Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Thursday, January 23, 2003
A nasty man is forced to resign!
I'm currently busy helping to tame my parents' skittish new cat Mombi, but I hope you all heard this one, courtesy of the Advocate ("Conservative withdraws from White House AIDS panel"):
A Christian activist chosen by the White House to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS is withdrawing his name under pressure for characterizing AIDS as the "gay plague," among other antigay statements attributed to him.While I'm glad to hear this man is gone, this is by no means the time to put on a party hat. The Bush administration is full of similar homophobic abstinence-only wackos, and the fact that Bush and co. felt comfortable appointing him to the council in the first place is no fluke.
...Thacker is a former Bob Jones University graduate who later ran a radio station at the school, and his Web site at one point referred to AIDS as the "gay plague." He also referred to gay people as practicing a "death style," rather than a lifestyle. He has described homosexuality as a condition that can be cured by Christianity. Like the Bush administration, he promotes abstinence from sex as the way to prevent HIV infection. "For the unmarried, the only truly 'safe sex' is not to have sex," Thacker has written.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
New Cartoon! What if...
...Bush actually gave a press conference without cue cards? What if he actually answered questions? Among other leftist fantasies that have a snowball's chance in hell of ever happening, but still put a smile on my face.
I did this cartoon for both the Boston Phoenix and the Harvard Crimson, but it's my last cartoon ever for the Crimson. Yes, I am no longer a college cartoonist, and thus, no longer have any excuse for the occasional weak drawing.
Oh, and I'm going to have a review of Scott Bateman's new graphic novel Scan soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
P.S. Tom Tomorrow's new cartoon is a must-read.
Monday, January 20, 2003
So many cartooning topics, so little time...
+ some cartoons worth reading
So I'm trying to brainstorm my next cartoon, but as usual I'm a bit overwhelmed with cartoon topics. There's always the war, of course, and wacky racist Republicans, and the fact that thanks to Romney kids in poor Massachusetts cities are going to be in gigantic classes without any crayons or art class or music class while their peers in the suburbs merely won't have any new teachers for a while (see yesterday's Globe piece "Broken Crayons, Worried Teachers"). Then there's Powell's dissent on affirmative action, John Ashcroft's ridiculous attempts to "honor" Martin Luther King, Jr. by lying about his own record on civil rights, and Bush's announcing a "National Sanctity of Human Life Day" on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade--at the same time as he sends other people's kids off to get killed in Iraq.
And in other cartoon news...
Ted Rall makes a point that everyone else seems to be neglecting--to have an informed opinion, you need... information. Steve Sack makes a nice visual comment on Bush's continuing insistence that "no decision has been made" on Iraq.
On the subject of Bush's position on affirmative action: Dan Wasserman, Jack Ohman, Mike Thompson and Jeff Stahler go after the irony of a Yale legacy admission talking about admissions fairness. Matt Davies ponders Bush's vision for the future. Walt Handelsman questions Bush's odd definition of diversity. And Clay Bennett wonders about the timing of Bush's renomination of Pickering (a comment that could apply to the timing of his statements on affirmative action as well)...
And in a cartoon that I totally disagree with, Dana Summers sheds copious tears for ... sob!... all those white victims of "reverse racism." (And if you've forgotten my opinion on "reverse racism", here it is.)
P.S. To all the folks who braved the cold to march for peace this weekend...
... a big thank-you. Much to my chagrin, I had to move out of my dorm room and could not attend.
Friday, January 17, 2003
Yet another reason why I can't handle TV news
So today being the first opportunity I've had in weeks to watch television, I was flipping through channels and happened to stop at MSNBC Live. Which happened to be doing a news report on "anti-American and anti-war sentiment" overseas (because "anti-war" and "anti-American" are presumably the same thing? ack). After a typical montage of protesters in various European and Middle Eastern countries holding up anti-Bush and anti-war signs, the news anchor asked in obvious puzzlement: "But what about Saddam? How do they feel about Saddam?"
The overseas correspondent answered in all seriousness: "Well, it's really extraordinary, but instead of Saddam, they seem to be blaming Bush."
Yeah, quite extraordinary. Sorry if those aren't the exact words but there's no online transcript yet.
Oh, and one more thing--the little logo flashing on the screen during the above exchange was of course "Showdown with Saddam." Is there anyone out there who genuinely thinks that's a clever or appropriate title for talking about potential war, as if it's just a private shootout between Bush and Hussein at high noon, except for the fact that instead of Bush or Hussein, it's going to be lots of Iraqi civilians and some American soldiers who end up dead? OK, so that was something of a run-on sentence. But you get the idea.
More Fun with Legacy Admissions
Looks like Republicans really are trying to justify legacy admissions, by saying they have to do with "a special relationship and heritage" with a university. Yeah, you heard me. Bodyand Soul has the goods.
Vatican declares transgendered people are figments of their own imaginations?
The following news item was sent to me by a Catholic reader who also happens to be a transsexual mom (the same mom, as a matter of fact, who recently shared her volleyball coaching nightmare). From 365gay.com ("Vatican Declares Transgendered Do Not Exist"):
(Vatican City) The Vatican has ruled that sex-change procedures do not change a person's gender in the eyes of the church. The decision, made by the department in charge of doctrine, is contained in a confidential document obtained by the Catholic News Service.Lovely. My reader notes that: "I get the feeling this may be a big speed bump on the road to my canonization...", and I would hazard the guess that she is probably right.
CNS, quoting a source familiar with the text, says the document instructs bishops never to alter the sex listed in parish baptismal records and says Catholics who have undergone "sex-change" procedures are not eligible to marry, be ordained to the priesthood or enter religious life.
In essence it says the transgendered do not exist in the Catholic faith.
Happy Graduation to Me
I'm still a little too shocked to fully appreciate it, but I just took my LAST HARVARD EXAM EVER yesterday, and today I get to go to a mini graduation ceremony for folks like me who are a semester off (in case anyone wants to know, I spent my semester off loading trucks with packages at a huge UPS hub in Chelmsford, and no, package handlers don't get to wear that fun brown uniform). Then my mom is going to take me out for a martini. And then I'm going to take a really really really long nap. I know a lot of people are clinging to academia because of the lousy job market, going straight to grad school and all that, but I couldn't be happier to be getting out of here.
In other odds and ends, last night the boyfriend and I went to see law professor Randall Kennedy speak about his new book (Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity and Adoption,) and were quite impressed.I'll have a further report when I finish reading the book.
Oh yeah, and a big thanks to all the nice people who have been visiting my site and reading my cartoons courtesy of August and Atrios. And an EXTREMELY big thanks to those folks who bought me books from my wishlist, you have no idea how happy you've made me--please do let me know who you are so I can be properly grateful, yes?
