Living on an alien planet can be difficult sometimes. It requires work and effort. Every afternoon, I turn on the news and try to figure out what is going on around here.

The news anchor swivels his eyestalks as he lectures his audience. “On our planet, we believe in having as much freedom as possible,” he explains. “That’s why the clerk in Kentucky is keeping same sex couples from getting married…she’s doing it in the name of freedom.”

Okay, so that makes no sense. But hey, different lifeforms and all that, right? And what kind of strange name is Kentucky, anyway?

I keep watching, but it doesn’t get any better. An interviewer shifts herself and her low-cut dress towards the camera, so that we can more clearly see the cleavage of her five breasts. “Ooooh, is that really your answer?” she chirps. “You wouldn’t terminate your female partner’s pregnancy even if it meant ending her life? You would watch her die?”

“Oh, certainly! I will always stand in defense of life.”

“Well, blirpity blorpity, Senator!” she giggles.

This is becoming hopeless. Now, snippets from a press conference. A truly strange creature with a bizarre growth on its head leans into the microphones.

“The Latinos love me!” it yells. “The Mexicans, they love me! Just last week, I gave one of them a $10 tip, and he said to me…”

Is there no intelligence to be found out here?

It’s almost a relief to see the televangelist lifeform flail its tentacles up to the sky. “He’s coming back!” it screeches. “He’s coming back and when He does, everyone who didn’t listen to my warning will get TOSSED into the lake of fire!”

The lake of fire sounds preferable to this insanity…I hope I get tossed in there soon. To borrow a phrase from this crazy tribe, amen.

I’ve never been one to hide the fact that I find the libertarian point of view to be annoying and unrealistic. But now, there is a new kind of person which irritates me even more than libertarians: People Who Pretend To Be Libertarian.

Yep, a lot of folks out there are faking being a libertarian. Whether it’s because they’re desperate to appeal to a changing demographic, or because “libertarian” has become the latest trendy term to fling around, like pretending to be a geek. How can you tell they’re not genuine? It’s the “I’m libertarian, but” phenomenon.

“I’m a libertarian, but I’m against gay marriage.” “I’m a libertarian, but we shouldn’t legalize marijuana.” This statement is then followed by some flimsy excuse about why, even though “I’m all about liberty!”, this particular freedom shouldn’t be allowed. Well…okay. So…hate to break it to you…you’re not a libertarian. The one redeeming value of the chaotic, might-makes-right libertarian vision of society is that you’re supposed to be completely free to make your own choices about how you live your life. If you reserve that right only to the people whose preferences match yours, and do not grant others that freedom, then the entire point of this concept breaks down. If you want the country’s laws to be based on the Bible, then we’re not in a libertarian universe anymore. Mind you, you can base your personal life decisions on the Bible if you wish, but the moment you try to force that on others, you are no longer a libertarian.

No, if you want to outlaw abortion and ban gay marriage, then you’re just a same old, same old religious conservative. I get it, you want to call yourself something else, because these days, being a conservative Christian is considered kinda lame. But your disguise is see-through. If you’re really a constitutional conservative, traditional on social issues, then own that. Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

Because political labels come and go, but one thing remains the same–posers are never cool.

It’s a lazy, rainy Saturday over here, and I’ve been listening off and on to CPAC speeches.  Some observations:

Michele Bachmann:  still as grating as ever.  She wants us to build “that dang fence”.  Good luck winning over the Latino voters.

Dr. Ben Carson says that of course gay people should have “the same rights,” just not “extra rights” like marriage.  Um, no.  If I have the right to marry the person I’m attracted to, and a gay person has the right to marry the person he/she is attracted to, that is the SAME right.  Now, giving yourself the authority to tell other people what they can do with their relationships–there’s an “extra” right if I’ve ever seen one.  Dr. Carson says he wants the right to put what God says ahead of what man says.  Well, God said all kinds of interesting things about stoning all kinds of people to death.  Good luck winning over the millennials with this stuff.

