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Women I have confronted about this have said, “But I have been dancing for 15 years! This is something I have built a huge community on.” These women are more interested in their investment in belly dancing than in questioning and examining how their appropriation of the art causes others harm. To them, I can only say, I’m sure there are people who have been unwittingly racist for 15 years. It’s not too late. Find another form of self-expression. Make sure you’re not appropriating someone else’s.
When I have argued, online and in person, with white women belly dancers, they have assured me that they learned to dance from Arab women and brown women. This is supposed to make the transaction OK. Instead, I point out that all this means is that it is perfectly all right with these teachers that their financial well-being is based on self-exploitation. As a follow-up, white belly dancers then focus on the sisterly and community aspect of belly dance. They claim that the true exploiter of belly dancing is Hollywood, and the Egyptian film industry, which helped take belly dancing out of women’s homes and placed it directly under the male gaze. Here, the argument white belly dancers try to make ignores the long history of white women’s appropriation of Eastern dancing and becomes that this, the learning and performance of belly dance, is not about race and appropriation, but about gender and resisting the patriarchy and how all of us belly dancing together is a giant middle finger to men and their male gaze-y ways.
But, here’s the thing. Arab women are not vessels for white women to pour themselves and lose themselves in; we are not bangles or eyeliner or tiny bells on hips. We are human beings. This dance form is originally ours, and does not exist so that white women can have a better sense of community; can gain a deeper sense of sisterhood with each other; can reclaim their bodies; can celebrate their sexualities; can perform for the female gaze. Just because a white woman doesn’t profit from her performance doesn’t mean she’s not appropriating a culture. And, ultimately, the question is this: Why does a white woman’s sisterhood, her self-reclamation, her celebration, have to happen on Arab women’s backs?
Ayn Rand answered this issue several decades ago in her article “Racism”:
Modern racists attempt to prove the superiority or inferiority of a given race by the historical achievements of some of its members. The frequent historical spectacle of a great innovator who, in his lifetime, is jeered, denounced, obstructed, persecuted by his countrymen, and then, a few years after his death, is enshrined in a national monument and hailed as a proof of the greatness of the German (or French or Italian or Cambodian) race—is as revolting a spectacle of collectivist expropriation, perpetrated by racists, as any expropriation of material wealth perpetrated by communists.
Just as there is no such thing as a collective or racial mind, so there is no such thing as a collective or racial achievement. There are only individual minds and individual achievements—and a culture is not the anonymous product of undifferentiated masses, but the sum of the intellectual achievements of individual men.
And in her essay “Global Balkanization”:
“The acceptance of the achievements of an individual by other individuals does not represent ‘ethnicity’: it represents a cultural division of labor in a free market; it represents a conscious, individual choice on the part of all the men involved; the achievements may be scientific or technological or industrial or intellectual or esthetic—and the sum of such accepted achievements constitutes a free, civilized nation’s culture. Tradition has nothing to do with it; tradition is being challenged and blasted daily in a free, civilized society: its citizens accept ideas and products because they are true and/or good—not because they are old nor because their ancestors accepted them. In such a society, concretes change, but what remains immutable—by individual conviction, not by tradition—are those philosophical principles which correspond to reality, i.e., which are true.” [“Global Balkanization,” - The Voice of Reason, 119]
Like medicine, the Waltz, or tennis, there is nothing inherent in belly dancing that makes it the exclusive attribute of some race or so-called “ethnicity.” To claim so, is in fact racism of the highest order.
People should be free to choose and enjoy the achievements that they regard as good, regardless of ones race, sex, ancestry or heritage. This freedom of choice in principle is the basis of any rational culture, as opposed to the limiting racist one that Randa Jarrar subscribes to.
Washington, DC – March 5, 2014 – If you’re wondering who the hundreds of young people wearing bright green at the upcoming CPAC are, look carefully at the front of their shirts—they don’t say “Greenpeace,” they say “I Love Fossil Fuels.”
“I Love Fossil Fuels” is a project of the Center for Industrial Progress (CIP), a for-profit think-tank seeking to bring about a new industrial revolution. Alex Epstein, President of CIP, will be participating in the “Can America Survive Obama’s War on Fossil Fuel?” on Friday, March 7 at 3:30 pm.
