Thursday, September 23, 2010

GrumpyPants McBloggyHead

I am GrumpyPants McBloggyHead. I may have reached critical mass with American political culture and so I'm gonna blog it out and become TightPants McSleepyHead instead.

Here's how it seems to work for me. The government is Republican-led. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and government coffers are exhausted in the process. A democrat takes over. Suddenly the whole world cares about the deficit. The democrat is thwarted in attempts to make legislation when the the cynical, corrupted punditry goes full barrel into the culture wars. Republicans come back. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Rinse. Repeat.

Obviously we all wish Obama's leadership had been bolder. But dude has accomplished quite a bit. And yet, of course, we all know it could be more.

And this is how it is for us in the reality-based community. We want to celebrate his accomplishments and hold his feet to the fire on his failures. But it is exhausting to talk about Obama in any reasonable terms in America these days because the Republican chatter machine has gone Completely Batshit Crazy. I mean, I expected the culture wars, but this stuff out there makes "Clinton murdered Vince Foster" look almost reasonable. Well, that's not true, but, you know what I mean!

Out there in the ether, Obama is a Kenyan nationalist. He's a Muslim. He's a Communist. He's a Nazi. And, for fuck's sake, dude isn't even particularly LIBERAL!

There are too many stupid things being taken seriously in this country. So, in the interest of alleviating my grumpypants and the sheer exhaustion of modern political discourse, I've decided to make a list of the stupid things out there. The culture wars make us all stupid (I'm actually just being polite there, the culture wars tend to make the righties much stupider than the lefties):

- It is stupid believe that your right to be Christian is in any way threatened
- Is it stupid to believe that you have to deny people the right to practice their religion in order to ensure your right to practice yours
- It is stupid to believe that the Barack Obama is Kenyan, Muslim, Communist, Socialist or a Nazi
- It is stupid to believe that the 1.4 billion Muslims are all terrorists
- Is it spectacularly stupid to believe that Congress should take a vote banning Shari'a law in America.
- It is stupid to believe that Obama is responsible for the deficit
- It is stupider when you didn't care about the deficit from 2001-2008, but think it's a REALLY BIG FUCKING DEAL now
- It is stupid to believe that the only way to protect the sanctity of your marriage is to deny the right to other people to marry
- It is stupid to believe that all (or any) of our economic woes could be alleviated if we kicked out all the undocumented workers and their US citizen children
- It is stupid to blame the problems in America on the powerless
- Racism is stupid
- Homophobia is stupid
- Sexism is stupid

Dear America, stop being stupid.


Monday, September 13, 2010

The American Theocrat

I'm an atheist. This means I'm pretty sure there's not a god. Note that I say I'm pretty sure. These are things that can't be known, you know? What I do know is that my life is more rich, more complete and more satisfying if I live it believing that we're in it for each other. I am an optimistic woman and believe that virtue is its own reward. I'm a connoisseur of kindness. I seek it out like your more crackpot Christians look for Jesus in the burnt toast (but find it a lot more often). It breaks my heart a little that the old John Lennon song has now been crusted over with an uncrackable veneer of schmaltz, since what he was imagining was, in fact, pretty fucking radical. I think, in short, (and I'm pretty sure I'm right) that the world would be a better place if we'd all just give up on god.

That said, all that no-god stuff understood, I can't count on two hands the number of people I love who are Christian. I love so so so many people for whom the teachings of Jesus are profoundly important and provide the foundation for their whole system of living.

And what's not at all surprising? These people love me too. We get along gangbusters.

It should be fairly obvious to any adult person with a couple of brain cells knocking around side by side that we can share the world in a rewarding, fulsome way with people whose system of theology differs from our own. Shit, some of my best conversations are with my Christian cousin (and dear, dear friend) just chewing over how we see the world.

This isn't hard.

This is, in fact, the way most of us live.

Which brings me, laboriously, to the new American Islamophobia. And how the people ginning it up are nothing more than bullies. And I can't stand a fucking bully.

These newly emboldened American theocrats have defined American in this narrow, retrograde way. It's not enough to say America is Christian. America is a very particular kind of Christian. And if you disagree, well then, you faggots, you ragheads, you n*****s and dykes - get the hell out, because you're not really American.

I've had the narrow eye of the Newt Palins in the world staring at me because I believe that women should have agency over their own bodies, because I don't believe that professing faith in Jesus automatically makes you a good person. And I've usually been pretty good with a tacit "go fuck yourself" and moving on with my life. But. This. Is. Different.

Now they've extended their mean, narrow worldview out into places that can't get it. They're spewing their poison in places that don't understand freedom and are painting this whole country (which I love) in broad, bloody strokes as a place that hates anyone who isn't Christian (by narrow definition).

And, it pisses me off. I am sick to death of the bullies. I'm sick of the way they've turned the entire media into a high school cafeteria where they flip the trays over anyone who doesn't kowtow to the notion the head Christian cheerleader and the Christian Quarterback count more. And I'm sick of them speaking lies of my country, lies about who we are, lies about what freedom is.

It's time to start talking louder than the theocrat bullies.

I'm an atheist and a feminist and a vegetarian and a better American than anyone who thinks that makes me less of one.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Holy War, Batman!

