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Words not found in Michelle Obama’s Speech

Unemployment

Unemployed

Jobless

You can grep it yourself here: Text of Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC 2012.

People all over the country send her mail about the bills they can’t pay and their problems and she has no idea how those people got that way.  But if they just keep working hard, they’ll dig themselves out of the mess they’re in.  Whoo-hoo! Obama 2012!

By the way, the unemployment rate in NJ in August 2012 was 9.8%.  I’m guessing that included many, many overeducated professional college graduates with STEM degrees because that’s what I’m seeing, including some former colleagues of mine who are newly unemployed with the upcoming closure of the Roche research facility in Nutley, NJ.  My friends worked on cancer drugs.  Cancer.  We are closing cancer research labs all over NJ.

Here’s a snippet of Michelle’s speech:

And everywhere I’ve gone, in the people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.

I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls.

I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay.

I’ve seen it in people who become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others…flying across the country to put out a fire…driving for hours to bail out a flooded town.

And I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families…in wounded warriors who tell me they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run, and they’re going to run marathons…in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said, simply, “…I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.”

Thank you, Effie Trinket.

Yes, we love to work without pay and it looks like we’re expected to do so indefinitely.  With more cuts in the Grand Bargain, more people will have an opportunity to work without pay for bankrupt school districts.  The only thing that could top that is having the bankers work without bonuses but I couldn’t find it in her speech.   And until Obama actually ends the wars he said he was ending, more soldiers will have the opportunity to lose limbs and eyes 100 times over.

That man is never going to see again.  He’s not going to see a Van Gogh blue sky on a summer day.  He’s not going to see his kids’ faces.  He’s not going to know how much money he has in his wallet without help.  He’s going to wake up in the dark for the rest of his life. That man is trying to give meaning to a loss from a now meaningless war while government contractors lobby Congress to keep the damn thing going.

I think your broccoli needs weeding. You may leave now.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

In case the youtube embed doesn’t work for you, here’s the link.  Great movie, made just in time for the 2012 elections. Spells it out for even the dimmest wit.

***************************

More Michelle moments, this time on equality for women:

Barack’s grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank…and she moved quickly up the ranks…but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling.

And for years, men no more qualified than she was – men she had actually trained – were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continued to scrape by.

But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus…arriving at work before anyone else…giving her best without complaint or regret.

And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well, Bar, that’s all that really matters.”

Nauseating.

Stop complaining, Ladies.  Your careers are just not that important.  We insist on making you choose between your family and your job.  Is my husband great or what!?

Wednesday: Two things

A bit busy today.  Have to bop over to the library and look up some new papers.  So this will be brief.  (Ha-ha, it never is, right?)

Thing One: It looks like Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee.  How can we tell so early in the primaries, you ask?  Well, unlike the byzantine and UN-democratic Democratic primary system, which can be reconfigured on the spur of the moment to suit the intended outcome of the party uberclass (and its Wall Street backers), the Republican primaries are winner take all.  So, in just a few states, the frontrunner can put a sizeable distance between himself and the next tier.

What is interesting to me is the positioning of Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum.  It signals to me that the people of New Hampshire want more of a “moderate” Republican and cooled to the religious nutcases.  In fact, knowing my own religious nutcases, they might have thought Santorum’s thoughts on birth control extreme.  For one thing, they’re not against birth control, as long as it’s only for married couples.  But Santorum didn’t sound like he was discriminating between FORNICATORS and married men and women doing whatever unspeakable things they want to do in the dark.  And THAT probably made them focus on another aspect of Santorum’s person- he’s a papist.  Yup, and he’s not the John Kennedy “this is the 60′s, we’re enlightened Catholics and don’t take orders from the pope” kind of papist.  Santorum is the Torquemada kind or the kind that would have made Galileo renounce the heliocentric theory.  He’s the baaaaaad kind of papist who probably gets email messages with orders straight from the Vatican itself every morning.  He’s the kind who we suspect scourges himself right after he has sex with his wife.  The one thing the evangelical fundy distrusts slightly less than an atheist and a muslim is a papist.

