As in a tasty mix of talk

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Throw Nancy from the Train

OK, all you tender-hearted Dems who feel sorry for Sarah Palin because you deem the media ridicule of her views as sexist… let’s see you jump to the defense of Nancy Pelosi, now that Republicans are blaming her speech for their failure to pass the Bailout.

I see a double standard here, and it’s within our own camp. Not that we haven’t seen double standards before, but this one plays to my pet-peeve stereotype of women: Nancy opened her big, fat mouth… and said what most of us have been thinking, saying and blogging: Republicans must take the lion’s share of responsibility for our economic meltdown, because they so zealously promoted the deregulation that contributed to it.

If only Nancy would have kept her mouth shut, all those Republicans who backed out of voting in favor of the Bailout would have stepped forward and cast that unpopular vote, saving the financial asses of their constituents, along with yours and mine. But Noooooo… Nancy had to express her OPINION.

I wonder… would Republicans have blamed their failure to deliver the passing votes on a man who gave exactly the same speech? Probably not. Man-to-man, they would have hurled back a few brickbats of their own, then voted exactly the same way, just as they intended to do all along. But they wouldn’t have made the cockamamie assertion that they voted as they did because somebody’s speech hurt their feelings.

By delivering her remarks in an exasperated tone that could be construed as scolding, did Nancy trigger an infantile response to rebel against Mom’s authority… or, at the very least, to blame the woman when that yukky diaper stuff hits the fan?

If you experienced a moment of exasperation that Nancy’s remarks may have stalled your portfolio recovery (I did), look deep, deep inside yourself. There you will find the truth: A Republican Congressman who blames a woman’s speech for his failure to cast an unpopular vote is no different than an alcoholic husband who blames his wife for letting him fall off the wagon.

Remember that train? Don’t throw Nancy from it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Banging the Shoe...

Watching John McCain’s terse, jaw-clenching performance in the first Presidential debate, I couldn’t help noticing his eerie resemblance to former Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Anyone old enough to remember the sixties will recall Khrushchev’s stolid, low-to-the-ground physicality, his box shaped head, and the McCainesque white hair combed over a high forehead. If you count yourself in this group, you will also remember that Khrushchev made international headlines by infamously banging his shoe on a United Nations desk to silence opposing opinion.

McCain kept his shoes on during the debate, but he linked himself to the past as inextricably as old news footage of Khrushchev.

It was as if McCain, before a televised audience, cemented himself to the war in Iraq and therefore, to painful Republican mistakes that most Americans can’t wait to forget. For someone who wishes to position himself as an agent of political change, he couldn’t have been more implacable in his views. Like the old soldier that he is, McCain clings to his fantasy of a conventional victory in an unconventional war, with enemies that appear and reappear like djins, a war that can never be won on a literal battlefield but only on an ideological frontline. The ghost that is Bin Laden can’t be exorcised with a homecoming parade.

McCain’s insistence that we must leave Iraq “with honor” is an ironic impossibility, since we entered this preemptive war on a lie, devolved to torturer mentality in our conduct of it, and have since engaged in magical-thinking warfare to convince Americans that we aren’t bad guys for starting it in the first place.

Even McCain’s references to his POW credentials seemed oddly self-serving… he should let others remind us of what he endured, in the unlikely event we should forget. Again, this reference links McCain to the past, during a time when we need new ideas and fresh thinking to move into a future that is free of dependence on oil, and the ugly wars required to maintain it.

As Americans we must now ask ourselves… do we have the courage to abandon the failed policies of an eight-year Republican betrayal of our values, our economy and our constitution? Or do we want to cling in fear to one of the architects of that betrayal, a candidate who, though a self-proclaimed maverick, refused to look his Presidential opponent in the eye?

He might as well have removed his shoe and banged it on the podium.

Friday, September 26, 2008

On Dali Time...

“Salvador Dali's clocks aren't wrong or stopped or broken. Their active faces slide like pancake batter over edges of a bureau, bend and hang across branches. Adapted to the shape of every object they meet, these clocks announce that there is no standard time in Dali’s universe - nor, as Dali knew - in Einstein's.”

So says Stephanie Strickland on the website

She might have added that there is no standard time in Washington, DC either.

The Bush Administration has had eight years to observe the effects of its decisions on the economy over which it presides. What was that Ms. Strickland said about pancake batter? Yeah, it feels like the most elastic eight years in American history to me, too. And now that Bush is pretending to give a shit about the economy, his corrective plan must be approved by… eight pm tonight?

(I don’t want to hear any more bullshit about how Bill Clinton triggered this mess 12 years ago by encouraging home loans for lower-income Americans. As he pointed out on the Today Show yesterday, that was during a time when there was a budget surplus instead of a trillion-dollar deficit, no war, no recession, and booming job creation.)

