Okay, I Couldn’t Resist

I know, I said no more political posts till after the election, but I couldn’t NOT put this one up. Before you freak out, watch all the way through. Then, I’m sure, no matter who you’re voting for, everyone will have a reason to freak out.

Oh, and one more thing. Check this post by P.Z. Myers. This pretty well sums up my feelings as well. I’ve had a low-level concern about the congressional elections longer and more consistently than the presidential campaign, but really, we ought to be worrying more about local elective offices even more—offices which traditionally get the lowest voter interest.

Anyway, I just wanted to share. See you on the other side.


Hard upon the heals of my previous panegyric, a placeholder.

Last week Donna and I enjoined our first dinner train, the Columbia Star out of—you guessed it—Columbia, Missouri.  Here’s a photograph and a promise that I will shortly be writing about it at more length. Meanwhile, have a pleasant next few days.

Walkin’ Down The Line

At The Risk Of…

Another GOP candidate has stirred the hornet’s nest of women’s rights and abortion by making one of the most blatantly absurd statements— no, that’s inaccurate, mainly because there is no way to gauge “most absurd” in this context.  So many of them have come out and said shit everyone knew they were thinking but till recently had managed to either not say or have couched in more sophisticated and euphemistic language.

Richard Mourdock said that any pregnancy resulting from rape is “God’s intent.”

How to delicately respond to this…?

Oh, fuckit.  This is bullshit.

The basic assumption of Biblical literalism these asshats have been using is a compendium of tribal law no one would approve across the board anymore because we don’t believe that shit anymore!

Did you know that, per the Old Testament, if a woman is raped and does not immediately scream and accuse the man, she is presumed guilty of adultery and is to be stoned to death?  (All the various sexual rules related to this can be found in Deuteronomy 22.)

What is wrong with this is that it all—all—reduces a woman to property.  I don’t care how you dress it up, interpret it, or reconstitute it, the reason we no longer regard Old Testament morays as valid is that they treat so many categories of people as property.  It condones slavery, chattel bondage, the rights of fathers to kill children.  They are rules, sure, and it does not give categorical rights to the father, but that doesn’t matter because it is all based on a construction of human rights we no longer support.

At least, most of us don’t.

Here is the basic problem and the reason I have always supported a woman’s right to choose.

It is her body, her life, her choice.  Period.  It’s not yours, it’s not the state’s, it doesn’t belong to the man who fucked her or her father or her husband and certainly not her rapist.  It belongs to her, to decided what to do with.  If people did not own their own bodies, then we wouldn’t have to get permission from them as individuals for organ donations (even after death).

So at what point does this cease being true?  How does becoming pregnant alter that fundamental fact, especially if said pregnancy was not her choice?

I’m sorry if you think that embryo/zygote/fetus is a human being, it does not by its simple existence trump a woman’s right to decide if she is willing to serve as incubator to it.  It does not trump her right to determine how she wants to live her life from that moment on.  It does not trump her right to be able to say yes or no to a situation that will irrevocably alter any course she may have set or predetermine what options she may have in the future, regarding career, partners, and personal matters having nothing to do with other people.

Because it doesn’t trump any of these things for a man, who can walk away and have nothing further to do with what he has left behind.

The argument that, among certain seriously neurotic types, that if she didn’t want to be pregnant she should not have had sex is nothing more than a different set of constraints to tell her what she can or cannot do with her own body.  Besides, she invited him inside, she never said he could leave any relatives behind.

I base my support on a lifetime of privileged autonomy, knowing that this was not something I, as a man, would ever have to deal with, so any pronouncement on my part would be at virtually no risk that my life would ever have to change.  Realizing that, I knew that I rather liked that autonomy and would never deny it to anyone else.  I see it as the epitome of hypocrisy for men to dictate this to women.  They would have to enforce a situation on women that they themselves would never be subject to.  This is the basis of discrimination.

I, were I a woman, would damn well insist on being able to live the life I want to live and determine my procreative future entirely for myself.  No one should insist, through law or any other means, that a woman do something not of her choice.

But we have been seeing the naked assertion of male privilege in all this, of men insisting that women should not have the same choices they do.

Well, to be perfectly blunt, fuck that.

Unless you are willing to embrace all of the rules in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, your presumption of speaking for Biblical morality is a sham.  If you do embrace all that nonsense, then you have no place in the government of a democracy, because all of it is born out of an autocratic mindset that has no problem predeterming what people are—master, chattel, slave, outcast.

