Friday, October 10, 2008

Just For Some Political Balance…

This is why I don’t think I’m ever going to be a really gold-star liberal. I sorta kinda agree a little bit with this article in the National Review.

I know, the National freakin’ Review, bastion of hard-right-wingers everywhere. Don’t ask how I got to the link, I read way too much political stuff, and I’m not sure it’s entirely good for me. I was ranting about the general idiocy of Lou Dobbs to a friend yesterday. He stared at me thoughtfully and said, “You should really not be allowed to watch TV or read the newspapers until after the election.” I think he feared for my blood pressure or something.

(Hah, like you could keep me from reading. Good luck with that. So, anyway, I somehow clicked through some link or other and wound up reading the article. This post will make no sense to you unless you do, too, but the article is pretty short, so you can click over there and then come back.)

It’s about health care, and the question author Bill Whittle poses is: is health care a right? He’s springboarding off the answer Obama gave in the last debate – which was “Yes.” Mr. Whittle, you will not be astonished to learn, disagrees.

Now understand, I have not spent any more time studying the problem of health care than the average healthy person. That means: not much. But it’s true that when people say “health care is a right”, I think to myself, really?

I mean, a right. Seriously? I don’t understand that. I can see, as any reasonable person can, that everyone having all the health care they need is by far the most desirable state of affairs, and that it’s a worthy goal for us to strive for as compassionate human beings. I can understand the idea that we should all make some contribution to the world and be kind to people who are less fortunate than ourselves. I have no argument with that.

But a right? I think of rights as pretty basic things: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the right to free speech and free association – those are examples of rights, in my mind. I don’t know if having health care, as needful as it is, is in that category to me. I generally dislike “slippery slope” arguments, because they don’t really address the issue. But Whittle’s extension of the idea to food and shelter has a certain punch: you will die without food, so why is food not “a right”?

Of course, many people would say that being fed and housed is a right. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to want to care for other people, and to work towards that goal, I’m simply saying I don’t understand how those things are rights. Those types of statements feel to me like they’re watering down the idea of what a right really is. When I think of rights, I think of things that I have, inside me, which should not be taken away from me by any outside force. They are things that are integral to me being a human being. I don’t inherently have health care, or food or shelter. I must create some situation in which I get them. Or someone else must create it. But it doesn't just happen.

It may well be that I just have a blind spot about this. I’ve almost never been legally employed by anyone, and I have definitely never been employed anywhere that had health care benefits. Thus, I’ve always had to provide my own health care insurance. That’s just…what you do, in my head. In fact, I’ve never even entertained the idea of getting any form of government assistance, like unemployment, welfare, food stamps, student loans/grants, or anything like that. I don’t think those programs are bad, I just haven’t participated in them. The whole concept of anyone else being involved in providing my health care is foreign to me. I suppose when I’m old I’ll make use of Medicare, if it’s still there. And if I try, I can certainly construct a scenario in my head – an extremely unpleasant one- which would end with me applying for government aid. So I'm not saying "oh, I'm too good for that, I'd never do it."

I can see that there’s some disconnect between my ideas that “It’s okay that taxes fund some food/shelter/medical care for people who need it” and “But it’s not a right”. If it’s not a right, then why is it acceptable for the government to pay for it? I don’t know. That’s a gap in my reasoning that I can’t explain. But my point is not that the government shouldn’t help people. It’s just that the idea of my having a right to some external thing I didn’t work for/pay for is puzzling to me. Unlike the author, I’m not unwilling to be persuaded to another point of view. If someone makes a clear and cogent argument to me about how health care really qualifies as a right, then I’ll change my mind. I haven’t heard that yet, though.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

In contrast to yesterday's Blackberry shot - Craig Morey sent me some samples from our shoot two weeks ago. He does such yummy work.

Matisse_8475 copy

Matissse_8080 copy
(Bigger versions in the Flickr feed.)

