Tuesday, July 26, 2011


So lately I've been thinking about Pete Rose being excluded from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

No, seriously, I have been thinking about it.  Because I think it's bullshit.  It's the Baseball Hall of Fame, not the Not Betting On Baseball Hall of Fame, which he should definitely be excluded from, and, by the way, I should definitely be in, because I have never bet on baseball, in spite of having a wicked hot dream in October 2004 in which Johnny Damon personally guaranteed me, between make-out sessions in the Fenway dugout, that the Curse was "so ovah."*  

But if baseball is the quintessential American sport,** then our attitude about Rose's ostracization from the Baseball Hall of Fame is also quintessentially American, because we are as a nation so sort of comically terrible at viewing our famous people in any kind of nuanced way.  Rose was a bad boy and so he must be punished, the end.  

A couple of days ago, some friend of a friend wrote a short essay, which made the social media rounds, on the death of Amy Winehouse, and in which he chastised the public at large for being angry at her for being a junkie.  I understand his point that Amy Winehouse owed us exactly nothing, but if you ask me, anyone who feels angry at Winehouse because they feel like they had a stake in her life through her music is showing a much more invested approach to her art than someone who's main argument appears to be that we should not speak ill of the dead.  Because, you know, she can't hear us anymore.  And speaking as someone who grew up with an addict, I understand being angry at junkies.  Personally, I can shake my head at the colossal self-involvement that it takes to make those life vs. junk scales come down on the side of junk every single goddamn time, and ALSO marvel that she managed to create such beautiful and evocative music. 

But I'm not here to eulogize Winehouse.  Listen to the song "Back in Black," one more time if you want a eulogy, because she's only about 10,000 times more brilliant than anyone else could ever hope to be on the subject of Amy Winehouse.  So, in short, please please stop hectoring people about their feelings about a dead junkie singer, oh social media scold.  If it upsets you so much, stop reading Yahoo comments for fuck's sake. 

And of course I could bring up the media makeover of Rupert Murdoch, who, after his testimony before a Parliament committee, morphed magically from ruthless greedy bastard scumbag yellow journalist and bobby briber to sad old man who nods off during questioning, and so therefore in spite of being a notorious control freak and micro-manager, is now not even aware of anything going on anywhere in his empire, ever.  The chorus of people, and I'm not even counting the yammer heads on Fox News, who suddenly felt sorry for Murdoch - poor, old, out-of-the-loop Murdoch, was really pretty shocking.  

And yet entirely predictable.  Because he can't be evil AND an old fool at the same time, can he?

Look, I know Murdoch's not the Devil, because the Devil doesn't exist, but whoever that fucked-up long-ago biblical scribe was who first invented the Devil - he was definitely thinking of someone exactly like Murdoch.  Because what's more terrifying than someone who can carry the most powerful nations in the world in his pocket, and who can buy their opinions and subvert their legal processes and write their narratives to benefit himself?  Murdoch owns our history, my fellow citizens, so if you feel good about that, then you're in luck, because the Teabaggers, and their contradictory priorities about NOT wanting Obama to cut Medicare or Social Security, but YES wanting the Republicans to cut entitlements, are born directly out of that uptight Aussie sphincter.  They've set up their lawn chairs and unfurled their hilariously dumbass opinions in front of every media outlet in America, and the media can't get enough of them.  They love the Teabaggers, and why not?  They're custom made for the 24 hour news cycle, because their opinions can be constantly and continuously analyzed forever without ever making any sense.  So they are not going anywhere anytime soon.  

A couple of weeks ago, a sort of semi-humorous essay was written on Jezebel about how the author felt bad about rooting for the USA over Japan in the Women's Soccer final, because, well, Japan has had a rough four months.  And I suggested in the comments section, also semi-humorously, that a sure-fire cure for feeling guilty about rooting against Japan as a nation was to remember that they are as a nation capable of some pretty nasty business, i.e., the completely senseless slaughter of dolphins and illegal selling of their meat to schoolchildren, the slaughter of protected whales and the decades-long stalling of meaningful whaling agreements at the IWC and bribery of its members, i.e. you know, your standard nasty nation business.  Please note that I did not accuse the women's soccer team, or the victims of the earthquake and tsunami, of anything.  I was of course vilified.  Because it's Japan's turn to be a blameless victim nation, and whatever the fuck we do, let's not allow any nuanced thinking into any discussion of world affairs, ever.  I've been told it's in bad taste.  

