Got my brother down ’cause it’s nothing to me

14 03 2017

I, along with every single other Hillary Clinton voter, am tired of hearing how we, who did not vote for the racist poo-flinging toddler for president, must sympathize, must empathize, with those who did.

Especially when that means they will be hurt by those they voted for.

Fuck that. They’re adults and citizens who bear responsibility for their votes. If they couldn’t be bothered to learn that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare were the same damned thing, if they voted for Republicans who’ve promised for years and years and years to cut back on the social safety net and cut taxes the most for those who need it the least, if they decided that it was more important to make sure Those Others got less than everyone getting more, then they should goddamned own that.

They are my fellow citizens, my equals before the law and holding the exact same rights as me. I’m not going to treat them as lesser by condescending to them, ‘poor things’.

That long rant-claimer out of the way: they are my fellow citizens, and if I believe, as I do, that we should have universal coverage and more generous welfare for all, that means for all.

I get the impulse behind such monumentally shitty ideas as blue-state secession, but, as Hamilton Nolan points out,

The impulse to bandy about the threat of secession is not rooted in concern for the vulnerable. It is a tantrum by rich people who are angry that their political power temporarily does not match their economic power. Think about how shallow a self-proclaimed liberal’s commitment to social justice has to be for them to say that the proper response to the ascent of a quasi-fascist amoral strongman is to cede him the majority of the nation’s territory and stop helping to support social programs for everyone not lucky enough to live in a coastal state.

More to the point,

It is fine to point out that Donald Trump is a charlatan and the ignorant are his prey. It is not fine to conclude that they should all then be sentenced to die due to the Republican health care “reform” plan.

Nolan goes a bit more noblesse oblige than I’m comfortable with—“The responsibility of the coastal elites is to help those people, not cast them into the wilderness”—but I do think I have a responsibility to the fellow members of my polity.

Thus, if I think a policy—say, universal health care—is a good one, then I’m not going to say “but not for you”, that is, I’m not going to abandon a better policy for a worse one just to punish people who didn’t vote the way I did. Spite’s a helluva drug, but rather too corrosive to indulge with any regularity.

That said, as someone who prefers parliamentary systems to the Madisonian one we’ve got precisely because I think it leads to more “responsible” government—because a party has few structural barriers to enacting its policies, it fully owns those policies—there is a part of me that says, Well, if this is what you want, this is what you get. In other words, if Republican government and policies is what the unemployed coal miners who rely upon the ACA voted for, then it makes sense that they should bear the consequences of their votes.

Except: our system isn’t parliamentary and I’m not a Republican. I think their policies are bad and given that our system does allow for obstruction, then Democrats should obstruct all proposals that would make life worse for Americans and fight for those which make life better.

I think Trump is terrible and his administration a disgrace and the Republicans in Congress mean sons-of-bitches, and entirely too many of their supporters applaud the terrible meanness. Still, I’ll be damned if I let my disdain for them lead me away from what I think is good.

h/t Scott Lemieux

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Stories for boys

7 10 2014

Why is gay marriage gaining and abortion rights losing?

Paul Constant at the Stranger suggests its down to men: they don’t get abortions, so they can fill their own minds with their own views of the slutty whores who irresponsibly seek to evade responsibility for their whorish slutty irresponsible sex.

Gays and lesbians, on the other hand, have fought and marched and partied and litigated (and, unfortunately, died) their way into public consciousness as human beings deserving of the same rights as all other human beings.

There’s something to this. ‘Coming out’ is not just a personal affirmation, but a political statement, as is the chant we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it. Visibility matters in politics, especially visibility without compromise: as Arendt and Biko and Malcolm X noted, the oppressed must demand recognition as they are—Jewish or black or queer—and not merely ask to be allowed to assimilate.

We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.

That attitude underlay even the most anodyne of marriage equality ads, the ones featuring couples who’d been together for decades, who are raising children and puppies, who want only to love and care for their beloveds, til death do they part.  These ads were oft-accompanied by gentle music and soft focus, but the insistence remained: we are human beings who want to be treated as human beings.

