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1. This post is brought to you by the letters k, w and y. I’m a language freak so when I heard the story about how Portugal’s government approved legislation to add three letters to its alphabet, I knew I had to write about it. Here’s an interesting take on the change from an Englishman who has lived in Portugal for a long time. I dated a guy from Montevideo, Uruguay when I lived in Israel and his roommates were from Brazil so between all of us, we spoke Hebrew, English, Spanish and Portuguese. I think Portuguese, spoken the way the Brazilians speak it, is a gorgeous language. But I’m not really sure what adding three letters is going to do for the Portuguese. It’s an interesting historical development though.

2. A Beachwood resident’s synagogue, family and friends have organized an event to help support him during an illness. Please check to see if you know this gentleman and/or would care to look into it and consider making a donation. (Disclaimer: I do not know the gentleman involved but am noting this event out of respect for another bloggy friend who asked. Best of luck to this gentleman and his family.)

3. I don’t know Joe Hallett really well, but in the few exchanges we have had, I just know that he did not have to note that Mary Taylor is attractive in a column that otherwise does a nice narration about her, but easily could have gone deeper into the issues about the Ohio Republican Party and its subdued enthusiasm over Taylor. Given the waning of GOP women in the state senate, and the seven deadly sins-chasing of Deputy party chair Kevin DeWine, I find that treatment to be very, very curious. But it sure doesn’t have a thing to do with her attractiveness. Hattip to Bring Ohio Home.

4. Speaking of Bring Ohio Home, Paul offers his take on an NYT column I sent around today. Thanks for thinking about it.

5. I really hope people are reading Bad American. Because what he writes is really worth reading.

6. This is sick. What the hell is it anyway? Sheesh.

7. At the symposium yesterday, one of the speakers, I forget which one, spoke about how the press corps recently saw Barack Obama wear jeans for the very first time. Here’s the YouTube of it. I think it’s kind of cute, even if it is silly. You can hear the cameras clicking to catch the rare moment. Since I haven’t been following him closely, I’m not really sure what all is behind the no jeans thing. Feel free to enlighten.

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By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:22 pm May 18th, 2008 in Barack Obama, Blogging, Campaigning, Gender, Government, Hillary Clinton, Ohio, Politics, Remains of the Day | 3 Comments 

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I haven’t had a chance to write up my interviews with TIME Magazine’s Karen Tumulty (or Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift) yet, but Tumulty has written about the event here in TIME’s political blog, Swampland.

An excerpt:

I’m just back from what turned out to be a fascinating symposium at the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio. It was supposed to be a look at the influence that spouses have had on presidential campaigns, but not surprisingly, it turned into a far more up-to-date discussion of a First Lady who ran for President in her own right.

The audience was largely female, and many were convinced that one of the biggest obstacles that Clinton had to confront was sexist media coverage. Many had read and been struck by this column by Marie Cocco, and one of the panelists, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Connie Schultz, related her fears (which she has written about) as to what kind of message Clinton’s experience has sent to the younger generation of women. (Among the handful of men in the audience of this symposium about spouses was Schultz’s own husband, Senator Sherrod Brown.)

She then relates the experience and information exchange to yet a third piece in today’s New York Times about women, politics and the presidency.  Worth the read – with a focus who is in the pipeline – one of WLST’s favorite causes.

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By Jill Miller Zimon at 5:52 pm May 18th, 2008 in Blogging, Elections, Gender, Hillary Clinton, Media, Ohio, Politics, Social Issues, Voting, Women, Writing | 3 Comments 

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Congrats to BlogHer’s persistance and class in pursuing the candidates for in-person interviews. And thank you to Senator Obama for taking and making the time to grant the interview. Enjoy. I have not watched it yet because I’m on the run but will shortly.

You can read more here about the interview and reactions to it at BlogHer.

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By Jill Miller Zimon at 4:46 pm May 18th, 2008 in Barack Obama, Blogging, Campaigning, Democrats, Elections, Government, Media, Politics, Tech, Voting, Women | 4 Comments 

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Not by me, but Thomas L. Friedman in today’s New York Times. I couldn’t have written this column better myself.


What really makes a pro-Israel president?

Personally, as an American Jew, I don’t vote for president on the basis of who will be the strongest supporter of Israel. I vote for who will make America strongest. It’s not only because this is my country, first and always, but because the single greatest source of support and protection for Israel is an America that is financially and militarily strong, and globally respected. Nothing would imperil Israel more than an enfeebled, isolated America.

I don’t doubt for a second President Bush’s gut support for Israel, and I think it comes from his gut. He views Israel as a country that shares America’s core democratic and free-market values. That is not unimportant.

But what matters a lot more is that under Mr. Bush, America today is neither feared nor respected nor liked in the Middle East, and that his lack of an energy policy for seven years has left Israel’s enemies and America’s enemies — the petro-dictators and the terrorists they support — stronger than ever. The rise of Iran as a threat to Israel today is directly related to Mr. Bush’s failure to succeed in Iraq and to develop alternatives to oil.

Does that mean Mr. Obama would automatically do better? I don’t know. To me, U.S. presidents succeed or fail when it comes to Arab-Israeli diplomacy depending on two criteria that have little to do with what’s in their hearts.

