Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bush, Etc

It's so hard for me to post lately, because everything makes me sad.

Partly it's this election. I really wanted Edwards. (Wah, wah, I know.) I'd take Obama, he would do, but what it looks like we're going to get is more Democrats playing Rethug lite, and meanwhile, here's Bush, after eight years, he's learned nothing, and here's Bush's herd, they're no wiser either.

And they aren't. It's a fact. Go cruise the blogs on the Right, which I do, as often as I can bear to. Go read Althouse. Go read the links off of Althouse. Go see Malkin and the links off her site. Instapundit and ditto.

Here's a better challenge -- give a freshman class in Arkansas an essay called Whatever It Takes, by Jane Mayer, which discusses the politics of the television show "24," talking about Joel Surnow's use of torture on that show, how it misrepresents torture as being an effective procedure, what effect that misrepresentation is having on our soldiers in Iraq (who are huge fans of the show, apparently) and -- hey, get this! -- on our administration: Bush, and his buds.

These freshmen were about nine when Bush came to office. They were raised under the current administration. How do you suppose they feel about torture?

The essay clearly argues and gives evidence to show that torture is not effective. It cites the head of military ethics at West Point, who argues that torture is not effective. It brings in actual military interrogators, guys who have run thousands of successful interrogations, who say that they *never* use torture, and that they have never seen torture produce useful information.

What do students, raised under Bush, say, having read this article?

We should torture, if we're facing terrorists. Because we should do what we have to. Because that's how the world is.

That's the world Bush had given us.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

More of the Right

So anyone who still wants to pretend that the face of the Right is *not* racist and misogynistic, head on over to Pandagon and have a look at the pictures here


and then read as much of the links as you can take.

Sometimes this country makes me sad.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tax Rebate

Bread & Circuses, whatever...

Don't I remember George III doing this once before, right before some other election?

Not that we can't use the change, since we're so broke we're breaking into the kid's piggy bank for gas money these days, but isn't this a bit transparent?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blog for Choice

Hey! It's Blog For Choice Day!

Here in Arkansas, you might not know this, but not so many of my students are pro-choice.

Ho, most of my women students are eager to tell the class they aren't one of those feminists -- no! They believe in Human, not Women's Rights!

Anyway, they did say that until I started making the point of saying, early on in every class, that I was one of those feminists. I also, somewhere early on, make the point that I'm a liberal. (Occasionally I slide socialist in there also. That's the one that makes them gulp.)

Anyway, many of my students are moving further to the left these days, thanks to George III, but they mostly still flinch on the abortion issue.

I use that question, sometimes*, to show them Rogerian argument -- I'm here, I say, on this issue, and some of you are over there. No way is either of us going to change the other group's mind. Especially, I add, with the usual conventional arguments. Abortion stops a beating heart. It's a child, not a choice. The Right to Choose. Any of that. So what do we need to do, I ask them, if we're going to hear one another?

Well, for one thing, we have to stop seeing the other side as demons. You are not ignorant monsters who want to enslave women, chain us to our wombs. I am not a demon who delights in slaying babies.

(A few of them giggle nervously at this point.)

We have to agree to see one another as well-intentioned, I say: as having good motives. We have to agree to believe that about the other side. I pause, make scary eyes. Even if, I say, especially if, we really DON'T believe it.

They giggle again.

And, I add, we have to be willing to give ground on our own position. Which, I agree, that's a hard one, when it's a position we truly believe in. But Rogerian argument says it's the only way we advance at all.

The guy in the back row, the smart one, the one who had done five years in the service and a year in Iraq and still was pretty far Right on many things (though he is not voting Republican, not anymore) said, "How is it a woman's right to choose, though? It's not just her child."

He's married. He's got two kids. I can, you know, from his perspective, see what he's thinking.

"If the man wants to support the child," he persists, "if he's willing to, why doesn't he have a say in what happens to the child?"

Other men -- and it's all men -- chime in.

"That's a legitimate question," I agree. "Here's why. It's her body."

