Monday, November 27, 2006

Credibility: A Plan for the Federal NDP

(Author's Note: Today is by-election day in certain ridings* in Soviet Canuckistan; what follows is an open letter to NDP leader Jack Layton.)

Dear Jack,

For godssakes, man, what's wrong with you? I'm so far left, I should be over your left shoulder, and you've managed to turn me very nearly into a partisan Liberal. Certainly partisan enough to consider getting a group of my subversive pinko friends together to take over the local Liberal Party, and as much of the rest of it as we can manage, if only to yank the Canadian political spectrum out of its maddening rightward slide.

You, my friend, are not helping. What the fuck do you think you're doing?! If I were a shade more cynical, I'd suspect you're in cahoots with the CRAPs. Instead of thinking about what's good for Canada as a whole (which would be good for you), you're thinking about crude political gamesmanship and territorial pissing. Thanks a lot. That's fucking productive, really.

You seem to have decided that your job is to be a spoiler and mess it up for everyone else. Yeah, the Liberals fucked the dog, but if you hadn't upset the applecart, they probably would have coasted to a nice minority victory, leaving you with the power to make them do what you wanted, in order to get the votes they needed. (You'd make a craptacular Israeli politician, my friend. It's a damn good thing you're not competing against seven or eight serious contender parties; you have no sense of collaboration.)

First point: It's not about you. Get over yourselves. You have no chance, none whatsoever, of forming a majority (or even a minority) federal government any time in the forseeable future. Get used to it. Your boys Rae and Harcourt took care of that for you, kind of like how Brian Baloney took care of any hope of Canada's ever having a sane, centre-right party in your lifetime or mine. (God, wasn't that the shot heard round the world? What Brian Mulroney didn't kill off, the US think-tanks did.)

Ontario is the largest single bloc of voters, and all any of the opposition parties have to do to drain significant NDP support away to anybody else is say, "Bob Rae." (The idea of getting a Rae figure at the federal level scares the crap out of me, and I'm nominally on your side.) Maybe you don't remember how that turned out, but afterward, everyone was so disgusted with the NDP that there was this huge, tragic rush to the right that elected Mike Harris. The Liberals didn't do that. They fucked up, sure, but the root cause was a protest vote followed by rank reactionism -- and we Ontarians got rank reactionaries to show for it.

Next, we have Quebec, the second-largest bloc of voters. The left in Quebec is ably represented by the Bloc. Have you actually read the Bloc's platform? Have you seen what the Bloc has been able to accomplish provincially in Quebec? People vote for the Bloc in Quebec because they like social programmes and not because every second person is a raving separatiste. Hell, if I lived in Quebec, I'd probably vote for the Bloc too, because I like all that shit. Now, if you wanted to tip things leftward, you could try working with them. They have some good policy proposals. The only problem is that they don't really give a damn about anything that happens outside the Nation of Quebec.

In policy terms, if the Rae government had done as well in Ontario as the Bloc have done in Quebec, Canada would be completely orange, but your guys were more suprised than anyone when they actually got elected in 1990 and they dropped the ball. Subsequently, their support numbers in Ontario tanked, and have been there ever since. Between Rae and Harcourt, the federal NDP got roasty and toasty. Stick a fork in your party, Jack.

The third largest bloc of voters is in BC. People there have long memories. Most voters (which is most of us over the age of 30) remember stuff like the scandals that buried Harcourt's government.

I'll tell you a little secret: You guys don't have the same kind of standing as the Liberals do, and the CRAPs seem to have inherited from the poor old Red Tories (undeservedly, since they're a gang of right-wing loons). If you want to be trusted with the reins of power again, you're going to have to prove that you're not going to fuck it up. You're not one of the major parties, whether you like it or not; you're the #3 party. You need to start playing tactics that take advantage of being #3 that are actually beneficial to the public, and not just your party. Please don't even bother making the argument that anything that benefits the NDP automatically benefits Canada; that argument wasn't true when General Motors was making it about the US, and it's not true now.