But, back to the future, Bush’s legacy to America is an $800 Billion bailout that encases the next president’s feet in concrete and throws him overboard, creating a bleak zeitgeist of loss that will dog taxpayers today, tomorrow, and all the way to end times, immortalizing (and explaining, finally) that smirk he always wears on his face.

Somewhere in freak heaven, Dali is twirling his moustache.

Ms. Strickland continues: “In fact, Dali's clocks are not clocks at all, if we mean bookkeepers that measure unvarying flow. But then the human heart is not that kind of clock either; rather, it …runs concurrently to the beat of several highly variable drummers. When that stops being true, when it runs to no beat… losing some of those long-range correlations that tie it to events thousands of beats into the future, then it is about to die of congestive heart failure.”

Is your heart fibrillating too?

There are no drummers in Washington, unless you count a few bi-partisan bongo players. No one is keeping the beat for millions of American hearts waiting to see what the hell is going to happen to our economy.

Can we have just a little consistency, please? Can we agree to scoop up the sliding clock of this moment in history and set its alarm for tomorrow, or next week, or some other well-reasoned finite point in time by which our bongo-players will have agreed upon the Bailout principles? Can tonight’s debate move forward, giving each candidate an opportunity to beat his own drum, until our national arrhythmia subsides? Dammit, we’re Americans, we INVENTED multi-tasking. If either candidate finds that prospect daunting, let him ask the mother of any three-year-old in America how it’s done.

Tick tick tick…

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Even War Heroes Get the Blues

Poor John McCain.

His ratings in the polls are sliding. The press has been calling him out on his contradictory statements. Palin was unable to provide interviewer Katie Couric with a single example of reforms he has supported. And now his opponent has implied that he is unable to multi-task because he can’t participate in the first Presidential debate and save the economy at the same time.

The economy. You know… the one his Republican party ignored until it crashed. The very same economy now causing Republicans to soil their Depends as they strain to find reasons why Bill Clinton should be blamed for the crisis.

No wonder John has the blues. But hey, he’s a war hero, so let’s cut him some slack. More than we already have, I mean.

When he decides he feels up to the Presidential debate, let’s give Obama a handicap so John will have a sporting chance. Obama can’t flash his radiant smile or make any gestures Republicans might deem charismatic. Obama can’t use the word “fair,” in relation to down-sizing tax breaks for the rich. Obama must say, “I’ll get that stuff and get back to ya,” if asked for details about his health care program.

There, now, John… feeling better?

And by the way, since you’re a war hero and you look like everybody’s grandpa and you’re such a maverick, we’ll make it easy for you to be President, too.

If Russia invades Sweden, you can go ahead and drop a few bombs. After all, how much time do you have left to make a little noise and stir up some dust?

If there is another terrorist attack on the same day the stock market takes a hit, you can go ahead and save the economy again before you follow the terrorists to the gates of hell.

If anything goes wrong in America, anything at all, you can ask Karl Rove for a reason to blame it on Bill Clinton, since he has a database of Bill’s culpability on every issue from the deaths of 4,172 troops in Iraq to the birth of the…blues.

In fact, to show our support, we’ll ALL get the blues… in Florida, Michigan, and in those other states that have suffered from too much red in recent elections.

And we'll all chip in with our leftover pennies to buy you a shiny new cape to wear when you fly back to Washington to save us.

Will that work for ya, John?

If I didn’t know you were a war hero, I’d suspect you were dodging the debate.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bush's Black Hole: Section Eight

If you liked the constitution-crushing powers of the coyly named “Patriot Act,” you’re gonna love “Section Eight,” the black hole of Bush’s proposed bailout plan. In a single sentence of thirty-two words, it sucks the light of reason into its vortex, with a consolidation of power and an abdication of oversight authority so brazen that only the Bush Administration could have authored it. Section Eight reads, in its entirety:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Say what?

Isn’t that exactly how Bush has been managing his trophy war in Iraq? Can you say, “No-Bid Contract?”

Section Eight sets the stage for a staggering panoply of bad deals and conflicts of interest. It will give Treasury Secretary Paulson not just the authority to bail out Wall Street… but to “enter into negotiations with financiers who are key to the political and financial base of the Republican Party.” Like that? Keep reading… “Not only will the Secretary be figuring out appropriate compensation for these people, he will also, to an unknown extent, be deputizing a number of them to carry out a wide range of functions for the government.” (Jason Linkins, Huffington Post)

Joshua Rosner, managing director of economic researcher Graham Fisher & Co. in New York, voices an even stronger opposition to the end-times irresponsibility of Section Eight, saying: “It could be used to mask previous illegal activity."

