Sunday, September 28, 2008

I went underwater six times

Three times at the hands of a solemn-faced SECOND GRADER.

Dunk tanks are a truly interesting experience.

I should cut her some slack...

Since she's getting over Palimania, but Kathleen Parker writes:

When Palin first emerged as John McCain's running mate, I confess I was
delighted. She was the antithesis and nemesis of the hirsute,
Birkenstock-wearing sisterhood -- a refreshing feminist of a different order who
personified the modern successful working mother.

OK, say what? Who the hell are we talking about here? I mean, I know who she's talking about here, but tell me...had American politics really been overwhelmed with women wearing Birkies and not shaving their legs? This is a bit like my approving of John McCain on the grounds that he's a white guy who doesn't wear a mullet and chew tobacco.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Well, I watched it. I am clearly not the target audience, here, since I am an Obama voter--a resigned Obama voter--a slightly cranky Obama voter--but an Obama voter nonetheless.

(Interesting note--at the school's Homecoming rally yesterday, a group of cheerleaders broke into a spontaneous chant I first identified as "HIL-LA-RY! HIL-LA-RY!". Staring in some surprise, I eventually reorganized it in my head as "KILL (the name of the school we are playing tomorrow)."

Points in Obama's favor:

-He clearly knows what he's talking about. Obama never goes into vague rants, he always provides good examples from the text, and he doesn't grandstand.

-He was polite. God, how we need politeness in American politics.

Points against:

-He really needs time on his side to get through these long, detailed ideas he wants to get across. I think snappy is on your side, even in a long format debate. Barack Obama will never be accused of going zero to sixty.

-Everyone is saying he shouldn't have said McCain was right so much, but honestly, when McCain's right, why not say so?

Points in McCain's favor:

-He's got snappy soundbite down, and seemed very 'on' throughout.

Points against:

-He was on slightly shrill attack ALL NIGHT LONG. They'd ask the question, Obama would answer with 'what I will do when I'm president', and McCain would then tear Obama apart. I'm sure I would have felt differently as a McCain supporter, but it felt as though he couldn't clarify his own vision, he just knew that Obama 'didn't get it'. This makes Obama the whole point.

-The ghost of George Bush sat sulking at his side all evening, making it hard to debate. George, last I heard, is alive and well, making this form of astral projection even more interesting.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Saving the World (Part Two)

WBS asks:

I got to hear about how the Holocaust Museum didn't
have anything on gay folks and Roma.

Uhh, wait so is there something too left wing about me
if I wonder about this question too?I attended a shul full of Holocaust
survivors (you probably knowof it) for a while and dare not ask that question to
them, I couldn't -- I'm not cruel like that. But I did ask a Rebbetzin (my age)
why Orthodox Jews weren't involved in civil rights and charity that benefited
everyone. She said she didn't know and that was the end of that conversation and
I never brought it up again.Please tell me how can these questions can possibly
be asked to anyone without offending or hurting them. There is no book anywhere
that could possibly tell me the answer to these kind of questions -- it has to
come from a person (unless there are books?).

Let me clarify this one a little, and see if I can help you make some sense of what you're trying to learn. If I sound critical, please excuse, I'm trying to get at truth here, and it can be rough going.

About the museum:

First, it's a lie, and a stereotypical one. The Holocaust Museum has an enormous range of exhibits and materials on all facets of the Holocaust, including gays and the Roma/Sinti, Jehovah's Witnesses, people targeted for political activities, etc. Although it may not have been at quite at the level it is now in 2001, it has never focused or meant to exclusively on the Jewish experience, although of course that experience looms very large in any study of the Shoah, for sheer numbers' sake. I doubt she'd ever been to the museum, or knew much about it, she'd just read some misinformed rant online, and accepted it as truth. She also, of course, defined the Museum as a solely Jewish project. It's not.

Secondly, it had nothing to do with what we were talking about. She says "Bin Laden didn't do it, the Israelis did, but no one will say that because the US supports everything Israel does." I say "That's anti-Semitic, paranoid and moronic." She says: "The Holocaust Museum is racist." It's a non-sequitur, and one that shows that everything in the anti-Jewish basket is being thrown all at once.

