Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well

I'm feeling kind of apocalyptic-y tonight. In general, barring periodic hormonal issues and too deep forays into political blogs, I'm a pretty cheery person. But the last few days have been rough.

It's hard, when you read things like this, to stop from thinking that it's so bad, we'll never find our way out from the bottom of this well. This mean and stupid and accountability-free political environment is sending us hurtling towards the Thunderdome.

I have to remind myself that things have been a lot fucking worse. While there might be some John Birch types out there with hard ons for trying insufficiently conservative thinkers for not loving America enough, it's not actually happening. And it did. And even if mainstream gubernatorial candidates feel comfortable arguing that we should stop feeding poor, black kids, I don't see Jim Crow coming back. And even if a New Hampshire GOoPer thinks gay adoption is just another name for governmental child chattel, I can take solace in knowing that the breakout stars of a smash new sitcom hit are a gay couple who've adopted a kid.

And then just right as I'm shaking off the funk, I think about how dysfunctional our senate and congress are and how Barack Obama just does NOT seem to want to take the wheel on this one and we might AGAIN piss away our chance to reform healthcare and not even Modern Family can cheer me up.

And so I must take the advice of the song I named this post for and bat it down. Remind myself that I'd rather live now than any other time on earth and that, in the immortal words of the late, lamented Molly Ivins:

Things are not getting worse; things have always been this bad. Nothing is more consoling than the long perspective of history. It will perk you up no end to go back and read the works of progressives past. You will learn therein that things back then were also terrible, and what's more, they were always getting worse. This is most inspiriting.

It really is.

Friday, January 22, 2010


OK, I'm pretty sure of this: expecting to lose is a terrible strategy for winning.

It's been two days since we lost our super-majority (a super majority that was a lot more on the limp and lame than super side) and already across the blogosphere I'm picking up this bitter acceptance of defeat.

And worse that: bitter acceptance of an expected defeat.

The irony of this, is that by bitterly accepting defeat we open the doors to let our elected officials act like big girls' blouses. We stop pushing, stop fighting and expect that everything will suck forever. And, the entire legislative branch says, "Well, hey, what can we do? You all know how it is..."

I'm going to try a different approach this time and pull on my big girl panties and remember that the legislative branch is, almost to a member, made up of the intractable, lazy, spoiled, entitled employees. I say "employees" since they do, you know, work for us.

As far as I can tell there are three options:

- Kill it and start over
- Congress passes the senate bill as is
- Senate passes the bill through reconciliation

I'm partial to number 2 myself. It's my understanding that the restrictions on insurance companies can't be legislated via reconciliation. And starting over just strikes me as more defeatist than not.

I plan on telling someone that.

I've blogged before about this, but it's easier to be a righty-republican than a lefty-democrat. As far as I can tell, talking points seem adequate to fall in lockstep behind your conservative representative. They just have to talk a good game. Whereas, we lefties expect performance. Sort of. It seems we actually expect our representatives to fail to perform. And so they do. Until we stop expecting it. Especially, Christ on a cracker, TWO DAYS into the "game changer."

In the words of the great American philosopher, Bluto Blutarsky, it's not over until we say it's over.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Resolutions and Rush

So, I made a sort of quiet resolution this year to begin assuming people were operating in good faith until they proved otherwise. I was pretty sure that if I did this, I would find that more often than not, people were.

In other words, I was going to stop assuming nefarious causes for that email from a coworker, stop assuming that the SUV cut me off on purpose. And, you know, it's been pretty nice. I've found myself a lot less irritated in general, and found the world an easier place to be.

And since this has been better for my soul than yoga (I'm not a bendy person and yoga generally just makes me feel old and fat), I thought I might try extending it to the public, political arenas I travel in.

I know that there are Conservatives and Republicans out there who operate in good faith. I know that even if I think their politics are wrong, it doesn't mean that they're mean or stupid. I've tried to be aware that the quickest path to ideologue is the assumption that all opposing arguments are de facto without merit.

But let's take a look at this quote from today's Rush Limbaugh Show today:"

I want you to remember, it took [Obama] three days -- three days! -- to respond to the Christmas Day fruit of ka-boom bomber ... He comes out here in less than 24 hours to speak about Haiti ... [later in same program] ... they'll use this to burnish ahhh their, ahhh shall we say, ahhh credibility with the black community, both the light skinned and, ahhh, hmmm ... dark skinned black community ...

