Do Not Take Publishing Advice from the Folks at Pajamas Media

(Also, Bill Hobbs, when one is the “brains” behind the Cartman Republican Strategy–“Fuck you, I do what I want.”–perhaps one wants to stay away from using terms like “master’ when talking about the people you think are going to rule Obama.  Most folks get the benefit of the doubt, but I think we all know that the benefit of the doubt doesn’t even take your phone calls.)

So, apparently John Rosenthal just discovered that Obama wrote some books and that SHOCKINGLY he makes money off of them.

The Obamas’ most recent 2007 return lists a staggering $3,279,000 in income from Random House plus another nearly $816,000 from literary agent Dystel & Goderich, adding up to over $4 million in book-related revenues in all. (As so happens, Jane Dystel is Obama’s former literary agent, whom he is reported to have unceremoniously dumped before signing the Random House deal. That Obama should be receiving such large sums from Dystel & Goderich suggests some sort of complicated settlement between the three parties and this suggests in turn that the sums could well represent additional indirect payments to Obama from Random House. In any case, it is unusual for an agent to be paying a client rather than vice versa.)

This has, quite possibly, got to be one of my favorite conspiracies, right up there next to “Obama is the secret son of Malcolm X.”  Apparently, now, it’s nefarious and suspect for a man to write a couple of best-sellers.

Anyway, I don’t know the terms of Obama’s book deals and they’re actually not that interesting to me.  That he earned four million dollars in royalties and rights fees in 2007 seems completely reasonable to me.  Most authors earn about a dollar a book for every book sold (sometimes more, if they have a good agent, sometimes less if they are a scholar).  In 2007, it became obvious that Obama was going to be someone interesting in the Democratic party.  Does it seem unreasonable to think that almost four million people AND LIBRARIES would have wanted to have his books?

Not to me.  That sounds about right.  Then, remember, the publisher is getting paid (and splitting the fees) with Obama every time someone quotes at length from one of his books or runs an excerpt in their publication.  Again, it makes sense to me that he would have made a boatload of money off that, too.

But, what I want to address is this comment: “It is unusual for an agent to be paying a client rather than vice versa.”

Let me be perfectly clear: NO IT IS NOT.  YOU SHOULD NEVER, EVER, EVERY PAY AN AGENT JACK SHIT.

The biggest scam unscrupulous agents run is to take money from you up-front (supposedly for copying and postage and the like) and then they sit on your project.  After all, they just got $300 from you (or however much) for doing nothing.  What does it behoove them to do anything?

Usually, what happens is that the agent makes the deal with the publisher and the publisher sends your royalties to your agent.  Your agent takes their 15% cut and sends the rest to you (which is how you might end up getting $900,000 from your agent.  In the case of Obama, depending on how Random House does their accounting and how the agent does hers, it could very well have been that the $900,000 was royalties minus the agent cut from 2005.

The second most usual arrangement is for the publisher to pay 15% to your agent and the rest directly to you.  So, again, a big payout from Random House is not unusual, and doesn’t necessarily raise any red flags.  Even if Obama “unceremoniously” dumped his agent, she would still be getting paid for the deal she made–either directly from Random House or from Obama, but only for the work she’s already done.

It’s just not true that authors don’t get money from agents.  Authors get their royalties from agents all the time.  It’s one of the standard arrangements.

Paying an agent is not.

They Weren’t Alone.

Psst.  Sista Smiff.  The most ready explanation is, I believe, as follows:

cecelia

Dark red gets up to wash his face.  Light green, previously in a menage a trois with dark green and pink on the bedroom rug, gets up to take dark red’s place.  Dark red comes back.  Heart is broken.  Begs Cecelia to return “home,” to her original partner.  Green returns to the menage a trois.  Dark red resumes relations with Cecelia.  Falls on the floor, perhaps on top of light green, hilarity ensues.

You Know What Whites Creek Needs?

A place where a girl and her dog can go to get hot chocolate after they’ve planted irises.  Brrrr.  It is cold.  But the big oak in the back yard has apparently decided that something should be falling–since we have no snow–and it is gently letting go of all its leaves.

You can stand in the backyard, watching them swirl around you until your nose starts to run and your ears start to burn from the cold, and that, my friends, is a great treat.

The Butcher has gone to the football game and my goal for today was to do some cleaning.  But I must tell you, it’s the time of year when I really, really want to be making afghans.  I want to make for myself a kool-aid afghan.  We could use a good wool afghan this winter, for sure, and the one I made Plimco turned out so beautifully.