Third, getting back to the idea of the museum being "Jewish", it's an example of an anti-Semitic brain glitch that plagues a lot of well-meaning people, the idea that the Jews are responsible for representing other people's genocide experience. Not Europeans, not Germans, not the other groups themselves, not the United States or Russia, who between them ended the killing in Europe, but the Jews. How selfish, to bear testament to your own suffering, without giving equal representation to the suffering of everyone else, and without making it clear that this is all just a general symbol for inhumanity anyway. It's predicated on the idea that a. Jews have so much money and influence that we could just snap our fingers and reeducate the world, and b. the Shoah is most important as a way for non-Jews to access an understanding of genocide, not as an experience of a particular people and culture.

It's crazy to say that if the world has allowed itself to forget the suffering of the Roma (and ignore their present oppression in Europe), this is first a Jewish responsibility. Any American who's read Bury Me Standing knows as much about the Roma as I do. But I've heard fifty times, "Why don't the Jews talk about other people's Holocaust experience?" First, we do. I've read infinitely more about the Roma, and the Armenian genocide, etc., in Jewish publications than in 'mainstream', let alone lefty mainstream ones. And secondly, it's a crazy mental pretzel in which Jews are responsible for the care and maintenance of the world's memory of genocide, and any shirking of this imaginary responsibility makes us monsters, unworthy to insist on our own history's value.

Imaginary exchange:
"Why don't Jews talk about the Armenian genocide?"
"Buddy, why don't YOU talk about the Armenian genocide, except when you're hatin' on the Jews? Maybe because you don't care about Armenians nearly as much as you dislike Jews?"

Sorry, this is dense free rant. Feel free to ask for clarifications.

About the Orthodox and civil rights/social action, I suspect that the answers you're looking for are complex and layered. For example, are we talking about the present, or the great civil rights hey-day of the '60s? When you say Orthodox, who are we talking about? So I'm stringing together not a cogent answer or argument here, but with some things that come to mind. (Other people, feel free to jump in knowledge is hardly universal.)

First, we are. We do. Jews have always been intensely involved in issues of civil rights and social justice. Most of the Jews involved in the classic civil rights movement activities were the children or granchildren of traditional/observant Jews, even if they themselves, like many young Americans of their generation, were pulling away from tradition. Many observant young Jews were also involved. Definately read about Heschel, who is not only a great and important figure, but also gives a lot of context for the era. There's a new biography of Heschel out, which is on my way-too-long list of books I'm going to read just as soon as I can...I don't know if it's good, but it's definately a place to begin.

Before that, Jewish workers, both frum and defiantly secular were fighting for worker's rights in the sweatshops of New York, shoulder to shoulder with Italian and Polish workers.

Jews of the 1960s were involved in an absorbing range of specifically Jewish issues, including the survival of the state of Israel, and the freedom of Soviet Jews. These issues absorbed many of the greatest activists of two or three generations, and were completely ignored, or actively opposed by most left-wing Gentiles, who saw Jewish freedom and Jewish survival as unimportant, and most likely reactionary, as left- and right-wing Gentiles too often have. Support and solidarity often came from Christian groups, not the mainstream of American activisti.

In terms of the present day, I would say that all organized Jewish groups participate in tzedakeh and social action work of various kinds. The Orthodox shul nearest to my home participates in regular food drives, book drives, literacy work, and organizes its people to feed the homeless. Some Orthodox communities, the Chassidish in particular, prefer to keep a distance from the secular community, and focus their efforts in the Jewish world, in the Modern Ortho. and Conservative communities we go all over, and Reform, the Reform do tzedakeh in outer space if they can figure out how to get there. (Some people aver that they already are there. I was raised High Church Reform, so I simply cheer as the Hadassah ladies strap on their rocket packs.)

Orthodox communities are historically, and in the present, more often immigrants, more often non-English speakers, more often poor, all of which means that they are offered substantial opportunities to do tzedakeh work close to home. This is called community activism in other neighborhoods.

As to why Jews often give our first priority to Jewish, not universal, causes, there's a simple reason. Mostly, no one else will fight for us, no one else will speak for us, no one else will notice if we fall. (To all the crazy people who have, and do, kol ha-kavod). And honestly, I can't think of another American community that faces the level of criticism and self-examination that Jews do for having the nerve to give our time and energy to our own struggle. One wouldn't feel the need to ask why Latinos, say, don't get involved in "charity that benefits everyone" if they work for Spanish-speaking immigrants, or why blacks don't, if they focus their energies on getting black students into colleges. Who's 'everyone'? (Tip, it's never the Jews. We are always 'someone else'.)