"It was her body when she had sex," one guy says, "but now it's a child's body, and--"

"Now wait," I said. "Think of it this way. Suppose I needed your kidneys. Not to keep. Suppose I needed them for say, oh, nine months. While the organ team was hunting a kidney for me. They're just gone to hook me up to your body, for those nine months, you're going to have to let me use your kidneys and your body for nine months. You'll save my life!" I told him. "It'll be a bit inconvenient, true, you might have to quit your job, might be a risk of some damage to your heart and other organs, but you don't mind, do you?"

"Nope," he said stolidly. "Hook me up."

"Good for you," I said. "Can we require you to do that against your will? Can we force you to support anyone who needs your kidneys? If they match your tissue and blood type? How about organ donation? Blood donation? Can we force you to do that if you don't want to?"

People were frowning.

"It's the woman's body the child is growing in. You can't force someone to use her body against her will. That's slavery."

"But she chose to have sex," the front row guy argued.

"You chose to have a kidney, dude," I said. People laughed. "Choosing sex isn't choosing to be pregnant," I said. "Ask anyone in this room. Two different acts. It's fine if you want to donate your kidney. You're a prince and a hero and I mean that with all my heart. It's fine if a woman wants to have a baby. I had mine and I love her. No one should make me have one I don't want to have, and that includes my husband and it sure," I paused her, and maybe I bared my teeth a little, "it *surely* includes the law and the government of our country."

I didn't add for fuck's sake. But boy did I want to.

At this point, the women in the room put in, I swear to you, their one and only comment.

From the seat next to the front row guy, the smart dark haired girl, sounding extremely bored, said, "Does that clear it up for you, son? Are we finished?"

Which I reckon we were.

*Other times I use the question of smacking kids -- I always tell them up front I think hitting a kid for any reason whatsoever is wrong, which makes them just *furious* -- abortion they only disagree with me about; the idea that I think it's wrong to spank kids, that they get so angry about they want to rise up from their desks and KILL me, which, you know, that's interesting, isn't it?

Sunday, January 20, 2008


You know, I am absolutely not for tigers killing people, but what the shit?

You remember that tiger attack in San Fransciso, yes? Well, the kids that got attacked, apparently they had been "taunting" the tiger who attacked them. Further, apparently this tiger had been taunted frequently by the zoo visitors in the past. Apparently, it's *common* for zoo visitors to mock, taunt, and THROW ROCKS at tigers and another animals in zoos.

Can I just say my fucking shit?

Not that I think it's cool or dandy that this tiger then killed this boy and mauled his buddies, but shit.

As Paul Thereux said, "The Ape is cruel because when I pinch him he bites me."

More here:


(Via Edge of American West, an excellent blog which you ought to be reading:



Did you know Wikipedia keeps a record of everything you've ever searched, ever, on its site? Linked to your cookie, so far as I can tell.

The kid discovered this for me the other night. She's scrolling down a long, long, long, freaking LONG list of search terms attached to the search box. (Terrorism, guerrilla tactics, socialism, *you* know the sorts of things I look up!) "Hey!" I say. "WTF! What's that?"

"Search terms," she said. "Just empty the box and scroll down and..."

Considering what I've searched, working on this book, yikes.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Over at Slacktivist, Fred articulates the trouble with Huckabee's position re religion and the state. (And, btw, all y'all on the right who have been telling all us on the left that we just need to calm down about this for the past eight years? Uh-huh.)

Key bit:

"The problem with Huckabee's statement is not that I disagree with him about same-sex marriage. The problem is that Huckabee doesn't care if I, or you, or anyone else, disagrees with him. His approach does not allow disagreement -- indeed, he says, to disagree with him is to disagree with God."

But read the whole thing:


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hateful Things

Here, on this page, a photographer has gone to a museum for us. It's the Jim Crow Museum, a collection of racist artifacts.


It's pretty depressing, I warn you.

Beyond the photopgraphs of the exhibits themselves, the most depressing thing, for me, as usual, is the comments on his page. The very first one, for instance:

HighSierra 12-Jan-2008 02:21: "It is unfortunate that you have chosen not to balance your exhibit with some information about 'why' things got this way - about how freed southern slaves were rampaging the south, raping, murdering. Fortunately, for the educated white persons viewing your exhibit, we will continue to educate our children and grand children of the guilt you are attempting to assign to us. Perhaps an exhibit showing how your race is taking responsibility for your fatherless children is in order?"