But I will be strong and go clean the bathroom instead of spending all my money.

Conflating “Good for Women” with “Feminist”

So, the Professor and I met for lunch to talk yet again about how bad you are in bed.

Ha, kidding!  Kidding!  You’re fine.

No, instead, we met to catch up and talk about whatever’s on our minds.  This time, it was a scholarly article about what happens when “equality” means one gender suffers more than another, and was using as a jumping off point whether men should be able to be compelled to be parents.

My feeling on the matter is “no.”

Men should, upon finding out about a child or a pending child have a short amount of time–a month, let’s say–to decide whether they want to be a father.  If they don’t, they then have no legal or financial responsibilities towards the kid; they are, in effect, a stranger to that kid.  If they do, then the legal and financial responsibilities start at the time of parental acceptance.  If, however, a man has declined legal parenthood but later decides it might be cool to see his kids, tough.  You initiate contact with the child, at any point in that child’s life–he could be 50–and you’re on the hook for 18 years of child support.  That way no one thinks they can just do an end run around the hard work and the large amounts of money raising a kid takes.

That seems to me to be equitable.  We get to decide whether we want to be parents.  The same should be true of men.

The Professor, interestingly enough, also recently saw a Dr. Phil about this very issue, in which the people arguing against what we might call affirmative parenthood–ostensible feminists–were making what sounded to her to be the anti-abortion argument, but towards these men: tough shit, they made a baby, now they have to deal with it; it’s a baby, it’s a life, it deserves to be protected and cared for.  And then the argument morphed into “but a child deserves two parents.”

Well, you know, once you start hearing folks who claim to be on our side using the arguments against us against other people, it starts to make you wonder.

And the thing that it makes me wonder is whether we haven’t conflated “good for women” with “feminist.”  Because, don’t get me wrong, it is very, very good for women if men pay child support for the children they have fathered. And it may indeed be the right thing, for where we are right now, as women, to continue to make it as easy as possible for women to get child support for their children.

But does that make it feminist?  I don’t think so.  I mean, I don’t know, actually, but I suspect not.  What, exactly, is particularly feminist–or even about “equality”–in fighting for women to have control over when and how they’ll reproduce while we deny men that same right?

“Don’t Come Quacking Like A Duck”

Oh, Feel Good Friday, let’s have a song about a woman who’s ready for her man to fuck her.  Because, you know that feels good!

I will give extra points to whoever can do the best analysis of “Cemetery Blues.”

Ha.  Oh, I amuse me.

I was thinking today, World, of how amazing my drive in is, how just at that moment when you top the bluff, the whole city stretches out before you, like some kind of giant spiny horseshoe crab and then, you cross the river, with the Batman building in front of you, just visible over the tops of the trees, when you hit the Jewish cemetery, veer right, and your landmark is now the very top of Jubilee Hall.

Every day I drive it I think I must remember to tell you about it and I always forget.

Not today, probably because I was listening to “Cemetery Blues” just as I came by the cemetery and the red light gave me time to think about the lyrics and wonder just what the fuck that was about.  Is there another song any of you can remember that is a love song about necrophilia?

Real Nice, Tennessee

Melissa McEwan has a list of transgendered folks killed this past year.  You’ll notice we’ve made the list twice.  Oh, don’t give me that, “It’s Memphis,” crap.  Tennessee is Tennessee.

Both of the women who were killed in our state were prostitutes.  Prostitution is a dangerous profession for any woman, but it’s especially dangerous for transgendered women.  Especially because even though the men who go to transgendered prostitutes almost always go to them because they are transgendered, if they should decide to beat or rape or rob or murder the woman, they can always claim “I freaked out when I found out she was a man!” and most folks are like “Oh, well, that makes sense.”

America, the amount of men who frequent prostitutes who are surprised by a transgendered prostitute are vanishingly small.  Most of these fucker are lying.  They’re counting on your discomfort to help them get away with a crime, but they were not surprised to discover that these women were transgendered.

I’m feeling kind of hopeless about the whole thing so I’m feeling like it may be too much to ask that people just refrain from killing people just because they can.  But I would ask this of you, my dear readers–please, at the least, don’t buy this tired bullshit that these fuckers didn’t know.

They specifically targeted those women because they knew.

“Yes I Do”

I have a rule against taking men who claim to be feminist seriously, because it’s almost always the prelude to behavior of such giant douchebaggy proportions based solely on their privilege and their ability to get away with shit just because they’re men that you about can’t believe the universe doesn’t just fold in on itself and die of embarrassment.

