Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hulabaloo: Lumping Racial Issues and Grievances Together

Responding to a post I read over at Hulabaloo, who I usually find spot on with things, I can't help but be disappointed in how his original post and the resulting comments take the smallest grain of what happened in Cambridge with the Henry Gates arrest and then apply it to a whole host of racial and police grievances. We have to look specifically at what happened here to see if the police either abused their authority or elements of racism entered the proceedings. The biggest solution to racism is stepping away from assumptions, stereotypes and subjective anecdotes. The post and comments seem to reply heavily on these for support.

From what's been reported the police followed proper procedure to respond to a reported break in at a private residence. Gates front door was stuck and he and his driver were literally forcing his front door open when police arrived. I think it's reasonable for a passerby to see that as needing a police response.

Secondly, I think it's reasonable for the police when they arrived to ask Gates to identify himself, explain why he was forcing the door open and prove he owned the property and had legal right to be there. They don't and can't know any more than what they witness. Forcing his way in could have been for any number of reasons and the police have no idea who he is, why he's there or his intent. They need to know for their own assurance exactly what the circumstances are so that they can leave the scene secure both for the safety of those involved and potential allegations of negligence after the fact. At this point it seems that Gates was already becoming agitated in having to actually explain himself and his actions to the police.

But it wasn't until the police were leaving when things truly got out of hand. The police were wrapping up, leaving the property and Gates was even further agitated and belligerent toward the officer screaming things about how he wouldn't be treated that way if he weren't a black man. More on that later. But the police perceived it as an aggressive and threatening move and so they cuffed him and charge him with disorderly conduct. Again this seems like appropriate procedure.

Gates is absolutely right he wouldn't be treated like that if he weren't black. I think if he were white he would have had less racial chip on his shoulder, he would have quickly complied with some humility for the perception of what was happening and the police would have been on their way. I think it would have been very different if the responding officer were black as well. Gates would have no racial bargaining chip to not comply with their requests. I've seen no evidence that if the tables were turned, if Gates were white, the police would (or should) have acted differently. It was Gates' reaction and seriously subordinate behavior that led to his arrest. When the call came in the police were obligated to respond. Gates in turn should have felt as obligated to quickly and clearly resolve the matter.

The Gates matter is not a racial issue. It's an issue of privilege. I think the true nature of Gates' behavior stems from thinking himself above the law, a nationally prominent ivy-league professor, wealthy, living in a posh neighborhood - someone who knows the President of the United States personally. His behavior stems from the mindset of "how dare he" about a more common person questioning his actions. It's how anyone in a position of power, who thinks them better than someone else based on status, wealth, class or actually race might act. It was only convenient that Gates was black and the officer white that Gates had the opportunity to blame the situation on racism.

There are obviously times when police and other authority figures abuse their power. There are obvious and regular examples of mistreatment by police because of racial elements. This however, does not seem to be the case and it frustrates and sickens me as more and more people pose him as some hero crusading against white authority. I truly respect Gates, having watched his PBS television show, but this is an ugly example of using perceived bias to one's own advantage.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sotomayor Hearings: Parade of the Random

I’m listening to testimony of the third party witnesses and it is such a collection of random contributions.

Some are very pointed, friends or work colleagues of the judge, with personal character statements. There have been litigants whose cases Sotomayor has ruled on. I understand including these. But there’s this whole list of other people of whom I have no idea why they’re testifying.

One fellow’s brother was brutally killed but other than that I’m not sure what his qualifications are to give testimony about a judge, especially regarding criminal prosecution. He’s apparently on the boards of several large companies.

Then there was the baby J.D. from George Mason who prattled on about some abstract something or other. I see she has qualifications that are more applicable than the businessman for offering testimony about a judge, but what the hell was she even saying?

Then there was the mystical coke-bottle glasses imitation of Barney Fife. I was just waiting for him to say something about Andy and Aunt Bea in between these obtuse thoughts about relying on the Koran or the Bible for judicial reasoning.

They’re going on and on. In theory, I understand the importance of regular people being able to offer testimony either for or against the nomination. But this side show has offered mostly subjective observations or abstract concepts they attempt to link to the judge outside of her professional record.

And it’s pronounced Soh-toh-mah-yohr. Not SotomaJOHR. Not SOOtermayEHr. Not SOHDermayor.