U.S. Gov't Suspends "Honest, We Don't Treat Muslims Like Dirt" Ad Campaign
Fails to explain why detaining Middle Eastern immigrants (many of them Muslims) for complying with ominous new registration program does not constitute treating people like dirt
From yesterday's Wall Street Journal ("U.S. Suspends TV Ad Campaign Aimed at Winning Over Muslims"):
The U.S. government is abandoning a high-profile television campaign, backed by President Bush and aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the world's Muslim and Arab populations, after meeting stiff resistance from some crucial allied nations.The much-ballyhooed advertising drive, known as "Shared Values," was... the most controversial element of an effort to promote a positive image of the U.S. in parts of the globe where American interests and culture are frequently under attack.What, you mean getting people in other countries to like your government despite its actions (like the recent detainments or Bush's determination to start a war with Iraq "in the name of peace") isn't just a matter of coming up with the right marketing campaign?
The initial series of television spots had its debut in October and was broadcast for five weeks in several countries, including Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation. They feature five Muslims who live in the U.S.: a baker, a journalism student, a schoolteacher, a paramedic and a public official. In documentary-style footage created by McCann-Erickson Worldgroup, a unit of Interpublic Group, each describes a social tolerance of his or her background and faith. "I have co-workers who are Jewish, who are Christian, Catholic, Hindu even," says Farooq Muhammad, clad in his New York paramedic uniform, in one spot. "I have never gotten disrespect because I am a Muslim."
The effort immediately sparked controversy. Egypt informally warned U.S. officials that it wouldn't put messages from other governments on its airwaves. Cairo's ambassador didn't return calls seeking comment Wednesday. The Lebanese ambassador to the U.S., Farid Abboud, said, "We shouldn't run messages on behalf of other governments." A spokesman for the Jordanian embassy said the spots didn't run in Jordan, which has three channels, all government-owned.
...Explaining the decision to suspend the ads, State Department officials said the U.S. recently decided to emphasize public relations rather than TV and print ads in Muslim countries with substantial anti-American sentiment. "The television, print and radio spots are down right now," one official said. "We are looking at where we are going next with the effort."
State Department officials noted that the campaign can in theory continue until the funds run out. But department officials are currently working with McCann-Erickson to determine what impact -- if any -- the campaign may have had and to figure out what form the future efforts will take. One idea is to begin moving the ads into other countries where there are large numbers of Muslims, including the Philippines, Morocco and some of the former Soviet republics. ...In addition to the criticism leveled by some Muslim nations, the spots were faulted at home, too. "The ads were extremely poor," says Youssef Ibrahim, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank based in New York. "It was like this was the 1930s and the government was running commercials showing happy blacks in America. It is the policy itself we have to explain. You have to grab the bull by the horn, and the bull is 'Hey, here's our policy and there are good reasons for it,' instead of saying, 'Gee, there are a lot of happy Muslim people here.' "
"The real question on the 'Shared Values' campaign is whether it does more good than harm," says Steve Hayden, vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather, a McCann rival and unit of WPP Group PLC. "My premise was that any effort to address ordinary people that have been ignored too long is worthy. But Islamic opinion is influenced more by what the U.S. does than anything it can say."
Thursday, January 16, 2003
The fun begins in Boston. From yesterday's Boston Globe piece "City lays out diagram of where pain will be felt" (Here's a hint--it won't be felt by the multimillionaire governor or his friends!):
Lisa Signori, the city's budget chief, said the city has already decided to eliminate about $315,000 in grants to youth and after-school programs. The list of other potential cuts is long. She said the city could save $4 million by taking back money the Boston public schools have budgeted for substitute teachers and school supplies for the rest of the school year; $2 million by scrapping primary-care grants to neighborhood health centers; $500,000 by cleaning downtown streets three days a week instead of every day; $300,000 by laying off park rangers; $300,000 by cutting back on vacant-lot cleanups; $200,000 by not hiring additional workers for the annual cleanup of parks and streets; and about $100,000 by closing the main Boston Public Library in Copley Square on Sundays.Let me get this straight--Romney goes on and on about how education is a priority, which he will then demonstrate by slashing youth programs, eliminating substitute teachers and school supplies (what, exactly, is supposed to happen now when teachers have to call in sick?), and of course, laying off teachers? That cut in grants to neighborhood health centers is also particularly ominous, as many people without health insurance rely on these centers. Sigh... somehow I doubt seeing Mitt's photogenic smile on TV will be very comforting to the city workers who will lose their jobs.
Signori said the jobs program for next summer is in danger, and the city is considering furloughs for city workers and additional layoffs - and teachers will not be immune.
Chris Rock on the White Sense of Entitlement
(from my boyfriend's copy of Rock This):
You know what racism is really about?If you're wondering why I posted this, please see below.
White people are mad because they think they're losing everything... If people want to get their due, they have to work for it. But there are white people who think they should get theirs just because they're white.
"White? That's twenty-five thousand a year, right? At the very least. What's happened to this country?"
White people aren't used to being broke. White people go broke and it's scary. They start crying. They call the news. Next thing they're on "60 Minutes" and "20/20"....
If I'm not mistaken, didn't black people work 200 years for free? They worked really hard, too. No breaks, no time off. Slaves didn't get vacations. Where could they possibly go?...
Legacies, Legacies, Legacies...
Plus, Mikhaela gets a job! (or, to be precise, a paid 10-week internship)
As an addendum to my previous post: my best friend, Wall Street Journal staff reporter Geoffrey Fowler, wanted to know why I was so dependent on the NYTimes for my blog. So I just want to make it clear: I tend to quote the New York Times and the Associated Press and CNN, not because I think they are the ultimate in journalistic objectivity, but because they give me a sense of what's being talked about in mainstream news, and it doesn't cost anything to link to their articles (well, not for the first week, anyway!).
Geoff assures me that I'll break my NYTimes dependency when I start my internship this March at the Wall Street Journal's graphic design department. As evidence, he presents this page one article from today's Journal (Admissions Preferences Given To Alumni Children Draws Fire):
With two cases challenging affirmative action at the University of Michigan pending before it, the Supreme Court will soon decide the fate of race-based preferences in college admissions. But the cases also may affect the future of a longer-standing kind of preference: the one favoring children of alumni.In case anyone was wondering, I am not a Harvard legacy admission--both my parents went to state colleges in Massachusetts back when they were affordable. But as you can see from the article above, the legacy admissions rate here at Harvard is ridiculous--40 percent of legacy students get admitted. When you consider that the general acceptance rate is something like only 11 percent, that number starts to smell funny... And it gets worse when you note that "only 7.6% of legacy applicants accepted last year were black, Hispanic or Native American, compared with 17.8% of all successful applicants."
The legacy preference, as it is known, is nearly as widespread as those based on race and ethnicity. Colleges like it because it keeps alumni happy and more inclined to donate. But overwhelmingly, the legacy preference benefits whites. Now, calls to abandon the legacy preference are on the rise from minority groups and politicians who see it as a perpetuation of class distinction and white advantage...
(And as a sidenote: the first question I get asked when I tell people I'm going to be working in the graphic design department at the Journal is: the Journal has a graphic design department? To which I can only answer: if you were a real graphic design fiend, wouldn't you have already read about it in my favorite magazine? But if you haven't, and you're curious, here's a look "Behind the Redesign"... )
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
A reader asks: "You expressed dismay at racism and segregation, but find affirmative action acceptable and desirable?"
