9.06.2008

When two major moments collide

So, I've noticed, in my ranting to PJ about everything-election 2008, that my conversation often turns to Mike. And, when talking about Mike, everything turns to the election. I'm going to use this space to try - try... to clear my head.

The tie between the election and Mike: For me, I think there are a lot of highly salient and emotional things at play.


1) Mike stayed up with me during the nights after September 11th, 2001 as I cried, not out of fear of another attack, but out of a fear of my country's response.

2) Mike and I protested the Iraq war in March 2003 in Philadelphia. That war is still being fought and Mike has been dead for over 2 years.

3) Mike and I sat together on July 27, 2004 and watched as Senator Barack Obama addressed the DNC. Mike and I were giddy with excitement and Mike announced that he couldn't wait for this man to run for president:





And as much as I am trying to keep my perspective in this election, I am feeling the same sense of powerlessness that I did while serving as Mike's advocate in the hospital day after day. It started with a sense of confidence - unflappable faith in our ability to overcome this thing. And suddenly, something rendered me weary. In Spring 2006, it was the one surgery that shook my footing in early April and changed the entire picture. And then, last week, with the announcement of Palin and the *excitement* surrounding her, I started to feel similarly weak in the knees.

I realize it may seem crass to make this comparison - but when I think about what is ultimately important, I feel very little distance between the health of my domestic family and the health of my world. I have always felt this way. I was raised being told that it would be disappointing to try to help outside your own family, that you can really "only take care of your own," but that just didn't sit right with me.

Among the things that I just don't feel the capacity to understand:

  • Fear of a "dangerous" world.
  • Prioritizing self over the health and well-being of the global community.
  • Why "sitting down" and engaging in a discussions with with leaders of "unfavorable" nations is a bad thing.
  • Disbelief in science that indicates man accounts for the vast majority of the rise in global temperatures.
  • Any line of reasoning or faith that results in the belief that being gay is morally problematic or unnatural.
  • Any line of reasoning or faith that suggests that gay couples cannot/should not be able to marry or adopt children.
  • Why being a community organizer is something worthy of contempt.
  • Why "taxes" are such a bad thing when they pay for our schools, infrastructure, and even our roads.

So, since Palin's nomination, I'm obsessed.

First, I feat that the media have tied their own hands because of the Bullsh*t in their coverage of Hillary over the past 15-16 years.

How so?

It goes like this: Hillary tries to work on healthcare behind closed doors and has a contentious relationship with the press. from 92 until 98, the Clintons develop a notorious and well-documention TENSE relationship with journalists.

2007-08: Hillary runs for the democratic nomination. Press is hard on her. I really think they just don't like her. I don't, on the other hand, think it was about her gender - but rather - a sincere lack of affection.

However, the charges are of sexism. So now, the media are confronted with Gov Palin. They now have another woman candidate, an outsider new to Washington. And so the kids gloves come on. NOT because the media are biased against liberals or anything like that - but because journalists LOVE: a) Novelty, b) A surprise, unexpected narrative, c) an interesting biography. And because d) they don't want to look like sexist assholes once again.

My request: Please oh please ask her about the issues (see NYT issue position comparison). Please. McCain's O.L.D. Need I say more?

I originally started writing this because I have been losing sleep this week, staying up to watch the RNC, and then lying paralyzed with too much anxiety post-convention-viewing to fall asleep.

Some more things rattling around in my mind here:

I am told that to think about Sarah Palin's family and children - or to talk about them is sexist.

The issue of the 5 month old baby is one that I can't get my head around and don't want to go near - because, for gosh sakes - I still want to run for office someday! But suffice it to say, watching her speech and that baby in the arms of Cindy McCain and then its father... there were a lot of questions in my mind about how that whole situation is going to work. I have no answers, just questions. (and remember, I AM a working mom, one who returned to her research when bax was 6 months old...).

However, we are also told that to discuss her daughter Bristol's pregnancy is off-limits.

If you are a candidate who does not support abortion rights - even in cases of rape or incest (see AP article) - and you are a candidate whose position on sex-education is less than clear (see LA Times article), I think it is fair to explore your policy positions in light of the relevant circumstances in which your family currently finds itself.

