Saturday, July 21, 2018

The New Radicals

WARNING: This is a post about healthcare and the execrable Joe Lieberman. If you come at me trying to compare the politics of Hillary Rodham Clinton to Joe Fucking Lieberman, I will get in my car and I will find you and follow you around for the rest of your life hollering that Hillary Clinton was busting her ass trying to get us to universal coverage 25 damn years ago.

I just heard Jon Lovett do an opening rant about Joe Lieberman (who is execrable) on this week's Lovett or Leave It in which he explained how Joe Lieberman, all by his little self, killed the Medicare Buy-In for 55 yr old + Americans. Had he not killed it, people 55 and over wouldn't have to keep killing themselves to hold onto their corporate health insurance and young people would be paying lower premiums as older people cost more to keep healthy, and thus drive premiums up. Joe Lieberman was working for the insurance companies who are, I genuinely believe, more evil that Philip Morris.

Speaking of which, I also read an article this morning over on Splinter about a British woman who was diagnosed with lung cancer and who is on the path to healing due to government-provided health care. She will not end up broke. She won't end up scrabbling to come up with thousands of dollars to pay for life-requiring medicine. She'll just get better.

On the liberal scale, I'm pretty far left. I also believe, though, in incrementalism and that you can get away with being more liberal in New York and Chicago than you can in West Virginia. I think expanding already popular programs is a more practical path towards healthcare-for-all than blowing up what we could get into law despite the nasty little corporate shitheels like Joe Lieberman. I could well be wrong and I'm happy to have that argument. This isn't about that, though. This is about how my party, the Democratic party, has a long history of letting the right intimidate them not into moderating radical leftish positions, but rather into radicalizing moderate positions.

Government-backed healthcare is not a radical position. It is as practical a position as one can take in American politics. It makes fiscal, moral and political sense. The system we have now is radical. It's breathtakingly expensive and irredeemably cruel. I don't want any Democrat, any liberal or any person trying to tell anyone running for any office, especially if they are running in an already liberal district, that they should not be agitating for it. If you let the nasty little corporate shitheels tell you that a congressional candidate in Queens can cost you an election in West Virginia, you've already conceded a radical argument. Stop it.

Let's all remember that it doesn't matter what a democrat running for office says; the toadies at the GOP propaganda network will lie about it.  For instance: not one democrat is agitating for open borders. The right-wing noise machine (led by our feckless, traitorous president) says they are on the daily. Not one democrat is agitating to ban guns, but likely every member of the NRA believes they are because they are being told they are by rightwing liars.

So let's just stop letting them set the terms for the debate. They are skilled liars and easy manipulators. Fuck 'em. Just say what you really believe and stop giving a shit what Tucker Carlson pretends to get his knickers in a twist over.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Got some Ragrets and some White Feminism

I got some ragrets, you guys, about my sign at the #KeepFamiliesTogether march. Here's what it said:

When I made it, I was feeling good, but there was this little voice in the back of my head going "Meg, are you sure this is a good idea?" And then I answered (as one does) "I don't care about those horrible women!" And then my little voice said, "Well, that's not quite what I meant..." and then I said "shhh, I'm watching TV" (I was watching TV by that point).

When I got to the march, I felt great about my sign because all kinds of folks were asking to take a picture and telling me how great it was and then about 30 or 45 minutes into it, I realized that all the people telling me that it was great and asking to take a picture where also white ladies and my little voice said, "You picking this up yet?" And instead I went to have a beer with my smart friends who did not have problematic signs.

Gurls and boys, I have often said this of myself: I am smart, but I am not quick. It often takes me waaaaay too long to get to understand things. Fr'instance,  it took me until the middle of this week, far too many days after the march, to realize what my little voice was trying to say.

That sign up there? That is some peak white feminism. I carried that message into literally the safest environment I could, and then toted it around so that other white ladies could congratulate me (and by extension, themselves) on how much better we are than Permit Patty and Barbecue Becky. Oof. That sign was so self-serving and I have regerts. My browser keeps trying to autocorrect my misspellings. I am being funny, Autocorrect. You don't know my life!

