Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hurricane Relief for Haiti

Over one million are affected in Haiti by the recent hurricanes: Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike. The actual death toll rose to more than 800. Cities and towns, including Gonaives, Jacmel, Cabaret and Mirebalais, are flooded, causing more than 1/8 of the population to become homeless, the loss of thousands of livestock, and the destruction of infrastructure (roads, bridges, and schools) and agricultural plantations. “I have never seen anything as painful”, said Dr. Paul Farmer.

The New England Haiti Relief Effort announces two initiatives:

• A Radiothon on Saturday, September 20th from 12 to 6PM, on Radio Concorde 1580 AM, Boston, and several other media outlets)

• A Megathon on Sunday, September 21st from 2PM to 6PM – at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont St, Boston

Please make monetary contributions at:
• Citizens Bank, Account # 1313181878. Please make checks payable to “New England Haiti Hurricane Relief Fund."

Partial list of Supporting Organizations:

Association of Haitian Women (AFAB), Center for Community Health Education and Research (CCHER), Coalition des Roche-à-Batelais pour l’Expansion Locale (CORABEL), Foundation for the Technological and
Economic Advancement of Mirebalais (FATEM), Gonaives en Marche, Haitian Multi-Service Center/ Catholic Charities, Haitian American Public Health Initiatives (HAPHI), Haitian-Americans United (HAU), Home Town
Association Resource Group, Mass. Community Health Services in Brockton, The Road to Development, YOFES, EDEM Foundation, etc…

Monday, September 22, 2008

Female Bonding Isn't Feminism

Ellen Goodman wrote last week that some conservatives are calling liberal women out because they won't support Sarah Palin for Vice President. Aside from the fact that you can't do that without voting for McCain as President, the charges of hypocrisy ring all hollow.

Feminism is not, and never was, an attempt to replace the Good Old Boys with the Good Old Girls. Feminism is an analysis of how power works and how to end oppression.

From the 1960's to now, step by step, feminists have pointed out:

*Prejudice: the mental image of women as inferior.

*Discrimination: actions that keep women in an inferior position (whether the acts are based on prejudice, or on male self-interest, or inertia, or just plain obliviousness).

*Woman-hatred, as expressed in degrading images of women and degrading language about women.

*Rape and sexual violence.

*Institutionalized discrimination: where seemingly neutral standards, like long hours and no provision of child care for men or women, actually hurt women more.

Who would do more to oppose these strategies of domination? Good Old Girl Sarah Palin, who doesn't even recognize they exist? John McCain, who verbally abuses his wife in public? Or Michelle Obama's husband?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lipstick Traces

Last week, Barack Obama said:

"John McCain says he’s about change too, and so I guess his whole angle is, ‘Watch out George Bush — except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove-style politics — we’re really going to shake things up in Washington,'” he said.

“That’s not change. That’s just calling something the same thing something different. You know you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. You know you can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, it’s still going to stink after eight years. We’ve had enough of the same old thing.”

This week's news: The McCain campaign accused Obama of slyly denigrating Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. Former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift (R) says the comment is clearly about Palin. “There’s only one woman in the race.’”By that logic, Obama was calling Palin a pig.

Tomorrow's news: The Cosmetics Industry Association (CIA) denounced Obama for his association of lipstick with animals. "It's an insult to our tens of millions of customers to put the words 'lipstick' and 'pig' in the same sentence," said Bella Schweinhundt, CIA spokesperson. She called lipstick "a perfectly legal product" and threatened to stop Senator Obama at airports until informed that power belonged to the other CIA.

Weekend news: People for Ethical Verbiage about Animals (PEVA) called on Obama to stop associating animals with lipstick. "In real life, cosmetics testing harms countless cute, adorable animals every year. By talking about putting lipstick on pigs, Obama is condoning this form of exploitation, which is tantamount to torture," claimed PEVA spokesperson Lotta Katz. She then explained that "tantamount" is not a breed of horse, so no animals were harmed in the making of her statement, according to Katz.

Monday's news: Jews And Muslims Together Over Dietary Allusions, Yuck! (JAM TODAY) asked the Obama campaign to retract any statements that referred in any way to pork, shellfish, cheeseburgers, or alcohol. The Obama campaign welcomed the JAM TODAY statement. "See, I told you Obama was not a Muslim," campaign spokesperson Christian Nazarene said.

Nest week's news: it is revealed that John McCain used the expression "lipstick on a pig" long before Barack Obama did. (True!) The candidate shrugged off the comparison. "I've changed my position on immigration, on the Religious Right, and even on torture, and nobody cared. Why should they start paying attention now?"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Battered and neglected

Why is it that as soon as one storm leaves Haiti broken and bleeding, all the reporters leave too? Why do we open our hearts and our pocketbooks to victims of earthquakes and tsunamis but not to victims of floods and mudslides that bury houses? Haiti's revolution happened at about the same time as the American Revolution. Thousands of Haitian parents have named their boys Franklin, Jackson, Washington, Jefferson. Why is it so hard for people in the U.S. to care about Haiti?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Obama, a Liberal for the 21st Century

The 18th-century liberal (think John Locke) believed that lawlessness was the greatest evil, and government the lesser and necessary evil. Freedom is only possible when there's a greater force to keep the strong from despoiling the weak.

The 19th-century liberal (John Stuart Mill) saw that the "greater force" could be economic. Unrestrained capitalism creates chaos in people's lives. Government, in its place, can be a force for good, by using its power agains the power of the market.

The 20th-century liberal (Franklin Roosevelt, John Maynard Keynes, John Kenneth Galbraith) saw corporate power as potentially the most destructive force around, and democratic, constitutional government as the champion of the people.

Barack Obama is not the radical some have painted him. He is a 21st-century liberal.

“Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems,” the Illinois senator told a crowd of Democratic delegates and other supporters at Invesco Field, in Denver. “But what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves — protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.”

This is vintage 20th-century liberalism. What's new is his redefinition of government's role. He sees government as investing in nonprofits more than it expands social welfare programs, and his language about social entrepreneurship (a big buzzword among philanthropic foundations these days) makes it sound like government is just the biggest, richest foundation out there.

I think this is an inadequate conception of government, but for better or worse, it is the new liberalism. I hope we get a chance to see it in action.