Flight Papers

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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Deporting people? Hi-larious.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

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Apparently, ABC premiered a new show a few weeks ago: Homeland Security, USA, a reality TV series following several Homeland Security officers as they go about doing Homeland-Security-type things and if this sounds like vapid nationalist-porn, well, you’re probably not wrong, but I’m certainly not tuning in to find out.

I was twigged to this when I heard this NPR story. I thought NPR’s journalists performed, y’know, actual journalism. And I suppose sometimes they might. And sometimes, we get this:

There aren’t any terrorist plots uncovered, though viewers do get to watch agents thwart drug smugglers. And then there’s the lighter side of the job. In one scene, for instance, an immigration officer deports a busty belly dancer from Switzerland. Homeland Security Gets The Reality TV Treatment, NPR

I wonder what’s funny about that. Her occupation? She’s a sex worker—how quaint! Her country of origin? Just listen to that funny accent. My Swiss-German sounds just like a native speaker’s! Her tits, and the size thereof? Hurr. Hurr. Tits. Hurr. The fact that she’s being arrested, detained, and deported? That her life is, if not being ruined, then at least being massively changed without her will or consent? That she could, in fact, die during this process?

My sides are just splitting, let me tell you.

Things I did not see on TV two days ago.

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

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ANDERSON COOPER: Well, we’re here at CNN headquarters, gearing up for a controversial, tight race. Yes, a tight race that could go for days, mired in legal challenges and—what do you mean we just called five states?



Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

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I kinda hate talking about capitalist economics. I am also not an economist, so I’m usually talking out my ass. In this case, that’s appropriate. Here’s a question, wrapped in a story:

Let’s say that about a year ago there was a booming market in some commodity. Purely for the sake of this example, let’s suppose this commodity was, say, human excrement.


If this keeps up.

Friday, September 5th, 2008

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2011 — The arctic ice cap is completely melted.

2015 — The deadline for the U.N. Millennium Development Goals passes. None of them are reached.

2032 — World energy consumption reaches 1 zetajoule. About 62% comes from coal, 0.1% from solar energy.

2046 — The price of oil reaches $1,000 per barrel.

2041 — 100 million people are recorded as living with AIDS. 10 million people will die in this year.

2050 — World population reaches 9 billion people. Half live without reliable access to drinking water.

2052 — 5 billion people are living in extreme poverty.

2058 — A major U.S. political party nominates a woman for the presidency.

2060 — Six million women are raped this year worldwide.

2063 — The last surviving coral reef dies. One million ocean-dwelling species have gone extinct since 2008.

2109 — The price of oil exceeds the price of gold.

2141 — The major U.S. political party nominates an openly gay presidential candidate.

(I didn’t do super super intense research for these. Like Nostradamus’ prophecies, many will likely be inaccurate. Flay me when that happens.)

Cheating cheaters who cheat.

Monday, August 11th, 2008

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I didn’t have any desire to write about the Edwards thing, but, I suppose, this isn’t just about what I want.

In that post on Punkass, Lisa takes issue with Rielle Hunter’s sister trying to “defend her honor” against a flurry of vicious attacks.

Lisa does not come to her rescue,

Excuse me. What honor? This woman had a blatant affair with a married man, whom she obviously knew was married, for at least a year. She’s a “good and honest” person? What on earth is your definition of good or honest?

Which is, I think, a rather severe character judgment to make when you know exactly one thing about a woman, and it’s presumably the worst thing she’s ever done.


Whenever I want to save fetuses, I drop anthrax in the mail. It’s only logical.

Friday, August 8th, 2008

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I’m kindof uncertain how to respond to this.

I mean, on the one hand, it’s very convenient that Bruce Ivans—who was, like, totally sending anthrax to congress critters and was a big time terrorist, we promise—went and killed himself just before the FBI made its case. I mean, isn’t that great? Now we don’t have to go through a messy trial and all that pesky burden of truth stuff. It’s case closed! Let’s go shopping!

But maybe that’s my inner tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorist talking. The FBI does have actual evidence, even if it’s a bit sketchy.

And then there’s the pro-life angle.


Any color so long as it’s black.

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

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Over at Punkass, Lisa has an interesting bit on how women are functionally censured no matter what choice we make with respect to childbearing (and, of course, many other things).

She concludes, wondering,

Why, in a country purportedly founded upon the rights of the individual to choose any number of things–why we have created a situation where doing so is overwhelmingly disapproved of, a situation where the only fix in terms of general societal approval would be to remove entirely that right..?

I think it’s because we… don’t. We as a society don’t genuinely value individual choices, desires, and responsibility. We don’t like agency, and we don’t like individuals to have actual power to affect change. We like to say we do, though, because we can leverage that narrative of free choice to legitimize our institutions. “See,” we might say, “women don’t actually want access to employment and equal pay, for when completely free of coercion of any kind, they choose to stay at home and have kids.” Or we might say, “Look, those poor blacks / immigrants / white trash wouldn’t be poor if they didn’t choose to live that way.” Or perhaps, “Fattie fattie fattie stop choosing to be fat fat fat.”

The thing is: if you hold a gun to someone’s head and say, “Believe this. Do this. Live like I tell you to,” you lose a certain amount of authority to claim that your way is superior to any other. Shallow Nietzschen ethics aside, we have some intuition that “because otherwise I will shoot you,” is not an argument that supports, “society should be structured like this.” We aren’t, in short, interested in a free, liberated society because such a thing is valuable for its own sake. We are interested in a free, liberated society—or at least the appearance of one”because it supports our ideology. Because then we can say, “hey, whatever your qualms, with it people freely choose to support a white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy,” as if such a thing were even possible.

