OPINIONATRIX…because my opinions dominate











{September 28, 2008}   Win, Lose or Draw?

It almost didn’t happen, but now that it’s over the analysis is flying and both campaigns are spinning like whirling dervishes. Obama’s campaign declared victory, but so did John McCain’s… so who won?  Honestly, I think it was a draw – which essentially means Obama came out the winner.  

After the week the McCain campaign has had, John McCain really needed to hit this one out of the park.  He needed to sound much more authoritative than Obama, and emerge from the foreign policy debate gaffe free.  Unfortunately for the McCain campaign, that did not happen.  John McCain came off as snarly, angry and condescending.  He never looked Obama in the eye and repeatedly addressed him as Senator Obama while Barack addressed him as John.  

Obama started off much better than McCain.  The beginning of the debate focused squarely on the economy, which is Obama’s strong point, but McCain gained steam earlier on thus making the end result of the debate a draw.  Senator Obama appeared comfortable and fully informed on the issues.  He made no gaffes, pronounced all the names of world leaders effortlessly (unlike McCain) and came off as calm and level headed.  McCain was altogether not very likable.  He constantly belittled Barack Obama which was a surprising tactic as it turned off the viewer.  Furthermore, John McCain made quite a few gaffes for someone with his experience.  He had difficulty with a few names of foreign leaders and referred to pre-Musharraf Pakistan as a “rogue state,” which is simply untrue.  

In the end, both men came off as knowledgeable, but it was Barack Obama who came off as presidential.  Sure, McCain may have more experience, but it is Obama who has demonstrated the temperament to command this country at this precarious time.  After watching McCain’s actions this week, I would be worried were he the president.  He vacillated all over the place.  He went from the campaign trail, to suspending his campaign, to calling off the debate to then agreeing to debate after all.  It appeared to me like a last ditch effort- try this! No – try this! No? How about this?

Frankly, neither candidate hit a home run during this debate.  If anyone won, I think it was Obama, simply because he held his own, appeared knowledgeable and confident. In my opinion, John McCain came off as petulant and chiding, but still well informed and experienced.  So basically it was a draw.  Now on to debate number two…

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{September 24, 2008}   Are You A Feminist?

This past weekend while spending the afternoon with a friend, our conversation turned from shoes, work and life to something a little more intellectual: feminism.

Me: I’m not a feminist

Her: You’re not?! Yes you are!

Me: I mean I’m all for women’s rights and I fully support women, but I don’t consider myself a feminist.

Her: What’s the difference?

I couldn’t give her an answer.  I wasn’t sure what the difference was. I just knew that for some reason I didn’t want to be considered a feminist. I have been thinking a lot about this conversation in the past couple of days. I wonder when and how the idea of feminism went from being a strong and powerful woman to a bad word.

When I hear feminist my first thoughts are of an angry, man-hating, slightly butch woman running around without a bra and protesting anything in her way.  Obviously, I know this is false. Regardless that is the image my mind conjures.  I hardly believe I am in the minority.  Think about it – how many women have you heard proudly refer to themselves as feminists?

My circle of friends is filled with strong working women all of whom believe in equal pay, women in the workplace and women’s rights.  However, I would be hard pressed to find a “feminist” in the bunch. Except that we all are.  The majority of women in this country are feminists, yet only a small minority identify as such.

The feminism of today is starkly different from that of the past.  There are even some who’d argue that today’s women are throwing the hard work of past generations out the window.  We constantly objectify ourselves, buying into beauty myths and continuing to place more value on our appearance than it’s worth.  On the other hand, more women are venturing into the workplace, running companies and holding high political offices.  So by my count, we’ve come plenty far from the days when “women belonged in the kitchen.”

However, this hasn’t come without backlash.  Women can now have it all, and unfortunately many of us (myself included) feel the pressure to live up to that.  We want to marry, raise children, run a company and look great doing it.  What is this doing to us?  What is the cost?  Research shows that even in households where both parents work, it is the woman who does most of the household chores and child-rearing.  Women are often stretched thin with responsibilities that more often than not men do not have. Today’s girls are brought up by mothers who do everything: they work, they help with homework, they clean, they cook and they maintain an “image.” Often times what we don’t realize is that our mothers are stressed out, and working hard to appear “fine” and put together.  Unfortunately, as a result of this “superwoman” image, we grow up believing that is what is expected of us – to do it all flawlessly.

