Friday, June 02, 2006

It Is Not a Political Issue; It Is a Moral Issue

Via Miniver Cheevy, one of my new favorite blogs, comes this review by Roger Ebert of Al Gore's new movie, AIT: "'In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film.'"

Ebert goes on to say, "In England, Sir James Lovelock, the scientist who proposed the Gaia hypothesis (that the planet functions like a living organism), has published a new book saying that in 100 years mankind will be reduced to 'a few breeding couples at the Poles.' Gore thinks 'that's too pessimistic. We can turn this around just as we reversed the hole in the ozone layer. But it takes action right now, and politicians in every nation must have the courage to do what is necessary. It is not a political issue. It is a moral issue.'

When I said I was going to a press screening of "An Inconvenient Truth," a friend said, "Al Gore talking about the environment!!" This is not a boring film. The director, Davis Guggenheim, uses words, images and Gore's concise litany of facts to build a film that is fascinating and relentless. In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to."

I have a grandson. I'm seeing the movie on Monday night with a group of witches. I hope that you will see it, too.

Friday June Poetry Blogging

What is So Rare As a Day in June?

AND what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature's palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o'errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For our couriers we should not lack;
We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,
And hark! How clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
Tells all in his lusty crowing!

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how;
Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,
'Tis for the natural way of living:
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave not wake,
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season's youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.

James Russell Lowell

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Maybe We've Reached the Tipping Point

Today's EEI newsletter reports that: "USA Today Examines Corporate Shift in Attention to GHG, Climate Change

USA Today examined in report published today how some corporate leaders are taking up the fight on climate change with potentially radical ideas. The report said that Duke Energy Chairman Paul Anderson wants the Bush administration to tax companies based on the amount of GHGs they produce – 'just the sort of big-government remedy the Bush administration says would hobble the economy,' USA Today wrote.

Wrote USA Today: 'But Anderson, 61, is no closet left-winger. He's a registered Republican, Bush backer and member of the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. That such a Big Business stalwart is demanding federal action on climate change illustrates an unmistakable evolution in corporate thinking, motivated both by evidence that global warming already is affecting the economy and by the prospect of fat profits from new environment-friendly products.'

The newspaper quotes former Vice President Al Gore as saying: 'There's a sea change underway in American business. What's different in business audiences in the past year or so is a new and widespread receptivity, a keen awareness, an eagerness on the part of large numbers to find out how they can take a leadership position. And a recognition, too, that there are profits to be made.' (emphasis mine)

Wrote USA Today: 'It's not just power companies that are agitating for action. Institutional investors are demanding that companies disclose their financial exposure to future climate changes. Insurers are abandoning underwriting in coastal areas threatened by costly Hurricane Katrina clones, and companies such as General Electric and DuPont are gearing up to prosper from the transition to a carbon-constrained world. Last year, Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry Paulson, now Treasury secretary-designate, warned that the time needed to address climate change was running out.'
USA Today , June 1."

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

In the Midst of the Hardest Movement

This one got me through four years of working all day and going to evening law school all night, scared, out on a limb, worried that I had wildly overestimated my own abilities, my finances, my energy. May it provide the same courage to you.

No one ever told us that we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
or music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence, take the chance
of breaking down, in the wild arpeggio
or faulting the full sentence of the fugue
-- And in fact we can't live like that; we take on
everything at once before we're forced to begin
in the midst of the hardest movement,
the one already sounding as we are born,
At most we're allowed a few months
of simply listening to the simple line
of a woman's voice singing a child
against her heart. Everything else is too soon,
too sudden, the wrenching apart, that woman's heartbeat
heard ever after from a distance,
the loss of that groundnote echoing
whenever we are happy, or in despair.

