For Christmas, I asked Santa to give me a break. A break from the relentless needs of Autism parenting and the excuse to overindulge in selfish pursuits. Santa came through big time in the form of a weekend getaway!* I randomly pick January 20th as the date for an overnight camp where people more responsible than me will keep my genetic contribution to the world safe for forty-eight hours. I had not realized it would coincide with inauguration day.
It’s the long-awaited Friday—finally!—I drop my beloved child at camp and escape like they might try to hand him back. Like a Baskerville hound baying for blood, I’m off! I have no obligations to anyone except myself and the goal of being blissfully distracted for two whole days. The difficulty is picking just one activity—so I don’t. First there will be a little buff and polishing and then dinner and a movie with friends. Absolutely nothing is wrong in my perfect little world. Life is bliss!
This works really well…until I sit in the massage chair at the nail salon. I’m punching the lower-back Shiatsu settings trying to relax while someone else deals with my winter-callused feet, when, blaring overhead, comes the familiar notes of a military band frothing with patriotic fervor. Aghast, I realize they have tuned the tv to the pomp and circumstance of President (*urp*) Donald Trump’s inauguration.**
I try to hint to my manicurist that anything else—The Shopping Channel, Urkel reruns, anything—would be preferable. She just smiles in that way the technicians do when they either can’t understand a word you are saying and/or are trying to suppress a gag reflex at the amount of skin sloughing off your mangy feet. I’m stuck, forced to listen to the horror unfolding with the insistence of all nightmares you just can’t wake up from no matter how hard you pinch yourself. Before long, my psyche is bruised.
The incessant and inane commentaries about the Big D’s faux humility of acceptance of office scrape against reactivated nerve endings—it’s like a scab being ripped from a raw wound. All the seething loathing and despair come oozing to the surface.
Since the election, I have erected an information force field—a giant bubble of reality denial. I try very hard not to read, see, or listen to any of the goings-on related to the transition of power. I avoid the bile of exchanges on Facebook because there is no Epipen big enough for certain toxic allergens. I am a political ostrich and have my head firmly wedged…somewhere…in an attempt to huddle beneath an illusion of safety.
But the seal on the bubble isn’t inviolate. Facts seep through. Reporters are positively gleeful about delivering devastating blows:
“This disastrous news, just in…
“The Big D wants a climate change denier as the head of the EPA.”
“The Big D offers Secretary of State position to oil magnate, Comrade-in-Chief Tillerson in bed with Moscow.”
“Dolores Umbridge to head Department of Education…”
It’s like being trapped in a car heading for a huge crap pile and there’s nothing you can do but brace yourself for the stinky impact. Try as I might, I can’t hide from the impending wreckage.
I escape the salon with beautiful toes and abused ear-holes. I scarper next door to join friends for a Chinese feast. There is little in the world that cannot be improved with a really good duck sauce. In fact, I think 2017 will be the Year of the Rangoon, for me.
It is awesome to get out with girlfriends and yack-yack face, while divvying up entrees. This all-estrogen experience is enhanced by its rarity. The food is great, the friends are delightful. Conversation flows. Three admit they can’t make the movie afterward because they are attending The Women’s March the next day in Lansing. They are bubbling with enthusiasm over the prospect—eager to represent their concerns about our political direction. Opinions are voiced. The choice to carry signs or not is discussed. Some express regrets that they have other commitments. I, however, am silent.
There it is, that subtle recognition that I lack something when it comes to addressing the concerns in the world around me. Among a group of intelligent, well-educated, driven females, I am the odd woman out. I feel no urge to march. No enthusiasm for protesting. No drive to join arms with other nasty women to demand equality or any other rights. It has been an indelible character fault—my honest recognition that I do not possess great ambitions to enact change other than to wish, weakly, that things were different. It is the note of discord that harps at me even as I enjoy my night out:
“Is it me? Am I part of the problem?”
I want to have fun. I want to be wild and carefree. Right now, the world needs movers, can-doers, outspoken activists to address the growing problems with our divisiveness and crumbling American ideals. Other women want to go be the change that rearranges the world. Me? I want to go see Hidden Figures and be entertained.