The “I’m a feminist” man is like the embodied equivalent of the “I’m not a racist but…” statement.  Just like you know when someone says, “I’m not a racist but…” they’re about to say something racist, the man who tells you “I am a feminist,” is, mark my words, about to pull some of the most woman-hating shit you’ll ever see.

That’s not to say that there aren’t feminist men, just that the ones who announce it usually have some agenda.

All that being said, I did squeal just a little when I read Denis Leary talking about women:

And she’s appropriate to every moment. That chapter made me wonder, despite some other remarks you make in the book, if you consider yourself a feminist.

Yes, I do.

I thought so, but I wouldn’t have gathered that from the rest of your book.

Of course not, because I’m a man. But the truth is, if you’re really looking between all those lines, and I actually come close to saying it a couple of times … It’s actually serendipitous that we’re talking about Oprah, because when you come right down to it, whether it’s my wife or Oprah or my mom, women rule the world. And we’re [men are] just sort of in it. We’re in it and we’re using the towels, and we’re trying to remember the name of the color of the towels, and we’re hoping that we get the name right. We know that you might be pissed off — that’s why I say that Jon Stewart has to become the male Oprah, you guys have your Oprah. We need to have a guy who can tell us at 11 o’clock at night what the scores are, why our girlfriend or our wife might be pissed off, and how we can make her happy and keep our penises.

Yes, it’s problematic bullshit.  I don’t care.  La la la.  I’m not listening.  I love him.  Have ever since his time on MTV skulking around, cigarette in hand, ranting, ranting, ranting.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I wanted nothing more than to make out with Denis Leary, all smelling like dark earth and tobacco and leather and whiskey and, faintly, of the perfume of the girl he’d just left.

I still do.

Cadillac Pussy and Other Random, Depressing Things

–Over at Pith, we discuss how one knows if she has a “cadillac pussy.”  I have to admit, I think Kid Rock is probably one of the largest douchebags on the planet and I don’t know if it’s because he’s just such a fucking midwesterner or if it’s because he reminds me of the recalcitrant brother in ways I can’t quite explain, but damn, I kind of love him.

I hang my head in shame.

–Really, someone point me to the person who is still about “Chinese Democracy.”  I think the Beatles had their whole career in the length of time it’s taken Axl to get this out.  And it’s going to suck, I’m sure.  I give points to this dude for writing the most accurate take on it.

–On a more serious note, I have nothing to say about this, I just don’t want to be alone in reading it.

De-Nial is Obviously a River in Tennessee

In the wake of the Democratic disaster that was our state-wide election, I keep hearing two things, from Democrats mind you, that need to be addressed.  1.  Democrats lost the election because of Obama.  2.  We need to move “to the middle” to pick up votes.

I don’t believe we lost because of Obama.  I believe we lost because the Democrats appeared to regular voters to be constantly putting their own desires ahead of the needs of the state.

But I want to clearly address the Democrats who do.

Listen.  I hear you.  I hear that you were never able to overcome the “Obama is a secret Muslim baby-killer who wasn’t even born in this country and is the intellectual love child of Malcolm X and Karl Marx” meme.  That people’s fear of what kind of person Obama is was just so great it ruined it for everyone else.

And I have just one question for you.  You know it was Tennessee Republicans who promoted and spread and beat half to death the whole “Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist” thing, right?

I just want to be clear about this, for us both to be clear about this.  You know it was Tennessee Republicans who promoted and spread the idea that Obama is a secret Muslim, right?

Okay, I’m sorry, two questions.  This will be my last one.

If you know that it was a main strategy of the Tennessee Republicans to win this election on the lie that Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist–and I repeat, on the lie–how can you suggest we move “to the center” to be more like the Republicans?

Did you pay no attention to what the Republicans were up to this year?  Oops, sorry; that’s three questions.

Listen, if voters have only to choose from Republicans and pseudo-Republicans, they’re going to vote Republican.  We have to stand for things.  Things that are different than what the Republicans stand for.

But, listen just for a second longer.  I know it’s more tempting to believe that Tennessee voted against Barack Obama than it is to believe that Tennessee voted against Tennessee Democrats.  But, if you believe that Tennessee was punishing downticket Democrats for Obama, then what you’re saying is that Tennesseans are so racist that not only won’t most of us vote for a black man, we’ll not vote for white people who share the same party as a black man.

That’s pretty damn racist.