I ask you: How the hell can we trust you if you come off as a bunch of cynical, politically-manipulative power-grubbers? You've got a classic "glass ceiling" problem going on -- take it from the original accidental feminist -- if you want people to take you seriously, if you want to beat out the big boys, you're going to have to be better and cleaner than they are. Surely this wouldn't take much?

The NDP need to start playing nicer if they want to get elected in Ontario, which is where it really counts, and basically prove that they're neither the Harris Tories in orange shirts, nor a continuation of the Rae disaster. As it stands right now, you're basically working for the CRAPs by splitting the vote, and you have no credibility.

I'm no particular fan of the Liberal Party, basically because they spend a lot of their time chasing the mythical centre, much like the "triangulating Democrats." They're also completely in hock to the University of Manitoba economic school of thought, and the sort of hothouse economic BS that McQuaig and Barlow have documented. I've had enough of "fiscal conservatism" and this overweening obsession with debt reduction, deficit service, and micromanaging the Canadian economy so it looks like a theoretical economist's model. Survey after survey has shown that most Canadians really want more social spending, and might even be willing to -- gasp! -- pay more taxes to get it.

However, without appropriate tension from the left -- which is your job, since the Bloc doesn't give a damn about anything that happens outside of Quebec, the economic discourse in particular in this country is sliding further and further into the Norquistian paradigm: Spend up all the revenues in debt reduction and tax cuts, then cut services because there's nothing left. It's a sneaky-ass shell game, and I don't see anyone currently doing anything to stop it. You've even incorporated the rhetoric of the "fiscal responsibility" crowd, and that scares the hell out of me.

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised. Back in the day, probably sometime around 1995 or so, a friend of mine got invited twice to go speak at local NDP shindigs. Everyone was "Amen, brother!"ing at him as long as he was talking about what a bastard Mike Harris was, but as soon as he started in on corporations, they threw him out. Twice. That kind of makes me go "Hmm..."

So. Here's what I propose you do:

1) No more handing the CRAPs elections on a silver platter. Just don't do it. If the CRAPs get another minority government (perish forbid!), you go with your little hat in your little hand, and you go around to whomever will listen to you, Liberals, Red Tory splitters, Bloquistes, Independents, whomever, and you say "Let's form a coalition government." Then you learn how to bloody collaborate, and you outmaneuver, stonewall, and shut down any further CRAP encroachments.

2) Extend the olive branch to the Liberals. It doesn't, at this point, matter if they're willing to work with you; the gesture is what's important. Tell them you're bigger than petty partisanship, that you apologise for slinging mud at them, and that you're willing to work with them if they're willing to work with you. Right now, you're acting just a little too much like the Israeli hardliners who say, "If the Arabs would put down their weapons, there would be no more war. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there would be no more Israel." Something has to give, and you're the only party in any position to start fixing what's wrong.

3) Start putting out some real policy, and some real numbers. Give people something to vote for, and they might vote for you. Show people that there is room in the federal budget for social programmes and all those nice things that people like. Show people that the Norquistian economics that both the CRAPs and the economic-right Liberal faction are pushing are a con. I recommend a US Congressman, Henry Waxman, to your attention. He's a policy pitbull, and has released report after scathing report. Lock him in a room with Roy Romanow for a while and watch what happens.

4) Start acting like you're interested in governing, not just being in power. Right now, you're looking a little bit too much like what you care about is the party, rather than Canada. Canadians are process freaks and natural parliamentarians. We care about policy and procedure. Naked power-grubbing is a real turn-off.

5) Stop talking like bloody fiscal conservatives. Learn some stuff about framing and rhetoric, and put out your own compelling economic vision. Give me a call; I know about that stuff. Conservative economics is a failure and will only continue to be a bigger and bigger disaster, the longer it's left to grow and entrench itself here.

