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Aug
16

Quiet car trips home

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The following is a crosspost from nevernesters.com

On the Sunday Arielle and I got back from Texas we stayed over at her sister and brother-in-law’s house in Charlotte, grilled out, had beers and played with their pair of boys, who are four and two. They’ve got a great guest set-up, do my Charlotte in-laws, with a big private room downstairs. When we sleep over, we invariably awaken to the commotion upstairs: a Battle of Britain-level bombardment enacted by stampeding toddler feet.

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Aug
06

Enough with the altar calls

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I got into a bit of an internet tussle after referring to Dr. Barber’s sermon in Asheville and mentioning that altar call aspect of his speech. Someone corrected me, saying that it was not in fact either a sermon or an altar call.

But I am not convinced of that, and despite the obvious good things that the Moral Monday movement has accomplished in terms of publicity and enthusiasm, I feel like it plays into an aspect of politics that is a long term loser for the Democratic side.

It’s not that I don’t like his kind of theater. I appreciate Reverend Barber, and also admire the folks who support him. He’s doing a good thing. To a point.

My issue is that this kind of appeal to emotion, phrasing political arguments in terms of subjective behavioral observations leaves too much room for the other side to dismiss the argument, because it is always easy to discredit the other side’s opinion.
Unless it can be also made into an intellectual argument, steering away from emotional appeals, it is just another form of church, where we all congregate and congratulate ourselves for being better than they are. That’s never going to work, and in fact is probably one of the largest things wrong with the world right now.

Rather than insinuating that our side is morally superior to the other side, as objectively real as that may be, the way to make real progress is to demonstrate that the policies of the other side simply do not work and consistently create results that are objectively, demonstrably and measurably bad for far more people than those who might benefit. Facts. Just plain facts. A torrent of facts.

I want to see people chaining themselves to the Governor’s desk, not because he’s morally repugnant, but because his policies are mathematically repugnant.

Lots of people out there are voting against their own interests on a consistent basis because they can’t bring themselves to identify emotionally with liberalism. They can’t get past social issues, issues that are always about emotional appeals to moral superiority. It plays right into the gridlock.

Our group catharsis and the momentary high we get from it are not worth the resulting alienation of other groups who look at the display and instantly begin fighting against it. We need to take that away from the other side because it is one of the only things left that works for them.

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I have long been wary of the fetish among the business and political classes for efficiency. It’s a frequent rationale for bureaucratic decisions that seem to come at the expense of living, breathing people.

A Good Read

Thomas Frank (“What’s the Matter with Kansas?”) speaks with Barry Lynn at Salon on the reemergence of monopolies in America. Lynn describes how, rather than overturning laws on the books for decades, the Reagan administration changed the way the laws regulating monopolies were enforced.

Yes, that was what was so brilliant about what they did. The Department of Justice establishes guidelines that detail how regulators plan to interpret certain types of laws. So the Reagan people did not aim to change the antimonopoly laws themselves, because that would have sparked a real uproar. Instead they said they planned merely to change the guidelines that determine how the regulators and judiciary are supposed to interpret the law.

The Justice Dept. went from raising its eyebrows in the 1960s at mergers that concentrated a few percent of a market to waving though deals involving 80-90% of it.

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Jun
06

D-Day

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This is a cross-post from NeverNesters (www.nevernesters.com)

 

Arielle and I tend to get a little roller-coastery on the question of spawning, but taking a long view you’d pretty much have to say declines have led advances. For long luxurious periods of our marriage we’ve enjoyed a warm relationship with the idea of never procreating. In fact we bought this very Web address back in 2012, I think.

The goal was to carve out a space wherein the intentionally childless could explore their condition. Seemed to us that more and more like-minded folks were making that decision. We were thinking big with the concept.  Read More→

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May
08

Osama [hearts] Whitney

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The following is a crosspost from www.nevernesters.com 

 

Last week Arielle and I went to go see Transcendence. It was larky, this expedition: we’d never heard of the movie and knew nothing about it save “Johnny Depp” and “sci-fi.” It SUCKED!

But this post is not meant simply to harangue Transcendence (a movie whose tag line could’ve been: In which a man stuck in a big flat screen TV engineers nanites that don’t get mean exactly, but sort of do!) I have bigger fish to fry. The fish is Hollywood’s depiction of bad guys, these days. And actually, now that I think about it, it’s also Hollywood’s depictions of good guys. I guess in general the fish I’m frying (probably more sautéing, honestly, in a little butter, because I heart movies enduringly and heart Hollywood and heart capital “c” Creatives) is Hollywood, which for the purposes of this screed I will call H-Wood, so as not to have to look plainly in the face the object of my abuse.  Read More→

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The following is a crosspost from www.nevernesters.com

 

There’s an essay by Jedediah Purdy in the new n+1  that I found difficult and a little embarrassing but really, really worthwhile. I didn’t know who he was. His political consciousness struck mine like the mallet striking the big damn gong.

At 24, Purdy wrote a book (For Common Things) that made a case for “structural politics” (as opposed to ideology politics and personality politics). He called for radical imagination. He maintained that the foundational tenets of neoliberalism could be got out from underneath of. (Chief among them being the slavish worship of the free market and the ubiquitous, smothering and pre-emptive surrender to the idea that things are crappy but, hey, they’re as good as we can expect.)  Read More→

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Apr
04

Clock In

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The following is a cross-post from NeverNesters, a blog on local politics, Asheville real estate and what to expect when you’re not. 

 

Between classes on dramatic structure and narrative poetry while working toward my MFA, I’d sometimes attend an unfriendly Garden City bar for a pint. One day, in 2008, events external to ESPN had become so compelling that even those cold provincial pubsters switched one TV (a little one) to CNN. My memory’s hazy–was it the floor of the House or the New York Stock Exchange? was it mostly the ticker I watched or the muted heads, their panic unspooled across the screen in tortured, Close Caption’d grammar?–but the thrust is clear: the economy was blowing up. The Dow was down 600, 650, 700. I sipped my beer, then returned to Adelphi just in time for a playwriting workshop. This is my preferred anecdote to explain how I acquired such a satisfying and ornamental piece of debt.

Within a couple hours of finishing my last class, Arielle and I were beating a retreat back to Asheville; and three years after graduating from UNCA we were renting a tiny apartment in Kennilworth, she waiting tables and I languishing among the unemployed–only now with a Master’s. When we had fifty bucks to spend we bought whisky and smokes because, what else do you do with fifty bucks? It was basically impossible, then, to imagine ever playing a serious role in things. Read More→

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Apr
04

Friday Open Thread

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shapeimage_4Terry Van Duyn replaces Martin Nesbitt in the NC Senate. Buncombe Democrats also selected her to replace him on the fall ballot last night.

What else significant happened this week?

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Apr
03

The Union Business

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“The union business”. Americans Against the Tea Party put a Target corporate video up online that purports to help their employees protect themselves from the wolves of main street, those nasty union business guys. In it, unions are portrayed as just another business. One that is intent on stealing your money, taking your job, and ruining your prospects for employment. In exchange for your casual signature on a perfectly innocent-looking form. The trouble is that most people already believe this crap. Read More→

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Mar
31

Go Read This

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At the risk of doing so without asking his permission first, like I would ask anybody’s permission first who wasn’t two strings and a b-cup shy of naked, I am forwarding this little nugget for you in case you missed it on the Book of Faces. LINKAGEUMONGUS.

We can discuss the implications in the comment section, if you are so inclined.

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