Friday, September 26, 2008

Sarah Palin Is No Elle Woods.. There IS no Elle Woods.. Yet

Ever since Sarah Palin was named McCain's vice presidential pick, I've been perplexed [and frantic], wondering how any woman could support the nomination of a person so obviously uncomplex, uninformed, unsophisticated, and untested. Writing in The New York Times this morning, Judith Warner gave me the insight I've been searching for. It's the Elle Woods syndrome. Palin supporters see in this former beauty queen the notion that feminine [and by feminine, here I mean girly] can trump masculine -- that girly is as smart, as strong, as dominant (or more so).

This is a state of mind that lurks in the dark corners of every woman's psyche -- from the strongest and most accomplished among us, to the weakest and most vulnerable. All of us harbor the fantasy that girly can win. Hear me out, my sisters ...

Who is Elle Woods? She's that truly girly gal who beat all the men at Harvard -- and, notably, all the non-girly women --at their own game. In the end, she even saddled the guy and his white horse. Meanwhile, no, Elle didn't have to give up pretty pink stuff, or the feathery, sparkly, soft accoutrements of a cozy nest. She didn't have to leave her loyal dog behind [note: in this case, dog stands-in for baby]. Elle Woods suceeded while looking gorgeous and wearing high heels. And, best of all, she remained friends with all her Delta Nu sorority sisters. In short, she succeeded in a girly woman's world. Wow.

Think about it for a moment. Here we are, Nancy Pelosi and Donna Brazile and Carly Fiona, all succeeding. But where? Sadly, in a man's world, on men's terms, and with men's rules (don't wail; you know it's true). And, though we almost never admit it to ourselves -- and certainly not to each other or, heaven forbid, men -- oh truly, how we do yearn to be Elle, doing our achievement thing in ways that make us feel comfortable. No compromises. Just all of us, all "getting along," all the time. Happy happy, back in the cave, with our sisters and our babies, cooking scrumptious T-Rex, cutsey-ing up the stone walls, watching out for each other's kids, sharing, bonding, giggling, and talking ... [admit it: we love to talk].

That's the Elle Woods fantasy ... and that fantasy is what makes the "girly" women among us easily fall victim to the mirage of Palin Power. We can't deny that these girly girls are, primarily, Republican women -- homemakers, and evangelical church goers, and "wives" of "men" -- all believing that Sarah Palin is Elle Woods come to life. I'm not talking about those accomplished women among us who, for thoughtful reasons and/or by instinct, believe in making homes for kids. I'm talking about those women who just want to be cave girls forever, even when they live in McMansions built by men.

Sadly, this election isn't about Elle Woods, folks. And when the neo-cons get their teeth into Palin, all she'll be is a Stepford VP anyway. That's the reality show.

So, girly girls, a vote for Sarah Palin is -- in truth -- a vote for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (c'mon, you know you don't really like them; these are the guys who drag cave women by their hair and sacrifice their babies, when "necessary").

Listen up, baby: We've come a long way ... but we've got a long, long way to go. And we're not getting there in high heels.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Little Romans Burning

The initial Palin Feeding Frenzy seems to have been swallowed up by real news. There's no doubt the Repubs are responsible for much of what's happened on Wall Street and maybe most Americans are realizing -- or at least intuiting -- it.

The revised Bankruptcy Law passed in 2005 (which, I have to say is Your Bad, Congress, and including yours, Joe Biden from Delaware) was the initial inkling that credit card companies were worried about the average American being waaaaaay over-extended . If Congress hadn't passed that bill -- which basically left people with severe hardships totally unprotected -- the credit card companies would have shut down easy credit much earlier. Instead, the new law provided carte blanche to put the screws to consumers. With consumers no longer able to attain debt forgiveness under any circumstances, the credit card companies couldn't lose. But that wasn't all. Now protected from consumer defaults, the credit card companies instituted unconscionable late fees and mammoth interest rate increases for the smallest infraction. Big Money wins.

Enter Bad Repubs Two: Lower and lower interest rates. For most American families, real earning power -- and associated "savings" -- have been stagnant or declining for a decade. Even with two or more people in the household working, people are barely making it. The solution? Offer cheap money for mortgages, which, in turn, boosts market demand for housing, which, in turn, inflates housing "value," which, in turn, inflates the value of consumers' only remaining real asset -- the family home. Voila! Easy access for the average American to huge amounts of "paper" wealth .. which they promptly converted into REAL debt -- sometimes extravagantly for vacations and digital toys, but more often for paying off those skyrocketing credit card bills, housing repairs they couldn't afford otherwise, ballooning health care costs, college tuition hikes, and those alluring SUVs (also made cheap and easy to buy) that burned oil like no tomorrow.

The people setting monetary policy were totally responsible for stopping all this. Instead they fueled it. The might have injected some market discipline by boosting interest rates, but they didn't. The Republicans knew that real income was declining for most Americans, but consumers didn't realize it because they were suddenly "wealthy" from mortgage "refi" that the financial "experts" told them was going to be "fine, folks, just fine." Meanwhile, the Republicans fiddled no end, because their political futures were looking very solid. Moreover, the Republican policymakers' colleagues were/are/and always have been the credit card companies, the financial institutions, the global congolomerates, and the oil companies ... all of whom were ecstatic, guzzling the new cash flow. Meanwhile, the public was feeling "rich" and happy. Yep. Great psychology for the 2008 election.

So, yes. Make no mistake about it. Blame the Republicans who have always protected Big Money. But now they're burning, too? Well, yes, except that now policymakers are coming to their rescue ... while Little Romans burn.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I don't understand HOW the housing and mortgage crisis could have caused FannieMae, FreddieMac, Merrill Lynch, AND Lehman Brothers *all* to sink like hot rocks. I mean, hell yeah, some people bought inflated houses and now they're defaulting, but there's GOT to be more to this fiasco.

How about the dimension of ordinary people refinancing their houses and spending every dime on [sometimes] vacations and flat screen t.v.s but [more often] on paying off the credit card bills that filled in when they just weren't making it otherwise [no, no, no... we're not in a recession, America; it's just a slowing economy.. gag ...]

... or the practice of the scurrilous credit card companies SCREWING people for the tiniest of transgressions [a day late? $35 and STFU] ..

.. or the fact that tens of thousands of us [more?] are dealing with medical crises and/or job losses ...

... or the outrageous interest rates charged for student loans that ALSO are going to go into default ...

... or the whole greedy Republican banking, energy, and media FUBAR that lets corporations (American and global) bleed people until they're anemic and then gives the transfusion to the transgressors.

No, we don't need to fix health care, or credit practices, or higher [and lower] education, or oil fixation, or corruption, or lies and propaganda at the highest levels of government. Not a problem. Have another drink, or pill, or Dance with the Stars. It's fine. Really. It's just fine.

p.s. Did you say AIG? Did you say General Motors? Did you say trillions to wage war? Did you say Depression?