The McCain platform is strongly and clearly supportive only of abstinence-only education. And yet here - Bristol Palin - who, ostensibly was raised in a loving, supporting, Christian, abstinence-until-marriage-urging household, is pregnant.

For Bristol, the consequences of having unsafe sex is that she will birth a child, who will be raised by her and likely with the help of the family around her.


However, what if we're talking about sex-education to avoid more than mere teen-pregnancy? What if we're talking about AIDS in Africa? Sure, the highly inefficacious abstinence-only campaign might result in young American women saddled with babies for which they are utterly unprepared - but in the case of sexually transmitted diseases - particularly AIDS, we're not just talking about pregnancy - we're talking about an epidemic.

When Laura Bush introduced the President the other night, touting his increased spending on AIDS programs in Africa over the last 8 years, PJ piped up: "Ignoring the fact that a ton of it is dedicated to abstinence-only programs." The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) does provide much needed drugs to the region, but the prevention program is centered around Churches, and does not support condom distribution OR needle exchange programs. More here


_______________

Enough. For now. I will leave you with a couple anecdotes, beautiful and lovely.

Two things, actually.

The other night, PJ had plans and was scheduled to get home after bax fell asleep. At bedtime, Baxter said, "I miss my dad. I wish he was here to say goodnight."

And for the first time in a very long time, I could say, with all honesty, "He'll be back. You'll see him in the morning."

The second one: PJ is a huge phillies fan. Big time. And loves teaching Baxter about the game. Bax asks some great questions, too. Last night, out at a restaurant, the two sat opposite me in a booth, where they could watch the game. Bax was wearing his new Phillies jersey I just bought him, and he was snuggled up to PJ asking him tons of questions. PJ loved it! He was all Fatherly, instructing Bax in the rules to the sport.

At one point, Baxter sneaked under the table over to me to say hi, and then sneaked back to ask PJ another baseball question. Once bax got back up on the seat snuggled in next to his dad, PJ looked at me thoughtfully and simply said, "Thank you." I didn't push him to say "thank you for what." I got it.

And I leave you with this photo - Bax and PJ checking out a comic book at the restaurant last night.

14 comments:

Brown said...

I hear you. Tresa and I have been frantically IMing back and forth all night this week pretty much freaking out.

It's hard because I don't want to become so obsessed that I've turned into a hater myself. But it just baffles me how anybody can NOT be outraged about things like health care and torture and equal rights for all and LIES. How is it possible to just not...care about that stuff? It's just so maddening and it's hard for me to not see it as this giant clash of good and evil, even though that's obviously a little melodramatic.

The lies are especially tough for me cause I feel like I've dedicated my whole career toward the inherently imperfect but just so incredibly important search for truth by an independent press. If our political leaders are allowed to get away with lies, the whole system breaks down. Journalists share some of the blame for this, but even as we speak newspapers all over the country are bleeding money like crazy and I will not be surprised if some of them cease to exist as we know them in the next few years. We need people to start making a more conscious effort to read the freakin news and ENGAGE with the world, either on dead trees or online. Cause without verified information in hand I don't know what the hell is going to happen to us...

Felicity24 said...

I sincerely do hope that you get to run for president one day, and I am not even American.

DekeYoung said...

I find it hard to admit that I am going to vote for Bob Barr this November.

-Deke

Anonymous said...

Danna,

I am reading an interesting book called "Why We Hate Us" that spells out why we do hate the way the country has become. I'm not sure I buy into the theory, but it's definitely worth a peek.

I could go on and on and on about the way I feel about the country today, but it's depressing. Read the lyrics of the Steppenwolf song "Monster" and you'll see that we indeed have met the enemy and it is us.

http://www.steppenwolf.com/lyr/mnnster.html

Di in Lansdowne

Anonymous said...

WOW, what a great post! I agree with everything you said - and you didn't even touch on her qualifications for the VP job. Heck - I could run for VP - I'm president of my homeowners association, I have a BA in communications...oh - but I don't live near Russia, so I guess I don't have the foreign affairs experience that she has....oh well.....count me terrified! mags

Anonymous said...

Danna,

You're a wonderful person, but I believe you're not thinking about this very clearly. You say you wonder about:

Fear of a "dangerous" world.

- Have you seen any of the videos of Islamofascists sawing the heads off their bound, unarmed hostages? Have you read about the honor killings, gay bashings, anti-Semitic violence, etc. in Europe? Seems pretty dangerous to me.

