All possible side effects of any ingredient of anything one may ingest, and of any poisons, irradiation, drugs, hormones, and other treatments used in its production. All possible consequences of medical procedures and exposure to hazards in work, living, and other environments. All files which concern one’s interests or government activities, excepting methods of producing weapons of mass destruction. The right to know belongs to the people, not bureaucrats.

The right to effective prevention of unwarranted disruptions of ecological quality and balance, including: nuclear power; radioactive, ozone depleting, and other unconfined unselective harmful substances; high energy waves; genetically engineered forms of life; endangering species; deforestation; monoculture; cloud seeding; overfishing; whaling; and other irresponsible practices. An appropriate bounty shall be paid for evidence of covert polluting or poaching. The people or legislators of any state or locality may vote for additional specific restrictions, including banning or taxing the production, sale, or use of any selected polluting substance within that area.

The right to fair and equal consideration and opportunity, before the law, and in all fields of endeavor, without regard to sex, ethnicity, or persuasion.

Nothing in this Bill shall be construed to deny or limit any right defined in the Constitution or its Amendments, as Amendment IX states: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The people of any local community or state may vote to overrule any restrictions on rights, or tighten rules on business activities, regardless of previous recognition.

Child Protective Services Prosecutes Mother For Defying Doctor

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

She is fighting mad. Her son had malignant melanoma, but a mysterious black salve got rid of it. CPS could not let that stand, got her thrown in jail, then put on trial for her affront. The outcome is unknown to me at this time. Ms. Laurie Jessop and her son were put under gag order, but what happened before trial is documented here.

Mother Jailed, Put On Trial for Curing Her Son of Melanoma

An unholy alliance of California Child Protective Services (CPS) with a hostile doctor and judge is attempting to railroad Laurie Jessop, framed as a threat to her son and the establishment for finding a way to cure him of malignant melanoma. She is now on trial, under a gag order, since she had gone to the press. When she was arrested, she was put in maximum security, solitary confinement, in the Orange County, CA jail. They claim that everything about. her says anti-Establishment, so she was told, as she was considered a threat in starting a riot.

The following Monday, June 18th, Laurie and Chad turned themselves in to the San Diego Social Services office, with all of their documentation. They were detained for 4 hours, then told that arrest warrants for Laurie and Chad were issued from Orange County. Chad was locked up at the Palenskie Center in San Diego for one night. He had 2 guards watching him around the clock, since he was considered a flight risk. When Laurie went to visit Chad they could not have any privacy, as both guards listened to every word that was said. Laurie spent over nine thousand bucks in San Diego for the treatments done over the five week period of time, and has all the receipts as proof. A new social worker, David Harper, was put on the case. He picked Chad up in San Diego transporting him to Orangewood Children’s Home in Orange County for the next two weeks, where he got fed spaghetti and meat balls, food not fitting one healing from cancer. One aspect of Chad’s treatment was a healthy diet of living foods, but Ms. Jessop’s requests of this social worker that Chad get proper food fell on deaf ears. He did tell her she was allowed to see her daughter graduate from Junior High School. She told him nobody could keep her away without a court order, and that she would be there! The social worker informed Laurie that he completed the paper work to lift the warrant order on her.

After her daughter’s graduation, on June 21st Laurie went to make academic arrangements for her son, having missed five weeks of school. Laurie showed the documentation to the principal and vice principal. The Vice Principal knew Chad well, as Chad did his Eagle Scout project for him at the high school. Chad is now an advanced Eagle Scout. No matter, the VP called police to arrest Laurie at the school and haul her off to the county jail. The arresting deputy harassed her. When Laurie protested, the officer told her she didn’t have to like her or be nice to her. After arriving at the county jail, her first telephone call had been to the social worker, David Harper, although he did nothing to get her out of jail, nor was he willing to help correct the record. Laurie was physically abused, they spread her legs twisting her knee, when she complained they called out “Resisting…Resisting” then they pushed her violently to a cell wall (behind the cameras) causing her to twist her neck, shoulder and arm. After being worked over, they took away her jacket, shoes, socks, and toilet paper, and locked her up. Her holding cell was extremely cold and she was deliberately denied toilet paper. She asked for toilet paper, only to be answered it must have been taken for good reason and she was not getting any. She was denied toilet paper from approximately 3:30pm until 11:00pm. One has to wonder, what was she going to do with the toilet paper, hang herself? By 11:00 pm Laurie got taken to be assessed. She asked “is this a madhouse run by animals, who is running this place?” Laurie told this officer her story for half an hour. He let her talk, then said he sees all kinds of characters, his job is to ascertain threats. He told her she has the fire, the spirit and the power to overturn the system and create a riot. He informed her she’d be put in solitary confinement, but she might get a roommate, probably a drug offender. She was forced to take a chest X-ray against her will, without any explanation and ridicule from the officers. Laurie and her two children have never been in any type of trouble with the law, but were treated like hardened criminals. She was shocked to learn women taking showers have no privacy, that male guards are watching. The next night she got a 58-year old roommate charged with kidnapping her children from her husband 20 years ago, after being extradited from Tennessee on outdated bogus charges tagged with 200 thousand bail.

This kind of meddling is nothing new for CPS. One might wonder if they exist to make the lives of single mothers hell. Rose Cherrix and her son, having gone through similar trouble, commented on that entry. They are developing a site to tell their story. They got a law passed in Virginia to give some rights to choose alternative treatments if the parent and child wish to make that informed choice. Ms. Jessop is trying to spearhead a similar law in California. None of this would be necessary if people in positions of authority did not feel entitled to force official standards of cancer treatment down our throats. The rights of fully informed choice and noninterference defined in the Free Soil Bill of Missing Rights would have prevented CPS from putting Ms. Jessop and her son Chad through this utterly pointless nightmare. It was bad enough they had to go into hiding on the run. Chad received many treatments in a few weeks, and is now cancer free, a healthy young man of 17.

There was no reason to hound them, confine them, abuse Ms. Jessop in jail and feed Chad junk food, all the while insisting he must undergo standard treatment or face impending death. At their hands, perhaps he would have died. They are sure the cancer has spread, so Ms. Jessop may be found guilty of whatever bogus charge they can find that fools the jury, or she may have aces up her sleeve. She is supposed to appear later today at a meeting in Los Angeles so I expect an update will appear soon.

