On One Hand

January 29, 2007

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January 27, 2007

Second 2008 Presidential Election Poll

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:06 pm
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It’s time for the next presidential poll!

While Hillary is the leading Democratic candidate among all Democrats as a whole, it seems that Obama is the winning candidate among college students. I’ve supported John Edwards so far but at this point I find myself more willing to go for others in the field.

Now that Richardson is in the race, we now have three great options in the Democratic field that would be all-time firsts in American history. The Democrats now have the first serious female candidate ever, the first serious African-American candidate ever, and the first serious Hispanic candidate ever, all in the same pool. I really like John Edwards as a well-spoken and highly electable candidate. But I’m having a hard time choosing the white guy over a chance to get some diversity in the office for the first time ever. Most people are saying the next president will most likely be a Democrat, so this could be the party’s chance to make history.

Plus, Americans have an affinity for “new things.” Maybe some swing voters would be more likely to support a woman because of the novelty of it. Maybe not – the election could show the exact opposite. That’s a risk Democrats must calculate when choosing a candidate.

January 23, 2007

Political Suicide vs. Military Suicide in Iraq

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:00 pm
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There are murmurings among Congress and the media of de-funding the entire war in Iraq, ending the United States’ ownership of the debacle once and for all. That could potentially be political suicide for Democrats, who would likely lead the charge with some bi-partisan support. Most likely it wouldn’t be “suicide” per se, but could still be a major vulnerability in the next election, as Conservatives and hawks across the country would surely accuse Democrats of not “supporting the troops” by cutting the money from under them while they’re already in danger. If the election is close, such a bold move could make the difference and give us another Republican president in 2009.

I am curious about the feasability of this plan instead: Democrats and interested Republicans in Congress support a bill that keeps the same amount of money going to Iraq, but rather than allowing the money to be spent to continue the war, the bill specifically requires that the money go toward funding a re-deployment of troops. The money is only good if it is used to pull troops out of Iraq and put them, instead, in Afghanistan and nations surrounding Iraq, as is consistent with the more realistic plans for getting out of Iraq.

That puts all the pressure on the Bush Administration; if Bush refuses to comply, he is the one putting troops in danger, while also probably defying the U.S. Constitution in a major way. But if he does comply, Democrats cannot be accused of de-funding troops because they kept the same amount of funding going to troops.

Do any of you know if Congress has the ability to put such specific requirements on where the money must go? Or does Congress just get to fund or not fund the war in Iraq, and it’s up to the Executive branch to decide where, specifically, the funding goes?

If Congress couldn’t get by with that kind of bill, another plan might be to pass a bill that takes funding from Iraq slowly, so that Bush has a few months window to get American soldiers out of Iraq and the responsibility is more or less, once again, on him, but Democrats could potentially catch a lot of flack for pulling the rug out from under Bush’s plan while the troops were already there fighting. This could have serious consequences in the 2008 election.

Another approach might be for Democrats to oppose the war rhetorically but fail to act on it, or act on it symbolically only, thus washing their hands of the whole debacle and leaving it to the Bush Administration. In a somewhat Machiavellian way this means that the war (and troop casualties) will still be going on as the 2008 election approaches, and would give Democrats a great chance at winning the election. (However, there is some risk for Democrats: if the Bush Administration were to finally pull out of the war right before the election as a political strategy, who knows what effect that would have on the American Electorate. It would probably backfire, but may work for the next Republican candidate.) Most likely if the war were still going on mid-2008 it would benefit Democrats a lot.

I think that, for that last idea, most of the intellectuals and more-educated people in this country, from both sides of the political spectrum, would easily call out the Democrats for their decision to do nothing about the Iraq war for fear of political repurcussions. But most educated people are already rather cynical about politicians and already know that they play politics all the time, and are unlikely to swing their vote because of this one perpetuation of that reality. Meanwhile, the bulk of Americans who voted Democratic in the 2006 midterms, who catch smaller bits or “sound bytes” of the political process, might go with the Democrats.

Anyway, here’s a poll. Lets find out what the ultra-liberal college Livejournal world thinks of the options.

January 22, 2007

Profile Dance

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:13 am

I love when you message someone from an Online profile and he completely blows you off, and then you see him at a bar two weeks later, and – after a moment of wondering where you’ve seen this vaguely-familiar face – it connects, and it’s now clear that he isn’t that good looking after all. As in, his pictures were extremely misleading, and you can easily do way better. And, when I say I love it, I don’t mean I love it in the ironic, sarcatic way, like “I fucking love when you get the lawn mower form the shed and get stung by a swarm of bees.” In this case I actually love it, in the way a person might love ice cream or sex. When it happens I always feel smug.

I don’t normally think that way about people, celebrating unattractiveness, but when they were the first ones to rudely blow someone off I think they make themselves fair game for condescending thoughts. (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!)

