Thursday, September 30, 2004

Mars/Venus: Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder

NEW YORK (Wireless Flash) -- This is some pretty weird news: Only two percent of the world's women consider themselves beautiful.

That's the ugly truth of a new survey by Dove soap which asked ladies around the globe what they thought of their looks.

Only two percent of women describe themselves as beautiful, including three percent of American ladies and six percent of Brazilian babes.

By comparison, not one Japanese woman surveyed considers herself "beautiful" while 43 percent use the term "natural," and 26 percent say they have "average" looks.

Other stunning stats from the pretty poll include....

-- Nine percent of women arond the globe -- including 20 percent of British women -- claim they are "attractive."

-- Eight percent prefer the term "feminine"; seven percent say they are "good looking"; and seven percent will call themselves "cute."
-- Finally, only two percent of women describe themselves as "sexy."

Short Story Long: Why does the author think these results are "weird"? Aren't they to be expected when you consider what media messages are sent to women about what beauty is and what men find attractive? I don't know a single woman AT ALL who would ever say, "I am beautiful, d*mmit!" and actually, in her core, believe it to the exclusion of all other messages being sent to her. More often you hear, "I'd be beautiful, I guess, if I had bigger boobs, longer legs, better skin, longer hair, thinner thighs, [insert name of non-Maxim-ready body part here]." Women don't feel beautiful, as a rule, because they don't publish men's magazines with photos of women who look like them. It is impossible to measure up to what the media (and let's be honest, gentlemen) the subscription numbers for those magazines and web sites tell a woman what standards she needs to meet to be beautiful.

Those results are really not confusing or weird at all.

Political: Karl Rove is the Prince of Darkness

Just in time for the debates, yet another example of the integrity and honesty of the Bush Campaign:

Karl Rove: 'We've Got a Couple of Surprises' for Kerry

"We've got a couple of surprises that we intend to spring," Rove told ABC radio host Sean Hannity while explaining that he intends to wage an aggressive campaign no matter what the polls show.

"It's 34 days [till the election] and that's a long time in politics, and when you get complacent you lose," the top White House adviser said.

"We've got to stay on the offense. We've got to continue to press the battle onto the turf that they won in 2000: the Pennsylvanias, the Michigans and the Wisconsins and Iowas and Minnesotas and New Mexicos and Oregons.

"And we've got to make sure that we lose none of the close states that we won in 2000 - Florida or Ohio or Colorado or Nevada or New Hampshire.

"And you've also got to have a couple of surprises - and we've got a couple of surprises that we intend to spring."

Smorgasbord: Little Minds

Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister and erudite dandy, once said: "Little things affect little minds."

If that is true, then I have a teeny-tiny mind. Why? Because the following things bug me: (feel free to comment with your own!)

--White shoes on anyone but kids on Easter, nurses, or 60+ year-old men
--Idle rich celebutantes like Paris Hilton
--People who lick their fingers before flipping through papers, dollar bills, etc.
--Austin Powers impersonations now that it's been 8 years since the movie came out
--White people who say "bling bling" in a serious fashion
--Old Navy commercials
--"Enlarge your p*nis" emails
--The use of "-gate" to describe any and all political contretemps, whether relevant or not: Irangate, Filegate, Travelgate, Whitewatergate, Rathergate. Next journo to use "-gate" gets sent to Gitmo
--People who say "Gitmo"

Short Story Long: People who say pseudo-witty things like, "short story long."

My Crushes: Old Sailors

{With my co-author Jennifer}

Just spent an evening in Annapolis with my girl Jen. If you have not yet visited Annapolis, you must go. It is beautiful! Boats, water, history, politics, naval midshipmen: Annapolis has it all. It is a town that takes both its sailing and its politics seriously. Where else can the word "plenipotentiary" appear on a sign and the residents know what it means?

Anyway, Annapolis' has more strangely attractive older sailors per capita than anywhere I've ever been. Nota bene, Jen and I are not talking about either the strapping young Naval Academy darlings or the punk-a** young guys smelling of Bay Rum and swilling Mount Gay like it's going out of style. Nope. We're talkin' 'bout hot weathered old salts who've still got it goin' on.

Short Story Long: There is something ineffably appealing about aging sailors, and with that in mind, Jen and I submit for your approval and input:

The Definitive List of Hot Older Sailor Attributes

1) All clothing made of salted, sunbleached fabrics.
2) Shorts worn year-round regardless of temperature or precipitation
3) Leathery but touchable skin
4) Permanently "sun-kissed" nose and ears
5) Baseball cap worn perpetually to cover thinning hair...and prevent scalp burn
6) Toned, fit legs under an ample "post-regatta" beer belly
7) Nicknames like Skipper or Cap'n
8) Habit of using terms like "hoist," "trim," and "at the helm" in non-sailing contexts
9) Can still give a run for the money in a race even when bending over to tie their shoelaces is sometimes a challenge
10) Ballast, baby! Ballast!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Political: Unsafe at Any Altitude

Denver Post

This nugget from the Denver Post states that federal investigators were able to slip weapons and explosives past TSA security checkpoints in our nation's airports. Still. Which raises the most obvious question: Who Is Going To Lose Their Job For This? Which brings us to the most obvious answer: No One. Which ought to tell you something about whether it is safe to fly from American airports.

