Monday, November 20, 2006

Labor begets labor

I just got back yesterday from a trip to upstate New York where I was connection-less. So now I'm catching up.

I was staying at my sister's cabin in the woods, a place so remote that when you search for the nearest Starbuck's, you find there isn't one within a fifty mile radius. (By contrast, there are twenty-four within five miles of my zipcode.) It is, in fact, so remote that when we left (at 4am) to drive to the airport, we didn't pass another car for forty-five minutes.

So I'm glad to be back to the traffic, the smog, and the fake boobs. Gosh I love LA.

But I didn't post just to talk about my trip. Really I just wanted to let out a superior chuckle about this, the report produced by Missouri's Special Committee on Immigration Reform that argues abortion is one of the root causes of illegal immigration. It seems we are aborting our labor force and so we must look south for more workers:
There's a lot of editorial comment there that I couldn't really stomach," Rep. Trent Skaggs said Monday. "To be honest, I think it's a little delusional."

All 10 Republican committee members signed the report, though one of them, Rep. Billy Pat Wright, said Monday he didn't recall it connecting abortion and illegal immigration.

Emery, who equates abortion to murder, defended the assertions.

"We hear a lot of arguments today that the reason that we can't get serious about our borders is that we are desperate for all these workers," Emery said. "You don't have to think too long. If you kill 44 million of your potential workers, it's not too surprising we would be desperate for workers."
These anti-choice folks really do have an "if the only tool you have is a hammer" way of thinking about anything that's going on in the country. It's pretty astounding.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Some things should be regarded as "givens"

Shakespeare's Sister calls our attention to this gem from shrub's Saturday radio address: "[A]ll Americans can take pride in the example our democracy sets for the world by holding elections even in a time of war."

Just how low can we set the national pride bar, do you think? Gee, I'm so proud that we don't suspend Constitutional democracy and institute martial law. And you know what else? I'm really proud we let women vote here (and drive cars!). We rock!

Friday, November 10, 2006

More good news

It seems John Bolton is back on the job market.

Everything old is new again

In yet another demonstration of the US's astounding ability to back the wrong horse, Daniel Ortega was elected president of Nicaragua this week. The Independent's coverage of the campaign reads like a near-parody:
His campaign flag and theme tune, he insists, said it all. The old red-and-black flag and silk scarves of the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) were still on show, but alongside them were flags and banners in Ortega's new favoured colour--shocking pink--chosen by his wife and meant to symbolise the new Ortega's softer, gentler side.

The old FSLN anthem, which included the words "let us fight the yanqui, enemy of humanity", could still be heard during his campaign, but it played second fiddle to Ortega's latest theme tune--a Spanish version of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance", which calls for reconciliation and whose refrain is "We all want to live in peace". It also gave a Washington Post headline writer the chance to come up with "Daniel Ortega, from Lenin to Lennon".
Something about fuschia-clad Sandanistas singing Lennon songs really seems like a moment right out of Delillo to me.

And if the Independent's coverage reads like a postmodern novel, the BBC's is like the political equivalent of the musical reunion tour:
So who has become the principle agitator-in-chief for those opposed to Mr Ortega?

None other than Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver North, the public face of the Iran-Contra scandal in the days of Ronald Reagan's presidency.

"If Ortega wins," he said on a two-day visit here. "He will have key regional allies... who together could create problems aplenty for the US and its democratic Latin American allies."

"Today, Nicaragua looks like a case of back to the future," Mr North added.
Wow. The eighties revival is clearly far, far more pervasive than I had imagined.


Via After School Snack comes the video of the day.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Read of the day

Garrison Keillor's piece for the Chicago Tribune yesterday.

This paragraph almost made me cry:
People still care deeply about our government, despite every invitation to disillusionment. This is the astonishment. For my generation, the first big blow was the failure of Washington to get to the truth about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and then its inability to change a disastrous course in Vietnam. You stand at the majestic polished wall with the 57,000 names on it, and you look across the river to Arlington, and here, within one mile, are two enormous aching sorrows, and a mile behind you is the U.S. Supreme Court, which threw the election of 2000. Some people killed our president and got away with it; men were shipped off to die in a lousy war promulgated by Democrats afraid to be called weak on communism; and an election was stolen, no protest. And yet we still stroll down to the church and cast our ballots. We live on hope.


The Dems have the Senate. It's official. Allen conceded.

My favorite part of the article is this bit:
Allen was comfortably ahead in polls until August, when he mockingly referred to a Webb campaign volunteer of Indian descent as "Macaca," regarded by some as a racial slur. The incident, caught on videotape, became international news. Some former football teammates from the University of Virginia also charged that Allen had commonly used a slur for blacks--something he denied.
I guess we're talking about the word "nigger" here, a term that is apparently so sensitive the paper cannot print it even when printing it to make reference to its use as a word (what the Chicago Manual refers to as "words and phrases used as words" (7.62). What I wonder about is how exactly he was accused or able to deny the accusation when the word itself can't actually be used. "No, I never used that word, which I cannot use here to deny that I used it."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out

From SL comes this collection of Rummy classics. Ah the passing of an era:

"As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns - that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know.”