Sotomayor Hearings: Can you live on that salary?

What was that weirdness with Sessions and the comment and question about judge’s salaries. That was weird.

And now he’s pontification in the abstract. Give it a rest already.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

GayPatriot: Misrepresenting the Timing of the Sotomayor Hearings

This is the first time I’ve ever heard that Senator Leahy scheduled the hearings for summer because “fewer Americans are focused on the news and thus less likely to follow the debate over her nomination.” The Republican meme before was that there simply wasn’t enough time to review Sotomayor’s past in the time allotted before the hearings (which has been soundly rebutted). But now GayPatriotWest / Dan Blatt complains the hearings should have been held later to accommodate people’s summer vacations or something?

Frankly Americans have a huge freedom to pay attention to or not pay attention to the goings on of their elected officials. Why would summer, with no school, vacation time and constant reruns on television make it harder for people to pay attention to the hearing of Sotomayor?

Or is it yet another strawman argument from GayPatriotWest?

GayPatriot: Misrepresenting Sotomayor Hearings

Interesting that GayPatriotWest / Dan Blatt is attempting to compare Judge Sotomayor’s comment regarding Roe v. Wade as “settled law” to  Plessy V. Ferguson.

If he had been listening to the hearings in the full context of her answer, rather than the talking points of some Right-wing blog that he regularly relies on, he would realize that the representation he’s portraying is wrong.

When asked about the Roe v. Wade decision, Sotomayor characterized the decision as “settled law” in the context that the Supreme court has not chosen to review cases that challenge the ruling in whole or in part. It is therefore “settled law” in that regard. She made it clear in numerous other cases in her previous judicial roles required her to abide by standing precedent unless some aspect of law required her to challenge that. For her, in her roles, Roe v. Wade was “settled law.” For the Supreme Court until they choose to review rulings related to Roe v. wade, it is “settled law.” Until the Congress chooses to change rules regarding abortion, it is “settled law.” Roe v. Wade is “settled law” just like every other unchallenged law set by the Congress of the United States.

Wouldn’t challenging the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade without legal reasoning against “settled law” be a perfect example of the “judicial activisim” that Republicans and conservatives are so noisily worried about in judicial nominees?

The Brown v. Board of Education case put forth a question that the Supreme Court felt necessary to address and answer regarding “settled law” of Plessy v. Ferguson. If a case is raised that would put some aspect of Roe v. Wade in question in the context of law, or Congress changed laws regarding abortion, Judge Sotomayor’s answers have made it clear that she would be compelled to review those issues similar to the SCOTUS hearing Brown v. Board of Education. Anyone who has listened to the hearings or is familiar with her 17-year record as a judge would fully understand that of Sotomayor.

Dan has a J.D. from Georgetown. I think his professors would be mightily disappointed in his post today.

Cornyn Statement at Mid-day Hearings Today

What exactly is “Puerto Rican extraction?” Is that some cooking flavoring I’m not familiar with?

Sotomayor Hearings: She’s Over the Republicans

I’m one of those weirdos listening to the hearings the last few days. I’ve been amused to hear her interactions with the Republicans.

Day one everyone was nicey-nicey, Judge Sotomayor was eminently gracious with the Republican senators in their opening statements. Day two, she was indulgent in conscientiously and thoughtfully attempting to answer some of their more leading questions.

But this morning with Senator John Cornyn, who ostentatiously preceded some of his questions with, “because I was a judge,” I was happy to finally see some of Sotomayor’s rumored feistiness come out in how she soundly schooled him on issues that, as a judge, he should already know and should know better in asking. She seems much less polite and more to the point with these ridiculous questions today.

I think she may get a larger Republican vote than anyone imagines.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Peggy Noonan: Over Palin Already

It’s so nice to hear an articulate conservative say what the Left has known about Palin since she was tapped for the VP nomination.

"She makes the Republican Party look inclusive." She makes the party look stupid, a party of the easily manipulated.

Peggy is my hero for the day, and that is saying something!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Young Republicans: Teach ‘Em Well

Looks like corruption training starts early in the Republican party.

