Friday, May 29, 2009
Self-branding being about self commodification. About establishing a new place in various pecking orders. About popularity and external validation.
Making the self a product, a package, complete and finite, stunts the true growth of an individual because it allows them no space to live outside their own boxed realities, outside the cages they build to contain and define themselves.
They do get to have some nifty, cool phrases they can show off as evidence of knowledge. Cool key words and terms they can drop for maximum impact without allowing themselves space to fully understand the meanings behind those words and the potential significance of those meanings in their own lives.
The search for self-understanding, intimately linked to self-articulation, is an internal process accompanied by much self exploration, reading, researching, asking questions of yourself and of others, being more interested in seeking, rather than in the projection of a given persona.
I appreciate watching and engaging with people who quest for self-understanding and who use what they learn to help define who they are and what they believe.
This isn't widely considered cool work. It doesn't gain much praise or make a person new friends. But it does help them know more about that person they see when they look in the mirror.
Talking to these kinds of people is such a pleasure. Their honesty, their confusion, their questions, their answers, their lack of answers...all of it makes them so beautiful.
I'd like to meet more folks disinterested in branding themselves or their identities. I'd like to meet more people who Seek.
Monday, May 25, 2009
He's bad – really bad – on civil libertiesby Justin Raimondo, May 25, 2009
He’s not closing Guantanamo, he’s continuing the "preventive detention" policy of the Bush administration under a new rubric ("prolonged detention"), he’s on board with military commissions ("reformed," of course) and the denial of habeas corpus – and last, but certainly not least, his supporters in Congress have launched a campaign to give him and his cabinet officials the power to close down the Internet in the name of "national security."
I won’t go on at length about the brazen hypocrisy and general slipperiness exhibited by Obama and his fans when it comes to key civil liberties issues such as these. Jack Goldsmith, former head of George W. Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel, and Rachel Maddow, progressive commentator on MSNBC, have done a superlative job of that. Goldsmith, of course, notes the president’s turn on a dime with obvious approval, arguing that the Bush approach was haphazard and lacked any substantive legal basis, while Maddow is horrified that, instead of abolishing these Bush-era assaults on the Constitution, her former hero is intent on formalizing and "legalizing" them. Go here to see her deliver the kind of stinging rebuke to Obama and his administration that Rush Limbaugh and his fellow radio ranters could never hope to match.
Maddow strikes a powerful blow against Cheneyism-without-Cheney by pointing out that the president’s preventive detention policy – which claims for the U.S. government the right to hold anyone, including American citizens, indefinitely, without trial, without formal charges, and without telling anyone – is worse than anything Bush ever attempted in one important sense. The Bushian effort was secretive and strictly ad hoc; the Obamaites, however, are quite openly constructing what Obama calls "a new legal regime" to preside over this wholesale assault on the Constitution.
At least the Bush crowd had enough remnants of a moral sense to sneak around and try [.pdf] to hide their crimes against liberty and the rule of law. Although they tried to rationalize their actions with after-the-fact legal arguments, the effort seems to me rather halfhearted: they weren’t really all that concerned with legalizing their power grab. They just went ahead and did it, and damn the torpedoes.
The Obamaites, on the other hand, have a different style – but the substance is essentially the same, with the addition of a few minor tweaks and rhetorical flourishes. They want to bureaucratize and institutionalize the horrors of the past eight years and make what used to be unthinkable routine.
This Memorial Day should be devoted to reviving and refreshing the failing memory of the American people, or, at least, those millions who voted for Obama in hopes of a better day. Remember the campaign promises, the soaring rhetoric about "the rule of law" and our "constitutional liberties"? Remember this: "Gitmo. That’s an easy one: close it"? Remember the promise of "change"?
As for this last, well, yes, the Obama administration is indeed carrying out a sea change in the realm of civil liberties, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a continuation of the transformation effected by Team Bush and made possible by the post-9/11 hysteria, in which the leaders of both parties were caught up – and which they continue to stoke for political gain.
Witness Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s assertion that the jailing of terrorist suspects in American prisons somehow represents a threat to this country’s security. Obama himself is not above this: in rationalizing his escalation of the Afghan war and occupation, he continually harks back to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as if they justified the decades-long occupation of Afghanistan and surrounding areas envisioned by his favored policy wonks.
