Wednesday, November 30, 2005
"Of the people, by the people, for the people"
But as I sat and seethed my way through a six-and-a-half-hour flight, it seemed to me that Mr. 23D was a symbol of everything I hate about a specific strain of cultural censoriousness that courses through our society. Your behavior offends me, so you must be punished. How dare you breast-feed in public, or believe in evolution, or love disco music? Your sexual practices, weird religious beliefs, choice of shirts -- whatever it is, the fact that you are doing it bothers me, so it must be stopped! Especially if there's any chance that the "children" might be harmed.[emphasis mine]In this, Mr. Leonard and I are in complete agreement. People seem to think that they have a right not to be bothered, which is just utter bullshit. You have no right to never be offended, but, in return, there's nothing that says that you can't let the people who offend you know you find them offensive. It's just jackassy and weird to bring in the authorities when you've not been really injured and you're not going to be. And I don't believe that it's the government's roll to involve itself in outlawing behavior that offends people but doesn't actually harm them. In fact, I find that offensive (so, you know, maybe I should petition Bill "The Kitten Killer" Frist to sponsor a bill outlawing legislation designed solely to protect people from offensive behavior, since I find such legislation offensive). And, as previously covered today, I think government is inherently corrupt and corrupting. So, in some respects, I suppose I'm for smaller government, kind of**. I'm definitely for less policing of my personal behavior. But here are the questions I keep meaning to ask the libertarians--and I know I'm usually snarky about things I disagree with, but this one time, hand to heart, I actually am really curious and promise to listen respectfully (But don't go telling me to read someone. I want to know what you think, how you make sense of it.) Coble says "These things that are the bailiwick of the individual--caring for the sick and needy--are now being handled by our drunken Uncle Sam." And I think this, for me is a really dense sentence, so I want to handle it in two parts. 1. When y'all talk, I see a lot of emphasis on individual responsibility, especially a strong emphasis on individuals taking care of each other either through individual action or charitable donation. Correct? 1a. Let's say that little Timmy needs a bone marrow transplant and his parents don't have the money. So, they turn to charities and they host car washes and put their little coffee cans with poor Timmy's photocopied image taped to the side in all the local gas stations and, all told, they come up with $10,000. That's a shitload of money for a lot of poor people, but it's a drop in the bucket towards the cost of saving Timmy's life. Under your system, would Timmy just be out of luck? 1b. I'm on the board of a local non-profit agency that, in part, raises money for community health initiatives (to be sufficiently vague). One of the problems we have is that, after 9/11, though the healthcare needs of the people in the communities we serve have not changed, the country's charitable dollars have gone elsewhere. We predict that, because of the hurricanes, we'll continue to see depressed funding of our programs because, when things happen, people don't give in addition to what they usually give, they just move their giving to the places that catch their eye. Under your system, how would you foster sustained giving, such that these programs (and more like them, if there aren't any government agencies) could continue to function from year to year? Or are they also just out of luck when the fancy of givers flies to something else? 2. Coble says, "And we've elected to allow our money to be taken from us by force," and makes reference to how our "drunken Uncle Sam" now has our money. So, it seems like you guys make a clear distinction between the government and the governed. Does that mean you think Lincoln was full of shit? That this is not a "government of the people, by the people, for the people"? Because, corrupting nature of politics aside, isn't the government "us," too? It's not really "they" who are stealing "our" hard-earned money and using it to provide poor people with luxuries like food or heat. Isn't that we who are "stealing" our hard-earned money? Doesn't it make sense to have a mechanism in place to pool the resources of the people in order to take care of the worst-off of us in ways that individuals just can't? Do you really believe that, other than not infringing on their rights, you really have no obligations to your fellow Americans? If you do have obligations to your fellow countrymen, why not use the government to meet those obligations? Anyway, I'm just wondering and I'm curious to hear from you. *I'm not. **Sorry, this blog lacks smelling salts. Maybe in the next upgrade.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Hot Apple Cider
Just What Kind of Feminist Are You?