Regardless of the outcome, the point is, the ordeal authorities abusing their position put this mother and son through never had to happen, except under this peculiar democracy that mandates a doctor to give orders impacting life and death to override the wishes of both mother and child, enforced by hostile bureaucrats, law enforcement, and judge. A case like this should fall apart and backfire on the abusers of authority, but the legal system is such that single mothers can be put through hell with impunity. Ms. Jessop is not giving in. She is determined to change all that. I wish her the best with this effort. I urge all women, and thoughtful rebel men, to question what conventional authorities tell us about everything, every last sacred cow we are expected to take on faith. These are all under challenge here at the Free Soil Party.

I will have more to say later. I have been awaiting an update about Ms. Jessop for weeks.

(edited to make corrections)

The update has been delayed, but I expect it soon.

Free Burma!

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Free Burma!

This is my contribution to the International Bloggers’ Day for Burma. The military regime there has gotten a heavy dose of bad publicity, long overdue, for its crackdown on protests by Buddhist monks. The regime has the nerve to blame foreigners for the crackdown. The brutality is nothing new for the regime, only the publicity. The Karen Women’s Organization has extensively documented a long history of brutal repression against the Karen people, especially the women, raped and enslaved with impunity. From their State of Terror report in February 2007, on the ongoing rape, murder, torture and forced labor suffered by women living under the Burmese Military Regime in Karen State:

These human rights abuses occur as part of a strategy designed to terrorise and subjugate the Karen people, to completely destroy their culture and communities. This report demonstrates very clearly that it is the women who bear the greatest burden of these systematic attacks, as they are doubly oppressed both on the grounds of their ethnicity and their gender.

Pa-an District

The SPDC and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) authorities continue to exert control of the region through forced labour, mass land confiscation, extortion of money and demands for livestock and material. Rape, arbitrary detention and torture are still committed by local authorities with complete impunity. Villagers are forced to do work for soldiers based in camps, such as “cleaning the camp compounds, carrying water, cutting bamboo and trees to build huts for the soldiers, making fences around the camp compounds, standing as sentries, acting as messengers, and doing whatever else the soldiers and officers request of them”. This results in poverty and food shortages. The Karen people do not have easy access to schools and are subject to the SPDC’s “Burmanisation” campaign, which seeks to weaken non-Burman political identities by eradicating their language and literature.

In other words, genocide is being waged against the Karen people. The United Nations tried to pass a resolution condemning the repression in January, but that was vetoed by China and Russia. China in particular has been arming this regime for nearly two decades. Opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest, which she has been most of the past 17 years, since her party won the 1990 election in a landslide.

There is no shortage of brutal regimes in this world, but the United Nations has some responsibility to act. Again from the State of Terror report:

Two recent and important developments in international law provide further authority for the international protection owed to Karen women and their families. Security Council Resolution 1674 (June 2006) – the protection of civilians in armed conflict – affirms the United Nations commitment to the new international concept “Responsibility to Protect.” This concept (R2P) has replaced the old “right to intervene” discourse that was fraught with insurmountably controversial issues of state sovereignty. Now, via the authority of the Security Council, the United Nations affirms that it is “prepared to take collective action in a timely and decisive manner” when States are “manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” (including rape). The Burmese Military Regime, via the SPDC, has not only failed to protect the women of Karen State, but is routinely and systematically responsible for the gross violations of their rights detailed in this report.

The second development, Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security (October 2000), was reviewed five years after its implementation in an open meeting of the Security Council in October 2005. The resolution has enabled women in conflict zones around the world to become equal participants in areas of peace and security. Ms Rachel Myanja, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of
Women, noted that “women at the grassroots level in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and Sudan have used this resolution to lobby for their voices to be heard in peace building processes, in post-conflict elections, and in the rebuilding of their societies”. Taken in concert with resolution 1674, these key pieces of international legislation clearly outline the responsibilities of the international community to take action to protect the women and girls of Karen State. The international community must not hesitate to act on this responsibility, and must act now, to stop the atrocities perpetrated against women and their families in Karen State.

This did not exactly fall on deaf ears, but virtually nothing has been done to stop these atrocities. China is feeling some heat, since it is hosting the Olympics soon, but it hardly wants to encourage democracy in its neighbor. That might ignite its own population to protest its own repression.

SILENCED!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

During most of last month, this site and the home site of our candidate for President have been shut down by the service providers, because a bunch of Internet hoodlums thought it was funny to use up our bandwidth. This site has been moved, and so far has survived a few waves of assault. The links to the home site for Heart, her labor of love constructed long before her blog existed, then extensively redone about the time she started blogging, are broken until she can restore her site. That will happen, sooner or later. The attack on Heart was multi-pronged. First her forums got hacked, taken over, stuffed with taunts, threats, links to pornography. I personally, with a witness, watched this happening. The malice and glee in the ravishing were palpable. Heart wrote about the initial wave of attacks here, here, and here.

This was vandalism, wanton destruction, total violation of privacy and freedom of speech, not just of Heart but all the participants of her forums, whose vulnerable email accounts got hacked as well. Yet this was only an initial volley of blows for Heart. Threats of rape, mayhem, murder, and then after she had nearly finished repairing the damage, her site got shut down by malicious overload. She tried reopening it, only to be met with fresh attacks. I tried that too once, same result, so I had to move. Heart, I, and selected friends with our own sites got at least this overloading treatment. I could watch it happening, the access log growing so fast, some hits carrying assaultive messages. The term the culprits use is raep. It did feel like a sexually charged assault, ripping my moorings out from under me, swarming me to force my voice, my way of fighting back, off the web. I call these attacks terrorizing, intimidation, low blows, unfair competition, dishonorable bullying, misappropriation of public resources for malicious purposes. This Anonymous group of hoodlums claiming responsibility says it is all done for laughs, pleading apolitical humor. A sense of humor entertained by silencing and terrorizing women is all about politics as usual. They piled onto the attacks on women bloggers by male rights activists who have been hounding women bloggers for years.

The reasons given by those claiming responsibility are elusive if not silly, all demonstrating contemptuous disrespect for women and freedom of speech. Bottom line, rebellious women are seen as fair game for a few varieties of mayhem. Heart got illegal as well as technically legal floods of traffic. This site has not been hacked and received no direct threats. Heart is still getting vicious threats, death, rape, mutilation, you name it. This site is seen as fair game as Heart’s campaign site, though this party was started thirty years ago by myself and a few friends, and most of the home site has been on the web since just before Y2K, this blog only this year. I do not know Heart in real life. Most of my web friends I first encountered at the Ms. Magazine forums, shut down in 2004 because of trouble with trolls. Only one web friend knows who I am. Heart and I have many opinions, influences, and interests in common, but vastly different experiences. We have issues, do not agree on everything, but that is true of everyone I know. We are individuals, diverse, deep thinkers, and the friends of Heart more diverse, far from monolithic, dogmatic, rigid, frigid, maniacal, hysterical, irrational, fanatical, impractical, or whatever else uncomprehending souls think.