GayPatriot: Don’t Criticize the “Good Governor” or You’re a Misogynist

You know it’s one thing if GayPatriotWest /Dan Blatt were able to support real critiques of the criticism of soon-to-be-ex Governor Palin, but the speculative nature of two recent posts accusing gay male critics of the “good Governor” of being misogynistic are disgusting – a red herring in the survey of her abilities and leadership.

Dan neither pinpoints who these “gay men” he speculates are obsessed with misogynistic sentiments toward Palin. In fact the first post is mainly about ethics complaints against Palin and only in the last paragraph mentions anything about supposed misogynistic mistreatment by gay men. The odd thing is he asserts these people are those who attacked Hillary Clinton with the same vitriol. Is he making the case that gay men in general show misogynistic sentiment toward women politicians? He doesn’t note who these people are, what they’re saying or why it should be considered misogynistic.

The second post starts with Dan first complimenting himself on his brilliance. It then moves on to stereotype man-hating lesbians and gay male heroine fetish. Then he drives along the winding path of his thought process considering if Hillary Clinton criticism was actually misogynistic and therefore the same people now criticizing Sarah Palin are guilty of that as well. Now again we never find out who the misogynistic critics are, nor what they’re saying to even consider if what they’re doing and saying might be misogynistic, but Dan in lay psychologist modes assures us that Palin is “a godsend to their neurosis” for those determined to act out their inner misogyny.

Could it be that these critics really have reason to criticize the Governor? Dan asserts that national media speculation should have faded away after the failed vice-presidential bid. But the Governor has never dismissed ongoing speculation for a presidential run in 2012, and often puts herself in the middle of national Republican interests – fundraisers, national media events, etc. Frankly there’s a lot to criticize the Governor for (that has nothing to do with misogyny). She has a history of lying to the media. She’s not shown herself to be either well-informed or well-spoken especially on topics of national importance. And while the number of ethics complaints she cites as a main reason for quitting were uncommon, they were brought by a variety of individuals from the spectrum of political affiliations. Several were frivolous but it’s part of Alaska laws. Doesn’t ethics have something to do with following rules or something? And actually sometimes it’s the only means for regular individuals to address potential violations when the legislative branch of a state government is unwilling or unable. It was by ethics inquiry that revealed Governor Taft of Ohio’s connection to corruption and a larger state scandal for example. And for a governor who made her state political name by revealing what she saw as unacceptable ethics violations, it should seem she’d welcome the opportunity to clear up any concern of impropriety. Noting her behavior on the campaign trail though, regarding clothing costs to the GOP and money to transport and house her family as women’s issues, is it misogynistic to criticize them when we also saw criticism of male politicians’ haircut and suit costs? I don’t see where Dan’s assumption of supposed misogynistic criticism comes from.

In any case, I will heartily revel when we’re not talking about Palin anymore. As was my surprise when GayPatriotWest so vehemently (and lengthily) defended Carrie Prejean, I still don’t fathom why they rush to the defense of know-nothing conservatives with curious personal ethics while not recognizing and acknowledging their hypocrisy towards those similarly on the other side of the political fence. Worthy leaders take their punches, it’s part of the role of a leader, but as usual I think the Governor is thinking of herself first and foremost. And if you really want to tie Hillary into this, after her husband was essentially impeached as President, she still found it in her to run for a senate seat, fulfill those obligations, run for President and then graciously take on the role of Secretary of State under the man she traded harsh criticisms of in the election. She has faced more political and personal ill-will, criticism and controversy than Palin might expect in several lifetimes, more outside her party but certainly within her party as well. Dan acknowledges not being able to dismiss Hillary’s supposed ethical lapses, but then later criticized her withdrawal speech for focusing too much on her gender – how does misogyny fit in this ambivalent regard?

Once Dan finally addresses that without the strawman speculation that critics of Palin do so because they hate women, he might actually come to realize and appreciate the criticism himself. But until he does, since he’s usually guilty of practicing the opposite in feminine hero worship himself, I’ll offer him the same advice I offer Governor Palin – grow a pair!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Crooks & Liars: Sarah Palin's Greatest Hits

Please to enjoy!

Sarah Palin's Greatest Hits

The Recent Uighur Riots

You’d think with 140 protestors dead and 300 injured there would be an uproar in the Republican party about the Uighur protests in Western China. If we equate it to the proposed responses the Republicans advocated, especially gay Republicans like you find on GayPatriot and GOPRoud, shouldn’t they be advocating we invade the country, dismantle their communist society and replace it with democracy in a 2-3 month time span?

