Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wild Turkey couldn't drag me away

I suspect that on this day, everyone’s writing posts about those things for which they are thankful. Being a frequently childish potty-mouthed contrarian, I have of course decided to tell you what I am NOT thankful for:

Idiots like Jonah Goldberg, who HAS HIS OWN SYNDICATED COLUMN in which he argues trivial nonsense such as: Obama is a hypocrite for sending his children to private school. Now, according to Goldberg, Republicans who send their children to private school are not hypocrites, because they support giving themselves a tax credit for doing so. Obama, on the other hand, is a hypocrite, because he does not support having the federal government subsidize what his family can well afford on their own.

The last time I heard logic that tortured, it was standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier with a big banner behind it that said “Mission Accomplished.”

More than the fact that I don’t see why I should subsidize private education when I already subsidize public education, there is a more important issue at stake here, and that is that many private schools are also religious schools.

So, by using government funds to support religious education, we would be violating that pesky separation of church and state bit of our constitution, yes, but we would also be funding the subjugation of women, gays, atheists, etc., much of which is preached, perpetuated & supported by organized religion.

And I’m against that. I have the temerity to believe it to be anti-American.

Funny, thing, though, about that whole church/state separation deal. We have largely evangelical Christians to thank for it.

Yes, contrary to popular belief, the US did not adopt the separation because Franklin was a randy old atheist with a beef against Puritans (he was not an atheist), or because Jefferson was a minor deity with a gift of foresight so powerful that he could predict the rise of secret Muslim presidential candidates. We adopted the separation because for over a hundred years, we’d tried our hand at official state religion, and had failed miserably at it.

As the colonies were established, official religions were established for that colony. Congregationalists flourished in the north (think Pilgrims), and the Anglican church in the southern colonies. Residents of those colonies who preached other than officially sanctioned religious beliefs were persecuted, banished, and even executed. Mary Dyer, one of many condemned for her religion, was put to death right on Boston Common for the crime of being a Quaker. A Quaker! What have Quakers ever done to anyone, ever, except shill for nutritious hot breakfast cereals, and found a state known chiefly for its fascistic approach to steak sandwiches? Quakers are the winners of the Miss Congeniality Award for Christian sects for, like, the last two hundred years straight.

Those colonial religious affiliations survived the transition to statehood, and became the bane of American upstart sects like the Baptists and Evangelicals. Those sects then backed political candidates like James Madison, who promised that they would support a Bill of Rights in our Constitution with a giant “no government support of religion” written in Founding Father Condensed Extra Bold right across the top.

But the best part was, it wasn’t merely self-preservation that motivated them. The Evangelicals also believed – get this! – that everyone has a personal relationship to the Almighty, and that God does not speak primarily through the clergy, but through everyone, and he most certainly did not require the support of a government to flourish; in fact, quite the opposite. The Evangelicals believed that the separation of church and state would, encourage, yes, I said encourage religion in the United States.

And apparently, they were correct. Because we are, collectively, one giant God-fearing mamajamma up in here. So, congratulations on your foresight, oh Jesus freaks, otherwise, without the separation, Kennedy would’ve had us all worshiping the guy in the beanie who thinks that pro-choice voters should be excommunicated, while child molesters get the get out of hell free card. Without your wisdom, President-elect Obama would right now no doubt be planning the massive conversion of public schools to madrasahs, churches to mosques, and the Washington Monument into the world’s most phallic minaret. And that’s saying something.

But I don’t understand why you have abandoned your past wise counsel, and now seek to establish yourselves as a state-sanctioned set of beliefs. Unless…could it be…that you forsee your own eventual demise, à la Old Europe, by forcing your dogma upon the populace by taking over government and passing legislation that curtails freedoms but conforms to church teachings? And that you predict that you will fade in power, and become governmentally irrelevant, like the Church of England, and that you wish to force your hand in order to hasten your own dwindling influence?