Lately whenever I post studio photos, someone invariably remarks, "You don't look very domme-ly." To which I reply, "Just because I'm a dominatrix does not mean I have to brandish a riding drop and sneer in every damn photo I ever pose for." I've done the corset-and-thigh-high-boots shots. That was fine then, and some of the pictures turned out very nicely, but I'm over it. It's boring. I cannot do a good shoot if I'm just bored to pieces by what I'm doing. I wanted pictures of me in the clothes that make me feel sexy and good. And I assure you, I can deploy my cuffs, clothespins, floggers, electrodes, et cetera just as well in a designer dress - or jeans, for that matter, or nothing at all - as I can wearing a plastic outfit from Hot Topic.

What I would like to do, sometime, is a shoot where I just play with someone - someone I have a real and genuine connection with - and someone shoots it. No posing, no "wait, stop, that's good, but do it again with your shoulder turned this way" directions. That I would do, and I'd enjoy it. So maybe when my life slows down a bit I'll see about arranging such a thing. Meanwhile, enjoy the previews of coming attractions.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I'm flying home from Vegas today.


It's been great - we lolled by the pool, we gambled a bit, we shopped. (That's me at the shops in the Venetian Hotel - a very, very dangerous place.)

We also saw Zumanity, which was delightful. It's funny - there are not many "fantasy" careers that really appeal to me. I think I have a fantasy career, frankly. So I don't wish I was a rock star, or a supermodel, or a movie star. (Or a vice-presidential candidate.)

The only thing that ever makes me fantasize about a different life is watching Cirque du Soleil shows. I'm not going to run away and join the circus - although I did take trapeze and Spanish Rope lessons for a while - but Cirque du Soleil makes me wish, just for little while, that I could. Even though I've seen lots of their shows, they always have moments of such beauty and grace that I envy the performers, even though I have some idea of what physical rigors they go through in order to achieve it. Our bodies are such fragile and impermanent things, and the art they make also lasts only a brief moment - but it's so lovely in that moment. It just moves me.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I'm having a lovely time in Las Vegas. Since the stock market is tanking, I've decided to take my life savings and see if I can win a fortune here instead. The odds can't be much worse than Wall Street.
Okay, I'm kidding, I'm not really going to do that. Maybe I'll put twenty dollars into a slot machine instead, that's about my speed for gambling.
Meanwhile - a new podcast, in which Monk and I talk sex work strategies for safety and emotional self-care.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A few observations as I get ready to jet off to Las Vegas...

My cat and I have spent more time in the vet's office lately that either one of us cared to - a rare instance in which we are in complete agreement on something - but a couple rounds of medication later, we seem to be on the right track. I am vastly amused to find that many years of sticking needles into adult humans as a form of recreation does seem to help when getting the hang of injecting meds into a disapproving feline. I don't need to be told how to not stick myself in the thumb, for example. Nor need I be told how to properly dispose of used needles.
So once again, thank you for the well-wishes.

Veering from the home front to the national: I am not a serious Maureen Dowd fan. However, I was very entertained by this column, and I agree with what she's saying . These kinds of feelings are the root of my negative response to Sarah Palin and others of her "Just Folks" political brand. "Frontier Baroque", indeed. In fact, some of my pre-campaign willingness to consider voting for McCain was based on the fact that he never, ever talked like that.

Thoughts on "Religulous": I am not a serious Bill Maher fan, either. He's clever and funny, of course, but too often his cynicism comes off, to me, as bitterness. Now, there are plenty of things in the world one might reasonably be bitter about. But that's not something I seek out as entertainment. Jon Stewart, for example, manages to rant and rail hilariously, and yet maintain a certain sweetness and charm that makes me think he'd be pleasant to be around in person.

Still, I wanted to see this documentary just because it's been so talked-about. And Bill does pretty much just what you'd think he would do - goes around with a camera and a microphone and skewers strongly religious people with the illogic of their beliefs. It is funny, although it's so heavily edited that one wonders what was cut out. And some of the people he interviews - well, when you are not accustomed to talking to the media, it's easy to get lured into saying things that make you look like a fool. There were moments when I did think, "Oh come on Bill, pick on someone your own size."

Many of them are worthy targets, though, and the segments with the evangelical Senator from Arkansas are hilarious. Overall, I think it's well worth seeing. Also worthy of note: the movie audience clapped at the end. Loudly. They also clapped and cheered for trailer of the upcoming Oliver Stone movie about G. W. Bush. As I said to Monk, "It is nice to be living in a liberal city."