Musings and Mirth

Turning off comments

I have a troll stalker — defined as someone who is too scared to say what they want to say using their real name.    Tower climbers and the like – their hatred is so profound it has no limits. They hit and hit and hit until they think they’ve hurt you — but if you’ve been around the internet block you learn to ignore them.   Dealing with trolls is part of the internet experience. If you put yourself out there you will, sooner or later, come into contact with the worst (and the best) humanity has to offer.  But it’s not how I wish to spend my time.

Me, My Mom and Welfare

Mitt Romney’s disdain for “those people,” the 47% of Obama voters who supposedly don’t care about “helping themselves” was clear when a fundraiser poor old Mitt had no idea was going to be discovered hit the internet.  You’ve no doubt read a lot about it and thus, don’t need me to explain it to here. Instead I’m going to talk about welfare and my mom.

When I was born in the 1960s, I was the third of four children to a mother who had all of us before she hit 25. With no child support and no job my mother was forced to go on welfare. By the way, before she went on welfare, as a teen mother, she worked the graveyard shit to take care of her son while her younger brother watched him at home. My mom has been a hard worker her entire life. But yes, after she met my dad and had three more kids she went on welfare. We were food stamps babies and medicare kids. We had lunch tickets at school that only poor kid had and we knew it. We shopped at thrift stores and we lived on the cheap.  On the very cheap. But it wouldn’t be long before my got off welfare. Really, just a few years.  She worked as a bartender, then studied to get her real estate license when I was in high school.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I had a mom at home during the day.  Usually she came home after a hard night’s work at around 3 or 4 in the morning and slept through the morning and was gone before I got home from school. I finally got the “normal” parent when she became a realtor.  I didn’t realize, really, how hard things had been for my mom until I grew up and had a kid of my own.

I had a choice to go on welfare too. And to tell the truth, I was so broke when my kid was born that I was tempted. I went down to the welfare office and I applied for food stamps. I never got any money from the government but did get a few food stamps. But I never really pursued it, the reason being it was just too damned hard. One thing people who never go near welfare don’t realize is that it ain’t easy. Critics of the program think you can waltz in, fill out a form, and suck hard working Americans’ money from them. But that isn’t the case. It’s at least a five hour wait in the dirtiest government office imaginable. I went through it, as my mother had done and I remembered being a kid and sitting around and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

For me, it was too damned much trouble. If it had been easy I might have done it. But my mother never said she was entitled to it. She always said she was lucky to have it.   My mother has been paying taxes, pretty high taxes, for years now.  She has more than given back what she took out. Maybe that isn’t the case for everyone on welfare, a tiny portion of what the government dolls out by the way, but for my mother, and for me, this wasn’t an entitlement. It was a gift. A kind, kind gift at a time when I know my mother could not have survived without it.

Here’s to hoping Obama wipes up the floor with Romney.

The Pioneer Woman and Dooce as Different as the GOP and the Dems

I have long since reconciled my irritation with the success of both Dooce and The Pioneer Woman.  The reason being, I read both of their sites every day. I learn from both of them in very different ways. Though Pioneer Woman often talks about her family and her community and how much working on a farm means to her, Dooce offers me much more for my internal, intellectual world.  But I can’t really criticize Ree Drummond for what she has built. But she is a brand, a product, a totally indifferent-to-politics representation of wholesome America. You can’t really even say “white America” because she goes out of her way to represent different ethnicities on her blog whenever possible.  I do notice the effort.  But she is the Republican ideal.  Dooce, on the other hand, is my people.

Today she had a speech by Joe Biden on her website. Biden paid tribute to the victims of 9/11.  Ree Drummond, by contrast, could never ever, not with her right wing demographic (home schooled, church-going folks here) even mention our President or our Vice President. The same way Willard Romney could not mention the men and women serving in the military, dying at the rate of 6,600 for both wars so far, during his acceptance speech at the RNC. They can’t mention it because, despite America being the land of freedom of speech, the members of the GOP have to keep their mouths SHUT for fear of being A) shunned, or B) helping, in any way, to get the President re-elected.

