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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oy Vey! Such questions!

I don't know how I get myself into these things. Honestly.

I guess I'll always be just a girl who can't say 'no'. Well, sometimes. Especially when the request comes from an amazing woman with intellectual curiosity, deep spirituality and an outrageous sense of humor. She's also Jewish and does a mean guilt trip, so you know I was hopelessly seduced.

I was asked a few weeks ago to answer a few questions about the upcoming election by my girl Katie. She asked a broad representation of folk - about 20 people - to respond to the same questions. It's been a fascinating exercise.

It's also been cathartic. As a parish priest, I can not / will not put a political poster on my lawn or a sticker on my bumper which endorses a particular candidate. Neither do I abuse the privilege of my pulpit and use it for anything other than preaching the Word.

However, on my personal blog, my congregation is not my audience.

So, here are the seven questions she asked (good Biblical number), and my answers.

1)What is your name (nickname, whatever you're comfortable sharing), your age (range), gender, occupation, income bracket (range), how you identify (gay/straight/whatever)? Married/Single/Divorced? Kids (how many)?

My name is Elizabeth Kaeton, known facetiously to many in “blogland” as TELP (The Evil Lesbian Priestess) – a lovely term of endearment, I think, designed to steal the thunder of those uber Christians who really do believe I am.

My blog is called “Telling Secrets” and I am outspoken and feisty. While I have been described alternately as “gracious” and “charming,” I do not suffer many fools gladly. I am passionate about exposing the interlocking nature of oppression – race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, gender identity, age, physical, economic and social status – in service of dismantling patriarchy.

I turn a "major corner of maturity" next year and although I am carrying around 10 more pounds than I would like to right this very red hot second (it was a helluva summer, starting with a new addiction to Drumsticks), I have never been in better shape in my life - in the gym 3-5 times a week.

Gender? (Sing it with me, Katiegirlish) “I enjoy being a girl.” I am an Episcopal priest, celebrating my 22nd Anniversary on October 18, 2008, so you know I’m not a wealthy woman in terms of finances, but I am absolutely flush with the riches of my family – my partner of 32 years, our six incredible children and five absolutely amazing grandchildren.

2)What are the most important issues to you in this presidential election and why?
Without a doubt there are four critical issues

(1) The war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe one of the first things the new POTUS (President of The United States) needs to do is to call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to expose the lies we have been told by this government in terms of the reasons for this war and the torture of others. I think this is absolutely necessary before we can begin to rebuild our nation and regain our standing in the image of the world as a beacon of hope and freedom.

(2) The economy – especially the corporate greed which serves a small, affluent elect and disproportionately and adversely affects women and children in this country and in the global village. If we do not approach a solution to the problem without first examining the cause, we will continue our downward spiral.

(3) Health Care. I have I don't want anyone - ANYONE - to be without access to good health care, but I fail to understand how someone can get off an airplane from a country in the Global South and walk into a hospital and not have to be financially liable for the hospital bill and my children have to worry about the jobs they take because if there is no health care benefit and they become ill, they could lose everything they've worked for in their young lives. What is wrong with this picture?

Why are pharmaceutical companies allowed to make such a large margin of profit on drugs that are necessary for life like insulin and standard medicine for heart disease?

Why do those who live in geographical areas identified as having "dense poverty demographics" have limited access to quality health care?

(4) Immigration - Oh, Lord! Where to begin? See the first paragraph above for starters. I grew up in an immigrant community. I believe this is part of the strength of the American enterprise - always has been, always will be. We need to gain a better understanding of this thread in the fabric of our lives in order to weave a better, stronger tapestry. Keeping The American Dream alive is to keep hope alive - which begins with immigration.

If we are going to rely on immigrants for cheap labor, and if we are going to expect our citizens to enjoy their right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," we must provide affordable access to health care for all.

3)Why do you think voters should vote for Obama/Biden, what differentiates this ticket from McCain/Palin?
Oh, sweet baby Jesus and all the angels that sing him to sleep! If you have to ask the question about the difference between Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin, you obviously have not been paying attention. So, let me put it this way: Obama + Biden = Hope and Change. McCain + Palin = Same old, same very, very old (and scary). We simply can not tolerate eight more years of the last eight years.

4)If McCain/Palin wins this election, where do you see our country going in the next four years?
I am not being facetious when I say, “To hell in a Republican hand basket.” I am being as serious as a heart attack when I say that I think we will see the attempt to further erode our civil rights, which will result in an increased rise in sexism and misogyny. I think this will directly effect children and those who are already marginalized in our society and culture. If you have any question of this, please read (if you already haven’t) “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” for starters. It’s all there.

I also predict that the very ones who say that government does not belong in our private lives will be even more concerned to impose laws which compromise reproductive choice while continuing to impose a heterosexist standard as “the norm” and any variation of it as “a threat to the fabric of this country.” (LGBT people and feminists as the new Terrorists). Paranoia will strike even deeper. If this happens, if the Republican slate emerges as the leadership for this country, well, as we say in my business, “God have mercy on us, one and all.” And, and, and – the call to persevere and remain constantly vigilant for the cause of justice will be even more urgent and compelling a task.

