Friday, June 11, 2004

When I Stop Complaining, I Get Disoriented

How do you write about something wonderful?

This baby is destroying my edge, the little edge I had which was pretty dull to begin with. Because this baby is so damn amazing that I have nothing sharp and witty to say about this baby.

What is it for a baby to be amazing? My husband and I often remark that for a baby to have baby superpowers seems remarkably easy. Just the fact that our baby can hold her head up really high while lying on her stomach marks her out as exceptional in many ways. For her to stand out at this point all she needs to do is say “Hey, waiter!” when we are getting bad service. If she could do this at ten weeks it would make headlines. Even snapping her fingers and hissing in the waiter’s direction would be a remarkable feat.

Yet this she cannot do. Like all babies she is helpless and could not find her way home in a cab even if given full fare and a tip. She could with a note pinned to her perhaps if the cabbie took it upon himself to carry her up the stairs and the directions were extremely exact. But that would be cheating. And still she is remarkable. Imagine watching the most beautiful sunset while eating the most delicious desert and getting the best backrub of your life. The pleasure of that is nothing compared to the pleasure of looking at my baby.

The other day I was asking the baby’s father whether his excitement over sharing the wonder of the baby was partly prompted over the fact that we now have something that many, many people covet, desire, drool over (when they aren’t being drooled on). For once, we are objects of envy. Normally, we are dragasses with a shoddy one bedroom apartment, a 14 year old car and growing potbellies. I used to be hot but even in those days I wasn’t followed about by admiring crowds, I didn’t make people reconsider what they were doing with their lives, I only occasionally evoked audible noises of admiration and I had reason to doubt the sincerity of those. My baby causes people to stop in their tracks, to cross the street just for one glance, to miss buses. They aren’t after anything—they just want to gawk or bask in the glow of the glory that is our baby.

Our baby is making and breaking up relationships. Our baby is giving people a reason to live. Our baby is transforming lives.

The baby’s father drives me nuts by trying to get each and every person to admire our baby. He tries to elicit compliments, opening the Baby Bjorn to give everyone a better look, dropping by the offices of people we never even knew that well, sending near strangers the url of the baby’s website. And this annoys me. But even more so than I, the baby’s father has rarely been the target of envy and desire. I used to own a convertible muscle car with the original interior and metal flake paint. The poor guy has only driven very old Volvos. So I cannot really blame him for flaunting her.

Nothing seems to diminish the joy and amazement this baby brought to us. The baby is now the center of all things and anything that is altered or lost in our lives as a result of the baby doesn’t matter unless somehow it affects the baby badly.

My world view is now babycentric. The first question I now ask is: how does this affect my baby? Global warming makes me shake with rage and fear. It may someday cause my baby to suffer. Abu Ghraib horrifies me but is also evaluated from the new babycentric standpoint. Can my baby no longer travel in the Middle East? Is my baby endangered by the righteous anger U.S. perfidy will cause? Then there are babies in general. All political events are first considered for their effect on the babies. Palestinian crisis? What about the babies displaced, made orphans, killed? Iraq? Afghanistan? Those bombs killed some babies and scared others. Just the fact that babies were made to cry is enough to fill me with outrage. But they didn’t just cry, they were hurt, they were killed.

Infant mortality—this is not just a number or rate. These are babies, toddlers, children that die. Dying for preventable reasons, because of poverty.

Do the people who are doing these things or letting them happen not have babies?

Worst of all is that sometimes I’m so happy that I forget that my flirtation with failure may turn into a shotgun marriage, a marriage that will involve living in a shack with no health insurance. Somehow I think that this baby changes everything, my dire predicament could not be so dire with a baby like this. Sometimes I’m so happy I could just sit there all day just playing with the baby, looking at the baby, forgetting everything but this baby, or even simply go on and on and on telling you about the baby, the baby, the baby.
Hey, here's something to help you get in the Reagan nostalgia mood:

"PRESS BRIEFING BY LARRY SPEAKES. October 15, 1982 . . .

"Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement -- the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?


"Q: Over a third of them have died. It's known as 'gay plague.' (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it's a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?

"MR. SPEAKES: I don't have it. Do you? (Laughter.)

"Q: No, I don't.

"MR. SPEAKES: You didn't answer my question.

"Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President -

"MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)

"Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?

"MR. SPEAKES: No, I don't know anything about it, Lester.

"Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?

"MR. SPEAKES: I don't think so. I don't think there's been any --

"Q: Nobody knows?

"MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester."

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Thanks for getting mad now, but where were you when you could have made a difference?

Sen. Leahy went after Ashcroft today:
Mr. Attorney General, your statement lists accomplishments of the Department of Justice since 9/11, but you leave out a number of things.

For example, of course the obvious, Osama bin Laden remains at large.

At least three senior Al Qaida operatives who helped plan the 9/11 attacks are in U.S. custody, but there has been no attempt to bring them to justice.

The Moussaoui prosecution has bogged down before any trial.

A German court acquitted two 9/11 co-conspirators, in part because the U.S. government and Justice Department and others refused to provide evidence to them.

Three defendants who you said had knowledge of the 9/11 attacks did not have such knowledge. The department retracted your statement and then you had to apologize to the court because you violated a gag order in the case.

The man you claimed was about to explode a dirty bomb in the U.S. had no such intention or capability, and because he's been held for two years without access to counsel, any crimes he did commit might never be prosecuted.

Terrorist attacks on Capitol Hill and elsewhere involving the deadly bioterror agent anthrax have yet to be solved, and the department is defending itself in a civil rights action brought by a man who you probably identified as a person of interest in the anthrax investigation.

U.S. citizens with no connection to terrorism have been in prison as material witnesses for chunks of time, and then, "Oops, I'm sorry," when what the Justice Department announced was a 100 percent positive fingerprint match turned out to be 100 percent wrong.

Non-citizens with no connection to terrorism have been rounded up seemingly on the basis of their religion or ethnicity, held for months without charges, and in some cases physically abused.

Interrogation techniques approved by the Department of Justice have led to abuses that have tarnished our nation's reputation and driven hundreds, if not thousands, of new recruits to our enemies to terrorism.

Your department turned a Canadian citizen over to Syria to be tortured. And then your department deported another individual to Syria over the objection of experienced prosecutors and agents who thought he was a terrorist and wanted to prosecute him.

Here's the full transcript from the Washington Post.