Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sarah Palin Back on TV -- What's the Harm?

I have a new post up at Ms. Magazine's blog (my first!). Here's an excerpt:
Discovery Networks’ announcement of its newest acquisition, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, a documentary series hosted by the state’s former governor, left me feeling conflicted. On the one hand, any mention of John McCain’s running mate provokes involuntary full-body shudders. I spent the presidential election campaign in a state of anxious high alert, wondering what Gov. Palin would say or do next. Wondering, in other words, what further platforms she’d find to display her homophobia (I’m sorry, tolerance for gay and lesbian lifestyles) or to pontificate about being staunchly anti-choice.

On the other hand, should her appearance on something as innocuous as an 8-hour Alaskan travelogue “told by one of the state’s proudest daughters” (according to Peter Liguori, chief operating officer of Discovery Communications) really inspire angst? What’s the harm if Palin coasts on her fifteen minutes of fame a little longer? She certainly wouldn’t be the first politician to delay her inevitable (hopefully) ride into the sunset.

But here’s the root of my unease: Despite the fact that the series will likely have nothing to do with politics, the idea of Sarah Palin’s Alaska isn’t innocuous.
Read the complete post (with links and photos and videos!) over at Ms.!

By the way, Ms. only just launched its blog a few weeks ago, and they have an excellent group of bloggers posting every day on a wide variety of topics. Take an hour to peruse the entire blog and/or add it to your feeds!

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care Bills and Protests

The health care reform bill just passed, and there's a bunch of unhappy people all over the country.

I won't pretend to understand the issue completely (I got bored and stopped following it closely a long time ago). But if the summaries are correct, (and the CBO is accurate, which seems reasonable), we'll get a moderate reduction in the deficit, some new taxes for the rich and people who use tanning salons, some decent subsidy expansions for low-income people, and some mild tweaks to medicaid and medicare. All quite undramatic, really.

All of which makes the protests quite bewildering.

However you look at it, this is not a new health care system. It's certainly not a single-payer universal coverage system. It's not going to allow the government to regulate the industry tightly, and it's not abolishing medicare/caid.

For that matter, the bill barely even falls under the reform category. I daresay what most feminists wanted (behind expanded reproductive coverage, which we couldn't possibly have gotten) was to ensure that single mothers, children, etc. were guaranteed health care - we didn't really even get that. The improvements we did get still filtersthrough the current (read, insanely complicated) system, which is doing a mediocre job at best. Hardly a dramatic victory.

Is it better? Probably. Will it hurt anybody? Probably not. And yet, the protests continue - "the worst piece of legislation ever presented to Congress!" as one radio program I overheard recently trumpeted.

I know a young man - twenty-something years old - who is the stereotype of the teabagger. He's white, decently educated, from a middle class background, rather (if unconsciously) racist, slightly sexist (openly), and republican as they come. He hates health care reform. Thinks it's going to give medicine to all the damn illegals (what a tragedy....) And everyone else needs to earn their own health care, dammit!

Except - he doesn't have insurance worth speaking of. He doesn't make much, his employer doesn't provide a decent plan. And if his girlfriend gets pregnant, she be in the system with the rest of them. All of which seems entirely lost on the man in question.

This doesn't prove anything, of course, but I suspect that there are thousands more just like that. They're protesting, not because the health care reform will actually hurt them, or the economy, or anything else, but just to be protesting - their lack of continued dominance over society, perhaps. Or simple racism, sexism, obsession with traditional family values. Something.

I'm not sure what, exactly (general fear - probably). But it's very strange, and rather frightening.

(Crossposted at Constant Thoughts)

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