Sunday, June 28, 2009

Defending Our Great First Lady

I had a lovely, albeit scorching hot, weekend, which included birthday parties on my side of the family as well as my wonderful husband's side. It was great to see my two boys play with one set of cousins on Saturday and the other set on Sunday.

During the course of the weekend, I had a conversation/debate with, well, I'll just call the individual "Right-Wing Cousin" -- RWC for short. Although RWC tried to assure me that RWC listens to all sides and keeps an open mind, somehow, according to this family member, Democrats are at fault for almost everything and President Obama has done nothing good for this country.

The conversation has inspired this post, which may be the first of a series to counter fantastic statements RWC made with the total conviction that they were the absolute truth.

First -- I have to defend our great first lady, who was disparaged with the contention that her hospital job (Vice-President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals) was a "no-show" job that she only got after Barack Obama was elected Senator. Unbeknownst to me, there is a chain e-mail that was circulating where RWC may have gotten this false information.

Check out the reality in this article from Did Michelle Obama make $317,000 a year while working part-time at the University of ...

Basically, the University of Chicago Medical Center has stated that Michelle Obama (who is Harvard and Princeton-educated) was worth her weight in gold and was hired "before Barack was Barack". When she was promoted, she received a raise that made her salary consistent with others at the same level and also was competitive with other offers she was considering at the time. When she started ratcheting down her hours as her husband started his campaign to run for president, her pay was pro-rated until she went on an unpaid leave of absence in 2008. Tax statements prove this out.

So, is it sexist or racist to assume that Michelle Obama couldn't have possibly earned and actually performed this high-level, well-paying position? For those who have created this pack of lies, I'm sure it is both.

I only wish I had this information at my disposal while I was talking to this family member, so I could enlighten with the truth. Oh well, next time!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Roger Ebert's Continuing Commentary on Bill O'Reilly and Pundit Press Generally

Who knew Roger Ebert was so insightful? I have already linked to an open letter he sent to Bill O'Reilly. Here is a thoughtful post on Bill O'Reilly and the pundit press in general. What passes as news today is nowhere near what we tuned into in the past.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stop Saying That! Sarah Palin's Creepy Continuation of Disturbing Dialogue

So, by now we all know about David Letterman's joke about Sarah Palin's daughter getting knocked up at a Yankees game. Ironically, most of us heard about it only after the Palins released statements expressing their shocked outrage at the joke, which they interpreted to be about their 14-year-old daughter. David Letterman contends that the joke was about Sarah Palin's 18-year-old daughter, Bristol Palin.

Both Sarah Palin and her husband Todd Palin released statements on Facebook in response:
"Any 'jokes' about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too."

- Todd Palin

"Concerning Letterman's comments about my young daughter (and I doubt he'd ever dare make such comments about anyone else's daughter): 'Laughter incited by sexually-perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is not only disgusting, but it reminds us some Hollywood/NY entertainers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands - that acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone's daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others.'"

- Governor Sarah Palin
I would like to point out that of the small percentage of Americans who were actually watching the show that night (probably about 3 million viewers), I am sure just about all of them thought the joke was about Bristol, who has indeed been "knocked up" (an admittedly crude term). Coverage of Sarah Palin attending the Yankees game does not mention a daughter being there at all. As an example, see this article from the New York Daily News or this story and accompanying photo slide show on Huffington Post. (In fact, there are some who are wondering whether the 14-year-old was actually at the game itself or not. She definitely was the daughter who was in New York.)

So any initial connection between the joke and the 14-year-old was made by the Palins themselves -- and now to a much broader national population. And Sarah Palin continues to leverage the opportunity to garner media attention and continue her ongoing habit of using incendiary language to polarize people and rile up her base. She appeared on the Today Show and CNN, saying things like David Letterman made a joke “about statutory rape about my daughter, Willow." and "David Letterman's crude, sexist, perverted joke about a 14-year-old girl being 'knocked up' by Alex Rodriguez -- I think he's like 30-something years old -- I think that's pretty perverted."

What I find really creepy and disturbing is that Sarah Palin continues to use language like this in regards to her own daughter. No one would have ever connected the 14-year-old to words like "knocked up" and "rape" and "pervert" until she starting spewing her reactive nonsense. As a mother, I would never even want to utter words like that about my own child; to have that concept verbalized. Not to get spiritual or metaphysical or anything, since that is really not my thing, but I can't help but cringe to think that these concepts are now out there. I just wish Sarah Palin would stop saying things like that! If I were her, I would want the whole topic to quickly disappear and remain out of the national consciousness.

But I am not her, and I am not trying to remain in the limelight to shore up my political career.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Demonization of Kate Gosselin - Backlash Against a Working Mom

I began watching "Jon & Kate Plus 8" last year, mostly to marvel at how the Gosselins dealt with eight kids - six of them being toddler sextuplets - with minimal angst, while I sometimes can barely keep up with my two. I didn't always agree with how controlling Kate was with her kids and how short she could be with her husband. However, since I couldn't possibly imagine the chaos that would ensue if she wasn't in absolute control, I felt I shouldn't judge. And these moments seemed "real" to me.