If that’s the case, man, bring it, as they say, on. If we’re going to pick an official religion for the United States, I want something hard core. No Lutherans or Presbyterians allowed; I demand a far-right inflexible hate-based exclusionary LDS or Evangelical Pentacostal religion, man, because I am SO down for the shitstorm of world rebuke and internal rebellion that would then be visited upon us. I am so ready to be a full-on William Ayersian soldier in that fight. I am so ready to have it out man, and let’s once and for all establish, without a doubt, what a bunch of fucking childish and pathetic idiots we all truly are.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nacho Marriage

I have a vision of hell, and in it, I am one of the "single ladies" being addressed by Beyonce in her new video:

Yes, the dancing is cool. And yes she’s very pretty. I mean, except for the creepy baby-sized teeth. And the metal hand-robot-jewelry-thing. Is Beyonce Michael Jackson now, btw? Because I heard she has a whole different personality, the Tyra Banksian-named Sasha Fierce, and that she assumes that personality on stage in order to feel free to, oh, I don’t know, bust a more awesome dance move than her normal personality would allow? Shit, I don’t know. You tell me.

Which is not unlike that alter ego Garth Brooks had when he was so popular that he thought he could fling poo in a brown wig and the public would still think he was a genius. Wow, you know, come to think of it, Garth Brooks may have been the first person ever to lose money by underestimating the intelligence of country music fans.

But, so anyway. Look. I’m not one of those feminists who’s constantly taking the culture’s temperature and pronouncing it sicker than it’s ever been, but…If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it…????

Really? Ladies, is this what we’re doing now, really?

I mean, well…fuck it, really?

First off, I got to say that as a two-time loser, I’m the last one who should sit in judgment of the institution of marriage. I take that back. I’m the second to last one. The last one, I’m pretty sure, has got a title that ends in “of Latter Day Saints.”

I suck at marriage. But you know what? I’m never going to do it again. I love Spooney, and I hope we’re still hanging out when the seas rise and engulf us all in about twelve years, but I’m not going to marry him. Because I suck at it. And it hurts to do something so important and to fail at it. It hurts a lot. And it’s hard to admit that I am really not good at something that I wanted so badly to be good at, but better to face the facts than to continue to delude myself, right? Because isn’t that worse?

Marriage isn’t for everyone. I admire people that do it well, don’t get me wrong. Let nothing in this post even begin to suggest that I don’t admire the hell out of you well-married people. Hell, I tried to BE you people. Twice.

And I swear, I will gladly live and die according to my own good or atrocious judgment. I swear to that. Because I just don’t compromise well. I balk. I recoil. It doesn’t fit. DO NOT WANT. And yes, I’m sure someday I will wonder if my stubborn independence was really worth it. But now, when I think about how I can buy all the shoes and books and music I want, and stay up until 4 a.m. smoking and drinking gin whilst burning through successive DVDs of my complete box set of Sex and the City - and have only to answer to myself, I marvel that I ever wanted it any other way.

You know what’s a good thing? A good thing, is that I live in a country that doesn’t force me to get married. And do that whole “obey” thing. Because, again, I love you Spooney, but I would rather stick needles in my eyes than obey you. Unless, you know, I was in the market for an amp, and then I have to admit that I would pretty much do whatever you told me.

You know what’s another good thing? That I don’t live in Afghanistan, where girls on their way to school are blinded with acid thrown by men who have fashioned themselves a god who apparently approves of such things. In such a world, a little forced marriage seems like a walk in the park. Well, a walk in the park whilst covered from head to toe in a black fabric jail. Whee.

And yet, it’s possible to be an American and still be unlucky in birth. There’s a young woman who works at my office-adjacent Starbucks who wears a head scarf, and I mean the religious kind of head scarf with the wee opening for her face, not the health-department kind of head scarf, and every time I see her, I thank my lucky fucking stars that I was not raised in a philosophy so warped that I am forced to feel pride for honoring a belief that declares even the hairs covering my head to be proof of the sins of my sex made manifest.

And I know I’ve been harping on this for a while, but what does it say about the Church of LDS that since Marie Osmond went off Dancing with the Stars, the most famous Mormon woman in the world is the one who took the worst Mexican restaurant in LA, the one with the awful food and the margaritas made with Everclear and Pixy Stix, and turned it into the most reviled Mexican restaurant in the history of, like, ever?

But see, all along, I believed that Mormons are really good at marriage, you know, or at least really efficient at it, but in fact now that I’ve considered it, I don’t really think they are.

When do most Mormon men get married? After they come back from their mission. Yes, approximately 80-90% of 19-year-old Mormon men go off, two by two, to strange and foreign lands for two year “missions.” These young men sleep, eat, pedal their little bikes and preach the LDS gospel to whoever will listen, day in and day out, with only each other to rely upon for two long years. Think about what that life must be like, especially in places like China, and in the more remote areas of Africa and the Middle East. During that time, as they pass the lonely nights in their barren rooms, a certain portion of them, being young men, must, you know, seek the comfort of one another. C’mon, it’s a statistical inevitability. And as they seek that comfort, they must feel as well the pain of knowing that that which brings them their only solace is also that which, if known, would bring down upon them the most passionate rebuke from that world to which they must someday ultimately return.

