June 23, 2009

LACK OF OPTIONS

I have always been frustrated by my lack of options.  If you wish for the United States to look more like Canada or Europe, then please just move to Canada or Europe.  Don't try to turn our country into something that already exists elsewhere.  Because if I want the United States to look more like what the Founding Fathers envisioned, with far less government intrusion, I have nowhere else to go.  There is no other existing country that matches the vision of where I want to live.  (And the US today ain't exactly it either, but it's the best we've got.)  Please don't turn my only option into another Canada.  Canada is already Canada.

Stephen Green: Once Upon a Time in America

Whatever liberty we have right here, right now, in America … well, for all practical purposes, that’s all that’s left anywhere. If France had our freedoms, there would be no French here. If China had it, there would be no Chinese here. If it existed in Latin America, there would be no Spanish spoken here. And so it goes.

And so if we, here in America, throw it all away in a fit of panic or pique, then what we once called “America” will become as false as a fairy tale.

Posted by: Sarah at 09:32 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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June 21, 2009

GRAN CANYON

So there we were...

I hate that I have to type this story.  I wish I could tell it to you in person, with wide eyes and lots of expletives.

We took a bus tour to the Grand Canyon yesterday.  And as happened when we went on a cruise, my husband and I remembered why we don't like being trapped with strangers.

Since it was a long drive to and fro, we watched movies on the charter bus.  There were a couple of kids on the tour, so the bus driver insisted we watch appropriate movies.  On the way there, we watched Marley and Me and Evan Almighty.  You get the idea: family movies.  And on the way back, this lady...

Wait, let me back up.

My husband and I were the first people on the bus, and we accidentally picked the worst seats.  On a tour of polite Japanese and snoozing Italian tourists, we happened to sit behind the most hoopleheaded, annoying, creepy American family.  I can't even do their annoyingness justice; it was just one of those situations where you find yourself unwittingly eavesdropping on their inane chatter for fifteen hours because they just won't shut up.

It was going to be a toss-up over whether the mom or the dad was the more annoying, but then the mom made a shocking leap into first place.

On the way back, the mom volunteered to choose the movie we'd watch.  And on a bus filled with Asians and black people, this lady picked out Gran Torino.

I am crapping you negative.

Here's how it played out.  Keep in mind that this conversation is being shouted the length of the bus, with the lady up front at the DVD player and me about 2/3 of the way back:

Lady: I really want to see Gran Torino.
Sarah: Nooohooohoo.  Not a good idea.
Lady:  But I want to see it!
Sarah:  It's not really, ahem, socially appropriate for this setting.  It's very controversial.
Lady:  Well, what else do you want to see?  No suggestions?  Then let's watch Gran Torino.

Now I am starting to lose my cool and get knots in my stomach.  There is no way we can put that movie in on a bus full of minorities.  (My husband wondered if the Japanese people would even catch the "zipperheads" and "gooks."  I said perhaps not, but everyone knows the n-word when they hear it.)

Meanwhile, I am trying to insist to the lady's husband that we simply cannot watch the movie.  I tried so hard to be diplomatic, saying that while it is an interesting movie to watch and discuss, this was just not the right time and place.  When the lady returns to her seat, her husband says maybe we should pick something else.  The lady starts pouting.  Finally, I lost it and said, "Whatever.  I'm glad you're comfortable playing a movie filled with the n-word."  Then the black ladies next to us start to get involved.  I swear one of them went all Bon Qui Qui and muttered that she would cut her.

Thank heavens someone else must've told the bus driver the deal, because by the time I marched down the aisle to insist that the movie was absolutely unacceptable, he had already figured out the gist and put the kibosh on it.

But seriously, oh my lord.  I about died.

My husband and I spent the rest of the trip giggling about other movies that we could suggest to watch: American History X, Crash, Deliverance, Pulp Fiction, and (the LOL suggestion from the husband) Brown Bunny.

We may as well have suggested porn.  It might've been less uncomfortable on a bus full of Asian strangers than Gran Torino.

I hope this lady goes home, rents the movie, and then realizes what she almost did and feels like crap.

No more group tours for the Grok family.  We're flying solo from now on.

Posted by: Sarah at 02:15 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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June 12, 2009

PALAU 4, AMERICA -200 MILLION

Am I crazy? I'm starting to think I'm crazy.

While British officials publicly slammed Bermuda, they were privately annoyed with the U.S.
[...]
President Obama's aides told Britain the Gitmo group was headed to Bermuda less than 24 hours before the ex-inmates' chartered jet landed there, the Daily News has learned.

Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown said, "We are confident this decision is the right one from a humanitarian perspective."
[...]
Bermuda will also receive an unspecified "small sum" to cover their costs, said a U.S. official.

