OK, OK, I know: Too much bitching about winter this year. But now that we’ve finally had a few days of thaw, when all of the season’s accumulated trash and dog crap and uncollected leaves are daring to emerge — let’s call it The Season of Muddy Paws — guess what’s in store for tonight?
At this point, I’m too numb to complain. And I’m not entirely convinced this will even arrive; seven inches just feels like garden-variety sky-is-falling weather terrorism at this point, but who knows? I’ve been getting up early to exercise the last couple of weeks, and I’m setting the alarm. Swim today, spin tomorrow. It’s good to start your day knowing you already got the physical jerks out of the way. (EDIT: I turned off the alarm and slept another hour. Not sorry I did, either.)
Yes, it’s another of my occasional flirtations with the pool. It’ll be the best thing ever until it isn’t anymore, but I’m paid up at Kate’s old middle school to swim twice a week for half an hour through the middle of June. Gotta get my money’s worth.
So. The internet exploded yesterday when the video of the president meeting with Zach Galifianakis dropped. You can watch it here if you weren’t one of the 7 million who watched it yesterday. I will cop to laughing, mainly because I’m a longtime fan of public-access television, and “Between Two Ferns” is a better parody than “Wayne’s World” by a long shot. I thought the only thing that could have made it funnier was a piece of freestanding lattice with a light aimed at it, casting shadows on the seamless paper behind them, because Depth. My earliest instruction in television, at WARL, my high school’s closed-circuit station, included lessons in how to add depth to the set, and if ferns weren’t involved, ficus trees were, and yes, there was a lattice. So already I’m giggling, and then the pixelated graphics came up, and without the president opening his mouth, I’m pretty much in his pocket.
Of course, not everyone was. According to Wonkette, Jim Avila of ABC News asked this question at the daily White House press briefing:
“How much discussion was there in the White House about the dignity of the office and whether or not, in order to reach these people who don’t watch us at 6:30, or who don’t watch this briefing … how much the dignity of the office might be lost? This is an interview like no other probably ever done by a president.”
When all else fails, invoke the Dignity of the Office, yes. Because Bill Clinton never played sax with Arsenio Hall, and George Bush didn’t walk an aircraft carrier flight deck in a jumpsuit– or should I say junksuit? And never mind the nominees — Bob Dole in a Viagra commercial and all the rest of it. Yes, by all means, sitting down with a comedian is leagues different from sitting down with Jay Leno, because he’s practically like David Frost, right?
I liked the plaintive little line about “these people who don’t watch us at 6:30,” too. I haven’t watched network TV news in probably decades. It’s not just the kids, Jim.
That Wonkette post includes a great visual punchline, which I encourage you to check out.
OK, so what else? I see a few of you picked up on Neil Steinberg’s excellent blog yesterday, but if you don’t read the comments, you missed it, so click. It’s a second-day column on the reader reactions to his first-day column about guns. Word:
This is, at bottom, a religious issue, if not religious, then certainly a matter of faith. Their faith is not in law, not in God, not in society, but in guns. There is certainly a religious fanaticism to all this. It’s a passion, almost sexual in nature. No wonder they don’t want anyone drawing attention to it. They are like onanists caught in the act, blustering through their embarrassment, hurt and humiliation, shouting at the intruder. Go away. So faith and a kind of twisted psycho-sexual fixation. Guns give comfort and security to people who obviously sorely lack both. You can’t argue that. Guns are owned by people who feel they need guns. I know gun owners on my block. Lots of guns. Yet we live in the same peaceful place. We’ve talked about it. Nobody is going to yank that blankie from them. One reader wrote to me that Obama was to blame for the sale of 100 million guns, and I wrote back asking why, given that he has done absolutely nothing to restrict gun sales and no rational person believes he ever will.
And the reader said, not realizing how right he is: yes, but they were afraid he might.
My favorite silly blog, Animals Talking in All Caps, took a months-long break a while back, while its proprietor moved to Scotland and began a new life there, but it appears to be back, oh it’s back and it’s so, so wonderful.
Also, don’t miss Ta-Nehisi Coates on the singular gall of Condi Rice and especially — especially — Emily Bazelon, who read the briefs in support the Hobby Lobby birth-control case so the rest of us don’t have to. These people are out there, folks:
The Beverly LaHaye Institute, the research arm of Concerned Women for America, drives home this point, arguing that the government should have considered:
the documented negative effects the widespread availability of contraceptives has on women’s ability to enter into and maintain desired marital relationships. This in turn leads to decreased emotional wellbeing and economic stability (out-of-wedlock childbearing being a chief predictor of female poverty), as well as deleterious physical health consequences arising from, inter alia, sexually transmitted infections and domestic violence.
And so, as the AFLC argues, contraceptives of all kinds aren’t medical or related to health care at all. They are “procedures involving gravely immoral practices.” Protected sex demeans women by making men disrespect them. (Just as Pope Paul VI did decades ago, the AFLC presents this as true inside marriage as well as out.) By separating sex from childbearing, birth control is to blame for the erosion of marriage, for the economic difficulties of single motherhood, and even for the rotten behavior of men who beat their girlfriends and wives. Birth control is the original sin of modernity. Its widespread availability changed everything, for the worse.
Whew. I’ve known some anti-birth control activists in my life. An amazing number had fertility problems in their own marriages. Not too Psych 101 there at all.
The week is at its midpoint! The snow? We shall see..