And then when they do return, they are married off – and quickly! Good-bye to the intimacy and camaraderie of their little mission for two, and hello to some teenage, conservatively-dressed bit of inexperienced virgin girl flesh. Go forth and plow yon fertile field, young man. Soon there will be little Mormons to support!

Christ, is it any wonder that Mormons revile homosexuality? Hello, it’s called PROJECTION!

Okay, I know that sometimes I can get a bit mean, but all I really want is for everyone, everywhere, to be able to live how they want. With remembering that bit about not hurting anyone else, you know. That’s it. And so even though I think, for example, that it’s ridiculous that Beyonce can put on a measly ten pounds and be pronounced fit to portray the lusciously zaftig Etta James, I wish her well, I do. I wonder why the scores of wonderful black actresses who actually resemble Ms. James physically were not cast, but you know, I’m willing to let it go. And if it makes Beyonce feel better to sing that damn Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) song, and to try to turn a symbol of acquiescence into a spunky anthem of defining your worth according to your highest bidder, well, then more power to her. I hope she’s doing okay, especially since she’s married to that Jay-Z, who always seems to be eyeing her as if she’s a nice piece of jewelry that he almost owns. If you think about it, probably one quarter of the world would gladly give up their own lives to step into hers, and yet, if Beyonce has to invent an alter ego to feel really free, what hope do the rest of us have?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lest ye be judged

It was 1992, and I was a waitress in Chicago. Bill Clinton was campaigning for president, and finally, people like me were beginning to feel like our long national Reaganomic nightmare might soon be over. Most of the people I worked with were excited about the idea of giving Bush the Elder the heave-ho, after all, waiters are, by and large, very sensitive to the injustices of the world. We’re like the princess and the pea, only the pea is some douchebag in an Armani suit who snaps his fingers at us and leaves 8%.

One woman I worked with, however, missed no opportunities to rail against the politics of helping those less fortunate. She grew up in Hawaii, and had only recently moved to the city of the big shoulders. She wasn’t native Hawaiian, she was Hawaiian sort of like Bette Midler is Hawaiian. And she was a tiny thing, maybe 4’10’’, or 4’11”? I’m 5’9”, so it’s sometimes hard for me to gauge the height of people who don’t clear my bra straps. The restaurant where I worked was known for its outdoor patio, and there was a homeless couple who would stand on the sidewalk on the other side of our prep station and beg for bread. We called them George and Martha, since they were prone to very nasty public spats about which one of them should be getting up off their ass and procuring them some alcohol. Still, the waiters developed an affection for them, and once a night, one of us would toss them a bag with a small loaf of bread and a few pats of butter.

The managers were well aware that we did this, and offered no objections. Even if they weren’t crazy about giving away product, they realized that the sooner you got rid of the couple, the sooner you got rid of their smell – a significant factor when trying to encourage the appetites of customers. Also, in those days, in the wake of trickle-down, the streets of Chicago were swarming with homeless people. They were everywhere. Everywhere. We considered ourselves lucky to have only taken on two of them.

But the little chick from Hawaii would never give them bread. She would yell at them to leave, which would trigger George, and especially Martha, whom I’m pretty sure suffered from Tourette, to yell back, causing huge scenes and once, necessitating the presence of the Chicago PD to move them along. You’d think that after causing a completely unnecessary ruckus like that, little Hawaii would’ve learned her lesson, but she didn’t. She continued to be surly to our adopted homeless.

One day, I came in for my lunch shift and found the guys in the kitchen talking excitedly in Spanish and laughing. I asked them what was going on, and they told me that the Hawaiian chick had come in through the back gate, and had surprised George in the rear courtyard stealing a cantaloupe from the crates of produce that had just been delivered. They told me that she grabbed the cantaloupe and tried to wrestle it away from him. He fought just as hard to hang on to his stolen booty, and Hawaii started screaming, which caused the guys in the kitchen to come running out the back door, thus scaring George away. Needless to say, the kitchen guys thought the whole incident nothing short of hysterical.

