Doomsday warnings of US apocalypse gain ground

From Raw Story:


September 12, 2010

Economists peddling dire warnings that the world’s number one economy is on the brink of collapse, amid high rates of unemployment and a spiraling public deficit, are flourishing here.

The guru of this doomsday line of thinking may be economist Nouriel Roubini, thrust into the forefront after predicting the chaos wrought by the subprime mortgage crisis and the collapse of the housing bubble.

“The US has run out of bullets,” Roubini told an economic forum in Italy earlier this month. “Any shock at this point can tip you back into recession.”

But other economists, who have so far stayed out of the media limelight, are also proselytizing nightmarish visions of the future.

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Francis Fukuyama declared the “End of History” when the Soviet Union collapsed.  I think he was hasty and that now we are witnessing what Marxists describe as end stage capitalism.

A society can not thrive when the top 20% control 93% of financial wealth and 80% of all wealth.

Not in a free society.  Not a Free People.

Class war… Not just for the rich anymore…

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‘Record increase’ in number of Americans in poverty

From Raw Story:

By The Associated Press
Saturday, September 11th, 2010 — 8:58 pm

he number of people in the US who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama’s watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.

Census figures for 2009 — the recession-ravaged first year of the Democrat’s presidency — are to be released in the coming week, and demographers expect grim findings.

It’s unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when control of Congress is at stake. The anticipated poverty rate increase — from 13.2 percent to about 15 percent — would be another blow to Democrats struggling to persuade voters to keep them in power.

“The most important anti-poverty effort is growing the economy and making sure there are enough jobs out there,” Obama said Friday at a White House news conference. He stressed his commitment to helping the poor achieve middle-class status and said, “If we can grow the economy faster and create more jobs, then everybody is swept up into that virtuous cycle.”

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The problem is systematic.  Poverty for the masses is the end result, the logical out come of lawless Free Market Capitalism aka Kleptocracy.  It is class war waged against working people by the ultra wealthy right wing.

The Anatomy of a Breakup

From The New York Times:

Modern Love


BEFORE we met, my partner had changed names from a female-sounding one to a male one, and by the time we were together, everyone we knew either called him by this new name or spoke of him with male pronouns. He identified himself as a transgender man, woman to man. It wasn’t until two years after we began dating that he decided to have his breasts removed.

For him, chest surgery was the next step in transitioning genders, a symbolic and physical gesture of leaving womanhood behind. He wanted to replace his 34-C’s with emptiness, a flat manly chest to the outside world and scars to him and me.

Our relationship wasn’t perfect. But because he had limited contact with his parents, I was to be his primary caregiver, which entailed escorting him on the day of his surgery and playing nurse (not in a sexy way) for two weeks after the operation.

This was in San Francisco, land of blurry gender identities, where it’s common to pass as “other” gendered — neither male nor female but elsewhere on the “queer” spectrum. For my partner, that expression meant a cropped butchy haircut and preppy men’s clothing, usually a polo shirt and Banana Republic jeans. If his gender had matched his appearance — had he been born with a male body and joined a fraternity — we never would have followed the same orbits.

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Transphobia and mean streets

From The Milwaukee Wisconsin  Journal Sentinel:

Reposted with permission

By Michael Munson And Loree Cook-Daniels

Sept. 11, 2010

On May 7, 2010, Chanel (Dana) Larkin, 26, was fatally shot in the head by Andrew Olaciregui, 28, who had met her on a Milwaukee street and asked her to engage in a sexual act. Olaciregui pleaded guilty to second-degree reckless homicide in the case on Aug. 31, according to the state’s online court database. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October.

Although commercial sex work is a notoriously dangerous profession, it would be a mistake to dismiss this death so simply. For Larkin also belonged to another demographic group with an outrageously high early fatality rate: She was an African-American transgender woman.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is a coalition of 40 U.S. nonprofits that work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims of violence and police misconduct. In its 2009 Hate Crimes report, NCAVP documented 22 murders caused by anti-LGBT prejudice. Of those 22, half were transgender women.

Of the remainder, most were biologically male but dressed femininely with an unknown gender identity but who were dressed femininely or were otherwise gender non-conforming when they were killed, therefore making it likely that the vast majority of murder victims were gender variant.

