On Jan. 2, we lost another feminist pioneer. The esteemed historian Gerda Lerner, a longtime University of Wisconsin professor, died in Madison at age 92.
Lerner was a leader in the field of women’s history, launching the first master’s degree program in women’s history at Sarah Lawrence College in the 1970s and the first doctoral program in women’s history at the University of Wisconsin in 1980. The UW program is one of the most prestigious in the nation and has produced dozens of exceptional historians who are teaching and publishing important scholarship on women.
The new year is traditionally a time for resolutions and possibilities. But in my post-holiday blues, I can’t help obsessing about an underreported story of 2012 that portends ominous outcomes for our future.
Among the most neglected stories of 2012, especially given that it was an election year, was the advance of global warming and the climate crisis. The best sources for clear scientific data about our changing environment are the National Climate Data Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Resources Defense Council, which promotes information and advocacy. Both organizations have extensive online data and resources.
A large whiskey sour, very sour, for openly gay actor Rupert Everett, who told the London Sunday Times Magazine: “I can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads.”
Well I can, Rupert. How about self-hating comments by aging queens?
Let’s face it: Tea party events are not where you’d go scouting for the next Einstein or Mozart. The nation’s current crop of conservatives is fiercely anti-intellectual and combative toward the arts. They’re threatened by people who respect facts and the messy complexity of reality when they’re incapable of absorbing anything that can’t be reduced to a 15-second bite on Fox News.
The GOP’s catering to these voters in recent years explains why people with graduate degrees have consistently voted Democratic since Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential race. It also reveals why the disconnects in tea party ideology seems so Kafka-esque to even the most modest of thinkers.
On Dec. 25, millions of children from around the world woke up and rushed to their living rooms to see what gifts Santa Claus had left for them underneath the Christmas tree. I remember as a child being the first one up, waking up my parents and my brothers before 7 a.m. It was a joyous occasion.
But this year I couldn’t help but think about the families of the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School and how they must have felt as they removed presents that will never be opened from under their Christmas trees.
Although it’s fun to watch the GOP and conservative pundits reeling from shock over President Barack Obama’s victory, progressives should not be too smug. After the celebrations, we’re in need of a reality check, too.
The biggest thrill for me was seeing Tammy Baldwin defeat the old warhorse Tommy Thompson for a U.S. Senate seat. She overcame her opponents’ accusations that she was a dangerous radical even as she overcame some supporters’ doubts that she could beat Thompson.
The United States virtually belongs to Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Pharma and a handful of other special interests – including the National Rifle Association. The rest of us merely live in it.
The NRA’s wealth does not come from hunters but rather from the producers of weapons and ammunition. That industry is expected to rack up $11.7 billion in sales and $993 million in profits this year, according to analysts at IBIS World. An increasing percentage of those profits are from semi-automatic weapons produced for combat, according to industry analysts.
By now I am sure that everyone knows Tammy Baldwin is the first openly LGBT person elected to the U.S. Senate, and that she’s the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin. What’s next for our community politically?
Two weeks ago I attended the LGBT Leaders Conference in Long Beach, Calif. The conference, hosted by the Victory Fund, was a gathering of high-ranking LGBT leaders from around the world, but I want to talk about just one of them – Heather Mizeur. Currently a member of the Maryland General Assembly, Mizeur recently announced her intention to run for governor. If she wins, she would be the first out person elected governor in our nation’s history. She would also be the first woman elected governor of Maryland.
By all accounts last week’s election was historic. All across this nation we overwhelmingly voted to re-elect President Barack Obama, the first sitting president to support same-sex marriage. In Wisconsin, we continued our proud heritage as one of the most progressive states by electing Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate. Not only will she be the country’s first openly gay senator, she also is the first women ever elected to the Senate from Wisconsin. In addition, we elected Mark Pocan to succeed Baldwin in Congress, marking the first time in history that one LGBT person has succeeded another in the House of Representatives.
One would think that all those victories put our community on solid ground. But the reality is that we lost more than we won on down-ballot races – races for lower-profile offices. As a result, several key protections for our community could now be in jeopardy.