That’s It! Sarah Palin, Get The Hell Out Of My Living Room!

1 12 2010

TV personalities are invited into my living room. If I like them, I might grace them with my viewership and make my one woman contribution to their ratings. I might make it a point to watch a show regularly, if it appeals to me. I might even purchase episodes or DVDs. I’m even fussy about my news broadcasts because some anchors are just too damn annoying. If something isn’t entertaining to me for whatever reason, so long. I’m like Luke Skywalker and the remote is my light saber – I will use the force.

But it doesn’t always work.

Try as I might, I can’t seem to avoid the Kardashian sisters completely. They’re just everywhere. I am happy to say I don’t know much about them, but I can tell you their names and probably which are married and other useless bullfunky like that. They’re inescapable. Like football. I’m not a fan football in the NFL sense, preferring the football that actually involves a foot coming into regular contact with the ball, but I can still tell you who won the last Super Bowl. Also, because I was born in America and went to high school, I know the basic rules of the game. Some people and things are just like that. Last year, whether you wanted to or not, you got to know more than enough about John and Kate Gosselin as the nation watched their marriage crumble while the reality television cameras rolled on. In the world of politics, everybody heard all about South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and his Argentinean “soul mate” and saw John Edwards take Bill Clinton’s famous extramarital activities one step farther by insisting that he did not father a child with that woman – which was proven to be quite false indeed. We all heard so much about those events and everyone was saying “Enough! Please!” Well, I’ve reached my media saturation point with someone else.

Dear sweet God Almighty, am I so damn sick of Sarah Palin!

This begged for a picture, but I am in full Palin Overload at this point, so this is as close as I'm getting to putting her picture up here. Bullwinkle is my Sarah Palin Stand-In.

She’s highly opinionated, she’s rabidly conservative, and she is everywhere I look. She needs to get out of my living room – now – but changing the channel isn’t much help. She is mentioned in nearly every US news broadcast. (I’m so thankful we get BBC.) Turn on any Discovery Channel subsidiary and you’ll see the ad for her reality show at least six times in any given hour, so she’s effectively invaded Mythbusters. Browse the internet for anything political and there she is. Her tweets and facebook posts make news in a way many government officials who were actually elected to a particular office can only dream of. She even turned Dancing With the Stars, something else I avoid, into a battle between the right and the left. Did Bristol Palin get as far as she did because of who her mother is (because it’s certainly why she was on the show to begin with)? Did she lose because of all the Palin-haters out there furiously voting against her? Oh, the conspiracy theories abound. Then there is her position as an analyst for Fox News and her reality show fame. You can’t lob a political statement anywhere without it running into some issue she’s been pontificating about over the past few months. Add to that the fact that my own father thinks she’s the best human being to grace this planet since, I don’t know, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, maybe Jesus, and it’s official – I’m trapped. The American political discourse has turned into Palin World, and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of her. Sarah Palin has been the center of national attention more times in two years than Dubya was in his eight years in the White House. Thankfully, I’m not alone in my Palin fatigue. It’s nice to know the entire country hasn’t gone mad, but it’s disappointing to think about how many people may very well be voting for “that reality show lady” in 2012.

And before people start to screech about my obvious liberal bias, let me point out that I haven’t even mentioned her views and where they differ from my own. This isn’t even about ideological stances, it’s about media overexposure. It’s like that song on the radio that you hear all day long and sooner or later you start to not like it. Sarah Palin is getting over-played fast and, with two years until the next election, I think she runs the risk of going overboard with the self promotion even with those who are more inclined to like her. Her strategy of inundating the country with all Palin all the time could backfire. She has high disapproval ratings as it is and in polls conducted by both Quinnipiac University and CNN she loses to Obama in a hypothetical election by eight points – more than his margin of victory against John McCain in 2008. That is not an insignificant thing to overcome and becoming a pop culture nuisance isn’t going to win people over, it’s just obnoxious.