Do you really believe that Tennessee is so damn racist that we’d not only vote against a black man just because he’s black (and I concede, we may indeed be that racist), but also that we’d vote against white people even vaguely associated with him?

I’ve got to be frank with you.  No.

Democrats, look in the mirror!  Go to the library, pull up the last five years of the Tennessean and read about yourselves–People showing up on the capitol drunk, canoodling with lobbiests, not showing up at all, getting arrested by the Feds, getting arrested by the Locals, building million-dollar additions to their taxpayer funded homes while the price of milk doubles and the economy in the state tanks, ousting the one Democrat who was willing not just to say “enough” but to vote “enough,” and so on and so on and so on.

You don’t need to move right… oh, excuse me… to the center.

You need to clean house.  If you stand before me and say, “I will put Tennessee first,” and you act on putting Tennessee first, people will support you.

You don’t have to move right to do that, but you do have to move towards putting Tennessee first.

But… But… But… We Don’t Have Gay Marriage in Tennessee!

So how could something like this even happen?!

You’d almost think that straight people are going to do fucked up shit whether or not gay people have equal rights.  Like somehow the behavior of one group just isn’t that affected by the ability of other groups to get married.  But that can’t be right.

No.

I think the only logical conclusion we can draw is that, if we allow gay people to get married, next time, it’ll be TWO pit bulls.

(Also, of course, this just goes to prove my thesis that the biggest problem pit bulls face are the humans they have to interact with.)

The Dark Side of Family Trees

I made the mistake of asking my aunt for further information about the family members I could have used some further information about.

That was mistake number one.

She gave me no information.  And she piled the whole “I know family secrets” bullshit on my plate.  Oh, America, I’m sure if you have a fucked up family, you know how much fun the secrets are, how you hold onto them like a penny in the palm of your hand, pressing your finger against it every once in a while to check if it’s still there.

But my aunt is 66 today (I remember when my grandma turned 66, because we were all delighted that she was Phillips 66) and I come from a family of drunks, abusers, drug addicts, and charming assholes.  Who doesn’t know that?  Who are we keeping these secrets from?  No one who’s not related to us gives two shits and we all know how we are.

Anyway, so I called my dad to tell him not to insist I call my aunt about this shit anymore and he denied telling me to call my aunt.  I didn’t fight with him, though, because I couldn’t remember if it were him or Uncle B. who told me to call her.  In all fairness, it may have been Uncle B.

The big secret she thinks is so awesome?  There was a rumor that my great grandpa liked to fuck around on my great grandma.

My great grandpa has been dead since 1939.  No children have ever come forward claiming to be his and, since they’d be my grandma’s age or older, if they exist, they’re all dead now too, most likely.

So, again, I’m just not seeing why it’s a secret.  It could not matter less.

Except that it’s that penny in her palm.

Mistake two.  My dad has decided to comfort me in my sad, childless state by informing me about some Robinson family member (whose last name is also not Robinson) who just had a kid and she’s “much” older than me.

The thing that cracks me up about my dad is how pragmatic he becomes the older I get.  Thirty-four and still not married?  Well, they just want to let me know they’d be happy if I settled down with anyone at this point, even a woman!  Thirty-four and still no kids?  Why wait for a husband?  Get out there and start fucking like a football player.  Who has time for conservative Christian morality when we have kids that need to be taken care of and grand kids we want?

I don’t even know if I can have kids.

I don’t even know if I want kids.

I always thought I would just try not to get pregnant, but, if I did, then the decision was made for me–I’d have a kid.  Little did I know…

Well, shit.

This was supposed to be a kind of funny post and instead it’s bumming me out.

Oh well, you get what you pay for here at Tiny Cat Pants.  I’m off to pick up my birth control pills.  I wonder if, when the Republicans run my cooter, I’ll still be allowed to take them.  I hope so.  I’m enjoying not bleeding half to death.

Maybe It Depends on What the Definition of “The” is?

I didn’t want any of you to miss out on what must be one of the most bizarre chapters in the political career of Bill Hobbs.  And yet, frankly, I don’t know what to make of it.  Shall we look at the facts?

Fact One: GM employes about 3,500 Tennesseans.  Spring Hill and Columbia, Tennessee are what they are because of the Saturn plant.

Fact Two: GM is looking to the government for a huge bailout.

Those are the facts.  Should the Feds bail out GM?  I don’t know.  I know that, when you start to think about all the parts of our economy that are tied into the auto industry, letting them fail seems pretty damn terrifying.  You think the economy is bad now; what would happen if even half of the people employed by GM were out of work?

