Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Today’s Republican Party, Ladies and Gentlemen

A George W. Bush appointed Republican judge in Montana “jokes” that the President is Black because he is the result of the union of his mother with a dog, meanwhile a Republican candidate in Illinois indulges in Holocaust denial. Just awful people.


While still-presumptive Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney was squeaking yet another just win must win (a “victory” that may yield less actual delegates than go to the loser) -- one of many just win must wins to come, next up Ohio, after Santorum beats him on March 10 and Gingrich bears him on March 13, then Illinois, after Santorum beats him on March 17 and before he gets trounced across the South, scrounging up votes bit by bit until Santorum beats him in Pennsylvania and he carpet bombs New York and Connecticut with ugly money in April to bounce finally this summer into winner-take-all California and Utah to prevail at last over a demoralized base and bloodied infrastructure -- our President was finally taking his Auto Bailout victory lap, delivering this intelligent, open-hearted, energizing, funny speech, addressing the UAW.
I've got to admit, it's been funny to watch some of these folks completely try to rewrite history now that you're back on your feet. (Applause.) The same folks who said, if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye." Now they're saying, we were right all along. (Laughter.) Or you've got folks saying, well, the real problem is -- what we really disagreed with was the workers, they all made out like bandits -- that saving the auto industry was just about paying back the unions. Really? (Laughter.) I mean, even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you know what. (Laughter.) ...

Let me tell you, I keep on hearing these same folks talk about values all the time. You want to talk about values? Hard work -- that’s a value. (Applause.) Looking out for one another -- that’s a value. The idea that we're all in it together, and I'm my brother's keeper and sister's keeper -- that’s a value. (Applause.) They're out there talking about you like you're some special interest that needs to be beaten down. Since when are hardworking men and women who are putting in a hard day's work every day -- since when are they special interests? Since when is the idea that we look out for one another a bad thing?

I remember my old friend, Ted Kennedy -- he used to say, what is it about working men and women they find so offensive? (Laughter.) This notion that we should have let the auto industry die, that we should pursue anti-worker policies in the hopes that unions like yours will buckle and unravel -– that’s part of that same old "you are on your own" philosophy that says we should just leave everybody to fend for themselves; let the most powerful do whatever they please. They think the best way to boost the economy is to roll back the reforms we put into place to prevent another crisis, to let Wall Street write the rules again. They think the best way to help families afford health care is to roll back the reforms we passed that’s already lowering costs for millions of Americans. (Applause.) They want to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny your coverage or jack up your rates whenever and however they pleased. They think we should keep cutting taxes for those at the very top, for people like me, even though we don’t need it, just so they can keep paying lower tax rates than their secretaries.

Well, let me tell you something. Not to put too fine a point on it -- they’re wrong. (Laughter.) They are wrong. (Applause.) That’s the philosophy that got us into this mess. We can’t afford to go back to it. Not now.... We’re fighting for an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, where everybody does their fair share, where everybody plays by the same set of rules. We’re not going to go back to an economy that’s all about outsourcing and bad debt and phony profits. We’re fighting for an economy that’s built to last, that’s built on things like education and energy and manufacturing. Making things, not just buying things -- making things that the rest of the world wants to buy. And restoring the values that made this country great: hard work and fair play, the chance to make it if you really try, the responsibility to reach back and help somebody else make it, too -- not just you. That’s who we are. That’s what we believe in. (Applause.) ...

America is not just looking out for yourself. It’s not just about greed. It’s not just about trying to climb to the very top and keep everybody else down. When our assembly lines grind to a halt, we work together and we get them going again. When somebody else falters, we try to give them a hand up, because we know we’re all in it together. I got my start standing with working folks who’d lost their jobs, folks who had lost their hope because the steel plants had closed down. I didn’t like the idea that they didn’t have anybody fighting for them. The same reason I got into this business is the same reason I’m here today. I’m driven by that same belief that everybody -- everybody -- should deserve a chance. (Applause.)

So I promise you this: As long as you’ve got an ounce of fight left in you, I’ll have a ton of fight left in me. (Applause.) We’re going to keep on fighting to make our economy stronger; to put our friends and neighbors back to work faster; to give our children even more opportunity; to make sure that the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)

More Signs of the Singularity!

[A] north Georgia high school went on lockdown thanks to an auto correct error in a text message that was sent by a student to a wrong number... [when] a student at Lanier Technical College sent a text message that meant to say "Gunna be at West Hall this afternoon" but auto correct changed the first word to "Gunman."

The Most Significant Thing That Happened Yesterday Politically By Far...

...was wingnut-enabling self-described "moderate" Republican Maine Senator Olympia Snowe's unexpected retirement announcement. If Dems can scramble and find a decent candidate they have a two week window in which to change the very bad, also terrible, math for retaining the Senate into something like the math for regaining the House. Needless to say, apart from cementing in the Affordable Care Act and appointing Supremes who aren't authoritarian whackjobs (neither of which is exactly small potatoes actually) the second Obama term is ashes without a Congress able to partner with the White House to solve actual problems. Since T-Paw abandoned the GOP race I have more or less regarded the White House an Obama lock as much as Presidential politics and the vicissitudes of history permit of such a thing, and my concern has been whether the likely Obama victory would have the coattails to regain the House and retain the Senate. That's still the game as far as I can see. And after many betrayals, at long last, Olympia Snowe has managed to do something for her President that contributes substance to what is in fact the only game in town. I suspect just getting out of the nuthouse of the GOP caucus will be reward enough, but I raise my glass anyway.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tabatha Needs To Take Over the GOP

That's what I learned from my tee vee this evening.

Teaching Day

It's Roland Barthes' Mythologies in Critical Theory today. An effortless lecture that tends to go over well, but I always get this nagging feeling that I should shake up the reading completely whenever I get too comfortable in it, even if I can't really fault the reading in any way otherwise...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Reading Presocratics

I'm starting to prep in earnest for my undergraduate course this summer at Berkeley on ancient rhetoric. I usually teach rhetoric since the Thirty Year's War so I'm doing a lot of brushing up. I teach Aristotle and Plato all the time, but I'm digging back into fragments from Enheduanna, Sappho, Protagoras, Gorgias, Antiphon, Isocrates, Demosthenes, getting ready next week to pore over the second sophistic, Cicero, Horace, Quintillian, Libanius. Some of this stuff I haven't looked at for a quarter of a century! I'm not going to lie to you, it's a pure joy. Believe when I tell you that the predictable antics of Movement Republicans and Robot Cultists aren't exactly a comparable draw, so blogging may be a bit low for the moment. Teaching three courses and prepping for the three I'm crashing into this summer the moment I hand in grades for Spring is keeping me busy! More to come as the killer clowns and robo-priests manage to crack me up as they always do sooner rather than later...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Do Futurologists Do?

Futurologists are a science fiction fandom pretending to be philosophers and policy wonks in a bid for attention and, for a few, for money. Training in any real field of study provides a substantial expertise and unique analytic vocabulary out of which a circumscribed foresight worthy of attention emerges, but since futurologists are not trained in any real field of study at all the unmoored and overgeneralized “foresight” they perform for the public amounts either to the prophetic or gossipy utterances of a priestly pop guru maintaining a predatory relation to uncritical enthusiasts, or to the marketing and promotional noises of a pseudo-professional maintaining a parasitic relation to unscrupulous corporate-military elites. Futurological “scenarios” are usually just science fiction stories bereft of clever plots, interesting characters, or sustained themes. Indeed, most futurological “scenarios” amount to little more than stipulated settings of a scene (hence their name). Inevitably, these settings are borrowed from actual science fiction writers, and given the plausibility that attaches to the familiar, futurologists will tend to put a premium on precisely those settings real writers would disdain as cliches.

More Futurological Brickbats here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Robot Cultist Declares Need for Holiday Counting Chickens Before They Are Hatched

We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. -- The Amazing Criswell, in the unforgettable opening lines of Plan 9 from Outer Space
Very Serious Futurologist Ben Goertzel bemoans the fact that most holidays commemorate actual events or actual accomplishments that actually have come to mean something to actual people, and proposes that we set aside a day to celebrate in advance instead future "events" and "accomplishments" that preoccupy the fancies of Very Serious Futurologists even though they have not happened and even though certainly many will never happen. The name of his proposed holiday, predictably enough, is Future Day.

As it happens, in the hours approaching and after New Year’s Day there is already a holiday in which friends and strangers celebrate together the experiences of our last shared circuit around the Sun and offer up toasts and make resolutions to our hopes for the next. In our New Year holidays we discern and celebrate the abiding reality of our open futurity, the present opening onto the next present, the fragile futurity arising at once out of the finitude but also out of the diversity of the human beings who share in the present the making of the world at which we are always arriving.

But of course “The Future” of the futurologists is not the same thing as the open futurity I am speaking of. You would think the Stock Exchange would be more than enough for those who want to blow time and energy and money indulging this sort of nonsense, but futurologists like other religionists really do seem keenly to feel the need for public rituals that will clothe their pet faithly cravings in the apparent substantial reality of shared True Belief.

