Unpacking Charlottesville

August 14, 2017

Instead of jabbering on about my own thoughts about our President’s reaction to the events of August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, I thought I would share some of the most interesting comments I’ve seen to date.

First, some great tweets to give us some much-needed perspective:

• “Thought it was worth noting that more than 750,000 already gave their lives fighting Nazis and the Confederacy.” @pbump
• “Imagine sucking so f***ing bad that being a white guy is hard for you?” @ mikeyfrecks
• “US Army: Charlottesville suspect reported for basic military training but failed to meet standards and was released from active duty.” @jaketapper (Observation: Perhaps Tomi Lahren was right?)
• “Let it sink in: Today a woman died on US soil while fighting Nazis.” @mattaukamp
• “Not many presidents could make threatening nuclear war the second worst thing he did in a week.” @gadyepstein
• “Wish Trump could find the same anger for murderous Nazis as he did for Nordstrom after it stopped selling his daughter’s handbags.” @gilbertjasono
• “Nazis and confederates are white people that lost wars to other white people but somehow its still brown people’s fault.” Open Mike Eagle
• “Trumps thoughts on Obama – Disaster; Paris – Sh**hole; White House – dump; Boy Scouts – liars; Neo-Nazi Rally – many sides to issue.” @MattOswaltPA
• “The only good thing Hitler ever did was kill Hitler.” @blainecapatch
• “The only reason for an American to hold a Nazi flag is if it has been captured in battle.” @TKOastIsBack
• “If you have ever wondered what you would have done in Germany in 1937, or during the Civil Rights movement, you’re doing it right now.”

Next, some strong words from GOP leaders…

• Senator Orrin Hatch, R – Utah: “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
• Senator John McCain, R – Arizona: “White supremacists aren’t patriots, they’re traitors – Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry. #Charlottesville
• Senator Cory Gardner, R – Colorado: “This is terrorism, this is domestic terrorism, this is white nationalism, and it has to stop.”

…even some who ran for president in 2016 (but apparently weren’t racist enough), who thought that the perhaps our President ought to call these hoodlums out for what they are:

• Senator Ted Cruz, R – Texas: “The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate.”
• Senator Marco Rubio, R – Florida: “Nothing patriotic about #Nazis, the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists. It’s the direct opposite of what #Americaseeks to be.”
• Jeb Bush – “The white supremacist and their bigotry do not represent our great country. All Americans should condemn this vile hatred. #Charlottesville.”
• Mike Huckabee – “‘White Supremacy’ crap is the worst kin of racism – it’s EVIL and perversion of God’s truth to ever think our Creator values some above others.”
• NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R) – “We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.”
• Senator Lindsey Graham, R – South Carolina: “[Trump] missed an opportunity to be very explicit here. These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House.”
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich: “I think a president can always provide some leadership on a subject like this.”

Even some in Trump’s own administration opined that what happened was bad and that white supremacists aren’t cool, such as…

• Vice President Mike Pence: “We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK. We should be putting the attention where it belongs, and that is on those extremist groups that need to be pushed out of the public debate entirely and discredited for the hate groups and dangerous fringe groups that they are.”
• Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”
• Opportunist in Chief, Ivanka Trump: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”
• Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert: “I condemn white supremacists and racists and white Nazi groups and all the other groups that espouse this kind of hatred and exclusion.”

Perhaps in an attempt to remind us what leadership looks like, former President Barack Obama had to be all noble and stuff, tweeting a quote from Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” But you can just ignore him, because, Hillary’s emails.

Despite the good intentions of those in the Trump Administration who believe that people brandishing torches and carrying Nazi flags are irredeemably despicable, some thought that perhaps our President should have been more clear on that point:

• “If your staff has to clarify that you’re not a white supremacist, you are a galactically sh**y president and/or a white supremacist.” @kibblesmith

But at least ONE group was happy – Neo Nazi Website “The Daily Stormer:”

• “He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us,” wrote Andrew Anglin, the website’s founder. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”

As John Oliver said, moreover, “Nazis are a lot like cats. If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them.”

The always gracious Governor John Kasich wondered if perhaps President Trump might be “uncomfortable” discussing the issue, stating, “[t]here are a lot of people who are just not comfortable with the issue…” But, as @epicciuto noted on Twitter, “Trump was more willing to call his country’s intelligence community Nazis than he was to call actual Nazis Nazis.”

Indeed, on January 11, 2017, Trump tweeted, “[i]ntelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

And that’s as good a question now as it was seven months ago: Are we in fact living in a society where Nazism and white supremacy is acceptable and tolerated by those in charge of the government?

By your deafening silence, Mr. President, so it would seem.

Snot-Nosed Brats and The Parents Who Raise Them

Happened to catch Lavar Ball on CNN this morning. He was arguing that having to apologize for stealing should be more than enough punishment for his son, LiAngelo Ball, and whining that his kid has been unfairly persecuted by UCLA, the college he attended (until yesterday, anyway). You may recall that LiAngelo and two of his teammates were caught shoplifting sunglasses at a Louis Vuitton store while visiting China as members of the UCLA basketball team; they were arrested and faced a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Before the poo hit the fan, however, President Trump, who happened to be in China at the time, stepped in and asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to show clemency and release the three young hooligans, which he did (and which was a nice thing to do, when you consider that the way Donald Trump says “China” is kind of weird and sort of sounds like he’s insulting it)

Within a week of the arrest, and having never seen the inside of a Chinese jail, LiAngelo and his buddies were allowed to go home. They later appeared at a press conference in which they dutifully said they were sorry, and then they were suspended indefinitely from the UCLA basketball team (but not from the institution) pending further investigation. A few days later, there was a brief, hilarious Twitter battle between LiAngelo’s father and Donald Trump in which Trump griped that the Ball Family wasn’t more grateful (Sad!) and in which Mr. Ball indicated that no thanks were even necessary because things would have worked out on their own. Which was spectacularly ungenerous, even if Donald Trump is the human equivalent of a vaginal yeast infection.

As of yesterday – less than a month after this whole thing went down – UCLA had not made any permanent decisions about how LiAngelo & Company would be disciplined. Who knows why it has taken so long – maybe because of the Thanksgiving holiday, maybe because finals are coming up, maybe because UCLA wants to consult with all the appropriate personnel so they can be certain that their decision is the right one. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: As long as he’s suspended, LiAngelo Ball isn’t playing basketball, lighting up the scoreboard and leading UCLA to victory, and given what we’re hearing about his talent (from his father, anyway), UCLA’s decision to take its time to conduct a thorough review – contrary though that may be to the success of its men’s basketball team – is perhaps refreshing. How many times have we read about university officials looking the other way when star atheletes behave badly in order not to compromise the team’s win/loss record?

Then, yesterday, in a fit of childish pique (the ramifications of which could be far-reaching), Lavar Ball pulled his kid out of UCLA – you know – the institiution that was willing to given him a free education and room and board for four years (estimated price tag: $250,000) so he could play basketball, get a lot of attention on a very big stage, and probably end up being drafted by the NBA. Curse you, UCLA!

According to Mr. Ball, his reasoning is based upon what he believes is staggeringly unfair treatment by UCLA. He thinks that his son’s apology was sufficient “punishment” (god, it’s so HARD to say “I’m sorry” and not really mean it!) and that this whole think should be over already. It’s unclear whether he even believes that what his son was actually all that bad.

Well, I, for one, think it’s time for Lavar and his son to get woke, and I say that realizing that a 53-year-old white woman who gets excited about a new set of Rubbermaid storage containers probably shouldn’t be using the term “woke.”

But here goes:

Lavar, any way you slice it, stealing is illegal (whether you’re in China OR the US), and under any other circumstances (like, President Trump didn’t happen to be in China at the time, or your son wasn’t a promising young athlete), your kid would probably be sitting in jail or, at the very least, awaiting a court date with the real possibility of prison time, especially if he’d been left in China to deal with a criminal justice system that doesn’t exactly work the way ours does. In other words, the potential NBA career would probably be off the table, and being suspended by UCLA would have been the least of his worries.

So let’s all agree that what LiAngelo did was wrong, and that he was extremely lucky that our National Pride, Donald Trump, was in the right place at the right time, not groping women or insulting people’s cultural heritage. Let’s agree that it was a good thing for Lavar Ball and his idiot son that Trump was able to get LiAngelo and his friends (the little fuckers) back home to the USA without pissing off the Chinese government and prompting them to call in all our loans. Let’s agree that all LiAngelo had to do was say THANK YOU, ride out his suspension, and maybe use their free time studying or volunteering in a soup kitchen.

Well, that’s NOT what LiAngelo did. Because UCLA was mean to him, and his dad thought it was unfair. (As an aside, if you want to know what’s unfair, talk to Colin Kaepernick about his work in the Black Community, and the real injustices that go on there every day that do not involve LV sunglasses and basketball scholarships.) But was UCLA’s treatment of LiAngelo unfair, Lavar? Was it unjustified in taking some time to figure out how to handle this?

C’mon, Man.

Call me old-fashioned, but UCLA – or any other institution – has a right (and, indeed, a responsibility) to decide whether the athletes who represent it should be discplined when they, oh, I don’t know, break the law in a foreign country while on what was supposed to be a sort of goodwill tour. It has a right to determine whether or not this snotty little brat and his asshat father are really worth the squeeze, and whether it’s likely that there will be more shenanigans down the road. UCLA has a right to assess whether it expects its atheletes to adhere to a basic standard of conduct when they venture abroad – one that does not include stealing designer sunglasses.

