Category Archives: Politics

Fandom, sexism and other writing-related links (#SFWApro)

Foz Meadows looks at the assumption talking about race and representation in YA is, itself, racist. After all, you’re talking about how many black or women or gay characters are in fiction, so obviously you’re not seeing them as people, just diversity hires (so to speak), right? No, as detailed at the link.

•No, comics are not innately a man’s world. Women were involved in comic strips and comic books even before second-wave feminism started.

•SF and comics are not the only creative field with a history of sexism.

•Atomic Junk Shop looks at the roots of sexism in comics fandom (I’ve linked to this before, I know, but it seemed to fit in two different posts).

•Freelancer Renae deLiz had a big hit with Legend of Wonder Woman but her relationship with DC has been less than amicable. Heidi McDonald looks at the history (which includes some crowdfunded projects that did not deliver as planned) and the tricky questions of freelancer vs. corporation.

•Need images? The Metropolitan Museum of Art has them online for free.

•Fake news as a tool for promoting a movie?

•Duke’s Center for the Public Domain puts out a comic-book explaining fair use.

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Filed under Writing, Politics, Undead sexist cliches, copyright

Right-wing myths vs. reality

Women cannot fight or be heroes vs. a Nigerian hunter who tracks down Boko Haram members.

•Right-wing terrorism isn’t a threat vs. this guy and these guys.

•Republicans have nothing against women vs. shutting up Sen. Warren. At least neo-Nazis don’t even try to pretend.

•Congressional Republicans will stand up to Trump vs. blocking a resolution referencing Jewish deaths in the Holocaust.

•Republicans will give us something better than Obamacare vs. wanting to repeal ACA before coming up with a new plan, because “if we load down the repeal bill with what comes next, it’s harder to get both of them passed.”

•Taking the oil is an easy way to pay for our costs if we invade the middle east vs. the practical challenges of taking the oil.

•Trump doesn’t have to be smart because he’ll hire smart people vs. Tom Price (HHS nominee). Or Kellyann Conway.

•Republicans respect the Constitution vs. Trump who objects to an independent judiciary. Or Mike Huckabee, who thinks submitting to court rulings emasculates the Oval Office.

•People who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear vs. concealing data that might show whether companies are violating animal welfare laws.

•Republicans hate tangling business in regulation vs. Oklahoma requiring businesses post anti-abortion signs in their restrooms.

•Republicans are fighting voting fraud vs. Republicans voting to eliminate the agency that guards election tech against hacking.

•Republicans care about pregnant women and their babies vs. quit your job if your employer refuses to let you breastfeed, sit down when you’re pregnant, take extra bathroom breaks, etc.

•Sen. Paul Ryan is a principled believer in limited government, vs. Paul Ryan voted for Attorney General Jeff Sessions because Democrats said mean things about Sessions instead of saying stuff that would totally change Ryan’s mind

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Research for Southern Discomfort (#SFWApro)

My research this past week or so was pretty grim. A reminder that America has always been haunted by the shadow of racism, and the resistance of whites to doing anything to change their privileged status.

According to HOW THE IRISH BECAME WHITE by Noel Ignatiev, the early Irish immigrants were the lowest of the low, little better than blacks, and considered by Protestant America the ones most likely to “amalgamate” with blacks. The Irish had been treated as a lower race in their own country since the English occupation, and many of them — such as Daniel O’Connell, who was active in Ireland fighting to repeal the union of Ireland and England — were abolitionist. Others were not, seeing abolition as alienating potential American support for repeal. Many embraced the white labor axiom that the life of a slave, with guaranteed shelter and food, was easy compared to that of the real slaves, the white working men (Frederick Douglass pointed out that if they really believed that, his running away had left a slave position vacant). Beyond that, racism against free blacks became common, both before and after the Civil War. Free blacks doing the same job as whites was seen as lowering white workers to their level. The Irish, like most whites, wanted to establish they were well above that level, which meant as much segregation as possible.

Ignatiev’s focus is primarily the north, which limits its usefulness for Southern Discomfort. It does make me conscious that I’m not going to be able to sum up all of Irish/black race relations in one novel (yeah, I know, obvious). However it does give me ideas for a couple of background details.