As I write in my Futurological Brickbats:
Futurity is a register of freedom, "The Future" another prison-house built to confine it. Futurity is the openness in the present arising out of the ineradicable diversity of calculating, contending, and collaborative stakeholders who struggle to make and remake the shared world, peer to peer. Futurity cannot be delineated but only lived, in serial presents attesting always unpredictably to struggle and to expression. "The Future," to the contrary, brandishing the shackle of its definite article, is always described from a parochial present and is always a funhouse mirror reflecting a parochial present back to itself, amplifying its desires and fears, confirming its prejudices, reassuring its Believers that the Key to History is in their hands... To speak of "The Future" is always to indulge in reaction. All futurisms are finally retro-futurisms... Futurologists keep confusing making bets with having thoughts... When I hear the word "trend," I reach for my brain... In coming to terms with the present, especially in grasping the meaning of what has taken us by surprise, we understand and, better still, become understanding. In predicting the future, especially in proposing coinages that would work as spells to dispel being taken by surprise, we become ever more susceptible to fraud and, worse still, become frauds. Where thinking is concerned, this is a variation on the difference between investment and speculation.
As if to emphasize my point, Goertzel admits that his initial imagination of Future Day would involve "costume parties with SF movie themes … school essay contests on futuristic themes … humanoid robots giving speeches in the town square." That futurologists think there is a virtue in confusing science with science fiction is a truism. And, true to form, there are no humanoid robots that actually exist to "give speeches in the town square" unless you decide that pressing "play" on a tape recorder in the town square with a human being's speech on it means the tape recorder is somehow "giv[ing] speeches in the town square." All of which is just to return to Goertzel's initial suggestion that for some reason on "Future Day" one might want to dress up in costumes inspired by Science Fiction movies.

Now, I am the last person in the world to denigrate cosplay or SF con masquerades as celebrations of fan enthusiasm and creativity, but it really does take a Futurologist to re-invent that wheel and then try to peddle that tired appropriation as a window onto novel insights. Ask yourself to what extent dressing up in campy cat suits or Robbie the Robot drag would ever have connected anyone in any meaningful kind of way with those futures past that have already come and gone as presents past. I daresay people have connected to actual problems and possibilities to come in the years since the Earth Day holiday was proposed and celebrated than anything likely to arise from Goertzel's futurological "Future Day." Although I doubt this is his intention at all, I think one of the best ways to understand what is wrong with Goertzel's "Future Day" is that it would substantially function as a containment and circumvention of what "Earth Day" is about.

"Celebrating and honoring the past, and the cyclical processes of nature, is most certainly a valuable thing," Goertzel declares. "But in these days of rapid technological acceleration, it is our future that needs more attention, not our past." Of course, we cannot devote attention to "the future" because it has no existence to attend to, and certainly "the future" lacks special "needs" self-appointed futurological pseudo-experts need to direct our attention to. The task of understanding is quintessentially a matter of coming to terms with the unexpected present arising out of the complex dynamism of our pasts, but futurologists are forever seeking to disdain that demand and substitute for understanding phony prophetic utterances always only amplifying the parochial prejudices of the present in the form of wish-fulfillment and apocalyptic fantasies of "the future" and selling them to the rubes.

However typical the claim, it is worth noting that Goertzel's glib insistence that "these [are] days of rapid technological acceleration" is patently false. For one thing, there is no such thing as "technology in general" that is monolithically advancing or not, in an accelerating way or not. Certain technoscientific domains of knowledge advance while others stall and others vanish from our concern, sometimes to re-emerge in changed forms; -- techniques improve, mature, combine with others, become obsolete; -- artifacts answer to changing needs, sometimes better, sometimes worse. I have long suspected that the falsifying mystification of "accelerating change" especially beloved of California Ideologues and superlative futurologists like the transhumanists, singularitarians, techno-immortalists and so on, in whose company Goertzel is respected as nowhere else, is mostly what the destabilization and precarization and financialization of neoliberal global developmentalism feels like to those few who are either its beneficiaries or who identify (whether that practically makes sense or not) with its beneficiaries.

Goertzel declares that "in the more technologically advanced parts of the world, we are entering a regime in which material scarcity is less of a problem than attentional scarcity." I suppose we can set aside the obvious facile falsifications mobilized in constructions distinguishing "advanced parts of the world" from less advanced ones -- "advanced" in what way? longer healthier average life-spans? more equitable distribution of authority? better at exploiting the vulnerable? more wasteful? higher suicide rates? what? What I find myself flabbergasted by is that there are still people who want to pretend that material scarcity is less a problem in notionally representative plutocratic extractive-industrial-petrochemical societies (I assume this is the suicidal madness Goertzel means by "advanced") than what he calls "attentional scarcity."

In a world of conspicuous catastrophic climate change and neglected treatable diseases and rising human and arms trafficking it is hard to believe anybody is still shilling this sort of digital utopianism. I propose that Goertzel and his fellow futurologists dig deeper into the present that besets them (resonating with its pasts and open in its futurity) in an effort at understanding rather than disavowing that threatening and promising present for the fraud of "The Future." Goertzel does say, however, that "Future Day" is a big hit on Second Life, so maybe his digital focus makes a certain sense. Here in First Life, fewer folks are buying what the futurologists are selling after all.

GOP Sees Future

Whether it's the latest "tea party event" or a Romney campaign event, this is what you get: A smattering of whiny old white guys in an empty stadium.

Futurologists Anticipating Arrival of Japanese Space Elevator Advised to Hold Their Breath

Although "carbon nanotubes" do figure prominently in the usual, more or less magical, manner in the most recent Space Elevator cartoon, er, scenario, er, scheme, er, scam, io9 voices skepticism.

You see, if the latest proposal involved actual Very Serious Futurologists, they would also assure us the space elevator would rise from a free market paradise archipelago of off-shore oil platforms and luxury cruise-ships tethered to an orbital space hotel cum launch pad for a fleet of asteroid mining robots (ka-CHING!).

Space would obviously need to be provided in the scenario, either in an undersea base or possibly on the lunar surface, for the sooper-geniuses coding the history shattering Robot God AI arriving "sometime in the next twenty years," and one hopes 3-D printers would get into the mix there, too, even if multi-purpose programmable room temperature self-replicating nanobotic everything machines would be suavely nudged off onto a more distant horizon as a concession to hard-boiled futurological "realism" -- after all, Drexler is so nineties never gonna happen futurism rather than two-thousandsies never gonna happen futurism, don't get it all twisted!

This Time Libertopia Will Be Different!

Upgraded and Adapted from the Moot, in response to my Dispatches from Libertopia, one Roderick T. Long seeks to assure me that
Libertarianism -- and I mean free-market libertarianism -- is essentially an ANTI-corporate, ANTI-capitalist movement. Libertarians understood this in the 19th century and lost sight of it in the 20th. But we're back. Your attacks on the version of libertarianism that is thankfully dying don't address the more authentic version of it that's being reborn.
To this I replied:

You can stipulate all you want to the contrary, but the results are in.

You know, this isn't exactly the first time -- nor even the thousandth -- that libertopians have contemplated the world of shit enabled by their ideology and then disdained all responsibility for the result only to magically rediscover "the truer true truth" that would be magic and not shit and then demand a do-over, this time gooder and harder and for-true, only to arrive in the shit once again as night follows day, after the usual scammers indulge the usual fraudulent skim, natch.

Just so you know, what it actually looks like when people really learn lessons like the one you are claiming to have learned is that you act differently as a result of learning it. You don't just double down on all your articles of faith and re-embark immediately on the same madness expecting a different result this time, this time, this time! -- of course, the truth is you libertopians just want to dream your dumb feudal dream and learning and understanding doesn't come into it.

We're onto you.

Also, too, is your name really Long Rod or is that just your porn name?

Friday Wilde

Sleepwalking over to the Dogpatch campus, lecturing on Oscar Wilde, Earnest and Soul of Man.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Magic Turns Out Once Again to Be Crap

Faster than light neutrinos appear to have been an artifact of crappy wiring and pop-tech hyperventilation. Science fiction is still not the same thing as science, something fans of the one and champions of the other should celebrate. Everyone should pat the head of a Robot Cultist who has a sad.

Graduation Day in Crazytown University

Adapted and Upgraded from the Moot:
I think another underappreciated thing is that post-2010 GOP overreach has actually provided some real world education for many hitherto "low-information" voters (not jobs but Union-Busting, not jobs but state-mandated nonconsensual transvaginal probe rape), and that this provides some inoculation against phony sales pitches and framing over substance approaches (whether of the wingnut Luntz variety or the lefty Lakoff variety). I'm not proposing that complacent couch-potato Americans have seen the light or that the Citizen's United money avalanche will have no impact (obviously, it already has), but I do think GOP crazytown has started running up against some you can't fool all the people all the time hard limits.

Bretton Woods Gott DAMN

A long lost eight hundred page real-time transcript of the Bretton Woods conference has been found. Although Keynes advocated the creation of the "bancor" world currency and an international clearing union incomparably more progressive than the IMF, the Bretton Woods system is often wrongly characterized as a Keynesian triumph rather than the best compromise Keynes could wrangle, and it is much to be hoped that this wrangling will now be more visible, since accounts of Bretton Woods have hitherto been highly interested even when interesting secondhand recollections rather than the sort of first hand accounts a transcript should provide. Is it wrong that I am so excited?

