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Category Archives: politics

What’ll you be doing on the last day? I don’t know, but I’m sure that getting drunk and/or having sex will be on a lot of people’s lists. Maybe mine too. Probably a lot of the same people will hug and kiss their loved ones, some people will listen to their favorite song for the last time. Do you ever think about the last meal of the guy who’s going to executed? Do you think he can really taste it? Maybe he’s managed to get lobster or something, because it’s his favorite food. Hell, maybe he’s having deep-dish pizza with roasted garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and portobello mushrooms and everything else possible. Throw in some basil and oregano and call it a last meal. All that stuff has a strong taste, but is it stronger than the taste of imminent death? And could you ever ask someone who would really know? “Hi, I’d like to know if it’s possible to enjoy a meal when you know you’re going to die today.” What would they say? Probably fuck off you insolent twerp. Well, maybe not that. But something with a similar message. Or maybe they’d just start sobbing. Maybe you should’ve just kept your curiosity to yourself. Maybe your need for knowledge is not nearly as important as compassion for a condemned prisoner. Of course, if I had my way, this would be an impossible question to answer. There are no prisoners condemned to death in my perfect world. Not even my perfect world- my ever-so-slightly improved world. The death penalty is borne of a revenge instinct, and revenge is essentially a desire to cause another pain. And why should we encourage that? There is enough pain in the world without introducing more. I believe that the goal of all people should be pain reduction. Don’t sit there with a headache when you could just take a pill and make it go away- that’s pain you don’t have to have. Don’t fear becoming a “pill popper” when all you’re taking is ibuprofen- chemical addiction isn’t possible with that stuff, and even if it were, you’d have to take the stuff consistently over a long period time to get an addiction. Once a month with your period cramps ain’t doin shit. You know what else ain’t doin shit? Congress. They fucked up healthcare. It’s really that simple. I was so hopeful (dammit, Obama, look what you did) that something would get done, that something would get somewhere. But you know what we have in Congress? People who’ve forgotten why they’re there in the first place. Yeah, the Republicans are against having it because it would look good for Obama if it worked. Now, one wonders, why would it look good for Obama if it worked? Because it would be good for the country, perhaps? Thank you, GOP. Isn’t that what I want to discourage? The desire to cause more pain. It’s preemptive revenge- it’s a lot like preemptive war, and we see how well that works. When you’re the world’s remaining superpower, there is no good reason for preemptive war. Seriously, what’s going to happen if you wait for them to attack you? Probably nothing, since they know what happened to the LAST guys who tried that. AKA Pearl Harbor. 9/11 doesn’t count because that wasn’t an attack, that was a mass-murder. Only countries can start wars. But we couldn’t treat this like a crime, because then the perpetrators would have a right to trial in the world court, and in addition, there would be absolutely no reason to go to Iraq. Oh wait, there still wasn’t any reason to go to Iraq. Baby, what are we going to do? I’m stuck on you. I think of the guys my age getting shot in Iraq- guys literally my age. 18. 18 is just so damn young, when you think about it. I mean really, I make tons of youthful mistakes just because I’m so inexperienced- and yet I often feel more weathered than other people my age. And then these kids get shot in Iraq. With no experiences. Hell, I bet some of them are even virgins. Can you imagine that? Going to Iraq and getting shot before you’ve even had the chance to hit a homer? But hell, you don’t need to go overseas to get shot. You can just go trick-or-treating in Alameda and be extremely unlucky. You can just walk around East Oakland too late at night. Hell, you can just sit down to your piano lesson when you’re seven years old and never walk out again. You know, when the Supreme Court said the ban on handguns in a public housing project was unconstitutional, I wanted to force Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito LIVE in a housing project for a year. Hell, they wouldn’t have to leave town. I’m sure DC has plenty of nice, dangerous projects to choose from. When are we going to realize that old white men know jack shit about the world? Seriously, we elect these numbskulls and they’re so afraid of inflation that they advocate for a spending freeze in a recession. The problem is that when no one’s spending anything, someone has to, and no one else has the power to make money. Just the government. Just like only the government can run an effective military. That sucks kids who aren’t even old enough to drink into service to get shot.

