I read the blogs, of course. I'm not going to cite anyone, because that would tend to assign blessing or blame where none is due. I will only say that this rant has been provoked by my dear blogfriend and contrary inspiration, Echidne. I will not reveal what particular post, because that would suggest that her pebble implies approval with the direction of this avalanche, and I see no good reason to assume that.
But I will state that Echidne seems to be one of the few, left or right, that seems to give a crap about the fate of those on "the other side," a virtue that I am finding it difficult to claim, even as the "right " shoots at me as if I were wearing a Leftists' red cap.
Well, it IS called a Liberty Cap.
Still, even from the more aloof and not entirely unbalanced perspective I generally try to maintain, it's almost impossible to notice the radical hatred on the "right" and the nearly delusional wishful thinking on the "left." To the extent there IS anything on the "left" of course. From MY perspective, Hillary Clinton is a moderate Republican, and the fact that she's an Ovarian American is one of the few things in her favor.
Liberals love to think she's as liberal as they are, feminists would like to think that her gyno-Americanism would override her wardrobe of scarlet ambition - but I tend to think that of all the candidates, it's probably John Edwards who wears the skirt in the family.
And I'm not saying that as an insult. There is a yin and a yang, and from my perspective, Hillary's yang hangs to her knees, and anyone who's yang is shorter, or who's yin is wider is probably more welcome in polite company.
But "Polite Comany" and "world leader" don't usually go hand in hand, so don't think I'm saying this as a put down. I respect Hill enourmously. I'm just not sure she deserves (in either the usual or the ironic sense) to be President.
A big, long, knobby Yang ain't a bad thing for a US President - unless you are betting on her to act according to your particular preconceptions of gender-based solidarity. And I personally think it would be better in some larger and less immediate sense if she were assured enough in her own gender to not try to counter-program her own femininity.
On the other hand, I bet you would get your ears most righteously pinned back should you even imply she "owes the movement" anything much more than a polite nod and a handshake. Hell, I'd probably do it on her behalf.
But still and all, there is a mess that needs cleaning up, and women are mentally better at sorting messes into useful piles. That's a vast generalization of course, but ask any woman and she'll tell you. Hell, just observe the distintions between men and women in the wild - and then try to act on the assumption that these distintcions are mere social artifiacts.
No, wait. I've got a better example. TRY do things the opposite gender is famous for doing effortlessly in the same way they do it. You may be able to get the job done just as well - but you won't be able to do it just as well if you try to do it the same way. There are some things no amount of enlightenment and social awareness can transcend. And that is why I'm concerned, not about what game she plays, or to what end, so much, but if she is allowing herself a home-gender advantage, when the world situation is positively screaming for it.
I AM impressed by how she handled Bill's messes without undermining the good Bill is capable of, OR doing anything to enable him in his folly beyond that expected of a proper partner and spouse. That speaks to me of a sharp focus on the relative importance of various things. But I am as yet unconvinced.
I should also mention that of the very great female leaders in history, all of them seemed to come to power at times of great social change, where the masculine approach of sudden violent action would be about as smart as lighting a match in a powder shack.
For that very reason alone, I am predisposed to a woman president. Not because they are "just as good" as any male; but because women and men are non-interchangeable. We have different inherent advantages and deficits, and those of us who unabashedly exploit the former while ruthlessly compensating for the latter are worthy of anyone's vote. And I do think B and H do compensate well for each other's lacks. Politically. I'm just not sure if they see a larger advantage than their own careers.
So if she is elected, I do hope she can rise to the example of Elizabeth the First and transcend the example of Cleopatra. But, well-endowed as she is, I'm not sure it's Motherwit she's endowed with. Still, Bill does have some of that.
Personally I think power is what makes HER nipples hard and I think that's how she should be judged - how well she will use the very thing she wants in the worst way** and how much we should charge her for the pleasure.
As opposed to, well, the other way around, how much we will be charged for the pleasure of her leadership.
This, by the way, is an arrogance and folly that seems endemic of all the "first tier" candidates and the pundits that shill for them; that we should somehow take pride in our support of one or another, rather than the fact that they should be personally thanking each and every one of us willing to part with five minutes or a spare dollar to help them along the way.
I'm Not Leftist at all (I keep protesting) but in some respects, Hillary is still to the right of me. Not because she wants to be, I think, but because she and her husband have made political expediency into an art form. In other words, she's just as Liberal as any Canadian Liberal. She says what she has to to get elected, then she will do what she needs to do to stay in power.