Ugh.  Sorry, this was supposed to be a humerous post and all of a sudden I felt like I should call the Man from GM and offer him our couch to live on.

Where were we?  Ah, yes, Bill Hobbs.

So, Christian Grantham over at Nashville is Talking makes this post in which he says:

Tennessee Republican Party Spokesman Bill Hobbs speaks out in opposition to a proposed bailout for the employer of 3,500 workers at Spring Hill’s GM plant.

And then comes this post in which Christian says:

Tennessee GOP Spokesperson Bill Hobbs sent me the following email late yesterday regarding this post.

The statement that I spoke out in opposition to the bailout of the Big Three (or that the TN GOP did) is a lie. A slanderous lie.

I wrote an analysis of the situation, not a statement of opposition to or support of the proposed bailout. Period. You can not find one fraction of that post that is a statement of opposition to it.

I demand a retraction and apology.

Bill

I want to laugh, America.  I surely do.  But I can’t quite get to laughing because I’m stuck wonder whether Bill Hobbs knows what the words “opposition” and “support” mean.

And then, when I get past that, I’m stuck wondering if, when he says “You can not find one fraction of that post that is a statement of opposition to it,” there’s some prize if we do find a fraction.  And what kind of prize would I want from Bill Hobbs?  Perhaps a hand-drawn cartoon of some religous figure?  Hmm.

But let us take this sentence: “The statement that I spoke out in opposition to the bailout of the Big Three (or that the TN GOP did) is a lie.”

Shall we look at the post?  (And maybe I wonder this, too.  Does Bill Hobbs not know that people can read the things he writes?)

Republicans may not be able to stop this bailout – indeed, not all Republicans oppose the bailout – but Republicans certainly ought to insist that the bailout include helping Ford, GM and Chrysler amend their UAW contracts to be more competitive (otherwise the Big Three will still fail). Republicans also ought to insist that the bailout package include provisions to bar unions from using union dues for political purposes unless union members are allowed to opt out of paying that part of their dues because they don’t support the union’s political agenda.

Republicans also should insist on regulatory reforms so that the Big Three (and all other automakers) may more easily import fuel-efficient automobiles currently sold in other countries.

“Republicans may not be able to stop this bailout.”  That is a direct quote.  The implication in that is clear that Republicans (at least most Republicans, including the author) are on the side of at least trying to stop the bailout.  Don’t believe me?  Then go on to the second half of the sentence in which Bill Hobbs outlines what the Republicans should do, since they can’t stop the bailout–change the terms of the bailout.

Bill Hobbs is clearly speaking out in opposition to the bailout of the Big Three, by implication when he says that Republicans may not be able to stop it, and then explicitly when he urges them to change the terms.  By definition, once you change the terms of the bailout, it is no longer the bailout as proposed, but a new bailout.

He is indeed opposed to the bailout.  He may not be opposed to any bailout.  But he’s clearly opposed to this one.

And Christian’s the liar who should apologize?

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Okay, now I’m laughing.

Let’s Don’t Let Them Kill Us

So, Tennessee, we’ve discussed how “Fuck that crazy Yankee shit,” is not going to work as official state policy, that we’re going to have to make some compromises to our fundamentally contrary nature if we want to turn the state around.

I now want to talk frankly about that thing you do when you’re done with “Fuck that crazy Yankee shit.”  I think you know what I mean.  Tennessee, you’re the state that, though at the bottom of the scholastic heap makes moonshine for fun.  You might be barely literate and have never left your county, but you’re not going to let a little thing like the law or complex chemistry stop you.

And yet, you and I both know that when you come into Nashville, to, say, go to the doctor, there’s a 90% chance you’re going to get frustrated trying to find the doctor and demand you be allowed to wait in the car while your wife goes to your appointment.  And a 95% chance that, if she does get you to your appointment, you’re going to sit there like a bump on a log while your wife tries to explain to your doctor what’s going on.

Because, once you’re done being a mean old cuss, you kind of just roll over and shrug your shoulders–whatever happens, happens.  If it ends up killing you, fine.

I mention this because I’m trying to argue that, as a state, in order to get what we want, we have to go against our nature.  That means not only toning down the contrarian refusal to do what’s necessary to get good jobs in the state, it means not getting so discouraged and feeling so powerless in the face of these outside forces that we just roll over and let them kill us.

Tennessee, I see you outside all the time.  You know that we live in an achingly beautiful state, full of stunning rivers and breathtaking mountains.  It is not too much to expect that we can drink out of our own wells, that we can swim in our own rivers, that we can live in our own mountains, that we can breathe our own air.

