Des Moines Register


Image by tommypatto ~ IMAGINE. via Flickr

The Royal family marries off an heir to the throne minus coercion, Osama bin Laden is officially dead and Stephen Harper wins a majority government. An apocalypse has to be looming, don’t you think?

Being an American in the Canuck Kingdom feels like one of the Marvel Comics Bizarro worlds sometimes. Part of the Commonwealth, you’d think that Canadians would be all over the wedding of Kate and Wills, but it was a bigger deal to the folks down South than it was here. Similarly, for all our military fetch and carry deference in the ongoing American wars in the Middle East, the reaction to the dancing in the streets à la Arabs celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers left most Canadians a bit chilled.

And tonight? Not only have the Tories claimed their third consecutive election victory, but they will rule as the majority. No less startling was the utter collapse of the Liberals, the near extinction of the Bloc Québécois and Jack Layton‘s NDP rising up to claim the official opposition mantle.

Why do I care?

I have been struggling of late with this tangled web I weave around the Internet, and it occurred to me today – after vainly trying to write a post for my paying gig for the last two weeks and recoiling in weariness from a couple of Tea-Bagging baiters in the comment section of a Des Moines Register columnist – that I am tired of the way nothing changes.

Osama bin Laden is dead. They tell us at any rate.

No, they don’t have his body – conveniently they dumped it overboard on the way to spread the good news. There are no pictures, dental records or fingerprints. There’s video … of the swabbies tipping a shroud into the dark drink, in case anyone would care to be convinced by that.

It’s like someone captured BigFoot in the Rockies then killed it, cooked and ate some of him, dumped the body for wolves and came back to civilization to tell the tale – minus pictures even though he was carrying his brand new white iPhone 4.

“You just have to trust me.”

And the incredible thing is that “they” do. Try to tell anyone that even if bin Laden is actually dead – recently – nothing is going back to the way it was before – they won’t care. It’s enough to dance around with the Stars and Stripes proclaiming “justice!” “victory!” “Wolverines!”

I’m tired of writing about the slow death of public education or the coming loss of choice for women and their subsequent June Cleaver re-enslavement. No one cares. The choir is too busy blogging and writing non-fiction that no one reads. The opposition smugly sits back to wait for their next victory lap. “Wolverines!” The commenters in the  boxes choke on the smoking flames.

I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality. – Rev. Dr. Martin Luthor King, Jr.

There is a a blogger at the Des Moines Register who has decided to fast one random day a week to show solidarity for the poor and oppressed people around the world, particularly those prisoners being held at Gitmo still.

My partner Megan Felt and I have decided to fast one day a week – abstaining from alcohol, caffeine, food, juice, prescriptions, sex, and all monetary purchases – to stand in solidarity with the poor and oppressed in the world and, more specifically, with the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and other locations around the globe.
We’re starting today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but will randomly select a different day each week from here on out.  
Imagine if every American fasted and abstained from monetary purchases for one day every week.  We would lower our consumption rate by nearly 15 percent.  Imagine how those resources could be redistributed to better provide for the least among us.
Fasting one day a week isn’t even all that hard either.  Yeah sure, it’s going to be uncomfortable, but whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 
David Goodner – Young Adult Board at The Des Moines Register 1/21/08

Mr. Goodner is a twenty-six year old student at Iowa. Most of what he writes is political in nature and reflects his interests in making the world a better place through public debate, I think. It’s hard to tell. He’s a kid. Only a kid could believe that not having sex or taking his allergy medicine once a week would translate into a saved world. Well, alright, that’s not fair. He doesn’t think he can save the world by doing these things. He is trying to prove his compassion through a meaningless set of gestures. And that is a harsh assessment. And a fair one. But I think it’s probably something we have all been guilty of from time to time over the course of our lives. It’s easy to make small and relatively easy sacrifices. I can remember collecting change from middle school kids for the food bank. They would drop dimes and nickels and pennies into a jar or can and at the end of a week or two we’d have five or six dollars. It was ridiculous because half or more of these same kids came to school every day with that much on them, but only a few of them could think to donate a couple of dollars rather than a few coins or nothing at all. Going without a pop from the machine at the end of the day or not being able to buy junk food a la carte at lunch was too much sacrifice. Their chump change giving was enough to make them feel good.

What I found to be the most odd sacrifice was giving up sex for a day. Which leads a person to wonder just how often David and his partner have sex that giving it up for a day is a hardship. And just as an aside, isn’t it cute the way he refers to her as his “partner”. Such solidarity with same-sex couples is proof, I guess, of the seriousness with which we should take his other “solidarity” stances. But back to the sex. One day. That’s a sacrifice? He clearly has always had a partner because speaking as someone who went without sex for the duration of her first husband’s illness and quite a while longer after his death, I’d just as soon write the needy of the world a check.

Gestures are just that. If you want to help the poor, then really help them. Donate your time or your money or something that you bought mindlessly on your last cruise through Target. Volunteer. Join a cause and work for it. Sipping bottled water for a day? Walking across campus instead of driving a half mile to class? Skipping the snugglies with your honey? What is that? Really, what is that?

The New York Times ran a piece on the Des Moines Register stating that the paper’s endorsement is seen as a great prize among candidates running for president. The article also pointed out that for the first time, the top three editorial spots at the Register are occupied by women and wondered if this wouldn’t give Hillary Clinton an unfair advantage because as we all know, women mindlessly vote for their own kind regardless of qualifications and the issues.

What an infuriating piece of crap! Nothing raises my blood pressure more than sexist thinking like this. The fact that most men wouldn’t vote for a woman unless she was in a wet t-shirt contest rarely gets talked about, but when a woman actually runs for public office and manages to overcome the mean girl backlash and draws other female supporters, this is seen as some kind of herd mentality response. Men never seem to think that anything they think, do or say is influenced by their gender though there is a mount everest worth of reasons to believe that they are even more hormonally driven than their sisters, but anything under the sun a woman does is probably a result of PMS if she isn’t currently on the rag.

Although I don’t believe the Des Moines Register is a great newspaper (because it’s rather light on news beyond central Iowa and it allows the city’s elite to use it as though it were a high school publication), I am going to go out on a limb and guess that a person doesn’t get to be one of the top three there unless they have proven themselves in their field. Interestingly, though women are often accused of being tokens when they achieve positions like these, the truth is that women are usually held to much higher standards than the men who wind up in similar positions.

The Times should really be careful when it accuses others of bias. Aside from the ads, there isn’t a neutral thing printed in it ever, and I imagine that the East Coast ignorance about the Midwest played a role in the sexist conclusions that Mr. Zeleny, the piece’s author, came to write. Iowans are particularly plagued with Grant Wood images being superimposed over our lives and realities to the point where I don’t know if anyone out East even realizes that the majority of the state’s population lives in urban settings and that we have to organize field trips for our students to take them to farms so they know that milk comes from a cow and not from the AE plant on E. University. Shame on him still however, and shame on any who persist in the antiquated belief that when men vote for men it’s a result of thoughtful deliberation of the issues and facts whereas women only vote for the candidates based on their shared gender or because they have good personalities. Men are just as capable of casting their votes away as mindlessly as anyone and mindless voting is a result of just being stupid which is an equal gender opportunity judging from the NY Times piece.