Monday, March 31, 2008

Progressives for Obama pt. 2: Alice Walker

I am a supporter of Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the country at this time. He offers a rare opportunity for the country and the world to start over, and to do better. It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him. Cannot see what he carries in his being. Cannot hear the fresh choices toward Movement he offers. That they can believe that millions of Americans –black, white, yellow, red and brown - choose Obama over Clinton only because he is a man, and black, feels tragic to me.

An endorsement from someone who has something to say about all the crappy identity politics going on. Here is the letter in full.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Here come the progressives for Obama

Tom Hayden, back in the day

Everyone should read this article by Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Danny Glover - a pretty tough quartet of longtime activists - about why they are supporting Obama. And before Bimbo starts screaming about Obama's centrism, he should note that these authors don't deny it, and say that in fact that centrism is why progressive involvement in his campaign is critical:
However, the fact that Barack Obama openly defines himself as a centrist invites the formation of this progressive force within his coalition. Anything less could allow his eventual drift towards the right as the general election approaches. It was the industrial strikes and radical organizers in the 1930s who pushed Roosevelt to support the New Deal. It was the civil rights and student movements that brought about voting rights legislation under Lyndon Johnson and propelled Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy’s anti-war campaigns. It was the original Earth Day that led Richard Nixon to sign environmental laws. And it will be the Obama movement that makes it necessary and possible to end the war in Iraq, renew our economy with a populist emphasis, and confront the challenge of global warming.

We should not only keep the pressure on, but we also should connect the issues that Barack Obama has made central to his campaign into an overarching progressive vision.

And then there is the alternative:

We are pleased that Hillary Clinton has been responsive to the tide of voter opinion this year, and we applaud the possibility of at last electing an American woman president. But progressives should be disturbed at her duplicitous positions on Iraq and NAFTA. She still denies that her 2002 vote for legislation which was called the war authorization bill was a vote for war authorization. She now promises to “end the war” but will not set a timeline for combat troop withdrawal, and remains committed to leaving tens of thousands of counter-terrorism troops and trainers in Iraq amidst a sectarian conflict. While Obama needs to clarify his own position on counterinsurgency, Clinton’s “end the war” rhetoric conceals an open commitment to keep American troops in Iraq until all our ill-defined enemies are defeated-a treadmill which guarantees only the spawning of more enemies. On NAFTA, she claims to have opposed the trade deal behind closed doors when she was First Lady. But the public record, and documents recently disclosed in response to litigation, proves that she was a cheerleader for NAFTA against the strong opposition of rank-and-file Democrats. The Clintons ushered in the Wall Street Democrats whose deregulation ethos has widened inequality while leaving millions of Americans without their rightful protections against market shocks.

All Night, All Right

Betty and Bimbo pulled an all-nighter tonight!

Bimbo wrote the definitive memo about green job creation in NYC while Betty read a 1980s article by John McPhee about the history of Louisiana floods and man's battles with the mighty Mississippi. Cocoa kept falling asleep, but she never went to college, so she doesn't know too much about all-nighters.

Betty remembers eating huge submarine sandwiches at four in the morning, feeling much much stupider the next day, and digging deep into Aristotle as if that were the only topic in the world. She remembers seeing greasy-haired kids asleep in the library, or stumbling into the computer lab at 2 a.m. to START the same paper of which she had blessedly just reached page four.

Please share your all-nighter stories!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bimbo's Wager

Bimbo --an avid Hillary supporter -- has "bet" Betty --a tepid Obama supporter -- that Hillary will drop out of the race within the next week. What do you all think? Betty was under the impression that, following all the Reverend Wright hand-wringing, Obama's numbers had been stagnant at best, but Bimbo is picking up desperation vibes from HRC's camp once again.