Still not sure why Kesha’s “Die Young” was played after Newt Gingrich’s speech.  Did the speech make people suicidal?  Trying to attract the teenybopper crowd?

Ann Coulter did her thing and she also does not show much desire to appeal to the Latino voting block.  Her favored solution to the immigration problem is self-deportation.  She says that after all, the immigrants who came over the border knew perfectly well that what they were doing was wrong!  Ever ponder why people might be desperate enough to do something they knew was illegal?  But no, not a twinge of compassion in Ann’s face.  She says that if amnesty ever happens, it’s “game over” and it’s “time for death squads for the people who wrecked America.”  Lovely.  Moving on…

Mike Huckabee–yep, still talking about Benghazi.  It’s obvious they’re getting ready for 2016.  Now just pull out Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress and they’ll be prepared.  Good luck winning over the non-conspiracy theorists….

So, do the conservatives actually want to win upcoming elections?  That remains to be seen…I’ll keep watching.

Toddler beauty queens.  Families which think that spawning nineteen babies is a great idea.  Gator hunters from the swamps.

See a pattern here?  Yes, I disagree with the Duck Dynasty guy’s views on homosexuality.  But the purpose of these characters is to be freakish.  The TV channels which rely on these shows for ratings scour the darkest recesses of this country and dig up the bizarre and the shameless.  And we’re supposed to be shocked that they have backwards opinions?  About a year ago, Michelle Duggar–of 19 Kids And Counting fame–made a speech at an evangelical conference in which she gave tips for being a more obedient wife.  Seriously…this is the kind of thing we should expect from this crowd.

More importantly, why should we care what these reality “stars” think?  It turns out Honey Boo Boo is in fact in favor of gay rights–so what?  This is still Honey Boo Boo we’re talking about.  Since when do we care what the circus sideshow thinks about marriage equality, or any other issue?  I guess we do now, and that makes me far sadder than anything Phil Robertson will ever say.

So, one argument I’ve been hearing a lot this week from those who oppose same sex marriage has been that traditional marriage has “worked” for thousands of years.  I have to wonder what “working” means in this case.  If by “working” we mean just “continuing the human species”, then yes, we have done that.  I suppose that continuing to exist can be a success in itself.  But has traditional marriage truly been an effective way of living life?  Women, in particular, have held a shitty and repressed role in marriage for all those glorious thousands of years.  Has traditional marriage worked for them?  Many married human beings have spent their lives being miserable and unfulfilled in those marriages.  It almost makes me wonder if gays and lesbians really want to be a part of the marriage train.

But the basic truth about marriage is that it’s an economic contract.  That is what it has been about for straight people for centuries, with romantic love only being a recent addition to the mix.  That’s why most of the arguments in favor of same sex marriage have been about money, and rightly so.  And about the simple desire of people wanting to be treated like everyone else, which is completely understandable.

I see no good reason not to expand the definition of marriage to same sex partners.  I also can’t help but question the “sacred institution” of marriage itself.  Hopefully we can continue to re-invent our institutions and traditions in ways that make our lives happier and more fulfilling.

Whenever I end up feeling like a jaded and discouraged old (or at least middle-aged) woman, hearing about the Millennials gives me hope.  Thank God for young people.  This new generation is more racially diverse than ever.  They don’t see gay marriage as a problem.  They’re used to women having influential positions and successful careers.  They’re more likely to be skeptical of religious institutions, and to be spiritual rather than religious.  They’re more likely to be vegan or vegetarian than people of other generations–I’m not vegetarian myself, but deeply admire the motivations which lead a person to make that choice.

They will also probably become more conservative as they get older, just as every other generation does.  But that is the essence of the life process–by the time the Millennials get too old and crusty, new kids and new ideas will enter the scene.  All I know is that the last thing I want is to get stuck in some static version of “the good old days”.  Let my faded nostalgia get washed away by the flow of life, as it deserves to be, and in with the new.