Maybe that’s enough bullshit about bullshit for now. Happy new year.

It’s funny. I knew that lots of people against Prop. 8 just took for granted that it wouldn’t pass. I didn’t ever take for granted that it would fail, but I did take for granted the idea that my friends weren’t homophobes. Until last night.

I saw the Laramie Project last night. It was so good. Unbelievably heartrending. You get the idea. I think I probably would have cried just reading it, but watching it, having a person say the words to me, it was even more than it could have been. So I firmly believe that everyone should see it.

I told a friend this. I’m not naming him. I told him it was for SURE worth the $7 it cost for students. And then, he hit me with this: he was for Prop 8. I asked him why. He said that he couldn’t explain it, but that I couldn’t change his mind. He was also very hasty to proclaim that he “doesn’t hate gays.”

What exactly is your problem then? You can’t explain it to me? Don’t you think that maybe that’s indicative of something?

Maybe he doesn’t hate gays. I think it depends on how you define “hate.” In his mind, I think “hating gays” means that you go beat up gay people just for being gay. Or you bully people, call them faggots, all those horrible things that you hear about when they talk about discrimination. And I know my friend wouldn’t do any of those things. He wouldn’t physically or verbally intimidate anyone just for who they are.

But maybe there are things you can do to discourage people from being gay. Maybe if we don’t let them marry, that will encourage them to think about how “wrong” being gay is.

I’m going to call this passive-aggressive homophobia. He doesn’t hate gays. But he’s uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality. So uncomfortable with it, in fact, that he wants it to just go away. Maybe if the homosexuals get discouraged by the fact that they can’t marry, they’ll just stop it. Stop being gay.

He doesn’t think about it this much, I can guarantee that. In fact, I’ll daresay he doesn’t actually think about it. It’s all a gut feeling.

The real reason he won’t see the Laramie Project is its subject. He won’t see a play about a gay guy. It’s too bad that the very people who really should see it are so prejudiced against it that they won’t. They’re afraid of letting go of their prejudices, of their gut feelings of right and wrong.

If he wants to hang on to his prejudices, that’s fine with me. He has a right to them. People to have a right in this country to whatever opinions they want.

But there is no right to be my friend. I honestly feel pretty used at the moment. It’s as if my opinions matter and they’re relevant right until they don’t agree with his. And he won’t defend his opinion because there is nothing to defend it with. Just his gut feeling that homosexuality is wrong. Well, people used to have gut feelings about black and white people getting married. They aren’t nearly as common now because people are used to mixed marriages. One day, it will be like that. But for right now, you have to convince people that their gut feelings have no justification.

Maybe his gut prejudice is more important to him than my friendship. I hope not, because I really like him otherwise and I like to think a bit more of myself than that. But I’ll be able to take it if he decides to keep his homophobia and give up my friendship. I won’t be that offended, I won’t pursue a vendetta against him, none of that. I’ll just be pretty damn disappointed.

I will say right now that I can’t stand Sarah Palin. I just watched the vice-presidential debate, and I’m already super hormonal, so I had an excruciating time watching it. I yell at the TV during football and during debates. And I really yelled at the TV this evening. But that’s not really what I want to talk about.

The issue the debate analysis brought up is what I want to discuss. One of the analysts said something along the lines of “Sarah Palin was trying to show that she’s just like everyone else”. And it’s the dichotomy of the presidency. One of our national principles is that anybody can be anything if they work hard enough, including president. You tell your kids that if they work hard enough, they can be president.

But would you really want that?

I know plenty of people who I think are perfectly nice, pretty damn smart people that I don’t want running the country. In fact, I am really glad that most of my friends are not doing so right now. I love my friends and I don’t doubt their intelligence, but I also know that many of them are easily bored by details of governance like coverage options of health plans, exactly what kind of aid we send abroad and where the aid goes, and how to raise money in the most fair way. I know most of my friends didn’t know that it’s unconstitutional to tax wealth in this country. I also know that many of them do not understand money markets. In fact, I am fairly certain that the vast majority of Americans do not understand money markets. Presidents, however, really need to understand money markets because the standing of the dollar is in their hands.

