rantings


Last week, I read an interesting piece comparing Carla Bruni Sarkozy, ex-model, homewrecker, and current First Lady of France, with American First Lady candidates. The gist, if you don’t want to read the full article, is that French citizens couldn’t care less what their politicians do behind closed doors and who they choose as partners, where American citizens will only tolerate political spouses in the wife/mother/angel roles.

(A)s a rule, we expect our first ladies to act out the part of the supportive political spouse, the archetypal housewife in the ultimate white house. Look pretty, but don’t speak out of turn, à la Laura Bush. Glam it up, but always in a demure, ladylike way, like Jackie O. And if you have to speak your mind, like Hillary Rodham Clinton, then be prepared to pay the price.

It all adds to the argument about the country’s reluctance to elect a woman to the Presidency.

But, let’s put that aside for a second. Today, comes the acknowledgment that John Edwards had an affair with a campaign staffer after months and months of flat out denials and an entire Presidential campaign that basically consisted of what a devoted and loving family man he was. This admission (under increasing media pressure) adds John Edwards’ name to a long list of recent political sex scandals from both sides of the isle: (in no particular order) Dave Vitter (R), Larry Craig (R), Elliot Spitzer (D), Mark Foley (R), Jim McGreevey (D), Gavin Newsom (D). Then of course the classics: Bill Clinton (D), Newt Gingrich (R), Gary Hart (D), Gary Condit (D). It’s getting old.

It’s Not the Sex but the Hypocrisy That Torques Me

I’m of two minds on this.

The biggest part of me says that I don’t give a rat’s toenail who politicians decide to have sex with. If they cheat on their spouses, it just shows their character (callous, ruthless, virile – add whatever adjective you want). If they are gay, then they should be able to be gay in public and not choose a spouse and have the nuclear family as beards. That destroys too many lives, and for what? To demonstrate to the unwashed masses that you can make decisions on foreign policy? Give me a break.

But the slightly smaller part of me simply can’t stand all of the hypocrisy. If you make a career of taking down prostitution rings, then don’t hire a call girl for your sexual trysts. If you consistently vilify homosexuality as immoral and block legislation that gives rights to gay people (military, marriage), then don’t cruise for gay sex in airport bathrooms. And for God’s sake, if you hold your perfect little family up as your proof that you are virtuous, your cancer-ridden wife up as proof that you are faithful to her, and that that makes you different from those against whom you are running for office, then keep your penis in your pants and don’t have an affair! Is this formula really so difficult?

An Olympic Free-For-All

It occurs to me that this news is breaking on the opening day of the Beijing Olympics. Every Olympic cycle, the big scandals center around doping. In the past, I have mused that an “All Doping Olympics” would be excellent. Allow all athletes to take whatever they want, break all the records, see how fast/high/far the human body can go on performance-enhancing drugs and get it all out of their systems. Then wipe the slate clean, put asterisks next to all of the results, get back to the rules of the games, and move on with life.

I think we need to consider doing the same with politicians and sex. Let’s just all stop with the American Puritanical BS, where no one has sex outside of marriage, all men only have eyes for their wives, and all women only have sex for procreation. Let’s just have an “All Sex Campaign” where all candidates and everyone involved in campaigns can do it with whoever they want and brazenly advertise it to the media. Let them get it all out of their systems, let the American public get over their shock-and-awe, and let’s all drop the charade that anyone who runs for public office doesn’t, in John Edwards’ own words, “believe that (they are) special and (become) increasingly egocentric and narcissistic.”

Advertisements

So Scott McClellan wrote a tell-all about the Bush White House, eh? He makes “extraordinary” claims about Karl Rove and Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney orchestrating wars and smear campaigns for political ends. He uses words like “propaganda” when describing how the American people (and the world) was convinced that war in Iraq was necessary. But is any of this really news? Can anyone actually say with a straight face that they are shocked at these so-called revelations? I mean, other than the fact that this is coming from a highly ranked former employee (White House Press Secretary is an enviable job title), is any of this stuff “news”?

We have known for a long time that the Bush Administration has simply made up “intelligence” to suit their feeble egos and wicked intentions. They spew lines about God and country, American security, family values and morals, and say that the war was a “War of Necessity, not a War of Choice.” They make us imagine the shadows in the corners are trying to kills us, and they spend lots and lots of money that we don’t have to fleece the nation and tell us that we’re safer because of it. All lies.

