Sunday, May 31, 2009

The More Things Change...

I returned late late last night from my 15th college reunion. On the ride home with two other friends (all of us parents, so staying overnight to get drunken silly was not an option) we remarked on how little people change, at least socially. Fifteen years later, and the socially inept people are still socially inept. The kooky people are still kooky. Obviously, many of the party guys have mellowed as they've become fathers. But we realized that our essential natures seem not to have changed. In most cases this is wonderful, because most people are lovely and well-meaning, however eccentric or "normal" or in-between.

In the case of one woman, it's less wonderful, although wildly funny. Let's call her Julie. Julie is a busybody. Julie is empowered by having information about you, not necessarily for the purposes of helping you or supporting you, but just for the feeling it gives her to be in-the-know. She was like this as a freshman, she was like this as a senior, and she is like this 15 years after graduation. And while it is uncomfortable to deal with her, there is something comforting about showing up at an old haunt to find all of the usual suspects there, doing the same damn thing they always did, even if it's cringe-inducing.

Case in point: Julie is not a friend-friend, but we're connected via facebook alumni stuff. I posted a status when John Edwards cheated on his wife: "I think men who cheat on their sick wives are despicable." Not ten minutes later I got an email from Julie inquiring if all was well at home, and that if I needed anything, I should call her immediately. I swiftly reposted my status to say, "I was talking about John Edwards. Duh," then sent her a terse reply that I was speaking of course about public events, and in the unlikely event my husband ever cheated on me, she could be certain that it would not find its way onto my facebook page. Didn't hear back. Why? Because I no longer was a source of juicy information.

Fast forward to reunion where Julie embraces me dramatically, inquires with that pitiful "cancer face" "how ARE you?!" and proceeds to tell me that she has schooled the reunion helper in our dorm on the following: "There is a lady coming who has undergone MULTIPLE terrible challenges; she may be sick or infirm, so whatever she needs you are to do it for her." She says this to me like she's Florence effing Nightingale, meanwhile I am horrified that some punkass kid has been directed to look for the sick and suffering Miss Haggis with all the "challenges." Like, absolutely not how I'd like to have my reputation precede me in the least. I recovered quickly enough to say with a sardonic smile, "Well, let him know I need a manicure."

She then proceeded to pump me for information about my "situation:" "So you must just have the worst time of it these days. Do you have side effects and fears of germs and are you just so scared all the time?!" I was about to get pissed off, but decided to step outside my ego and enjoy the exchange with this nutjob of a woman. "Nope. Life is good!"
"But don't you just feel so scared every day you wake up?!"
"Nope. Life is good."
"But I mean, what do you eat? How are you even here with people? How terrible was the transplant?!"
"Oh, you know, people have been through much worse. Life is good."

I was just the unscaleable wall of this woman's desire to know all the salacious details of my illness. Don't get me wrong. If I felt for one second that she cared about me in the least I'd have mentioned my actual and real challenging side-effects, my ongoing effort to trust my new immunity, all the very normal stuff involved in getting past a transplant. But I could tell she just wanted the gory details for some kind of pornographic pleasure, so I gave her nothing. Which actually became kind of a fun game throughout the day and evening.

By far, the best exchange came in the early evening when she offered that, "Wow. You are so lucky the BBDD didn't leave you. I mean, most guys would be gone, but he stayed. That is so great and so lucky for you." I seriously almost laughed out loud, because the notion that my husband would have left me because of illness is so beyond the realm of reality that it was like her telling me he was an oompa loompa. I answered, "Oh I don't know about all that. I got lucky years ago when I picked him. ALL OF US should be so lucky."

I was horrified she said it, but in the end glad, because that statement revealed why Julie is the way she is. That statement summed up in relatively few words the emotional and social poverty of this woman's life, and it crystallized why she is so involved in the details of others' lives: her default understanding of relationships is so removed from the reality of love and devotion that she's incapable of finding some for herself. Talk about challenged.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The GOP is Loco

Apparently, the GOP would like to continue losing elections well into 2016. How else to explain the mystifying and disturbing response to Obama's selection of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court?