And if your mind is naturally wandering now to 9/11, so did mine.  I recall saying at the time, on some now-defunct blog, that of all the crimes of the Bush administration, the very worst was telling us that al-Qaeda hated us for our freedom.  Because it was more than just a lie.  More than just a self-serving lie, even.  It was a red cape waved in front of a bull that had been speared by the picadors within an inch of his life.  And so the bull charged ahead, blindly, hating, branding as traitors anyone who dared ask why, listening to every lie that reinforced our infantile notions of ourselves as blameless, perfect patriot heroes, which we are not, none of us.

I love my country.  I endeavor to one day deserve her.  But for now, it appears I'm just a nuance monkey.

*Yeah, I know Damon's not from Boston.  IT WAS A DREAM.

**It's not.  

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

This is where we swam

I get why Nancy Grace wants to whip up outrage over the Casey Anthony case.  It inflates her ratings, which increases her TVQ and her net worth.  And I get why the prosecutor would want to cast the verdict as the greatest WTF ever in the history of jurisprudence, because he brought the case under the wrong charge and with insufficient evidence, and then tried to convict the defendant in the Court of Outraged Moms.

But why on earth this country was witness to such an emotional display by, as I so even-handedly put it on Twitter yesterday, the "self-righteous indignation monkeys," is a trickier question.

I have no idea whether Anthony killed her child or not.  But given the murkiness of the evidence in the case, I doubt that yesterday's verdict is significant for any reason other than so many people seem to be so upset about it.  Personally, I resent the prosecutor's strategy of trying to convict Anthony by casting her as a drunken whore, because I think that it damages women everywhere, and perpetuates the idea that women, especially moms, can only be chaste, self-sacrificing martyrs, or else we are guilty of failing society's expectations, and as such deserve whatever charge an ambitious camera-hungry prosecutor can make stick.  And also, speaking as a drunken whore myself, I resent the implication that we're necessarily toddler-killers.  I have hardly ever advocated toddler-killing.  I mean, sure, on airplanes, but I think we can all agree on that.

Look, I know dead babies is sad.  But you know what, besides Tot Mom, actually does kill a hell of a lot of children?   (And no, Leah Remini, it's not psychiatry.)   

Ask the EPA.  The EPA knows what kills, cripples, and permanently disfigures and disables children.  It knows what gives babies brain damage.  It knows what shuts down their internal organs and puts them into comas.  And the EPA does more to prevent the taking of childrens' lives in one minute than all the tsking, yammering heads on television will ever do.  And if you doubt this, or even if, holy shit, you're just interested in the health of the next generation, check out what the EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection is up to, because it's pretty damn impressive. 

And, needless to say, like every other governmental agency that looks after the people, (that's people-people, not corporation-people) they're under attack by Republicans, including those who wish to become president in 2012.  But this is not the ordinary "less regulation!" attack that voters hear every election cycle.  This time, they mean it.  They don't just want to appoint a bunch of industry hacks to head the agency and play fiddle while the Cuyahoga burns, because, unfortunately, even under Republican hood ornaments, the agency remains full of a bunch of career do-gooders who take their jobs seriously.  So, what they want to do is de-fund it completely and take away not only its teeth, put its tongue, lips, mouth, voice, everything.  

But why especially now, you ask?  I mean, beside the fact that the Republicans have never been more in the pockets of the industries that pollute our air, water, and land?

Well, whatever the reason, I'm sure it has nothing whatsoever to do with fracking.  

I'm sure it has nothing to do with our struggle to find inexpensive domestic fuel, and especially now with natural gas being touted as a clean energy source that can replace fossil fuels in certain applications, and the need to extract oil and gas from the ground cheaply becomes more urgent to U.S. companies, and therefore the need to control the EPA becomes more urgent, because we wouldn't want some ole' big government job-killing agency to tell us that it's a kind of a huge deal if your tap water bursts into flame, now would we?

And since we're asking rhetorical questions, why aren't the TV ladies crying over self-proclaimed mother of 28 Michelle Bachmann's threats to shut down an agency that saves the lives of children every goddamn day?  Why is that?  Why would the media be afraid to attack a woman who wants to hurt children?  I'm pretty sure Nancy Grace and Julie Chen have heard of the GOP, and so I can't imagine what they could be waiting for.