Thursday, June 23, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I adored Molly Ivins. If you didn't know her, she was a liberal journalist and columnist from Texas, with a strong sense of justice and a wonderful appreciation of the absurd. Here is a collection of quotes from her, but I strongly recommend you get hold of some of her books to get a real sense of her. Here are a couple that struck me:
"I still believe in Hope - mostly because there's no such place as Fingers Crossed, Arkansas."
"The United States of America is still run by its citizens. The government works for us. Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world. We want and need to work with other nations. We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood."
"I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point -- race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything."
Monday, June 13, 2011
THE Arab Spring is inching its way into Saudi Arabia — in the cars of fully veiled drivers.
On the surface, when a group of Saudi women used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to organize a mass mobile protest defying the kingdom’s ban on women driving, it may have seemed less dramatic than demonstrators facing bullets and batons while demanding regime change in nearby countries. But underneath, the same core principles — self-determination and freedom of movement — have motivated both groups. The Saudi regime understands the gravity of the situation, and it is moving decisively to contain it by stopping the protest scheduled for June 17.
The driving ban stems from universal anxiety over women’s unrestrained mobility. In Saudi Arabia that anxiety is acute: the streets — and the right to enter and leave them at will — belong to men. A woman who trespasses is either regarded as a sinful “street-walker” or expected to cover herself in her abaya, a portable house. Should she need to get around town, she can do so in a taxi, with a chauffeur (there are 750,000 of them) or with a man related to her by marriage or blood behind the wheel.
Although the Islamic Republic of Iran could not implement similarly draconian driving laws after the 1979 revolution, given that women had driven cars there for decades, the theocratic regime did denounce women riding bikes or motorcycles as un-Islamic and sexually provocative. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, proclaimed in 1999 that “women must avoid anything that attracts strangers, so riding bicycles or motorcycles by women in public places involves corruption and is forbidden.”
The Saudi regime, like the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the military junta in Sudan and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria, ordains the exclusion of women from the public sphere. It expects women to remain in their “proper place.”
Indeed, the rulers in Saudi Arabia are the most gender-segregated in the world today. In official ceremonies, and in countless photographs, posters and billboards, the royal family seems to be composed solely of men.
This desire to deny women entrance into the public arena is inaccurately presented as a religious mandate. Yet there is no basis for such exclusion in the Koran. On the contrary, in the early years of Islam, women were a vital presence in Muslim communities. They attended mosques, engaged in public debates and got involved in decision-making processes. Aisha, one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, commanded an army of men while riding on a camel. If Muslim women could ride camels 14 centuries ago, why shouldn’t they drive cars today? Which Koranic injunction prohibits them from driving?
Gender apartheid is not about piety. It is about dominating, excluding and subordinating women. It is about barring them from political activities, preventing their active participation in the public sector, and making it difficult for them to fully exercise the rights Islam grants them to own and manage their own property. It is about denying women the basic human right to move about freely.
That is why the women defying the ban on motorized mobility are in fact demanding an eventual overhaul of the entire Saudi political system. They want not just to drive but to remap the political geography of their country.
These women know the value of a car key. Like the man who faced down tanks in Tiananmen Square, like the unprecedented number of women participating in protests across the Middle East and North Africa, the Saudi women’s campaign for the right to drive is a harbinger of a new era in the region.
It may require decades to see an end to the Middle East’s gender apartheid and the political reconfigurations that would necessarily follow. One thing is certain though: the presence of women and men demonstrating side by side in the streets of Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria is a sign of more seismic upheavals ahead. Old categories have broken down and the traditional distribution of power and space is no longer viable.
The women demonstrating for the right to drive in Riyadh are seasoned negotiators of confined spaces and veteran trespassers of closed doors and iron gates. They are a moderating, modernizing force to be reckoned with — and an antidote to extremism.
Their refusal to remain silent and invisible or to relinquish their rights as citizens is an act of civil disobedience and moral courage. Their protest, and those of their sisters across the Middle East, represent a revolution within revolutions — and a turning point in the contemporary history of Islam.
Farzaneh Milani, chairwoman of the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia, is the author of “Words, Not Swords: Iranian Women Writers and the Freedom of Movement.”
My hopes are with these women.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The Cato Institute, which is libertarian in outlook, put out this video on the Constitutional case for same sex marriage. Two of the speakers are David Bois and Theodore Olsen, the team of one liberal one conservative lawyer trying to overturn California's Proposition 8:
Just read this article on Sarah Sentilles, who just wrote a book called Why I Broke Up with God. There were a couple of passages in the article I loved:
"People assume I’m an atheist, but I’m not. I don’t know what I am, but if I had to choose a label I’d choose agnostic. When I say that people usually ask me if I think God exists, and I usually give them the answer that my teacher, Gordon Kaufman, used to give me: The question of God’s existence isn’t the right question because it won’t get you very far. It’s a question human beings can’t answer. If we take God’s mystery seriously, then we can never know. I think there are better questions that we can be answering: What does a particular vision of God do to those who submit to it and to those who won’t submit to it? What difference is my version of God making? Who is it harming? In one of his books, Kaufman writes, “The central question for theology... is a practical question. How are we to live? To what should we devote ourselves? To what causes give ourselves?” He argues that theology that does not contribute significantly to struggles against inhumanity and injustice has lost sight of its point of being."
"Are you hoping to just inform readers? Give them pleasure? Piss them off?
I am hoping to do all three. I hope to help people see the wide range of possible ways to think about God. There are so many more versions of God in the Christian theological tradition than most people know about. Why has our own tradition been kept from us? And I’m not just talking about feminist and liberation and black and womanist and queer theology, which I wish everyone would read. I’m also talking about the old white male theologians who wrote amazing stuff—like Freidrich Schleiermacher and Paul Tillich. These guys wrote powerful, revelatory, life- changing stuff about God, and I feel like most theology has been lost and forgotten, or just plain ignored. Communities need to reclaim their histories. I hope to help people expand their visions for God. And I hope that will be a pleasurable experience."
I'm so angry at Rep. Anthony Weiner I could spite - and polish his kn...no, no, mustn't go there. Anyway, he has been a great voice defending liberal ideas and pointing out some of the stupider GOP positions with passion, humor, and verve. Now he's lost his credibility with behavior typically indulged in by teenagers and much-retired football players. In other words, Rep. Weiner, it is immature behavior. GROW UP.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
It would end Medicare and replace it with a Vouchercare, cutting checks to insurance companies. Let's be honest, folks - if people actually want lower cost medical care, then the best way to go is a single payer system. Medicare costs have grown, true, but is still admiistratively much cheaper than private insurance, which has to pay the heavy administrative costs for denying people coverage. Let's also keep in mind the figure 40,000 - the number of people who die each year because of lack of medical coverage.