And we, we as a state, have to fight for those things and protect ourselves from people who would take it away from us.  We have to be vigilant about that.

I’m talking to you, people of Dickson.  I see you fishing out of a reservoir that your city knows has, in the past, been polluted by the dump.  Maybe you don’t know it.  But I’ve got to tell you, when I talk to you, my feeling is that you do know it, but you’ve accepted defeat.  Oh well.  The dump is a mess and probably gave your kids birth defects and poisoned those folks on Eno Road but what can we do?

But I’m talking to you, people of Tennessee.  The people of Dickson are us.  That dump is our problem.

And we’re going to have to carefully consider the opportunities we will be faced with.  I mean, of course, coal.  We have it and the country is going to want more of it, since we’re all interested in and see the importance of ending our dependence on oil.

But we know coal.  We know there’s no such thing as “clean” coal, that there’s no such thing as “safe” coal, that the extraction methods they use now–blowing off the tops of mountains, for instance–have real and ugly consequences for the people and the land.

And we all know it does something funky to the souls of people to never see daylight.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that there’s not a place for coal as a part of getting Tennessee back on track.  I’m just saying that we have to have some hard conversations that involve the Tennesseans who will be doing the mining about how it should be done to be the safest for all of us.

Because you’re not wrong to be suspicious of outsiders.  We have, as a state, been treated like backwoods racist yokels who deserve whatever bad stuff comes our way.  And we know it normally comes our way courtesy of folks who have a lot more power and influence and money than we do.

That is why, Tennessee, I joked about seeing ourselves as a street gang.  Because I’m not joking about the underlying issues: We need to be loyal to each other.  We need to watch out for each other.  And we need to have each others’ backs.

One person, hell, even one community does not have enough power to lure businesses here and then to keep those businesses from harming us once they’re here.  But six million people do.  There is not an entity on this planet that is so large that it can ignore six million voices.

It is not too much to want to want to work and it is not too much to ask for to ask that your job not harm you or your community.

The Credibility Gap

I was glad to read Andy Berke’s editorial in the paper today (online).  But, even though I’ve recently sworn off all comment sections inhabited mostly by people I don’t know, I also actually found the comments on the editorial to be quite telling, too.

I am tickled to death to see Berke outlining what he believes to be core Democratic tenets

Tennesseans still want an excellent education for their children and the safest, healthiest communities for their families. They want good jobs and equal opportunity. They want a clean environment, good roads and a quality of life that honors the best of who they are.

I can get behind that.

But I think the commenters bring up a good point, one which I have not yet seen Democrats address.  The biggest political stumbling block facing Democrats are not the Republicans (at least, clearly, not yet).  The biggest political stumbling block facing Democrats is the history of egregiously bad behavior on the part of Tennessee Democrats.

I believe in the things Berke advances as core values.  I’m happy to work towards those ends.

BUT, and I have a big ‘but,’ I’m not going to throw my support behind the Democrats until I understand what the plan is for cleaning up their acts.

I don’t know if we need to have a giant game of “Everyone who’s not fucking a lobbiest or intern take one step forward; Everyone who’s not too old or frail or drunk to perform their duties take one step forward” and so on until we’ve weeded out the problems.

I agree that it is incorrect to interpret this election as a repudiation of Democratic principles.  But it would be a mistake, a huge mistake, to not see this election as a repudiation of the Democrats in office and the way they carry on.

So, Democrats, I’d like to know, what are you going to do to address voters’ concerns ABOUT YOUR BEHAVIOR?!

Two Things that Made My Day

1.  I ordered a calzone from Pie in the Sky Pizza, which is where the Longhorn used to be there on Lyle.  The crust was a little bland (though it worked with the other ingredients just fine, I thought), but the cheese… oh god, the cheese.  Excellent mozzerella with some good ricotta thrown in.  You know when you get ricotta that’s too much whey and you feel like you’re eating old cottage cheese?  This was the opposite of that a kind of fluffy crumbly joy in with the chewy stringy mozzerella.  Mmm.

2.  Any man talks about me like that… Well, I’d be convinced, that’s all I’m saying.

Excuse me, got a little something in my eye.

How Do We Put People to Work?

I’m with Newscoma here, that folks are more focused on what Jason Mumpower is going to do with folks on the Hill than we are about what needs to be done in the state.