Just recently I was flying back to DC from Boston Logan Airport. You recall Logan Airport, right? The origination of two of the planes on September 11th? Yes, the airport from which 50% of the hijacked planes departed. The head of the agency overseeing Logan lost her job, the TSA took control of security, and you can now fly out of Logan with total confidence, right? WRONG!

On my way through security--and I sh*t you not about this--the woman checking my ID and ticket was sitting in one of the terminal chairs ON HER CELL PHONE talking to her kids!! She got up, at least, to "look" at my ID, but at no time did she take her attention away from her telephone conversation. And the second she had grunted something like "uh huh" to me, she went back to her seat and kept on chatting on her cell.

Most distressing about that whole exchange is that none of the other "security" people seemed to notice or care! I don't know about you, but in my job I have a boss who would pretty much fire me point blank if I interacted with a client while chatting on my cell phone during work hours. And the brazen way in which she was completely comfortable with how it was going down just made me insanely angry. Wouldn't it be such a great gig to have the freedom to go to "work" defending our nation's airports and yet still be able to act like you're at home? Where is the oversight? Where is the standard of (not even Excellence, but of) basic minimum Not Sucking at your job? Of staying off your d*mn cell phone while making sure I'm not a terrorist?

We wonder, even after reading the 9/11 report, how men with terrorist ties and concealed knives could have gone through security unnoticed. After my most recent trip through Logan Airport, I wonder no more. Whether handled by Argenbright Security or the US Government TSA, your security is only as good as your weakest link. Unfortunately, Logan Airport has weak links in spades.

Short Story Long:
Don't be afraid to fly. But don't delude yourself for a second that the individuals working the security areas are more concerned about your life than they are about their own. Until heads roll publicly, mercilessly, and swiftly, the best we can hope for is that this lady's kid won't need homework help via cell just as the next Mohammad Atta is boarding his flight.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Smorgasbord: Live Like You Were Dying

Not to bring everybody down--and in fact, to hopefully bring some spirits up--it's time to talk about livin' right.

At services on Saturday the rabbi talked about How To Die. As he began, I could feel myself feeling uncomfortable, like, "oh no, this is going to be maudlin and cringeworthy and people are going to start crying..." But as he offered his thoughts on dying--and living--he really nailed an important concept that most of us do not think about.

In a sermon that deftly mingled Jerry Garcia, Woody Allen, a beloved congregant's passing, and country singer Tim McGraw (not your usual Jewish holiday fare, to be sure, which is why the rabbi rocks), the rabbi reminded us that to die well, we must live well. If you knew that you only had so long to live, what would you do differently right now-today-this moment? And, that being the case, why aren't you doing it? Especially since none of us knows when our number is up. Think about that question. Would you call your kids for no reason to tell them you love them? Would you embarrass your teenage son with a big fat hug at the mall? Would you quit your soul-destroying job and finally follow your dream career? Would you kiss your wife in the middle of the Safeway Aisle 10 just because? Would you tell her how beautiful she is even if you don't feel like being mushy? Would you make peace with someone with whom you are fighting? Would you forgive old hurts and move on because time and energy are too precious to waste on harboring anger? Think about all of the ways you would live differently if you knew that you were dying.

Now go do it. (Um, okay, you can finish reading this first)...

My worst fear beside spiders, clowns and public restrooms is having regrets. The thought of lying on my deathbed--or worse, careening into the ocean at 500 miles an hour from 15,000 feet, alone on a plane on a business trip--and thinking "oh my god, does he know I love him? Did I tell him recently?! Why didn't I eat the d*mn dessert and quit worrying about measuring up (or down) to societal standards? Why didn't I laugh more instead of being cranky?" You can think of your own questions that would be in your mind at that moment. And you can see why it's so important to live like you were dying.

I was sick a few years back. And not to make this all about me, (oh wait! this is MY blog! It IS about me!) but I seriously thought a lot about the world without me in it. What I would act like/sound like/be like as I was leaving it? Would I be brave? Would I rage against the dying of the light? Would I pretend nothing was happening and that everyone should go about their business as usual? Would I try to protect my parents by having them believe that I wasn't scared at all--so that maybe they could feel less scared? Would I smile for everyone who visited, but cry myself to sleep at night? Would I have said everything I needed to say and done everything I needed to do?