Later, at the waiter meeting, the manager told us that we should never confront a thief in that manner. That it was dangerous. Ms. Hawaii was unrepentant, however, and announced after the manager had left that she would do it again if the opportunity presented itself.

“Why do you care?” I said to her, “It’s not your cantaloupe.”

“He was stealing,” she replied, “I’m not going to stand by and let someone steal.”

“He’s homeless. He was stealing food. He’s hungry.”

“I don’t care, he should get a job then.”

“Are you serious? He’s sixty years old, at least. He’s got half his teeth. He’s covered in sores. He’s addicted to alcohol. He’s barely coherent. What kind of job should he get?”

“90% of homeless people are homeless because they want to be.”

“What? Where’d you hear that? Convenient Theories for Republicans Weekly?

That made her mad.

“People choose to be homeless. They don’t have to be.”

I had just read an article in the Trib about Chicago’s homeless, so I knew she was full of shit. “Sixty per cent of the homeless on the streets of Chicago right now are from downstate, and are here to find work because the farm economy is collapsing. Many of these people are trying to make it off the streets. Many of them are on the streets because they’re mentally ill and cannot get treatment.”

“Yeah, well, most of them just don’t want to work. They’re lazy.”

“Really? Tell me, do you have any original ideas about this issue at all? Or are they all your daddy’s?”

I remember she turned beet red and stomped off. Even though I felt like I was picking on someone half my size, I didn’t feel bad about it at all. Look, I don’t care if someone’s a conservative, as long as they can speak intelligently about why they feel that way. And if someone is old enough to be out of college and in the working world, they are old enough to be able to see that world for themselves and formulate their own opinions, instead of spewing whatever pre-fab hate their parents had filled them with before setting them loose on the rest of us.

After that day, whenever I worked with Ms. Hawaii in the indoor dining room, I would arrive for my shift early and move all our supplies to the very highest shelves in the station. So every time she would need a creamer, or a sugar ramekin, or tea, or extra napkins, or bread plates, or coffee, she would have to ask me for it. I would walk into the station, and she would have this fake-friendly smile plastered on her face, and she would ask me to please get something down from the high shelf for her.

And here’s the best part: I was never anything but completely accommodating and gracious about helping her out. Never was there one hint of gloating nor any bitching about being asked so many times during my shift to assist her. I was so nice to her, I don’t think she ever had any idea that I was also her tormentor. I was positively charitable.

Yeah, it was fun, but it accomplished nothing, save for inflating my already healthy sense of self-satisfaction. Because as unpleasant as it was for her to have to constantly ask for help from someone whom she knew full-on loathed her, I don’t think it made her a more humble or compassionate person.

I don’t know. I could be wrong.

I thought about the Hawaiian chick today, as I heard one of the owners of LA hangout El Coyote plead with gay activists not to boycott her restaurant. I don't know, it was something about the way she spoke, like she could not even believe that her tidy little world might not be exactly as she saw it.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

See, this woman from El Coyote had given money to Prop 8. She had done it because she’s a Mormon, and her church asked her to give money, and the way she expressed it, was what the church asks, you do. Whether that answer is honest, or merely self-serving, I have no idea. Apparently, she didn’t know her donation would be made public. In any case, she was found out, and now, now that she’s been found out, now she’s sorry about it. Now she is pleading with her gay clientele to excuse her and to continue to come to her restaurant and give her their hard-earned dollars, even though she has given her hard-earned dollars to the stripping of their rights.

She wants forgiveness. She wants it badly, although not badly enough to promise a contribution to the anti-8 movement. Because, again, her church would not approve. But above all, she doesn’t understand what she did wrong. She doesn’t understand why everyone is looking at her that way. All she did was what she was told to do. She says she loves the gay people who are her employees and her clientele. And she says she is following her faith when she helped to take rights away from those same people. What’s the problem?

She doesn’t understand what the problem is.

And she’s not alone. More and more people on the list of donors are finding themselves and the companies they work for being scrutinized due to their support of 8. Boycotts have been threatened against their businesses by gay people. They have been called bigots by gay people. It seems that gay people think themselves fit to stand in judgment of them.

Can I hear a “how dare they,” anyone?


I didn’t think so.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Time to rend

Mormon temples and other church property in California and in Utah have been vandalized as part of the backlash against the passage of Prop 8 in California.