Oversight and regulations of public contracts are designed to prevent malfeasance, corruption, self-dealing and conflicts of interest in the distribution of federal monies. Here, from, is a brief overview of the Bush Administration's sorry legacy of squandering taxpayer money:

-$142 million wasted on reconstruction projects that were either terminated or canceled. [Special Inspector General for Iraq, 7/28/08]
-“Significant” amount of U.S. funds for Iraq funneled to Sunni and Shiite militias. [GAO Comptroller, 3/11/08]
-$180 million payed to construction company Bechtel for projects it never finished. [Federal audit, 7/25/07]
-$5.1 billion in expenses for Iraq reconstruction charged without documentation. [Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report, 3/19/07]
-$10 billion in spending on Iraq reconstruction was wasteful or poorly tracked. [GAO, 2/15/07]
-Halliburton overcharged the government $100 million for one day’s work in 2004. [Project on Government Oversight, 10/8/04]

-Millions wasted on four no-bid contracts, including paying $20 million for an unusable camp for evacuees. [Homeland Security Department Inspector General, 9/10/08]
-$2.4 billion in contracts doled out by FEMA that guaranteed profits for big companies. [Center for Public Integrity investigation, 6/25/07]
-An estimated $2 billion in fraud and waste — nearly 11 percent of the $19 billion spent by FEMA on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as of mid-June. [New York Times tally, 6/27/06]
-“Widespread” waste and mismanagement on millions for Katrina recovery, including at least $3 million for 4,000 beds that were never used. [GAO, 3/16/06]

-A $50 million Air Force contract awarded to a company with close ties to senior Air Force officers, in a process “fraught with improper influence, irregular procedures, glaring conflicts of interest.” [Project on Government Oversight, 4/18/08]
-$1.7 billion in excessive fees and waste paid by the Pentagon to the Interior Department to manage federal lands. [Defense Department and Interior Department Inspectors General audit, 12/25/06]
-$1 trillion unaccounted for by the Pentagon, including 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. [GAO, 5/18/03]down the Bush legacy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fresh Horses for My Dems!

We’ve had a rough ride during the past week.

On Monday our stock market fell 500 points. Later that day, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin checked under her bed to make sure she had plenty of dry goods stockpiled, in case the Rapture starts early and Republicans head en masse for the haven of Alaska. She also gave the National Guard orders to turn back Democrats and other heathens at the state line.

Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain struck a stately pose and pointed out that the “Fundamentals of our economy are strong.”

On Tuesday President Bush appeared in the Rose Garden to reassure us there was no reason to panic. He stared into the teleprompter, apparently noticed someone wearing an Obama button (insert your own plausible explanation here if you don’t like mine), got miffed and stalked back into the White House without delivering his soothing recommendation to gas up and go shopping at WalMart.

Later that day Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain struck another stately pose and said, with the stern voice of conviction, that he opposed any bailout of insurance giant AIG.

On Wednesday Republican Presidential candidate John McCain reversed his career-long position in favor of Deregulation, explaining we need more regulation to stop Obama from ruining the economy. Then he said that if he were President he would fire Colonel Sanders, the CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Hmmm... does the Deregulation McCain previously supported permit dead mascots to hold CEO positions?

Later that day McCain struck another stately pose (he has three, unless he is campaigning with Palin, in which case he has none) and said, with the stern voice of conviction, that he supported the newly announced bailout of insurance giant AIG.

On Thursday my cable and Internet crashed. Mustering every ounce of intellectual strength to stave off a paranoid fear that Patriot Act goons were trying to silence the righteous howl of my blog, I popped open a bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse and downed it with a box of Christmas truffles I found in the back of my freezer, figuring it was as good a time as any to write a poem about elitism, or at least to get drunk. “McCain has nine houses, not seven,” I wrote. “Obama lived on food stamps and organized the poor in heaven,” I continued. Realizing I was a better drunk than a poet, I passed out.

On Friday morning I awoke to find that my cable was back up, that President Bush has proposed we bail out the stock market with taxpayer funds we don’t have and aren’t likely to pull out of our asses any time soon, and that the stock market was soaring in joyous appreciation. Brokers scampered like geckos up their skyscraper walls to windows they had jumped from earlier in the week, chanting, “Greed is Good.” Well, what would YOU do if your neighbors took up a collection and paid off your credit card debt, your mortgage and your car loans, then dropped that pesky lawsuit against you for stealing Social Security checks from their mailboxes?

Now it’s Monday again.

The dust is settling from last week’s stock market crash (Adjustment, my portfolio!) and the bailout, in the morning sunlight, doesn’t look nearly as good as when we dragged it home from the bar over the weekend. It looks tired and old, like something we’ve seen before… remember the Patriot Act? This, too, was hastily crafted to meet an emergency, and Congress was so pressured to pass it that many didn’t read its provisions.