345070(Cover image from the Calvin Fred Craig papers at Emory University. All rights reside with current holder)

WHITE FLIGHT: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism by Kevin M. Kruse looks at how Atlanta, known as “the city too busy to hate” for its moderate desegregation efforts (in contrast to other parts of the South that believed the color line had to be defended at all costs), actually did quite a bit of hating from the post-war years through the 1970s. While the civic and business leaders were willing to work with black Atlanta — allowing blacks to buy homes in white neighborhoods, desegregating some public parks, minimally desegregating schools — the working-class saw this as a sell-out by rich people whose private schools and private parks wouldn’t be affected. For some the solution was neo-Nazi groups or the KKK, but over time they adopted more euphemistic approaches, such as their right to “freedom of association” — which in their eyes meant a)they should be free not to associate with blacks; b)therefore segregation so blacks were kept away from them, even in public spaces; c)if segregation fell, then whites simply abandoned facilities to Those People and over time fled to segregated suburbs. Kruse argues that the roots of modern conservative attitudes were born here: a conviction white taxes went to support black moochers, enthusiasm for privatizing public facilities (in the hopes they could then deny blacks the right to use them), opposition to spending on public projects or infrastructure (when Those People would use it) and so on. While Kruse didn’t tell me anything about racism I didn’t already know, it’s gut-wrenching to read 250 pages about so much hate.

This book definitely got me thinking about how I handle racism in Pharisee, and how desegregation came to the town. And also about the makeup of the white newcomers from Atlanta; obviously if they’re moving to a town that isn’t all-white, they probably aren’t the die-hard segregationists. Not necessarily liberal on racial issues, but more moderate than I’d be thinking. It also gives me some insight into the generational divide for Pharisee’s blacks (the older go-slow generation and younger more aggressive activists).

In its own right, a very good book but horribly depressing.


Filed under Politics, Reading, Southern Discomfort

Is Matt Gaetz lying to us, to himself, or both?

I’m not the least bit surprised that Rep. Matt Gaetz, who wants to dissolve the EPA, is from my former home turf, Northwest Florida.

The Florida Panhandle is one of those areas as red as you can get, a mix of military, military retirees, rural southerners and right-wing Christian theocrat-lovers. The area went for Trump, though not as much as for Romney. And for a large number of the residents, “environment” is lumped in with civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights, questioning the government (which is only okay if Democrats are in the White House) and all the other terrible things that happened in the 1960s when the world went to pot. And so it must be utterly and completely destroyed. Plus, of course, regulation on business is evil. And lots of developers and businesses dislike the restrictions imposed by environmental law in particular.

Despite which, Gaetz insists he doesn’t want an environmental apocalypse. It’s just that we’ve come so far since Nixon created the EPA, the states can now handle things. And cities, too. And they’ll do a much better job without that big, overbearing federal bureaucracy. And possibly some states will But speaking as a former, 40-year Florida resident, Florida won’t be one of them. Even the state Department of Environmental Protection, a much more modest operation, draws people’s ire, both for bottom-line and political reason. Despite his lies to the contrary, Gov. Rick Scott has cut environmental spending. The chance the state will spend enough money to make up for the loss of the EPA? Zero.

So the most charitable view of Gaetz is that he’s clueless. Much like Alan Greenspan, who declared after the financial meltdown of a decade ago that when he advocated for looser regulations, it never occurred to him that financial companies wouldn’t be responsible. Or Danielle Pletka, who said after post-occupation Iraq collapsed into civil war that she’d never imagined the Iraqis would fall to civil war and anarchy if we overthrew Saddam. Gaetz is a sunny, naive guy who assumes that the state will do the right thing. He’s wrong, but he’s swallowing his own snake oil.

The alternative view is that the snake oil is strictly for us. He knows perfectly well the loss of the EPA means a massive uptick in pollution, he just doesn’t care because deregulation! Freedom! State’s rights! He may genuinely believe that’s the right course, or he may simply be aware that voters and big money will reward him for his stance. And years from now, when the consequences of erasing environmental protection become clear, Gaetz will wring his hands and assure us that gee, he was soooo sure the states would carry the ball. He had no idea they wouldn’t use their freedom from regulation responsibly! And it’s unlikely he’ll live with any consequences, other than breathing whatever toxic hell he caused.

clean%20air%20act%20downtown%20smog(1968 LA smog photo from Herald Examiner Collection. Technically smog is covered by the Clean Air Act even if the EPA goes away. At least for now)

Over the years one of the anti-liberal arguments I’ve seen tossed around is that conservatives care more for the future than liberals because they have kids and families where liberals are smug, selfish bastards who stay childless to enjoy their yuppie lifestyle. But it’s liberals who push for a healthy environment, conservatives who advocate passing the buck to the next generation. Let them get elected, let them make their pile while gutting the ecosystem, who cares about tomorrow. Like Louis XV supposedly said when criticized on his policies, apres moi, les deluge — after me the flood. As long as it’s far enough after, they don’t care.

