when the status quo frustrates.

WOW, did Obama REELY go into the LION’S DEN?!? huh? wow…

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

I’m sure you’ve all heard of this by now:

Obama makes appearance at annual GOP retreat

Just two days after giving the State of the Union speech, President Obama stepped into the lion’s den at the GOP retreat in Baltimore Friday to make a fresh start with House Republican leaders. Obama accepted the invitation from the Republican leadership to discuss upcoming legislation initiatives and to participate in a question and answer session about some contentious public policy decisions.

(If you haven’t seen it yet, you can get the whole series of videos here.)

I did watch it, and I should also note that I didn’t really watch the State of the Union address other than a few snippets here and there. I suspect I could have just as easily skipped out on watching both of them. President Obama is a great speaker and clearly a very intelligent and articulate man who performs with admirable coolness under fire–but I already knew all that, dating back from before Obama was actually President. I do admit that it is a pleasure to have him be the official face of America both at home and abroad–I spent most of Bush’s eight years in office cringing every time he opened his mouth.

But I wasn’t too impressed by the activity itself. Really, more even than being unimpressed, I found myself wondering why on earth it was occurring at all. To promote bipartisanship..? Not likely. As anyone who has actually dealt with groups of people who disagree while simultaneously being necessary to whatever final goal is being attempted knows (and if you’ve spent any time in corporate America at anything above the level of absolute peon, that’s you), the only way to get people to really cooperate with you is to air your dissention with them in private. Doing so in public will only work if you somehow have their nuts up against the wall anyway so it doesn’t matter what they think or feel. Basically, if you’re doing so in public with someone or someone who has any real power to screw up your agenda, your purpose is actually not to advance your agenda, but either to (a) make yourself look good to your stakeholders or (b) make them look bad to theirs, as publicly as possible.

It is important to realize that, because otherwise you might find yourself wondering why Obama would feel the need to kiss the GOP’s ass with this rather supplicant-scented meeting–my boy Jon did a pretty funny takedown of that attitude a week or so ago, in reference to the Massachusetts special election:

…because you know, if Coakley loses, Democrats will only then have an 18-vote majority in the Senate…which is more than George W. Bush EVER had in the Senate when he did whatever the fuck he wanted to do. In fact, the Democrats have a greater majority than Republicans have had since 1923.

I did go shopping for conservative commentary on the Obama/GOP retreat Q&A, because I found myself wondering if any of them believed it really was ass-kissing, towards them!–turns out that yes, they do indeed believe this.

Michelle Malkin:

But the session has been most compelling — the most transparency and openness we’ve seen since the start of his term.

Good on the House Republicans for throwing the doors open.

And, yes, I’m going to compliment the president: Good on him for taking part.

Yet another dividend of the Massachusetts Miracle.

Forget the staged dog-and-pony campaign rallies…

Redstate:

The GOP is touting the benefits of having the president say – on the record – that they have offered substantive proposals. They also argue that this appearance puts Nancy Pelosi in a tough position: the president promised bipartisanship, and she’s delivering none. They see the chance to knock her down a few more pegs…Republican Members were delighted after the presentation.

Ace of Spades:

It’s funny how our Post-Partisan President only gets around to addressing Republicans when he needs their votes. Funny how he didn’t do that for a year…And it is this asshole — President “I Won” — who has staked his young and now failed presidency on nothing but winning and steamrolling the opposition and ignoring critics and demonizing dissenting voices, all to “win” on this issue, to prove he could win, and so to prove that he was El Supremo Jefe and we all had to buckle under his benevolent dictatorship.

It is this asshole who has denied himself the wiggle room to compromise, and so it is this asshole who is now attempting to persuade us to compromise, because he can’t.

That was the majority response…though not all of ‘em are quite that stupid:

Althouse:

Okay, I will be looking for the strengthful nuance that knocks down all arguments.

More than the State of the Union — or on top of the State of the Union — this may be a pivotal moment for the future of the presidential agenda on Capitol Hill. (Democrats are loving this. Chris Hayes, The Nation’s Washington bureau chief, tweeted that he hadn’t liked Obama more since the inauguration.)

Got it. The Prez’s people loved it. Maybe this wasn’t really about inspiring bipartisanship but firing up the base.

…bingo? I don’t really follow conservative bloggers much, but this chicky may be one for me to watch in future.

All-in-all, color me “meh.”

Thank God it turned out this way, rather than some other way.

Friday, January 29th, 2010

(Hat tip.)

“The jury deliberated for just 37 minutes before finding Scott Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., guilty of premeditated, first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting death” of Dr. George R. Tiller.

Interesting snippets from the trial:

Roeder’s attorneys were hoping to get a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter for Roeder, a defense that would have required them to show that Roeder had an unreasonable but honest belief that deadly force was justified.

But after hearing Roeder testify (emphasis mine), District Judge Warren Wilbert ruled that his lawyers failed to show that Tiller posed an imminent threat and the jury could not consider such a verdict.

Hmm…wish a transcript was available of that.

At one point Friday, District Judge Warren Wilbert stopped defense attorney Mark Rudy from using the word abortion when cross-examining a witness who had not first used it himself.