At that point, the only thing I could control in my life was my own attitude. I felt like I was on a speeding train and couldn't get off, and was hoping with every molecule (and stem cell) in my body that it would arrive safely at its destination. We were hopeful, we were optimistic, but we were also keeping it real. And "real" meant a 35% chance of dying, and a 50% chance of living but being heavily disabled by complications to the point of making living unbearable...or short-term.

So, in my usual keep-it-close-to-the-vest way, I wrote my own eulogy one night in the hospital at 2am. Put it in my journal and told one or two people where to find it "in the event of...". Friends, you have not lived until you have written a few words to be said at your own funeral. More unhappy you will never be. When you start. But by the time I finished, I realized that I had said almost nothing about myself in the entire thing. I had written 4 pages both sides about each friend and family member, what each meant to me, and things I wanted them to know. And I realized that it would be such a waste of emotion and of life to have them hear these things only when I was gone.

So I started writing letters to my friends, or calling them, or emailing them, whatever. And I told every one of them what they meant to me, and that "if things don't work out" they should never wonder about their impact on my life to the good. I felt full-on cheddar cheesy doing it, but I don't regret it. Because, honestly, should your humble author here get hit by a bus or spontaneously combust or shake a vending machine till it falls over and crushes her in her caffeine-desperate state, she has no fears that there are things left unsaid.

I have plenty of things left undone; that was never something I felt good about; that if today was the end would I be okay with having achieved what I've achieved. Definitely not. But, does everyone I love know that I love them? Yep. Does every person who has made me who I am know that they are the giants' shoulders on which I stand? Yep. At the risk of being proven wrong later, I can only say: Mission Accomplished.

Short Story Long:
My affairs are in order. I live--and love--like I was dying.

How about you?

Religious: Got Atonement?

I got mine!

Ladies and gentlemen, Jews and Gentiles, countrymen: If you must fast for 24 hours while standing in temple in a nice outfit thinking about elements of your person and your life which need a radical rewrite, you simply MUST have the right Rabbi on the case. There is simply no reasonable alternative. Without the right guy (or girl) at the helm, it can all go real wrong real fast. At least for me....

I'll spare the lovely man of god in question any inadvertent association with my Daily Drivel here, but should you require a rabbi, you call me and I'll give you the 411.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Political: Jimmy Swaggart: Queer Eye for the Hypocritical Guy

Renowned adulterer and liar Jimmy Swaggart takes "jokingly" violent exception to the cardinal sin and disgrace that is two people in a committed, faithful relationship. He then commits the further deadly sin (at least in the Potter house circa 1990) of offering the lamest, most insincere non-apology in the history of the world (except for my personal favorite from my senior year of high school: "if you and Dad were saddened and disappointed by me going to the beach instead of going to school, and then lying to you about it, then I offer my sincere apology that you felt that way.") Much like the Reverend Swaggart's "noa culpa" below, mine was not accepted and a sound a**-kicking rightfully ensued.

Enjoy for yourself:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart apologized Wednesday for saying in a televised worship service that he would kill any gay man who looked at him romantically.

A complaint was filed with a Canadian broadcasting group, and Swaggart said his Baton Rouge-based Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has received complaints from gay groups over the remarks made on the Sept. 12 telecast.

In the broadcast, Swaggart was discussing his opposition to gay marriage when he said "I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry."

"And I'm going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died," Swaggart said to laughter and applause from the congregation.

On Wednesday, Swaggart said he has jokingly used the expression "killing someone and telling God he died" thousands of times, about all sorts of people. He said the expression is figurative and not meant to harm.

"It's a humorous statement that doesn't mean anything. You can't lie to God - it's ridiculous," Swaggart told The Associated Press. "If it's an insult, I certainly didn't think it was, but if they are offended, then I certainly offer an apology."

Short Story Long: Honestly, Jimmy. You have nothing to fear. No gay man has ever seen YOU and wanted to get married.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Religious: Gettin' High for the Holidays

Yes, it's that time of year again. The Jewish High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah, which is the New Year, was last week, followed this coming weekend by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. We call these the Days of Awe, days when we are to look inside ourselves and resolve to do better next year. We are to make amends, offer forgiveness, ask for forgiveness, and in general, resolve to be better people.

Maybe it's indicative of my inherent and intransigent habits, but every single year I find myself asking for forgiveness for the same stuff. And they are always as follows:
I will listen more and talk less.
I will not judge well-meaning people. (This includes myself).
I will assume that every individual is doing their best before I get snitty about bad service, slow service, long lines, commercial ineptitude, mommy not hugging me enough, whatever.
I will take better care of my friends and loved ones.

Every year I think, "well, hell, it's only 4 things! I can do THAT!" And every Yom Kippur I am asking forgiveness for all the times in just the last year alone that I didn't do it. Any of it. And then I feel bad--for not being a better person on the one hand, and for single-handedly upping God's recidivism rate year in and year out, on the other.

