Monday, September 15, 2008

Thanks for all the notes. I’ve already ordered “The Feeling Of Being Right” from Amazon and read the article on the preacher Bess on Salon. The thing that bothers me the most about Sarah Palin at the moment is not her tanning bed, it’s the comment I read about her utter lack of curiosity when it came to managing the city and then governing the state. She didn’t care about policy or respect people who were actually doing the hard jobs. She devalued all of it.

I’ve had to take Excedrin P.M.s every night for the last five nights. I am so angry at John McCain. I am so livid with him. He is so careless with our future and so desperate in his own ambition that he has thrown us, possibly, to the wolves. He knows better too. He used to the Republican that knew the dark side, and now he’s joined it. You would think people would get some perspective with age, but he got less of it.

My favorite thing is reading how candidates or candidate’s wives have to revise their “narratives” as new facts come to light. The one I have lately enjoyed is that Cindy McCain used to say that Mother Teresa was at the orphanage when she fell in love with her soon-to-be-adopted daughter, and now she has had to revise it to the orphanage being one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages because Mother Teresa wasn’t there. I read a lot about her drug addictions and how she got her pain killers. God, it’s so bad! It’s really so bad. I mean if this were a screenplay, I would be saying that we couldn’t make the other party be so bad, so completely bad, it would be too unbelievable. But this is real life!

Anyway, let’s get back to Sarah Palin’s lack of curiosity. That is THE unforgivable sin, I think. Bush is not curious either. Facts to these people are simply bits of information that can be used or discarded depending on what they want. There is no spirit of inquiry. There seems to be no true interest in learning anything.

Is it bad that I am gleeful about the banking industry melting down? I heard on Marketplace today that the Lehman Bros. CEO got 40 million dollars last year. They were lamenting pay structures that reward people based on profits over a very short period of time. The commentator was saying that these bonuses should be based on ten years or even twenty years of management that shows growth. The way it is now, there is no incentive to make the company profitable over a long sustainable timetable. That’s the Bush administration. That’s the Republican party right now, doing anything at all to win in the short term, screwing us all just to stay in power at any cost.

What about the morality of the media trainers who have surely been with Sarah Palin non-stop? I am so offended by the lack of morality of these people. Frankly, I am outraged. Why isn’t someone stepping forward? I don’t want to read the books that will be written years from now about these people saying, “Yes, Sarah was an idiot, I had to work with her non-stop to get her up to speed – even just a little bit. But I didn't know then how bad it was going to be.” It’s so immoral of them! Where are the Republicans who can’t stomach it anymore? Why aren’t they talking?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

That SNL opening Sarah Palin/ Hilary Clinton sketch last night was one of the best things I’ve ever seen on that show. They nailed it. It was everything it should be and more. I hope that sketch is YouTubed to oblivion and the message is actually heard! I hope every news show repeats it. I hope everyone watches it at least twice (I watched it three times in a row.) OHMYGOD, Tina Fey nailed that accent. I am having hope! Amazing, I am having hope for the country from an SNL sketch. But really, truly, I do I do I do.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The problem with accepting the general lack of intelligence of the public about politics and government is that you are left with feeling cynical. I accept that this is the trade off. Either I believe in the basic decency and innate intelligence of people and then am constantly upset and disappointed, or I think most people are idiots – get a better night’s sleep, but go on my dog walk in the morning and feel superior and cynical. I am not used to feeling this way. Of course I am painting this in extremes. But it’s unsettling.

I got a GREAT night’s sleep last night. I imagined John McCain in office. I tried to accept it in my mind as a possible outcome. Hey, I’d probably sell more copies of Letting Go of God! People’s righteous anger at the establishment would be fueled more with a Republican!

Hmmm… Sooooo not worth it.

And now I’m feeling slimey. I am not used to this cynical way of looking at things – at least not this DEEPLY cynical. I am going to try to take the weekend off from thinking about it.