If the witness brings it up “that’s fair game, and you can explore it,” Wilbert said.

Paul Ryding testified he had an “awkward conversation” with Roeder when Roeder came to church services six months before the shooting. Ryding said he had a feeling Roeder had “an agenda,” without explaining what he thought that might be.

But Ryding steadfastly skirted the word abortion when pressed — leaving defense attorney Mark Rudy so plainly frustrated that he asked Ryding whether he had previously discussed his testimony with any officials other than detectives.

Nice. :)

But lest we forget what else we’re dealing with here…

Photos of Tiller’s body after he was shot showed the doctor lying on his side, with much of his face obscured by blood. A large puddle of blood had pooled under his head.

A Roeder supporter seated in the public gallery grinned widely and swayed visibly in her seat as the gruesome photos were shown — leading a sheriff’s deputy to quietly issue her a stern warning.

Well, he’s locked up for at least the next 25 years. The best we could’ve expected, really. Rest in peace, Dr. Tiller, and I hope your family finds some closure in all this.

I’m Not Dead Either!

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

…more accurately, I would say I have been “defunct.” (That’s a great Scrabble word, by the way–I speak from recent personal experience.) After the third or fourth major thing went wrong in my life last year, I decided (amidst the angst) that this was a great opportunity for me to really examine the effects of adversity on all aspects of my life, both external and internal.

The bad news: Hair really can fall out from mental stress! Seriously. And I am now being paid back for all the decades I have spent wailing about the total unmanageability of my thick, heavy, curly mane of hair. My hair is much quieter now, and sadder. Happily, it has also stopped falling out which is good for many reasons, the least of which is that I’m sure all those Drano treatments on my household water pipes to get rid of the massive clogs of MY HAIR lodged deep in them (it had to go somewhere, eh, since it was no longer occupying my head..?) were not good for them.

The good news: Having given up many expensive spa-type beauty treatments in my quest to trim my budget to manageable proportions after my contract job ended at the end of the year, I have discovered that I don’t really look that bad without a French manicure, waxed eyebrows and blonder highlights. Now, the fifteen or twenty pounds I have put on due to the utter inactivity forced upon me by the two herniated discs I acquired in my back (I told you—last year was fraught!) is unavoidably unattractive, given that it is not only pounds I didn’t need but a very flabby set of pounds. But the series of cortisone injections in the spine I am currently in the midst of appear to be slowly but steadily repairing the problem, so hopefully I will be soon able to stop laying about the house watching my fingernails grow and contemplating the need of my walls for a nice new coat of paint and get some actual exercise.

I am slowly emerging from my shell of utter self-absorption and attempting to reconnect with the world at large–I’ve noticed already that my perceptions and resultant opinions about some things have radically altered, as I rediscover what’s been going on while I’ve more-or-less been away. But I am still pretty uninformed, fact-wise, so I’m not quite ready to venture any global or radical commentary just yet. The last thing I need is for more hair to start falling out..!

For Your Consideration

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Not dead, I promise.

WTF: No exit polls?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

My beloved better half constantly chides me for exiting the popular political narrative during a given discussion.  As a made up example: she’ll call bullshit on Obama’s not repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and I’ll jump in with, “having a military is bullshit.”  So I’m not much fun when discussing the kinds of tactical political minutiae favored by my intellectual peers–or political events in general, frankly.

Nevertheless, like a horrified bypasser stopping to watch two trains heading at each other at full speed, I Googled “Massachusetts election ‘exit polls.’”  Guess what?  Nobody’s taking exit polls!  Nobody has to convince me that elections are a complete fraud and were even before Diebold and their “buggy” proprietary software guaranteed preselected results.  Even in a sham 4th world election, there are exit polls so that everyone knows the results are a fraud when the hated incumbent wins by 99%.  Anytime the UN or other multi-national body declares irregularities in an election, it’s due to a discrepancy between exit polls and actual results.
Soooo, playing inside the box, I’m pre-declaring the results of the Massachusetts election to be a fraud–a fraud inside a lie wrapped in a sham, to paraphrase a beloved war criminal.  Since the democrat candidate had a gigantic lead (part of the stated reason for no exit polls), I’m going to guess that this one is rigged for the republicans–again, just a guess.
Zogby, who correctly predicted that John Kerry would “win” the 2004 race–if by win one means having the majority of voters cast a ballot for you in the correct electoral combination*–is saying that the dem will win by < 1%.  I feel supported in my assertion that this is a republican steal by Zogby’s prediction.
* as opposed to the more favored definition which refers to actually assuming the political title for which one was contending.

Who Drives?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Over at Pandagon Amanda talks about some poor dear to whom “sexism” isn’t enough of an answer to the question “Why do men do most of the driving when there’s a man and a woman?”

This is one of those times were I really wish that I could say I buck the trend, but alas, I don’t. When it’s Hubby and Me, or PE and I, more than likely it’s the guy doing the driving.* The short answer to why this is so is “Because I hate to drive” where the guys I hang out with it enjoy it. But, that is really only one part of this onion of sexism.

