How Sarah Palin Made Me Cry

September 10, 2008

My partner is a political scientist, so talking about politics is one of his hobbies. So I talk with him about politics, including the election every day. I also am a consultant for an organization that deals a lot with democracy. There is no escaping it.

Yet, I always keep it at a distance. It is not my ministry. It is not my passion. It is not what I study and love. I change the subject when it comes up at dinner, I try not to upset anyone, gently suggesting where I stand, but not going much further. How are those Red Sox doing anyway?

My mentor from high school who remains a friend wrote to ask me what I thought of Sarah Palin. I ignored his email the first time. I knew he probably disagreed with me.

He emailed again, so I told him. I didn’t want to tell it to him, or to myself. It feels something like Bush winning in 2004, only somehow worse. A mixture of disbelief and hopelessness. That there is simply nothing that can be done to save our country. Even if she and McCain do not win, I am so disheartened by the level of support that they have that it doesn’t even matter anymore if they win or lose. My dear mentor, who reads newspapers and is educated and cares about poor people and is not a radical Christian conservative, thinks Palin is great. Too many millionaires running our country in the past, he says. She can be a mom and a leader. He loves that she is anti-abortion, says being a governor provides plenty of experience. And the reason this made me cry sitting right here in Diesel Cafe is because I know he is a good person. If kind, giving, well-meaning people like him who keep up with the news can be convinced by Palin, then what is there to possibly be done?

Sarah Palin makes me cry because I hurt for our country. I try so often to not be overly dramatic or engaged with politics because it feels like such a futile use of my energy. I vote. I am involved in my community. Why get in a tizzy about things that I cannot do much about? Yet, for some reason, Sarah Palin did it for me.

I do not feel like some sort of partisan nut. I do not think the Dems are somehow amazing. But rather, I am just aghast at how bad the Republicans are. It is just that I care about poor people. I care about hard working people. I care about a country that tortures people. A country that is a world leader and runs around invading other countries based on manufactured intelligence. I care about women who have been raped who can’t have a rape kit unless they pay for it themselves. I care about our military people who cannot get decent healthcare after fighting for our country. Or ordinary people who cannot get health care. I am just sad for all the suffering that has been caused by the previous government, and a country that is not able to recognize that. I know many caring people support the Republicans, and have been won over by Sarah Palin. Which is what makes me so upset, I guess. That it is possible for large numbers of people who really do care about others to think that McCain and Palin really care as well. I am just so sad and frustrated that someone like Sarah Palin and John McCain can successfully portray themselves as people who are going to take care of our country… to take care of people.

I always felt like people who considered moving to another country were selling out, were being overly dramatic, were abandoning people in this country who need fairness and justice more than ever. We won’t leave. But I increasingly understand that impetus.

I will get over it. I will re-detach. Do what I can. But it hurts.

Post-Modern Conservativism Tells It Like It Is – Or Isn’t – Or something.

September 2, 2008

Fred Thompson says, “Let’s be clear: the selection of Governor Palin has the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic.”

Right. I’m sure the Dems are the ones in the state of panic. Very Orwellian, no?

Candidates for National Office and Their Children

September 1, 2008

Even though I can think of lots of comments about the fact that Republican VP candidate Gov. Sarah Palin has a teenage daughter who is expecting a baby, and maybe we could all come up with our own little snarky comments, I really really hate to think of a seventeen year old girl who probably is already stressed about, you know, being pregnant, and then all of a sudden not only do her classmates have to know about it and she has to face the judgemental looks of friends and family, and face all the emotions that come with being unexpectedly pregnant and having a baby, but the whole freaking country knows about it and is having their say and judging you. That would just suck. And it is not fair to her. I wish everyone, especially Democrats, would do the right thing and say, “Regardless of the extent to which her mother may or may not be a candidate/woman I like, or the extent to which her mom and others use family life to make political points, we are going to take the high road and spare this young woman more stress and attention and not use her to make some sort of political point.” I don’t think that this will happen, but it at least makes me feel better to say that I wish it would be so.

One Short Thought on McCain’s VP pick

August 30, 2008

I know I am like the ten millionth blogger to have something to say about this because the opportunities for criticism and shock mixed with maybe-this-will-finally-do-McCain-in hopefulness are so plentiful. But seriously, the New York Times says this morning

In choosing Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate and bidding for supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain risked undercutting his case against Barack Obama.

And I just think – exactly how many voters does McCain think were/are  Hillary Clinton supporters who are now going to be like, “Well, HRC didn’t work out, but gosh, that Sarah Palin is a great second choice.” Could McCain actually just think that the great thing everyone thought about Hillary was that she is a woman? Like any one of them ladies will do, right? I am not a huge follower of presidential politics, mostly because I find the whole thing depressing, but I am intrigued by the apparent miscalculation and weird thinking that must have gone into this choice. I am really surprised that no one stopped him. Surely his advisors and other high-up Republicans did not see this as a wise choice. Well, since I think Obama is clearly a better option (although not the savior of the world and politics as many hail him to be) all the better for him – and for us.

