politics


Viz. the post below:

Me: “You were revolutionary and you didn’t even know it!”

Mom: “I knew it. People would say things on the street. ‘HEY GEORGE! Look at this white woman with a Jap!'”

Me: “Whoa.”

Mom: “In Midtown Terrace!”

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Happy Loving Day.

Today is the 41st anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, in which the Supreme Court overturned the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and caused anti-miscegenation laws across America to be struck down. The Loving decision got some attention early last month, when Mildred Loving died, but it’s worth commemorating today as the day when not only many couples (such as my parents, who were married in California in 1963 and moved to Virginia in 1970) were free to legally live in all fifty states without (legal) harassment.

It’s also worth remembering (because I’m a glass-half-empty kind of person) that overturning Loving was instrumental in destroying America’s eugenics sterilization programs, the kind Dr. Joseph DeJarnette was referring to when he wrote this 1938 poem:

Oh, why do we allow these people
To breed back to the monkey’s nest,
To increase our country’s burdens
When we should only breed the best?
Oh, you wise men take up the burden,
And make this you(r) loudest creed,
Sterilize the misfits promptly—
All are not fit to breed!
Then our race will be strengthened and bettered,
And our men and our women be blest,
Not apish, repulsive and foolish,
For the best will breed the best.[17]

Well, my family might be apish and repulsive, but we tend to have pretty high IQs. High enough to know that 1967 is really not all that long ago. And high enough to know that when the California Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to define marriage as between a man and a woman, they were basing their decision on legislation like this (and more particularly on Perez v. Sharp) that recognizes an important truth: that anti-miscegenation and anti-gay marriage laws are nothing more than a feeble attempt by the powerful and bigoted minority to get around the 14th Amendment — and that, if anyone is paying attention, it don’t play.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I need to re-read that marvelously repulsive poem up there, wonder at the depth of small-mindedness and hatred in the world, and vomit up my hash browns.

Two mothers at our co-op playschool discussing the Democratic nomination race:

Mom 1: “I think I’m finally gonna break down and get an Obama lawn sign.”

Mom 2: “She is just so…grating.”

Mom 1: “Exactly.”

— only in this race would that conversation not be a total nonsequitur. I wish I didn’t know who these people were — and I wish even more that I didn’t know them to be mostly kind, reasonable people, albeit not very far-thinking ones (see: Christmas tree imbroglio of December 2007).

And me? I’m kind of bummed. As politicians go, I think HRC has a lot going for her, though she’s not at her best when campaigning. And I am still not at all convinced that Obama will do a damn thing. But mostly I’ve been too busy having a mysterious ailment that makes me pass out with migraines at 7 p.m., and so I have limited energy to care.

I don’t have time to write a regular post right now, mostly because I’ve been partying too much, which if you’re me translates into “entertaining your husband’s visiting high school buddy by going out to pizza dinners and hearing stories about the movie shorts they made as teenagers, Gay Gangsters and Gay Gangsters II, which despite their titles are not porn, but rather adolescent, homoerotic, homophobic noir.” Because of the Gay Gangsters, I haven’t remotely gotten my work done this week, so I am sitting in a coffeeshop drinking something called “Organic Raw Kombucha,” which tastes like apple cider vinegar mixed with grass (Kentucky blue, not Maui Wowie), and which hints that it may just cure all current and future diseases I have. I’m hoping the kombucha will perk me up so that I can answer hundreds of student discussion board posts about Emily Dickinson.

At any rate, Alex, the high school pal of K.’s, and I went a round on the Clinton/Obama issue, which was the same as pretty much every other round I’ve gone with anyone: he argued that Hillary and the Clintons were corrupt, warmongering establishment wonks with no right to still be in a race that Obama “has already won,” I argued that apportioning delegates by population is problematic but the Dems’s stupid rules aren’t Hillary’s fault (I’m still hoping for a nationwide, closed Democratic primary next time, although I guess that will never happen because local vendors would miss out on all the campaign events business — it’s always the economy, stupid) and that she’s the better candidate because of her ideas about health care, gender and race equality, and education, plus the fact that she’s the candidate with the highest percentage of minorities on staff. (Thanks, Weboy.) He said he just hated Hillary and that he “believed” in Obama, I said it was a mistake to assume that Obama is so much better just because we haven’t seen all the private interest and political crony strings attached to his back. I’m getting kind of tired of that conversation because, as I’ve said before, I’m sure there must actually be reasons to support Obama, but every time one of my callow, overprivileged, self-styled egalitarian friends talks to me about it, it becomes a Hillary hatefest.

We didn’t resolve anything, of course, although the conversation ended with Alex saying, “I’m sure you can out-argue me on the actual facts, because I don’t know them, but that’s not really part of why I support Obama.” And with K. leaning down to whisper in my ear, “I love it when you annihilate people, baby. It’s so sexy.” (I would have chosen a different word for it…say, “obliterate.”) Then he took Alex out for a beer and left me to tend the screaming infant rather than sleeping, which sucked because, of course, some people were too tired from their trip to the pub to get up and help with breakfast in the morning.