I would like to say to my readers that I don’t think that it’s appropriate to vandalize churches, and that not all Mormons agree with the actions of their church, and there is nothing to be gained by attempting to terrorize anyone. And I would like to say to those Mormons that are upset about these recent events –

How’s it feel?

How’s it fucking feel?

Do you feel sad? Misunderstood? Do you feel like people are against you for no good reason? Do you feel like people hate you, even though they don’t know you?

How’s it feel?

The LDS church has released a statement (emphasis mine) saying: "No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information."

Oh, now they tell us! Prior to this, they seemed quite comfortable indeed with vilification and erroneous information. In fact, the LDS pro-8 website still contains the videos wherein they say that gay marriage will endanger freedom of speech!

What, huh?

Yeah, I’m not kidding. They say gay marriage will endanger freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They say that parents won’t be able to teach their own values to their kids anymore. They say that the passage will not take any existing rights away from gay couples, and, to top it off, they proclaim that the issue of the happiness of gay people is a “diversion.”

But I’m glad they’re so concerned now about erroneous information. Douchebags.

In their statement, the LDS also said that we should "act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other."

To which I say: you first.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Readers, words really can’t express my frustration over the passage of Proposition 8 in California.

For those of you that have been trapped in a closet somewhere, Prop 8 is the biggest, hatingest, vilest prop ever in the state of California, and that’s saying a lot. Because we’ve had some crazy-ass props, y’all.

Unfortunately, the high voter turnout for Barack Obama in African-American communities may have contributed to the success of Prop 8, since approximately 70% of black voters favored 8, compared to roughly 50% in other demographics.

Yeah, I know. Nothing like the achievement of a civil rights milestone to inspire people to…deny others their civil rights. It’s so full-on ironic that even Alanis Morissette couldn’t miss it.

I am completely stumped as to why, in a town full of the most creative, savvy, politically active, and – hello! – richest gay people on the face of the earth, why did the “Yes on 8” side so completely outspend, outcreate and outexecute us? What the fuck happened, people? Was the election too close to Halloween? Were you distracted? Did the acquisition of that snowmachine for your First Dude costume take up way more time than you thought it would? Why did I see 15 thousand “Yes” commercials on television, but never this commercial, which is fucking brilliant and makes one of the most politically marketable arguments there is for the “No” side, which is, if you don’t care about the rights of gay people, and many douchebags don’t, then perhaps you care that the Mormon church, which financed and organized the “Yes” campaign, is now dictating policy to us!

Dude, we’re Califuckinfornia! We don’t let the squares tell us what to do! We should be kicking their ass, see, because California is like Dee Snider, and the Mormons are like that uptight asshole in the video who gets blown out the window by our awesomeness.

Fucking Mormons. You know, they do have a whole state of their own to fuck up and hate people in, why do they have to come here and start this shit with us? Well, apparently, their big motivation for backing the measure was to earn street cred from the other Jesus freaks, so that the evangelicals and Catholics will see how effective they are at oppressing gays, and stop ostracizing Mormons from their gay hating parties.

I tried to think of some way to get revenge on them, but all I could think of was for the HBO series “Big Love” to continue to present Bill Paxton as the ultimate expression of Mormon manhood. I mean, that’s pretty humiliating, right?

Okay, I’ve heard so many stupifyingly nonsensical arguments from the “Yes” side that my brain has a tendency to lock and freeze whenever I get around this topic. I mean, what do you say to someone who keeps insisting that they have nothing against gay people, and of course some of their best friends blah blah blah, and yet they insist that it’s God’s will that gay people do not deserve the rights that they themselves possess? What do you say when that same person is black, or Latina? Look, you cannot respect gays and also disenfranchise them. You just can’t. How exactly do you convey that their position is perhaps the most idiotic one taken in the entire history of idiotic positions?

The commercials for Prop 8 all entreated the voters to “restore” traditional marriage.

Restore? Restore? Is it gone? Did it go away? If you believe it did, perhaps you should look inside your own heart, and your own head, and leave the rest of us alone. The sanctity of your marriage, whatever the fuck that means, is determined by you and your spouse, and gay people got fuck all to do with it.