6) Tell your GOTV people to stop being so goddam pushy. This is Canada, remember? Also, if you call my number again, that is not Mr. Roommate's number. He doesn't have a listed phone number. (Holy hell, how can I possibly vote for a candidate whose phone bank guy asks for the wrong person, then uses the same damn lame excuse twice -- "We got the information from Elections Canada..." ["Well, Elections Canada's records are wrong; fix it!"] and whines on the phone? If your candidate can't get her shit together while running a campaign here in Boringville, what the fuck kind of a mess is she going to be ifwhen she gets to Ottawa. Cripes.)

Here's hoping your hand-picked candidates go down in flames tonight. You don't deserve to win.

Lovingly yours,


Friday, November 24, 2006

Public Service Announcement: Medical Information Update

For those of you who were asking me in comments at Echidne's the other day about the Canadian version of Ortho Evra, today Health Canada issued a health warning about it today, saying that yes, my doctor was right, the Canadian version of the patch does have less of the active ingredient in it than the US version, but that it may, inconclusively, carry similar risks.

Note: My doctor told me from the outset that the patch had a slightly higher risk of adverse health problems than the pill to begin with, but that the most important factors were that I was a non-smoker, under the age of 35, and not overweight. If you are a low-risk patient and you can't take the pill, it's a decent tradeoff.

Ortho Evra and Lamisil: For those of you who have gotten here looking for drug interaction information, I spoke to my pharmacist, who spoke to a representative at Ortho about being on the patch while taking Lamisil, and they said they had had some reports of negative interactions, possibly leading to unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. The reason for the negative interaction is that Lamisil interferes with liver function, and the patch requires hepatic (liver) metabolism for the body to use the hormone in it. In my case, being on the two drugs at the same time just gave me a four-month menstrual period, but if you're on both drugs, and sexually active, you might want to use a backup method of contraception (like a condom) as well.

A Note on Hormonal Contraceptives and Oral Antibiotics: Keep in mind, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the reason why you shouldn't rely on the pill while on oral antibiotics; gut metabolism is not hepatic metabolism. In that case, the adverse reaction is in the stomach, so if you are on Evra and oral antibiotics, you should not have a drug interaction at all, since the former is processed by the liver and the latter by the GI tract.

Obligatory Legal Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and don't play one on tv. If you have questions or concerns, consult your local MD. Information in this post is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis. When dealing with issues of birth control, always err on the side of paranoia.

This has been a public service announcement from Interrobang's Internationale. The time at the tone is "Soup is Good Food."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Build The Buzz

Just so you know this blog isn't turning into all-reproductive-politics-all-the-time (although this blog is always all feminist, all the time), I just wanted to let my Constant Readers know that my good friend Spocko has a mention in the current edition of Media Matters.

In this article they mention Spocko's astonishing work tracking and chronicling the spew emanating from his local right-wing radio screamers on KSFO in San Francisco. Please visit his blog and view the atrocities for yourself, and leave a comment or two.

Congratulations, Spocko!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Religious Fundamentalist Natalism: Not Just a US Christian Phenomenon

Lots of my favourite blogs (such as Digby's, Pandagon, and Echidne of the Snakes) have written long exegeses of the article "Arrows for the War" by Kathryn Joyce at The Nation. The is an exploration of natalism, pro-reproductive propaganda, and what the Israeli press often refers to, charmingly, as "demographic warfare" in certain extreme fundamentalist Christian sects in the United States. I wish the phenomenon were that limited.

However, as Tamar Rotem at Haaretz informs us, that's not the case. Her article is called "How many children does it take to be righteous?" and is about the phenomenon among Haredi (Hassidic or ultra-Orthodox) Jews of having huge families, sometimes as many as eighteen children in the examples she cites. She writes,

The death of Ahuva Klachkin revealed a relatively new phenomenon: The flourishing of very large families. These are parents who at the age of 40 have long since passed the 12-child mark. They are common primarily within Hassidic communities. Although in the ultra-Orthodox community, and not only there, people refer to large families as "child blessed" families, it seems worthwhile questioning whether it is, indeed, a blessing.