The "small sum"? $200 million. Kimberly Morin says it best:

Humanitarian? How about monetarian? I’d be willing to bet $200 million that the Palau government would not have taken these detainees without Obama bribing them with a cash payout. Of course the White House says that the money has nothing to do with the detainees. It is for development for the country of Palau. What is to develop? They are a gorgeous tropical island whose economy is based on tourism. Why would we be giving this tropical island money for development in the first place? Earth to Obama - horrible recession, highest unemployment in 25 years, non-stimulus doing nothing and you are going to give $200 million to a country that does not warrant development and has absolutely nothing to do with our economy.

It costs somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million per year to run the entire facility at Guantanamo Bay. So there's two years of operating costs to unload four guys. Furthermore, Palau's GDP is apparently $164 million. Hooray, Obama just doubled their yearly intake!

Seriously, when did the whole world become the Mad Hatter's Tea Party?

Posted by: Sarah at 08:34 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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June 07, 2009

RNC SURVEY

My husband received the 2009 Republican Party Census Document in the mail the other day.  I thought I might fill it out to let them know what we think.  Sadly, I quickly realized that all the questions were worded so as to elicit Yes answers, and all of them pertained to some imaginary form of the Republican Party that is nothing like the one that actually exists right now.  Such as this gem:

Should the Democrats' so-called Stimulus Bill with its wasteful pork-barrel spending be repealed?

Now of course I answered Yes to this, but I had the huge urge to scribble in the margin: You no-good, yellow rats. You and Pres Bush opened the door for all this with the bank bailouts and now you're going to act like your hands are clean?

All the questions were worded so that any typical Republican would answer Yes to all of them.  I answered Undecided on one Patriot Act question and No to a euthanasia question, not so much because I'm fully decided on that issue but just because I was starting to feel like my Yes answers were being taken for granted.  If you design a survey with the intent of obtaining all Yes answers, you probably aren't very serious about really checking the pulse of your constituents.

Other questions annoyed me too, like:

Should Republicans filibuster judicial nominees who bring a personal, left-wing agenda on social issues to their jobs as judges?

Yes, but they also should filibuster any nominee with a blatant right-wing agenda.  Judicial agendas are a bad thing, no matter which side.  Don't get all high and mighty.

Should the Republicans continue to support the State of Israel?

Seriously, if anyone answered No to that, I wouldn't know how to keep my cool.  I'm furious that it was even considered one of the 27 most important questions the RNC wanted to ask its supporters.

So I get to the end of the survey and start to think that my participation is pretty worthless.  What have they learned from me?  That I follow the basics of the right-wing talking points 93% of the time?  That seems like a pretty worthless thing for them to learn about me...especially when I feel like they aren't answering Yes forcefully enough to most of these questions.  Or they're totally missing the boat by not asking questions about immigration or gay marriage to really test their base and see how people feel.

So I was disgusted by the survey and didn't really think it was worth my time to mail it in.  Then I noticed the final question:

Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?
  • Yes, I support the RNC and am enclosing my most generous contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, $35, $25
  • Yes, I support the RNC, but I am unable to participate at this time.  However, I have enclosed $12 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey.
  • No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years.
And that's when I about flipped my lid.

Those are my choices?  Either I mail you $250 or I love socialists?  Really?  That's the absurd choice you printed on this lame survey?  It couldn't possibly be that I don't want to send you any money because this Democrat Lite you've been shoving down our throats for years is flawed?  It's not possible that I think you're all a bunch of spineless sycophants who no longer represent me?  That you're all just a bunch of wimps who are afraid of looking racist, sexist, classist, timecist, or whatevercist, so you grant the premise, thereby compromising our values and losing all moral ground?

And you want twelve wing-wangs just to cover the cost of this preposterous survey?  You sent me a survey that you crafted so I'd answer Yes to every question, and then you want $12 for the pleasure of having me reassure you that you're on the right track?  Not even close.

And don't think I didn't remember the irony of this paragraph from Tyler Cowen's book:

Does the Republican or Democratic National Committee make you angry?  Run up the costs of their operation.
Choose one non-profit you do not like and send them twenty bucks.  Once is enough.  Mention that you are thinking of putting them in your will, or perhaps let it drop that you play at the local polo club or own a yacht.  Keep your name on their mailing list.  Send in all future changes of address.  This action will drain that cause, and it's like-minded allies, of hundreds of thousands of dollars for years to come.

You're lucky I'm only mad right now and not devious.

You want my support?  Stop wasting money.  Stop wasting it within your own organization by constantly sending me mailings begging for money and asking me to please use my own first-class stamp to help you cut down on costs.  Stop wasting money once you're in office by playing Democrat Lite and pretending that this massive disaster we're facing doesn't exist.  And I'm not even talking about Obama; I mean the fingers-in-ears we've been doing for years over Medicare and Social Security, the War on Drugs, Education, you name it.  Stop taking in our tax dollars and pretending that you can fix anything.  You can't.  The only fix is to tell the American people to keep their own money, suck it up, and take care of their damn selves.

Stop wasting money.  Stop asking for money.  Stop creating surveys you already know the answers to.

And you can have my opinions for free.

Posted by: Sarah at 01:35 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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