Did you ever see such a sight in your life

8 10 2019

Started my morning by hoisting a dead mouse out of the back of my replacement fridge.

How was your day?

~~~

I started reading Jonathan Bernstein when he wrote ‘a plain blog about politics’, then when he moved to Bloomberg, and I follow him on Twitter. I think he’s smart and knows a great deal about how American politics has worked.

I didn’t always agree with him—he’s been far more bullish on Madisonian federalism than I—but as a non-Americanist and grump, I thought—and think—it worthwhile to pay attention to an optimistic Americanist.

However, that optimism can skew the fuck out of his thinking:

Good government is tremendously important, but positing that the best way to get Republicans—a party Bernstein has recognized is FUBAR—to go along with impeachment is to take Pelosi out of the chain of succession is  . . .  what? getting high on his own supply? the slateyist of #slatepitches as ever were? at the level of “I’m not saying aliens, but. . . “?

Not it, chief.

~~~

I got the replacement fridge yesterday, after a months-long campaign to convince the super that my old fridge was, in fact, on the fritz. (The thermostat was rather too free-form, allowing it to get warm enough for ice cubes to melt, then powering on so fiercely anything in the back half of the fridge would freeze. This likely had something to do with the drip from the freezer into the fridge.)

A new one would have resulted in a rent increase; I told him I just wanted one that worked.

~~~

Again, I’d like us to get back to functionality, but I don’t see how Dems smashing their own kneecaps will do that.

No, the system has broken down—the Republicans broke the system down—and inviting Dems to break themselves as a means of repair is. . . not it, chief.

~~~

So the supe brought up a working fridge from the basement. And yes, it does work! Yay!

But it had also been in the basement for awhile. A basement in a building in Brooklyn. A basement in a building in Brooklyn next to a subway line. The chance of infestation was high, is what I’m saying.

Which I didn’t think about, because Yay! It works!

~~~

I’m leery of offering advice to people who don’t ask for it, and especially not to people I don’t know.

So let’s call this “Terri stating her preferences” for Dem actions: Yield nothing to Republicans. Nothing. Not one thing.

I don’t trust that any kind of compromise is going to be honored by Republicans, and that they won’t go back to SMASH!! the second they get the chance. At this point, we’re dealing not with an opponent willing to engage in reasoned debate, but bad-faith actors who will only forced back into line.

And it’s up to the Dems both to draw that line and punish them for crossing it.

~~~

But by last night something smelled rotten, and I thought, ohhhhhh, I bet there’s something dead in the fridge.

Shiiiiiiit.

It was late, and I thought, do I really want to confront . . . whatever is there at night?

No, I do not. And the smell didn’t reach my bedroom.

~~~

That said, the punishment must be to a greater cause than just payback. I’m not against payback—as much as it’s not my thing (I’m more the walk-away/freeze-out kinda gal), I can recognize the satisfactions—but I think it far better to do something productive with power, if/when the Dems finally achieve it.

~~~

This morning the smell was pretty bad, so before I had my breakfast or coffee, I pulled the fridge out, then with a sigh began to unscrew the lower back panel. It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I pulled it out: just what the hell would I find? or worse, what would come racing out at me?

I peeked in. Nothing. Nothing. Ah, yes, there it is: mouse corpse. Only one, that I could see, and nothing else moving.

~~~

So, my preference would be for Dems to add more judges at the district and circuit courts of appeals levels and, yes, to add 2 seats to the Supreme Court. And to fill them.

~~~

Grabbed some tongs, reached in, tugged the corpse out. I cleaned out the back while I was at it, then swept up and took the dusty funeral cortège to the garbage chute.

I then carpeted the whole area with baking soda, screwed the back panel back on, and shoved the fridge back into place.

~~~

The concern with court-packing is that the GOP would do the same when they next get power.

Now, I think they’ll do whatever it takes to tilt everything in their favor, so the idea that they might behave badly in response to the Dems doing something they don’t like is unpersuasive: they’ll behave badly anyway.

~~~

It still doesn’t smell great in here—I think it’ll take time for the baking soda to absorb all that corpse nastiness—but I’m pretty confident I got the source of the stink out.

~~~

That said, I do think the incentive to fuck with the Supreme Court can be reduced: at the same time Dems expand the Court to eleven, they introduce a Constitutional amendment to limit SC terms to 18-to-21 years (I’ve seen various proposals for why x or y-number of years, but it’s late and I’m too lazy to look up the arguments)—and they could write it in such a way that the term limit would apply to any justice who takes a seat after the date of introduction.

So, for example, Dems could in February or March pass legislation expanding the Supreme Court effective May 1, 2021. The amendment could state that term limits would apply to any justice confirmed May 1, 2021 and after.