Previous articles on the Haredi community in Haaretz also reveal two things -- the community is growing, and it is becoming stricter and more intolerant of outsiders.

From a feminist perspective, this is bad news for secular people in Israel, much as the increasing (or increased) political clout of fundamentalist Christian extremists in the United States has been devastating to their political scene. In particular, there are three points that are particularly disturbing.

Rotem writes, "The words of the elderly rabbi, which exalt the woman who asked nothing for herself, who lived only for the sake of her children, emphasize this society's protest and struggle against the worship of individuality and individual needs, and against the addiction to the consumerist culture which it believes characterizes non-Haredi society," but the reaction isn't only to consumerism or modernism, but also to feminism. The Haredi exalt the woman who completely subsumes her identity into her children, who has no independent selfhood of her own (and, as the article states later, often drags several of her older female children into the "mothering" role since she cannot conceivably care for so many children unassisted -- we note the boys don't get dragooned into changing diapers and peeling potatoes).

Several of the interviewees in Rotem's article also claim that these Haredi eskhetot khayilot* do this of their own free will, for various reasons, including that they "love to give birth," and that "e
very baby that arrive[s is] a blow to Hitler." According to "Dr. Hannah Katan, a senior gynecologist at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center who specializes in female health in the Haredi sector," these women have many children not out of obligation or other forms of social coercion, but "'rather from the women's clear choice. The social reality is that Haredi women love to give birth to many children though they are under no familial, religious or any other pressure.'" Spoken like a true tool of the patriarchy, I think.

Based on Roten's paragraph talking about the Haredi midwife, who says, "
from her experience, and from living in the ultra-Orthodox society, she knows women there are suffering from both mental and physical diseases. She says she can immediately spot women who just gave birth, because they often suffer from being overweight, since they never manage to shed the accumulated fat between births. 'You can see them on Geula Street. Most of them walk very slowly and look very old, but they are actually fairly young, '" I'm disinclined to believe that Haredi women are, in fact, making uncoerced choices here, because they're born and raised in a society where not only do the men get up every morning and pray "Thank G-d I was not born a woman," but they're told that the only way they can achieve eskhat khayil status isn't through their accomplishments or anything to do with themselves, but rather by having lots of children. The paragraph where one of the interviewees "almost apologises" for only having five children -- because of health reasons, he assures Rotem, seems to clinch it.

More realistically than in Joyce's article about the Quiverfulls, we find a depiction of Haredi Israelis living hand-to-mouth and on charity. (The Hasidic Rebel, an excellent blogger who got snowed under by a nor'easter of publicity, wrote about similar problems in Haredi communities in New York City, as well.)

In short, what we have here is a community of people who are dedicated to "womb warfare," as Echidne put it, who have difficulty supporting their lifestyle in a modern urban environment (eighteen children on a low-tech farm is almost more of an asset than a liability), who nevertheless have significant political power. Is this a good situation for anyone?


* In his book The Joys of Hebrew, Lewis Glinert translates the term as "superwoman; literally 'woman of value (or valor).'"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Appeal to Emotion, Appeal to Pity, Appeal to Force -- It's All the Same

Oh, boy! My first real troll! And a very concerny concern troll it is, too! Based on my previous posting, someone called "aus blog" (apparently the person from Australia who keeps hitting my blog over and over again), appears in my comments and leaves behind this precious gem:

If conception is NOT when life begins,and a clump of cells is just that and not a living human being.
Then at least concider this-

Soon after you were conceived you were no more than a clump of cells.
This clump of cells was you at your earliest stage, you had plenty of growing to do but this clump of cells was you none the less. Think about it.
Aren't you glad you were left unhindered to develope[sic] further.
Safe inside your mother until you were born.

Well. What to say to that? Maybe this:

I believe in life after birth and before death.

