Friday, May 03, 2013

Gay Pride and the "criminal corporate" United States

Odd reading the rhetoric in the Bay Guardian on the Gay Pride Grand Marshall kerfuffle. Is this 1968 or 2013? Turns out that Bradley Manning is a hero to left-wing gays and withdrawing the invitation to make him a Grand Marshall made lefties like Marke mad: "Facebook is aflame with locals up in arms over Pride's cowardice in the face of its criminal corporate sponsors, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, and its gross media partners like Clear Channel."

Marke notes that Glenn Greenwald also posted an indignant protest against the Manning episode:

Glenn Greenwald is an extremely eloquent critic of state tyranny, using his training as a lawyer to relentlessly disassemble the hypocritical claims of corporate governmental powerbrokers (even though he seemed to be supporting Obama when I saw him speak shortly before the "election").

Oh yes, all those well-trained lawyers are so good at fighting corporate powerbrokers, when they aren't actually in their employ, that is. Greenwald supported Obama? The imperialist lackey! Putting "election" in quotes is a nice touch. Did we actually have an election? Or just an "election," some kind of "criminal corporate" charade? (Greenwald may be "an eloquent critic of state tyranny," whatever that means, but he made an ass of himself in his recent exchange with Sam Harris on radical Islam.)

More Marke on Greenwald:

But, at the same time, Greenwald is almost dogmatic in his support for the gay marriage agenda---this seems an unfortunate example of allowing self-interest (he is in a spousal relationship with a Brazilian man) to block self-awareness. In other words, he never makes the obvious connections between his critique of institutional power and the gay establishment’s obsession with accessing that same power through a never-ending obsession with marriage and military inclusion, hate crimes legislation, etc. But, here in this brilliant and scathing piece, he finally seems to be making those connections. Could he become an anti-assimilationist critic, after all?

Left-wing gays oppose gay marriage, lifting Don't Ask Don't Tell, and hate crimes legislation because these advances are supposedly "assimilationist"? Gays are supposed to do what, exactly? Scorn and reject US society because it's a corporate tyranny until...what? The Revolution? 

This is like a parody of the 20th Century struggle in the labor movement: should the working class go for more pay and benefits or for a revolution? And the Civil Rights movement. James Baldwin used to muse about why black people should want to integrate into a burning house, but he surely understood that was nothing but rhetoric, not a rejection of real integration and real equality for black people in the United States.

Greenwald himself seems to be coming unglued, though I haven't read much of his stuff. Maybe unglued is his default mode:

What we see here is how even many of the most liberal precincts in America are now the leading spokespeople for and loyalists to state power as a result of their loyalty to President Obama. Thus do we have the President of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade sounding exactly like the Chairman of the Joints Chief, or Sarah Palin, or gay war-loving neocons, in depicting any meaningful opposition to the National Security State as the supreme sin...

And Greenwald on gay marriage:

When I wrote several weeks ago about the remarkable shift in public opinion on gay equality, I noted that this development is less significant than it seems because the cause of gay equality poses no real threat to elite factions or to how political and economic power in the US are distributed. If anything, it bolsters those power structures because it completely and harmlessly assimilates a previously excluded group into existing institutions and thus incentivizes them to accommodate those institutions and adopt their mindset. This event illustrates exactly what I meant.

Before they assimilate into American society, gays are supposed to somehow threaten "how political and economic power in the US are distributed"? Even if gays were this far to the left, such an approach by a minority seems unlikely to be successful, to put it mildly. Did black people in the US sell out by settling for voting rights, public accommodation, and improved living conditions?

Marke and Greenwald live in some left-wing Never Never Land completely invisible to the rest of us, gay and straight.

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Nevius on Polk Street: "There isn't enough parking"

C.W. Nevius does some more hand-wringing about the city's supposedly "convoluted civic process" in a column about Polk Street. His assumption always seems to be that city projects should somehow move smoothly through the system and be implemented without opposition from the neighborhoods, because, you understand, City Hall's projects are always so perfectly conceived when they emerge from the city bureaucracy.

On the other hand, he acknowledges that there's limited space on Polk Street for protected bike lanes:

There isn't enough parking. Or enough room for bikes...The buzzword at the latest meeting was "compromise." Except it's impossible to have a compromise. The street is too narrow; the traffic flow is too congested. Sooner or later a decision will be made since the changes are timed to happen when Polk gets repaved in 2015, and one of the groups will be unhappy. That's when the protests, accusations and lawsuits begin. That's how it usually works in San Francisco.

Nevius's analysis is out of date, since apparently the MTA has already backed off on the idea of protected bike lanes the length of Polk Street. The "protests" by business owners and residents of Polk Gulch have already taken place, and City Hall has suffered a major defeat in its ongoing attempt to implement the Bicycle Coalition's agenda on the streets of San Francisco. It's only the Bicycle Coalition and the folks at Streetsblog who are "unhappy."

There could have been a lawsuit if City Hall had tried to implement the bike lanes over neighborhood protests, since the city has done no real environmental review of that "improvement." Everything the city wants to do to neighborhood streets is by its definition an "improvement." The traffic impact of taking away all that parking on Polk Street would have been significant, especially combined with the future Van Ness BRT project one block over.

In short the system actually worked this time, unlike how it rolled over small businesses on Market Street, 17th Street, and Ocean Avenue. And it only worked because of the vigorous opposition of the people of Polk Gulch.

Nevius himself announced recently that he has stopped riding his bike downtown because of safety fears ("Sooner or later I was going DOWN"), but he includes this in the Polk Street column without comment:

Tim Hickey has been using his bike as his primary transportation for four years, sometimes taking his 20-month-old son, Liam, with him. He's been hit by cars three times and believes protected bike lanes are the only reasonable solution. "My wife would not let me take Liam on Polk," he said. "It's too dangerous."

Mrs. Hickey must know by now that she's married to a moron who's willing to risk the life of their son on his bike after he's already been hit by cars three times! The only "reasonable solution" for most people would be to stop riding a bike in the city. This is more evidence that we're dealing people who are a lot like religious fanatics.

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