There has been much doubt and questioning of President Obama’s religious faith, even though he has professed many times to be a believing Christian.  According to some critics, he doesn’t go to church often enough, doesn’t flaunt his religion enough, and has made the serious mistake of not using the phrase “born again”.

As far as his Christianity goes, I will have to take the President’s word for it.  But I have to say that I’m okay with having a man in the White House who is uncertain about his beliefs once in a while.  And as someone who also worships the Divine, I’m grateful to God for saving us from those who are too confident about their faith.  I fear the people who think they have a personal phone line to God, those who are so sure that God shares their opinions, they believe that anyone who disagrees is lost and has to be forcibly rescued.

So thanks be to God for protecting us from those who are too sure of themselves.  Those who are so sure of what a woman’s place in this world should be, they are willing to tell women to surrender to their nature.  Those who are so sure they know that life begins at conception, they would put their signature on a bill which would outlaw even certain forms of contraception.  Those who are so sure that love can only exist in one form, they would forbid any other kind of it.  Those who know that this world was meant to be a special gift from God just for them, so that they are free to bomb people in other countries, kill off animals and use up its resources as they wish.  And of course, those who are sure that the poor and sick and weak are guilty of some sin which caused them to be in that situation–not being confident enough, perhaps?–so they have permission from God to be completely merciless to them.

President Obama is by no means perfect, and I’m not always happy with his policies.  My own liberal views turn out to be flawed and incorrect sometimes.  And that is why I would rather have someone in office who is imperfect and realizes it, than a perfect believer who doesn’t realize the size of the beam he’s got in his own eye.

Recently, a woman in Seattle named Babylonia Aivaz decided to marry an old warehouse to keep it from being demolished.  While this seemed like a wacky idea to me at first, she made a really good point.  She said:  “If corporations can have the same rights as people, so can buildings.”

She’s right—it’s only logical!  And now she’s got me plotting.  Is there a way for me to get married to a multi-million-dollar corporation?  This would pretty much solve…well…ALL of my problems.  But how do you do it?  Do I send in an application like I would for a job?  Do I have to wait for a corporation to propose?  (I’m assuming the corporation buys the diamond ring, because…I mean, c’mon.)  Then again, what proof does anyone have that a company hasn’t proposed to me already?  How did Babylonia know that the warehouse wanted to be married to her?  Communicating with inanimate entities requires a little bit of telepathy. 

There will be a few complications to be resolved.  The biggest issue, of course, is that I already have a boyfriend.  To make matters worse, he’s quite wonderful, so I don’t exactly want to give him up.  No worries, though!  If we have learned anything about the romantic habits of capitalism, it is that a corporation will have no problem with an open relationship. 

Then there is the whole “traditional marriage” concept.  Those of us who believe in marriage equality have had difficulty just trying to persuade the paragons of morality who dwell in our midst to allow unions between two consenting adults.   Public referendums about gay marriage have gone down in defeat.  So what chances does an even more unconventional idea like mine have?  Actually, they’re not bad.  Since the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people in the Citizens United case, I have not heard about any referendums or votes overturning this verdict.  The road to full personhood with all its rights appears much smoother for a corporation than for a gay person.

Also, the people most opposed to changing the institution of marriage—conservatives—are head over heels in love with corporations.  The Republicans in Congress (and, let’s face it, many of the Democrats as well) are practically married to them already.  There’s probably no room left for me, but I might as well try.   First, I need to choose a suitable marriage partner.  I’m an internet junkie, so an online company like Google or Facebook would be nice.  I’m thinking Facebook, since I already spend a large portion of my day with him/her. 

So there it is.  Time to go ask a corporation out for a date.  Wish me luck.  Above all, wish me a Kardashian-like speedy divorce—because that’s when the big money starts rolling in.

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I fell victim to it, along with some other people I know.  I am just now recovering from a serious bout of Santorum panic.