I am still learning and trying to accept that this is a fallacy.  NO ONE can have it all!  It just isn’t possible, sometimes things have to give.  If that means you have to order in take out, or dont have time to get regular haircuts and manicures, so be it.  I believe both women (and men) should have equal opportunities, be paid equally and have the exact same right to live adjusted and balanced lives.  If that makes me a feminist, then I am proud to be one.



{September 23, 2008}   And The Emmy Goes To

I don’t know exactly what I expected from “The 60th Primetime Emmy’s.”   By now I’ve learned that, on the whole, awards shows are never that entertaining.  So why tune in?  I have always been a fan of television and watch more than I probably should. I’m a true fan, and can appreciate both a brilliant series and an enormously guilty pleasure. So I suppose when I turned on the TV last night, I expected to watch a show that would adequately honor the people who help to create the medium I love so much.  Sadly, I was disappointed.

The host of an awards show is extremelly important.  This was last evenings telecasts’ major downfall.  The 5 hosts (Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Tom Bergeron, Ryan Secrest and Jeff Probst) were unprepared and decidedly unoriginal. Instead of opening the show with a bang, they babbled on about nothing; entertaining no one and making the viewer feel both awkward and uncomfortable.

The show somehow managed to feel bloated and rushed simultaneously, and the highlights and funny moments were few and far between.  Josh Groban’s ode to popular TV theme songs was fun, but could not make up for the lack of inspiration that was the rest of the evening.  Furthermore, the fact that the recipients were “banned” from talking about politics was ridiculous.  What ever happened to free speech?!  However, it did give way to some funny moments such as the John Stewart/Stephen Colbert debate about prunes.

Overall, I was happy with the winners.  I hope all the accolades help to draw more viewers to the magic that is 30 Rock and Mad Men (both remarkable series).  However, in the future I pray that the Academy will think of a better way to honor an industry that really deserves more than what this years show delivered.



{September 21, 2008}   Reaching For The Stars

There is something very admirable about the star.  I’m not talking about Hollywood icons or fame driven celebrities, but rather actual stars.  The small bastions of light that shine down on us every night, reminding us that there is something more out there.  Something vast, large and unknown. 

This week I learned that very often the lights we see in the night sky are from stars which have died off long ago.  The light takes so long to reach Earth that it is often merely the impact of the star we are seeing rather than the star itself.  This small fact really inspires me.  I understand why it became commonplace for people to utter the phrase “I want to be a star.” 

Lately, I have been questioning my goals, ambitions and mission in life.  I constantly berate myself for not measuring up, not being on the ball and not having things figured out.  In my mid twenties, I have held countless jobs in various different fields and still I have not found my place.  I want to shine. I am almost positive I know how I could shine, I just don’t know how to get there.  I want to be a star because I want my presence to matter.  Perhaps it is preposterous for me to imagine that I could make an impact on this world that would outlast my life, but people have done it before, so why not me? 

There is something hopeful if not unnerving about looking at the night sky.  There is so much out there, so much possibility, but also a lot of instability and risk.  To venture out into the vast unknown could result in huge impact and wonderful rewards, but it could also leave you lost and burnt out.  Like the light of the star, in order to reach out to others we first must make the journey.  So, I guess this is where I have to make the choice, because in order to make an impact and shine, you first have to put yourself out there.

 



{September 21, 2008}   How Far Have We Really Come?

This past year, there has been a lot of talk about “how far we have come as a nation.”  Barack Obama is a serious contender in the race for the President of the United States, something that only 20 years ago would have been unimaginable.  It is almost hard to believe that my father came of age in the era of segregated schools – an age of acceptable racism – and now may see a black man elected to the highest office in the land.  So, it is true, we have come a long way, however much remains to be done. 

Just this past week, the AP published the results of a poll which found that

“Barack Obama’s race could be the deciding factor if the presidential battle remains a dead heat on Election Day… The survey finds that many white Americans — particularly Democrats and Independent voters — still hold deep-seated reservations about African Americans… Obama’s support could be as much as 6% higher if there were no racial prejudice involved…”

This is just further evidence supporting what many of us already know; discrimination is still alive and well in America.  The days of outright hate and persecution have given way to a new kind of bigotry.  It ripples below the surface, lingering in the shadows, and is just as dangerous as the hate of decades past.  These days the majority of people are less outright in their biases, yet the beliefs still hold true.  There is evidence of this everywhere: the country clubs that brazenly exclude Jews, schools and neighborhoods which remain “segregated” despite integration and racial profiling which pops up everywhere from airports to street corners.  I would be hard pressed in this country to find any member of a minority group that feels fully accepted by American society. 