~~~

Then again, if the smell doesn’t dissipate, I’ll have to go back in and search for more nastiness.

I really don’t want to have to do that, but I don’t need my apartment smelling like death.

~~~

I have no idea if this could work, and who knows if the Constitutional amendment would pass, but I think term-limits for Supreme Court justices is not a particularly partisan issue; having them apply to the new Dem-appointed justices might just help take just a bit of the sting out of the court-packing.

Oh, who am I kidding: the GOP will scream regardless. Tough shit. But maybe this will, over the longer term, help to take some of the partisan pressure off of Supreme Court picks: if every president is assured (more or less) of 1 selection per term, then this nonsense of holding open a seat (Merrick Garland!) or rushing to fill one (Kavanaugh!) might taper off.

In my dreams, I know, but what the hell, why not some late-night political dreaming?

~~~

And you, too: sweet dreams.

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Fever all through the night

2 10 2019

Man, Peggy Lee was somethin’ else, wasn’t she?

Hot and cool, urgent and dispassionate, all at once. Man.

Anyway, my fever was not so luscious, just the usual uncomfortable mess. Bleh.

Hannah Arendt has a riff on pain as “the most private and least communicable of all.” Great bodily pain, she writes, takes us out of the world, into a privacy which is really privation. We are thrown wholly unto ourselves.

Well, my cold this past few days has involved more discomfort than pain, and I’ve stayed in contact with “the world.” Still, there is a kind of haziness attached to negligible illnesses, a fish-eye look at one’s life (and yes, the world) that squeezes to the sides anything which is not immediately in front of oneself. It’s not quite like the drunk trying to walk a straight line, but you are aware that your ballast is wandering a bit too to and fro.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Regardless, before my befogging, I happened upon this ad:

Good Christ, do people really want this? To have nearly every last bit of one’s life monitored by a fucking corporation?

Yes, of course they do. Muttering *Jesus, Terri, where have you been the last decade?*

In a different kind of fog, I guess.





I will try not to breathe

23 09 2019

I’ve lost weight. This pleases me.

It’s not much—as I mentioned back in February (I think), I hadn’t gained much so wasn’t looking to lose much—but paying attention to what I was eating and going to the gym even when I wasn’t in the mood has, ever so slowly-but-surely, paid off. Yay.

That said, I’m still dissatisfied. And I wonder about that, about body-acceptance and “growing old gracefully” and just letting things be.

That’s not really who I am, of course, and I accept (ha!) that, but maybe I could ease up without quite giving up. I mean, I’m in my early 50s and I still dye my hair: would it kill me to let it go grey? Or maybe there’s something to hanging on to a few tendrils of vanity?

I am vain, but it’s not expressed in the usual ways. I don’t wear makeup or do-up my hair, and my dress is. . . pedestrian, so it might seem as if I accept, even welcome, my plainness. But it’s more that about practicality—I rub my eyes a lot and like to splash my face with water, so makeup is more hassle than it’s worth, for example—than any larger peacefulness with my appearance. Ditto with loose clothes and flat shoes: I like to be comfortable, both when sitting and on the move.

Still, while I’m not the guy at the gym who (honest to Pete) kisses his biceps before doing pull-ups, I will occasionally flex in the mirror at home. And, yeah, I like that I’m a wee bit less round than I was earlier this year.

Anyway, this is all on the margins. I might be in good shape for someone my age, but I’m still. . . someone my age. Whether this means I ease up or hammer down, pffffft, I’ll likely never figure that out.





Sunny came home

16 09 2019

Hi! Hi! Hi!

Sorry I’ve been away for so long, but I was:

*Away, for a bit, in Chicago. I really like Chicago—it’s the place I’ll move to if I ever get chased out of New York—and every time I visit I think “Ohhh, maybe I should just move now.” But that’s just because NYC can suck hard, and when you’re in a likeable city for a few days it’s easy to think that that city won’t also have its sucky moments. Anyway, I was there with friends from Sheb Falls, and it was fun.

*Trying to cram in all of my hours on my second job. Whenever I work at my long-standing second job, I feel the need to work every last hour they give me, not least because these gigs are only temporary. I try to bulk up my bank account, because I just don’t trust the work, be it teaching or freelancing or this job, will keep coming.

