August 5th, 2010


TWiB! Season 3 Ep#6 -"A National Conversation on Race"
As seen on

The summer of 2009 was an interesting one for race in America.

Between Pat Buchanan being his usual batshit crazy self, the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation, a Philadelphia swimming club kicking a bunch of young black kids out due to their "changing the complexion" of the pool, and a host of other wacky nonsense I was fairly sure we were living in some of the worst times in the last few years of race. It would take some sort of powerfully magical spell cast upon America for it to become more racialized than things were last year.

Then came summer 2010.

I don't know where to begin.

I honestly have spent most of this summer baffled, confused and insulted by virtually all race-related events/scandals. I'm constantly being told (on the Internet and by Fox News) that I (and most minorities and liberals) am somehow making everything about race. Due to my apparently progressive views I obviously want to demonize working-class whites.

"It's not about race!"

Well, fine. You've convinced me, guys. It's not about race. It's about idiots. Idiots who want to ignore race and history in America. If it was simply about race we could talk about it. We could have this much-requested "national conversation on race with America" so that we could enlighten and move forward. We could share our differences in order to truly see how we are the same and have similar needs, wants and desires.

But it's not about race.

It's about a lack of understanding of how America's incredibly fucked-up history has affected its people. It's about praising the Founding Fathers as the pinnacle of political thought although they participated in one of American history's greatest travesties, i.e., slavery. Tim Wise gave a speech at July's Netroots Nation where he told the story of a poor white man who wrote him complaining that Wise doesn't talk about the hardships for poor white America. He claimed that Tim Wise, who is an outspoken author and orator on race in America, seems to only focus on the black struggle and that Mr. Wise himself had forgotten about him and other struggling white Americans.

Tim then alerted him that maybe he should care about the black struggle as well. If it wasn't for the racializing of public programs that would help him and other struggling whites in times of need perhaps there would be more help for all poor folks. Maybe if the term "welfare" wasn't connected to brown skin then politicians wouldn't campaign on policies that require leaving so many of the nation's poor to fend for themselves in a country that is built for the haves, not the have nots.

But it's not about race.

See? I'm totally going along with this thought process now! It's not about race. It's about horrendous politics. It's about capitalizing on the fear of "other" whether that other be race, nationality or religion. It's about Americans being delusional in how everyday life plays out. It's about being completely oblivious to those who don't have your life experiences. This isn't a race thing. This is a failure to acknowledge the worst of our society's actions and their systemic effect.

Awesome. Now I can move on, huh?
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Ward Cleaver Makes a Playdate, or, the Great Man-cession

On a recent sunny morning, Norm Elrod was standing in front of the freezer case of a little market near the Jackson Heights apartment he shares with his wife, Amanda, a graphic designer, and their two cats. He was having trouble deciding between two bags of frozen edamame: one 40 cents cheaper, the other an ounce heavier. He surmised, correctly, that the smaller bag was a better deal, then repeated the process with tortilla chips.

Mr. Elrod, 38, a former marketing manager who is currently unemployed, now does most of the grocery shopping and other household stuff. It just makes more sense, he explained.

When Norm returned to his apartment, Amanda quietly explained he got the wrong kind of edamame-these are shelled, and she wanted the whole kind. Not to worry, he told her. He was planning on going to get an iced coffee soon, and he can pick up the right kind. It's no big deal. He has time.

Pretty soon after this, Amanda bustled off to her office in midtown Manhattan. Norm had mentioned earlier that he sometimes waits, June Cleaver-style, for her to get home. "I don't lack for things to do, but I do notice when it's, like, 7:15 and she's not here yet," he said. "I'm like, 'Oh, let's go on IM, is she still at work, oh, she logged off, I wonder when she logged off ...'"

Welcome to the Problem That Has No Job: a kind of upside-down Mad Men meets Mr. Mom where wives and girlfriends are out all day making money while the city's unemployed guys mop floors, cook dinner and experience all the attendant ennui. In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan's germinal study of the restless American housewife, the author singled out 1960 as the year when women began to realize in droves that something was wrong with their domestic lives; she called it "the year American women's discontent boiled over." A half-century later, three years into the most recent recession, the tables seem to have turned. Men have been disproportionately affected by layoffs; they make up anywhere from 70 to 82 percent of those laid off, according to government statistics. The average length of unemployment is more than seven months, which Congress acknowledged last month by passing a benefits extension allowing those who have been out of work for more than six months to continue to receive unemployment pay.