That’s a tough message for the anti-same-sex-marriage folks to counter, which they themselves knew. It’s not enough to talk about stories or the nice couple next door, they said, we have to talk about principles! and preserving marriage! and the children! don’t forget the children! and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The fear of gay marriage worked only so long as homosexuality was a threat; once straight people got to know actual homosexual people, however, the abstraction couldn’t hold. The human story won.

Abortion rights don’t lend themselves so easily to such humanizing stories, however, and don’t end in thrown bouquets and candlelit dances. There are plenty of abortion stories to tell, which are being told, but they don’t follow the same arc as that toward marriage-equality.

There are all kinds of reasons for that difference, but a big one involves sex: marriage-equality folks rightly focused on love and commitment and fairness, on romance and weddings and families, and most definitely not on same-sex sex.

(Again, this is completely understandable: queer folk, especially queer men, have long sought to be seen as more than just sex machines, and as folks who just want what everyone else has. It thus made sense to omit from the ads & campaign speeches that a big thing most everyone has is sex.)

But ain’t no way to talk about abortion without talking about sex, and, unlike marriage, abortion isn’t seen as containing or domesticating sex, but the opposite; it is often seen, even among some who call themselves pro-choice, as enabling irresponsible sex.

By women, I mean. Of course, it is women who have irresponsible sex.

And so abortion gets caught up in all of our weirdness about women and sex and what counts as responsible and what should be the consequences and who should be the judge and wouldn’t you know it, none of that is as happy as the story of Caroline and Anita getting married after 50 years together or Jamal and Keith’s five kids dancing at their wedding.

I get what Constant is saying about the necessity of stories, but on abortion, I gotta side with the SSM opponents: “putting a face on the issue” isn’t enough.





Boys don’t cry

6 10 2014

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki rightly highlights the grave risks of encouraging male responsibility for household labor:

“Some parents like to teach boys that they should clean up after themselves, and not wait until girls do it for them.”

The archbishop suggested that such leanings should be treated with caution, because “parents often do not realise” that same-sex partnerships are also championed under the banner of “overcoming stereotypes.”

Because picking up his socks make a boy a homo. Got it.

h/t Sullivan




O the dragons are gonna fly tonight

17 07 2014

I.

I understand the difference between unintentionally and intentionally killing someone, I do.

I understand that Hamas fires off rockets with the intention of killing Israelis, military & civilian alike, and I understand that the Israeli Defense Force fires missiles into Gaza with the intention of killing Hamas fighters, and in so doing, unintentionally kills civilians.

I get it: the purposes are not the same.

But.

When you are aware that your intentional actions will lead to large numbers of unintentional deaths, well, then it’s hard to see how much that lack of intention matters to the unintentionally dead, or to the families of the unintentionally dead.

Or to those of us witnessing the bodies of the unintentionally dead.

II.

If the Malaysian airliner was shot down unintentionally, accidentally, does that make it okay?

III.

I understand, really I do, the thinking behind the statement that Hamas are responsible for the civilian dead in Gaza: were they not to insist upon firing rockets into Israel, it would not be necessary for Israel to fire missiles into Gaza.

But the fact remains: Israel fires missiles into Gaza.

The fact remains: Israelis missiles killed those boys on the beach.

IV.

You may argue, if you wish, both that Israel is morally responsible in its attempts to limit civilian casualties and that Hamas is completely responsible for civilian casualties.

You may argue that, if you wish.

But if Israel is not responsible, then how is it responsible?

V.

I don’t know what I would do, how I would think, if I lived in Tel Aviv, Gaza, Hebron, or Jerusalem, if it were me, transplanted from my junior one-bedroom in Brooklyn to an apartment in Israel or the Occupied Territories.

If it were me, would I call those territories occupied, which they are, or would I call them Palestine, which is what some want them to become?