Also, Betty asks, why do we call him "Obama" and her "Hillary"? This seems to be the default nomenclature in casual conversation. Are people confused and think "Obama" is his first name? Is it just more fun to say? Or are we back to the "Frida"/"Pollock" problem so often demonstrated in the movies?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jasen in Political Affairs

Jasen recently "googled" himself and found out that he had a piece published in "Political Affairs" (they never notified me that it was accepted.) It was written after working on the campaign trail. I encourage you to read and then comment.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Mother Nature's Recipe? Top Chef: Season 4, Episode 2

Anyone who watched Season 3 of Top Chef knows that seemingly straightforward catering challenges have a hidden agenda, and mushrooms as canapés run a high risk of drawing earned comparisons to excrement. Apparently most Season 4 contestants were too busy perfecting their opening credit poses to actually watch the show. The egregious offenses starting piling up as soon as the teams were picked; with Antonia and Stephanie choosing to ignore both their ill-fated teammate Valerie and the inconvenient fact that gorillas are vegetarians; while team Bear argued over whether to max out their budget on actual food or pretty flowers. Hmm…tough call.

It was easy to see that the Gorillas and the Bears would be battling it out for the bottom spot. Valerie’s blini must have been pretty bad for Colicchio to ignore the fact that her team’s menu was better suited to a Junior League Ladies’ Luncheon than a gorilla’s graze. The only critique of Stephanie’s crabmeat salad was that it was salted too early (according to Colicchio’s blog, this is an amateur error that even a casual cook would never make. Really?) Who here minds that crabmeat would send a primate into septic shock? Anyone? No?

Even though blinis (not the champagne cocktail! Although that probably would have been less of a disaster) were a ridiculously bad choice, I feel pretty bad for Rachel Dratch – I mean, Valerie. When the episode opened, she and Stephanie were BFFs, until Stephanie suddenly turned around and shoved her head up Antonia’s ample derriere. Valerie had serious reservations about putting meat on the menu, and it sounds like her concerns were completely dismissed. Conversely, Antonia seemed to know pretty early on that Valerie was shooting herself in the foot with her choice to serve blinis. But did she speak up? Doesn’t seem like it. It does seem like she wanted to make sure someone’s dish was worse than hers, even if that person was on her team. (But I still think she’s kind of adorable. And she has an eight-year old child! Good on her).

The biggest surprise of the week was Andrew’s winning performance. Considering how much unflattering face time he got during episodes 1 & 2, I thought he was going straight to the chopping block. (Granted, there was some wishful thinking on my part). His team Penguin took the challenge above and beyond expectations, and Andrew gave contestant Richard a run for his money with his balsamic tapioca “caviar”. Richard, for sure, thought this was his day to shine, what with fellow molecular gastronomer Wylie Dufresne as guest judge. Too bad the foam from Richard’s mouth wasn’t enough to impress - WD flicked him away like the errant stem of a eucalyptus leaf. But kudos to Richard for seasoning his quick fire dish with trace amounts of deadly, fragrant poison. He’s a serious contender, and I think he’s going to get even more serious now that he’s been snubbed by his hero in favor of a spastic, coked-out semi-hack. (Who, to be fair, completely deserved the win).

The second biggest shock was the bizarre pecorino scandal involving Dale and Nikki. I can’t believe how easily Dale got away with completely running Nikki’s (already precarious) dish. Every one of the judges cited the pecorino as the death knell of Nikki’s berry-stuffed (?!) mushrooms, but held Nikki entirely responsible for the abomination. Sure, she should have tasted her dish after the pecorino was added, but I’m not even sure she knew Dale doctored the shrooms. And of course, she never should have reintroduced the mushrooms after deciding to take them off the table. But Padma and Colicchio are pretty scary, especially when it’s feed time. You can’t really blame her for cracking under the pressure of their collective steely gaze.

So what’s next? The teaser for Episode 3 promises a shouting match between Antonia and an unidentified cast member. In an EaterLA interview, Antonia hints at a twist involving her command to “stand by your dish!” This suggests that the crisis involves someone leaving their dish physically unattended. What could it mean?

For the long term, I see Richard and the New Zealand guy taking it pretty far. It’s too early for me to make any confident predictions about the women – there don’t seem to be any standouts now. Both members of the lesbian block seem pretty solid, and I don’t think the Magical Elves will ruin the fun of having lovers compete against each other by eliminating one too early on. I think we will see more of Antonia, but I don’t know if she is in it for the long haul. Nikki doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but she seems like she could have some tricks up her sleeve, and it’s hard not to compare her with last season’s Sarah, who hung in there until the final four despite some serious missteps.

