Monday, December 13, 2010

The Politics Hiatus Continues

I've cheated, sure. A couple of times. I've hovered over an RSS feed to get the scoop, I've perked my ear up as my husband watched Rachel. But, for the past week, I've not obsessed over politics. And it's been very illuminating and liberating.

My pal, Paul, from over at Near Earth Object (an excellent blog, by the way), is considering taking a hiatus as well. Regarding my last post, he writes:

"However, where Meg is wrong is in her implication that our politics might not actually result in everyone she loves dying or the planet exploding. Those things really could happen, thanks to our political system! I mean, we can’t get START ratified!"

And, of course, he's right that these things really could happen. But where I think he's wrong is: same is it ever was. If Mrs. Weasley could leave the Potterverse, her clock would always be pointing at "in mortal danger" for everyone. The Sword of Damocles is never not hanging over our heads. The world literally could end at any minute. Economic devastation is always right around the corner. And it's always been that way. Security is an illusion. But a nice one. It's why I think people believe in God and Sarah Palin (oh, I'm sure I pissed off a lot of people there.... I kid, I kid!)

Paul and I are of like minds in so many ways, but we have, I think, one difference: he thinks things are worse now than ever. I think they're just about the same but we know a lot more. Who's to say who's right? But I think we live in unique times that are also entirely like every time ever before. Unique in that we have so many channels for information. We no longer rely on the stentorian tones of Walter Cronkite to tell us what to think. We now have voices upon voices interpreting every event. Not unique, in that it's about the same scary shit that's almost always happening.

One of the things that Jon Stewart said during his rally that really resonated with me was "when everything is amplified, you can't hear anything." I'm taking this break because I found myself at a point where I felt assailed by the information and opinionating and the goddamn wearisome snark.

Politics matter. As the late, lamented Molly Ivins said, they are part of the warp and woof of our lives, and we have an obligation to understand what's happening in our world. But we are assailed with information, from all sources, with interpretations upon interpretation of that information until it gets to the point where it's almost impossible to find any perspective. And so, I walked away. After the New Year, I'll come back. But, until then, it's going to be all mystery novels and Christmas specials and Star Trek recaps. And I think that's OK. For a while.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Hiatus

So, I've now been 1.5 days into my politics hiatus. I get scarily obsessed with it from time to time and start to believe that every thing that happens has enormous consequences that will result in everyone I love dying and the planet exploding. I wake up in the middle of the night worried over things I cannot control. The 24 hour news cycle is bad for all of us. Really bad.

Additionally, I've grown weary of the snark. I used to love snark. But the internet is festooned with snark of the worst kind; artificial, trite and overdone. 99% of the political snark on the internet is to genuine satire what Precious Moments or "Love Is" are to genuine sentiment.

I'll come back to politics. I think it's important to know what's going on and what with the hysterical partisanship of the country these days, it's easier to get the whole story from the intertoobz than it is from the "impartiality is reporting what each side says and not bothering with analysis or fact checking" traditional media. Also, I love it. But, for a week or so I'm steering clear. I need a break. I'm sick of politics and I'm sick of snark.

But I could NEVER be sick of the internet.

So what to do? If I'm avoiding my political blogs, what do I read while I'm eating my lunch? And this happy afternoon, I have made the awesomest discovery. There's this fellow named Zach Handlen who is recapping Star Trek: TNG over at The Onion's AV Club. And he's doing it in a way that's thoughtful and entertaining, but not particularly snarky. And if anything invites snark, it's Star Trek. But I, like so many, unabashedly love it. And this Zach Handlen guy is writing to those of us who love that show. So this lunchtime, instead of growing increasingly irritated by a preponderance of "cave" puns made by people who know they swiped that pun from somewhere but are still devoted to the idea of their own cleverness, I sipped my Diet Coke, ate some soup and revisited the question of Wesley Crusher, who was such a problematic character. Didn't you just hate him? Except for those times he was awesome? Or when you felt really fond of him?

Lunchtimes have gotten so much better, it didn't really matter that my soup was kind of gross.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I Suppose I Could be Missing Something...