The other thing I feel bad about on Yom Kippur is that I'm supposed to be approaching the entire affair in a prostrate manner; I should be throwing myself on God's mercy, falling on my sword for having said all those nasty things about other women's horrible shoe choices, and other guys horrible girlfriend choices. I should be doing it the right way, but the truth is, America, that all I can think about on Yom Kippur is FOOD.

As you have guessed, Yom Kippur is a fast day. No eating from sundown the night before till sundown the night of. Even though it is one measly day out of my life, the combination of putting on a nice outfit, sitting in temple, standing in temple, sitting, standing, sitting, standing, standing, standing in temple, and thinking about all the things I need to do better next year (if there IS a next year!), I cannot make it through the day without committing every single one of the Top Five sins I listed for you at the beginning of this entry.

I will listen more and talk less.
Nope. I'm barely listening, I'm so hungry.

I will not judge well-meaning people. (This includes myself).

Why can't I focus? Why can't I pay better attention?! Why am I so ruled by my stomach?

I will assume that every individual is doing their best before I get snitty about bad service, slow service, long lines, commercial ineptitude, mommy not hugging me enough, whatever.

My blood sugar is low, and the next person who looks at me funny is going to be met with a certain lack of Southern charm.

I will take better care of my friends and loved ones.

All I can think about is ME, MY hunger, MY fatigue.

And then it happens: you hit that point of the day when you all of a sudden no longer need food, and in fact feel like you are floating and food would only bring you down. Your prayer is a bit more fervent. You sing with a bit more feeling. You look around you and hope sincerely that everyone else is doing okay and that their upcoming year will be a sweet and happy one. You don't care that your--and their--halitosis is raging. You are just happy to be there, and feeling lucky to have such loving, supportive people with you. And you begin to feel like a better person already...

Short Story Long: 24 hours of insane hunger reminds me that I am fortunate to have food every other day of the year. To Do Better Next Year: Be More Charitable.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Smorgasbord: My Best Friend's Wedding

My dear friend Carol got married this past weekend. A huge milestone for her, and a huge milestone for her friends. At the risk of sounding like my mother, I feel compelled to say that the entire affair was "lovely." I hate that word on the grounds that I am 30 years too young to be using it, but "lovely" it truly was. The bride was radiant. Carol always lights up a room, so that was par for the course. But seeing the doors to the sanctuary open and seeing her in her gown, holding her father's arm, beaming and looking so beautiful, I had to get that thing out of my eye that was making it water...because, again, I am 30 years too young to be crying at weddings. ;)

Some parts of the reception seemed to happen in made-for-TV slow motion. At one point, I was sitting between Neil and Jon and JMW, looking across the table at Julie, Nicole and Jeff, and beyond them at the center table, the bride and groom, and I just felt my heart swell. Everything went slo-mo, as I looked at each person and consciously made the decision to Remember This Exact Moment forever. I felt so very blessed and so very happy to be there, with these friends, at this time, in this place.

The groom was charmingly nervous before--and charmingly relieved after--the ceremony. The mother of the bride looked fabulous. And, most delightfully, the father of the bride was deliriously happy at the reception, as all fathers-of-brides ought to be.

Seeing Carol's dad having such a good time after being so pensive and quiet before the ceremony made me think about the peculiar burden of the Father of the Bride. As a daughter, sister, and even a future mother, I have no inkling of the specific responsibilities of The Father of the Bride. Okay, I guess I have an inkling in the sense that my dad was an awesome dad. But at the moment of a daughter's wedding, I will never be able to truly fathom what the dad must feel. My dad said it is the hardest thing a man ever does: to walk his baby girl down the aisle--the little girl he has rejoiced over and worried over and sweat blood to protect and love and educate and keep safe from dirty-minded 15 year old boys--and put her hand in the hand of the man to whom he now entrusts that baby girl's life, fortune and sacred honor.

No matter how much Dad likes The Guy, no matter how close Dad has become to The Guy, no matter how many beers Dad has had with The Guy, he still must literally and figuratively join his daughter to The Guy at the wedding, and therefore relinquish a significant element of his role in his daughter's life, at least as he understands it.

So with that in mind, I want to toast my beautiful friend and her wonderful husband, and I want to give a big, fat portion of respect and love to Carol's dad, who not only graciously gave his daughter's hand in marriage, but showed us all how to "play that funky music, white boy" on the dance floor!

Mazel Tov!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Political: Let's Hear it for Hanging Chads

Anyone else nervous about this?

Short Story Long: Somebody call Jimmy Carter. Once again, the veracity of the US election results is in jeopardy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Political: B*tch Set Me Up!