If the media had done their jobs, they would not have blindly taken a White House Press Secretary’s word for anything and have investigated other sources for confirmation. When officials claimed that Bush was not planning on invading Iraq and taking out Saddam Hussein prior to 9/11, the media should have run a continuous loop of the second debate during the 2000 election. Here’s my favorite part:

BUSH: . . . I think credibility is going to be very important in the future in the Middle East. I want everybody to know should I be the president Israel’s going to be our friend. I’m going to stand by Israel. Secondly, that I think it’s important to reach out to moderate Arab nations, like Jordan and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It’s important to be friends with people when you don’t need each other so that when you do there’s a strong bond of friendship. And that’s going to be particularly important in dealing not only with situations such as now occurring in Israel, but with Saddam Hussein. The coalition against Saddam has fallen apart or it’s unraveling, let’s put it that way. The sanctions are being violated. We don’t know whether he’s developing weapons of mass destruction. He better not be or there’s going to be a consequence should I be the president. But it’s important to have credibility and credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resoluting your determination. One of the reasons why I think it’s important for this nation to develop an anti-ballistic missile system that we can share with our allies in the Middle East if need be to keep the peace is to be able to say to the Saddam Husseins of the world or the Iranians, don’t dare threaten our friends. It’s also important to keep strong ties in the Middle East, credible ties, because of the energy crisis we’re now in. After all, a lot of the energy is produced from the Middle East, and so I appreciate what the administration is doing. I hope to get a sense of should I be fortunate to be the president how my administration will react to the Middle East.

. . .

BUSH: That’s hard to tell. I think that, you know, I would hope to be able to convince people I could handle the Iraqi situation better.

MODERATOR: Saddam Hussein, you mean, get him out of there?

BUSH: I would like to, of course, and I presume this administration would as well. We don’t know — there are no inspectors now in Iraq, the coalition that was in place isn’t as strong as it used to be. He is a danger. We don’t want him fishing in troubled waters in the Middle East. And it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him.

MODERATOR: You feel that is a failure of the Clinton administration?

BUSH: I do.

It is important to remember that this debate occurred on October 11, 2000 — exactly 11 months before the September 11th attacks. Israel and Palestine were engaged in bloody battle, and I had not heard the words “Saddam Hussein” in any serious way in almost 8 years. I sat on the couch, incredulous at this exchange, and said to Brent, “This guy is going to start a war.” September 11th gave a convenient excuse for said war, but the media completely failed this country when the Iraq War/WMD/”get Saddam Hussein” rhetoric started by not reminding everyone of this very publicized debate. Is this not evidence in itself that a war with Iraq had been on the minds of officials well before our War on Terror? Not to mention every other incident subsequent to that where the media just followed along with the official talking points like little puppies. And people wonder why we turn to The Daily Show to find out what’s really going on in the country. . .

Throughout this “media firestorm” surrounding Scott McClellan, only David Gregory got closest to admitting that the media failed:

MATTHEWS: . . . David, what do you make of that? What do we say when we realize “The New York Times” was used, in sequence used—and other media were used as well?

GREGORY: We got it wrong.

. . .

MATTHEWS: No, you didn‘t get it wrong. You were manipulated, weren‘t we?

GREGORY: Well, I mean, if you believe that our job is to try to get it right, and to…

. . .

GREGORY: … sort of pierce past that manipulation, the press, the body politic of the press, wasn‘t able to do that in this particular case.

. . .

There were no WMD in Iraq. The basis of the congressional resolution was based on the nuclear threat that was presented by Saddam Hussein.

MATTHEWS: Right.

GREGORY: A lot of people believed that, Democrats, Republicans, and the White House, and reporters who were trying to report the story as best they could.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GREGORY: You know, we didn‘t get it right. The facts are what they are. And the press didn‘t get it right.

So, yes, the question of manipulation, the administration did what it did.

Not quite an apology, and no one’s losing their jobs over it, but it’s a start.

On Saturday, Brent played a gig at a tea house off the Plaza. This place is a local hang-out for the unwashed, trust-fund-baby, bohemian set – outfitted with wicker chairs and tables, big pillows on the floor, and local art on the Moroccan gold walls. The place promotes itself as very zen, but we all know better. Inside of all the mellow, yoga-stretched, “enlightened” Santa Fites that frequent places like this are self-absorbed, narrow-minded, holier-than-thou drama majors just dying for their chance in the spotlight. They come in attention grabbing get-ups — the tall blonde in tight jeans and black sequined top that would have fit in more properly on a Saturday night in NYC, the 50+ year old man with hair dyed the color of Ronald McDonald Red #40 , the scruffy owner traipsing around in his loose-fitting hemp pants and tunic, holding one of 5 scruffy kids acting like the king of the castle while his staff behind the counter struggle to keep up with orders.

