Tuesday, June 24, 2008

asshat: karl rove

Yesterday, Karl Rove called Obama 'cooly arrogant:'

"Even if you never met him," Rove said, "You know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Clearly, if making snide comments was all that counted I guess that makes all of Gen X 'cooly arrogant.'
But I digress.

1. how many black people actually belong to a country club?
2. of those black people, how many would actually make snide comments about their fellow privileged country clubbers?
3. how many country clubs actually allow smoking?
4. since when does 'cooly arrogant' mean something bad when pop culture/literary/cinema tells us 'cooly arrogant' men are frakking hot?

A Few Cooly Arrogant Men We (ok, I) Have Loved:
Mr. Darcy

Captain Wentworth

Toby Stephens

Cary Grant

James Bond

Daniel Craig, James Bond

Pierce Brosnan, Thomas Crown

Steve McQueen

Rupert Everett

Omar Sharif

Peter O'Toole (when he was less cadaverous)

Jean Reno, Swept Away


George Clooney

Clive Owen

almost every Regency romance hero ever written



Bruce Willis


Severus Snape

Nick Charles

Mr. Tibbs

Han Solo

Spencer Tracy

Paul Henreid

Humphrey Bogart


Feel free to add your own.

In the meantime, the GOP needs to resolve their collective cognitive-Obama-dissonance if the best they can come up with is calling Obama a milk chocolate WASP.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Belated Father's Day Tribute to Pastor John

Some of the photos I like most during this election season have been the ones showing Obama in the role of father. Images of him embracing his girls, evidently loving and caring for them - during the race of his life - make my little adamantine heart sort of clench, you know?

I've written a lot about my dad here on ChurchGal. He reads this site and has been incredibly gracious about standing in as my occasional straw man against which I throw my screeds and opinions.

If you looked at him today, with his distinguished gray hair, glasses and the goatee (that makes all the old ladies love him), you'd see an educated, charismatic older black man. A man who looks like he could be a jazzer or a popular philosophy professor at a city college. A man who looks comfortable wearing the collar of a reverend as well as the crazy red cashmere sweater-gym shorts-dress socks-sandals combo he wears to his daughters' chagrin during Saturday brunch. He looks settled, comfortable, successful. But his life story is, to me, the typical African American bildungsroman.

My father grew up in the ghetto. Literally. THE GHETTO. The projects of Compton and Watts might as well have been a sharecroppers plot. But from the ghetto, he went into the Army, married my mother, went to school to earn two degrees (including one from Talbot Seminary), became the young associate pastor of our church, then senior pastor.

I think growing up in the ghetto gave my dad some resilience. He built several ministries from scratch, launched a radio show and a web ministry; he survived a number of professional rivalries, controversies and church schisms. He survived the sudden death of his wife, the new world of dating in the 21st century and has somehow managed to avoid getting leg-shackled again. I remember a story he told me about dating a woman who became so frustrated at his unwillingness to 'take it to the next level' she sicced her little yappy dog on him and dumped water over his head on a beach date. Clearly, my relationship issues are a family trait.

My pops has lost several friends, made quite a few enemies, and earned grudging respect because of his unwavering integrity and willingness to call bullshit on the black church's excesses and hypocrisies. He's often an exasperating object of frustration to his daughters.

(A common refrain: "Dad, why don't you do things the way they're meant to be done?!"
A common response: "Oh, girl. You worry too much.")

In his middle age, my dad has become a different dad. The previous authoritarian has been replaced by a more mellow, cigar smoking, wine-sipping, Christian libertarian whose motto is 'That is between you and God. But you know you're wrong.'

This later incarnation of my dad is a very cool, though befuddling, one.