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Undead sexist cliches: The woman is an aquarium, her baby is a priceless fish

That’s how Echidne of the Snakes has frequently described the pro-life view of women: they’re aquariums whose only value is the precious life they hold. You don’t worry about the rights of aquariums. You don’t worry about the health of aquariums. All that matters is the baby.

Which leads to the new Arkansas Act 45 just recently passed. Under this state law, D&E abortions, which are a standard second-trimester approach, are banned. The only exception is if it’s life-or-death for the mother, or she’s at risk for serious physical impairment, or the baby has died (depressingly, that’s actually better than some proposals that wouldn’t allow an exemption  even if the baby was born dead). No exception for rape.

On top of which, it allows spouses and parents (it doesn’t seem to specify “parents if the woman is under-age”) or other healthcare providers to sue to stop the abortion, and to sue the abortion provider for damages. That right apparently extends to babies born of spousal rape (but good news! He can’t sue the provider for damages!).

The lawmakers supporting the bill talk about how they’re showing compassion. Sorry, forcing a woman to bear a child, let alone giving a rapist a say in her decision — hell, giving anyone else a say in her decision — is not compassion. It’s just throwing more roadblocks in the way so that the aquarium has to do its duty.

I think it’s telling that if Obamacare goes, the Senate has no interest in protecting the ACA requirements insurers cover contraception and maternity care. Contraception no surprise, because in the forced-birther universe only irresponsible sluts use it. (this does not, as far as I know, apply to guys using condoms). But maternity care? If they’re so het-up about protecting the fish, making sure plans provide maternity care (many formerly did not) would seem important. But no — it’s almost like if “the fetus has rights!” doesn’t reinforce the woman’s aquarium status, they don’t care. If a woman has to bear her rapist’s child, that means she either spends lots of money to get good care or the child and she suffer bad health issues, all through no fault of their own. Yet somehow I don’t see a move to provide that funding. Ultimately the fish isn’t that precious. As witness the Idaho forced-birthers who think abortion is wrong but denying your child medical care is godly.

•Did I mention that some states require rape victims who bear a baby from the rape to give their rapist time with the child.

•In Russia, domestic violence is getting decriminalized. I suppose I should take comfort that we’re not the only country grappling with sexism in the halls of power … but I don’t.

•On the positive side, pro-choice lawmakers are pushing to end the Hyde amendment that bans any federal funds going to abortion (e.g., Medicaid). I doubt they’ll succeed, but I think it’s good and necessary to fight for abortion (and other) rights.

•women on Twitter respond to Trump’s declaration female staffers must dress like women.

•In this morning’s post, I linked (not directly) to conservative Carrie Lukas whining that all liberal criticism of Kellyanne Conway is sexist. Sorry, I think ripping into someone for citing a massacre that never happened to justify Trump’s immigration ban on Muslims is fully justified.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Trump’s cabinet: a wretched hive of scum and villainy

For example requiring financial advisors to put your interests ahead of their own when they give you advice (i.e., they can’t steer you to their bank’s products just to make money), seems like an obvious requirement. But the shit-gibbon’s blocking it. And the Republican Congress wants to roll back protections (clearly disclosed fees, for instance) for users of prepaid debit cards.

•A Trump Golf Club must pay $5 million to members who were denied the right to play but couldn’t get their dues back. As LGM points out, the right wing would have a fit if a Clinton Golf Club had done that.

•Should we consider Trump’s administration a Breitbart administration?

•Trump’s new FCC chairman is expected to roll back Internet neutrality and other Obama-era policies. He’s also blocked an FCC rule that limits what phone companies can charge inmates for outside calls. And cable and phone companies want to repeal a rule restricting their use of our data.