Not only that, but the biblical support for a ban on gay rights is scant and vague, and if you’ve ever bothered to look it up, you know what I’m saying is true. If anything, the Bible recommends treating others as you would have yourself treated, and it says so pretty plainly, so don’t come to me with your “I’m a Christian!” arguments, because they’re horseshit, and we both know it. If the thought of gays marrying invokes revulsion in you, examine yourself. Disgust of gays, and fear of gays and hatred of gays is a weakness. It is a weakness within you. It is self-delusion. It is a failure of character, and I pity anyone who suffers from it, because it cripples you, it makes you mean and small and not worthy of the respect of your fellow humans, let alone the love of that God that you pretend to care so much about.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

With hope, good morning.

In the end, it fell easily into our laps like leaves falling off a changing tree.

Of course, I can say it all seemed so easy because I wasn’t out there in a swing state knocking on doors and telling people to get their asses to the polls. I appreciate that Obama’s campaign was probably one of the most difficult political accomplishments since Henry VIII basically overnight changed everyone in England from Catholic to Church of Hot New Wives. But once the returns began to roll in, it became quickly apparent that this was not 2000, nor 2004. There were too many of us, and we could not be denied.

So what’s the difference? Why so comparatively easy this time?

How about this: the difference was the guy.

As much as I love Al Gore, and still have hot sex dreams about him wherein he shows me a PowerPoint presentation about all the different ways he’d like to raise my core temperature, and as much as we all now of course realize that he would’ve made a kick-ass president, Al didn’t inspire voters to stand in line for 8 hours at the polls. Oh no, not American voters. Yes, we want policies that we can believe in, but we also want to be on our couches by 6 p.m. with a beer in our hand.

And Kerry – well…Christ. Who wasn’t holding their nose on that one? The guy would have made a serviceable president, and it goes without saying that he was about 25 gazillion times more capable than the alternative, but still. You’d think the guy could’ve managed to go one day in his campaign without acting like an asshole. And his wife! She made Cindy McCain look like Mother fucking Theresa.

Last night, one of pundits said something that made me realize that part of the reason I ended up loving Obama was that he was ice cold, baby. Nothing phased him. McCain would lie to his face, and he would smile and raise his hand to the moderator to refute. And as much as people praised his gift of elevated oratory, Obama’s victory was a victory of logic over emotional appeal, of Spock over Kirk, as we all collectively realized that the fat, bald, old warrior playboy so wasn’t capable of saving us anymore.

So the Obama campaign got it right. They let Obama be Obama, and trust that we would eventually all come along for the ride. They didn’t goad him into phony expressions of emotion like Hillary’s fakey laughter and Gore’s exaggerated eye-rolling. The McCampaign can not claim the same kind of foresight, as they sought desperately to reinvent their candidates at least once a week. After experiencing one of the biggest “OH SHIT” moments in the history of presidential races, the McCain camp sought at first to hide Palin from a skeptical press, and, when that didn’t work, and after numerous calls from within their own party to “free Sarah Palin,” they finally unleashed her onto a mostly receptive public. However, that public soon discovered that, contrary to how she had been described to us by the toady scribes on the right, Palin was not curious, not intelligent, not witty, and did not possess a talent for campaigning.

What she could do, was honk out pre-fab lines in a voice that would embarrass the average cartoon character, wink, and look good in expensive clothes. She was nothing less than an base insult to serious female public servants everywhere. In short order, most Americans went from expecting to be delighted & charmed by this new breed of VP pick, to wondering why she would apparently eat a big hot steaming bowl of ignorance for breakfast each and every morning. Believe me, nothing about this campaign gives me greater pleasure than the thought of her packing up her suitcase full of ambition and disappearing into the Alaskan wilderness for the next four years, and hopefully forever. And if she’s ever lost in that wilderness, I sorely hope that the wildlife of her home state shows the same compassion and mercy to her that she has shown to them.

And of course, I have to give big ups to BushCo. Without the complete pillaging of the American economy, it would’ve been difficult for this flawed nation of ours to imagine electing the black dude with the scary name.

Last night, when it became apparent that the imminent closing of the polls on the West Coast would bring a momentous announcement from the networks, I quietly pulled a bottle of Moët from the liquor cabinet and slid it into the freezer to chill. I am, as I have said before, a big believer in the rule of not mentioning a no-hitter to a pitcher, but I thought that if Spooney and my friends didn’t notice me, then the gods of jinx would spare me from their wrath. The champagne had barely chilled at all when I popped the cork on the final word of McCain’s quite gracious concession speech, but no one seemed to care. After all the times I have lamented, over the past eight years, our dismal tendency to repeat and repeat and repeat the same sad mistakes of governance, with the same pitiable and often deadly results, I suddenly felt the weight of inevitability lift from my shoulders. Yes, I thought, as I cast my glad eyes upon the faces of my beyond joyous friends, history will repeat itself. Except when you show courage, and then it can be writ anew.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fight Club

Grinning baboon for the right William Kristol – you know, the one who’s made a career out of being wrong about Iraq, is promising that if Obama wins, conservatives “will greet the news with our usual resolute stoicism or cheerful fatalism.” Also that “being conservative means never being too surprised by disappointment.”