D.C. Council, Ward 8, Democratic
Updated 9/14/04 10:25 PM ET
88% Precincts Reporting
Candidates Votes %
Marion Barry 2,413 61%
Sandy Allen * 902 23%

Cue the biblical weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth among every person who DOESN'T live in Ward 8: Marion Barry is going to unseat Sandy Allen to become Ward 8's member of the DC Council.

I am incredulous. Totally incredulous. You move to DC, you tell yourself that things are different now, that no one would ever be stupid enough to go back to the dark days of Marion Barry. And then the unthinkable happens. And you wonder how anyone--ANYONE--could be so stupid as to think for one nanosecond that Marion Barry gives exactly one rat's a** about them or their struggles. The man is unemployed and in need of a job with a decent salary, which the Council provides. THIS is why the District of Columbia has zero credibility with our Congressional overlords. THIS is why we have among the highest per-student-cost ratio in the entire country--and yet we have a third-world education system that drives the flight of middle class citizens with children above kindergarten age. THIS is why a show like "The District" is still on the air even though it is a big pile of doggie poop. Because we get the leaders--and the living conditions--we deserve.

Short Story Long: I feel like I am living in The Matrix. I am Neo. Marion Barry is Agent Smith. And he keeps cloning himself so that he cannot be destroyed. I look out my window, in my newspaper, on my TV, and there are thousands of cloned Marion Barrys trying to beat the tar out of me so that I cannot find my way back to the Oracle. As evidence I submit the following quote from the movie:

Agent Smith: "Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world, where none suffered; where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world we dreamed, but your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why The Matrix was redesigned to this...the peak of your civilization."

Welcome to The Matrix, DC.

Smorgasbord: I'm a pimply-faced 32 year-old

I need some help, ladies. Am I the only one who is breaking out regularly at the age of 32? I thought the dark days of zits were behind me back when I stopped wearing high-top reeboks, wearing two pairs of socks on the outside of my pants, getting giddy about Simon Le Bon, and thinking that Slippery When Wet was one of the best rock albums ever made. Oh wait...I still think SWW is one of the best rock albums ever made...

Irregahdless! (my favorite Massachusetts nonsense exclamation). I hit 31 and the zits started creeping back. And now, as I round third base in this, my 32nd year, I am once again tackling an overabundance of comedones. It is so embarrassing. I feel like one of the geeks in 16 Candles; all I need is some headgear and a desire to see Molly Ringwald's "underpants" to make the transformation complete.

I used to work remotely for a company based in Charleston, SC, which I visited about 4 times a year. Without exception, I had a chin zit EVERY SINGLE TIME I went to Charleston. It's like it would sprout specifically in honor of the occasion. So, to this day, if you were to ask one of my former colleagues to describe me, they'd probably say something like "petite, blond, energetic woman with perma-zit on her chin." Niiiice.

Short Story Long: Ain't puberty a b**ch?!

Political: KOTV--Keep Out The Vote

I forgot to tell you about the other outrageous comment I heard at the GOP convention in New York City. I was speaking with someone about the importance of registering people to vote and getting them to the polls. To which the guy replied:

"No way. We're Republicans, and we are all about *depressing* turnout. By their very nature, registration drives register mostly poorer Democratic voters. So when fewer people vote, Republicans win. And what depresses turnout? Negative campaigning! It's our silver bullet every time." See what you can find out when you pretend to be a rich sorority alum who thinks poor people are just lazy? {I eagerly await the 5am call from my agent telling me about my Emmy nomination announced by television eminence grises Sela Ward and Kelsey Grammer.]

Short Story Long: Apparently, "GOTV" is a four-letter word in the GOP. And apparently, it appears that I am not in the running for even an Emmy nomination, much less the award itself, because of the minor technicality that disqualified, that I am not actually on the television in a legitimate program at this time. Hair splitters!!!

Perhaps I could protest to the IOC and Debra Messing will be forced to give hers back and give it to me?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Political: Dick Cheney, My Protector, Guardian and Savior

Read this:

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Vice President Dick Cheney says the United States will risk another terrorist attack if voters make the wrong choice on Election Day, suggesting Sen. John Kerry would follow a pre-Sept. 11 policy of reacting defensively.

"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney told supporters at a town-hall meeting Tuesday.

Democrats reacted quickly.

"Dick Cheney's scare tactics crossed the line today, showing once again that he and George Bush will do anything and say anything to save their jobs," said a statement issued by vice presidential candidate John Edwards.

"Protecting America from vicious terrorists is not a Democratic or Republican issue and Dick Cheney and George Bush should know that. John Kerry and I will keep America safe, and we will not divide the American people to do it."

If Kerry were elected president, Cheney said the nation would risk falling back into a "pre-9/11 mind-set" that terrorist attacks are criminal acts that require a reactive approach. Instead, he said Bush's offensive approach works to root out terrorists where they plan and train, and pressure countries that harbor terrorists.

