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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You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em

24 07 2019

I would give five bucks to the candidate who’s willing to say: “Hell, yeah, I’m a politician—and a damned good one!”

I know, I know, we’re all supposed to hate politicians and love the mavericks and outsiders and ‘jes plain folks’ who’ll stand up to the corrupt and immoral insiders.

Blah blah blah.

This is of the same piece as “those who can’t do, teach”, which, yeah, as someone who teaches, I find irksome. But more than the personal jibe at such a non-doer as myself, I’m irked at the falseness of the statement: teaching is doing, and it’s hard.

I work at it—the syllabus, the readings, the assignments, the lectures and discussions, all of it—and some days I’m great and some days I’m not; overall I’d give myself a B+. I wouldn’t mind taking a class from someone like me, but, honestly, I’d also want professors who were better than me.

And you, the dumb-ass who thinks teaching is nothing? You know nothing.

You see where I’m going with this, right? Being an effective politician is hard. Politics is a (sometimes glorious, sometimes fetid) mess, and being able to balance all of the competing concerns and different interests and principles and practicalities and rules and ratfuckers and flying monkeys to get anything done requires more skills than are dreamt of in such casual dismissal of the role.

So I want to vote for someone who embraces that role, who gets that just because anyone can run for the job—which is great thing, really—doesn’t mean that anyone can do the job. And to do the job well? You gotta learn, get better, become a pro—become a politician.

That’s a good thing, and should be recognized as such.

Not gonna happen, tho’, I know.





You see, got my brother down cause it’s nothing to me

16 07 2019

I have nothing to say about the racist bag of maggots currently befouling the White House—nothing beyond curses and sputtering, that is.

He’s a terrible man and a terrible president with terrible policies enabling the worst of us. And that he has a good shot at re-upping his tenure is really more than I can handle right now.

I don’t follow any pro-Trumpers on Twitter—Twitter is my junk food, and I prefer my snacks in salty left-wing, artistic, academic, or animal form—but I do run across them online, and, honestly, . . . huh.

The outright racists who love him, okay, that makes sense. While I only understand racism on an intellectual level—I don’t get on the gut-level why anyone would want to be supremacist—I can identify it as an interest that the maggoty misogynist meets. And the cynics, like Mitch McConnell, who’ll excuse anything to get what they want (tax cuts, 19th-century judges): again, the interests intersect.

But the people who consider themselves principled, moral, who support him? Are they just lying to themselves about their morality? Are they in denial about the awfulness of The Donald?

There’s a fair amount of anger I hear from them, and fear about coming breakdown/SJW totalitarian takeover, and it’s not hard to read that anger-fear as its own justification. It’s also a handy way to deflect responsibility from one’s own actions: Look what you made me do!

That doesn’t seem enough, though, to explain how we could look at the same Tweets or hear the same speech or at fucking children in cages and reach such radically different conclusions about them. It’s ideological, yeah, but that’s hardly a sufficient explanation.

This might be where political psychology comes in, which is extremely not my bag. I don’t have anything against it in general, but it’s always seemed to me that the ‘political’ piece loses out to the ‘psychological’; since I want to understand political phenomenon as political, I’ve been leery of anything (incl economics or orthodox Marxism) which reduces the political to mere epiphenomenon.

Still, since I take politics as necessarily a scavenger field, dragging in economics and culture and religion and passion and psychology, etc, perhaps I simply need to get to diggin’ in other areas of this messy yard. I might never get it, but at least I’d have a better sense of the disconnect itself.





Into the breach! 2020

27 06 2019

ETA: It’s unto the breach! UNTO! Goddammit.

Yeah, I’ve pretty much landed on that for the theme. Works.

Anyway, I’ve said I’m not going to say much about the primaries and. . .  I’m not. I like Warren for her plans and Harris for her knife skills; I think Julián Castro would make a fine veep, and while I’m sorry she’s not doing better, I appreciate Gillibrand pounding away on women’s issues.

Regardless, and as ever, I’ll vote for the nominee.

Anyway, the real reason I’m bringing up the primaries is because the last two nights I followed the debates on twitter and oh, is that an exercise in meta-analysis: what one person adores another abhors.

Same as it ever was, I’d guess, but it’s a lesson I keep forgetting.