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Commendable Behavior From Someone I Don’t Expect It From

10 06 2010

I’m not exactly what you’d call a fan of Nancy Pelosi and not just because I think fandom and politics go together like potassium and water. Sometimes she says and does things that just irk me. On occasion, I shake my head and think “And she’s third in the line of succession.” Still, I like and admire her tenacity even though her stands are sometimes to my left – not impossible, but no easy task either. I’m not bothered by the fact that she’s more liberal than I am. Hello! She’s the congresswoman from San Francisco not the Bible Belt. I’m still supposed to stagger back in sheer amazement at her liberalism? I don’t think so.
Honestly, the biggest argument for my lack of a strong opinion of her is that her being re-elected or not is simply out of my sphere of influence. I don’t have the money to donate to any campaigns and I don’t live in her district, so it’s not up to me whether she stays in Congress or not. I am also not a congresswoman, so I have no power to choose the Speaker of the US House of Representatives. It’s all out of my hands and I, unlike so many, refuse to flip out over elections in which I cannot participate. Now, if I had a substantial income and were able to donate significant amounts to campaigns all over the country, well then, my tune would change but I’m just a spectator at this point.

So what could move me to applaud someone whom I am otherwise unlikely to comment on one way or the other? Grace in the face of bad behavior. This is what made me actually proud of Nancy Pelosi.

She was being heckled by healthcare activists and Code Pink, but the issue she’s discussing isn’t what has me singing her praises. It’s the way she’s handling the uproar that I admire.
Last summer, when senators and congress people went home to try to sell healthcare reform, many met with strong opposition in the various town-hall meetings they held and their reactions generally fell into one of two categories – fight or flight. They either got just as belligerent as the protesters and got into verbal sparring matches or they ducked out as soon as a few loud hecklers started crowing. Speaker Pelosi did neither of these things – she calmly delivered her speech. Even when her security detail came up to the podium and said that the demonstrators were throwing things and the speaker should leave, she waved them off. “I’m not leaving.” And she didn’t. She delivered her half-hour speech in full though her security people were anxiously standing by.
It’s got to be obvious at this point that I generally have no soft spot in my heart for hecklers. It’s a wimps form of protesting. Standing in a crowd of people and just squawking takes no conviction. Standing holding a sign where everyone can see you or standing up in one of those meetings, stating your name and outlining all the problems you have with a particular proposal requires some gumption. If you feel strongly about something, you should have the wherewithal to stand up and take ownership of what’s tumbling forth from you mouth. Anonymously yelling grievances, or insults, or whatever at some politician, in my opinion, is nothing more than a cheep attempt to get on TV. “Look at me! I’m the stupid jackass at the [insert politician’s name here] rally!” It’s nothing but rude and gets even worse when people start throwing things… at a seventy-year-old woman… whose daughter and baby granddaughter are in the audience. Oh yeah, that’ll gain you a bunch of support for your cause. Real classy!

For standing up to asshats without losing her cool, Speaker Pelosi gets a gold star!

Nicely done.





The Power of Perception – Israel, Oil, and Other Stuff

7 06 2010

This is a continuation of my previous post about the oil spill. Someone was kind enough to comment and I have so much to say, I needed a whole post to respond and elaborate on the topic.

For many, this photo sums up everything they feel about the Bush administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina. It’s not fair, but it’s the nature of the game. Hurricane Katrina – from the evacuation through to the rebuilding (still in progress, BTW) – was bungled every which way until it was nothing short of a boondoggle, but one man, George W. Bush could not have single-handedly wrecked it no matter how hard he tried. I’m not say he didn’t mess up, I simply stating the fact that he wasn’t the only one. There were plenty of mistakes made by a whole bunch of people who did a shoddy job thinking that somewhere along the line someone would pick up the slack and no one did – administratively speaking, that is. There are big-hearted individuals and groups that have done incredible work. There are some that still are working down there.
As for that picture of President Bush the Younger peering down at a devastated New Orleans from Air Force One, it isn’t all that it seems. Yes, he flew over and didn’t land to see the true plight of the citizens, but there was a very good, practical reason. When Air Force One shows up, it’s not just an ordinary day in the neighborhood. The Secret Service has to work alongside local law enforcement and, given the totality of the destruction of the infrastructure and such, those agencies would have run the risk of not being there to protect the local population if they were devoting what resources they had to providing the level of protection a presidential visit requires. They decided the risk wasn’t worth taking. See, it’s quite a valid reason, but when people are suffering and dying, reasons for not doing things that are seen as helpful all sound a bit like cop outs.