More Like This

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has lost a hair stylist thanks to her position against gay marriage... Antonio Darden, a popular stylist who runs Antonio's Hair Studio in Santa Fe, said he cut Martinez' hair three times, but that's it -- unless she changes her mind about gay marriage. Said Darden: "The governor's aides called not too long ago, wanting another appointment to come in. Because of her stances and her views on this I told her aides no. They called the next day, asking if I'd changed my mind about taking the governor in and I said no again."

Don't Be Afraid

For years I have been repeating over and over that the left already won the culture wars (for example, here and here) and that our politics should reflect that reality. My point has never been to underestimate the damage that can still be done by the reactionary right to women's health, lifeway diversity, science-based policy and so on -- but just to insist we engage in these struggles in ways that reflect the actual terms at hand, understand for instance the disciplinary power that accrues to desperate losers, grasp the complacency that lulls victors out of proper vigilance, takes up opportunities that present themselves only for a moment to re-write inertial institutions in the image of actually prevailing secular multicultural views.

It is from this vantage that I am reading Digby's recent warnings against those (I am one) who think the raucous recent Republican return to culture war issues is benefiting the secular left and partisan Democrats in particular. She keeps pointing out that all this "religious hoo hah" can indeed get real traction and do real damage. And of course that is true. Anyone who actually cares about women's healthcare has been observing with horror and rage the generation long circumscription of abortion rights and family planning services by a thousand small cuts by the patriarchal champions of forced-pregnancy and forced-birth. For years, feminists have pointed out that anti-abortion rhetoric was the iceberg tip of an anti-contraception anti-women's health constituency while a majority of Americans pretended that their secular multicultural and pro-healthcare attitudes were prevalent and that the realities of the anti-choice organizing were absurd and marginal. Although I agree with Digby and every other sensible decent person that the spectacle of Republican religionist women hating is highly dangerous and distasteful, the fact is that I already knew all that, I was already plenty disgusted, I already understand the real damage being done, I already knew the gains stealthy anti-choice organizing were making in the country.

And now, because of the right-wing influence that briefly inspired the Susan G. Komen Foundation to attack Planned Parenthood, then the all-male presumably celibate in fact pedophile-enabling Catholic Bishops' attack on the Obama administration's policy to limit their imposition on pro-choice Catholics and non-Catholics alike their own bias against family planning, then the right-wing Virginia state government's efforts to mandate the de facto rape (nonconsensual vaginal probing) and then harassment (medically unnecessary or even dangerous and highly costly and inconvenient waiting period) of any woman seeking an absolutely legal and reasonable medical procedure (the wanted or needed termination of a pregnancy), then the highly public denunciations by all-male Congressional panels or by old white guys seeking the GOP Presidential nomination of contraception practices that have been fully normalized and approved by the overwhelming majority of everyday Americans as part of their everyday lives for decades, because of all that awful nonsense, now students of mine who have refused to describe themselves as feminists (which has annoyed me to no end for years) are now affirming the label, people who dismissed knowledgeable warnings about the anti-woman extremism of Republican and religionist forces in this country have observed the evidence to the contrary with their own eyes, people with ugly, evil, ignorant views and intentions who would have had these views and intentions whether we are talking about it or not and would be acting on them whether we are talking about them or not are now exposed in their evil and their ignorance and we are talking about it, talking the talk out of which will emerge the mass education, agitation, and organization without which this necessary battle for women's health, women's dignity, and the legal and moral standing of a diversity of non-patriarchal gendered lifeways can flourish.

Although it is true that not all battles are won, and it is true that losses in these battles are truly horrifying, it seems to me beyond question that the battle is afoot whether it is visible or not, that however ugly the spectacle it is better for bad views to be exposed to scrutiny the better to be targeted for righteous destruction on their actual terms, and that, frankly, we are winning this battle and that we will win this battle and that this is a battle worth winning, so let's actually have the goddamn battle and win it.

If I may appear to change the subject for a moment, I notice that another brilliant and reliably progressive commenter David Sirota is now making an argument that re-enacts Digby's concerns in slightly different terms:
Among progressive[s]... there seems to be a consensus that the longer the Republican presidential primary continues the better for progressives. The idea is that Republican infighting weakens the ultimate nominee and exposes just how radical all of the GOP candidates are. As the domino theory goes, that will help more Americans see the ugly truth about what the Republican Party really is, which will subsequently convince more Americans to vote against the GOP, which will eventually force the GOP to moderate its politics. Straightforward as this hypothesis is, I don’t buy it -- I believe the longer the Republican primary battle continues, the more the GOP’s most extreme proposals are given a mainstream platform, the more their ideas are granted public credibility and the more conservative propaganda is invisibly woven into our most basic political assumptions.
Again, I find it very hard to understand what practical implications we are supposed to draw from this sort of line of thinking. Do progressives think they are right or not? If they think they are right, then do they want to struggle for what is right or not? If they are up for the struggle, why on earth would they prefer the wrong and dangerous views they oppose to play out in secret rather than in the light? How can we fight the feudal social and cultural views of Movement Republicanism at all if the actual terms of the fight are invisible or distorted? Of course it is true, again, that when a battle is actually afoot it is not always the good guys who will win every skirmish and losses are indeed awful in the lived consequences for the vulnerable. But these losses have already happened, are already happening -- David Sirota's whole career is premised on the recognition of such realities. Why shrink from them now?

In both Digby and Sirota I sense the worries of people who are not quite changing with the times. Of course, it is often the steadfast resolution of our indispensable truth tellers and standard bearers in dark times that makes them less flexible in the face of opportunity when dark times offer a faint suggestion of the dawn. I think we cannot overestimate the significance of the fact that majorities of Americans affirmed the policy outcomes advocated by progressives even during the catastrophic generational consolidation of Movement Republican politics, from Reagan, to Gingrich, to W., to the Teavangelical mid-term wave. White-racist and heterosexist Culture Wars divided people who work for a living from their shared interests. But -- crucially -- demographic shifts and liberalizing attitudes toward queer folks have undermined that strategy fatally. An institutional structure of corporate media fed by pseudo-intellectuals on wingnut welfare subsidized in the phony-Academy of ubiquitous deceptive PR firms and "think tanks" (the result of the turn to organized politics in the aftermath of the New Deal by two hitherto non-partisan constituencies, big business and evangelical religion) shouted down popular pro-equity pro-diversity pro-democracy voices and marginalized practical policy proposals reflecting such values. But -- again, crucially -- progressive peer-to-peer formations, think-tanks and media outlets have emerged and gained enormous audiences over the last ten years, to undermine Movement Republican attacks, disinformation campaigns, arguments (such as they are), frames, and so on.

In the wholesomely browning, diversifying, secularizing, planetizing real America, giving white-racist, woman-hating, gay-hating, war-mongering, climate-change denialist "most extreme proposals... a mainstream platform" means giving them a high concrete platform over an empty pool for them to leap into to their death. The institutional terrain "grant[ing] public credibility" to unpopular nonsensical right wing views and weaving "conservative propaganda... invisibly... into our most basic political assumptions" no longer exists in the form it so long has done, ThinkProgress and MediaMatters provide pithy rapid response to reactionary proposals and attitudes, YouTube clips circulate progressive democratizing MSNBC, CurrentTV and Comedy Central exposes and satirical bits to millions upon millions of Americans. What was invisible is now visible, what was a monologue is now a scrum, what was a stealth offensive is now an open battle and a call to arms.

The battle is on whether we like it or not, the battle is worth winning, we're on the right side of the battle on the merits and with the numbers, the institutional hurdles that long bedeviled our side are crumbling. Fight the damn battle.

Don't be afraid.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"The Grigsby Episode"

In my graduate seminar Friday I will be teaching "The Soul of Man Under Socialism" by Oscar Wilde along with his "Phrases and Philosophies for the Instruction of the Young" and his defensive "Preface" to his novel Dorian Gray. The latter pieces are strings of gem-like paradoxes without any of the conventional scaffolding of evidence, inference, framing, transitions to elaborate their arguments. It is intriguing that this is the highly unorthodox form of argument with which Wilde chooses to defend his scandalous novel, given the stakes, and the vulnerability of this intriguing choice is all the more conspicuous when we consider the way the exactly equally paradoxically aphoristic "Phrases and Philosophies" were taken up by the prosecutors in Wilde's Socratic indecency trials and used against him at the witness stand (the most relevant trial transcripts are here).

In my reading of Wilde's "Soul of Man" we discern much the the same argumentative strategy, even if the piece appears more conventionally essay-like, and we discover at once Wilde's masterly deployment of paradox -- eg, "A community is infinitely more brutalized by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime"; or, "The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes" -- as well as the collapse of his larger argument (which begins by demonstrating that we are universally enslaved by the possessions we pretend free us but ends by re-erecting this same enslaving possessiveness in the relation of artists to their works) into a self-consuming paradox the moment Wilde's threatening queerness comes into the picture. (A rumbling in the background that only becomes fully evident in what otherwise might seem the anticlimactic last line of the essay -- "The new Individualism is the new Hellenism." -- but which in fact presses the key to the piece in our hands in the end.)

As with all the works of political economy and aesthetic philosophy we've been reading this term I've been assigning roughly contemporaneous mannered comedies for the seminar to read -- prosaic spectacles like "The Man of Mode" and "The Way of the World," created as of-the-moment documents of their time's conspicuous follies and foibles, focused as they are on social and cultural details that tend to zero in symptomatically on precisely the problems and anxieties attested to in the political and economic theory we are also reading, resonating with the emerging categories and recurring subjectivities of liberalism/neoliberalism.