She's a member of the "Latino KKK."
She's a "racist."
She's derisive of white culture for pronouncing her name the way it is pronounced (with emphasis on the -or).
She will perform poorly if "the key conferences are when she's menstruating."
She "was combative, opinionated, argumentative" while serving with judge Sam Alito on the 2nd Court of Appeals. Only, she never served with Sam Alito. She was on the 2nd, he was on the 3rd.

And regarding her statement about a "wise Latina woman" making better decisions than a white male? Read the entire speech here:

But here is an excerpt:
Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

This does not strike me as earth-shattering information. Who you are and the experiences of your life affect your perspective. I grew up eating government cheese and not having a ton of money. That absolutely affects how I see issues; it doesn't mean I wouldn't be able to judge a case on its merits. It simply means I would likely have different questions for the plaintiffs, a different type of BS meter than perhaps someone who grew up comfortably wealthy.

More importantly, note where she says clearly, "I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown."

There is not one controversial note in that speech, as far as I'm concerned. But if the GOP wants to take one sentence and make it the whole issue, then have at it. If the GOP wants to reduce a Supreme Court nominee to the basis of "woman, Latina" with "angry" thrown in there for stereotypical effect, then have at it. If the GOP wants to equate how a person pronounces her name with all manner of "reverse-racist" beliefs, have at it. I'm sure fans of Albert Pujols, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Toni Kukoc assume similar nefarious beliefs about them.

I say the GOP should just keep on havin' at it. After all, I like a Democratic White House.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"We Got No Troubles, Life is the Bubbles, Under the Sea"

Buenos Tuesday, darlings. I hope everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend. I spent mine painting, entertaining visiting family and hosting a birthday party for Bambina, who is turning FIVE. What?!! It feels not so long ago I was taking her to library story times--for which, at 13 months with no ability to sit still, she was too YOUNG. Now, I have a child who can read (and "read" = memorize then repeat) some short stories to me.

Her birthday party represented the largest cave of my life. Longtime readers are well aware of my antipathy for all things princess. So you will be shocked and stunned to learn that I not only hired an Ariel the Little Mermaid princess to come to the party, but that I actually enjoyed it. Besides the fact that she ran the entire party, from dancing to dress-up to limbo to cake-cutting, her presence caused the following to take place:

Ariel: "Bambina, it is so wonderful to be here at your party."
Bambina: Wide-eyed stare of rapture. Turns to me, throws her arms around me and says: "Mama! I love you!!!"

My work here is done. Listen, I know she loves me. We sing each other "I love you" songs all the time. But she NEVER gets all giddy about it. Until yesterday. It was clear that this was her dream come true. Later she said, "Mama, can I tell you something? My favorite part of today was Ariel, because you know what? She was the real deal!"

So I caved. This time. Someone at the party said, "Now you'll have to top this next year." I replied, "Sister, I most certainly do not. She's peaked early. This is as good as it's going to get for her 'til her bat mitzvah." I like to make dreams come true for my child. Don't get me wrong. But I believe deeply in not having every one of your wants met before the age of 60...especially by your parents. I also don't mistake the "I love you!" of a child getting something she really dreamed of with the "I love you" of a child lying in bed at bedtime snuggling. They both count, but the snuggle one counts more. That said, after the couple of years Bambina has endured as the daughter of moi, it was absolutely gratifying to see her being a thoroughly happy carefree child in awe of a magical princess.

But you knew the day couldn't go by without some drama, even if in my head, right? Pet peeve of the year? Parents who bring additional children to a party, especially younger ones. In this case, it wasn't a giant big deal because the mom kept a semi-close eye on the toddler. But just in general I don't enjoy it because a) it's kind of rude to just show up with another child without calling--or is that just me being old fashioned? b) My house is not childproofed for a 2 year old. It's not the fact that something of mine might break since we don't own anything super expensive and amazing, but the fact that I have detergents in an unlocked cabinet, I have open electrical outlets, I have a house designed for a 5 year old who knows not to eat the purell at the entranceway or the beads Ariel has brought for bracelet-making. And c) not relevant in this case, but if we had rented a gym or some other facility, we'd have had to pay extra for additional supervision. A friend of mine had one such gym party where two younger siblings from different families were brought along. This brought the total number of children in the facility above the legal number for one gym attendant. The parents therefore had to pay an extra $100 for the additional staff member required for safety. To the parent bringing the kid along, it's "only one more child." To the parent planning the party, it can mean significant money and hassle. In addition, I did not have a gift bag for her, hadn't factored her into the juice box count, etc.