Monday, November 28, 2005
A Crossroads Like No Other
The Bay Area Is Not Talking
The International Harvester Dude
Sunday, November 27, 2005
The Butcher is an Idiot
Mrs. Wigglebottom Saves the Day
While he spoke an old hound, lying near, pricked up his ears and lifted up his muzzle. This was Argos, trained as a puppy by Odysseus, but never taken on a hunt before his master sailed for Troy. The young men, afterward, hunted wild goats with him, and hare, and deer, but he had grown old in his master's absence. Treated as rubbish now, he lay at last upon a mass of dung before the gates-- manure of mules and cows, piled there until fieldhands could spread it on the king's estate. Abandoned there, and half destroyed with flies, Old Argos lay. But when he knew he heard Odysseus' voice nearby, he did his best to wag his tail, nose down, with flattened ears, having no strength to move nearer his master. And the man looked away, wiping a salt tear from his cheekShoot, if old dying, loyal Argos doesn't bring a salt tear to your eye, you're just lacking a heart. Ugh. Let's not leave this post on such a sad note. Homer, give us something we can dwell on this evening:
That was the scar the old nurse recognized; she traced it under her spread hands, then let go, and into the basin fell the lower leg making the bronze clang, sloshing water out. Then joy and anguish seized her heart; her eyes filled up with tears; her throat closed, and she whispered, with hand held out to touch his chin: "Oh, yes! You are Odysseus! Ah, dear child! I could not see you until now--not till I knew my master's very body with my hands!"Tee hee. *Those of you who want to make smart-ass comments about the ways I resemble my dog may do so at this point. **As opposed to the happiest sad song ever--"You are My Sunshine." ***Fitzgerald's translation.
Bitching About the Bitchin' Camaro
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Thanksgiving in the Alternate Universe
"Why Did You Let Them Talk to the Parent with No Memory?"
Friday, November 25, 2005
Brilliant Ideas, Not Mine
Hmm, We Might Be Bad Hosts
Thursday, November 24, 2005
What I Cooked for Thanksgiving
The Detroit Lions Rule!
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
My Liberal Agenda
Sometimes we'd have that whole river all to ourselves for the longest time. Yonder was the banks and the islands, across the water; and maybe a spark -- which was a candle in a cabin window; and sometimes on the water you could see a spark or two -- on a raft or a scow, you know; and maybe you could hear a fiddle or a song coming over from one of them crafts. It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it, because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the nest.America, I know you. You skimmed through that and skipped until right here to see what I was going to say about it. So, just keep this one sentence with you--the most beautiful sentence in the American novel, if you must keep anything: "We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened." I don't know if you can get the weight of that sentence from the paragraph. But here are these two beings who aren't men--one because he's just a boy and the other because he's fugitive property--talking philosophy and theology. Do you get that? Do you see how stupid it is for people to object to Huckleberry Finn, as if it's racist because of the word nigger, when Twain is continually insisting that we recognize that Jim, a piece of property, has a life of the mind, when Twain is insisting over and over again that Jim, who isn't considered a man at all, is the only true man that Huck knows, the only man who truly gives a damn about this poor kid? Do we miss the gift for the fucking wrapping paper every damn time, America, or what? Anyway, Huck the blogger wrote me an email about the whole liberal man discussion (which is what got me thinking of Twain). I'm going to share it with you:
Oh, it pains me so to see you pitching fuel into the conservative bon-fires. I know you're offering food for thought, but to add my 2 cents, we liberal males aren't all tweed-wearin', pipe-smokin', organic gardenin', candyasses. Some of us are crazed, gun-totin', cat-kickin', carnivorous anarchists. 3 words: Hunter S. Thompson Some of us are against gun control. Some of us view PETA's and abortion clinic picketer's tactics as cut from the same annoying cloth. Some of us hunt and kill animals for sport. Some of us enjoy red meat, black gas station coffee, cornbread, gravy, Milwaukee's Best, death metal, and pussy. For me, to be liberal is to allow people to be free from fundamentalist and government oppressions. To despise the powerful elite and empathize with the common people. To avoid the slippery slopes that open easy-access routes for fascist controls. It's not whining about sports team names or cigarette ads. That kinda crap gives liberals a bad name. It's about fighting against the government's filthy habit of consuming our personal freedoms. In other words, you can't discount the freaks