A Few Pictures

Not much specifically to tell.  I’m still deep into rewrites (and having a genuinely good time of it—there’s nothing quite like solid, professional feedback!) and there are some things on other fronts that are not quite ready to announce, so…I thought I’d just post a few new photographs.

Within walking distance from my home there is a strikingly variegated landscape.  Conforming neighborhood with unique houses, a main street with several ethnic influences, and an industrial district with a mix of thriving and defunct businesses.  Thought I’d post a few of the latter.

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Now back to rewrites.

It’s Friday

So it is.  I’ve been crunching away on line edits all week and having a good time.  The weather has been pleasant, at least compared to last week, and a couple of mornings I’ve been able to turn off the air and open the windows while working.  I loaded up the CD changer with classical—Respighi, Strauss, Grieg—and did fresh ground coffee.

During breaks, I’ve been playing with pictures again.  You know, you make damn near anything fascinating, even beautiful in a dark, bizarre way, with enough patience and mods.  For instance:

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Someone pointed out that in the past something like this would have taken a dozen Kodalith masks and posterization steps.  There are about fifteen or so steps in this image and I think it could be a bit better.

We’ll see a friend tonight, go to a really cool party tomorrow night, and Sunday join our reading group to continue Canto X of Dante’s Paradiso.  Maybe I’ll get together with some musicians Sunday afternoon to rehearse a couple of things.

Walk the dog.

I’m ignoring the politics going on right now.  Just too pathetic to contemplate.  Maybe next week.

For now, just relax and chill and enjoy the moment.  That’s my plan.

If the above image is a little too weird, let me leave something here a little more normal.  But not too normal.  Have a good weekend.

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Pathological Hypocrisy

I thought I might leave this alone, but some itches are too difficult to leave unscratched.  Others have posted about Rick Santorum’s unbelievable hypocrisy over abortion.  You can read the article here.

Basically, Mr. Santorum has it in mind to use the law to prohibit a medical procedure his wife had to go through in order to save her life.  As the piece makes clear, in October of 1996, Karen Santorum underwent an abortion in the 19th week of pregnancy in order to save her life from an infected fetus.  She had a 105 degree temperature.  She would have died without the procedure.

Santorum would make that option illegal.  Basically, his position seems to be that sacrificing his wife for the fetus would be his choice now.  This overlooks the fact that had they not done the procedure, the fetus would not have survived, either.  He would have lost both.  Sacrifices to his conscience, which seems incapable of the kind of triage humans must make all the time.

Well and good, some people just can’t go there.  But this man is running for president.  He intends that his personal inability to cope be made a national policy of denying anyone the choice of coping.

I’ve written about my views on the anti-choice movement before, mainly here.

I have also written before about Mr. Santorum, most notably here.

So maybe I’ve said as much as I need to say.  But he keeps coming back, making his self-avowed moral arguments, presenting his program as if somehow this would be good for anyone, so maybe saying things just once in opposition to what seems to me to be a kind of morbid obsession and the consequences of seeing this as the guiding principle of the nation is a poor idea.  Whatever the case may be, I can’t leave this alone.

It has been consistent with Mr. Santorum, this problem he seems to have with matters of sex.  Consistent enough that I don’t think it has anything to do with studied principle.  The whole bit about his bringing the dead fetus out to show his living children smacks of profoundly skewed inner landscapes.  Whatever it may, I know one thing in my bones—I do not want this man making laws for this country, not about this certainly, and probably not about anything else.  He does not speak for me.

He shouldn’t be seen as speaking for women and here is where I have the deepest concerns.

This is simple in my mind.  I am a man, I cannot become pregnant.  But I also have an imagination and perhaps sufficient empathy to put myself in the position of a woman who has a choice to make.  Hormones are a big deal, certainly, but I can state unequivocally that something as important as procreation must be entirely in the hands the one most viscerally concerned, and that—whether certain people like it or not—is a woman.  And I ask myself what I would want for myself were I female.  I can’t say with absolute certainty that I would not want to be a mother, but I can state absolutely that I would want that decision to be absolutely mine.  My body, my life, my future.

No, I do not consider a fetus a human being with all the rights of someone who can sit across from me, breathing on their own, capable of independent action.  Certainly I do not agree that such a being’s presumed status trumps mine.