I think I'm perhaps being grumpy about it for three reasons. First, I was raised old school. I NEVER attended one of my siblings' friend's parties. Never. I was not invited and that was that. My mom would never have dreamed of taking me. It would have been rude--and it would have caused me to miss the lesson that some things are simply not about me.

Second, my best friends have two year-olds that I didn't invite simply because this party was truly geared for older girls: nail polish, makeup, beading crafts, etc. It would have been frustrating for younger kids to be there without age-appropriate activities for them. But then I'm looking at this toddler in my house and thinking, well, hell, I should just have had my actual friends come over with their kids! Kids I actually know and enjoy!

Third, this family in particular makes me crazy. When we arrange a playdate for Bambina and their daughter, the entire family shows up. I shit you not. Mom, Dad, younger sibling and girl. So instead of having a kiddie playdate at my house, I'm now entertaining two grown-ups and a toddler for 2 hours. Who does that?!! Obviously, I have stopped being available for such "playdates" but I remain mystified that it happens. So the baby at the party was just the nail in my sanity's coffin. Although, as the BBDD said, "Hey, look on the brightside: the dad didn't tag along too this time." Which is a good thing, since he routinely insults the moms. One mom had just had a baby, whom she was pushing in a stroller. He asked her when she was having the baby. She replied, pointing to the BABY, "I just had her." He replied, "Just had? Or going to have?"

What. The. F*ck?

Any man with two brain cells knows that YOU DO NOT ASK A WOMAN WHEN SHE IS DUE UNLESS THAT WOMAN IS YOUR WIFE AND YOU ARE CERTAIN THAT THERE IS NOT CURRENTLY A NEWBORN IN YOUR HOME. Furthermore, if you do choose to be a horse's ass and ask, please do not then challenge the mother on whether she really actually has indeed given birth to your standard of evidence.

I got annoyed at him when, on our first playdate [curiously, with only younger sister but no mom], he asked me if Bambina had a Chinese accent.

Again: What. The. F*ck?

I looked confused and asked him what he meant, in that, "You SO do not want to continue down this road with me" tenor. He kept going! "I mean, she has an accent. I don't always understand her, so I'm thinking it's because she speaks with a Chinese accent." Bear in mind, this man has a thick accent himself. I told him that Bambina has articulation issues (she goes to speech therapy to help with her S and CH and TH sounds--basically any sound that requires you to blow air out while saying it, she stops the air. So S is D, CH is T. She is vastly improved and will most likely no longer need therapy by the end of this year). You'd think after that explanation he'd stop, right? Wrong! He maintained that it was maybe that, but more likely a Chinese accent. I then answered, "You're kidding, right? She has never spoken Chinese. She was 9 months old when we brought her home. How could she possibly have a Chinese accent?" He gave me that look like, "Okay, don't get all upset even though we both know your child has a Chinese accent." GAH!

After dealing with this family, I simply pray that I do not engender these types of feelings in other moms, like, "Oh God, Bambina and Susie have a playdate and THAT MOTHER! Agh! I can't take her!" I'm hoping not. If so, maybe I'll hire Ariel to come with me. Then I'll look forward to their giddy embrace and emphatic, "I love you!"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bush/Cheney "Kept Us Safe"

...if you don't count 9/11.

HELLOOOO?!! How can Dick Cheney say with a straight face that we were safer under the Bush administration when the worst terrorist attack on American soil occurred?!!

Oh. He means after that because let's face it, 9/11 was Clinton's fault, right? Well, pardon me for being the fly in the neocon ointment here, but Bush had been in office for 9 months by that time. Bush and Co, ignored an AUGUST 8 memo warning that al-qaeda was planning to--what?--fly planes into buildings. Tell me how that is NOT on the Bush administration's watch? It speaks to the absolute lack of honor of the Bush administration that they would not only not take responsibility but STILL be placing it at the foot of the previous president. That's okay, though. I'm sure if a terrible terrorist attack occurs in the next few months, Republicans will of course allow the blame to be placed on Obama's predecessor, right?