But I did have a few minutes in between child-minding to try to shed my irritation with that conversation. And I didn’t have any friends to talk to about it because, as I’ve mentioned before, I am the Obama demographic in so many ways that discussing my candidate preferences with friends is like advertising a special on B.L.T.s at the Arby’s in South Williamsburg (the Hasidim are not really down with the B.). So, in a transparent attempt to cash in on the fact that my dad and I agree on something for once, I wrote my dad and told him about it, then asked what his peers were doing.

I include his response because it showed me that even though my dad is a sixtysomething engineer whose first language is not English, he still has the power to delight and surprise me with his command of its subtleties (note: the opinions expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of the management, particularly those on “reverse bias;” try to be charitable and keep in mind that the man has immigrant-must-excel-I’m-not-white-and-I-did-it-so-you-should-too mentality and his perspective on reparative justice is thus skewed). The last line, in particular, is priceless:

Daughter,

I am, of course, peerless.

I am still troubled by the double standard, the fact that black voters are demonstrating reverse bias by going for Obama to the extent of 80%-90%, by the fact that in all this time, Obama has yet to propose anything substantive other than selling “change we can believe in”, and by the fact that Bill’s issues still drag Hillary down. Whatever happens, though it will be cold comfort for her, Hillary is still the most competent candidate with the best intentions and ideas.

I hear Hillary raised $2.5 million just last night so hopefully Barack’s huge bankroll (really no strings, really change we can believe in, really not the same old politics?) won’t prevail.

Of course, these are just words and I am not bitter.

Love,

Dad

To all those people who are wondering if Hillary Clinton staying in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is a good thing, I submit that it is. Here’s why.

Had either of the candidates clinched the nomination early, we might not be seeing one of the highest-profile Democrats in America in a thoughtful and specific (same-sex partnerships and immigration! love it!) interview with a prominent gay paper. I think it’s awesome that this drawn-out contest is forcing la Hillary, as current underdog, to take it to the streets and take some stands that require actual guts. And I think it’s a pity that Obama is continuing to duck and run from gay press and gay issues. But even if he’s the nominee, Clinton’s precedent won’t let him continue to do so…or so I hope.

(Thanks to NYCweboy for bringing it to my attention.)

The good people over at Bitch, Ph.D are frothing at the mouth over Clinton tape in which Hillary compares her experience to McCain’s and dismisses Obama’s as minimal. That is just “fucking unacceptable,” the usually-measured B says, because we need to not tear down the competition in comparison to the opposition candidate; in other words, saying that Obama has less experience than McCain is tantamount to a McCain endorsement from Clinton (despite the fact that the Clinton camp has been vocal in saying they’ll support Obama if he wins the nomination, which the Obama camp seems to have some trouble swallowing).

Well, maybe I’m dense (it’s been well-established that my social sensors are not as finely tuned as some of you more emotional types; the INTJ blood runs strong), but it seems like a fairly mundane bit of campaign blather to me, not something to rend one’s garments or tear one’s hair over. I’m more worried about the Obama camp’s missteps, particularly Susan Rice’s epic claim that Obama and Clinton are “both not ready” (!!!!) to answer that 3 a.m. phone call. No matter how out of context that is, Rice’s words are phenomenally stupid, unless she’s a Republican plant. Because if there’s anything that says “Pick red!” to the undecided, unaffiliated voter hesitating between red and blue, it’s a Democrat claiming that her own people are incompetent on national security. Geez. “Yeah, we’ll fix the economy and give you health care, but then Al-Qaeda will come in and destroy your home and your children. But really. Elect us. Please.”

Of course, some people are accusing Clinton of fear-mongering with that ad, and they have an argument. But I’m pretty sure that in political campaigns, that kind of thing goes on all the time. Clinton is playing ball. Obama has taken a difficult position, one of trying to maintain the moral high ground, which means that whenever she throws him a particularly dirty pitch, he takes umbrage rather than swinging (and then his teammates, like the now-infamous Samantha Power, loyally start slinging mud under their breath and are shocked when their comments are overheard). It is, in a very interesting primary season, kind of a letdown.

But the larger issue that bugs me is this: why are the Clinton camp’s attacks on Obama so “divisive” and unforgivable, while the Obama camp’s attacks pass with nary a murmur? From where I’m sitting, they look pretty similar, but I’m stunned by the rage at Clinton I’m seeing. Where does it come from? And could it have anything to do with the idea that Clinton is held to an impossible standard because she’s a woman?

I’m not discounting racism. It’s as real and as destructive as sexism, and I happen to believe in reparative justice/Affirmative Action enough to think that voting for a qualified minority candidate partially because of his or her minority status (meaning gender or race) is a fine idea. But it seems we have an easier time giving Obama a pass for being black (at least the hypermasculine American white view of black males doesn’t totally conflict with the idea of being in power) than giving Clinton a pass for being a woman. And doesn’t that say something about which group, in the 21st century and beyond, will continue on as an underclass?