But what I do know is that she shares something in common with all of those on the other side of the asile - the idea that there ought to be people in charge, that without the Rule of Authority, Chaos Will Ensue, and that she is qualified to rule.
The last point is for all of us to determine, but I observe that the first two assumptions are fallacious - but very convenient to those born with access to power and the ambition to secure more of it.
If this were Canada, with Canada's particular ways of applying pressure to the powerful, I'd vote for Miz Clinton in a heartbeat, believing as I do of her as I do, because in Canada, there is the understanding that you elect a politician that would like to be honest* - and then help them keep their promises. She's every bit the man - and woman - that Jean Chretien ever was. And she probably has a better command of both French and English.
Honestly, I don't much care for her personally - but the history of US politics shows that likable people are either too squeamish for the job - Jimmy Carter - or are simply panderers to those they want to be liked by, like Regan and Bush. I'd rather have a president I was personally disappointed by, but respected for their sheer brilliance. Nixon and Bill Clinton come to mind for very different reasons.
I don't need a leader, personally - but this country and the great bulk of the population does, so it's a critical issue, that quality of "leadership."
Both panderers and idealists are lousy leaders. I will state up front that Hillary is obviously neither; but she IS is a third thing - the sign of a leader that many will follow to hell, and that might well lead us there just to prove she's got the power to do so.
Furthermore, my gut says that Hillary won't do the right thing if it gets in the way of the politically expedient thing, which means no radical departure from the last fifty years of stupid. I say that even as I remind myself that "politics is the art of the possible." I believe that Hillary is enamored of power itself, and will do whatever it takes to keep it.
Again, if this were Canada.. but it is not, and those that most need a good leader and a champion, those who most deserve a light on a narrow path toward a brighter future are, I think, likely to be disappointed.
I simply cannot forget, nor easily forgive the fact that both Bill and Hillary were quite upbeat about "welfare reform" here in the US - possibly the single most mean-spirited piece of social legislation short of the Enclosure Acts that brought many of our forebears to North America. At the very best, they held their noses as it passed, and took some credit for it to gain points with the wealthy and powerful.
For myself, I have a more workaday perspective on such folks.
"The Gangs of New York" documents what they found, coming here in search of a better life. The full scope of the tragedy is encompassed in the observation that they actually DID find a better life, one well worth engaging in gang warfare to defend - even as Boss Tweed, who reminds me rather a lot of both of a slightly imprudent Bill Clinton and a somewhat better and more intelligent George Bush callously remarked that "you can always hire half of the poor to kill the other half."
Think on that, as the repugnant wing of the Republican party tries to squeeze more out of the poor to enrich (and please) the sort of rich person that thinks their wealth is degraded somehow by the lack of sufficient abject, humiliating, exploitable poverty.
I don't call myself a Progressive - but both Shit and Progress Happens. I happen to believe that the essential difference between shit and progress is pretty much where it gets dumped, and to who's advantage.
My belief in progress begins and ends at the sincere belief that no person and no institution that wishes to survive should try and stand in it's way. Both social conservatives and so-called progressives tend to do this. One wishes to stop it, the other to "guide it." I think the first to be suicidally futile, the other hilariously futile, with the preditive and practical value of a Hal Linsay novel.
Yeah, I know, he doesn't think they are fiction. And he shares that touching conceit with those who Envision A Better Future For Humanity - a future most often envisioned without any broad or significant human contact.
I prefer to watch the splendor of the great leaderless parade from a safe vantage, knowing that altering the path of progress is like playing traffic cop in a cattle stampede.
My obvious cynicism is not because I do not care about individuals. I care about little else; I see both church and state as barely tolerable institutions that exist only for the aid and comfort they give to individuals, and only to the degree they serve individuals humbly and impartially. I see these institutions as being powerful only to the extent that people see no choice in giving power to them. I, personally, see that donation of power as a great mistake, even though I admit that pretending otherwise would have shown me greater personal profit.
My goodness, even in the last decade, had it been within me to hold my nose and speak as Coulter or Limbaugh have - and honestly, I could do better, were I unburdened by conscience or the perception of the individual consequences of people taking me seriously - I could have become rather well-off. Certainly well-off enough to relocate to a country where the poor are agreeably and institutionally oppressed for the benefit of the sort of people I would have become and likely to stay that way long enough to die smugly of old age.