Online profiles tend not to do me much good. I have no fear of rejection, so I usually initiate contact, and get a response to about 30% of my messages. The first response is the “first base” of Online social interaction. I’ve changed my profile photos and words around several times and gotten messages from brand new people by doing it, but the response rate always stays at about 30%, no matter what the content of my profile is. That is why I just changed my profile text to say this:

I’m with Dateline NBC doing a special on older men who meet up with young boys from the Internet for sex. I am also 13 years old. Want to come over? If you do, bring condoms so that we know for sure what your intentions are. And don’t be worried about the camera crew, they’re just there to take video of you. If you get here while someone else is on the way out, please wait for the cops to finish things up before you come in.

If you do get a response to a message, you normally go through 1-2 message exchanges before you know if he really wants to talk to you or is just responding to be polite, in which case he will simply drop the conversation and leave your question of “right on man, I like that band too. So what’s your major?” hanging forever. I wonder what the world would be like if people actually had the balls to say “I don’t really find you attractive and I am going to end this conversation now,” which I think, ultimately, would be worse than the ignore strategy. Imagine being at a bar and having someone say, “so yeah, man – you’re really not my type, but good luck with finding somebody.” Not that what actually happens is much better. My real-life scenario might go like this:

Me: “Woah, man, is it really you!? Holy shit! How have you been!?”

Him: “Uh, heh, do I know you?”

Me: “Actually, no, that was all just my strategy. Haha, just thought I’d give it a shot. But what’s up?”

Him: “Not much. Hmm. Hey, uh, I think I should go over there now. Great to meet you, though. bye.”

Nice. My own escapes are equally awkward, usually something like “well, I’m going to go find my friend now.” Sometimes I get rid of people by giving hints like “yeah, it’s a lame night, I’m not meeting anyone interesting at all. Are you?” or sometimes I’ll refer to myself as a hippie in enough ways that they decide it’s unattractive. (That would come across as, “haha yeah I haven’t showerd in weeks. I beleive in conserving water. I hope you conserve water. You do, conserve water, by not showering, right?”) Usually I’m only in such bad form when I’m really drunk, in which case a “hey you should try talking to that guy” before slipping away would not be uncommon.

I love when you see the awkward, incredibly creepy-looking guy gazing at you from across the room and you can’t help but glance over every 20 seconds to see if he’s actually still there, and no matter how hard you try to get away he’s still gradually moving toward you through the night, thinking that your occasional defensive crowd-scan to find him is flirtatious eye-contact. That’s happened to me several times, only for me to get a message the next day from a guy saying “yea you were staring at me at the club last night. I assume you want to get together sometime?”

Gay men are always pursuing the “next thing up” from what they’re used to, and I firmly beleive that if the whole gay scene were composed of identical twins, no one would have any sex at all because they’d all think everyone else is below their league.

Conclusion: People are just dumb and stupid, and I can’t imagine myself hooking up with any of them anyway because they’re lame. When someone does not return my advances it is not so much an insult as it is me dodging a bullet, like God is making that person reject me because God doesn’t want me to catch the disease said person has, such as HPV.

January 20, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:49 am

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January 18, 2007

The Right Writer

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:08 pm

I saw a poster in the office for the CU Department of Writing and Rhetoric that said “I write to know what I think.”

I think that as Americans, in a culture where career and identity are everything, a lot of people write because they want to “be a writer,” to adopt that image. Becoming a successful writer has a lot to do with marketing, resume-building, and putting together a reputation and, if you’re lucky, a fan base. It’s about being in the right place in the right time, luck, being a part of the writing community, and of course, talent and skill.

I prefer to see writing as producing something that others may ultimately benefit from. A writer has to provide a service. Writing is about sharing your experience in a meaningful way; think of this: you’re asking readers to take time out of their finite lives to read something that you wrote, to be essentially fixated, for a time, on an entirely one-way conversation coming from you. It’s geneally considered “rude” to talk and talk and not listen, for good reasons, but when someone is reading something you wrote, that is essentially what is happening. Readers don’t get to share themselves when they read your book, to achieve a sense of immortality through being known to others, or to experience the catharsis of letting their feelings out. They give you their time and don’t get any back. That’s a lot to ask, so I think the deal is only possible if they get something out of it that is genuinely novel. The right kind of writer wrote it, not because he or she wants to be a writer, but because the words needed to be said, and no one else was saying them. Free speech was not written into the U.S. Constitution because writers have a right to have that career, it was written into the U.S. Constitution because the sharing of truths that free speach entails is vital to the progress of a society and benefit to everyone.

Producing writing that is a genuine service to readers is something I struggle with, at this age, because I am 21 years old and don’t have much to say yet that isn’t already being said somewhere in the world. I am 21 and have not had a host of uniqe experiences yet – my deepest encounter of human suffering might be a romantic breakup or a failed exam, which almost everyone has faced before. For a Creative Writing class exersize I just wrote (and posted) an essay about my own name, which is about as self-serving as it gets, which I don’t think benefits anyone unless they happened to laugh at some of the funny parts. I desperately want to be “a writer,” probably in the old American image-is-everything way, and I struggle to think of what I really have to offer. Do I really have any input that is entirely “new” or “unique?” Anything I can muse or reflect on here is probably being shared by other writers somwhere in America.