"I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty." In an interview with the Washington Post

"It is unknowable how long [the war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." To U.S. troops in Aviano, Italy

"Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said."

"We do know of certain knowledge that [Osama bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead. And we know of certain knowledge that we don't know which of those happens to be the case."

"Well, you know, something's neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so, I suppose, as Shakespeare said."

"That's all you guys do is read these books. You ought to get a life." To reporters during a press briefing

"I have never painted a rosy picture. I have been very measured in my words, and you'll have a dickens of a time trying to find instances where I have been excessively optimistic. I understand this is tough stuff." At Senate hearings, in an exchange with Sen. Hillary Clinton

"I don't do quagmires."

"I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started."

For my california friends

Complete election results including ballot measures are here.

And while we're on the subject of gays

I'm really thinking someone needs to rerecord National Brotherhood Week with an "everyone hates the queers" slant. The dems won the House. It looks like they may win the Senate. The anti-choice people lost their battle in South Dakota. We won minimum wage battles in six states. But we'll be damned if we let them homos get married. This much we can at least agree on. (To my Arizonan friends, congratulations on somehow avoiding this stripe of insanity.)

For god's sake, people.

Why my optimism is tempered

The Onion put it best back in February:
"We are entirely capable of bungling this opportunity to regain control of the House and Senate and the trust of the American people," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said to scattered applause. "It will take some doing, but we're in this for the long and pointless haul."

"We can lose this," Reid added. "All it takes is a little lack of backbone."
I know I blogged the story before but I was reminded of it again today. If the dems win the executive in two years, they just better fucking do something with it. I mean, let's not start out with guns blazing about gays in the military, for example. Could we agree to that?

Observations upon listening to the preznit's press conference

Has anyone else noticed that Bush pronounces "I-DE-Ology" the same way some people pronounce "eye-talian"?

And let me say another thing: If we never have another president again ever that is capable of uttering the sentence "This isn't my first rodeo," that will really, really be okay with me.

It couldn't happen to a nicer guy

Rumsfeld is resigning. If I still drank you better believe I'd be pouring out a glass of champagne right about now. The only better news would be if he got hit by a bus.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Okay, I'm back. I thought for a while there about posting a "Blog Dark" notice like they do in theaters when there's nothing playing. I don't know why the cat had my tongue for so long except for a couple of obvious factors:

1. I got to the point where the news became so depressing that I just took an ostrich approach for a while.


2. There was that series of catastrophes--K's accident and hospitalization(s), my accident and hospitalization, his bone graft, my crushing work deadline...and so on. Since I last blogged, he ended up in the hospital one more time for an infection in his arm. He got sent home with a picc line and at-home antibiotics. That's all cleared up now. I made my huge work deadline (without wanting to talk about my work in detail, I'll say that September marked one of the most significant professional accomplishments in my life). It has now been more than six weeks since anyone has been hospitalized, had a surgery, had a biopsy, or any other similar calamity. Work is also settling down to its usual level of stress.

And then there's the whole "balancing work, romance, and writing" equation that is just ridiculous and will not be elaborated on at present.

But here it is, Election Day, and what better time to re-enter the blog-o-sphere? I had to re-acquaint myself with the political public sphere for at least one day so maybe if I weigh in quickly while I'm above-sand it will stick.

Though here's the truth, as I said, I've been assiduously avoiding anything that smacks of the news or current events, and given the mammoth size of the ballot here in LA, I've had to do a lot of homework. Just trying to figure out how to vote on the judges alone is quite an endeavor. And what I've realized is I really am a knee-jerk leftist. If, for instance, a ballot measure is supported by any organization that has "taxpayers" in its name, I'm against it. I don't need to read further.

And here, let me digress and say I am pro-taxes. In fact, I am pro-taxes and pro-big government. I'm a fan of good roads, clean water, public education, health care on demand, care for the elderly, and even public art. I'm all for paying for such things publicly and hiring lots of people and structuring offices to execute those services. Let's hear it for taxes and government.

Which brings me to the issue of voting itself. I used to really like voting. True enough, my first election was Reagan's second term, which was a really, really depressing election for any left-leaning first-time voter. So yes, that one was pretty depressing. But in general, voting itself has always felt really good to me. I'm a sucker for all of that ritualistic citizen stuff anyway (pretty funny for someone with such an allergy to patriotism). Shit, I wrote a whole dissertation on nation-making and representation.

This year though, it just feels pretty depressing to me. It feels like going to a viewing. "Doesn't he look so lifelike?" Or as Andrea said, a birthday party disguised as a viewing [I stand corrected, Andrea actually said a viewing disguised as a birthday party, which makes much more sense. See comment below.] I just can't shake the feeling that our great social experiment is dead and we're just making funeral arrangements at this point. Maybe I'll feel less that way as I re-enter the polis and leave my ostrich ways behind.