I don’t think I can be completely blamed for it.  Santorum is one of those scary people known as social conservatives.  This means that on top of the usual right-wing predatory philosophy of “If you happen to be old or sick, you are a weaker specimen, and need to be rejected from the pack”, he also carries an unappetizing layer of push-it-down-your-throat religiosity.  I suppose the pompous morality is there to try to hide the predatory thinking, something that the libertarians, in all their charming honesty, do without.

Anyway, Santorum wants to annul all the previously established gay marriages–in the name, no doubt, of liberty.  He would like to allow states to ban contraceptives.  As he said in an interview, contraceptives are bad since they give one all kinds of sexual license.  In short, he represents the kind of small town thinking I instinctively fear—because I am someone who comes from a small town.  Sure, a small town in Eastern Europe.  But let me share a little secret:  Small towns are the same all over the world.  They’re FRIGHTENING.

If I want more proof that Rick inhabits a different planet than me, I need look no further than the sweater vests he is currently hawking to anyone who will donate $100 or more to his campaign.  I’m not sure why, but Christian conservatives even have a fashion sense all their own.  The make-up styles of the female Fox news anchors have induced bouts of panic in me as well.

So when Santorum came in second in Iowa, I freaked out.  I forwarded Facebook posts with all of his scariest quotes, and left rambling comments on blogs.  I envisioned a Santorum presidency and tried to decide which country I would flee to when all the condoms had run out.

Of course, I had forgotten one thing:  this was Iowa.  It was the place where Huckabee had, once upon a time, come in first.  The nominees don’t come out of Iowa.

And so thankfully, things are now in a much more predictable place.   According to the latest reports from the BBC, the crowds at Santorum speeches are still full of energy, but much smaller.  He also made the mistake of wading into his “gay marriage equals polygamy” stuff with some college students, and got heckled and booed.  Most importantly, another BBC news article (yes, I luvs the BBC) interviewed a few people in his audience who said they didn’t want to hear anymore about abortion and gay marriage.  They wanted to hear about the economy.  It’s still the economy, stupid, not theology.

Well, I have been miraculously healed from my irrational moment of panic and feel much better.  Now to get ready for the real thing:  Romney and months of boring debates about tax code and health insurance.  Hallelujah!

A few weeks later, I had my first real chance to test my powers when I heard that those archvillains, the Funeral Fiends, were coming to town.  In a fatal accident, a bus filled with nuns, little children, bunnies and virgins crashed, so naturally, the Fiends decided to protest homosexuality.  They blamed everyone on the bus for America’s acceptance of gay rights, except for the bunnies, which were cute, but did not have a soul.  Anyway, they were going to harass the grieving families of the crash victims, and I wasn’t about to let them.

“I’m going to fight your evil buddies,”  I warned RedGirl as we sat over a breakfast of croissants and orange marmalade.

“Go for it.  Those people aren’t my buddies, they’re complete morons,”  RedGirl sniffed.  “I’m not going to defend them.”

It was a bit of a letdown to have my nemesis agreeing with me, but I would carry on.

In the cold Thursday sunlight, I watched the invaders getting bussed in, appearing from the depths of the wilderness to the South of us.

Today was the memorial service for one of the little boys who died, I couldn’t remember which one.  Children all seemed the same to me.

The doors of the bus opened and a parade of deformed souls exited, clutching their protest signs for dear life.

I had plans for them.  I would create an explosion of energy that would blow the Fiends far away from here, catapult them across city blocks with the power of love.  I would set off a bomb of compassion and tolerance.

Problem was, I didn’t have enough love inside of me to construct my bomb with.  I tried to scrape some up from the bottom of my heart.  It blazed into a tiny flame and then went out.  Somehow, the presence of the Fiends had infected me—my spirit was dripping with darkness.

Just as things started to look hopeless, a group of heavenly angels appeared.  They formed a shiny band around the small church where the service was about to take place.

“You’re going straight to Hell for this!”  a gnarled old woman screamed at the angels.  She was waving a placard which read “God Hates Everyone”.

