Monthly Archives: September 2010

You need to read this…

The GOP’s Purity Pledge

by Tunku Varadarajan

Sixteen years after the Contract With America comes its bastard child—the Pledge to America, an attempt by the party establishment to rein in the Tea Party and reassure us the elders are still in charge.

The Republican Party is at it again, nicking its own thumb with a keen pen-knife and offering up a Boy Scout promise to be good—improbably, paradigmatically good.

Sixteen years ago, we got a Contract With America, legalistic window-dressing for a promise to take ideological positions that were at bellicose odds with the first Clinton administration. It was, to be sure, an invigorating promise, but the execution of the promise was an unforgettable, obstructive disaster: The GOP, which became the Gingrich Obstructionist Party, was hoist with its own pseudo-contractual petard. Not to “shut down” government would have been in breach of contract, so they shut government down, and paid a price from which the party has not fully recovered.

This is a pledge designed to reassure us that we are back to Republican business as usual, to reassure us that the Republican Party elders are still in charge, even as Tea Party philistines clamor angrily at the hedgerow.

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Now, 16 years later, we have the bastard child of that Contract With America, dubbed, with a timorous desire to soften any unpleasantness of echo from 1994, the Pledge to America. From a Republican perspective, the blousy new name is a bad idea strategically, and rhetorically: It encourages one to ask why the Republican Party has fought shy of reprising the Contract theme. Are they embarrassed by their Gingrichist past? Are they eager to keep in purdah the calamitously degenerated former House speaker, now a mere (and unsavory) shadow of the revolutionary he was in his heyday 16 years ago? Are they afraid to revive echoes from their last, full-frontal, but ultimately backfiring, assault on a wobbly first-term president?

More broadly, one has to wonder whether this whole Pledge business is an attempt by the Republican Party establishment to impose hasty order on its rightward, Tea Party flank, which has threatened to pull the GOP into uncharted populist territory—territory that many independents might find daunting, and off-putting. By setting up a Pledge—a checklist, in effect, of what is or isn’t Republican—the GOP must hope to quiet the discontent among those who bucked the party line and voted (in the primaries) for the likes of Christine O’Donnell. The party is saying to its purists, in effect, that it has a Purity Test.

Much more amusing, for sure, and possibly quite deadly, would have been a Republican campaign that accused the Democrats of taking out a Contract on America, designed to kill off the country’s entrepreneurial spirit domestically, not to mention any sense of American exceptionalism abroad. Maybe that will come once the Pledge has been unveiled.

But the GOP is profoundly spooked by the ascent of the Tea Party and wants to ensure that no one will ever mistake Republicans for a rabble unfit to govern. So the party has decreed that it’s time for a message that has been approved… by the party—by John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, et al.—a manifesto that bears a Republican National Committee imprimatur.

This is a pledge designed to reassure us that we are back to Republican business as usual, to reassure us that the Republican Party elders are still in charge, even as Tea Party philistines clamor angrily at the hedgerow. The rebels, we are now assured, have been domesticated by institutional reason and good sense. The Tea Party wanted a Declaration of War. What it has got is a Pledge. The natural order has reasserted itself.

Tunku Varadarajan is a national affairs correspondent and writer at large for The Daily Beast. He is also the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and a professor at NYU’s Stern Business School. He is a former assistant managing editor at The Wall Street Journal. (Follow him on Twitter here.)

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Macy says “Hello” or “No more photos” YOU DECIDE

Just a quick vid of my new little girl either saying “Hello” or “No more Photos.”

Cute either way.

Gender Based Discrimination

Consider this hypothetical scenario:

You take an outing to the grocery store to buy food for your family.  Upon your arrival you see an empty parking spot RIGHT BY THE ENTRANCE.  Your mind screams, “SCORE!”  Your giddiness is smashed when you approach the parking spot and a sign reading “Reserved for customers who happen to be buying milk,”  staring you right in the face.  Your lactose intolerant body has betrayed you by its inability to digest a cow’s milk.  You curse your un-evolved stomach as you drive to the other side of the known world in search of a parking spot so you can feed your family.

HORRIFIC ISN’T IT.

As a new father, I am the victim of discrimination.  I, like all men, are discriminated against due to something that we can not control – our gender.  We men are not catered to when it comes to all things pregnancy.  When you have a spare 4 hours, enter your local book store and count all the books about being a good parent  that are written for women.  The next day when you have a spare 23 seconds, go back and count the books written for men who want to be a good parent.  It is a staggering difference.  You will find that many of the books written for women stress emotional bonding with your child coupled with research from years of child rearing.  The books written for men usually involve illustrations involving stick figures making less than happy faces while changing a diaper and some type of list.  The intellectual bias is staggering.  WAIT WAIT WAIT … men have earned this, haven’t they?  Raising a newborn is a woman’s job. Right?  Was that last sentence offensive to you?  It should be.  That feeling of “I KNOW YOU DIDN’T” that you are experiencing right now is what I felt when I saw this as I was pulling into a CHOICE parking spot yesterday.

