Just before going to bed tonight (okay so I’m writing this first!), I clicked over to Daily Kos. The top entry was a link to this story. In case you don’t want to read it, it’s a story about a family afraid to answer the phone should their caller ID show that it’s the USMC calling. Why? Because they effective kidnapped 19 year old Axel Cobb from his work place and spent hours pressuring him to sign up. They can’t block the calls because apparently we’re not allowed to block calls from the government.
Now, I’m not even going to go into how well the war in Iraq must be going if the "volunteers" are having to whisked hundreds of miles away by car to secret locations and have their phones confiscated in order to be convinced to sign up. "Not well" would seem to cover it. My question is why isn’t this being reported elsewhere? Why does the Seattle Post Intelligencer see this as a "Lifestyle" story rather than front page, or at least front section, news? It seems our media have become so afraid of being called "liberal" and "biased" by the Right in this country that they’re afraid of offending by reporting that the war doesn’t seem to be very popular and that parents are having to worry about their teenagers being pressured into the service.
My opinion, worth next to nothing given how in the outs my party is, is that if Bush can’t convince his own daughters that this is a cause worth fighting and perhaps dying for, no Marine recruiter should be kidnapping Marcia Cobb’s child and trying to strong arm and guilt him into going. Or maybe he could convince his daughters, but like most Americans he and his wife would rather not see their children fighting the seemingly endless war in Iraq.
Last night I went with my two closest friends from graduate school to see what definitely ranks as the best "chick flick" I’ve seen in a while. Maybe ever. The film is "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants". I’d read parts of the book while sitting on the floor in a bookshop (yeah, I do that a lot) and had been struck by how smart it seemed for a book aimed at teenaged girls… so often books aimed at that age group are dreck. Still, I was a little nervous. As a 30 something I’m pretty far removed from teen culture.
Anyway, the film was great. Each of the four women who make up "The Sisterhood" are interesting actresses and each is given her own storyline. I especially enjoyed watching Carmen’s (played by America Ferrera of "Real Women Have Curves") storyline, not just because it was a small teen issue (trying to reconnect with her divorced and absent father) but because her energy literally lights up the screen. My heart broke for her, over and over again as she tries to figure out why her divorced father seemed to have replaced her (and her mother) Puerto Rican selves with a blond, white family. The women of the new family (a mother and daughter) are blond, willowy and Southern.
The galvinizing moment for me was when Carmen turned on them in a bridal salon for discussing how her size makes the dress which had been made for her too small and how they’ll have to start from scratch on something new for her. They refer to Carmen as "the other one" relative to the blond daughter, Kristy. Carmen comes out of the dressing room barefoot, yelling and suggests that they tell people that they forgot to consider that her father’s daughter might be from another culture and have another body type. Or that they should just say there aren’t enough bolts of material to cover her "Puerto Rican ass." This struck me not just because I felt for her humiliation and isolation in that moment, but also because I wished for myself that at 17 I’d realized I wasn’t overweight, that I just had a different body type (curvier) than the lanky blonds I lived around in Southern California. Knowing that might have saved me a decade or so of fruitless dieting and frustration.
In the end, the film was about friendship and the importance of trying to find a way to stay together — to express love — across physical distance. This spoke to me and I found myself remembering being 17 and wishing for a magic pair of jeans to share with my best girlfriends.
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
—-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, November 8, 1954
Was that only a little over 50 years ago? Makes me shake my head in wonder.