Lest we forget, by giving LiAngelo a scholarship (and, sure, it if hadn’t been UCLA, it would have been another school), UCLA pretty much handed him the Golden Ticket – free education, room and board, so he could play basketball on a national level where he would be seen by NBA teams and likely be signed to a million-dollar contract before he even got his degree. How many kids get that kind of opportunity? By all accounts, LiAngelo Ball is an athlete of enormous talent, and his future, once UCLA reached out, seemed all but assured. All he had to do – ALL HE HAD TO DO – was play basketball. THAT WAS HIS ONLY JOB.

But LiAngelo decided that it would be a good idea, while visiting a non-democratic foreign country that has had a sketchy human rights record, to shoplift designer sunglasses.

It’s not surprising that young Mr. Ball made this particular error in judgment – and I’ll bet he’s probably not even willing to concede that much. Listen to his father talk for more than 35 seconds and you know exactly how much accountability, discipline, and good old-fashioned DON’T DO THAT SHIT parenting he got growing up. LiAngelo gives every impression of having inherited his father’s unearned belief in his own specialness and excellence, and it’s likely that if it hadn’t been designer sunglasses in China, it would have been something else, because the Ball Men don’t think they have to adhere to the rules that apply to everyone else. At least, that’s what it sounds like to me.

Still, Lavar Ball believes that the only “guilty” party in all of this is UCLA, and so he decided to get even by…yanking his kid out of UCLA (he refused to say this morning whether his son was on board with that decision). He says that he’s exploring other options for his son. How much you wanna bet that none of them include actually getting an education?

Who knows where LiAngelo will turn up? Perhaps he is in fact so talented that he’ll be playing with the NBA next year, making enough money that he won’t have to shoplift anymore.

What he probably won’t be doing is taking responsibility for his actions, ever, because his father has never forced him to, and he has now been removed from a situation where he might have had to suffer the consequences of his conduct in a way that might have helped him transition from spoiled brat to mature young man who is accountable for his transgressions. He may end up being the best basketball player the world has ever seen, but he’s unlikely to accomplish much else as long as his father is calling the shots.

So screw you, UCLA. You’ll never see the likes of LiAngelo Ball or his father again. And for that, you will probably say…thank you.

Reba McEntire and the Battle for My Soul

June 4, 2017

Recently, I saw a post on someone’s Facebook page with a link to a Reba McEntire song and the provocative clickbait, “AMAZING New Song Will DESTROY Every Single Trump-Hater In America!”  http://www.proud-patriots.com/reba-mcentires-amazing-new-song-will-destroy-every-single-trump-hater-in-america-video/

What’s this? I thought.  While not strictly a Trump Hater, anyone who knows me understands that I have zero respect for or confidence in the low-information, petulant toddler less than half our nation elected president.  I know I’m not alone in my opinion of Trump – he’s universally reviled by most of the rest of the world (including many of the 51 million who elected him) – and so I was curious:

If I watched this video, would it literally destroy me? (Answer: No. I watched the video, and I’m still here).

Still, I think that what Proud-Patriots.com (translation: White People Who Voted for Trump and Hate You Libtard Snowflakes Who Represent Everything That’s Wrong With this Country) was likely trying to say is, if you watch this video, you fascist, socialist, morally bankrupt liberal who lives off the public dole, you will no longer be able to deny that Donald J. Trump is the Second Coming and maybe you’ll shut up already.  Because Reba McEntire.

So I thought, what if there actually were a song that would change my mind about Donald J. Trump? What if Reba McEntire, of all people, was the one person in the world who could make a good argument for why it’s okay to demonize immigrants, deny access to affordable health insurance to those who need it most, and tell the rest of the world’s people that they’re on their own when it comes to climate change, even though our country has been one of the leading causes of global warming in the first place? Is anyone capable of that sort of persuasion? And if so, how?

I’ve never been a big country music fan (though I do like Faith Hill and Johnny Cash), but I once had a client who was a Reba McEntire impersonater, and she was a nice lady who had a lot of positive things to say about Reba, so I thought, hey, let’s see what I’m missing.  I clicked on the link, and I watched the video, and while it’s not exactly my cup of tea, I thought, “well, that’s nice.”  And then I ate a Milano and I considered some of the other things that Proud-Patriots.com had to say.

First, the USA has become “spiritually poor” because everyone, particularly the “young folks,” have forgotten “the existence of God and the true, moral and Christian values our country’s philosophy was based on.”  I guess Proud-Patriots.com hasn’t read the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, or the writings of many of our Founding Fathers, who made clear their intention that, regardless of their own personal beliefs, the United States of America should be beacon of religious tolerance and diversity for all, even (heaven forbid) the Jews.  http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/george-washington-and-religion/ at fn. 3.  For starters, then, Proud-Patriots.com has got its history wrong.

It’s also worth noting, moreover, that since time immemorial, grumpy old people everywhere have pointed to the declining morals of the young, including a decreased respect for God and organized religion, as the cause of all society’s ills and proof that the End of Days is near.  It’s an oldie but a goodie, and whether and when you may chose to invoke it is also a good indicator of just how far along the Crotchety Scale of Life you are.

I have often found, incidentally, that those who are most concerned with how young people behave, particularly with regard to a lack of religious fealty, are frequently the same people who in their early years were hellraisers themselves.  Perhaps because of their own less-exalted conduct as teenagers and young adults, they are acutely aware of and appreciate the capacity for young people to do things that are in direct contravention with many religious tenets.  Now that they’ve had their fun, of course, no one else should, either.  But I digress.

Proud-Patriots.com next bemoans the level of discord in our country since the election, noting that “Americans are burning flags, dishonoring our military and police officers, rioting in the streets…Clearly, we do need to get this country back to God.”  It seems worth recalling that this is exactly the behavior we witnessed in the 1960’s during the Civil Rights movement and as our country continued to fight an unjust war.  Know what ended those protests? Enacting legislation that forced our nation to treat all people equally and pulling out of Viet Nam.  Or maybe it was God.  Who knows.

Proud-Patriots.com also says that I, and others like me, are the problem with all that is wrong in America because we “don’t want to ‘conform’ to one belief” and are “too cool” to believe in God.  (N.B. – To my everlasting chagrin, I’ve never once been tagged “cool,” but thanks for that, Proud-Patriots.com!)  Call me a wonky egghead who thinks we ought to consult the Constitution on this one, but I just sort of think that people should be able to search their hearts and decide which religion, if any, makes sense to the rational, inquisitive brains that God or some higher power apparently gave us, and then act accordingly, rather than foist one set of beliefs upon the rest of the world.  It would appear, however, that being a Proud Patriot means you ignore the clear import of the words of Madison and Jefferson and all those men who are claimed to have intended ours to be a “nation under God,” notwithstanding that those same men expressly said that under no circumstances was this to be a “nation under God.”  But why quibble with words, or logic, when you can demonize those with whom you don’t agree?

Proud-Patriots.com goes on to say that no one is forcing Christianity on anyone and that what it is most angry about is the “discrimination” Christians endure as disciples of the one true God.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a big fan of Jesus and think more Christians ought to act like him, but I’m still struggling with the idea of a higher being named God, who at one point thought it was okay to destroy the entire world (save Noah and his crew) and who was okay with polygamy and spousal abuse and killing people who ate bacon, but then underwent some amazing metamorphosis in which he became more compassionate and forgiving, although I know having a kid can do that to you.  But just for the record, I don’t hate Jesus, even if I’m not sure he or his dad are divine.  (This is why Michael is always worried to enter a church with me).  For the record, I have zero problem with Christians, except for the ones who claim to be but act instead like assholes.

Whatever you may think about Christianity, however, it’s absurd to suggest that those who practice this faith in our country are being persecuted.  The last time I checked, the Congress was overwhelmingly Christian, as has been every man ever elected to the office of President.  Anywhere from 70 – 85% of Americans identify as Christian, as do roughly 1/3 of the peoples of the world, making Christianity by far the most dominant religion on Earth. As Louis C.K. so astutely noted, we measure time based upon the date that Christ was born, – how much more Christian do you Christians need the rest of the world to be before you’ll admit that you won?

As for this alleged anti-Christian prejudice, Proud-Patriots.com is just wrong.  You want to know what discrimination is? Being lowered onto a pointed stick, with or without weights tied to your feet, until your anus was perforated (or until you recanted your deeply held religious beliefs, whichever came first).  Being crammed into railroad cars and whisked to Eastern Europe to a virtually certain death, along with 5,999,999 of your brethren, simply because a certain group of people feel economically threatened by you. That’s persecution.

The fact that some choose to say “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas,” out of deference to the possibility that the person to whom they are extending their good wishes might not be a Christian is not persecution, and the placement of menorahs on the town hall lawn is not discrimination.  It’s called inclusion (look it up), and it doesn’t diminish you or your beliefs unless you faith is so fragile that it cannot withstand the fact that others may not share it.  And yet, those at Proud-Patriots.com (and, to be fair, a lot of others websites, too) claim to be discriminated against because the United States of America allows people who aren’t Christian to live here.

Pardon me if I don’t attend your candlelight vigil, Snowflakes.  You don’t know from persecution and discrimination, not in America, anyway, and if you’re so damned worried about Christians in other parts of the world who are being persecuted for their beliefs, then maybe consider demanding that they be granted sanctuary here in the United States, where they might take all the high-paying jobs and not speak English the minute they clear Customs.  But again, I digress.

So here’s where we are so far:  The United States is in a real pickle because liberals aren’t Christian (like that selfish bastard, Jimmy Carter, building houses for the poor, or that shithead Pope Francis who opened up laundromats for the homeless).

But wait, there’s more:  According to Proud-Patriots.com, liberals are “aching for the kind of values” that faith gives good Christians and that without faith, there are no values.  This is because the only way you can be a morally sound, ethical person, is to be a Christian.  You know.  Because people who aren’t Christians have no morals or ethics.  Sorry, Buddhists.  Hindus, you’re out of luck, too.

