Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mea culpa, Hillary Clinton and Prop 8

First, the mea culpa: I am a no good, very bad blogger. I took a holiday break with the promise to return after the New Year, and then what did I do? I vanished! Okay, so I've been a little bit overwhelmed--trying to finish the final (final!) revisions on my dissertation, preparing for classes (first class was today), traveling over the holidays--but that's really no excuse. Blogging is fun and I'd like to be able to make time for it at least several times a week. So there you go--an apology and a New Year's resolution all in one. Hence forth, I will try to be better to my blog: pet her, feed her, walk her, play fetch...and...and I think that metaphor's over now, don't you?

Never mind. In any case, I'm going to start posting again fo' real tomorrow, but just to get me back into the swing of things, here are a few interesting items from this week's news.

1. According to The Washington Post, there are current 25 female ambassadors in DC, the highest number ever and a steep increase from ten years ago. I just think that's awesome. And you know what's awesomer? Quoting the Post:
A key reason is the increase in the number of top U.S. diplomats who are women, what some call the "Hillary effect."

"Hillary Clinton is so visible" as secretary of state, said Amelia Matos Sumbana, who just arrived as ambassador from Mozambique. "She makes it easier for presidents to pick a woman for Washington."
If it didn't make me feel like I was regressing back to my adolescence, I would put a smiley face here in place of this sentence.

2. In other Hillary news, Tracy Clark-Flory over at Salon Broadsheet has a nice little piece about the Secretary of State's recent speech about women's and human rights. Clark-Flory begins
Maybe you're feeling apathetic toward the plight of the world's women, or perhaps you're suffering from an acute case of Feminist Outrage Fatigue™. Well, you will be slapped right out of that stupor by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech Friday commemorating the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). She dished out familiar rhetoric -- like her famous line, "women's rights are human rights" -- but also dropped some cold, hard facts on our privileged first-world asses.
Check the site for the rest of her re-cap and, as for Clinton's actual speech, you can watch it on CSPAN.com or read the transcript.

3. There's great story in next week's Newsweek (online here) about Ted Olson, a prominent Republican lawyer--the lawyer, in fact, who won the court case that got George W. Bush "elected" president. (Remember that business? Ten years ago? Gore won but then Bush became president. Yeah, that.) Since I just said it's a great piece about Olson, you're probably thinking that he's involved in some kind of sex scandal or someone's revealed he eats kittens or its some other article ripping him to shreds. Au contraire, my friends.

Entitled "The Conscience of a Conservative," Eve Conant's story discusses Olson's involvement in a case he feels passionately about, so passionately that he's defying many of his conservative colleagues who think he's being an asshat (Conant writes that his conservative peers "have accused him of apostasy, and of trying to bend the Constitution to fit clandestine liberal views," but I'm sure they're really calling him an asshat in private). Ted Olson, former Bush Administration lawyer, will be arguing for gay marriage in the federal Prop 8 hearings starting this week. Yep, you read that right. For gay marriage. Writes Conant:
Olson's brief against Prop 8 is straightforward: laws banning gay marriage not only make no sense, they are unconstitutional. As a conservative, he says he believes in individual liberty and freedom from government interference in the private lives of citizens. Discriminating against people because of sexual orientation is a violation of both. "This case could change the way people think about one another," says Olson. "We are forever putting people into this box or that box, instead of just seeing each other as human beings."
This is the kind of conservatism I can get behind. Olson still considers himself a conservative, but he's very rationally decided that despite his politics he can't get behind the standard conservative party line (that's the "oppressing gay people" party line, in case I'm not being clear). I can't abide when people use unfounded, ungrounded and/or untenable arguments to support "causes" (that, in this case, disenfranchise--or, actually, support the continued disenfranchisement--of an entire minority group) just in order to 'fall in line' with their political party. (Are we sheep being herded by a grumpy, toothy border collie? I hope not.)

The growing partisan rift in Congress--where nothing gets done because everyone refuses to put a toe over the line-in-the-sand between Democratic and Republican "policy"--is totally scary, and this Newsweek story was just a little light at the end of the tunnel that makes me feel less sad about it all. Hopefully that light won't turn into an oncoming train...

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