Dinner breaks up, and four of us split off to hit the nearby theater. We underestimate the popularity of the film. Perhaps there are more people moved by threat of civil rights abuses inspiring people to go see a film about African American women making sine waves during the 1960’s space race than we realized? Whatever the reason, just as I step up to purchase tickets, the movie sells out.
We resolve to find it showing elsewhere. Cell phones to the rescue, in seconds we locate the nearest next showing. We make it with time to spare for bathroom breaks and a close encounter with overpriced snacks.
The film is a poignant reminder of how much things seem to have changed in fifty plus years. As the characters of Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn parade the injustices rampant in Virginia during an era of supposed desegregation, this viewer can’t help but compare these struggles to ongoing racist discontent in the current tide of anti-everything-I-stand-for sentiment.
In Hidden Figures, the camera marks the continued segregation of a south in the American sixties. Signs on buildings are marked with “Colored” versus “White” entrances while restrictions on employment, library access, and toilets underscore the indignities for persons of color in an uber-white world. The movie is an ugly reminder of a future I’m coming to dread.
Today, hateful murmurs on Twitter and Facebook rants reveal, even revel in, blatant homophobia, anti-feminist bile, and a self-satisfied, Christian-Right America centrism which cheers for the deportation of people of Muslim faith and encourages wholesale murder akin to shades of 1940’s Holocaust. Watching Hidden Figures, I am encouraged and inspired. It shows the victory of those who challenge and beat a system stacked unfairly and overwhelmingly against them. However, when I leave the theater, I am reminded of the forces daily rewinding what progress has been made.
While we sleep, the government moves to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In one swift, hostile, late-night legislative assault, health care is in danger of being erased for 20 million people. Steps are taken to undermine the FHA regulations that protect mortgage insurance rates that help low-income people afford homes. The Big D threatens to repeal all of the grounds gained in an eight-year Obama presidency. If we pretend that he’ll stop there, that is level of delusion we can’t afford. I should be galvanized by the imminent destruction of the values I hold dear. And yet…
Last Friday wasn’t about inducting a virulent corruption into our government—it was all about me. And ME wanted dessert.
Staggering out of the theater at 10:30, we wander to the nearby MildThings restaurant for ice cream with deep fried, cinnamon-sugar tortilla strips. We’re overfed, highly-sugared, middle-aged women on the loose. Here us roar!***
The PYT (Pretty Young Thang) waitress endures our revelries not even encouraging us to leave when we ask “When’s closing time?”
“Oh, you’re fine.” PYT waves a perfectly manicured hand at us, pooh poohing our concerns. “We don’t close until 2:00 a.m.”
But for us, the coach has turned back into a pumpkin and our glass slippers are killing us. We wrap up our giddy exchanges, hug madly in the cool air outside the restaurant, and make our escape.
I snuggle into my bed as the clock turns 12:30 a.m. It is a new day. A darker day, perhaps, but it is a day I am free to make the choices I can live with.
I am not a rebellious soul. I prefer a quiet life, out of the confluence of bad history come to repeat itself all over my constitution. But now is not the time to stick one’s head in a bucket of denial—no matter how comforting that existence might be in the short run. We will have to keep our eye on the Hidden Costsof a Big D administration; otherwise, the next coming detraction might just strip our civil liberties entirely. And that preview is a pretty grim prospect to behold.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*The role of Santa was played by family and friends who have looked on in horror at admired my parenting on the edge-of-catastrophe. Thank you to all who sponsored this get-away weekend.
**I have to suppress my gag reflex whenever I put those words together. At least in one respect, this dick is just too much to swallow.
I have deliberately avoided making political commentary prior to now because this has been such a heated election. Honestly, I am surprised that the candidates have not yet spontaneously combusted.* Plus, as I have mentioned in a previous post, I can’t stomach the conflict and demagoguery that goes along with political rhetoric.**
I have just come back from doing my civic duty and I’ll admit to having mixed feelings this time around. In the last two elections, I was a vocally avid supporter of the democratic candidate–not just because his particular brand of politics aligned with my own world views, but I could buy into the hype hope of a breath of change ruffling the skirts of stodgy politics that would never have considered an African American in prior elections.