Sounds pretty grim, eh? But wait! Don’t get discouraged, all you non-Christians currently destined for an afterlife of eternal damnation and suffering, there is hope!  Thanks to Reba McEntire, soon liberals everywhere will come to know Donald J. Trump and will rally behind him in his faith-based agenda of compassion, unity, and world peace.  See, Reba recorded this song, and it’s going to change EVERYTHING.  All you have to do is tie a Trump Hater to a chair and make them listen to it, and guess what? They, too, will come to see that Donald J. Trump is indeed the answer to all of our problems.

Uh-huh.

 A few things about the song, “Back to God,” written by Randy Houser in 2008.  Apparently, it’s always been a favorite of Reba’s, one she chose to include on an album that dropped in January 2017 and which was likely recorded before the presidential election had even taken place.  As to why she chose to record this song now, Reba said, “I think it is always the right time to give it back to Him because we seem to mess things up on our own. We all need to just love each other more unconditionally, without judgment, because we can’t do this on our own.”  http://tasteofcountry.com/reba-mcentire-back-to-god-video/?trackback=tsmclip.  That’s a nice idea, even if you don’t believe in God.

If you listen to the song or read its lyrics (I’ve done both), you’ll hear that it’s about dealing with hard times and how God can be a comfort to those who are struggling.  It specifically invokes “the innocent dyin’,” expressing empathy for the heartbroken and those who have lost a loved one before exhorting those in pain to call on God in their time of need.  The video, moreover, includes vignettes of people who appear to be in real agony – though it’s not exactly clear to me why.  It looks as though two teenagers may have died and that their community, black and white, is in mourning, but ultimately comes together in a gorgeous southern Church to unite in their grief and move forward through their shared faith in God, and that’s a nice message, too.  Many people find great comfort in their faith, which is a better way of dealing with hardship than drinking, taking drugs, or shooting up a preschool with an assault rifle.

But the song, like Reba, is utterly silent about Donald J. Trump, or the issues currently facing our country, of the fact that it’s so politically divided right now, or that the rest of the world thinks we’re all assholes.  Nothing in this song – nothing – suggests that it was intended to respond to the state of the nation since November 8, 2016, nor does it advance the idea that El Presidente could fix things if only the liberals, who can’t accept that their (severely flawed) candidate lost, would just pipe down and give him a chance.

Neither Mr. Houser nor Ms. McEntire ever say that Mr. Trump is the answer to all of our problems, but Proud-Patriots.com does.  Wanna know why?

Wait for it…

BECAUSE DONALD J. TRUMP IS A MAN OF GOD WHO “CAME FROM NOWHERE TO BRING THE MESSAGE OF UNITY, PEACE AND THE LOVE OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD.”

I swear to God that’s what it says.  Guess what else?

“Donald Trump is going to be bringing God back into this country….He’s put the Lord back in our Pledge of Allegiance.”  I hate to be all insistent that arguments be based upon actual facts and stuff, but the words “under God” weren’t even in the Pledge of Allegiance when it was first written in 1892 (by a socialist minister, no less) or when it was adopted by Congress in 1945.  Just to be clear, though, ever since those words were first inserted into the Pledge back in 1954, they haven’t been removed, there is no bill in the House or the Senate proposing to remove those words, and they’re not going anywhere.  (Also, “Touched by an Angel” wasn’t cancelled because of atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who was already dead at the time, either).  But, okay.

So Donald J. Trump is a pillar of Christian morality? Really?  I have an easier time accepting that there may be benefits to abstinence-only sex ed.  I can think of four Commandments (I’m referencing them as they are enumerated by the Catechism of the Catholic Church) he’s violated without even having to think about it over a bag of tortilla chips:  The Sixth (thou shalt not commit adultery – think Marla Maples); the Seventh (thou shalt not steal – you know – all those vendors he refused to pay in full when he was building casinos in Atlantic City); the Eighth (thou shalt not bear false witness – like, every day) and the Ninth (thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife – “I moved on her like a bitch”).

It’s not just the sinning that makes Proud-Patriots.com’s assessment of Trump as a man of God so ridiculous.  We all sin, some of us more than others.  Also, I don’t presume to see into and discern the contents of Trump’s heart any more than Proud-Patriots.com and its ilk should purport to comment on the contents of mine.  It’s not that he hasn’t set a foot inside a church since his inauguration, or that he can’t recite a single Bible verse save “an eye for an eye,” or that he referred to Second Corinthians as Two Corinthians – attendance at church and an affinity for memorizing passages from the Good Book is not proof positive evidence of a humble servant’s soul.

Rather, what leads me to my conclusion that Trump is as much a devout Christian as I am a dedicated vegan who works out with weights and tractor tires every morning is the behavior that so obviously demonstrates Trump’s belief that he answers to no one – not Congress, not the American people, and certainly not God.  In a million years, I cannot begin to summon the image of Trump, on his knees, hands folded, begging, pleading, praying, crying tears of pain, “pounding the floor and screaming His name,” as Reba tells us we all need to be doing.

Try to imagine that, if you can; I just can’t.  Trump’s charitable works, in proportion to his wealth, are de minimis; in-depth analyses of his “charitable giving” reveal that he’s awfully good at taking credit for the monetary donations of others but that he has not made a single cash donation to charity since 2011 and had made no contributions to his own foundation since 2008.  http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/trump-and-the-truth-his-charitable-giving.  Can you name a single cause or disease on whose behalf Trump has ever worked to raise awareness?  Have you ever seen him visit the sick or tend to the hungry (before he ran for office, that is)?

No.  Because Trump has spent his life in service of one thing and one thing only:  The Promotion and Aggrandizement of All Things Trump.  That’s the single thing he cares about (well, that and pussy), and anyone who genuinely believes that Donald J. Trump is about kindness, empathy, humility, forgiveness, service to others, self-sacrifice, and the betterment of mankind, is either the most naïve or else self-delusional person ever to have lived.

No, Proud-Patriots.com.  Just, no.  Donald Trump isn’t a Christian, and Reba McEntire doesn’t think so, either.  The conversion of liberals, or anyone else who doesn’t practice Christianity, to your way of thinking, isn’t going to save this country until it’s got leaders in Congress, the White House, governors’ mansions, and state legislatures who understand that the United States (1) was founded upon principles of religious liberty; (2) is, was, and always will be a nation of immigrants; and (3) is the most powerful, privileged and prosperous country on earth and therefore must act responsibly, with an awareness of the impact its actions will have on the rest of the world.  When we are a nation that cares about the sick and mentally ill; that refuses to stand by while children in developing countries die from preventable disease and malnutrition; that finds a way to open its hearts and borders to those who are desperate for freedom and opportunity; that leads the way in addressing the threat of climate change; then we can truly call this country a nation that espouses Christ’s teachings, or maybe we could just say that we’re a country of decent human beings.

I’m all for people practicing whatever religion makes sense to them, if it makes them happy, as long as they don’t insist that I do it with them, but if ever anyone wanted to “convert” me, they’re going to have to come at me with better ammunition than Reba McEntire (talented though she may be) or the staggeringly incredible argument that Donald Trump “came from nowhere to bring the message of unity, peace and the love of the almighty god.”

Here’s the truth:  Donald Trump came from the 58th floor of the Trump Tower to bring a message of hatred and intolerance aimed at uniting a base that claims to love God even though they could give a crap about most of His people.  He came because he was bored, and because he’s a narcissist, and because those campaign rallies stroked his ego in a way that grabbing women by the pussy and firing D-list celebrities did not.  He came for the sole purpose of increasing his name recognition and profits, and not once prior to November 9, 2016 did he ever think he’d actually win, which was why he never stopped to think about what would happen if the policies he espoused were actually implemented.

He’s not a Christian and he’s not going to save our nation, but if you’re looking to “destroy” something, Proud-Patriots.com, look no further than to the country you claim to love, or to the “man of God” who’s destroying it.  Maybe Reba McEntire could do a song about that – because that would be worth listening to.

Swimsuit Models and the Zombie Apocalypse

March 1, 2015

It’s been a long winter.  We’ve been hit with record cold and snow, and I think I speak for many when I say that those of us on the East Coast are pretty tired of school closings, Thinsulate gloves, and short, gray days that end at 4:30 p.m.  How lucky, then, that just as those of us who live in areas that have been blanketed by snow for the last six weeks are ready to stick our hands in a snow-blower set on “high,” the Girls of Winter have arrived.

I’m talking about the one-two punch of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and the Victoria’s Secret Bathing Suit Extravaganza Television Special.  There’s nothing like these two heaping spoonfuls of well-oiled boobs and butts set against a tropical backdrop of palm fronds and white sand beaches to take your mind off the fact that we will be wearing snowboots and heavy wool sweaters for the rest of our lives, and that the temperature is never going to rise above the freezing mark, ever.  Yes, just when you thought you might have to throw yourself in front of a snow plow, or plunge headfirst into a bucket of ice melt, the SI Swimsuit Edition and the VS Bikini Fashion show are here to drive away your dead-of-the-winter blues.  So, if you’re someone who likes looking at impossibly beautiful women (barely) wearing exceptionally tiny bikinis whilst frolicking in the aquamarine surf, this is good news indeed.  If you’re someone who’s kind of tired of the ceaseless objectification of women, however, not so much.

The SI swimsuit was the brainchild of some (male) editor at the magazine who, over fifty years ago, had a eureka moment when realized, simultaneously, that (1) nothing interesting happens in sports between the Super Bowl and the opening day of MLB baseball (because no one watches NBA basketball or NHL hockey – not anyone I would invite to my house for dinner, anyway) and (2) by the end of January, most Americans are so thoroughly sick and tired of winter that they will eat up anything that provides them some escape from the relentless dreariness of North America in winter.