When Republicans are more interested in imprisoning ethnic minorities despite no evidence or cause to hold them, while not criticizing another government for doing the same, who’s worse? The government that makes no pretense about it, or the political party that is blind to their hypocrisy on the issue?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

GayPatriot: The Primary Difference Between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama

As GayPatriotWest / Dan Blatt mentions, there are many. He suggest though the primary one is “six months of briefing books and town halls.”

I tried not to laugh, and I’m not even sure why GayPatriot is bringing this up as a post topic, but I’ve decided to post my own “difference between Palin and Obama.”

Sarah Palin Barack Obama
Youth Born in Idaho and raised in Wasilla, AK, attending local schools; parents were a school secretary and teacher Born in Honolulu, his father a Kenyan national, grew up in Indonesia and Honolulu, went to private prep schools; mother was an anthropologist
Education Four undergraduate colleges finally resulting in a journalism degree from the University of Idaho Columbia University majoring in poli-sci specializing in international relations; Harvard Law school J.D. Magna cum laude, editor and first black president of the Harvard Law Review
Early Career Winner of the Miss Alaska pageant, sports reporter for a local TV station Director of Developing Communities Project for the Catholic church; significantly increased the budget and staff, instructor for other community organizations, traveled to Europe and Kenya
Later Career Mayor of Wasilla, appointed to Alaska Oil & Gas Commission, director of Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.; governor of Alaska University of Chicago Law constitutional law professor; board member and director for several community development organizations; attorney for firm specializing in civil rights litigation, state senator, United States senator; President of the United States
Family Eloped with husband Todd, an oil field production operator and commercial fisherman, in 1988, four children and one grandchild Married wife Michelle, a lawyer and community organization leader, in 1992, two daughters

So yes, I do see some significant differences between the two.

But the biggest one I see? He won, and she lost.

GayPatriot: Who is promoting what in the gay marriage debate?

GayPatriotWest / Dan Blatt today posts that we should be promoting gay marriage instead of demonizing Mormons for their role in the Prop 8 decision.

The ideas underpinning that statement are a matter of perspective to say the least. To a wide majority of gay men and women, the very notion that you somehow have to promote why you should enjoy the same basic civil right as your heterosexual counterparts is offensive. And it’s very easy to see why Dan doesn’t get that when he’s “ambivalent about gay marriage” with history not having more instances of same-sex unions. Does that mean he would have had a hard time endorsing abolition or suffrage because history defined those institutions similarly? His arguments, even being a minority opinion of the larger gay Republican / conservative sentiment just don’t hold water. When did tradition always equate to the right thing to do?

And as per usual, he leaves out why gay men and women in California are upset about the Mormon church’s involvement in the Prop 8 issue in the first place. First of all, the Mormon church is based in Utah, not California. The church involved itself in the sovereign matters of another state. Secondly, the church spent millions of dollars and likely church resources to advocate for Prop 8, a civil law issue. They meddled in matters of politics, a fundamental issue to separation of church and state likely violating rules regarding their tax exempt status. Dan wholly leaves out why there is such angst from the gay community specifically toward the Mormon church.

The whole supposition that gay men and women would “rather demonize Mormons than promote gay marriage” is frankly offensive. Again supposing that the anecdotal interactions with friends he posts about somehow represent the majority feeling, why doesn’t Dan realize from those discussions we’d rather the Mormon church mind their own business? Where does the interpretation that we prefer demonizing the Mormon church rather than enjoying the same civil rights as heterosexuals come from?

And why does Dan not see how the Mormon church has demonized gay men and women in the effort? So many of the advertisements from efforts funded by the church portray gross and negative stereotypes of gay men and women. The church hardly promoted the positives of heterosexual unions in turn in these efforts as well. The Mormon church demonizes gay men and women instead of promoting heterosexual marriage, but we’re supposed to do just the opposite? There are benefits to keeping the conversation above petty bigotry  but shouldn’t more of that burden fall on a religious organization first and foremost?

