In which a four-year old ponders The Big Questions

 
Thumbnail image for pacifier2.jpgI promised myself I wouldn’t write any more Palin-ontology posts. Susan, on the clothesline blog (http://www.clotheslineblog.com/) suggests that we should all shut about Sarah and concentrate instead on getting Obama elected, so that Sarah will slink back (in all senses of “slink”) to The Refuge State and concentrate on her per diem paychecks (suspended during the campaign) and on making sure that all of Alaska gets their hearts right with god.

So instead I will write … about my children. The younger one. He’s four years old and deeply attached to what we call his “little plastic friend” (or LPF, aka his pacifier). He calls the LPF his “nookie,” and boy you should see the heads swivel on crowded Manhattan streets when this child calls out from his stroller (or the back of my bike, or as he trots along beside me holding my hand), “I WANT NOOKIE! NOOKIE, NOOKIE, NOOKIE!”

I imagine grown men walk by him and mutter to themselves, “Me too, kid, me too.”

IMG_1224.JPGExcept when thwarted in his desire for nookie, Caleb is a pretty cheerful little boy (and hey, aren’t we all crabby when we’re thwarted in that particular desire?). He’s usually all dimples and smiles — and the occasional right hook, but that’s another post.

So the other morning, as we stood waiting for the elevator to go to school, on a lovely September day, it seemed out of character for him to be frowning, mournful, as worried as a shareholder in Lehman Brothers. He chewed on his nookie like a poker-playing old man chews on a cigar.

Me: Caleb, what’s wrong? You look so sad.

Caleb: I don’t want to get old, Mommy.  I don’t want to die.

Me neither, kid, me neither.

Continue Reading · on September 10, 2008 in Kids, Parenting

Ma Larkey

 

larkbirdc.jpgAs galling as it may be to admit it, Sarah Palin has energized the electorate: the far-right is thrilled to bits with her fundamentalist credentials, the left is terrified that a moose-killer who isn’t Teddy Roosevelt may be heiress to the Whitest House ever; and those in the middle are in a muddle: they may not be convinced about Obama’s ideas but they aren’t sure they want the old guy and the pit bull to win, either.

I’ve been goosed by Sarah too, into (finally) starting to blog, although my intention initially was not to write about politics but instead to write about being a parent, professor, and writer in Manhattan. Now, however, I am riveted by Palin-otology and wondering what it is about her that makes me want to clench my fists and hop around like Rumpelstiltskin when he finds out that the Princess has discovered his real name.

It’s not the accent, the hair-do, or the hypocrisy of advocating marriage and motherhood for her 17-year-old daughter. It’s not her facile assertion that any woman can juggle work and family — without bothering to mention the need for health insurance, a nanny, and a job (or the power) that makes it all right to bring her kids to work whenever she needs to.

No, it’s none of those things. It’s the god’s will argument: that whatever she does is god’s will — and therefore unassailable. It’s like we’ve been thrust back into the days of the divine right of kings, when to argue against the king was to argue against god, and therefore a double sin: heresy and treason in one fell swoop.  

Joe Biden offers an alternative: a deeply religious person not convinced that his god should be your god. Here’s Joe on Meet the Press last Sunday (9/7), when Tom Brokaw asked him about abortion rights:

MR. BROKAW: But if you, you believe that life begins at conception, and you’ve also voted for abortion rights…

SEN. BIDEN: No, what I voted against curtailing the right, criminalizing abortion. I voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view that it’s a moment of conception. There is a debate in our church, as Cardinal Egan would acknowledge, that’s existed. […] How am I going out and tell you, if you or anyone else that you must insist upon my view that is based on a matter of faith? And that’s the reason I haven’t.

During that same interview, Biden also talked about McCain’s new “change” mantra, saying “I heard Sarah Palin and John McCain talk about change. Tell me one single thing they’re going to do on the economy, foreign policy, taxes, that is going to be change. Name me one. This is such malarkey.”