Santorum got all giddy and is now going to suffer from the “Oh, shit, did I say that out loud?” gaffe.  The evangelical fundy crowd is still going to need a religious type to balance out Romney the Mormon.  Maybe Santorum will get VP.  Who knows.  But Romney is going to bring the nomination in for a landing.  And if it’s Romney, Obama is going to have some problems because to the rest of us, the only difference between the two of them is that Obama didn’t run a private equity firm first.

Thing Two: Does anyone remember when Michelle Obama in 2008 made that crack on an ABCNews interview about how she was going to be paying close attention to Hillary’s tone?  Ahhh, here it is.  (H/T Delphyne):

I don’t know about taking the country in a new direction but he most certainly did take the Democratic party in one, specifically wayyyyy to the right.  But I digress.

I remember thinking that Hillary wasn’t running against Michelle but this was a diabolical move by Obama’s campaign staff to set up a Crystal Carrington- Alexis Carrington “cat fight in the pool” scene.  I appreciated how Hillary refused to take the bait.

Then Michelle moved into the White House and played the role of suburban stay-at-home  wife that is all too common around here in central NJ when hubby’s income reaches the level to which they intend to become accustomed.  It doesn’t matter how long she took to get her law degree or masters in public administration or MBA, she quits and stays home to tend the garden.  You won’t hear another controversial or opinionated statement out of her mouth ever again.  She will become as boring as lemon jello.  Having a life outside the home is no longer her role.  Her role is to maintain relationships with the other couples in the neighborhood.  It’s strictly social.  Work?  That’s for women who are married to losers or who aren’t married at all.  Ladies do not work.

Then Michelle docilely travelled the world in her awkwardly tailored, but modest and boring A-line skirts and twin sets, assuming the role of the tall but silent second class sidekick.  Well, of course, it was all perfectly arranged by his advisors so as to look like she wasn’t interfering in his work, that she knew her place and that was to be invisible, or as invisible as a beautiful, statuesque amazon was supposed to be.  Her brains were of no interest to them.  The less known about the internal workings of Michelle’s brain, the better.   The Washington press corps and their little Village does not understand women who think for themselves and it was much better for Michelle to know her place than push the envelope and stir Sally Quinn and her hive into a frenzied, relentless pursuit of trivialities and rumormongering.  And besides, the first lady doesn’t really have any official capacity, and lord help us, we don’t want her to develop any policies that might prove to be crucial 15 years later, unless she’s secretly lobbying for some hospital association but strictly on the QT.

Michelle bought into this.  In fact, she bought into it so thoroughly that she had to have her mother move in and take over some of her duties so that any perceived power was even further diluted.  And what the heck was going on with Desiree Rogers who got her ass canned for dressing too nicely and unintentionally letting the riff raff in to a “members only” soiree at the White House?  Well, anyway, the role of woman in the White House is to 1.) look ornamental 2.) keep her mouth shut  3.) keep The Village quiet and 4.) not make policy.  This applies not only to the first lady but also to the women who had to work for her husband, like Christine Romer, Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren, people like that.  One might have thought that Michelle would have spoken up for them but she did not.

She *could* have taken a different route.  She could have been more of a Rosalyn Carter or a Hillary Clinton.  But then, we would have been complaining about her “tone” and Michelle has shown by her own example, that she would prefer to take a backseat and be a model of the flavorless surburban privileged woman and not a courageous leader who bucks the trend and tries to break new boundaries for American women.

I don’t mind that she wanted a nice family life.  I don’t begrudge that of anyone who lives in the White House, including Anne Romney who is living with MS.  If she thinks that being a good mother means staying at home to tend to two tweens who are at school for most of the day, who am I to judge?  And if she wants her husband to take her to a night out to NYC for a play, I’m all for it.  No, seriously.  Life in the White House is grueling no matter how cul-de-sac you arrange your life to be.  Anyone who lives in that environment needs a little privacy and normalcy.