Radical feminists are accused of many things that have nothing to do with truth, but much to do with deliberate distortion, such as unjustifiably hating men. Anger and hate are not the same. What men call hate and what women call hate are not the same. I could define the word to fit my anger with men, but that is too vague for me. Besides, my intimate partners happen to have been male. Sorry to have to say the obvious, radical feminists have so many variations men do not want to understand. Not as media or any of our enemies portray, radical feminists are revisioning perspectives, developing different ways for everything. Conventional ways are not working out. This planet may already be past the point of no return, and climate change may not be the worst of the consequences of male ways of doing business. Women have too many reasons to be angry with men. Some radical feminists have no use for men at all because of all these reasons. I am disinclined to go that far, but I will not support male candidates for office, at least until women achieve too big a majority. That could be called a boycott, but I call it skepticism. I do not believe men on a political level. There is too much the best of them do not understand. I do appreciate when a man makes a good faith effort to leave the male value system behind, but for me, I am part of a feminist revolution, which cannot be represented by men, though if men want to contribute, I will not say, do not bother trying to help. I believe decent men could have a role to play in educating old-fashioned men out of their willfully ignorant vicious contempt for women. Perhaps if enough men renounce the ethos of dominance, violence, and cutthroat competition, that could put some pressure on men to change their ways. I think it more likely men will change their ways only when they lose their power over women, which I believe can only be taken from them by political means. The male ethos is suicidal, not practical. Women have different ways, life-affirming ways, ways to coexist harmoniously with Nature, and with men, those few and far between who will reciprocate.

I do not expect any of my enemies to read this, let alone understand what I am saying, or read carefully between the lines. This could be an olive branch to male potential friends, or a throwdown to enemies, take your pick. I believe men can be partners with women. Most men would disagree, or see intimate partnership in ways I consider condescending or meaningless. Men may choose to remain stuck in their rotten ways, but I will not accept that means I must defer to men in any way, though I cannot live that way and keep a job. I make bitter deals with men to survive at work. Most women are in that boat. Some own businesses and have more freedom. Men are insulting, expecting women to keep supporting them politically. Women now have alternatives, and men take loyalty for granted at their peril.

Being silenced for over two weeks felt infuriating, stifling, imprisoned by gang raepists just waiting for me to try to get up from underneath their weight so they could stomp me down again. This was not fun or funny in any way for me, however much merriment the practical jokesters and desperate foes are having at the expense of Heart and her allies. Heart has had her blog, but her Wikipedia article got censored, broken and mislabeled links are on another referencing her, and as of this writing, threats are marching into her now heavily moderated blog, sending comments from me and other friends into moderation, and womensspace.org is still down. Heart is busy making a living along with everything else she does, like most women, but she will get her home site back up. Then her campaign will kick into high gear. In the meantime, I and others have felt forced to exercise restraint. Mine will soon disappear.

Feminist Diplomacy

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Diplomacy may seem a lost art these days, when the lone superpower prefers belligerent bluffing games creating cover rationales for a lead in to war. Making a huge deal of refusing to negotiate with certain enemies officially tagged evil terrorist creates a convenient rationale for aggression justified as preemptive war. There is no excuse for aggressive attack or preemptive war, though US politics seems to take the principle of intervention for granted, especially since the war on terrorism commenced. Democrats are also all for fighting the real war on terror, as they call it, refusing to take nuclear attack on Iran off the table. This is not limited to Republican madness. That idea is mad, inviting Armageddon or a science fiction horror story, at least for the Middle East, though taking a wider view, there is no escaping consequences of a nuclear attack. Any attack on Iran would be yet another foolhardy violation of international law, making harder to deny the argument USA is at war with Islam, as its extremist spokesmen have been saying at least since the attack on Afghanistan for harboring Osama bin Laden, after refusing to consider the Taliban offer to turn him over for some of that solid evidence of his primary responsibility that was claimed to exist at the time. If US officials really had more than suspicions so quickly, that was one way to avoid war, among others men in power ignored, never saw, or dismissed. Unlike Afghanistan or Iraq, Iran is not an inconsequential appearing foe, having several ways to retaliate beyond the obvious, attacking US troops across its border or Israel. Some have argued this is already a world war, but most Israeli and US officials seem determined to provoke one. From my perspective, feminist diplomacy for my country would develop practical, nonviolent ways to deal with enemies no matter why, or with what kind of passion, they hate US policy, which in no way represents the interests of women anywhere, though some may support it. Since that last spectacular attack on USA, it is more egregiously igniting more and fiercer enemies.

These ways could include creating a forum to hear grievances, an international tribunal to settle all issues peacefully, negotiating compensation for legitimate grievances. Terror is a desperate tactic of people whose grievances are ignored, rather exacerbated by official reaction to protests. Recognizing this is not appeasement or justifying exceptionally deplorable acts of terror, rather recognizing enemies have legitimate issues is critical to negotiating a workable agreement to stop the killing, on the basis of there being a way to air all legitimate grievances for fair hearing and reasonable compensation. This is in no way about justifying terrorism, but pointing out how belligerent policy aggravates the matter, trying to force compliance with demands instead of negotiate a live and let live in peace agreement. Politicians may lean toward selective diplomacy, even Republicans, but while posturing about plans to bring a change in course to get troops home from Iraq, Democratic leadership is desperately running away from the weak on terror bogeyman, supporting that bill to privatize Iraqi oil, talking tough on Iran, as well as promoting free trade agreements, going to show once again, they play their part in the problem. New trade agreements will include better protections for local workers and environment, so they say, sounds like what they always say, so next time never arrives. That implies something not so hot about the last one with a few countries in Latin America willing to go along, raising a question, how much better than those lousy deals making big business money at the expense of the local population and environment, as well as workers losing offshored jobs? This tribunal I suggest, I predict most politicians would denounce as treasonous or appeasement, more likely ignore, as they ignore most issues I choose to raise hell about. US politicians hope to avoid jurisdiction of international law or courts, but World Trade Organization is another matter, a tool to grease the race to the bottom. Plans for ramming the World Trade towers, Pentagon, and ? were no doubt initiated long before Bush Jr. claimed victory, possibly before Clinton, but certainly did not go on hiatus for him.