Meaning that Norm, and guys like him, have had a lot of time to settle into a new kind of routine.


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yes, it's one of those new-york-obsessed-with-itself articles, but it was enjoyable to read.  it also reminded me of all that talk of japan's "grass-eaters."  but as someone who left a job at the height of the recession, left new york to move to a cheaper city, and struggled with several months of "what am i doing with my life?" this article spoke to me.  what do y'all think?

also, i think we need a "men" tag?

source is the new york observer


Expired medicine donated to Gaza

There is no doubt that hospitals in the Gaza Strip are in dire straights, desperately in need of medicine and technology.

However, millions of dollars worth of useless, out-of-date or expired medicine is being sent to the enclave as aid. The expired medicine is ending up in landfills, which are not properly equipped to deal with medical waste.

Gaza's hospitals and clinics relay on international donations, and no one is accusing donors of acting with malice.

But doctors and health officials in Gaza say they want to be consulted before new donations are sent to the Strip to ensure that patients in Gaza are getting what they actually need.


More reported in the video:


(no subject)

With one of its alumnae, Elena Kagan, poised for confirmation as a justice on the United States Supreme Court, it should be a triumphant season for Hunter College High School, a New York City public school for the intellectually gifted.

But instead, the school is in turmoil, with much of the faculty in an uproar over the resignation of a popular principal, the third in five years.

The events fanned a long-standing disagreement between much of the high school faculty and the administration of Hunter College over the use of a single, teacher-written test for admission to the school, which has grades 7 through 12. Faculty committees have recommended broadening the admissions process to include criteria like interviews, observations or portfolios of student work, in part to increase minority enrollment and blunt the impact of the professional test preparation undertaken by many prospective students.

Eliminating the test, which has remained essentially unchanged for decades, is not on the table, said John Rose, the dean for diversity at Hunter College. The test, he said, is an integral part of the success of the school, which has a stellar college admissions profile — about 25 percent of graduates are admitted to Ivy League schools — and outstanding alumni like Ms. Kagan and Ruby Dee.

As has happened at other prestigious city high schools that use only a test for admission, the black and Hispanic population at Hunter has fallen in recent years. In 1995, the entering seventh-grade class was 12 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic, according to state data. This past year, it was 3 percent black and 1 percent Hispanic; the balance was 47 percent Asian and 41 percent white, with the other 8 percent of students identifying themselves as multiracial. The public school system as a whole is 70 percent black and Hispanic.

When Justin Hudson, 18, stood up in his purple robes to address his classmates in the auditorium of Hunter College, those numbers were on his mind. He opened his remarks by praising the school and explaining how appreciative he was to have made it to that moment.

Then he shocked his audience. “More than anything else, I feel guilty,” Mr. Hudson, who is black and Hispanic, told his 183 fellow graduates. “I don’t deserve any of this. And neither do you.”

They had been labeled “gifted,” he told them, based on a test they passed “due to luck and circumstance.” Beneficiaries of advantages, they were disproportionately from middle-class Asian and white neighborhoods known for good schools and the prevalence of tutoring.

“If you truly believe that the demographics of Hunter represent the distribution of intelligence in this city,” he said, “then you must believe that the Upper West Side, Bayside and Flushing are intrinsically more intelligent than the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Washington Heights. And I refuse to accept that.”

More at the source. I encourage you all to read his entire speech (PDF format). Damn this guy had a lot more courage than I did at his age. More people need to acknowledge the reality of testing bias in school admissions and fight for equality of opportunity. Mods, I'm having trouble with adding tags but hopefully they're there.