I have come to a conclusion about politics that just cries out for a half-baked analogy.
Politics is like pie!
Hear me out. If you like PIE–Politics In Extreme–this has been the election for you. This year’s dessert cart comes with two potentially delicious choices:
Hot Meat Pie– If you like candid-to-the-point-of slanderous representation, have I got a pie for you! This pie appeals to the carnivorous amongst us–offering meat-loving appetites a 100% sausage fest of sexism.*** This pasty isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade–or a spic a rapist. (Warning to any Muslims–this pie is made of pork. You’ll want to avoid it or it might deport you.) This pie comes with an extra flaky crust–so flaky it blows off in a slight breeze. But don’t worry, we’ve slathered on a nice, fatty layer of extra-white gravy and a side of pre-digested opinions so your bile doesn’t have to work overtime. This pie comes served to you by Russian wait staff who will offer free refills of WikiLeaks Tea for when you get parched.
Now before you think I plan to sell you on just one over-filled pastry, I’ve got another slice for you.
Strawberry Surprise Pie–This pie comes with a beautifully latticed crust–you can’t untangle where one strip of dough lies over another. That tart might have been processed by so many financial fingers that you could feasibly be licking the hand of every banker in America–and possibly a few abroad. This pie might be a tad tough to chew. We’ve been offered it before you see in 2008, but back then, all anyone could talk about was the ultra-rich chocolate cream served with a nice dollop of whipped Hope & Change and everybody just HAD to have a taste of that!
These strawberries might be a little out of season–but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ripe. Possibly over ripe. But we won’t know until we get a look under the crust. I’ve been eyeing the spinning dessert wheel behind glass and it looks delicious and I love berry pies…but I sometimes find strawberry pie has a nasty secret. I worry that, even as I take a bite of this electoral delicacy, I won’t be able to swallow the sugary, nuclear-red filling that doesn’t quite hide the bitter aftertaste of politics-as-usual rhubarb buried inside. What else can you expect but a mix of bittersweet coming from the first election of a pie that a pant-suited Betty Crocker might have baked? This lukewarm wedge is dished up by a private male server along with a tall glass of diet denial which you can drink later to wash away any lingering regrets.
Let’s be honest here. After a year of having this election shoved down our throats—it doesn’t matter how much you like a good piece of pastry. I think we can all agree—no matter which pie you voted for–both of these were half-baked to begin with and the bottom is starting to get soggy.
*It would explain a certain red-faced polemicist exploding on Twitter though.
**I also can’t spell it…Rehtoric…Recthoric…Rhett-or-Rick. (Dammit.)
***Careful, this pie is a tad assault-y.
To my delight dismay, I have reached an age where my body is falling apart in a most embarrassing fashion. This morning, I had an itch…in an unmentionable place. (For the sake of the squeamish, we are going to use old-world medical terminology.) Scratching my posterior whilst preparing to carpe the diem, I felt something go ‘pop’. Let’s just say, it was not a place one could put a plaster*. While trying to angle a mirror to get a disgusting look-see, I couldn’t help but think of that political curiosity—the Super PAC.**
Before you start scratching your….head…trying to put those two ideas together, let me save you time. I have no idea why looking at a bleeding hind sore makes me think of politics, I really don’t. But I figure, there has to be some sort of subliminal influences at play. (Possibly influenced by a week of bean soup.) I also blame NPR for spilling the beans about the Federal Elections Commission’s continuing failure to keep big money out of our electoral process.
It turns out that, as long as you don’t SAY you are running for office, you can benefit from oodles of donations for your campaign’s political advertising or even just to sabotage your opponents and you don’t have to report who is making the contributions. After listening to a very clear and concise explanation of why Jeb Bush isn’t running for office yet (wink wink), I still couldn’t grasp how this was possible or why it was significant.
As previously discussed in An Unnatural Brunette Get Political, my vast knowledge of politics pretty much begins and ends with whatever humorous snark John Stewart is ranting about on the Daily Show. In order to understand why my bleeding orifice reminds me of a bloated organization hemorrhaging money, I had to do a little research.
