Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Live and Learn – or Not

Did you catch the Greta Van Susteren interview with Bristol Palin?

Oh, don’t look at me like that, I live in Alaska. I was curious.

I’ve got no intention of judging this girl, one way or the other. There’s been more than enough of that over the last couple of months. Hard enough for her being an unwed teenaged mother, but to get thrust unwilling into the national spotlight and to become fodder for the nattering Nancy Graces of the world, well that must be pretty damned lousy indeed and I’m not going to contribute to it.

I did find her interview, what there was of it, interesting though.

She hit me as an overwhelmed teenager caught up in events beyond her control – which basically sums up being a teenager in the first place – and someone who is very much determined to become her own person without alienating or offending her own family and powerful mother – which again, pretty much sums up being a teenager.

Of course, the only reason Bristol Palin is still in the news is that she is the only 17-year old to ever do something dumb. Sure as hell I never did anything stupid or ill considered as a teenager. Nope.


Oh, well, Ok. It’s actually because her mother is Sarah Palin, neocon Governor of Alaska, former neocon VP candidate, and advocate of abstinence only birth control – and in the minds of many the fact that Bristol got pregnant is just such sweet sweet irony.

Meh, whatever. Irony, it happens – though I do admit to a certain degree of amusement myself.

When asked about birth control, Bristol replied that she thought abstinence was the best option, but she didn’t think it was realistic.

You know, I can dig it.

Certainly abstinence is the best course of action, for a lot of reasons – just as honesty in our politicians is the best course of action. However, neither one is either likely or realistic, and you are a fool if you’re depending on either teenaged self-control or the veracity of politicians.

Making bad choices, failing to anticipate the consequences of your actions, being driven by your hormones and caught up in the moment – these are all part of being a teenager. Being a teenager is about dreaming big dreams, about seeing colors and hearing sounds and entertaining options and passions that adults no longer feel. Being a teenager is about pushing boundaries. The problem is sometimes when you push at boundaries they break, and way too late you discover why those limits were put there in the first place. Most of us live through it and become a little smarter. We learn where the edges are. We learn that we’re not immortal. We learn the difference between wishful thinking and reality. Eventually, we learn wisdom.

Most of us.

Sadly, of course, some don’t live through it. And even more sadly, some live - and yet fail to learn.

Bristol Palin herself appears to have gained a modicum of wisdom – teenaged abstinence-only birth control may be desirable, but it’s just not realistic.

Unfortunately for Bristol, her mother is a leader in a group of people who haven’t learned. A group of people who should be wise but sadly are not, who still can’t tell the difference between wishful thinking and cold hard reality – even when their own children are victims of that foolishness. Sarah Palin still believes that abstinence only birth control is both desirable and a realistic option despite some rather obvious evidence to the contrary within her own family, despite national statistics, despite provable and repeatable data, and despite the overwhelming number of unwed teenaged pregnancies here in Alaska. This is a pattern with Neocons – they believe tax breaks,especially for the rich, are some sort of universal panacea, despite obvious and plentiful evidence to the contrary. They believe the Earth is 6000 years old, or maybe 10,000, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They believe that war is the answer, always. They believe sexual orientation is a “choice.” They believe monitoring Americans somehow helps us prevent terrorism from abroad – or even from within. They believe in the power of prayer. They believe in the Bush Doctrine.

They believe in a lot of things.

But they’ve learned very little.

Perhaps their children will do better.


  1. This is a pattern with Neocons – they believe tax breaks,especially for the rich, are some sort of universal panacea, despite obvious and plentiful evidence to the contrary.

    The GOP Problem Solver (via Making Light)

  2. That's hysterical, Mensley. Thanks.

  3. GOP Problem solver:
    What is your biggest problem?
    Me: I need a full-time job.
    GOP: The solution to your problem is a $32,955 tax cut.
    Me: That doesn’t make sense
    GOP: Then the terrorists win

    Hey, I'll take that tax cut, it would solve a whole lotta issues right now.


