This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco

30 06 2011

Tom Petty told Michele Bachmann to step away from his “American Girl” and use it nevermore on the campaign trail (to which I can only say, Right on!).

Anyway, this set off a number of musings on artists telling candidates mitts-offa-my-music, as well as attempts to match song to politician.

I am not now nor have I ever been a politician, but yes, I do have a song I’d use—I’d ask permission first—to accompany me on my Quixotic tilt at the windmills:

Really, is there a more perfect song for running for office?


Oddfellows local 151

28 06 2011

Y’all know my general “fuck you/pay me” approach to, well, everything I don’t want to do which I don’t have to do, as well as to everything someone else wants from me which would profit him or her.

Nothing personal, but if you’re not a friend or charity or some other worthy civic organization, if you want something other than courtesy from me, you have to pay me.

(This general sensibility is not-unconnected to my “brand loyalty is for suckers” axiom, as well as to my disinclination to pay for merchandise which exists pretty much just as a brand, i.e., I won’t pay you to advertise your product.)

I still hold to all of that, even as I am quite happy to announce that I will be performing work for free for an institution which doesn’t fit any of my above exceptions.

I’m a-gonna be a Gallup household. More officially, I have been invited “to join our exclusive public opinion Panel of American households.”

Fuck yeah!

I don’t know why I’m so psyched about this. I long ago stopped answering most corporate surveys, and I’m one of those folk who, instead of writing a letter of complaint to the corporation behind a faulty product I purchased, simply bought something else the next time around. Why should I do your [customer service] work for you, I thought, and for free? But I am totally going to do Gallup’s work.

Maybe it’s because I’ve used Gallup polls in my own work, maybe it’s the fact that they do have a long and well-known history in polling, but, honestly, I’m psyched to think that someone as odd as me, with opinions as marginal as mine, is going to represent a data point on results “used to inform businesses, media, and government about Americans’ opinions and preferences.”

Okay, so I might end up in the error bin or disregarded as an outlier, but, y’know, if there are other odd folk with marginal opinions in Gallupland, we might be strong enough at least to be a blip on the opinion radar.

Can’t wait for that first survey.

All ur uteri are belong to us

25 06 2011

Can’t say I’m at all shocked by this:

Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.

“Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws,” said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). “It’s turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights.”

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby. On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.

Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days. In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state’s “chemical endangerment” law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.

It’s only the logical extreme of a movement which counts fidelity to extremism as a marker of integrity.

Anyway, read the whole thing, by Ed Pilkington at the Guardian.

h/t The Slog

That’ll do, New York, that’ll do

24 06 2011

Procedure does not equal liberty

24 06 2011

Brad DeLong does a much better job refuting Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia argument than does Stephen Metcalf:

I would maintain that only liberals can successfully explain Nozickian political philosophy–certainly I have never met a believer in Nozickianism who can do so, and I expect never to do so.

Why? Well, let me sketch out the logic of Robert Nozick’s argument for his version of catallaxy as the only just order. It takes only fourteen steps:

  1. Nobody is allowed to make utilitarian or consequentialist arguments. Nobody.
  2. I mean it: utilitarian or consequentialist arguments–appeals to the greatest good of the greatest number or such–are out-of-order, completely. Don’t even think of making one.
  3. The only criterion for justice is: what’s mine is mine, and nobody can rightly take or tax it from me.
  4. Something becomes mine if I make it.
  5. Something becomes mine if I trade for it with you if it is yours and if you are a responsible adult.
  6. Something is mine if I take it from the common stock of nature as long as I leave enough for latecomers to also take what they want from the common stock of nature.
  7. But now everything is owned: the latecomers can’t take what they want.
  8. It gets worse: everything that is mine is to some degree derived from previous acts of original appropriation–and those were all illegitimate, since they did not leave enough for the latecomers to take what they want from the common stock of nature.
  9. So none of my property is legitimate, and nobody I trade with has legitimate title to anything.
  10. Oops.
  11. I know: I will say that the latecomers would be poorer under a system of propertyless anarchy in which nobody has a right to anything than they are under my system–even though others have gotten to appropriate from nature and they haven’t.
  12. Therefore they don’t have a legitimate beef: they are advantaged rather than disadvantaged by my version of catallaxy, and have no standing to complain.
  13. Therefore everything mine is mine, and everything yours is yours, and how dare anybody claim that taxing anything of mine is legitimate!
  14. Consequentialist utilitarian argument? What consequentialist utilitarian argument?