What we learned from Top Chef Season 4, Episode 2:

Mushrooms: They look, travel, and taste like shit. Even on their best days. Save them for a garlic-friendly ragu – but keep the pecorino away.

A la minute = Right Now. Not a la little later.

If you dish sucks, don’t serve it. Colicchio is light years more forgiving of well-intentioned omissions than shitty food.

Spike is the most insufferable Top Chef contestant in the history of Top Chef. He needs to be eliminated. A la minute!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ode to a Rainy Day

It's been raining steadily since Betty and Cocoa woke up all lost in blanket caves (Bimbo is in Albany taking care of workforce development/green jobs business). So the girls of the house are really enjoying their day in -- and Betty's first day back from the Dominican Republic.

For Betty, this trip was amazing and different in so many different ways, and she feels changed by the things she saw, heard, and felt over the last five days.

A rainy day is a perfect time to process thoughts and images while working along on school work, feeling happy and protected and relaxed and focused and so grateful.

Cocoa has not enjoyed the two walks Betty tried to lead her on. When Cocoa doesn't like to walk, she protests by standing still as her little hood flops down over her eyes, leaving just her snout exposed. So Betty ends up carrying her around in the rain.

What is it about rainy days that can bring out the happiest --and the best?-- in us?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Betty on!

Check it out. It's totally rad.
Betty is a big fan of the "In Character" series, and recommends everybody check out the podcasts! The one on Cookie Monster is particularly great.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Adventures in Technology

Most of us have Gmail, and with it Google Documents (and Google dental floss and Google cheese and Google napkins and Google hair dryers and Google cotton balls).

This blog post is being written as a Google Doc in a leisurely frame of mind. I will then publish it by clicking on "Publish" in the upper-right hand corner of the screen. If this works, I will say to myself, just like the taco in the commercial says: "I don't have an ego. I just love how awesome I am!"

Try it yourself, blogsitas, and see.

Wake Up! It's a Blog-a-Thon Update!

While our recent blog-a-thon did not garner the high turnout we'd hoped for, the posts that did go up on March Fourth were all exemplary, thoughtful, and a pleasure to read and consider. For this reason, Betty and Bimbo have decided to donate $20 per post to Waggytail Rescue, for a grand total of $60. Henry Bean (pictured) and his little friends thank you for reading and writing our blog!

[To make a donation to Waggytail Rescue, go here, then click on "Donate" in the sidebar under "Lend a Paw". Waggytail Rescue is a 501 c(3) organization and your donation is tax-deductible.]

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oh, the Vatican...

From the news you can't use department-- the Vatican today announced the HOT NEW SINS of '08! Among them are pollution, drug use, and scientific experiments that involve genetics. Woo hoo! Way to keep it fresh, Churchies!

Actually, Betty doesn't think this is merely irrelevant. I guess we should congratulate the Church for its stance on pollution, which is what all the headlines are calling attention to. But I think the media is generally reactionary, moderate at best. And I also think the genetics part of it (which gets buried in the reporting today) is both misleading and immoral. Stem cell research seems to be the implicit target of the Vatican's vice-happy new decree, and Betty thinks it immoral to be AGAINST such important and life-affirming work! The Church has always impressed Betty with its consistency, if nothing else. They are pro-life, and invented the phrase "culture of life" -- which Bush took, of course, but only applied selectively; you see, the Vatican may be horrible on birth control and focus waaaay to much on abortion in its public outcries, but it is also categorically, unilaterally, uncompromisingly anti-war (at least in theory). Is it too much to hope that, if nothing else, one day they'll see how pro-life it really is to be pro-stem-cell?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


It's still before midnight on the West Coast, so I hope this counts for the blogathon...

Since Betty has framed this as a day of forward thinking, I would like to dwell on the question of self-improvement. An enthusiastic reader of Emerson and Thoreau, a raptured consumer of Louisa May Alcott, I find myself wooed by the idea that we can set out to better ourselves: morally, intellectually and spiritually. Those early New Englanders believed in introspection and hard work; I also like to think that we can grow through our relationships, using them to learn about ourselves and make us better people.