Warmongers see any attempt at diplomacy with bitter enemies as appeasement, as though there were no legitimate grievances with US foreign policy and transnational corporate activities. Those cost USA the moral high ground needed to discredit the jihad, ranks swelling thanks to the war on terror, the sinister trap luring USA to disaster, dishonor, violating international law to pursue a new Crusade, shattered credibility, alliances, and rights back home, and ultimately end of the corporate empire. That could happen suddenly and soon, through cascading bankruptcy or abandonment of the dollar as primary currency for international trade, causing a bond selloff to collapse this current stock market bubble. Call it military defeat or standoff in Afghanistan and Iraq, both make a mockery of superpower stardom. Expanding the war may reveal just how much worse it can get. This is no benevolent empire justified in its noble humanitarian interventions. It is not immune to military defeat or war coming home.

I see feminist diplomacy bringing an end to all that, an end to any desire to dominate, from the world to another being, human or otherwise. That is the road to more disaster, the sudden end of ability of this planet to sustain human life, perhaps all life. Men have to listen to reason, talk truce, or stand aside as women negotiate peace plans for wars around the world, end the war on terror, put forth ideas to stop the vicious cycle of retaliation. Men have gotten it wrong, more or less distorted or reversed, on just about everything, what they think they know notwithstanding. Most of that is based not on reality, but male theory, structured hierarchically on every level, which in practice glorifies violence, making it seem normal, casual, the expected way to solve an escalated conflict. Violence is only justifiable in self-defense or to aid self-defense, to stop or capture a violent criminal. Aggressive violence is never the only way or best way to resolve a conflict. That would fly in the face of reason, sense, instinct, reducing people to thoughtless insensate brutes, insulting the intelligence of most animals. Yet such is the psychology of the culture of empire, as if there is a right of the most powerful to claim dominance, rule, authority to make decisions directly affecting another. There is no such right; men invented and enshrined the might makes right concept, now devolving into corporate empire pushing to claim the world as a free trade zone so as to ruin local culture, enterprises, social services, and ecology, the better to grab up resources and cheap labor.

Democrats are complicit in most of this, still funding the wars and expanding free trade. They are by and large as comfortable with the war metaphor, the tough guy or gal act, working to further corporate empire. They are by no means about a feminist revolution, even if Hillary Clinton becomes their nominee. She is part of the problem, putting her touch on business as usual. As most Democrats, she wants to fight the real war on terror, whatever that means. Negotiating to end the war on terror is not part of her lexicon. National or cultural pride has limits. Aggressive war is illegal and foolish, but US politicians do not want to risk the taunt of appeasing terrorists. Negotiation is the only way to end this war. Winning is impossible even to define. USA has to own up to consequences of its trampling all over the world. Instead it heads for world war with few if any allies. This is a logical end result of male philosophy, the men on top will go for it all, control of everything they can think of. Scientists meddle with everything from DNA and brain chemistry to outer space in the quest for money and weapons. Women are reduced to pawns in this world, most forced to serve male ideology, interests, or lusts to survive. Women could represent the interests and ideas of women, but virtually all political parties big and small give women short shrift. Ms. Clinton has the name recognition, so is portrayed as the only woman who has a chance to win. This insults the intelligence of all women, but within the confines of mainstream party politics, it may be true.

To US politicians, the idea of discussing the truce Osama bin Laden offered is unthinkable. He is a war criminal, but he has lots of company in that regard among his enemies. If he could make a truce stick, persuade his followers to call off the jihad in the name of Islamic honor, that could be a starting point to negotiate a peace plan. It is easy for forget he was once an ally, against Soviet Union. Some credit that jihad with the breakup of that evil empire. It is too easy to say he has no honor, or is too sexist or fanatical or full of hate, so cannot be trusted to negotiate in good faith. It is too easy to say negotiating with an enemy rewards terrorism. This war on terror cannot be won or justified. There is no moral high ground on either side. Bin Laden represents the views of too many and more all the time. An enemy figurehead such as bin Laden cannot be dismissed as not negotiable fanatical terrorist. However ghastly the tactics of an enemy, this does not create the luxury of ignoring their grievances. USA has hopelessly lost the battle for hearts and minds, for many good reasons, like Abu Ghraib and all the other instances of rape and mayhem. Women soldiers do not escape, getting raped and harassed regularly, the perpetrators rarely disciplined. USA casts itself as a model for the world. No wonder most of the world objects to that arrogant extreme of nationalism.

Feminists have created different models, creating a space for ways to exist peacefully with bitter foes, put a stop to the cycle of violence. This may sound pipedreamy, but that truce was offered for a reason. The Islamic code of honor required it. It should have been recognized and discussed, but it was dismissed out of hand like a bad joke, hardly noticed by the media. It is said Islam is about love of death, that its believers think America is too soft, a pushover. This is all warmonger hype, since love of death is a common disease of male-centered religions and politics. Hamas is said to be avowed to the destruction of Israel. This is also hype; Hamas stated it accepts the fact that Israel exists, but not Israeli claims and violent actions in occupied territories. Israel could negotiate with Hamas, but Israeli leaders are determined to isolate Hamas, despite its popularity as a resistance force defending the people, winning a hotly contested election. Significance of recognizing the right to exist of a state illegally occupying your land is overlooked by mainstream media. The tactics on both sides are deplorable, as usual, but most wars are battles over hyped variations of male ideology, cutthroat competitive nationalism or religious pride at work, while women have no say worth mentioning, but take more than a fair share of the suffering.

Cutthroat competition is how the theory of free enterprise has degenerated. Competition could be revisioned as trying harder, to excel in whatever pursuit, without seeking to dominate. The point would be not to win, but to improve life, for oneself or also others. Schools could be all about developing talents, creativity, independent thought, skills, not passing tests to be dumbed down, appropriately drugged, raised on TV, cogs in the corporate machine. This is another subject, but feminist revisioning runs across the board. Men make so much of winning, the ideal, competing to win the central purpose of everything. No wonder Earth is in such a mess. It is not for nothing I say men have almost everything backwards, wrong, corrupted, twisted to serve the few near the top of the local hierarchal house of cards. Men like to score, as if seducing women is a victory, a conquest. Winning is a bad reason to compete, nor is conquest a goal worthy of human potential, in war or sexuality. I think men focused on winning long ago because some man got the idea to overpower a woman saying no. Self-defense is not remotely about winning or dominance, nor is responsible hunting for food. Aggressive violence is about winning, forcing the target to accept whatever the will of the winner imposes. Rape could have been the original model for coercion, winning by violent acts the ability to have his way over her. Men could have found other reasons to fight, but winning a fight need not make the loser a slave. Life has meaning, not a contest with the object to beat, conquer, or control other people. Rules of doing business need not allow abuse like competing to be the biggest, devouring competition, or polluting a neighborhood. Hostile takeovers have no place if fair competition is valued in free enterprise. That is only workable as a free marketplace of ideas, so companies compete to make the best quality products and services, so customers can choose among a variety for the one that best suits them. Throwing hostile takeover and huge aggregations of capital into the mix ruins free enterprise. Competition has degenerated so far from its potential value, even Adam Smith would find it horrifying.

