Friday Night Fun and Culture: Guy Clark


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When Will Non-Transgender People Wake Up to Themselves?

From Huffington Post:


What Katie Couric’s “teachable moment” missed.

Katie Couric totally missed what she referred to as the “teachable moment” in her interview with Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox. Sadly, what she did do is reinforce the reality that society as a whole has a long way to go in coming to understand who they know themselves to be.

Couric’s questions said more about her — and her audience’s — ignorance of what is it to be human than it did about their lack of knowledge of being transgender.

At the crux of the situation is that sex does not equal gender. When we’re born we are assigned a sex based on what genitalia is seen between our legs. The error occurs when we make assumptions on someone’s gender based on that sex assignment label.

Assigning someone as female at birth does not mean their gender is female. Assigning someone as a male at birth does not mean their gender is male.

Gender can been seen with three different elements: 1) Who you know yourself to be, 2) how you express yourself to the world, and 3) how the world sees you.

Sex organs do not define gender. Regardless of what we have beneath our clothes our gender is defined in ways beyond our body. Further, the gender we know ourselves to be is a deeply personal experience — if we have the courage to explore it.

No one would ever ask, “Katie, what does your vagina look like today? You’ve given birth twice, right? Has it lost any elasticity?” So why should she ask Carrera what status her genitalia is currently in? How is that Couric’s or her audience’s right to know? And how is that relevant to the gender Carrera knows or expresses?

Asking about sex organs is a) inappropriate and b) shortsighted to understanding the experience of being transgender.

If Couric was more aware of her own gender she would never dare view Carrera as a person who should have to describe the anatomy between her legs. While it may be very personally pertinent to how Carrera feels as a human being, it is no one’s prerogative to use her genitalia or state of transition to make a judgment on her gender. It’s simply not relevant to how we should see Carrera.

With class and compassion Carrera and Cox seized upon the “teachable moment” themselves, highlighting the horrific violence, oppression and discrimination transgender people face. But what doubled the disappointment was that Couric did not listen. She had a list of questions in her head and could not lead the dialogue appropriately. She hadn’t even bothered to learn correct vocabulary, making her use of “transgenders” majorly cringe worthy.

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Sen. Warren on “NOW with Alex Wagner”

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Al Gore says use of geo-engineering to head off climate disaster is insane

From The Guardian UK:

Belief in an instant planet-wide quick-fix, such as blocking sunlight with sulphur, is delusional, US activist declares

, US environment correspondent, Wednesday 15 January 2014

Al Gore said on Wednesday it would be “insane, utterly mad and delusional in the extreme” to turn to geo-engineering projects to avoid a climate catastrophe.

The UN climate panel, in the next edition of its blockbuster reports, will warn that governments might have to extract vast amounts of greenhouses gases from the air by 2100 to limit climate change, according to a draft copy of the report seen by Reuters.

But the former vice president of the US said that searches for an instant solution, which he said were born of desperation, were misguided and could lead to an even bigger catastrophe.

“The idea that we can put a different form of pollution into the atmosphere to cancel out the effects of global warming pollution is utterly insane,” he told a conference call for South African reporters.

He added: “The fact that some scientists who should know better are actually engaged in serious discussion of those alternatives is a mark of how desperate some of them are feeling due to the paralysis in the global political system.”

In March Gore will expand his climate leadership training programmes to South Africa. He said he believed those leadership training sessions (this is his 24th) had developed a cadre of leaders who were helping to find political solutions for climate change.

The draft climate report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due for release in Germany in April, said governments might have to turn increasingly to technologies for “carbon dioxide removal” to keep warming below the dangerous threshold of 2 degrees.

The draft said those technologies might involve capturing and burying emissions from coal-fired power plants, or planting more forests. But there has been debate in the environmental community over other more radical solutions.

On geo-engineering Gore drew a distinction between small-scale interventions, such as white roofs, and large-scale projects meant to extract or neutralise emissions from the air or block the sunlight. Those ideas, he said, carried enormous risks.

“The most discussed so-called geo-engineering proposals – like putting sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere to reflect incoming sunlight – that’s just insane. Let’s just describe that clearly – it is utterly mad,” Gore told the conference call.

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I Am the New Working Poor and I’m Not Alone

From Huffington Post:


On December 23, 2013 two days before my 60th birthday, I swallowed a stomach full of pride and walked into the Department of Social Services to ask for help. It is something I never imagined I would do. I am ashamed to admit that I am one of those people who thought it would always be someone else, someone worse off who just didn’t or couldn’t work hard enough, who would need that type of assistance. I was wrong, because I am the new working poor.

Both my parents were children of the Great Depression, both knew hunger — the real, not-having-food-for-several-days kind of hunger. Both knew disappointment. My father had to turn down a scholarship to Notre Dame to work alongside his father, delivering coal to the wealthy. Neither of my parents ever caught a break. Every time an illness or disaster would set them back, they would work that much harder to make my life and those of my four siblings better. We didn’t have much, hand-me-downs and second-hand everything. But unlike our parents, we never went hungry. After all, this is America, they would tell us, and your life is not dictated by the circumstances of your birth.