Yet it often seems that on occasions that are built around self improvement, such as socially- or religiously- organized periods of introspection, the outcome tends toward self-congratulation rather than reflection. I remember one Yom Kippur when the rabbi gave a powerful sermon exhorting the congregation that it was their responsibility to do more to relieve social inequality. Yet the group of people I was with, rather than reflect on how we might do more to help others, instead talked in a superior manner about how the other privileged people in the audience really needed to hear that message.

I believe the same pattern exists in our national discourse, whether the topic is civil rights or veterans, the environment or the war. Too often our leaders tell others what they should be doing rather than reflect on their own inaction or culpability; likewise, we as neighbors and friends and citizens often place the blame and responsibility elsewhere rather than reflect on our own egos and biases. As we march forth, we might want to keep those more in mind.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

and where were your vicissitudes sourced? or, where shall we march fourth to now that local is the new revolution.

So there was a name for that thing that was bothering us for the past few weeks and if the Times says it, it must be true -which reminds us that the color of 2008 is blue according to the sungay styles section, but we will leave that for some other moment-. They call it "orthorexia," which is the type of anorexia nervosa associated to those who wish only to eat healthily. "Is that a locally sourced, Protestant and Anglo-Saxon alfalfa sprout? You know I can only eat that!"

From one time to another, the neighbor had tried to get us out of bed by early enough Saturday morning to take us to that farmer's market thing in downtown D-Spot (a.k.a. "downtown sexy," since it's brooklynification; also note the fact that the market gathers in D-Spot's own Central Park). "It's all about the eggs, dear" said she. Now, Venus had refused to go there -- too many traumatic memories of bugs creeping in between the veggies. But once the threshold had been crossed, and the eggs broken and yolks eaten, there was no turning back. Venus felt perfectly at home and became (the most fabulous) one of so many localités, carrying wicker baskets to help them bring nature's bounty to their humble urban dwellings.

Of course, Venus forgot about the winter. Luckily for V. Walfoods Markt does carry a lot of everyday staples, such as mangos and avocados. And locally sourced too: Walfoods is right across the street.

Why we need to keep Marching Fo(u)rth

JoAnn Wypijewski speaks about working class voters in Ohio

On today of all days, we need to remember that whoever wins the presidency - whichever candidate from whatever party - our work to march forth for justice and peace will be far from over. Either Democrat or John McCain will not be able to implement a bad agenda without some level of public consent -- but nor are they likely to make the fundamental changes we need without sustained public outcry.

In terms of political philosophy, this is closer to Barack Obama's "Change happens from the bottom up" motif than Sen. Clinton's "it took a president to get the job done" line about the Voting Rights Act. But Obama's ostensible agreement with me on this does not mean we give him a free pass, or any less hard of a time than we should give whoever is the next president.

Indeed, we must march forth until the next president really ends the War in Iraq -- and not just one brigade out a month, which will keep troops there until 2010. We must march forth until no American who works full-time is also living in poverty. We must march forth until the Hyde Amendment is repealed, so that a woman's right to choose is not dependent on her income level. We must march forth and march forth and march forth. Otherwise, all the promises made by the candidates will evaporate quicker than we can believe.

JoAnn Wypijewski, who I consider a role model for her work as an activist and journalist, talks in the above video about her recent trip to Ohio to report on the presidential primary and the working class vote. For all the attention paid by the media to working-class voters, most of it falls short in terms of looking at what people are really wrestling with in their lives. For a reality check, watch this video and check out JoAnn's accompanying article in the Nation.

And remember...


Monday, March 03, 2008

Tomorrow is March Fo(u)rth! Blog for a Cause!

Don't forget to blog your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and dreams tomorrow as we celebrate moving forward and taking action! For every blog post by a different blogger, Betty and Bimbo will donate $10 to Waggytail Rescue
for the care and rehabilitation of New York City shelter dogs like Patsy and Mr. Techno (pictured above, more info about them on the site!). Readers who would like to participate can donate through the Waggytail website or send a check to: Waggytail Rescue, 170 Norfolk St. #10, NYC, NY 10002.