I think people in minority polulations stand to offer the best service to others through writing. They have unique experiences that can be shared, and it helps to build up a community in a positive way. Mexican Americans, for example, provide a service by writing their experiences into stories that can emotitonally and intellectually support individuals and their growing culture as a whole, which is currently seriously underrepresented in literature. Their writing also expresses the needs and experiences of that community to the greater population. I, a white, middle-class person, would love to read the account of a person who came to America by fleeing across the barren Arizona desert on some modern version of the Underground Railroad, or the account of a Hispanic person who was born and grew up in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood in New Jersey, where the clash of cultures doubtlessly challenges identity. Sandra Cisneros, as one example, functions as a writer because of her experience as a female, Hispanic American, and though I’m sure she has plenty more to contribute than her minority status, her writing is just a little more necessary because of the unique angle it comes from. Other communities in such a position to share an unknown (to us) world would include Muslim Americans, Muslims anywhere, GLBTQ people anywhere, people suffering from AIDS or other diseases, or anyone searching or questioning for self-identity or truth while caught up in an often-suppressive new movement like Evangelical Christianity or some political ideology that is bound to its own culture.

What experiences do I have that are novel? I could write aboug being gay, and I often have. I wouldn’t be the first to do that by any means, but I might still have a perspective that is new. Could a focus on that work?

It turns out, that’s something that I struggle with. My sexual orientation honestly just isn’t a huge part of my identy – I barely think of it – and I don’t have any serious gay male friends that aren’t guys I was dating at one time. I have no reason to reach out to “the gay community” for “support.” My only gay friend is my roommate and I thought he was straight when we moved in together – and he isn’t connected to a gay culture either. I think it would be inauthentic to try to pose myself as some “gay author” when I identify more deeply as “liberal” or “college student” and spend my time with others who identify as such. I find it more meaningful, and accurate, to mention sexual orientation in passing, which is how my sexual orientation actually effects my life. Yet it seems that gay books and magazines are the best places for me to try to sell what I have written.

I once had a (straight male) editor of a local magazine, who was trying to solicit me to write something for him, tell me I should write something about “the gay community in Boulder.” I didn’t know how to tell him that I’m not really in “the gay community” and I’m not really sure if one exists in the way that he might imagine, though I don’t know how I’d ever find out. Ultimately the piece I wrote for the magazine had nothing to do with sexuality at all.

One way that sexual orientation has effected me differently from practically anyone else I have met is through the religious crisis I went through while I was 15-17 years old, and as a deeply spiritual (and agnostic) person, spiritual writing is something that appeals to me particularly. I think I can say something of meaning in that area. But is there a market for what I have to say? I don’t know – there certainly is a huge market for New Age or Theosophical type stuff but I couldn’t in good faith evoke a mystical, psychic type spirituality that I don’t beleive in. My spirituality is that I think about the “meaning of it all” a lot but don’t have any answers, and people who read spiritual books do so because they want answers. I am a permanent “seeker” and don’t beleive I’ll ever find anything. Most people align themselves with beleivers and non-beleivers, and don’t want to hear from someone on the fence.

Who knows. I would love to be any kind of writer, but to get there it may be necessary to sort of sell-out and publish whenever and however you can, even if it isn’t that profound or new.

January 17, 2007

What’s in a name?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 9:25 pm

I grew up with a more-than-common name. “Matthew” was one of the top-five most popular names to be given to boys in the United States every year from 1981 to 2006. In 1985, the year I was born – and every other year in that decade – the name was third most popular. Because of this, there were at least two of us Matthews in every classroom from my kindergarten class to sixth grade, so the compromise, to avoid confusion, was always that I would be Matthew, and all the other Matthews would be Matt.

I finally shortened “Matthew” when I was 14 and needed a name to call myself on the Internet, which was a new thing in those years. My parents said that when I go to chatrooms I shouldn’t use my real name, because Online predators might use it to find me, so I thought of an allias and went by “Matt” instead. After being “Matt” online for a while, I decided the name sounded sexy and masculine, and started using it all the time.

But regardless of what my first name has been, I go by another name much more often. It’s the name I used in this journal and what I go by in the wider world. It was elected by my peers, creeping in without me having a word to say about it.

My last name is “Pizzuti,” which I’ve been known primarily as for years now. It started in my elementary school library in first grade whenever I would go to check out a book. The Librarian, Mrs. Kurlin, a friendly older woman with curly light-brown hair, always had to say it twice.

“Pizzuti!” she would relish each vowel and consonant as she scanned the book and checked it to my name, then she would ask, “may I say that again?”

“Yes… you can,” I would tell her.

“Pizzuti!” she would say again triumphantly.

Not long after, everyone started calling me that. First it was the science teachers in middle school, thinking themselves clever, who came up with the “Mister Pizzuti” title, each one saying it smugly with a chuckle or grin as if no one ever thought of it before. Soon after, I became “Pizzuti” to all my friends as well.