About information: Your rebbetzin may be from a community that's too insular for her to know some of this, and if she's your age (I think you're a youngster, no?), she may not know much about American Jewish history. But there is a big Jewish world out there. I don't exactly know what you're looking for, but it's probably somewhere. ;)

Whoooof! Lecture over. Shana tova, and anyone who has recommendations about reading on Jews in civil rights, let me know.

I Love Joe Biden

Minutes ago--"You can't go on giving tax cuts to the super-wealthy--though they're good folks--you have to give the money to people who'll spend it."

I'm sure that wealthy people all over America are comforted tonight that Joe Biden isn't withholding their tax cuts because he doesn't think much of them.

Meanwhile, my bank was seized, and McCain decided to show up for the debate after all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How I Unsubscribed

I guess Naomi pushed some buttons.

I used to be an unsuccessful baby leftist. I was never all that good at it, you see. I was raised with a Jewish consciousness, which puts a lot of the crap of the far left into perspective. I always knew on some level, not too far down, that the identity politics were iffy, and the causes we threw ourselves into were pretty lame, and I was always supporting these middle-of-the-road Democrats and getting annoyed when people referred to Christians as 'fundies', and suggesting that folks who said America in the 90s was a police state didn't quite understand the idea of 'police state'. I was a pretty bad lefty. But I stumbled along, because...crud. I don't know exactly why. I wanted to save the world. I didn't do anything I'm ashamed of, I just spent too much time listening to people who weren't worth it, trying to get into the all-purpose revolution.

Anyway, it's the week after 9/11/01. It was kind of a rough week. (Oh, can I understate.) My in-laws were moving to Hawaii, and they had a flight on the eighteenth, but all the flights were grounded. The nation was in mourning. No one knew what the hell happened next. And I was getting the hell off all my e-mail lists because I couldn't take it any more.

The worst thing was my e-mail list of my old college buddies. This woman I used to be fairly close to forwarded this goddamn thing about the word on the Arab street (what happened to the Arab street, anyway?) was that bin Laden was falsely accused, and Mossad did it, forwarded it with this commentary about the importance of considering 'alternative opinions', and when I gave out a piece of my mind, I got to hear about how the Holocaust Museum didn't have anything on gay folks and Roma, and I unsubscribed from the list, and spent Yom Kippur ranting in my head.

Most of the rest of it was pretty funny, in retrospect. There was the chick from New Zealand, for example, who could empathize with the terrorists because NZ was oppressed by U.S. import tariffs. There was the chick from Britain, who couldn't STAND it that the U.S. was going all Robocop, but if we were going after terrorists, we should start with the Real IRA, who 'actually do a lot of harm'. Oh, there was the guy who knew all about the secret courts under the WTC, and was full of secret information that was being kept from the American public, except of course, for that portion of the American public that had access to the New York Times, but he read it on Indymedia, and thought it was special secret stuff.

So I bailed on being a half-hearted leftist, it just seemed like time. And sometimes I'm horrified when people resurface from my college years, and I see the genuine crazy up close.

I was losing all my senses, I was losing all control,
It was getting so offensive, now you want me back for more, and I just won't go.
If you think you know the answers, then you've got a lot of gall,
Cause it gives you satisfaction, knowing nothing at all.

I don't care anymore, I don't wanna find out what I left there for.
I'm not scared and I'm not lonely, I'm not saving all my money or my breath.
I'm not looking for an answer, I'm not asking anyone to second guess.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm concerned

Frankly, this election seems to be tipping people over the edge. For example, Naomi Wolf seems to have lost her mind.

Has Naomi Wolf always been like this? I ask this sincerely, and plaintively. When I was in college, The Beauty Myth was a big deal, and all of us baby feminists read it very soberly, and she was like, oh so next generation, and even after she seemed kind of passe, I at least assumed she was a scholarly type person who wrote serious books. But this is fairly, well, stupid.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Peanut Butter Chili

The fella has an ongoing desire for thicker chili. This is being thwarted partly because I like it soupy so you can eat it over rice, and partly because it just turns out that way. I'm going to try to change the recipe we're using.

Anyway, the fella heard about putting peanut butter in the chili, so we tried it.