To Drummond’s credit, I know because I’ve been reading her for a while now, she didn’t exactly mention George Bush either. She simply refuses, ever-not ever- to engage in any sort of politics. She pushes butter-ladened fantasy life to lonely housewives all over the country. They get their butter-porn, their cowboy-porn, their baby pictures, their giveaways.  It was no surprise that after building her “lodge” Drummond would start a show on the Food Network. Look, she has every right to rise in her career – she got there through nothing but hard work, folks. Same goes for Dooce, who is now a single mother after her marriage broke up. Dooce, who talks about all of the things that really and truly dog most of us, stuff you can’t bring up on a fantasy-driven romance novel of the site that Drummond has.

I was moved by Dooce’s tribute to 9/11 and it made me think that I like  how free she is to say what is on her mind. And I wouldn’t trade that in a million years for a chance to live in a fantasy with a hot dude in Oklahoma.  Money and success, to me, would only be satisfying if it meant I was getting something meaningful across to people. Maybe that success will happen to me, maybe it won’t.

In the end, I appreciate both of these bloggers and admire the hell out of both of them. They get up every day and they get to work. They show us a slice of their lives.  I like having the choice of both. But if I had to choose, Sophie, I’d grab Dooce because I find, more and more, I turn to her for emotional and intellectual relief.  I like how she thinks. I am dazzled by the things she finds on the internet to share and I immediately share them with my various social networks. She thinks, therefore she is.

NY Times Doesn’t Post My Comment for the First Time Ever – Maureen Dowd Must Not Really Like Criticism

In today’s New York Times column, Maureen Dowd continues her obsession with attention by blaming Obama for not having stood up to the Republicans the way the “limousine liberals” wanted him to do. Funny, because over there on the right they are accusing Obama of being too combatant, too resistant to reaching across the aisle. So Obama is caught between two ideals – he didn’t fit into Dowd’s projection of who he should be (she absolutely misses what he’s great at and will thus have to remain on the wrong side of history for the next 100 years as we look back) and he was someone who had no ability to work with the right.

Dowd’s columns on Obama are not about Obama at all: they’re about her. Just like her (more interesting and useful) columns on Romney and Ryan are about her.  But this year there is more at stake, the President is a lot more popular than she seems to realize and thus her take-down piece on Obama’s convention speech (grasping at straws, really – Obama doesn’t lie so how do you attack someone like that?) feels woefully out of touch. And so we are left with Dowd’s narcissism.  Invoking that work, I think, is what prevented the NY Times from posting my non-abusive criticism of Dowd herself; needing to write a nasty piece about Obama reveals in her the need to be seen as a certain kind of journalist, one who will get in the ring of a cockfight and take on whomever she happens to face.  That is dangerous, particularly for the New York Times and particularly for Dowd.  Nastiness for the sake of nastiness is ultimately useless and truly evidence only of a narcissistic writer.  Were she writing a truthful piece about Obama she would have to betray her street fred. And we can’t have that.

Why she would want to continually dog a President, all because he didn’t pay her enough attention when they were stuck on a plane somewhere, or a train somewhere, or a who gives a fuck somewhere, she has decided that he isn’t Bill Clinton — and therefore is worth piling on. At this point, Dowd, who has gained a reputation for being one of the best writers in the business, is about to nestle herself into the annals of history alongside other writers who simply didn’t get it. A great editorialist reads the take accurately. Dowd’s reading of Obama’s convention speech was a misreading of a powerful moment in US history.  Note how she refuses to praise the great speeches of the convention, oh maybe Bill Clinton, but not even Michelle Obama. That was a gross misread of the event. Instead it had to be about Dowd who doesn’t take sides, Dowd who finds something mean to say about everyone who deserves it, Dowd who stands up for us (don’t speak for me, lady) and yet this was her least finest hour.  She has to be the scrappy, starving dog searching for a piece of meat she can pick up with her teeth.  And there weren’t many of those lying around.  In the end it was like seeing a double rainbow and complaining that someone left a bit of dogshit on the ground.