So this is what my father taught me:

He taught me how to argue. Dinnertime was usually 90 minutes of my dad and I exhausting my mother and sister while I argued why it wasn't a sin to go to the Homecoming Dance or the weekend ski trip and he'd block me every time - until I figured out how to flip his rhetoric around on him. Good times.
He taught me how to fight. Watching my dad constantly turn the other cheek in the name of the Lord, I formed different opinions about the value of strategic conflict. I mean, David was a warrior, right?
He taught me how to think critically. Listening to my dad tear apart the faulty logic of his opponents was cool; having that same logic tearing applied to me, not so much.
He taught me how to tell a story to make a point. These were always the best parts of his sermons.
He taught me how to lose. Like that Elizabeth Bishop poem, 'One Art.'
He taught me how to start over. Watching a pastor incubate and launch new ministries will do that.
He taught me that education counts.
He taught me that integrity and character count more.
He taught me that it is possible to change.
He also taught me there are some things you can't change
- who you are is WHO you are. It's just that some folks lie about who they are.
He taught me how to charm. The moms in the PTA liked my dad for a reason.
He taught me about jazz.
He turned me into a feminist
(when he told me I needed to learn how to make a man a sandwich.)
He is a walking lesson in vulnerability, sacrifice, faith and dedication to one's Call. (Yes, he might have *said* he wants to give his congregation the finger but he's still there.) This is a lesson I'm still trying to get.
He taught me that you make your own path. One thing I've always loved about my dad (both of my parents, actually) is that he has never, despite the unfortunate sandwich incident, tried to dictate my identity.

My memories of dad are those of unwavering support, whatever my decision has been. He was the one who drove across the country with my stuff when I started at UofM; he was the one who helped move me to Chicago when I decided to leave UofM; he was the one who didn't blink an eye when I told him I was going to jump into the unknown world of the non profit. He was the one who shut down his congregation when they had the nerve to whisper about my gay friends attending and helping out with my mother's funeral. He was the one who showed me that when other people start telling you how they need you to be someone you know you're not, you need to walk away and say, 'You crazy.' Consequences be damned. Most likely, there won't be any.

So, thanks, Dad. You've made me the feminist, bitchy, snarky, authority-hating loudmouth bougie snob I am today.

Love you! Happy Belated Father's Day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

rhetorical devices, 101: hyperbole

"This is the happiest day of my life." Really? Are you sure? I mean, out of all your days on earth you're sure that this day, this particular day, is the one that gives you the best feeling of happiness (well-being, satisfaction, contentment and joy) you have ever experienced? Can you measure that happiness and back that up with some sort of empirical evidence - and can you be sure that this zenith of happiness will hold firm in the future?

"Oh my god, that was the worst sex ever." Really? Ever? In your lifetime of sexual activity, this one instance was measurably worse than (and exceeded the badness of) the sex you've had before? So bad that it may put you off sex forever? If you run an analysis of all your lovers, taking into consideration their various techniques and the quality of the sexage, will this one lover top the list as the worst, or just one of the worst?

"For the first time in my life, I am really proud of my country." Oh, please. You mean you have lived in a state of perpetual and uninterrupted dissatisfaction with this country since the day you were born? I mean, you haven't felt even a little swelling of pride during the Olympics?? And what makes this particular moment so great for you that it erases all other, potential pride-inducing moments a country could have, huh?

"Mission: Accomplished." Sigh.

So. Out of all these dramatic, hyperbolic declarations, which one is the most damaging to our civic psyche? Which one makes the person saying it a liar and a person not to be trusted?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

hands off my ovaries, part one million: contraception does not kill babies!

ChurchGal: the other shoe drops: anti-choicers don't want you to have contraception!

i'm bumping this thread up to the top because i think it's a conversation we should start having in public now that groups are starting to target our legal right to contraception.

yes, our LEGAL right to use medically safe contraception and devices.

i want people to start thinking about the frakking consequences of their arguments, the frakking legal and social impact of their arguments. it's one thing to advocate and wish for the government to lay its hands on all aspects of one's intimate life but it's another to actually think about what this would look like in real life.

so, what would life really look like if fertilized eggs were declared 'people' (with separate, legal status) and how would this impact a woman's already legalized ability to use any kind of contraception?