Prioritizing self over the health and well-being of the global community.

- Come on, your blog is about you, Mike, PJ, Baxter, the people you care about. It's not about a million strangers in Asia. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Why "sitting down" and engaging in a discussions with with leaders of "unfavorable" nations is a bad thing.

- As long as I live, I will never understand the mystic faith that liberals have in holding meetings with people. Especially people who want to kill you or your friends, who come right out and say they want to kill you or your friends. There is a time for meetings (I guess). There's also a time to get a restraining order.

Disbelief in science that indicates man accounts for the vast majority of the rise in global temperatures.

- Not knowledgeable enough about science to know... but isn't science about perpetual inquiry? Is it good for any scientific discipline to become like religious dogma?

Any line of reasoning or faith that results in the belief that being gay is morally problematic or unnatural.

- You got me there.

Any line of reasoning or faith that suggests that gay couples cannot/should not be able to marry or adopt children.

- Is there a candidate in the election who says gays should be able to marry? Who?

Why being a community organizer is something worthy of contempt.

- Maybe when you venerate community organizers but sneer at governors as stupid hicks. Maybe.

Why "taxes" are such a bad thing when they pay for our schools, infrastructure, and even our roads.

- If we had a shred of confidence that our schools and infrastructure were being well-handled, that the people paid for doing so were judged as much as the rest of us on how good a job they do, then we wouldn't mind giving them our money.

Dannagal said...

Hello anonymous -

I appreciate your points, several of which are quite interesting and gave me a second to reflect on my own position... but to be honest, I think the other points just confirm the world view that I don't share or understand.

And, just as a side note, I think to argue that one is "not thinking clearly" is a tricky statement. It implies that my admitted lack of ability to see the world from this other perspective is really a result of my "malfunctioning" brain.

And that's... just not true. And that's... just not a good argument.

My point in my original post - my big point - is that I feel as though I honestly do not share some of these gut reactions to certain kinds of policies or rhetorical twists.

- [you write] Have you seen any of the videos of Islamofascists sawing the heads off their bound, unarmed hostages? Have you read about the honor killings, gay bashings, anti-Semitic violence, etc. in Europe? Seems pretty dangerous to me.

-----Obviously there ARE places that are dangerous... But here? In US of A? Pockets of danger? Sure. Maybe I've read too much George Gerber - who demonstrates that consumption of mass media is associated with exaggerated accounts of fear of crime. My complaint is the attempt to steep us in fear in the hopes that we will vote from our emotional place of need for protection and fear of dangerous "other" than voting for things that are more relevant to our daily lives.

I get the fact that the regime's MAIN job - and only, if you ask some libertarians - is to protect its people. To keep them safe. I get that traditionally, this is the contract. And granted - our government does that quite well. However, to chronically appeal to that fear I find stagnating for the electorate. When perception of fear is great and a plan for how to avoid the source of danger is vague, people have a hard time "thinking properly." This isn't me spouting B.S. either. Psychological studies illustrate that extreme doses of fear appeals without a clear plan for how one can fix said problem can cause people to shut down cognitively. Particularly when they feel like there is no benefit from learning more or engaging more. And if any source of fear leaves one feeling powerless, it's the vague threat of a terrorist attack.

- Come on, your blog is about you, Mike, PJ, Baxter, the people you care about. It's not about a million strangers in Asia. And there's nothing wrong with that.

-----Absolutely fair. This is the place where I explore themes and deal with the "shit," as I poetically refer to it. But my point here is that my emotional reaction to these issues holds the same degree of resonance to me as my emotional reaction to matters of politics.

Yes, for a period of 2 - 3 years, I have been largely focused on myself, on my process, on Baxter, and on moving ahead day to day. But part of what gives me a sense of healthy and functional bereavement is the fact that I am back to my old self again. I am passionate about the direction that my world takes - and it feels good to be this worked up again about something in the public sphere.

I think in the statement i don't understand "prioritizing self over health and well-being of the world" I really meant in terms of policy creation and public rhetoric. Deciding to drive an SUV when you live in downtown LA, not recycling, promoting conspicuous consumption here at home knowing that it fosters devastation abroad. Those are stands that I just don't understand.