So this genius – I think his name was Andre Laguerre—said to himself, “how about if we take photos of gorgeous women in bathing suits lounging around in places like Bali or the Caribbean or Mexico?”  Thus, a great idea was born, and every year since, we’ve been treated to an annual parade of beauties sporting the latest in swimwear and showing off their flawless figures.

Not to be outdone, Victoria’s Secret, that bastion of push-up bras and barely-there panties, the same retail genius that first gave us the television lingerie runway show in which supermodels wearing precipitously high heels and very little else (aside from angel wings – and someone is going to have to explain to me, using small words that my tiny female brain can comprehend, the connection between haloed celestial beings and thongs), decided to go high-octane.  This year, VS gave us a late Christmas present in the form of a glossy hour of television featuring supermodels in tropical locales sporting tiny triangles of lycra that barely cover the naughty bits network television isn’t allowed to show.

As between the two, SI is a little racier and has been known to show a nipple or from time to time (I’m thinking of the Cheryl Tiegs fishnet bathing suit that caused such a stir back in the seventies), but VS is perhaps a little sexier, what with the models rolling around in the sand and engaging in the kind of conversation that does little to intimidate the men to whom these sorts of productions are targeted.  But as tired as I, too, am of winter, as much as I, too, am in need of some sunshine and mindless distraction, I feel compelled to say, as I gaze at the lovely Hannah Davis (who, from what I can tell, apparently had to pee just as they were taking this year’s cover photo – why else would she be pulling down her bikini bottoms?), Really? Still? In 2015, we continue to do this?

I’ve been aware of the extent to which woman are objectified by our society since my first year at Mount Holyoke College.  It had not occurred to me prior to that time to question whether what I saw on the pages of fashion magazines or on television was normal or healthy, nor had I ever thought to ask who got to decide what constituted “beauty” or to get angry when the answer turned out to be, in most cases, men. But then I spent four years marinating in feminism and having my eyes opened to the rampant misogyny all around me, and by the time I graduated, I was pretty pissed.

But then I went to law school, and didn’t have time to be pissed anymore, and as I got older and had less time to ponder such questions, I stopped asking them and accepted that we’re all slaves to such societal pressures.

Then I had three daughters, and I got pissed all over again.  It started with Britney Spears in the late 90’s, bumping and grinding her barely legal body into the life of my three young daughters despite my best efforts to shield them from what I considered the antithesis of the kind of women I hoped to raise.  It didn’t end with Britney, and I’ve been fighting what feels like an uphill battle ever since.  Britney’s been replaced by plenty of other scantily clad, gyrating young women, and the fashion industry has continued to push frighteningly thin models upon us while Revlon and Cover Girl show us flawlessly complected beauties and L’Oreal depicts glossy, unfrizzy, even-toned tresses.

I’m somewhat reluctant to tackle this topic because it’s such well-traveled territory that I wonder if there are any points left to be made, and I guess that’s a good thing.  I’d argue, however, that if showing the top half of your vagina on the cover of a sports magazine is deemed an acceptable way to “market” bathing suits, not much has changed.  I mean, when you’re supposedly “modeling” something, isn’t the focus supposed to be the actual item of clothing, and not the orifice it was designed to cover?

It’s no secret that our culture perpetuates ridiculously unattainable standards for “feminine beauty” and that there are about 23 women in the entire country who come even sort of close to conforming to those standards, and then, only after hair, make-up, wardrobe stylist, and Photoshop have worked their collective magic.

We should know by now that none of us measure up to the absurd (not to mention narrow) ideals of perfection we see in magazines and on billboards, on television and red carpets.  Pick the most beautiful woman you can imagine, be she supermodel, actress, or reality television star, and I can probably hunt up, in under half an hour, some picture on the internet showing her without her make-up and in sweats, looking decidedly normal.  Give me an hour, and I can probably find one with pimples or cellulite.  Bottom line? Even the most perfect women aren’t so perfect.

And we all know that, or at least we should, and so one would hope (at least I do) that we, as a nation, would stop pretending that what the media portrays as the ideal of female physical perfection is realistic, or even desirable, so that we could focus on more important things, such as, how does one get a job as a koala wrangler, or, why all the sudden interest in zombies?  But here we are, almost thirty years since I graduated from college, and we’re still being sold the same bill of goods—that is, that unless you’re 5’10”, 115 pounds (more or less), with long, flowing locks, a lovely face, and a flat stomach, you’re pretty much a troll who might as well just put on a burka and accept your lot in life, which is to be unlovely and, therefore, unloved.

I want to be clear that I think these women are beautiful – my god, they’re gorgeous.  Would I like to look like Kate Upton, what, with my 4.0 GPA cup size? Of course I would.  I don’t begrudge these women their beauty.  And, to be perfectly clear, I have no problem with the naked female body (or the naked male body, for that matter).  As well, I have no issue with taking pride in one’s appearance or wanting to look one’s best—male or female.  I own more than a few lipsticks and eyeshadows, I like wearing heels, and I regularly pay a significant amount of cash to hide my gray roots.

But there is no denying that how we present ourselves is in large part guided by what society tells us is attractive, and that the reason most of us take pains to look our best is because of the extent to which we are evaluated solely based upon our appearance.  Thus, it becomes necessary to either accept this fact and do the best we can with what we have in the name of moving successfully through our professional and personal lives, or to take a militant stance by eschewing all the trappings of what magazine editors and the Fashion Police tell us is acceptable, consequences be damned.  Who even knows what we would wear, or how we would style our hair, or whether we would shave our armpits or pluck our eyebrows, if not for fashion magazines and cosmetic companies?  If there ever really was a zombie apocalypse (which, I understand, generally results in poor hygiene, a lack of beauty products and electricity, and the more pressing concern of not being fed on by the undead), I guess we’d have to throw aside all those notions about Botox and bikini waxing.  We’d probably be less attracted to Pilates abs and more intrigued by biceps toned in more honest pursuits – that is, wielding machetes and kicking zombie ass.

It’s sort of sad that it would have to come to that for us to rid ourselves of these deeply-entrenched notions of what is and is not beautiful.  I’m encouraged that, unlike in the 1980’s, when I was having my eyes opened at college, we’ve expanded our ideas about beauty to include women of color and, in some cases, women who weigh more than 120 pounds.  I guess it’s progress that “plus size” is no longer quite the fashion death sentence it once was, though many of the models who identify as such don’t look much different (to me, anyway) than most of the women I see in the course of a normal day.  I suppose I should take comfort when Huff Po features yet another article revealing how extensively Photoshop is used to create images that bear little relation to reality, and how about Keira Knightly, my personal hero, who recently agreed to pose topless only on the condition that her modest breasts not be enhanced, as they were in a poster for an upcoming movie.

So, yes, there’s room for a modicum of optimism that men and women in America may be less inclined to blindly accept whatever vision of female perfection the media tells us we ought to aspire to.  It troubles me, however, that SI and VS think that we, as a society, are so stupid (justifiably so, it turns out) that we are all willing to pretend that the Swimsuit Edition and VS television special are actually about swimwear fashion, when we all know perfectly well that both should come with a container of lotion and a box of tissues, because the people at whom they are targeted don’t wear (or buy) bikinis and wouldn’t even notice if every model in every edition was wearing the same swimsuit, year after year after year.  They’d never figure it out.

SI and VS will continue to foist these lean, long-limbed beauties on us for years to come, because sex sells.  For my part, I’ve tried to raise daughters who care more about their character than their appearance, and I’m hopeful that they will pass the same message along to their children—male or female.  I suppose I should be heartened that my oldest daughter was a bad-ass hockey player at college, that my middle daughter can control an 800-pound horse at a full gallop, and that my wee youngest is working on her black-belt in karate.  While I have to admit that I think my girls are just as beautiful as those SI and VS models, I’m more proud of the fact that in a zombie apocalypse, they, and women like them, would probably be running the show, that’s probably more important than looking good in a bikini.

I’m hopeful that in thirty years’ time, we’ll be laughing at the SI swimsuit edition and the VS bathing suit fashion show the same way we now chuckle over Barbie and those home ec books from the ‘50s where women are admonished to greet their husbands at the door with a martini and slippers, hot meal waiting on the table and children fresh-scrubbed and docile, but I doubt it.  I have a feeling that as long as there are men who like to look at scantily clad women, we’ll be treated to the SI S

Enough About Prom

September 15, 2014

Several weeks ago, I was poised to rant about what I believe to be a disproportionate emphasis currently placed upon the ritual known in the United States as Prom. I got distracted, for two very good reasons, which I’ll explain later, but after catching a few minutes of Katie Couric’s talk show this afternoon, my ire was re-ignited. Here we go:

Let’s talk about Prom—what it should be, what it shouldn’t be. Prom SHOULD be a nice opportunity to celebrate with one’s classmates the end of the academic year and, for seniors, the end of their high school career. The dress code is traditionally formal, as befitting such an occasion. It’s a chance to share memories as well as plans for the future, and it’s a time to begin the process of saying goodbye. Prom is a lovely custom, a charming ritual, a time-honored rite of passage.

That’s what Prom SHOULD be. Here’s what it SHOULDN’T:

It shouldn’t be about spending upwards of $1,000 (dress, tux, flowers, limo, tickets) – the average amount estimated by the “Seventeen” magazine editor guesting on Katie’s show today. A lot of families don’t have that kind of money, and being able to share a special moment with your friends shouldn’t be contingent upon your economic status.