My friend, Paul, has asked me to clarify a bit on my repeated claims that Islam is not radical. There are, of course, radical Muslims, radical sects of Islam, etc. But, when I speak of Islam, I'm speaking in the same general terms as if I were speaking of Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Atheism, etc. In these here United States when we see someone walking out of Sunday services, we don't tend to think "I bet they're on their way to murder an abortion doctor" or "I wonder if their 'God Hates Fags' signs are spelled correctly." We tend to assume they're just average workaday normal people.

On the other hand, when we see someone exiting a Mosque, we are evidently supposed to think, "That guy hates me and would happily kill my children in front of me just prior to chopping off my hands and head."

This is a spectacularly shitty injustice. As the president said today, Muslims in America are our neighbors and co-workers. They work in the hospitals where we go when we're sick. They're tellers at the banks where their CEO bosses are otherwise occupied with robbing us blind (another post... another post). I cannot imagine how it must feel to have your way of life so loathed and mistrusted.

Of course, these notions don't spring up whole unto themselves. They get ginned up by people seeking power and attention. For the latter, we have the Palins and the Becks of the world who bear a striking resemblance to Florida Pastor Batshit in that they are willing to shout "terrorist" and "traitor" at anyone, so long as it gets the cameras pointed in their direction.

But, when you're talking about the power-seekers, you need to go full on Holy War. Which brings us to Mr. Newt Gingrich. Newtie, of course, reached biblical levels of hypocrisy and sleaziness in the 90s when he shut down Congress and led the impeachment fight purportedly because the president got a hummer but really, you know, because he could.

Those kinds of shenanigans are almost adorable when compared to his latest foray into the dirtiest sleaze that ever sleazed. This trailer actually makes me physically recoil. The link is to a story in TPM, I don't recommend watching the trailer itself, but it's there if you want to.

At the risk of coming off as a Blame America First liberal (which, for the record, I'm not and which is, furthermore, about as big a group as Florida Pastor Batshit's flock). But it takes a special kind of shameless to claim that we're (this allegedly Christian nation of America) under attack by theocratic Muslims when we're the one dropping bombs on them.

Lookit: I'm going to say this again and again. Newt Gingrich claims he's a Christian. I will do all Christian people the simple courtesy of not assuming that he speaks for them. Contrariwise, we all ought to extend the same courtesy to the Muslims of the world.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Point of All This

Oh, you guys, I've done something to my whole spine. I slept funny a couple of nights ago, but thought I'd walked it off. Then I worked out this afternoon and now I hurt in a straight line from below my left ear, down my back and on past my left butt cheek (what the hell kind of spinal twinge manifests itself in the butt cheek area?). I have to talk myself into moving from any seated or supine position. I think this is what being old must feel like. Shit. I might be old. I'll try some yoga to see if that takes some years off.

But let's leave the butt cheek and move onto the heart of this post: I've been tweeting regularly lately with various attempted witticisms as to how Barack Obama is not a Muslim and that there's also nothing wrong with being Muslim. I thought I'd break free of the 140 character limit and talk about why I'm doing this (and to complain about my sore neck, back and butt cheek).

I'm not kidding myself that I'll change any minds. I don't reckon that some poor simple-minded sap will randomly glance up at his Tweetdeck and suddenly recognize that his pastor is telling him lies and retweet with, "Crp! Btr skp Koran burning!" I don't think that some tea party disciple is going to read my sucky tweets and decide that it's not the Muslims and the Mexicans that are responsible for his economic woes (hint: it's corporate interests and congresspeople who collude with them). I don't imagine that some Ayn Rand devotee will friend-of-a-friend their way to my Facebook status and say "Wait! Maybe if Atlas Shrugged we'd all be better off!"

I do it because it makes me feel better. It's all less scary when I manage to access the underlying hilarity of it all. And, I hope, maybe those of you who inbox me with supportive messages and comment on how you're enjoying my sucky tweets will post some of your own. I don't think it's rude to remind people that the anti-Muslim fervor sweeping this country is poisonous. And, goddammit, fundamentally anti-American. I understand how you might not want to get all up in it with crazy Aunt Lulamae and her 2nd Amendment remedy for them damn raghead terrorists, but maybe if it's fun enough you will. And maybe Aunt Lulamae will wise up and get the idea that maybe (just maybe) she's the pot calling the kettle black.

Lookit: I'm 41 years old and this is the most racist I've ever seen this country. And, folks, I grew up in Memphis, Tn where, back in the 70s, it seemed every third pickup truck had a rebel flag embossed across its back window. But this is worse. And, if possible, stupider. Radio talk show hosts that play to enormous audiences think it's a legitimate grievance that Jay Z can use the n-word and they can't. The former speaker of the house and almost certain GOP candidate for president thinks Saudi Motherfucking Arabia should be setting baseline standards for religious liberty in America. Mainstream Christian pastors speak out in front of their huge congregations and declare Islam an evil religion. These are crazy, racist times.

Still, I'm an unabashed optimist and have little doubt that we'll make our way through this. We have before. But, in the meantime, I have to do what I have to do to keep myself from going crazy. And this is my cure:

My sore neck has somehow traveled to my left butt cheek. Which is weird. Less weird: Islam. Also, Barack Obama is not a Muslim.