•Trump plans to channel funds for fighting violent extremism so that they focus on Muslim extremism only. After all, think how upset Steve Bannon and the other bigots in the cabinet would be if the government interfered with people like the guy who shot up a Quebec mosque. Which Fox News initially blamed on a Moroccan immigrant. And Trump’s press secretary held up as a reason to keep out Muslims.

•Then there’s the Yemen mess. I’m sure the people who freaked out about Benghazi will be equally enraged.

•Roy Edroso spots a spate of right-wingers comparing Trump to Lincoln. Oh, and criticizing Kellyanne Conway is just sexism. As far as I’ve seen it’s been about her lying for her boss, not say, sexist insults. Oh, Conway herself is furious that none of the media people criticizing the shit-gibbon have been fired.

•Billionaire Peter Thiel argues that when Trump talks about building the border wall or issues orders discriminating against Muslims, we shouldn’t take him literally. Because?

•Trump remembers the Holocaust in a White House statement. Only he doesn’t mention Jews. Which fits the Holocaust Denial argument that of course they’re not saying Jews weren’t killed, it’s just that they weren’t killed more than anyone else. The White House has defended this as “inclusive” but it’s not that hard to say “millions of Jews were targeted for genocide, along with Roma and gays.”

•Trump’s nominee for Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, says his bank didn’t use robo-signing on foreclosures (where they just rubber-stamp foreclosure documents without review, even when that was illegal). A new report disagrees. Senate Democrats on the relevant committee denied the committee a quorum, but the GOP changed procedure to get a full Senate vote anyway. And after a year of denying Obama a Supreme Court appointment (and multiple lower court appointments) protested how shocked they were that Dems wouldn’t immediately vote for anyone Trump wanted.

•Trump threatens to invade Mexico (though the Mexican president says he didn’t) and hangs up on Australia.

•However to give Trump his due, he hasn’t undone Obama’s protections banning federal contractors from discriminating against gay and trans employees. Unfortunately he’s also not going to do anything about lowering drug prices, one of the things he ran on.

•Just remember, protests can work. And work. Also remember it’s important not to burn out. Very important.

•When regular people speak up against Trump, one right-bloggers wants you to know nobody elected them.

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Filed under economics, Politics

I totally did not see these plot twists coming (#SFWApro)

Plot twist the first: after a big get together last weekend, TYG came down with a nasty cold. As of today, it appears I’ve caught it too, but in much less virulent form (that’s how it usually works with us). I felt like all I want to do is nothing, but I’m not hacking or sneezing any. So yay for small mercies.

Plot twist the second: I routinely submit query letters to various non-fiction magazines, but my success rate is so low I’ve often wondered if writing and finishing more fiction wouldn’t be smarter. But this week, guess what? I got a go-ahead from History magazine for an article proposal. After the initial panic at having committed myself (I’m so used to working without deadlines or obligations these days) I took a deep breath, relaxed, and enjoyed the moment.

PT the third: I also apply for freelance gigs through the Journalism Jobs website, usually without much success. But this week I pitched Screen Rant on a gig writing about comic books, and they liked my stuff. It’ll be a trial run at first to see if it really works out on both sides, but writing about comic books (list-style articles) is like a dream job. More details when I have something posted.

This, of course, leaves me with the challenge of adjusting my schedule for the new assignments. That’s tougher than you’d think, simply because I don’t want to give up time on fiction — but most probably, work on short stories will take the hit. Next to actual paying gigs, Southern Discomforts is the top priority, lesser projects will have to go on stand-by.

Speaking of which, this week’s replotting went reasonably well. I have a rough outline of how things should happen and how everyone reaches their endpoints. I do not have, however, the scene by scene breakdown that I wanted; my vague outlines tend to fall so far apart midbook that I have to give up and start over, and I don’t want that. I’ll continue scene-by-sceneing it but I may start work on the early, well-detailed chapters as well. But I’m still concerned that I may be losing some of the sense of Pharisee as a community outside the plot of the story. I’ll have to watch that as things progress.

I delivered my next And column, though it’s not out yet, and got another 12,000 words written on Undead Sexist Clichés: The Book (not how it will be titled, but it’s the simplest way to distinguish from the same name blog-post series). I also took care of getting a second opinion on one household project (major repairs not necessary for a while, whoot!), and took the car in for its annual inspection.

A good week. With surprises that were mostly pleasant ones. I’m as happy as a plush dog chewing on a stick.


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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Undead sexist cliches, Writing