The special pleasure for the seminar in reading Wilde is that for once the same author pens both the theory and the play (there are precursors, by the way, Congreve, Steele, but the seminar is moving too swiftly to more than scratch the surface of these details). Anyway, while preparing my lecture notes I came upon a YouTube clip from Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" in which the director has chosen to re-introduce a scene that is rarely but occasionally performed. You may know that Wilde's original four act play was subsequently re-written as the three act work we now know and adore. Many lines were cut, but almost none of them are especially to be missed. But one scene, known as "the Grigsby Episode" was somewhat more substantial and, more to the point, is playing with themes and legal details that matter to the way my seminar is reading mannered comedies as political economy and aesthetic documents, its frenetic farcical plots and character lampoons incarnating developing relations between aesthetics and politics as bourgeois capitalism and then postwar consumerism and corporate-military globalism emerge (the seminar moves on to Noel Coward, Joe Orton, and Jennifer Saunders as we move toward our own political quandaries).

Anyway, these are the things on my mind at the moment. Here is the clip from the production I mentioned including the "Grigsby Episode." If you don't know the play, I would actually recommend you acquaint yourself with the canonical version first, before enjoying this curious little supplement.


While it remains true that Republicans are all crazytown fascists and that futurologists are all hucksters peddling pseudo-science at best and Robot Cult pseudo-faith at worst, I just am not feeling particularly inspired at the moment to point this out over and over and over again. No doubt my hilarity or outrage needle with twitch again and propel me soon enough into writing on my usual themes, but, I dunno, today...? I got nothing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's Off To Work We Go

Today in my Critical Theory survey course it's psychoanalysis and especially the fabulous Dr. Schreber, come on down!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Pitch of Ru's Pitch

Not a comment on Ru Paul qua pitcher, have no fear.... it's just that Eric and I were watching Dragrace and Untucked this evening and we were chuckling about how Ru's self-promotional ubiquity on the show (her portrait everywhere, the name-dropping and snippets of her singles continually, the ready-to-hand product placement in every nook and cranny) really does put even Tyra to shame, and yet somehow neither of us are the least bit annoyed by it, whereas the self-promotional flogging of nearly every other celebrity we can think of is like fingernails on a chalkboard even when it is far less incessant than Ru Paul's. I wonder what might account for that? It isn't just that we find Ru Paul comparatively likeable and appealingly intelligent as celebrities go, though we do, since we like, say, Jane Lynch easily as much and yet find her shilling fairly unbearable; and it isn't that Ru Paul manages to market herself in a satiric sort of way since of course lots of celebrities try that sort of winking nudging mode of self-promotion and manage only to seem smarmy and awful (even Kathy Griffin, and we love her anyway). Maybe it is the specifically camp dimension of Ru Paul's marketing schtick that makes it palatable -- certainly I fondly recall to this day Carrie Donovan, Morgan Fairchild, and Magic on one of the few actually successfully campy commercial series, for Old Navy (often imitated never duplicated, including by Old Navy). I think camp must be hard to do in marketing because it is not sarcastic but ironic, not ambivalent but fully invested, not opportunistic but aggressive in its enjoyments. Almost all advertizing is kitsch, but camp probably feels like a very threatening aesthetic for the suits and pocketbooks.

"Let the Market Decide" Always Means "Let Rich People Decide"

More Dispatches from Libertopia here.

Kenyan Muslim Socialist Global Warmism

The momentary controversy over a Santorum spokes-shill slip-up today slotting in canned nonsense criticism of Obama's "Radlical Islamic Policy" rather than canned nonsense criticism of Obama's "Radical Environmentalist Policy" (brrrpp! -- Andrea Mitchell is MSNBC not FOX, please make a note of it, brrrrpp!) has not yet taken in what struck me as more odd by far than scrambled deceptive talking-points. What is this business of Obama being accused (pre-mix-up and presumably pre-controversial) of adhering to a theological doctrine called "Global Warmism"? As though documented rising planetary temperatures is some kind of kooky cult with an online manifesto and a secret handshake and membership dues, rather than, you know, a matter of being aware of well substantiated facts and concerned about their consequences.

Full disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of the "Water Is Wetism" and "World Is Roundism" faiths.

But You Can Always Put A Gun In Your Mouth or Vote Republican Which Is Much the Same Thing

Newt Gingrich "Let me start from a simple premise that Oklahomans will understand: you cannot put a gun rack in a Volt."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Programming Note

Rather preoccupied with school things at the moment, blogging appears to be a trickle. Sorry about that.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Long Teaching Day Ahead....

It's Marx day in my grad seminar... and since the fetishism of commodities sets the scene for our subsequent readings of Benjamin, Adorno, Lukacs, Althusser, Debord, and Naomi Klein, it's an important lecture to get just right. Then we're taking up Gay's Beggar's Opera, which is a bright bitter pill to swallow. My MA thesis workshop later in the afternoon looks to be more than usually intense, since it's getting to be crunch time for some of the students with still unresolved argumentative or writing issues this year. And the framing of all this with the hour-long slog through cold musty trains near rush hour is sure to be the usual treat. I wanna go back to bed!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Of Penis Diagrams and Laser Pointers

Atrios speaks for me:
The Senate Dems really should host an all female hearing on male prostate, genital, and reproductive health. Giant medical penis diagrams! Laser pointers!

Democracy Corps Surveys Republican Corpse

Excerpted from the Overview of a recent spate of DC polling (follow the link for the whole edifying piece):
The latest national survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices... shows a Republican Party in deepening trouble and emerging underlying trends that may have shifted the balance for 2012. Barring sudden economic shocks, there is accumulating evidence that we have entered a new phase in the political cycle, substantially more favorable to the Democrats. This survey sees a collapse of the Republican brand at almost all levels. Negatives associated with the Republican Party have not been this high since right after they lost the country in 2008. Their presumptive nominee flirts with a 50 percent negative rating and may now represent a big drag on the national party.

President Obama nears the 50 percent mark and is now just four points away from what he achieved in 2008. Democrats have newly consolidated the progressive voters of the Rising American Electorate who were responsible for Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008. These voters — unmarried women, young voters, and minorities — dropped off in 2010 and lagged throughout 2011. They have returned in a big way for Democrats, led by a resurgence and re-engagement of unmarried women. Only young voters have not been re-consolidated, which is either a problem or an opportunity. Seniors, who abandoned Democrats in 2010, have come back two surveys in a row and suburban swing voters watch the Republican primary debate with growing alienation from the Republican Party. The tax issue, a presumptive Republican advantage, has moved dramatically in favor of the Democrats.

These results may not simply be the result of a spot of good economic news and rough news cycles for Republican nominees, but the beginning of long-term structural changes that will characterize the 2012 election cycle. Recent controversies over Planned Parenthood and contraception will not revive the Republican’s standing, indeed, the opposite may be true, as this survey shows voters disagree with them on principle and wonder why at a time of great economic distress, Republicans are consumed with denying birth control coverage for women.

This survey provides fair warning to the Republican Party that they may be losing the country. The Republican brand is in a state of collapse –- over 50 percent of voters give the Republican Party a cool, negative rating. The presidential race and the congressional battles are interacting with each other to drive down their lead candidate, the party, and perceptions of the congressional Republicans. Romney may be on the edge of political death. The shift against him is one of the biggest in the polls and he now competes with Republicans in Congress for unpopularity. In the summer of 1996, Bob Dole essentially was disqualified in voters’ eyes and never really recovered his footing. President Obama is now at the critical 50 percent mark on approval and is approaching 50 percent on the ballot. More people view him favorably than negatively, creating a different climate at the top where Obama is not that far from the 53 percent he took in 2008. On the named Congressional ballot, Democrats continue to lead Republicans, with consolidated support among the coalition that brought them to power in 2006 and 2008. Importantly, they are now also performing equal to or better than their 2008 margins among seniors... Democrats have consolidated the new progressive voters of the Rising American Electorate who were responsible for Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008. These voters—unmarried women, young voters, and minorities—dropped off in 2010 and lagged throughout 2011. These voters have returned in a big way for Democrats, led by a resurgence and re-engagement of unmarried women...

When voters look at the Republicans, they see a party that is not ready to lead. The Republican brand has collapsed over the last year; both Republicans in Congress and the major contenders for the Republican nomination see rising negatives. The percentage of voters who identify as Democrats has increased 7 points since November to 39 percent. This is driven by a consolidation of the Rising American Electorate—among whom strong Democratic Party identification has increased 5 points in the last month alone. Half of all voters now give the Republican Party a negative rating. The shift is driven dramatically by seniors—54 percent of whom now give the Republican Party a cool, negative rating (40 percent very cool). Critically, half of all independents (52 percent) give the Republican Party a cool, negative rating. The last time the Republicans saw numbers this bad was right after they lost the country in the 2008 election.