But if  you signed up for Betty Crocker and the long suffering Griselda, if you turned your back on millions of working women with brains, both in the White House conference rooms and out in the civilian working world, don’t start looking for sympathy later.  Don’t complain about your husband’s advisors who strapped you into this role and from whom you accepted the harness voluntarily.  We don’t care, Michelle.  By your example, you set the rest of us back by four decades.  You abandoned us and let us fend for ourselves in the west wing and the laboratories and factories and the conference rooms and the universities and the sports fields and the abortion clinics.  You’ve spent three years in absence after your husband cheated a more worthy person out of a nomination.  You did not pick up the standard that she had to leave behind.  Challenging the status quo wouldn’t have made you an “Angry black woman”.  It would have made you a person in your own right.   The fact that you have to defend yourself to say that you played no role in your husband’s administration is not a good thing, Michelle.   If you’re not going to assert yourself, it would be better for you to now remain silent.

Don’t make it worse for us.

SOTU Live Blog: Spotting the buzzwords

"Michelle's Mai Tai was this big. No lie"

Hi there, sports fans.  It’s that once a year event again.  No, not the Superbowl, although, the Steelers are going again and this is a Packers free zone.

It’s the SOTU address.  Oh, joy.  When it comes to post SOTU critiques, we can expect the kool aide mainliners to sound a lot like Matt Bai did yesterday when he wrote about how Obama had to reach out to the online community.  (Warning: the following excerpt is nauseating.  Reader discretion is advised):

Mr. Obama is probably the most talented writer to occupy the office in the television age  (presumably, Matt is very young); his political career was made possible, in large part, by the candid memoir he wrote as a younger man. So it is hard to understand why he hasn’t tried to use that talent the way Kennedy capitalized on his personal charm.

You can easily imagine Mr. Obama sitting in front of a keyboard at the end of a long day, briefly reflecting on the oddity of a personal encounter or on the meaning of some overlooked event, or perhaps describing what it is like to stand in the well of Congress and deliver the State of the Union address. It could be that in order to expand the reach and persuasiveness of the modern presidency, Mr. Obama simply needs to be his online self — not so much a blogger as a memoirist in chief, walking us through history in real time.

It always feels better after you purge.  Do it now before the speech.

So, on with the show!  This year, I would like to invite corporate minions to chime in whenever they hear a potential consultant crafted buzzword.

Let’s try to not get petty.  Yes, Michelle is an amazon but do you know how hard it is to get clothes made for an amazon?  I’m only 5’9″ and a size 10 and let me tell you, nothing fits.  It sucks.  But I digress.

Let’s do this thing! Ready, set, buzzzz.

Wednesday Morning: The first Jewish President?

Hi guys, I have a bit of time this morning to add to SOD’s quicky.  So, let’s get to it.

I found this clip of Al Franken at Susie’s place.  He makes an excellent case for sticking to your principles especially when it comes to supporting American working families.  At the same time, he tears apart the Republican and Tea Party rationale for denying needy Americans the money to work, pay their COBRA bills and feed their kids in order to spare the deficit.   He talks about how we gave away trillions in taxpayer money to the banking industry to bail them out after they took the world over the cliff.  That was OUR money and now we’re supposed to take a haircut in order to keep the deficit from expanding?  American working families should have been the first people helped out, not merely an afterthought.  Many of the unemployed would still have jobs if it weren’t for those crooks.  But I digress.  Enjoy the clip.

Correct me if I’m wrong but does it feel like Al is picking up the burden of FDR Democrats everywhere?  He’s really matured (but not too much, I hope).  What would it be like to have the first Jewish president and have a White House Hannukah special on HGTV every year?

Some Health Care Industries are more equal than others

Also found at Susie’s place, here’s a piece from Miles Mogulescu at Huffpo about the deal that Obama cut with hospitals. Check out this little sample:

This is one of the great under-reported stories of the health reform saga. Much has been written about the Obama administration’s deal with big Pharma to continue to block Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices or to allow consumers to buy cheaper drugs from Canada, in exchange for Pharma running pro-Democratic ads and giving campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. That’s the reason, under pressure from the White House, that Senate Democrats voted down an amendment that would have allowed consumers to buy cheaper drugs from overseas.