The angels did nothing but smile at her.  “Is that it?”  I thought.  They were the divine messengers—I expected at least a little bit of lightning.

The first family members were arriving at the church, their heads bowed, wiping at their eyes, trying to ignore the Fiends, who howled like a pack of banshees at them.  Something had to be done.  I no longer cared which force I was tapping into, I was going to find the center in myself, but couldn’t, I heard a fat guy yelling something about AIDS, I closed my eyes and allowed whatever it was that was chewing at my insides to explode.

When I opened my eyes again, I was lying on the ground.  I scrambled up to examine the beauty of my work.

But the protesters had not been carried off by my wave of anger, as I had hoped.  They had only been knocked down, and now they sounded happier than ever, waving their arms while flat on their backs, proudly proclaiming that they were under demonic attack—finally, they had proof they were part of an army, engaged in a war far more important than any they could have volunteered for overseas.

The angels had also been knocked down, and they lay in a tangled pile of wings and sneakers.  One of them, glowing and blonde, got up, picked up her halo and dusted it off, then, after a long and inquisitive look at me, flung it back down in the dirt and raced in my direction.

Even though she didn’t fly, she easily caught up with me and yanked me towards her.  “What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything wrong!  I had to fight them!”

“You really think you’re helping, don’t you?”  she asked with angelic pity.

“Did you think you were being helpful?  And by the way, you’re not real, are you?”

“I’m more real than an angel from Heaven would be.”  She shrugged.  “But yeah, I’m part of Angel Action….we dress as angels to protect the families of the victims…in a non-violent way,”  she added emphatically.

“Which is really working very well,”  I snarked.

“Are you screwing things up again?”  The screechy voice next to us made both me and the angel jump.  It was RedGirl, her ruffled, crimson cape flapping in the wind.  She had fashioned herself several models of capes by now.  This one was curtain-based, Scarlett style.

We looked back at the church, where the Fiends now babbled in tongues, defending themselves against the demons they imagined all around them.

“You have to hit your enemies in their weak spot,” RedGirl said to me, “which, as usual, you have no idea how to do.”  Then she pulled the angel into an embrace and gave her a long, sensual kiss.

As soon as the Fiends noticed this, a shriek of insecurity and fear went up from them, the tragic wail of marriages getting redefined, high-pitched like the deflating of a thousand wedding cakes.  They gave chase like a rabid foxhunt, and we fled, RedGirl out in front, then me, the angel stumbling along with her wings sliding halfway down her back, and then the baying mob of  religious warriors, followed by journalists covering the breaking news funeral story.

I was beginning to think I would end up getting burned at the stake in a Wal-Mart parking lot, when the angel appeared next to me, signaling, pointing to our salvation down the road.  It was the Fantasy porn video store.  I had never been so happy to see objectified women in all my life.

Indeed, a few blocks later we were no longer being pursued.  The Fiends froze in front of Fantasy, like cats in front of a giant bag of X-rated catnip.  They dropped their signs about God at the curbside.

Their leader licked his lips, cleared his throat and turned to his flock.

“Remember that as much as we are disgusted by this filth, it is our duty to research it thoroughly…we have to know the tools which Satan uses against us.”

And the Fiends gingerly walked into the store, with the angry old woman waving the journalists away:  “No cameras!  No cameras!  I know what you’re trying to do—gonna make us look like perverts…”

***

“There goes a successful funeral, all thanks to me,”  RedGirl said.  We had said farewell to the angel and were walking home.

“I didn’t know you were into girls,”  I observed.

“Of course I’m not.  I did this to defend the reputation of the conservative movement,”  she replied.

“Oh.  Well, at least I’m glad you agree that Christians shouldn’t be in charge of everything.”

She stopped walking.  “I never said that.”

“Really?”

“The Fiends are idiots.  But this is a Christian nation.  The majority of people in this country are religious.  Why shouldn’t we have the right to express our morality?”