So first of all, this is why it’s important to make individuals responsible for every single negative thing that has happened to them—if not directly, then situationally, in that they have failed to choose to overcome the same adversity that everyone else obviously does. Mockery, derision, and distilled shame are the only effective medicines.

It’s also particularly evident when we decide to—what’s the euphemism? “Export colonialism?” “Engage in neo-democracy?” Something like that, anyway. Especially when the state we’re trying to build isn’t particularly popular with anyone, y’know, living there, maintaining the illusion that this is Exactly What They All Want is crucial.

This is also why we like innovative! entrepreneurial! driven! straight! white! men! who are rebels! bucking the system! by making money and exploiting others in a very slightly novel way. We particularly like IEDSWMWARBTS when they aren’t technically straight, white, or men”after all, Oprah shows us that any black woman can attain incredible wealth, fame, and power, since, see, one has!

In all of these cases, it is completely acceptable and desirable for anyone and everyone to passionately pursue their desires and boldly make individual statements and choices, so long as those choices support and reify patriarchal power structures. Women choosing their career over their children are obviously heartless and demonstrate the need for men to help them make the right choice; women choosing their children over their careers obviously demonstrate that feminism did no good for anybody; women insisting that the choice is a false dichotomy and working against to support their carers and family are, sadly, simply unrealistic.

And God help you if you’re a childless lesbian (tragic), a lesbian with kids (gross!), or a single lesbian (metaphysical impossibility).

Pride is not the opposite of shame.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

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I got back from San Francisco pride a couple of weeks ago, and that is one intense. fucking. party., let me tell you.

I thought I would be writing right now about the commercialization, commodification, and normalization of “the gay lifestyle.” I thought I would be talking about how the rainbow-banner Bud Lite banners were vaguely cute but also vaguely sickening; about how the marriage industry is opening its arms to (heteronormatively-attractive and “normal-looking”) gay couples without missing a beat; about how the entire pride industry is a concerted force to push “normalish” (white, affluent, could be straight if they, y’know, wanted to be) gay people into the mainstream whilst marginalizing everyone else.

And I expect much of that is true, but those words didn’t come, in part I’m sure because we didn’t go to the “core” pride festivities at the civic center. We went to the tranny march and the dyke march, both at Dolores park; we also went, albeit briefly, to the giant rave held at the intersection of Market and Castro, where twenty-thousand people pack into the streets and just… dance. And my girlfriend and I cuddled in my friend’s backyard, and watched fireworks that we and nobody else made, and talked about moving to the city.

We thought, just a little, about getting married.


“On second thought, no, we can’t.”

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

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I’ve been loathe to write about the primaries in the U.S., mostly because I try to only write about those things where I feel like I have something to contribute, and I haven’t experienced any particular election-related insights.

(Also: I don’t have or want a side apart from “not another douchebag, please, the increased relevance of political songs is not worth it,” but it’s almost impossible to write anything without being shuttled into one camp or another. Hell, I went to the county Democratic county caucus not voting in the presidential primaries (I did the math. My vote wouldn’t have mattered either way, in our precinct.))

That said, here’s something a friend said a while back, the truth of which just struck me: Race and gender are, for me, the only interesting issues in this election.


Not just bad — black bad.

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

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Obama’s speech is beautiful, in its way. Let that be said.

I’ve been hearing about it on news outlets for the past three days, until the stupid passport news “broke” and every fragment of news media dropped “the race issue” like the hot potato it is. (Let it also be said: if I were into conspiracy theories, that’s the one I’d be supporting).

The words he’s saying are incredible, coming as they are from the mouth of a very real candidate for the throne. Race and class and the complex interactions between them are real issues that this nation has simply failed to address in a substantial way. It’s profoundly heartening to hear someone, anyone—let alone someone in such a strong political position—saying that we need to include these issues in our national discourse. This speech made me respect him more as a candidate, without doubt.

And still, there’s that twinge of doubt. I understand why he didn’t say that this is an anger we can all understand, and an anger that everyone must understand before we can move forward; I understand why he didn’t pin the responsibility for continued oppression on white America; I understand why he dipped deep into the well of reconciliatory rhetoric to find issues and language that some-substantial-subset-of-everyone can agree with. I get it, and it still makes me afraid.

Because it tells me that as a black candidate, he can’t address these issues head-on. Because if he does, he will be Angry, and there is nothing more dangerous. If he had gotten up on stage last week and said, “I need you to understand that I believe the good Reverend Wright’s sentiment is correct even if his rhetoric is inflammatory,” he would have been crucified as an Angry Black Man in a fraction of a news cycle.

And though I have that understanding, it does. not. help. There is a part of me that cries every day that these are still problems—but they are. Some tiny bit of me dies at every moment because there are people who will grasp at anything including the amount of melanin in your skin to explain why you deserve to be fucked and they do not; because there are people who prize the sanctity of their ephemeral, exploitative institution above your human rights, and will happily steamroll the latter if only because they can.

I understand that we cannot have a politician stand up and say, “It is okay to be angry.” I understand why we are still talking about “tolerance” (in the way that you tolerate a wasp sting) rather than acceptance (in the way that you accept your family*).

I understand all of this, yet still it is a catastrophe. Peace is not the absence of bombs. Nor rockets, nor gunfire. Peace is both the absence of violence and the reconciliation of former violence; peace exists in the acceptance of anger and the ability to channel that force through channels that may create, may destroy, but do not harm. Repression is not peace. Construction is.

Peace requires justice; we require peace. As Americans, as people, we need it like water and air, and we will never get there by gritting our teeth, understanding each other and building labyrinths of words that keep us away from one another. It’s like a pleasing and pointless gray pill—that pattern will not bring us hope or love or peace. Not now, and not ever.

* Family. Not blood relations. Not mutually exclusive, but not implied.