“Is Pizzuti there?” they’d ask when calling the house and being received by my father.

“Which one?” my dad, also a Pizzuti, would ask.

“You know. Pizzuti.” they’d repeat, putting emphasis on the middle syllable so it was clear.

“Oh,” my dad would laugh and hand me the phone.

I have a sister, two years younger than me, who was blessed with a much less common first name, that everyone loves. During the year she was born, her name was a comfortable thirty-fifth among girls’ names given in the United States. Angela was always Angela, from her birth through high school. She avoided “Angie” or “Ange” or other bastardized nicknames – they weren’t necessary – until the she arrived as a freshman at the same high school I went to.

“Pizzuti’s sister” was my sister’s name after that.

My last name was always a title I couldn’t shake, along with the myriad words it rhymes with, none of them being any good. I’ve been “Fruity Pizzuti” and “hisbooty” and “bazookie,” and then there are the off-centered slant-rhymes of “Bazooka,” “Pittz,” “Pizzoot,” or my favorite, just “Zoot.” My friends from Boy Scouts said the word “Pizzuti” had the comfortable ring of “a rare cheese,” while others said it would be a marketable brand of salami: “Pizzuti salami.” I’ve also been “Pizza boy” on numerous occasions. One of the editors of my high school paper endearingly referred to me as “Pizoot Pizzuzuttes,” (Pronounced Pi-ZOOT Pi-ZOO-zoots), and I don’t think any name for me has ever topped that in complexity – or syllables.

I once asked my mom why I was “Matthew” and not “Tristan,” which is my middle name, which is much rarer and, I think, nicer sounding. During the year I was born, the name “Tristan” ranked two-hundred and twenty-second among names given to boys, at less than one Tristan in 1,000 births, meaning I would not only be a precious rarity in my classroom, but that there likely would be no other Tristans in my high school. To find someone sharing my name would be less common than someone sharing my birthday. If Tristan were my name, I would have avoided always having to include my last name on homework papers in elementary school, or avoid going by the dehumanizing “Matt P.” through most of my life. As a child I was embarrased by my middle name, thinking it was funny or sounded like a girls’ name, and I kept it secret. But since then, most people I have encountered say it sounds, quote, “sexy,” and when I got to college I formally decided to start going by Tristan. It never stuck. It didn’t feel like me; I felt like I was lying. So one day I asked my mom why I was Matthew instead.

“I didn’t like Tristan,” my mom explained from the living room couch while I stood in the room. “I liked Matthew, and Tristan sounded good with it. Matthew Tristan. And Matthew is in the Bible. If the choice was Tristan by itself we would have picked something different altogether – you know, we had to make a lot of tough choices when you were young that I regret – first we had you circumsized and –”

“Alright mom, it’s OK,” I interrupted, holding my hands in the air as if to say I give.

So I will be Pizzuti instead.

My great-grandfather’s name was “Nick M. Pizzuti,” and my grandfather’s is Nick Michael Pizzuti. My father’s name is Nick Michael Pizzuti as well, making him a Jr., and I can only thank my mother (and God) that I wasn’t named Nick Michael Pizzuti the third.

I’ve never met another Pizzuti who wasn’t related to me. They’re a scarcity in Colorado and in most of the country. But I’ve been told that there are a lot of Pizzutis in Ohio and Indiana, and there’s a real-estate developing company in Florida that uses Pizzuti as its name.

My mother’s maiden name is Moore, that’s M-O-O-R-E, so before she married my father she’d regularly encounter those who shared her name – probably half of the Irish population of the United States, I’m guessing. But now she’s got the same funny name as the rest of us. Her mother’s maiden name, on the other hand, is more Italian than anything else I know: Antonucci. Just the sound of it brings you back to the fields of Tuscany on a balmy, Mediterranean morning. The Antonucci’s I’m related to came over to the United States at the turn of the 20th century, and stopped in Denver, Colorado, because with its mountains and semi-arid climate, Denver “looked like home” in central Italy, my grandfather says.

I searched for my name on Google once, so I know there are plenty of other Pizzutis in the country. There is a Matthew Pizzuti who lives in Oregon and evidently works for the Oregon Convention Center, since all the articles that come up are related to that. A couple other Matthew Pizzutis are odd looking computer geeks who show up on Google’s images as overweight and eyes-bulging like owls behind thick glasses. On a trip to Ellis Island in New York City, my sister found an Italian immigrant whose name chiseled into the wall was her own name nearly exactly; Angelina Maria Pizzuti. There were a few other Pizzutis there on that wall as well.

I’m told that my Italian family was originally “Pizzutio,” but when they arrived at Ellis Island their names were shortened to “Pizzuti” to sound more “American.” The original pronounciation of Pizzuti, with the double zz, should have been “Pit-SOO-tee,” which you cannot say correctly without holding both hands up in front of you, clasping your fingers like you’re pinching spices, turning them upward and bouncing your voice like a Pizza chef. Then, as you say the middle syllable, you have to lurch your hands forward a half an inch. That’s how real italians talk.