5)Economically, where do you think this country is today and how do you think Obama/Biden can make a positive impact?
As I write this, we are in the midst of a $700 BILLION government bail out of the Mortgage Industry – rescuing billionaires from their own greed at the expense of those who have lost their homes to high interest rates and balloon payments. The stock market has had its steepest fall in decades. Meanwhile, all Dubya can do is scramble to save his own legacy without concern for those who have lost their homes on his watch.

I’m not an economist and I don’t pretend to know whether or not the bipartisan Congressional plan is a good or bad choice. McCain has made himself clear on economics: he’s probably even less knowledgeable that I am. His penchant for quick decision making and his “maverick” ways frighten me – especially in terms of his admitted ignorance in economics.

I do trust Obama to have a better grasp of the fundamentals of economics and to have access to the best economic minds in this country with whom to consult. He has already assembled a financial team made up of several of the members on Team Clinton. I trust him to propose a plan for a way out of this which does not reward the wealthy for their greed and considers corrective measures for those who suffer most in these economic times. And, I understand that we didn’t get here over night and it will take some time to plug the holes in this badly leaking ship.

6)In the past 8-years, how do you think this country has changed under the Bush regime? Have you been affected by these changes? If so, in what ways?
Unemployment is at its highest level ever. Anxiety is, likewise, a more constant companion in our daily lives. We are so obsessed with “Terrorists” we have become the victims of our own campaign against it. Carl Rove’s Reign of Terror may soon come to an end, but it’s going to take years to change the carefully cultivated Climate of Fear and Suspicion in this country.

The interesting thing is that in times of anxiety, more people come to church more often. So, Dubya has, in fact, helped my attendance. The fascinating thing is that people do not get miserly in times like these. Giving levels remain constant or have increased.

Even so, I would take back the Clinton days in a heartbeat. At least, as the saying goes, 'when Bill lied, nobody died'. I’m not a moral relativist – Bill Clinton’s infidelity hurt his marriage, his family and this nation – but I must say that I find deep moral repugnance in the kind of mendacity that steals livelihoods in this country and young lives on foreign soil defending our country against Weapons of Mass Destruction that never existed. The Current Occupant as a Man of God has lost his moral compass – or, perhaps, its just that he never learned to read one.

7)I have read that Palin is considered the new voice of feminism, which is offensive in my opinion. Of equal concern are her views on abortion and the removal of books from libraries. I'd like to know what you think about all of that and how you feel about McCain choosing Palin as a running mate. And what kind of message you think that sends to women?
I recently saw a bumper sticker that said: Sarah Palin is to feminism what Clarence Thomas is to civil rights. I couldn’t agree more. As a feminist, I am deeply insulted by Palin’s nomination. As a woman, I am offended that this Governor of Alaska signed into law a bill that requires women who have been raped to pay for their own rape kit and yet this woman is held up as a model of “the new feminist.”

As one of the Suffragettes once said, “I only know I am called a feminist whenever I refuse to behave like a doormat.” The poster girl for “neo-feminism” looks to these feminist eyes like a doormat at the newly-painted entrance to the Land of Patriarchy.

There are many ways that this nomination speaks to me that are deeply disturbing – primary among them is that McCain actually thinks that Sarah Palin will have an appeal to other women. As if we are that dumb not to see through this transparent political card trick! So here’s the deal. Here’s what really drives me right round the bend: Apparently, McCain is right. There are women – lots of women out there – who think Palin represents them. And, maybe she does.

The message that there are enough women in this country to elect Sarah Palin is probably the scariest aspect of this entire election process.

If McCain/Palin win? Well, I’ve often thought it might be nice to live in the South of France. Or, perhaps, Greece. One thing is sure: With government ownership of banks and insurance companies, we’re beginning to look more and more like the country Sarah Palin claims she can see from her house.

Okay, so if that sounded depressing, you may need to hear the sound of hope? Check this out. It's Zoe Kravits singing "We can change the world."

Just in case my politics aren't completely clear to you!

Shalom, Katie. Thanks for the opportunity to think out loud on this questions.


Fran said...

I love your answers - this is great.

And um... I won the contest. I did say contest but you know what I mean.
Your vote counted!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Yeah! Woo hoo! Now you have to share your cupcakes. I said cupcakes but you know what I mean.

David@Montreal said...

talking in code are ye?
i love you both, and Fran enjoy the 'cupcakes'
I said cupcakes but sure hope you know what I'm supposed to mean!

on a more serious note, please pray for our National Election here in Canada (Oct 14). it's not that much more hopeful than yours except we don't have quite the arms and war history.


Anonymous said...

Bravo, Bravo, well said indeed. I am so glad so many people are on the same page here. I am soooo nervous about tonight. I just have this fear this idiot woman will somehow come off sounding not too bad and give McCain a boost again, just when the polls seem to be moving so well toward Obama. Prayers and fingers crossed. LOL

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


Prayers ascend for the election. Oy, Canada!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Nervous? I don't think I'll have the stomach to watch. I should be getting home around 9:15 tonight. Hopefully, it will all be over by then. ;~)

suzanne said...

Fran won the cupcakes? (and i know what you mean)

Yea! too cool