(Judea & Samaria? No: it is still me.)

How would I understand Israelis, Palestinians? the soldiers, the militants, the terrorists? the politicians? the underpaid academics, the cafe-goers and olive farmers and scientists and tour guides and those for whom the land is their home, their everything?

The kids, the families, anyone at a beach in July: that I understand.

VI.

From where I sit, in my junior one-bedroom in Brooklyn, it is clear: this must stop!

But of course. How obvious is that observation. How useless it is.

How many people disagree, by agreeing to its extremes; who seek for it to continue, without end, until it all can be finally ended.

Who don’t care what it takes to get to that final end, how much and how many will be destroyed.





We don’t need no thought control

29 05 2013

Does it infringe upon the rights of parents to raise their children to insist that they educate their children up to a certain point and to certain standards?

Yes. So?

We in the US (and most other places on the planet) sensibly grant parents the right to raise their children as they see fit, but this particular right is conditional, not absolute. If they neglect or abuse or deny medical treatment to their children they will lose those rights, and once the children reach certain ages (these vary depending upon the circumstances), the parents lose those rights, regardless.

(“Right” is an awkward term to use in this case, largely because rights are assumed—not by me!—to be absolute and inalienable, such that to speak of “conditional rights” seems nonsensical. “Privilege”, however, seems too cramped a term; “authority” works pretty well. . . so, ah, yeah, I’ll use authority here on out.)

In any case, what I now call “authority” and what others might insist is a “right” has nonetheless come to be seen as something which, unfortunately unique among our understanding of rights, is paired tightly to “responsibility”. The default mode is parental authority/right/responsibility for children, such than an abuse of authority/failure to meet responsibility leads to loss of said authority/right.

Christ, I’m really talking around the issue, aren’t I? Nothing like spending two days in a writing seminar to unmake one’s ability to write.

Anyway. That we as a polity might infringe upon parental authority is neither new nor necessarily unjust. We might have good reasons to be suspicious of state mandates regarding children—see the history of removing Native American children from their homes, as unjust a policy as there was—but it is also the case that, absent state action, children suffer at the hands of their parents.

I can’t really object to religious or cultural communities wanting to instill their values into minor members of their communities (even though I do), because as deep a civic republican as I am, I am also a narrow civic republican who thinks pluralism is the bee’s knees (even if I am occasionally exasperated by those bee’s knees).

I”m losing the thread again, aren’t I? Shit.

Okay, I’ll just skip to the conclusion since I”m obviously skipping all over the place anyway. Requiring parents to educate their children is not an unjust limitation of their freedom to raise their children as they see fit, because parents ought not have the freedom to deny freedom to their children.

And the parts I skip over? All of the tough balancing between parents’ rational desires to pass their values along to their children and what to do when those values hinder their kids’ abilities to make, when they come of age, their own decisions. Amish and Satmar and FLDS children are not just Amish and Satmar and FLDS members, but individuals who, like every other individual, deserve to be recognized in and covered by the law, and not merely covered by their parents.

Or something like that.





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: Angry hamsters spinning in a cage

12 09 2012

Sad sad sad.

No, not that the Romney campaign can’t tell its ass from its elbow—good news, from the perspective of this Obama supporter—but that the Republican party refuses to recognize that there is, indeed, a difference between an ass an an elbow.

Which is to say, I’m of two minds regarding the GOPpers gobsmacking incompetence. . . well, wait, three.

Mind one: AHHHAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAA!

Mind two: That one of the two major parties has gone around the bend so far that it doesn’t realize the teeth sunk its buttocks are its own.

Hm, perhaps that’s not the best metaphor. Rabid ferrets? Tasmanian devil feeding frenzy?

(Okay, I don’t really know how the taz metaphor would work: Are they fighting over the carcass that is the GOP? their souls? the spoils of power? Or maybe the hypothesis that all of that snapping at one another has led to the spread of a cancer which is endangering the species is applicable. . . ?)

