Archive for the 'Social Commentary' Category

03
Nov
10

The politics you can afford, the politics you deserve and the continual search for sanity

Surely no one was surprised by last night’s results. The treads were there for a while. Yet, I woke up this morning with this new reality – that the Republicans really did take the House and gained a bunch in the Senate. It is hard to wrap my head around and it is hard not to be depressed. Mostly, I just can’t understand it because it really doesn’t make any sense to me.

The phrase, everyone has the politics they can afford, keeps coming to my mind. It usually refers to something like buying a car with a traditional gas engine that gets 33 mpg instead of a hybrid that gets 45 – you would love to be able to get the hybrid because it is best for the planet, but the savings on gas wouldn’t pay off during the lifetime of the car. It is why I feed my family beef and chicken from the store instead of the grass fed and free range products at the farmer’s market. Today I keep thinking of it in reverse. So many people voted against their own self interests – they voted for the politics they couldn’t afford. They voted to go back to leaders promising to do exactly what they did the last time – which is what led to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. How can you say you are voting for change when you are voting for the same old thing? How can we afford these politics again, when they about broke us the first time? I understand that people are hurting; I know people looking for a job. They can’t afford the politics of tax cuts and no regulation. The surveys of the Tea Party crowd showed them to be better off than most, older and educated. In other words, we are getting the politics they can afford. The guy working his ass off at the factory (yes, there are still actual factories in this country), is not being served by them at all. Yet, the anger is catching and cathartic. If you are desperate it feels good to have someone or something to be upset about – yet it sure seems to be misplaced.

I simply get angry about it and the phrase changes to ‘you get the politics you deserve’. What really gets me though is that I am part of that “you” – I get the politics, too. Do I deserve it? I listen to the Tea-GOP’ers say they want to cut taxes to create jobs, to balance the budget, and for just about any problem that comes up. That is the only solution. Cut taxes. They want a balance budget, they want to cut the deficit – cut taxes. It simply counterintuitive, it is simply incorrect. They can offer no concrete way to pay for the cuts – they say defense, social security and Medicare are off limits. Yet, those are the biggest portion of the budget. They really offer no solution except cutting taxes. How can you logically listen to that and think, “oh that makes sense!” It is short sighted. The idea you might get your little piece of the tax cut or not have to pay a little more next year, is really not that much of an incentive, is it? Isn’t it like trying to buy a vote? Isn’t it a lot like people voting for Bush in 2004 because they had received a $300 check? You are paying a huge price for that little lagniappe.

This weekend I went to a satellite Rally to Restore Sanity (in Dallas at a bar named Lee Harvey’s, if you like irony). I really appreciate the message. I think Jon Stewart is brilliant and sincere. The two hundred or so people at the rally and I all agree, things are just crazy and need to be taken down a notch so we can really grasp the choices we are faced with. Perhaps his rally and the push for reason are just too late in coming because insanity really seemed to rule the day. There are exceptions, Delaware decided to go for the candidate that knew the constitution did specify the separation of church and state and Nevadans held their noses and voted for Harry. But you have Kentucky vote in a guy who questions the legality of civil rights legislation. Most of the insanity stems from what we see and hear in the media. Insanity sells. Controversy and argument sells. I understand the need to point out the vitriol on both sides of the center line, but I cannot help but think that in doing so, it cuts against the left. There is such a thing as righteous indignation. There is a difference in speaking in hyperbolic phrases to stir up fear and using actual facts to make a heated point. I am biased. I admit it. MSNBC is biased – I admit that and so do they. Yet, it drives me nuts to have them linked in with Fox as the counterbalance. The difference is Fox doesn’t admit to being biased and it plays very loose with the truth. MSNBC does actually report news or give commentary with factual information. The difference between the left and right, Republican and Democrats is the very thing that makes Republicans so much better at politics – they stay on message. Fox is not going to question Republican leadership where MSNBC can scorch Obama on any hint of compromise. But Fox and MSNBC are the extremes. Most of the news, with all its myriad faults, falls in the middle. I don’t buy the liberal bias for the reason stated above. Whatever you want to call them, those of us left of center never can stay on message. If anything the news is biased to the bottom line and what makes money is what is sensational. So the overall bias can cross that middle line from left to right, but it will always trend to the extreme because that is always more sensational.

So, where is the sanity? The sanity is us. It is finding news sources without an agenda – that excludes Fox and MSNBC. It is about actually taking the news and thinking about it. It requires more time and thought. It requires people to be engaged. It requires not yelling, but discussing. I will continue working on doing my part in that. Who knows, maybe it will become a trend.