Now.  This is all, ultimately, a major distraction.  The GOP was never serious about rolling back Roe v. Wade—why would they give up such a wonderfully effective campaign issue by fulfilling the implied promises they’ve made since the 80s and actually outlaw abortion?  Furthermore, they know very well the shitstorm that would create.  Most of the antichoice movement is leery of discussing legal redress—punishment—for what they claim is murder.  Most don’t want to talk about it.  The leadership very well knows why—because the fervent hope of most of these folks is that abortion simply go away.  If you punish people for it, it will never go away.  It will be in the courts forever, until one day the tide reverses again and it once more legal, and maybe after that it will remain so because we will have really locked down this argument over who owns a woman’s body.

But now all it does is serve to obscure other issues and delude a large segment of the voting population into thinking this is something that will really make any difference.  By this tactic, they have you all voting for people who while touting “family values” have just been picking your pockets and diverting your real power into the hands of oligarchs.

I have one parting question for all you people so bent on ending abortion.  How come none of you advocate mandatory vasectomies, not even for dead-beat dads?  I never hear anything like that, even as a theoretical argument, from any the antichoice folks.  Nothing that would shift the focus to the man.  You don’t want people getting shot (pregnant) don’t take their guns aways, just the bullets.

That was rhetorical, yes, but the question is legit.  Why is this all put on the woman, every time?

I think I may write nothing more political till after the election.


Noir At The Bar 2 (Two), Too

I have a new short story in this anthology.  really, you should go buy one.  I mean, I’m not the only one in it, there are many stories by some really good writers.  They even went so far as to do this rather interesting book trailer:

Look who else is in this!


Erik Lundy
John Rector
Caleb J. Ross
Hilary Davidson
Aaron Michael Morales
Matthew C. Funk
Kevin Lynn Helmick
John Hornor Jacobs
Jane Bradley
Matthew McBride
Cortright McMeel
Fred Venturini
Gordon Highland
David James Keaton
Nic Young
Jason Makansi
Robert J. Randisi & Christine Matthews
Jesus Angel Garcia
Tim Lane
Nate Flexer
Glenn Gray
Duane Swierczynski
Jon McGoran
Les Edgerton
Frank Bill
Mark W. Tiedemann
Benjamin Whitmer

I mean, hell…that’s a lot of bang for the buck.

You can buy it from Subterranean Books.  Not to be confused with Subterranean Press, which is completely different.

Debate the Last

Again, I didn’t watch.  We had a movie from the library to finish and some reading to do and I was beat.

Nevertheless, I’ve been listening to recaps and doing a little post-debate viewing and I have a couple of comments, if only to round out the trend here.

“Syria is Iran’s route to the sea.”

Romney has been saying this from time to time and it is somewhat baffling.  A look at a map shows the problem—a slice of northern Iraq separates the borders of Iran and Syria, not to mention that Iran already has considerable access to the Arabian Sea.  But this is Romney’s explanation for Iran’s pumping of support into Assad’s regime, that they want to use Syria for new bases and an extension of terrorist support.  But in that case, his phrasing is a bit…strange.

So, sure, we have a fleet in the Gulf, so Iran doesn’t actually have such easy access.  But in the other direction, from Syria, it’s the Mediterranean Sea and there are lots of fleets from Europe as well as our own presence, so how exactly would that help?

Ah, it would put them closer to striking Israel!

But it would also put them closer to getting struck by Israel, and the one thing you can say about Israel is, they don’t respond tepidly.

Plus, Assad is about to be ousted.  True, we have no idea what will replace him, but since Iran doesn’t seem to be backing any of the rebel groups, we can assume they don’t see any good successors waiting in the wings, so what exactly is Romney talking about?

Possibly he’s trying to spin this as the new geopolitical threat, that Iran has the long term goal of being the dominant player in the entire Middle East.  Tie this in with Romney’s assertion that the greatest threat we face is not Iran but Russia, and we can see a Machiavellian grasp of realpolitick in action, projecting a dominant Iran tied to an emergent Russian bear.

Except Iran isn’t that fond of Russia and Russia is having fits with politicized Islam.  It is not a clear what exactly Romney sees changing—unless he’s assuming Russian support for Syria will transfer to Iran once Iran has secured Syrian bases…

But there are all those European and American elements sitting there…

Which may be why he made the statement that we don’t have enough ships!  He sees a military gap in strength should all this come to pass!

Reagan built the famous 600 ship navy in the 1980s, which was a huge (and hugely expensive) increase in our seagoing military imprint.  Since Gorbachev was removed and the Soviet monolith collapsed, we’ve been mothballing a lot of that.

But Reagan was also funding Star Wars and ground force build-up and all manner of technomilitary development, all aimed at supposedly facing down Russia.  What often gets lost about this, though, is that this build-up was not intended to actually be deployed against the Soviet Union other than in the way it played out.