Friends, Americans, Countrymen. What further evidence is required to convince reasonable people that Bush/Cheney have gone off the rails? Can I remind the esteemed Vice President of the Halliburton States that 9/11 occurred when HE and GEORGE W. BUSH were at the helm?!!! After having received the now-famous memo from August 2001 read by Condi at the 9/11 Commission entitled, "Bin Ladin Determined To Attack Within United States," and doing nothing but heading to Texas to golf, we are supposed to believe that we are safe in the hands of Geo Bush??!! Hellooooooooooo?! These guys were asleep at the switch! And now we have to entrust them to save us from another attack just like they did in September 2001? Not freakin' likely, kids.

If you read the 9/11 Commission report, it will curl your hair. George Tenet told Condi Rice in July and August of 2001 that, QUOTE: "the sytem is blinking red" and that an attack was imminent. And so GWB went to Texas, the FAA was given some kind of minor warning about maybe something happening, the government didn't connect any dots between known terrorists entering and re-entering the US over the course of that summer, airline security didn't stop 19 foreign men from carrying knives onto airplanes in the multiple trial-run airline trips they took...shall I continue???

The Bush Administration did not give a rat's a** about protecting American lives before 9/11. Otherwise, John Ashcroft would not have told Richard Clarke that he "didn't want to hear any more about" potential terrorist attacks. The President would not have ignored his Daily Briefing as titled above. And he would not have started a war in Iraq when all the evidence points to Iran and Saudi Arabia's complicity (or at the very least, turning a blind eye) in the attack, which has now claimed upwards of 1,000 American lives and has not made Americans safer.

Short Story Long: If you buy Dick Cheney's blatant attempt to scare you, then you deserve the leaders you get. And that would be fine, except that the rest of us will have to live under this regime with you.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Political: My American Flag is not "ironic"

Had a weird experience at my local coffee shop yesterday. I have this really cute tank top that is american flag-esque. Red and white stripes on the bodice, with blue/stars piping and straps. Totally cute. And if I may say so, I make that flag look gooooood, yo. ;)

So I'm ordering my usual (small skim capp; extra dry), and the woman behind the counter tells me she likes my shirt, to which I reply, as you would expect, "thank you!" But I no sooner have the "" out of my mouth than she says, "I love the irony. I'd wear one too if I could wear it upside down." I had no idea what she meant, so I just nodded and smiled and said something noncommittal. It didn't really register till later what she was getting at, and when it did I was really angry. Like, Zell Miller angry. Okay, maybe not THAT angry. Maybe closer to Ann Coulter angry...

She was thinking that I wear flag shirts like Ashton Kutcher wears trucker hats, ie, as a way to poke fun, to appropriate some element of the demographic without actually being a part of it. Obviously I am not the average soccer mom who wears my santa claus/reindeer Christmas sweater, Halloween pumpkin light-up earrings, and July 4th american flag shirt because they are so gosh-darn festive. But I'm not wearing a shirt reminiscent of the flag because I'm trying to deride or disrespect it. It really upset me because she seemed like a cool enough person, but it was just such an unnecessary potshot at patriotism that truly served no purpose. Like somehow to be liberal I have to think the flag is stupid? Or that the flag represents something evil? Can't I both be a liberal AND feel kind of teary-eyed when I see a flag waving and the national anthem playing?

Short Story Long: I am of course going back to my coffee shop tomorrow. Wearing my Rage Against The Machine shirt. Which I will tell her is "ironic," since anyone who bathes regularly and does not wear hemp knows that they s*ck.

Oooohhh--cue the outraged emails from lovers of both Ann Coulter and Zack de la Rocha. I can't wait.

Smorgasbord: Feelin' Cranky About DC Tourists

I live in DC. I love DC. I love that I live in the nation's capital. I love that families and school groups from all over the country and the world come to experience the amazing vistas and the patriotic lump in the throat that only DC's monuments and sights can provide. I feel it every day when I walk to the end of my street and see the Capitol dome. I have always promised myself that I will leave DC the precise second that I no longer feel that flutter in my heart whenever I walk past a monument in the course of my daily, pedestrian business. If you stop feeling lucky, you become one of "those" people who are here to take rather than give. Jaded people should not live or work in DC, contrary to popular belief.

Having said that, I'm about to embark on a rant. About tourists. So the above paragraph can serve as my disclaimer, okay?