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14
Oct
10

Slutification of Fashion: Or why do women dress slutty at work?

I have been thinking about this for a while and wonder if it is just me? When I saw fishnet stockings in the office today, I feel like I at least have some ground to stand on.

Let me admit that I am not a fashion person. I look forward to when we all just wear those Star Trek uniforms and I don’t have to shop or worry about what I’m going to wear (plus I don’t think you would have to iron them!!) But while I may not keep up what is trendy, I do see a trend. You can see it when you pick your kid up from school. There are Moms that dress like they want to be Milf’s. You have cougars and you have just some hilariously trashy caricatures. The moms are adults. What is sad is when you see the girls come out of the school dressed like their moms.

It seems to be just across the board. When did it become in fashion to wear fitted shirts even when you have a potbelly? When did it become a good look to wear shorts so short you can see your ass paired with cowboy boots? Really? Daisy Mae is in Vogue? See, I thought that you dressed that way when you went out – like out to a club. I thought “fuck me pumps” were for going to look to get… well, fucked. Doesn’t anything 4″ pretty much count as a FMP? It is to the point that when I go to the grocery store I wonder if there is a prostitution ring nearby. I’m not a prude here. There is hesitation in exploring this issue because it is not like I haven’t dressed a little slutty before. I just don’t see myself wearing my snakeskin dress to work.

Work is where I am the most baffled. The office I am in does not have a strict dress code, nor is it always strict business attire. But, FMP’s at work? Really? It is the new thing. There is a new employ. She is young and cute and fairly tall. The first few months she wore strictly business suits. Then one day I noticed her 4″ heels and made a comment that they were cute. She explained that she felt a little uncomfortable wearing her tall shoes until she saw another employee, also tall, wearing some. So, it wasn’t an issue of style so much as height? Hmm. She’s right. There are other women in the office wearing big shoes paired with tight pants or short skirts. They are cute and not over the top so much as it just doesn’t seem like work clothes. It seems that women have had to work so hard to be in business, they have had to fight to gain respect in male dominated workplaces. And mostly, we’ve made it, leaving aside pay imbalances for another conversation. So, why go back to the secretary in the short skirt and tight sweater stereotype of dress? It seems like a reversion to where a woman had to be hot, not qualified. The new woman is qualified. She is bright and good at what she does. Does she really need to wear the short skirt, bare legs and “tall” shoes that she has on today? Even more baffling to me is the middle aged VP that prompted me to write this. She is accomplished and intelligent. Today she has on a short skirt, high heel boots and fishnet hose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

08
Sep
10

The Savage Power of Google and Bible Burning

Two unrelated comments:

1) Is there anyone getting together a protest of the crazy idiot in Florida that plans to burn Korans on Saturday? Is there a Bible burning in response?

2) There is nothing scarier to me that Rick Santorum running for president. (Well, Palin winning would be scary, but it would be funny as hell to see her run.) If it scares you too, then click on the sight www.spreadingsantorum.com a few times. One of the problems his strategist are having is that when you google Santorum, this site is within the top three. The site was created years ago by Dan Savage in response to Santorum’s offensive comments about homosexuality, comparing it to pedophilia and bestiality. The site is a product of a contest for the best slang terms to “memorialize the scandal”. Santorum is the neologism for “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” The idea of Dan Savage. The power of google. The right of the people to vote by clicking!

06
Sep
10

The long scope of history

Reverend Jeffress, pastor of Dallas’ First Baptist Church.  What a piece of work.  Anyone with so many people’s ear should be more circumspect.  Even if he has these moronic opinions you’d think he’d have enough sense to keep them to himself.

In case you are getting here late, the good reverend stated, from the pulpit, that Islam is an evil religion, full of pedophiles.  Oh, and that the Crusades weren’t all that bad.  He went into more detail but you get the gist.  He incited the congregation and got an ovation for his efforts.  Clearly he was not the only small mind in attendance that day.

If the 2 previous paragraphs didn’t clue you in, I’m about to give my opinion:

The top five religions of the world all share the same thoughts on how to treat people and the best way to travel through this world:  Kindness.  You don’t have to read the Koran to know this.  Google it.  Better yet, find a Koran online and just read the prophet’s last prayer.  His final word on the subject of life, the universe and everything is kindness to one another.  The bible says the same thing, doesn’t it?  I mean, as an overall theme?

I will grant that Islam places God (or rather, Allah) before the state but don’t most Christians?