This is currently the image of Obama and the oil spill. While not entirely reassuring, he is there on the beach and that’s something. If an image comes along that carries more emotion – one of an oil-soaked wetland littered with dean animals, or something like that – then he will hear more cries that he hasn’t done enough. He still can’t go and fix the well himself or make all the oil disappear, but he is doing what little he can.

In other news, last week Israeli commandos were involved in a violent incident while boarding a Turkish aid vessel attempting to break the blockade Israel has imposed upon the Gaza Strip. I’m not going to try to piece together what happened that night on that dark, crowded ship. All we know is that something went very wrong, people died, and many were injured at the hands of military personnel. The image of elite troops killing and wounding civilians is almost universally unpalatable. The result – serious discussions all over the world about the efficacy and ethical implications of the Israeli policy regarding Gaza. Usually, such dialogues result in fierce accusations of the people, groups, or countries involved being “anti-Israel” or “pro-terrorist”, but this time, under these conditions is seems as though we might be able to cut through the bullfunky and get to the point. Some in Israel itself are calling for a review of the way Israel handles Gaza. If you’re wondering where the US stands, the Secretary of State issued the following statement.

Just a note, this is not a picture from that press briefing, it's a picture from her October 2009 visit to Israel. Why didn't I use a picture from the briefing? Because the briefing was supposed to be about her bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Romania and I wanted an US/Israel image. It was all for aesthetics.

MR. CROWLEY: On his last day of covering the State Department, Nick Kralev of The Washington Times.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, Nick.

QUESTION: Hello.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We should sing Auld Lang Syne or something. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, thank you very much even without doing it.

Madam Secretary, I’d like to ask you a couple things about the Israeli situation which, as you know, is getting more and more serious by the day. I know there are many unknowns at this point, but do you accept Israel’s argument of self-defense? And do you think that the investigation should be done by Israel or by a third independent party, as other Security Council members have said?

And more broadly, we all know there are so many moving pieces to this. There’s Turkey, there’s Israel and in the Palestinians, there’s Iran, there’s Syria. What are the implications in your mind of this situation to the peace process and in the larger issues in the Middle East? Thanks.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Nick, on your last day, you’ve asked a very complicated set of interrelated questions. And let me put it into context as I respond. First, let me say how deeply we regret the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered among those involved in the incident aboard the Gaza-bound ships, and we offer our condolences to the families of the deceased and the wounded.

Turkey and Israel are both good friends of the United States, and we are working with both to deal with the aftermath of this tragic incident.

The United States supports the Security Council’s condemnation of the acts leading to this tragedy. And we urge Israel to permit full consular access to the individuals involved and to allow the countries concerned to retrieve their deceased and wounded immediately. We urge all concerned countries to work together to resolve the status of those who were part of this incident as soon as possible.

We support in the strongest terms the Security Council’s call for a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation. We support an Israeli investigation that meets those criteria. We are open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation, and we will continue to discuss these ideas with the Israelis and our international partners in the days ahead.

The situation in Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable. Israel’s legitimate security needs must be met, just as the Palestinians’ legitimate needs for sustained humanitarian assistance and regular access for reconstruction materials must also be assured.

We will continue to work closely with the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority along with international NGOs and the United Nations to ensure adequate access for humanitarian goods, including reconstruction and building supplies. And we welcome efforts to promote the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate and internationally recognized Palestinian Authority.

Ultimately, the solution to this conflict must be found through an agreement based on a two-state solution negotiated between the parties. This incident underscores the urgency of reaching this goal and we remain committed to working with both sides to move forward these negotiations.

I think the situation from our perspective is very difficult and requires careful, thoughtful responses from all concerned. But we fully support the Security Council’s action last night in issuing a presidential statement and we will work to implement the intention that this presidential statement represents.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for taking this question.

