Friday, July 30, 2010

The power of images

I've been kind of haunted by Time magazine's most recent cover image ever since I saw this Salon piece on it yesterday. In it, a striking beautiful young Afghan woman stares defiantly at the camera. The woman, an 18-year old named Aisha, has been brutally mutilated by her own husband, her nose and ears cut off. But the way the photographer Jodie Bieber captures the fire in her eyes shows that even this brutal act did not defeat her.

Or, at least, that's what the photo says to me. I have to idea how Aisha actually feels about her situation and the horrific crime that her husband and the people of her village, who enabled him to do this, enacted against her. But I appreciate the decision Bieber made to not photograph her as a broken victim.

What I don't appreciate, what in fact drives me up the wall, is the headline Times chose to place with her picture. The cover reads, "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan." Nice try, Times, but I'm not buying it. This isn't what happens when we leave Afghanistan, it's what's happening now. Aisha was attacked last year.

In what, as Daisy on Facebook mentioned, appears to be a bald attempt to engage in a propaganda war with Wikileaks (and what I think is more of a cynical attempt to sell magazines), Times has hoped that the arresting nature of this image will make your brain skip over this fact.

Not to mention that, with the addition of that text, the image becomes yet another Muslim woman is the "ultimate victim" needing rescue from the West. Boy, does that trope not ever get old.

You can't solve problems like violence against women with a war. If anything, our presence, and the money we're funneling to all the wrong people, is merely fueling top-down corruption that is probably making situations like this worse. Watch this segment from Rachel Maddow's recent trip to Afghanistan to see what I mean.

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I don't have a solution for how to make it that another woman never gets mutilated for attempting to escape abusive situations. I don't even know whether or not I actually feel like we should withdraw from Afghanistan, really. I mean, I recognize all the good reasons to do so, but there is a part of me that feels like its kind of amoral to destabilize a country and then just leave.

What I do know is that you can't use what happened to this woman as a reason to stay. Because our presence there couldn't keep it from happening in the first place.

And also because the suggestion that we're in Afghanistan to protect the lives of the women there is laughable. If this were the case, how come it took us so long? I was reading about RAWA and the oppression of Afghan women years before the war (in, if I remember correctly, Jane magazine). What about women in the Congo? Women in Juarez? Women in Darfur?

And if you're looking for arresting images, how about the image of this child, burned after a NATO bomb attack?

War is a complicated issue, there are no easy answers. Let's not be swayed by an (admittedly powerful) image, but try to actually think.

**Edited some for clarity. It's hard to blog when a four-year-old is also seeking your full attention**

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


If I really am going to pick up blogging again, which I seem to be doing, then I need to update my blogroll. There are blogs I don't read, dead blogs, dead people on it, and blogs that I do read (lurk at, mostly) that aren't on it. I'll be doing this over the next few days.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Fridge!!!

Motherfucking iced tea in the house, yo!

We were snookered! Wait, what?

Last night, Jon Stewart returned from a two-week vacation and unleashed his sharp knives of satire on those on the left who were "snookered" by a re-edited tape released by Andrew Breitbart that supposedly demonstrates racism and corruption on the left.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Lost in Race
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

(Also, Comedy Central, your embed code is crappy. I had to go in and close like three tags to get it to work. In case I screwed it up, the link to the video is here.)

Which is something I would have thought way more awesome, if this hadn't been Jon Stewart's response to Breitbart's completely fraudulent ACORN tapes last year.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Audacity of Hos
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

(Link here.)

Hm. Did you get snookered, too, Jon? Were you so eager to demonstrate that you treat the left and the right equally that you were willing to throw poor, black, (and in that clip, mostly females) under the bus?

I had sincerely hoped that someone in the media would be willing to revisit the ACORN tapes, just to throw light on the extreme injustice done to this now-defunct organization at the behest of the crybabies on the extreme right. I kind of thought it might be the Daily Show. Oh well.

The beard is dead sexy though.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Shirley Sherrod

It's hot and humid (well, humid for Albuquerque) and my fridge is still broken. I'm grumpy and I promise you, this post will have problems with tone.

This whole Shirley Sherrod scandal has really gotten me all perturbed. In case you've been living under a rock these past few days, here's what's happened.