After the leader of the second band started to warm up his guitars onstage while the first act was still playing (citing “Hey, man. The audience came to hear me play!”), and I left my book on the pillow that I was sitting on to use the restroom (which, I thought was the international symbol of “This Seat Is Saved”) – only to return to the dirty owner and his oily family sitting in my spot with my book tossed to the side – I decided it was time to exit. Then, as I sat in my perfectly parallel parked car across the street from the tea house, reading my book with the window rolled down, waiting for Brent to finish his set, an older woman in a frighteningly hideous outfit of white pants, white fringed jacket, and white cowboy hat, complete with red and blue sequence from head to toe, white platinum hair, and red smeared lips, gets out of her car, comes up to my window, and asks me to move my car forward so that she can slide into the spot behind me. I snapped. I’m embarrassed to repeat what I said to her here, but it started with “What? So you want me to move my car because you can’t parallel park!?!” and went down hill from there.

Now today I read a story about how there is a movement afoot in Santa Fe to have WiFi removed from public places because some people’s perceived sensitivities to the radio waves makes it an issue under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Freaks. I’m so sick of these people. Their right to exist is so much more important than anyone else’s right to exist. Their “I get a headache from looking into the sun, so the government needs to stretch a huge sunshade over the entire state until I am comfortable” whine gets old. They seem to be the only 12 people on the planet who have “symptoms” from WiFi – have they not thought of other environmental (or just mental) factors that could contribute to their ailments? And in the meantime, they are going to fight to restrict my freedom to engage in communication and commerce via WiFi? Give me a break. Shawn Mullins didn’t get it quite right – the line should have read “Take me far away from Santa Fe!

I read about the death of Eight Belles, the second place filly at the Kentucky Derby, with great sadness for our society. For a number of reasons, I deplore horse racing, dog racing, and any other type of “entertainment” in which animals are put at risk for our amusement. Outside of the animal rights community, I’m often a minority.

However, this guy from Fox Sports wrote an article that pretty much represents the genesis of the line of thinking I took that led me to choose vegetarianism 18 years ago this past March. Where are the boundaries of our collective hypocrisy? How can we have companion animals and love them like kids, and then not extend that affection and compassion to the cow on a plate? Why do people who love horses condone horse racing and rodeo riding? And why do “animal lovers” still tolerate animal testing by purchasing cheap consumer products manufactured by Procter & Gambel, Kimberly Clark, Colgate Palmolive, etc.?

Our choices have ripple effects that permeate areas lots of us don’t want to think about. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that we are somehow living “true to our beliefs” when we choose to ignore the effects of our behaviors.

Teva is dying. Early Saturday morning, we awoke to scrambling and flailing sounds. Teva was lying on her side, panting heavily, in a puddle of her own urine with a panic in her eyes. The first thing I thought was that she fell off the bed and hurt her legs or back, but after massaging her back, legs, and hips her to see if she would yelp at certain locations with no response, I suspected a stoke. We threw on our clothes and raced to the emergency vet at 1 AM. I’d like to say that this was the first time we’d ever been there, but with 3 cats and 4 dogs over the last 9 years, we know the place well. We even know the new owners who just took it over 3 weeks ago — Dr. Schwartz performed Avery’s back surgery 2 weeks ago and we were down at their Albuquerque location just 16 hours before for a post-op follow-up with him. No, the place is not unfamiliar, but this is the first midnight run we’ve ever made.

The doctor suspected a seizure. She ran tests. “She’s really 13?” she questions. “Well she’s in great condition for a 13 year old dog!” Thank you. For some reason, our aging animals always get praised on their remarkable health, shiny teeth and coats, and stellar blood panels. I take it as a compliment to our zealous care of them. “Her x-rays show a slight enlargement of the right side of her heart. It could be nothing – just old-dogitis.” Brent remembers one of the dogs showing a slightly enlarged heart in a previous x-ray, but couldn’t remember if it was Teva or Edith. Either way, the doctor wants to keep her for at least the next 12 hours for observation – she may have another seizure, she may not. Best to have her hooked up to monitors if she does, though, just in case. “Go home and get some sleep. I’ll call you if anything changes.”

4:45 AM, the phone rings. Doctor says she had an “episode” – not a seizure, exactly, but what looked more like a fainting spell. This indicates heart trouble. She recommends an echocardiogram right away, but there is not an “echo” machine in Santa Fe. Better go to ABQ emergency vet (the other one) who has an internal medicine specialist on duty over the weekends. We pick her up at 7:30 AM (the specialist in ABQ doesn’t get in until 8-8:30 AM anyway), and we load her in the car with tubes in her nose, a catheter in her arm, and a cone around her neck. She barely recognizes us.