But Obama’s deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to insure there would be no public option has, as best I can tell, only been reported in two articles in The New York Times. On August 13, The Timesreported that while President Obama had presented himself as “aloof from the legislative fray,” particularly in connection with the public option, “Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Obama and advisors have been…negotiating deals with a degree of cold-eyed political realism potentially at odds with the president’s rhetoric.” One of the deals reported in The Times article was the Pharma deal. The other was a deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to limit its cost reductions to $155 billion over 10 years in exchange for a White House promise that there would be no meaningful public option.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that one of the advisors that Obama has been listening to has been Michelle Obama who used to be an administrator in the hospital industry.  And now, here’s a story I heard from a friend of mine who is an expat from a country where health insurance is a government priority: A couple of years ago, her husband had to have hernia surgery here in NJ.  It was an outpatient affair.  He was in and out in four hours.  Wanna know how much it cost?  Go on, guess.  Give up?

$73,000.

Yup, that didn’t include the anesthesiologist or the surgeon.  It was just the hospital.  My friend was shocked so she called the insurance company to find out what gives.  It must have been a mistake.  The insurance company said, yes, that does seem excessive.  So, it renegotiated with the hospital.  The final bill came to $40,000 or roughly $10,000 an hour.  She’s still trying to figure out what they got for that money.  I’d like people to at least think about that when they are so quick to condemn what they see as the outrageous cost of drugs.  Those drugs can keep you out of the hospital.  And while I think the pharma CEOs made a strategic error lobbying the way they did, especially since it did absolutely nothing to resolve the underlying issues plaguing the industry, I have to wonder how it is we always focus our laser beam intensity on Big Pharma while the hospital industry comes up smelling like a rose.  I suspect it has something to do with the Democratic party’s reliance on class action lawyers for campaign contributions but I’ll save that for another post.  Let’s just say that both parties are responsible for the pathetic approach to health care reform.

Curing cancer one molecular target at a time

Target Cancer is a series  featured last week in the New York Times that’s right up my alley.   It’s about new drugs for the treatment of cancer, specifically melanoma, and the process by which medicine and the pharmaceutical industry carry out clinical trials.  It’s particularly interesting because it delves into how our evolving understanding of the molecular biology of the cell can be harnessed to tailor our treatment of disease to the individual.  Very encouraging.

Are these people for real??

Digby watches the Sunday morning talking heads so we don’t have to.  This week, Versailles gets it’s panties in a bunch trying to justify why they took down Desiree Rogers, the White House Social Secretary.  Sam Donaldson says she was violating some sumptuary law. Cokie Roberts tries to put a less embarrassing spin on the whole affair.  Krugman just shakes his head in disbelief.

These people should be humiliated, the sooner, the better.

Save the BBC webservices!

As most of you know, I am a podcast junky.  But what you might not know is some of the best podcasts on the web come from the BBC.  That’s why I was concerned to see that the BBC is planning to make cuts in their radio and web services.  The BBC does top quality work.  They have a rich variety of programs on history, the ascent of man, philosophy, radio drama, etc.  It’s hard to find American podcasts of this quality that are as consistently good and well funded.  (There are exceptions like This American Life and Backstory but they don’t have the commitment from our government that the BBC has so I always get the feeling that the best American cultural programming we have is ephemeral, dependent and desperate for donors to pony up five bucks every so often to pay for bandwidth.  Sort of like Lambert soliciting donations to keep the hamsters going.  Is this any way to run a public broadcasting service?  I’d pay for the privilege of supporting something like BBC Radio 4.

To give you a taste of what you might be missing, check out the BBC’s latest hit series, A History of the World in 100 Objects.  This podcast is on break right now so it’s a perfect opportunity to catch up on the first 25 episodes.  Start with the one on a stone cutting tool from the Oldevai Gorge.  Each episode is about 15 minutes long and includes pictures and video of each object being discussed.  If you like quiet afternoons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you will love this series.