Think about it, women of color. As a woman of color myself, I sure am.

I admit that my hope, like that of many Clinton supporters, was flagging. Obama did seem invincible. The timing of his ‘charisma surge’ and the ensuing ‘tsunami of drool‘ (Christopher Hitchens, you’re a revolting, cranky old hater, and your Vanity Fair spread was patently ridiculous, but you do still have a way with words) odds seemed stacked against Hillary. I was resigning myself to the prospect of a dilemma: fulfilling my promise to support any Democrat and vote for Obama in November, or voting my conscience and disposition, which says “third party candidate!”, especially if that candidate is Matt Gonzalez. (In creating that link, I just realized that Matt Gonzalez bears a strong resemblance to my favorite demicelebrity, the only person who, if I were a 13-year-old girl, would have his posters tacked up on my wall: Robyn Hitchcock. Sigh. Dreamy. Now if only Robyn Hitchcock would run for president, with Matt Gonzalez as his VP. Too bad he’s probably still a British citizen.)

Oh! I’m sorry. Was that boring? Hearing about how hot I find a political figure? Hearing about my girlish crushes? Having me conflate my errant attractions/projections on unsuspecting famous people with a decent reason to cast my vote for our next president?

I do beg your pardon. Back to the matter at hand: it would be a tough call for me. I’ve become increasingly impatient with Obama’s posturing, his churlishness when he’s not in the position of power and adoration, and his inability to say anything substantial or interesting about any of the (admittedly small) policy points on which he differs from Hillary. I think the whole NAFTA dust-up is pretty sloppy (tsk, tsk) and doesn’t bode well. And I wonder if Obama isn’t far too easy to poke holes in. He does great when he’s basking in teh love. He’s ugly when he’s on the defensive.

But I was feeling discouraged. The momentum seemed too great to even check, much less overcome. In fact, I was trying really hard all day Tuesday not to read the paper or click update on the cnn political results page (I only did it four or five times). But when the baby woke me up at 1 a.m., I had to know. And I found out that Ohio came out big for Hillary and that, more surprisingly, she’d also won in Texas and Rhode Island. I wasn’t really expecting that. Obama had been making himself at home in Texas, and I kind of thought the “dude vote” would prevail.

Well, there’s always room for nice surprises. At a little past one on Wednesday morning, I found out that I shouldn’t be such a pessimist. I realized that I, too, had underestimated Hillary Clinton. She gave a great speech Tuesday in Ohio: classy, populist, presidential. She’s endured more setbacks and more discouragement on this campaign than any candidate in my lifetime, not to mention more random sexist bullshit (and yes, Obama is still getting a pass on the — at least overt — racist bullshit, ’cause, you know, we just don’t talk about that in public). For sheer perseverance (or, as our current president would say, “persevating”), she deserves a medal. And she’s doing well to cast herself as a survivor. I forget who cast her as a “dented pickup truck,” but it’s a pretty apt metaphor. Americans love their dented pickup trucks, be they Fords or Toyotas.

More serious politics writers, like NYCweboy, have made a more studied commentary on what this all means for the nomination. And it seems very possible that Hillary might be our nominee. But I’d like to add a few more ephemeral comments from my immigrant, minority, American success story, and ‘political maverick’ (voted for Bush in 2004, coming out strong for Hillary this year) pops:

Her story is compelling (won the big states instead of the small, inevitably red states, has more experience, more substance, more intelligence, good heart, etc.) If one looks for trends, no president has been elected without winning the Ohio primary. If you are superstitious, more presidents were born in October than any other month (she was, Barack was in August – on your sister’s birthday). Her only real negative is Bill.

Well, I’m Chinese, so of course I’m not immune to the lure of astrology (numerology…fatalism…feng shui…etc. etc.). And I have to say that learning that Obama’s a Leo explains it all, especially since he apparently shares the birthday of my batshit crazy, card-carrying member of the Church of Solipsism sister. For Leos, it’s all about me, me, me. They do fine in positions of strength, where they can be magnanimous. They become whiny little bitches when they feel threatened. Obama has demonstrated this time and time again, and if Clinton’s smart, she’ll keep him snapping, which is when it’s hardest for the Obama crush contingent to bat their eyelashes.

Here’s hoping she is. And you know, Dad is right: October is a banner month for presidents. And on the astrology tip, any armchair astrologer can tell you that you just don’t pit a Leo against a Scorpio. Because while the Leo is busy falling in love with the sound of his own voice, the Scorpio will sidle over and get out that stinger. Between the grand geste and the nitty gritty, the latter usually wins out in the end.

Oh, and confidential to Hillary: don’t forget to thank Obama for giving you a challenge this primary season. It’s only fair, and I want to see him clench his jaw when you do.

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