The NAACP finally had the gumption to say out loud what has been obvious to everyone else with half a brain: the Tea Partiers willingly and knowingly harbor racists in their midst and should, if they're wanting the other 98 percent of America to take them seriously, cut that shit out.

Proving that calling a white person a racist is a bigger insult these days than calling a black person nigger, professional crybaby and total douchebag liar Andrew Breitbart (who was also behind the totally fake prostitution ring tapes that got ACORN disbanded) released a tape of a black woman named Shirley Sherrod who works for the USDA, giving a speech to the NAACP about being annoyed at a white farmer who came to her for help, "proving" that the NAACP specifically and black people in general are the real racists.

Of course Sherrod was forced to resign. The NAACP also immediately renounced her, calling her actions "shameful."

Now, even before this tape was even proved to be maliciously re-edited in a deliberately misleading way, I was put out. Maybe it was just that coming so close on the heels of the slap-on-the-wrist verdict given to the white cop who shot Oscar Grant (an unarmed black father of a girl my daughter's age, shot in the back while handcuffed and having his face shoved into the ground with a knee on the back of his neck in front of a dozen witnesses all holding cell phone cameras) but I just wasn't impressed by the degree of "oppression" on display here.

Oh, a black authority figure was less than respectful to you, and sent you somewhere else? Boo fucking hoo. Try getting shot in the back while face down and handcuffed with a cop's knee pressing down on your neck.

Not to mention the man what seeking help from an organization specifically set up as a co-op for black farmers (the incident actually occurred back in the 80s, before Sherrod even worked for the USDA), and was not a dues-paying member. Not to mention that the man was being snooty towards her. And not to mention that she did actually help him anyway during that first encounter, sending him to a white lawyer who could assist him.

But come to find that douche Breitbart had edited out the last part of the story. The full video shows that when she realized her initial reaction was perhaps related to lingering bitterness surrounding the fact that her father had been murdered by a Klansman (go ahead, grow up black in the south of a few decades ago after your father was murdered by the Klan, and see how you feel about white people, I dare you) and that she should overcome these feelings if she's going to have any luck making the world a better place.

She realized that the real problems in this country are between the haves and the have-nots, and while that's often overlaid with the matrix of the social constructs of race, it's not always. And then not only did she go on to personally help this white farmer, but she probably saved their farm and the two are friends to this day.

I agree with Joan Walsh. Shirley Sherrod is a hero.

But that's not where the irritation ends, oh no.

I'll let Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell speak for me for a moment here. She said exactly what I was thinking on Countdown with Keith Olbermann the other day.

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Nice Crash reference, by the way. Agreed about that movie as well.

So Shirley Sherrod was thrown under the bus. But after the tapes vilifying her were revealed to be an embarrassingly transparent fraud perpetrated by a huckster who is already known for releasing racially-tinged frauds to the media, everyone from the president on down apologized and jumped all over themselves to show how wrong and falsely quick to judge they were.

Tom Vilsack, the head of the USDA, even offered her a new special job. What is the new special job? An "outreach" position that would deal specifically with racial discrimination issues within the USDA.

This is the part that really got to me.

It is really annoying how mainstream white America wants black people to be, like, cultural envoys about race or something. I don't think Shirley Sherrod should have to leave her old, chosen job helping poor farmers and take a new job teaching the USDA not to be racist.

And, although I don't find him blameless in this situation (seriously, stop reacting to right-wing blowhards like their opinions matter!)I also don't think the Obama administration has some sort of obligation to "start a conversation" on race because he is black. I resent it when white people expect people of color to help them learn not to hate us.

Figure it out yourselves, already. Real life is not a movie with Morgan Freeman in a supporting role. No magical Negroes are coming along to help you overcome your own faults and teach you about love and friendship with their earthy wisdom. Deal with it.

Sigh. I'm sure this post makes me sound really bitchy and mean and violates the suggestions in this video. Until I have a working freezer so I can put some ice in my beverage and maybe cool off for a moment, I don't really care.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My fridge is broken.

The fridge broke. So I had to eat everything.

If only I had some attractive wealthy roommates to help me pay for it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The news that some group of serious xenophobic assholes has made a list of 1300 people, including children and pregnant women (with, most creepily, mentions of their due dates) and tried to have it made public, with no care or feeling of responsibility to what might happen to those people, has freaked me out way more than a little.

I mean, come on.

