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Archive for December, 2011

Tis the Season to Support Community Social Service Agencies

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

by Nancy Werking Poling

Habitat For Humanity volunteers constructing a...

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author of Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman

and Out of the Pumpkin Shell

I think it was the Grinch who lately complained about the requests for contributions that social services agencies send through the mail this time of year. Why, here we are still recovering from the pressure of really important problems: what tech gadget to buy Cousin Robert, the newest toy fads to put under the tree for Justin and Hannah, and what to give the grandmother whose needs are few. Then in the mail come these pesky reminders of our community’s needs.

Without such mailings my husband and I might forget to put a check in an envelope so the MANNA Food Bank can feed our hungry neighbors, Helpmate can provide a safe place for battered women and children, and Habitat for Humanity can build homes for families. Ours are modest contributions, but such donations add up.

We’re still in the season of good will—not that good will should be limited to the weeks around Christmas. Especially during these difficult economic times, I encourage readers, even if you’ve thrown the envelopes away, to make a donation to one or more of the many worthwhile agencies making a difference in your community.

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In Praise of Ordinary Folks

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

by Nancy Werking Poling

author of Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman

English: Two Muslim women in colourful s (the ...
Image via Wikipedia

and Out of the Pumpkin Shell

Should a network decide to feature my daily life in a reality show—yes, it would bore most viewers. But there would be additional hurdles. A man who hates women could complain that I’m too ordinary. The public needs to see emasculating women, he might say, ones who beat their children, too. A young woman starting a career might also find fault in my ordinariness. The public needs to see older female managers who have clawed their way to the top and terrorize those who work under them.

True, I do not represent the total nature of womanhood.

The problem with All-American Muslim, according to the Florida Family Association, a Christian organization, is that the Muslim families featured in the TV show “appear to be ordinary folks.” Florida Family criticizes the show for “excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

Ordinary folks, I take it, are those who defy the stereotypes of the dominant culture. They’re intelligent, hard-working. They struggle with how to raise their children, make a living, buy a house.

Growing up in the racially segregated South, I attended all-white schools. I accepted white generalizations about blacks: they were lazy, violent, and undeserving of the good education I had access to. Only as I learned to know ordinary African Americans, did I understand the harm such a limited perspective inflicts on a whole group and of the wasted intellect and creativity that might have benefitted the wider society.

Our country has gone through periods in which the dominant culture labeled all Irish as dirty and lazy, Jews as money-grabbing, Indians as savages. When we remove ordinary people from a grouping, we give ourselves reason to take away their rights, ghettoize them, terrorize them. Only when we learn to know ordinary Irish, indigenous peoples, Jews, Muslims, and homosexuals can we see our shared humanity.

I can’t help but consider the logic of wanting a TV series to include radical, militant Islamists. What if it were Christian families a reality show was featuring? Should it include members of the Ku Klux Klan? They claim to be Christians. Would we include Christians who feel justified in killing doctors who perform abortions?

I hope ordinary Christians would be featured: good-hearted fundamentalists and progressives, the Free-Will Baptists and the Unitarians.

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The GOP Campaign Circus

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011


By Ellis Goodman 

What is going on?  The GOP are in the throes of selecting a candidate to run for President of the United States.  I think this is pretty serious business, and so should the American people.  But watching the events of the past few weeks, the current GOP campaign appears more like “Realty TV” than presidential politics. 

We have had weeks of Herman Cain, who despite a complete lack of experience in the political world and a limited business career (I don’t consider being the CEO of Godfather Pizza as an impressive American industrial management experience), has made his living as a motivational speaker and an author of way-out ill-considered and unresearched economic ideas.  I don’t believe that he has been a serious candidate, but someone who realized that considerable media attention would enhance his speaking and writing career objectives.   What is frightening is that somehow he shot to the top of the polls and received considerable support from potential Republican voters.  What were they thinking?

Then we had Rick Perry, an early contender in the “anyone but Mitt Romney” campaign.  The Governor of Texas with the looks, southern drawl and political experience to be a serious contender for the Presidency.  In the so-called Republican debates, which are no more than a prepared question and answer session with softball questions from a moderator, Perry quickly revealed himself to be totally inept and ignorant.  Even last week he was blithely ignorant of the date of the election next year and the adult voting age.  We are still suffering from the administration of a former ignorant and arrogant Texas governor, who drove this country to the edge of bankruptcy.  After soaring in the polls it seems at the present time, that despite hundreds of millions of dollars of financial backing, Governor Perry has burned his boat.

So now the new front runner is none other than Newt Gingrich.  How could this possibly be?  A man who, as Speaker of the House, led the Republican Party to close down the government during the Clinton Administration.  A man who George Will, an ardent and committed Republican commentator, said “Newt epitomizes the politician for hire.”  Apart from being found guilty of numerous ethics violations during his time in the House, and his divorces and philandering, he had previously supported climate change endeavors, but he’s now against them, took nearly $2 million in fees from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, but now he continually slams them, and has reversed his positions on everything from immigration to education. 

In addition, he is considered volatile, undisciplined, a poor administrator, and very few members of the House, who served with him, would consider him a legitimate and serious candidate for the President of the United States.  But of course in this day and age, none of this counts as much as running off to visit with none other than Donald Trump, considered by many to be “the ugly face of Capitalism” in this country. Trump has never had political office, but every four years, threatens to run for President.  A self-promoting businessman of dubious repute and many financial scandals has somehow been chosen to moderate a presidential primary debate next Saturday.  How low can our presidential politics go? 

This charade, coupled with the $450 million sitting on the sidelines to be launched as negative TV advertising by the numerous conservative groups, including the Karl Rove founded American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, the American Action Network, and Americans for Prosperity – which is backed by the billionaire Koch brothers – are an embarrassment to our political campaign system which is clearly broken.

Clearly, Republican voters have reservations about Mitt Romney and his commitment to conservative causes.  And since the Tea Party and extreme right wing of the GOP seems to be in control, one can understand those reservations.  But the circus that has developed around the selection of a primary winner does not do justice to our country and is making a mockery of our democracy, and is once again making the United States the laughing stock of the developed Democratic world.

What do you think?   Your comments would be welcome.

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden:

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Mulberry Child in Ledet’s “Top Ten of 2011”

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Selection by Diane Ledet

I’m thrilled and honored to be notified about the selection of Mulberry Child in Diane Ledet’s “Top Ten of 2011” book list.

Here is Ledet’s posting:

I’d also like to share some exciting news: Mulberry Child movie, a feature-length documentary based on the book, will come to Chicago in January, 2012. It will be shown as part of the documentary series at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Screening schedule is as follows:

8 P.M., Saturday, Jan. 21;

8 P.M. Tuesday, Jan. 24; and

8 P.M., Thursday, Jan. 26.

Director Susan Morgan Cooper will come from Los Angeles to attend all the screenings, so will be Lisa and me. We will be all at the Q & A after each show. Hope to see you at one of these screenings!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Mulberry Child movie is directed by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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