Now Bush is pressuring Congress to “act urgently” again, and greenlight a bailout that is sloppier than an unwanted sexual advance from Bill O’Reilly: It would give the Bush administration the authority to spend $700 BILLION on the bailout, plus economic intervention powers so sweeping that they have no precedent in U.S. history. The Treasury would be empowered to act unilaterally. No court or administrative body could review its decisions, and once the “emergency legislation” is approved, Bush could raise the $700 Billion by methods not subject to Congress’ traditional power of the purse.

Somewhere in the plan, there probably is also a no-bid contract waiting to be assigned to Haliburton.

So, what strategic watering hole should we head for now?

Should we say, “No!” to the bailout, creating another battlefront in our contentious Presidential race?

Should we make room in the Presidential debate for those who believe the financial crisis was staged, much as they think 9-11 was staged, to distract us from the real issues of the economy, the war and the economy?

Should we fake a heart attack for Joe Biden so he can gracefully resign his candidacy, clearing a path for Hillary to arrive in shining armor on a white steed and save us? (Anyone who can guess the number of friends who have suggested exactly that will win my Bear-Stearns stock.)

Induce a collective medical coma that will last until the morning of November 5, leaving strict instructions to revive us only for President Obama’s acceptance speech? Failing that, should we donate our bodies to medical research in another country, since science will no longer be funded in a McCain/Palin America?

No. Those are loser moves.

Instead, we should stop pretending this isn’t a fight to the death for the freedoms we cherish, because that’s exactly what it is, and devote our time to phone banking, registering new voters, volunteering to drive shut-ins to the polls, and generally behaving like winners.

Innkeeper! Fresh horses for my Dems!

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Know You Are but What Am I?

I don’t want to join the not-so-civil War of the Sisterhood that is now raging in the media and the blogosphere. But the snowballing polarization of women’s views has drafted me into it.

Leave it to the Republican Party to blindside Democrats with their divide-and- conquer coup. Setting aside for a moment the cynical sub-text of choosing an unqualified Vice Presidential candidate on the strategic basis of her sex, McCain has so undermined the woman’s point of view that it is pulling apart like a zygote separating into twins. Which half of the view is more viable?

Sarah Palin apologists claim she is the victim of a “Shock-and-Awe” sexist attack launched by the angry left.


Voices from the Left, Middle, and even occasionally the Right have attacked Ms. Palin's views because she (1) condones the war in Iraq as “God’s Plan” for America; (2) is dedicated to repealing Roe V. Wade and thereby aborting our reproductive rights; (3) does not believe global warming is man-made and wants polar bears removed from the endangered species list even as the ice cap melts beneath their paws; (4) claims to be against earmarks even though just this year she sent Sen. Ted. Stevens, R-Alaska, a proposal for 31 earmarks totaling $197 million, more per person than any other state ( I doubt that a single disappointed Clinton supporter would lend one second of sympathy to Palin if she were a... he.

Would anyone claim that an interviewer had been “mean” to Joe Biden?.

Would anyone feel sorry for Joe if the interviewer uncovered his lack of knowledge about a policy vital to his party’s record?.

Would any members of the opposition party cry foul if Joe were asked to explain his inconsistent positions on key campaign issues?

Palin supporters contend that I and other feminists can’t critique her views, her record and her weaknesses without being labeled sexist. There is no Presidential race in broadcast history that hasn’t examined candidates and their running mates from every angle, including the one normally visible only during a colonoscopy. Why should Ms. Palin get a girl-pass?

I am offended by those who defend Ms. Palin against all criticism and lump every negative observation about her into the Sexist bag… and I am enraged when Republicans pretend they can’t tell the difference between sexism and legitimate inquiry. I agree that remarks such as Bill Maher’s, “Palin thinks the Bush doctrine is a rule against the removal of pubic hair” are sexist. But that doesn’t mean I can’t point out the real issue: Palin didn’t know what the Bush doctrine is. And it doesn’t mean that, once it was explained to her, I can’t recognize the implications of her vehement defense of pre-emptive strikes against other nations. CRITICIZING HER FOR THIS POSITION IS NOT SEXIST.

From exactly what jar of Pablum is the Right trying to spoon-feed us? Republicans are now claiming to have “liberated” women from the “fear politics” of losing our reproductive freedoms, as if such a loss were a preposterous notion. Here, in McCain’s own words, is his position on the choice issue: "If I am fortunate enough to be elected as the next President of the United States, I pledge to you to be a loyal and unswerving friend of the right to life movement." (Statement by Sen. McCain read by Sen. Sam Brownback at the March for Life in Washington, DC, January 22, 2008.)