The first, and most important, is the situation on the ground and the readiness of the parties themselves to take the lead, irrespective of what America is doing. Anwar Sadat’s heroic overture to Israel, and Menachem Begin’s response, made the Jimmy Carter-engineered Camp David peace treaty possible. The painful, post-1973 war stalemate between Israel and Egypt and Syria made Henry Kissinger’s disengagement agreements possible. The collapse of the Soviet Union and America’s defeat of Iraq in the first gulf war made possible James Baker’s success in putting the Madrid peace process together.

What all three of these U.S. statesmen had in common, though — and this is the second criterion — was that when history gave them an opening, they seized it, by being tough, cunning and fair with both sides.

Which is why American Jews like my parents (and myself) will have no problem voting for Obama should he be the Democratic party nominee.

NB: To the several folks who’ve been emailing me stuff about Jews and Obama and to whom I haven’t always responded: Friedman pretty much says it all for me in the full column and I’ve felt that way pretty much all along.  The security of Israel vis a vis the American president is a non-issue for me when it comes to presidential options, and many Jews I know who support Obama (and there are many) feel the same way.  That’s not to say there aren’t numerous Jews who fear the destruction of Israel so much that they say they’ll vote for McCain, but, well, like every other group, American Jews simply are not monolithic on Israel.  Anyone who tries to portray them as otherwise is stuck in a bygone era – or listening too much to AIPAC.  Which is never a good thing.

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By Jill Miller Zimon at 2:57 pm May 18th, 2008 in Barack Obama, Democrats, Foreign Affairs, Hillary Clinton, Israel, Jewish, John McCain, Media, Politics, Voting | 1 Comment 

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Mazel Tov to Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, 41 years old and a second-time mother, as of Thursday. From the Albany Times Union:

Gillibrand had been at work right up until she went to the hospital. She spent most of Wednesday at a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee, which was writing defense spending recommendations for the coming fiscal year.

Lawmakers dryly discussed military issues, such as missile defense systems and an Army modernization project, for roughly 13 hours while they debated amendments — and amendments to amendments.

When Gillibrand left late Wednesday night, panel chairman Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., thanked the lawmaker for her dedication and led a round of applause among the 50-plus committee members in attendance.

Gillibrand also was on the House floor Wednesday evening to vote for the $289 billion farm bill that the House approved.

The freshman lawmaker does not plan to take an official maternity leave and has said she plans to return to the House “as soon as I am physically able.”

I stopped with three at 38 because I didn’t expect to have the energy with four at 41. So God bless her, and give them all good health. Poopoopoo as we say.

And here’s a picture of the baby.  Hear the collective cooing from the blogosphere?

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By Jill Miller Zimon at 2:12 pm May 18th, 2008 in Announcements, Congress, Gender, Government, Politics, Social Issues, Women | Comments Off 

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Today’s New York Times has at least two articles that focus on women and politics directly (I’ve only separated the parts of the paper and these two stand out – I haven’t read them yet).  And I spent nearly six hours yesterday immersed in the topic of women, the media and politics, with thousands of characters types in live-blogs and interviews I’ve yet to write about.

So – start here:

New York Times Magazine: The Hillary Lesson
New York Times Week in Review section: She Just Might Be President Some Day

I will have much to say about both of those articles and the reality I’ve faced cracking ceilings I didn’t even know were there until someone tried to thrust it down over my head.  But if you think we’re in a post-feminist era? Honey, we haven’t begun to see how women can and will lead – but be prepared to witness women with a lot of battle scars.  We still have a long way to go to a gender-neutral society of respect and support.

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By Jill Miller Zimon at 12:56 pm May 18th, 2008 in Barack Obama, Campaigning, Elections, Gender, Government, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Media, Politics, Social Issues, Voting, Women | Comments Off 

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This commentary in today’s News-Herald, written by the paper’s David W. Jones, catalogues numerous races more or less local to its readership that demonstrates what I thought a while ago, when some people said, oh, there’s such hatred for Hillary Clinton. If she is at the top of the ticket, we will see more women lower down on the ticket lose.

We’ll probably never know if that will come to pass, but I’ve thought that her presence in the race, if not the ticket, would increase the number of women who run, if not win (hopefully other women running will have better campaigns and managers, less flaws and lighter baggage).

The one quibble I have is that Jones doesn’t mention how the Ohio state senate will have no women from the Republican party starting in January 2009, as things currently stand. I wrote about this fact last fall. As the Columbus Dispatch wrote then:

The testosterone level on the Republican side of the Senate couldn’t get much higher these days.

When Republican Sen. Patricia Clancy was ushered out of her seat into a county job two weeks ago to make way for fellow Cincinnatian Bill Seitz, half of the chamber’s GOP women disappeared.

In a state where females make up 51 percent of the population, being a female, a senator, and a Republican has been a lonely demographic combination for nearly nine years. Since 1999, no more than two women have served in the Senate GOP caucus at any one time, and of 21 members today, only Sen. Joy Padgett of Coshocton remains.

She’s not sticking around past 2008. Rep. Jimmy Stewart of Athens wants to take her place.

Unless former state Sen. Karen Gillmor decides to run next year, Senate Republicans have no female candidates lined up to join the team in 2009, meaning that for the second time in 24 years the caucus could be all-male and all-white.

It appears that Karen Gillmor is running against Marysville Mayor Tom Kruse (D) for the state senate’s 26th district. I’m not sure what her chances are there, but if she wins, she’ll be all by herself as a Republican, female state senator in Ohio.

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By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:43 am May 18th, 2008 in Campaigning, Elections, Gender, Government, Ohio, Politics, Republicans, Statehouse, Women | Comments Off