Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hillary Clinton: We've Come a Long Way, Baby!

I have to say, I liked this video because it played Hillary's 1995 speech at the UN Conference on the Rights of Women against some of the insanely sexist images that have followed Hillary thoughout this campaign season.

Beware, some of the images are shockingly offensive.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bill Moyers - Better than Ever

If you have 10 minutes in your day, you should use those ten minutes in your day to selectively read speeches from Bill Moyers, Moyers on Democracy. It is worth the time. On my flights to and from North Carolina this weekend, I couldn't put it down, and I was richly rewarded by being reminded once again of what I believe a democracy should be. I have been so cynical about the state of our democracy lately. But Bill Moyers reminds me, once again, what we should be striving for:

"Here in the first decade of the twenty-first century the story that becomes America's dominant narritave will shape our collective imagination and our politics for a long time to come. In the searching of our souls demanded by this challenge, those of us in this room and kindred spirits across the nation must confront the most fundamental liberal failure of the current era: the failure to embrace a moral vision of America based on the transcendent faith that human beings are more than the sum of their material appetities, our country is more than an economic machine, and freedom is not license but responsibility - the gift we have received and the legacy we must bequeath."

I have been thinking alot about that notion lately - that freedom is not license, but responsibility. That principle is an idea that has become lost in our American democracy, where individuals are completely enamored with the idea of themselves, at the expense of the collective. The popular notion is that we don't have to worry about what effect our exercise of our rights have on someone else. If we have the ability to grow wealthy, then that means it is okay to do so, regardless of the effect it has on anyone else. In the mortgage meltdown that has hit America, everyone was thinking about the quickest way to make a buck, and not thinking about the health and well-being of neighborhoods. In the foreclosure crisis that has followed, creditors and debtors look for the quickest way to escape from bad debt, ignoring the fact that someone else will ultimately have to pay the price - even if it is the pensioner on retirement, who finds that his fund no longer has any value because of some bad debt that a Wall Street brokerage gobbled up.

This notion of the "right" without the corresponding "responsibility" is what bothered me so much about Obama's healthcare plan, in his lack of a mandate for buying health insurance. His plan, in essence saying, it should be everyone's right to purchase health insurance, regardless of pre-existing conditions, but ignoring the idea that if health care is to become a universal right, then it is also a universal responsibility for everyone to pay for it as well. Otherwise, in modern American society, no one would feel the need to purchase health care until they themselves became sick, because what is the purpose of blowing money on health insurance to help pay for other sick people? The very notion of collective insurance is that everyone pays into it so that everyone can use it when they need it.

I love Moyers's view that faith that humanity should be something more than just a material machine should guide our decisions in our democracy. It is something that I forget about when I get caught up in the cynical view that politics seems only to be about money these days. But how do we do that?

I will need to think about this more. Thanks Bill, for reminding me that there are many things to think about.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Hate the Farm Bill!

I thought the consensus was that President Bush was always supposed to be wrong these days? So why is it that he is actually right on the issue of the Farm Bill? And how is it, that Senator Obama, who claims to be a different type of politician, not beholden to special interests, voted in favor of what is obviously a bloated, special-interest laden pience of legislation? Senator McCain, to his credit, voted against it. I can't stand hypocricy, and the hypocricy of Senator Obama is completely starting to show in his voting record. At least Senator McCain is honest about who he is. He may be grumpy, I may not like some of his politics, and his judicial choices may frighten me, but at least he recognizes the absolute absurdity of the farm bill.

Reasons I hate the farm bill:

1. It hurts farmers in the developing world. How? By the U.S. subsidizing our wealthy corporate farmers, it is harder for poor farmers in developing countries to compete. In the long run, it makes the price of food much, much higher, and makes hunger in the developing world even worse, at a time when the price of food is increasing at an alarming rate.

2. It subsidizes practices that are harmful to the environment and completely misuse water resources. I want to throwup whenever I think about the subsidization of cotton farmers in Arizona, or the disgusting things done to the Colorado River by California corporate farms, all paid for by our tax dollars.

3. The farm bill cut out funding that would have gone to protect prarie grassland habitat and restore wetlands. Wow. President Bush was supporting these conservation efforts. Democrats in Congress denied money for these conservation efforts. Again, I hate hypocricy. Don't try to sell me on your records of conservation, Democrats, when you are cutting funds that even President Bush proposed for conservation efforts.

4. It is pandering to the worst possible degree. The bill is a shot in the arm to wealthy corporate farmers, already making major profits at a time when food prices are going up, up, up. In reality, it does little to nothing to help small farmers in a place like Mississippi.

But don't take my word for it. Take the word of my favorite journalist, Bill Moyers from his program on May 16, 2008:

BILL MOYERS: Sure enough, this week Congress overwhelmingly passed a new farm bill. It contains more funds for nutrition programs and food stamps, but continues to funnel billions of dollars to the largest and wealthiest landowners. There was an effort to prohibit subsidies to farmers making $250,000 or more a year, but it failed. Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin, a Democrat, said the new bill is "well designed to avoid every opportunity for serious reform...while actually piling on additional layers of unnecessary spending." Republican reformer Tom Petri, also from Wisconsin, calls it "a bloated disaster."

Here is another look at the farm bill from Bill Moyers program.