Anyhoo, my sign had another side. I am not even a little bit craftsy and I was embarrassed at the outset of this side of my sign because I thought it looked a little low-rent and poorly done:

It does look a little low-rent and poorly done. But it also does not have a problematic message. This sign doesn't put me in the middle of the equation and, despite looking as though it were made by a third grader operating under a pretty tight deadline, that makes it a much better message.

I'm trying to be better, folks. But I reckon I'm gonna be traveling this path along the way...

Live and learn, white feminists. We live and we learn and try to get better.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Acting and Reacting

When I was in the UK last week, a male friend of mine asked me what I thought about the new  upskirt photo law making its way through Parliament. I told him I thought it was great and that I hoped all those creepy motherfuckers got ticketed past their ability to pay for their ISP. He shrugged and said "I just don't get why the women don't just give him a slap on the face and walk away."

I'm gonna let The Vixen respond for me. 

I loved that loud messy queen and I loved her especially in the reunion show when all the queens were dissecting her following a fight with Eureka she said "Everyone's telling me how to react and no one's telling her how to act."

Oh, that is concise and well-said, n'est-ce pas?

Before we start instructing someone on how they ought to react, first let's ask ourselves "Do I have the necessary context for an informed opinion?" If it's a matter of groping, catcalling, upskirt photos, etc and you are a man, gurl, trust me: you don't. There are some women who are up to the task of calling it out (like The Vixen!), slapping the groper's hand away and there are some who aren't. Speaking personally, I hate it when men put their hands on me, say gross things to me, etc., and have for almost 40 years (gentlemen, for context, be advised that this tends to start for girls around 10 or 11, or, if they're people of color, earlier). I don't feel secure or strong enough to slap his hand away or call him out. I shrink and disappear into myself and am only eager to get the fuck away.

A story: I was walking down the street with Laney when she was 11 and we were holding hands. A carful of dudes catcalled us because they thought we were a lesbian couple. This happened four years ago and I still wonder if I reacted right.

But you know what, fuck that! My reaction isn't the point - their action is. And that's all I'm willing to discuss anymore.

Because, ladies, we all learned what happens when we pay more attention to our reaction than their actions, right?


Remember, when confronted with bad behavior, let's all concern ourselves more with the ACTION rather than the REACTION. Be like The Vixen. I kind of love her.

Monday, June 11, 2018

I Can't Decide

The hardest thing about being a grown-up is decisions. I have decided that this is the hardest thing. This is the last decision I am capable of making today.

One of my coworkers tells me that his fantasy job is to have a hot dog cart on the beach where the only decisions are ketchup or mustard. I'm a vegetarian and that sounds amazing.

Sometimes my husband and I will be trying to decide what to have for dinner and he'll say "Whatever you want, baby" and that's about the only time when I want to divorce him.

I might ask my daughter what she wants to do on a Saturday and she'll give me a teenage shrug and so I'll make a decision which is then invariably disappointing and that's about the only time I want to run away (That's a lie. I'm living in Trump's America and want to run away literally all of the time).

Throughout my average working day, I'm met with "what do you think about..." or "what should we do about" roughly every 13 seconds. Of late, when I hear that, all I think is "mustard." I prefer mustard to ketchup. Of this I am abidingly certain. I may waffle, though, between spicy brown and yellow. I never say "mustard" aloud, but I am always thinking it.

I was getting a pedicure on Saturday (this is the most first world problems post ever, isn't it?) and the dude poking aggressively at my toe cuticles told me I was too sensitive when I flinched (I should find a better pedicure place but then that's just another decision and also they have a parking lot which makes it so easy) and then he asked if the pedicure was all I wanted.

"Yep," I said.

"Are you sure?" he said. "Something about your eyebrows, maybe?"

(I really should find a better pedicure place.)