Before dismissing McCain’s statement as pacification of the GOP base, remember that he: Voted anti-choice 125 out of 130 times in his Congressional career; Voted for the global gag rule, which prohibits federally funded family-planning clinics from giving women full information about their reproductive-health options; Voted for and co-sponsored the Federal Abortion Ban; Voted in favor of anti-choice Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts. Google it and weep, ladies.

Yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulous, RNC Victory Fund Chair Carly Fiorino scoffed that American women are no longer one-issue voters. Meaning, since we don’t have to worry about the “fear politics” of Palin’s position on choice, we also don’t have to worry about her position on, say, the environment. (Palin aggressively opposed the "clean water initiative" on the August ballot in Alaska, favoring instead foreign mining company desires for fewer government regulations controlling their toxic effluent into salmon streams. She has supported oil and gas drilling plans anywhere in Alaska, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the central Arctic, the entire Arctic Ocean, and in fish-rich Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet. Source:

But even more annoying in the She-Said/ She-Said arguments was when, on the same Stephanopoulous show, Ms. Fiorino claimed that Sarah Palin responded to corruption in Alaska by raising her hands and crying out, “Enough!”

I don’t care if Republican candidates appear in the upcoming Presidential debates wearing blackface and touting their community organizing credentials. I don’t care if Democrats and Republicans meet in secret at the end of the day and drink toasts to Absolute Power with human blood in champagne glasses. I don’t care if Obama grabs his fake rubber face by the chin and pulls it up to reveal a green mass of tentacles the day after he wins the election.

The stakes in this election are too high to lose sight of the critical issues: I want my reproductive rights. I want to protect our environment and curtail global warming. I want tax breaks for the working class as well as for the rich. I want Neo-cons to reclaim our national prestige from the latrines of Abu Graib where they dumped it. I want my state and your church to remain separate. And I am much more likely to get one or more of these results with Joe Biden in the White House instead of Sarah Palin.

Does that make me a sexist?

I know you are, but what am I?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Scared Like Me...

Yesterday an otherwise liberal friend confided that he feared an Obama Presidential win might “unleash Black rage.”

Since then I’ve examined this issue from a personal feelings standpoint: Maybe this is one of those racial secrets that simmer just below the tender skin between our collective subconscious and the voting booth. Do millions of Americans fear retribution from Blacks?

Let’s take a leap… If I were black instead of a middle-aged white woman… no, let’s take a bigger leap.

If I were a black MAN, would a President Obama make me feel entitled to avenge the three-hundred-year history of racial atrocities committed against me and my ancestors by burning, raping, pillaging, looting and otherwise expressing my Black rage? Would it be payback time for every White person who has veered away as we passed on a sidewalk, or hastily locked a car door because I was in pole-vaulting proximity to it, or nervously fidgeted while riding alone with me in an elevator?

How would I go about expressing my rage, exactly? Would I jeopardize my family’s security by risking arrest, imprisonment and maybe my life? Would I humiliate my mother and my pastor by creating an ugly headline? Would I tar President Obama and millions of black Americans with the steaming brush of my Black rage? Would I open a new bakery that specialized in selling Blue-Eyed Devil cakes?

I don’t think so.

If I were a Black man the day after an Obama Presidential win, I think I would be filled with joy. When I stopped celebrating in the streets and all the parties finally ended, even in the White neighborhoods, I would return home to my own bed wondering if I were dreaming. I would lay my head down on my pillow and, for the first time in my life, breathe a deep, cleansing sigh of relief that the bad old days were over. No Klansmen would come for me now, not even in my nightmares. The next day I would notice that Whites looked at me a little differently… not necessarily with respect, but with less pre-judgment… and with less fear.

And I would smile and say “Good Day.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Somebody Shoot a Moose!

If Hollywood really marches in lockstep to a Democratic bias, will it PUL-EEZE show us Dems a thing or two about showmanship?

Nobody wants to hear about a health care plan that will save lives and kick the greedy insurance companies in their fat, pampered keesters… we want explosions!

And nobody cares about restructuring income taxes so the privileged rich will have to stop getting even filthier rich with unfair tax cuts that ignore the working majority… we want sex! Illicit sex, if you’ve got it!

And who isn’t sick of arguing over whether or not the surge worked? What surge? What war? What sad roster of baby-faced 19-year-olds who died on Iraqi soil? We want special effects! How about a pale, wrinkled ghost of a presidential candidate who is led around on a leash by his running mate, a former beauty queen who is a dead shot, with her sights set on reproductive rights? It’s OK if she wears glasses, as long as she wears skirts instead of pantsuits.