And if you want to read the ridiculousness that is the bill itself, read the full text of the bill, H.R. 2419 here. (Aren't I such a good law librarian to find the link for you?)

One Small Consolation

So one small upside of David being in Europe this week without me means that I get to eat McDonalds for supper. So what if David is getting to stay in the "hippest hotel in the world", in London, and drinking our favorite orange juice (made from blood oranges, yum!) at Le Meridien Etoile in Paris? I had a delicious cheeseburger and just about the saltiest fries that I think I have ever tasted.

Also, I was able to watch the Gossip Girl season finale on DVR when I got home today. David has to wait another week! In the words of Nelson, "Ha, Ha."

I am bummed about Serena and Dan's break-up, though. Those kids need to work it out.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Tryal of 1613

Today, I attended the funeral for David's grandfather who just passed away. It is strange to think that he just married us in Florida less than two months ago. He was a very good man.
I feel like a criminal, because I have so much school work to do that I have to stay here at David's parents' house and work on my rare book project instead of spending time this afternoon with David's family. I feel like an even bigger criminal because I am wasting time writing on my blog when I should be working on this project.
The book that I am reviewing in the UW Law Library's rare book collection is entitled The case of impotency, as debated in Engliand, in that remarkable tryal, 1613, between Robert, Earl of Essex, and the Lady Frances Howard, who, after eight years of marriage, commenc'd a suit against him for impotency. The edition that the library owns is actually the third edition, printed in 1719. It is a fascinating trial, covered word for word from early Stuart England. Wow, perhaps the public's obssession with the minute details in the lives of the rich and the famous isn't such a recent phenomenon. Today's celebrities ate yesterday's nobility, and I can't help but feel like I am reading some 17th century version of TMZ when I look at this book.
Only the difference for me is that the tale of the Earl of Essex and Lady Frances Howard impacted the King of England. After the divorce was granted, Lady Howard went on to marry James I's favorite, the Earl of Somerset. She also was convicted of killing on of the major witnesses in the impotency trial, that could have perhaps ruined her chances of getting her divorce. But since the King of England loved her husband, he pardonned her, and saved her from execution. For whatever reason though, her husband lost his favor with the King and was ultimately replaced by George Villiers as the king's favorite.
The Earl of Essex, his manhood questioned in such a public fashion, went on to distinguish himself on that ultimate field of manhood, the battlefield.
Sometimes history is more than valour, victory and defeat on the battlefield. It is the old feminist mantra that plays in my head over and over like a broken record - the personal is the political, the personal is the political, the personal is the political.
The legacies that we leave...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Elitism, Sexism, and some other "isms" at its Worst

Although I have pretty much resigned myself to the fate of Hillary Clinton not winning the Democratic nomination, I want to be clear that I absolutely support her staying in the race until every last citizen has been given the opportunity to vote. I appreciate that about her.

And I agree with the sentiment expressed in this editorial by Froma Harrop. I am so disgusted by the way that Obama and his surrogates are acting toward Clinton supporters at this point in time, well, it just makes me want to spit. To hear about college students mocking West Virginia farmers literally makes me furious. This whole sense of entitlement expressed by Obama supporters, that their votes are somehow wise and all-knowing (and therefore should matter more than the rest of us dumb-Clinton folk) is so obnoxious. So much for democracy. Foregone conclusions are the order of the day.

As someone who values rural America, I appreciated this blog post from No Quarter because I think that Obama has neglected rural, working Americans at his own peril. And frankly, the kind of uninformed elitism (that mocks the notions of democracy in which I believe) that he seems to be comfortable in doing little to overcome makes me very doubtful that I could ever pull the lever for him in November.

Not to mention the fact that this great "post-politician" politician, as Obama proclaims himself to be, (what made him made about Rev. Wright, that Rev. Wright insinuated that he was just a "politician" after all) seems to blame every mistake that his campaign makes on someone else. It is never his fault, because how could it be? He is the Second Coming, after all...He isn't a politician that we should at all be skeptical of...

And since I am dogpiling on the political op-ed pieces today (after such a long hiatus of doing so), here is one more that I absolutely agree with about the sexism that this campaign season revealed. Amen, sister.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

In Honor Of. . .


It has taken me awhile to post this, because if has taken me a little while to emerge from the state of shock that I was first in when I heard about this news. But, my little sister, Melissa, is engaged. I guess she really isn't little anymore, but she will always be my little sister to me, inasmuch as I will always want to try to protect her, because she is one of the most amazing people on the planet. I, like Elizabeth Bennet's father in Pride and Prejudice, cannot imagine how anyone could be good enough for her. And because I haven't met this guy yet, I am not yet to the point where I can say, that he is worthy of her. But hopefully, when I do meet him, then those concerns will completely go away. Melissa explained to me on the phone all of the reasons why she thinks he is good enough for her, and since she is so smart, her judgment must count for something.
But Melissa is a fantastic human being. She is kind, patient, and spiritual. She had to survive sharing a room with me when we were growing up, and anyone who can bear that can probably bear just about anything. She is always handy to have around when you spot a bird that you don't recognize. Not to mention that she can booty dance better than anyone this side of Beyonce.
Of course, I shouldn't be so surprised, as Melissa always was the cutest!
This Jordan better treat her well, otherwise, I know people.

Congratulations Schmelissa!