Almost a month ago (during the whole Trent Lott mess) I received the following email from reader Steve Presutti, but didn't have a chance to address it as I was leaving for my winter vacation:
Dear Mikhaela Reid:It's a big and complicated question, so rather than just sum up my position, I thought I'd also provide some quotes from some good essays on the topic.
I enjoy reading your blog and find the content both informative and provocative. I usually find myself agreeing with most if not all of the ideas expressed.
Bearing that in mind, I'm wondering if you could clarify part of your most recent post. If I understand your implications correctly, you expressed dismay at racism and segregation, but find affirmative action acceptable and desirable. Are these concepts not different facets of the same gem? That is, my understanding is that all three concepts are predicated on treatment based primarily, if not solely, upon a person's race. I have trouble seeing why these issues should be accepted or rejected individually instead of as a single cohesive whole. Am I misunderstanding the issues, your position, or more?
But first, the short version: affirmative action based on race isn't a magical cure for the legacy of racism and inequality and discrimination in this country. But anyone who thinks the US really has a level playing field right now, or thinks that whites don't get preferential treatment and priveleges needs to start paying a little more attention. Or as Alternet's Sean Gonsalves put it: "I'm not suggesting that affirmative action is our salvation, but neither is it the reverse racism that some opponents claim." So, some suggested reading and choice quotes:
The Opposite of Racism Isn't Colorblindness
By Sean Gonsalves, AlterNet, August 21, 2001
If St. Paul was right, that the wages of sin is death, is it a stretch to say that the wages of white supremacy is colorblindness?and
To suggest such a thing, I'm sure, makes a good number of white brothers and sisters uneasy, thinking perhaps Black Americans have deserted Dr. King's dream where people are judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.
Forget that King, just before his death, called for affirmative action in his last book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" His dream wasn't that everyone would not recognize color, but that skin pigmentation would not be used as the key measure of human potential.
King wasn't so naive to think a society steeped in centuries of white supremacy would be magically transformed into a colorblind utopia. I'm not suggesting that affirmative action is our salvation, but neither is it the reverse racism that some opponents claim...
All across America there is an informal social network that gives whites preferential treatment in gaining access to a limited range of economic opportunities. Can colorblindness really be the answer, when, in a race-obsessed society, it renders white-skin privilege invisible?A Big Story Goes Unreported
By Norman Solomon, AlterNet, April 26, 2000
If newsrooms and media suites weren't so overwhelmingly white, this situation might be more widely – and forthrightly – discussed in print and on the airwaves. Perhaps some pundits would voice concern about "white pathology" and wonder aloud at the extent of moral failures by Caucasians who live in the outer city.and a personal favorite:
But, as things stand, we don't hear much about the social sickness involved in the endemic propensity of white commentators to confuse their monologues with real dialogue on the subject of race.
Affirmative action is a flash point for the unspoken – and often unconscious – white delusion of superiority. We're commonly told that affirmative action is now unnecessary because a level playing field exists.
Out of touch with reality, these claims ignore the fact that racial prejudice and institutional bias continue to pervade American society – and that few blacks or Latinos can be found in the more lucrative and powerful professions. Given the lopsided statistics, the level-playing-field argument doesn't hold – unless, of course, one actually believes that racial minorities are inherently inferior...
Breaking the Cycle of White Dependence
By Tim Wise, ZNet, June 12, 2001
I got to thinking about projection recently, after receiving many an angry e-mail from folks who had read one or another of my previous commentaries, and felt the need to inform me that people of color are "looking for a handout," and are "dependent" on government, and of course, whites.and
Such claims are making the rounds these days, especially as debate heats up about such issues as reparations for enslavement, or affirmative action. And this critique is a prime example of projection, for in truth, no people have been as dependent on others throughout history as white folks.
We depended on laws to defend slavery and segregation so as to elevate us, politically, socially and economically. We depended on the Naturalization Act of 1790, to make all European immigrants eligible for nearly automatic citizenship, with rights above all persons of color. We depended on land giveaways like the Homestead Act, and housing subsidies that were essentially white-only for many years, like FHA and VA loans. Even the GI Bill was largely for whites only, and all of these government-sponsored efforts were instrumental in creating the white middle class. But it goes deeper than that.
From the earliest days, "whites" were dependent on the land and natural resources of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Since Europe offered no substantial natural riches from its soil, European economic advance and expansion was entirely reliant on the taking of other people's land by force, trickery or coercion. That, my friends, is dependence.
Then these same Europeans relied on slave labor to build a new nation and to create wealth for whites; wealth that was instrumental to financing the American Revolution, as well as allowing the textile and tobacco industries to emerge as international powerhouses. From 1790 to 1860 alone, whites and the overall economy reaped the benefits of as much as $40 billion in unpaid black labor. That, my friends, is dependence...
And white dependence on people of color continues to this day. Each year, African Americans spend over $500 billion with white-owned companies: money that goes mostly into the pockets of the white owners, white employees, white stockholders, and white communities in which they live. And yet we say black people need us? We think they are the dependent ones, relying as we assume they do on the paltry scraps of an eviscerated welfare state? Now let's just cut the crap. Who would be hurt more: black folks if all welfare programs were shut down tomorrow, or white folks, if blacks decided they were through transferring half-a-trillion dollars each year to white people and were going to keep their money in their own communities?...and
Indeed, I am beginning to think that whites are so dependent on people of color that we wouldn't know what to do without them. Oh sure, some neo-Nazis say they would love to try, but in reality I doubt they could make it. If there were no black and brown folks around then whites would have no one to blame but themselves for the crime that occurred; no one to blame but themselves when they didn't get the job they wanted; no one to blame but themselves when their lives turned out to be less than they expected. In short, we need people of color – especially in a subordinate role – as a way to build ourselves up, and provide a sense of self-worth we otherwise lack...For the unsubtle reader, I hope it's clear that this last sentence is a rhetorical, not literal statement.
Bush knocks affirmative action for people of color...
...while failing to explain why affirmative action for rich white boys whose daddies went to Yale is wrong
You might have seen this story this morning in the NYTimes ("Bush May Intervene in Affirmative Action Case"):
President Bush has asked administration lawyers to present him with a brief arguing that the University of Michigan's programs for using race in admission decisions go too far, officials said today....but you probably didn't see this priceless exchange between a reporter and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer regarding how Bush himself benefited from admissions preferences. This reporter is, of course, referring to the long-standing practice (at schools like, say, Harvard and Yale) of granting "legacy" students--who on the whole are whiter, wealthier and more likely to be male than the average applicant--admission preference. Conservative support of legacy admissions reminds me of the bizarre argument that giving single moms money to help feed their kids is evil, while giving corporations handouts and bailouts and tax breaks is necessary to "stimulate" the economy.
Conservatives often claim that affirmative action and welfare "patronize" poor people and people of color by implying they can't pull themselves up by their own boot straps. So why don't corporations feel offended and patronized by corporate welfare? Why didn't Bush feel so offended by his legacy acceptance to Yale (despite his clearly inferior qualifications) that he rejected it? These are the questions that keep me awake at night...