It is absolutely a window into the dishonorable human and public servant that Dick Cheney is. He is not talking and talking and talking to keep America safe. He's talking to save his legacy. But, as Andrew Sullivan points out, "The president will remain above this, as he should, as Cheney seeks further to divide and destabilize this country in a futile attempt to rescue his reputation. But his reputation is unrescuable, his crimes a matter of record, and his character now indelibly written in history. Our job is to never let him forget it, to never let history be re-written and to remain resolute in bringing both him and those who attacked us to justice. And that is in the presidential oath of office."

Let's be honest, since it's just you and me talking. There will probably be more terrorism on American soil. I pray it won't happen, but the odds are that it might. As the bomb plot in NY demonstrated, the major part of thwarting terrorism is tied up in intelligence, infiltration and plain old law enforcement; not torture. As the "enhanced interrogation techniques" demonstrated, you could torture a Connection Between Iraq and Al-Qaeda out of even the most hardened terrorists. Except the connection did not, in reality, exist.

To that end, I also wonder why any true American wants to fall on the sword of torture in an argument about keeping Americans safe. "We will now negate what is great about America in order to keep America great." "We had to destroy the village to save it." If we feel that it's okay--and brave and decent and honorable--to adopt Viet Cong and Pinochet-like tactics to "save America" then I'm willing to say that we're not worth saving.

It is instructive that John McCain, the only person in this debate to have actually suffered torture, is against it. Those who took advantage of multiple draft deferments and have never served, seem to be all for it. That's not a coincidence. When you and/or your children will never have to face potential torture, you never have to think about the tertiary results of approving it. You can just-- as Dick Cheney did last night--robustly defend it and imbue it with honor.

My initial urge was to end this with "Cheney is an unrelenting Dick." But that is too flippant for what he really is: a cancer on the body politic and a stain on our history. He's a disgrace and should be treated as such.

Steve at Newshoggers offers a well-written takedown of the Cheney speech itself:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Score One for the Lawyer

An absolutely hilarious account of his days teaching Sexual Harassment Prevention to cops in a small town, by Ken from Popehat:

So, so funny.

Be The Ball

Perhaps the coolest judicial decision handed down in recent memory, from a judge in North Carolina, dismissing the suit of Rudy Giuliani's son against the Duke Golf Team.

From The Smoking Gun:
MAY 20--In an opinion peppered with golf references and a quote from "Caddyshack" star Bill Murray, a federal magistrate has recommended the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Rudolph Giuliani's son over his booting from Duke University's varsity golf team. In a lawsuit filed last year, Andrew Giuliani, 23, claimed that the North Carolina school breached a contract when it dropped him from the golf team in early-2008. The school (and coach Orrin Daniel Vincent III) countered by saying that Giuliani was bounced for a variety of boorish acts, including assaulting a teammate, defying coaches, and violating "both the rules and the spirit of the game of golf." In an opinion issued yesterday, Magistrate Judge Wallace W. Dixon sided with Duke in its bid for a judgment against Giuliani. A copy of Dixon's May 19 opinion, which will now likely be adopted by a U.S. District Court judge, can be found below. Dismissing one Giuliani claim, Dixon wrote that the misplaced argument "brings to mind Carl Spackler's analysis" from "Caddyshack": "He's on his final hole. He's about 455 yards away, he's gonna hit about a 2 iron, I think." Though no longer on the golf team, Giuliani graduated this month from Duke, so he's got that going for him. (12 pages)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pressure is a Privilege

Such is the title of a book by Billie Jean King (with Christine Brennan). I bought it because it's small and its subtitle was, "Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes."

I adore Billie Jean King. She was the driver for much of the work that ensured, finally, that Venus Williams would earn the exact same monetary prize as Roger Federer at Wimbledon, that Title IX ensured girls access to school sports, that female athletes were considered equally entertaining and revenue-generating as male athletes. She was--and continues to be--a tireless advocate for women and sports. I absolutely heart Billie Jean King.