Others deny that racism exists in America anymore (despite old Sierra's comment, which, as I note, LEADS OFF the comments section -- or, you know, if it exists, that it matters much.

Oh, you know, racism, what difference can it possibly make in our country?

That denial, it's a pretty thing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Teaching Again

I am back in the saddle, teaching four different preps, right in a row -- Freshman Comp II at 9:00 a.m., History of the English Language at 10.00, World Lit II at 11:00, and Chaucer at noon. Cab you spell fucking exhausted? I knew that you could.

It's a fine schedule aside from the breakneck pace, as it is MWF, thus leaving me T-R as writing days. (Yay!) If I live, I will be in paradise.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Why I Hate The Patriarchy

So there's a new kid at the Montessori school, in the lower school, just younger than my kid.

"I thought he was going to be okay," the kid told me dolefully last night. "But then, at recess, he told me boys are smarter than girls."

"What did you tell him?" I asked.

"I told him they weren't. But Houston said he was right."

Houston is a punk and a thug. We do not like Houston.

"Houston!" I said. "Hmpf! Did you tell them they were both patriarchy-oppressed trolls?"

"No," she admitted. "I would have gotten in trouble for calling names."


"It's not true, is it?" she asked. "Boys aren't really smarter than girls?"

Sunday, January 06, 2008

More Weather

Still hot here -- opened the windows and wore shorts and a tank-top today.

I also raked my leaves, finally. (Not all of them, mind you! Don't get too excited.) I believe this sets a record for the latest I have ever gone into a year before I broke down and raked leaves. But hell, here it is nearly mid-January and we're still having summer, so who can blame me?

Tomorrow Spring semester starts. O yay.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Weather, Whining

It was 70 degrees again here today, on the sixth of January.

Have I mentioned I hate heat?

I hate heat.

Monday we're back at school, me and the kid. The last two days of break, I couldn't get decent weather?

On the plus side, the kid has discovered paper airplanes (I am downloading and printing templates off the web for her -- remember when we learned how to make paper airplanes from our fellow students in 4th grade?) -- she is entirely and happily occupied.

And only slightly pestery (I can't fold it this way! Look, what does this mean? Hey! Look at it fly!)

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I'm still hoping for Edwards for the nomination -- there's a post up on Pandagon that partially adresses why

(copy and paste:


Mainly, even though I can live with Clinton or Obama, Edwards, I think, is the only one I have heard addressing the actual problems in this country: the increasing division between that thin crust who has the wealth, and the rest of us, whose income has flattened or receded; the bad problems being caused by health care and insurance costs; the increasing impossibility, for those who are working class, of climbing out of poverty.

And the quagmore W has left us in, re Iraq. That stupid, stupid, stupid "war on terra." Clinton just keeps talking tough like the big boys, and I don't hear much besides charm out of Obama. At least Edwards is willing to suggest other solutions.

Huckabee Again

I'm still all unlinky, but Ezra Klein has a new post up about Huckabee you should go read, in which he says what I've been suspecting, that hearing the Huckster is different from reading him. Huck's a good liar, Ezra says, and that's why he's swinging so many people who ought to know better over to his side, as re that tax reform he's pushing.

Other unlinky suggestions: there's a relatively new blog called The Edge of the American West I've been following lately, chock full of bloggy goodness. When I am back on a computer that links, I will give you a link, but for now, a google should get you to it.

Or you can copy and paste:


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Politics in the New Year

Or, Who Do You Like?

I'm stuck on this computer that won't link (it will barely type these days --argh! also the mouse ain't work half the time) so this will be an unlinky post, though I will point you to interesting blogs and sources, as useless as that might be (how XXth century!).

About the only issues we had when I was down in Miss Orleans (as the kid used to call New Orleans when she was little and so we still do) and by we I mean me had to do, no shock here, with politics, being I am a socialist atheist and my family is, mainly, conservative Christians of varying stripes (a few are moderate liberals, or used to be, and one, who used to be a moderate conservative, is now a moderate liberal; and one, who used to be a serious liberal, is now, I think, a moderate liberal; but it's hard to keep track, since I'm not down there often).