Epstein, author of the forthcoming The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (Portfolio/Penguin), is known for debating all comers—from Greenpeace to Sierra Club to 350.org—on the big-picture benefits of fossil fuels. His unique moral and environmental arguments have created thousands of impassioned fossil fuel “champions”—and he aims to create a few thousand more at CPAC.
In a recent Forbes column on CPAC, Epstein wrote of fossil fuels:
“No other fuel has been able to match them in producing cheap, reliable energy for billions around the world”; “Overall life expectancy is up 7 years largely thanks to fossil-fuel-powered industrial progress”; “their industry is fundamentally good for human life—including for a healthier, safer environment.”
Before and after the panel, CIP invites you to its suite, “The Power Lounge,” to come learn more about fossil fuels—and enjoy the fruits of fossil fuels, including free food and drink (which we would not be able to afford if we had to depend on sunlight and wind gusts!). Whether you want a signed copy of Epstein’s Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet, a free CIP “Power Pack” of energy wisdom, a free “I Love Fossil Fuels” t-shirt, or some espresso to power you through the afternoon, come join us between 2 pm and 7 pm on March 7.
Russia’s escalating intervention in Ukraine once again confronts Barack Obama with a foreign policy crisis over which his options are painfully limited, forcing him into a reactive posture that relies on tough, but largely hollow rhetoric.
Appearing on short notice in the White House briefing room yesterday, Obama warned Russian president Vladimir Putin that “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” Within hours, Putin had requested and received from Russia’s parliament the authority to use force in its western neighbor, whose capital city Kiev saw an uprising against Moscow last month.
Putin appears to have calculated that the benefits of maintaining control of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, home to a large ethnic Russian population and a major naval base, would outweigh any costs that Obama and the West can impose.
He’s probably right.
But a few years ago—about the time Ghosts of Girlfriends Past came out, in which the then 39-year-old deploys his considerable talents to persuade the chick from Party of Five to embrace love—McConaughey checked in with himself and decided it was time for a change. He doesn’t want to denigrate the movies that made him rich and famous. “I was enjoying myself,” he says. “My relationship with acting was fine. But like in any relationship, you need to shake things up. It didn’t mean what we’d been doing was less than. I just wanted a charge. Like, ‘Let’s throw a spark into this.’” There is a note on a crumpled piece of paper on the table here in his Airstream, something he scribbled down and only recently pulled out of some old pants, that speaks to his dissatisfaction. I wish, it says, I enjoyed watching my movies as much as I enjoyed making them.
He decided to “go in the shadows” for a while, saying no to things that wouldn’t “evolve” him as an actor. “I got much more selfish,” he says. “I’m a fan of the word selfish. Self. Ish,” he repeats, drawing it out. “When I say I have gotten a lot more self-ish, I mean I am less concerned with what people think of me. I’m not worried about how I’m perceived. Selfish has always gotten a bad rap. You should do for you. I wanted new experiences.”
And in Details:
“I’m just as thankful now as I ever was, but I’m choosing to be more selfish. I remember feeling not sure about what I wanted to do and feeling — I’m not sure despondent is the right word, but a feeling like things are plateauing. I wanted more evolution. I want to feel ascension in the grade. Because I was feeling a lot of ascension in my personal life, qualitative evolution. I wanted to close the gap between who I am and the life I’m living and my work life. So I think I got really selfish.”
“Part of it is just growing up and part of it is I’m very turned on and excited about all kind of things. Probably more things now than I used to be. I work hard to maintain the good things in my life that I’ve built – friendships, work, family, my own time. Sometimes you’ve got to go,’ah man, I haven’t seen my brother in three months’. But it feels really great when you can think:’Boy, all my relationships are good, people that I love are good, and my relationship with them is good. My career, I’m dialled, it feels good. Health is good.’ But to maintain that, when things change, you’ve got to be nimble at times.”
If his earliest career plan was to be a criminal defence lawyer, fighting for others, his eventual plan has come full circle to fighting for himself. “I’d say I have more of a selfish desire now when it comes to work,” he admits. It has been a long time coming.
This crusade is based on three questionable claims. One is that the wealthy are mostly Wall Street bankers benefitting from rising stock and real estate prices, or executives who pay themselves extravagant salaries. Another claim is that such people unfairly benefit from a system that taxes capital gains at half the highest marginal rate paid by those who earn salaries and wages. Then there is the assertion that the “super rich” have abundant funds that can be taxed to improve the living standards of everyone else.