Furthermore, 79% of the victims were people of color. Larkin’s murder may have been relatively unusual for Milwaukee, but it fits an alarming national pattern, down to its timing: Milwaukee’s 2010 PrideFest was June 11 to 13, barely four weeks after Larkin’s death. Nationally, 55% of 2009’s documented anti-LGBT murders took place in a 14-week period that includes most cities’ LGBT Pride celebrations, when LGBT people are most visible.

Larkin’s commercial sex work was likely related to both her race and her gender identity. African-Americans still face rampant racism, economic discrimination and educational neglect. A 2001 national study found that Wisconsin had the country’s lowest African-American high school graduation rate, at 40%. A 2005 study showed that the top three reasons for verbal or physical harassment in schools are appearance, sexual orientation and gender identity. Obviously, young African-American gender variant students are clearly at high risk of bullying or worse in schools and consequently are highly likely to leave school without graduating.

Like many of her peers, Larkin did not have a GED. She also had been unable to afford to legally change her name and ID. Therefore, even though she clearly looked female, whenever she applied for job and was asked for identification, she would have had to explain why it said she was male and had a different first name.

Employment discrimination against transgender people – while technically illegal in many places, including Milwaukee – is rampant. A recent national study of 6,450 transgender people found that 97% had been harassed or mistreated at work, and 47% had been fired, not hired, or denied a promotion because they were known to be transgender.

African-American transgender people were twice as likely to be unemployed (26%) as were other participants in this pre-recession survey. Since it doesn’t require a GED or ID, commercial sex work makes sense to many young African-American transwomen. Unless or until a client learns you are transgender. Then you’re at high risk of joining the NCAVP and Transgender Day of Remembrance murder victims lists.

Here, too, widespread social attitudes play a role. Many transwomen are killed during or right after sexual acts or sexual negotiations, by someone they’ve just met. The man may think, “If I had sex with a woman who turns out to have a penis or was born male, am I gay?” Some people’s homophobia is so strong that they apparently prefer to become a murderer rather than be thought of as gay. And so they “reclaim their manhood” by killing the person who “deceived” them.

Racism. Homophobia. Transphobia. Discrimination. Legal, financial and medical barriers to changing your name, ID, and/or your body to match who you are in the world. All of these contribute to the loss of vibrant people like Larkin, people who are valued and much-loved and who are active members of their communities.

At her funeral, dozens spoke of Chanel’s love, Chanel’s smile, Chanel’s humor, Chanel’s care. She was a leader in Sisters Helping Each Other Battle AIDS (SHEBA), a program of Diverse and Resilient, where she had been active for years. She took care of friends and community members. And now she is gone.

We need to work to make sure no more Chanels are lost to a fatal mix of prejudices. We need to root out homophobia and transphobia and racism wherever they exist so that people can be educated and employed in peace. We need to educate employers, protect schoolchildren, help people earn their GEDs and make it simpler for people to get ID that matches who they are.

Most of all, we need to care about people like Larkin as much as she cared about others.

Michael Munson is the executive director and Loree Cook-Daniels is the policy and program director for FORGE, a national transgender organization headquartered in Milwaukee.

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Who Were/Are The Real Border Patrol Agents?

The really big myths about those of us who got SRS in the late 1960s early 1970s include the canards about how one had to be an ultra beautiful fembot who totally embraced the heterosexual feminine mystique.

You had to go completely stealth.  That the doctors required you to do this or otherwise they wouldn’t give you SRS. Etc, Etc..

The problem is that 90% of the stuff about the doctors mandating this or telling us what we had to do is bullshit.

Our ideas of what it meant to be a woman reflected the idea of the time.  Those who came out in the 50s were more likely to embrace the idea of the “feminine mystique” even if they didn’t live it than were those who came out in the late 1960s or 70s.

But no matter, when someone comes out they can rest assured of one thing… They will always find a bunch of judgmental sisters, who will tell them they have to this, that and another thing or else they won’t be “real”.  This is something that went on 25 years before the internet became ubiquitous and is still going on.  Indeed there are whole websites and blogs by people ready to declare their way is the only way and anyone who isn’t their identical clone isn’t real, is transgender identified or best of all,  “a man in a dress”.

If you read Dr. Benjamin’s book you learn that some transsexuals were married to women prior to transition.  Indeed in 1952-53 when the only public transsexuals were Christine Jorgensen and Roberta Cowell… One had been married to a woman and one had not.  Both had been in the military during WW II.  Further, upon a recent rereading of Roberta Cowell’s book I discovered her bitchy sniping at Christine Jorgensen.  About how Christine wasn’t really the same as her and how Christine was a “man in a dress”.