We are hypocritical about this.  Save the fetus, then after it is born, let circumstances dictate everything else.  Poverty, developmental disorders, the lack of any future, the whole list of negatives that could be somewhat addressed if the same political will the anti-choice movement exercises in preventing one woman from deciding for herself whether or not to procreate were exercised in the cause of social progress—which many of these same people, Mr. Santorum being a prominent example, are just as actively opposed to.  “You made your own bed, you lie in it” is an old adage that speaks to the harshness of life when unfortunate choices are made, but these folks have added a twist—“We will make sure you lie in the bed you made.”  No choice.  Basically, if a woman has sex and gets pregnant, she must, by their lights, have the child.  And if she herself is a child, or the victim of rape, or too overburdened to take adequate care of another, there will be no help coming from the self-appointed guardians of imposed moralism.

Because underlying all of this is an old, thoroughly Protestant, Puritan ethic—you fuck, you pay.

Now, one might ask the question, “What if it is human?  How can we know?”

Very simple, as far as society is concerned—if the mother says it is, it is.  Until then, it is none of anybody else’s business.  We assign status constantly.  With all manner of things, and who’s to gainsay us when we do?  This is no different.  Which is why I have no problem with the idea that someone can be guilty of murder in the death of a fetus and still demand choice for women—because it is the mother who says.

That’s perhaps not very tidy and certainly difficult to codify in law, but it is a functional reality—clearly there are people who never accord their children the status of human and abuse them and sell them and often kill them.  The Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, I think, was thinking something along these lines with the three trimester test—that as time goes on, the state has more and more interest in the fetus, because clearly by default the mother has decided, after five or six months, that it is a human.

I grant you many people may not be very comfortable with that, but the whole point of the law is that it’s not up to People, it’s up to the woman.  The individual.  She has to live with it.

And in this instance, “live” is the operative word.  Late term abortions are rarely elective in the way that first trimester abortions are.  The anti-choice movement has simply lied about that.  Doctors have an interest in the welfare of their female patients and for this reason, this procedure has never been illegal.  Never.  To save the life of the mother has always overridden any presumed rights of a fetus—which, in almost all such cases, will not survive anyway.  So this is criminally stupid to argue this point.

What Mr. Santorum seems to be suffering from is the fact that he and his family had to make a harsh choice and it traumatized them.  He wants never to have to make that choice again—and who can blame him?  But he’s carrying it several steps further—he wants to eradicate the possibility of that choice ever being made, not only by him or his wife, but by anybody.  He perhaps can’t live with the choice he made and his penance is to take it away from everyone else.  He’s trying to exorcise his demons through public censure and legal flagellation.  It will cost people their lives.

Jocelyn Elders, one-time surgeon general of the United States, said once that America needs to get over its love affair with the fetus.  I agree.  If we don’t, we will love it to death and many, many women along with it.

If I were a woman, you bet your sweet ass I would want the choice.  Anything less is a diminution of status.  The state telling me I may not live my life because others have discomfort with certain choices.

Teach the Controversy (!)

I wasn’t sure I’d do this, but I’m really pissed off.

This morning I opened my front door to find a flier lying on the porch.  I thought it was another local contractor ad or announcement of a barbecue-and-rummage sale, so I scooped it up to glance at it before dropping it in the recycle hopper.  Instead, I find in my hand a vile piece of unconscionable poison.  And it seemed like it would be such a nice day!

I’m not going to dignify this crap by citing the source.  The header of the two-side sheet reads: The Holocaust Controversy  The Case For Open Debate.  What follows is a putrid example of revisionist nonsense designed to suggest that six million Jews were not systematically slaughtered by the Third Reich.  In tone, it is reasonable.  It does not make many strident claims with exclamation points, just calmly asserts one bullshit “fact” after another (plus a photograph of an open pit containing the skeletonized remains of concentration camp victims labeling it a photo of typhus victims) to lay the groundwork for the claim that the Holocaust didn’t happen, that it is all a Big Lie assembled by a Zionist conspiracy to advance the cause of sympathy for stateless Jews in order to get them a state.

I will cite one piece of twisty nonsense from the flier.  In one paragraph, the calim is made that in 1990 the Auschwitz State Museum revised the old claim of four million murdered down to one million.  It then goes on with a list of (uncited) claims of further numeric reductions, not by the Auschwitz Museum, but by “a French scholar” and “another mainstream Holocaust scholar” all the way down to half a million.  The wording is slippery.  I advise you to go to the link provided, which is directly to the museum, and read the detailed history.  The paragraph I mention in the flier leaves off with the suggestion that only a half million people were “actually” killed in total.