Cutthroat competition does not have to be the way free enterprise works. When free enterprise was working reasonably well was when corporations had to follow limited charters defining their narrow purposes for existing. If corporations stayed within those bounds, they could not buy out or put competition out of business, buy unrelated businesses to form a conglomerate, or get cozy subsidies to ruin farmers in other countries by dumping subsidized excess grains on their markets so, for instance, the best Mexican farmland can be grabbed by a few rich guys while desperation drives its impoverished people north for a chance for a better life. Some big US employers make money off this free trade arrangement for cheap labor. Some employers of migrants are more like slavemasters, figuring the workers will not dare trying to organize or raise issues with working conditions. All this is going on partly because corporations have been allowed to ruin business and politics with the edge cutthroat competition gives those with big money and connections, corrupting politics into a mockery of a democratic republic. Free enterprise can only work well with brisk competition and sensible rules of doing business keeping everyone honest.

Preemptive war is an extreme expression of lack of honesty, transparency, tolerance, thought, sense, civility, and common decency. It is the worst way to attempt to solve a problem, solving nothing, creating more bitter enemies while lining the pockets of companies in military or related businesses. Despite the debacles in the first two battles in the war on terror, Iran will probably be next in line, with feeble if any protest from Democrats, chastened by hawkish supporters of Israel hyping Iran as a nuclear threat. Any nation producing nuclear energy is a nuclear threat, because reactors produce plenty of material for dirty bombs, along with suitable ingredients for arguably the worst kind of weapons ever invented. Uranium and its derivatives have no place in a civilized society. Unlike their peculiar places in modern warfare from ultra hard penetrator to doomsday deterrent, none of their industrial or medical uses are irreplaceable. It does not help US attempts to win hearts and minds to put uranium dust on the winds just because its chemical properties make it such a valuable weapon. Uranium is toxic as well as radioactive, so ingesting it is no picnic. It is quite capable of causing epidemics of unusual cancers and birth defects, as well as symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome. Is this the modern variety of scorched earth tactic at work? The prerogative to pollute shows its worst extremes in military applications.

Feminist diplomacy would not insist on imposing feminist models of behavior on other cultures, but would encourage women of all nations to express their grievances and ideas for better ways. Men may not want to listen, but that just means men have lessons to learn. Offering assistance to capture energy from sun and wind might help convince men to listen to women. There are many things USA could offer other nations in exchange for things like respect and rights for women. There are also ways of encouraging women to revolt, but that gets risky and complicated where women have no basic rights such as a right to vote. Women could be encouraged to organize resistance regardless, but open revolt risks deadly retaliation, unless the resistance catches on to overwhelming numbers.

USA has made enemies that will be skeptical of any talking, but could show it means to negotiate in good faith by negotiating treaties to outlaw and decommission the worst weapons, meaning nuclear, biological, chemical, including the research. People already know far too much about killing; we should be investing all that time, energy, and money in improving quality of life for everyone. People have the intelligence to work out ways to live in peace, but too many men would rather fight. That oversimplifies matters slightly; men may know no other way, under the circumstances. It can be tricky to theorize on faraway wars while living in a nation that prospers on the surface while here and across the borders, some get richer, but more poor get poorer. Some call that imperialism, but it goes down deeper. I see nothing deserving authority in the airs men in power put on. Their power is contrived, built into the game they play, the winner take all power over principle refined to support intricate hierarchical structures. If the rules of that game change to reflect inherent reality, let alone its model, anything based on unsound theories must collapse, as any house of cards must once losing its shaky foundation. There are many ways of trading goods and services. Cutthroat competition dominated by multinational monstrosities with proportional political influence is about the worst imaginable in a democracy. Next up is fascism, and it is a quibble how close is USA, because it is too close and looks to get closer, regardless of who wins next election, unless someone comes out of nowhere with a radically different vision.

Feminist diplomacy has many such possibilities that sound impossible in a mainstream frame of reference, because they are. Those points of view are based on the principle of hierarchy, based at bottom on the idea men need to be in control, so women must accept that. No, women feel forced by fear or belief in duty when they accept anything of the sort. Nobody needs to be in control in a partnership. In business or politics, decisions need not be made by someone at the top. Decisions could be worked out to be acceptable to at least a majority of everyone affected by the decision. If there is no need or desire to dominate, no concept of subordinate or rank, creativity can have free rein, a free marketplace of ideas can develop rewarding products and services of better value. That is what competition could mean, in my ideal sense, which is so different from what it means in capitalism that it is no wonder some consider concepts of competition and free markets beyond redemption, doomed to a mockery of what free enterprise could be, degenerated into a race to the bottom for wages and quality of life, health, and ecology. Reclaiming language so far gone can be a tempting but fruitless enterprise. The point is, this world has potential to support all its life forms with reasonable quality of life, but not one with the winner take all might makes right mentality. That way lies utter ruin for planet Earth.

Why Women Are Revolting

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Women have more reasons to revolt than anyone can imagine, because the reasons all compound on each other. Just about everything I have written on this blog, and the home page, is about that compounding. This list that follows may appear unconnected, but I do not mean to separate them, because my perspective connects them all. Things are the way they are by male design. Females have other ways. Some ways are better than others, but how that comes down depends on the confluence of individual perspective and actual results.

In the spirit of that feminist aphorism from Robin Morgan, all issues are women’s issues, this is a list on my mind presently. This is by no means a comprehensive or in depth list. These issues are not of equal importance or scope, to me or feminist rebels in general. Every woman has different reasons to rebel, or different ways of looking at issues. The multiplicity of issues has been used by men to divide and conquer women. This is a bluff. Women cannot agree on anything in particular, so what? Most women can agree there are too many reasons to challenge the powers that be and how they run things. Individually and in groups, women have worked together on important issues, making a mark on history that cannot be ignored. Women will not go back. Women will not let men go on ruining the world. That is the bluff, that women will find no way to work together on a scale threatening business as usual.

