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.

Brooklyn: Represent!

3 02 2013

Brooklyn College, actually, but close enough.

The brief story (or not so brief) is that the Political Science Department at Brooklyn College is sponsoring an event put together by the Students for Justice in Palestine on the Boycott-Divest-Sanctions movement (directed against Israel). Torture apologist and local-boy-gone-bad Alan Dershowitz howled about the injustice of this event (then suggested all could be made better were only other voices—hm, I wonder whose?—were brought in for “balance”), then various local politicians entered the fray, including a number of City Council members who oh-so-helpfully reminded* Brooklyn College President Karen Gould that:

A significant portion of the funding for CUNY schools comes directly from the tax dollars of the people of the State and City of New York. Every year, we legislators are asked for additional funding to support programs and initiatives at these schools and we fight hard to secure those funds. Every one of those dollars given to CUNY, and to Brooklyn College, means one less dollar going to some other worthy purpose. We do not believe this program is what the taxpayers of our City—and many who would feel targeted and demonized by this program—want their tax money to be spent on.

To which one can only politely reply: Fuck you. Twice.

Happily, President Karen Gould has defended both the department and the principle of academic freedom—rather too rare, these days.

I admit that I am not particularly a supporter of the BDS movement, largely because I think those who act on behalf of human rights in Israel and Palestine should be supported, not abandoned. But, as I wrote to the various politicians who signed these terrible letters, I see less threat to academic freedom in the airing of opinions with which I disagree than in the pressure applied by public officials on institutions to distant themselves from even the consideration of those views.

Not as pithy as Fuck you, but, y’know. . . .


*You really need to click on this second link. The first letter, by Congressman Jerome Nadler, et al, is bad enough, but the second, by Lew Fidler and nine other City Council members, calls the event speakers Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti “either anti-semitic or simply ignorant” who promote “the worst kind of hate.”

Unsurprisingly, they end with the reverse-double-flipspeak: “We believe in the principle of academic freedom. However, we also believe in the principle of not supporting schools whose programs we, and our constituents, find to be odious and wrong.”

Yeah, no.

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?