Come on, Hollywood… show us Dems how to take back the national spotlight! Should we fabricate an outrageous lie and repeat it again and again and again until, thanks to name recognition, it becomes the truth? Should we co-opt the Republican Platform for change and brazenly claim it as our own? (Wait a minute… no good, Republicans already did that.) Should we ask the Makeup Department to put lipstick on O’Bama and Biden? Appeal to hockey moms with a “Save the Pit Bulls” campaign? Sell bumper stickers that brag, “Michelle Can Beat up Cindy?” What, Hollywood, WHAT?

Somebody shoot a moose.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Raindrops on Roses...

I admit it. I bait-and-switched you. Today’s post is not about raindrops or roses or whiskers on kittens… it’s about torture.

Wait, don’t go away! Humor me! For all of us who haven’t written a dark, disturbing poem since our high school genius days, I present the following. Today is my birthday and I’ll write poetry if I want to!


Who speaks for the tortured
Dead, outside cafeterias
Where high school teachers
Write poetry but have
Never bled?

Are the dead well-spoken
Of in the street, by passers by
Who have seen their faces
In photo features but
Forgot them in a week?

Are they mentioned in
The sanctity of our homes
Where other arguments rage
And denial is the only way
To assuage our tarnished hopes?

The tortured dead could tell us
What the reasons were, why
Americans preferred to see them
Naked before they died, in piles
Like Auswitch bones.

They saw how lies multiply
Exponentially, putting hearts
And minds on hold, chasing
Away the last dim lights
That flicker in torturers’ souls.

Who doesn’t want to leave
The tortured dead in their graves,
Move on to new
Distractions, erase the memory
Of Abu Graib?

We want to forget but
Can’t, forgetting isn’t the
Same as not knowing, we
Are subject to history’s judgment
And the vengeful bells still tolling.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Brand New Bag of Jesus

Anyone watching Sarah Palin wrinkle her nose with delight as she busted O’Bama’s balls in her convention speech had to realize that she was enjoying her work and felt chosen to do it... not just by the GOP but by the Supreme Being Himself.

With her feet planted firmly on a bible, she stood her ground like a messenger who has inherited the GOP’s mission from God, and gave her constituents just what they desperately needed: A brand-new bag of Jesus, an opiate for the red-state masses to help them forget that their party and its elected representatives led us into a needless war, ruined our economy, and denigrated our constitution.

Inhaling the euphoria, Republicans are now absolved of responsibility. Washed clean of Guilt. Re-baptized in the fire of moral superiority. And entitled to keep doing whatever God tells them to do with our lives, our children’s lives and our futures.

Yes. Entitled.

All progressive voters have wondered why the working poor so often support right-wing agendas that work against their best interests, ever widening the gap between the poor, middle and wealthy classes. Why are the issues of abortion and gun control and same-sex marriage so sexy that the working poor will take the Neo-Con side against them, ignoring tax cuts for the rich while bankruptcy laws are weakened, minimum wages are undermined and unemployment soars?


The working poor may not have a family tree linking them to the Rockefellers, as the Bush family does, and they may not live on the Right side of the tracks where all the good schools are located, and they may not have the education and social credentials of the tax-advantaged rich, but there is one sense of entitlement they still can enjoy: Being Right, with God on their side.

Never mind that, according to the very bible which the GOP has commandeered as its soapbox, Jesus was a kick-ass radical who disrupted business in the financial district. Never mind that the bible says rich men have the same odds of entering heaven as a camel has of passing through a needle’s eye. The fat cats have opiated the working poor with the illusion that God would rather give tax cuts to oil billionaires than reproductive choices to women.

I have no quarrel with Christians or with women who choose motherhood over abortion. Even Sarah Palin’s child, whose choice in the matter of keeping her baby probably was the only one her family would permit her to make, still had… a choice. That’s the point.

I do, however, resent the one toke over the line euphoria of the non-issue, non-substance, non-change Republican popularity surge. I know it’s hard to find your shoes and car keys, pilgrims, but FOCUS. We have an economy to rebuild… a constitution to repair… Cities to revitalize… Alternate energy sources to invent…Workable health care to wrest from the hands of the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies. That’s a lot of work to do if you’re stoned on the promises of a party whose idea of change is a reactionary politician who has already tried to ban books from a local library, and who would deny an abortion to a 14-year-old rape or incest victim. Sarah Palin has taken and would take these positions again… not just against her own children, but against OURS.

Instead of watching the party lights from afar, and worrying that the GOP’s brand new bag of Jesus will sweep enough votes through the needle’s eye to crash the gates of heaven, let’s sober up and concentrate on returning power to the people.

Don’t bogart that power joint, my Republican friends… pass it over to us.