On Volleyball, and Being a Transgender Mom
A reader's story
As you may recall, a few days ago I posted the story of a transgender mom harassed for... being a good parent and volunteering to chaperone a field trip at her daughter's school. The following all-too-similar true story comes from one of my regular readers, who is herself a single transsexual custodial mom:
*sigh* did i mention volleyball? my son wanted to play, so i signed him up at the Y... none of the other parents volunteered to coach, so I did--at LITERALLY the final minute... half the parents (who could have volunteered at any time) withdrew their children from my team, which then had to disband... i signed my son into another league, on a team that already had a coach...
when basketball season came around, nobody wanted to coach the boys in my son's class... another parent actually asked me if i would, and i said only if he could guarentee that none of the other parents would withdraw their kids from my team; that was actually the last time he spoke to me...
at one of my son's baseball games, a parent actually called the police because i was dressed as a woman... as it happened, a guardian ad litem had already been appointed for my son when I had sought custody of him after my divorce; rather than dispatch the swat team, the police refered the matter to the department of social services, which in turn contacted the GAL, who informed the police and the department of social services that as far as the state and county are concerned, i dress like a woman because i am a woman...
Happy Birthday, Dr. King...
... sort of. From reader Philip P.:
Another thing, kinda funny kinda sad; I go to ucomic's horoscope every morning and at the top of the page they always have celebrity birthdays. Today Martin Luther King is listed last, after Chad Lowe, Charo, and Lloyd Bridges. Shows how well respected he is in society today, huh?I know. It seems like a lot of people only bring him up when they want to pretend he was against affirmative action (which, as Alas, a Blog recently pointed out, and Tom Tomorrow has been saying for a while, is bizarre to say the least.)
While on the subject of Dr. King (who would have been 74 today), Body and Soul has a post reprinting one of his anti-war speeches...
Araujo Case Prompts Media Outlets to Revise Stylebooks
Still, many remain pronoun-challenged
As you might have noticed, I've been annoyed for some time now by the media's inconsiderate use of pronouns for transgendered people (see cartoon "Shallow Grave", post "No Respect for the Dead" and "Further Notes from the Pronoun-Challenged Mainstream Media").
Anyway, this bit of news was brought to my attention by reporter extraordinaire Molly Hennessy-Fiske (see, for example "The Other Woman" or her bio at In the Fray) who was my first editor ever when I was a Harvard freshman joining Diversity & Distinction magazine. From the Columbia Journalism Review's "He Said, She Said" section this month:
A killing leaves a copy-editing quandaryA poor basis for a decision, as this limits respectful pronouns to those folks who can cough up a minimum of $15,000 for sex-reassignment-surgery and other procedures.
By Dana Hull
When Eddie "Gwen" Araujo, a transgender seventeen-year-old, was brutally murdered in Newark, California, last fall, the press faced a conundrum: was Araujo a he or a she? Araujo identified as female, and called herself Gwen after a favorite singer. She had long dark hair and wore makeup. But Gwen was born a boy named Eddie, and was anatomically still a boy the night she was killed. She had not had surgery, and was not known to be taking hormones. Police reports and the coroner list Araujo's gender as male, but the more reporting the press did, the trickier it got: friends alternately spoke of Eddie as "he" or Gwen as "she" -- sometimes in the same sentence. Araujo's mother typically used Eddie, but said that "Gwen" would be on her son's tombstone.
Some California media outlets, including my paper, the San Jose Mercury News, and the San Francisco Chronicle, are reviewing their stylebooks as a result of the Araujo story. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is urging papers to adopt the language from the AP Stylebook entry on "sex changes":
"Use the pronoun preferred by individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics (by hormone therapy, body modification, or surgery) of the opposite sex and present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth; if that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly."
But what does "body modification" mean exactly? Can it include wearing makeup? At the Mercury News, our style dictated that the pronoun match the anatomy one is born with until there's been a sex change.
We eventually settled on Eddie "Gwen" Araujo. A small box explaining our style ran with one of the stories.I have the same suspicion.
Transgender advocates from Silicon Valley argued that genitalia do not determine gender. "We look for neat, precise definitions," said David Yarnold, executive editor of the Mercury News. "At every turn, they said they saw life as being much more nuanced and complicated than we wanted it to be, and I suspect that's closer to the truth than the tidy way the AP Stylebook packages our experiences."
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Monday, January 13, 2003
Rest in Peace
It's not like I didn't know what was going on... but I'm an inconsolable wreck anyway.
Why Romney's "Selfless" Salary Refusal is Anything But, + a Pro-Cloning Argument from the Boondocks
You've probably noticed I'm not particularly impressed by Romney and Healey's refusal to accept salaries... so that their aides can get pay raises! It's empty symbolism, and nothing more. But even more bothersome is the way he pressured state legislators out of accepting their own automatic pay raise. Globe columnist Adrian Walker ("Salary Issue a Distraction")has a good take on this:
Pay raises are one of the truly empty, ''symbolic'' debates in politics. This round is no exception. State government is drowning in red ink. The wealthy new governor and his rich lieutenant governor have decided to turn their salaries over to their supposedly suffering aides, some of whom now make $150,000 a year to do jobs that people used to perform for much less. How can lawmakers take more money when the governor is working for free?and
The Republicans, naturally, have sought to make an issue of the timing of this raise, and they have a point. Many, many jobs and programs are going to face the ax this spring. The state's mayors are in an uproar over seemingly inevitable cuts to local aid. So, yes, the timing is bad, though there's never a good time.So would I.
But the moves by Governor Mitt Romney and Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, while generous, are of dubious value to anyone beyond the few aides who will split what would have been the chief executives' salaries. The money will not save a single bed for a homeless person or a single job for a DSS caseworker.
And the amount of the pay raises even if everyone in the Legislature had taken them would have cost the state about $521,000 a year. In the context of this deficit - by some estimates $600 million this fiscal year - that's not a lot. As it stands now, 39 of 40 senators have decided to forgo the raise, and many House members will do the same. The money won't save a single social program.
There's one obvious alternative to pay raises. We can just elect a bunch of millionaires who will work for free. It won't be a very representative government, but it will pass muster on talk radio.
I'd rather have a government a bit more like the people it represents. A government where a $3,250 raise every few years doesn't occur to anyone as a cause for shame.
The lighter side of... War on Iraq
Aaron McGruder breaks it down. And in case this link expires (which seems to happen much sooner than it used to), here's the joke:
PANEL ONEIt's a bold, but oddly compelling argument, when you think about it...
CAESAR: Lot's of talk about cloning.
HUEY: Yep. I gotta say I'm all for it.
C: Is that so?
H: Absolutely. I say make a hundred thousand copies of W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.
C: Why would you want to—
H: SO THEY CAN GO FIGHT THEIR OWN D@#!% WARS!!