January 13, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 4:32 am

Earlier this week I saw a psychiatrist about the liklihood that I could have ADD. Last year a psychologist, who cannot perscribe for or treat ADD, was astute enough to note that I might have it and reccommended that I see a perscriptive psychiatrist. That was back in September, but being as I am extremely disorganized about virtually everything, I didn’t make the appointment with a psychiatrist until December, after repeated reminders from friends and family.

The psychiatrist I saw on Tuesday said I have a pretty classic case of ADHD, in a case that leans more toward attention-deficit than hyperactivity but has some hyperactivity element nonetheless. She said I described symptoms of ADHD that most people don’t recognize as being ADD-related, such as “hyperfocus” (when a person with ADHD gets lazer-beam fixated on something he or she is interested in, while not being able to focus on anything else) which I guess indicates extra authenticity to my case? I’m guessing a lot of people my age go in trying to fake ADD because they want the drugs, and maybe the fact that I displayed lesser-known symptoms of ADHD meant I was more likely telling the truth.

I got a perscription for Adderall, and have been taking it for two days now. Effects: first and formost, I have less need for stimulation.

Normally, if I have a drink in my hand, I sip it every three seconds or less. I can’t just sit back and sort of nurse it for a long time; I drink fast. People who aren’t paying attention think I’m a lightweight because I somehow get drunk, yet they never saw me with a beer in my hand, when in reality the beer is not in my hand anymore because I drank it so fast. I can’t just hold a drink and sip every two minutes; I need to sip five times as often as the next person. When I’m with someone I am interested in, I need the repeat stimulation of constant physical contact; it’s almost painful for me to hold back. No matter what, my hands are always doing something. I’m always tugging at my beard or twirling my hair. These are all “classic” symptoms of ADHD.

On Adderall, I can just hold something. I can hold a bowl of food and go a minute or two without taking a bite. I can stand to sit through commercials. My mind feels more stimulated and awake, yet externally I’m more calm. I also feel less lazy about doing things I need to get done, although I haven’t had any serious tasks yet to have a chance to see how it works in effect. I think I’m less irritable, too, though I can’t say I was ever really irritable to begin with.

Usually, when someone around me smokes, I want a cigarette, too. Yesterday my roommates were smoking and I had almost no desire to take a drag.

But there are some unfortunate side effects, too. My mouth was dry all day. Food didn’t taste as good, and I was less interested in hot sauce; the little kick of pain you get from biting into a burrito drenched in Tobasco wasn’t exciting anymore. Food sort of tasted like cardboard, actually, and it took a strong effort to eat it all. I don’t think I ate much over the course of the day, and I had to force myself to eat when I did.

I haven’t had much of a sex drive, although the two-day period I’ve been taking Adderall isn’t long enough to really know how that works for me. If sex drive were to become a problem, I’d be able to deal with it because I don’t have to take Adderall during weekends.

I have neither a real appreciation for physical pleasure nor a need for it; laying down on a soft bed at the end of the day, which is normally one of my favorite things, is sort of boring now. It doesn’t feel any different, I’m just less “addicted” to the feeling and don’t mind getting up. Sometimes if I have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night I’ll just lay in bed forever because I don’t want to get up. Now, the physical discomfort of getting up is sort of a non-issue. I am much more interested in mental things like reading or thinking.

I feel a lot more physically coordinated, as if I have better control over my muscles now. Usually when I do something like play guitar or type fast, I start out a little clumsy and over time my fingers build up some tension, and somehow, don’t ask me how to explain, that tension allows for more articulate movement. Now I can do the same thing in a totally relaxed state and there is no warm-up period.

I think I have a decreased sensitivity to pain. On the other hand, today I had a sore throat and took some ibuprofen, so I’m not sure if it’s specifically from the Adderall that decreased my sensitivity.

I feel pretty wired, even now, after the effects of the Adderall are supposed to be worn off for several hours. Earlier today I had a weird sensation that my eyes were bugging out of my head, although they were not actually doing that.

The worst side-effect of all: insomnia. I call attention to the fact that it is now past 4:00 AM. I have been in bed trying to sleep for more than two hours. Granted, I slept in until 11:00 this morning, and took the pill at 1:00. But it’s only supposed to last 12 hours. I’m not a big fan of drugs, so if taking Adderall means I have to take a sleep-aid as well I don’t know what I’ll do.

Another brief topic that was of note when I saw the psychiatrist: in the middle of describing my basic life history, the psychiatrist suggested I have some type of “caretaker” complex, meaning I like to take care of people or am (romantically and otherwise) attracted to people with problems. It’s funny because it’s something I have been told by professionals before. I can’t really get emotionally invested in someone unless there’s something psychologically wrong with him or her. All of my long-term relationships reflect that. Last summer I hung out/went on a date with this guy who was kind of weird, and my opinion on him was that he was kind of weird, and my roommate went on a date with him more recently and told me that our friend told him he has Asberger’s Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning autism (you’re intelligent and very focused but lack some social skills and have a listed set of really bizarre quirks). When I heard that, I sort of started to like him again; it took me a couple minutes to realize the thought that was crossing my mind. Because there was finally something wrong with him to like!

