samedi, avril 26, 2008

Women: here's what the Senate and Supremes really thinks of us

I'm really too angry to comment on the linked article right now, except to say that the level of patronage towards women is beyond belief in this day and age. I guess one could expect this kind of condescension from Neanderthals like Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts.

But our Republican candidate for President should be able to do better-McCain is probably running scared, and want to placate his far right frenemies. Sometimes courage isn't about who carries the larger gun, John-it's about being courageous enough to speak the truth.

jeudi, avril 24, 2008

Across the crocodile moat

Online dating can become a world unto itself, one which often seems unlinked to the demands and reassurances of the world most of us live in daily.

Frankly, I prefer the real world to cyberspace. Yes, you will argue, in many cases the real world is cyberspace. However, there is much more room for behavior in cyberspace which I honestly don't think would be tolerated in ordinary discourse. Frankly, my dear, I don't need to hear about your dimensions or your favorite porn sites or what you did in that expensive hotel bathroom.

Some of the less graphic stories used to be fascinating to me, opening up a world of which I had little knowledge. Now I find them almost traumatic, illustrating as they do a culture in which I am an alien-without any need for asylum.

So when I get feedback from a friend, as I will sometimes when telling my dating stories (or non-dating stories), it serves as a useful reality check.

More and more my friends are asking me whether I should not try another venue for meeting eligible men.

Then I mentally run the checklist of options, and wonder if I should get off my butt and find a running group or a hiking meet up or a weekly chocoholic gathering.

I don't fit this world of casual hookups and hypersexed banter that is the key to admission for so many men, and probably more than a few of the "ladies."

But surely, out there somewhere, there must be someone as odd as me. Someone who is willing to open the castle door and escort me over the alligator moat-even if we only make it as far the entrance hall, with its deer heads and crossed swords on the wall.

A guy who wants more than an hour's pleasure and a casual goodbye-a man who is as willing to unveil his feelings as he is his body--someone who knows all about defenses, but will, as the Sting song says, set the battlements on fire. That, I can do.

mercredi, avril 23, 2008

My essay from yesterday's Washington Post

Abortion, Gun Control and Other False Choices

The long season of Pennsylvania’s primary discontent is now coming to a blessed close.
Marred by candidate stumbles, the six-week trek through the Keystone State also put the spotlight on Pennsylvania’s Democratic party maverick, Sen. Robert Casey, Jr.
Why are there not more Democratic leaders like this anti-abortion, anti-Iraq-war Catholic native son who is vocal about his concern for working people and for economic justice? In a party that professes to care for the oppressed and the powerless, politicians who advocate for fetal life are few and far between.
The lack of articulate voices from the left advocating for a consistent life ethic, or the sacredness of life from conception to grave, illustrates the rampant individualism that seems so endemic to the American character.
In its relentless focus on one particular woman and her “right” to terminate a pregnancy, the position taken by Democratic Party frontliners is also profoundly out of step with a Christian perspective in which decisions are weighed with community welfare in mind.
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul called that turbulent congregation to greater care for each other. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (I Cor. 12:26).
The Jesus I meet in the Gospels is much less concerned with individual welfare than with the spiritual and physical health of the community.
As I interpret these ancient Scriptures in the context of the contemporary abortion debate, I can’t help but conclude that the fetus, as well as the mother and father, must have a voice, an advocate, a metaphorical seat at the table when decisions are made.
In the party’s obsession with the notion of individual choice, the Democrats and their allies on the Christian left eerily echo conservatives in the Christian right and their stance on gun control laws.
Take away our right to unfettered abortions, and you will soon reduce women to slavery. Take away our guns, and you will put us at the mercy of the enemies who howl at our door.
These positions have very little to do with faith -- and a lot to do with fear.
The two Democratic candidates have been vocal about the ways in which their faith traditions and values inform their decisions.
Yet they seem captive to the reigning orthodoxy that will not allow any room for dialogue, let alone a third way.
In the Illinois State Senate, Obama voted against a bill to ban late-term abortions, a position that puts him out of synch with the majority of the American public. Clinton has repeated the mantra that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare,” while doing relatively little to make that a reality.
The candidate’s positions do not reflect the reality on the ground -- that while Americans favor keeping abortion legal, they continue to want to limit easy access by imposing constraints, some quite rigorous.
Which bring us back to Casey, and his principled attempt to build a consensus based on the greater community good.
Late last year, he sponsored a Senate bill that would move to support pregnant women before and after they give birth, provide tax credits for those who adopt, and help pregnant students stay in school.
It would be wonderful if politicians, clergy, and people of faith were able to look beyond ideology by working for that a time when pregnant women can make a decision based on the health of two lives in the knowledge that they will have access to the help they so indisputably need. Doing so would be one step towards healing the national wound so deeply rooted in the false rhetoric of “choice” versus “life.”
After more than two hundred years, it is high time that believers, particularly Christians, seek common cause on behalf of the weak, vulnerable and voiceless ones, both born and not yet born.
Jesus hasn’t left His post. Perhaps it is we who have wandered.
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and columnist

mardi, avril 22, 2008

Dopey or merely grumpy?

In the commentary linked above, Bob Herbert makes a great case that Americans face a crisis in education in a globalized world that is going to demand much more from our children.

As he notes at the end of the commentary, it's not just our kids who are suffering from a lack of fundamentals. Who did we fight in WWII? The English? No kidding.

You would think that in a country facing an economic crisis and competition from countries like China we'd want to give our kids the tools they need to be players. But apparently some of us are oblivious to the fact that there is a great need for tools.

We may have gotten to the point where blissful ignorance isn't an option. Or perhaps it won't be blissful anymore. Jobs are disappearing, the climate is changing, and we also face a global shortage of food-sooner or later, we will all have to grapple with problems as individuals as well as a nation.

In the meantime, I suspect that even the clueless among us are feeling a little grumpy when they have to pay for gas or buy groceries. Whether they will stop being dopey is a very good question.

dimanche, avril 20, 2008

Charting the future

"For us to wait for legislation or technology to solve the problem of how we’re living our lives suggests we’re not really serious about changing — something our politicians cannot fail to notice. They will not move until we do. Indeed, to look to leaders and experts, to laws and money and grand schemes, to save us from our predicament represents precisely the sort of thinking — passive, delegated, dependent for solutions on specialists — that helped get us into this mess in the first place. It’s hard to believe that the same sort of thinking could now get us out of it". Michael Pollan in the Sunday NYT Times

I'm not, in general, a passive person. A major decision in college and awful grief in my mid-thirties marked me with a dedication to grappling with what life serves up, instead of sitting back and simply allowing the thunder to crack around me.

In addition, I hail from a family of sometimes charmingly (and sometimes maybe not), hardheaded humanitarians-so the thought that we would rather sit back and allow someone else to make our choices for us puzzles me.

I tend to cut passive people, for those reasons, very little slack-and have a tough time accepting the reality that many of us feel dealing with our own daily lives in enough, thank you very much.

Yet just when I've accepted that lots of Americans don't vote, don't even seem interested, voter registration skyrockets. Just when I'm I think we've given up on taking democracy seriously, the coming election arouses passion in a way that many of us haven't experienced in our lifetimes.

Really, gentle readers, I'm so happy to be proved prejudiced, self-righteous and WRONG. Just don't try to trick me too often.

What if we applied the same enthusiasm and sense of ownership to making personal decisions about climate change (see Michael Pollan's entire article in the link)?

Read this essay, with its persuasive but concrete call to put your money where your mouth is, and try to figure out where on the spectrum you happen to be-you've still got time to harvest those tomatoes and melons in August!