Ok, I’ll bite

PBO and Stay-At-Home-Wife(-with-school-aged-children) went to a Broadway play last night.  This is of such importance to the media that it is featured on the frontpage of the NYTimes and Politico.  Apparently, he promised to take SAHW to a Broadway play during the election as a reward for having to put up with all of the touchy feely stuff that is necessary to win the White House.

Know what?  Who the f^*( cares?  He makes $400K/year.  He can spend it any damn way he wants.  Who *doesn’t* want to see a good play on Broadway?  Tickets are expensive.  It’s a pain in the ass getting in and out of Manhattan.  If the most powerful man in the world can’t do it, who can?  Sure, he’s got to take the helicopter.  That’s the nature of his job for four years.  Any time he and his wife want to go anywhere, it’s going to cost money and require secure government transportation devices.  That’s why we make these devices available.   Let’s be realistic here.  If ordinary people like myself can traipse up to Broadway once in a blue moon to see a play, why shouldn’t the Obamas do the same?

Focus, media people!  It’s not about the play.  It’s about the loss of jobs, oligarchs, middle men in the health insurance industry who are bleeding us dry and the sad spectacle of middle class families fighting each other for a piece of the shrinking pie.  In the whole scheme of things, what a guy does with his throwback-wife-from-another-era on a Saturday night doesn’t amount to much.  It’s a convenient distraction for the bandits who are making off with our money.

What I care about is what he’s going to do on Monday morning.  Is he going to wake up and discover that he’s a Democrat or is he going to continue to sell out every principle of the party because that’s the kind of shmoozer he is?  Is Michelle going to continue to poke a sharp stick into the eye of every working woman with kids who has ever loved her job and family or is she going to start sticking up for us?

Stay tuned.

Shoes and Ideology

$540 Lanvin trainers

$540 Lanvin trainers

First Lady Michelle Obama is being criticized for wearing pricey designer sneakers to hand out food to the needy.

While volunteering Wednesday at a D.C. food bank, the First Lady sported her usual J.Crew cardigan, a pair of utilitarian capri pants and, on her feet, a sneaky splurge: trainers that go for $540.

That’s right: These sneakers – suede, with grosgrain ribbon laces and metallic pink toe caps – are made by French design house Lanvin, one of fashion’s hottest labels. They come in denim and satin versions, and have been a brisk seller all spring.

Apparently she needed the ridiculously expensive but comfy shoes to walk her daughters’ new dog.

“I got up at 5:15 in the morning to walk my puppy,” she joked Thursday. “That’s how my day starts. Even though the kids are supposed to do a lot of the work, I’m still up at 5:15 a.m. taking my dog out.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Michelle probably got the shoes at the Ikram boutique in Chicago. Continue reading

Barack Obama, The Underachiever’s President

bart-bad1Beforehand, my apologies to scrubs57 for breaking my penance!   It’s been all family the past few days.  Grandma PUMA had outpatient surgery yesterday so I wasn’t bombarded all day with President Obama’s Inaugural Bacchanal.  While it is a cause for celebration,  I would have respected Obama 2.0 a lot more if a more austere, more organized (see MYIQ2XU’s Purple People Eater a.k.a. Tunnel of Doom post) event had taken place.  A missed opportunity of fiscal responsibility and conscientiousness towards millions of Americans suffering from the economic crisis would have fared much better public relations-wise,  IMHO.

But nooo, this is time for an all out PAAAARTAY!!!!!!!!   Not quite, thanks to a Boston-area sisterfriend who sent me this sobering piece written by Marc Lamont Hill (Fox News/Temple University):

Still, as we celebrate this watershed moment, it is important that we not become too self-satisfied, too pleased with our collective maturity. Indeed, it is one thing for a nation to finally accept that a black man can represent its interests.  It is another thing entirely to question the nature of those interests. The working poor will be no happier to know that a black man is undermining their prosperity. Gays and lesbians will see no moral victory in having their civil rights stripped away by fellow minority. Continental Africans will find no solace in the fact that one of their sons is aiding and abetting its exploitation. For America to truly mature, we must not only acknowledge its bright light, we must also come to terms with its dark underside. Militarism, violence, consumerism, homophobia, patriarchy, anti-intellectualism, and countless other hallmarks of the American empire must die in order for a new, more mature America to be born. Otherwise, we have done nothing more than put a slave in charge of the plantation.