“I…I guess I don’t know why you shouldn’t.”  We continued on our way, but the chill had come back between us, and we were two separate Americas again.

***

“Well, all of that sounds very good,”  Mother said that evening, “but none of it is actually true.”

“What do you mean?”

“That stuff about us being a Christian nation.  Oh, the Founders did their best to pretend, they had to, but….”

“But they didn’t follow Christ’s teachings, because they were heartless capitalists out to oppress the masses!”

“You need meds.”  Mother shook her head.  “What I meant to say was that they were worshippers of the Great Bat.  As are we.  Don’t tell your sister, please—I don’t think she’d take the news very well.  When the two of you were little, I presented you both to the Bat, but neither of you wanted to come into the fold.  You ignored the Bat, but your sister downright freaked out.  It was obvious she needed to believe in something simpler and more comforting.”  She stood up and gestured for me to follow her.  “I can understand that.  It’s not always easy to live with the awareness that your soul will be consumed by a huge Bat after you die.”

I did not have a ready response to that statement.

We walked into my parents’ bedroom.  “Seriously, though,” she asked, “didn’t you ever peek inside our bedroom cabinet?”

“No, I figured that’s where you guys kept your sex toys.”

“I have such strange children.  No, we do not have any sex toys in this house.  See?”  She opened the cabinet and pointed to a little grinning skull inside.  It looked like the skull of a mouse.  It was surrounded by nickels and dimes, arranged in a semicircle.  Nearby stood a bowl of stale chips.

“I always thought you were sane,”  I murmured.  “So what does this thing do?  Can it perform miracles?”

“Sure.  Did you know it was your father who gave birth to you?”

“Never mind.”

“I’m just joking.  There are no miracles.  Our lives are short and unsatisfying, and once they’re done, we’ll be eaten by that Thing, as you call it, and we’ll sink into darkness.  The point is, our lives here can be less unhappy if we have respect for It.”  She peered closer at my face.  “What are you so upset for?  You’re not religious.”

“I kind of assumed you weren’t either.”

“I thought that it didn’t matter to you what religion people were.  You’ve told me so a million times.”

“Theoretically, yeah….  But this is….”  I stretched my arms out towards the altar.

“Look, I’m not mentally ill, darling.”  Mother rolled her eyes.  “I just accept reality as it is.  If you’re not strong enough to handle it, you can continue hiding behind your skepticism, like your sister hides behind her Christianity.  There’s nothing wrong with that.”

I was stepping away from her.

“Before you run away from here, one more thing,”  she said.  “If, for whatever reason, you decide you’re interested in getting to know the Bat, and developing a personal relationship of healthy fear for It, there’s stuff in the public library.”

“Thanks.”  My own Mother was asking me to become a Bat-fearing person.  That’s when I did panic and run away, and hid in my room.  I collapsed on my bed.  I was torn.  On the one hand, it was sad that my family was crazy.  On the other hand, wouldn’t it be great to be able to tell my sister that she was wrong about something?  RedGirl was feeling a bit too confident lately.  Maybe an imaginary bat-monster would come in handy, after all.

***

“Oh-em-gee!  What is this?”  RedGirl said when she found my library books on the dining room table.  They were little kid books.  One of them had a colorful illustration on its cover of the Bat biting off the heads of naughty children.

“It’s the new truth I’ve found in my life.”  I hurried to her side with a big smile.  “Would you like to hear about the Bat?”

“No.”

“But the Bat hates you so much!  And It might hate you a little less if you worshipped It….”

“The Bat sounds like an invention of the Devil.  I’m not interested.”  Sadly, my sister did not show the slightest sign of being traumatized, so she must have forgotten all about her childhood experience.

“Mom, do you want to tell her?”  I asked.

Mother raised a hand to caution me.  “I can see why you’re doing this, and you’re lying about things you don’t understand.  Be careful.”

“Nonsense.”  I stomped off, annoyed at yet another failure.

But all that night I kept dreaming that Jesus was about to fly down from the sky and bite my head off.