The baddies, Obama avers, are "plotting to attack America" from their "safe havens" in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan. Which raises the question: So the f**k what? How much of a "safe haven" do they need to "plot," anyway? Answer: A space no bigger than an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, or a small town on Florida’s Atlantic coast, where the 9/11 attacks were plotted and carried out.
The 9/11 attacks provided the neoconservatives with the opportunity they had been waiting for: as the Twin Towers came down, so did the traditional safeguards against tyranny that had been erected over the past 200 years by the Founders and their successors. The neocons, in effect, pulled off a coup d’état: as Bob Woodward has pointed out, their method was to set up "a separate government," with Cheney at its head, that did an end-run around the institutional safeguards built into the system. Bush usurped the constitutional lines of authority that acted as a rein on the unrestrained use of government power. Obama’s "reforms" will make that usurpation permanent.
Change? You bet.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
i posted a version of this on the dating site i use to try and locate men i'd like to spend time with...
i was thinking about how i communicate when my comfort can be foregrounded. i thought about journaling as a voyeuristic experience that my readers sometimes forget is primarily about breaking my silence and connecting with what i think and i believe.
i'm thinking about what it means to be a woman seeking male partners, allies, friends, partners in crime who do not feel threatened or upset or even put off by forthright communication emerging from the mouth or writings of a black conscious, working class raised, middle-classing radical feminist woman.
i'm thinking about how patriarchy and racism combine to mean that i have even less space offered to just tell it.
i'm thinking about what it means to swim in waters predominantly occupied by amerikkkans who mistakenly believe that the beliefs they have been fed about themselves and about the world are universal. i'm thinking about how upset they can become when they encounter someone whose beliefs even differ from the black amerikkkans they were raised around as children or have befriended in their adult years.
i'm thinking about how all this combined makes my e-travels a bit of a minefield from time to time...
if we haven't been in contact you will not know that i'm mourning the death of my father. he passed over very recently. my grieving process has been filled with words and emotions. i blogged it. but now all of it is archived.
my grieving continues. though i'm not in as raw a place as i was a few months back. however, if you don't know how to deal intelligently, mindfully or lovingly with someone who has experienced a massive loss, you might not want to try to contact me...for a few decades.
my father is the parent who raised me...as best as he could. raised by him means i was raised by a man. often my ways of interacting reflect this.
i'm happiest when i don't mince my words, communicate in indirect or circular ways, don't play the flirtatious, ego stroking coquette. these are self destructive, self effacing ways of being so common among wimmin and teenaged girls that i would have learned from other wimmin...from a mother. how thankful am i that i wasn't fully inculcated by a maternal woman whose job it was to teach me how to behave like a "woman"? a complicated, sadness tinged kind of insanely happy. :)
realize that i have been studying wimmin for quite some time now, especially heterosexual middle class wimmin. i see their pain and their internalized oppression. but i also see the ways they jockey for dominance among themselves, slash each other and scrabble like evil ass crabs in a barrel trying to climb on each other's heads so as to better accrue more status, access and privilege.
i've been studying them and have chosen some of their tools which i utilize from time to time in situations that call for it. if i use them on you, it means i'm not taking you seriously. if you don't notice me using them but feel very comfortable and unchallenged...if you're brain isn't hurting and you don't feel your flight or fight kicking in, i'm probably using them to mollify and manipulate you. you've been warned. :)
also, being raised by someone whose first love was music who resisted working in the 9-5 realm as long as he possibly could means that i was raised with famine and feast in full effect. often we did not even have basics like money to pay bills, shop for new clothes or buy food. there were certainly no expensive camps or trips away on vacation.
you should know that i've been strategically and purposefully middle-classing with a vengeance for the better part of the last ten years. before that none of it mattered as i mostly circulated inside cocooned spaces of resistance where i could lie to myself and pretend that money, class and access didn't matter.
i was a fool.
even inside spaces peopled by those who understand themselves as oppressed, power and dominance based on money, career, land ownership and class reigns supreme.
when i left those spaces and came out into the larger world i had a steep learning curve to climb and navigate. i had to learn how to move in a world where power plays and hierarchy were more overtly accepted.
learn i did.
so it's like this...
i'm the mama of two black, african descended children, the descendants of people who were dragged here to work for others while being verbally, physically, emotionally and spiritually abused. obamarama or no, the places i/we/they can travel to in this world are limited by white domination and racism which, along with classism combine to reduce life journey options in a myriad of ways. i can't change the amount of melanin in our skins. but i can consciously yet mercilessly accrue and utilize class privilege in order to minimize the effects of domination in my/their/our lives.