- As long as I live, I will never understand the mystic faith that liberals have in holding meetings with people. Especially people who want to kill you or your friends, who come right out and say they want to kill you or your friends. There is a time for meetings (I guess). There's also a time to get a restraining order.

----First, your last sentance make me laugh aloud. I get that we're supposed to believe that terrorists are like the Dark Knight's Joker character. They don't "want" anything except to kill us and take away our security and freedom.... right? I think that's B.S. There are reasons that they hate us. Reasons that we might disagree on - reasons that are super F*cked up --- but there are reasons in their minds. If the ultimate goal is to live in a peaceful world, I think it's fair to explore things enough to at least be able to say with some degree of authority, "Yes, This dude is simply a F*cking madman." But if there is some tiny rational part of that actor's mind... some piece that could be reasoned with? Would we not do so?

------And as a disclaimer - I have ALWAYS been way out on a limb in this matter. Way at odds with people around me. In 11th grade, I was the one who raised her hand and asked "Why didn't anyone just send Hitler a LETTER???? Why didn't anyone tell him this was just NOT nice and NOT fair????"

So... I am willing to concede that my ideas on this front might be... at least slightly... idealistic.

I just find it hard to swallow when people are demonizing the role of "dialog."


- Not knowledgeable enough about science to know... but isn't science about perpetual inquiry? Is it good for any scientific discipline to become like religious dogma?

-----Agreed - Knowledge is not fixed. It is a constant pursuit and always moving. However - when the bulk of research points in one direction, would it not behoove us to take preventative actions that would likely minimize the potential damage?

I worked for a short time for a PR firm doing spin for chemical companies. THEY adopted your very same line of reasoning. "we don't know for SURE that adhesives contain endocrine disruptors. we don't know for SURE that these increases in cancer risk found in the community surrounding this chemical plant are FROM the chemical plant." I simply say, "BULL-SHIT." If science is a constant inquiry, then I suppose we'll NEVER get there, so if this line of reasoning is right, these lil' scientists will be all flooded and burning up, having only accounted for what... 99% of the variance in the worlds rising temperature trend?



[danna orig wrote] Any line of reasoning or faith that suggests that gay couples cannot/should not be able to marry or adopt children.

- Is there a candidate in the election who says gays should be able to marry? Who?

--------- FAIR! Very Fair! But, if they were pro-choice and pro-environment and pro-gay marriage, they would have my vote!


- Maybe when you venerate community organizers but sneer at governors as stupid hicks. Maybe.

--------Oh, come now... Who is sneering? And who said Stupid? Someone has been listening to some of the punditry!


- If we had a shred of confidence that our schools and infrastructure were being well-handled, that the people paid for doing so were judged as much as the rest of us on how good a job they do, then we wouldn't mind giving them our money.

-------FAIR. Again, very fair. However, I'm not sure that either party is Pro-Bureaucracy. And aren't conservatives upset that Bush made the role of the Feds Bigger? while Clinton made it smaller?

Effective government is something that we can certainly agree on.

Anonymous said...

Last night I had an overwhelming fear about the election. I dare not even say it but..you know. My flashback was to Nov 2004 with Adler nursing on my lap as I watched with disbelief. I'm scared that my daughter could loose human rights. I'm sad that polar bears can't swim 400 miles to the next ice cap. I'm pissed that a f'in Big Mac is over $5.00 in Rome (and you know i'm more of a filet-o-fish gal). and i'm totally freaked out that people (a'hem...my family..there i said it) support McCain/Palin. what are we going to do?
Marianne

Anonymous said...

Below from http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/11/beck.palin/index.html

"I'm pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues. So I am not anti-contraception. But, yeah, abstinence is another alternative that should be discussed with kids. I don't have a problem with that," Palin said.

Dannagal said...

Dear "anonymous," In my opinion - the best indication of a candidate's future actions come from his/her past record. The following is from msnbc.com from 9/1/08:

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/09/01/1320417.aspx

From NBC's Katie Primm and Mark Murray

By the way, as has been pointed out, Palin backed abstinence-only education during her 2006 gubernatorial race. In an Eagle Forum Alaska questionnaire, Palin gave this response to the following question:

"Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?"

Palin: Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.

Anonymous said...