I just needed milk, milk officer!

As I drove away to another spot, my mind would not leave this alone.  I mean why not change it to read “Stork Parking for New Parents and Mothers to Be”  Why choose to omit the father who is bringing his infant with him.  As I approached the doors, I decided to ask about that sign and what would happen if I, as a man, brought my infant to this store and dared to park my Jeep in that coveted spot.

Being a small town, I knew the woman who happened to be working when I came in.  With a smile, I asked about the sign and what would happen if I parked there with my new infant.  Flatly, she said, “nothing.”  Taken aback and shocked about the lack of penalty, I repeated the facts.  “So, I can park there as long as I have my kid with me.”  The reply was a firm, “Yep.”  I also asked the manager on duty, his comment was something similar to,” We at ___, want to provide the most comfort for our new mothers who shop with us…”  When he said the word “mothers” my eyebrow raised.  He saw the question coming, and said, “…and fathers.”  I thanked him and paid for my goods and went to my Jeep.

I looked at the sign as I drove away, and I felt worse.  Apparently, men who are fathers do not factor in the decision on what to have printed on signs that will be placed in front of stores nationwide?  They do not care if you, a man, park there but they will not nor even consider using a gender neutral word on the sign?  Are men such horrible parents to newborns that we aren’t even in the equation of consideration when it comes to preferred parking at stores?  Other places get it…

...again gender neutral

Gender Neutral...

…again gender neutral…

Why can’t men get the same billing in the parenting department?  Why do men get such a bad rap?  Has the world not evolved to the point that the man’s role in the parenting and care of a newborn is equal to that of women?

For instance, Canada

Some places get it.  Some fathers have ascended.  When will American men earn  respect of shop owners and corporate conglomerates and actually have a  DAD WITH CHILD PARKING sign considered?  I honestly think that those days are still far into the future.  Infants and newborns have a stigma attached to them.  Mothers care for the babies.  Men don’t. That very stigma is the cause of the discrimination I now face.

I don’t know what to do to combat the lack of respect that people of my gender face.  However, I do have an idea about what to do about those signs.

Vive la égalité!

Meet my new addiction

Macy Elizabeth Howell was born on 09/16/10 at 12:38 pm.  She weighed 6 lbs and 6 oz and was 19 inches long.

Of all the things I could say-  of all the things I have to tell you about, dear readers-  I am not going to distract you from looking at perfection.

Say “hello” to my new addiction.

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Fetal Monitoring and Uncomfortable Furniture

The wife has had 2 elevated blood pressure instances. I mean like WAY over her normal levels. Last Thursday, at our weekly checkup, our Dr. was concerned with the blood pressure score and admitted her to the hospital to do a biophysical profile that led to an overnight stay. Her bp levels were normal at every 30 minute interval. No sign of high bp at all. Odd. Very odd . Pregnancy induced hypertension??? Morning came and went and we were set home at 2pm with orders to collect urine for another couple hours and return it to the lab after 4:50. Everything was fine except my wife was put on bed rest for a week.

Fast forward to today. My wife was readmitted to hospital with extremely high blood pressure with rumors of inducing the baby floating around. Guess what, her bp is normal and baby has a avg heart rate of 147 bpm. Again I ask- pregnancy induced hypertension?

As she lays there in relative peace; I watch the readouts on the monitor concerning the contractions and heart rate sensors trying to predict the next contraction. (I’m getting better.) My wife is tough, smart, and brave – not to mention cute. That is what makes this time hard on me. I am powerless to truly comfort her, sure I can crack jokes and rub her back but that isn’t what she needs and I can’t give it to her and that sucks.

…sadly I say “Yes, it is.”

In my attempts to bring you good writing on important issues, I give you  Nicholas Kristof.  He is an OpEd columnist for the New York Times.  There are links to his blog, Facebook, and Twitter at the bottom of the post.  Click one and tell him “thank you” for writing this piece.  Open your brain and read.

Is This America?

Read the rest of this entry

An Upcoming Dad’s Nightmares

As “daddydom” approaches there are 2 main things that keep me up at night, haunting me like the ghosts of poopytime future.   They are so disgusting to think about that I can’t vocalize my uneasiness about them even to my wife.  There is one underlying commonality to all of them:   the baby’s “fluids”. The baby is going to leak erupt expunge distribute spread her bodily fluids in and on various things.  I know that is a definite aspect of my  future.  Like the soggy, gross sword of Damocles swinging over my head, I can do nothing but wait on its arrival.  HOWEVER, Knowing it is coming is no comfort when thinking about HOW it is going to arrive.