What difference would it have made to me if my biological mother had aborted me? I wouldn't have existed, so there would have been no "me" to know the difference. To argue otherwise is to get completely into the realm of metaphysics and absolutely untestable claims.

And no, I'm actually not entirely happy about not having been aborted. Keep reading; it'll make sense eventually. I am an adoptee, born in the middle 1970s to a teenaged girl in a fairly provincial place. The idea that my biological mother could have been coerced or forced to give birth to me disturbs me a lot. Did she give birth to me completely of her own free will, or did she have family, friends, church, state, society, whomever, preventing her from having the abortion she really wanted? I'll never know. And that actually keeps me up at night.

The idea of being the product of someone's coerced decision is actually pretty horrifying. If you had an ounce of empathy, you'd realise that. But I guess you're a little more concerned with the insensate clumps of cells than the thinking, feeling people they eventually turn into, hm?

Incidentally, the fetus I was wasn't exactly "safe" inside my biological mother. She was 17, underdeveloped, and couldn't bring me to term. I suffered moderate to severe birth trauma, and had a very low birth weight (1kg). Because of that, I'm handicapped and have a host of chronic illnesses. Since I wouldn't have been around to know the difference, on balance, it probably would have been better if she had (been able to have?) an abortion. On the other hand, I can't speak for her, so it's hard to say.

Speaking for myself, there are certainly lots of days when I'm not exactly precisely thrilled to be here, as I've written about before. Call me back when you've dealt with somewhere around three decades of chronic pain, illness, five surgeries, thousands of hours of physiotherapy, constant discrimination (which has come with a financial penalty in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, I figure), people either treating you like you're non compos mentis or "the plucky little cripple," and the constant battle to have enough energy to get done even 3/5 of what you'd like to do in a day.

Having now explained my position in excruciating, hair-splitting, breast-baring, bulldoze-it-into-the-ground detail, I fail to see what's so unreasonable about taking the position of saying "Leave the options open for the adult rational actors" that it requires gross emotional manipulation to attempt to make me rethink. It's impossible to make hard-and-fast rules about important decisions like abortion (among other things) that will comfortably fit every situation, so it's better to let the actors in that situation decide for themselves, without running crude emotional appeals and other coercive tactics on them.

If you have a problem with abortion, don't have one. Leave the rest of us the hell out of it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

When They Say "Responsibility," They Mean "Punishment"

I was recently browsing links from Respectful Insolence and happened upon a link to a blog by a doctor (unfortunately I've since lost the link and can't find it again) in which the doctor had a long and very gentle, but ultimately rhetorically warped, judgemental and terribly misguided apologia for why he's (he's) anti-abortion (or pro-forced childbirth, as I like to say). To point out exactly how rhetorically-warped this blog entry was, he referred constantly to anyone involved in both seeking or performing abortions as "abortionists," and referred to those of us on the pro-choice side as "pro-abortion," and referred to the people on the anti-choice side (the pro-forced childbirth contingent) as "pro-life." He also insisted that there was no debate whatsoever about whether a fetus was technically "alive" (I think PZ Myers, a developmental biologist, might have something to say about that), and that he'd be willing to compromise with the "abortionists" if only we'd agree that abortion "kills" something.

I don't compromise with people who don't respect my bodily autonomy. I don't even let them have the first premise. I don't take their rhetorical framing. I especially don't take advice on what I should do with my reproductive organs from people who will never be in the position of facing, up close and personal, an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy.

Further, while I rejoice to respect the wishes of any given woman who may or may not be pregnant in the matter of what she intends to do with her reproductive organs, I am pro-abortion. Abortion is often the best possible answer to a difficult question. As this thread on Pandagon mentions, the abortion rate might indeed go down were circumstances different -- more access to birth control options, less violence against women, including less social stigma and shaming behaviour directed towards abortion-seekers, emergency contraception-seekers and single or unmarried mothers; not to mention French-style perquisites for parents and children. So far, no place in North America is very far through that checklist.