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Transgender mom harassed for helping with school field trip
Further notes from the pronoun-challenged mainstream news media
Articles like this REALLY make me want to get out a red pen and start crossing out all the pronouns. Anyway, I've reproduced most of the piece, with my comments interspersed. From the Los Angeles Times:
Transgender Chaperon Ignites School DisputeAlready they've got me pissed off. The headline seems to be vaguely respectful, using "transgender" instead of "transvestite," but it only takes them a few words to assert that this woman is "really" a man dressed as a woman. If you read the rest of the article, however, you learn that she has lived full-time as a woman for six years at her workplace and at home. So we might rewrite this subhead "Some insist on a rule on 'appropriate' attire after a transgender mom wears her normal clothes on a school field trip."
Some insist on a rule on 'appropriate' attire after a dad dressed as a woman goes on trip.
ST. LOUIS -- The fourth-grade field trip to the state Capitol was going well: The kids gaped at the rotunda, peeked in the Senate chambers, listened politely to a lecture on how a bill becomes law.Then someone noticed that the parent chaperon with the gorgeous hair and tasteful makeup was a dad.OK, red pen time. "Then someone noticed that the parent chaperon with the gorgeous hair and tasteful makeup seemed to be biologically male."
Most of the kids on the trip, apparently, either did not notice or did not care that a classmate's father was dressed as a woman, in jeans, a sweater and nice shoes. Most of the teachers, apparently, were equally untroubled.I also generally feel pretty unconcerned when a classmate's parent is wearing jeans and a sweater and nice shoes. Man, how dare she wear "nice shoes"! She might give children the wrong ideas! It is good to hear that most of the teachers were "untroubled", as they should be. What is "troubling" isn't that a parent should want to give her time to help chaperon a class field trip... what's troubling is what happened next.
But when the fourth-graders returned from Jefferson City, Mo., that afternoon in mid-October, the parent chaperon who had spotted the "cross-dressing dad" alerted some friends. Word spread quickly though the Francis Howell School District, in the middle-class suburb of St. Charles. The resulting tumult has not yet subsided.If I were one of these parents, I'd be much more concerned about my children being "exposed" to the bigotry of a campaign like this.
Alarmed, outraged and indignant, several parents demanded that the school board look into the matter. They found a receptive audience in board member Lisa Naeger, a mother of two who recoiled at the thought of her 9-year-old being exposed to a transgender adult on a field trip.
"I don't think it's fair to the kids or to the parents," Naeger said. "Parents have a right to make the decision about how their children are to be exposed to these issues. It's crucial that we make a stand."
Naeger has proposed a new policy that would require parent chaperons to wear "gender-appropriate" clothing for school functions. It's unlikely, however, that such wording would survive a court challenge. In 1985, a federal court struck down an obscure (and rarely used) St. Louis ordinance that banned anyone from dressing in clothing "not according to his or her sex" while out in public.Oh, this is just brilliant. God forbid children learn to accept and appreciate people who don't fit rigidly-defined gender roles! I'm sure a few decades ago, some parents would have removed their children if an interracial couple tried to chaperone a field trip. And what about moms (biologically female or not) who don't wear makeup or dresses or "nice shoes"? What about dads who have pierced ears? I remember when I was in elementary school and the mayor of Lowell, Tarsy Poulios, tried to make a law saying boys couldn't wear earrings to school because "we wouldn't be able to tell who was a boy and who was a girl." This, apparently, was a real educational crisis. Was this mother's crime that she couldn't perfectly pass as a proper female? This all makes my head hurt.
Naeger expects the board to make a decision by mid-January; she is not optimistic that her colleagues will back her request. But a handful of fired-up parents is not willing to let the matter drop.
The parents have asked the district to let them know whenever the father in question visits Castlio Elementary School, so they can withdraw their children from class. And they are pleading for a dress code that would require all adults who interact with students to "dress in what a 9- or 10-year-old perceives as normal clothes for a man or a woman," as mother Patti Hight puts it.
"This individual did not use common sense. He did not put the children first. He did not think how this would confuse them," said Hight.SHE, SHE, SHE!!!! But even aside from pronouns, this makes my blood boil. Sounds to me like this transgender mom was doing nothing but putting children first, by volunteering her own time to help take the children on a trip. If anyone needs a dose of common sense, it's these hysterical parents.
Her daughter did not notice the cross-dressed dad during the daylong field trip. Still, Hight said she's furious to think that, if her daughter had noticed, had raised a question, it would have fallen to a stranger to explain transsexualism. "He shouldn't have put the other parent chaperons or the educators in the position of having to explain such a controversial lifestyle," Hight said.Yeah, because parents who don't want their children "exposed" to transgender people can explain it so much better! I can see it now: "You see Bobby, I know your teacher told you that tolerance and diversity are good, but men who wear women's clothes don't count as diverse because they're trying to warp your weak little mind into wearing nice shoes."
The father has not been identified.You mean, "The transgender mom has not been identified." Grammar, people, grammar!
But sources who know him said he has dressed as a woman at work for at least six years, keeping his hair long, wearing slacks and blouses and using a name that could be either male or female. Actively involved in his daughters' education, he has volunteered in their schools, attended their concerts and conferred with their teachers while in women's attire -- without any backlash, until now.Sounds like an ideal parent to me. Anyway, this information from "sources" suggests that rather than being a man who occasionally crossdresses (which would make the pronoun issue a bit more complicated), this parent is a mother who lives full-time as a woman and identifies as such. The nice thing is that it sounds like most of the school thought so too.
"This guy was not a disruption," said Jon Bennett, a school board member. "He didn't show up wearing a skintight leather dress and fishnet stockings."How about one who made transphobic remarks?
"It wasn't obvious at all," added Karen Finch, a special-education teacher who went on the field trip. "I'm not going to say I get it. I don't. But that doesn't matter. It's a free country.
"We're just a Midwestern, conservative, middle-class white neighborhood -- this isn't San Francisco, you know -- but the staff at the school is supportive of this man. The teachers accept him. A few parents just freaked out and now it's blown up out of proportion."
The father's supporters point out that teachers already have the right to remove any volunteer who disrupts the educational process. A parent who cross-dressed so flamboyantly that kids couldn't pay attention to their lessons could be asked to leave. So could a chaperon who made racist remarks.
If he were barred from volunteering in the schools, his supporters ask, what would stop the district from excluding a lesbian couple, or an interracial couple, or any other parents whose lifestyles or orientations some would regard as controversial?Hear, hear. But whether or not this nasty proposal gets shot down or not, I somehow doubt this transgender mom is going to feel very comfortable coming in to volunteer or talk with teachers or attend her children's concerts or school plays any more. Which is sad, because what we need is more parents who care about and are involved in their children's education, not less. Now that's what I call leaving no children behind!
"We don't have the right to discriminate, and we shouldn't," Bennett said.
Transgender advocates point out too that to qualify for sex-change surgery, individuals first go through a prolonged period of "transition," when they present themselves in public as the gender they hope to become.
"They can't just arbitrarily switch back and forth to appease parents on a field trip," said Vanessa Edwards Foster, founder of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition.
P.S. This sort of thing reminds me how lucky I am to have a dad who made me watch Eyes on the Prize every year when I was a kid. I have this really vivid memory from when I was in elementary school of sitting on the rug and watching a comedy sketch with a character who was an over-the-top drooling evil nasty gay stereotype (the show was In Living Color; the actor was Jim Carrey). My dad asked me to change the channel because it was "homophobic," which he explained meant it was hateful towards gay people.