The thought of baby puke on my pants is not near as gut wrenching as… I dont know, maybe this:

Can you imagine that????  I threw up a little in my mouth when I saw that my nightly horror has happened to another soul…on film.   Speaking of throwing up in your mouth, that brings us to the other aspect of baby fear that I cope with.  Here is the other nightmare scenario:

The gag or dry heave is the worst autonomic reaction our bodies have.  It is a warning that our bodies send us to alert us to FOUL THINGS.  This diaper changing thing  is something that my friends at babycenter.com say will happen approximately 8-10 times a day.  That’s just the baby’s bowel movements.  I gag when my dog, a 5.5 lb Yorkie, poops on the floor.  My reaction to Macy’s diaper filling will be YouTube worthy I can only imagine.

Truthfully, I am semi-joking about the “nightmares.”  I am told that I will “get used to it.”  That, right now, does not sound like something I want to do, but something I have to do.  All joking aside, honestly, I want to learn to cope with the vile natural things that go with being a dad.  Even if they are horrendous to think about now.   These, like all things baby, will be learned as I go.

Oh thank you babycenter.com

So, my baby is still not a voting member of our society.  That being true she is still growing.  “How much is she growing?”  you may ask.  Well my answer is “I don’t really know.”  The wife gets vague and cryptic emails from http://www.babycenter.com concerning the baby’s progress.  Here is an exerpt from the latest indecipherable email along with my comments in RED.

Your pregnancy: 37 weeks

How your baby’s growing:

Your baby is now considered “full term,” even though your due date is three weeks away. If you go into labor now, his lungs will likely be mature enough to fully adjust to life outside the womb. That whole “adjust to life outside the womb” part is not some existential conundrum is it? (Some babies need a bit more time, though. So if you’re planning to have a repeat c-section, for example, your practitioner will schedule it for no earlier than 39 weeks unless there’s a medical reason to intervene earlier.)

Your baby weighs 6 1/3 pounds and measures a bit over 19 inches, head to heel (like a stalk of Swiss chard). How helpful is this info?  I can not calculate the BABY TO CHARD Ratio in my head.  I need to take a tape measure to the grocery store again. Many babies have a full head of hair at birth, with locks from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long. But don’t be surprised if your baby’s hair isn’t the same color as yours. WHAT? Dark-haired couples are sometimes thrown for a loop when their children come out as blonds or redheads, and fair-haired couples have been surprised by Elvis look-alikes. If my child looks like Elvis…We are gonna pimp that dude out! However, According to EVERY Maury Povich guest that I have EVER seen, when a baby dosen’t look like the daddy- IT ISN’T THE DADDY’S BABY! And then, of course, some babies sport only peach fuzz.

It may be harder than ever to get comfortable enough to sleep well at night. UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE UNIVERSE If you can, take it easy through the day My wife take it easy though the day…I laugh at you Baby Center— this may be your last chance to do so for quite a while. Keep monitoring your baby’s movements, too, and let your caregiver know immediately if you notice a decrease. Though her quarters are getting cozy, she should still be as active as before.

While you’re sleeping, you’re likely to have some intense dreams. Like my wife and Corey Haam skateboarding down Santa Monica Boulevard? Anxiety both about labor and about becoming a parent can fuel a lot of strange flights of unconscious fancy. So, your calm demeanor about this pregnancy is really a mask for the “unconscious fancy” swimming beneath your conscious like a bedazzled shark.

This piece of code brought to you by:  Baby GaGa

Fetal development in pregnancy week 37:

It’s the calm before the storm. Changes in your baby’s weight have leveled off with only a few ounces of fat added this week. At this point your baby should weigh in at around 7 lbs and 20 inches (with boys somewhat heavier and longer than girls). NO FOOD REFERENCE???  I AM LOST! Happily, as far as internal organs go, they are now developed enough to function in the outside world although the oh-so-important immune system is still developing and will continue to do so after birth.

My brain hurts…I am off to measure some vegetables…

Click here for more baby posts.


My new favorite read…

This world is over-run with half-talented people trying to be funny, smart, or different (like me, for instance).  However, there are often overlooked and under hyped pieces of manna floating in the internet abyss.  It is when you come across one of these oasises oasis’s oasissses nice places you want the world to know about how cool you are it is.  So, In the interest of sharing, I give you dear readers, OATMEAL. http://theoatmeal.com is created, maintained, and drawn by Matthew Inman.  Self described as:

I am a 27 year old web designer, web developer, and online marketer from Seattle, Washington.

That’s not all he is.  As I read through Oatmeal, I started learnign more about Mr. Inman and his accomplishments, Oatmeal aside.

Read this –> Quite Impressive

Oatmeal is the funniest, smartest thing I have ever come across in a long time. I am now a fan!

Those that know me and my completely rational reaction to spiders and spider paraphernalia can understand why this cartoon hooked me from the start!


I repeat- I am a fan of oatmeal.com.  You should be too.

As I sit here-I laugh. Thanks to Mr. Inman.

BONUS:

This Oatmeal page is another of my faves.

How to Suck at Facebook

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