like me, the liberal libertarians. Sure, we may be nice guys, even "creepy" nice guys, but one thing is for sure. We sure as blackest hell ain't a bunch of sensitive kumbaya-singin' wussies.Again, in case you missed the most important part, here it is: "For me, to be liberal is to allow people to be free from fundamentalist and government oppressions. To despise the powerful elite and empathize with the common people." (Though, to be fair, I also loved--"Some of us enjoy red meat, black gas station coffee, cornbread, gravy, Milwaukee's Best, death metal, and pussy.") Okay, I do have a point, which we are going to get to in a second, but let's talk about the libertarians I know--The Contrarian, sitting over there on the coast bitching about how the conservatives in South Carolina are too in love with Jesus to be of any use to him; Sarcastro... well, I get your emails, I know you've already formulated your opinions; and the Boy Scout, whose dog has a Bill Clinton chew toy. Why do I put up with such nonsense? Because each of them is ferociously engaged with life in a way that about knocks me over. There's a large contingent of conservativeness that is about establishing and preserving order. Not for these yahoos. They seem to thrive on confronting the chaos*, on challenging themselves and the people around them. I mean, is there anything off-limit to Sarcastro? If so, I haven't seen it. I've been trampled under foot a few times, but, my god, how can I not respect a man who never met a boundary he didn't want to cross? Which brings us back to Huck and to a strain of liberal men I adore, the fierce ones (see Huck, Chris Wage, Steve Pick, etc.) who not only have never met a boundary they didn't want to cross**, they really get that those boundaries are kind of arbitrary bullshit anyway. And, my god, when you read Huck talking about despising the powerful elite and empathizing with the common people, how can you not be reminded of that other Huck? How can you not be in love with this crazy idea that all the best, most interesting shit is happening among and with the regular, everyday folks? If there is some liberal agenda, Huck's totally got the first part and Donnell Alexander's got him covered with the second crucial point. So, here it is, my liberal agenda spelled out in the words of the crazy liberal men I love:
"For me, to be liberal is to allow people to be free from fundamentalist and government oppressions. To despise the powerful elite and empathize with the common people. To avoid the slippery slopes that open easy-access routes for fascist controls." (Huck) "It's about completing the task of living with enough spontaneity to splurge some of it on bystanders, to share with others working through their own travails a little of your bonus life." (Alexander)Amen, my friends, amen. *With, of course, guns blazing. **Which brings us, of course, to why the libertarians are convinced they can convert me. In this regard, our world-views compliment each other enormously.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Some Cool Stuff About Mrs. Wigglebottom
- When she's afraid, she hides in the tub.
- She once had a tick on her belly and I didn't have any rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover* and so I thought that vodka might do the trick. So, the poor girl laid there on her back in the bathroom while I yanked at a big bloody tick and then poured vodka over the wound and she didn't even flinch.
- She barks at red lights.
- When I leave her in the car, she sits in the driver's seat until I get back.
- She hates parades.
- She once jumped into a tree at my mom's and got stuck a good eight feet up in the tree. I had no idea how I was going to get her out of the tree, but she eventually fell. Luckily, she landed in a good sized Illinois snow drift.
- When I first got her, she'd stand upright at the edge of my bed watching me sleep.
- When she's happy she has this kind of frolicking gate.
- When she's really happy, she gets down very low to the ground and kind of crouches like a frog and scoots sideways very quickly, back and forth, while snorting. This happens very rarely, but when it does, it's hilarious.
- She loves the cats and it hurts her feelings that they don't like her. Every day she tries to play with them and every day they turn up their noses at her and pretend they're too good for her, and then she has to come up on the couch and cuddle until she feels better.
- Still, every once in a while, I find long cat hairs on her belly, which leads me to believe that they might be all sleeping together during the day.
*I'm sure most of you know this, but if you don't, the easiest way to get ticks off dogs (or people, for that matter) is to take a tissue and soak it in either rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover and put it over the tick. This will cause the tick to back out and make it easier to remove. For pets, it's a lot less traumatic than matches. But, hey, if you want to put matches near your kids, more power to you.
