Monthly Archives: January 2011

i promised myself a rose garden


Both my inbox and this comments section have been getting some very beautifully-written screeds exhorting us to be nicer in politics – ending the epithets and rancor that is currently gunking up the national debate. My lifelong friend The Budster, in particular, was as passionate as I’ve seen him outside of a Dook game, so I hope he won’t be chagrined to hear that I’m sorry… I just can’t be nice.

Liberals and progressives have lost. We’ve lost every single political fight in recent history: homosexuals are still second-class citizens, we’re still at war on the other side of the world, corporations are now people, pretty much anyone can buy and conceal a semi-automatic weapon, we have no environmental policy, and we still legally kill our own people with the death penalty.

To make matters worse, the other side is not content with winning: they are on a scorched-earth campaign to eliminate resistance. Back in 1964 when the Civil Rights legislation went through, conservatives took their lumps and moved on; these days, they want to simply repeal the new health plan as if it never happened. They don’t negotiate; they eliminate.

They speak in words calculated to stimulate our fight-or-flight hormones and convince simple folk to vote against their own interests. When problems occur, they find a weak subset of Americans and blame it all on them. Their lectern is huge, their microphones are deafening, and they are winning.

And now, after another gunman has targeted a Democrat (and killed 6 innocent people in the process), WE’RE SUPPOSED TO JOIN THE RIGHT WING TO TONE DOWN OUR RHETORIC? I’m sorry, but motherfucking FUCK THAT. If the neo-conservative carnival barkers were to suddenly cut their hatemongering by 95%, and those of us on the left were to quadruple our loathing, it’d still be grossly unequal.

Our beloved Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was instrumental in overcoming Republicans to get health coverage for the first responders during 9/11. When the bill passed, I got all the political emails declaring victory. I love my Senator, but procuring get basic health coverage for sick and dying firemen NINE YEARS AFTER THE WORST ATTACK ON AMERICAN SOIL is not a victory, it’s a Shakespearian tragedy. It’s a sick reminder that we don’t own any debate; we are only renting.

As soon as progressives stop being angry, the only ones speaking will be wingnuts. All liberals ever wanted was for things to be a little more fair, and for people to take care of the fuckin’ planet. Conservatives conjure up fat welfare moms counting their cash, gays buttfucking each other in front of children, and Mexicans coming over the border and cackling as they take your jobs. Then they invoke God and rile up their base with ugly lies and end-times paranoia.

Lower the volume, calm the rhetoric? Stop the denouncing, the demonizing? Put a moratorium on the name-calling and come back to the table in hope of finding common ground? That’s all well and good, but for the right wingers, I have only two words: you first.

lying in beds you made


There are two types of Tea Partiers/hardcore conservatives right now: those who are blaming everyone else for the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, and those who are issuing “it’s such a tragedy” missives from their oak desks while privately thinking “…but maybe a few of those liberals will think twice from now on.” It doesn’t really matter; they both have blood on their hands, and nobody should be afraid to say it.

Of course, it was a deranged fucktard who actually pulled the trigger, but anyone not looking at this in context is either an imbecile or in a coma. Even your most repugnant Republican blowhard assmonkey will be backpedaling furiously over the next week or so, no doubt bemoaning “how low the level of discourse has sunk” in this country, even though they’re the cynical bastards that dragged it there.

But even that contains a false equivalency. “Discourse” implies two parties who are participating equally, when the fact is that Republicans and conservatives have knowingly and repeatedly brought up gunplay, violence, 2nd-amendment remedies and the kind of dehumanizing vilification that conjures up only one solution. The dangerously moronic Sarah Palin, as many of you already know, put a gun crosshairs on Giffords’ district, and crybaby twat John Boehner said his opponent “may be a dead man” after voting for Obama’s health plan.

You have to go pretty goddamn far into liberal arcana to find anything remotely resembling that kind of wink-nudge assassination rhetoric of the Right, probably as far back as Leon Czolgosz, but just the obscurity of that name should speak volumes. Instead, American assassinations look something like this:

• Huey Long, populist Senator from Louisiana, shot in 1935

• Albert Patterson, democrat-elect Alabama Atty. General, shot 1954

• JFK, shot 1963

• MLK, shot 1968

• RFK, shot 1968

• Harvey Milk and George Moscone, shot in 1978

• Allard Lowenstein, Democrat NY-5, shot 1980

• Tommy Burks, Democrat from Tennessee HR, shot by his Republican opponent, 1998

• Bill Gwatney, Chair of Arkansas Democratic Party, shot 2008

• and now judge John Roll and others surrounding Democrat Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday.