And that’s why I really dislike Sarah Palin. At the root of it all is her ability to say stupid shit and get away with it because she’s a “hockey mom”. I have no problem with hockey moms, and I’m sure some of them are smart enough to run the country. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and she is definitely smart enough to run the country. My dad was a truck dispatcher and a walking boss on the Oakland waterfront and he was smart enough to run the country. But they could demonstrate their intelligence. They could explain to me why the Great Society programs didn’t work, they could explain their opinions on “tort reform”, they could explain the dangers of deregulation. And what Sarah Palin has not managed to demonstrate to me is mastery of the material. Holding the right positions on current issues is really not the most important thing for me, though holding totally wrong positions (*ahem* taking books off library shelves that you haven’t even READ) definitely sets off alarm bells for me. What I really want to see in a candidate is comprehensive understanding of issues and the history behind them. I don’t want to hear their position on the current issue, I want to hear them draw on their experience and body of knowledge to explain their position. I don’t just want the solution they propose, I want to know from whence that solution came. I want to know that the candidate actually has a solid foundation for the solution they propose. I do not want to hear that their solid foundation is the will of the American people, because the will of the American people changes all the time and not all the American people have the same will. I want evidence of theirr ability to draw on their body of knowledge and come up with solutions, because as president, most of the issues on which they will make decisions don’t exist as such right now.

And on that scale, Sarah Palin has failed. THAT is why she annoys me.

Although this article is from a rather gooky website, they have confirmed sources on this one. I was alerted to this distressing problem by one of my band camp friends. Seriously, read this:

(I actually wrote this like the week before school started.)

So I sat down to read the newspaper today and the front page article was about a boy from Clovis. His name was Nathan Hubbard. I say “was” because he died in Iraq. Seventh boy from Clovis to die in Iraq, and his older brother was one of the previous six. And his younger brother is also in the military.

I read this article and it just made me feel so bad. Because these boys’ only crime was believing that they should be in the military. They still believed that they were being sent to Iraq for a reason, that being in the military was a form of patriotism. I think it is so fucking wrong that some politicians have chosen to exploit those noble feelings and use them for ill.

And I have words for the democrats and their failure to end the war. Yes, I understand that we have freshmen democrats in Congress that might not still be in Congress if they vote to cut off war funds. But my God, when did keeping a Congressional majority exceed the worth of the lives of our soldiers? When did it become okay to place a higher value on keeping power than on saving lives? What the hell is the point of having a majority when you can’t even vote where it counts? How the hell do you explain to the families of those that have died that someone in Minnesota couldn’t have been reelected if we’d cut off the war funds? I don’t think that the men who have lost their wonderful little sisters, the women who kissed their boyfriends goodbye to never see them again, or the little blonde girls that found out their daddies aren’t coming home will agree with those priorities where keeping power comes first and people come second. It’s atrocious. It makes me want to storm into Congress and make a scene.

Tracking backwards, a couple days ago I finished The Sun Also Rises. I thought it was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Most people think it is about rich people being bored, which I think comes from lack of experience. I think most people have not yet really experienced the feeling of listlessness, of oblivion, of having nothing give you satisfaction, of wanting to do nothing but forget about whatever it is that has sucked the joy out of the world.

Jake, Brett, Bill and Mike are all living like that. The guys all fought in the war, and Brett worked in a hospital during the war. They all have the money to be living listlessly in Europe, but basically there is no difference between them and the drunks and the sluts in the gutters of San Francisco.

Most people don’t have vivid ideas of World War I, and to really get this book you have to be able to feel the character of that war.

I know that my dad’s Grandma Powell was one of the toughest women out there. But my daddy said the only time he ever saw her cry was when she was recalling working in the hospital in Fort Riley, Kansas, watching all those young men die of the flu and of their war wounds.

My grandpa told me about how his dad started drinking when he lost his job during the depression and how, when he was really drunk, sometimes he’d be talking about the trenches. And how his friends died off one by one in the trenches and they never even charged. They just lay in the trenches, their wounds festering, getting food poisoning, getting the flu. And they just died, one by one. He died of a heart attack in 1942.
Grandma Powell’s husband was never the same after the war, either. He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1950.