It SHOULDN’T be the high-school equivalent of a wedding. I’m thinking specifically about the disturbing “prom-posal” trend in which teens spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to one-up each other when they should be studying for algebra, attending soccer practice, or performing in the spring musical. It’s Prom, not marriage, and an invitation to attend a dance—even one where girls wear long dresses and boys wear ill-fitting tuxes—should be a fairly straightforward affair. There’s plenty of time later for grand romantic gestures, and such gestures should be reserved for a sufficiently significant event—like, say, asking another person to spend the next fifty years of their life with you.

And it REALLY SHOULDN’T be, as Katie’s “Seventeen” magazine editor suggested, “the teenage girl’s red-carpet moment.”

You might say that, at the ripe old age of fifty, I’m getting old and crotchety, that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young, and maybe that’s true. But I guess I just don’t think that teenagers (or their families) should be pressured to spend an excessive amount of money on one night. I think a teenager (or the family of a teenager) who has $1,000 to spend on Prom would be far better served using that money to pay next semester’s tuition. I don’t think that teenagers should be encouraged to play at getting engaged when most of them can’t be counted on to reliably take out the trash or empty the dishwasher without being nagged almost to death. And I REALLY don’t think that teenage girls should be urged to spend more than about two hours fixating on the perfect prom dress when they should be focused upon getting an education, setting goals for their future, and beginning to think about how they’re going to change the world.

There’s a lot of money to be made on Prom – the magazine editors, the fashion industry, the limo companies, and the florists, figured that out a while back, just as they figured out how to market the idea of the “fairy tale wedding” to such an extent that today’s nuptials are likely to be bloated, overpriced affairs that sorely tax the finances of the couple or their parents in pursuit of that “one perfect day.” The massive impact of shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Platinum Weddings” have paved the way and trickled down to high school, and just as there are now magazines devoted to Prom, I doubt it will be long before TLC premieres “Promzillas.” It’s a trend that perpetuates the notion that all a woman should want is to wear a pretty dress and be the princess at a party where the only thing she has to do is look good, and the only thing her date has to do is show up.

As I said earlier, my rant on the current state of Prom in the United States was interrupted, for two reasons: First, my daughter, Allison (who is autistic, and who has worked harder than any student I know to earn her high school diploma, at the age of twenty, thanks to the tremendous help and support of our school district’s special education services) was accepted into a very competitive, highly-regarded job skills program for next year. The application process was very challenging for Allison, and it took a lot of courage for her to take what was, for her, the huge risk of striving towards a goal, with the very real possibility that she might fail.

And then my husband and I went on a second honeymoon to celebrate 25 years of marriage, which, teenagers, is no small feat, even when you’re married to a smart, funny, hard-working guy who’s a great dad and who can really rock a pair of Levi’s.

So, my Prom Rant had to wait while our family celebrated (1) the achievement of a brave young woman who’s had to work harder than most to achieve a fraction of what her peers assume as a given; and (2) two people managing to stay together while negotiating mortgages, diapers, orthodontia, and flatulent canines. Those are things worth making a fuss over…and so is Prom, sort of. It’s just not worth going bankrupt, forcing teens to simulate something they aren’t (and shouldn’t be) ready for, or perpetuating the notion that the most a woman can or should aspire to is having a boy ask her to go to a dance or looking pretty.

My daughter, Allison, will attend her Prom this Friday, with a group of five friends, and yes, she’ll have an updo and will be wearing a pair of fabulous shoes. Her older sister is taking her for a mani/pedi later this week, and a dear friend will be hosting a pre-Prom photo session at her home. It’s a big deal for Allison, and for our family, but it’s not the only thing, or the most important thing, or the moment that will define her for the rest of her life. It’s a time to look back on what she’s accomplished, and to dream about what lies ahead, and, yeah, to wear a pretty dress. But that’s it.

Keeping Up with de Tocqueville

January 28, 2015

Kim Kardashian drives me crazy.  Actually, all of the Kardashians drive me crazy.  And the reasons why they drive me crazy are precisely the reasons why I shouldn’t be writing this blog in the first place, because writing about the Kardashians (1) presumes that they are worth writing about in the first place; (2) requires me to spend time thinking about people who drive me crazy; and (3) contributes to their on-going notoriety, which will in turn result in my continuing to be driven crazy.  I guess my outrage (although that’s probably too strong a word) is sufficient that I’m willing to spend a few minutes focused upon this ridiculous family instead of volunteering at a homeless shelter or lobbying congress for more spending on autism research, but since I probably wouldn’t be doing those things anyway, I’m going to give in to my baser instincts and waste some time talking about a family that sort of single-handedly represents everything that’s wrong with America.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, and because I try to make sure I don’t go running off my mouth about things I don’t know about (hence the reason I’ve declined to weigh in on “Fifty Shades of Grey” and how millions of otherwise intelligent women have allowed themselves to be fooled into thinking that having the shit kicked out of you by a misogynistic psychopath is romantic and an example of love worth celebrating), I should say right off the bat that I have never watched any of the various television shows featuring Kris, Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kylie, Kelvin, Kepler, or Kandinsky (those last three are made-up Kardashians)(at least I think they are).  I turn the channel when a Kardashian comes on, I skip the Kardashian stories when I’m browsing People or Us, and the only time I’ve ever heard Kim or her sisters say anything was while flipping through the radio dial while driving in the car in which Kim insisted that “we work really, really hard.”

And maybe she does.

But although I go out of my way to avoid all KRP (Kardashian Related Product)(and I really do), it’s almost impossible to escape being buffeted on a fairly regular basis with news of all things Kardashian.  I guess it all started when dad Robert signed on to be part of O.J. Simpson’s legal team, and that’s probably as good an explanation as any as to the rest of the family, which later grew to include Bruce Jenner and the kids he had with Kris.  Now there are, like, 900 Kardashians, all of them with their own clothing line, perfume, and bottled water, and they’re a pretty insistent lot.  Here’s what I have sort of been forced to know about the various Kardashian Family:

Kim:   Most famous for (1) her enormous butt; (2) her million dollar wedding (paid for by other people) to that NBA player to whom she stayed married for about 15 minutes; (3) her nude Champagne photo that, sadly, did not succeed in “breaking the internet” but which allowed all who were so inclined to view some oiled-up full frontal; (4) saddling her child with the world’ stupidest name; and (5) being married to an arrogant, obnoxious jerk.

Kourtney:      Most famous for (1) being Kim’s sister; and (at least for now) (2) being married to an arrogant obnoxious jerk.

Khloe:            Most famous for (1) also being Kim’s sister; (2) also once being married to an NBA player; (3) sometimes (unfairly and unkindly) referred to as “the fat one;” and (4) possibly not actually being the biological child of Robert (but we’ll never know for sure).

Kris:   I can’t even talk about Kris, except to say that she will not likely be saddled with accusations that she has accepted the natural aging process gracefully.

Kylie and the Other One Whose Name Starts with “K”:           Two underage (or barely legal), leggy young things who have been pimped out by Kris from a fairly young age to attend functions in nightclubs wearing couture that leaves little to the imagination.  Because that worked out so well for Lindsay Lohan.

There are some assorted others, although I think they may be Bruce’s (Belinda’s?) children from a prior marriage, one of whom may or may not have dated someone who was on “The Hills” (a show I never watched and to this day am not sure whether it was scripted or reality television, except I think one of its “stars” has a line of clothing at Kohl’s and another has spent the equivalent of the GNP of The Gambia on plastic surgery and, like Kim and Kourtney, is married to an obnoxious jerk).

So there you have it.

Now, I’ve just spent a good 45 minutes thinking and writing about the Kardashians, when I could have been reading “Democracy in America,” which is something I’d really like to do before I die.  I could have been raising awareness about illiteracy – hell, I could have been scrubbing my baseboards, but you get my point:  I’ve allowed myself to get sucked into the Kardashian Vortex, and I don’t think I can fairly argue that it was exclusively in the name of a good blog.  So, that’s on me, and I’m going to have feel embarrassed about the extent to which I ruminate about these mindless idiots, who, on second thought, must have at least a few communal brain cells, seeing as how they have built an entire dynasty based upon nothing more than large butts and a lot of hair.

I have to acknowledge that there may be some amount of jealously going on, as in, I’d love to make millions just for having a big butt, since I happen to have one just lying around on the back of me, and it hasn’t made me one penny in fifty years.  It would be nice to find a way to cash in on that and, as well, I also have a lot of hair.  And while I certainly wouldn’t want to see myself on every tabloid cover and would never voluntarily relinquish any notion of privacy, as the Kardashians have, there’s no question that one silly little reality show has opened a lot of doors for a group of people with no apparent talent or intelligence and has presented them with opportunities that, pursued thoughtfully, might have added something of real value to this world.

It’s my understanding that, aside from the television shows, the various Kardashians have business interests in a clothing boutique, a shoe line, and other various fashion products to which they have leant their name.  I should note, by the way, that it took a little Internet sleuthing to figure that out, because for all Kim protests about how hard she works, most of the actual “work” seems to involve being followed around by someone with a video camera or posing for photos in which most of her is uncovered.  For all of the supposed legitimate businesses helmed by the various Kardashians,

I’ve yet to read an article in Fortune magazine or the Wall Street Journal touting their amazing business acumen (maybe because I don’t read Fortune magazine or the Wall Street Journal, but still).  Maybe I’m shopping at the wrong stores, but I’ve not once seen an actual product designed, produced, processed, marketed, promoted, or sold by KK, with the exception of KK herself.  Maybe they exist.  I’ve never seen them.  But then, I’ve never seen a narwhal (in person, anyway), and I’m pretty sure they exist.

