Friday, April 23, 2010

Palin For President in 2012!

One of the following two things is true, and I don’t know which frightens me more:

Possibility 1. Every member (except me) of every English-speaking media organization in the world belongs to a vast shadow conspiracy playing an elaborate and not-very-funny prank on my poor little non-paranoid self; or,

Possibility 2. Sarah Palin really truly is being discussed as a legitimate possibility to appear on the 2012 ballot as the Republican presidential nominee.

Of course the GOP has to have at least one person on the presidential ticket who isn’t a white male; I said so in September 2008, after the Democrats had nominated Black Male/White Male for their presidential/vice-presidential combo, and the Republicans countered with White Male/White Female: “Four years from now, if either major party decides to run Two White Males on its ticket this will be hailed as a major step backwards for America’s oppressed classes.”

So the GOP dare not do that; it needs someone not a white guy, and while it has a few such specimens they’re mostly loons of the Alan Keyes or Michelle Bachmann variety.

But Palin is even less suitable for the job. Her politics or beliefs aren’t even the reason; if you agree completely with her, there’s the little matter of her track record. She’s already held one elected executive position– governor of Alaska – and the second things got tough, she quit.

She quit. She handled the banquets and ribbon-cutting duties just fine, but once Alaska faced actual problems requiring effective leadership, she quit.

How can her handlers put this in a good light? “Sarah was honest enough to step down rather than tackle a problem far beyond her capability to process. But ‘President of the United States’ is a much easier job than ‘Governor of Alaska,’ so vote Palin for president! This time, maybe, she’ll see the job through.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Destroying America In Order To Save It

Dear God, how I miss the days when I could call America a free country without being ironic. The main benefit of freedom used to be this: so long as you weren't hurting anybody, government had to leave you the hell alone.

But that's what law-n-order types call a "pre-9/11 mindset." The new rule seems to be "it doesn't matter how many innocent people suffer, so long as the government can nab one person who's guilty. Or might be guilty. Or looks kind of like someone who's guilty." Arizona lawmakers took a great leap forward in that direction last week, when they passed an anti-illegal immigration bill that gives police the power to stop any person at random and demand to see their "papers."

I wrote about it for the Guardian's American op-ed blog. Not much snark in the piece, though; it's too sad for jokes.
Back during the Vietnam War, an American military officer pioneered the concept of destroying a village in order to save it. Last week Arizona lawmakers continued that tradition by passing an anti-illegal immigration bill that would save America from the alleged immigrant scourge by destroying the very ideals that make America worth saving. The bill gives police power to stop anyone at random – provided police have "reasonable suspicion" they don't belong in this country – and anyone who can't show proper papers will be fined $500.
I'm sure the courts will eventually overturn this, but a lot of innocent people will suffer in the meanwhile.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Tax Day

Though I filed and paid my taxes already, I still intended to grumble a bit about the meaning of April 15, but lost interest upon learning Peter Steele died yesterday. I’ve been to more Type O Negative concerts than any other band’s, most recently last Halloween at a rock-n-shock festival in Worcester, Massachusetts. I had every intention of catching Type O again next time they came through town, so I felt momentarily melancholy when I realized I couldn’t do that anymore.

Then a giant volcano exploded in Iceland, and the resulting ash cloud shut down air traffic over most of Britain and Europe. Things probably aren’t too pleasant for the Icelanders, either. If I were the Fred Phelps/Pat Robertson type I’d say “God is punishing them for shutting down their strip clubs” but of course I’d never do that, especially not while I’m in mourning over Type O Negative concerts.

Then I got home from work to find a letter from ECMC, a guarantor of federal student loans. Last month, hackers broke into their computer and stole data about 3.3 million student-loan borrowers, but I wasn’t worried because I’d paid off my student loans years ago.

Turns out that doesn’t matter; the letter told me “We believe that information about your student loan, including your name, Social Security number, address, and date of birth was stolen, resulting in the potential loss of your personal information.” (Italics mine.) I’m getting a free year’s enrollment in some special credit-protection program, though. That's better than the three months I got from Connecticut when they lost my data back in ’07.

I am going to bed now before anything gets worse.

