Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Bye-bye, Pony!

On the subject of the “Bernie will tax the corporations and buy each of us a pony” fairy tale:

An article on the front page of the NYTIMES is titled, “Pfizer Would Shed Its American Identity to Lower Tax Bill.”

Good luck with that pony.  

Why Syrians?

I’ve been listening to NPR while driving on the highway, and there was a show on about – what else? – Syrian refugees. The entire show was about Syrian passports and whether the refugees had real or fake Syrian passports.

And I don’t get that at all.

If the basis of accepting refugees is the hardship they experience, then why is everybody so stuck specifically on Syrians? How are Iraqis, or Afghanis, or anybody from the really miserable African countries less deserving of compassion? Come to think of it, how are people from the Donbass any less deserving of being accepted as refugees?

Where is the logic? Why are we fixating on Syrian or any other passports?

To Die for Putin


The slogan these Russian ladies are holding says, “WE ARE EVEN READY TO DIE TO HELP PUTIN.” How their deaths will benefit Putin is not specified but it’s the thought that counts.

Are you ready to die to help Obama? Or Trump, or Sanders, or Rubio? No? And that’s why I prefer to have you as my neighbor and not these ladies.


Why is the Belgian police conducting anti-terrorist raids now? What was the obstacle to conducting them two weeks or two months ago?

The ISIS Whisperers

What really scares me is the “I know what ISIS really wants” crowd. These folks obviously never did any serious research on ISIS, never interviewed any militants or anybody who’s been in contact with the militants, hell, they don’t even speak Arabic! Yet they are completely convinced that they can read ISIS’s mind and provide interpretation.

This is hubris of such proportions that it borders on schizoid.

Israelis Celebrate Ukraine’s Revolution

A celebration of the second anniversary of Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity was held in front of the Ukrainian Embassy in Israel:

If you know anything whatsoever about the history of Jews in Ukraine, you’ll know why a positive relationship between Israel and Ukraine in the aftermath of the revolution is a massively important development.

What You Vote for When You Vote for Bernie

Bernie Sanders’s campaign is based on the idea that his welfare programs will not entail raising taxes for the middle class, and even if they do, the services people will get in return will raise their standard of living far beyond what they could buy with the extra amount they will pay in taxes. I never lived in Denmark, so I have no idea how this approach works for the Danes but I lived in Quebec, Canada, and I can tell you what Bernie’s plan looks like in action right on this very continent.

First of all, yes, middle class people pay enormously much more in taxes in Quebec than they do in the US. And in return, they get absolutely no services whatsoever. My sister and her life partner are typical middle class: educated, hard-working professionals who work day and night. They pay ≈ 55% of taxes plus a sales tax of 15% on absolutely everything. As for the welfare they get:

  • The medical care is of such pathetic quality that my sister’s doctor says, “Well, you don’t really think I have time to look at your test results, do you?” My sister has to pay for private insurance for herself and the employees in her small business.
  • The government-sponsored daycare had no spots, so they had to pay $65 per DAY for it.
  • Now they are paying for a private school because the public school system is overextended, the teachers are exploited, underpaid, the classes are overstuffed.
  • The roads are pathetic, the snow gets collected haphazardly, the streets are not too clean.
  • The government regulations are truly egregious and keep mushrooming.

So for the middle class, the situation is all about paying, paying and paying, and never getting anything in return.

But wait, there is an important thing to keep in mind! There is a group of people that benefits a lot from this situation. That group is the poor*. In Quebec, you don’t see slums like East St. Louis, horrible, shameful ghettos, extreme, racialized poverty, none of it exists. And that’s really great.

Bernie invokes the middle class because that’s what the conventions of political oratory in the US require. But in reality, what you vote for when you vote for Bernie is for the slums to start disappearing, for those people without college degrees whose life expectancy is plummeting to live longer lives, for less drug addiction and hopelessness among the very poor, etc. All of that will happen at the expense of you living a more modest lifestyle, being able to afford less things, and working (even) more. 

Ultimately, it’s for you to decide if this is a good trade-off. It’s important to make an informed decision and not be guided by the fantasy of, “Bernie will tax hedge fund managers and give us all a more comfortable life with that money.”

*And the very rich because those always do fantastic, so let’s not fret about them.

Anti-Semitism in Russia

Long-distance truck drivers in Russia are protesting against higher toll pass prices. As usually happens in Russia, the protest immediately turned to a discussion of the evil nature of Jews.

“We are always told that criminals don’t have ethnicity,” a worker organizer says. “But we know that’s not true! All criminals are Jews! . . We love out President Putin so much that words can’t explain the depth of our love for him! But that doesn’t help!”

These truck drivers are in Dagestan, the region of Russia that has already provided ISIS with over 10,000 eager fighters. (Who fight on the side of ISIS, in case there are naive fools here who honestly believe the “Putin helps battle ISIS” narrative.)

No Demands

The reason why the student protests keep coming up with such outlandish demands – more administration! more bureaucracy! safe spaces! emotional comfort! a group to discuss a possibility of segregation! – is that they know a movement needs to make demands but there is nothing for them to demand.

Of course, there is racism on campuses. There’s racism everywhere,  just like sexism. But the time of demanding administrative solutions is over. Everything that needed to be legislated already has been. Of course, the idea of presenting a list of demands, getting them granted, and feeling content is attractive but it’s just not on. No authority has anything to give us any longer.

In the areas of racism, sexism and gay rights, the really hard work has to begin now. It’s slow, it’s patient, it’s boring, it sucks ass. The carnavalesque, exciting aspects of sit-ins, marches, occupations, protests have no place in this work. But it’s time to start doing it, even though it might be no great fun.

Student Protesters at Princeton Demand Segregation

Student protesters at Princeton got the administration to consider instituting . . . segregation in campus housing:

Eisgruber and other senior administrators agreed, among other things, to:

Create a working group “to begin discussions on the viability of the formation of affinity housing for those interested in black culture.”

A group of professors supports the idea of segregated housing because it will provide a “place to which to retreat and find comfort.”

What a massive victory for social justice.

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