Instead of allowing a commenter like me, who can fight fire with fire – match Dowd’s nasty sarcasm – the comment is simply not approved.  As a blog owner I reserve the right to delete or not publish comments I deem too nasty.  I would never condemn the NY Times, particularly, for not publishing comments they felt crossed the line.  In other words, I can dig it. But I think it was an overreaction. Also, if you can’t handle the heat, Ms. Dowd, time to get out of the kitchen.

I used to call Dowd my favorite writer, someone I wanted to emulate. But she has proved, with this column, that her thinking is greatly limited by her narcissism.  And it’s greatly limited by her upbringing and her character. He failure to get what the majority of Americans easily get reveals the weaknesses in her own outlook. And what a shame that is.

I may have to stop reading Dowd, because when she writes about the guy who is going to go down as one of the ten greatest Presidents the country has known, it will be like watching a car with three wheels clattering lamely down the road.

TIME Mag Fox Newses themselves into the Grand Tradition of Sexism with its Latest Cover

I was so disgusted when I saw the cover of TIME – meant only to shock and provoke – that it has brought me out of my semi-retirement from this blog.  Boy, kind of thought this was a thing of the past, but lo! Our grotesque patriarchal society is alive and well and seeking to repress and oppress women.  This, the same election season where (yet more hysterical) Republicans are waging a war on women, TIME decides to take a side in the parenting/breastfeeding debate.  Should you or shouldn’t you, how long should you?

Those of us who adopted the theory of Attachment Parenting, which is a way of rearing children that shuns the modern theories (all written and promoted by men, mind you, seeking to take all of the power away from women – the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world and don’t forget it) and gives everything back to the mother (and the father, if they can dig it).  That means co-sleeping, breastfeeding not just for food but for comfort  and it means holding your kid a lot more than keeping them away from you – in a crib in a dark room by themselves and left to “cry it out,” or alone in their stroller and made to cry it out.  When a baby, still mostly reptilian, reaches out to be held, it is the notion of our society that you would spoil that baby if you picked him or her up.  What could more silly?

We evolved to drink water when we were thirsty, to eat when we’re hungry, to seek out others when we’re lonely and yes, babies evolved to want to be held.  They need to be held.

Okay, so some attachment parents use child-led weaning; they allow the baby to nurse until they’re ready to let go of it – that they are secure enough so that they no longer need the COMFORT.  I stopped my child nursing after 2 1/2 years.  I’d had enough and she was fine. She transferred to water and is now a healthy, independent, thoughtful, secure 13 year-old.  Watching my daughter evolve into the truly wonderful person she is today makes me completely sold on Attachment Parenting.  For life.

But what TIME did was shake a stick at a rattle snake. They tried to gross out the American population with the notion of a “big kid” – he looks, like, 8 – still sucking on the boob.  The mom stands there with a “so what!” look on her face and society is put in the position of judging. And judge they do. The comments range from “you’re going to raise a Norman Bates” to “you’ve humiliated that kid for life.” No one looks at it and feels supportive of it – why, because TIME deliberately manipulated and misrepresented what Attachment Parenting is – and it is the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever seen them do.

And in the end it always comes back to blaming the mother.  Blame the mom because she is warping society with her sick little ways of wanting to nurse way too long. Blame the mom because she didn’t nurse long enough.

The fact is that every woman SHOULD breast feed if they can. If they can’t, so be it. It is less a “choice” as it is a necessity for the child — remember, the desire to formula feed babies was mostly born out of the need to sell formula.  Far more horrifying than the TIME magazine cover was Jennifer Lopez popping out two accessory twins and announcing that she wasn’t going to breast feed them.  That was it for her. She had to get back to becoming more famous than anyone ought to be — it’s hard to imagine why she had kids at all. Yet no one really cares about that because the patriarchy has been preserved; J. Lo exists for the pleasure of men, mostly, and for women who long to look like her.  The TIME magazine cover is a way of yet again slapping women down and robbing them of the one thing they truly do control: food for babies.

I may never pick up another issue of TIME again.

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About Me

I spend way too much thinking about me. This is the blank space where that paragraph should be.