On an almost-related note, today Helen Thomas, veteran opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers’ and Dean of the White House Press Corps, retired today over inflammatory remarks about Israel – namely that they should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and “go home.” Obviously, these statements are incendiary to say the very least and especially given the fact that, against all odds, peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are still set to begin soon. Kudos to George Mitchell. As for Ms. Thomas, she should have, and did, issue a statement of apology. She should not have been made to retire, but it’s fine with me if she chose to do so. She is approaching ninety after all. It is always unfortunate when an illustrious career is ended with a mind-bogglingly stupid comment or action. She broke a lot of ground for women in journalism, but will be remembered, in the short-term anyway, as the old woman who didn’t like Israel. Freedom of speech is protected, but it isn’t always popular and there are some things you just can’t say in public – especially if you’re “somebody”. Sorry, but that’s the way it goes.





After the Glow Wears Off – Why Fandom Doesn’t Work With Politicians

26 05 2010

In the aftermath of the explosion of the Deep Water Horizon – that oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico – and the subsequent ecological catastrophe which is, as of right now, still intensifying something is happening in the minds of many Americans. They are realizing that Barack Obama, the President of the United States, is not a super hero. He cannot take out his Super-Duper Galactic Fix-It Ray and make the problem and all the foibles that come with trying to fix it just go away and neither can Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, or anyone else. Winning an election gets you a very big job, a place in the history books, and that’s it. The pants you put on in the morning may be bullet-proof – yes, they do exist – but you still put them on the same way anyone else does.

In the 2008 presidential election, particularly on the democratic side, much was made of the candidates’ personalities and whether or not they were “likable” enough. If it hadn’t been for that, I believe I’d be sitting here kvetching about the latest mistake President Clinton made – President Hillary Clinton, that is. She had everything – money, connections, experience – everything but a triple dose of charisma and that was her downfall. She couldn’t change who she was, so she lost. It’s not fair, but it’s the nature of the game. You have to be “likable” and you either are or you aren’t. For many people Barack Obama was The Man – the man to elect, the man to back, the man you’d want to have a beer with, just the man. In the world of Political High School, he was the captain of the football team and valedictorian all rolled into one while then-Senator Clinton was the jealous, geeky, overachiever on the debate team, and John McCain was the guy who played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. Neither of them had a chance in hindsight.
The problem with popularity in politics is, just like in high school, it’s fleeting. To be known simply as “popular” is to be unknown and invisible in a week’s time. Politics is a business fraught with unpopular positions. With some perpetually contentious issues like abortion, to take a firm stand one way or the other is to alienate a large section of the voting population. The only thing worse than taking a strong stand on a divisive issue is to take no stand at all. That just makes you look weak. If you manage to get elected, a whole new world of “un-likablity” opens up and is furthered by omnipresent mass media. Make one mistake, say one thing out of line, forget to smile at someone and it’s news and news always offends someone. Make a offhand comment about women in the workforce and someone will say you’re against stay-at-home moms and therefore single-handedly out to destroy the traditional American family. Question military expenses and you’re an evil, marxist, terrorist, hippy, America-hater. Innocently point out the good qualities of a colleague of the opposite sex, or of the same-sex if you are known by the public to be openly gay or lesbian, and you may very well end up being dragged by your sinificant other to couple’s counseling and have to explain yourself. Choose not to go to church and you become evil and completely anti-American even though there are plenty of Americans who don’t attend church and are also not enemies of the state.
These things all pale in comparison to what happens when a big problem comes along – unusually polarizing legislation, Supreme Court appointments, some sort of unforeseen tragedy. That’s when that cult of personality really begins to crack under the weight of the task at hand. It becomes blindingly clear that you can’t walk on water or fly or shoot lasers from your eyeballs. You’re still disappointingly human with only twenty-four hour days just like the rest of us. The pedestal you’ve been placed on by your supports erodes away from beneath your feet and you come tumbling down to earth to rejoin the rest of us mortals. People start to ask “What if? What if I’d pulled the other lever or checked the other box?” This is the predicament that our current president finds himself in. It’s not fair, but it’s the nature of the game. Presidents seem like they have more power than the rest of us and to some extent they do, but we forget they’re also astoundingly human. I could go into specific presidential examples of human frailty – the same problems we see every day in our own lives – but why bother. It’s all old news.
One would think that, in light of these recent events, we as a nation would be less inclined to idealize our political figures but it seems more prevalent today than it was two and a half years ago. For example, Sarah Palin could make a statement saying something needs to be acted upon and thousands of people would go out and make it happen regardless of what “it” actually is. The task is completely immaterial simply because Sarah Palin said “it” should be and they think Sarah Palin is the best human being that ever lived and is right all of the time. Ron Paul, the Congressman from Texas, has a similarly devoted and vocal following. Hillary Clinton, the current Secretary of State, still has quite a fan base even after her election lose and employment with the Obama administration, and some of them are fiercely loyal. Just search Clinton 2012 to see the kind of rumors bubbling up as campaign season approaches with all of these diehard fans lying in wait, though, historically, a primary challenger to the incumbent president has never won the nomination and only serves to split the party and make an election victory that much harder to achieve. Even so, hope springs eternal for some of her supporters who view her as the best hope for democrats in 2012. I say that’s a long ways off and a highly unlikely turn of events. Her high approval rating will plummet if she turns on the administration who employed her for three years or so. Nobody likes a turncoat not to mention that putting your sense of loyalty into question is never the best political move.
And what about Mr. Obama and his charisma? Well, while he may recover some popularity for one reason or another – these things go days by day – it’ll never be quite the same now that everyone knows he isn’t a super hero or a jedi knight or some other spectacular being. It’s like having a really attractive roommate. Everyone sees them as this Adonis-like figure, but you’ve seen them at their worst – hung-over, unhappy, angry, first thing in the morning – and you know that they have their moments just like anyone else. You can’t idealize someone after that because you know that they are no more or less than human.