this is what i am doing.
what does this mean? well, it means that if you should attempt to engage with me you should realize that you are dealing with someone who, on the surface, has middle-class affiliations and a single class identity, who actually has working-class affiliations due to having been raised working-class. this means that my perceptions, values and loyalties are mediated by a harsh and completely jaundiced critique of the middle and upper classes, their consumerist ways, their status consciousness, their obsession with owning segments of the outer crust of the planet, their obsession with who has good blood and who does not.
if you believe in the viability of the free market...
we're gonna argue.
if you make cracks about working class and poor people being less than human...
i will want to harm you. :)
if you believe that people who don't have homes or jobs don't deserve to access the full and free support of the state...
i will tune you out.
if you want to make sure that any children you presently have or might have in the future don't associate with people who don't make as much money as you, or who don't rent their homes from the bank at an extremely inflated rate (called having a mortgage) as opposed to from individual independent landowners (who in turn rent the homes they rent out from the bank at an extremely inflated rate)...
i will understand you as evil and dimwitted. :)
it's crucial that you understand who i am as not just a raced but also as a classed being in this world. you dig?
when being raised by a man and being raised working class converge and outwardly manifest especially through the ways i choose to communicate, i'm called names like immature, mean, harsh, evil, hurtful. when the very ways i choose to communicate ruffle the feathers of those with privilege who have been taught to present themselves in less confrontational ways because they can do so and still get where they need to be...they bring me their rage, confusion, upset and demands that i cease and desist.
if this sounds like something you might be tempted to do when witnessing me present in my full glory...it's okay to go now. be well.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
In the meantime...
Yesterday I gardened, as I do everyday. I don't used herbicides, so I'm constantly in the front and back gardens dressed in femme wear pulling weeds by hand. The front garden is a socially acceptable manipulation.
The back garden is mine. It's wild. Herbs and ground cover running without rhyme or reason everywhere. Little pathways of laid down terracotta brick. I've got sage, thyme, chamomile, chives, echinacea, coriander...the sunflowers are still baby seedlings. but they'll get there. :)
I've got hanging baskets of flowering plants, one for the front verandah and one for the back verandah. The back verandah needs more work. I'm still figuring it out.
Our eighty something year old neighbour is going back to the old (european) country to spend time in her village. We bought her some flowers. She was very happy about them. We'll miss her. Every time we hear she's getting on a plane to go home we worry this will be the last time we see her.
She speaks no english and we don't speak her language. But we "talk" often and the children love her. My daughter runs in and out of her house on a regular basis. She brings us food when we work in the gardens and also when her family has special occasions.
She was the first person to really welcome us to the neighbourhood. Seminalson and I both agree that we prefer the old timer mediterranean europeans and their adult children anyways. They're less likely to interact as a way that comes off seeming like small scale spin doctored public relations...which is what the younger wasp couples and families who live in the area seem to specialize in.
Last night we invited one of our neighbours in for a visit. It went surprisingly well. My daughter, who isn't at all interested in making her friendship choices based on my politics or jaded burn out :) is friends with a few different children on the street. I like her having friends. She lectures me about being anti-social...at seven years old. heh. :)
So she has a friend she goes to visit to play with. Last night we invited him and his father over. Seminalson has good conversations with him.
I stayed for a little bit and chatted and had something to drink. But then I started trying to go upstairs. I explained that I'm not sociable. Well, it's the truth...sort of. :)
Then I went upstairs and read. The evening went "well".
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
So now I must feel sorry for powerful, wealthy, treacherous, ruling class white men who are made to take responsibility for their actions...?
this man is so fucking disgusting and fraudulent. of course he won't be taken to task. i'm sure somewhere in there, as a former kkkanadian prime minister he will be immune to any charges.
Mulroney insists he was forthright in questions a decade ago
By The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - A decade ago, Brian Mulroney was questioned under oath about his dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber and never mentioned taking $225,000 in cash from him.
But he still insists that he was honest and forthcoming in his answers and that he was never asked the right questions.
The questioning was part of his libel suit against the federal government and the Mounties over allegations of corruption in connection with the Airbus deal.
Mulroney said at one point he had had no dealings with Schreiber and never mentioned taking money from him.