Iraqis Agree On One Thing
Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right'' of resistance.Sure, they say that terrorism wrong, but take a look at who has to die in order to move an act from "resistance" to "terrorism.": "killing and kidnapping targeting Iraqi citizens and humanitarian, civil, government institutions, national resources and houses of worships." Did they just forget that soldiers are not immortal? No, as Nasrawi reports, "In Egypt, the final communique's attempt to define terrorism omitted any reference to attacks against U.S. or Iraqi forces. Delegates from across the political and religious spectrum said the omission was intentional." Jesus Christ. My dog could run a war better than this administration and she spends 20 hours a day sleeping. I could run a war better than this administration and I'm a hippie liberal commie who opposes this war with every bone in my body. Because here's the thing. You cannot half-ass your way through a war. You can't say "oh, well, we're going to take down this dictator and liberate these people in their own country," because people do not want you sticking your nose into their business*. Even if they don't like their evil dictator, they don't want someone else coming in and telling them how to take care of shit. If you are going to go to war, you've got to be intent on smashing the shit out of the people you're at war with. You can't have some kind of fucked-up idea that you can go to war with a government and not with the people. You have to be prepared to be merciless. And, I'm sorry, but this is exactly why the current administration sucks at warmongering. The truly scary people, who get that there's no room for mercy and acquiescence in the midst of a fucking war, people, a war that we are in right now (argh!), are cowards who are hiding behind some kind of compassionate conservative idea that we can liberate the people of Iraq** and all the troops will be heroes and that heroism will rub off on an administration that barely knows what bravery looks like. So, every time you turn around, it seems like this administration is almost purposefully making things as difficult for our troops on the ground while at the same time deflecting criticism of the war effort by suggesting that any criticism of the administration hurts the troops. Never mind that letting the people who are supposed to be on our side in the country we're at war in decide that our forces are fair targets hurts our troops a hell of a lot more. What these folks need is a simple checklist for war-mongering: 1. Have you been attacked by said country? 2. If not, does that country have resources vital to your economy? 3. Would you benefit from being in direct control of said resources? 4. Will your allies understand? 5. If not, can you bribe them into understanding with the resources you're soon to come into? 6. Will the countries neighboring the country you're about to invade understand? 7. If not, are they sufficiently afraid of you? 8. Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to win control of said country? 9. Is your army prepared to go to war? 10. Do they have the training and equipment they need? 11. Say you get over there and you decide you don't really want that country, are you prepared to keep your people in power until the first generation of resistance to you is dead?*** 12. Do you have the support of your public? Since the administration asked itself none of these questions and seems unprepared to actually, you know, invade and occupy Iraq, but instead is doing invasion and occupation lite, I think we should just cut our losses and get the hell out of there. *Right? One can take an army into France and deliver them from the Germans because France was attacked by outside forces. But no one's stupid enough to say that we liberated the Germans from Hitler, because everyone understands that Germany had the leader it thought it wanted, and even now people are like "Fucking-a, Germany, what the fuck is wrong with you? Were you insane?" No one is stupid enough to see the Nazis as Hitler's victims. **This actually gets right to the heart of my objection to torturing people. Of course, I don't think we should torture people because it doesn't work. But I also don't think we should torture people if we're trying to run a "moral" war--which is, at its heart, what a war of liberation claims to be. Well, we cannot run a moral war (if such a creature exists) through immoral means. ***This is the part that makes me most irate. Why are we handing power over to the friends of our enemies? Give the country back to people who cannot remember what it was like before we got there.
The Creepy Nice Guy
Monday, November 21, 2005
Catching Up Over Burritos
What you can get me for Christmas
What's the Problem with Liberal Men?
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Lunch with the recalcitrant brother
Saturday, November 19, 2005
"I'm going away just to wear you off my mind"
Okay, yes, I'm grouchy
Friday, November 18, 2005
Diet Dr Pepper
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Trying to Alleviate Boredom
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The Wayward Boy Scout
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Another Brief Update
Monday, November 14, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Farir & aftr komir
Saturday, November 12, 2005
1,400 Pound Meteorite Found in Kansas
Boredom Has Set In
One Last Carless Day For a While
6:30 Saturday Morning
Friday, November 11, 2005
Lunch with W.
The Third Amendment
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.There's been almost no litigation pertaining directly to the third amendment, but I think it's time to dust this puppy off and put it back to work. It seems to me that, rather than hanging our right to end unwanted pregnancies on an unarticulated right to privacy*, we should be hanging it on the articulated right to decide who lives in our own damn house. Why? Because anti-abortionists have successfully reframed the abortion debate. They've argued in the court of public opinion that some mass of cells wholly dependent on a woman for its continued existence is a person in the same way the woman carrying it is and won. And, they've made a seemingly convincing argument that, if an embryo or a fetus is alive and a person in the same way a woman is, that it should have rights, especially a right to life. And, as long as the abortion debate is framed in terms of privacy, people who think they can legislate morality will feel free to butt into matters that aren't their business under the guise of protecting the "rights" of the unborn. And as long as pro-choice folks remain mealy-mouthed about things--when life begins, whether there are ever times when abortion is wrong, whether there might be something to be gained by kicking things back to the states--it seems like there's some room for negotiation and compromise. But there's not. So, fine. Let's say a fetus is a person. Then, when the rights of this person come into conflict with the rights of the woman, rather than the ridiculous state of affairs we have now, where the anti-abortionists argue that this pre-born class** of person is so unique that its needs take precedence over the rights of the woman, we can settle the matter like we settle any matter where the needs of two people come into conflict, by looking to the law. The Cult of True Pre-born Human-Hood As it stands now, we have something of a cult of true pre-born human-hood. Much like the cult of true womanhood that we had to suffer through in the 80s and 90s--in, I suspect, direct retaliation for Susan & Elizabeth getting all uppity in Seneca Falls--this cult is also based on the notion that some people are so precious and perfect that they must be protected from the rigors of the cruel world.