All of these claims are false.
Emanuel Saez of the University of California ( Berkeley ) has shown in a series of papers that, as he writes, “The top income earners today are not ‘rentiers’ deriving their incomes from past wealth but rather are the ‘working rich,’ highly paid employees or new entrepreneurs who have not yet accumulated fortunes comparable to those accumulated during the Gilded Age.”
The typical “rich” person today is someone who works for a salary and accumulates stocks and bonds through savings, retirement plans and (for business executives) stock options.
From 1980 to 2010, as the top 1% increased their share of total before-tax income to 15% from 9%, their share of the individual income tax soared to 39% of the total paid, up from 17%. Most were paying federal taxes at the highest marginal rate: In 1980 that rate was 70% and in 2010 it was 35.5%—but it has now climbed back to 39.6%. The share of federal taxes paid climbed dramatically in those 30 years even as marginal rates were cut almost in half.
According to the White House budget office, in 2010 the federal government raised approximately $900 billion from the individual income tax, of which about $350 billion (39%) was paid by the top 1% of income earners. The remainder of total federal tax collections (nearly $2.2 trillion in total) was paid through corporate, payroll, estate and excise taxes.
Those who want to “tax the rich” to redistribute income to the poor and middle class usually propose to raise the marginal rates on incomes or the capital-gains rate, or both. Yet as Scott Hodge recently documented in these pages , it will not be easy to raise vast sums this way.
The individual income tax accounts for slightly less than half of federal revenue and the top 1% already pays a substantial share of that total. Most of the wealth owned by the top 1%, and especially by the “super rich” in the top 0.1%, is also held in stocks, bonds and real estate that are not subject to income taxes until sold. It is a fool’s errand to try to raise the living standards of the bottom 60% through higher income taxes on the top 1% or 0.1%.
If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing? And how is it that the great physicist Freeman Dyson, who did some climate research in the late 1970s, thinks today’s climate-change Cassandras are hopelessly mistaken?
They deal with the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans, argues Dyson, ignoring the effect of biology, i.e., vegetation and topsoil. Further, their predictions rest on models they fall in love with: “You sit in front of a computer screen for 10 years and you start to think of your model as being real.” Not surprisingly, these models have been “consistently and spectacularly wrong” in their predictions, write atmospheric scientists Richard McNider and John Christy — and always, amazingly, in the same direction.
Settled? Even the U.K.’s national weather service concedes there’s been no change — delicately called a “pause” — in global temperature in 15 years. If even the raw data is recalcitrant, let alone the assumptions and underlying models, how settled is the science?
Last Friday, Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even The New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”
Republicans are now focused on fixing Obamacare rather than repealing it.
Republicans have shifted their strategy on ObamaCare. Weeks ago, many Republicans — including Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) — said ObamaCare was too broken to fix. But now, the GOP is drafting legislation that aims to do just that. The GOP wants to rebuild its political capital and public credibility by solving ObamaCare’s implementation problems. This pivot comes after Republicans took major hits in polls following the government shutdown. The House this week will vote on a measure called the Keep Your Health Plan Act. It aims to do what the president promised years ago: If you like your healthcare plan, you can stay on it. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing for a vote in their chamber. That measure has already attracted Democratic support.
Due to the insurance market and ObamaCare mandates, millions have recently lost their healthcare coverage. Many of these dropped people will obtain coverage through the new ObamaCare health exchanges, but some, if not most, will pay higher premiums. After their costly political strategy to defund ObamaCare, GOP lawmakers are more willing to support measures that will repair the president’s signature healthcare law, political science Professor Jack Pitney said. “Republicans took a look at the polls. They finally realized that defunding ObamaCare was unpopular, but a measure like this [is] very popular. They realized that, despite all the brave talk, that the shutdown did not work to their advantage, and now they are trying to get on the right side of public opinion,” he said.
Some Republicans believe that with full enactment of the law — and the inability to defund it — the party won’t be hurt politically with attempting to solve the problems arising from ObamaCare. “Before [ObamaCare] went into effect, the only goal is to stop it; now the goal is still stop it, but I don’t want to treat people harshly,” Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) explained. The House legislation that is scheduled for a vote this week is sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). More than 100 Republican lawmakers have already endorsed it.