And during the school year, I start off fine, turning out all my homework, never skipping any of it, writing perfect papers… then it starts to get to me. I’m not really as smart as everyone seems to think I am, you see. My daddy always said “do your best; your best is good enough.” But my God it is so tiring to do my best. And nobody else has to do their best to get A’s. It’s like somehow all the kids who I’m supposed to be as smart as don’t wear themselves out for every paper. I have to throw my soul into every paper otherwise it’s not my best and I’m so afraid of disappointing people, that they’ll find out I’m not as smart as everybody thinks I am, that I can’t not do my absolute best for risk of getting something that’s not an A. Everyone is always trying to fucking compete with me. I don’t want to compete with people because I know I can’t keep up, I can’t throw myself into every damn school assignment, because I know that eventually, they’ll find out I’m just an act. So instead I just end up not doing the work so that people will think that I’m just lazy, not that I’m dumb. I feel like a couple people have managed to see through this facade, but not really. I don’t know. I’m a crazy manipulative bitch. Whatever…

On Saturday, I saw Pete Stark. I can tell you, those of you who now feel guilty about not going, you didn’t miss much. The important bits: he’s very optimistic about getting Healthy Kids renewed, and he’s hopeful about getting universal health care through next session. The rest, well, let’s just say I can’t stand people who pay attention to politics, but don’t pay enough attention to politics to form truly informed opinions. All the idiotic Impeach Bush people showed up, basically. Fucking dinglenuts. My mom and I had to buy Tucker’s ice cream to get over it.

So I rented two movies this weekend. The first was The Last King of Scotland. I thought I knew what they meant when I heard “horribly cruel dictator”, but I don’t think I really did. Absolutely do not watch it unless you think your stomach is at least as strong as mine. It gave me a nightmare that night. There was this one scene where there was a person… but it was so grotesque and disgusting, I couldn’t even comprehend it, I was so horrified, and so I asked aloud, “what is WRONG with her?”; my brother, who had much more presence of mind than I, immediately answered, “they sewed her arms where her legs should be.” He didn’t need to add “and vice versa.” So the only thing I remember from the nightmare is that I heard screams and so I ran toward the room that was in the movie and the screams stopped right before I got there and the guy I like was lying on the table with his arms and legs sewn in switched places, dead; and then there was Forest Whitaker’s Idi Amin laughing at me, and then I woke up. That was Saturday night.

Then Sunday came, and I went to church and told Bernie I was sorry about Harriet, and I was glad that BM wasn’t there, because I wouldn’t know what to do. (BM is what I’m calling her now. Don’t ask what it stands for, it stands for one thing for me, another for you.) The rest of her family was there, but she wasn’t. Maybe that’s nothing, but on the other hand, maybe it’s something. I suppose I’ll have to see her in September when we get back to school, but God knows I’d like to avoid her as much as possible. Oh, and just for the record:

The Catholic church has long recognized someone called the accidental Christian. The accidental Christian lives his/her life in the Christian spirit, doing good works, showing compassion, and in general being a benevolent presence in this world; and yet, they deny Christianity. They still go to heaven, by the way. Of course the only Protestants capable of the same idea are the Anglicans/Episcopalians, because everybody else is descended from Lutheranism, and one of the main tenets of Lutheranism is justification by faith alone, which means you have to have faith, otherwise you got nothing going for you. Anyway…