But in testimony on Wednesday, Mulroney said he meant he never had business dealings with Schreiber over Airbus.
As for the $225,000, the nine government lawyers missed their chance, he said.
"Not one of them ever asked at any time the key question," he said.
And, he added, the deposition was limited to his libel complaint about Airbus, not his dealings with Schreiber years later.
"This was not related in any way to the allegations of my lawsuit."
He came close to tears on the witness stand as he described how accusations of his involvement in Airbus kickbacks threatened his reputation and shook his family.
But one of his aides said Mulroney cracked because two journalists in the audience were laughing as he spoke.
"They were carrying on like a pair of school children," Mulroney said on his website. "It just got to me."
Mulroney was recounting the impact of a 1995 letter from the RCMP to Swiss authorities which alleged he was involved for years in a separate kickback conspiracy.
He eventually won a $2.1-million settlement of his suit and none of the corruption allegations were ever substantiated.
But Mulroney said the original letter and the government's refusal to withdraw it, left him and his family shaken.
"I am an honest man and my family is honest . . . all of a sudden, out of the blue, I'm a criminal."
He said his lawyers tried to get the then-Liberal government to withdraw the letter and obtain Mulroney's side of the story.
"In all cases, we were turned down and they really told us to get lost and they were going ahead with this travesty."
He called the accusations "a criminal hoax," something "right out of Kafka."
When he was asked to describe the effect on his wife and children, his face melted, his lips shrank to a thin line and tears welled in his eyes.
"Nicholas was only 10 years old, he would. . . ." The reply trailed off into a whispered "Merci."
Justice Jeffrey Oliphant told Mulroney he felt he understood how the family was hurt and didn't require elaboration. He then called an early lunch to allow Mulroney to regain his composure.
Earlier, Mulroney testified that just months after he took money from Schreiber to promote sales of an armoured vehicle for UN use, he raised the issue with senior officials in both China and Russia.
He said he discussed the concept in general terms during a business trip to China in October 1993 and later talked it over with Boris Yeltsin in Russia.
In August of that year, he got a $75,000 cash payment from Schreiber for what he says was an international "watching brief" to find business opportunities for Schreiber's companies.
Schreiber was pushing the idea of building a plant in Canada to produce German-designed armoured vehicles.
Schreiber has testified he wanted Mulroney to lobby Canadian politicians on the issue, but the former prime minister says he was hired to promote the vehicles internationally. And he did so, he testified.
After the China trip, Mulroney and Schreiber met at a coffee shop in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, where Schreiber plopped down another envelope holding 75 thousand-dollar bills as a second payment on his "retainer."
This came even though "he didn't appear to me to be very interested" in the Beijing discussions.
"I was surprised," Mulroney said. "I thought he'd be much more enthusiastic."
He said Schreiber, in the aftermath of the 1993 election which brought the Liberals to power and reduced the Tories to two seats, had switched his political allegiance.
"He had fallen in love with the Liberals. His infatuation with Andre Ouellet was unbounded."
At the time, Schreiber was promoting east Montreal as the site of his proposed plant.
Mulroney later accepted a third cash payment at the Pierre Hotel in New York in December 1994.
"He said, or words to this effect: 'This is the third payment on your retainer; thank you very much for your good work."'
Mulroney said he plunked the first two payments in a safe at home. He put the third payment in a safe-deposit box at a New York bank.
The former prime minister, in his second day of testimony at a public inquiry into his dealings with Schreiber, said he came up with the idea of promoting the vehicles as a standard piece of gear for UN peacekeeping missions.
To that end, he sounded out Zhu Ronji, then the Chinese vice-premier, and Yeltsin, the Russian president.
The discussions in China were very general.
"I was there simply to begin the process of sounding out the terrain for a more comprehensive approach later."
His talks with Yeltsin were also general.
He asked the Russian if he thought the concept of a standard UN vehicle was a worthy idea.
"He said yes."
Mulroney has said he took $225,000 in cash from Schreiber, which he kept secret for years. He has said he wanted to keep the relationship quiet because he feared a renewal of accusations levelled against him during the Airbus affair.
He said he regrets not asking Schreiber for a cheque.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
There's nothing here to read. I've archived everything.
I'll probably be making a blog specifically for the birthing related stuff in another week or so. That one will be open with no comments allowed.
I'm here. Greetings, blessings, salutations, blah, blah, blah...