succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

Jesus. Where to even start? I don't know what to say...I don't feel like I have the right to say anything...A few times I thought I might be sick. The movie isn't graphic. But I was that ashamed. How could we let this happen? It's happening again, in Darfur, right now, while I sit in my comfortable apartment typing these words. And I watch the evening news, and I think, how horrible, and I go back to eating dinner. Precisely as we are accused of doing in the movie. Precisely as I did ten years ago too. It makes everything else seem futile, and no action seem like enough...but then, I know that's a useless attitude. Inaction now would hardly make inaction then any less horrible.

I'm tired of people telling me that Bush has never really lied, per se, just, perhaps, misspoke or exaggerated or allowed his underlings to tell something less than the truth. Bob Harris has a nice referenced list of just a few of the outright lies Bush told during one little speech. (by the way, one of the links branched from Bob's site goes to, which has a lovely color-coded take on the SotU. I'd pour over it and comment but I think my head might asplode.) Whenever my Dad is working on a particularly controversial sample, involving lawyers and potential lawsuits, one of the ways he tries to diffuse the situation is to get everyone to agree on something, then work outward from there. i.e. let's all agree that people are getting cancer and that's bad. ok, now, let's toss around why people might be getting cancer and what we need and can do about it. So, let's all agree that, at the very least, our leader should be held to a certain standard of truthfulness when reporting to Congress. Then we can debate over the actual merits of what he's saying.

ps - whomever commented several posts ago that they know how to contact mark or kate? Um, thanks, but without leaving more information your comment was kind of useless. So, if you could get back to me, that would be awesome.

Friday, February 04, 2005

No fair! Dad gets to swim with manatees. Posted by Hello

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Meant to post this a while ago, so somewhat old news, but Carrie has a particularly excellent take on Black History Month and racism in general over on her blog. Go read it.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Sameera is back! And there was much rejoicing. He made the best entrance too - no one knew for sure even if he was returning, much less when. Then this afternoon the elevator doors slide open, and there he is! Fantastic.

Musings on loneliness - Ok, being lonely isn't something I often admit to, but this afternoon during our marathon homework session three of my classmates got confessional about their anxiety levels regarding our weekly homework assignments. And in one way, it was reassuring, because they all admitted to feeling nearly identically to what I was describing a few days ago. On the other hand, it reminded me of Ahalya's thoughts on wanting a wife (whom I would link to appropriately but doesn't seem to have perma-links set up). But more than someone to cook and clean for me, I want the emotional support of a partner. All three of my classmates (two marrieds, one long-term relationship) told their stories in the context of freaking out to their significant other. Well, bully for them. When I dissolve into a puddle and throw my notebooks across the apartment the cat is the best I can hope for for comfort. And, while I have just about the best friends a gal could ever imagine, much less deserve, it's not the same.

All right, on to other topics. Carrie (and any other New Yorkers) - is this for real? Good grief!

The point here is that neither the city nor the state has a dime to spare. Subway lines are falling apart because 19th-century signal systems have been neither upgraded nor protected. Plans for critically needed school construction are being deferred. After-school programs, which are literally lifelines for many youngsters, have to be shut down because they are not "affordable."

And yet. Ah, yes. If there's one thing in this unhappy fiscal environment that Mayor Bloomberg will absolutely go to the mat for (carrying along the governor and any other powerful figures he can muster), it's that football stadium for his fellow billionaire, Robert Wood Johnson IV, owner of the New York Jets.

At $1.4 billion, this playground for the richest among us would be the most expensive sports stadium in the history of the world. The city and the state, which can't afford toilet paper for the public schools, would put up a minimum of $600 million and undoubtedly much more. The smart money says the public will take at least a billion-dollar hit on this project so Woody Johnson can hold court amid a sea of luxury boxes hard by the Hudson on the Far West Side of Manhattan.

How foolish is this project? They're planning to build a 75,000-seat stadium without any parking facilities to go along with it. Can you imagine what the West Side will look like on a game day? (The mayor's people got into a snit last October when officials in New Jersey wouldn't let Hizzoner land his helicopter at the Jets' current home in the New Jersey Meadowlands. He wanted to arrive too close to game time, the officials said. They suggested he come by bus.)