Which is why this book makes me sad. She deserves better than this slapped-together, typo-ridden, exclamation point-overloaded "booklet." Her stories about her historic match against Bobby Riggs are wonderful and detailed--and rather complimentary toward the late Mr. Riggs. Her tremendous sense of obligation to not let women down in that match is palpable, especially since (I learned) he had beaten Margaret Court in a similar, though less-hyped match the previous year. She speaks of Bobby Riggs with great respect, of her evolving ability to take life (though not her work) less seriously, of her commitment to remaining active and vibrant into her later years. (She's only 65, but you get the point: she retired from tennis but not from life and business). In short, Billie Jean King is a flat-out national treasure. She changed history for women in sports and deserves more than this amateur pseudo-self help mini-book.

I love her, but I sure wish I hadn't given her my money this time around.

Terror Begins At Home

Breaking news on CNN that 4 American-born terrorists were *this* close to bombing a Riverdale, NY synagogue tonight. The only thing that stopped them, apparently, was the fact that they bought their explosives from an FBI officer. They foursome were reportedly outside the synagogue with the explosives in their car when the NYPD and FBI arrested them in the act.

Totally effing scary, my friends. More details will come out as the story progresses (such as the fact that they intended to use surface-to-air missiles on US military planes), but suffice to say this case wasn't cracked by waterboarding or stress positions, but by good old Enhanced Law Enforcement. The next step is using that law enforcement to root out the places where US-born citizens would attempt to kill other US citizens en masse because of their religion.

More to say on this as the details emerge. For now, thank God for the Po Po.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Notre Dame

If you have not already read it, please do take a look at the transcript of President Obama's address to the University of Notre Dame graduates. I'm providing the transcript link via FoxNews just so no one thinks I'm posting a needlessly positive version of his speech.

So many points of balance in this speech.

First of all, his response to hecklers:

"I also want to congratulate the Class of 2009 for all your accomplishments. And since this is Notre Dame --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Abortion is murder! Stop killing children!
OBAMA: That's all right. And since --
AUDIENCE: We are ND! We are ND!
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

OBAMA: We're fine, everybody. We're following Brennan's adage that we don't do things easily. (Laughter.) We're not going to shy away from things that are uncomfortable sometimes. (Applause.)"

Not "I paid for this microphone, Mister," but an acknowledgment that the dissent was valid. Later in the speech he returned to the issues of religion and abortion:

The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved. (Applause.)


As I considered the controversy surrounding my visit here, I was reminded of an encounter I had during my Senate campaign, one that I describe in a book I wrote called "The Audacity of Hope." A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an e-mail from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the Illinois primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life -- but that was not what was preventing him potentially from voting for me.

What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my website -- an entry that said I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose." The doctor said he had assumed I was a reasonable person, he supported my policy initiatives to help the poor and to lift up our educational system, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, "I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words." Fair-minded words.

After I read the doctor's letter, I wrote back to him and I thanked him. And I didn't change my underlying position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website. And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that -- when we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe -- that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.

That's when we begin to say, "Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions.

So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let's reduce unintended pregnancies. (Applause.) Let's make adoption more available. (Applause.) Let's provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term. (Applause.) Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women." Those are things we can do.

Read the whole speech. I did, and it made me grateful to have such a complex thinker--someone who can see shades of gray--someone who can acknowledge the validity of your position without caving to it--in the White House.

The Poor Get Poorer

Here is a really well-written article about poverty in America. The best line? "You have to be rich to be poor." It continues:

"Poverty 101: We'll start with the basics.

Like food: You don't have a car to get to a supermarket, much less to Costco or Trader Joe's, where the middle class goes to save money. You don't have three hours to take the bus. So you buy groceries at the corner store, where a gallon of milk costs an extra dollar.

A loaf of bread there costs you $2.99 for white. For wheat, it's $3.79. The clerk behind the counter tells you the gallon of leaking milk in the bottom of the back cooler is $4.99..."

It just gets worse from there, describing those working poor who make too much to get services but not enough to get out of poverty. It's a mess--and eye-opening if you've never had the unpleasant experience of, say, having the cashier void 8 or so items from your grocery shopping because it costs more than you have.

Poor? Pay Up.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Onward Christian Soldiers

A couple of very informative pieces on Don Rumsfeld and how he helped bring down the Bush administration. In particular, the creepy memos in which he used Biblical verses to sway Bush. Creepier still that Bush bought it. I know people want truth commissions and all, but some part of me is afraid to lift the hood on that jalopy after seeing some of the disturbing stuff dribbling out. Agh.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Waterboarding for Charity

That's right, kids! I'm getting waterboarded today for charity! Only, it's called a "nasal wash" at Dana Farber, and the charity is ME. I've been feeling kind of blah for a few days, so tired that I was going to bed at 8pm, achy, lightheaded, etc. So the Medical Machine has sprung to life once again.