So what’s the real problem here?  I mean, how did this weird worldview come to be?  Once again, I have an opinion:  The ‘good reverend’, while seeing things from the wholly self-righteous view point of ‘conservative Christian’, is unable to see the reach of history.

Let’s start at the start:  When was the Bronze Age?  In Europe is was from 3000 to 600 b.c.  In Korea it was 800 to 400 b.c.  My point is, the Bronze Age isn’t a fixed point in planetary history because not all cultures are at the same level of development at the same time.  This is due, I imagine, to the supply of food, the resources available and the space that a population has to expand into, etc.

In the ‘60’s we pretended that the American Indian didn’t really do any bad things…well, unless provoked by those nasty white folk.  Closer examination proves they did.  So are the aforementioned white folk better people?  Hell no.  They were (most of them) just a little further up the ladder at that time.  We committed our atrocities before we left Europe (ok, mostly).

Which brings us to today.  The west is a (more or less) civilized world.  The near east largely isn’t.  They are hundreds of years behind us, culturally.  In some ways, thousands of years.  So is most of Africa and a hundred other spots on  the globe.  Let me be very clear on this point:  I am NOT claiming superiority here.  I am saying that much of the world is acting and reacting as we did several hundred years ago because they do not, or did not, have the advantages or resources that we have.  From a Christian viewpoint it would seem that we’d be a little more understanding – given our ‘blessings’ and all.  “We” committed heinous crimes then.  “They” do it now.  In the scope of history, it’s a small gap. The fact that the middle east is so tribal doesn’t help either.  What the disparity does mean is that the technology of the modern world is available to the primitive world.  The more “primitive” cultures can now kill a lot more people than we ever could, back in the day.

People who know me know that I give short shrift to religion in general.  Even so, I think it’s clear that religious sects aren’t things.  They are groups of people and sometimes people do stupid things.  Even evil things.  I’m not saying that some fundamentalist Islamists don’t.  I am saying that some fundamentalist Christians do too.  Evil and stupidity are universal and it’s ignorant and harmful to look down on others who are where we once were.

Finally, please note that I do not mean “all people” do anything or that evil only takes place “then” or “there”.  There are always exceptions.  Baptists today are civilized human beings.  Mostly.

05
Sep
10

Ah, the inquisition wasn’t that bad.

Prolix, our all too infrequent blogger, called me this morning incensed about a story in the opinion section of the Dallas Morning News by Steve Blow.  I look forward to his insights on this page soon. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/localnews/columnists/sblow/stories/090510dnmetblow.19e1646.html The link to the story also contains a link to the video of Rev. Robert Jeffress of Dallas’s First Baptist Church.

As the columnist says – where do you begin with so much nonsense?

Let me start where I always do – me. My boy wanted to go to church with his friends today. And I had to think about it. Do I really want him exposed to that? I truly want him to decide on his own what he believes. Yet, I worry. My tortured relationship with religion has made me gun shy. I let him go and fully expect that it will lead to a conversation later on this evening. For the record, the church he attended today was Catholic.

With that as the frame work, now take Rev. Jeffress. To hear him state that, sure, the inquisition and the crusades were bad, but that it had all been blown out of proportion was disturbing. He states that more people were killed on 9/11/2001 than during the entire inquisition. Being no expert on the subject I had to resort to a search. Really, the numbers simply cannot be verified and no one agrees on the human toll of the inquisition. The figure of 2,000 is given in some places and is based on the records in Spanish archives of 48,000 trials during that time period. So, if you only count those with specific records of execution, then the figure he gives is accurate. Other accounts estimate the count as 125,000 people, however. Looking beyond just the numbers, there really are no similarities here. The inquisition spanned centuries, it was a product of powerful governments and inflicted terror on uneducated masses. By contrast, 9/11/2001 was one incident, in a series of events, where by a small band of extremist perpetrated a crime on innocent people. It is as heinous and horrible as can be. Still, Al Qaeda is not a powerful nation. It is not even a nation. The Taliban even while in power were rulers of Afghanistan, one of the poorest and underdeveloped nations on the globe. They are not mighty. They are not reigning down fear on people that are illiterate – except in their own small portion of the world. While both the past atrocities of Christians in collusion with state power and current atrocities of a radical few in the name of Islam are terrible perversions of religion, the scale is simply not comparable. The term for what Rev. Jeffress was doing is white-washing.