To be able to successfully explain Nozickian political philosophy is to face the reality that it is self-parody, or perhaps CALVINBALL!

Perhaps that’s what got Metcalf in such a snit.

Wait just a darned minute!

23 06 2011

Matt Yglesias:

In my experience as a professional political pundit, the study of political philosophy doesn’t get you very far in terms of illuminate real controversies even relative to other branches of philosophy.

I was going to go all umbragy, but then I remembered: he’s right—professional political pundits rarely bother to go very far into the study of political theory in ways which would help to illuminate real controversies.

Why don’t you kill me?

19 06 2011

I am so tired of being a loser.

C. and I were at the end of our leisurely Red Hook/Gowanus ride and finishing our equally leisurely conversation in—yes—a leisurely manner. We had been discussing her novel* and her job and taking classes and the trail detoured into my life.

Which is when I burst out the above statement, along with complaints about being an underachieving dilettante and not extending myself or diving into anything which would  pull something out of me or committing myself, really, to anything.

And it’s so goddamned irritating, I ranted, that I make the same diagnosis over and over and over and still, here I am, grumpy and underachieving and uncommitted.

No, I’m not going to continue the rant, here; besides, you’ve heard it all before: I was stuck for twenty years between suicide and living and now I’m stuck in the not-knowing of living blah blah.

C. suggested that I just get out there and try different things, volunteer, anything to get myself moving and maybe, just maybe, involved. Sound advice, certainly, and nothing I haven’t told myself in previous go-arounds.

But it did occur to me, after we finally split, that I’ve got a real issue with trying to hoard time, so much so it interferes with the just-get-out-there approach: I don’t want to commit because what if I can’t follow through? I don’t want to be inconstant, so better not to be anything at all. What if I run out of time?

Nonsense, I know, at least in prosaic terms. I live in time and can no more grab hold of it than a fish can water. I can control my movements in time, but time itself? Nuh-uh.

Whether I can do anything with this elementary law of physics remains to be seen.

And there’s a flip side: Even as I am a physics-al being, I also know what it likes to live absent time. I’m not talking here of being ‘in the moment’ (although that’s nice when it happens, rare tho’ it is), but when I’m so involved in an activity that I have no consciousness of time.

Which brings me back to the beginning, and writing. C. mentioned that I seemed to be in a fictional frame of mind (oh, the meanings in that observation. . !), and I mentioned a story I had been turning over. I have characters, I said, but not much beyond that; I need to let this sit a bit, see what happens.

But then I noted that in between novel 1 and 2, I started another story, one which I might never get back to, and maybe this story is like that one: the one which prepares me for the next one.

And right then, I thought, Well, I’m not a loser dilettante when I’m writing; I just write.

Thus, that leisurely bike ride and leisurely conversation popped something loose: Start writing again, and the writing will come. Sketching out that story for C. helped me to see that that’s maybe all it will ever be, and that’s okay. Commit to the writing itself, just, just remember that I can commit to the work itself.

Something else will come; something else always comes.


*Hey, C. it occurred to me that you could work the slingshot into a joke: Your narrator could pick up a slingshot or having someone hand one to her and she could demur, muttering “Too Clan-of-the-Cave Bear.”


It’s just a city and I am just a girl

16 06 2011

This is a city of cities.

Out of the walk-in clinic on 34th in Murray Hill and strolling up Park Avenue so I can catch the 4 down out of Grand Central, and I see flowers and doorman and shiny little dogs and most of all, most of all, the people gliding across the sidewalks as if they have every right of belonging to this city of canopied entrances and italicized addresses and by the way, shouldn’t there be music wafting over all of us?

Then through the lower doors beneath the high icon and there’s the clock and the space and perhaps I was imagining that I could hear the tiles flip to reveal train arrivals and departures on which track as I swooped obligingly through the benign and bemused swooping corridors to the hard stairs leading down the platform, and home.

And the next day on that same train, heading up, as it whooshes out of the tunnel into the 160s and the back ends of notched-out apartment building. Look fast and you see a stand of trees at the end of that early block, but as the train sashays around to 167 and 170 and beyond, swivel your head west and see the staggered sentries of apartment buildings shouldered by buildings and backed by even more buildings.

Any grace here is tired, resigned, a handkerchief wiped across the brow then flicked in an unthinking wave over the wrist to hang as if giving up, or just waiting, waiting for this longeur to cease.

