Friday, October 29, 2010

future shock! (GOTV!)

Please take a moment to indulge me in a tiny mental exercise.
Close your eyes.
Wait. That won't work.  You won't be able to read my next words.  
All right, then: Don't close your eyes.  Just sort of pretend they are closed, for the purposes of this exercise, and join me as we take a journey in our minds.
It will not be a long journey.  And I promise I'll have you back before the commercial ends.  Or before the boss realizes you're surfing on Kos.  Or before the kids wake up from their nap.  Or whatever.
It's a journey in time.  Come on.  It's easy.  Really.  Just take a Leap of Faith with me and you'll be there.
You made it!  Congratulations; that wasn't so hard, was it?  So, let's see now: when have we ended up?  It's always best on these journeys to get one's bearings immediately. Thursday.  One week from today.

One week from today.
Look around you.  It's only a week away, but are you sure you are in the same world?  I know: it does seem familiar.  The banner headlines on Huffpost proclaiming doom for Obama's entire remaining agenda seem a bit excessively ominous, as usual.  But then the interview with John Boehner in which he is declaring his intention to stall anything and everything the president wants now that he will be Speaker and to open numerous investigations into Obama's actions in Afghanistan and Iraq and for all I know maybe even into the whole birth certificate thing--all sorts of fishing expeditions designed to take congressional time in random efforts to find some excuse to try to impeach Obama--doesn't exactly make everything sound hunky dory.  
And what in the world are we supposed to do with Senator Angle, who is calling a--WTF? press conference?  We are supposed to put up with her insane ravings for at least six years?  Along with Demint, whom we were already stuck with (and who, thank GOD, is not going to get to be the majority leader--they're saying that will probably be Dick Durbin) and Ensign and other already-ensconced GOP idiots, we have Rubio and Rand and Angle with their lunatic fringe policies and me-first, everyone else be damned right wingers like Ayotte and Toomey and Mukowski as well.  
Look: Olbermann is on TV, saying something about how it looks as if there won't be a need for Second Amendment remedies.  So there's that, anyway.  He says that tomorrow he'll have a Special Comment: The Tea Party Congress--When the Mad Hatter Takes Over the Shop.  It sounds like something that would be interesting, but we can't stick around that long.  Wait: before we head back, though...this looks interesting...
The story is about how this horrific result could possibly have happened.  
You see the gist: the right hated Obama for all of the obvious reasons so they rallied the troops against him from Day One, very successfully as it turned out.  This chart says that GOP turnout was much higher than in normal midterm elections.  But what is this one?  If the Dem turnout had equaled the GOP's in percentage, we'd have swamped them?  All we had to do to avoid Speaker Boehner, Senator Angle, Senator Rand, Senator Mukowski, etc. was to get fellow democrats to cast their ballots????
Just a second: How many of you are going to cast yours next Tuesday?  
I know you have what you think of as valid reasons.  I know you've been less than perfectly happy with the administration.  I know some of Obama's policies, appointments, etc. have utterly pissed you off.  But FOR CRYING OUT LOUD we're talking about Speaker Freaking Boehner here!  We're talking about Senator Sharron Runs-From-Press No-Abortion-Even-When-Raped Revolution-Every-20-Years I'm-A-Certified-Loony Angle here!  We're talking Rand Paul!  Ken Buck!  We're talking guys who think it's cool to dress up in Nazi uniforms.  We're talking about ceding these nutjobs control of our government!!!
No, no, no, NO!  This is not the election to sit out in protest.  Look around you!  This is NOT the world you left a few moments ago.  It is already beginning to change.  It is already feeling more paranoid, more frightening.  In fact, I'm feeling more frightened just being here.  We have to go back.
Come back.
Open your eyes again.
Oh wait.  Right.  You didn't close them.  Well, then, open them wider.  Look hard.  See the mess that is about to happen.  
And get out and vote on Tuesday.  And get everyone you know to do it too!