And in a lovely Margaret Mead moment ("Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, dedicated citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.") - There's this guy, Eric Reeves, private citizen, professor at Smith College. During the Clinton administration he was so incensed over the situation in Sudan that he did his research, then proceeded to e-mail policymakers and members of the press, denouncing the American policy there (or lack thereof). And these days the current senior state department official on Sudan reads everything Reeves sends him. At least, according to the article,

Reeves's campaign five years ago had a clear effect. His writings encouraged more and harsher press attention to Sudan; activists and church groups were energized; Western oil companies cut off their links with the country, and Albright's tone toughened. When the Bush administration took office the next year, evangelicals persuaded it to make Sudan a top Africa priority. Four years of high-level U.S. attention have driven Sudan's government to sign a peace deal with the south, signaling a victory for the moralist view of foreign policy.
Again, Reeves has made some progress. Last February, before journalists had woken up to the slaughter in Darfur, Reeves wrote an op-ed in The Post titled "Unnoticed Genocide." At the time, talk of "genocide" was frowned upon as loose, but Reeves knew the language of the U.N. genocide convention as well as he knew what was happening on the ground, and by the summer Congress and then later the Bush administration and the European Union parliament had adopted his terminology.

Of course, things are far from rosy in Sudan. But how tremendously inspiring that one individual, one non-politician, has left his undeniable imprint on this country's foreign policy?

And in much more discouraging (or motivating?) news:

I've been talking to Peter Edelman, a Georgetown University law professor who is thoughtful, liberal, incredibly decent -- and alarmed over the national budget President Bush will shortly propose.

"For virtually all of my adulthood," he said, "America has had a bipartisan agreement that we ought to provide some basic framework of programs and policies that provide a safety net, not just for the poor but for a large portion of the American people who need help to manage.

"There've been exceptions -- the first Reagan term with David Stockman, the brief ascendancy of Newt Gingrich -- but while we've argued about the specifics, the basic framework has been there.

"With this budget, the basic framework is being dismantled."

Before you dismiss it as partisan hyperbole, hear Edelman's specifics: The basic structure of Social Security is under attack (on the grounds that the program is in crisis, though most respected economists say it isn't). Pell Grants for college tuition are on the cutting block. So are Section 8 housing vouchers (which started under Richard Nixon) and food stamps. Programs that have offered some protection for people in the lower third of the economy are under threat of evisceration.
"The federal budget is not just an accounting tool. It is a statement about our priorities and our values as a nation. But because of decisions this president made to benefit an elite few -- at the expense of the rest of us -- we're now facing a set of budget choices that are unsupportable, immoral and dangerous."

(emphasis mine)

I can't take it anymore. I try to be tolerant and open-minded and accept that yes, of course, people will view things differently and have different opinions regarding the best way to spend (or not spend) government dollars and I keep paying lip service to the concession that yes, many conservatives don't want to spend money on social programs, and hey, that's their opinion and maybe they're right. But I just can't do it anymore. I'm sorry. It's just wrong and I can't pretend that I think otherwise. Look, I'm glad that you and your family and every ancester back three hundred years pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and didn't need any charity from anyone, thankyouverymuch. But you know what? Sometimes shit happens. And sometimes shit isn't your fault. And sometimes you can't do it yourself. And it's just cold and mean and small to deny that fact. And yeah, sure, there will always be people taking advantage of a system like that, there will always be people accepting food stamps or cashing a welfare check or living in subsidized housing who are just taking advantage of the system and aren't really deserving of the help. But you know what? If that's the price I pay for putting a roof over the head of some teenager who got kicked out of the house when he came out of the closet, I'm ok with that. If that's the price I pay for putting milk in a baby's stomach who's mother just lost her job because she had to stay home from work for one day to take the kid to a doctor's appointment, I'm ok with that. Go ahead. Call me a bleeding heart liberal. I'll wear it with pride.