Friday, September 05, 2008


Can you remember a time in your life when you were so blue you couldn’t pep-talk your way out of the mood, couldn’t convince yourself that everyone is fired at least once in a lifetime, couldn’t erase the image of your lover and best friend doing it doggie style when the elevator door opened, a time when the only plausible exit from your personal hell was to tie one on?

Maybe you lined up shots at a bar. Got shit-faced on medical marijuana. Dropped some X. Whatever. All you knew was that, as the evening unfolded, your life, on this planet, in this universe, began to look and feel and taste and smell and sound… fabulous. That stubble on the bartender’s chin was amazingly sexy… and her jewelry was to die for. The dealer who delivered your drugs was a mathematical genius… no one had ever explained the theory of relativity to you so clearly, and while hand- drumming the theme to Jaws on your coffee table, too. The stranger you met halfway through the night was the soul-mate you’d been searching for since middle school, with a noble brow, charmingly receding chin, and one or two cold sores that you could easily kiss around, if only you could remember where you saw them.

Finally, having accomplished your goal of forgetting your troubles, your brain synapses wasted from transmitting all those pleasure signals, your higher cognitive functions exhausted from all that suspension of disbelief, you found somebody’s bed and crashed in it.

And then. A drum roll. A cymbal clash. The next morning in present time. You wake up.

There, tangled in the sheets with you, is your Grandpa and the high school counselor who suspended you for smoking in the restroom. They are naked.

Get used to this level of oh-shit remorse. After the intoxicating confetti of the GOP convention has been brushed out of your hair and off the air waves, after the euphemisms about everyone joining hands and closing ranks and fighting the enemy have stopped echoing, after the communal tears over sad stories about POW camps and the crash of ‘29 and the Bubonic Plague caused by Bill Clinton have dried, we are going to ask questions. Like:


What about health care, kindly white-haired gentleman?

Ma'am? You know all that oil and gas you say is in Alsaka? Didn’t we used to have oil and gas in Texas? Didn’t it eventually dry up? Yes, Ma'am. I’m sorry, I know I have a bad habit of thinking instead of praising the Lord. By the way, what’s that shade of lipstick you’re wearing? Pit Bull by Estee Lauder? Yes, Ma'am, I know I shouldn’t try to lure boys, and it’s my own fault if I get pregnant, and I will go to hell if I don’t stop using my Sonicare to masturbate. Uh, Ma'am? How did you know about that?

Kindly white-haired gentleman, do you promise on a stack of bibles that Dick Cheney will move out of his secret bunker in the White House basement after the election? Oh… as soon as his gun collection is crated up? I guess that’ll be OK, then…

And one more thing, Sir… what should I do about this pink slip I got yesterday? Move to India? Jeez, I am so dumb… if I were prouder of America, I might have thought of that myself.

Are you laughing yet? You shouldn’t be. The GOP has just side-stepped eight of the most dismal years in American history with a glib, rosy, untrue depiction of how it will change America with no plan, no hindsight, no foresight, and no insight.

How will you feel when you wake up the morning after our upcoming election?

Don’t count on undoing a polling-place mistake with a Morning-After pill.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Skirting the Issues

The GOP harumphed in advance of Sarah Palin’s convention speech that she didn’t have to appear knowledgeable or experienced… all she had to do was make viewers like her. I watched. I listened. But, like her?

It is said that, as a small child, Einstein was terrified by the spectacle of goose-stepping soldiers. With a child’s intuitive awareness, he feared that only harm would come from anything so relentlessly synchronized.

I leap in advance of potential critics to acknowledge that I am no Einstein. But as I watched the inexorable 1-2-3-4-5-6 punch of Ms. Palin’s scripted remarks, I felt the hair stand up on my neck: I am plenty smart enough to recognize a politician skirting the issues.

1. I don’t like it that Palin skirted the issue of our imploding, Republican-ravaged economy by threatening that O’Bama will raise taxes while McCain will make the economy all better and cool and good again. Somehow. (Never mind that Senator O’Bama’s proposed tax increases do not apply to 95% of taxpayers. Remember, Palin doesn’t have to be knowledgeable.)

2. I don’t like it that Palin skirted the issue of our nation’s torture-damaged moral credibility by sneering that O’Bama is …”worried that someone won’t read ‘em (accused terrorists) their rights.” The explanation for this may be, as she stated in her speech, that she is “always proud” of America. I can’t help wondering… how proud did Sarah Palin feel when she saw the photographs of sexually humiliated Iraqi prisoners at Abu Graib, with leering American soldiers pointing to their genitals?

3. I don’t like it that she skirted the issue of America’s health care crisis with an empty promise of being a friend and advocate for parents of special-needs children… empty because the GOP has never, will never, won’t even pretend to ever, consider a national health care system that would benefit these and millions of other children.