The Constitution is Too Libural and Radical for Our Times

REPORT: The GOP’s Agenda To Change The Constitution

Since President Obama took office, Republicans have shrouded their agenda of opposition by wrapping it in the flag and the Constitution. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) even went so far as to label her radical anti-government views “constitutional conservatism.” Yet, for all of their constitutional pablum, the GOP’s agenda is nothing less than a direct assault on America’s founding document. Time and time again, Republicans have called for basic constitutional freedoms and fundamental aspects of our constitutional government to be repealed either by amendment or by activist judges:
REPEALING CITIZENSHIP: Numerous GOP lawmakers, including their Senate leader and the most-recent Republican candidate for president, are lining up behind a “review” of the 14th Amendment’s grant of citizenship to virtually all persons born within the United States. Such a proposal literally revives the vision of citizenship articulated by the Supreme Court’s infamous pro-slavery decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford. It has no place in the twenty-first century.Collapse )

Never was an appropriate icon so appropriate

Fox's Six Tricks: How to Spot the Next Sherrod

I know this isn't exactly news but... neither is Fox.

If the FTC could theoretically apply deceptive advertising laws to television content, there would be an hourly disclaimer on Murdoch's network, "Video ads brought to you by the RNC" (e.g., Palin, Gingrich, Huckabee are employees).

For professional reasons, I watch a lot of Fox News. And it's not easy to fully convey its nightly mendacity. Of course, two weeks ago the conservatyive cable network was caught hyping the Andrew Breitbart political smear of Shirley Sherrod, first on its well-read web site (this was very pre-firing) and then on Hannity and O'Reilly. But like repeat pyromaniacs who waltz away from the fires they start, Fox has neither explained what went wrong nor sincerely apologized for it.

So it will happen again. Already has.

To arm yourself for the next fake scandal, ideally go to, Bill Press's new book Toxic Talk, or numerous clips on Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert/Rachel Maddow. Otherwise, here's a brief guide to the six parlor tricks that Fox News incessantly uses to mislead the credulous:

*Rhetorical Questions. "Is the NAACP racist?", asked Bill O'Reilly last month, leading some viewers to an obvious -- though false -- answer. "Will the [New START Treaty] leave the U.S. defenseless until it's too late?", wondered anchor Megyn Kelly. Rinse. Repeat. Every day.

*Creating reality by repeated slogans. Fox's anchors and hosts reiterate certain loaded phrases to see if they'll catch on and reframe the political conversation. Sometimes they do, like "death taxes," "death panels" and "climate-gate." Only problem is that none of them existed. (No one pays a tax because they die, though the top two percent do pay an "estate tax"; there were no "get grandma" panels in the health reform law; and five independent studies have cleared British scientists of charges that they manipulated climate data.)

*Conclusory lies delivered with certainty. To rational minds, facts lead to conclusions -- at Fox News, conclusions lead to 'facts.' The key is that they are said so quickly and confidentially -- think of Limbaugh's theatrical and deep-throated delivery -- that they sound self-evident.
Last week Fox hosts authoritatively said that the public opposes both Wall Street re-regulation and a comprehensive immigration reform bill -- but all polls show the opposite.

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I have two things to add to this rather good piece:

1. One of the techniques I don't think he mentioned (or at least didn't single out on its own) is where Fox News not only asks leading questions, but also frequently makes statements that are pure conjecture, attributable to no one.  Like, "Some say that President Obama is actually going to lead an army of Reticulans to Earth in order to enslave us all.  What do you think, America?"

2. The other thing I wanted to say is kind of in response to their article's title, "How to Spot the Next Sherrod".  While this article is certainly useful in helping to deconstruct their various tactics, I actually have what I think is a far simpler response to it........ASSUME IT'S ALL BULLSHIT UNTIL SOMEONE (CREDIBLE) PROVES OTHERWISE.


Fighting for Safe Passage on Indian Streets

On blogs, Facebook and Twitter last month, hundreds of women across India shared their experiences as “Action Heroes” — facing up to sexual harassment on this country’s sometimes terrifying streets. The event organized by Blank Noise, a community art project that fights the abuse of women in public spaces, focused fresh attention on “eve teasing” — the common euphemism for the hostility and violence women experience on the streets in large parts of India, especially in the more patriarchal north.

In 2006, the then-fledgling Blank Noise, run by Jasmeen Patheja, a young artist, had invited Indian women to emulate the Take Back the Night marches women have staged in other parts of the world to assert their right to walk in public areas without fear. A Reclaim the Night march had been held in 1978 in Bombay, now known as Mumbai, in protest of the rape of a woman on the street, but not repeated. And so, 28 years later, here in the Indian capital, a small group of women went out for a walk at 10 p.m.