*** Also suspiciously like the cult of true womanhood, this cult is based on the notion that such beliefs about this special class of people entitles society to monitor the behavior of women to ensure that nothing corrupts the perfect state of this special class of people. In other words, what pro-choice people need to be more cognizant of is that the kinds of "rights of the pre-born" that anti-abortionists argue for are not the same kinds of rights that real people have, but special rights that allow these pre-born "people" to infringe upon the liberty of women. Here's Some Stuff I Get Annoyed About Having to Repeat Sex is not some mysterious dirty thing that good girls only do when married and only whores do otherwise. Children are not the proper punishment for sex. Viewing pregnancy as the "proper" outcome of a sexual encounter and insisting that a woman attempt to carry a pregnancy to term as the proper punishment for daring to be close to someone and enjoy her own body is fucked up. It's not just fucked up for what it does to women. It's fucked up for what it does to kids. Kids deserve to be raised by people who want them. They are not little eternal punishments and it leads to a lot of terrible, terrible things when parents see them as such. As well, babies are not magic. Having one in you does not transform you into a good person****. My sister-in-law has one of the cutest, sweetest kids ever. She's still her. And that kid could melt the devil's heart, so that's saying something. Also, pregnancies are still messy, complicated, difficult affairs under the best of circumstances. It's not like getting a Coke from the machine, where you drop your coin in the slot and nine months later out pops something refreshing, with little effect on the pop dispenser. It's hard to get pregnant. It's hard to keep a pregnancy going. They fail all the time, and for reasons doctors don't always understand. Pregnancies are dangerous for women--not just because we're more likely to get murdered while pregnant--but because we still die trying to bring life into the world. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend you head over to Redneck Mother's post, where she talks frankly about all the different ways her pregnancies went. Host & Guest So, I suggest that we reframe the debate in terms of guest and host. I might love to have guests. I might even announce that I'm open to the possibility of having a guest over on Sunday. Being open to having a guest on Sunday doesn't mean that I'm morally required to entertain guests on Thursday. It doesn't mean that the government can force me to have guests over on Saturday. And it doesn't make me a hypocrite if I didn't want guests on Thursday but am sad that the guest I was hoping for on Sunday never showed up. One positive side-effect to reframing the debate in terms of hosting a guest is that it helps make it clear that one, such as me, can be both pro-abortion and think that prosecuting people who commit crimes against pregnant women with two crimes (one against the woman and one against the "pre-born person") is a good idea. No one should be able to force a woman to host a "pre-born person," but just as clearly, no one should be able to force that woman to not host that pre-born person or to attempt to prevent her from doing so. Conclusion Since the government is specifically forbidden from forcing people to live with other people--according to the third amendment--it ought to stand to reason that the government cannot force a woman to host a pre-born person without her consent. We need to stop relying on an unarticulated constitutional right to privacy to protect our bodily autonomy, and start testing whether the third amendment is weighty enough to assure women's liberty. *Though, I should point out that that fount of all Santorum knowledge--my hero, Dan Savage--is leading the push for a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing a right to privacy, which seems like a damn good idea, though I wonder how sex-hating cultural conservatives will ever be able to fuck if they can't feel legally and morally justified about getting angrily aroused at the thought of all the dirty things gays are doing to each other. **Yeah, I, too, find it funny that unborn people get special rights, but heaven forbid any other groups do. *** I suspect some of you may need a refresher course on the cult of true womanhood, so let me just remind you that it was based on the idea that there were separate spheres for men and woman and that men got to go out and be in the world and women stayed home and served as moral examples to their children. As wikipedia so astutely puts it: "The Cult of Domesticity identified the home as the 'separate, proper sphere' for women, who were seen as morally superior to and purer than men." See, we were supposed to be happy being confined to the house because we were special and both needed protection from the big bad world and were the only things standing between men and their almost inevitable corruption from said big bad world. As soon as they let us out of the house in the Jazz era, we took off all our clothes, danced lewdly, and drank a lot of gin--so you can see how happy we were to be sitting around at home while you hung out at the brothels. (One might notice a pattern here about women's responses to particularly repressive time periods--the flappers and the hippies both coming after bull-shitty returns to "traditional" values.) ****Though there's something really interesting about the cross-arguments that anti-abortionists seem to be making--both that pregnant women are vile and depraved and their unborn babies must be protected from them by the law and that, if only pregnant women seeking abortions were shown enough sonograms or given enough counseling, the magic of the baby would transform them into selfless incubators of joy.