Like a lot of girls, I was not terribly encouraged to take a lot of risks. In fact, I was downright DISCOURAGED from taking any sort of risks, and in the car it was no different. I can remember one time when my dad got a three-wheeler, I near immediately put the thing in the ditch, and didn’t have the upper body strength to pull it out again. I burned with embarrassment, not only at the idea of not being able to get it out, but for getting it stuck in the first place. My dad, trying to be sympathetic, said “That’s okay- that’s what men are for, to do the heavy lifting for sweet little girls”. I wasn’t allowed to drive the thing any more. The neighbor boy took that thing through 3 feet of mud, bent some of the frame, and was still allowed to drive it around.

When I went to get my driver’s license, I was told, again and again, about how dangerous driving was, and how expensive the car was, and how much the family relied upon it to keep working. I was NOT allowed to go cruising around for the fun of it (I had to have a specific place to go, and I had to come back immediately afterwards).
My dad, who I’ve seen pull J-turns with the best of them and thinks the speed limit is a suggestion, freaked out if I went more than five miles over the speed limit.** Driving, instead of representing freedom and the fun of the journey, represented chores and ferrying around little sister.

I also tend to get really worried while driving. A couple of early accidents (people hitting me, not the other way around) makes me incredibly paranoid about being on the road. The accidents were ruled to be “Mostly their fault” but I had something like 20% responsibility for one of them, so my parents screamed at me for the increase in insurance for about a week after it. I see all of the possible accidents on the road, and that tends to make my adrenaline gland go into overdrive.*** Compare that with when I’m riding, where I can tend to have a more zen-like attitude (if we crash, it’s not my fault).

It’s nothing against the guys who do the driving- PE thinks so highly of my driving skills that I’m one of 3 people allowed to drive his car, and when Hubby and I travel in really heavy traffic, we’ve learned to let me do it (I’m less likely to take asshole drivers personally). For the most part, the guys I drive with are perfectly aware that I can drive quite well. They are also perfectly aware that I hate it. There are, of course, some exceptions. FiL and my dad need to be the ones driving- it’s very control-freaky on their part. A few of my guy friends will “let” me drive, but then make fun of me for driving like a “granny”.****

And I think my experience (aside from the paranoia- that’s all me) is not unique. We teach guys to take charge, we teach girls to be more passive. I just wish there was more public transit so I wouldn’t have to drive at all.

*The exception to this was when I was the only car in a group of car-less friends and college. Oh, and Bear, but that’s because he’s a TERRIBLE driver. Like, frighteningly bad, I would walk 5 miles than have him give me a ride in winter terrible.
** I’m to this a terrible driver when my dad is in the car. Probably a mental block- or possibly the sound of him slamming the invisible brake.
*** Of course, the flip side of this is I’m a very aware and safe driver. I’m very good at picking out when someone’s going to move over in the lane without signaling or checking their blind spot. I start emergency braking before being consciously aware of the need to do so.
****Apparently, driving like a granny means: I don’t go through yellow lights if I have enough space to stop, I don’t do more than 5 over the speed limit, I let people onto the highway from the off-ramp, and give people plenty of space if I’m going through an intersection. Also, I don’t do J-turns, or power turning, or donuts on the icy roads (on purpose).

Our training is a bit worse, actually.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

(09:40:29 AM) Friend: They way you become a Mord Sith is: you’re kidnapped as a young girl, beaten and tortured mercilessly until there is no humanity left in you, then kill your father to complete your training.
(09:40:55 AM) Violet: Oh, so just like how you become a feminist.

Depression and Weird Moments

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

A friend of mine, the other day, told me, “You know, except for a few weird moments, I’d never know you were depressed.”

Of course, those “weird moments” are probably the one in which they catch me looking longingly at the point of a knife or a phone call in the middle of the night where I sob out all of my existential angst.

But, if anything, that about sums up what depression is for everyone around me- a few weird moments. I still go out, I still go to work, I still smile and laugh and joke. When other people see me, I make sure that I do all of the hygiene that’s appropriate for a human being. I’m still logical (or as much as any one human being is). I still care about the world around me, even as it continues to baffle me. Depression doesn’t make you less intelligent. Or, for that matter, more intelligent. The “tortured genius” stereotype is wrong on so many levels.

I only have a mild case of depression. What this means is when I went to visit my shrinks, they didn’t put me under surveillance when I told them that I was suicidal. When I got frustrated with having to talk to them, it meant that I could say some pretty little lies about finding the value of living and I could stop seeing them without any trouble from the university* or the hospital.

But, what it means to me is inside my head I have a torture device. I have a brain that likes to say, on an endless loop, about how much better everyone would be if I were dead. It likes to say about how stupid I am, how arrogant I am, how cruel, ugly, clumsy, useless, talentless, and disgusting I am. And as evidence it brings up every memory for every embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me, from the tiny to the huge. Then it tells me I’m selfish and weak for wanting to die. This loop is powered by my energy and desire, so every time it goes around in my head, I have a little less of each to go about and do the day-to-day life.
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