Oct 30, 2008

Ever Have One of Those Weeks?

Sorry dear faithful reader(s?) of DotBS. I've been sidetracked and crazy busy. Busier than I thought. Busier than makes it possible to get in all the writing I'm hoping to do for work, let alone getting up on here to ponder a bit. But you know what happens when a person like me doesn't have a venue like this to vent a little steam? I go a little crazy, for one, but then I also kind of let things go against people I don't even really know.

It's just that even as I want to walk the path of righteousness rather than self-righteousness - to stay focused on building and not tearing down (too much) - I slip up. I have to ask forgiveness sometimes of folks whose opinions aren't that important to me at the end of the day. It's like this: it takes a long time to build personal capital up with people who you don't politically align with right away, even if they are blood (or in my case, extended family). But once you do, you can still blow the load of it if you just pull a McCain and throw a tantrum.

I did just that on email today, in reaction to a racist/anti-Muslim Obama smear email that an uncle of mine, of whom I've written in the past, forwarded out to our family list serv. Rather than just say "that was stupid" to myself and my trusted partner and/or sister I decided to engage via email. Needless to say, it didn't become a flame war between me and my 75 year old uncle, or all his kids who have kids of their own who are approaching college. But it could have been, and I didn't see through the red enough to be tactical.

I'm usually okay in this regard - strategy is something I've tried to learn and teach myself, particularly in the last few years. And especially with the kind of work I want to do - tempers don't build things. And anger is okay, but we have to use it constructively, with a greater purpose in mind. And against true injustice. So I kind of messed up. I think need to write more often. Rage on these pages is better than rage on the internets. Better luck on Friday.

Be safe, have a good weekend, and no matter who you vote for: don't vote for McCain/Palin.

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Oct 16, 2008

Things I Wish I Heard in Debate #3

Last night was kind of funny. McCain held it together reasonably well in the first two debates, but I really felt like we were watching the man get unhinged on TV. It was kind of freaky, really.

I had just one zinger I thought Obama could have hit him with. Early in the debate, they went back and forth on the income tax issue (long live Joe the Plumber!), and McCain tried to turn Obama into Robin Hood with mass redistribution of the wealth (note to John: people like Robin Hood). There was a moment when McCain said "in such tough economic times, why would you want to raise taxes on anyone?" Obama wisely let that go, though he addressed it as a matter of fairness, hitting the bullet points for fair tax policy.

But then they started talking about corporate taxes, and McCain pulled a stat out of his ass about Ireland when he claimed that corporate taxes in the U.S. being the second highest in the world. It was remarkable that in an election that is still ostensibly to be decided by real, natural people, not the corporations who have dumped millions of dollars in each of their campaigns, that McCain, in his last guaranteed free prime time TV placement before he concedes on the evening of 11/4, decides to take up the cause of the "little guy": Exxon Mobil and all the rest of those bastards. I wonder how that played across the nation.

Obama basically let it go, but it was the perfect opportunity to nail McCain on this: the reason our corporate taxes are higher (on paper) than most other nations is because we have low personal income taxes. Does McCain prefer lower corporate taxes, which would shift the burden of paying for everything that the government does more directly to the people like Joe Plumber? Sounds kind of socialist, John. Maybe I should reconsider your candidacy.

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Oct 15, 2008

Remembering Gujarat

It's a funny thing: get a job doing work you want to do, and suddenly all that spare time you thought you'd have after the years of grueling/non-relevant law school doesn't really materialize. I have a lot of things I want to do in my spare time, but the train ride home at night is barely enough to write a quick note to self about the day, or jot down an idea in my other notebook that I'm keeping to store brainstorms, or read even a short article in the New Yorker, which I can love to hate, but still enjoy digging into deep stories that are disappearing quickly across the landscape of American journalism.

So today, on the ride home, I decided to open up a collection of Arundhati Roy essays called the Algebra of Infinite Justice that my partner brought back from a trip to India (that shit which would cost $15 here was Rs. 225: i.e. about 5 dollars. I now believe the best deal to be had from India is books, believe it or not). The book collects some of her best essays, including "For the Common Good," her brilliant essay about the Narmada Dam Project (before the dam-builders won).

As expected, I didn't get through a lot, but I read the better part of two pieces: the title piece, which was an amazing piece she wrote right after 9/11, presciently calling Osama Bin Laden the "dark doppelganger" of Bush. You have to read this piece to fully appreciate her mastery of language -- and the truth.

The second piece was written after the 2002 communal massacre in Gujarat, which she and many others have called pogroms orchestrated and enabled by the BJP-led government. On the shaky grounds of retribution for a train burning in Godra earlier that week that resulted in the death of more than 50 Hindu "pilgrims" that was attributed to Muslim activists (the truth came out later - the train was not lit up by Muslim anything, and the people on the train, though they did not deserve death, were enroute back from a Masjid destruction tour), Hindus in the state of Gujarat killed more than 2000 Muslims, destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, and forced over 100,000 people into refugee camps in their own home state.

The detailed horrors of what happened are unspeakable, but Roy outlines some of it to start her essay (titled "Democracy"). Reading even these slivers that profile what happened shocked me to remember and realize what I did not really know. Gujarat in 2002, and Indian communal violence in general, are talking points of the South Asian left. But how much do those of us living comfortably in the United States really know of what happened? How do you reconcile "pride" in your heritage with this history?

And for me - as a non-Hindu, but someone who can easily pass because my people have strayed and are confused - how do I have an honest dialogue about these things with Gujarati Muslims? I feel like I haven't even started that process - and I want to do something about that, because this memory cannot fade, and it's not good enough to just namecheck it once in a while.

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Oct 7, 2008

Things I Would Have Liked to Hear in Debate #2

"You know who voted for that? SENATOR OBAMA" (the dude has a name, you imp).

"The American military should be used as a peacekeeping force, but we should realize that we don't have a monopoly on the meaning of 'freedom' and that more often than not, the United States has intervened and fucked things up in nations where peoples' movements were rising."

"You know what? I hate what the Rove machine is doing. I won't be dragged in the mud with the rest of them. Election be damned."

Okay - enough of my comments. If you haven't read this long-ass article about the real McCain, which was the cover story of this week's Rolling Stone, well my friends, you should. We just need more of these out there. Rolling Stone is best when it lets good writers research and publish what they find. This is a winner.

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Oct 2, 2008

What I Wish We Heard at the Debate

"Governor Palin, I know Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson is a friend of mine (though his take on Catholicism is a little severe). Based on my favorite Gibson movie, John McCain is no maverick."

"I support a two-state solution for Israel/Palestine. Let me talk about the Palestinian people instead of just focusing on one of the states, and let me talk about their democratically elected government instead of how I advised against allowing the West Bank to enjoy the same freedoms we're bombing Iraq to have."

"I'm such a Washington outsider, maybe I should just stay that way."

"War is a bad thing. We should stop talking about it as if it's something to plan for, something to anticipate and enjoy. We should be trying to build a world where war isn't necessary."

(Rosa Clemente's opening statement, answers, and closing statement).

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