Thursday, October 05, 2006


Pat Benatar taught babyboomers’ babies—my generation—a thing or two. Benatar along with Chrissie Hynde, Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart, and Joan Jett were the hard rock chics of the late 70s/early 80s who took no shit, who railed against weak men and weak women, who were far from afraid of being called an angry bitch, and who helped shift, I believe, the gender paradigm to a more equitable position. These women blazed a path that allowed Madonna to do her thing, for Tina Turner to resurrect from the 60s, and for several other no-talent assholes to walk, stumble upon, or just crash and burn. Stunning audiences with a three-and-a-half octave voice, Benatar waged war against the very things she had to confront: abusive power, outdated stereotypes, and being told you can’t do what you can do. When we listened to the classically-trained Benatar downshift from operatic highs to grungy, raging howls, we heard Puccini arias meeting Led Zeppelin rifts. It was like nothing we ever heard before. The one lesson we learned from Benatar and her ilk was that if we were in a bad relationship, then get the hell out.

Why oh why are we in these bad relationships with our current politicians, the people whom we elect to represent us? As Bob Woodward’s latest book suggests about Bush and company, are we, too, in a catatonic state of denial? If so, can we ever wake up? Or is it more analogous to a question Dr. Phil often asks: if you had terrible food at a restaurant, would you go back again? Are we truly going “back again” for the same old shit-on-a-plate that made us sick the first time? Let’s face it: the answers to these questions are very scary, and, strangely enough, make a convincing case for viewing daytime soap operas as much needed therapy. Perhaps repeated witnessing of blatant melodrama might well lead us to the ugly realization that we are stuck in an awful relationship with politicians, and we need to get out.

Regardless of which side of the isle you are on, things aren’t going exactly well for us, the American citizens. Polls consistently show that both Republicans and Democrats desperately want a split from our current political relationships. It’s bad enough chimpy’s approval ratings fluctuate between below freezing—31 and a whopping 40 or so; Deferment Dick’s stagnate in the teens. This congress, who just gave itself another record raise and more days off, isn’t doing much better either. Their approval rating is in the toilet, and we should definitely flush. Rather than being responsive to the American people, they are more concerned with their own agendas, their lobbyist friends, and their sex scandals. You thought Bubba and Lewinsky were bad? This Foley scandal makes that sordid narrative look like an Aesop Fable.

But let’s take a look at why we should dump these chumps. The “main street” American economy continues to get ravaged by the “wall street” American economy; CEO salaries continue to skyrocket while the middle class hits the dirt. Our true earning power measured against steroid-like, Jose Consecoish inflation rates is lower than ever. Home-heating and gasoline prices, albeit on a convenient downswing for now, aren’t exactly helping matters. What will they be like in January? Health care costs are rising, while health care benefits are diminishing; we pay more for less. Education costs, despite one’s talents and achievements, provide a fast track for a lifetime of debt rather than a lifetime of opportunity. And our foreign policy should be more aptly called our Foreign Horror. Now reportedly under the scrutiny of Henry Kissinger, who, like something from an Edgar Allan Poe story, has crossed over from the dead, this policy continues to create bad relationships all over the fucking world. What are we pretending not to know?

One would think that a much needed break-up is in the air, or at least a deordorizing stick-up is. But just like all the abusive relationships we have witnessed in soap operas or in our own lives, some people just can’t help themselves. They rationalize; they justify; they try to explain that while they should flush the crap down the toilet, they would much rather allow it to stay around and stink up the whole place. Gives new meaning to the notion of something being rotten in Denmark, doesn’t it? But there are more important questions to ask.

Why as an electorate, are we willing to stay in these bad relationships when all the evidence convincingly shows that, well, we are in very bad relationships? Do we like the abuse because we’ve become so used to it? Why don’t we vote in our own best interest? Or do we need to be “smacked out of it” by Benatar and the Wilson sisters of Heart to tell these barracudas: You Better Run?

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