It's slightly Indian, or maybe Thai--basically, it tastes like you put some peanut butter in the chili.

I don't exactly recommend it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This is, for some reason, fascinating me.

I can't decide if it's exploitative, and if so, of what, or who, or if it's just another weird campus activity.

In Nicer News

George Takei got married to his longtime partner Brad Altman this past weekend--mazal tov!

(Look, I'm a longtime Trekkie and a same-sex marriage rights enthusiast. How much better does it get? Nichelle Nichols and the guy who played Chekhov were in the wedding party.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I have volunteered for a dunk tank

Somehow, I seem to have signed up to be in a dunk tank at the Homecoming game at my new school.

I do hope that my freshmen have poor aim.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Arms Raised...In Blessing...Apparently

This afternoon, we had a little going away assembly for the Italians. "The Italians" is how everyone refers to the kids from our sister school in Italy, who have been spending two weeks with us here in California. (We send a group to Italy in the spring.) The Italians visit classes, go on field trips, and break the hearts of our boys. A good time is had by all.

Anyway, we assembled all the kids in the gym/auditorium, and said farewell. One of the school's many little rock bands performed, and there was a slide show showing the Italians in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, and eating ice cream with their host families.

Then our school director, Father Q, asked everyone to rise to their feet, so we did. And Father Q asked everyone to hold our Italian exchange students in our hearts in prayer, and to extend our right arms in blessing to the kids did.

Gym full of kids in bleachers. Standing. Right arms extended out and up from the body at approximately a forty-five degree angle. You got the picture? All it really needed to COMPLETE the picture was a hearty shout of 'heil Hitler!', or possibly in this case 'noi tireremo dritto!'.

Of course, no one could have mistaken us for a Hitler youth rally, not least because the kids are not so good at this maneuver, and only about eighty-five percent of them successfully extend, some have their arms out at shoulder level, and others fail to Also, the kids are wearing Catholic high school polos, and are mostly Latino or black, visual was very vivid anyway.

And all I could think, as we prayed--me with both hands extended in a sort of candlighting gesture--was that what I really prayed was that the Italian kids would not think we were making fun of them.

Apparently they didn't take offense, because they filed out smiling and waving, while our kids yelled 'arrivederci!' and a few of the boys looked tearful that the really hot one was going back to Italy.

Oh. My. God.

Should I say something? I did comment to one of the staff people, in passing, and she knew exactly what I meant, and said she always used her left hand because of that--perhaps we could teach the kids a different gesture of blessing?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Doctrine According to Bush

Once in a blue moon I have to whale on Shmuley Boteach or Dennis Prager,
and this month, Dennis gets it.

He gets it because of this. Allow me, please to be cranky now.
Sarah Palin's reputation survived her interview
with ABC News' Charlie Gibson. The same cannot be said for Charlie

On my radio show last week, I twice defended Barack Obama. Once, against those conservatives who took a comment made by Obama in an interview with George Stephanopoulos out of context and suggested
that Obama had inadvertently admitted he was a Muslim. And again, when I contended that Obama did not imply that Palin was a pig in his now famous "lipstick on a pig" reference.

I mention this only because I want to assume that people of good will on both sides can still be honest about what transpires politically. And in this instance what transpired was that Gibson intended to humiliate Palin.

Oddly enough, I kind of agree with this last, although I am horrified that American politics has gotten so nasty that Prager can pat himself on the back for those two bits of clarity. I do think that Charlie Gibson may have been indulging himself in a bit of a 'gotcha' moment.

But it shouldn't have worked. And it did.

It wasn't even subtle. Virtually everything Gibson did and virtually every
question he posed was designed to trap, or trick, or demean Gov. Palin.
There are views of his face that so reek of contempt that anyone shown
photos of his look would immediately identify it as contemptuous. But one series of questions, in particular, blew any cover of impartiality and
revealed Gibson's aim to humiliate Palin.

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush -- well, what do you -- what do you interpret it to

PALIN: His worldview?

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before
the Iraq war.

I realize that every wingnut in the free world has been trying to redefine those simple words for a few days now. I'm going to be blunt. I am not a politician. I am not even one of the better-informed wonks of my acquaintance. But if I had been asked that question, I would have been able to identify the Bush Doctrine as asserting that the United States will use preemptive force against nations it believes may be acting or will act in the future against the United States or the interests of the United States.