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of voters disapprove of the Republicans in Congress —- a staggering 22-point increase since last year at this time. Among seniors, the change is striking. Last year at this time, Republicans in Congress enjoyed marginal approval among seniors (45 to 43 percent). Today, two-thirds of seniors now disapprove and just 28 percent approve of the Republicans in Congress. Independents, too, have turned against this Republican Congress. Last year at this time, just 45 percent of independents disapproved of the Republicans in Congress —- today 71 percent register their disapproval. We have also found dramatic movement among suburban voters, who have moved sharply against Republicans and are now consolidated in the Democratic camp; 60 percent of suburban voters now identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents compared to just 33 percent who identify as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents. Democrats hold a lead in the named Congressional ballot (47 to 45 percent) –- and are ahead in both our January and February polls. Among seniors, who were essential to the Republican rout in 2010, the margin has now closed to just 2 points, an 8-point net improvement for Democrats since last month... Republicans do not have a viable candidate. Despite defeating nearly all of the anyone-but-Romneys, the Republican front-runner has failed to win voters. Indeed, Romney is in sharp decline. Nearly half of all voters (47 percent) now give Mitt Romney a cool, negative rating on our thermometer scale and nearly a third (32 percent) give him a very negative rating -- up 7 points since last month. Mitt Romney is even unpopular among his own partisans; less than half of all self-identified Republicans give him a positive rating. Half of independents now give him a negative rating. Romney’s current standing is decidedly worse than where McCain landed at the close of the 2008 cycle and approaching where George Bush concluded his presidency. As poorly as he is performing, Romney’s challenger-of-the-month, Rick Santorum, does not fare much better. More voters give Santorum negative ratings than positive (38 to 29 percent) and his average rating is stuck well below 50 at a dismal 45. Less than a third of independents (32 percent) and just over half of Republicans (54 percent) give Santorum a favorable rating. In a split exercise, we asked voters what issues they are hearing the Presidential candidates talk about and what voters believe these candidates should be talking about. A 56 percent majority have heard Santorum talk about the social issues and just 49 percent have heard him talk about the economy. However, 73 percent believe he should be talking about the economy and just 35 percent believe he should be talking about social issues...

President Obama now holds a 49 percent to 45 percent advantage over Mitt Romney, up from 48 to 47 percent last month. He is very close to what he needs to win reelection and just four points shy of 2008. His support is deeper too; in our proprietary Voter Choice Scale, solid support for the President is up 5 points since last month. Most of the gains the President sees on this measure are driven by voters in the Rising American Electorate—unmarried women, younger voters, and minorities. In fact, among voters outside the Rising American Electorate, Obama’s support is static.

Recent controversies over the initial decision by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood and coverage of contraception under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rules have rekindled issues long-dormant in this political climate where the economy dominated the debate. This new narrative will not improve Republican chances –- and may help Democrats with women and suburban voters... Planned Parenthood enjoys a solid brand among voters (50 percent positive and only 32 percent negative on the thermometer rating) and is actually more popular than the NRA (44 percent warm, 32 percent cool), as voters seem to prefer pills to bullets... [A] good plurality of 49 percent agree with the president’s decision to require Catholic hospitals and universities, which provide health coverage for employees and employ people of different faiths, to purchase policies that cover the cost of contraception. That is true for all likely voters, as well as Catholics, and the margin exceeds that of his overall vote –- despite the fact that the health care reform law is not yet popular with voters. The president is winning the argument, as you see below, even when it is cast in the context of religious freedom. As many Republicans and the Catholic bishops push to end the mandate for preventive health benefits, this issue will not be helpful to them. More broadly, voters may wonder why the Republicans are consumed with pushing back health coverage for women rather than continuing to focus on the economy, spending and debt. We may yet look back on this debate and wonder whether this was a Terry Schiavo moment. The Obama position finds a two-thirds majority among suburban voters and a 61 percent majority among single women. These results loom large when voters prefer Democrats over Republicans by 52 to 26 percent on women’s issues, including a 36-point margin among senior women and a 47-point margin among unmarried women...

Obama and Democrats lost the country in 2010 and many disillusioned voters were ready to give the Republicans a chance and were very open to new presidential options. Instead, they see a party and leaders determined to stop President Obama rather than work with him, stuck in an anti-tax mantra with few economic ideas, seemingly hostile to the middle class and aligned with the 1 percent and, more recently, obsessed over social issues when the economy still looms as the biggest problem. That performance, coupled with an improving economic mood in the country, may be locking in perceptions that may be hard to unlock over the summer and fall.
As I said in the last post, we may be looking at a tipping point rather than a turning tide at this point. The possibilities and the challenges might be more novel than many expect them to be.

Republicans and the "Duh" Question

Once and future Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes the obvious points here, but I think it pays to dwell for a moment not only on the fact that what she says is right but that what she says really is obvious. Let us call it the "Duh" Question, in honor of Pelosi's perfectly apt and rather lethal locution.

Part of what is happening in this contraception fight that the President has already won and looks to win more and more the longer it goes on is that Republicans are going beyond their usual advocacy of stupid and/or evil policies, but are actually doing so in a way that is more than usually oblivious to what is obvious and what is obviously happening. One expects Republicans to advocate awful things, but one doesn't expect them to be quite so bad on what are euphemized as "the politics" or "the optics" in play. Come to think of it, there has been much perplexity in this vein about the weird extremity of the Republicans especially in the aftermath of their 2010 mid-term wave victories (you know, when it was all jobs jobs jobs before and union busting and slut shaming after?), in voting unanimously to privatize and couponize Medicare even though this had no chance of passing the Senate (and didn't), in their repeatedly declared intention to lower taxes on the already rich in an era of terrible and avoidable economic suffering for all but the very rich, in threatening to shoot the hostage (their own country) over the debt ceiling, in championing the continuation of pointless ruinous unpopular wars (barking about the "weakness" of a President who frankly continues Bush era policies and prosecutes undeclared drone wars and gloats about shooting pirates and other bad guys in the eye rather more eagerly than this pinko queer hippy is comfortable with I must say), in their hysterical and ever more ugly resistance to a tide of acceptance of gay families and gays in public life, and now in their fight against contraception used and accepted for generations by almost everybody in the whole country whatever their race, class, geographical location or party affiliation, Republicans seem to be even more surreally out of touch than ever before, to be "doubling down" (one hears the phrase over and over again) on their most unpopular positions in the face of looming defeats and even after they are resoundingly defeated.

I have often remarked on the paradoxical way that the actual diversity and secularity of American culture often mobilizes the desperate discipline of the reactionary right while lulling the liberal left into complacency in ways that yield political advantages precisely for those forces that are out of touch with living American realities, assumptions, and aspirations.

Also, no doubt, as many have already noted a coterie of home-schooled mega-churched Fox-News indoctrinated True Believers and utterly unscrupulous opportunistic fourth-tier hacks who couldn't succeed in the real Academy but gratefully accept employment as pseudo-intellectuals in the wingnut welfare archipelago of "think-tanks" and "institutes" have come to populate the administrative and organizational tiers of the private-public fundraising multi-media and official Party apparatus of the GOP many more of whom have actually "drunk the kool-aid" of Randian-Friedmandian-Pentecostal pieties in the service of the religious-fundamentalist and market-fundamentalist corporate-military incumbent-elites than used to be deployed with conscious cynicism by reactionary intellectuals whomping up white racism and culture wars simply to divide and so conquer people who work for a living, mobilizing just enough and demoralizing/disenfranchising just enough of the majority to win elections in the service of the small minority of rich elites and religious incumbents who are the actual constituency of the Republican Party. Even as wholesomely secularizing and diversifying demographic trends radically alienated majorities of Americans from the Southern Strategy and anti-gay politics that worked for the GOP for so long, ever greater majority of the organizational and agitational ground-troops of "Movement Republicanism" believed in the substance of these ideological causes precisely when they are ceasing to work, even though when they worked they were more likely to be embraced by party professionals themselves not in their substance but only because they worked.

Further, I think few actually recognize that there are pragmatic consequences to organizations and movements when they attract members through profoundly false, irrational, alienated appeals: to an unprecedented degree the actual people on whom the Republican Party counts to do the daily business of organizing events and caucuses, approving messaging strategies, coping with fundraising exigencies, mastering complex policy questions are now more than usually stupid, unprincipled, opportunistic, ideologically blinkered, often unhinged people. It is no surprise to find unprecedented levels of disorder and confused results in so many GOP state nominating contests this year, to find so many patent grifters making such intense short-lived splashes on the GOP campaign trail. More than obvious zealotry, there is simply quite a lot of obvious incompetence and conspicuous graft on display in the GOP right about now, as the Party reaps a generational harvest of malefaction and misinformation.

I have long expected a sort of tide-turning to disable Movement Republicanism and re-enable the emergence of a sort of Eisenhower incumbent-elite Republicanism functioning as a loyal opposition nibbling at the edges of a diverse, secular, sustainable, social democratic multiculture dominated by Democrats (I think this is more or less what David Frum and his colleagues are arguing for as a best case scenario), but the current dysfunction looks to be setting the scene less for a tide-turning than a tipping-point yielding instead a shattering of the GOP into an utterly marginalized neo-confederate rump all too likely to turn from politics altogether in favor of "second amendment remedies."