Oh, really?

That’s funny because I remember a time, not so long ago, when Clinton beat Bush the elder and became the first Democratic president since one-timer Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976.

And how did conservatives react?

I’m searching for the words to describe their reaction, and what I’m NOT coming up with is “resolute stoicism” or “cheerful fatalism.” My memory of their reaction is more along the lines of “hysterical hand-wringing” and “dire predictions of economic collapse,” followed shortly thereafter by “declarations of all-out war against Democrats” and “secret financing of scandal-mongers,” and, my personal favorite, “hypocritical moralizing.”

Does no one remember that Clinton was bullied by a press apparently bullied by faxes from the RNC to force through a campaign promise in the first, like, nanosecond of his administration, and the result was the ridiculously ill-advised “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of military service?

Does no one remember that the press was so goaded by the relentless harping of the sore losers of the Republican Party that they declared Clinton’s administration a complete failure before he even took the oath of office? The press so had it in for the Clintons that it actually became a barb inflicted at the media to refer to the “failed Clinton administration” by the spring of 1993.

So, if Obama wins, I wouldn’t exactly prepare myself for an onslaught of cheerful Republican fatalism. They will hit him, and hit him hard. The media, besieged by RNC talking points and the constant prevaricating from the right about how liberal the press is, will decide that they will lose credibility if they are not hyper-critical of Obama’s every move.

I could be wrong. Maybe this time, the press won’t bite. But what I will guarantee is that the Republicans will try to make it happen.

Kristol may find it amusing that “liberals” are so anxious about the imminent election. He thinks it’s cute to pretend to sooth us by pointing out the advantages of a McCain administration. But you know what? Fuck Bill Kristol.

He never had a president from his party so relentlessly hounded by trumped-up trivialities: Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate (seriously, Travelgate was a scandal, y’all), and then the stupendous clusterfuck that was the Ken Starr investigation.

He never had an election stolen from him by a panel dominated by trollop-headed party hacks pretending to be serious jurists.

He never lost an election because state-sanctioned criminals were allowed to deny his party members their civil rights with impunity.

So fuck him and his fake largess. To be a Democrat these days is to constantly fight for every square inch of ground. To be a Democrat is to be ever vigilant against the eroding of our rights by the toadies of the haters. We must constantly remind the press that we are not just the other side, we are the right side. It is right to extend civil liberties to all Americans. It is right to spend our money on health care, instead of arms deals. It is right to stop the erosion of our economy into a feudal system of CEO lords and working class serfs. We are not just the other side. We are the right side. No matter who wins. No matter who fucking wins.

His American century

Look, I'm not nearly up to the task of eulogizing Studs Terkel. I will only say that as someone who tries hard to keep the issues of labor and civil rights close to my heart, what better example and hero is there to emulate than Studs?

When I worked at the now-defunct Jerome's restaurant on Clark street in Chicago, I used to wait on him from time to time, mostly when he would have lunch with people I assumed to be involved with publishing. You know, you can tell a lot about someone by how they treat the wait staff. Here's how Studs treated me when I waited on him:

- When I approached his table, Studs would immediate halt his conversation and give me his full attention. I could've counted on one hand the number of customers who did likewise in my waiting career.

- He always said "please" and "thank you." Always.

- He talked to me like I was a person, working a job, not like I was his servant.

- He tipped big. Like 30%. If his companion was paying the bill, they would tip big also, no doubt due to his influence.

These days, so many politicians, activists and advocates talk the talk, but don't walk the walk, that it's hard to remember what the walk even looks like anymore.

Studs, who wore something red every day to remind him of the rights of workers, and who took the bus even though he could've taken a cab, and who made the oral history of the People into an art form, he walked it. And more than that, he was funny, and curious, and talked almost as well and as much as he listened. He was an old man busting with life. When I am old, I hope, I really do, to enjoy myself just one tenth as much as he clearly did.