Maybe there are actual enterprises which Kim (or her mom, or her sisters) oversees and directs.  Except I’m pretty sure it’s a case of her lending her name to some generic schlock merchandiser that slaps her name on crap (manufactured, no doubt, in Azerbaijan by underage workers in sweatshops who earn 85 cents a day) and then sells it at K-Mart.  These days, it seems that’s about all it takes to call yourself a “designer,” and while we’re on the topic, note to brands like Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s, and every other chain retailer who thinks that just because something was “designed” by a celebrity, I’ll buy it:  Never in my life have I ever said to myself, “I want to smell like Britney Spears.”

So, my consternation is mostly over how a bunch of mindless numbskulls have made a small fortune and have somehow continued to keep this country enraptured with their idiotic lives without having contributed (either individually or collectively) anything…anything…to the world except more of the reality-show hijinx (table flipping in fancy restaurants, wine-soaked cat fights at luxury resort destinations, quickie weddings doomed to fail, etc.) that, when consumed on a regular basis, slowly invade our psyches and kill our souls to the point that we become the human equivalent of nacho cheese Doritos.  Somehow, they have managed to remain in the spotlight far longer than their predecessors (whatever happened to Paris Hilton?), and the public (including me, I guess) has yet to lose its fascination with all things Kardashian.  And we wonder why we can’t find a way to solve those pesky social issues like income inequality, homelessness, or the Westboro Baptist Church.

But that’s America, I guess, where there’s no law against being a shameless self-promoter (in fact, if you’re good enough at it, you get your own television show where you get paid a lot of money to do nothing more than say, “You’re Fired!”)  What troubles me (aside from my concerns about just how messed up Kylie and The Other One will surely be once Kris has wrung every ounce of income potential out of them) is that there are people in this country who watch the programs, read the magazine articles, buy the products, and are responsible for supporting and perpetuating the notion that if you’re relatively attractive and have some pretension of a lifestyle that seems glamorous (even if it’s being paid for by someone else), there’s a lot of money to be made simply by being willing to fight with your family on television and show the world your massive, enormous, Montana-sized butt.

I find that very, very depressing.

So, in the interest of attempting to counteract the collective Dorito-ization of America, I promise here and now that I am never, never, NEVER again going to make reference to anything Kardashian.  Whenever I feel the impulse to comment upon what this band of ridiculous nincompoops are up to, I’m going to pull out my copy of de Tocqueville (I do actually have one; it’s served me well as both a coaster and a door stop) and attempt to get through a page or two before succumbing to the urge to look at koala videos.  As well, if I feel the need to gaze upon a very large posterior, I’ll turn around in front of a mirror.  I think I can do it.  And de Tocqueville gives me hope:  He said, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”  Let’s hope he was right.

Feeling (Not Too) Sorry for Jennifer Aniston

February 16, 2015

I feel badly for Jennifer Aniston.  Not because her husband left her for Angelina Jolie, and not because nothing she has done career-wise in the ten years since “Friends” went off the air has come close to that level of success or critical recognition.  Before you tell me not to waste a lot of time feeling badly for someone who is stunningly beautiful and fabulously wealthy and who seems to have found true love with the guy whose name no one (translation: me) can either remember or pronounce, don’t you worry:  I’m going to feel badly for Jennifer Aniston for only as long as it takes to write this blog, and then I’m going to make a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and eat all of it while I watch “Downton Abbey.”

But for now, I feel badly for Jennifer Aniston, because no matter how lovely she is, no matter that she’s shown some considerable acting chops in a few small-budget films and has garnered a few nominations this awards season, no matter that she’s managed to endure with grace and good humor being a fixture in the tabloids despite the fact that she’s not prone to the sort of behavior that usually earns one that sort of exposure, no matter how many things she can list in her positives column, it always comes down to this:  Why doesn’t she have a kid?

To the extent that it is anyone’s business (and we’ll talk about that later), the answer seems pretty obvious to me:  About the time she was thinking of starting a family, her husband decided he didn’t want to be married (to her, anyway), and he left her.  As anyone who has ever been the recipient of that sort of news can probably tell you, sometimes it takes a little while to get over it, especially if you never saw it coming, and even more especially when it becomes a subject of such public examination and discourse that some enterprising apparel manufacturer successfully markets “Team Anniston” and “Team Jolie” t-shirts.  (Note to the people who actually bought those t-shirts:  If you have enough money to piss away on that sort of crap, you have enough money to make a donation to feed hungry kids or prevent animal cruelty).

So, maybe it took Jennifer a little while to process the end of her marriage, and maybe she wanted to wait until she felt she was in a good place emotionally before she thought about having kids, or maybe she wanted to be in a relationship before she became a mother, or maybe she’s been trying this whole time to get pregnant with what’s-his-name and it hasn’t worked, or maybe, maybe, (wait for it)…MAYBE SHE JUST DOESN’T WANT TO HAVE KIDS.

And this is why I feel badly for Jennifer Aniston:  Because regardless of the reason, there are people out there who think that they (1) have a right to ask her that question; and (2) are entitled to comment upon the answer.

Let’s talk about the first point—that is, whether or not it’s anyone’s business other than Jennifer’s why she’s childless (or child-free, depending upon your perspective).  It’s an age-old issue, namely, to what extent do those in the public eye have a right to complain about the media attention that in some respects feeds their career and fuels the fan interest that makes such a person more marketable?  I’m not really interested in dissecting the opposing viewpoints of that debate, except to say that when your husband takes you to the Caribbean for what you thought was going to be a baby-making vacation, only to have him tell you he’s ending your marriage, I think it would be nice not to have to worry that some paparazzi is going to sell a photo of you clutching a tissue as your heart breaks, while the same husband who no longer wants you wraps his arm around you and pretends he’s not counting the minutes until he can be with Angelina.  Suffice it to say that in our society, whether or not it’s right or okay, if you happen to have the incredible good fortune of starring in an unprecedentedly successful sitcom for 10 years, you’re probably going to have to give up any expectation of privacy.  Forever.

So, I’m not going to rail against People magazine or analogs thereof, because that would be sort of hypocritical of me, given that I’ve been known to peruse that particular periodical from time to time whilst having my hair done or waiting on line at the grocery store.  As well, I believe that those who grace the pages of such publications benefit at least to some extent as a result and, by and large have signed on (or, at the very least, are on notice of the potential) for that sort of exposure.  Let’s not forget, moreover, that there are plenty of celebrities who manage to stay out of Us and Star and In Touch magazine; I’ve never seen the headline “Meryl Streep’s $40 million Divorce!” or “Daniel Day Lewis DUI Disaster!”

So, no hating on People for me.  But what about those people who think they have a right to comment about the choice Jennifer Aniston (or anyone else, for that matter) has either made or had thrust upon her vis a vis parenthood?  I have to admit, I find such an attitude more perplexing than infuriating, because for the life of me, I cannot fathom why any gives a fuck in the first place.  I mean, who cares whether or not Jennifer Aniston has a kid or not? The only thing I think I care less about is Kim Kardashian, or perhaps her equally idiotic spouse.

Sure, I could get uppity:  I could point out the audacity of presuming to inquire about or comment upon such a private, sensitive topic.  I could get strident and draw the (hard to miss) parallel between such scrutiny and the apparent belief of some in this country that a woman’s family planning decisions should be subject to society’s imprimatur.  And yes, I could go all (proudly) feminist on you and ask why, in the United States of America in 2015 do some continue to embrace the notion that a woman isn’t really a woman, and will never be fulfilled, until she reproduces? Because I know a lot of women who don’t have kids who have somehow managed not to throw themselves under a train and, against all odds, have derived meaning and satisfaction from life despite never having a child.

But I’ll stick to the immediate topic, which is that I feel badly for Jennifer Aniston, who recently said in an interview that she is frequently chastised for being “too selfish” to have children.  That just about blew my mind, because implicit in that statement is the notion that it’s inherently wrong not to want to have kids and that whether you want them or not, whether you are equipped to care for them or not, you should just go ahead and have them anyway.  You know, to not be selfish.

Really? Are you kidding me? I have three kids, and I love them dearly, but deciding to become a parent pretty much means setting aside everything you ever wanted to do, have, or achieve (to a large extent, anyway) for the better part of two decades, and by the time you’re done, you’re really, really tired.  Few people appreciate that fact when they’re painting the nursery or ordering a crib mattress, and indeed, it’s difficult to have any real sense of what being a parent is really like until it happens to you.

But having kids is hard.  It is bone-wearyingly, mind-fryingly hard, and few things one can do in life invokes the level of responsibility and constancy that should be part and parcel with bringing a life into this world.  So, at the least—at the very least, for Pete’s sake—don’t you think the decision as to whether or not to undertake that level of commitment should be made exclusively by the person whose going to be charged with the responsibility attendant thereto, the person who, presumably, is probably better qualified than you or I to know whether or not they are up to the task?

Maybe not having kids is selfish (although I don’t agree that it is), but if it is, then isn’t that all the more reason why a person who doesn’t want kids shouldn’t have them? If someone is truly selfish, then maybe they’re not the kind of person you want raising a child in the first place.  Kids cost money, they need a lot of time and attention, they can be really annoying, and they tend to mess shit up.  So, if you like buying (and having) nice things, if you like being able to do stuff for more than four minutes at a time, if you’re not the most patient person in the world, then maybe having kids isn’t for you.  And that’s okay.  There are a lot of people who maybe should have thought about all that before they had kids, but few people ever do, and as a result, there are a lot of crappy parents out there.

I don’t know why Jennifer Aniston doesn’t have a kid, and frankly, I don’t care, nor should anyone else aside from her and the guy whose name I can’t remember or pronounce.  I sorely wish people would stop asking her about it, just as I wish that the tabloid press (which apparently consists entirely of men, and women with rock-hard abs) understood that what they’re calling a “baby bump” may actually be nothing more than too much lasagna.