We spent the Soviet Union into penury.  Russia always—always—responded to build-ups in other countries by increasing their own, generally to their own detriment.  (The first world disarmament conference was called by Russia, through the minister and advisor Sergei Witte, in response to all the new spending in Europe.  They did this because Witte, as former Finance Minister of Russia, realized that Russia simply could not afford to compete.)  The Soviet Union was vulnerable to paranoia and economically incapable of matching our spending.  Reagan spent the Soviet Union into collapse.

(Of course, by so doing, he doubled the deficit and increased the debt, something we have yet to get a handle on, but that’s another issue.)

For all I know, Mitt Romney may have a century-long perspective of global realignment in mind in his pronouncements, but if so he’s not backed up by anyone reliable in such matters, only his own campaign staff.  Russia may well be a threat, but it will be economic, not military, and even that is a bit of a stretch as they’re still trying to figure out how to turn potential into power.

Iran is actually contained.  This gets lost on a lot of people.  Their currency just collapsed.  The sanctions (which I normally detest) are working and overtures have been made to sit down and negotiate.  The architect of all this nonsense, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is about to lose his office under a cloud of no confidence, and there is a latent revolution just under the surface in Iran.  The Iranian people are generally not thrilled to be ruled by a theocracy and it won’t take much to unseat the clerics.  If we let this happen, if we hold back on overt action, then the Arab Spring may well bloom there and the transition will be organic.

(This is something we seem impatient with.  Not going into Syria, doing the minimum in Libya, letting these things unfold on their own, this is a lesson we have come to the hard way.  The mess in the Middle East is largely the result of our machinations in the ’50s and ’60s and such interference is resented.  Stand back, let it happen, and support, if possible, whatever emerges, and we might undo a century of animosity.)

My own view is that the two biggest threats we face in the coming decades are less centered on specific countries and more on fundamental demographic trends.  But if you wish to put a name to them, there are two axes to look at.  The first is India-China.  Two enormous populations that already have resource problems and a history of border eruptions.  Their competition will spill over into the Pacific and Indian basins and lead to all manner of global resource wars, sometimes fought with armies and navies.  The growing disputes between China and Japan (and Korea and Singapore) is over food resource.  Dress it up any way you care to, it comes down to protein.

The other is Pakistan-Middle East.  This has been the problem for the last two decades.  Pakistan is a nuclear armed seedbed of modern terrorism with a real domestic problem, namely that moderate governments have notorious difficulty sitting on a growing radical population that is also strained for resources.  They are trapped between giants—India, China, the former Soviet Union—with the only natural egress through Afghanistan.  They see themselves as a global power but one that can’t feed itself and is impotent to settle simple local territorial disputes with its neighbors.

That’s the end of my prognostications.  Basically, though, it tells me that Romney has identified all the wrong problems.  Doesn’t matter what his solutions might be if they’re applied in the wrong direction.

So much for that.

But, hey, the Cardinals lost to the Giants.  What could this possibly mean?

November’s Special

I won’t be posting for a couple of days, so I thought I would take this opportunity to put up a new image that I’m offering for sale through November.

Missouri Dawn

The print will be (roughly) 11 X 14 on a 16 X 20 background, mounted on foamcore.  $150.00 plus shipping and handling.  Those interested, email me at info@marktiedemann.com for purchase details.


Romney’s Wimmin

So Romney claims he asked for qualified female candidates for cabinet positions when he became governor.  He made it sound as if he was appalled that all the appointees were men.  They handed him “binders full of women” when he asked.

Which is a lie.  Those binders already existed, put together by a group called MassGAP prior to his election as governor to address exactly this problem—the lack of women in high positions in state government—which were then handed to him by this group upon his election.  He didn’t ask for it, he was given it.

He subsequently appointed women to close to 40% of his cabinet.  But if you go back and look, they were all heading departments he didn’t give a damn about.  All the cabinet posts he did care about went to men and over his four years there was major attrition of women from his administration.  (This trend reversed under Deval Patrick, his successor, and incidentally the one who cleaned up the mess Romney had left behind.)

But the thing that struck me upon hearing that was this: after all his years in business, all the achievements he’s been touting, all the “experience” he claims he will bring to the job, do you mean to tell me that he didn’t already know ONE qualified woman to appoint to his cabinet?  That he had to ask for recommendations?

He’s making this sound like he’s some kind of progressive—hey, I asked for recommendations for females to appoint!—but the reality is, he evidently didn’t know any.  There’s only one way that this could happen—he’s never paid attention.