Today is nasal wash, chest x-ray, bloodwork and whatever else pops up so I can get back to feeling better. I wrote a post maybe a year ago about my previous nasal wash, that I'll link to as soon as I can find it. It summarizes quite descriptively how I will be suspended at an angle with water pushed into my nose until I gag, all for the purposes of collecting the resulting effluvia. Nice. I could feel bad for myself, but I actually feel worse for the guy who has to go through said effluvia looking for swine flu. That's a job I don't want.

Speaking of waterboarding, how hilariously not-credible is Nancy Pelosi's declaration that she was not, in fact, briefed on waterboarding during that briefing on waterboarding? She's tripping all over herself to escape the inescapable fact that she no doubt heard about waterboarding at that briefing.

My best political advice for getting out of the Gordian knot she has created?

Admit--in a televised news conference--to "sexting" the reclusive Mr. Pelosi during the briefing. Yep! "I regret that my desire for marital relations enhanced by technology caused me to miss the reference to waterboarding. I assure my constituents and the American people that this will never happen again. My text minutes have been suspended, and any future briefings of great import to national security will have my full and undivided attention. LOL. CUL8R!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jesse Ventura Makes an Offer

"Give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney, and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders." Fantastic video wherein Jesse recalls his own waterboarding as part of what?--SERE--the U.S. Armed Forces TORTURE resistance program. "It's torture, Larry, it's torture."

Second best line of the video? "We've created our own Hanoi Hilton."

Best line of the video? "I don't have a lot of respect for Dick Cheney. Here's a guy who got five deferments from the Vietnam War. Clearly, he's a coward. He wouldn't go when it was his time to go. And now he is a chicken hawk. Now he is this big tough guy who wants this hardcore policy. And he's the guy that sanctioned all this torture by calling it enhanced interrogation."


Monday, May 11, 2009

This One's For the Mamas and the Baby Mamas' Mamas

Happy Belated Mother's Day to everyone out there, especially my mum who keeps it real 24/7, and my MIL who did such a nice job raising her son that I married him. :)

My Mother's Day began with Bambina taking me out for a "special donut" to Dunkin Donuts. Very cute. Actually, she gave me my gift waaay before that, in that she did NOT wake up at her usual 3 or 4am "to go potty," so I slept all the way through the night for once. Yeah! Believe me, I'm psyched my child wakes up to pee rather than wetting herself or needing diapers at 4, but my god, I cannot wait till she just wakes up and goes without having to have me present for the event. Because obviously she goes right back to sleep and I do not.

Then we went to our Parent-Child pottery class at the JCC. It's really neat working on projects with her because I get to more fully understand her personality and process. She's very artistic--and very opinionated in that regard. The teacher is suggesting things like, "Oh, if you are making a 'fairy house' then you could add x or y." Bambina? "No thank you." Teacher: "Or, you could do this or that." Bambina: "No thank you." She has a vision for what she's creating and will not deviate from it unless the idea presented adds something to her piece without changing it. Or unless she is allowed to take that idea and do something with it that is specific to her. It's pretty much a metaphor for how she approaches the world. She's got her ideas of what she wants to wear, what she wants to do, how she wants to do it.

From seeing her in art class, I'm learning to put an idea in her head and then step back from it and let it percolate with her. Yesterday the teacher suggested a painting method that she originally said "No thank you" to. Then I could see her wheels turning. Ten minutes later? She was doing it. She just needed to feel like it was coming from her. Much like her father who, when he asked if I'd move to another state with him while we were just dating, was told once--and only once--"I'll move if you ask me to marry you by the end of the year. I won't bring it up again. But just know that on December 31st, 19whatever, at midnight, I will be packing my stuff up and moving back if I don't have a ring on my finger by then." The ring was bestowed three months ahead of schedule. Precisely because (in addition to my awesomeness), he knew the choice was his. I didn't hector him, I didn't harangue him daily, I didn't constantly try to make my point. I made my point and then shut up to let it percolate. The BBDD appears very laid back and all Free To Be You And Me, but he's no simpleton. He chafes at authority and, as his career path shows, has fought to create exactly his vision for his professional life against the advice of "wiser" individuals. This is my Bambina as well. Something I've only more fully realized by seeing her working on her art. God help us.