But for what it’s worth, here’s my suggestion, tabloid media:  Let’s lay off Jen.  I know, I know, it will leave you at a loss as to how to fill those column inches, but most of us will be more than okay with an extra dose of Bradley Cooper or photos of Prince George, both of whom are absolutely adorable.  If Jennifer wants to have a kid, she will, and then you can report on that, but if she doesn’t, maybe you can figure out something else to write about.  I mean, there’s always Kim Kardashian.

 

 

I Love HGTV

June 12, 2015

I love HGTV.  At the end of a long, stressful day, there are few things I enjoy more than kicking back with some rehab/design porn.  There’s almost nothing I won’t watch on Home and Garden Television, and it’s equally great whether you’re blow drying your hair, folding laundry, doing the dishes, or drafting deposition summaries.  Nothing on HGTV requires more than a preschool education (if that), and it’s family friendly – no F bombs or full frontal.  You can watch with your four-year old, your mother-in-law…you can even watch with someone whose political or religious views are diametrically opposed to yours without fear of fisticuffs or long, angry silences.  There’s nothing controversial, ever, on HGTV, and it’s enormously satisfying to watch someone reno an entire home in the space of thirty minutes – who doesn’t love that?

My favorite shows on HGTV are “House Hunters,” “Love It or List It,” and “Property Brothers.” Part of the reason—and I feel small admitting this—is because I find the homeowners so unintentionally entertaining.  A more demanding, unreasonable, and out-of-touch group of people you’ve never seen (unless you regularly tune into “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”), so, in addition to drooling over a brand new outdoor kitchen or high-end master suite retreat, I get to feel just a little bit superior, and that’s always sort of nice.

For those of you who have never watched “House Hunters,” the basic premise is that someone is looking to buy a new home and is taken to see three contenders.  The suspense builds (sort of, I guess) as the buyers mull over their choices, and culminates with the (drumroll, please!) announcement as to which property they’ve picked.  (Viewing Suggestion:  To make this fairly benign show more interesting, you can engage in some low-stakes gambling or, perhaps, turn it into a drinking game, though people who gamble and play drinking games probably aren’t the classic HGTV demographic).

What makes “House Hunters” so fun to watch (and keep in mind, as you decide just how much weight to give that assessment, that one of my favorite things to do, after looking at pictures of koalas, is reading about the Supreme Court) is that most of the home buyers appear to know as much about purchasing residential real estate as I know about automotive repair.  It never ceases to amaze me when our homebuyer, looking to buy a place in suburban Washington, D.C. with a budget of $200,000, demonstrates genuine surprise when told that his or her budget is not going to be sufficient to buy a restored townhouse in Georgetown with a gourmet kitchen and Brazilian cherrywood floors.

What’s more, when told by experienced real estate professionals (who, you just know, want to shoot these people in the head by the end of the show), these buyers always act as though it’s the agent’s fault that the most you’re going to get for $150,000 in Manhattan is a “studio apartment” the size of a handicapped bathroom stall.  I also love the sorts of things that seem to be deal breakers for these potential homeowners:  Walls painted a color they don’t like, for example; as my oldest has observed, it’s a shame you can’t do anything about that.

Another favorite show is “Love It or List It.”  Here, you’ve got a couple who already owns a home that one of them LOVES, and wants to redo, but which the other one hates, and wants to LIST.  Enter Hillary, a design professional, and David, a realtor; Hillary is given a budget to make the house they’re living in now more suitable to the couple’s needs, while David is charged with finding a new place within the family’s budget that will address whatever isn’t working in their current home.  Once again, unrealistic expectations abound as David and Hillary are given a “must have” list that will cost three times whatever money they have to spend.  As an aside, I’m not sure where “LIOLI” is filmed, though I think it’s somewhere in Canada, but wherever it is, the housing prices (even in Canadian dollars) are astronomical—like, $900,000 for a three-bedroom, 1,200 square foot row house—which is all the more reason why I find myself scratching my head over the disconnect between what the couple wants and what they can actually afford.

Instead of scaling back on their demands and adopting a workable plan based upon the realities of their budget, however, the couple spends the next hour in abject fury as Hillary tells them that she’s not going to be able to convert their cramped, poorly-designed mudroom into a spacious home office, add a guest bedroom, and completely redo the basement, all for $30,000, or when David can’t find them a home twice the size of their current residence for roughly what they paid ten years ago for the home they now live in, located in their current (criminally expensive) neighborhood, with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, more bedrooms, and the all-important “open concept floor plan.”

To be fair, the couple’s outrage is sometimes justified; anyone who has ever been through a home improvement project knows that it can be an emotional, stressful experience and, as well, there’s always some surprise on LIOLI that you would have expected Hillary to discover before she gutted the entire downstairs or ripped off the back wall of the house, like, that the entire electrical system has to be rewired because it’s not up to code, or that the wall the couple wanted gone is load-bearing, and can’t be removed.  You would sort of think that before undertaking the massive overhaul that is always involved on this show that Hillary or her faithful sidekick, Desta, would have conducted some sort of inspection or other due diligence to see whether or not they were going to be able to pull off the reno, especially since there is an unpleasant, expensive surprise EVERY SINGLE EPISODE.  I guess that’s part of the drama.

“Love It or List It” ends with the couple being shown their old home, the remodeling of which has given them roughly half of their “must haves,” and then being asked to decide if they’re going to keep their current home or  else “List It” so they can move into one of the houses David’s found for them.  There’s some of the suspense of “House Hunters,” I guess, but when you consider that this beleaguered couple has just been through a major home improvement project which was about as much fun as prepping for a colonoscopy, it’s not surprising that most opt to forego the joy of moving house to stay where they already are, even if their home doesn’t have cathedral ceilings or his and hers vanities in the master bath (another feature about which some homeowners are borderline pathological).  I always feel sorry for these homeowners, because they never get what they were hoping for, but by the time the project is over, they’re just happy to have functioning plumbing.

My absolute favorite home improvement show is “Property Brothers,” because it combines all of the worst behavior you see on “House Hunters” and “Love It or List It,” including on the part of the hosts, Jonathan and Drew, whom, I think are twin brothers.  Drew is a real estate agent, Jonathan is a contractor.  Under the guise of helping a couple find a new home, Jonathan and Drew show them a gorgeous, perfect, move-in ready home which they (Jonathan and Drew) already know costs way more than the couple can afford—like, way more.  They walk the couple through this palace and allow them to salivate over the restaurant-grade appliances and walk-in closets that are larger than my first apartment.  The couple is over the moon—this is exactly what they’ve been looking for (and these are the only people on HGTV you will ever see who have an unreservedly positive reaction to a home they are shown)—which is when the Property Brothers reveal that the house is three times more than their maximum budget.

Our couple is crushed – their disappointment is palpable—but here’s what always gets me:  How is this a surprise? This is how the show always starts – always – so, if you’ve ever actually seen the “Property Brothers,” you ought to understand the premise and appreciate that Jonathan and Drew are going to show you a house you could never, in your wildest dreams, afford.  So here’s what I want to know:  Are these people agreeing to go on the show without ever having viewed a single episode? What kind of person signs up to be on a television show they’ve never watched, especially when it involves the biggest purchase most people will ever make?  And yet, the couple is always stupefied and, occasionally, just a little bit pissed.  Which is why it’s sort of hard to care that the duration of the hour is a study in watching someone’s dreams die as they slowly go bankrupt.

Then, when this couple is at their most vulnerable, Jonathan and Drew try to convince them that all is not lost, that they can find a crappy old fixer-upper and make it just as nice, for half the price.  Which is a total lie, because in the five years this show has been on the air, this has never happened—not once, and if in fact this were even possible, people would be doing it all the time, but they don’t, because it’s not.  But Drew and Jonathan (whose facial hair, it must be said, is sort of sketchy) are very convincing, and so they take our heartbroken couple to a bunch of woefully dated homes built during the architectural renaissance of the 1970’s; homes in serious need of repair; ugly, wallpapered, split-level, popcorn ceiling’ed homes that are screaming to be razed to the ground and put out of their misery.

The couple, who is so emotionally beaten up from watching their dream of living in a mansion they can’t afford swirl down the sludge-clogged drain, allows themselves to be drawn into Jonathan’s vision of how he’s going to turn this eyesore with no curb appeal into an exact replica of the house of their dreams, and because they are either irrationally optimistic or else irredeemably stupid, they believe him.  With Drew’s promise that they will be able to buy the house for nothing more than a bag of magic beans and some pixie dust, the couple ponies up pretty much all they have to purchase a clunker of a house, but there’s always some catch:  There’s a bidding war, or else the seller refuses to accept the couple’s offer despite Drew’s not-so-expert assurances that the house is listed above market value and can be purchased a fraction of its asking price.

Thus, our couple ends up having to pay more than they originally anticipated in order to buy a shitty house they didn’t want in the first place, but now they’re so emotionally invested they can’t walk away.  They’ve drunk the Kool Aid and they believe that Jonathan is going to turn this crapbox into Buckingham Palace, complete with stacked-stone hearth and jetted soaking tub.

Then the renovations start, and it gets even better.

When I sit down to watch “Property Brothers” with my girls, each of us picks some problem – plumbing, HVAC, infestation, you name it—because something always goes wrong, and it’s always expensive.  Like, really expensive.  It’s sort of like what happens on “Love It or List It,” except on “Property Brothers,” the couple has no choice – they’ve already committed every penny they have into what almost always turns out to be a money pit, and what usually happens is that instead of a beautifully, completely remodeled home, the couple ends up with a house that still looks like crap but has a really nice kitchen.  The rest of the rooms have stained carpets, velvet-flocked wallpaper, and termites, probably, but at least they’ve got a tumbled marble backsplash, a large island, and custom cabinetry.  During the reveal, the couple feigns excitement, pretends they are not monumentally disappointed, and tries to forget that they’ve sunk a small fortune into a home that still needs massive amounts of renovation they won’t be able to afford for another ten years.  In addition to the fresh flowers and bowl of color coordinated fruit on the kitchen counter, Jonathan and Drew should leave a bottle of Xanax and the number of a good marriage counselor.

