bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: politics

monica / me

In January 1998 I arrived in Washington DC, a bright, young intern for a national news broadcasting bureau. When not in the newsroom, I spent most days hanging around The White House pressroom, eager for Mike McCurry to sputter some juicy soundbites about stained dresses, or chasing down senators at on Capitol Hill in hopes of snagging a word or two about impeachment. Monica Lewinsky was THE story in DC and I had a front row seat.

Monica and I had at least three things in common: We both spent our 22nd year getting to know the scene at The White House, we both had the same hair cut and long black wool jacket (I cannot tell you how many times I walked past a sidewalk stakeout and heard photogs yell, “Monica! Monica!”), and we both had a crush on Bill Clinton.

I remember the first time I heard her name. I was sitting in a classroom, waiting for our morning presenter, ABC’s Ann Compton, to arrive. She was late. Finally Ann dashed in breathlessly, unbuttoning her royal blue blazer and wiping her brow. She had big breaking news and we lucky students were the first to hear her account. “President Clinton had an affair with his former intern Monica Lewinsky,” she reported. She colored a shocking picture for us. Her raw enthusiasm was intoxicating. I couldn’t wait to get to work and hear all the salacious details. And I wasn’t disappointed.

My own newsroom was absolutely on fire. People were laughing and speculating and gossiping, imaginably excited to switch gears from dry Congressional hearings examining black lungs and dead cowboys (thank you Phillip-Morris) to blow jobs and slippery cigars.

Procuring news about Monica was part of my job. And I wouldn’t consider my attitude about this procurement neutral. Like I said, the scandal was downright thrilling. I heartlessly joined the crowd of news shapers and rode atop the wave of public humiliation crashing over Washington.

I never considered Monica the young woman. I never imagined her crying into her mother’s arms at night, afraid to leave her house, dreaming of ways to end her life, while we in the newsrooms reveled in her humiliation.

I may have imagined myself in her shoes from time to time, but certainly not in a way that was inspired by compassion. Amongst us students, “Would-you-or-wouldn’t-you do it with Bill?” was a hot party topic. I myself fell into the “would” category, along with the majority of my girlfriends (and a few of my guy friends).

Fortunately for me, my only access to the President was from 20 feet away during press conferences in the East Room. And also, fortunately for me, my own boss was not a charming world leader, but a 50 year old lesbian whose claim to fame was getting fired from her last gig for throwing a chair at a cameraman. Clearly the question of “inappropriate sexual relations” with my boss was a non-issue.

Fast forward 17 years. I’ve moved on. Grew up. Got married. Had kids. Found peace. My internship in Washington DC is a fond, fading memory. But until this day, watching Monica bravely deliver a TED Talk on public shaming, I never stopped to think what happened to her. Never considered that 17 years later a part of her is still the girl under the desk in the Oval Office. A part of her doesn’t get to move on. A part of her will be 22 for the rest of her life.

I reflect upon my own contribution to that gotcha-style news coverage that ravaged this young girl’s reputation. Granted I was just a kid, an intern, but I was there. I was a part. My energy fed that beast, too.

I stop. I cry. I reconcile.

I’m humbled and grateful to Monica for this lesson.

Check out Monica’s most excellent TED Talk here: https://www.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame?language=en. And #clickwithcompassion.

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Me working The White House beat, age 22.

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My friend and I having a grand old time with Paula Jones at The White House Correspondents Dinner in 1998. I chose this picture because it shows the back of my head. You can imagine this bouncy black hair paired with a long black wool coat might cause some confusion.

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what the frack????

Hi friends, I actually wrote this for my other blog, but this topic is so fracking scary, I wanted to promote the conversation here on BUBs, too.  There are tons of hyperlinks in this, here for you to learn more about this very important topic today.

I’ve heard tidbits here and there about hydraulic fracturing, fracking, but this morning Tom Ashbrook of NPR’s On Point hosted a program dedicated to the topic.  If you haven’t heard it, click here and listen.