For the first time I really, really wished I were still on SNL because Obama was going to be on it tonight. But now this is cancelled because of the hurricanes. Apparently he will still appear before the election. I loved the View ladies with McCain, although I thought they let him get away with way too much! They asked tough questions but then they let him spin it too far into his schpeel. He repeated the ridiculous assertion that Palin was referencing Abraham Lincoln when she spoke to her church about the war.

It made me fantasize about the moment when Palin’s media coach came to her with that idea. “You know, maybe you were really just referencing Abraham Lincoln at that church. He said we should be not be praying that God is on our side but that we are on God’s side.” I want to slow the camera down, I want her to blink in a close up. What went through her mind? Is this just a game to her? Did she have any moment of self-reflection at all where she thought – wow, that’s not what I meant, but that will sound good. Is there any cognitive dissidence at all? Is she aware that she’s lying? Is there any type of jerk inside her when she repeats this to people?

My husband says he doesn’t think people who are religious know the difference between praying that God is on our side and praying that we are on God’s side. Wow. Is that possible? He said, that’s the genius of Abraham Lincoln. People who actually understand the difference between those two things are probably skeptics. But it sounds appealing to religious people, it appears humble. OH!!!!!! I wish Charlie Gibson had asked her, “What is the difference to you between those two Abraham Lincoln statements about God?” THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO GREAT.

In any case, I was so proud of the View ladies. It just underscored how the media in general is so light handed. Everyone I know is talking like the View ladies are talking, and Jesus Christ, we are talking about the VIEW LADIES. These are main stream people!!! It was such a breath of fresh realistic air to have them asking McCain questions like they did, even if they didn’t follow up the way I wanted them to. Just that they were asking was jarring – we are not used to this on TV!

All right. I’m going to try to let it allllll gooooo today. And yes, of course I wish I were still on SNL and ten years younger and Tina Fey wasn’t there and I could play Sarah Palin. But Tina is going to nail it. I am so excited to watch tonight.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I was up a lot last night, AGAIN. Really, I am so overwhelmed and upset about this election, I can’t sleep. But I wanted to quickly point to a blogger on the Huffington Post that I stumbled upon at 3:00 a.m. that I felt was finally speaking honestly about what was going on and what Obama and Biden had to do to win. His name is Joseph Romm and he is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and also oversees this blog: I spent two hours reading everything I could but there are two posts he has that I think are really, really good. I just hope someone at the Obama/Biden campaign headquarters is reading it too.

At read Joseph Romm’s “Can Obama Win With Only Half A Message And Half A Ticket?” and another great one is “Obama and Biden Go Back To A Losing Message” written on September 8.

One thing that really struck me in the first blog was that he said a classic Democratic mistake is not realizing and accepting that the mainstream media is not going to police truth in any meaningful fashion. Their next mistake is thinking that the voters who matter now are ones that actually pay attention to traditional media. Basically Romm’s saying, the voters that need to be galvanized right now are not people who watch “Meet The Press.”

He goes on to explain how Obama and Biden have to come up with names for McCain and Palin that reveal the truth of their deceit and are easy to remember. He suggests Me-Too McCain or the Made Up Maverick, and Slick Palin.

I really became a fan of this guy Romm between 3 and 5 this morning. I went to his and read a lot of his stuff there too. Why did this make me feel better? I mean, he shouldn't be making me feel better because he’s saying really scary things, not only about climate but about how psychology works and who wins with what message and why. I think I felt better because he makes so much sense and he has a strategy that I think could work. He's about accepting the truth and winning and not wishing the whole game were different than what it is. When I take his ideas and play them out in my mind on the dumbest people I know, it seems like it might work!

I’m really tired of complaining about how unfair the media is handling the coverage of the candidates. I am tired of talking to people who feel just like I do. I only want to monitor things that actually might mean something in the end. And this guy is talking about accepting the media for what it is and what it does. But also about how, even on this totally unfair playing field, Democrats can win. Obama and Biden have to stop taking the high road. That doesn’t mean they should take the low road – it just means that they have to take a savvier, smarter road to the White House. They have to take McCain’s “Maverick” moniker and turn it back on him. “Me-too Maverick” is great! And it’s accurate. McCain has changed his positions on so many issues. “Slick Palin” is great too – and it’s true!