Adrienne Rich from Transcendental Etude in The Dream of a Common Language

I thought of it again this Sunday, holding my grandson and wondering what his eighty or ninety years on Earth will bring, with all the environmental destruction we've wrought, and how helpless I feel to protect him. Perhaps it will be enough, the "few months of simply listening to the simple line of a woman's voice singling a child against her heart." So, for a few hours I hold him against my heart and I sing: "Our hands will work for peace and justice/Our hands will work to heal the land/Gather round the harvest table/Let us feast and bless the land." May it be so for him.

First of the Month Bazooms Blogging

It's the first day of June. You know what that means? No, not Flaming Moes (inside Eschaton joke), or even Flaming June (although Leighton did do a lovely job of painting breasts seen through gauze). It means that it's time for women to either do or to calendar their breast self examination (these are not mutually exclusive operations; you could do one now and one later). BSE is easy to do (here's how) and it saves lives. Men, how many women can you think of to remind about BSE? Got a wife, a mother, a girlfriend, a sister, a friend, or an adult daughter? Just sayin.

It's Unusual To Get A Second Bite At The Apple Like This -- So Please Take It

As the NYT reports:

"An abortion rights group Tuesday submitted more than twice the number of the signatures needed to hold a statewide vote in November on whether to repeal South Dakota's ban on abortion.

The Legislature earlier this year passed the strictest abortion law in the nation, banning all abortions except those necessary to save a woman's life. The law, scheduled to take effect July 1, makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The measure was aimed at sparking a court fight that supporters hope will lead to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established the right to an abortion.

The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families said it turned in more than 38,000 signatures for a statewide referendum. The South Dakota secretary of state's office will check the validity of the signatures and determine whether the measure qualifies for the ballot.

Jan Nicolay, co-chairwoman of the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, said she believes it would be the nation's first statewide election on abortion since Roe v. Wade. Opponents of the ban decided to pursue a popular vote instead of filing a lawsuit.

'We would prefer this be dealt with by the people of the state of South Dakota and not spend a lot of money fighting a legal battle,' Nicolay said."

Now would be a good time to try and head off this softball before it reaches Roberts & Alito. A really, really good time.

Cleaning Up the Environment Is Good Business

From today's EEI newsletter:

"Major Insurers Creating Business Opportunities From Climate Change
Climate change is becoming big business, with major insurers creating opportunities from many different aspects of environmental change, U.S. News & World Report reported. Wrote the news magazine: "The climate strategies the insurers have spelled out aren't about avoiding losses; they're about generating revenue."

AIG, for example, aims to participate in Europe's carbon-trading system. Wrote the news magazine: "Even though the United States has not signed on to Kyoto and does not participate, AIG says it will invest in projects around the globe aimed at generating credits to trade on this market … AIG also wants to advise corporations, consulting with them on how to get into the carbon market and even developing a new insurance policy to protect against the risk of a project's failure to generate tradable credits."

There are also many investors looking for U.N. approval of green energy projects so they can trade credits. Weather derivatives, which allow energy companies and other businesses dependent upon weather to hedge the risk of excessively hot conditions or drought, went from $8 billion to at least $40 billion in just the past year. Another new area of business may be protecting companies against climate-change lawsuits.
U.S. News & World Report , June 5."

Hillary Clinton was right -- cleaning up the environment is good for business.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Now, They're Worried About Separation of Powers!

So, first, as you may have noted from the post below, Bush actually says something that I agree with. Then, as I'm driving home from work, I hear on NPR that Darryl Issa (R, CA) says something that I agree with: that Congress should impeach Attorney General Gonzales. And, it got me to thinking, there are quite a few schmucks that a Democratic Congress could impeach short of Bush. Hmmmm. Sometimes, you can destroy a bush as effectively by cutting off all its branches as you can by uprooting it.

Chris Van Hollen (D, MD) apparently managed to remind Congress that Bush has been trampling all over Congress for some time with torture, illegal detainees, signing statements, spying on Americans w/o warrants, data mining, etc., etc., etc.

It's a coup, boys. Call it what it is.