However, the most important thing there is that we be pro-choice. As commenter Kyra at Pandagon explains:

We are not pro-abortion in the way that pro-lifers are pro-life. To compare the two phrases, to speak of them as though they are equivalent to each other, is to accuse the pro-choice movement of being anti-birth, of pushing abortion as the only choice. This is patently untrue and everybody, no matter how deluded, knows it.

The right to an abortion would mean little to a woman who wants to give birth (unless of course she were to suffer complications to her pregnancy that would threaten things that she holds in greater value, such as her life, health, ability to care for living children, et cetera), yes? Similarly, the right to give birth would mean equally little to a woman who wants an abortion. The right which matters is the one a person chooses. Hence, pro-choice. And, we support choice for another reason, specifically that there is one reason having the opposite choice means anything to a woman of either persuasion: the ability to choose has value in itself—even if you’d never consider the other option, the fact that it’s there means you have the ability to make the choice freely, you are not forced to take one option or the other, your choice is free of the stench of force and slavery. Doesn’t pretty much everyone prefer to be asked to do something rather than commanded to do it?

Incidentally, this is not exactly a new idea.

This is a passage from the medieval poem Ragnelle, about the wedding of the famous medieval hero Sir Gawain to Dame Ragnelle, the "loathly lady."

"Syr," she sayd, "thus shalle ye me have:
Chese of the one, so God me save,
My beawty wolle not hold —
Wheder ye wolle have me fayre on nyghtes
And as foulle on days to alle men sightes,
Or els to have me fayre on days
And on nyghtes on the fowlyst wife --
The one ye must nedes have."

"Alas!" sayd Gawen; "The choyse is hard.
To chese the best, it is forward,
Wheder choyse that I chese:
To have you fayre on nyghtes and no more,
That wold greve my hart ryghte sore,
And my worship shold I lese.
And yf I desire on days to have you fayre,
Then on nyghtes I shold have a simple repayre.
Now fayn wold I chose the best:
I ne wott in this world what I shalle saye,
But do as ye lyst nowe, my Lady gaye.
The choyse I put in your fyst."**

The happy ending to the story is that by allowing Ragnelle to choose her fate, the curse is broken and the loathly lady becomes a lovely lady. (My question is, if someone in the fucking fifteeth or sixteenth century had the answer to the question "What do women want?" -- which is, "Go ask them, one at a time" -- figured out, why are we still having trouble with this five hundred years later?!)

Another area this blogger doctor was very adamant about was that people take "responsibility" for their actions. He said he is more than happy to write prescriptions for birth control, for which I commend him (I'm still not going to him for gynecological examinations, however), but at the same time judgementally maintains that all those abortions are for "birth control" (yeah, what else would they be for? Certainly not for fun, as most people who are into having surgery for fun like nosejobs and tummy tucks and yet another round of liposuction, and so on), and insists that "the condom didn't break all those times."

Well, so what if the condom didn't break, or there wasn't any condom? Me, I would much rather someone had an abortion than had a baby they didn't want, or even a pregnancy they didn't want. Goodness knows there's enough abused, maltreated, and unwanted children out there, and it certainly isn't your place to pass judgement on what someone else wants to do with their own, living, breathing, adult, consenting body, or why. Certainly having an abortion is more responsible than bringing an unwanted baby into the world, and either raising a child you don't want, or putting it up for adoption (a rather uncertain prospect even at the best of times).

But this debate isn't about ethics, or cleaning up after yourself. This is about agency, and control, and punishment. If you have the temerity to insist that you, as a female, have enough agency to be able to manage your sexual and reproductive life without submitting to the control of the approved social institutions (such as heterosexual marriage or the moral bloviatings of male doctors and other patriarchal authority figures), you deserve punishment. And that is exactly what they mean by "responsibility." If you don't do as the benevolent doctor tells you and use your birth control exactly as directed, and you wind up pregnant, well, sucks to be you, and you, according to him, don't get an out. The real Talibornagains, as we all know, take this at least several steps further: If you don't submit to a male-dominant heterosexual marriage in which you are expected to bear every child you can conceive, and you wind up pregnant, well, not only should you be forced to have a baby you might not want, but you should also pay various heavy social penalties for it.