Where was I?

Oh yeah, trying not to concern troll the GOP. I honestly and truly believe that the major parties in a democracy must also be responsible parties, and, at the federal level, at least, the Republicans are less major- than bush-league. While good, in the short term, for the Dems, this is not good if it persists over the . . . . oh, fuck it, never mind.

Yes, there is a serious point to be made about pluralism and reason and evidence but I’m about ten minutes away from slipping into my pjs and after I’ve posted a vid of howling Tasmanian devils, I can’t really hoist myself to the high ground to reach that point.

So, on to the third mind: Mssrs. Romney & Ryan have had a bad week (heee!). Bummer for them, but a bad week in September may just be a bad week in September. However much I might enjoy their for-medical-marijuana/nope-against-it, for-parts-of-Obamacare/nope-against-it-all, for-military-budget-cuts/nope-against-’em, acknowledgment-of-troops-fighting-in-Afghanistan-is-just-so-many-words acrobatics—and yes, I really do enjoy these contortions—they may not, come November, matter all that much.

Oh well. At least I got to post a vid of Tasmanian devils.





Jumble sales are organized and pamphlets have been posted

28 06 2012

Did not expect that.

No, I didn’t know what the Supreme Court would do, but as a Professional Pessimist, it is my sworn duty to think the worst. And the worst did not come to pass.

Should I note here my pinko preference for a socialistic universal socialistic single-payer socialistic public socialistic health care socialistic plan? Okay, why not: I’da preferred a single-payer, Medicare-for-all, what have you, plan, but the Affordable Care Act seems to (only recently re-insured) me an improvement over the (former) status quo, a movement toward justice, and thus worthy of support on its own merits.

As to the politics, well, a win from the Supremes helps those who I want to win in November: it doesn’t wipe out all of the effort of the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats, and amongst the great majority of voters who are not yet paying attention to the election this decision sends the sorta-subliminal message of Obama as a winner.

Americans like winners.

In any case, I have nothing to offer on details of the constitutional interpretation or of the long-term consequences of the apparent limitations on the commerce clause, but I want to plant my flag on a particular patch of political pedantry: I am relieved that the Court upheld the law not just or even primarily because I like the law, but because I believe—strongly—that the Congress ought to be able to legislate. The Court is supreme over all other courts, but it is not and should not be supreme over the other two branches.

Now, insofar as I believe the Court ought vigorously defend the Constitution and believe it has a particular role in upholding the rights of minorities against encroachment by majorities, this seems an untenable position for me to take. Ah, hell, perhaps it is: how else can the Court defend the Constitution and minority rights without asserting its powers over and above those of the Congress and the executive branch? It would be suspiciously convenient for me to say that in case where the Court rules in favor of Guantanamo detainees, say, that they are merely preventing the other two branches from elevating themselves above the Constitution.

Yeah, way too convenient.

I guess I mean to say: Legislators should be free to legislate, political questions should be decided in the political arena, and those who pass the laws should not be able either to hide behind the Court or use the courts to accomplish in the judicial branch what they could not accomplish in the legislative.

Again, damned difficult balancing act, but I think the more we (citizens, legislators) rely on the courts to settle political disagreements, the less responsibility we require from those legislators. I think we ought to live with the consequences of who we elect to public office, and using the courts to buffer us from those consequences distorts the political process.

For similar reasons, I’m foursquare in favor of filibuster reform or even elimination: if we elect idiots and bullies to office, then we shouldn’t be surprised to see them pass idiotic and mean legislation. What’s the old line? We dance with the ones that brung us. Well, if we don’t like how they dance, maybe we’ll be a little more careful in choice of dates.

Oh, crap, this is all going off the rails, isn’t it? Let me put this another way: I believe in responsible government, in accountability, and as the justices of the Supreme Court are not accountable to us, then I choose to concentrate on the members of those institutions which are.

So: Yay for the Affordable Care Act! Yay for Obama! And yay for politics!