You’d think it would be easy in the day of digital reconnaissance to clickety-click one’s way to comprehension on just about any topic. If you were looking up ‘ways to be entertained by cats’, for example, you’d have an embarrassment of riches. However, when trying to parse out exactly what kind of shenanigans the government is getting up to, it’s a royal pain in the….(I think you know where I’m heading with this one.) I did stumble over many convoluted explanations of how both parties have maneuvered to alternately approve a political message (Hillary Clinton sucks) or ban a political message (Michael Moore really hates George Bush and you should too). These sources cite precedent, legal statutes, bickering opinions by supreme court justices and they all boil down to the idea that money in politics = bad. So how come we still have golden showers of money raining down on us in the form of political advertising? Because money talks dirty and powerful people listen. Skip forward a few years…and the FEC takes a dump on our electoral process by creating a loophole in finance reform. Here’s roughly how it happened:
To understand what a Super PAC is, you have to understand how PACs came to exist. In 1974, the government tried to restrict how much money could be given directly to a politician’s campaign by special interest groups. The Federal Election Campaign Act dictated that “Corporations and unions may not contribute directly to federal PACs, but can pay for the administrative costs of a PAC affiliated with the specific corporation or union”. So the PACs funneled money for the candidates, but there were still restrictions on how much could be collected and that donations abide by strict guidelines and transparencies. Politicians were against this and immediately looked for a way around this law.*** Reading this stuff can give you a headache; I like analogies, so I’ll try to mangle one for you…
Let’s say, Bob is running for office. If some group—say, Americans Banning Body Art—gave Bob $2,599 dollars in total contributions because Bob doesn’t have any tattoos, no one would raise a stink. If, however, A.B.B.A. gave Bob $2,600 to spend on his campaign the group would immediately be labeled a PAC—or Political Action Committee.
But Bob doesn’t want to be known as having anti-tattoo leanings; he would rather hide how and where his campaign support comes from. What is a clean-skin freak to do? Enter the Super PAC. Instead of A.B.B.A giving Bob the money, A.B.B.A. can collect unknown millions and hire someone to speak well of Bob (or badly of Bob’s opponent) without saying who paid for it. You may ask, “But where did Super PACs come from?” Bob…or someone like him…talked dirty to the FEC.
How does a PAC mutate into a Super PAC. Super vitamins? No. According to a report on How Stuff Works, the FEC (remember them—the commission which tried to regulate excessive spending in politics?) ruled that “individuals, corporations and unions can now contribute unlimited cash to Super PACs, which essentially means there is no ceiling to how much money is injected into elections.”
I think ABBA said it best:
So, there you have it. Now any Tom, Dick or Bob can funnel his drug cartel money hard earned pennies into any candidate’s election through an independent agency who just happens to want to propose advertising that will benefit said politicians aspirations as long as the candidate hasn’t actually said he or she is running for office.
Fast forward to my bleeding rectum and you can practically sense the tingling moment when a great idea was born. (Wow, is that a gross analogy.)
[Warning: Back-assward Syllogism Follows]
Any ass with a Super Pac can collect money to NOT run for office…
My ass isn’t running for office!
Therefore, if I had a Super PAC they could raise millions of dollars for my ass!
So, I have decided to form an exploratory committee for my ass. The committee will plumb the depths of people’s desires for my ass NOT to run for office! According to the Federal Election Committee, the first step is for someone to raise or spend $1,000 on behalf of my ass and file a FEC Form 1 within ten days. I encourage someone out there to form Committee to look into my ass’s chances of not running for office. You will need a name for my eventual Political inAction Committee. Vote here for your favorite suggestion:
My ass is nameless and it is not running for office. My ass approves this message.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*A plaster is what they called Bandaids™ before Johnson & Johnson kicked every else’s ass and slapped a piece of tape on the contusions.
**“What is a Super PAC?” You ask. In short, a Super PAC is the political equivalent of saying “So There” to campaign finance reform.
***All politicians like getting as much money as possible—it’s called a PAC mentality.
Actual Honest To Goodness Footnotes (I am now cursing my high school self who argued that I would never, in a million years, need to know how to footnote something when I grew up. Blame her for the following list):