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Monday, October 25, 2010

cutting off our noses

I click on the Huffington Post front page this evening and am treated to the following banner headline:
'DON'T TAKE US FOR GRANTED'  Will It Get Better? Gay Voters Consider Staying Home...Alan Cumming: Obama Has Done 'Diddly Squat' For Gay Rights
And my first thought is this: Sure.  Why not?  Why should gay people be the sole members of this American society who are immune from the current rampant epidemic of Teh Stupid?
Honestly, people, when it is nine days in front of a midterm election and it is possible that the complete imbeciles and jerks who led this country to the brink of a second great depression and would gladly wipe out every single social advance of the 20th and 21st Centuries will be swept back into power by a public voting against their own economic interests in an election fueled by anger at the economy, I freaking give up.
Has this entire country lost its collective mind?
    This election should have been a total cakewalk.
    We have a president elected on a populist platform who immediately set out to do--guess what?--pretty much what he was elected to do!  In fact, according to, of 506 campaign promises, he has already kept 122 with another 236 "in the works."  41 others have been compromised on, 82 have been stalled, and only 22 have been "broken," but most of these are items with first year time limits that still are likely to be completed in the first term.  AsSteve Benen pointed out in his Washington Monthly column back in June--long before the Consumer Protection Agency was founded as a part of the administration's latest achievement in financial reform--"President Obama's record of accomplishments, after just 17 month in office, is as impressive as anything we've seen in generations."  
To this we add a GOP in such disarray that it has managed to nominate a host of candidates who are, by any objective standards, simply the worst slate ever produced by any major party in history.  To call them fanatical and lunatic is to risk libel suits by representatives of fanatical loonies.  And this batch of insane chowderheads has continued to make one crazy statement after another after another throughout the entire cycle.  Further, even the actual GOP leadership is joining in the fun, with Boehner and McConnell and Ensign and others competing against each other in a game of Which Republican Can Say the Dumbest Things?  I won't bother to recount them here, though I'm sure that a diary of GOP Greatest Hits of Stupid would go straight to the Rec List (and I do want a call-out, whoever writes it), but honestly: when Orrin Hatch has become the voice of reason for your party, something has gone seriously wrong.
And this absurd Bizarro-World version of the GOP campaigned from the very beginning on two basic premises: first, that it would block Obama from doing anything that it could succeed in blocking him from doing, and second, that--if sent back into power--it would do the exact same things that it did before, when it had power.  You know: the things that drove us to the edge of destruction.
I mean, there is No Way On Earth this should even be close!
But three factors, I think, have mitigated things.
First, there is the incredible power of the only 24/7 political megaphone, Fox Noise, as it bleats its non-stop GOP infomercials to the masses, twisting stories until they are unrecognizable under layers of lies, making things up completely, and ultimately doing even more damage than the utterly unprovoked assault on the Constitution that the Supreme Court made in its Citizens United decision.  And let's face it: any network that is responsible for unleashing both Hannity and Beck on the world deserves a special place in the Broadcasting Hall of Shame.
The second factor is the Democrats themselves, who have behaved like morons during this campaign season, listening to the beltway pundits and the Fox talking heads instead of the people who elected them in the first place and running away from their very strong record of legislative achievement.  Sure, the legislature has been watered down because of the need to appease Blue Dogs and enough GOP senators to pass cloture, but the point is that Obama and this Congress achieved what few--if any--others ever had.  Yet they hide from their achievements and allow the other side to define them as poor.  
The final factor are the American people, who a mere two years ago proclaimed that they understood that the economy was a disaster that had taken eight years to create and that Obama could not possibly solve it in two years or even a single term.  A Wall Street Journal polljust before his inauguration showed 71% approval of the efforts of the incoming executive in readying his economic team, yet 57% believed that the recession could go on for 1-3 years at that point, and another 17% believed it would go on much longer.  We "got it" back then, until the GOP and Fox started their nonstop bleating, and we kept hearing them say it should be over even though it was partly their insistence on tax breaks in the stimulus that slowed recovery down, and we didn't have jobs, so we listened.  Like sheep we followed.  And those who knew nothing or a tiny bit about politics decided to follow their Fearless Leader into Glennbeckistan and Teapartistan and proved once mroe that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  
But it is not only them.  It is us, too.  The Left.  The educated.  The liberals.  Even those of us who allegedly understand how politics works.  We became lost in the starlight that reflected Hope at us, and we Believed that it would all happen at once because we wanted it so badly after eight years in the dark.  And maybe without Boehner's artificial orange glow it might have worked, but he did his job well.  The man is a wart on humanity, but give him that much credit.  And we saw that Obama was being forced to compromise, and that in fact his default game plan was to compromise, and we disliked that after years of a GOP who neer once thought to compromise with us.  But that's just it: they should have.  THEY SHOULD HAVE.  So we are.  And the game plan, if given time to work, will eventually pay dividends.
But...In our annoyance, we are hurt.  Justifiably.  We expected more, and it was a reasonable expectation.  But the man we put into the White House has been making decisions about how to prioritize, what order to do things in, and how to do them.  Some of these decisions piss me off too.  I'm transgendered; I'd like him to be doing more right now for LGBT folks, but still...   We have been hearing it for months now:
Obama has not done enough for {fill in name of liberal interest group du jour}.  We don't think we will be supporting him this November.  That will show him to take us for granted.
No. It won't. There is an old expression for this insane action: cutting off your nose to spite your face. It will solve absolutely nothing.  Do you think for one second that the GOP will care more for your liberal special interest than even the bluest of blue dogs?  THIS GOP?  Because you are wrong.  They won't.  And they not only will not help your cause; they very likely will fight tooth and nail against it.
So go ahead, gay people and all other disaffected left wingers everywhere.  Sit it out.  Or, hey, what the heck: vote for the GOP candidate in your state.  What the heck: if you're going to vote against your own interests, you might as well go nuts.  Then, as you watch the government completely go to hell and your civil rights get legally stomped upon and, should there be another Supreme Court justice to name, yet another conservative added to the mix, you can just smile and say to yourself:
It didn't matter anyway.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