So what this really says is that he’s clueless, but if elected he promises to get less clueless.


Debate Part Dieux?

I only want to say a couple of things about the debate (which I also did not watch, but have been listening to and reading highlights from all morning).  So, like…Obama won, did he?  Huh.

Romney, however anyone feels about him as candidate of choice, apparently had to do a lot of backpedaling and saying things that he’s going to have a lot of trouble with if elected.  Particularly about women.

Never mind the “binders full of women” remark, which is the kind of unfortunate remark anyone might make under pressure.

Here’s the problem with Mitt Romney.  As president, he will be the head of the GOP.  The Republican Party has a number of things they put in its platform that are inimical to women’s progress toward full equity in this society.  Romney, in order to follow through on some of his disclaimers last night, will have to turn around and tell his party that, no, he won’t support those things.

If the GOP retains its relative numbers in Congress—or gains control—just how likely does anyone think it will be that Romney will buck them?  (I’m asking here, I don’t know.  He does not strike me as the sort to go against his board of directors, though.)

While it may well be a minority of the GOP that actually believes some of the nonsense that’s been spewing from their collective gobbit of recent days, the fact is that this same minority has been wagging the dog for some time now.  Romney will have to disavow them, fight them, and stand up and be forcefully reasonable in order to actually protect women’s rights.  Something he apparently gave little actual substance to last night.

Yes, yes, I know, I should not pronounce on what I did not witness.  Fair enough.  But I’m not talking about last night per se, I’m talking about the last several months of campaigning.  Romney started losing women according to polls and modified his campaign rhetoric to compensate.  The problem is, the modifications run counter to the retrograde momentum of a great deal of the Republican Party, and that is where the problem lies.

The other part of this is the simple fact that no matter what he says, if he gets elected, everything will change.  Obama pointed some of it up last night over the public land licensing for oil and coal.  These are the kinds of details and difficulties you can’t always predict before you sit in that chair.  Once actually in office, things Are Different.  (That is why every president ever elected has disappointed some segment of his supporters.)

I’m delighted Obama got feisty.  Romney may well want to win the election, but I wonder if he actually wants the job.  He wants the job he thinks he’s running for, not the one he’ll actually have.  Obama still wants to be president after four years.

But who knows?  My point here is that the presidential election this time is far more about what the opposing Parties will do rather than the candidates themselves.

I’m cutting Obama a lot of slack on the economy, because frankly he told us it would take a long time to recover.  Things are recovering.  Naturally a lot of people are unhappy and not without reason—times are difficult—but he didn’t say it would be quick, which is usually what people want.  (And people with jobs and some security will of course be more patient than those without.)  Romney claims he knows how to create jobs.  Neither man has that kind of control over what is ostensibly a free market.  So as far as I’m concerned, it’s the rest of what Obama has been about that I’m concerned with.

And on that score, it’s a mixed bag.  But just two things: Bush left this country with one of the worst international reputations it has had since Vietnam.  Obama has been carefully rebuilding that.  We simply cannot act unilaterally in the world today and Bush thought he could (“I don’t do nuance.” Indeed) and subsequently pissed everyone off pretty much across the board (except Israel).*

The second thing really is the women’s rights issue.  What many people seem not to get is that this is not “just” about women, but about people—because if you can treat one segment of the population “special” and curtail their rights (pay, self-determination, personal dignity and security of person) then you can do it to any segment.  The Right has more or less successfully made it appear that any time measures are taken to redress inequity for a given group that such measures are Special Treatment and “privileges.”  Gotta hand it to them, they’ve been very, very good at this kind of 1984 newspeak.  But it’s not so and until they stop letting the right wing of the party dictate their flight path I will vote against them.  I don’t want to return us to a Leave It To Beaver world.  No, I don’t think they actually can—social engineering is never so neat and precise—but the attempt to do so, even partially successful, will result in unintended consequences that will do damage to lives that should never have been so harmed.  (Yes, some of these people I do see as the moral equivalent of the thugs who shot Malala Yousafzai. I very badly want these people out of office.)

So.  One more debate and everyone will vote the way they were likely to in the first place.  But I believe we should be clear on why we’re doing so.

Back to work, now.  Thank you for your attention.


* It may seem like a fair charge that at some point we should stop beating up on what the Bush Administration did, and in principle I agree.  We should move on.  But let’s be honest—the right wing of the GOP has been carping and complaining about the Johnson Administration since Nixon took office.  Not, perhaps, in name, but their entire direction has been more or less dictated by trying to undo what LBJ did.  Well, in my view, W did one hell of a lot more damage, so forgive us if we still point that out from time to time.