Well, we try to keep clear of politics. And religion. It does keep coming up. Especially given we are there for Christmas dinner. Should we have ham for Christmas dinner? (Remember that though I am an atheist, mr. delagar and the kid are Jewish, and, you know, I live in a Jewish household. This is not a secret we have kept from anyone in my family.) mr. delagar says have all the ham you want, he just won't eat it. Will there be a prayer at Christmas dinner? (No one asks about this, I am just compelled to participate, and no, I have not kept the atheism a secret either. Everyone has known I am an atheist since I was sixteen. Also, though I am not at the table when the prayer begins, and though I say, politely, that they can go ahead without me, no, no, I must return to the table and participate. Well, what the fuck ever. I do. I pitch no fit, I make no political statement, I sit down and let them hold their ceremony.)

Nevertheless, mainly we were all doing what we could not to cause trouble, I think.

Only, when otherwise sensible people start defending Huckabee, what am I to do then?

And they do. Good shit, what is it about this man that has people fooled?

I think it's because they listen to him, instead of reading blogs. I think maybe he sounds better than he reads. (See Ezra Klein and Pandagon, for instance.) Or else they don't care about social issues? People defend him over his flat tax scheme, for instance. But the Angry Bear, who's one of the top the economics blogs out there, he doesn't think much of the flat tax. (See Wikipedia's entry on Flat Tax for a thorough discussion of the issue, including countries that have tried/are trying flat taxes, and how, exactly, what Huckabee is proposing -- a national sales tax, as I understand it -- differs from a true flat tax, which, in any case, has real problems: either a flat tax or a national sales tax does, I mean.)

Anyway, what I began this to say: the candidates.

Obviously, among the right side, who is there?

If I had to pick, if you put a gun to my head, McCain is the only one I could bear. Huckabee, I admit, is earnest. I believe he believes what he says. But I know fellas like Huckabee. That he believes what he says -- that he can believe what he believes -- that doesn't make me happier about him.

Illustrative story: the tiger that escaped and attacked the zoo patrons. A rumor was floating that someone might have taunted the tiger, might have enraged it enough that it leaped from its cage to attack. I was reminded of a S. Carolina Zoo where the S.C. vistors used to do the same thing, mock and torment the tiger, a beautiful tiger, only ten yards or so away across a dry cement coulee. It would pace and growl and cough horrible threats at them, and they would laugh in sadistic glee and keep mocking it. mr. delagar used to shake his head in wonder. One day, he said, that tiger's going to come right across that ditch and have him some rednecks.

When I told this story, the kid wanted to know why the zoo visitor would do that: why they would make fun of the tiger that way.

Because they were ignorant yokels, I said.

My little brother corrected me: because they were afraid of the tiger, he said.

Huh, I thought: because he was right. That was it.

And really insightful, too.

On the other hand: they dealt with their fear by mocking the tiger why?


Huckabee fears and hates gay people, feminists, non-Christians, liberals, anyone who isn't like him, why? Ignorance. Now I know it's due to his culture -- I live here too, after all. I know what he's been told. I know he's a smart enough guy, and he's wrapped his head through all the ways his culture has taught him to wrap it, he's figured all the arguments he can, why it's right for him to treat people not like him as not-really-people. (We can put gays in camps, uh, hospitals...because they have diseases! Yeah! We can make women stay at home and keep them from the workplace because...they like it that way, really! Yeah! God says so!) Well, that's his business. That's why he's on the right. He can believe what he wants, he can argue what he wants as earnestly as he wants, this is America, that's what we're about.

The trouble is people in my family are swallowing it. Well, the real trouble, of course, is people in my country are swallowing it. Did the past eight years teach them nothing? God and terra is still working? I'm afraid of that tiger is still working?

On the left, well.

I like Edwards, myself. (Again, Ezra Klein, Wikipedia, for why.)

Clinton, I think, is probably going to take the nomination. I can live with her, I suppose.

Update: if you want to get seriously depressed, go on over to Ann Althouse's blog and read her posts on Huckabee: specifically, the comments. Her readers like Huckabee precisely b/c of his attitudes toward gays, women, and women's rights. In other words, they support Huck, if they do, b/c he speaks out against gay people and social issues like woman's rights and the right to choose. Not that he would discriminate! Oh, never!

And if you believe that, eh...