I mean, this isn’t about Dems vs GOPpers, or even lefties vs liberals vs moderates—the ideological disputes I get—but about tone and style and emphasis, about one person saying about a slip-up, Eh, it happens and another OMFG! Doomed!

Again, t’ain’t nothin’ new about that, but I can’t help but notice it every time.

Anyway, this is why I’m confining myself at this point to meta- than actual analysis: I get as caught up in this tonal shit as anyone, and thus don’t trust that I’m in any position to say Ooo, this’ll play well or Sadly, no.

That’ll be less of an issue during the general election campaign, because at that point it’s less about impressing those willing to give you a look-see and more about straight beating the shit out of the other guy.

But in the meantime? Meta.





In the end the rain comes down

4 06 2019

Oh, what’s a conservative to do?

Yes, I’ve been following the Ahmari-French “whither conservatism?” dust-up with some professional interest and personal amusement. (You can find links, along with Rod Dreher’s usual voluminous commentary, to the whole schmatta here, here, here, and here)

As a political theorist, I’m interested in how ideology shakes out; as a leftist, I’m a bystander, as I have no interest in making conservatism stronger. And even if I did want to contribute, I don’t know why any conservative would want to take my thoughts under advisement: I’m sure as hell skeptical as hell of anyone from the other side telling those on my side how to do better.

That said, I will offer this one nugget of analysis: none of these arguments are going to go anywhere unless they can find a way to contend with both capitalism and climate change.

I know Dreher likes to go on and on and on and on about politics-being-downstream-from-culture, which, fine, the relationship between politics and culture is fraught, but to think that either of these realms can be dealt with apart from the material conditions under which they manifest is to fail at thinking.

Now, I’m a bad marxist and am allergic to any kind of determinism, but Jesus, Mary, and Adam Smith how can you have a version of the Good Society without some sense of the economics of that society? I’m not saying you have to go commie—I mean, 20th-century American conservatism has pretty much been defined as against that—but you gotta do more than vaguely wave toward God-and-markets and away global warming.

What ought they do? Again, that’s for them to work out—and if they don’t, well, then none of what they’re saying will matter.





Into the breach 2020?

8 05 2019

I just though of that; I think I like it. Yeah, I think so.

Maybe I’ll add an “!” after the breach; maybe I’ll choose something else, but I think this might be a winner.

And while I hear Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V‘s in this, there’s also a little bit of LEEROY JENKINS! in this, don’t you think? Or is that just me?

Eh, both work.





And all the men would come around and lay their money down

6 05 2019

For better and for worse, the 2020 presidential campaign is upon us. This means I have to come up with a theme for campaign-related posts.

I’m a little leery of doing this, given that my jokey “Circus Maximus” theme turned out to be horrifyingly on the nose. Also, this next campaign is going to be a shitstorm (“Shitstorm 2020”?), and, man, coming up with something that doesn’t make me wail or want to defenestrate my computer is going to take some work.

I have no real ideas at this point. Final Countdown? Apocalyptic, sure, but without that soupçon of wit to lighten it all up. Maybe something from REM’s “End of the World”. . . ? Nah. And, actually, just typing that, I realize that I don’t want anything apocalyptic. Yeah, things suck, but compared to climate change, the stakes of this election are. . . less.

How’s that for perspective? “We’re killing our planet and its creatures, so the fuckery of the Republicans is comparatively minor.”

So I’ll need something serious, mostly-but-not-completely earnest. Mordant. I’ll think of something.

~~~

As for the primary, I’m not planning to say much about it beyond the fact that I don’t fucking want to hear one second more of the Bernie/Hillary rehash. Enough. Both candidates lost. Next!

~~~

I have little faith that the (mainstream) media will do a decent job of covering the elections, and if people are treating the polls as anything other than a nerd-game at this point, well, I don’t know what to say to that.

~~~

I stated back in 2016 that the election broke me, and, yep, still broken. I will make no predictions, and will remain leery (which I failed to do the last time around) of those who do. I’ll pay attention to the polls once 2020 rolls around and listen to smart people say smart things, and, yeah, I’ll consider the odds, but I ain’t laying any bets down.

Honestly, I don’t know how I’ll cover the elections. That my old knowledge has shattered doesn’t mean every piece was wrong, but I don’t know how, or how far I’ll go, to put them together.

On y va.