U.S. politics


gm_13005 Shining Bank Snow, Alberta 1977

Image by CanadaGood via Flickr

With a second “snow event” in as many weeks behind us, I pondered the piles which have turned our yard, front and back, into a white labyrinth and thought about the phone conversation I had yesterday with my husband.

“The boss dropped by, ” he told me, “looking for anyone who might be interested in a possible project down on the Gulf Coast. I told him that I might be but it wasn’t a decision I could make* without consulting you. The probability of the project is based on a U.S. economic recovery, which isn’t all that likely, but how would you feel about it?”

He was talking about the Texas coast. Texas being only slightly less objectionable than say Alabama, whose governor recently admitted that he has no Christian charity to extend to anyone who isn’t Christian and was once such a bastion of seething racism that blacks forced to travel through it packed their own porta potties and carried an extra gas can for refueling in the trunks of their cars.

“Baby, this is the 7th day without sun and it’s been snowing non-stop since last Wednesday,” I said. “This probably isn’t the best day to ask if I’d like to move south.”

Of course, the southern states in the U.S. are harbingers of the level of bat-shit crazy that will fan out over the rest of the country like the four horsemen once the next election cycle kicks into full propaganda mode this coming fall, so I am lukewarm (though not literally) about the prospect of a front row seat. Monitoring the shenanigans from Canada is enough adventure for me.

But the prospect of warmth, sun and no snow does tempt.

Everyone is escaping to Mexico. I listen to the travel tales filled with bouts of uncontrollable diarrhea and Federales with  machine guns escorting bus loads of pale northern tourists to the insulated resorts with a minimum of envy and a lot of wonder.

I read too much to consider Mexico even the slightest bit safe for someone pale and unable to speak the language beyond the ability to ask for a beer or for directions to the nearest washroom.

Silly white tourists. My student roster when I taught drop out prevention flowed over with Mexicans, who are ingratiating and smile a lot but who also see Americans (we are all Americans to them) as marks to relieve of the heavy burden of our bourgeois bounty.

The boys would regale me with stories of their tourist trap homes and cajole me to visit.

“I have a cousin (uncle or auntie) who can set you up cheap! It’s warm and more beautiful than anyplace you have ever been.”

“Is it safe?” I would ask.

Sheepish grins before a serious look would replace the huckster, “I wouldn’t send you anywhere that wasn’t. My family (friends) would look out for someone who I send.”

I’ve never been to Mexico. Rob and I thought about marrying down there, but the whole translation of documents plus the logistics of getting everyone there proved to be a significant deterrent.

Normally, it’s Rob who funks out early in the winter. He blames it on the lack of sunshine, but statistically, Alberta is one of the sunniest places in Canada.

I am fine until mid-April and it’s still snowing. It’s not the lack of sunshine; it’s the absence of spring. We simply don’t have spring here. It’s cold until it’s not. It snows until it’s meteorologically impossible for it to do so anymore. This could be early April or it could be June.

In Iowa, winters are a bitch, but spring – hot sometimes and lush due to the rain and snow melt – arrives with gusto in late March or early April. That is what my body is used to and I do miss it.

But there are feet of snow in the yard, along the roadsides and piling like small mountain ranges in the parking lots. And it’s still January.

Everywhere I go, people marvel and say, “I have never seen it snow this much before.”

Even Rob remarked, “It’s never snowed this much in the fifteen years I have lived here.”

To be a part of such an historic snowpocalypse hasn’t been a life’s goal and I am unlikely to look back fondly on it.

People talk about “climate change” and “global warming” and I read about scientists who are concluding that the earth is nearing one of the ends of its infrequent warm periods and preparing for the next ice age. The earth’s natural state, after all, is “ice ball”. Whatever the reason, it sucks and I have reached literal saturation.

*Rob unilaterally made the decision to move the family to Kansas back in the early 90’s and was informed by his late wife that he did not have the authority to ever do something like that again.


sarah palin's political hit list

Though it’s not actually clear that Sarah Palin’s SarahPAC “targeting” of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, incited the gunman who shot her in the head at point-blank range earlier today, it is clear that a sizable portion of the population in Arizona is bat-shit crazy.

A reader of Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish reported overhearing the following conversation shortly after word of the shooting began to spread through Tucson:

I am standing in the aisle at Costco when I found out my Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, has been shot dead up on the north side.

While I’m scrambling with my phone, two couples in front of me are talking about it and suddenly I hear one of the women say, “Well, that’s to be expected when you’re so liberal.”