But I do not see it as "better" that one be a hammer than a nail. Given that dichotomy, I prefer to be the light fixture in the workshop. This light shows me clearly that those who think only in terms of hammers and nails are utterly screwed.
I do not champion any particular ideology. I've tried out various ideologies, and all of them, to one degree or another, tend to justify the need to break eggs in order to make a omelets for whatever group or segment of the population they most value.
I value the individual - but not as an expendable resource. That is why I'm a Libertarian. I'm an individualist first, last and always, and it's as good a label as any for those who need labels, though I could be just as accurately called a disciple of the Eight Immortals.
At base, I do think that every individual is connected with every other, and that John Donne was correct in saying "Send not to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
I just don't happen to think that being connected to all gives me the right to pro-actively act in "their own interest," when really it's my comfort and security that I seek to defend.
Consider the ever-so-pious liberal attempts to ban smoking.
At the root of it, it's disrespectful of the needs and desires of individuals, which are considered far less important than the mild preferences of any group of like-bleating sheep. Side-stream smoke, at least when banished to separate rooms or outdoors is far less of a threat than, say, automotive exaust.
But that sort of Liberal is very dependant upon their Limosines - where they will likely light up in private, even as their conservative counterparts indulge themselves in the joys of non reciprocal oral sex.
With Illegal immagrant male minors of African descent.
Yes, I do prefer the hypocrisies of liberals, being a white citizen of legal age. But they are hypocracies, nonetheless, and I DO smoke.
Moreover, I enjoy it.
Anyhoo; I harbor no illusions that all individuals are equal, much less equivalent, much less interchangeable. Indeed, it's the very most dear topic of the bloggers who's critical insight I value most - that women and minorities are considered as groups, with group characteristics that devalue and degrade any particular individual. I find their arguments to the contrary both effective and persuasive, for their arguments match my experience.
I have known many individuals, of all genders and races, and I've never met one person who fit any particular stereotype unless that was their individual goal in life.
Pretty much, the only people I know who celebrate and revere stereotypes as their personal ideals are drag queens, Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians and Anne Coulter who somehow manages to maintain an improbably high heel in both camps.
Though I don't doubt her XX credentials (or even consider claiming the right to demand a blood test) , she portrays femininity more than just being female, somewhat in the way a successful trannie does, which probably explains the wide perception that she is one.
Personally, I much prefer Ru Paul, who is twice the woman Anne is, and a far more credible actor. Genuine Drag Queens and Kings are a lot more fun to be around, which is really how you tell the difference. They know they are sacred clowns. Ann just thinks she is sacred and justified - which makes her a self-nominated sacred cow, all ready to be tipped.
Even Ru Paul know there is a time to be in drag, and a time to NOT be in drag, and that each has different standards of virtue and fabulousness. The comparable Christianists seem to believe they can't properly revere their stereotypes without forcing everyone else to dress and speak just as they do.
Now imagine how truly Unspectacular it would be, how very UN-festive it would seem, if Mardi Gras was compelled by law, 24/7, 365, and if "certain people" were compelled by law to be mostly naked save for feathers and beads. Yeah, I'm talking about you and your pale, flabby, wrinkly self. It takes a lot of work to be fablulous, and frankly, I have better things to do, and I imagine you think you do too.
As well we might, given a social matrix that allows us to clothe our shortcomings. :P But if it were compulsary (eithier legally or just in a practical sense, as it was in ancient Greece, )
It would be as small-minded, as proscribed and as essentially dull and vapid as any Christianist social matrix. Take "Antigone."
Of course, we would all get used to it - much like we have gotten used to excusing other intuitively stupid things, like supply-side economics, or the inherent benevolence of human nature, and we would excuse it with shared fairy tales as to how awful things would be if we did not choose to sacrifice some of our freedom to stave off the evil day.
Thus is it now, and so it was in the days of Sophocles and FDR. Different fables, pretty much the same rectal burning the fables are supposed to distract us from. Could be worse, they say; it could be SQUARE, like the OTHER people want to use on you.
And so each individual is imposed upon by the groups purporting to represent their interests; whether it's Hoffa or Bush, and as one mexican peasant put it, after being "liberated" once again, this time by General Pershing; "What does it matter? You ALL steal my chickens."
And in "stealing those chickens" from the Masses, in order to Properly Feed the Great Struggle , my feminist and "racially aware" compadres tend to miss an essential point - in exactly the same way that Dominionists, Patriarchs and white racists do.