News Flash – Tights Are NOT Pants!

24 05 2010

I have never been what anyone would call trendy or stylish. I have always had far too imperfect a figure to try to emulate the “perfect” specimens in Vogue – specimens that magazine editors still feel the need to Photoshop nearly to the point of being unrecognizable. My mission when buying clothes is to simply find something that fits right and that’s hard enough. I’m sure there are some of you who know how I feel. It is my chronic lack of personal style that keeps me mute on the topic of fashion… usually. I have, however, reached the point at which even I feel the need to speak out for I have seen one too many nylon-encased buttocks being openly displayed. Women of the world take note –

TIGHTS ARE NOT PANTS!!!!!


They are similar to pants. Almost pants. The ghost of pants, if you will, but they are not to the bum-covering or bum-supporting caliber of pants. Yes, I said bum-supporting and, unless you are as fit as is humanly possible, and cellulite-free, and are under thirty, and have never even thought of birthing children, your butt benefits from the shape-assisting support of proper pants. The never-ending quest for the perfect pair of jeans stems from the fact that a good-looking butt is generally a well-supported butt.

The issue of bum coverage is two-fold. The first has to do with opacity. You cannot see through pants. This is not always true with tights. We all have those people who we are or have been close enough to that they know what kind of underwear we prefer – friends we shop with, obviously significant others past and present have a clue, roommates, ect… – but everyone in the mall/grocery store/city doesn’t know you like that, so it’s just awkward.
The second issue is one public vs. private interest. Almost no one wants to know every topographical detail of your ass, especially if they don’t know your name. Your doctor doesn’t want to know that much about your ass. Please, keep the dimples and jiggle to yourself. If you’re wearing underwear, I don’t want to see it. If you’re not wearing underwear, I don’t want to know and I really don’t want to see it. Believe it or not, I’m not alone in feeling this way. There are plenty of people who have no desire to have advanced knowledge of the muscle tone you have (or have not) achieved in your gluteal region and those that are interested aren’t going to want to have that information shared with the rest of the world. They want to feel special.
Tights are great when worn properly – i.e. not as pants. They’re great under dresses, skirts, and oversized shirts as long as they cover your butt as opposed to making it a billboard for Victoria’s Secret… or your local gym… or a strip club… or McDonald’s.