Do I have to make decisions about my eyebrows now? I never thought about my eyebrows in the 80s, 90s or 00s. For some reason this decade I'm asked to start paying attention to them and my head is too full and if I agree to do "something about my eyebrows" all I'll be able to think is "mustard" and no one, no matter how gentle they are with toenail cuticles, will know how to translate "mustard" into some eyebrow shape.

I think I'll make one more decision and decide not to give a shit about my eyebrows. I wear spectacles (that's right, I said "spectacles" because I am classy) every day so who can even see my dumb eyebrows?

Mustard is superior to ketchup, tho. And your eyebrows are probably fine.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


A few days ago, I shared this silly internet meme about how to find your British royal name. It was goofy and I mostly shared it because both my grandmothers were named Mary and that is a thing that Irish Americans probably all have in common so that's fun. Three separate people jumped on the comments thread to tell me how I was sharing a thing that gives people the answers to your various security questions (name of your first pet, street where you grew up, etc).

Tip: don't "actually" someone until you've read up the thread, guys! I can only be scolded for the same thing so many times before I get huffy!

Anyhoo, I told all these guys that I felt like those questions were easy enough to find out from anyone and besides, who the hell is asking for a grandparent's first name on a security question?

And then a couple of days later I was signing up for some dumb account and that was the security question they asked.

So, I felt dumb. And I felt dumb in the way that I really hate to feel dumb, because I like to think my Internet IQ is pretty high (unlike my Marvel IQ because I still don't know if Paul Bettany is a mutant or a person or a robot or what) and falling for some dumb phishing thing like that makes me feel old and stupid and out of touch.

I come from a generation that's not particular exercised about privacy. I still remember going full Navin Johnson when I got my first apartment in Chicago - excitedly cracking open the white pages and staring all starry-eyed at my name, address and phone number and feeling like a Real Girl Now! And now I live in a world where I alternately feel like I'm way too worried about privacy and not nearly worried enough and I can feel both of these things at the same time especially since it means I don't have to answer the phone if I don't know who's calling (Seriously! Remember when you had to pick up the phone to find out who was on the other end? That was the worst!)

I don't know. I have no answers. Do you? And, while I'm asking, did we know about those infinity stones the whole time and can't Dr. Strange just send us back in time or something? If you have any questions about rotary phones or dating in the 1990s, send them this way. I would like to feel expert on something again.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

How's Your Rage?

I was on a conference call Friday, waiting for a customer to join, chatting with colleagues when I referred to the film Mean Girls as a classic. The guys on the other end of the call (really lovely guys, all of them) gently scoffed at this and referenced Citizen Kane and The Birds as real classics.

You guys, I am not proud of myself about this, but I let the simmering low-level rage that's been my constant companion these last two years get the better of me. I sputtered and fumed and then the customer joined and we started talking about less interesting things like technology and workflows.

For men (well, straight white men) a smart comedy, that remains culturally relevant fourteen years later, written by a woman and about girls doesn't deserve to be called a classic. But those hoary old films by a narcissist and a straight up monster will always, no matter what we learn about the people they were, rest undisturbed atop their pedestals.

I have a theory about why I get so mad these days so easily: I think for the first 45ish years of my life I lived in that go along to get along space; I just kind of went with it that the women will bear the responsibility for making the men feel good, that what the women do will never be taken as seriously as what the men do, and that men will just always be the ones in charge.

And then, of course, Donald J Trump happened and I think I, along with most of the American female population, and thought:

...unsealed the rage spigot, and let it loose. This has left me with a rather large surfeit of rage.

Another thing happened: Jake Tapper was interviewed by America's boyfriends on Pod Save America post SmokeyEyegate (tm me) and he said that while he hadn't seen The Handmaid's Tale, come on, it's obvious Michelle Wolfe was making a joke about Sarah Huckabee Sanders' looks. I'm still mad about that. I can't stop being mad about that. 