Of course, what they don’t understand is that they are playing right into the Democrats’ hands – the Democrats election strategy is to admit that ObamaCare has flaws, promise to repair them and argue that Republicans will only make things worse. (See link I will post in first comment). Once the public sees that both Republicans and Democrats accept Obamacare, acknowledge its flaws and seek to fix it, t…here will be no compelling difference between the parties this November and no reason to vote for Republicans over Democrats. And worse: Democrats will always club Republicans by saying or implying that Republicans’ secret desire is to repeal Obamacare, whereas the Democrats want to “protect” it and “reform” it.
The GOP leadership is on a suicide mission. — Ed Mazlish
From an editorial in The Orange County Register:
The successful efforts of a community activist group to scuttle a planned Trader Joe’s development in an economically distressed neighborhood of Northeast Portland, Ore., illustrates the depths to which ideologues will go under the deceptive banners of racial justice and economic fairness.
On paper, it seemed to be a match made in heaven: the famously progressive city of Portland and Trader Joe’s, with its emphasis on organic, non-GMO food, locally sourced goods and animal- and environmentally-conscious sensibilities. But that was not enough for the Portland African American Leadership Forum.
The group’s reasoning for killing the development is as empty as the two-acre lot on which it was to be built. According to a strongly worded letter PAALF sent to the Portland Development Commission, “A new Trader Joe’s will increase the desirability of the neighborhood to nonoppressed populations, thereby increasing the economic pressures that are responsible for the displacement of low-income and black residents.”
In other words, they are concerned that economic development will make the neighborhood too successful and attractive, thus further oppressing the poor (in their minds).
Perhaps it has never occurred to PAALF that it is economic opportunity – not government mandates and handouts – that helps the poor improve their lot in life. And government dictates were central to their proposed “solutions.” The group demanded an affordable housing mandate (serving those earning up to 60 percent of median family income), a “legally binding community hiring agreement,” and “an independent, community-controlled body [that] can negotiate a legally binding community benefits agreement.”
So it is not enough that the $8 million development of four-to-10 retail businesses, with Trader Joe’s serving as the anchor tenant, would bring new jobs, quality food and other goods and services, and tax revenues, to a poor neighborhood. PAALF wanted to extract tribute from the developers and businesses in order to further advance its social and political agenda. It is almost like a scene from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” where the unproductive members of society increasingly feed off of the productive members until the producers decide they have had enough.
And, just as in the novel, Trader Joe’s shrugged. [Editorial: Trader Joe's shrugged]
“Today’s announcement reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day,” wrote Pai. “In the wake of a court defeat, an FCC chairman floats a plan for rules regulating Internet service providers’ network management practices instead of seeking guidance from Congress, all while the specter of Title II reclassification hovers ominously in the background. I am skeptical that this effort will end any differently from the last.”
“I am deeply concerned by the announcement that the FCC will begin considering new ways to regulate the Internet,” said O’Rielly. “As I have said before, my view is that section 706 does not provide any affirmative regulatory authority. We should all fear that this provision ultimately may be used not just to regulate broadband providers, but eventually edge providers.”
The D.C. appeals court that overturned the anti-blocking and nondiscrimination portions of the FCC’s 2009 Open Internet order did concede that ISP’s have the ability and incentive to discriminate against edge providers in the provision of competing data or video services, and the power to regulate broadband in the interests of deployment if it concludes such discrimination would discourage that deployment.
“It appears that the FCC is tilting at windmills here,” said O’Rielly. “Instead of fostering investment and innovation through deregulation, the FCC will be devoting its resources to adopting new rules without any evidence that consumers are unable to access the content of their choice.”
The criticial issue is to prevent the FCC from regulating internet content; which would be the next step in principle once the FCC is in control of the internet infrastructure which is presently the property of the ISPs who built and maintain it.
For more on “net neutrality” see:
Interesting comparisons of the revolutions going on in Ukraine and Venezuela:
Both Venezuelans and Ukrainians showed unusual courage against their rogue states — at least four Venezuelans were killed — but by Wednesday, the EU had declared sanctions against the Ukrainian regime and the U.S. announced it would follow suit. Venezuela got nothing. The crowds thinned and everyone went home.
Why the difference?