The pastor of Palin’s Wasilla church offered a clue about what “change” might really mean, for a McCain-Palin administration: it might mean readying the country for the Rapture.  On the youtube video of Palin’s church (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGOu-X76rR0), he describes Alaska as a “refuge state,” a place where “folks” can find safe haven during The Last Days. As he talks, you see Sarah nodding and smiling, while the congregation waves its hands and claps …

Actually, if Sarah wants to run Alaska based on that premise, that’s fine. I feel bad for those in Alaska who maybe aren’t so Rapturously inclined, but could she please leave the rest of us in the Lower 48 alone? 

So what I’m thinking here is that in fact, Sarah is malarkey: Ma Larkey, winging around the country, talking only to “real people” but not the press (when did reporters become cyborgs?); claiming sexism is behind every policy question she’s asked (it’s not sexist to ask about her record, only to ask what she was wearing when she did — or did not — order the Alaska National Guard to do…something); and  spouting claims about her reformist zeal when the record shows that her zeal is reserved pretty much for god, Todd, and the “gold under the ground,” as she says in the church video (begging the question of where else one might find gold).

McCain and Palin equal changin’? Seriously? Can anyone else taste the old wine swilling around in these new bottles?

What’s next? John, Sarah, and Cindy, holding hands and singing Dylan tunes?

On the church video, Ma Larkey tells her audience that it’s time for the people of Alaska to get their hearts right with god.

Here’s hoping that most of the US opts for Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” on election day and puts Ma Larkey back in her snowy cage. 

Continue Reading · on September 9, 2008 in Politics

The Cracker Referendum

 

 
big_cracker.jpgAfter watching the RNC, albeit in an abbreviated form–there’s only so much yelling at the television a gal can do before she wonders if the nice people in white coats are going to come in and give her a happy pill–I realized what this election is about:

How many crackers are there in this country?

And will they vote?

Will they vote early and often and even if they’re dead?

Are there enough of them to swing the election away from those who can speak in extended sentences, nay, full paragraphs?

As I watched McCain try to smile, I wondered why “cracker” had become an insult — and why people take it as a point of pride to be one.

The OED, as usual, provides unexpected answers.”Cracker” originally was a Celtic word that meant a boaster, a braggart, a liar–as seen in this line from Shakespeare: “What cracker is this that deafes our ears / With this abundance of superfluous breath.”

How perfect is that as a description of the RNC? The entire thing, including the lipsticked pitbull’s speech on Wednesday night: an abundance of superfluous breath that deafed my ears.

Palin’s soon-to-be-son-in-law, Levi Johnston — the gum-chewing, stiff-armed young man on stage Wednesday night (he looked so stunningly out of place that one could almost, almost feel sorry for him) — Levi knows that crackers are boasters; they are, in fact, boasters who like to brag about being crackers, as his facebook page demonstrates in all its asterisked glory: I’m a f***in redneck, he proclaims. A redneck who has a girlfriend but don’t want no kids.

Is his page still there? Did someone from the campaign f***in remove it before less sympathetic readers decided that Levi’s happy embrace of narrow-mindedness might suggest something less than positive about his presumptive in-laws?

Does it make me a member of the media elite because I wonder why it’s a good thing to brag about being something associated with stupidity, racism, sexism, and violence?

Why does the anti-intellectualism that has always been a part of US culture seem particularly dangerous at this moment in our history? Is it because it smacks of ostriches with their heads in the sand as the tsunami rumbles closer, about to smash their tail-feathers to kingdom come?

ostrich.jpg

Is that the point? Use up the earth’s resources to bring about the end of the species — ours and all the others, in order to hasten the Rapture? Get the Kingdom to Come that much sooner?

All the superfluous breath blowing around St. Paul the last few days seemed very much in keeping with the swirling air blowing through Louisiana at the beginning of the week. I only hope that the hot air blowing from  Minnesota will be less destructive — but I have my doubts.

I’m sure that McCain thought choosing Palin would lift him past Obama, float him into the White House on a tsunami of ignorance and fear. Maybe for McCain, choosing Palin was like whistling while walking past a graveyard: he hopes that twenty-five years of right-wing decisions won’t come back to haunt him.

But we all know it’s impossible to whistle with crackers in your mouth.

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Continue Reading · on September 7, 2008 in Politics

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