Like my father, I had to start working at the age of 16 to help the family pay medical bills. At 30, I was able to enroll in college classes through a tuition assistance program. Over the next few years circumstances changed, my marriage ended amicably, so I never attained a degree. Overall, I still did much better than my parents had. In my early thirties, I was able to buy a small home despite the fact that mortgage rates were above 16 percent. I worked steadily up through the ranks as a technician, engineer, and manager in small and mid-sized companies, and then I spent the nineties at a large corporation. I did well.

I had no trouble refinancing my home for a lower interest rate; I paid my bills and, unlike my parents, I was able to save money for the future. I could go out for dinner when I wished, and could indulge in my passion for the new home computers. I never went anywhere on vacation and I didn’t buy expensive luxury goods but even so, I believed that I was safely ensconced in the middle class. I was wrong.

At the beginning of 2000, I left my mid-level corporate position to start my own Web design and hosting business. Although neither of my parents lived to see it, I had attained their dream for me. I earned more money than I ever had, and I invested my corporate pension into a small business retirement fund.

In March of 2002, one month after my health insurance ran out and three days before I planned to pay off my mortgage early in a lump sum, I had a stroke. Over the next two years, I spent all my savings, including what I intended to use to pay off the mortgage, all my business capital and a second mortgage, to regain the use of the left side of my body. For the second time in my life, I learned how to walk.

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Some Folks Say It’s the Beginning of the End for the Christian Right — Dream On, They’re Getting More Powerful

From Alternet:

The Christian Right is seizing control of state legislatures and governors’ mansions while we laugh at Ted Cruz.

By CJ Werleman
January 8, 2014

In the aftermath of the government shutdown, and the ongoing Republican Party internal civil war that followed, progressive media outlets have embraced the notion that the Christian Right is finally facing its demise. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The autopsy of the 2012 election produced a swarm of op-ed obituaries that either celebrated or foretold the political end times for the Christian Right. Jonathan Merritt, a columnist for the Atlantic, observed that the GOP’s electoral hammering in 2012 marked the end of evangelical dominance in U.S. politics. More recently, Steven Conn, a contributor for the Huffington Post, predicts the rise of Pope Francis will dissolve the glue holding the Christian Right together.

While these observations make for sound logic when examining national politics, they completely overlook the Christian Right’s state-by-state strategy.

The Christian Right is flying mostly under the radar because the media tend to be attracted to bright, shiny things that grab attention at the national level. The nation’s theocrats, however, are waging a battle for America’s soul at the local and state level, and these battles generally do not make their way onto CNN or the front page of the New York Times.

But don’t be fooled, the Christian Right has not only seized control of the Republican Party, but is also seizing control of state legislatures and governors’ mansions while we laugh at Ted Cruz.

Poll after poll shows America is becoming increasingly liberal on most issues, from gun control and same-sex-marriage, to pot legalization and reproductive rights, but our state legislatures are being governed further to the right, and it’s happening while nobody notices. A new report from the Guttmacher Institute shows that over the past three years, state legislatures have enacted a staggering 205 restrictions on reproductive rights. That number is especially mind-blowing when you consider that the number of anti-abortion bills enacted during the entire previous decade was a total of 189. In fact, in the first three months of 2013 alone, Republicans put forward 694 provisions related to reproductive health.

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Why The Republican’s Old Divide-and-Conquer Strategy — Setting Working Class Against the Poor — Is Backfiring

From Robert Reich:

Robert Reich
Thursday, January 9, 2014

For almost forty years Republicans have pursued a divide-and-conquer strategy intended to convince working-class whites that the poor were their enemies.

The big news is it’s starting to backfire.

Republicans told the working class that its hard-earned tax dollars were being siphoned off to pay for “welfare queens” (as Ronald Reagan decorously dubbed a black single woman on welfare) and other nefarious loafers. The poor were “them” — lazy, dependent on government handouts, and overwhelmingly black — in sharp contrast to “us,” who were working ever harder, proudly independent (even sending wives and mothers to work, in order to prop up family incomes dragged down by shrinking male paychecks), and white.

It was a cunning strategy designed to split the broad Democratic coalition that had supported the New Deal and Great Society, by using the cleavers of racial prejudice and economic anxiety. It also conveniently fueled resentment of government taxes and spending.

The strategy also served to distract attention from the real cause of the working class’s shrinking paychecks — corporations that were busily busting unions, outsourcing abroad, and replacing jobs with automated equipment and, subsequently, computers and robotics.

But the divide-and-conquer strategy is no longer convincing because the dividing line between poor and middle class has all but disappeared. “They” are fast becoming “us.”

Poverty is now a condition that almost anyone can fall into. In the first two years of this recovery, according to new report from Census Bureau, about one in three Americans dropped into poverty for at least two to six months.

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