Monday, April 12, 2010

And A Pattern Starts To Emerge

This Wednesday I'm supposed to give an interview on CBC radio about Iceland's strip-club ban; I don't know yet when it will be broadcast. But I've noticed something where my professional career is concerned: apparently, my sex-themed articles get a LOT more attention than my various treatises on libertarian political philosophy! Huh. Go figure.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

An Ex-Stripper's Take On Iceland's Strip-Club Ban

Over at the Guardian's op-ed blog, I discuss Iceland's pseudo-feminist ban on strip clubs, and also -- I'm not bragging here, just stating a fact -- manage to do so without using any of the witheringly obscene words I uttered when I first heard of it.

I chimed in on the comment thread as well:

Plague take the six-hour time difference 'twixt my apartment and Britain! I can't possibly address every individual point commenters have raised here, but let me focus on the main ones:

--Yes, some of my bouncy colleagues back in the day were there for less-than-noble reasons: not to further their futures, but because they'd made bad decisions in the past. But the same holds true for any job open to people without formal credentials; walk through my local Wal-Mart or fast-food joints and I doubt you'll find many workers saying "Being here is the realization of my childhood dream."

--No, working in strip clubs wasn't a feminist utopia where we'd all hold hands and sing "I Am Woman." Sure, there were annoying customers and obnoxious co-workers. Still, I found stripping vastly preferable to the restaurant jobs I held in high school: if a customer was a rude obnoxious jackhole I had to simply deal with it, rather than gesture to the bouncer to remove the rude customer from my presence. Stripping was also a lot safer than, say, being the sole night-shift clerk at a convenience store.

-- I didn't have space in my article to address this, but: I'm not even convinced "sex industry" is the right term to describe strip clubs; there was no sexual contact going on, merely men looking at body parts generally not seen in public. And those parts change over time: I just glanced out my window and saw a woman walking down the street, wearing a short-sleeved top and above-the-knee shorts. By modern standards she is merely an ordinary housewife, but a century ago, if you wanted to see a woman's bare knees you'd have to go to a burlesque house. Yet for all the many things I find wrong with my country today, I don't think any of them would be resolved if only bare knees were no longer seen on public streets. If a woman a century ago had found men willing to pay her good money to look at her bare knees, would that have meant she was exploited? I would not say so, even if those men memorized the appearance of the knee to aid in their later self-pleasuring (ahem).

-- It is true, in a way, that "Something's wrong with society, if an 18-year-old could ONLY support herself as a stripper." Consider: these days I make my money with words -- either writing my own things, or editing the writings of others. Most of my current income derives from a gig editing manuscripts for a vanity publisher. I could've done that job just as well at age 18 -- except without a college degree to list on my resume, I never would've even had the chance to take the editing test, let alone do the job. And I could've written almost as well then, too, but without that college degree I never would've been hired at the little daily paper where I built the clipfile that led to me getting better writing gigs now than I did a few years back.

But these problems have nothing to do with sex or stripping, and everything to do with America's love of "credentials" -- doesn't matter whether you can do the job, what matters is having a piece of paper with "College degree" and some Latin words written on it. I could not hold the jobs I have now if I didn't first spend several years and tens of thousand of dollars buying that expensive, suitable-for-framing piece of paper. Thank goodness strip clubs were there for me to earn the required funds.

-- In some alternate universe, where my parents had the means and desire to pay for my schooling, and I only had to work to earn pocket money -- I suspect I still would've danced because, compared to fast-food jobs and waitress gigs, dancing was a lot more fun. Doll up and dance around to my favorite songs? And make anywhere from ten to a hundred times as much money as a burger-flipper made in that same amount of time? Hell, yes! It's been a decade now since I last set foot or any other body part in a club, but I will STILL hear new songs on the radio and think "My God, that song would be fun to dance to."

--Had I been a man instead of a woman, and my 18-year-old self still needed to make much-better-than-minimum-wage working only part-time to pay for college and living expenses, perhaps I'd've taken some job requiring heavy lifting. There were plenty such jobs available. Such young men make far less money than the average dancer, and furthermore such men run a much higher risk of doing actual long-term damage to their bodies, but I doubt anybody would be arrogant or stupid enough to suggest "Hey, let's outlaw heavy-lifting jobs because the men who have them would be better off unemployed! Besides, since it's a job only young men can do, not the elderly ones, that somehow means the job is inherently exploitative."

And I see I'm approaching the boundaries of the [Guardian's] 5,000-character comment limit, so I'll have to stop typing now.

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