As a Jew who grew up in a community largely devoid of a greater Jewish population, I never had slurs flung at me, but somehow always had a knowledge that I was different.  I was once invited by a friend to go swimming at her ‘club’ and was thouroghly  confused when my mother told me it would not be appropriate to bring along the new towel my uncle had just brought me back from his latest trip to Israel.  The towel had Hebrew letters emblazoned across its surface, and she didn’t want it’s presence at the ‘club’ to make anyone uncomfortable.  At 10 I was confused yet compliant (I brought a pink and white striped towel in its place).  However, I distinctly remember being acutely aware of my presence as an interloper the entire day.  I feared what might happen should someone find out I was Jewish. Would anyone dare ask me to leave?  Luckily, the day went off without a hitch and I had fun swimming with friends- but I knew I was unwanted.  For the rest of my young adult and teen years I remember questioning whether or not those of my friends whose families were members of these clubs thought less of me because I was a Jew. 

This is the discrimination of today.  It is pervasive and uncertain.  It is safely hidden behind closed doors and not oft spoken aloud, and thus we fool ourselves into believeing we have made leaps and bounds as a nation.  In reality the shift is less pronounced. 

I do not mean to take anything away from the civil rights movement, and fully recognize the amount of progress it has made in this country.  Our society is certainly more integrated, and minorities continue to succeed more and more with each passing generation.  However, it would be foolish were we to blind ourselves to the amount of work which remains to be done.  I dread the day when I will have to explain to my children why in America -a country where “all men are created equal” – we did not afford gays and lesbians the same rights as those given to heterosexual couples. 

Barack Obama’s candidacy has done a lot to lift the veil of discrimination in American society.  His campaign has acted as a mirror showing us not only how far we have come, but how far we still have to go.

 



At first glance Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Britney Spears may not seem to have anything in common, but all three are now under conservatorship due to going downhill fast!

I am not an economist, nor am I a financial expert, but almost anyone can recognize that the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is a bad sign.  It certainly isn’t news that our economy is in bad shape, but this is so “in your face” that it’s downright scary.

This past week we saw the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, followed by the announcement of the grave trouble at Lehman Brothers and then rumblings that Washington Mutual is also in a serious predicament.  This is no longer just a problem for ‘the little guy.’  The effects of the downturn in the economy up until months ago were mainly felt by those with sub-prime mortgages, people in the auto/steel/coal industry and those who were solidly middle class.  Now the tidal wave has taken everyone under.  Wall street bankers and hedge fund managers who normally don’t even bat an eye going out to a fancy restaurant and ordering the prime rib for lunch have great reason to be wary.  No one is immune and I find this nerve-wracking.

As for Fannie and Freddie, I am perplexed.  While I fully grasp the current situation, it seems fundamentally unfair.  How is it that Fannie and Freddie when doing well are run as private fortune 500 companies reaping tons of reward for their investors and yet now that they are in trouble, taxpayers are the ones who will have to bail them out.  This is a major structural problem in the configuration of the companies.  Fannie and Freddie aren’t just any fortune 500 company, they are the largest ones out there!  Many argue that while it is unfortunate that Fannie and Freddie are now the taxpayers responsibility, that the CEO’s have been fired and aren’t getting away with anything.  Unfortunately this is untrue.  Sure, the CEO’s have been let go, but they are still “set” monetarily.  They still reaped rewards for years prior to this recession and now have the fruits of Fannie and Freddie’s better days to live off of.

Not being an expert in finance, I have no good solution for this conundrum.  I am willing to say that the government had almost no choice but to bail out Fannie and Freddie, but I hope that when the companies are turned back over to be run privately that the fundamental errors in structure are addressed.

Mostly, all the economic upsets we have seen this week make me even more passionate in my beliefs that we must have a President and Vice President who are willing to take a long hard look at things in order to change our economy for the better.  Privatizing social security at this point is a pretty scary thought, as is the possibility of a Sarah Palin presidency.  As for Britney, I am sad to report that her current situation is much more optimistic than that of the US economy.