I want to stop giving all my outrage and energy to being angry about how uninformed the general public is about politics. That someone like Sarah Palin can even be popular indicates a seriously ignorant populace. But I am not complaining about that anymore, or I’m going to TRY TRY not to. It’s such a waste of time. So – the facts. People in America do not want complicated politics and they want easy to understand politicians who seem like they aren’t any smarter than they are. Okay. That sucks, but OKAY. I accept that. I am going to try to stop bitching about it. I want Obama and Biden to get more aggressive and more slogan-y, as much as it makes me cringe, they have to do it.

Oh, also - if anyone out there is not reading this already, I point to George Lakoff's article here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I can’t shut up about Sarah Palin and I have a blog so I guess I don’t have to.

So, I just watched a couple of clips from the ABC Charles Gibson interview with Sarah Palin. It’s going to be broadcast over the next few days. They have two clips up on the ABC website.

In the first clip Gibson asked Palin if, when McCain asked her to be Vice President, if she had any pause, and if in fact she felt ready to be – not just Vice President, but President.”

She said, “I do, Charlie” (It irritated me that she kept calling him Charlie – injecting the diminutive of his name over and over again. It began to feel belittling even if that is what everyone calls him.) Then he said, “You didn’t say to yourself, do I have the experience, the international experience to be President?”

Palin answered, “I didn’t hesitate. I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing you can’t blink. I am committed to reforming this country and victory in the war. You can’t blink and so I didn’t blink then even when asked to be his running mate.”

Okay. That SO reminded me of George Bush. In fact, in this interview, she seemed more like George Bush than ever. George believes in belief. He believes in confidence. He over-values readiness and willingness to take on “missions” and “wars.” He sees himself as a person who can stand tall and respond when God calls him. It’s very much derived from religion and the idea of being God’s servant, ready to act.

Furthermore, I don’t want a Vice President (or President) that doesn’t blink. That is a VERY SCARY Vice President. She thinks she’s singing her own praises, showing how quick to action and committed she is, but she’s really showing her lack of personal reflection and her inexperience. Especially now, after having a President who doesn’t blink for eight years, we see what not-blinking can do. It’s easy to feel called and ready to be part of a sports team or God’s army or something, but it’s very hard to make complicated international and national decisions. Religious material is full of stories where God calls upon someone and like Mary. The moral of the story is showing Mary’s willingness, her readiness. Saints do not blink. Soldiers do not blink. In those arenas you cannot hesitate. Not blinking probably made her a good basketball player.

But not a statesperson.

The second clip was about God and war. Gibson quoted herself back to herself at her church and said, “You said, ‘Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.’ Are we fighting a Holy War?” Palin remarked, “But the reference there is a repeat of what Abraham Lincoln said, that we are never to presume to know what God’s will is. And I would never presume to know that. And that quote is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln and let us instead pray that we are on God’s side.”

Okay. AGHHHHHHH. Okay. First of all, are we to believe that she knew about this Abraham Lincoln quote and that she meant to be referencing him? Well, I guess we are being asked to believe that, since that is exactly what she said. I find that remarkably hard to believe. First of all, what she said is nothing whatsoever like what Abraham Lincoln said. She said, “U.S. Soldiers are on a task from God.” That is not even close to saying that we should be praying that we are on God’s side. Does she mean that she meant to be dropping Lincoln's name in and just forgot to credit him? And then said something not even remotely like what he said????

She has learned well that way of just making associations in her response that have nothing to do with what has been asked her. In smarter, defter hands, this works well. To a certain extent, every politician must do this. But to me, it wasn’t artful and it was way, way too extreme.