The Nazis murdered eleven million people, systematically, with calculation.  Nearly six million were Jews (the number vary above and below by a few tens of thousands, but they come from testimony given at Nuremberg, from eye-witness accounts, estimates of populations before and after the war, and many other methods of tabulations, not through “best guesses,” which is what the sheet of propaganda left on my porch would have one believe), but there were five million others—gypies, homosexuals, slavs of various nationalities, and political undesirables such as communists, socialists, social democrats, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and people accused of being “asocial” or of “socially deviant type.”

This is not disputed by any credible authority.

Nor is Hitler’s obsession with the Jews, nor is the history of virulent antisemitism in Europe, nor are the claims made by various members of the Nazi regime, nor is the physical evidence of the camps.

Over a million Jews were murdered at Auschwitz.  It was a large camp and has become the symbol for all the others.  But bear one fact in mind before you quibble over numbers or intent: the Nazis built 20,000 of these camps.

Not all have ovens, not all had gas chambers, but all of them were forced labor camps and all of them were in the business of killing the inmates.  Conservatively, all you would need is a hundred deaths per camp to bring it up to two million.  Five hundred per camp and you get ten million.

People were worked endlessly, underfed, disease ran rampant, mass graves were common.  We have seen this kind of barbarism in our recent history, in Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia.  And yes, Stalin killed millions more.

The offensiveness of this shit is profound.  Yet here is this scrap of paper suggesting that, like the nonsense over evolution, we should “teach the controversy.”

Fine.  Here is the controversy I would teach.  The controversy of denial, that people would try so hard to say this never happened or, as is more likely of late, that it wasn’t “as bad” as has been stated.  The controversy that continually puts Jews under the spotlight, which is the same germinal thinking that resulted in this horrific bit of substantiated history.

I’ve had lengthy conversations with people who believe this.  The hallmark of them is that they managed never to directly address any evidence put before them.  Direct them to the Nuremberg transcripts, they say something about not having found “those” records.  Direct them to eyewitness testimony, they haven’t had a chance to validate it.  The snake-slithers of obfuscation and refusal to confront is incredible to behold, but the question that boggles my mind is this:

To what end do you wish to exonerate Hitler and the Third Reich?

Is it that you can’t imagine Europeans doing this?  Look what we did to the Indians.  Is it that you simply cannot bring yourselves to believe the word of anyone not a Christian?  Look at the lies spread in the name of Christ, up to and including the abuse of children by priest (and the fact that in Rwanda there were Catholic priests leading the charge in some areas to slaughter).  Is it that you can’t believe people could be that evil for no reason?  I can see that as a problem, because if they could do something like that, then so could you.

Here’s the ugly truth—circumstances permitting, most people can be that evil.  Just look at Rwanda.  That was over religion, birth rates, and water tables.  Cambodia was over ideology.

Oh, but those weren’t white people?  Europeanized, educated, civilized whites?  How could the home of Kant and Beethoven, Goethe and Mann harbor such vileness?

That’s the controversy.  The fragility of the thin veneer of civilization that keeps us “above it all.”  How easily is it stripped, broken, thrown away if we feel threatened.  (We just extended the Patriot Act another four years, a rather blatant violation of Constitutional liberties, and all just so we’ll feel “safe.”)

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  There are Nazis in my neighborhood.  But it does shock me, every time I find it.  Turn over a rock you always thought was harmless and even pretty and there are the maggots of the soul…

Holocaust Revisionism is evil.  It may be on par with the Holocaust itself.  “Oh, don’t pay attention to the screams behind that curtain—it’s not what you think.  Besides, isn’t it a fine curtain?  Do you really think the people capable of creating such a lovely curtain could be monsters?”

Got one word for you:  Wagner.

Have a nice weekend.

Pathetic

Representative Andrew Weiner has admitted that the now-famous snapshot of cock-in-shorts really is his.  I have only one reaction:

What the hell is wrong with these people?

I am a photographer.  I photographed all sorts of things, even naked people, and I have taken more than a few photographs for laughs.  But I was never tempted to mail any of them to someone just on a lark!

This is beyond juvenile behavior.  Sorry.  It’s not even so much that boys will play with their toys, but there must be something about being able to tweet that scrapes a few I.Q. points off.  I don’t tweet.  Maybe if I did I’d have to enter a 12-Step Program to stop myself from doing really stupid shit with it.