  4. Oh, wait, just thought about something...
    I was receiving unemployment a good part of last year...and they TAX your unemployment payments.

    I can't win.


  5. I think anyone who got any airtime because of the OJ Simpson trial should have been barred from any further television appearances. And don't get me started on Nancy Grace....

    What I can't get is how some of these talking heads, who get blasted apart by the mainstream media, then suddenly become their darling favorite once they're out of the shooting gallery. I mean, I see Gingrich on the tube more now that he's out of Congress than I ever did when he was in it.

    I look back at some of your older posts about the GOP, and I wonder where they lost the way. I think it must have been laying their keel with the religious right's plank, but you'd still think certain old-fashioned values that they originally were known and respected for would have come along for the ride.

    Sorry. Cranky. How much do I need to be making to qualify for all these wonderful tax cuts? I'm likely going to entertain a few job offers before going over the ten year hump, and I want to see if I can be part of the problem and still gripe about it. :P

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  7. I don't think the problem here is with the Neocons, I think it's with you believing the public justifications for their actions when the real motives are something else. No birth control, a strike against feminism and free sex. Tax cuts, attempts to reduce the size/kill government. That's the real agenda. All the other crap is what they say to make their ideas more palatable or at least seem "mainstream" when they are radical fringe concepts.

    Or as Inigo said (who was it that was tired of Princess Bride quotes?) "You keep saying that (phrase). I donna think it means what you think it means."

    Vettriano222, when George Sr. refused to oust the social conservatives/religious right from the party, or at least relegate them to the fringe they came from, that's when I left the republicans (yes, I voted for Reagan and Bush Sr., the first time, I voted to Bill the next time). Since then the Democratic Party has won me over with their arguments and big tent. Now I'm a standard bearer for them. In reality, I didn't change my personal politics too much, just like Justice O'Conner I'm a realist/pragmatic/centrist fiscal conservative, my former party has just moved to far to the right to realize that my values were their values (although O'Conner is farther to the right than I am).

  8. That's kind of my point, Steve. To turn the phrase back round, I donna think (the term) means what they think it means.

    By they, I'm not really being all too specific, as I'm grabbing a fairly big paint brush. When you bring things down to a twenty second soundbite, like what Jim was talking about February 4th, nobody knows what anything really means. Now, I'm not saying the NeoConservatives have decontextualized themselves, but between all the plug-and-play contextual dogfighting, a mainstream media catering to the lowest and most excitable denominator, and politicos with the moral and/or ethical flexibility of an Olympic gymnast, I think somewhere we've all lost the thread.

    I'm not saying you don't know the term's meaning, nor am I stating a level of ignorance. What I'm saying is that the term NeoCon in common usage has had its denotative usage behind amidst a flurry of context-driven dissemblings. Whether these were forced on it by a spoonfeeding media or misappropriation of the movement's flag to justify opposing agendas is a case-by-case tarpit.

    And I agree with you, a great many of the people (I was too young to vote for Reagan)who supposedly "jumped ship" actually didn't do any such thing; the ship left them and moved into completely different waters. But it's all relative to one's own perspective, I suppose.

    What troubles me most is that most basic of business concepts, that competition is good for the customer, and the state of the GOP at this point in time. I agree with you that they've gone high and right with their agenda, but I think it's in America's best interest that they recover. Otherwise, we're looking at a two party system with one party just playing the antagonist, and that doesn't bode any better for America, either.

    Churchill said that democracy was the worst of all forms of governments, except for all the others that have been tried. While I think he was a bit cynical and likely a few sherries into the evening when he said that, it does apply just as well to the two party system we presently have here. In order for things to improve, I think we need the Republicans to sort themselves out and get their stuff in one sock, whether we support their agenda or not. It's just what's best for the business of America. Sadly, I don't see that happening, just the same tired mistakes with some new faces making them.

    But I could be wrong. And hope I will be.


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