 



{September 12, 2008}   Remembering September 11th

It hardly seems possible that seven years have passed since the attacks on September 11th.  I imagine the images from that day will be seared into my memory for a long time.  9-11 was the first time in my life that true danger and war seemed possible.  Before, war and terrorism were things that happened far away.  Unlike family and friends in Israel, terrorist attacks aimed at ordiary citizens never crossed my mind.  9-11 was traumatic for all Americans, because it made us view the world through a new lens.

Often when we speak of September 11th we talk about the horrors, the dead and the “war against terror.” We look at images of the burning towers and business men covered in ash.  Sadly, we sometimes overlook the incredible heroism, patriotism and general connection that came out of 9-11. It’s true that this was a horrible event which occurred due to the worst of human nature.  However, it also brought out the best in the American people.  For the first time in a long while we rediscovered our patriotism, we were there for each other and we gave as much as we could.

I think it important that we honor those who lost their lives on September 11th, but isn’t it better to honor their memory by dwelling on the good things?  Personally, I’d rather see images of firefighters, policeman and ordinary citizens doing their part to help the victims in need over those of the towers engulfed in smoke and flames.

9-11 just seems like the perfect time to remember that there is always a bigger picture.  And that picture is one of a country where in a time of need, people put all differences aside and reach out to help one another in any way they can.



I know both candidates claim that they want to stick to the issues and stay out of the mud, but let’s get real here, this is a presidential race!  Honestly, has there ever been a race without mudslinging?  While it’s unfortunate, it’s also a part of politics that will probably be around for a while so I suppose it’s best we get used to it.  This includes you Barack Obama!

Lately the McCain campaign has been running very misleading ads, distorting Obama’s record and making mountains out of molehills.  Doesn’t John McCain realize that people don’t care what kind of animal is sporting lipstick, whether it be a bulldog, pig or spotted owl?  Come on, can’t we just focus on the issues?

Apparently not, and this has to be recognized immediately by the Obama campaign.  Clearly, Obama is trying to ignore the fray and stick to his policy proposals, McCain’s record and getting his message across. Unfortunately, the McCain campaign is hitting him hard, and while people say negative ads and trumped up charges of sexism are not what they want to hear, the polls tell a different story.  These tactics work.  That’s why they remain a staple of the political game in this country.

I applaud the Obama campaign for being principled, but now is not the time.  We have a lot at stake during this election and Obama needs to pull all the punches he can in order to have a fighting chance.  The problem with Obama’s “focus on the issues and stay above the belt” strategy is that the rest of the players in this game are fully involved in below the belt muckraking.  By not hitting back it’s almost akin to Obama removing himself from the game.

Those involved politically see through negative attacks, but the majority of the American public is sadly uninformed.  Especially those in the key “no college, working class” demographic.  What do you think is going to hold their attention longer and carry on throughout dinner table conversations:

A) a clearly laid out, well defined economic proposal, reformed tax code and energy plan

or

B) an ad telling them that the only educational aspiration Obama has is to teach their kindergarteners about sex. (A charge so completely untrue that I wonder how it even passed the ‘smell test’)

In an ideal world, we would be all about the issues and both candidates would run clean and truthful campaigns.  Sadly, this world is far from ideal and I hate to say it but as the old addage goes:

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em



{September 8, 2008}   Single In The City? Yeah Me Too…

This past week Forbes came out with a list of the top 40 cities for singles, and New York came in at number eight. What?! I’m sorry but the only way NYC qualifies as a great city for the unattached, is if said single people want to remain single. As a moderately attractive, fun and active New Yorker I can honestly say this is one of the hardest cities in which to find love.

Apparently, Forbes used a specific methodology in order to rank American cities, which they describe as follows:

To determine which U.S. cities are most comfortable for soloists, we ranked the 40 largest urbanized areas in mainland America in seven different categories: number of singles, nightlife, culture, cost of living alone, job growth, online dating activity and coolness.

I can definitely see how NYC came out on top using these standards.  We have a great nightlife, tons of culture, a definite coolness factor and admittedly almost everyone I know has tried online dating.  Also it makes sense that we are not in the top 5 being that the cost of living here is steep and job growth is less than stellar.  However, what kind of standards are these?  It seems to me that a lot of online dating would mean that a great deal of people are having trouble finding that “special someone.” Additionally, it would probably have been beneficial had Forbes taken “pace of life” into account.