Basically, fracking is using a high-pressure flow of sand and water to fracture shale stone far below the earth’s surface in order to extract oil.  Here’s a video.  Big oil companies like Chevron and Chesapeake are using this technique in attempt to find other ways of extracting the earth’s resources and staying in business.

At this point there are 6,000 wells dedicated to fracking, and this number is only increasing.  Oil companies are not only drilling in Texas and Alaska, they’re drilling wells in 18 states and on the hunt for more.  This is happening in everyone’s backyard.  Here’s a map I found on Earthjustice.  The skull and crossbones represent accidents, suspicious pollution levels and animal deaths that have occurred near the wells:

The fracking process requires lots and lots (and lots) of water.  2-3 million gallons per well.  The first question is, do we have enough water to operate these many thousands of wells and still have a clean supply for drinking, crop irrigation, etc?  No one can answer that question because it is completely dependent on climate and rainfall, which we New Englanders know all too well is anything but predictable.

100% of the water that is used in the process is poisoned – contaminated with biocides and carcinogens and bi-products.  A high percentage of that water (85%, I think) ends up buried in the earth, which these big oil companies consider “safe”.  The poisoned water fills crevices in the earth, previously occupied by natural oil deposits.  But it’s also filling up old manmade oil wells, many of which are super old and have been lost underground over the years, in which case they may potentially leak into ground water supply.  15% of the water shoots back up to the earth’s surface and is absolutely positively unusable.  In other words, big oil needs to get rid of it.

Wanna know how they’re dealing with it?  Well, in a few ways.  Some are trying to recycle the water.  Though there is no circumstance in which the water can be used to drink or irrigate after the fracking process, it can be used to do more fracking.  This is the best really crappy option out of several much crappier options.  At this point there is no state mandate on recycling fracked water b/c fracking was made legal before policy had a chance to regulate it.  In fact, the only reason it got through at the federal level was because in 2005 Dick Cheney and his crew of money hungry nature haters exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Believe it or not, in some states, this poisonous water is being pumped through sewage plants or sprayed on roads for dust control.  (((ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????)))

Water use and contamination isn’t the only problem.  Fracking requires the use of heavy diesel trucks.  One thousand truck trips per site to be exact, and that’s just to haul in the water.  Thousands more will be required to remove waste.  If there are 8-12 wells per drilling site…  well, you can do the math.  That’s a whole lotta trucking in your backyard.  Yep.  Don’t forget.  This is happening in your community.

Another problem is earthquakes.  This is a fact.  Lubricants are pumped into disposal wells, greasing up quake vaults and resulting in earthquakes.  There have been more earthquakes reported near fracking wells.  My concern here is this.  In that video that I shared above, produced by fracking supporters, you can see that steel tunnel coated with concrete boring into the earth.  If fracking causes earthquakes, do these people really think that steel tunnel is going to protect our drinking water during a big shake?  One crack in that concrete and our drinking supply is toast.  Plus, look at all the cracks oozing out of each fracture.  You think poisonous water can’t slip through there???

Looks like Dick Cheney is going to be very rich and very thirsty.  I’m going out to buy 10 palates of Poland Springs TODAY.

I just don’t understand why we’re taking this risk.  Why we continue to rape the earth when there are other energy opportunities available to us that need exploring.  As Tony Ingraffeasaid On Point today, “A corporate business plan is not a national energy strategy.”  Amen, brother.

We need laws.  We need regulation.  We need to use our voices to let our local and state politicians know that we DO NOT WANT FRACKING HERE IN OUR BACKYARDS!!!

THEY WORK FOR US.  NOT BIG OIL.  IF YOU REMEMBER THAT, THEY WILL.

Every state needs to work locally to stop this.  I’m in Massachusetts, and the news for us is good.  According to Atty. Peter Vickery, “Communities in Massachusetts have one important advantage over their counterparts in Pennsylvania and New York: Exploration is not under way yet, never mind extraction. That means towns like Amherst have time to design bylaw amendments that will both safeguard clean air and water and stand up in court.”