A few things about this list – successful assassinations in this country are, thankfully, quite rare. Which is good for progressives, because we’re always the motherfuckers getting shot. Sure, both sides have their “crazies”, but nine times out of ten, conservative crazies play for keeps.

No doubt I’ll get the usual emails from right-wingers telling me about Central America and socialist leftists, but please do me a favor and fuck off. Writers with journalistic integrity are not allowed to say what I can, what pretty much every progressive already knows: your side is obsessed with binary equations of good and evil, violent revolution, religious fundamentalism, and view each act of kindness to those less fortunate as an attack on your precious rights, punishable by automatic weaponry.


Hell, I jokingly tried to give you your own country: Gunland!. And it wasn’t prescience, it was obvious to me in August 2009 when I wrote “the Republican Party is revealed for what it has become: asinine, backwards, hypocritical enemies of progress who probably wouldn’t mind a lone gunman doing their dirty work for them.” And then there was that whole entry fretting about this possibility a couple of years ago. And I’m no goddamn Nostradamus for sure.

Those who say “guns don’t kill people, people do” miss the sunrise and sunset. The right wing, aided by unlimited cash and cable news networks, has pushed the goalposts of dialogue so far away from reality that they win every game before it’s played. But in their frothing haste, they forget an important element: it’s not just the normal folks who move with the goalposts, it’s the lunatics as well. What used to be their quietly-held thought has now become a cause worth killing for.

Tell you what, Palins and Angles and Boehners and Becks of the world… you get to use bullseye targets, cute 2nd amendment jokes, racist comparisons to the Civil War, and speak hauntingly of the “tree of liberty” being fed “with the blood of tyrants” IF you also claim partial credit for the whackjobs who take you seriously. If not, you’re just another coward grinning ghoulishly from a safe, grassy knoll.

peppered with tiny victories

UPDATE (1/611)…

I have strep throat again (gargling with Listerine ain’t working for me, CM!) and thus out of commission until tomorrow, but keep your Gentle, Insistent New Year’s Habit Changes coming, because the mere act of committing it to writing – and a public forum – gives them power, god dammit!



I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in the Taconics, it is actually too cold to blog tonight. So we’ll go with something easy, something hanging off the basal ganglia of your brain. So much is made of New Year’s resolutions, whether they are lamented by those who feel guilty, or those who glare at the proposition with anger. But the fact remains that using an arbitrary date to make a sweeping change can be very powerful, and I’ve benefitted by a few such random revolutions myself.

So let’s be kind to ourselves, and call them “gentle, yet insistent suggestions on how we want to change a habit” instead of “resolutions”. Today’s code word question is simply: do you have any? I don’t mean 10-year struggles you’ve lamented like Cassandras endlessly wailing in the wind, I mean something you can actually accomplish. I have a few, one of which is changing my sleep schedule 90-120 minutes earlier. How’s ’bout you?

blooms through snow


I assume many of you had to go back to your travails today, or at least nudged back into the routine and ritual that constitutes your normal. I was nudged back into mine as well, although it’s a bit darker: I realized that I have a tendency to fall off a mood cliff in the days following New Year’s Eve.

The letters section of Reader’s Digest may call this the “post-holiday blues” or something, but for me, it’s much more acute and scary. This time, however, I was not going down without a fight, and planned ahead with writing, caffeine, projects, and a massive road trip back to California to provide another car for our li’l family.

And still, that shallow sun, the distended, warped shadows reflecting off snow, and the late-afternoon plunge into jet-black silence was still looming over me. Then something happened: Lucy suddenly started screaming in genuine pain, her ears throbbing with a possible infection, and her whole body wracked in flu anguish.

She is one of the healthiest creatures I’ve ever known – the rare occasions she gets sick, she never loses her humor, and is better within hours. This time, she was thrashing around in bed, refused food, refused videos, refused hot chocolate. My poor sweet brave girl was actually suffering, three hours at a stretch, inconsolable.

Right now she lies in the farmhouse bedroom next to me, her mommy in the trundle bed just below, finally asleep thanks to Tylenol, a little Benadryl, and enormous exhaustion. And I lie here cured, my self-obsessed, depressive crazypantsing having flown out the window, set to rights by a little flower. Your own demons may be real, but they wither to an anecdote when you’re able to give yourself away.