Really, though.  I thought this man was smart.  I love his rants on the House floor against the inanities of the Right.  He is lucid, he is informed, he is on point.  If I had his phone number right now I’d call and say, “Andrew!  What the hell?  This is the kind of stupid shit Republicans do!”

Not all Republicans, obviously, and not even the majority, but the ones who seem to blow the hardest and screel the loudest about FAMILY VALUES have a track record of this kind of embarrassing private nonsense.

Oh, well.  Weiner says he won’t quit.  Let’s see if that will work.  This will likely really damage his effectiveness.

Come on, you guys…grow up.

Will ‘E Or Won’t ‘E?

Mitt Romney has declared his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination.  I don’t have a lot to say about him, other than about his declaration at the same time that one of his priorities (it’s too early to tell if it’s number one or just one of the top three or four) is the repeal of Obamacare.  My reaction:  How’s that going to get him elected?

See, Mr. Romney put something in place for Massachussetts that is virtually identical.  The main difference is, you know, he—a Republican—did it, not someone else, a Democrat.  Oh, and it’s a state thing not national.

The other potential candidates are even now working out strategies for putting Obamacare front and center as the biggest issue so they can by extension eviscerate Romney.

Which will blow up in their faces so bad!

Because…well, Republicans are big on states’ rights.  So why would something done at the state level by one of their own be a target for Party displeasure when at the same time Romney is talking about removing the national program?  Oh, right, it’s socialism.  I keep forgetting that.  But even so, how do you claim the states should have the right to decide how best to deal with these sorts of things and then denigrate the choice one state has made?

You might think this is a straw man issue because none of the other potential candidates have actually gone after Romney’s health care legacy except obliquely, but that misses the point.  The entire GOP is on record repudiating Obamacare because it’s socialistic (they claim), so they are opposed to such measures on ideological grounds.  They have to repudiate the same thing on the state level lest they risk looking obviously hypocritical.  They can’t give Romney a pass on it because they’ve spent time, rhetoric, and Party effort on denouncing the idea of such a plan.  They have set themselves up to necessarily go after one of their own.

Which leaves them with a real problem should Romney emerge as the only one able to effectively challenge Obama.  They will have spent time and energy denouncing him.  But if he gains the nomination they’ll have to pretend they think he’s great.

Of course, that will only be a problem if Romney does win the nomination.  The GOP has other problems with him.  Like he’s more or less a moderate.  Not nearly red meat enough to go against the incumbent moderate.

And also of course all this depends on whether Romney can make the charge stick that Obama has “failed America.”  I don’t think he can.  Obama has only failed the self-identified Left wing of the Democratic Party because he hasn’t followed through on may of his campaign promises—promises which, had he followed through on, would have made him an easy target for the Right.  Instead, he’s so center (and occasionally center right) that the GOP actually has some difficulty getting traction on him.  He actually hasn’t failed the Republicans, he just hasn’t gone as far as they would like.

So if the idea that Obama has failed is to  have any credibility, then it will only be a matter of pointing out who he has failed and how to show that the GOP actually doesn’t have anything to offer that’s much different.

What?  Deregulation?  I suspect they will have to tread lightly on that one after 2008, since—often ignorant though the American electorate is—most people recognize that our problems then arose from deregulation.

But even so, if that’s their main thing, then we come back to Romney and the presumed state prerogative to act in its own best interest.  Part of the GOP (those collectively known as the Tea Party wing) are on record as repudiating the very notion of regulation, so what would make it any more palatable on the state level rather than the national level?  Regulation, as everyone knows, is simply bad for business.  To hell with all the things that may need protecting from business—like the environment or education or, well, health care—what we need are jobs.

Well, yes, but that’s another fly in the pie—all that outsourcing?  Business did that.  It might be argued that they did that to avoid regulation, but that’s kind of a hostage approach.  The threat of job loss to forestall measures that, in bulk, protect.  It looks snotty when you get right down to it.  Besides, most of the job loss through outsourcing occurred during twenty years of the greatest deregulatory period we’ve seen since the 1920s.  Reagan, Bush, then Clinton couldn’t deregulate fast enough—and still all the ills we now suffer just grew and grew.  The coup de’ gras came under Bush Jr., who continued the deregulatory trend.  So who’s kidding who about the cost of regulation?

Yes, it’s going to be an interesting election cycle this time around.  The GOP will have to either change their policies or we’ll be watching them eat their own in public.