I live in fear every day that a tourist will walk in front of my car, fall into the metro tracks, or just plain find some mindless way to ruin their vacation. They are CLUELESS. It's like, "okay, kids! pack up your clothes! But leave your brains behind!" I cannot count the number of times that I have been driving on Independence Avenue (the very busy and very "main" street between the National Mall and the FDR Memorial), my light is green, my moving vehicle is clearly visible---and yet entire families and tour groups will saunter out into the road as if traffic has never existed in DC or Massapequa or American Fork or Salem or Bemidji or wherever the h*ll they are from in the first place. So I'm honking my horn as I slow down, ie, "hellllloooooo! Main thoroughfare! Your 'Don't Walk' sign is illuminated!" and they sort of stop, stand in the middle of the street, and look at me as if I ought to stop and let them go ahead. They just look puzzled that there should be traffic right here in the middle of this main, 4-lane road! "Traffic?! Right here in River City?!! But we're on vacation! There's no traffic on vacation!" IT makes me CRAAAAAZAZZZZY!

Same on the Metro. The train doors--as the announcement says--"do not reopen." But every single solitary time a bunch of tourists tries to enter en masse, at least one schmo will get him or herself stuck in the door and have that terrifying 3 seconds where they think the train is about to leave with their backside hanging out the door. Luckily the drivers look down the platform before heading out, and the trains will not operate with doors open or else the Metro would be like Thunderdome: two idiots enter; one idiot leaves.

Short Story Long: I love that tourists visit; I love taking photos for them as I walk by them at the Supreme Court building or wherever. I am always friendly, maybe as a reaction to the prevailing belief outside the beltway that those of us inside it are jerks. But I just truly live in fear that I am going to witness the untimely demise of some poor schmuck from Terre Haute outside the Library of Congress, and now that that streets are closed for Homeland Security Reasons, the ambulances will not be able to get through the roadblocks and he is gonna bite it at the hands of some punk-a** hill staffer's BMW. Or worse, the ambulances WILL get through and he'll be taken to a local DC hospital...

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Smorgasbord: Literally. All-You-Can-Eat-Buffets

Went out to dinner with Mum and Dad tonight. My sister, bro in law, neices and their friend came along too. Guess where we went? One of those Hometown Country Lubys Buffet places. For those of you unfortunate enough to never have experienced an all-you-can-eat buffet, these places are like big cafeterias where you go park yourself at a big ol' table and just walk up to the many and various "stations" and bring back whatever food you want for dinner. Then you go to the big stack of plastic tumblers in those big dishwasher racks, grab one, and fill yourself up some A&W root beer before you sit down and strap on the feed bag.

They have a pretty good salad bar, along with all manner of the most breaded, fried, and refried food items you have ever witnessed under one roof. So when I go with the Parentals, I usually get a salad and a side of the mushy rubbery heat-lamped french fries. And then a small cup of soft serve no fat fro yo. I'll maybe have one or two bites of something naughty, but for the most part, I pretty much try to not have a shrimp/clam fry with baked beans, mac and cheese, with cheese bread and roast beef and white rice on my plate at the one time. UNLIKE EVERYONE ELSE THERE!

Now, don't get me wrong. There is no character more miserable than the Healthier-Than-Thou purist who sees food as a metaphor for self-control, social status, whatever. I happen to come from a proud Scottish background that entailed eating animal organs, buttery potato products, preferably fried, and in general looking at any food item and wondering, "could we fry this? I bet that'd be tasty!" So, eating crap food is in my genes. It's just that there is something so disturbing about seeing one person eat it ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Like, to have a plate as described above, with potatoes and rice and roast beef and shrimp and beans and mac&cheese all at the one time, and all piled high, just kind of grosses me out. Especially because you know that if that person was at home making dinner they wouldn't cook rice and potatoes, roast beef and shrimp. So it's almost this environmental, situational, lemming-like eating behavior that I can almost feel myself succumbing to when I am there (oooh--that carrot cake looks good, but so does the cookie. Maybe I could try both...). It ain't pretty.

Short Story Long:
I had no point in sharing this except to say that heat-lamped french fries are a crime against nature.

My Crushes: Yep. President Clinton

My sister called me today with the news of President Clinton's impending heart surgery. Why is that remarkable? Well, because not many family members in the public at large call other family members to discuss the health of a former president, do they? Such is the iconic place of President Clinton in my life.

I first met him at a rally in Connecticut when I was President of the Connecticut College Democrats (that's "connecticut college" democrats, not Connecticut "college democrats." See what I'm sayin'? Don't want any fact checkers getting all wee-wee'd up about me pretending to have presided over the entire state of CT. geez...) He could barely speak from his legendary, ongoing hoarseness on the campaign trail, the "meeting" was a hand touch and a smile/nod from him. Not a moment that has held any significance for him at all; we can all bet the farm on that. But for me it was electric. I truly believed that he had the power to change America for the better. I believed in his essential good nature and his genuine desire to do right by working people in America. He embodied hope for the future in my 21 year-old mind, and set me on the course toward politics as a field of study and career.