this is an article, too, that one should read, written by pro-life Christian OB/GYNs about the Pill. in particular, for those who say that the Pill is an abortifacient, pay attention to what they say about how the Pill actually works:

"Most hormone contraceptives are noted to work by 3 methods of action:
1)Primarily, they inhibit ovulation by suppression of the pituitary/ovarian axis, mediated through suppression of gonadotrophin releasing hormone from the hypothalamus.
2)Secondarily, they inhibit transport of sperm through the cervix by thickening the cervical mucous.
3)They cause changes in the uterine lining (endometrium) which have historically been assumed to decrease the possibility of implantation, should fertilization occur. This presumption is commonly known as the "hostile endometrium" theory.

A thorough review of the medical literature uncovers ample data to support the first two methods of action, which are contraceptive actions. (Appropriate references will be found in the sections discussing each type of hormone contraceptive.) However, there is no direct evidence in the literature to support the third proposed method of action. This conclusion is shared by the respected Gynecologic Endocrinology textbook authors Yen and Jaffe." [emphasis mine]

further, the article goes on to say "An extensive review of pertinent scientific writings indicates that there is no credible evidence to validate a mechanism of pre-implantation abortion as a part of the action of hormone contraceptives. On the contrary, the existing evidence indicates that "on pill" conceptions are handled by the reproductive system with the same results seen with "off pill" conceptions, with the exception of increased ectopic rates seen with POPs and Norplant."

in other words, what happens when you conceive off the Pill happens when you conceive on the Pill. nothing's aborted - you're pregnant. so yeah...there goes that argument.

[feministing has another post from another OB/GYN that says pretty much the same thing here. it also mentions this thing called to 'right to privacy' that i think is at the heart of this push to make legal contraception suddenly illegal and harmful. i'll be writing on that later, i think. and, of course, my favorite OB/BYN blog, The Well Timed Period, has lots of useful and medically accurate information here.]

so if nothing's being killed, then why do these groups get their panties in a bunch about women using a Pill, an IUD or Norplant?

i will leave you to speculate.

Monday, June 09, 2008

oh, italy.

i LOVED italy.

the views, of course, were stunning and gorgeous. (even the rainy days were glorious. i mean they were the kind of days that made you want to throw open your windows, lean out and belt an aria. you don't get days like that in Chicago.)
the wine, natch, was unbelievably good (even the cheap farmers' wine we guzzled at the villa. all 50 bottles of it.)
the roads were treacherous and the italian style of 'driving' terrifying. (yet energizing in a 'you're going to meet your Maker very soon' kind of way.)

but you know what i really liked about italy?

their pace was my pace - slow.
i don't think i saw anyone actually 'hurry.' you really could sit and drink and eat all day and no one looked at you like you were a wastrel.

sure, i could have stuffed my days with shopping and touring and running from this museum to that old church. instead, in siena, i sat on my butt in the main piazza and read my book; in volterra, i eye-flirted with a hot syrian alabaster sculptor and then ate a load of gelato that gave me gas. (hello, lactaid.) in florence, i sat with friends off the Duomo and ate lunch and ordered liter after liter of wine, smoked at least two packs of cigarettes, wandered to another cafe for several glasses of prosecco, had a round of drinks bought by the kind old israeli vendor who liked Obama (and our friend K-), then stumbled across the street to the restaurant and stuffed myself full of rabbit, beans and more wine.

i LOVE italy!

photos will be posted when they're all downloaded so patience, all 5 of my readers.

i'll be buzzing off this italian high for a while.


PS: Incidentally, the best bathroom in Florence is inside the Ferragamo Show Museum. it's worth the 5 euro to pee in it.

Oh, and where can you find the most unnecessarily snooty perfume spritz girls? the overrated profumo-farmaceutica di santa maria novella. yeah, i said it: it's OVERRATED. sure, it's beautiful but it's still just a place to buy old soap and old perfume. the older woman in the soap room is much nicer so go throw your euro at her.