One in Four

The result of our glorious efforts to keep kids ignorant of their bodies and how to protect themselves while they’re having sex results in us having the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation (pdf).  Do you suppose that makes God happy?  Are these kids and their kids an acceptable sacrifice, do you suppose?

If ever you’re sitting in your church wondering why more and more people in this country refuse to affiliate with organized religion, consider the fact, Tennessee, that you worship a god who gave his only son as a perfect sacrifice so that no other human sacrifice was necessary and yet you keep demanding other people accept that you have to oppress them and fuck them over in order to appease your god–who has told you repeatedly that such sacrifice isn’t necessary.  Even people who love and trust your God are going to be uneasy hanging out with a bunch of people who have so terribly missed the central point of their religion.

Anyway, certainly being a teen mom is not the end of the world.  But it does make life more difficult.  And there are real risks to both mother and baby.  Having a baby when you’re a kid yourself may indeed be the right choice, but god damn it, how can we say that one in four girls in this state really has a choice when we work so hard to keep them ignorant about themselves?

Tea Leaves for Reading

In one story today we learn that the University of Michigan Press has been reorganized and become a unit of the library (see here, if you can).  In another, we learn that the University of Michigan Press will begin publishing almost all of their books as digital editions (see here, assuming you don’t have to be a subscriber).

Sometimes you wish that you could overcome your feeling of pending doom long enough to do your “I told you so” dance.

Can We Have Just One “Feel-Good Monday”?

You know what would have been worse than the sword of Damocles?  The boulder of Damocles.  Ugh.

Anyway, let’s for a second forget that it’s Monday and four and a half days loom before us until we can get back to lounging in the hammock.  And, instead, I point you to this little song that you can get for free from Amazon.  “La Luz Del Ritmo” by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.  Weirdly enough, a loose translation of the lyrics from Spanish to English reveal the song to be about tilling my garden, which is weird, because I don’t know any musicians from Argentina, but I guess it just goes to show you that people all over the hemisphere find my vegetables as compelling as I do.

More on the Two-Headed Dog

I just want to return for a second to the idea that the Tennessee Democrats need someone to take on Bill Hobbs.  Because I hear that a lot from folks and I appreciate it (though, honestly, what’s Hobbs been doing lately?  Making Facebook groups for disgruntled fans of awkward grammar who oppose the bailout?  How the mighty have fallen.), but Ta-Nehisi Coates says something today in another context (talking about conservative columnists at The NYTimes) that we should be thinking long and hard about:

The dude was good for that first Monday morning entry, no doubt. But here is the thing–in the war of ideas you don’t gain much by measuring yourself against the worst that your opponents have to offer. The thing about competing against jokers, is that it eventually makes a joker of you. Your ideas lose their complexity, their volume and heft, mostly because you don’t need them to take down Kristol. You just need to read the corrections on the Times website. I don’t see how that helps me become a better writer. [Emphasis mine.]

I understand that it sucks to listen to the Republicans say stupid thing after stupid thing.  And Lord knows I love to take after Campfield every so often just for the fun of stretching my muscles.  So, it’s not that I think it’s wrong for liberals to want someone at the TNDP to take on the loud-mouth critics.  But who you take on as your opponant and how you take them on does indeed tell onlookers who you are.

A Two-Headed Dog is in Trouble When It Turns on Itself

The more I learn about state politics, especially among the state Democrats, the more I realize that I don’t know anything about state politics when it comes to the Democrats.

But it seems that the state Democrats are in big trouble.

I do want to reiterate, though, that it seems like there’s this understanding of the situation that pits the folks who think that the Democrats in power now are part of the problem versus the people who think that you can’t move forward without the Democrats in power, and that this understanding is wrong.  That’s not a “versus” situation.

It is true that elected officials have their share of the blame for the current situation.  Need I point out every drunken lobbeyist indictment scandal embarrassment?  If you cannot get through your heads that most people who are not cued into the ins and outs of politics in this state see the Democrats as corrupt, then we are going to continue to have problems.  And we will continue to alienate voters who want to believe that they’re voting for “good” people.

Need I point out that our governor encouraged Obama to stay away and told Obama he should visit Wal-mart?  I’m sorry but I still cringe every time I think about it–one rich man trying to tell another rich man how to keep it real?  Yuck.  And with that, we’re alienating voters who want Tennessee to have a presense on the national stage other than as the butt of the nation’s jokes about stupid Southerners.

We cannot win by being Repubicans-lite, because voters who want Republicans in office will just vote for Republicans.

On the flip side of that, though, we cannot alienate the party leadership as if they are all a bunch of corrupt jackasses or condescending fools.  There are good people doing good work and they should be looked to as the core and the voice of the party.

But part of that means that being a Democrat needs to mean something.  It means, or should mean, that you don’t hire a guy who gives substantial money to Republicans to raise money for Democrats.

Can the TNDP be salvaged?  I don’t know.  If I had to give advice right now, I would give two pieces of advice.

1.  Unless you have on staff the liberal equivalent of Bill Hobbs, someone who enjoys slinging mud and doesn’t mind getting dirty and who can be Regent of the Press Release (which means a press release every day or twice a day sometimes, not once a week or month or whatever), then stop trying to take on Republicans the same way Republicans take on Democrats.  Until the TNDP gets its shit together, stop sending me press releases with any “-nounce” words in it except “announce.”  You should not be denouncing, renouncing, pronouncing anything at all until you have your own house in order and your vision for what the state of Tennessee could be under Democratic leadership.  Stop wasting your time addressing your critics until you have something substanative to offer instead.

“You suck,” “Yeah, well you suck, too” does nothing.  “You suck,” “This month the Tennessee State Democrats did such and such” is the better response.

If you have to engage your opposition, do it from the perspective of finding them slightly ridiculous.

2.  Decide what it means to be a Democrat.  And in a way that is different and, hopefully, better than being a Republican.  And then stand for it.  Every day, all the time, even when it’s unpopular.

3.  Run someone in every race.

4.  Someone needs to stand up and lead.  We have a party of people who want to sit around and say “I told you that wasn’t going to work.”  But who are the people who are actually trying things and having success?  Put those people in charge.

5.  Women, children, gay people, single parents, people who have lost their jobs, people who have jobs but can’t support their families, students, poor people, rural folks, people who are sick or poisoned because of the actions of large companies they have no power against, etc.–we need a strong Democratic party.  We are your constituents and we are the people who should be voting for you.  When you look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What am I doing to help my constituents be able to make their own ways in the world?” what is the answer?  Are you hording power for yourself and your buddies or are you doing what you can to empower the people of Tennessee?

El Ray

They’ve opened a new Mexican restaurant around the corner from us–El Ray, or El Rey, sorry.  I can’t remember.  It’s fine, I think, if a little pricey.  I’d like to see something survive there, though, so I’m happy to support it.