This, of course, stands in stark contrast to every other technological means of control over ourselves and our environment human beings have ever devised, which are generally welcomed eagerly and enthusiastically by even the wingiest wingnuts, everything from modern medicine to weight-lifting to plastic surgery to the various "externalizations of the senses" described by Marshall McLuhan (which would include the Internet). Each one of these things represents a further separation between the human condition and the "natural" condition.

But as soon as the issue of women's control over their sexuality comes up, whoops, back to the Stone Age we go, and the attempt at control is dismissed as "unnatural." Astute historians will note that there have been recorded methods of [attempted] birth control since the beginning of recorded history; this isn't exactly a new debate either, much though the opposing side would have us believe it is. It may very well be "human nature" (such as that is) to attempt to separate sex from reproduction; certainly we seem to be wired to want and be able to control and change our internal and external environments more or less at will. (This also, I think, explains why the side that wants control to reside externally to the women in question prefers to use the word "contraception" or the odious neologism "contracepting"; it so nicely obfuscates the meaning inherent in the simpler term birth control, that is, that any form of birth control allows women to take charge of whether and when they give birth. Simple!)

Five hundred years ago we had this figured out: People want to be (able to be) in control of themselves. Part of that control, for women, is the ability to decide whether or not -- and when -- to give birth, as it has always been. Those who want to punish women for wanting to exert that control might well want to look at what kinds of control they themselves have, and punishments appropriate thereto.


** "Sir," she said, "So shall you have of me:
Choose between the two, God save me,
My beauty will not hold --
Whether you would have me fair at night
And as foul during the day to all men's sight
Or would you have me fair in the day,
And at night have the foulest wife
That one might have?

"Alas," said Gawain, "The choice is hard.
To choose it best confounds me,
Which choice that I choose
To have you fair at night and no more
That would pain me greatly
And I should lose my worship of you.
And if I desire to have you fair during the day,
Then at night, I should have a poor respite,
Now gladly I would choose the best
I don't know what in the world I should say
But do as you like now, my Lady fair,
The choice is in your hand..."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Congratulations. Now fix it.

Today's a day for celebrating, at least for my American friends on the left, which is to say anywhere left of, oh, say, Atilla the Hun. The election results are looking overwhelmingly positive for the Democrats. The ever-erudite Billmon calls it a "shutout," and invites, "Spin that, President Shrub." One can definitely hear the "Sit on that and spin, President Shrub," lurking underneath.

The blogosphere's best legal writer, Glenn Greenwald has been talking about the US right-wing's sudden embrace of the term "bipartisanship."

"Bipartisanship is date rape."
--Grover Norquist

Democrats, keep your eyes on your drinks at all times, and be prepared to fight if and when you can. These guys obviously never got the memo that date rape (or any rape at all, for that matter) isn't acceptable behaviour.

With that assessment of character out of the way, I will warn you that it will take a lot of doing and a lot of political will to start undoing the damage caused by six years of more-or-less unfettered Bushism. When the horrible former Premier of Ontario finally got the boot and his opponent, Dalton McGuinty was elected, I put up a sign in the big window of my living room that read:


Did he "fix it"? No, not really. He's made some token improvements here and there, and has ameliorated some of the damage, and definitely managed to stop the long slide into dysfunction that Mike Harris and his quote-unquote "Common Sense Revolution" started. (If ever there were an oxymoron, that's it, right there. Common sense is probably more ephemeral than Communism, and definitely an oxymoron in itself, because "common" would imply that sense is something that either exists in abundance, or is something that the people in general have, neither of which is true, unfortunately.)

Today is a day for celebrating, but take a warning herefrom.