America is Addicted to Oil

Go here and watch the video. The graphs are particularly noteworthy.

OHMYFUCKINGGOD! Women Might Be Powerful! That Is A Situation Up With Which Our MSM Will No Longer Put!

Two articles today, one in the WaPo about Hillary Clinton and one in the NYT about Nancy Pelosi -- both written by men. Common conclusion: We don't want any girls in our treehouse -- girls have cooties!

Using unflattering photos of Clinton and Pelosi, because, hey, come on, we all know that an ugly woman is a woman who can be completely discounted, both articles do their best to sound impartial while making clear that female politicians are somehow defective.

Pelosi is described as "teeter[ing] on a fine line" (you know, the way all women walk when they wear heels), having "vulnerabilities," (you know, those women, they're soft and vulnerable), "struggl[ing] at times to give the air of gravitas," (unlike say, Santorum or Frist), "appear[ing] tentative and overscripted," (because, we all know, girls get scared and need someone to write out what they should say and hand it to them) and as having "a tight smile and large, expressive eyes that can leave an impression of nervousness" (no comment necessary). She, unlike, I guess, say, John Kerry (Flip Flopper!) or Al Gore (Liar!) or Democratic men in general, "lends herself to easy caricature by Republicans."

So surely a more confident woman, one who has even been described as such a tough broad that her husband understandably seeks out less threatening sexual partners, would receive a flattering portrait; right? Wrong. While Clinton, too, is "vulnerable"; she is subject to the charge that "she is motivated more by personal ambition and tactical maneuver than by a clear philosophy." In fact, she's "a polarizing force." It's a bit confusing how she can be both polarizing and, as the article argues, "a politician not easily defined," in fact, one about whom the article can claim: "Yet for all her fame, there are missing pieces to the Clinton puzzle: What does she stand for? And where would she try to take the country if elected?"

WaPo tries desperately to discount the fact that "Clinton's roles as senator, first lady, governor's wife, lawyer, and children's advocate have given her a depth of experience that few national politicians can match," (and conveniently forgets all of her foreign travel and proven experience relating to world leaders the globe over) by insisting that "she is still trying to demonstrate whether these yielded a coherent governing philosophy." WaPo also has to admit that Clinton has recently clarified her "agenda with major speeches on the economy and energy."

In the end, even WaPo has to admit that "there are clear patterns." They then quickly do what they claim can't be done: describe Clinton's governing philosophy: she's for the use of force abroad and for combating terrorism. Domestically, she believes in the power of government to solve problems and has some traditional, "even moralistic" instincts concerning family policy. She believes that "our most important obligations is to take care of our children," and that "government is an essential partner in a three-sided relationship that also includes the free market, and a 'civil society' . . . ."

WaPo's main problem seems to be that Clinton hasn't come up with a cute phrase to describe her politics; no equivalent to Bush's "Compassionate Conservative" -- of course, we all know how well that label helped us to gauge what kind of president Bush would be. Even when Clinton explains that she prefers to approach each issue individually based upon a combination of her beliefs and ideals "with a search for practical solutions," and that this approach doesn't "fit into a preexisting box," because "many of the problems we face as a nation don't either," WaPo insists that this allows everyone to have a different label for her. (Go on, someone make my day and tell me that a man who said the same thing wouldn't be described as "refreshingly practical" and "just what America is looking for after years of Bush's ideological stance -- an independent politician who makes up his own mind." Do it; just do it; because I'm looking for an excuse to go postal today.)

One is left with the inescapable conclusion that women simply don't belong in major leadership positions -- Speaker of the House or President. They're either too tentative, or too polarizing. Their eyes are too expressive or they are subject to being caricatured by Republicans (!). If they consider each issue on its merits they must not have a guiding political philosophy, even if the very same article can lay out their political philosophy with no trouble at all.

Fuck it. I've fucking had it with sexism. This nonsense needs to stop and it needs to stop now. Don't make me bring in the flying monkeys.