truth and other trivial pursuits

So the folks at my church  gave me this column in our monthly publication and they said: do whatever you want, and I thought: cool, maybe I’ll spend several hundred words placing complicated clues in my article that seem to point to something Really Important if you take the time to figure them out so that people will spend days and days puzzling over them, tearing hair from distended follicles and rubbing already dry skin until it peels off like old cracked corn husks.  I mean, what the heck: people love that kind of crap!

But the thing is that I really didn’t have anything Really Important to reveal, so I was just about ready to give up on the whole thing when I saw a campaign commercial and it occurred to me that it really didn’t matter whether I did or didn’t: no one actually cares in the long run whether you speak the truth; they only care that they think you do.  Or anyway they only care that they can act in a way that makes them believe they think you do.  And that is usually good enough.

Being deep is not a human characteristic.  Neither is making sense.

Too many people spend too much time fighting over which version of The Truth is Really The Truth and they forget that most versions include some kind of message about being kind to each other.  It would all be pretty funny if they were fighting over, say, whether it is ever permissible to eat pastrami on dark rye.  (Absolutely.)  Or whether sea foam green is the new fuchsia. (I’m not quite sure that fuchsia was ever the new fuchsia.)  But fighting over whether it makes more sense that Ultimate Truth was handed down on a bunch of stone tablets or a burning bush or a carpenter who liked to hang around with beggars and hookers or a prophet who was, by all accounts, seriously image-shy, seems rather a waste of good television time.

I mean really: we might have just as easily been handed “The Truth” by a rainbow colored sandpiper or a free-floating chalk drawing or some guy named Bob who lives in a cardboard box near the train station.  Walk around in a dark room with a flashlight.  Every once in a while, randomly point it somewhere and turn it on.  Then think this about whatever you see: that’s The Truth.  Because it will probably make just as much sense as most stories. 

As UU’s, of course, we’re not all that into “The Truth.”  We’re more into the search for it.  Which is sort of cool.   It’s always more fun to look for something than to think you know the answer.  Life is not about the finding; it’s about the searching.  

Harry Chapin said it best:
 “It’s got to be the going, not the getting there, that’s good.”  
And that’s The Truth.

At least that’s what Bob told me when I visited his box last week.

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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and