(Though, I think Newscoma misreads me a little.  I meant that we should start behaving like a street gang, not that we already are.  And I’m sorry, Arkansas, but from here on out, that means you shouldn’t come to Memphis.  Hell, probably don’t even let us see you getting too cozy with West Memphis.  Talk about taking your joy, we will do it.  Ha.)

Where were we?

What needs to be done in the state?

The most important thing we have to do is put people to work.  The unemployment rate in the state is 7.2 percent for September (see here).  That’s almost twice what it was a year ago, just to give you some perspective.

We need to put people to work because, if people don’t work, they don’t buy stuff.  If they don’t buy stuff, they don’t pay sales tax.  If they don’t pay sales tax, we can’t run the state.

We need to put people to work because we don’t want to be using dwindling state funds to be feeding the families of people who are able to work but just can’t find jobs.

We need to put people to work because people who work can better afford healthcare, so we aren’t paying their bills along with our bills in costs added on by doctors and hospitals.

We need to put people to work because we can’t afford the rise in crime that will come as people get desperate to provide for themselves and their families or desperate for drugs to help them forget about their troubles.

So, if we need Tennesseans to work, there needs to be jobs for Tennesseans to have.  Those jobs are not springing up out of native soil.  So, we’re going to have to convince businesses to come here and employ our people.

If we want businesses to come here, we have to provide them with an educated workforce.  Our workers need to be able to read and write and do basic math, at the least.  For most jobs, they will need a college education, the best college education we can provide for them.

Now here is the time for some harsh truth:

We will have increasing difficulty attracting the best professors to our universities if we continue to persecute gay people.  They will go elsewhere AND THIS WILL HURT OUR ABILITY TO EDUCATE OUR WORKFORCE SO THAT WE LOOK ATTRACTIVE TO BUSINESSES.

And let’s not even contemplate what would happen if all the gay folks in the country music industry decided they were tired of this bullshit.  That would be the end of the industry right there.

We will have increasing difficulty attracting science and technology-based industries to our state (and there’s still money to be made in those fields) if we insist that God creating the universe 6000 years ago is a scientific fact appropriate for teaching in science classrooms.  To outsiders, it makes us look like a state full of idiots who would not make good employees.  I have lived here long enough to know that Tennessee has a contrary nature.  Fuck those outsiders, you say, if they think we’re idiots, well, fuck them.

But remember, we’re trying to get everyone working here, which means we need to look attractive to outsiders.  Encouraging them to fuck themselves if they don’t like the way we do things is satisfying, but it doesn’t put food on our tables.

Pushing an anti-immigrant agenda–with your “English-only” nonsense and your 287(g) programs and your raids–makes employers, especially international employers leery of locating here.  It’s not just a matter of whether they want to hire “illegal” immigrants.  It’s that we look hostile to people who are different than us.  If an employer in, say, Japan wants to set up a technology-based industry in the U.S. (perhaps to save on shipping), he’s going to want to send a core group of people over here to set up the business and run it, at least for a while.  If you’re going to send your best and brightest, most trusted employees half-way around the world, you’re not going to keep those employees if you send them to a place that openly hates them.

Why would we even make the long list of possible good places for international businesses to expand into, when we take such glee in making life miserable for non-Americans?

I could go on, but I think my point is clear.  We are in desperate times.  Businesses are closing.  People are losing their jobs.

But let me be even clearer: The house is on fire around us.  It is burning to the ground.  We are arguing about who gets which room, about whether the Republicans are going to tear down walls to make their bedrooms bigger and the Democrats’ bedrooms smaller.  We’re arguing about who gets to sleep with whom.

The house is on fire!

Our first and only concern at the moment should be putting the fire out.

Get us jobs.  Put Tennesseans to work.

Everything, except one thing, has to come second.

(Ooo, have I ever ended a post on a cliffhanger before?  I don’t think so.  Anyway, tune in next time to see me talking about that one thing, which is, okay, so, we’re desperate, but let’s not let them kill us.)

Oh oh oh. Oh oh oh.

I may have sprained my cooterial region just now.

Three guesses as to how.

(And no, the answer is not “Contorting to try to put a ring on it.”)

Edited to add: Well, it appears they’ve disabled embedding on this.  Find it here.

My Platform, The Foundations

I’m really, really struggling (but in that pleasant way) to articulate to myself what I want to see in a Democratic Platform.

And I think I would boil it down to two sentences:

If you’re here, you’re “us.”  And we take care of our own.

Or maybe even one, if you like more touchy-feely shit.

We’re in this together.