Am not discussing politics on here but I do have an observation. Perhaps, the lady's perspective changed when her own daughter became pregnant. It may have driven home that teaching abstinence is not always best. Funny, how we can change when our own family dynamics come into play. So, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt on that one.
And yes, I'll sign my name. I hate when people hide behind anonymous when stating their view. Jalena

CryssyeR said...

I don't comment on politics, but I have to say, despite your lack of sleep lately you seem so happy in your life. It's heartwarming to see Bax and PJ so bonded, and you back to being you.

As for the politics, all you can do is vote :) If you ever do run for President, I'll vote for you!

Anonymous said...

Both candidates suck, plain and simple. For such a wide variety of reasons I can't even begin to get into them here. What actually makes me most sad is this blind, fanatical devotion to one side or the other, the failure of so many people to see that these four people are just More Of The Same. And if you think otherwise you are just fooling yourself.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to try to change your mind, because I'm sure it won't, but I hope to at least give you some food for thought:

Taxes:
Do they pay for roads, schools, police and other infrastructure? Of course they do, and to some extent we are all responsible for supporting the infrastructure that we rely on. But does the government spend our money wisely? No! Do they spend the money efficiently? Double no! So why should we give them more? It's like rewarding poor performance with a raise and a pat on the back. Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Also, higher and higher taxes wouldn't be necessary if the government wasn't expected to be the end-all be-all to everyone and everyone's problems. I don't know about you, but I trust the government to do just about nothing right, so why keep giving them more and more responsiblity for anything and everything? People need to find their own solutions, and need to be responsible for their own affairs, and stop relying on (and expecting) the government to bail them out every time they have a problem.

And constantly raising taxes on businesses, as liberals in general (and Obama specifically) want to do is even more absurd. You guys see business as a giant cash cow primed for the slaughter, similar to all those lawsuits that target the deep pockets rather than the ones who are actually at fault. Who do you think pays those taxes? We do! Business has the ability to simply pass those increases on to us, the consumer. Where can we pass of the increased cost of living? Nowhere. Well, nowhere other than to stop buying things and supporting the economy, which does no one any good at all.

And lastly, the general transfer-of-wealth policy of the left flies in the face of the core principles of capitalism. You try to ram your square peg of socialist-leaning economics into the round hole of a capitalist economy, which immediately takes the whole system out of balance. It simply doesn't work, and no amount of trying is ever going to make it so.

Meeting with enemies:
A face to face meeting at the Presidential level with Ahmadinejad, or any other enemy or terrorist, immediately legitimizes their position. It implies that the depth of our differences are so shallow that a simple meeting can resolve them, and of course we are nowhere near that point with any of these fanatics. These are people that want to destroy any other culture that doesn't live as they do, by their moral codes and philosophies (both are which are irrational to the extreme.) They gladly take our oil money, but they will never be our friends no matter how much talking we engage in, until they undergo fundamental change in thinking.

Are we faultless and perfect in the world? No, of course not, no one is. But their hatred of America and everything we stand for has far less to do with our actions and more to do with their fanaticism. Your story of wanting to write a letter to Hitler just demonstrates your naiveté on this point. Uber-optimistic, well-intentioned naiveté for sure, but naiveté nonetheless.

But let's take that and run with it for a moment: what do you think would have been resolved by Roosevelt or Churchill sitting down with Hitler for a meeting? Do you really think that would have changed the course of events, even one small iota? "Come on now, Addie, why don't you just leave those Jews alone, and then we'll all be happy. Oh, and while you're at it let's just leave your borders just the way they are. Agreed?" Of course this wouldn't have worked one bit, Hitler was not a man to be reasoned with nor were his views even remotely compatible with ours or England's or the rest of the world's. The same can be said for Ahmadinejad and the other terrorist nations.

Even Henry Kissinger, who by all accounts liberal or conservative is one of the masters of modern international diplomacy, has stated quite clearly that direct face-to-face meetings at the Presidential level, without preconditions and avoiding the normal cogs of diplomacy (which are spinning all the time BTW) is not the correct way to deal with Iran and will only hurt, not help, the growing conflict between our nations.

(Note that Obama directly, and IMO intentionally, misquoted him in the debate, to which Kissinger responded that not only had he never said such things, but that what Obama is suggesting as policy is incorrect at every level.)