Men run the world. The world is a mess, in more ways than I can think about, but I have to live here and deal with all that. Male dominant value systems demean and devalue women in more ways than I can think about. There are answers to problems men in charge do not want to think about, so they dismiss these solutions, as though conventional wisdom has all the answers. Men think free speech, supposedly meant to protect the right to dissent from authority, means they have a right to buy images of women sexually degraded and violated in horrendous ways. A man taking home millions a year for insulting women and minorities thinks free speech means he can say on the air women playing championship college basketball are whores, because he thinks that is funny. He went too far with that line, cost him his job. Once in awhile when a man goes too far, it costs him. That depends on public reaction. Women have long been forced to tolerate routine vicious male nonsense, at great cost. If a man must express his hate for women, he should do it in private so he can only hurt himself.

A man taken by police for psychiatric evaluation for stalking two women students, initially found to be an imminent danger to himself or others, is then reevaluated and released with a voluntary recommendation of counseling. His hostile behavior causes most of his class to stop attending and a professor to threaten to quit. Yet nothing goes on his record to show up on a background check to stop him from casually buying a semi-automatic with enough ammo for a massacre at his college.

Men have big problems treating women with respect. It is beyond the capacity of typical men, since they believe men are superior. What men believe about women, and how men form expectations of women as a result, has filled volumes, both their expositions and women dissecting all that smug male theory about things men cannot understand, having no experience, no insight or perspective or inside way of knowing that of which they speak so knowingly. Some males pretend they have women figured out.

Men routinely rape women who trusted them, thinking nothing of the violation, as if they did nothing wrong. The idea of consent is twisted to cover for men, to make it almost impossible to prove no meant no, short of visible wounds.

Men think they have some business interfering with the choices women make about reproducing.

Men think a relationship means a woman is his property, to abuse as he sees fit.

Men routinely terrorize and batter women under the cover of love, thinking this is appropriate discipline, or that it was her fault he overreacted, so an apology should mend the fences. Often she has no recourse, no protection if she leaves him. If she kills him, she may be prosecuted for cold-blooded murder, though sometimes juries are wiser than to go along with that.

Men sexually harass women, for fun, and have the gall to think women ask for it, like it, or deserve it for the nerve of competing with men. Men think they have some right to foster a hostile work environment for women.

Women are expected to go along with male decisions. Women almost never get credit due for what women contribute, in all areas of life.

Women are expected to take care of needy men and children, without fair if any compensation, appreciation, or respect.

Some men pretend they can transform into female by hormones and surgery. That certainly can affect appearances and how one is treated by others, but they are not female, nor can they understand how females think or feel, though they may be atypical males. Feeling compelled to express this pretense gives no right to cross natural boundaries to impose beliefs on women. The expression can be done freely in private so it hurts noone else.

Women are expected to wear makeup and high heels. Most cosmetics contain toxic ingredients.

Most food contains genetically engineered and toxic ingredients or residues. Big agribusiness has no respect for biodiversity, nutritional value, or sustainability. Ancient trees are clearcut to make room for development, or paper or biofuel plantations, with token if any respect for biodiversity or sustainability.

Industry thinks it has a right to pollute air, soil, and water, with the gall to claim overregulation while species extinction and cancer rates accelerate.

Millions of women are still prescribed hormone replacement therapy, despite the uproar when the mainstream finally could no longer deny its harmful effects.

Women feel pressured to go on unhealthy diets to lose weight. Some develop an obsession, lose too much, committing unintentional suicide. Most diets can cause health problems, yet these frauds rake in the dough.

Male doctors perform many unwarranted surgeries on reproductive organs of women, especially in the USA.

Uranium is used in conventional warfare, spreading radioactive dust on the winds. Nuclear energy is promoted as an answer to global warming by most politicians and some environmentalists. Safety standards are relaxed to extend the lifetime of old nukes while new nukes line up on the drawing board. This is technology at its worst, while endless energy showers Earth, untapped except by infant industries and plants, naturally tapping sunlight for photosynthesis.

Fluoride is added to public water to prevent childhood tooth decay in many cities in the USA, though most everywhere else abandoned the reckless experiment long ago.

The poisons of orthodoxy and putting profit over truth have taken hold of scientists in service of big business. Regulatory agencies are plagued by conflicts of interest, protecting industry at the expense of public health and safety. Serious charges have been leveled about the poor results of conventional medical practices, and attempts to stifle legitimate competition from alternative modalities. These charges should be fully investigated by independent reviewers. Science should be about truth, innovation, finding better ways to serve people, from producing goods, services, and energy to preventing and treating disease.

People in general, but particularly women and children are routinely drugged for behavior judged abnormal. For authorities to make that judgment is dangerous at best, easily a tool for enforcing conformity. Drugging or involuntary treatment should be a last resort reserved for those who are truly unbalanced to the point of threatening others.

The major parties are both committed to an endless war on terror. One talks as if it opposes the occupation of Iraq, but still votes to fund it, finally with some flimsy conditions attached. Such tepid opposition is typical of US politics, quibbling over tactics, slinging mud, making hay of scandals, anything to keep the public diverted so the gravy train of money driven politics keeps rolling while meaningful opposition is kept off the table.

The Trouble with Pornography

Monday, April 9th, 2007

The first paragraph of the blog About page ends with these observations, included here to introduce my point of view regarding sex for sale.

Men generally have attached some sense of property to relationship partners. Marriage ceremonies traditionally have included the bride vowing to obey the groom. Some women still believe this is proper, duty of a wife. Some women, including myself, view women selling their sexuality to survive as sex slaves. Others may call them sex workers, but few would keep on renting their bodies for such degradation if they believed they had a reasonable alternative, a way out of that life. There are ways to portray women artistically. The boundaries of artistic expression may be difficult to define, but sexual slavery is not remotely about free expression or informed consent. When a woman wants sex, it is not a commodity, so she will not want money or abuse for her pleasure. Beauty contests are emblematic of how this culture makes beauty a commodity, a standard of value to waste the time, energy, and health of women. I object to women displayed like meat for the devouring gaze of men. Female sexuality is not property to be possessed by men, or rented out for male pleasure.