And the other woman says, “Ohh, so we get to appoint a Republican?”

I did not trust myself to speak. I’m a Soldier. Please remind me what country I am fighting for? At least seven people are dead. She happens to be the only member of Congress married to an active duty military — he’s a Navy officer serving as an astronaut.

Giffords herself, in a eerie moment of prescience, about the dangers brewing in her state during the midterm elections that inspired Palin to “target” Democrats in close races had this to say,

“They really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up, and, you know, even things for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. When people do that, you gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”

A friend, (via my late husband) who lives in Tucson, had this to say about the shooting when someone asked her why she was worried that Democrats would retaliate,

“Because that is why she got shot. Not because she is a Dem, it is the issues. She supports liberal immigration views and most of AZ does not. She supports the healthcare reform and many are violently against it. The border of Mexico is very close to Tucson and many shots have been fired over this already, just never on a public figure. They have put other politicians and figures under protective custody on both sides of the debate.”

It’s the issues, stupid.

But not really. They claim it’s about immigration and being forced to go along with health care reform, but it’s heart is that the American Dream – built on unlimited acquisition and unsustainable upward mobility, whose heart is unlimited acquisition – is gone.

Not that it – the Dream – ever really existed. The whole thing was the ultimate cliché, a house of cards built on a sandy beach. But those in the middle bought in and those just below them were semi-content to pretend that with the right pair of straps on their boots they could move up too, and the illusion took root and grew in soil that has long since played out.

This last decade oversaw the last gasp and the bitch known as “payback” has moved in for good.

Because the shooter is in custody, his MySpace page and YouTube vids shutdown, it’s unlikely that the public will ever really know the truth. Which serves both sides. The GOP and Fox News can claim that he was a disturbed individual and that their courting of the lunatic fringe known as The Tea Party had nothing to do with the attempted assassination of Giffords, the death of an Arizona judge or the snuffing of an innocent nine-year old girl, while the Democrats can underplay and conciliate, letting their own liberal loony lap-dog fringe scream and cry conspiracy.

Meanwhile, the people, who have no fucking idea of what is really going on, will take uneducated sides and continue to give away their rights and trust in the wrong people. They have spent so much of the last couple of decades blindly rubber stamping the theft of their freedom that they haven’t any idea where they actually stand on the playing field anymore.

Immigration and health care are distractions. There are real, credible threats afoot, and it’s the people who are fiddling among the burning ruins of an America that never existed in the first place. It’s hard not to admire the brilliance and scope of what is going on, even while recognizing that something wicked continues its inevitable march our way.

I guess the revolution might be tweeted after all.


The current cover of People features a bikini-clad television actress with the protesting title “I am not Fat!” And she isn’t, not by even the most twisted standards of beauty that have infiltrated our society and handed it new weapons with which to re-enslave women. Ms. Love-Hewitt is a size two, and I mention this only because I know someone will dispute her claim of a healthy weight (and me) and ask. It’s sad really that 40 some odd years into (or after depending on your point of view) the women’s movement, women in the United States are still objects. Which is why Clinton won’t win the Iowa Democratic caucuses or be president. Because she is a woman and women in this country – like most of the rest of the world – are still just the sum of their pretty, or not so parts. Intelligence. Experience. Ability. None of this matters when the easiest way to put a woman back in her place, or at least remind her she is out of it, is to criticize her femininity via her appearance, martial status or commitment to her children.

While it is true that we are allowed to be as naked as we wanna be in the visual self-expression of how far we have come baby, answer me this – how is the fact that we are judged by our appearance and size and “femininity” any different than the Islamic obsession with covering women up? Or the French and Russian governments extolling their female citizens to patriotism via their birth canals? It’s two sides of the same coin, and the coin of the realm is keeping women in their place as second-class and objectified-  with our complicity at times it seems because we don’t help ourselves at all by playing into whatever the status quo may be. In western cultures women parrot the line that we are free because we can be blatantly sexual and can control our bodies, and chose to marry or not, parent or play working girl – all the while starving ourselves and fueling a beauty industry out of control, and reading Cosmo for man-snaring tips. Our pop culture thrives on female parts – in music and films that depict females and their sexuality as dirty and disposable. Beauty magazines that sell self-improvement in the form of diets and exercise programs. Fashion that is designed to accentuate beauty and expose those who are not.