The next meeting was when I was a chubby junior in college interning at the League of Women Voters in DC, the summer after his inauguration. It was the first time the League had been invited to the Rose Garden since Jimmy Carter had been in the White House. I have the photo captured by the White House photographer, and it is not unlike the one that was shown ad nauseum of a young Billy Clinton meeting President Kennedy. Except that I'm really fat in this photo. And I have absolutely heinous-looking hair. Not to mention that I hadn't figured out at that stage of my fashion development that 90 degree days and linen dresses do NOT mix if you don't want to look like you rolled out of bed and ran through a garden hedge to arrive in the Rose Garden for the President and First Lady. Oh--and not to mention that I have THE DORKIEST look on my face during the fateful handshake. So if I ever run for office, you can be pretty sure that photo will not be getting any airplay if I have anything to do with it.

That day rocked my world. Both he and the first lady came around and shook everyone's hands, said hello politely but clearly had the looks of people who did not know who the hell you were, as one would imagine they wouldn't. By contrast, I knew more about Bill Clinton than I'm sure he has ever been comfortable with, courtesy of various and sundry "media" outlets during the campaign. I looked at him with the eyes of recognition, and it was so weird in the moment to look in the eyes of someone you know so much about (superficially, albeit) and to have him look back at you and know nothing about you. There are few experiences in life where you are meeting someone who is not on the same general level of knowledge as you are at the time you meet, and it was wiggy. But the thing that struck me, and that embarrasses me to admit, is that all I could think was, "wow. He's so tall." It was very reassuring in a weird way. He also had a fantastic handshake, unlike John Ashcroft's limp-wristed, sweaty offering which is a whole other blogaration that I will share forthwith. Anyway, I felt then, and always felt, that we were in good hands as a nation with Bill Clinton at the helm.

Later on, my brother became a police officer. His first job was as a result of the Clinton administration's fulfilled promise to put more cops on the streets. My brother is now a detective (picture Sipowicz if you need the real mental image of him!), after a stellar career on the beat, where he took a bullet, lived to tell, and also saved a few people's lives. My brother was there because of President Clinton. The people he saved are here because of President Clinton. Whatever your opinion of Oval Office bl*wjobs, you can't argue with a president who actually CREATES real jobs for real people.

Short Story Long: Obviously, this little trip down Esther's Fat Photo With The President memory lane is precipitated by the news that BC will undergo the surgery and that some Republicans on yahoo message boards were saying that they hope he dies a painful death, etc. I cannot even craft a response to that kind of evilminded vitriol. I just can't. But I can send (cause I just KNOW he's reading starspangledhaggis) ;) all of my and my family's prayers for a swift and full recovery.

The Comeback Kid will be back.

My Crushes: Jon Stewart is a National Treasure

There. I said it. Jon Stewart rocks my world. He has all the things I find attractive in a man: good looks, rapier wit, incredible intelligence, approachable demeanor, a certain self-deprecating Jewish sensibility that in reality enhances rather than diminishes his attractiveness...and a successful television program.

In all seriousness, Jon Stewart {on the Comedy Channel of all places} is THE guy on television forcing the "real" media to raise their game. Were I a mainstream journo, I would live in fear of being the protagonist in The Daily Show's "Moment of Zen," in which someone is caught doing something absurd (like challenging someone to a duel, for instance), and it is played on repeat to the audience's derisive peals of laughter.

Jon Stewart is brilliant. His show is brilliant. The writers are brilliant. The politicians and journos featured in his show are not. I wake up every day and thank god that Jon Stewart is on my television.

God Bless Jon Stewart, and God Bless America. ;)

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Political: Faith of My Fathers--John McCain's Sad Act

Click here for EdgarNewt's EndNotes topnotch commentary on a David Broder article about John McCain.

The book description for Faith of My Fathers by John McCain says, "It is a story of three imperfect men who faced adversity and emerged with their honor intact." Would that Senator McCain's honor could survive his recent actions as a member of the GOP. Never has the old chestnut "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" been more true--and more heartbreaking.

(Cross-posted on
John McCain has become Bush's lap dog. His credibility sank forever when he seemed to denounce the Swift Boat Veterans but then ran back to wag his tail next to his Master, the guy who encouraged the ad in the first place--and who did the same thing to him in 2000. Has he not a shred of pride?

If McCain's strategy was to be the much-admired Man in the Middle by talking tough to conservatives while remaining a faithful party member, he has failed miserably. There is not a Republican of the Karl Rove stripe that would put him on a ticket today, or who would shed a tear if he should leave the Senate to the care of the "real" Republicans. And, after his sad, desperate performance this week as GWBush's shill, there isn't a Democrat who would either.

John McCain is no longer the esteemed Man in the Middle. He is the Crown Prince of Political No-Man's-Land. His lack of discipline makes him distasteful to the GOP faithful, and his sudden display of obsequiousness makes him distasteful to formerly admiring Democrats. This is a man on the downward slide to oblivion. I'm just not sure he has realized it yet.

A sad, sad epilogue to a brilliant and brave military and political career....