That is what it means. I'm sorry, but that it what it actually means, that's what people mean when they say "the Bush Doctrine". That, and not George Bush's 'worldview' is what kids will learn in school when the Bush Doctrine has joined the Monroe Doctrine on the shelves of history. This is neither arcane nor special knowledge.

As for what happened in September, 2002, let's check in with Frontline,
shall we?

Twenty months into his presidency, George W. Bush releases his administration's National Security Strategy (NSS). It is the first time the various elements of the Bush Doctrine have been formally articulated in
one place. The 33-page document presents a bold and comprehensive reformulation of U.S. foreign policy. It outlines a new and muscular American posture in the world -- a posture that will rely on preemption to deal with rogue states and terrorists harboring weapons of mass destruction. It states that America will exploit its military and economic power to encourage "free and open societies." It states for the first time that the U.S. will never allow its military supremacy to be challenged as it was during the Cold War. And the NSS insists that when America's vital interests are at stake, it will act alone, if necessary.

OK? Clear? Now, back to Dennis:

When he asked Palin whether she agreed with the Bush Doctrine
without defining it, he gave the game away. He lost any pretense of fairness. Asking the same nanswerable question three times had one purpose -- to humiliate the woman. That was not merely partisan. It was mean. I couldn't answer it -- and I have been steeped in international affairs since I was a Fellow at the Columbia University School of International Affairs in the 1970s. I have since been to 82 countries, and have lectured in Russian in Russia and in Hebrew in Israel. Most Americans would consider a candidate for national office who had
such a resume qualified as regards international relations. Yet I had no clue how to answer Gibson's question.

Oh COME ON Dennis. I knew exactly what he meant, despite having none of those qualification, and so did you, and Sarah Palin would have too, if she were in any way qualified for the office she is running for.

I had no clue because there is no right answer. There are at least four
doctrines that are called "Bush Doctrine," which means that there is no "Bush Doctrine." It is a term bereft of meaning, as became abundantly clear when Gibson finally explained what he was referring to:

GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that -- the right to preemptive attack of a country that was planning an attack on America?

That's the Bush Doctrine? "The right to preemptive attack of a country that was planning an attack on America?"Isn't that just common sense? What country in history has thought it did not have the right to attack those planning to attack it? I learned the "Bush Doctrine" when I was a student at yeshiva in the fourth grade, when I was taught a famous Talmudic dictum from about 1,800 years ago: "If someone is coming to kill you, rise early and kill him."

Actually, Gibson's definition is lousy, because it does not emphasize that the BD applies in cases, such as Iraq say, where no present danger exists, but national safety interests can conceivably be at stake. This is a theory that emphasizes a preemptive response to rogue states, and states harboring terrorists. It is NOT a commonsense reaction to another
sovereign nation planning an attack.

And preemptive attack is exactly what happened in June 1967, when Israel attacked Egypt and Syria because those countries were planning to attack Israel. Would any American president before George W. Bush have acted differently than Israel did? Of course not. Did they all believe in the Bush Doctrine?

And, having dishonestly set up Gibson's definition as the right one, we now pretend that the 2002 NSS has nothing new in it, and certainly nothing controversial. Plus, we deftly manage to suggest that if you critique the Bush doctrine, you oppose Israel's right to self-defense. Slick.

That is how Gibson added foolishness to his meanness. All the interview did was reconfirm that Republicans running for office run against both their Democratic opponent and the mainstream news media. This year it is more obvious than ever. The press's beatification of Obama is so obvious, so constant (how many covers of Newsweek and Time has Obama been on?) that media credibility even among many non-conservatives has been hurt.

Let me put this another way. Charlie Gibson showed far greater hostility
toward the Republican vice-presidential candidate than Dan Rather did in his interview with Saddam Hussein or Mike Wallace did in his interview with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Which reminds me of another Talmudic dictum: "Those who are merciful to the cruel will be cruel to the merciful."

We might call it the media's Gibson Doctrine: Confront Republicans, act
obsequious toward tyrants.

Wail, whine, carry on. He asked her a question, Dennis, and she couldn't answer. Worse, she couldn't state "As you know, Charlie, there are various interpretations of exactly what the phrase "Bush Doctrine" covers. Can you ask me a more specific question?" which would have about handled it. Instead, she winged it, which allowed Gibson to be lazy and let her get away with only saying that she believed in national self-defense, quite different from the real question he meant to ask.