*Prepping for classes. I’m using a new textbook for my American govt and politics course, so I have to take all new notes. It’s my contention that all American govt textbooks are mediocre, and that new editions are a scam—usually the only thing that gets changed (besides the price) are the 1- or 2-page intros to each chapter—but the text I was using was 5, 6 years old. I have tended to use the second-most-recent version, in order to keep the costs down for the students, but as American politics in the Trump era are occurring at hyper-speed, I thought I’d best go with the newest version of whatever text I chose. I looked first at the new version of my old text, but, jeez, that cheapest version of that one was 75 bucks; other books were even worse. So I said to hell with it, and went with a (legit) free online textbook, and, y’know, it’s fine.

*Writing an ‘intro to politics’ essay for those same govt-and-politics students. I’d long led discussions of ‘what is politics’ for relevant courses, and this essay pulled together a number of those ideas into a less-fractured format. In fact, this was an excerpt of an incomplete draft of what I plan to develop into a short-ish manuscript I’m calling “A Partial Politics” (have I mentioned this before? I think I’ve mentioned this before). Once I get a bit of breathing room, I want to get back to the manuscript; I may try to pitch it to the same online publishers as that textbook.

*I have a new great-niece! My second niece gave birth to Lyana Rosa two weeks ago. She is a wee angry potato, and it is all I can do not to pester her mum for more pics. No, I wasn’t there so I can’t really excuse her birth for my absence; it’s just good news.

So now that we’re all caught up, I’ll try not to fall behind (again). . . .

 





There is another world spinning inside of this one

22 08 2019

You know the old bit, said to someone saying something odd: “What color is the sky in your world?”

Well, that would seem to a be a real question these days.

The different worlds experience isn’t new; hell, written history is rife with WTF?! commentaries. Nor is the notion of worlds colliding—clash of civilizations, anyone?

I don’t even know how new is the discomfort with those collisions, but scrolling through this long Rod Dreher piece about the perfidy of land acknowledgements (i.e., the process by which non-Native peoples in the US, Canada, and elsewhere announce their recognition that X event is occurring on Native lands), and I thought, Man, are you pissed that your world isn’t the only one.

I’m not going to try to shoehorn this into the naming-claiming thing (though, you know, I could), but it was just so clear to me that Dreher and his interlocutors are not only unaware of the context for the acknowledgements, they’re unwilling to consider there even could be a context.

Ah, shit, I’m once again wrecking the road to the point. It’s just, it’s just that he responds to any recognition that things could be other than what he sees as yet another sign of the apocalypse. He thinks his world is going to hell, and that others insist on acknowledging there are other worlds out there is only accelerating the descent.





We belong to the sound of the words we’ve both fallen under

20 08 2019

I want to move off a bit from naming, and on to claiming.

Claiming is a related concept to naming, but one which emphasizes belonging: I claim this as mine. (This is the positive part of Carl Schmitt’s dictum that “The specific political distinction to which political actions and motive can be reduced is that between friend and enemy.” Friends belong; enemies, who are of course negative, must be excluded.)

I’ve stated in the past that a politics reduced to the friends/enemies distinction is a bad one, but in a well-rounded and healthy politics, the notion of us-vs-them isn’t terrible. If you define your side solely by who you oppose, well, that ain’t productive, but also by it? That’s fine.

Anyway, the words aren’t coming tonight, but I did want to get to Elizabeth’s Bruenig’s piece in the Washington Post on white evangelical support for Trump. The short version is that those evangelicals who like Trump like him because he recognizes them, claims them. Many don’t go so far as to return that claim back—they don’t necessarily see him as a Christian—but they are ardently glad that he sees them as his.

And, most importantly, they are glad they stand together against Them (ie, folks like me). He doesn’t have to make things better; he just has to keep my kind from making things worse.

Scholar Lydia Bean notes that “Basically, it’s like a fortress mentality, where it’s like — the best we can do is lock up the gates and just pour boiling oil over the gates at the libs.”

So it’s that Schmittian amalgamation of GO US! with FUCK YOU!; they feel positively toward Trump because he’s willing to fuck over leftists/libs/SJWs/etc on their behalf. They don’t even have to believe that he believes in their deeper or long-term agenda, just that he congratulates them for being on the right side.

Trump, Bob Collins said, “has done something no other politician has done: He’s circumvented the press. The press has a problem now. … I wish he would not do the personal attacks, but he needs to get the message out, even if it’s a blunt, brute-force message.” For them, the message was a welcome one. “We’re deplorables,” the Collinses intoned in unison, when I asked them what messages they had heard from Democrats. “We cling to our religion and our guns,” Coleman said, mocking the famous Barack Obama remark from 2008. “I don’t think there’s much room in the Democratic Party for evangelicals like me,” Barber added. “Even though Donald Trump is different than me, the Donald Trump White House tries to move toward evangelicals like me.”