January 12, 2007

The Libertarian Problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:00 pm

Every few months I have to devote an entry to Libertarians. To me, they’re one of the most interesting segments of the population, because I so passionately agree with them and disagree with them at the same time. They’re like the obnoxious guy who’s incredibly funny but also an incredibly huge dick to everyone, and you don’t know whether you want to hang around him or get as far away as you can.

Learning to be a little less passionate about my politics, I’ve somewhat revised the positions I once held fast to, taking a more observational position. I’ve talked about my frustration with Libertarians before, but to me it’s more interesting to observe this social phoenomenon than to pass judgment on it.

A friend posted about two possible “Libertarian” Presidential candidates for 2008:

One is Libertarian Ron Paul, who serves as a Republican from Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Though he has voted pro-hemp (in a vote that would legalize hemp cultivation as different from Marijuana, as it is already legal in Canada, Europe and Austrailia) and against the war in Iraq, he is also anti-abortion (self-describing as pro-life and opting to leave the issue to the states), voted to ban gay adoptions in Washington D.C. Though more Libertarian than any other Republican in congress, he falls more squarely on the Conservative/Economic side of Libertarian politics than the Liberal/Social side.

Another candidate, actor Michael Moriarty, actually lives in Canada, calling himself a “political exile” after recently moving there. He describes himself as a, “Conservative-Libertarian,” but in many ways this just means Conservative. He’s anti-gay and anti-abortion, and rabid critic of Islam in all forms. His politics have a weird relationship with the Catholic Church that I haven’t quite figured out yet. His “Libertarian” credentials come in with his opposition to a progressive tax system and opposition to censorship of violence in media. But we already know that Conservatives are economically Libertarian in theory so his statement as being a “Conservative-Libertarian” is a non-issue. It would be like Ted Kennedy qualifying himself a “Libertarian on social issues,” which we all obviously already know.

Meanwhile, Most of us in this country have never heard of either of these guys.

I don’t think Libertarians realize just how much they’re ignored by both Democrats and Republicans. The GOP thinks it has Libertarian support locked down permanently and doesn’t act in any way to keep it, and Democrats don’t need Libertarians because they’ve gotten where they are entirely without them. The only Libertarians we know of come across as irreverent loudmouths, reeking of “I am right and know my facts and everyone else is stupid, the whole world is bought in a big-government conspiracy except for me.” They quote Ayn Rand incessantly, and as far as modern public figures go, an extremely disproportionate number of known Libertarians seem to be geeky white men with a grudge.

Libertarians are clearly more often associated with Republicans than democrats. But on a scale where Liberarianism on social issues and Libertarianism on economic issues were to be weighted equally, I suspect we’d have an awful lot more Democrats in the Libertarian zone than Republicans. But Most “Libertarian-Libertarians” who associate themseves with the Libertarian Party seem to care about three times as much about economic issues as they do about social ones. That’s why they’d rather have the pro-war, pro-military, anti-gay, anti-sex education, anti-abortion Bush administration than a Pro-social-freedom Kerry candidate who happened to want to raise taxes to pay for healthcare and schools.

Libertarians’ steadfast attachment to economic-issues-only is why the Libertarian Party never picks up serious strength: the fact is, voteswise, there are more self-percieved lower-class people than upper-class people in this country. Lower-class people are not Libertarians. Minorities are not Libertarians. A minimum wage increase has tremendous popular support right now, regardless of arguments for or against it, which I am not going to get into because it is irrelevant to this point I am making. There are far more people working on minimum wage than there are people hiring on minimum wage, and regardless of what argument you can have about a high minimum wage increasing unemployment, to a person making $5.17 an hour, the obvious gratification of a $2 raise is always going to look irresistable. The way for an anti-Labor party to get lower-class votes, which Republicans often manage to do, is to come down on social issues like opposing gay marriage, scare the population about the dangers of Mexican immigrants, and to play up national defense.

Libertarians instead act by ignoring social issues like gay marriage, which doesn’t give them the poor-but-homophobic vote (those people want vocal, outspoken homophobia before they’ll give you their open support), and doesn’t gain them the rich-but-tolerant vote either.

And as I’ve said before, when it comes to economic issues, Libertarians seem to care much more about cutting welfare and education programs they consider unnecessary than they do about cutting defense spending or paying off the National Debt.

For a while I actually identified as a Libertarian-leaning Democrat, between high school and my first year of college. That was because I liked Libertarian ideas about drug reform and ending coprorate welfare, and thought class inequality would be wiped out if only inheritance were to be abolished, which is something many Libertarian academics claimed would be necessary to establishing a truly Libertarian meritocracy and allowing each to be judged by his ability to work. I thought that gay marriage was unnecssary because marriage should be a purely private affair anyway. I was against the war in Iraq, and Libertarians agreed. I thought race distinctions were more or less unnecessary, and that interracial marriage would eventually eliminate race anyway so that 100 years from now all of our children would be some blended shade of light brown; I didn’t like Affirmative Action. Globalism didn’t scare me; I thought of it as a way to develop poor countries and temper American xenophobia, and that affluent America could afford to take the economic impact. I thought the glass ceiling was something from my grandparents’ generation.