Two police vans stood by to ensure their safety, for this was not a “normal” thing to do. In northern India, women don’t step out of their homes for a stroll once it gets dark. It’s not safe. It could get one harassed or molested or raped.

“Blank Noise started as an art project,” Ms. Patheja said recently. “I was experiencing street sexual violence every day, and if not every day it was the threat of it that kept me on guard, hyper and alert. Moreover, it wasn’t being taken seriously by those around me — ‘It happens,’ ‘There’s nothing you can do about it,’ ‘It’s only teasing.”’

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Segregated Oldham (Manchester UK) schools to merge

In a bold attempt to bridge the racial divide in the town of Oldham, Greater Manchester, two of its most segregated schools are merging.

Race riots in the town almost a decade ago (wikipedia link added by me, not in original article) revealed deep divisions between its white and Asian populations. The Home Office said it was a place of "deep-rooted" segregation, with communities leading "parallel lives".

Nine years on, many feel little has changed, and some fear the education of Oldham's children could be overshadowed by potential racial conflict. Newsnight's Catrin Nye talks exclusively to the parents and pupils affected.

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Newsnight Source.

Portrait of Pain Ignites Debate Over Afghan War

KABUL, Afghanistan — She cannot read or write and had never heard of Time magazine until a visitor brought her a copy of this week’s issue, the one with the cover picture of her face, the face with no nose.

On Wednesday, the young woman, Bibi Aisha, left Kabul for a long-planned trip to the United States for reconstructive surgery. Earlier in the day, as she prepared to leave the women’s shelter at a secret location here that has been her refuge for the past 10 months, the 18-year-old was unaware of the controversy surrounding the publication of that image.

“I don’t know if it will help other women or not,” she said, her hand going instinctively to cover the hole in the middle of her face, as it does whenever strangers look directly at her. “I just want to get my nose back.”

Reaction to the Time cover has become something of an Internet litmus test about attitudes toward the war, and what America’s responsibility is in Afghanistan. Critics of the American presence in Afghanistan call it “emotional blackmail” and even “war porn,” while those who fear the consequences of abandoning Afghanistan see it as a powerful appeal to conscience.

The debate was fueled in part by the language that Time chose to accompany the photograph: “What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan,” pointedly without a question mark.

That is exactly what will happen,” said Manizha Naderi, referring to Aisha and cases like hers. An Afghan-American whose group, Women for Afghan Women, runs the shelter where Aisha stayed, Ms. Naderi said, “People need to see this and know what the cost will be to abandon this country.”

As Ms. Naderi would be the first to concede, however, things are already bad enough for women in Afghanistan without a return to a government run by the Taliban. Noorin TV in Kabul has been running what it has called an investigative series suggesting that the shelters, all operated by independent charities, are just fronts for prostitution. The series has offered no evidence, and the station never sent anyone to visit the principal shelters.

The entire article can be read at the New York Times

I'm not sure what to make of the controversy surrounding the article and picture in Time, but I'm glad to read that Aisha will be getting the surgery to reconstruct her nose, and I hope that goes well for her.
BTS - agust d

Senate confirms Elena Kagan

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan to a seat on the Supreme Court on Thursday, giving President Obama his second appointment to the high court in a year, and a political victory as the Senate neared the end of its business for the summer.

Ms. Kagan, a former dean of the Harvard Law School and a legal adviser in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, was approved by a vote of 63 to 37 after hearings and floor debate that showcased competing views of Democrats and Republicans about the court, but exposed no significant stumbling blocks to her confirmation.

She becomes the fourth woman ever named to the court, and will join two other woman currently serving, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Obama administration nominee, who was confirmed almost exactly one year ago.

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Thoughts? I actually like that a non-judge was put up on the bench. I'm not her biggest fan because I hate US v Comstock, but I have to stop being angry and realize she was just doing her job.