It’s not to say that the fundamental idea of having the positives of same sex marriage at the forefront is a bad idea. Except that it’s generally already the case. Dan, as usual speaking up for the oppressed majority, would have you assume anything but. If not, how about we raise millions of dollars, infiltrate the Mormon church and change their doctrine? What’s good for the goose and all that, right Dan?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

GayPatriotWest: Trickier Than an Alaskan Br'er Rabbit?

GayPatriotWest / Dan Blatt has posted this ridiculous challenge on GayPatriot. You're supposed to explain this touching little story of how an average housewife overcame corrupt government figures to your "feminist" friends and have them agree with you how noble that sounds. And then just when they think you're going to tell them it's the little known beginnings of Gloria Steinem or someone, AHA! You sting them with the fact it's really about Sarah Palin.

GOTCHA you so-called feminist socialist commie maoists! GayPatriotWest will show you! So suck it!

Lord, things are getting pretty surreal there in gay Republican land. I suppose this is a reaction to the Vanity Fair piece about Sarah Palin that documents and quotes campaign insiders who finally came to the conclusion most on the Left recognized early - Sarah Palin was an ambitious know-nothing with little record to support her ambition that doomed the campaign in the long run, both from her well-publicized media flops to the concern of McCain choosing her in the first place.

It was just earlier this week where GayPatriotWest issued a similar challenge, that his Left-leaning commenters find instances of where President Bush criticized Democrats in a similar way to how GayPatriotWest portrays President Obama criticizing Republicans. It was a relatively easy challenge and a few of his regular Left-leaning commenters were naive enough to take up the cause. But once they provided such examples they were dismissed by the other regular commenters because they didn't fit ever-evolving hurdles of criteria and it eventually just boiled down to a "I know you are but what am I" contest of verbal feces throwing.

I assume the Sarah Palin thread, if anyone is dumb enough to debate it, will end similarly.

It's an inherent failing in GayPatriot and all those who post there. Any contribution to reasoned and intelligent debate is completely overshadowed by the conviction to the stories of nobility and heroism with which they surround themselves and demonize the Left. Poor little Sarah Palin like David standing up to Goliath. They enmesh what little they know with the stories they want to believe to create the convictions that they take to heart. Rather than recognize her political aspirations just previously coming in second in the state leuitenant governor's race completely enmeshed in the state's Republican machinery, she's supposed to be some meek little crusading housewife. Like President Bush was a humble rancher from Texas (who as a privileged rich kid went to Harvard and whose family are multimillionaires from oil) or that Ronald Regan was a tough western cowboy (who grew up in a suburban Illinois city, who only donned the cowboy persona for politcal reasons, learning to ride horses for the movies, his wealthy doners having bought him a ranch - even his son acknowledged his preference for suits over chaps).

The scenario GayPatriotWest paints is easy enough to recognize as a fortuitous windfall for an ambitious and embittered politician looking to move up quickly in the state's political machinery. The feminist heroines I'm familiar with surrounded themselves with knowledge, intellectuals of their day, and they stood up for feminist causes, humble in their personal ambitions, fierce in their desire to champion women's rights. Alice Paul was repeatedly jailed for her activities for sufferage. Sojourner Truth was born a slave before championing minority and women's rights. Elizabeth Blackwell was admitted to medical school as a joke before graduating top of her class to become a doctor before there really were women doctors; refused being hired at any hospital, she opened a private clinic with her sisters.

The scenario GayPatriotWest would have you consider has nothing to do with promoting women's causes, nor is it an objective example of Palin's commitment to ethics (neither highlighted before this controversy, nor taken to heart afterwards). He would do himself a favor in proposing reasonable, grounded and reasoned commentary when asking others to consider people like Palin. When he only listens to and speaks to people that talk and hear just like him, he's actually harming the exact people he wishes to promote. Palin looks like a bigger flop the more the Right tries to portray her heroine persona. President Obama looks even more reasoned the more they script him as a hyperpartisan boogeyman. And yet all the while they excuse their own failings and hyper-partisanship. Just this week GayPatriotWest queried "is it adultery if the unfaithful partner is separated" as if that were the case for Governor Sanford but two posts later labels President Obama as a "promise breaker."

Is it partisan when regularly portraying your party's politicians as heros and the opposition as wrong without any substantiation whatsoever? What say you GayPatriotWest?