Pot Calling the Kettle Black

May 27, 2008

The New York Times reports that Scott McClellan, Bush’s former White House press secretary, has written a memoir about his years where he managed the White House press as the Bush administration took steps to destory the world from July 2003 to April 2006. He is gentle on himself, noting that “I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be.” Less gentle on others, the Times notes McClellan’s claims that

President Bush “convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment,” and has engaged in “self-deception” to justify his political ends.

No way, Jose! How about that. Good thing he wrote this book so that we could know this sort of thing. Wonder how much he got paid for his book? Do you think he actually stayed in the job thinking, if I stick it out long enough, I can write a book? Or he was just blinded by… I don’t know, just having a job? Being part of the action? Enjoying widespread lying and spinning to the public?

Finally, after, like, three years of deceiving to the media, and working for an administration that systematically restricts access to (important, as well as seemingly mundane) information from the media, he

calls the news media “complicit enablers” in the White House’s “carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval” in the march to the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003.

Not that I think the media is that hot. Mr. McClellan just doesn’t seem like the best person to wax all philosophical on the problems with media. Since, you know, it was his job to mislead them.

What, they can’t hide the tapes?

December 8, 2007

I know I am by no means the first person to write about this, but I just find it so absurd and continuing evidence of the absolute horror that this presidential administration has wreaked on our country and world, that it seems worth repeating.

As many of you already know, the CIA has destroyed tapes of of interrogations that included “harsh” interrogation techniques. Harsh probably meaning what most people would consider to be torture. First, our president apparently “doesn’t recall” being told that the tapes had been destroyed. I always feel like when a politician “doesn’t recall” something, especially something important, this really that means, “I don’t want to say if I remember that or not.” But, what I find most wild about this whole story is the CIA’s explanation as to why these tapes were destroyed:

“Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the programme, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaeda and its sympathisers,” [CIA Director Michael Hayden] said (via BBC).

I mean, please tell me that the CIA is able to hide really important things. They don’t have some big top secret vault that they can just lock things in that they don’t want leaked? If it would really be the case the the CIA isn’t able to hide something like this, it seems that this would represent an intelligence issue far greater than the possibility of a few tapes leaking. Couldn’t they get all the people together who run our Central Intelligence Agency and come up with a better reason for destroying these tapes? It just seems so lame.

As with so many things, I feel like blogging about this is such an inadequate response, and almost trivializes the very serious issue of the United States torturing detainees and then covering it up. But, I suppose we do what we can do. So let’s vote. Protest. Blog. Talk to our neighbors. And continue to think something better than what we have now is possible and keep on doing what we can to work toward that.

The End of Brown v. Board

June 28, 2007

This is so absurd and awful I can’t think of anything to say right now.

Doing the Hard Work of Love and Justice: Where is energy best spent?

June 24, 2007

I wrote meditations and prayers for my internship congregation each week when I was the intern minister there.  One theme that came up over and over, for me, was to remind us what was involved and pray for what we needed to “do the hard work of love and justice.” The idea that it is important for us to remember that if we are going to talk about love and justice, as most UUs like to do, it is important to remember that it is about hard work and not just righteous talk or token actions. As I think about what it means to do this in my own life, I often wonder where my energy is best spent to bring about the most good. I know for me, it is often easy to convince myself that what I want to do, or what appeals to me the most, is the best use of my time, especially if what is appealing can seem righteous or really worthy.

All the hub-a-bub about General Assembly, and the not too distant brown bag controversy as had me thinking about what it means to be part of a faith, part of an association, and just what I want my life to look like and where I want to put my attention – how to live out my own call to do the hard work of love and justice.

I think it would be really easy for me to get involved in UUA politics (by this I mean both the important, good work of our Association, and also the somewhat jaded, gossipy politics). I could very easily be a snarky blogger making fun of all the unique and maybe less than common-sense seeming things that happen at GA and in UUism in general. In fact, I do this in my head more than I want, but I try to stop myself.  I think I could have written a scathing post on the whole brown bag thing. But I’m trying not to do this, and put my frustration, anger, and energy into those parts of my life and my faith that seem like they will make the biggest difference.* The question of course is what the best allocation of my time and energy is.
Not that General Assembly or language issues (how we talk about things, for instance, lunches where people need to bring their own lunch) aren’t important, but I am feeling more and more like there are a lot symbolic politics that I could really make a lot out of and that would be sort of fun and feel really important, but I’m not sure if that is where my time and energy should be spent.  And of course, there is the important question of being able to discern symbolic politics from actual important stuff that makes a difference in people’s lives (and makes a difference big enough to be justified, relative to the time and energy spent on it, since time and energy, institutionally and individually, is limited).