One problem with pornography is how the word gets distorted. Pornography has certain distinguishing characteristics opposing erotic art or nudity. There is the wider cultural aspect to consider as well as particularly vicious forms and what can be a viable strategy to confront all this. The wide aspect I could define as the conception of women as sex objects, useful to rationalize anything doing violence to women in spirit, since this reduces women to biological functions, defaulting mental realms to men. In many ways, culture is held back by hostility to women competing with men. Men have grudgingly refined this conception from taking it literally to allowing women to compete; vote; own property, a business, her body, her life; speak to the public; run for office; prosecute harassment, battering, rape, stalking, discrimination; conceding women all these rights over time in theory, but in practice is another story. Women can do all these things, and are, having gained those rights through long struggles, since the Constitution recognized none of that, as women were not recognized as people back then. Men react by waging a war of backlash, endless retribution, rationalized without reason besides resentment of women violating cherished unfounded theories about inborn male superiority and implied entitlement. These have been refined, superficially, so men can view women as sex objects but exercise a modicum of patronizing chivalrous restraint, but no refinement, or sweeping inescapable implications under the rug, of what is rotten at the core will touch the rot inside, merely tweak outward manifestations.

I could define pornography as commercial degraded sexuality, which has nothing to do with art or taste. By commercial I mean the sexuality of a woman is reduced to a commodity, regardless of black or open market, or who gets in on the money, or whether the transaction is part of a big operation or just a woman desperate to survive on the streets. The issue of consent is a can of worms ignored or evaded with specious arguments that women freely choose this line of work. Would these women have sex with these guys, or pose for degrading pictures, or strip tease, by informed free choice? No, these are desperate measures to survive. Women do not put up with harassment on the job, or battering at home, by free choice, rather by dreading likely consequences of trying to do anything about it. These kinds of choices are not free or informed, more like slavery. Many prostitutes are literally slaves, as contrasted to economic slavery, which term I consider to demean the concept, since so few people avoid having to work for a living. Despite all the problems ensuing when big business buys politics and union leaders think they better go on defense, this is nowhere near comparable to the forms of slavery practiced as routine in USA despite the Bill of Rights, solely concerned with the rights of white men. White women were property of cruel masters, not just captive Africans. For most descendants of slaves by color, freedom has meant free to be poor, stuck in dead end jobs or prison, or for the exceptional few, to break free enough of the vicious poverty cycle to develop their talents, if only to be a token minority that made good somewhere. Women are in a bind that is similar in some respects, though many women have to deal with more than one kind of bind.

This article is about problems I have with the business of women pleasing men sexually. I say all these women are trapped, even those few who might think they enjoy it, at least into serving male notions that women are sex objects men can buy. These women could benefit from vocational and other rehabilitation. They like anyone else deserve a chance for a life with some dignity. All women would benefit if men would get it through their thick skulls, women are not sex objects men can buy! Popular forms of commercialized sexuality are blatantly vicious hate imagery, sexualizing women getting roughed up in various ways. Men can hate women openly or deny it, but why else would that genre be such the hot seller in the porn world.

Male violence against women is endemic. James Brown, rebel musician lionized by many brothers and leftists, abused his wife, to keep her in line? That seems to have been his attitude, women should be kept in line. This is a great example to set? It is all too easy for men to shrug all that off as no big deal that should detract from his reputation. The point is this attitude is so commonplace, men get away with winking at it, as if boys will be boys, so what do women expect, miracles? How about respect, decency, meeting halfway, reciprocity? Is partnership a myth or miracle? Is my own current experience so anomalous, the exception proving the rule? I know men have dormant capacity to appreciate women for more than sex, but how few decent men are there who would not wink at what James Brown did to his wife, thinking that is no issue, or too minor an issue, to stain his greatness? I am not saying this means he was less significant as a musician, but as a rebel role model, his dealings with women are an example of why I choose no heroes among men. Though some men are of interest to me, not even lovers are heroes to me. It is so telling men think this behavior should have little significance if any. Who needs this idea of idolizing people anyway? Nobody is perfect, without flaws, so what is hero worship, if not groupie fantasy or empty idolatry? It may be a fine point, since having a hero does not necessarily imply idolizing, but deep respect or love do not mix with hero worship, two words loaded with baggage from long histories of false heroes and worship. James Brown may make the grade as a hero for the left, for standing up to the Man, but he was no hero or saint or great man whose principled stand I must salute.

One huge problem with pornography is that it is potent fuel for this epidemic of men terrorizing women. Whether it directly causes men to rape, batter, or want cruel or bizarre forms of sex is not at point. Sexualizing violence is a responsible contributing factor making such behavior seem acceptable, even desirable, to be expected. That directly escalates the culturally indoctrinated contempt for women, endangering all women. This is one reason why it is not possible for women to give informed consent to participate, unlike posing for an artist. I would argue along those lines, informed consent to any form of commercial degraded sexuality is meaningless, because women who think their consent is informed almost never have a clue what they are getting into. Any exceptions are the kind that prove the rule, women feeling sexuality has no significance, so why not take money for the trouble, just another job? Women have to make compromises to survive in this world still run by power mad men, but it demonstrates how severely women are devalued that some desperate women feel forced to sell their sexuality, along with others snared by traffickers or sold by family. Men take all this for granted, so this rarely is an issue men take seriously, unless to defend it as a choice women have a right to make, a matter of free speech to sell the pictures.

In desperate poverty or captivity, choices are never free, and unthinkable choices are made to survive. Is this what sex-positive feminism means to support? It is strange to me, a woman who has had long-term relationships with several men and still enjoys sex, even intercourse, hard to credit this as a branch of feminism. Women are not sex objects, reducible to a set of orifices for male penetration. Portraying women as such is worse than an insult to the intelligence of every woman, or distorting sexuality into something cheap, dirty, cruel, unemotional; it is all that, and intimidation. Women rightly feel threatened by men because of the preeminence of the concept of might makes right, rule by violence, striking women as rape, battering, harassment, demands, threats, fits of rage, intimidation, domineering, stalking, murder, mutilation, financial or emotional manipulation, all manner of disrespect. It does not help matters to keep pouring explosive fuel on a raging inferno already causing so much pain, injury, death to women. That fuel did not cause the fire originally or directly, but that fire might go out if starved of fuel, and if women could get some cooperation from decent men to denounce, or at least renounce, violence against women in any form! That fire is the big picture, what causes men to hate women enough to do these kinds of things to feel manly. In my view, answers lie in what men learn to believe about women and men. News flash boys, if you think porn teaches you anything about sex, you have a whole lot to learn. This is a deliberate distortion, misrepresenting sexuality as all about male gratification. The crueler the imagery, the better it sells.