Sarah Palin, I guess, is the merciful in your little quote above? Don't tell a

How Young Is Young?

Random funny things about age:

Five years ago, I had a summer job working for SF Aidswalk. One day, I stopped at a bookstore to get a Newsweek, and began an conversation with the college kid behind the counter about the cover, which had to do with Iraq.

"It's really frightening," the college kid said, "because you know, my generation has never had to deal with being in a war before."

I had just turned thirty. Suppressing a smile (and the desire to tell her that I was still using a sippy cup when Vietnam ended), I headed back to the office to tell a coworker of about twenty-five what had happened.

"Oh, I would never think you were thirty," said coworker. "I mean, you look like you're my age, maybe."

I felt very elderly, and wise in the ways of war.

Anyway, this afternoon, I was reading a blog post by a Jewish activist I vaguely know from years back, who comments that a website she likes is geared to 'young women, like me'. This gal is at least four years my senior.

Does going on forty count as 'young'? Or did the Third Wave Feminists simply decide to be teenyboppers all our lives?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Moose hunting is big in Iowa

Kay Hymowitz declares in heavily loaded code:

Palin represents a red-state version of feminism that completely deconstructs
this framework. Sure, part of the red staters’ identification with Palin is a
matter of lifestyle. Blue-state feminists live in big cities and suburbs; Palin
lives in South Podunk. Blue staters’ kids play soccer; Palin’s play hockey. They
have WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER bumper stickers; she’s a member of the NRA. They dine on sushi; she eats salmon that she caught and gutted. If you’re an Iowa toll collector married to a refrigerator repairman, Palin may well be your gal by
reason of her origin and leisure activities alone.

Oh, Lord have mercy on us. This, this floof is what gives me the culture wars headache.


1. While coastal big cities are dark deep blue, most red-state women do not live in the boondocks. They live in cities, towns and suburbs.

2. Hockey is not a blue-collar sport, it is a northerner's sport. Also popular in blue Minnesota. Soccer is increasingly popular in affluent communities (Ms. Hymowitz's exact point), but most kids, red and blue, play baseball and basketball. Also, hockey is not a cheap sport. Just sayin'.

3. Supporting the war and supporting domestic gun rights are two totally separate things. Just sayin'.

4. I've caught and gutted a salmon. I also like sushi.

5. Why the hell would an Iowa toll collector identify with this woman? Because she's a moose hunter? Moose hunting is big in Iowa? If you told me she was a scrapbooker, I think she'd have the red-state feminist vote locked down.

Signing off to dine on sushi, and get my chakras aligned.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bloggin' With Maggie

Maggie is my new laptop, a birthday present from my parents. She's red. (All my computers are red.)

I am now ONLINE with Maggie, and for the first time in over a year, I will be able to blog from my own machine, without bugging the fella for more computer time.

Ahh, the goodness.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I Have A Culture Wars Headache

The RNC did my head in, but at least Barack looks a lot better to me now, and I have remembered why I'm a liberal Democrat, even if the other liberal Democrats sometimes make me want to poke them with sharp sticks.

OMG, as my students sometimes say.

Here follow some comments on the events of the past week, in no particular order:

1. Cutest moment of the RNC--Piper Palin licking her hand and slicking down baby brother's hair firmly, with the camera GLUED to her.

2. Fred Thompson did a damn good speech. I disagreed with, like, every word, including the 'the's and the 'uh's, but it was a good speech.

3. Giuliani is funny, and easier for me to relate to than most of the GOPers. I did find the spectacle of the former mayor of New York City carrying on about small town values slightly awkward, but what the hell.

4. For a party that has of late prided itself on not being the party of victimhood, the RNC was kind of a victimfest. "Oh, poor us, the liberal media elites don't like us. The Democrats control Congress. No one appreciates our small-town values. We have no one in Washington except a president we don't much like anymore and therefore won't mention to represent us. Woe are we. Government stands in our way." It was kind of fascinating. I was tempted to ask if they'd like some cheese with that whine, but that would probably immediately identify me as a Chardonnay-drinking liberal elite.

5. I can't believe that Sarah took the father of Bristol's baby to the RNC with her. I realize that they're trying to spin him as a future son-in-law, yadda yadda, but honestly, what kind of message is this? Get my daughter pregnant and I will take you to the RNC, put you up in a nice hotel, and let you preen in front of the media? The kid should have been home, working at 7/11 to raise money for Pampers, and watching his girlfriend wave to the cameras on TV. I wanted to smack him.