Now, I fear, unless campaign finance reform, instant-runoff voting, re-organization of partisan apportionment of Congressional committees change to end the current party duopoly -- which simply cannot work, you know, when one of the only two parties is insane -- and enable viable multi-party politics (all of which is even less likely than it does now to seem an attractive prospect for reform if one party, even the Democratic one, gains strong prevalence), that I personally think the splintering of the always unwieldy GOP coalition of mega-rich and mega-church will be as bad for the country in many ways as it also obviously would also be good for it in others ways. This is true, among other reasons, because without an opening for viable organized politics reflecting "traditional" patriarchal religionists and moneyed elites -- and also, no doubt, anarcho-capitalists, Greens, socialists, and world parliamentarians, among others -- I think it likely many of the religionists will turn to terror and many more of the moneyed elites will continue to subvert Democratic priorities from within, neither of them with sure or even strong prospects of victory, but with lots of ugly otherwise avoidable mischief in store.

I would personally prefer the emergence of a Frum-esque GOP to domesticate these dangers (although I have to admit I cannot much see what the appeal to actual Republicans would be, since the prospect it seems to offer them of a cynical permanent marginalization qua "loyal opposition" rather than zealous permanent marginalization qua "neo-confederate rump" hardly seems a pitch well-crafted to cater to the current crop of Republicans actually on offer), but am now worried that there may no longer be enough time for this development to happen as I observe the crazily accelerating Republican skid to oblivion in their obliviousness to Pelosi's "Duh."

Car Cult Deprogramming

According to an article in Grist, "Americans work on average two hours out of every day to pay for their cars... [while] a bicycle costs [them] only 3.84 minutes." Anti-tax zealots (you know the ones, right-wing idiots who think that civilization is the only free lunch?) managed for generations to whomp up suicidal anti-governmental fervor among the very people who work for a living who are the first to suffer and who suffer most when government can no longer afford to run properly, by making dire pronouncements about how everyday people were working three months, six months, nine months, whatever nonsense they thought they could get away with saying, not for themselves but for the government (as if the taxes we pay do not contribute their measure to indispensable benefits like the maintenance of infrastructure, laws, oversight, norms on which we all depend for our survival and flourishing). Anyway, that rhetoric has been enormously effective, even if directed to evil and obfuscatory ends, and it seems that it should work at least as well when directed to the incomparably more wholesome work of exposing the ways in which so many people are drudging away to maintain their cars, even where convenient, practical, healthier transportation options are available (public transportation, car-share, biking, walking) in a world distressed beyond bearing by the pollution, costs, fatal accidents, waste, and noise of our irrational car culture.

Virginia Republican Rape Gang Decides Slut Shaming Is Not Enough

On Valentine's Day, Virginia's Republican-controlled House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bill requiring that a women who wants or even medically needs an abortion be subjected to a penetrative vaginal ultrasound procedure and then sent home for a prolonged and punitive "waiting period" in which to think hard about what she has done, evil slut that she is for having had sexual intercourse -- and possibly even enjoying it! -- for an apparently non-procreative purpose. Just to make it clear that this is about patriarchal pricks and Christian-Talibanist woman-hating, an effort to ensure that doctors have to secure a woman's consent before launching into this penetrative assault was firmly rejected by these truly twisted, truly awful Republicans. Clearly, the extreme right anti-abortionist stance has moved beyond the familiar outrage of interference in the fraught delicate private healthcare discussions between women and their doctors, beyond the already flabbergastingly ugly refusal to treat rape as an exception to their abortion bans, only to arrive now at the frankly inconceivable evil demand that women literally be raped by the very doctor's to whom they are turning for help and healthcare just for wanting an abortion. Today's Republican Party, ladies and gentleman. Once you have stopped vomiting, do please do your part to stop these evil bastards.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jim, He's Dead

Robot Cultist Hank Pellisier wants to know who the Robot God should resurrect from the dead with their techno-transcendentalizing nanobotic femtobotic soul-migration take-a-picture-pretend-it's-a-person magic (science!). It's an important question (oh, wait, it's the opposite of that).

Of course, with futurology one usually tries to get past the surreal implausibility of the premise as quickly as possible, the better to spend ninety percent of the article masturbating about how awesome magic would be if it were real. And so, within moments of stipulating robo-resurrection is on the way, worthy candidates for techno-resurrection are being proposed by Pellisier for due consideration of the Robot God.  He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake! Among the lucky duckies with whom Pellisier means to share Paradise are "honorable people" (criteria for honor to be determined later, donations gratefully accepted), "dead babies" (won't somebody please think of the children!), "victims of genocide" (we care a lot!), and so on. All Very Serious, as you see.

I can remember being a teenager trying to explain to my religious father (now a full-on fulminating Republican racist greedhead warmonger theocrat, natch) the doubts I was having that were leading me to my eventual atheism (cheerfully maintained for more than half my life now), among them the fact that I found it difficult to understand why I should reverence a god who was my ethical inferior -- since if I were God there would certainly be no Hell. I find it interesting to observe that neither can Robot Cultists when they are waxing techno-religious seem to resist morbid fantasy power-trips selecting who should be eternalized and who should be damned. Of course, the vicious and the virtuous are all of us mortal, and the measure of heaven and hell besets us on earth, in our words and works, perishable as we are.

The honorable and the dishonorable? The dead babies? The starving, the sick, the cold, the ballooning bodies on fields of war, of crime, of intolerance -- and the many who struggle with them and for them and for a better world (with little time to spare, by the way, for Very Serious Futurology)? They're all dying or dead, Hank. You are going to die, too. The Robot God is not going to scoop up all the cremated and rotten and cryonically hamburgerized futurologists and reassemble you and migrate your souls into cyberheaven for eternal holodeck sexy times.

Do you guys actually hear yourselves?

(By the way, the hilarious New Agey Ayn Raelian picture at the top of the post, you know, the bald white guy uploading his naked comic book physique -- purple 'cause he's, you know, data instead of ooky meat, despite the soft porn musculature -- don't ask -- into cyber-heaven ready to get on with the sexy times, despite being data instead of ooky meat -- don't ask -- well, that picture accompanies the Pellisier article itself, apparently non-parodically -- seriously, don't ask.)

Enthusiasm Snap!

While the Republicans rely on their pet billionaires, small donations for Obama this year are outpacing the unprecedented support he was receiving at this point in his campaign in 2008.

Uppity Negro in the White House

"Don't you see how they see you? How they look down their nose at the average Americans. These elite snobs!" -- Rick Santorum, in PoliticalWire's Quote of the Day.
It's not about race, these crowds of dot-eyed white people screaming about getting "their country" back, you preen? So, then, presumably the "elite snobs" is meant to include the majority of people who work for a living, including a majority of working class Republicans, all of whom think (unlike Santorum) the rich should pay more than they do in taxes rather than slashing Medicare benefits, and also the majority of people, including 98% of Catholic women, who use or have used and have no problem at all (unlike Santorum) with the fact that other people use contraception? Yes? No? Yes?

Smell the Frothmentum!

It would appear Republicans prefer sincere insanity over insincere sanity in a Presidential candidate.

Happy Anniversary, Eric!

Ten years today. Gosh.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What If You’re Not Built for True Philosophy, Actual Policy, or Real Literature? Try Futurism!

Robot Cultist Kyle McCuttnink makes the urgently needed case that just because Neanderthals are not built to thrive in the modern world is no argument against cloning them anyway, since neither were modern humans built to thrive in the modern world.

I think it matters that people aren’t built for anything, as it happens, aren’t built by anyone at all for anything at all, not even by Very Serious futurologists who confuse science and science fiction, and so I think it is better not to let futuologists who want to talk about building and designing “better humans” say “built for” when they actually mean “adapted for.” I also think it matters that there are no Neanderthals who are going to be cloned no matter how this argument plays out among the White Guys of the Future. I think there are far better arguments to have in a world with so many real problems at hand, but I also think there are better ways to explore topics like cloning Neanderthals than having arguments with people pretending they are philosophers or policy wonks when they are just fanboys without the talent to write real science fiction.

Robot Cultism... Now With Rawlsian Sprinkles

Sorry, Martine, it will take more than the occasional superficial nod to Rawls or Spinoza to distract anybody's attention from the fact that you are a Transhumanist Robot Cultist leading a Basement Robot Sub-Cult non-movement you are calling "Terasem" (Founder, President, Secretary, Treasurer, Bouncer, Membership = Martine Rothblatt) publishing "Journals" on made-up bullshit subjects like "geoethical nanotechnology" and "personal cyberconsciousness" (neither of which actually exist), flinging terms around like "Vitalogy" (about how biology is false because it doesn't account for robotic and software "life-forms" that do not exist).

You know, I went for months not writing about futurology here, even though the topic remains this blog's principal draw. It's all so ridiculous and so, well, robotically repetitious and predictable that it gets a little demoralizing tossing my darts at it over and over. And, yet, one can never forget that these futurological frames and arguments are just a clarifying exaggeration of the techno-fetishism, reductive scientism, neolib/neocon corporate-military triumphalist developmentalism, and deceptive hyperbole of marketing and promotion that define and suffuse so much of our actually disastrously prevailing policy discourse as well as the norms and forms of what passes for our public life.

Same Story, Different Ending

Dr. Strangelove (1964) -- Released the year before I was born, this parody of the paranoid style of American reactionary politics already saw all the angles -- of course, this weird scared authoritarian impulse mobilized McCarthy's witch-hunt, was dismissed by Eisenhower and forced to the sidelines by Buckley when it showed its unadulterated Bircher face, was deployed as a white racist muscular baby Jesusoid undercurrent in the frowny-face Nixonian politics of ugly resentment and the smiley-face Reaganomic politics of brutal denial, motivated the whiny white guys to vote for Gingrich's Contract Hit on America, and took over the whole show during the Death Panel Show Us The Birth Certificate Summer of Tea so that now this crazy nasty knot of right-wing ook has come at last to define the fulsome frothy center of the death-cult GOP, the better to be repudiated and decisively marginalized at last by a wholesomely diversifying, secularizing, planetizing America. Bring on the Happy Clappy Hopey Changey, Y'All!