There is a great amount of value in individual variation; culture and genetics count for some large part in this; far more than either racists or their ideological foes would care to admit.
I oppose oppression based on any perception that any particular distinction is sufficient to indicate social or biological superiority or inferiority. Certainly there ARE individuals that are, I'm afraid, somewhat overall less capable in general than others. I'm one of those; though I do choose to believe that my greater needs for support are matched by my unusual, if narrow ranges of skill. What I am good at, I'm VERY good at, and there are enough that value what I can do that I've never had to be seriously concerned about what I cannot. And yet, I cannot honestly pretend that the greatest of my advantages are the result of practice. I was born with them - and some of what are my greatest advantages kinda suck for me in a slightly different light.
Due to having my nose rubbed in the matter, I have an intimate appreciation of the variation and value of humanity. I've come to hold nothing but amused disdain for those who think that any particular description of how people should be is preferable to the simple idea that, so long as you mind your own business to the extent you can, and to the extent that you cannot, honestly render value for value, you and yours will be safe and warm in the sort of community that best suits them.
What more does anyone really need?
This vision is inclusive of those who are excellent at making money. Most people are not, it's a rare and valuable skill - for after all, the very activity of gaining great wealth increases general prosperity. Or at least it does when those skilled in making wealth remember that they would not have been able to apply those skills without help, encouragement and the investment of both cash and sweat.
They should know, understand and appreciate that their talent is rare and very much appreciated by those who do not share it - even as they appreciate, use and celebrate abilities that would never truly flower without their support and patronage.
It takes a largish village to raise a child, in part because there is no guarantee that any particular set of parents has all the insight and experience that any particular child will need to be their best - nor is there any way to predict what it will be ahead of time.
That is why I absolutely reject ANY faith or culture as inherently inhuman, obviously unethical, deeply un Christian and inarguably stupid that excludes any choice or life-path that is not directly and provably harmful to others - and I specifically spurn those who base the sum of their faith not on what they are and what they do, but on who they are not, and what they do NOT do.
Note that I abstain from calling social champions of exclusionary faith - such as Huckabee, Bin Ladin, Pat Robertson or Orthodox Druidry by the name they would arrogate to themselves, or referring to their refuges from reality as Churches, Temples, Ashrams or Faith Groups.
Conformity is not faith, and a conformity so insecure that it cannot exist without forcing public obedience to overt exhibitions of that that faith on everyone else is utterly, totally fucking worthless. It has not even the significance of a drag review. It hasn't the social importance of a Folsom Day Parade. It doesn't have the spiritual significance enjoyed by Our Ladies of Perpetual Indulgance. All these things, after all, challenge conventional assuptions and therefore promote the testing and examination of valid spiritual and social truths.
Christianist fetishism celebrates the ideal of eliminating fun for themselves and everyone they can intimidate, in order to eliminate anything that might test their shallow, bitter and pointless faith in their own moral superiority.
Any faith that regularly encourages it 's members to cause (or at least excuse) harm to others, even family members, in the here in now, in the name of "saving their souls" shows an arrogance and indifference toward the very words of Christ that disqualifies them from ANY valid observation of the Numinous.
Unfuck them, say I; they might not appreciate it; but far more significantly, they certainly don't deserve it, much less the right to any genetic payoff.
Perhaps I can sum this up in one or two more graphs and keep it all within the bounds of reason. I have come to think that it may not be reasonable to expect that the vast problems of this great, inept and debtor nation may even be addressed by a federal election. It may be time to admit that we are not one great culture, but at LEAST two, with incompatible ideas as to what "great" means. I am starting to believe that we should each of us declare for the outcome we prefer - or abandon the right to a preference.
There seems to be a huge discordance between the coasts and the interior states, the cities and the countryside; the sophisticates and the viciously ignorant Siberian peasantry who indulge in religiosity as a hangover cure for their own workaday brutality.
Yes, clearly I have my own value judgments going on here. I will unabashedly admit that I'd rather trip over any number of "commies", "niggers," "faggots" "feminazis" and "preverts" on the way to a well-stocked library. None of them ever beat the crap out of me for reading books for fun. Hell, many of them handed me books to read and lived lives worth remembering.
I'm predisposed to forgive many putative faults in those who hand me mental chocolate!