6. OK, thought experiment. All these self-righteous right-wing morons who've been so very understanding and nice about Bristol's pregnancy--yes, O'Reilly, Dobson and etc., I am looking right at your hypocritical smug mugs--I just want you to envision for a moment what would have happened if Chelsea Clinton had announced when she was seventeen that she was expecting a baby. Yeee-hah! Yes, it would have been a slaughter. It's not that I object to them being decent for a change, it's just that I object to their being decent only for the families of people they like.

7. I am gobsmacked and entranced by the Republican Party's sudden and total conversion to liberal career feminism.

8. Cindy McCain's green dress was cool, but that yellow shirtdress thing was just too weird.

9. Laura Bush was classy as ever, and I appreciate that she stood up in front of the whole RNC and made them listen to some nice things her husband has done.

10. Sarah's clothes are great.

Liberal media elite signing out.

Life Happens

Last year I was standing in the yard, watching a group of the kids chatting with each other, when I suddenly noticed that Ahuva was pregnant.

Ahuva was fifteen, a cousin of one of my other students, and had a lousy attendence record, and so far that was all I knew about her. Now I knew something else, as I noticed that she was developing a little bump and a new fullness and color to her face. I didn't know if she had told anyone. I made a note to talk to our office lady and see if she knew--she knew everything about the kids.

Next day, one of the moms stopped to talk to me about her son, and asked in passing if we were having a shower for the pregnant girl in the class. She had a lot of baby things from when her youngest was born, she explained, and she wondered if the girl might want them--nice things--and well, she hadn't known that one of the girls was pregnant, but her son told her--he was the girl's friend--anyway, if she could help out, please let her know. And that afternoon was the staff meeting, so I asked the pertinent question, "Is Ahuva pregnant?"

"Oh, yes," said the administrative director. Well, great. I mentioned, in passing, trying not to sound too tetchy, that I would have appreciated knowing that sooner, so that, say, I would know to give her bathroom passes more freely, and also, possibly, now that I knew, getting some information on due dates, and doctor's numbers, so that if the kid went into labor in the middle of my midterm I did not end up delivering the child on the filthy linoleum in my classroom.

It seemed to vaguely interest my coworkers that I saw this as a medical matter. There were some muted assurances that I would get some kind of information--if they could get it.I mentioned the idea of a baby shower, and the offer of hand-me-downs. The coworkers seemed disturbed by the idea. We didn't want to glorify teen pregnancy. I mentioned in passing that all babies need onesies and play saucers regardless of their mothers' ages, and that I didn't think any of our girls were going to get pregnant if they saw you got free Pampers in exchange, and let it drop. It bugged me, though. It was as though we thought that because she was too young to be pregnant we could act as though the pregnancy wasn't our community's problem, and believe me, we didn't take that attitude toward ANYTHING. This was a school that took obscene measures to meet our student's various stupid needs, but it actually hadn't occurred to anyone that a pregnant kid has different needs than a non-pregnant kid, or that it would be a good idea for us to meet with Ahuva and family and come up with a going-into-labor at school contingency plan. Or a having-a-baby-during-junior-year plan.

A week or so later, Ahuva's doctor put her on bedrest, and I never saw her again. I pray that the child is healthy, that Ahuva is happy, and that someone in her life is making her finish high school and go on to college.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Machatenim update

The fella's uncle, we are pleased to report, was picked up from Houma, LA on Saturday, along with his girlfriend, the girlfriend's daughter, and their dog, and relocated to the family homestead, considerably inland.

So far, it looks like the center of the storm will steer clear of said family homestead.

She's Adorable

I went to bed on Thursday night, worn out and fairly low. I got home late, tried to watch the Obama speech, and found I couldn't be bothered. Whatever...the campaign was boring me.

I woke up on Friday and had to check three different sites, including the New York Times before I managed to believe McCain had actually tapped Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his VP pick. And the campaign was no longer boring.


I have to admit that I just adore Palin. She's cute as a button, wears catseye glasses and a beehive, shoots moose, and has five kids. I love everything about her, except for her politics.

You can't win 'em all.

It's gonna be a wild ride, folks.