When we arrive, everyone is expecting us. They grab her, rush her in the back, and put her in an oxygen tank while we fill out paperwork and wait for the doctor. He sees seizures all the time, he says. They come in all shapes and sizes, so it is likely not her heart. Good news is that seizures are often infrequent, controllable, and non-debilitative. He’ll do an ultrasound on her, but this is likely not a heart incident. He pats me on the shoulder. “Remember – the glass is half full.”

It will be a few hours until they can get to her (other patients), so we drive home and wait for the call. At 4 PM he calls, with very bad news. Yes, the enlargement in her heart caught on x-ray is a tumor about the size of a 1cm marble. He also found a 1 inch tumor in her spleen. Spleen tumors are a sure sign of cancer in the liver. And cancer in the liver means it has metastisized through her whole body. It gets worse. Heart and spleen tumors present in fainting and weakness, not seizures. Those are from brain tumors. So, she also likely has a brain tumor that caused the seizure. We don’t know for sure without an MRI (the closest ones are in Denver and Phoenix), but even without the brain tumor, we’re still dealing with heart, spleen, and liver tumors. He said she has 3-5 months. Our primary vet today said that is very optimistic. She has seen animals with these issues pass in 1-3 months.

So, there we have it. We are left with a dog with great teeth, a shining coat, and fantasic blood work, but is riddled with cancer. I am so pissed off, I can’t even find the words. I read these cancer sites that say “if you catch it early, there are treatments.” But how do we “catch it early” if this stuff doesn’t show in blood tests or x-rays? Do we now have to schedule all of our animals for routine, annual CT scans and MRIs just to make sure that if they get cancerous tumors we can catch it in time to do something about it?

We have an appointment with the veterinary oncologist on Thursday, but that is really for our own information and peace of mind, understanding the process and giving her the best possible care and life until the inevitable. We are in the process of preparing ourselves for the worst — the day we have to say goodbye to a treasured member of our family and, quite frankly, the coolest dog I have ever met. This one is special, and it is especially hard to cope with. Rotten fucking luck…

I have held my tongue for a long time on this – longer than I thought I could, actually – but something today really set me off again. Today is Primary Day in Texas and Ohio, and once again we have another opportunity to see if Americans can fathom a woman in the White House over a man.

Jon Stewart Started It

Things are all time delayed here in good ol’ New Mexico, so we often see The Daily Show the night after it airs (or else we stay up till past midnight). Last night’s guest was Brian Williams, anchor of NBC News and frequent Stewart-sparring partner. Williams has a great sense of humor and usually their conversations with each other are fun to watch. Last night’s was no exception.

Stewart came right out of the gate and asked the question that all of America has been asking:

Which candidate are you biased against — Are you biased for Obama because you’re sexist or for Hillary because you’re a racist?

Well said. Because this really is the year the question is going to be answered, right? Since the 1960’s, women and people of color have been having this ongoing tension. Who’s more oppressed, women or blacks?

By the Numbers

Historically, black men have had the upper hand in U.S. politics.

“First” Black Men Women
Right to Vote 1870 – 15th Amendment 1920 – 19th Amendment
U.S. Representative 1870 – Joseph Rainey 1916 – Jeanette Rankin
U.S. Senator 1870 – Hiram Revels 1922 – Rebecca Felton
(Appointed – served 2 days)

1932 – Hattie Wyatt Caraway
(Elected)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice 1967 – Thurgood Marshall 1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor
Secretary of State 2001 – Colin Powell 2005 – Condoleeza Rice
(interestingly enough, a black woman

A cursory search for “woman ceo” and “african american ceo” finds Black Entrepreneur Profile and a Fortune Magazine article on the 50 Most Powerful Women 2007. Just from these, though, it is difficult to determine which group has more representation in the boardrooms of publicly traded companies. Even more difficult to parse are the numbers of entrepreneurs in each category, some of which, like Oprah, are the creators of their own image, brand, and position.

Still, one has to look at the totality of the situation, and I came to the conclusion a long time ago (long before Hillary became a senator) that this country will elect a black man well before it would elect a woman of any color. Now, admittedly at the time, I assumed the black man in question would be a Republican (a la Colin Powell) – someone with a strong military record and conservative values that middle-America could embrace.