In places like say, Saudi Arabia, women will tell you they don’t mind being seond-tier, covering up and not being able to drive is fine because they appreciate being protected by their males and the society these males have created for them. The China and the India are dangerously unbalancing their gender ratios by scanning their unborn fetuses and aborting girls because sons are better for a family – at least until they are of marriageable age and their are no daughters for them to marry. French women are bearing children in the name of nationalism and unaware of that the racist sentiments that are slowly tearing at the seams of their country is the likely cause their governments are praising them for their efforts. But telling yourself you are in charge of your choices is not the same as being in charge. When there are no options to chose from but the ones carefully pre-selected and laid in front of you by others – how free are you?

So, what does this have to do with Hillary Clinton, you ask most patiently. Just that she represents what women are not supposed to know about or think about becoming. She is educated and articulate and didn’t get where she is by conforming to the rules as they are written for women. She may have chosen the well-beaten path here and there, who doesn’t? For example, remember her changing hairstyles back in the early days of her husband’s presidency when her looks were being constantly criticized in the press – which by the way is one of the ways the media works for the system that wants all women to know that love and respect are reserved for the pretty and the closed-mouthed. Sen. Clinton plays politics the way the boys do and she isn’t supposed to even want to play in the first place. John Irving called this being “sexually suspect” in his novel, The World According to Garp. Women who live their lives against the current. The current fashions. The current standards of beauty as dictated to us. The current standards of womanhood. 
The Register endorsed Sen. Clinton. It’s unlikely to do her any more good than Ms. Love-Hewitt revealing her dress size. A woman is not likely to be the president of this country. Our sexism is embedded in our genes so deep that we don’t even recognize it. We built our country upon the idea that all men, not women too, were created equal and never changed our minds. And don’t think that our founding fathers didn’t know what they were saying. John Adams wife Abigail railed at him for excluding women. Just as they knew they were in the wrong about slavery (Jefferson referred to it as “holding a wolf by the ears”), they knew what they were doing when they wrote “men”.

I am not a Clinton supporter. I haven’t even begun to make up my mind about the presidential field. It’s a little early in the race and future presidents should be put to the test and made to show their stuff and stamina. Nobody has done that yet. But, the Catholic school girl in me can’t abide those who will use the belittling tactics of the old parish priests when confronted with women who won’t sit down, or shut up or just go away. It may be a man’s world, but as someone pointed out to me recently they aren’t the majority. We are. And perhaps it’s time we decide where are places should be.


Oprah is coming to Iowa on December 8th to campaign for Barrack Obama. Some people, I am sure, will be impressed. I like Oprah as much as the next person, providing that person is a double X genetically or spiritually and is okay with the fact that Oprah long ago ceased to be an Everywoman. Really though, why should anyone care that she supports Obama for president? Celebrity endorsements shouldn’t carry weight in decisions that have such long reaching impact on what will one day be our history and our legacy to our children and theirs.

Living in a foreign country during the lead up to a presidential election is a little like being Oprah. People here in Canada can be very curious about my take on the campaign. I hate to disappoint so I try to offer as much of a synopsis on the whole things as I can, Truthfully, I don’t know much more than what I catch on the Daily Show from John Stewart from time to time and what I read in the Globe and Mail which is definitely not American-minded in its assessment of candidates and who is qualified or not. My hair stylist is particularly interested in what I think about politics, Iraq and the whole dollar thing.

The truth is that I have never cared less about politics, Iraq and the whole dollar thing than I do right now. And, it’s not because I am living out of the country, but because during my late husband’s illness and my unwanted walk among those who must make use of Medicaid and Social Security, I learned a few important things. Chief among those things is that my government really doesn’t care about the people it governs. Sure, there was more than enough evidence to support this finding before my life was turned upside down, but it wasn’t until it was and I needed real help of the kind I could only get by accessing programs my government set up to specifically help people like me and my late husband that I could see what a sham it all is. And there is no easy fix. Electing a new president does nothing to change the infrastructure that now exists. It just gives the monster a new face.

Who do I think will be the next president of the United States? Who cares? Oprah? You? Not me. It doesn’t matter and here’s why, we don’t demand anything from the people we elect. We go crazy with Caucus fever and primary fever and Super Tuesday fever and it’s all a whirlwind of celebrities like Oprah in Des Moines. We elect people based on their personalities or the personalities who support them and at the end of the day he or she moves into the White House and emerges with a Stepford smile, ready to do the bidding of the beast. Nothing changes.