PS - mods I hope someone doesn't post this in the 10 mins it took me to copy/paste and bold
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Church Carnival Has Completely Innocent 'Shoot the Black Guy in Suit' Game

In Roseto, Pa., a carnival company closed down a shooter game called "Alien Attack," after complaints and news stories that President Obama was one of the targets.

The black "alien leader" is holding a scroll titled "Health Bill" and wearing a presidential seal belt buckle. He also has antennae and a troll doll with a KISS T-shirt on his shoulder.

The owner of the carnival company, Goodtime Amusements, dismissed a complaint, saying the figure is not meant to be Obama.

"She [a carnival-goer] said she was offended by it. I said if you are, you might want to be. But you're interpreting it as being Obama. We're not interpreting it as Obama," said the owner, Irvin Good Jr.

After drawing more attention from the press, however, Good shut down the game and apologized.

"I didn't think it was offensive, and you know, I made the wrong judgment on it," he said. "And that's all I can say about it. We did away with it, and I'm apologizing to everybody in the world, I think."

A spokesman for the Secret Service says they've spoken with Good and that they'll take "whatever action is appropriate."

(Sauce at TPM. Apologies for forgetting tags on the first submission.)

Would You Like a Google With Your Verizon?

Google Pushes Back On Times' Report Of Verizon Deal

Google is disputing a New York Times report that the company is close to a private deal with Verizon in which Google could pay Verizon to ensure that its content received priority in reaching web users.

The potential deal between Google and Verizon has been widely reported, but the companies are taking exception to what they see as the Times' depiction of it as a financial agreement.

"The New York Times is quite simply wrong," Google spokesperson Mistique Cano told TPM in an email. "We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google or YouTube traffic."

"We remain as committed as we always have been to an open Internet," she said.

Google Public Policy's twitter feed had tweeted a similar statement earlier in the day. "@NYTimes is wrong. We've not had any convos with VZN about paying for carriage of our traffic. We remain committed to an open internet."

Verizon released a statement along the same lines on it's Policy Blog:
The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect.
The Times is standing by its story, according to Wired:
"We stand by our reporting which is based on information from sources in a position to know about the conversations," said Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty. "Google's comment about The New York Times story refutes something The Times story didn't say."
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the FCC has called off closed-door talks on Net Neutrality with industry lobbyists.
FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus, in a statement, said the effort "has been productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet." He added, "all options remain on the table as we continue to seek broad input on this vital issue."
An agreement between Google and Verizon as reported by the Times would deal a blow to Net Neutrality advocates, who maintain that no content should be favored over any other on the web. An April court decision undercut the FCC's ability to enforce any such neutrality, and the agency has since been looking at other ways of establishing regulations for the Internet.

FCC ABANDONS Efforts At Net Neutrality Compromise

Federal regulators are abandoning efforts to negotiate a compromise on so-called "network neutrality" rules intended to ensure that phone and cable TV companies cannot discriminate against Internet traffic traveling over their broadband lines.

The announcement Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission ends weeks of FCC-brokered talks to try to reach an agreement on the thorny issue among a handful of big phone, cable and Internet companies. And it comes as two big companies that have been taking part in those talks – Verizon Communications Inc. and Google Inc. – attempt to hammer out their own separate proposal for how broadband providers should treat Internet traffic.
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the cure you're thinking of

Marginalization as Labor On Demand and the Tone Argument

How many people have heard “You have a responsibility to educate?” Or prompted a defensive response when saying “It is not my responsibility to educate you?”

It is my duty to constantly deconstruct other people’s privilege, to explain to them what they’re doing wrong, that I am required to either give a full 101 course right there on the spot or just walk away. I’m not allowed to say “You know, I found that offensive” and leave it at that. If I don’t do the education, how will anyone learn? Right?

Except what this means is that my energy and effort are available on demand. I have to be ready at a moment’s notice to provide an exhaustive and exhausting rundown on all of the reasons why something someone said or did is oppressive and offensive. Occasionally, they may even demand scientific research to back this up.

And what do they most often do when you give them this education? When you have allowed yourself to be at their beck and call for however long it took? Most often, they reject it (you’re just being oversensitive), or they try to argue it down to a lesser offense (I didn’t intend to offend anyone) or just make it about them entirely and ignore the fact that they just engaged in the verbal equivalent of punching you in the face.

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