So yeah, the rest of Sunday. After mass, we went to visit my grandma, and we talked about Steve, and a few other things. We then drove to El Cerrito to see my Aunt Avilee and Uncle Daniel. We looked around the garden, which is quite nice but of course my mom and her sister have a lot more to talk about plants than I can say, since their father knew just about everything there was to know about plants and they both like to garden and they could tell each other how not to kill begonias with too much water and whatnot. So then we went in and drank this really cool instant peach ice tea, which I didn’t really know you could make ice tea without making hot tea first, but hey, whatever. And we were sitting around talking about stuff, and first it was fine because we were just talking about mitochondrial DNA, which is a fascinating topic that everybody knew a lot about. But then we got into the Green Revolution and the IMF which I didn’t know anything about, but my uncle was complaining about it, and my mom just hammered him. In the car, she said, “I guess he forgot I majored in that in college.” I didn’t really get why my mother has always had a hard time getting along with Daniel until he retired. Then he kinda became one of those nutcases that you get when you have somebody who listens to KPFA all day and reads the Nation as a supplement. They kinda get out of touch with rational thinking and think that everybody must think like they do because it seems like a normal way to think and that since they’re the “majority”, that politicians must all be evil because they don’t “represent” their constituents. Fact is, politicians have a lot of constituents, and it’s damn hard to get legislation through Congress, let alone through an oxheaded president’s office. I’ve concluded from my father’s testimony that the fairly moderate Daniel that I knew for most of my childhood was actually not normal for Daniel, he was like this before he worked for Bröderbund. Which explains why he drives my mother up the wall. Anyway…

… the second movie I rented was Todo Sobre Mi Madre, an Almódovar movie. It was in Spanish with English subtitles, and I tried to understand most of the Spanish, but I gave up after about 10 minutes because they didn’t teach us many cuss words in school and most of the movie was cussing and slang. It was a great movie. It didn’t seem like it was going to be happy, but somehow, I was really satisfied with the ending and was alright with the death throughout. I’m sure Mr. Martin would like it because it had symbolism and foreshadowing all over it. I think the best person to listen to in the movie is Agrado. She’s a transexual prostitute, but she’s perfectly happy to be a transexual prostitute. And she has the best line in the movie, which is up there ^. So now my mission is to see all the Almódovar movies I can get my hands on. I just rented Bad Education, so I’m well on my way. I’ll put a checklist/review-y thing up here somewhere I think. Maybe I’ll put one up for Miyazakis too, while I’m at it. We’ll see.

Anyway, yesterday, I went to the library café to work as usual, except this time Barbara needed to pick up her daughter and her friends during our shift, so I was like, it’s fine, go ahead. And while she was gone Ms. Guerra came in with this really cute guy, and she was tutoring him. Seriously, he was cute. He had kinda too long of hair, but he was pretty hunky, and he didn’t look femme or whatever with it. Unfortunately, he was also getting tutored on Spanish II, which means that he’s either too young for me, not all that smart, a REALLY big slacker, or (muy improbable) he started in another language and didn’t like it and switched so he’s behind. Well, a girl can dream, right…?

So after that I went to lunch with TF. He had to give me an assignment, so we got burritos after discussing the large amount of emergency vehicles and investigating same, and we went to Peet’s to eat our burritos. And it all seemed kinda awkward to me. Maybe it was because I kinda blew up at him AIM the night before and I was going to tell him that it was alright I didn’t really mean it I got over it blah blah blah but I forgot. Maybe I was distracted by the fact that he fidgets. Majorly. But maybe that was because of the awkwardness. Oh dear this is quite circular. Well I hope he knows I didn’t mean to blow up at him. Well whatever. He’s not back until August, when I’m gone. So yeah. That’s pretty much it.

Stagnant corruption in our time…

1) Micheal Moore’s Sicko is poised to highlight the failings of our healthcare system. Boy, do I know about the failings of the healthcare system. My cousin, who died of Lyme disease? Y’know, that disease you get from mosquitos that’s not West Nile virus? She died when she was 42.
Then there’s my dad’s hospital bills. The ones we’re still paying because insurance doesn’t pay for all of them. My dad died, what, 9 months ago, almost 10? That’s right, hope your parents don’t get cancer, because if they do, you can forget not taking out student loans! You can pay for treatments that didn’t even work out of the social security money you get for being an orphan! How fabulous!

Do you realize that 1/4 of all the money paid to insurance companies goes straight to profits? This is an old statistic, but in 1997, on average, we paid $2,000 more than Canadians do per capita. And all THEIR people are insured. That’s right, you pay $2000 a year for worse treatment AND not as many people are covered. Don’t you feel smart? Don’t you feel lucky to live in the United States of America?