Of course, all hell broke loose when Jon was photographed coming out of a bar at 2AM with another woman. Let the media frenzy begin! Quickly, the non-stop coverage changed -- from slamming Jon for probably cheating on his wife while having eight kids at home -- to the demonization of Kate. "From Mom to Monster", one headline screams. "Mom, You're Mean!" another one cries.

As I caught up on my celebrity magazine fix at the nail salon, I read about Kate's egregious offenses. Now, let's leave aside the subject of whether the children are being exploited by the show or whether the show caused Jon and Kate's marital problems. Both parents bear responsibility for these issues. When examining why Kate has suddenly become the lightning rod for criticism and Jon the victim, what it really boils down to is that Kate doesn't fit with society's image of "the perfect mother". Let's examine her crimes as detailed in these magazines:

- She "made" Jon quit his job and stay home with the kids
- She gets $30 manicures every two weeks
- She spends an hour a day exercising
- She got her teeth whitened
- She got a tummy tuck
- She traveled for her book tour, leaving Jon at home to take care of the kids

How dare she get a tummy tuck after carrying sextuplets! (My God, have you seen the photos of her pregnant?) How dare she insist that Jon take a turn at staying home with the kids? That's the mother's job! Never mind that Jon got hair plugs or that Jon worked outside the home for the first few years of the show. Kate is the selfish one, because (gasp!) she wants to look good, (heaven forbid!) wants to take care of herself and be healthy and (the horror!) she actually travels for business.

Yes, she is a working mom. And in some ways, in our modern society, we still can't reconcile the notion of a working mom with the image of the all-sacrificing mother, who suppresses all of her own needs for those of her children.

And apparently in this scenario, being a working mom is even worse than being a cheating spouse.

Late Term Abortion - What Is It and Why Do Women Get It?

Dr. George Tiller's clinic will not reopen after his murder. The clinic was one of only a handful of places in the country where women could go for a late-term abortion. So what, you may ask? Please read this very thorough article that details what a late-term abortion is and why women (and girls) may need to have one.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

U.S. Reporters Sentenced to 12 Years Labor in North Korea

Horrible news has come out of North Korea. The two American reporters, Laura Ling (Lisa Ling's sister) and Euna Lee, who were being held for allegedly illegally crossing the border from China into North Korea while working on a story have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor by the country's highest court. Apparently, the North Korean government is using these two women as pawns in the ongoing negotiations between our governments regarding nuclear arms and sanctions. I really hope something can be done by our government to get North Korea to release them. I can't imagine what they and their families must be going through right now.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama Egypt Speech: Historic, Direct, Courageous and yet...

I read a transcript of President Obama's historic speech in Cairo, Egypt and was deeply impressed by how directly he tackled the complex issues in the Middle East such as terrorism, Israel/Palestine, and deeply rooted fear and mistrust between the Christan, Jewish and Muslim communities.

It was refreshing to hear such respect given to the religion of Islam by an American president.

It was inspiring to think that we have a president who can perhaps be the bridge to actually bring about some peace in the region.

It was surprising that President Obama was so direct and honest when discussing so openly and honestly what concessions both sides will have to make in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

It was humbling to think of the courage it took for President Obama to stand up there and deliver such a landmark speech.

And it was disappointing that President Obama gave such short shrift to women's rights. Relegated to the bottom of the list of issues President Obama discussed so eloquently, fully and honestly, the brief amount of time given to womens' rights was half-spent on reassuring the crowd that it was OK for women to hide their hair, a third spent making sure it was clear that Islam was not being singled out, and a few words were spoken on the importance of education for women...and that was basically it. What about the brutal abuses of women that take place in some areas? What about the oppression of women being brought back by the Taliban in Afghanistan where women are not allowed to learn or work outside the home? What about the brutal punishment built into law in some regions? Why, in a speech that otherwise so directly confronted other issues, did President Obama choose to gloss over this one?

Read the speech. The rest of it is amazing, but I can't help but be disappointed. Obama Egypt Speech: VIDEO, Full Text

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Monday, June 1, 2009

The Cold-Blooded Murder of a Doctor - Even Scarier Than You Might Think

Please read this post about how the murder of Dr. Tiller may have even broader implications. Cristina Page analyzes anti-abortion violence during the Clinton and Bush Administrations and concludes that this may just be the beginning. Scary stuff. The really sad thing is that there are only a handful of doctors/clinics even willing to perform late-term abortions. And these are tragic situations, typically related to catastrophic health issues. It's pretty amazing that in a country like ours, physical intimidation can be used in this way -- to eliminate a woman's right to a medical procedure that is LEGAL.

Cristina Page: The Murder of Dr. Tiller, a Foreshadowing

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