Do it, people!  Call your reps, your mayors, your state senators today!  Let them know you do not want hydraulic fracturing in your backyard or in MASSACHUSETTS!!!!!

Peace, love, gratitude…  AND ACTION!

v
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my first blogger award… aw, shucks!

What a treat to log in this morning and find this on my dashboard:

Warm gratitude to The [Ex-] Witch Next Door‘s author Hazel Harker for passing along this lovely virtual hug, The Beautiful Blogger Award.  Hazel, like so many of us, is evolving full time…  a mother and seeker, she experiences life, love and philosophy through a wide open mind and shares her wisdom candidly and honestly with us on her blogs.  A real gem.  You can read more of her musings on Love You, Love Me.

My job now is to share 7 things about me and pass this award along to others whose writings give me the warm-fuzzies.

1. I have had the Tab soda jingle stuck in my head since 1983. “Ooh eee ooh aah aah Tab tastes walla walla bing bang.” Sometimes I walk to the beat of it.

2. I love hot yoga because it makes me feel like Gumby. But not green. And not weird.

3. I have the fastest metabolism in the east. If digestion was an Olympic sport I’d win gold.  Move over Michael Phelps.

4. I like the smell of skunks. Is that totally gross?

5. I had a major crush on Gopher from The Loveboat when I was about 4 years old.

6. I elected to have natural childbirth with all three of my kids. Totally empowering! Roar!

7. I can burp really loud.

Strangely, this was my alternate “thing” to share – “When I was little I used to tell people I wanted to be a stripper when I grow up.”  Then I realized that the nature of blogging is very similar to stripping, therefore I may very well be achieving my lifelong dream (haha).  It’s just that instead of stripping my clothes and filling my undies with money, I’m stripping my ego and filling my heart with peace.   [Note:  I had no idea what a stripper was when I was a kid.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.]

Okay, blogs to nominate…

Loving Bytes by Jennifer Williams – a perfect blend of great writing, lessons in mindfulness and delicious recipes…  Yummmmmm.

Inner Mentor by Poppy and Anna – just came across this one recently and it made me smile.  Where fashion meets godliness.

DOA Konsult by Raunak Mahajan – a smart, thoughtful guy with big ideas, fearlessly covering the unmentionables: politics and religion (and more).

To the Soul by Blake Bergen – amazing amazing.  I love Blake’s portraits.  He photographs everyday people and through his lens, there is an opportunity to look through the gateway to the soul.  I am you, you are me feeling.  Love it.

Young American Wisdom by Nancy – holy crap, this woman is hilarious, a star on the rise.  Beauty is everywhere, most definitely in laughter and motherhood.

Words That Serve by Harula Ladd – peaceful, poetic, purposeful.  Harula just oozes good-spiritedness.

Living Livelier by Deb DePeter & Becky Tellefsen of Bryant Park Designs – two inspiring women who create beauty through interior design.  Always something interesting to read and pretty pictures to peruse.

Many thanks and much love from mine to yours!

Vanessa

going for the kill

I’m not sure how many times Obama and Romney said the word “kill” in last night’s debate, but if I took a sip of booze every time they said it, I’d be stumble-drunk.

I’m a mom in the suburbs.  I don’t know a lot about foreign policy.  But I do know that the Middle East has been warring for thousands of years.  And I truly believe that neither of the men vying for the job of President have a chance at negotiating, sanctioning, convincing or forcing peace upon this region.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that these are actions that need to be taken, but they are certainly not longterm solutions.

Don’t these men know that peace will not be found at the end of a machine gun?  Peace is cultivated in the heart.  Peace begins with the child.  When a mother is safe and happy and peaceful, so will be her child.  This is the only way.  It won’t happen in 4 years.  Or 8.  It will take a generation or more.  And it will take education.

In Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson introduced us to his life’s mission of building schools for girls in Afghanistan, opening our minds to the notion that Afghanistan, or any persecuted population for that matter, will not be transformed or pacified by American politicians.  The hope for Afghanistan begins as a seed of peace planted by the educated mother that, when tended, will grow.

“Worldwide movement first starts from individual,” taught the Dalai Lama last Sunday at his presentation for MIT, which I had the pleasure of attending.  “First you, then your neighbor, then ten families, then 100 families.”  Through education, through love, through service our world can elevate one family at a time.

His Holiness told us that there is nothing more important than the affection of the mother to support human survival and growth.  He said this is not only a spiritual philosophy, this is a “biological factor”.

When American Presidents realize that the best defense against war is a mother’s love, the world will breathe a sigh of relief.  There is no tank, no drone, no diplomat that can create or maintain peace more effectively.

Jimmy Carter’s biggest wish during his presidency was to negotiate peace in the Middle East.  Obviously those efforts failed; his legacy was wrapped with faded images of a frustrated American President, shoulders slumped, pacing through the gardens at Camp David.  Fortunately he learned something after his presidency that has done more to create a better planet than he ever could do while he ran the free world.

He learned that peace starts at home.  In a home, to be exact.  In 1984 he and his wife Rosalynn teamed up with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that has built over half a million homes for about 2.5 million people around the globe.  2.5 million seeds of peace.

Throughout the debate last night, I heard very little about the millions of NGO workers who have committed their lives to the betterment of mankind.  I heard very little of substance about plans to educate persecuted populations, specifically women, around the world.  I heard nothing about the importance of nurturing the world’s babies with love and truth.  These solutions seemed more like asides.  And it made me sad.  Because above all, the child is the hope of the earth.

a new contender in the race for the oval office?

barak?

mitt?

who do you like?

my social views are very liberal, so i lean democrat.  but if a quality moderate republican comes along i’ll swing my vote in the other direction.

my greatest concern has always been social policy.  don’t take our rights away, that’s all i ask.  live free or die, baby.  the issue closest to my heart is gay rights, which should be re-termed “human rights”, because love is a basic human right.  who we love and how we display commitment has absolutely nothing to do with government, federal or state.  my quick story today is spun from this idea.

when we were kids, my sisters and i played house a lot.  one girl would be the mommy, one girl would be the baby and one girl would get stuck being the daddy.  you might as well tell that poor girl to go clean out the garage while the others play.  for a girl, being the daddy sucked.  so every time my daughters play house with their friends, they inevitably start squabbling, “not fair!  i want to be the mommy!”  and inevitably, my girls realize, “it’s okay.  girls can marry each other.  let’s both be mommies.  yay!”

it’s such a simple act of imagination.  but it’s also a beautiful act of acceptance.  kids today provide me with an extraordinary feeling of hope for our future and pride in this generation of parents who are rearing children to be open and accepting of others as they have been created.

with this in mind, i see clearly that the man in the oval office may wield power over current domestic  policy, but the future of this country lies in the hands of a new generation.  the tides are changing, people.  the emerging generation is aware.  they are awake.  they are becoming mindful.  they are innovative.  they are compassionate and sensitive.  they are already changing the world.  and i have nothing but faith and confidence in these children.

this morning while i was making chocolate chip pancakes, my son XG, my 3 year old son, *3 YEAR OLD SON* said out of the blue, “mamma, did you know giwls can mawwy giwls?”  my husband MG and i looked at each other then looked back at him.

“that’s right, buddy,” said MG, waiting patiently to see where the conversation would go.

after a minute i said, “you are very smart, little man.”

“yup,” he said.  “boys can mawwy boys, too.  and batman defeats spidewman.”

well, that decides it.  XG gets my vote this november.  oh, and he gets an A+ on his acceptance and compassion lesson this week in buddha school.

from mine to yours,
vanessa
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