I think the moral of the story is that if you decide to go on a show on HGTV, there’s a good chance you’ll end up disappointed and disillusioned, which is also sort of sad, because a home is a lot less about four walls and a roof and far more about the people who live there.  A custom-designed en suite can’t make up for a bad marriage, and a gourmet kitchen isn’t much comfort when your daughter is 14 and hates you (trust me – I’ve been on that journey three times, and neither the double oven nor the second prep sink made me feel any better about the withering looks of contempt that were a regular part of each day).

So, while I can temporarily lose myself with the thought of a new home with a kitchen floor unscratched by too-long canine nails or walls that haven’t been dinged by laundry baskets or bookbags, while I can think of a few home improvement projects that would put a smile on my face (so long as they’re not being overseeing by Hillary or Jonathan), I remind myself to be content with the damp basement, to be grateful for the laundry room that would feel spacious only if I’d been locked in the trunk of a Honda Civic for six weeks, and the HVAC system that reliably guarantees a 20-degree difference in temperature depending upon which room of the house you’re standing in. I love my home, I wouldn’t List it, even if David showed me one of Jonathan and Drew’s Cruelty Houses and told me I could afford it.  After all, you never hear anyone say, “Home is where the granite countertop and brushed nickel drawer pulls are.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please Go Back to Greenbow, Alabama

March 15, 2015

There’s a line in the movie “Forrest Gump” in which Forrest, in Washington, D.C. to meet President Johnson following his meritorious service in Viet Nam, runs into childhood friend and love Jenny, who’s also in the nation’s capital, but for a different reason – she’s there to protest the war that Forrest has just been fighting.  After spending some time together, Forrest meets Jenny’s boyfriend du jour, an abusive jerk who smacks her around, causing Forrest to get up in his grille as he tells Jenny that heading to California with this idiot is a bad idea.  Rising to his full height, fists clenched, he tells her, “I think you should go back to GREENBOW, ALABAMA!” Which is where they both grew up, and which is where he’s headed, after he finishes playing ping pong and all.

Even though Forrest is talking to Jenny expressing his wish that she return with him to their hometown, we in the O’Connor Household have decided, for no other reason than that it’s fun to say, that when someone is being an asshole, they should go back to GREENBOW, ALABAMA.  If we had our way, Greenbow would be the current home of the 2013 – 2014 Seattle Seahawks, proponents of fundamentalist religions that don’t think women should be educated, and most Republican members of Congress.

Now, that’s a lot of exposition and back story for one little blog, but I think you’re going to agree it was worth it, because we here at the WRSO713 Blogspot (that’s me) are introducing a new recurring feature, and it’s called, “Go Back to Greenbow, Alabama, ___ (fill in the blank).”  It’s sort of like how Mike and Mike on ESPN used to have “Just Shut Up,” or Keith Olberman’s “Worst Person Alive.”  Not that I am half the journalist that either Mike Greenberg or Keith Olberman are (I may be half the journalist Mike Golic is, but he’s about 17,000 times the football player I am).  So, it’s a little thing we’re going to be doing from time to time, and when you see me telling someone to go back to Greenbow, Alabama, you will know that I think said person is an asshole.

It goes without saying, of course, that all of this is terribly unfair to Greenbow, Alabama (if in fact such a place even exists), which should not be forced to serve as the default destination for the world’s assholes.  But I’ve got one coming for you who, even though she is in fact an asshole, is very pretty:

I’m talking about Giselle Bundchen.  God, what an asshole.  Why, you may ask, is Giselle Bundchen an asshole? It’s not because I am a Denver Broncos fan and her husband plays for the Patriots and Bill Belichek (perhaps the most dishonest coach in NFL history, but we’ll let that go), or that said husband is currently embroiled in Deflategate (although that might make him an asshole, too – pity the couple’s children)?  No, Giselle Bundchen should go back to Greenbow Alabama on her own merit entirely.  Let’s explore why:

Giselle is a staggeringly beautiful woman, probably one of the most beautiful women in the world (not why she’s an asshole).  She’s made millions of dollars as a lingerie model (also not the reason we don’t like her, although she is partially culpable for contributing to the objectification of women and the ridiculous standards of feminine beauty that persist even today), and she probably wouldn’t be married to fabulously handsome and talented quarterback who also makes millions of dollars if she weren’t a staggeringly beautiful lingerie model (againm not the reason she should be packing her bags and buying a plane ticket to the Deep South).

Here’s the reason why Giselle Bundchen is an asshole:  Every bit of her great good fortune is exclusively attributable to the magnificent stroke of luck of good genes—a fact that should be impossible for her not to appreciate given the fact that she has a TWIN SISTER who, though pretty, is nowhere near the goddess that Giselle is.  Giselle’s success and wealth and privilege are the sole result of being beautiful – something she had absolutely ZERO TO DO WITH.  Sure, she has to hold still while some photographer takes her picture, she has to know how to turn her head to just the right angle, and she has to be able to walk on really high heels while wearing a diamond-encrusted bra and panties and angel wings, and I am sure that’s just as hard as, like, working in the Pacific Northwest in January building a pipeline or laboring as a roofer in Miami in July.  But let’s face it – she’s lead a charmed life for no other reason—none—than that she’s gorgeous.  AND THAT’S OKAY.

What’s not okay – at least as far as I am concerned – is the shocking level of arrogance and insensitivity this woman exhibits just about every time she opens her mouth.  One of the things she said that drew some fire not too long ago was this:

“I did kung fu up until two weeks before Benjamin was born, and yoga three days a week. I think a lot of people get pregnant and decide they can turn into garbage disposals. I was mindful about what I ate, and I gained only 30 pounds.”

Now, any OB/GYN will tell you that pregnancy is not a license to eat everything in sight and that you should strive to eat in a healthy manner, and sure, we should all do that, along with drinking 64 ounces of water a day, walking five miles, and eliminating from our diet anything that isn’t whole wheat or made of kale.  But here are a few things I’d like to point out to Ms. Bundchen:  First of all, if your job depends upon you looking fuckable three days after you give birth, if your marketability is entirely contingent upon being able to bounce a quarter off your butt, then making sure you don’t gain excess weight during pregnancy may be slightly more important than those of us who make our living the old-fashioned way (you know…doing anything other than being a model).  For the rest of us trolls, it’s not quite so simple, especially since GB probably had (and has) a personal chef who made sure the food she ate while pregnant was low-calorie and delicious.  Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but I sort of think that anyone with the resources Miss Bundchen had available to her during her pregnancy is more likely to have access to the kind of pregnancy diet that puts no more than 30 pounds on your Victoria’s Secret body.

But Giselle was doing kung fu and yoga, and I guess I have to hand it to her that she made time for exercise.  When I was pregnant, I was wasting my time working a full-time job and taking care of other children, but yeah, kung fu would have been a good way to keep off those nasty pregnancy pounds.  Since Giselle’s an active girl, moreover, her childbirth “wasn’t even painful, not even a little bit.”  Because we all know that as long as you do kung fu and yoga during pregnancy, and as long as you eat right, you’ll have a painless delivery.

Giselle has also been very vocal about the importance of breastfeeding, and while I, too, am a huge advocate of this form of infant nutrition, I don’t think I would say something as insensitive as the following:

”Some people here (in the US) think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?’”

I haven’t read the ingredients list on a can of formula recently, and again, I’m a proponent of nursing, but what Giselle apparently doesn’t realize is that some women can’t breastfeed, including women who didn’t give birth to their children, or that sometimes, formula is the only option.  But Giselle thinks it’s important to breastfeed, so much so that she had a photo taken of her getting her nails done while someone combed out her hair and someone else applied her makeup, and all the while…she was breastfeeding! So, you know, if you can breastfeed while four people are teasing your hair and doing your eyeliner, there is absolutely NO REASON AT ALL why all the rest of us lazy moms can’t get off our fat, non-kung-fu’d asses to nurse our babies.  What’s that, you say – you have to empty the dishwasher and fold the laundry and drive your oldest to preschool? No excuses.  Burn those fucking yoga pants and stained t-shirt, put on your goddamned lingerie, blow out your hair, and look beatific while your gorgeous infant sweetly suckles at your breast.  We don’t care if you don’t have live-in staff to make you a lunch of boiled chicken and quinoa – suck it up!

If Giselle Bundchen had been born ugly, no one outside of her family would have ever heard of her, and she would have no platform for her hopelessly out-of-touch nonsense.  Since she’s sort of an idiot, I will say this in small words that her atrophied brain can comprehend:

When you have managed to attain such a stratospheric level of privilege based upon nothing more than having won a genetic lottery, you don’t get to sit in judgment of the rest of us mere mortals.  You don’t.

If, however, you want to continue to level your ridiculously out-of-touch opinions at the rest of us, here’s what you have to do first:  Fire your chef, maids, nannies, housekeepers, drivers, dressers, stylists, and personal assistants, move into a split level, do your own grocery shopping and scrub your own toilets, and then – maybe – you can tell the rest of us about how we should be exercising on our way in to the delivery room for our pain-free labor.  Until then, maybe you can limit yourself to criticizing your husband’s incompetent teammates, or maybe, maybe…you could GO BACK TO GREENBOW, ALABAMA!