Violence seems normal to men because cultures deliberately confuse self-defense with aggression. I have no problem with children learning self-defense, especially girls. This does not mean girls should strive to be aggressive, looking for fights or competing to dominate others. Ideally competition would be fair, disassociated from violence or other forms of subordination. In practice, virtually everything is ruined through such associations, from relationships to the planet. Women are hardly immune to the pressures of cultural corruption, but women are far more skeptical of the wisdom of male violent ways and the principle of men running things, though men often have issues with the men running things at whenever moment.

The triviality of violence in male eyes makes it seem normal to express frustration violently, but fighting between male peers is not comparable to men beating up on women, for several reasons. The elements of fair fighting and honor are missing. Respect for the opponent is missing. Extreme provocation is missing. Challenge and its acceptance are missing. There is no way to justify male violence against women, though men may claim she asked for it, wanted it, deserved it, needed discipline, made him mad or jealous, whatever shabby excuse tickles their fancy. This is not a normal or natural element of conflict in a relationship. It is debatable whether fighting has any value, but when the elements I cite above are present, at least there is reason for the dispute and both parties agree to fight, expecting to have a fighting chance. Diplomacy is more likely to resolve the dispute, but if men insist on fighting, presumably they have that right. When men in relationships with women get out of control with anger or intoxication, women get hurt, emotionally or physically. Battering is criminal behavior, yet rarely prosecuted, for all kinds of reasons related to men winking at behavior that keeps women in line, along with the syndrome keeping her torn between fearing what else he might do and hoping he really is sorry, things will get better. When a battered woman leaves, the man is angry about losing what he craved, mastery over her, so he may try to get revenge by terrorizing, stalking, or killing her.

Bribery does not constitute informed consent. Tricking women into selling their sexuality could be described as bribery to accept rape. Many prostitutes see little of the money, grabbed by pimp or madam. Some have drug habits. Most would jump at a chance to leave that life behind. The career of a female porn star is often a flash in the pan; that industry goes through women fast. This is no glorious life choice or promising career, more like quick cash for donating her body as fresh meat for male gratification. Bribery for uninformed unfree consent to rape as a job is nothing to defend as a feminist choice. Women are not having wild fun getting cruelly used to feed male thirst for subordinating, torturing, terrorizing women, in the name of sexual liberation and freedom of speech. This is what sells, what men wink at, men on the left, right, middle thinking it is no big deal, compared to all those other issues affecting the world in a big way. Male violence against women is a really big deal for women around the world, but in this nation at least women are supposed to have some rights, some recognition of personhood and that women are not sex objects for men to buy or rape.

Heart blogged about a man hanging his wife for hours so he could make a porn video. Go read that, if you think pornography is no big deal. Anyone who thinks she freely gave informed consent, tell me on this blog how you reason that was possible. I dare you, though if I think your answer is too nonsensical, it may never see the light of day. That woman is lucky to be alive, no thanks to the man who did that to her. If she trusted him, he must really have her under his thumb. One form of desperation is when a woman will do anything to please a man, as per the cultural imperative, to give her all in futile attempts to satisfy his power tripping fragile ego.

Pornography calls itself art, but any fool can call their creations art, does not make it true any more than unfounded faith makes the words of a preacher or cult leader true. Pornography by my definition is not art, not meant to be art, rather to gratify male lust by degrading imagery, generally of women, though gay male porn may have some similar power dynamics. Neither is pornography educational, rather the reverse, supporting male beliefs about women. It misrepresents sexuality as grossly as a religious doctrine asserting women owe husbands as wifely duty intercourse, in the missionary position, on demand. Women enjoying sex is irrelevant from that standpoint, though those who do and seek it out often still get called slut. That all facilitates men ducking responsibility for being dull, unimaginative, domineering, superficial, turning sexuality into a chore for women to perform at his whim. Some men have learned other ways. I consider myself lucky to have had such men in my life, so my personal experience in that regard has been much different. This makes it seem possible for women to reclaim heterosexuality, if the man will cooperate in working out a fair partnership. From my stance, this is an important political issue, though I am aware that stance is affected by my own experiences, good, bad, crazy making, but never indifferent. I would expect some women to think this a hopeless project or worse, but I believe human imagination must have the innate capacity for decent relationships between the sexes, as rarely as it might work out that way, otherwise doomed by gender role expectations of social conditioning. I would expect sex dominated by and centered on the man means the woman is less likely to enjoy herself. Neither is necessary, rather both are foolish, unnatural, wasting energy, making intercourse an tedious or painful duty for her to endure instead of one piece in the wonderfully diverse puzzle of human sexuality. This is a metaphor for the state of relationships and life in general. Men expect a man to command the primary focus of attention. How convenient the culture makes that seem natural. There is no need for this hierarchical order. It is possible to have limited forms of orderly structure without hierarchy, hard as that might be to imagine. Authority may be required to deal with criminal behavior, but not relationships or business. The models and priorities of men running things are too warped for redemption. If they continue to run the world, life will become much harder as the new world war escalates beyond recall, and this planet continues losing its capacity to support life.

The charge of censorship is often leveled at opponents of pornography. I fight it because of all the problems I have laid out here, with implications and correlations I could only touch on here. I consider male terrorizing of women an issue of great importance, not inevitable collateral damage of the battle of the sexes. Anything that unmistakably feeds that plague ought to be liable for damages. Where it is not so obvious, comprises a gray area that reasonable people can agree could be subject to dispute. I have drawn some lines, but not the boundaries of what I define as commercial degraded sexuality. I am especially distressed by sexualizing violence and children, which are indisputably injurious to women, or should be recognized as such by anyone with half a brain. While I find all kinds of degrading images of women disgusting and violating personally, the worst forms warp violence into sexuality. There I think the free speech argument has to collapse even from the legal perspective, because there can be no truly informed consent. There can be no argument about child porn because children clearly cannot give informed consent. Free speech is meant to protect unpopular opinions or beliefs, or journalists and whistleblowers revealing unpleasant truths, not depraved hate speech inciting violence. Cruelty to animals is a crime; what about cruelty to women? All these images are symptomatic and reinforcing of the prevalent belief system I challenge wholeheartedly, which gives respectability to the common nonsense notions of male superiority and entitlement to privileges assumed by men with no basis but to preserve their control over women.

So if anyone is wondering what is the trouble with pornography, this article is meant to lay it out. From my perspective, there is plenty more trouble where all that is coming from, that I could only touch on here. Maybe those wondering will find something to think about.