However, as I’ve watched this current political race unfold, it is clearer to me than ever before that my prediction still holds true. Men are seen as more commanding, controlled, protective. More presidential. Women are seen as moody, waffling, indecisive. Pundits talk about Obama’s spark and refreshing message. They question Hillary’s cleavage, hair, whether she shed a tear on camera, or whether she is personable enough. Michelle Obama makes a stump speech for her husband and it barely gets air play. Bill Clinton makes a stump speech for his wife and every word is dissected for inferences of who will really be running the show if she is elected.

Do Twice as Well to be Seen as Half as Good

I don’t want to jump on Hillary’s bandwagon and say that there is a conscious media bias against her (or rather, in favor of Obama), but I do believe that the media coverage reflects a certain dismissive tone that resounds in the country about women. “She’s only a Senator because her husband was President.” “She’ll say anything to be President.” Or my personal favorite “She’s too ambitious.” God forbid a woman is ambitious…

As a candidate, Hillary has racked up a fairly impressive resume – Yale grad, first female partner at her law firm, strong health care advocate, Senator of New York. Really nothing to scoff at. My more conservative friends, however, hate Hillary more than Bill (with the opinion that she should have stayed in the White House and been a good social hostess rather than a political activist), and my more liberal friends are so whipped up in a tizzy about Obama that they dismiss Hillary as an also-ran.

He has the Equipment to do the Job

Obama, on the other hand, is the Golden Child. Fresh, new, exciting, inspirational. He opposed the war and ‘would have’ voted against it if given the chance, he says. Yet once he’s in office, he and Clinton vote almost exactly the same way – including on appropriations to continue funding the war in Iraq.

Oblivious to the obvious irony, Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama as “A President Like My Father”, stating “I want a president … who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards . . . .” Well, hate to break it to you, Caroline, but your father was a womanizing jerk. He may have inspired people to Believe, blah, blah, blah, but behind the scenes, he was a philanderer and a cad. JFK’s saving grace was that he had a cooperative media that covered up his indiscretions (heck, they would have baggged a hottie like Marilyn if they could have, too), and that he wasn’t in office long enough for the country to fall out of love with him (which happens to virtually all elected leaders over time).

No, I do not daydream about a world with Barack Obama as President. I’m not buying the hype. I believe that anyone who runs for president is flawed, by definition, so I’m suspicious of his words. He’s a politician. Period.

Instead, I relive the recent Democratic debates and interviews with the candidates with the genders flipped. I imagine her words coming out of his mouth and vice versa. And I try to imagine whether or not they sound as “Presidential” in her voice as they did his. Or does he sound more desperate with her script?

I also imagine the interviews about the candidates in the same manner. How it would sound for a Talking Head to talk about Obama’s chest skin showing. Would it be as damaging to or distracting from his message? If Obama Girl doesn’t distract from the message, then I’d think an unbuttoned Barack would be nothing. And how about another candidate being faced with the question from an audience member “How do we beat the (insert N-word here)?” Would that have caused more of an uproar? Would people be outraged? Would that politician have told that audience member to sit down and shut up?

I have determined that, once again, this country is not ready to elect a woman as President – any woman. No matter what his background or skin color, Americans (and most especially American women) look to men to lead. Men are protectors, women are nurturers. True or false, this mantra is ingrained in our culture, and any woman who attempts to step out of that role and achieve something different from this is simply too radical or untrustworthy for public consumption. Unfortunately, I don’t see this attitude changing by election day.

OK, I know that it is a new year and that I’m supposed to be all optimistic and positive, blah, blah, blah. But is anyone else ticked off at how the whole country has automated their bathrooms? I mean, the auto-flushers are OK – they have noticeably reduced the mess in the girls’ bathrooms over the years (except when they aren’t working, which is a whole other Oprah), but those stupid auto-faucets are the bane of my existence. I swear they were put in place just to screw with me. Pump a few pumps of liquid soap into my hands, then realize that the sinks have no “real” faucets and start waving my hands under faucets like a mad-woman until I find one that will turn on. I don’t know how these things work – infared? motion? heat sensor? radar? sonar? retinal scan? – but they never seem to work for me. The ones at the Albuquerque airport are the worst, but it happens everywhere. Now I’ve just moved into a new building where the whole thing is automated. I stood there at each station – the soap pumper, the sinks, the towel dispenser – waving my hands around the whole room like I’m swatting at the flies in my head trying to get these stupid machines’ attention. Rosie the Robot they are not. In my opinion, some zones should simply be technology-free, and I would classify public restrooms in that category.

« Previous PageNext Page »