2) For some reason, Mexico thinks that they should use our system of health care. Our exact same system. They do this by not taking care of their own people, so that Mexicans cross the border to better jobs AND hospitals that might treat their tuberculosis! Isn’t that great? We can have cheap labor and outbreaks of horrible diseases! I feel so special now. We should just keep providing emergency care to people who shouldn’t even be here in the first place.

All right, I’ll drop that disgusting tone. But the problem is totally real. There have been more cases of TB in recent years, mostly due to our immigrant problems. The immigrants come from a place where they didn’t get regular TB tests because their government isn’t willing to pay for it. Their drinking water is notoriously dirty; public health is not a priority of the Mexican government. Actually, the only priorities of the Mexican government I’ve noticed are a) not taxing rich people and b) sending people to the US to make money for their government. The rules of economics always boil down to supply and demand, and the issue of illegal immigrants is no different. So, what we need to do is cut off the supply, so to speak. We put pressure on Mexico to take care of its own damn people, they’ll stop coming up here in such overwhelming numbers, because the incentive will be less.

Secondly, we handle the demand. I know that the “bidness lobby” is incredibly powerful and relies quite a bit on cheap, immigrant labor. But the fact is, we need more raids. WAY more raids. I know raids are unpopular, mostly because they wreck lives. But if companies are in constant fear of being raided, then they won’t be so comfortable hiring illegal immigrants. And I think the penalties for employers should be incredibly heavy, so that it’s REALLY not worth the risk to hire illegals.

And I know that employers keep saying, “Americans aren’t willing to do these jobs.” Actually, Americans are not averse to working in restaurants, or construction, or gardening, or any of the various fields illegals work in. It’s just that American’s aren’t willing to do these jobs for such low wages. If they paid living wage, then we’d do it. Americans hate exploitative practices, because Americans are people. We hate torture too, because we wouldn’t want other people to do that shit to us. Before illegal immigrants, we did have a functioning capitalist economy. Exploitative practices are not totally necessary.

But actually, there is only one step that absolutely MUST be taken to improve the illegal immigrant situation. You know how, in the last bill, that one that got shot down, they said they’d speed up the green card/visa system so that the backlog would be taken care of in eight years? Hate to say it, but that’s not good enough. If the bill had passed, it would’ve been doomed from the start, because that time-frame is simply not good enough.

Let’s say you’ve just been hired to go work in Nebraska for twice the money you’re getting now. Let’s also say that, in order to live there legally, you have to wait eight years for your application to get considered, let alone passed. JOBS DON’T WAIT YEARS. Everybody knows that. Jobs, at best, wait a couple months, then they hire somebody else. Which is why I think that we should hire a whole bunch of extras to work and work and work until that backlog has cleared up. One year, 2 years at most to clear up the backlog, because then we will know who really should be illegal and who tried to enter the legal way but got fucked by our visa system.

3) I think I mentioned the business lobby somewhere back there. Well, the business lobby wouldn’t be powerful if money wasn’t important in our political life. By all reason, it shouldn’t be: the airwaves are technically owned by the people, but congress gave them away to the broadcasting companies some years ago, so now you have to buy your way onto TV. Just as I say it’s disgusting to make money off of people who are afraid of getting sick (health insurers), so I say it’s sick to make money off of things that aren’t yours to sell, and that includes the airwaves. If we give candidates free airtime, and make sure nobody gets more than anybody else (I’m including cable), then we will at least eliminate the problem of minor-party candidates getting no exposure. Also, candidates will no longer need to take so much money from corporations, because they won’t have to buy time-slots on TV, which are extremely expensive. Also, we should offer public campaign financing, and eliminate private donations altogether. Not the millions that they use now, you understand. If it was public, nobody would actually need that much, because the current system makes the game “outspend the other guys”; they have to keep raising money, otherwise, somebody else will have more TV spots, more brochures, more door-to-door salesmen, and the guy who still has money at the end is almost always the winner. Once in a while, somebody pulls an upset, but it’s the second-biggest spender that pulls it on the highest, not some truely small person.