We Won the Culture Wars -- Time to Take Some Victory Laps

According to Public Policy Polling:
Debbie Stabenow lead over Pete Hoekstra BEFORE Hoekstra's disgusting racist attack ad against Stabenow: Seven Points.

Debbie Stabenow lead over Pete Hoekstra AFTER Hoekstra's disgusting racist attack ad against Stabenow: Fourteen Points.
Keep it up, bigot Republicans, keep it up.

Santorum On the "Dangers of Contraception"

Santorum interview in Time
One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.” It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.
Down with the libertines and the sluts with their condoms and occasional enjoyment of sexy times! Your Republican frontrunner for goddamn President of the United States in 2012, ladies and gentlemen.


Off to the City -- teaching Benjamin's "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility" and Adorno and Horkheimer on the Culture Industry. Fun! (Apart from the early hour, I mean that unironically.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Futurama Fantasyland

Upgraded and Adapted from the most recent post's Moot, in an exchange with my friend JimF:

I am of two minds when it comes to supersonic passenger flight myself. Like the last shuttle flight, the end of Concorde felt like something like a dagger to the heart. The larger point is that I can't say I disapprove passenger flight absolutely altogether, supersonic or not. Indeed, I think there is surely a place for it, if nothing more than a comparatively more rarefied or luxurious passenger service used for emergencies or by frivolous rich people. What I disapprove has been the generational public subsidization of the boondoggle of profitable and yet affordable commercial air travel for average consumers, a fantasy for which there has never been a viable business model, a fantasy enabled instead by serial bankruptcies and bailouts and pharaonic public-funded airport terminals as well as the mobilizations of economies of scale that have rendered the enterprise an environmental threat to the continued existence of the very planet air travel is supposed to be connecting us with.

In this mass air transit is rather like the meat industry. I'm an ethical vegetarian myself, as you know, and have been for more than half my life at this point, and yet I can't say that I feel compelled to rail sanctimoniously about others drawing their own ethical lines in the same place where I do myself (after all, I didn't remain a full vegan more than a few years even if I still see the arguments for that stricter practice). Though I definitely do see the good sense in the claim that the single best most practical thing most everyday people could do to help the environment would be to stop eating meat, even so I think the same good outcome would result simply from the elimination of public subsidization of consumer society's ruinous meat habit. Michael Pollen's famous dictum: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants," seems to me plenty good enough. I do think corpses in the grocery should probably have Surgeon General warning stickers on them like cigarettes do, pointing out the real dangers of meat consumption while reminding consumers that healthy alternatives are available. But I see little point in hectoring people. If the price of flesh to actual consumers reflected the real costs of its production I daresay people would adapt their consumption of it in ways that would yield greater sustainability even if few went all the way to vegetarian conviction as I have. Mass passenger air travel seems to me much the same. Come to think of it, individual ownership and over-reliance on automobiles, especially gasoline powered ones, seems to me much the same sort of problem, as well.

Just as America's incumbent elites fostered and subsidized a mass-mediated fantasy of for-profit nuclear energy for years rather than face up to the sin of Hiroshima (a fantasy these incumbent elites apparently keenly want to renew even now, even in the aftermath of Fukushima), so too corporate executives and public representatives demolished superior urban trolly systems and continental passenger rail while fostering and subsidizing the comparable mass-mediated rituals of rebellion, adulthood, courtship tied to car ownership, fantasies of free flowing traffic on interstate highways to suburbia as well as global passenger airflight to keep booming war industries alive in a post-war epoch fueled by the petrochemical resources that were the real prize for which we dueled with the fascists in that horrific conflict.

Futurism from the Futurama (see the USA from your Chevrolet! consumer conformism peddled as freedom and individuality) to digital utopianism (passive surfing, target marketing, in-depth surveillance on digital networks fueled by coal and instantiated on devices made of toxic materials assembled by hand by slaves) to the so-called geo-engineers (corporate-militarists and their PR shills insisting that the "solutions" to catastrophic anthropogenic climate change will involve unregulated highly profitable mega-engineering wet-dreams with unknowable consequences run by the very organizations who profit from extraction, pollution, planned obsolescence, and climate-change denialism here and now), and of course the techno-transcendentalist futurology of the various Robot Cults, Transhumanists and Singularitarians (handwaving away current distress with promises of robotic superabundance and prosthetic superpowers, celebrating planetary precarization as "accelerating change" peddled as progress unto transcendence) has never been much apart from the hysterical hyperbolic sales-pitch with which the elite-incumbent powers of the postwar Washington Consensus peddle the criminal works and deceptive wares of the extractive-petrochemical military-industrial complex that ate the world while pretending to feed it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mass Passenger Air Travel Has Always Been Both Economically and Environmentally Unsustainable

Air travel is an environmental catastrophe, of course, not only because of the rapidly growing share burning jet fuel contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, but considering the local ecosystems obliterated by vast airport construction, considering the noise pollution disrupting communities, and so on. But Matt Yglesias also reminds us of a relentless history of serial bankruptcies and bailouts that testifies to an economic catastrophe that may be more surprising still (not that many people seem particularly inclined to change their conduct even knowing full well about the environment costs of air travel anyway).

It really is so striking and so apt to contemplate the extent to which the monuments of the twentieth century have testified to our suicidal worship of petrochemical mobility, from the graceful bridges and cloverleafs of Robert Moses, hells of congestion and poison peddled as prayers to traffic flow, excuses to demolish vibrant communities, especially majority-minority communities, peddled as prayers to "urban renewal," to vast airport terminals whose steel and concrete and glass curves seem frozen in flight, distracted from the tarmac moonscapes that surround them for miles.

Although we tend to think the early metaphor of the "information superhighway" to describe online formations drew from existing experience to accommodate us to the new reality of the Web, I think it may be better in hindsight to realize the ways in which the ideology of the highway was instead a prefiguration of internet experience, a disavowal of material realities in the name of a fantasy of flow... I find I must stress time and time again to my students that cyberspace is not made up of spirit stuff, is not a techno-utopian Heaven of Mind, but is materialized in bodies whose fattening asses are parked in seats on solid ground and whose digits sear with repetitive stress disorder and whose eyes ache with strain, fueled on black coal soot and belching smokestacks, arriving on devices made by suffering hands and bored brains of toxic materials mined by human beings for pennies from tortured earth and destined after a sad season's fashion to linger for centuries in poisonous landfill. Information wants to be free? And how it lacks in wanting it!

On the Road -- the lie of freedom as white flight whether sung in the tonalities of the Beats or the Suits, whether fleeing from or to the water-fat arms of Suburbia, drinking up the freshwater and bringing on the salty skeleton-white desert; or In the Air -- the lie of freedom as passport, middle class air-travel bringing the world within reach while at once eating the world in a bath of acid, the oligarchs up front in Business class, while in Economy conferencing academics scribble last-minute notes for their "political" talks about globalization next to kids with backpacks stowed above...

So many lies the historical meta-bubble of Petrochemical Modernity told itself, so many monuments to those lies, so many lies we are still ardently telling ourselves.

Mo Nukes

It remains to be seen what activists and lawsuits will make of this when all is said and done (I am far from despair yet), but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the building of the first nuclear power plant in three decades, presumably to be built in Georgia (a state where Republicans in power pray for rain rather than maintaining water infrastructure, and presumably will soon enough be praying away meltdowns rather than implementing competent gu'ment regulation).

Of course, nuclear energy is absolutely unsafe (and approval of a nuclear plant in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan is an obscenity, plain and simple), and of course nuclear energy is ruinously expensive (compare the freakout over the Federal investment in Solyndra, less than one sixteenth the investment in this dangerous, unpopular, ungainly nuclear plant, compare the rejection of nuclear energy and extraordinary investments instead in renewable forms of energy across the EU).

I remain convinced that solar rooftops, geothermal residential heating/cooling systems, even white rooftops, porches, attic fans, energy efficient appliances could address our energy needs incomparably more cheaply and safely than some white elephant archipelago of insanely expensive and dangerous new nuclear plants leaving the planet of countless centuries of poison to contend with nobody knows how even if they don't blow up as at least a few are nearly certain to do... but I suspect that the decentralization of the energy grid by such distributed system, whatever its greater efficiency, resilience, longevity, wholesomeness, threatens elite-incumbent interests that would prefer the control afforded by the kinds of centralized industrial infrastructure nuclear energy that recapitulates the plutocratic extractive-industrial models of the historical meta-bubble of Petrochemical Modernity.