In addition to being uniquely herself, Bambina is also a textbook egocentric almost-five year-old. Best illustrated by her question yesterday: "If today is Mother's Day and next time is Father's Day, when is Kid's Day?" Perhaps the other 363 days of the year, sweetie? Blank stare.

In any case, whether your kids are 6 or 60, I hope you had a great mother's day.

ps--It's a little late, but you can still send this personalized Mom of the Year Award video to your mom.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Hie Thee to a TV

The White House Correspondents Dinner on C-SPAN. SOOO funny. Obama's comedy writers are in top form, and Wanda Sykes was off the chain.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I'm Hating It

McDonalds! Come ON!!! My kid loves your happy meals. She eats the whole damn thing, something she rarely does with other food. Going there is a treat for her, especially because she gets a free toy. So imagine my dismay when, on our recent outing to McD's when the BBDD was traveling, the "toy" in the Happy Meal was a "KidzBop" CD. My child's CD? Songs by Fergie, Daughtry and someone else I cannot imagine any 4 year-old ought to be listening to. FERGIE for my 4 YEAR OLD?!! Have you lost your corporate minds?!! I threw that thing right in the garbage after hiding it at home. The day my 4 year old listens to fucking FERGIE is the day I hang it up and wish her good luck on the future stripper pole. I'm not dissing Fergie as an artist. Good for her--for teenagers and adults. But my 4 year-old?! Hells naw! So--no more McD's trips until the CD's are gone. On a different note, why anyone would want to listen to small children singing, "I hope you know, I hope you know, this has nothing to do with you; It's personal, myself and I we got some figurin out to do..." That's a vein-opener if I've ever heard one.

Fergie Fail for McD's on this one.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Pox on All Their Houses

Oh a veritable smorgasbord of asshattery this week, from all angles.

Joe the Dumber (aka Sam Wurzelbacher) in Christianity Today:

Q: In the last month, same-sex marriage has become legal in Iowa and Vermont. What do you think about same-sex marriage at a state level?

JTP: At a state level, it’s up to them. I don’t want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it’s wrong. People don’t understand the dictionary—it’s called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It’s not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we’re supposed to do—what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we’re supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I’ve had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn’t have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they’re people, and they’re going to do their thing.

Unbelievable. Let me tell you something: I wouldn't let Sam Wurzelbacher, moronic bigot, anywhere near my children. This is the best the GOP has? And people wonder why John McCain deserved to lose?! Please.

Next: my erstwhile homeland, current nanny-state extraordinaire, the UK. Which has banned, among several terrorists, Michael Savage. For those of you unfamiliar, Savage is the conservative radio jock famous for the following statements:

*The Quran is "a book of hate." Has he read the Bible? I refer him to Leviticus alone if he'd like to see some real hateful shit in a holy book.

*Kids with autism? "A brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out."

*Abducted child Elizabeth Smart? "Snow White gets raped by bum in white robes."

I'll stop there because I'm feeling nauseated. Both by Michael Savage and the notion that banning him for his speech (however wingnutty) is the correct course of action for a Western democracy. He's an asswipe, but why feed the hype?! Now he gets to feel persecuted--and now we all have to suffer his ever-more indignant offensiveness.

Finally we have everyone's favorite pageant loser, Miss California Carrie Prejean. You may recall her public disapproval of gay marriage and subsequent "I'm a Christian!" declarations. Prejean haters are now revelling in the discovery of some softcore topless pics she took pre-pageant which might cause her to lose the crown. I kind of like it too, seeing as hypocrites are rather entertaining when busted. But here's my thought from a feminist perspective: How can the same pageant organization that bought her breast implants now say that her displaying her breasts (pre-implants) is indecent? YOU BOUGHT HER BOOBS so she'd be nicer to look at! Which is fine as long as no one looks at the nipples, apparently.