Saturday, January 11, 2003
Outgoing Illinois governor commutes 156 death sentences
Wow. For once, some good news! From the AP ("Illinois death row cleared"):
Gov. George Ryan said Saturday he was clearing the state's death row and commuting the sentences of all 156 inmates who had been condemned to die. He warned victims' families by overnight letter that the move was coming.Again I say, wow. Ryan, by the way, is a Republican--unlike his pro-death penalty replacement:
“Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error -- error in determining guilt, and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die,” Ryan said in prepared remarks Saturday.
“Because of all these reasons, today I am commuting the sentences of all death row inmates,” he said.
Ryan, who leaves office on Monday, had halted all executions in the state nearly three years earlier after courts found that 13 Illinois death row inmates had been wrongly convicted since capital punishment resumed in 1977 -- a period when 12 other inmates were executed.
He said studies since that moratorium was issued had only raised more questions about the how the death penalty was imposed. He cited problems with trials, sentencing, the appeals process and the state's “spectacular failure” to reform the system.
“Because the Illinois death penalty system is arbitrary and capricious -- and therefore immoral -- I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death,” he said.
Incoming Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat... criticized Ryan's action, calling blanket clemency “a big mistake.” Each case should be reviewed individually, Blagojevich said. “You're talking about people who've committed murder.”More thoughts from Body and Soul, Matthew Yglesias, Uppity Negro and Atrios' readers.
Now, I don't know much about Mr. Ryan, so I'm not about to make any blanket statements like "he's a great man." But I will say that I think he did a great thing, and it sounds like he did it for the right reasons, too.
Two more papers left to go, and at this point I am so stressed out it's hard to believe that in a week I can leave academic paper-writing behind me and never look back. In fact, I was so stressed out that I decided the best way to get my papers done would be to go stay with my family in Lowell, as I've found that taking breaks every hour or so to talk nonsense to my cat somehow makes me more productive, or at least, happier.
Well, it looks like my cat is dying. She's wandering around in circles and falling over (when she can manage to stand up), sneezing, refusing to eat (apparently she hasn't done so in a week), covered in cat dandruff, and drinking buckets and buckets of water. I knew she was really old when I got her a few years ago (she was toothless and probably about 14?) but it still really sucks. I'm moving to New York next month to start Work, and I sort of suspected she was too sick to take with me, but...
I know this is a news blog and not a personal journal, but if Tom Tomorrow can post pictures of his dog, I figure I might as well post a picture of my cat (back when she was healthy):
And in typical Mikhaela fashion, I feel guilty for caring so much about a cat when there are starving kids in Iraq about to get bombed. Which just makes me feel even worse and cry even harder.
Dr. Mitt's latest prescription...
Yeah, so while I'm moping, why don't you read all about Mitt Romney's request that the Massachusetts Legislature give him "emergency powers" to slash the budget as he sees fit--which at this point seems to mean he might cut local aid, which primarily goes to education in poorer cities and towns ("Governor seeks more power to cut").
Friday, January 10, 2003
While I'm trying to finish my paper on the historical archaeology of black/white married couples in nineteenth century Boston...
...why don't you read Body and Soul's thoughts on anti-condom conservatives and AIDS in Africa?
By the way, I'm not joking, that is actually my paper topic. I was doing research on black abolitionists in Boston (who often get overlooked in favor of white abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison) when I came across the following odd little fact: the rate of black/white interracial marriage for black men in 1880s Boston was 38%, which is MUCH MUCH higher than it is now (about 8%, I believe?). From what I could gather in the 1880s Boston census, most of these marriages were between black sailors or laborers (some of them ex-slaves) and poor Irish working women.
Which is interesting, because I think the general perception is that interracial marriage has become more common as white Americans have become less racist (or overtly racist, anyway). Which is true--to an extent. Marriages between whites and Hispanics and whites and Asian-Americans have skyrocketed in recent years, and black/white interracial marriage has increased, but much much more slowly. As Randall Kennedy writes in a recent piece from the Atlantic Monthly ("Interracial Intimacy", which is also the title of his new book):
It should be stressed that black-white marriages remain remarkably rare—fewer than one percent of the total. In 1998, when 330,000 black-white couples were married, 55,305,000 couples were married overall. Moreover, the racial isolation of blacks on the marriage market appears to be greater than that of other people of color: much larger percentages of Native Americans and Asian-Americans marry whites. According to 1990 Census data, in the age cohort twenty-five to thirty-four, 36 percent of U.S.-born Asian-American husbands and 45 percent of U.S.-born Asian-American wives had white spouses; 53 percent of Native American husbands and 54 percent of Native American wives had white spouses. Only eight percent of African-American husbands and only four percent of African-American wives had white spouses. The sociologist Nathan Glazer was correct in stating, in The Public Interest (September 1995), that "blacks stand out uniquely among the array of American ethnic and racial groups in the degree to which marriage remains within the group." Of course, the Native American and Asian-American populations are so much smaller than the African-American population that relatively few intermarriages make a big difference in percentage terms. But the disparity is real: it has to do not only with demographics but also with generations' worth of subjective judgments about marriageability, beauty, personality, comfort, compatibility, and prestige. Even now a wide array of social pressures continue to make white-black marriages more difficult and thus less frequent than other interethnic or interracial marriages.
More on this later (in case you hadn't noticed, it's of personal interest). But while we're on the topic of interracial marriage, there was an interesting discussion at Atrios' place recently about a white teacher who told her class she thought interracial marriage was wrong. (Atrios also found a must-see AP graph about Bush's stimulus package).
Thursday, January 09, 2003
Protest INS roundups today in Boston
Noon, JFK Federal Building
The following comes from the [Harvard-no-war] mailing list:
I. Protest Immigrant Round-Ups Today Jan 9 at Noon at the JFK Federal Building (T: Gov't Center) Hello everyone. Please take the following actions to prevent the mass round-ups of Arab and other Middle Eastern non resident immigrants such as took place in California earlier this month from occurring again:Of course this is ridiculously late notice, and I wish I had heard about it earlier, but if you have any way of getting there, I encourage you to do so.
1. Respond to this action alert from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. You can also contact Senator Kennedy and thank him for initiating the enclosed letter to Attorney General Ashcroft asking for the "special call-in registration" requirements to be suspended, and ask your own Representative to write a similar letter to John Ashcroft (see contact info at the end of this message).
2. Attend the rally outside Boston INS headquarters (JFK Federal Building in Boston's Government Center) on Thursday January 9th at noon -- PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS EVENT. For more info, visit www.adc.org/unjust
Fun for "enemy combatants"
From today's Boston Globe: ("Court says military may hold citizens: Panel finds broad powers for president during warfare")
WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court yesterday upheld nearly unlimited power for President Bush to order the capture of US citizens, and any others found among enemy forces overseas, and to detain them indefinitely while the war on terrorism continues.And so on. Sigh...
In the first ruling by a federal appeals court on military detentions since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, dismissed a constitutional challenge waged on behalf of a captured citizen, Yaser Esam Hamdi, refusing to examine the reasons for holding him.