I was wrong about the race issues then. I have seen racism now, firsthand, and know that it exists. I decided there was a distinction between opposing the war in Iraq and opposing interventionism in all forms; it is the moral obligation of a powerful nation to stop genocide when it occurs. And more importantly, I saw how Libertarians somehow seemed to turn their political ideology into an historic critique on science, suggesting that Global Warming or exhaustion of resources did not exist (they call it “neo-malthusianism”) and the best thing to do about pending environmental problems was nothing. I decided to cast my lot not behind the group of people who alligned their views behind one theoretical ideology, but behind the group of people who had the mind to base their policies on science.

When I figured out that Libertarians as a party didn’t match up with Libertarianism as a theory, I saw their numbers as more or less a threat. The Liberal revolution of the 60s got rich white kids to care about the poor and oppressed by baiting them with great sex lives if they joined the movement. What if Libertarians did the same thing with the next generation? Many Libertarians openly advocate “selfishness,” which just might catch on. Gay marriage will surely be a reality someday, and Marijuana will be legal in 30 years. Those things are inevitable, just like the end of slavery was once inevitable, and George W. Bush’s temporary reign would not be able ot stop it. But what if we lose Universal Healthcare and free education to a growing, affluent and anti-government class? What if the future of America is a sprawled, privatized, built-up chaos where pristine mountain landscapes are pocked with mansions and ski resorts, and rising seas covering Bangladesh is “not our problem?” And If Republicans shed religion for a Libertarian conservativsm, there will be no reason for them to care about the poor or downtrodden; I asked myself, What if Christian Morals really are important, after all?

Still, I hated the deficit because it meant that our tax dollars wouldn’t be going to schools and hospitals: they’d be going to pay off some rich Republican who bought a lot of bonds at the turn of the millenium or to some foreign bank, and rich businessmen would ultimately turn a huge profit from our spending blunder. I hated the idea of “big government,” and though I didn’t emphasize cutting spending as the first priority, I saw that there were causes far more important than a war in Iraq to spend money on. I figured that Republicans might handle money OK as long as they used it to run the programs that Democrats demanded. While I digested these things by hoping a efficient-minded Democrat could strike a balance between mad spending and penny-pinching denial, I worried that my peers, who also hate the deficit and “big government,” would turn against the Liberals they support now and someday flock toward the Libertarians.

I hold many Libertarian views myself. In truth I can’t think of any Liberal who doesn’t. But why does the Libertarian party and self-proclaimed “Libertarian” Independents and Conservatives seem so hostile to what I believe in?

It started as a sneaking suspicion, but now I’m sure of it: The reason the Libertarian party seems so one-sided is that Libertarian-leaning people who care more about social issues than economic ones have already found a home with the Democrats. They are the Democrats who are willing to cut taxes realize that cutting them only after the debt is paid off results in less net taxation when the debt is eliminated sooner. They are the Democrats who want to see consumption and land use limited responsibly the same way they want to see the size of government limited. They are the Democrats who don’t care if its a private insurance company or a public program providing health to those who can’t afford it, but for heaven’s sake, somebody has to provide it. Free market is a wonderful and necessary thing, but should exist within a market place, not to expand endlessly without thought or care to what the world will look like 30 years from now. The market is like a fire that heats the world. Do you want that fire controlled in the furnace where it can burn hot for a long time, or to be released into the forrest to consume everything in minutes?

Libertarian Democrats who make it into office rarely go far because Conservatives cite their gay marriage or abortion positions and easily label them “liberal,” a term that Libertarians themselves have greatly helped to darken in the public mind. But those Democrats are still there, forming a major constituency of the Democratic party, especially in the West.

And Libertarians simply will not ever succeed at cutting government to a total hands-off, Wild West free-for-all. Americans, as much as they loathe socialism and hate “big government,” see some of it as positive. They like libraries, hospitals and schools. They see these things as good. Economists see government doing its job as good for business, too. And when a hurricane swamped New Orleans in water, and thousands of people died, Americans got royally pissed at the government for not helping.

These may be things that even small-government Libertarians agree with, those issues seem to have caused some shift in opinion since then toward the idea that some liberal ideas are OK. Just two years after the final blow of a Republican surge that swept the nation from 2000 to 2004, public opinion has demanded the increase in minnimum wage by strong margains even in the Moderate-Conservative states of Colorado and Nevada. Americans weren’t buying economically Conservative arguments against minimum wage anymore. Libertarians, who advocate “selfishness” as the best way for individuals to run a society, got their just desserts – more “selfish” voters will benefit from a wage increase than “selfish” businessmen will suffer, and though more money may lie on the production end, every person gets one vote. So minimum wage in Colorado and Nevada passed, and the new Democratic congress will wide the wave to see it happen nationwide.