Of course, the responsibility of seizing this moment does not start and end with President Obama. As Rev. Jesse Jackson aptly stated, the inauguration was merely the wedding; the marriage begins today. To keep this marriage healthy, we must commit ourselves to its continued growth and development. This means pushing Obama to become the leader that he can be by being the citizens that we must be. This requires being just as critical of our new president as we were with his predecessor. This demands that we not retreat to the political sidelines until the next presidential election. To do so would be to squander one of the greatest opportunities that our nation has ever had. While I am not optimistic, I remain a prisoner of hope. Not in President Obama. But in our collective ability to not only grow old, but grow up.

Marc is right on all points, except he missed MISOGYNY.   Marc is still hopeful that Obama will come through for us.  But we all know if he didn’t come through during the primaries, he sure as hell won’t now.   And no Marc, America didn’t vote for a slave to run the plantation, it chose Bart Simpson to rule the roost.

Who needs to study when you can bum off your smart sister’s homework, then blame her for you stealing the answers?  Why even bother playing by the rules  when you know they’ll be somebody to W.O.R.M. you out of it?  Why bother earning your stripes in the Senate when you can spend your first term running for President without any major achievements except for being really good at reading a teleprompter?

While I waited for Grandma PUMA at the hospital waiting room, I did catch a moment where President Obama and the First Lady got out of their car and walked a piece of the Inaurgral Parade. An older African-American woman (probably in her 50s) sitting next to me, who I’d chat with on & off during our collective wait, gleamed as she turned to me and said,   “Look at that, he’s so tough to be out there in that cold.”

I looked up from my book and just about lost my cool.  I turned to her and said, “Michelle is out there too and in a skirt with heels, don’t you think it’s harder for her? And that’s always done in every inauguration, there is a piece of secured path on the parade where the President and First Lady get out of the car then walk for a block then get back in the car.”

She said, “oh but it’s never been that cold, Only a black man can take that kind of cold.”  I snapped back to her, ” It’s always cold in January in DC!  It’s the least he can do for his country given his lack of experience – let him walk 10 miles, 20 miles because there have been a whole lotta people who deserve that presidential spot and have given a helluva lot more than him.”

She said, “But this is a BLACK man, just enjoy the moment that we finally got one!”

I said, “There are tons of more qualified Black people to take that spot, and you know it.”  She said “Yes, I know, but it doesn’t matter now. ”  I said, “It matters to me because we could’ve had a great woman who earned that spot and comes through with what she promises.  She said, “You mean Hillary?”  I nodded, then she said,  “Oh yes, I love Hillary, she is the best there is.”  I said, “So you actually think that Obama is going to be just as good as Hillary?”  She said, “It don’t matter, she’s going to be there to help him.”  I said, “Don’t you think that’s wrong though, to have a more experienced qualified woman be looked over for the inexperienced younger man?”  She said “James Brown said ‘it’s man’s world’, so we just gotta deal with it.”  I said, “Remind me never to tell my daughter what you just said.”

At that moment was a pregnant pause, then it was saved by a nurse who called the very nice, but quite Obamatized woman into the recovery area – her husband had just woken up from anesthesia and was doing fine.  We said our polite nice to meet you’s – but I was fuming inside.  Is this the kind of asswiping we are going to endure for 4 years?    I had 8 asswiping years from Republicans – now we’re all going to deal with asswiping O-pologisists cleaning up Obama’s skid marks.   And like Bush 2.0, Obama Porniacs will sober up soon like reluctant Republicans.

Well I have a message for the O-pologists:the-simpsons-lisa_sexismAlas, my dear Lisa, the answer to that is: BOTH.

PS:   S.O.S Hillary!!!!!!! Much better than VP.  True hope is not all lost.