Is it too Michael Savage of me to put a Yiddish curse on all of these people? "May you lose all your teeth but one, and may that one hurt like hell."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Nice Work if You Can Get It

We live in a rather nice town here in Massachusetts. It is by far on the waaay other, other side of the tracks than where I grew up, which has taken some getting used to. You may recall the preschool parent's juice-and-cookies 6pm reception where the women all showed up in little black dresses. When discussing what parents should contribute to each class' year-end gift, I expressed concern for families who have more than one child in the preschool; that $10 per class becomes $30 for a family with three kids. The response? "Oh, it's only $30." Hello?! In my house, 30 bucks matters! I can only imagine that it would matter MORE if I had two additional children.

This is the town in which we live.

So perhaps we should not have been surprised to read in the local newspaper that our local police officers make in excess of $100,000, almost toward $150,000. And we're not talking police chief, sergeants, whomever. We're talking your average beat cop. Now, hear me out. My brother is a cop. What I wouldn't give for him to make $100K. But let's be clear: he spends his days with drug-dealing dirtbags in a rather large, urban geographic area. He's not directing traffic past the town festival; know what I mean? It just seems completely out of proportion to me, when the actual dangers of the job are considered. If we were in Miami-Dade, sure, pay those guys $100K hazard pay. But here? Call me an asshole if you must, but that strikes me as simply ridiculous. I await your opprobrium.

Let's now take ourselves to a local festival this weekend where the mayor of this fine city addressed the assemblage, as mayors are wont to do. He was there to deliver a proclamation to the members, designating Today Is This Festival Day. He was so poorly prepped for this event that--once again--we were stunned to learn that his senior staff members also make north of $100K. I mean, that is a Washington DC salary! And these chumps are doing such a stellar job that the mayor begins his remarks with, "When you have nothing to say, they give you props, so here are my props. First is this I'm not sure who I'm presenting this certificate to, so I'll just read it known..." Does not refer to any of the luminaries by name, because you know he can't pronounce or remember them. This is fucking bush league politics--and the people responsible for ensuring he does not deliver such a laughable performance are making One Hundred Thousand Dollars?!!! Please. You can always use the argument that you need to offer high salaries to attract talent, but that only goes so far. For example, in DC, I would have been fired THAT DAY if I'd sent my boss to an event for a performance like that. My shit would have been on the lawn by the time I got back to the office. Here? They're getting a raise.

So why this rant, so soon back into Haggisdom? Ach. Maybe I'm just jealous that no one will pay me an unearned $100, 000. Maybe because I am, as usual, getting in touch with my inner Andy Rooney. Mostly because this town cries poverty when it comes to teachers and schools in this economic climate but apparently has money to burn on BS.

RIP Jack Kemp

Dem though I may be, I actually liked Jack Kemp. He was old-school. I remember him back in his Empower America days, while I was in grad school in DC, and he was always a true gentleman.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Bitching Is Back

What's up, Cleveland?!!!

We're back. Not necessarily "better than ever," but back all the same. And what a week to be returning! Holy mother of all that is holy!

1. Swine Flu. The short version? This is a disease designed to kill people exactly like me. Although the reason it's such a big deal is that it's also designed to kill HEALTHY people like you and you and you, which our plain old Influenza B is not. Aaah--longing for the good old days of Influenza warms the cockles of my immune system.

2. Souter Retiring. Mazel Tov, David! This will be a major test for the Obama administration in that it will give us a view into where he wants to take the court: super lefty, liberal or centrist. It will also be a major project for Vice President Biden, seeing as he chaired the Judiciary Committee through six SCOTUS nominees. Let's hope Joey gets through it without saying anything inflammatory. HAH! Just kidding. He will. He reminds me of my Dad in some ways, that totally well-meaning guy who just cannot help himself but phrase something inartfully regarding "the blacks" or about avoiding confined spaces during the swine flu outbreak. Joey is the guy you cannot brief confidentially because once the information is in his head, it finds a way to break through his rather flimsy brain/mouth filter.

3. Specter Defector! The Haggis jury is still out on this one, in terms of what it means for Dems. But suffice to say, it shows that the GOP is in shambles. Ronald Reagan is rolling in his grave, as well he should.

4. This survey showing that support for torture correlates with church attendance: Big shocker--the support is strongest among white evangelicals.

So that's what I've got for today. It's good to be back!