I will delightedly admit that I would rather put up with all of the downsides of a civilized, coastal culture than the inbred, small minded, dead-end reflexes of a long-gone inland agrarian culture that I doubt was worth the powder to blow it to hell at the hight of the family farm.
Certainly I know of few social stories that elevate the life on a farm over the opportunity to successfully escape it.
Now, I don't mind if you find my choices repugnant nor will I even say that I honestly reject all that is middle America. Frankly, given the Internet, it SHOULD be possible to have and value both, if Middle America would allow it.
However, I know that it will not, and that many Middle Americans would love to see me dangling from a lamp-post, along with all the others they call "Liberals".
I cannot help but take that personally. So, forgive me, or not, but if it comes down to a choice between me and mine living, and all the people who would like to see me and mine dangling from lamp-posts dead, I know what I will choose. I know who uses "diversity" and "tolerance" as bad words - and how little I need their continued existence as a cultural, religious or selection of like-minded individuals.
Tolerance has limits even among the tolerant. Tolerating those who would kill you or worse because you are forgiving, tolerant and therefore "weak" is suicidally foolish.
Increasingly, I see the difficulty of governing a nation divided so, on the cusp of ignorance and enlightenment, between those who hope and strive for a better future for themselves and others, and those who fear any change that might possibly affect what little they are and what small prizes they have gained at the expense of "lusers" they despise.
I know which side of the balance I am on - for being who and what I am, I have little choice in the matter. I've not been able to "go along to get along" any time in my memory, so I must go with all the other liberals, faggots, artists, dykes, feminists, intellectuals, geniuses and mentally handicapped that do not fit the mold of "good Midwestern stock."
And frankly, after seeing what has come of following your fears and prejudices these last years, the blowback of your bleating conformity and unreasoning panic; the spiritual rewards of your sacrifice of anyone but your own - well, I have to say that if napalm and cluster bombs MUST be pissed upon someone from a great height, why NOT you? How have you in any way earned a justifiable moral exception to the violence you have empowered and affirmed?
You certainly have earned it as much as any Iraqi, and FAR more than the average Iranian - even as your churches and dear leaders cheer the idea of paving Iran in green glass.
Oddly, you seem confused that those who live downwind might object to such an obvious national security imperative. (That would be sarcasm.)
You demanded it be done to others - and their children. You would wish it done to even more. Have we not all heard calls for bombing the Madrases? Madrases are indeed evil places - but they are evil places filled with children who are slaves to that evil. You would rather kill them than save them, for the outcome of one is cheap and sure, while the outcome of the other requires effort, heart, and not a little heartbreak - and you don't even consider your own noncompliant offspring worth a moment's sorrow.
Of these children - those of others and those you choose to reject - you either said, or silently assented with the idea that "nits breed lice."
Indeed they do.
One sort of bloodsucking oppressive patriarchal religious dictatorship is pretty much the same as any other, and "nits" raised in either result in lice distinguishable only by other lice.
Speaking for humanity in general, I think we would all love to see a war of extermination between the crab lice and the head lice ... if only, of course, it were not our human heads and pubes as a battlefield.
But having that wistful vision, it's difficult to pass the products in the supermarket aisle designed to remove lice from one's follicles without wondering what tempting products are available to our long-suffering planet.
So, you in the Midwest have a choice. You can either do as generations of your smarter and less compliant offspring have done; allow the scales to fall from your eyes, regard the consequences of your social and religious indoctrination and move to a civilized state, or you can face the just wrath of the world, perhaps including those civilized states.
Should you MANAGE to cheat your way to another electoral victory, do NOT expect those of us who share more worldly values with most of the world to spend many drops of blood or any large number of tears for the fate of you and yours.
I know that if I see black helicopters flying cover for white tanks heading east on I-80, I will wave that UN flag like a madman. I will of course take sensible precautions as well; hiding a few things in undisclosed locations - but a rational paranoia does not preclude a certain schadenfreud at the rewards of irrational and vicious paranoid revenge fantasies acted out upon innocents thought to be safely powerless.
Fuck you all to death, with the sharp and unwelcome objects you made for profit and intended to inflict upon others, you and the religious leaders who told you Haliburton and Exxon belonged in your Ethical Fund.
May you rot in the various hells you would wish upon others, after no more painful and humiliating a death than the god you worship would consider the due of sinners such as yourselves working for the OTHER god you worship even more faithfully.
*An honest politician is one who stays bought.
**Better than many, not as well as some, at least as well as any serious competitor.
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