All that said, it also seems like one needs to keep one foot in institutional worlds, and bigger questions. I can be a bit leery of the potential for political correctness to run amok. But, then again, some people might tell me that using only male language for God is one of those areas, and what is all the fuss about? And of course, I would argue that it is an important area to be attentive to. Maybe all that happens at UUA headquarters in Boston is not earth-shattering, but certainly some things that happen there and some of what happens at our General Assembly is really important.  The question is how to manage my energy and time – how much can I/should I/must I give to these things that are sort of scarily appealing to jump into, yet at the same time, softly whisper to me that this is not where my energy should go? I think it is so easy to criticize what is not going right or well. It is so much harder to do something different that wouldn’t be make-fun-of-worthy.

Just some reflections on this. No conclusions yet.

*When I talk about making the biggest difference, I don’t mean to imply that UUism is some sort of big social service agency or something that is meant to change the world via our Social Action Committees. For me, I feel like my connection with the divine is, in many ways, through bringing about the kingdom of love/god here on earth. I feel a call to unconditional love, which in some way, I feel emanates from the divine to the world’s beings. This is not meant to be Elizabeth’s Spiritual Treatise on Divine love, but just to clarify that unconditional love is a guiding force in my spiritual journey, which, for me, translates to reducing the suffering of others in both spiritual and material ways, thus the whole thing about “hard work of love and justice.”

**Side note II: This is not to be some sort of broad criticism of snarky criticism or critique of things in general. I think sometimes it is good and needed and constructive. Sometimes it can just be too much, too frequent, and mean. This is mostly about my approach to things.

Short Comment on Building Walls

April 21, 2007

I am shocked that people still haven’t learned that building walls – around neighborhoods, between countries, territories, or cities – never makes things better.

Snoop Gives His Take on Imus

April 12, 2007

This quote (see below) is particularly interesting to me given my twelve-year journey with some young men whom I’ve been lucky enough to mentor, two of whom are African-American and listen to Snoop Doggy-Dog and other such folks. I feel like twelve years later we are still have the same conversations. They go something like this:

One of the young men: Lizabeth, can we change the station?

Me: Yes, but if offensive songs come on we have to change it.

One of the young men: Okay.

(Offensive song comes on the radio)

Me: Please change.

One of the young men: They are bleeping out the words. Why do we have to change it?

Me: I can’t hear that kind of stuff being said about women even if it is being bleeped out. We all know what they are saying.

One of the young men: But we don’t really think that. Either do they.

Me: Don’t you think some people believe it and then these songs seem to make it okay? Do you think it is okay to call women bitches or hoes?

One of the young men: Well only if it is accurate. They aren’t talking about all women.

Me: Well I still don’t like it. We listened to your station enough. Let’s listen to NPR.

And so it goes. The young men are WONDERFUL people and I love and admire them all with the depth of my heart. I think, by and large, they are kind and loving and generally respectful of women, at least more so than most men. They have stopped calling women/girls “chickenheads” which I thought was a good step. :) Yet. I hate that sort of music and I hate that they listen to it and I know it influences them. And thanks to Mr. Snoop D.D. talking about Don Imus, we can see maybe where they get some of their ideas.

If you are offended by rough language, read no further. Here are Snoop’s comments on Imus in response to a comparison between Imus and rap lyrics that ROUTINELY degrade women, including SDD’s lyrics. Oh the outrage Mr. SDD must feel. Bless his little heart. (cough)

It’s a completely different scenario. (Rappers) are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about hoes that’s in the ‘hood that ain’t doing shit, that’s trying to get a nigga for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain’t no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them muthafuckas say we are in the same league as him. Kick him off the air forever.

Except, my dear SDD, guess what? All women suffer from your attitudes towards women and lyrics about women not just those in the “hood” that you assess “ain’t doing shit.” I think Imus is stupid and should be fired (how did he even stay on the air this long anyway?), but I want to see more outrage toward any sort of degrading talk about women and/or people/women of color. I don’t care of your sexism comes from your soul, Snoop. It hurts women, and it hurts the women and boys and men and girls that hear your music and know ALL THE WORDS and sing along and think it is just fine. And most of them are not thinking you are talking about particular women out to get money – such a cop out – because you aren’t and that is clear from your songs. You use women and bitches interchangeably.

Anyway. I thought that quote was important to share. I’m glad to see the outrage about Imus. But stuff like that should get you fired in a blink of an eye. I suppose at least it is helpful that they did it sooner than later.

p.s. I know some of my posts are getting a tad more snarky than usual. I’m not sure what that is about. Maybe a phase? I go through thinking I need to make this an ultra-professional blog, and a more casual approach that allows sarcasm and snarkiness where it is called for. I suppose it is all about balance. Biting commentary can somehow sometimes get a point across in a way that journalistic or academic sort of writing can’t. Yet, it is overdone in the blog world and I don’t want to contribute to that over-done-ness.