And whatever their qualms, two mentioned that they prefer Trump to a more godly man:

At first, there were murmurs about the possibility of Vice President Pence. But then Maria Ivy warned that Pence is soft compared with Trump, too decent and mannerly to take on the job. Bob Collins agreed: “The president is having to deal with a den of vipers,” he said. “I’m not sure Pence could do that.” “It’s spiritual warfare,” Dale Ivy added, emphasizing that Trump is the only man in the field who seems strong enough to confront it.

There’s a lot more there, but I want to focus on this exchange between a father and son:

“Basically,” Joe argued, “Trump is everyone, without the filters. I’m sure at some time you’ve thought some horrible things, but you had a filter there to keep you from saying it.”

“But is that a defense?” Daniel asked.

“No, that’s just —”

“A fact to you?”

“Just an explanation of why. I mean, he is a raw personality with all filters removed. . . . I think he pretty much exemplifies this sin that we all carry with us. He just doesn’t know how to repress it.”

Daniel nodded, and pressed: “But it would seem like a natural question would be, you just sounded like you just described some pretty good reasons not to support the man.”

I don’t want to attribute this sentiment to every Trump supporter, but I’ve heard variations of this over the years: Trump is who we all really are, deep down.

Which is a pretty grim view of us. I don’t hold what I think is an elevated opinion of our species, but, jesus, this holds that we are all, at root, terrible.

It also means, as not a few others have noticed before, that they like him because he’s terrible: he liberates them.

~~~

Once again, I don’t know what to do with this. It points to a sense among Trump’s supporters that they’re being pushed out of . . . the culture, the country, the mainstream—some place in society they value, and he’s saying No, no, you’re at the center, here with me.





I could have been your woman of the road

12 08 2019

Allrighty, then: dmf asked in the comments if I differentiate between naming and defining. Good question! I don’t know!

I mean, I think I do: although the concepts are clearly linked, naming seems to be more about marking out the boundary lines and defining, filling in those lines? With the proviso that the filling can affect the lines? . . . maybe? To really make the case would require greater philosophical and linguistic chops than I possess; in any case, as I’m interested in the political dynamics of naming, I think I can fudge on this.

But I can’t ignore it completely. If I say, for example, that I am a woman (which I do, and I am), then I’m making a claim to at least of the qualities of “woman,” as well as claiming that some qualities that others might say are necessary, are not.

To bring this home: I am neither a wife nor a mother. I’ve been ambivalent about ever becoming the former, and pretty consistently set against the latter, but never have I felt that I am less of woman for lacking these qualities.

Why do I say I’m a woman? It’s a grab-bag: my body and its functions, my recognition of a continuity of female identity from childhood to adulthood, my willingness to answer to being called a girl, then a woman, my understanding that others view me as a woman, my irritation when others don’t recognize me as a woman, my clear sense that I am not a man, my insistence that my woman-ness makes me no less human.

There’s nothing particularly elegant in that identification: Some of the pieces are mostly relational and others, funneled through social categories; some are positive (I am this) and others, negative, (I am not that). I don’t say much about personality or temperament or affective attributes, mostly because I’m considering the social-political aspects, but, sure, there probably are additional qualities of my woman-ness which are psychological.

And I should point out something else: While I was a tomboy as a kid and have tended toward the androgynous as an adult, I’ve never questioned that I was a girl or a woman.

Okay, two something elses: The original is that I’ve had some difficulty coming to terms with what it means to be an adult. On the one hand, this is easy: I have more than enough years to qualify as an adult. I have jobs, I take on many of the usual tasks of adulthood, and, yeah, I more-or-less look my age, i.e., I and others recognize me as an adult.

On the other hand, I’m physically small, I live like a grad student, and those nonessential markers of womanhood? I’m neither wifed nor mothered, which are among the (nonessential, but pretty damned clear) markers of adulthood. I don’t own a home or a car and my work-life is cobbled-together, with only semi-regular hours. I still don’t know who I am.

The second else? Eh, I’ll save that for another post.

I’m straying from the original point—if there even was one—but I’m noting that while I am firm in my claim on womanhood, I’m kinda pro forma in claiming adulthood. I put myself inside of those lines, because, yeah, sure, I’m an adult, but I’m not sure I fill out the category all that well.

I don’t know how or that this helps me figure out political identity or political adversaries, but it might. Maybe there’s something about what is firm and what is uncertain, what I send out and what I protect, that will give me some sense of what others advance and defend.

Or maybe not. I claim no clear lines for any of this.