Overall I got the feeling that she’s not very bright, although that does not seem to be a requirement for this particular position at this particular time. She doesn’t think and speak, she just comes out with the answers like a kid who has been preparing for a test and knows every answer and just how to say it beforehand. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad, I’m just saying she looks vulnerable to me. She looks like someone that could be quite interesting if the right reporter got a crack at her. She also, more worryingly, seems like someone who is not an independent thinker – both those things, not independent, and not a thinker. She gets by on charm and I think the press has got to get aggressive, certainly as aggressive as they were with Hilary and any other candidate.

Also, I have to say, I have hope. I think things could get very interesting in the next few weeks.
Okay, I feel better now. I am off obsessing about Sarah Palin, at least for now anyway. Now I am much more enveloped in the news that we have been carrying out clandestine operations in Pakistan without the government’s awareness. I’m trying to read more, but my knee jerk reaction is that Bush and his guys are those kids on the playground that just cannot solve any problem without hitting someone. I am fearful that something will happen before the election that will ensure a scared population running into the arms of it’s brave war veteran. Which reminds me, how about how McCain ended his convention speech like it was a rally of prisoners of war who just had to focus and overcome? That was weird. I could see why he was a person who survived in combat and a war prison. It was almost a maniacal look in his eye. But honestly, that is the last quality that we want in a president. And now he’s coupled up with a religious conservative. These are two scary ingredients in our increasingly possible presidential soup.

Yesterday I edited together (well, my editor edited, I sat and commented) the audience interviews that were done after the filming of “Letting Go of God” over a year ago. They are so good! I am so moved to have had people say such nice things. On the movie front, it looks like Showtime is buying the rights to play the film for a year and there will be a “premiere” during primetime (that means between 8 and midnight) sometime early next year. But in the meantime, I have the right to distribute the DVD on my own. Which means that finally nothing is stopping me but just getting it out there. I was planning to release it in November (at least in my latest calculations) but now I am going to try to get it out there as soon as I can. Maybe by mid-October. I am sorry there’s been so many ups and downs with this. I could write reams about the indie-film process, but I’ll spare you. Looks like a quiet little personal release and then when the film is on Showtime I will do national publicity then. Or I mean, try to anyway. Everything is so different than 10 years ago, it’s like a whole different world out there. I have gotten a few letters from people asking that the film have Spanish subtitles. This is a good idea, but may slow me down in terms of getting it out. My husband then suggested Latin subtitles, which made me laugh really, really hard. Latin subtitles!!!!!!!! That is hysterical. But jesus, now I have to find a Latinist. And all for the laugh of seeing the option on the DVD menu. But I think it might be worth it.

Okay, back to what I am not obsessing about. The most condescending thing about the Palin nomination is that McCain is banking on the fact that political and national and international problems are too complex to be simple. And Palin draws in the simple thinkers.

We did not evolve brains that easily grasp worldwide intangible problems. It’s not easy for us to see far into the future and far back into the past and check our emotions and behave rationally – at least not without discipline and effort. We evolved brains that loved gossip. And the thing about Sarah Palin, her nomination and what it did to me, is that I fell for it. I got caught up in the gossipy junior-high aspect of it, even in my outrage it was a qualitatively different emotional surge for me than the regular outrage I have about politics. It DID feel like I was in high school. Although I have to say, I don’t even think I did that in high school!

When I pass all the gossip rags at the newsstand, I always feel sad about how many of them there are, how acceptable it is for grown men and women to read them. And yet it worked on me. And on many more people than me, too. In a way it doesn’t matter if we hated her or loved her, we were drawn in – captivated, unable to look away, fascinated. Sarah Palin has drawn in a whole group of people who would otherwise not really care that much. And even among those of us who do care already, we were hoodwinked by the drama.

In any case, I am still reading everything, listening to everything, hoping against hope, calculating odds, the whole gamut. I guess to me that is not obsessing, it's just... intense interest. HA.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I am obsessed with Sarah Palin and that is probably exactly the wrong reaction to be having because it is exactly what THEY want me to be doing. What they want us all to do, obsess over this woman and forget that there is actually a real election happening.

I can’t write much tonight because I am beat and I need to write something cogent and at least logical. Now is not that time.