Yes, Tennessee as a giant, unruly street gang.  And whew, does getting jumped in suck–six million people kicking the shit out of you.  But, once you’re in, you’re in.  We have your back.

A Noisy Gong, A Clanging Cymbal

It’s good to be wrong every once in a while.  It keeps you humble.  So, while I still think that my take on how gay marriage threatens “traditional” has a ring of truth in it

Why is gay marriage a threat to straight marriage?

One, because it suggests that you don’t have to sacrifice major parts of yourself in order to be married.  Not to get sidetracked but can’t you see how the “marriage as great sacrifice” meme gets played out every time some jackass says, “Gays can get married.  They can marry women just like the rest of us.”?  In other words, since marriage is not first and foremost about love and caring for the person you’re with, but instead about sacrifice, why can’t gay people just make great sacrifice, too?  But if gay people can marry who they want without having to sacrifice great parts of themselves, it suggests that no one has to do that.  Marry who you want; make arrangements that suit you.

But two, and I believe that two, though it goes hand in hand with one, is more crucial for understanding the secular opposition to gay marriage, two is that, if people can marry who they want in arrangements that please them, I believe it makes straight people who thought that marriage was about sacrifice feel incredibly stupid.  Here they were making choices that were designed to show how much they were willing to offer up to marriage, even if it meant that they’d be vaguely unhappy most of their lives, when all along they could have chosen to marry who they wanted and worked out an arrangement that pleased them.

And people will tolerate a lot, but they don’t tolerate feeling like they’ve been made fools of.  And what would be more foolish than to marry in order to show your willingness to sacrifice the things that made you happy when you could have married because you are delighted in the person you’re marrying?

–I had not given enough consideration to how marriage as an institution can function as a means of codifying and enforcing gender roles.  But between this article at Slate.com and the Family Action Council of Tennessee, I see now that I was wrong.

FACT, of course, makes this clear in their language about why gay people shouldn’t be able to adopt–“Generally speaking nontraditional couples do not provide the stability and the basis for development of a proper gender identity to the same degree and in the same way as married moms and dads. [emphasis mine]”–and in explaining what’s “wrong” with gay people–“Contrary to the reigning confusion today, a homosexual relationship is not an equal alternative to a heterosexual relationship—it is a dangerous lifestyle that is physically and emotionally destructive.”

It seems clear that, in FACT’s worldview, marriage is not, first and foremost, about formalizing a relationship that is beneficial to the two people who choose to enter into it; it is, instead, about providing the “best” environment for raising children.  And what happens in the “best” environment for raising children?  Children develop proper gender identity and learn correct values.  Again, nothing about the happiness or emotional well-being of the children.

Over at Slate.com,

After all, traditional marriage isn’t just analogous to sex discrimination—it is sex discrimination: Only men may marry women, and only women may marry men. Same-sex marriage would transform an institution that currently defines two distinctive sex roles—husband and wife—by replacing those different halves with one sex-neutral role—spouse. Sure, we could call two married men “husbands” and two married women “wives,” but the specific role for each sex that now defines marriage would be lost. Widespread opposition to same-sex marriage might reflect a desire to hang on to these distinctive sex roles rather than vicious anti-gay bigotry.

And I have to say, I think there’s something to this.  I do.  It helps me understand where folks like the FACT folks are coming from.

But I also have to say that their fight then strikes me as futile in the end, because the change heterosexual marriage has made over the past 150 years is so enormous that I don’t see any way to undo it.  You can now marry–everybody who wants to–for love.  And, in fact, most people think that the reason you should get married is for love.  If you said, “I’m getting married to this girl because our parents arranged it” or “I’m getting married to this man to settle a bet he made with my dad” or “I’m getting married to this woman so that we can combine our family fortunes,” people would look at you like you were crazy.  When you say, “I’m madly in love with my boyfriend, but I can’t marry him because he’s white or Mexican or from a poor family,” people look at you in pity.  What kind of person nowadays lets that stuff get in the way of love?

We, as a society, have cast our lot with love.  We expect, at least heterosexuals expect to be able to marry for love.  We think people who get married should be in love.  (And we will, as a society, as long as civil marriage is conceived of as happening between two people who love each other, continue to open up the definition of marriage to include all kinds of configurations of loving adults.)

And yet, I’ve looked all over the Family Action Council of Tennessee’s website and I don’t see one thing about love.  Nothing about kids deserving loving families.  Nothing about (even only) heterosexuals deserving a loving marriage.  Oh, yeah, they talk about stability and welfare and tradition and good Christian values.

But nothing, nothing about love.