Polls are now indicating that Americans want better healthcare and better education, and want government to have a role in that. They did not, however, support President Bush’s attempted privatization of Social Security. It turns out that the GOP was winning because of fear of terrorism and hope for Iraq, while Americans don’t mind the Democrats’ desired spending on domestic projects they care about.

There are still some pro-Libertarian ideas out there that are good. And those are the first ideas that get sold out, by each major political party, in order to beat the other.

Republicans, who claim to be for limited government, win votes by appeasing Evangelicals and Nationalists, expanding government to “crack down on crime,” imprisoning a higher proportion of the population than any other developed country, to limit marriage and families to a homogenous model, and to protect our drug and oil companies from the free-market compeitition they claim to support. Republicans lower taxes without lowering spending, and have done so many times, driving up an enourmous deficit for a future Democratic administration to solve. That’s a sell-out stance.

Democrats, who claim to be for a socially and scientifically responsible policy, still side with traditional, emotional sentiments when it comes to legalizing marijuana and other drugs, which they generally oppose because to do otherwise would be political sucide. Meanwhile, marijuana has been shown by medical doctors and sociologists alike to not have a significant negative impact on society, has been shown to improve the lives of cancer patients, and costs billions of dollars to suppress. Democratics have sold out gays and lesbians with wishy-washy positions on gay rights, like Clinton’s support for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Kerry’s confusion over gay marriage, and John Edwards “not sure” position on civil unions.

But Libertarians actually sell thsemselves out in their one-sided alliance with Conservatives. In liberal urban centers, where both Libertarians and Liberals are more promienent, they could ally with Democrats to move on drug prohibition and crime policies. On a national level they could ally with Democrats to shift the gears of our foreign policy from military defence to deplomacy and respect for other nations’ economic autonomy – in effect, isolationism.

I can credit Libertarians with a bold position on drug reform, and on their ability to speak out on whatever issue they choose since they have nothing to lose for it. I forsee the first major Libertarian-Democrat alliance in about 20 years when the legalization of Marijuana, or at the very least, commercial hemp, becomes an actual possibility – and if Libertarians make it a big enough issue, they might take over one or two otherwise Democratic seats in congress with young, progressive and anti-authoritarian voters.

An ironic problem facing Libertarians is this: the most significantly Libertarian-leaning populations in the country occur in the West, in states like California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, Alaska, and right here in Colorado. If you’re ever going to see Libertarian congressmen or senators in Washington, they’re going to come from the West. Support for Labor, characteristic of the Midwest, is weakest here in the West, and populist ideas rarely take on the force they do in the South. Opposition to guns and drugs is lowest here, and xenophobia is weak here too. But these Western states also have significant environmental constituencies. For a Conservative candidate to drop Evangelical voters, who are present in moderate numbers here, by refusing to oppose abortion or gay marriage or come down hard on crime and drug use, he or she will need to pick up those who care about the environment. There are plenty of ideas out there that integrate free-market philosophies with environmentalism, like greenhouse gas credits that can be bought and sold, but Libertarians haven’t even admitted that greenhouse gasses are any kind of problem in the first place.

It’s no skin off my back if Libertarians can’t get legitimate attention. I have some Libertarian ideas myself but I see future Democrats as willing to take them on. But if that constituency of the American population ever wants to turn some heads, it’s going to have to re-think its alliances.

January 11, 2007

Denver Wins 2008 Convention Battle!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:09 pm
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The Democratic National Convention to take place in the summer of 2008 will be held in the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, announced Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean today.

To win this convention, Denver’s bid had to navigate waves of union troubles, tight hotel space, limited funds and competition from the largest and most powerful city in the United States, runner up New York City in an extended battle where the announcement of a winner was pushed back several times. But supporters said Denver was a favorite all along because of lukewarm support for the convention in New York, and the Democrats’ desire to get away from the East and West coast where they dominate to link themselves with a growing Democratic Mountain West where governors’ offices, state legislatures and legislators sent to Washington shifted toward the Democrats in 2004 and 2006.

One of Denver’s biggest challenges arose when local union leader Jim Taylor of Denver’s branch of a Stagehands Union refused to sign a pledge not to strike the convention, saying that he could not support a Democratic Convention in the non-union Pepsi Center. Democrats could not risk a union picket line at the convention because many Democratic delegates would refuse to cross such a line. A leader of Denver’s bid committee said that Taylor’s play nearly derailed the convention in Denver, and the clash was ultimately negotiated by national union leaders in Washington DC just before Dean’s final announcement on January 11.

The Democratic Convention is expected to bring 35,000 visitors, 3 days of constant union attention, and $160 million in economic stimulus to the Mile High City. It will take place exactly 100 years after Denver’s first and only major political convention, the Democratic National Convention in 1908.

Republicans will hold their convention one week later in Minneappolis-Saint Paul Minnesota.

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