It's got me thinking about my own past.

I, like most Americans, am descended from other places. On both sides of my family, I am descended from lower-class immigrants, people who worked back-breakingly hard for what little they owned, and whom the American system of living consistently disenfranchised politically and socially.

My mother, second youngest in an Italian Catholic family of 13 surviving children, never had her own bedroom. My father, oldest child of two Afro-Cuban immigrants, famously states that his first bed was a box (and whether or not this was true or merely his own brand of constructed folklore I have never properly established).

In any case, my immigrant family members found themselves left out of the American political process. This may be why the political figures that exist in my family have always been elevated to near-legendary status.

For me, the political has always been personal. A friend once nicknamed me "Political Spice." It's in my genes I guess.

On my father's side of my family, a man named Generoso Campos-Marquetti was the first black man to hold a political office in Cuba, and played a key role in the Race War of 1912. On my mother's side of the family is her uncle Frank Rizzo, the 1970s Philadelphia mayor with mob ties. During their many knock-down, drag-out fights my mother often invoked her familial mafia connections the way a woman in an ancient Greek play might invoke the furies.

Also, I really want to see this movie.

I'm not sure what my point is, I guess. Most of America is descended from immigrants. Property crime and violent crime in border states is down. Undocumented immigrants form a crucial part of the nation's economy. Also, a generation or tow ago, I might have been in the shoes of those 1300 people in Utah. And political power is hard to come by, and is treasured for generations after.

So, what's the problem? If your big beef is that these people are here illegally, then make it easier to come to the United States legally, problem solved. (I have a friend who works in immigration law, and trust me, it's a seriously difficult process.) It would take care of the human smugglers and the drug runners who control the process now.

But it wouldn't deal with the problem of their being so many brown people, which is increasingly more obviously the anti-immigration crowd's real issue.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another Abbie Summer

There are eleven foot tall sunflowers in my yard this year.

2010-07-10 14.35.25.jpg

Abbie is four now, and still retains a hint of babyness, as when she falls asleep, sweaty in the summer sun.

2010-06-08 19.34.50_Albuquerque_New Mexico_US.jpg

But she's also sort of a badass, as when she won her match at a recent judo tournament.

(Hilarious slo-mo and soundtrack courtesy of my father, who also took first at the same match.)

It's another Abbie summer.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Comment moderation on

I'm turning comment moderation on, just because I'm tired of deleting spam comments. If you're one of the three people who still check in here occasionally, I do check the comments on a daily basis.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Stupid e-mail forwards

So I frequently get unwanted email forwards from several members of my family. How do people deal with those? I usually just grit my teeth and delete sight-unseen, especially if they come from in-laws, but this one from my very own mother was particularly galling.

Don't buy Pepsi in the new can. Pepsi has a new 'patriotic' can
coming out with pictures of the EmpireStateBuilding, and the
Pledge of Allegiance on them.
However, Pepsi left out two little words on the pledge,
'Under God.'
Pepsi said they didn't want to offend anyone. In that case, we don't
want to offend anyone at the Pepsi corporate office, either!
So if we don't buy any Pepsi products, they will not be offended
when they don't receive our money that has the words
'In God We Trust' on it.

Pretty darn fast!!
Not being a huge fan of Pepsi even in my soda-guzzing heyday (as i often put it when I was still a brash obscene punk-rocker, Pepsi is Coke for pussies), I have no idea as to the veracity of this, but like all stupid e-mail forwards it's probably completely false. In any case, here was my reply.
Just fyi, the Pledge of Allegiance as originally composed by Frances Bellamy in 1892 did not contain the words "Under God." Those words were only added in 1952 during a particularly shameful, jingoistic, xenophobic period in American history riddled with extreme fundamentalism and fear.

The separation of church and state is an American value which I feel our founding fathers held sacred, protecting not only the state from the church's influence but the church from the potentially corrupting influence of state power. I would happily toast the country that I love with a glass of Pepsi, but I don't drink soda anymore actually, it's terrible for you.
Also, Frances Bellamy was a big-time socialist who briefly considered adding "equality" and "fraternity" as well as "liberty" to the pledge.

I almost hit "reply all" on that one, but decided not to out my mother as having a weirdo commie pinko child who doesn't even drink high fructose corn syrup. I'm too nice, I know.