I cannot keep myself from listening to the radio news, reading every single thing that appears, and in between hyperventilating about it all.

I had a dream about Sarah Palin on the first night that she was announced by McCain as his running mate. We were all at SNL. Everyone was around the writer’s table: Jim Downey, Christine Zander, Al Franken, Dave Mandell, the whole group I knew so well. We were trying to crack a sketch about Sarah Palin.

The sketch was about Sarah driving a mini-van filled with her children. The child with Down’s Syndrome was in the front seat in a bassinette. The police began to follow her. Sirens roared. She was angry, she tried to elude them. She drove faster and began to curse the police in her rear view mirror. She said, “I’ll get you.” And then she put her finger on a red button right next to her seat. It was the button that started nuclear war. But then one of the police drove his motorcycle right up next to her driver’s window and yelled, “Your dress, it’s caught in your car door!” And she said, “Oh! Oh!” She pulled her finger off the red button. She laughed, how embarrassing, to have your dress caught in the door.

We knew this sketch wasn’t all that funny. It needed something. We couldn’t figure out what.

And that was over a week ago. There have been many sleepless nights and weird dreams since then.

I thought Sarah Palin was a joke at first. Then I thought it was great, McCain had thrown in the towel. He clearly didn’t care if he won or not. Now I’m angry. It’s so cynical. And condescending.

So much has been written about it. But there are some things that I particularly hate. I hated the way McCain said, “I can’t wait to introduce her to Washington” at the convention. It was so… I don’t know, fatherly. Or weirder, like a date would say about a hot chick he found and wanted to show off.

It’s strange to think that tomorrow it will be seven years since 9/11. We had the sympathy of the world. We had our dignity and morality too, pretty much. We could take the high ground. And all that reputation has been blown away. Squandered.

Here’s another thing I hate, I hate how Sarah Palin makes me feel. I hate my knee-jerk reaction to her. I hate that I have to talk myself back into appropriate responses.

For example, my first response to learning about her was that she should not be a Governor because she had five children, mostly young children, and had just had a baby with special needs. I am glad she was able to have that baby with Down’s syndrome if she wanted to and could afford to, emotionally and financially. But why isn’t she taking care of it? How could she be taking care of it?

I am embarrassed for having that reaction. Maybe it’s really about me. I have one child and I can barely work. I don’t know how mothers like her do it, I honestly don’t. Every working mom I know, I become obsessed with how they pull it off. I want to know the details. What about homework, what about school volunteering, what about lessons, what about problems with the lessons, how do you teach them about this or that.

Then it occurred to me that Sarah’s husband may be a stay-at-home husband. I was relieved, and angry at myself for thinking all those kids were just her responsibility. Clearly they had some system worked out. Clearly he was at home all the time.

No, he isn’t.

Then I was even angrier at myself. I had to talk myself down. So what?! So what!!! What if she is a great mom? What if she has a great nanny? And what if she isn’t? What difference does it make? Why don’t I think about that with guys? I admit it, I don’t. I feel terrible about this. I really think that women should work and be parents in whatever way they can manage. But I had to talk myself back into my higher, feminist self. Or… now that I’ve brought up the word feminist – what the hell does that mean anymore?

When her daughter was revealed to be pregnant, I thought – Oh, now she will drop the hockey mom part of her speech because, god, it’s so embarrassing. She’s a hockey mom and her daughter is pregnant by a high school drop out hockey player. You know what the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is? Pit bull’s daughters do not get knocked up by hockey players. But no, Sarah kept using that line – that lipstick line, that line that is apparently now branded to her so that anyone else referencing lipstick in any way must be referring to HER. A

I just hope I come down off this crazy roller coaster that McCain has sent me on. It was deliberate, diabolical, daring and it has worked, absolutely.

All day today I was thinking, “Ladies, Sarah Palin is not our friend.” I am astonished it has gotten me so deeply. I would never EVER have predicted that. I am aghast at McCain’s cynical, political and yet oblivious choice. I am holding my breath until November 4.