I think the major problem with NYC is that it tends to be very individualistic and fast paced.  There is not a lot of time to loll around, meet people and engage in real conversation.  Due to the high cost of living and the amount of high stress jobs found here, people are often ‘on the go,’ rushing from one event to another.

Yes there is a major night life and cultural scene to be found, but when was the last time you met someone you really wanted to date at a Broadway show or a rolicking night club?  Sure, it happens, but in my experience these events are often fun and socially beneficial but rarely do I ever meet anyone worth re-connecting with at 1:00 am after downing a couple of beers.

In the end the Forbes list is somewhat useless. I am at a loss as to what to do with this information and who the target audience is.  I hardly think that the majority of people will pick up and move their entire lives just to be in a better city for singles.  Furthermore, if a city is a single mecca doesn’t that suggest that it’s also not a place where a lot of people are “settling down?”

I am constantly bemoaning my singlehood with friends and I must admit that it is nice to know that NYC welcomes and hosts various other singles like me.  Now all I have to figure out is where all the good ones are hiding and how I snag one of them soon.

***to read the whole article featured in Forbes click here



John McCain’s appointment of Sarah Palin as his V.P. pick has incited a lot of controversy.  Everything from Palin’s policy views to her choice of wardrobe has been debated as nauseum, and while all these conversations have been both intriguing and exciting nothing has been quite as polarizing as the “Mommy Wars” debate.  

This is not a new debate.  The Mommy Wars refer to the old battle between working mothers and stay at home mothers, each who believe their choice is best.  However, Sarah Palin has certainly caused this ever simmering debate to boil to the surface of society.  Ever since Palin accepted the nomination the air has been buzzing with

“can she handle it?”

“she has so much going on at home”

 “of course she can handle it, this shouldn’t even be an issue – would we ask this of a man?”

I am not a mother, so I suppose it could be argued that I don’t have a leg to stand on in this debate, but regardless I can’t help but weigh in.  As a daughter of a working mother, I know first hand that having a mother who worked was a blessing, an inspiration and a source of pride throughout my childhood.  I grew up in an upper class Connecticut suburb where working mothers were the exception, not the rule, and while there were times when I wish that my mother had been there to pick me up at school or bake cupcakes for my 5th grade class, overall I saw no downside to her having a job. 

I do not like what Sarah Palin stands for politically and certainly do not support her candidacy for Vice President.   However, I resent the fact that many are dismissing her candidacy because “she has too much going on at home.” There are many reasons not to support Sarah Palin for VP, but her family is not one of them.  Balancing work and family seems to be something that Palin has done her entire adult life.  Her husband has acted on and off as a stay at home dad, and for the most part her children seem to be happy and well adjusted.  Yes, her daughter Bristol is pregnant, but that is due to Bristols actions, not Palins job.  There are many teenagers of both working and non working mothers who find themselves in Bristol’s situation, so to place that on Sarah Palin seems not only unfair but ridiculous.

On the matter of her sons Special Needs, I am a bit conflicted.  Down Syndrome is not an easy diagnosis and I do believe that Trig’s needs will most likely be above and beyone most infants’. However,  Sarah Palin has to make her own choices on this matter.  Would it be better were she to stay home and attend early intervention therapy with her son? Maybe, but perhaps she feels she could better serve him by being in a position to advocate for his needs by producing legislation for special needs children.  It truly is a toss up.

There is a problem with the “a woman can have it all” mentality, precisely because it’s untrue.  No one can have it all.  In life we all have to make choices when it comes to work, life, family and relationships.  We are constantly prioritizing.  One has to decide what is most important. Decisions have to be made as to what smaller things can be sacrificed for the “big dream” and one’s overall happiness. 

Sarah Palin could have turned down John McCains offer, but then would this ambitious woman have gone through the rest of her life unsatisfied; constantly thinking “what if?” Surely an unhappy unsatisfied stay at home mom is not better than a fulfilled working mom, nor is an overburdened stressed out working mom better than an adjusted and content stay at home mother.  I guess, like most things, the Mommy Wars comes down to the individual involved.  We’re all different.  We have different aspirations and different ideas of how we can be our best selves and in turn be the best support system for the friends and family surrounding us.  So please lets just call a truce on the “Mommy Wars.” 



et cetera