One final note for those of you who think I’m totally off-base here. Remember, it’s not just svelte twenty-somethings and college sorority girls who have adopted this pants-less look. I saw a woman who had to be pushing sixty walking around like this as well as gaggle of girls who were maybe – maybe – fourteen. It’s gross.

:Rant Complete:





My Idea for Israeli/Palestinian Peace Process – Uhhh, How ’bout Saying What You Really Mean?

17 04 2010

Let’s start off by clarifying a few things before you get all upset.

1. Am I “Anti-Israel”?
No. I don’t want to see Israel destroyed, but I also don’t believe that the Palestinian people have no right to exist.

2. Am I some dumb fool who believes that peace can happen overnight?
No. Peace takes a long time, so the sooner we get started, the better.

3. Since I’m not jewish or muslim, I obviously can’t care strongly enough about the issue and therefore have no right to an opinion, particularly one which I’ve made public.
This is the one that bothers me the most because I’ve had people – friends – say this to me in all seriousness and think that doing so is quite alright.

I'm not Hillary Clinton either, but I would strike the same pose at this point.

No, I’m not jewish. I’m not a muslim either, I’m agnostic. I don’t practice anything. I don’t have a problem with any individual who does until they start telling me what I do and do not have the right to think about and discuss. At that point, whether they know it or not, that individual and I have a big problem, and it has nothing to do with their religion and everything to do with their arrogance and pretension masked as piety.

Still not the Secretary of State. Just needed the pose again.


I hate to break this to them, but any sort of armed conflict in that region effects everyone and it doesn’t stop to make sure I have a personal stake in the matter before it messes with me. The way I see it, if the problems caused belong to everyone, the solution should too. Everyone should have a seat at the negotiating table whatever their religion or lack thereof.

So now that I’ve stated where I stand, what’s my idea?

HONESTY!

I don’t believe any of the public statements put out there by anyone – not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the US, not the UN, not anybody – and haven’t for quite a while. I would love for the Israelis, Palestinians, US, UN, League of Arab Nations, and any other groups involved in the peace process to meet somewhere and speak their minds. It wouldn’t be pretty, but we’d have a far better idea of how big a task the peace process actually is and who really wants it. For example, I don’t believe for one minute that Israel – the government, the people, all of it – wants a two-state solution. From a practical standpoint, they have no reason to want it. All they do is loose land. Many say they would gain an enemy, but I don’t see how. They’re already fighting the Palestinians, so the enemy would not be a new one. Speaking of the Palestinians, I think that they would like a two-state very much – it beats being a refugee in what was, at one time, your country – but they don’t want to appear weak by just talking over an agreement and then signing it. No, they want to fight tooth and nail for their peace. Unfortunately, no one has informed them that, to paraphrase an old expression, violence for the sake of peace is like promiscuity for the sake of virginity. It doesn’t work very well. The US and the League of Arab Nations are two sides of the same coin. Both have voices calling for peace within them, but there are strong loyalties within them linking the whole group to one side or the other. The Arab League of Nations will always back Palestine over peace and the US will never push for peace as hard as it pushes for Israel for a number of reasons, all political. The UN, if we’re honest, has lost much of its power. I wish it weren’t the case and I wish someone were able to put them on the path to becoming what they once were, but for now they serve one very important purpose – they condense, into one voice, world opinion and make that voice heard. While, traditionally, the world at large has had its issues with jewish people – that’s one reason why Israel was created in the first place – currently, the world voice is still calling for peace and a homeland for both peoples.

If everyone involved would say what was unpopular but true, maybe we’d get somewhere before the two sides start lobbing missiles at each other again. I’m glad we are still working on peace even though I complain about the process. We can work on disagreements, nihilism gets us nowhere.

If it’s news you’re after as opposed to my thoughts and opinions, this site follows the process very closely and does so fairly and honestly, I feel.