Still, it moves. The long steps, utilitarian up the middle with the pole hand-rail, up between the shouldered buildings an egress between the steep streets, a kind of hillside concrete tier farming people instead of crops.

Stand on the platform at Kingsbridge and look south and on a clear day you don’t see forever but you do see the Empire State, jutting out from that discreet and italicized neighborhood a beacon warning signal to anyone standing on a platform looking south or west and knowing that this city which is her city is not her city.

This city of cities, tilt the land and we have the archaeological dig, the layers of streets and neighborhoods and boroughs and which is the real city?

Lay it back down and remember we live it across and criss-cross as well as up and down, and it’s all the real cities,  the gliding and swooping and flicking, it’s all the real city.

Millions of people living life as foes

14 06 2011

Be very glad I forgot how to grab a screen shot.

Yes, I know, I’ve done it before: something about print screen or using one of those Firefox add-ons and then crunching it through Gimp [thanks Ms Blithe!] to get a usable jpeg image to be posted to this unhumble blog. But last night when I went to grab a shot from Michele Bachmann’s I’m-running-for-president! website, I couldn’t figure it out and it was late and maybe this was just a way for my computer to say No suh! to that Bachmann image and, anyway, no Michelle Bachmann.

Thus: you should be glad.

That is, if you aren’t sobbing over the thought that this woman, while generally thought to have no shot at the nomination, is nonetheless considered to have the chance to pull the party (and thus the country) even further along the rails of the angry crazy train.

Which, honest to god, if forced to choose between Ozzy and Michele, well, I might just move back to Montreal since Ozzy is ineligible to be president.

Or just hunker down in Brooklyn with a lot of booze. A lot.

And maybe a few guns.

‘Cause that’s how it would be. Yeah.

You who are not-me suck

12 06 2011

I’m not much of a fan of the “all people not-me are stupid/evil/greedy/hypocritical/whatever” mode of observation, nor do I think much of the name-calling (sheeple, Repugs, libruls, etc.) which passes for witticism these days.

That said, there are those whose words and deeds do indicate a specific cast of mind which justly be called contemptuous of their fellow citizens:

1. Those who, like Rick Santorum and those who put up billboards blaming “the abortion industry” for killing black and Latino babies and every fucking politician who’s ever advocated, voted for, or signed into law mandatory fetal ultrasound,and bullshit non-medical medical scripts regarding the status of the fetus and the made-up [as opposed to real: there are real] risks of abortion, clearly do not think women matter.

Do not believe we can think.

Do not believe we know what’s going on in our bodies.

Do not believe we are capable of thinking about the future.

Do not believe we possess any decision-making powers whatsoever.

Do not think our lives matter.

On this last point, I give you Senator John McCain and his air quotes when talking about the health exception for abortion, and, even more recently, the former senator and current (or almost) presidential candidate Rick Santorum:

SANTORUM: When I was leading the charge on partial birth abortion, several members came forward and said, “Why don’t we just ban all abortions?” Tom Daschle was one of them, if you remember. And Susan Collins, and others. They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective.

A “phony exception”: that’s nice. Because no woman has ever risked either her health or her life, has ever been disabled or killed as a result of a pregnancy or delivery.

(I do have to note this delicious bit of turnaround, however: the very same Hyde Amendment which prevents federal funding for abortion also bans states from blocking funding for abortions to terminate pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.)

2. The attitude of Paul Ryan and all the supporters of his budget plan, as well as those at the Heritage Foundation who proposed that the feds

Eliminate marriage penalties from federal programs. Married couples tend to be better off financially than their single or cohabitating counterparts. Policymakers should encourage such beneficial economic decisions by removing financial disincentives to marriage from tax and welfare policies.

As Matt Yglesias pointed out, “the basic logic seems badly flawed. Married people are better off than unmarried people, so we need to give the married people extra subsidies?”

The logic, however, is impeccable: those who have more should get more, those who have less should get less.

In both cases, there is a smugness regarding not only the rightness of one’s position but also contempt for those on the short side of that position.

Goddess knows leftists can be smug and contemptuous Fuck that. It’s late and this is a rant and I ain’t got the patience for a game of spin-the-sinner.

Stomping on people with less power than you in order both to keep them powerless and to remind them of your power over them says less about them than you. It says you’re contemptible.

It says you suck.

h/t Matt Yglesias, HuffPo, ThinkProgress