But, he was not done. He says, rightly, that nowhere in the New Testament does it say you should kill in the name of Christ. Basically, our holy book is better than theirs. He states that there are 35 passages in the Qur’an that are used to justify violence. Ok. I cannot claim a knowledge of the Qur’an either. I did go to church 3 times a week growing up, though. While the New Testament is “turn the other cheek”, the Old Testament is “slaughter everyone in that city because I said you could have it”. It is highly disingenuous to claim the Bible has no call to violence. No one in Christendom has disowned the Old Testament as part of the religious text. It is all “the Word of God”. Most modern Christians pick and choose what they use and believe of the Bible, whether they even know it or not. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t eat shellfish for example, because it is listed as one of the “don’ts” in Deuteronomy or Leviticus – those two crazy books that are like your crazy uncles that you never want to talk about.

He also claims that Islam oppresses women. He is correct it does. So does Christianity. Women are to be subject to their husbands, according to the Bible. Paul, in all of his wisdom, proclaims that “women should be quiet in the churches”. What is that line from the Holy Book? Do not pluck the splinter out of your neighbor’s eye until you have removed the plank from your own?

Still, he was not done. The most incendiary portion of the clip is where he explains that Islam is a promoter of pedophilia. He says that Mohammed had sex with a nine-year-old and thus today Muslim men have sex with four-year-olds, taking them as their wife. If it was ok for the prophet, it is ok for them. This claim is based on the story of A’isha, daughter of Abu Bakr, who the prophet took as a wife when she was nine. There is debate in Islam over whether he consummated the marriage with A’isha at that age. Still, it is truth that there are horrendous things done to women in the name of Islam, including child brides. But, as referenced above, while not on the same scale, Christianity is not blameless here either. While Morman’s are the stepchildren to most Christians, they still believe in Christ and as has been in the news, sects are periodically prosecuted in court for marrying underage girls to older men. While Rev. Jeffress is a Baptist, and if it is anything like it was when I was young, Baptists don’t think of Catholics as true Christians. Nevertheless, he blast Islam for their atrocities while the atrocities of the Catholic church harboring pedophiles all across the globe is plastered across the world media. See again the reference to removing splinter from your neighbor’s eye.

He ends his little speech by saying it is time for Christians to take off the gloves. Sounds like he is spoiling for a holy war to me. The church audiences stands and cheers.

I wish I had never said it was ok for my boy to go to church. It is a dangerous place to be.

17
Aug
10

Freedom of Religion

Ok, Olbermann’s rant is not as nuanced as Mayor Bloomberg’s speech and he certainly doesn’t have the moderate credibility of the Mayor. The Daily Show coverage is wonderful – humor and satire is powerful.

But, bottom line is this. Build the damn thing! Jesus!

Or, well, maybe Alla?  See, in this country you can use any religious or mythological figure as an exclamation if you want.  Yes, you might offend someone, but you have that RIGHT – and that right can actually lead to intellectual conversations and understanding of others.

Tolerance.

Isn’t that want this was suppose to be about?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

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08
Jun
10

Sex with friends

We had heard the reviews. We knew it had been roundly panned, but we planned a girl’s night to see Sex and the City 2. We had done the same for the first and had a great time. My best friend had smuggled in water bottles filled with cosmos and plastic champagne glasses. Last night was a repeat performance. It ended up just being three of us as two canceled at the last minute. Thus cosmos for five became more cosmos for three.

While I am certain the amount of vodka consumed assisted in my enjoyment of the movie, it was more than that. The movie is nothing more than a reunion with a TV show. I never was an avid fan, but I it was a good show. I don’t know if you can say the movie is a “good movie”, but it was a fun movie. There are some redeeming features – the fact that it deals with aging is one of the best. Most of that falls to Samantha, at least the part that is spoken. However, all of them are older in this movie whether they address it or not. Making the movie is a commentary in and of itself. Aging girls still want to have fun and even vapid consumerist can have moments of depth. But, the scene that made it work for me was the one in which Miranda and Charlotte get hammered discussing how hard it is to be a mom. My boy is not a crying two-year-old, but there are times that I too want to go in the closet and cry.

More than sex, the show and movies were always more about friendship and that is what last night was as well. It was sitting in an empty theater after the movie is over and the lights are on, telling my best friend to date the guy that is nice. It is ok, he doesn’t have to be cute to anyone but you. Compare and contrast to the ex that two years later you can’t let go of and who still breaks your heart at every chance. It is a bitch session in the lobby. It is hugging and consoling as people buy popcorn. It is laughing at our sentimental selves as we leave and go our separate ways. It is remembering not to take all of it for granted.