4. I don’t like it that she skirted the vital issues of choice and women’s reproductive rights by parading her family before the cameras and lining them up on stage, as if… wink-wink, nod-nod… their sheer number was sufficient comment.

5. I don’t like it that she skirted the issue of our catastrophic need to develop green energy alternatives by paying lip service to “solar, wind and geothermal” options (wasn’t that a 70s rock group?) while making the absurd claim that we have enough oil and gas in Alaska to become independent of foreign oil producers, in this or any other lifetime.

6. But most of all, I don’t like it that she skirted the issue of McCain’s probable extension of a right-wing agenda by claiming, as if describing how Jesus suffered on the cross for our sins, that the torture he endured in Viet Nam means that there is “only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you.” Not so. Endurance is admirable, but it is not the only way to fight. Organizing to empower the downtrodden poor may be a punch line in Ms. Palin’s routine, but it is a courageous effort on behalf of Americans, dignified by real grit without the need for mythologizing.

Like Sarah Palin? She is the hypocritical GOP version of a Trojan horse. If we welcome her through the gateway to political power in this election, we will watch as she unleashes the inevitable outcome of her one-sided, narrow views, as she champions the rights of the Right while ignoring… or harming… those who wish to grow in different directions.

As for my coy reference to the way Ms. Palin skirted the issues, I point out that Hillary, who was narrowly eliminated as a Presidential candidate, never skirts the issues… she wears pant suits.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Republicans Just Wanna Have Fun...

OK, all you Democrats having hissy-fits because John McCain appointed a scene-stealing beauty queen for his VP… don’t you know that Republicans just wanna have fun?

By planting Sarah Palin’s glowing peach of a face next to his, McCain isn’t just flipping a fun-loving bird to concerns about a 72-year-old cancer survivor in the White House. Since Sarah makes him look like even more of a reanimated cadaver than he already does, he's gambling that America will get the joke that Sarah is way more interesting than all those dumb economic issues that threaten us. Let’s all wave a flag and dance the two-step!

And my goodness, even if we don’t feel happy, can’t we at least act as if we are? Let’s stop reading into the somber, heart-breaking expression on Bristol Palin’s face as she stands before the cameras, her pregnancy concealed by a baby brother and a big blanket, that she might be feeling lost and confused. Let’s stop wondering what on earth that poor, exploited child might have been thinking. Get with it… who cares about one pregnant girl’s happiness when everyone is onstage having so much fun, secure in the knowledge that everything happens for the best in this best of all possible worlds?

Just get over it, Dems, that McCain has a woman VP candidate and we don’t. Let’s all be good feminists and support Sarah because she has a vagina. Let’s ignore her 2006 statement that she would oppose abortion even if her own child had been raped, because she always “chooses life.” And isn’t it lucky that her abstinence-only sex education views will likely result in so many more of those lives, as demonstrated by how well abstinence deterred teenage pregnancy in her own family? And holy cow, Democrats, let’s not make a federal case out of it because, at the time Governor Palin made her comment, Alaska's rape rate was an abysmal 2.2 times above the national average and 25 percent of all those rapes resulted in unwanted pregnancies.

And just shut UP, you Hillary supporters who feel insulted that Palin has a shot at the White House without having supported any of the feminist issues to which Hillary Clinton devoted a lifetime of talent and passion. What are you… humorless bra-burners?

Admit it, you wimpy Dems... plenty of our relatives, neighbors and coworkers have cockamamie views, which we tolerate and wouldn't dream of challenging. What's the diff if the leaders of our country also have some wacky views... like, global warming is a natural occurrence that has nothing to do with pollution of the atmosphere and our assault on the ozone layer, that creationism should be taught in public schools as an alternative to science, that polar bears should be taken off the endangered species list, etc. etc. Are you scared because leaders whose views defy logic are in a position to legislate and control our lives? Then, lighten up and do what Governor Sarah does... deny your human vulnerability... board that plane even though you have already started labor... and become what every patriot adores, a cowboy... or cowgirl. Yee-Haw!

Join the Republican fun-fest and get happy, Democrats. Through sheer genius and force of will, the Republicans have generated a blizzard of speculation to distract voters from the past eight years of scandal, stupidity and outright larceny perpetrated by the Bush administration. Wow! How fun is that!

Let’s all lower our expectations… sharpen our shit-swallowing skills… and practice ignoring the real issues facing the world, our nation and each other. Otherwise, we might have to ask ourselves… did we really think this election would be a day at Disneyland? Did we really think the moral corruption of the past two Republican terms would just go away after November 8th? Did we really think we wouldn’t have to face the Republican steam-roller and fight to take back America?


Quote of the Day: A feminist does not support another woman because of her sex, regardless of her views; a feminist supports another woman because of her views, regardless of her sex. – Pat Kaye