Ann Dowd is a brilliant character actress who is doing incredible work playing a character who is not just complicit in a deeply misogynist government, but also a true believer who is among its most effective enforcers. The analogy is clear to anyone with even a passing interest in the show. But to Jake Tapper, the only material fact about Ann Dowd is that he himself would not care to have sex with her. I am so offended on Ann Dowd's behalf!

You guys, this interview was a couple of weeks ago. I mean way too long and way too in passing for me to still be mad. But I'm still mad! I'm still so angry at how he pleased he was with himself, how confident he'd earned a brave boy cookie for his whole "I'm just being honest" shtick. And I'm angry that the Pod Save guys, who all knew it was crap, just let it pass without commenting.

And that may be who I'm maddest at, now that I think about it: the nice guys, the good guys, the guys who aren't horrible to women, and who even actually like women, are friends with women, but are also so deep in their own privilege (I'm sorry - I'm starting to hate that word too) that they fail to notice so much.

I'm sorry, I'm ranting.

I think I may start greeting my lady friends with "Hi! How's your rage these days?" I think I may start greeting my male friends with "Hi! You questioned any deep-seated assumptions yet today?" 

And I write all this knowing that as a white, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, middle-class woman, I'm operating at a pretty low difficulty setting. But so long as Donald Fucking Trump, who is the Platonic ideal of the terrible American male, is our president, I can't stop being mad. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Roseanne. Hard Pass

I consume a lot of pop culture - more so than the average bear. Some people are impressed with my pop culture consumption, others think I must get absolutely nothing done. Here's a quick bullet list to how I consume so much:

  • There are only a few shows a week that I watch while not doing anything else. Currently, those shows are Atlanta, RuPaul's Drag Race, The Americans (starts tonight!), Superstore and The Middle. These are the only shows airing that demand full attention. Some due to their extreme quality (Atlanta and The Americans) others because I just have a real good time with them (RPDR and Superstore), and one purely for the nostalgia (The Middle). Due to the great advances of DVR-i-tude, this only adds up to about 2.5 hours of television a week
  • The other TV things I consume happen while I'm doing other things - I may watch The Goldbergs while I'm doing the dishes. I'll check into AP Bio during a workout. 
  • I waste no time on cable news. I've long held the position that cable news causes cancer. It's bad for you in a million ways. I like Chris and Joy and Rachel too! If there's something really good on one of their shows, it'll be on Facebook the next day. Cable news is a terrible way to stay informed and a blight on America. The Sunday shows are worse. I get my news from the Crooked Media guys, Wonkette, Charlie Pierce and Josh Marshall. All these sources are proudly liberal, but free of bullshit. Recommend. 
  • I follow pop culture blogs and twitter that recommend the good stuff to watch. My all time favorite of these is Pajiba. I've turned many of you over to them. They are smart and funny, staunchly anti-racist and feminist, and they have great taste. 
  • Also, I fucking hate it when everyone is talking about something and I don't know what it is. I have never understood the sense of superiority that some people seem to feel when they don't know something that everyone else is talking about. Like, why do people show up on a Facebook thread about Game of Thrones talking about how they don't watch that show? What's the point of that? No one thinks you're cool, buddy. 
All of this is lead up to the Hard Fucking Pass I'm going to give Roseanne. I watched about 10 minutes of it last night and then clicked off. Jackie was like the worst caricature of a Hillary voter and Roseanne was like the gentlest NYT profile of the misunderstood Trump voter. And you know? Fuck. That.

You don't get to say 'I'm not racist! Look at my cute black granddaughter" and support Mr. "Very Fine People on Both Sides," Mr. "Get Those Sons of Bitches off the Field." You don't get to say "I'm not homophobic! I support my genderqueer grandson" at the same time you support the man responsible for the pointless, cruel transgender ban in the military. 

Trump supporters do not get a pass just because they come around with witty writing and a thick sheen of nostalgia. None of it should be normalized. 

There are not two sides here that can reasonably disagree. This is not normal. Don't watch it. Watch The Middle.