I was going to let this pass without comment, because I didn't want to use this horrifying humanitarian crisis to shore up a political point of my own. But, I feel like I really want to say something about that, and that is this:

It is time for conservative party leadership to start acting in good fucking faith. For Mitch McConnell or President John "bomb bomb bomb Iran" McCain to to stand up and say out lout that vile, toxic, racist, and stupid politicization of EVERYTHING is wrong and bad for all of us.

But, I won't hold my breath for that one. Instead I'm going to make a paltry contribution to the Red Cross disaster relief fund. If I were a praying woman, I'd pray. But I'm not. Besides, I think my $25 is probably more useful.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today in Stupid

I'm having a really stupid day and I seem to be unusually unable to deal with it and move on. So, I'm going to indulge in a brief rant.

Mark McGuire fessed up to the whole steroid thing. Let me react with all the eloquence I can muster up from 4th grade: no shit, Sherlock. Of COURSE he was juiced up. What I don't get is why we're supposed to care so much. I was there in '98. We had a blast and we all knew they were juicing. Anyone who claims to be surprised that Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds and their late 90s arms of Suddenly Impressive Hugosity were juicing is either hopelessly naive or lying.

And yet across America people are expressing the same kind betrayal that you might find from the Beave if he'd learned in midlife that Ward had kept a piece on the side (ask your parents... or maybe your grandparents).

You know what would be just tits? If we as a society could have been just as betrayed, you know, when we learned about those fictional weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking of stupid American society: it's an established truth that nothing makes a wingnut happier than pissing off a liberal. So, lookit liberals: if we keep letting Sarah Palin piss us off, she's going to keep poisoning our atmosphere. Stop feeding the troll. From this moment forward, I shall speak of her no more. No matter how hilarious or delicious the gossip is. I'm swearing off Sarah Palin. You should too.

And get over the steroid thing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's Time to Educate the Guys

I was out walking the dog on this pretty winter morning, listening to This American Life who dedicated the whole show to America's Number One Party School. One of the producers starts talking to a couple at a frat party. The guy says "I'm just trying to get her drunk so I can take advantage of her." Ha ha ha. Boyswillbeboyscakes.

The phrase "take advantage of" needs to be excised entirely from our vocabulary when we're talking about sexual contact.

Which reminds me of a certain Ask Amy column.

Dear Amy: I recently attended a frat party, got drunk and made some bad decisions.

I let a guy take me to "his" room because he promised that he wouldn't do anything I wasn't comfortable with.

Many times, I clearly said I didn't want to have sex, and he promised to my face that he wouldn't.

Then he quickly proceeded to go against what he "promised." I was shocked, and maybe being intoxicated made my reaction time a bit slow in realizing what was happening.

We were soon kicked out of the room by the guy who lived there, who was pretty angry.

I guess my question is, if I wasn't kicking and fighting him off, is it still rape?

Response from Amy Dickenson:

Were you a victim? Yes.

First, you were a victim of your own awful judgment. Getting drunk at a frat house is a hazardous choice for anyone to make because of the risk (some might say a likelihood) that you will engage in unwise or unwanted sexual contact.

Notice how blithely Amy conflates "unwise" with "unwanted" sexual contact. Let me run down three situations:

Situation One: You got drunk and went home with an ex-boyfriend who's probably going to think that this means you want to get back together and that'll be a whole big thing you have to sort out. That's unwise.

Situation Two: You got drunk and said no and the guy put his penis inside you despite your objections. That's rape.

Situation Three: You got so drunk you were incapacitated and some guy put his penis inside you. That's rape.

Since girls first started going to parties and boozing it up with the boys, we've been told to avoid putting ourselves in a bad situation. We educate our girls on how to avoid these "bad situations." Don't drink too much. Don't wear slutty clothes. Make sure you have a buddy to keep an eye on you. Make sure you don't get raped because if you do, sorry, honey, that's just what happens when you put yourself in a bad situation.

And what happens when we don't focus the same (or any) energy on educating our boys? We end up with college guys who operate under the dangerous notion that it's possible to "take advantage" of a girl without raping her. So let's educate our boys on this one simple fact: you're either having sex with a willing partner or you're raping her. There's no gray area. A drunk girl can say 'yes.' She can be a willing participant in her own unwise sex.

I can't help but think that if our boys were educated to the same degree about this issue as our girls, the problem would be alleviated. It's hard to fathom that a guy wouldn't alter his behavior if he understood that he wasn't being "ungentlemanly", he's being a rapist.