But between DailyKos reccing 10 diaries a day that include the word "cave" in their title and a 10 minute jaunt into The Ed Show, where he seemed desperate to get Alan Grayson to say Obama "capitulated," I find myself both frustrated and flummoxed.

I get fighting the good fight. I really do. But I have little doubt had Obama refused to give into the GOP demands to keep throwing our tax money at rich people, the end result would not be Senate GOP-ers deciding to go ahead ahead with Obama's tax plan. Rather, it seems far more likely to me that they'd be perfectly contented to let taxes go up on everyone, let unemployment benefits expire for millions of Americans, and watch the economy and jobless rates go down and up, respectively. In then, in two years, they'd be rid of Obama. Which is, after all, their admitted end game.

Obama may have a messaging problem, but if you really think that just a little bravado would get us what we want with the senate as fucked up as it is, and with a GOP willing to filibuster literally every piece of legislation that Obama wants (even the stuff they suggest), then I think you're nuts. Noble, maybe. But nuts. Probably just nuts.

Much like health care, this is a shitty deal. But it's better than nothing. And nothing is exactly what you get when you go all "my dick is bigger than yours" with the nutbars running the Grand Old Party. Because they just don't fucking care. They have one goal and one goal only.

To that end, if Jesus Christ himself were sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office, and had a D after his name, Jim Demint (who's really running the party) and his cronies at Fox would find a way to make him out to be a godless gay socialist nazi. The government branch that gives cover to Demint and his ilk are where you need to focus your rage. In the meantime, the 5 million people who'll get an unemployment check next month are probably grateful as a motherfucker that Obama dealt.

As am I.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Teaching Our Girls

I blog about this topic kind of a lot, since it's near and dear to me. But, just to catch you up, when they asked if we wanted to select a gender before getting our adoption referral, I knew I wanted a girl. I felt like I had so many things to teach a girl and that I really wanted a daughter. I'd feel guilty about specifying this except I don't. Fortunately, Don didn't care either way and was happy to agree to this.

Of course, your confident passion on what to teach your daughter gets a little shaky when you've actually got one, when all your philosophies and theories have to meet practical application. But it's a topic nearly always on my feminist mind.

First of all, enough enough enough with the "standing on the front porch with a shotgun" thing. I've already ripped on the whole notion of the overprotective father as some kind of adorable metaphor. It's worth saying again, though, have some confidence in your daughter's judgement and afford her some agency. And never think it's cute to accept a rape culture as just the way men are wired. They aren't. Have some respect for your gender, dudes. Honestly, it kills me that feminists have the reputation of man-haters. Clearly, the biggest man-haters out there are the people who market beer. We feminists like men, and demonstrate that by not expecting them to act like addlepated fuckwits.

Here's another one, though, that's been quite on my mind: teach your daughter that it's not her job to be sexually appealing. It's nice to look nice. It's nice when other people think you look nice. But it's time to rid our girls of the notion that their primary obligation is to look good. Yesterday, I read comments on THREE separate blogs about how old-looking or poorly dressed Hillary Clinton is (one of which charmingly referred to her as "fatarse."). Sarah Jessica Parker will have to address "aging in Hollywood" in every fucking interview she does. But her husband, former teen heartthrob, will never be asked that. That Beer in Hell movie, for the love of the FSM, got made!

Praise your daughter for being smart, for being funny, let her be weird and don't obsess about her hair (I'm having SUCH a hard time with that one). Don't raise her in an environment where you mock and marginalize women who don't fit a heteronormative (and increasingly impossible) idea of what a woman should look like. Raise your girls so that if someone makes fun of how she looks, she'll feel confident enough to let it roll off her back.

You know that mean girl thing that we hear about so often, the slam books and the blithe tossing about of "bitch" and "whore"? They learn that shit somewhere. Probably not from their parents (except for maybe really awful parents). But it's rife in our culture and when we take on the responsibility for raising girls, we take on the responsibility for teaching them that it's not right and they don't have to accept it. It's a hard ass lesson to teach, when so much in the culture acts against us. But I suspect it's not such a hard one to learn.