Friday: Lucky is the man with the mute wife

May hit her target but left no discernable impression

May hit her target but left no discernable impression

It’s been a long time since I saw A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum but I seem to recall that one of the characters was a beautiful mute woman.  The man who won her hand was congratulated.  He was lucky to have such a beautiful wife and her value was immeasurable because she couldn’t speak.  The exact quote was funnier coming from the mouth of Zero Mostel but only because it was so obviously farcical.

What isn’t so obvious is this piece by Tunku Varadarajan at Forbes.com called In Praise of Laura Bush.  I don’t want to sound culturally insensitive but maybe Tunku’s heritage has something to do with his attitude towards women.   But he doesn’t chide her for failing to walk three paces behind George, which for Varadarajan must be an admirable show of restraint.  Nevertheless, we get a keen insight into the minds of the well-connected that is, well, downright first century:

For eight years, Mrs. Bush has come to represent quiet grace in a White House marked by gaudy bluster. She was a measured, succinct first lady in a presidency that came to symbolize frantic ambition–and frantic ideology. She has been an old-style first lady, never seeking to upstage her husband, and she has, in truth, been one of the very few bright spots of an invariably dysfunctional, and occasionally scary, administration.

Laura Bush was self-effacing by choice, and by an exquisite understanding of her role in the White House. She was only noticed when she wanted to be, and when such moments came she held our attention with a fragrant panache

There has never been any doubt, however, that she Stands By Her Man, and it might even be said that she has “mothered” him to a significant extent: by being patient, and fully aware of her (frat) boy’s tendency to over-exuberance; and by tamping down the tempests that surge within his breast. Somewhere along the line, she may even have saved his life.

Mrs. Bush is of a certain American type: wholesome, inclined to good works, a homemaker and mother, a supporter of the man she married, a smiling hostess. She is not flashy or colorful, overly intellectual or palpably shrewd, demonstrably independent or politically aggressive.

My, my, my, there is a certain unspoken something in Mr. Varadarajan’s commentary that resembles negative space.  It is the thing that is referred to by its absence.  Or should I say, the *she* that is referred to by her absence?

But put her aside for a moment.  I, for one, will be very happy to see Laura Bush leave the White House.  Mr. Varadarajan refers to her as a certain American type.  Indeed, Edith Wharton referred to Laura’s type when she wrote The Age of innocence.  Laura is very much in the model of the May Archer type.  She is a woman of no great curiousity and who lives a very constrained existence in the narrow field of vision granted to her by her tribe.  In her case, the tribe is wealthy and cloistered.  Her behavior and actions are dictated by those around her.  As long as she sticks to the convention and expectations of those who govern her actions, she will live in comfort and security.  Wharton called it a “hard bright blindness” that May Archer lived in.  She was not unaware of unpleasantness beyond her sphere.  She just chose to not acknowledge it.

I see Laura Bush as a complete and utter failure as a First Lady.  She lived in the White House for eight years and her presence, personality and will seem to have left no impression on her ceremonial office or her husband’s policies.  She is not remembered for any initiatives or interests.  Her literacy project was started with little fanfare and spluttered into nothingness over the years.  She stands out to me most notably as the person who unequivocally condemned stem cell research, as only a person untouched by personal medical tragedies could do.  It wasn’t heartlessness so much as her heart would not let itself be troubled by pain and misery.  I have no doubt that she has experienced such pain but her milieu has allowed her to put it behind her, to lock it away, to regard it as an artifact.

Her “certain American type” still exists in the country clubbed, blonde bobbed havens of the moneyed class and the middle class suburbanites who strive to the next step up.  I know people like her in my suburban wasteland who carefully monitor themselves and others so that they can glide through life relatively unscathed.  Their children are scheduled to an inch of their lives and grow up in a kind of hothouse atmosphere where the only children they are allowed to know are the children of their parents’ friends.  They are colorless and flavorless.