Hamdi has been held since he was taken prisoner with Taliban forces in Afghanistan in November 2001. He has been charged with no crime and has been held without any legal rights. His case is in court only because his father hired a lawyer to challenge his detention.
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
All about the name "Mikhaela"
And a few other names as well.
- I get a lot of questions (and compliments) about my name. So for the curious:
- "Mikhaela" is my parents' creative way of spelling the name "Michaela," derived from the boy's name "Michael." It's a Hebrew name meaning "who is like God."
- I have never met anyone else who uses the spelling "Mikhaela." But to my horror, when I tried to register www.mikhaela.com, it was taken--and unused. Which is why I'm www.mikhaela.net.
- Because I'm so used to having a unique name, I get really confused in stores where there are lots of children, as I invariably hear people yelling "Mikhaela, put that down" or "Mikhaela, get over here right now."
- According to a parenting website, "Michaela" (and its various spellings) was the 18th most popular girl baby name in 1997. The spelling variations (from most to least popular) were: MIKAYLA, MAKAYLA, MICHAELA, MIKAELA, MICHAELLA, MICHEAELA, MICHEALA, MICAILAH, MICAYLA, MIKHAELA, MIKIALA, MYCALA, MIKALA, MIKALAH, MAKAILA, MAKAELA, MYCHAELA, MYKAELA, MYKAYLA, MYKAYLIA. These spellings are all quite familiar, as I used to see them whenever I exchanged Valentines with my classmates in elementary school.
- I also get questions about where my middle name, "Blake", comes from. The answer is that my mother really loves the work of poet/artist William Blake.
- In case anyone cares, my family always names its dogs after photographic processes (my mom majored in photography in college, and both my sibling and I do photography in college although I didn't end up majoring in it, what can I say?). So our current dog's name is Cyanotype, and our previous dog was Gumbichromate.
- From the age of 8 on I decided to name all cats after characters from the Oz books, but was only able to use "Tik-Tok" and "Ozma" before I adopted a toothless old cat who already had the name "Willow."
- OK, that's all the procrastinating I'll do for now. Back to my papers.
New Cartoon! Move over Dr. Atkins...
... cause here comes Dr. Mitt ("Dr Mitt's Budget Revolution"). Yes, multimillionaire Ken doll Mitt Romney is now officially the governor of Massachusetts, and if his inaugural speech is any indication, he's going to be just as bad as I expected. Symbolism, smooth talk and smiles mask his ruthlessly conservative agenda for Massachusetts. The fact that Romney and Lt. Governor Healey (both multi-millionaires) have given up a few hundred thousand in salary is a gimmick, especially as the money is going to pay raises for top Romney aides.
And no amount of talk about "investing" in the poeple of Massachusetts changes the fact that Romney intends to fire approximately 10% of teachers, ditch bilingual education, and "encourage volunteerism" (i.e. get rid of essential programs for the needy and then get photographed serving meals at a homeless shelter). This, apparently, is more humane than raising taxes (which the admin is doing anyway under names like "pharmacy assurance", the new $1.30 tax on prescription medicines). Choice quotes from his inaugural speech follow:
Our nearly $3 billion deficit next fiscal year means that we can afford only our core responsibilities; many nonessential programs, even some that we like very much, will have to be downsized or even eliminated...And so on. To translate, Romney apparently expects teachers and firefighters and other state and local employees to sacrifice their jobs in the name of not raising taxes? Yet many would say that it was Republican tax cuts that gutted the budget in the first place. From the Globe:
I will bring forward proposals that will shape state government for the realities of our new century. They will call for a greater level of responsiveness to our citizens, faster decision making, a lighter more agile bureaucracy, and an openness to change...
We disinvest in people when we tax away their ability to invest in themselves and to make their own life choices. Over these next several months and years, as we work to reshape government, we can't lose sight of the need to invest in our people and to protect their freedoms. I am convinced that, in fact, the only way we will be able to do that is by pursuing the changes that reshaping government will entail. Continuing to raise taxes to feed the bureaucratic beast can only result in devouring the means and motivation of our people.
A great share of the task ahead will be borne by the thousands upon thousands of public servants in state and municipal positions. You public servants know that these changes will be difficult and possibly painful for some. I wish this were not the case, but it is. You also know just how cumbersome and inefficient and ripe with patronage government has become. You know that to invest in the people we serve, we can't continue along the present course. I have confidence in your commitment to serve the public, for I have seen you do it time and again.
The ceremonies were clouded by the state's budget crisis, which was the central theme of Romney's 15-minute address. He laid the blame for the crisis on Beacon Hill leaders, saying that ''in state government, our slow and bureaucratic ways have led to leviathan budget deficits and tax hikes.'' He also said state leaders failed to understand that the revenue surge caused by the Internet boom in the 1990s was temporary, and that they not only spent the windfall, they did not make the structural changes needed to make government more efficient.But Romney listening to a reminder like that is about as likely as Bush admitting that his "stimulus package" only helps the wealthy few.
Romney's scolding brought a quick rebuke from House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, who told reporters after the speech that Romney was ''glossing over recent history.''
He said the governor should be reminded that the Democrat-controlled Legislature had the foresight to build up a $2.3 billion rainy day fund, even as Republican governors demanded the money be used for tax cuts.
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
What's Wrong With This Picture?
Besides the fact that it includes Bush, I had no idea until my grandmother Melba pointed it out to me: Bush doesn't have the faintest idea how to salute. As a Korean War veteran, my grandmother should know--she had to spend hours and hours standing in the Texas heat with hundreds of other Air Force trainees practicing until she got it right. With a proper salute, she explained, you always bring your hand up--and never bring your head down.
As you probably recall, not too long ago conservative pundits were all over the fact that Commander-in-Chief Clinton dodged the draft and had no idea how to salute. But little media attention has been given to the fact that Bush went AWOL during Vietnam. In other words--Bush is perfectly willing to send other people's children off to fight his war for oil in Iraq, but when his own turn came the rich boy skipped out of the National Guard before he even learned to salute.
Now, I don't mean to say that there is something inherently horrible about a president who can't salute. I would love to have a president who couldn't salute because, say, there hadn't been any wars in recent history or because he/she had avoided service during Vietnam because he/she was an anti-war activist who put his/her anti-war beliefs into practice as President. But the Bush administration is full of chickenhawks, as Boston's Weekly Dig recognized in this question from their Year in Politics Quiz:
13. Match the following staunch proponents of war against Iraq with their reason for avoiding military service in Vietnam:(Answers: A-1, B-3, C-4, D-2)
A. Dick Cheney
B. Tom DeLay
C. Trent Lott
D. Rush Limbaugh
1) "Had other priorities"
2) Had anal cysts
3) Claimed there was no room for patriotic folks like him because minorities had taken up all the slots
4) Served instead as a college cheerleader
Oh, and the other thing that really gets my grandmother (who lived in Georgia for many years) mad was Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss's recent attacks on the patriotism of his opponent in the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democrat Max Cleland.