I swear…  Is the compulsion to attack other women with transsexualism genetic or what?

I was a left wing hippie living in Berkeley.  I was the darling of all the doctors from those at the Center for Special Problems and Dr. Benjamin to the Doctors trying to help with the test case that would have gotten government funding for SRS if Nixon hadn’t come to power.  Add in the Doctors at Stanford.  One and all they told me how I was such a perfect candidate, such an ordinary bright hippie girl from Berkeley.  Shit… When I was working at the office, sisters would come in and assume I was a Berkeley or SF State co-ed working as a counselor for degree credit.

Yet so many sisters felt compelled to make me over once they found out I was one of them.

Suddenly I wasn’t feminine enough; suddenly my life goals and aspirations weren’t feminine enough.  I should screw up the relationship I had with my boyfriend because he wasn’t rich and was a scruffy hippie.

I had nice boobs.  Not huge but enough.  I was pressured to get implants, not by the doctors but rather by my peers.

I honestly thought many of my friends were drag queenish and too feminine.  Kind of air heads with their fashion obsessions and lack of politics.  But I noticed even some of the gay men who thought my friends were fabulous, treated me as though I was smarter.  I was seriously interested in art and photography and several gay men told me books I should read and exhibits I should go to.  One even went with me to a couple of shows and told me about the artist and his techniques.

Then I met other sisters both, TS and TG who had interests beyond the light camp of fashion.  We are the side rarely seen and yet we exist and always have.

I was a model but I liked being behind the camera much better than being in front of it. While I loved certain models and actress I was inspired by women who were writers, photographers and activists.

I wanted a career not a marriage.  I cared more about women and feminism than about femininity.  The thing about my being cute/pretty was that it wasn’t contrived but was instead effortless.

When I came out as lesbian I was suddenly everyone’s “lesbian experience”.  But I it wasn’t doctors who acted surprised, indeed, Dr. Laub told me that he wasn’t surprised because of the care I showed for my sisters and because I was serious minded rather than ultra feminine. No, the people who gave me shit were my sisters.

They were the ones who asked in a bitchy tone, “Does this mean you are going to go back to being a guy.”  It wasn’t the feminists who gave me a hard time, it was other WBTs.

What causes the bitchiness, the constant denigration of each other that is so common?  I doubt it is genetic.  I strongly suspect it grows out of all those years of being “the only one”.  After all if you grow up thinking you are the only one and as an adult you find that being TS or TG doesn’t make you special but rather makes you part of a class of people some of whom are much prettier or smarter than you… Then sniping at them and trying to cut them down by calling names or undermining their sense of self worth and realness is a way  to feel superior.

Calling others, who have the same history of TS or TG you have, names is a way of getting back to being special.  If others are like you and together you are part of a class that is despised and discriminated against  then telling others they are not real while you are is a way of deluding yourself into believing you are superior to the people of that class.

It is a strategy doomed to failure because it will cause you to be seen as someone whose main accomplishment in life consists of having a reputation of pointing fingers and calling names.  This may look great on the resume if you want to be a right wing pundit or politician.  Unfortunately being a member of the class that those folks have picked to scapegoat generally precludes that one.

Another manifestation of this behavior can be found in the nit picking and parsing every single word someone says or writes for deviation from some imaginary standard of “Classic Transsexual” or “real woman”.  This demands that we all be clones and that we all use the exact same words to describe what we felt as children or what we feel now.

It wasn’t the doctors who demanded this rigid adherence to a standard narrative.  It was other sisters who coached us and scared us regarding our narratives.  I told people to be honest but not volunteer lurid details when simply wording things differently would be equally honest.

By the late 1970s the idea that there was a particular cut and dry narrative should have disappeared since there was a substantial number of biographies out.  It seems rather anachronistic to continue to insist that one is realer than someone else because: A.  You are heterosexual and they are lesbian.  B. They are a software engineer and you are a hair dresser.  C.  They wear sneakers and jeans and you wear Jimmy Choos, dresses and full make-up when ever you leave the house.

WBTs come in all shapes and sizes, have all sorts of different narratives, careers, sexualities, politics and aspirations.  WBTs are as varied in all aspects of their being as women who were AFAB (assigned female at birth).

The petty sniping doesn’t make you real.  It just makes you appear insecure.  Calling people who are sort of obvious CDs or drag queens or even people with either transsexualism or transgenderism “men in dresses” doesn’t make you real.  It just makes you come off as an insecure and mean.