Tag Archives: politics

The Problem With Loving Nature

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I always appreciate a chance to refine my thinking in areas where I have a lot of strong opinions, and the confluence of spirituality, nature, and politics is one such place. Reading Bron Taylor’s excellent new book, Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future, has given me that chance.

I read most of this book while in British Columbia, teaching a group of 90+ people at a Reclaiming camp, the theme of which included “listening to the land, to sense the coming shift.” In spite of my misgivings about the theme, I thoroughly enjoyed the camp and the friends I was teaching with, and in our planning process we had several lively discussions that helped me refine even further my thoughts on the issues raised in Dark Green Religion.

As soon as I got back from all that travel I interviewed Bron on Dream Talk Radio, so I pretty much unloaded onto him all the thoughts I’d had throughout the previous week. Whether you have read the book or not, I would love to hear your comments about our discussion, so without further ado here is the podcast.

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A Brief Foray Into Punditry

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I may hate myself later for doing this; in fact, maybe I already do. But I seem to have lost the struggle against my better judgment, so will say a little bit today about the Democratic presidential primaries.

I have been trying to view the candidates by two criteria: the content of the policies they are promoting, and whether I think they can actually win the election. As far as policy wonks go, I tend to take my cues from Paul Krugman, who in his excellent columns has pretty clearly laid out the difference in the candidates’ health care plans, economic recovery policies, and so forth.

I opined briefly last year about distrusting Hillary and Obama because they were too centrist for my tastes, and in the last few months I’ve been pulling for Edwards despite the fact of the historic opportunity here for us to elect either the first Black or the first woman president. As the media decided a two-way race was easier to report on and let the Edwards candidacy sink in terms of media coverage, his withdrawal from the race seemed all but assured.

The question for me then became, which of the two front runners gets my vote? The guy who is going all Camelot on us, or the woman with the unfortunate husband?

To my surprise, Hillary is the one whose health care and economic plans, thanks to Edwards’ challenge, are the most progressive and inclusive. She’s got a lot of negatives, but the positive about her negatives is that they are known. There are not many lower blows she could suffer that haven’t already been heaped on her publicly since the 1990s; she’s been through vicious personal attacks from all sides and still keeps her eye on the ball. That is what I call formidable strength, and barring the unforeseen I think it is enough to get her through the election and into the White House.

Obama is an inspiring guy. He’s a talented, skillful, strategic thinker who has a great career ahead of him. But I am dismayed at his calls for a “new type of politics.” That naive rhetoric, combined with the fact that his actual policy proposals are weaker than Hillary’s, lead me to believe that we will be very disappointed at what he is actually able to achieve should he reach the White House—all the more so because his powerful message has been so uplifting to so many progressives.

Also, consider how many Republicans are pulling for him. He is the darling of many conservative pundits (even Oprah is more a businesswoman than a progressive, let’s remember), and I suspect that if he wins the Democratic nomination they will quickly reverse their public adoration and proceed to tear him to shreds. The problem with Obama is that he has not yet had the shit kicked out of him by a right wing that will do anything to stay in power. He will if he becomes the nominee. Not only that, but every skeleton in his closet will be revealed—and because he’s a relative newcomer, these are all going to be shocking revelations. I am not convinced he could win against such odds.

The final straw for me came after two events. One was watching footage of John McCain answering a question from a woman in the audience who asked, “how do we beat the bitch?” Instead of immediately saying that such ad hominem, sexist attacks are out of bounds in a presidential campaign, McCain laughed nervously and answered the question.

The second was hearing about the Republican operative who is launching a “new group” to defeat Hillary. Oh, and there’s more. If these were racial slurs aimed at Obama, the public outcry would be fast and furious. But because Hillary is the woman we love to hate, somehow these attitudes are given a pass.

You know, Hillary Clinton is not my favorite person. I have some serious concerns about her close ties to lobbyists, her vote on Iraq, and so forth. But she is dedicated, competent, smart, and knows how to win. In the end, I am appalled at the degree to which misogyny is allowed to exist in our political dialogue in this country. This same kind of minefield will await any woman who dares to run a serious presidential campaign, and it will continue only until one of them actually succeeds. I think it should be sooner rather than later.

Random Opinion Day

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It’s Sunday, a day when attention-seeking pundits across the nation are paid to appear on opinion shows whether they know what they’re talking about or not. If they can be overpaid to spout off on national TV, surely I can do the same here for free. So in the spirit of free enterprise, here’s what I think about various sorts of things.

The 2008 Presidential Race: Gore/Obama would be my dream ticket. I would happily vote for any of the Democratic front-runners, however. Hillary makes me a little nervous because she’s such a centrist. Obama is too, but you can’t tell yet because he hasn’t said anything substantial. Edwards just might take it, especially if the big names implode for some reason. And they all would be way better than anyone the Republicans have to offer, not to mention the current resident of the White House.

Dennis Kucinich: Should go back to Cleveland. He’s a nice guy, has some admirable goals, but he is not a person I would ever want in the Oval Office. Case in point: his proposed Department of Peace. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. Why not just establish a Department of Euphemism and call it a day? Really, there is nothing wrong with the Department of Defense that we have now, except it mostly functions as a Department of Offense. Words are words. Labels do not signify change. And I can’t imagine spending yet more millions of dollars shuffling people and offices around the Capitol at a time when that money is needed so desperately other places. So please, Dennis, go home.

Software I Hate Most: Photoshop. God, just writing the name makes me shudder. For any seemingly simple task, Photoshop has not one easy way to do it but 15 ways that each require a manual to show you how, a dictionary to understand what the hell they’re saying, a private tutor to tell you to try it another way, and a good belt of whiskey to even attempt the process. Then it will take you three hours to do it right, or less time if you just bail and pay someone else to do it. Yes, it would be bad enough if it was just arcane, labyrinthine, and virtually impenetrable software. But now the name has become a verb, which is basically unforgivable. There must be a new ring of Hell invented to encompass all the torments heaped onto society by Photoshop.

Favorite Funny Blog Names: There are two winners in this category so far. I’ll list them in the order I found them, which means that Get In the Car! goes first. Jen Magnuson writes this, though how she finds the time to blog daily and be consistently funny about motherhood is beyond me. She has four kids and a big car, hence the clever blog name. Next is Whatever It Is, I’m Against It. Whenever I need a reminder of what an absolute train wreck of a president we have, or need to laugh at some recent political inanity, this site usually does the trick. Lots of pictures, too.

Favorite Birthday Party: That would have to be my 25th, when my friends and I went out for Indian food—which I don’t even like—in order to feel like we’d had our fair share of lentils before coming home and having a chocolate fondue party! That was 30 minutes of absolute chocolate mania, followed by an hour and a half of lying around nearly comatose. But during the manic part it was really fun.

In five years I’ll be 50 and Lyra will be 25. Oh yeah, I guess I had that big chocolate binge party while I was pregnant. Oops. Anyway, I think we will have to do something huge to celebrate the fact of having a combined score of 75%. That’s a passing grade—drinks all around! It will be hard to outdo a chocolate fondue party, though. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m going to go eat some chocolate now. Maybe with a whiskey chaser, just in case I come across something I have to rasterize.