For the record, Cleland lost two legs and an arm during his service in Vietnam. Chambliss didn't serve at all. But offensive or not, Chambliss beat Cleland in the recent midterm elections. Sigh...
If I have to listen to Bush talking about his "stimulus package" one more time...
... I may just throw up (as my poor old dog Cyanotype just did, all over the rug... sigh). Luckily, as usual, Paul Krugman breaks it down ("An Irrelevant Proposal"):
Here's how it works. Faced with a real problem — terrorism, the economy, nukes in North Korea — the Bush administration's response has nothing to do with solving that problem. Instead it exploits the issue to advance its political agenda.
Nonetheless, the faithful laud our glorious leader's wisdom. For a variety of reasons, including the desire to avoid charges of liberal bias, most reporting is carefully hedged. And the public, reading only praise or he-said-she-said discussions, never grasps the fundamental disconnect between problem and policy.
And so it goes with the administration's "stimulus" plan.
Boosting a stumbling economy ("It's Clinton's fault!" shouted the claque) isn't rocket science. All a sensible plan must do is focus on the present, not the distant future; on those who are suffering, not on those doing well; and on those who are most likely to spend additional money.
Right now a sensible plan would rush help to the long-term unemployed, whose benefits — in an act of incredible callousness — were allowed to lapse last month. It would provide immediate, large-scale aid to beleaguered state governments, which have been burdened with expensive homeland security mandates even as their revenues have plunged. Given our long-run budget problems, any tax relief would be temporary, and go largely to low- and middle-income families.
This is the basis of the proposed Democratic plan (which I'm sure has its own flaws, but which at the very least tries to look like it's helping those who actually need it). Bush's plan, on the other hand, is classic trickle-down economics (otherwise known as "pretending that giving money to rich people is the best way to help poor people economics"). Or as Krugman explains it:
Instead of a temporary measure, we get a permanent tax cut. The price tag of the overall plan is a whopping $600 billion, yet less than $100 billion will arrive in the first year. The Democratic plan, with an overall price tag of only $136 billion, actually provides more short-run stimulus.I think this is one of the main reasons I tend to stay away from the TV news--I barely can stand to read Bush quotes in print, but when I can actually see and hear him I can't help but start screaming at his smirking simian face, at which point my family or friends generally make me leave the room or change the channel.
And instead of helping the needy, the Bush plan is almost ludicrously tilted toward the very, very well off. If you have stocks in a 401(k), your dividends are already tax-sheltered; this proposal gives big breaks only to people who have lots of stock outside their retirement accounts. More than half the benefits would go to people making more than $200,000 per year, a quarter to people making more than $1 million per year. ("Class warfare!" shouted the claque.)
So many cartooning topics, so little time
Once again, the problem I'm having this week is choosing only one of the dozens of urgent and worthy causes demanding a cartoon, and whether I should focus on the idiotic things President Bush is doing at home and abroad or the misguided Romney-worship that seems to have befallen Massachusetts, or something else altogether, like the Globe's recent findings on racial profiling in Massachusetts. I'm also in the process of writing my last three papers (all due in the next few days), studying for my last three exams, trying to find my lost library books without which I can't graduate (this is particularly sad since I work in the school library), and eagerly awaiting January 16, my last day of doing work as a Harvard undergraduate EVER. I plan to spend the rest of January and all of February sewing a business-esque wardrobe, knitting, reading science fiction books by Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, Nicola Griffith, Philip K. Dick and others, and updating this website's design (if I can find time for these things while working full time to save up money for my fast-approaching move to NYC). And, of course, cartooning. And catching up on all those emails I've been meaning to answer as soon as I get a little sleep. Promise.
Monday, January 06, 2003
And Ruben Bolling weighs in...
Technical Difficulties, Please Stand By...
Sorry folks, but for the last week or so something really screwy has been going on with my website and email--I don't think any of the emails I sent got received and I certainly haven't received any (not even spam, so I know something is wrong). Hopefully my web host will fix this soon, but until then no serious blogging. I will have a new cartoon in Thursday's Phoenix and on this web site, however... likely regarding Bush's so-called "stimulus package" of tax cuts for the rich.
Thursday, January 02, 2003
Happy New Year...
...from Jane Swift and the Unemployment Office
From yesterday's Boston Globe ("$11m Medicaid cut takes effect today"):
The state will stop paying for artificial limbs, dentures, and eyeglasses for nearly half a million residents today in the most far-reaching reduction in medical care for the poor in more than a decade. Acting Governor Jane Swift mandated the $11.4 million cut in Medicaid, the program for low-income and disabled residents that is also called MassHealth, as part of her effort last fall to balance the state budget.As someone who couldn't function at all without her eyeglasses, I would like to suggest that this is a REALLY BAD IDEA.To continue:
With hospitals and clinics already overburdened, doctors predict that thousands of patients will go without medically necessary equipment and might end up costing the state more as they become sicker and more disabled. At least 110,000 people tapped Medicaid funds to pay for prosthetics, dentures, and eyeglasses in fiscal 2001.And in another cheery New Year's greeting, this time from the federal government, almost a million jobless people are going have a hard time paying the rent and/or eating. From the AP:
''It's a catastrophe in terms of patient health,'' said Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, executive director of the Urban Medical Group in Jamaica Plain. ''If you can't afford a prosthetic device, you're stuck in a wheelchair. If you can't get your dentures, you're at a greater risk of malnutrition, skin ulcers, and death.''
Faced with the cuts, Medicaid recipient Dalila Rabhi, 41, is worried about losing her independence and becoming more reliant on state aid. She lost her leg below the knee in a train accident and depends on an artificial leg to get to classes at Bunker Hill Community College that she hopes will lead to a job as a medical assistant. If her prosthesis, which cost thousands of dollars, needs repair or replacement, she doesn't know where she'll turn.
''I understand they have a problem with the money,'' said Rabhi, who lives in Revere. ''But this isn't like plastic surgery - it's a need. With the prosthetic, you can be independent. You can help society. But if you don't have a prosthetic, you become disabled and you need physical therapy, medical care, psychological care, and even a person to give you a bath. It would stop my life.''
Already facing a sputtering economy and slow hiring, nearly 800,000 unemployed Americans face a new woe Saturday when their federal unemployment benefits end.What fun. Anyway, I'm back, but blogging may be light as I am writing my last four papers (classes are over but now I have exams and final papers, etc). One of them, on black/white interracial marriage in 1880s Boston (which was more common then than it is now, actually), should be pretty interesting and I may quote some of it here.
Democrats and labor unions, sensing political opportunity, are blaming the cuts on President Bush and Republicans in Congress. Bush, in a late show of support for an extension, urged Congress last week to get it done when lawmakers return to work next month.
"Regrettably, the House Republican leadership turned their backs on these families and refused to act, and the administration chose not to intervene before Congress adjourned," Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said Friday. "This inaction by Republicans was unconscionable then and it is even more so now."
Congress left for the year without extending the federal benefits, meaning that 750,000 to 800,000 unemployed workers will get cut off Saturday. Another 95,000 jobless workers will exhaust their state benefits each week afterward. Already, 1 million people have exhausted all of their benefits.