Mr. Varadarajan’s opinion of Mrs. Bush is laughable to me.  Since Hillary Clinton became first lady while I was still young and impressionable, *she* is my role model.  Working women want to see a woman in the White House who is everything that Mr. Varadarajan despises.  We want to see independence, intelligent, shrewdness and a certain amount of ambition.  What woman would come away from 8 years of experience without a certain amount of ambition?  How can a person not want to use what she has learned to change the world, unless the person in question is emotionally and intellectually dead?

Of course, following Laura Bush’s model will keep the nasty press off your back and if you really want to give it all up to become Mom-In-Chief, well, that’s your choice.  But I sincerely hope that Michelle Obama makes a point of saying that she is not a role model for the vast majority of working class women out here.  And by working class, I mean anyone not in Laura Bush’s social stratum.  If you have to work for a living, you’re working class, no matter what you do.  Most women in the country can’t give up their lives to stay home with the cookies and milk for two girls who do not require full time daycare anymore.  What Michelle Obama does between the hours of 9-3 is up to her but I really hope she doesn’t pretend she’s a housewife.

If the next First Lady doesn’t want to end up like the last one, she’ll speak up, show us how smart she is, get a little ambitious and tell Mr. Varadarajan to take a long hike off a very short pier.

Monday: Picking up the pieces

img_0359This is my basement.  600 sq ft of wasted space.  Yes, it looks dark and dreary.  But I’m about to do something about that.  The plans are at the township planning board right now.  While Ed the Inspector makes sure my contractor has planned for enough fireblocking, it is my job to get this huge, wasted space ready for framing.  That’s what I’ve been doing all weekend.  The room looks pretty empty now, except for a few stray cans of paint and some wood scraps.  But up until Friday, it was full of the same stuff as most everyone’s unfinished basement: boxes of old stuffed animals, saw tables, chairs in need of repair, old clothes, obsolete computer equipment and lots and lots of junk.  I filled the dumpster to overflowing and took 5 boxes of clothing to the bins at the local big box store parking lot. And the fun is just getting started.  In the next week, I have to drylock this whole thing.  Fun, fun.  Any PUMAs who have time on their hands want to learn how to wield a masonry brush?

So, if you don’t find me hanging around here much in the next couple of weeks, it’s not because I don’t care anymore.  It’s because I am trying to pick up the pieces of the life I once had before the blog took over.  I’ve been blogging for 11 straight months and my house is in need of some urgent TLC.  I’m still here and I’m still paying attention.  It’s just that it’s hard to spread drylock when you’re tied to a laptop.

I’ve seen a lot of mischief on the threads and there have been some temper tantrums.  My email box is overflowing with “She hit me! Make her say she’s sorry or I’m taking my ball and going home.”  Seriously, guys, let’s dial it back a notch.  The election is over.  We always knew that we were going to be disappointed no matter who won.  Let’s focus our efforts on constructive things.  Like doing something about the passage of Prop 8 or making sure that Harry Reid knows that we’re still interested in Hillary Clinton’s healthcare proposals.  Or making sure the media understands that we do not identify with Michelle Obama’s Mom-In-Chief role.  We want to be in charge of something.  That’s what we’ve been raised to do.  That’s what we’ve fought all our lives for.  We aren’t interested in taking a subordinate role to any man and we don’t want to hear about Michelle hosting the PTA meetings or having cookies and milk ready for Sasha and Malia when they get home from school while she gives up her career.  She is NOT our role model and we will not be dragged back to powerless domesticity.

Whew!  That article really ticked me off.  We may need another vent thread.  In fact, we may need one each night for 4 years.  In the meantime, let’s get our lives back on track too.  Tell us what Do-it-Yourself or home maintenance problem you’re tackling this fall. By the way, does anyone know how to keep tree volunteers away from the foundation of the house, permanently??

The Lions Share: Hitting the Wall

Join us at 8:00PM EST tonight for the Lions Share on PUMA United Radio (PURrrr) as we talk about Bill Ayers, tied polls, Glenn Beck, our newest fan? and our recent notoriety.

Oh, and as for Palin’s wardrobe makeover?  Here’s a blast from the past about Michelle Obama.  At least Sarah Palin isn’t just imitating a Kennedy.

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