GOP Going All In for the 1% Economically and for the 2% Culturally

I'll admit I'm a bit surprised that the GOP appears to sticking to last year's flabbergastingly ill-conceived and wildly unpopular Tax Cuts for Billionaires Paid for By Trading Medicare in for Coupons program and is now also rejecting the Administration's "accommodation" with Catholics on healthcare and is running instead on a No Contraception Evah and Slut Shaming Forevah program. Guys, I'm not sure your gerrymandering and disenfranchisement and union busting efforts, dedicated and earnest though they have been, are going to be enough to get you quite the nineteenth century electorate you appear to be pandering to here in the twenty-first century. You're going to need a bigger boat.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Work Day

Not quite so long this Friday as usual, but this morning I'm off to dogpatch to teach Schiller's Aesthetic Education of Man and Sheridan's School for Scandal. Our Downton Season Two DVD arrived yesterday from the UK, and Eric and I get to plant ourselves on the couch and see what all the fuss is about this weekend. Should be fun.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Transhumanist War on Brains

Robot Cultist Hank Pellissier declares the human brain a "flawed, forgetful, feeble-minded, under-achieving blob... laughably dysfunctional, teeming with weaknesses" and to prove it writes this article with his. As often happens in works of "Serious Futurology" Pellissier masturbates for paragraph after paragraph talking about how awesome it would be if we could do things with our brains that we cannot: "I mean, telepathy, right? How cool would that be?" Somehow, when a middle aged white guy does this -- rather than, you know, a four year old talking about how cool comic books would be if they were real -- we are supposed to treat this as philosophy or policy analysis or science, somehow.

I have news for Hank Pellisser: You say you "want a god-like brain"? (That's the title of his, er, "essay.") You're in luck. All mortals are on the road to god-likeness. In not so very many years you will die, Hank, and you won't exist any more either, after all, and then your brain will in that moment arrive precisely at god-likeness. (Atheist joke -- puhDUM bum.)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but given the so-called omnipredication of the god-like brain -- a brain that is omniscient and hence seems to know everything in advance including everything it will will, but also presumably omnipotent and hence can will anything but somehow in a way that isn't limited by what its omniscience already knows it will have willed, and is also omnibenevolent but somehow knows all the awful evil in the world and can do anything it wants including things to ameliorate all that awfulness and evil but doesn't and yet still is good... I mean, I daresay daydreams of god-like brains are quite as befuddled by ineffectuality and paradox as are the brains with which we are already gifted.

One might be tempted to declare that theology in discerning such paradoxes has stumbled into contemplation of a condition of consciousness and conscience itself, and to wonder whether techno-fetishists pining to bulldoze away all that mess in a robotic reduction coupled with a bunch of amplified adolescent appetites (guns! girls! gold! as C.S. Lewis once scolded the idiot techno-transcendentalists of his day), peddled as a kind of transcendence into godhood, amounts to little more than another sad sociopathic infomercial to artificial imbecillence.

Crisis in Utah?

How can the Mormons save the Catholics from contraception if they still have to save the straights from gay marriage?

Contraception WTF?

So, a bunch of priest guys who are never supposed to have sex ever -- apart from the occasional rape of a child -- tell the President of the United States that women who do have sex should never be able to receive contraceptive healthcare from hospitals or insurance plans (that aren’t churches) due to the separation of church and state -- especially the 98% of Catholics who actually do use contraception -- and then a Mormon dude becomes the great champion of the Catholic cause and rides it all the way to the White House despite the fact that nobody likes him and nobody agrees with the cause? Hoooooh-kaaaaay, then.

Stop Colbert!

Once and Future Speaker Pelosi sets phasers on Kill!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Rush Limbaugh Urges GOP Off the Cliff

Deriding the apparent shock of the Republican Establishment at not-Romney Rick Santorum's sweeping victories last night, a shock that registers the terrible realization by that Establishment of the true nature and cost of the Devil's bargain they made when they played footsie with the Teabaggers to win the Mid-Terms rather than actually re-assess the Movement Republicanism that nearly destroyed them and the country in its catastrophic consummation in the Killer Clown Administration of George W. Bush, Limbaugh ranted and railed from his toilet throne, cheering the GOP Base on to oblivion. The rest of America, and the world, may just manage not to skitter past the edge with them in an aria of thermonuclear explosions and Greenhouse storms, but I daresay that danger and that hope scarcely troubles Limbaugh's thoughts any more than does his personal role in the devastation of the political party to whom he owes everything. Of course, Limbaugh expects his own fall to be cushioned by the big pile of money he's made inciting the worst, ugliest, most destructive and self-destructive impulses of his party all these years. When the GOP is consigned at last to the utter marginality either of a Neo-Confederate rump without even the pretension of mustering the support to govern nationally or of a loyal opposition tinkering conservatively and mostly harmlessly around the edges of a secular sustainable social democratic American multiculture like a domesticated pet (David Frum's alternative recommendation), Limbaugh's brand of full-throated reactionary idiocy will soon enough no longer be any kind of force in the world, and as a consequence of the very Movement Republicanism whose drum he has beaten for years and so beaten his country black and blue. No doubt he plans to retire in comfort to his bubble-dome palace contemplating the ruins from his banquet table and sex dungeon like some low-rent Baron Harkonnen locomoting in mid-air among sneering sycophants and photogenic slaves by means of a constant spray of noisome farts.

What If Catholic Villagers Gave A Firestorm and Nobody Came?

No More Mister Nice Blog has some chuckles reading the stern handwringing of the New York Times about the Obama Administration decision to insist that even Catholics who want to be in the public-subsidized healthcare business have to provide contraception services in their actual insurance plans, you know, the contraception the overwhelming majority of Catholics use like everybody else? The Times piece declares:
Facing vocal opposition from religious leaders and an escalating political fight, the White House sought on Tuesday to ease mounting objections
and what I want to (and Steve M. concisely does) emphasize is that this "escalating political fight" and these "mounting objections" are actually the phony amplification effects of a small klatch of out of touch villagers confusing their echo chamber for reality.

By "small klatch" I refer to the usual loudmouthed wing-nuts, but in this case mostly recently converted Catholics on something of a tear, like Newt Gingrich, Robert Bork, Sam Brownback, Laura Ingraham, Lawrence Kudlow, and Ramesh Ponnuru, but also their enablers, mostly needlessly worried concern troll Catholics of a usually more moderate bent like Cokie Roberts, E.J. Dionne, and Chris Matthews, all of whom are fanning the flames of a firestorm without a spark.

By "reality" I refer to the obviously relevant state of affairs nicely summarized in this chart that is appearing all across the progressive blogipelago these days:

Note that the only constituency truly out of touch here, is the usual one, "white evangelicals." You know, the white racist authoritarian theocratic war-mongering anti-science gun nut know nothing patriarchal pricks who are voting for the Killer Clowns who are making the Republican nominating contest a rather unedifying suicidal auto-da-fe at the moment.

Chris and Cokie, take a deep breath and take a look at the slobbering loons you are actually enabling here, and get a grip for heaven's sake! Everybody else? By all means continue ignoring the side show until it slinks back to the shadows where it belongs.

Out of the Back Alley and Into the Street! More Acting Up for Choice

Last week, I proposed that pro-choice forces would do well to eschew their long infatuation with the ineffectual nicey-nice coddling of the death-dealing "pro-life" (you know, the kind of life loving that loves fetuses but hates childcare and education, that loves executing people, that loves war-making, that loves guns in the streets, that loves people dying of easily treatable conditions so that rich people can skim more money from for-profit insurance companies, that kind of life-loving, you know, pro-death "life-loving"), and shift to the sort of public, energized, dramatic exposures of hypocrisy, absurdity, and ugliness that suffused the decade of in your face Queer Nation, Act Up, Riot Grrrl politics that set the table for the civil rights accomplishments we are now celebrating.

The occasion for that little burst of enthusiasm was Virginia state senator Janet's Howells explosively parodic proposal of an amendment to an intrusive paternalistic anti-women's health bill that would require women to pay for an impertinent, costly ultrasound before they can have a wanted abortion, proposing that men undergo a rectal exam before they can be prescribed medication for erectile dysfunction.

I am thrilled to hear still more Acting Up for Choice is already in evidence. In response to the latest effort of the "Pro-Life" Army of Death, another of the so far serially failing "Personhood Initiatives" pretending fertilized eggs are indistinguishable from legal adults (these are Republicans, after all, so the levels of brain development involved might suggest a whiff of plausibility), this time in Oklahoma, insisting "the unborn child at every stage of development (has) all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state," state senator Constance Johnson of Oklahoma City proposed her own amendment declaring:
any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.
Righteous hilarity immediately ensued. Rose Kennedy, mother of JFK and RFK, once wrote that "If men got pregnant abortion would be sacrament." The arrant absurdity of anti-woman anti-abortion patriarchal pricks suggests the proper path of resistance: relentless ridicule and remorseless demolition. Of course everybody knows how traumatic even wanted abortions can be, of course everybody knows that the Constitution guarantees people can practice their own faiths on whatever terms they prefer so long as these do not interfere with the equal rights of others, of course everybody knows that anyone who wanted to minimize the number of abortion procedures performed would become a towering advocate for family planning and not a champion of "abstinence" fantasies, public "slut"-shaming, interference with doctor patient relations, and efforts to reduce women to incubators at gunpoint. Of course everybody know all this. But what everybody also should know by now, anti-choice anti-abortion patriarchal pricks aren't conscientious, reasonable, spiritually inspired people ready to have such a conversation. Stop trying. Expose their absurdity, heartlessness, backwardness, marginalize them with righteous ridicule into harmlessness.

Women's Bodies Under Attack! What Do We Do? Act Up, Fight Back!