Much has happened in my life in the past few years. In July of 2010, my daughter, who is my only child, got married. A few months later, Jonathan asked me to be one of the three original guest bloggers at Res Ipsa Loquitor. In 2011, I became a grandmother…and a nanny granny. That year, I also signed my first book contract with Chronicle Books. In 2012, my husband and I bought a house that had an in-law apartment with my daughter and son-in-law. We did this so it would be more convenient for me to provide daycare for my granddaughter Julia. In 2013, my husband and I sold the house where we had lived for nearly forty years and moved into our new home.
Moving was not an easy task. I own thousands of books—many of which are books for children and young adults. A great number of those children’s books are poetry collections and anthologies. Although I donated hundreds of books to the Reach Out and Read program at a local health clinic and to some of the kids in my old neighborhood, I couldn’t bear to part with my poetry books. I wanted to share them with my granddaughter Julia in hopes that she will also develop a love of poetry like her “Gammy.”
Forty-five years ago today—on July 20, 1969—astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Michael Collins, the other member of the Apollo 11 crew, orbited above them. As Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the surface of the moon, stepped down from the Eagle, he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” I remember the excitement and pride of the people of this country on that historic day. We Americans also felt great relief and exultation when those three astronauts returned to Earth safely following their successful mission.
Back in March of this year—during oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case—Sahil Kapur (Talking Points Memo) said he thought that the conservative Supreme Court Justices “appeared broadly ready to rule against the birth control mandate under Obamacare.” He added that “their line of questioning indicated they may have a majority to do it.” Kapur reported that Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Alito “expressed no sympathy for the regulation while appearing concerned for the Christian business owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood who said the contraceptive mandate violates their religious liberty and fails strict scrutiny standards under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”
During oral arguments, Justice Scalia said, “You’re talking about, what, three or four birth controls, not all of them, just those that are abortifacient. That’s not terribly expensive stuff, is it?”
There are a couple of things I think Justice Scalia should know. First, the four contraceptive methods that Hobby Lobby objected to paying for—Plan B, Ella, and two intrauterine devices—are not abortifacients. They do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus—which the owners of Hobby Lobby consider to be abortion. Instead—according to the Food and Drug Administration—the four contraceptive methods in question prevent fertilization of an egg. Second, the cost of intrauterine devices can be quite considerable—especially to a woman working for minimum wage or for a company like Hobby Lobby.
Frank Dean Lucas, a Republican, is the U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 3rd congressional district. Prior to representing the 3rd district, he served the 6th district from 1994 to 2003. Lucas currently chairs the House Committee on Agriculture. He also serves on the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Last Tuesday, Rep. Lucas won his Republican primary easily—garnering more than 80% of the vote. His primary opponent Timothy Ray Murray—who received only 5.2% of the vote—is planning to contest the election. Murray’s reason for contesting the election: He claims that Lucas was executed three years ago by the World Court and that the Congressman has been replaced by a body double. Murray even suggested on his campaign website that the “Frank Lucas” who bested him in the primary might be an artificial look alike or a man-made replacement.
In a press release posted on his website, Murray wrote, “The election for U.S. House for Oklahoma’s 3rd District will be contested by the Candidate, Timothy Ray Murray. I will be stating that his votes are switched with Rep. Lucas votes, because it is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike.”
I fell in love with the poetry of Li-Young Lee when I read his debut collection Rose. Published in 1986, the book won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award. In the foreword that he wrote for Rose, Gerald Stern said that when he first came across Li-Young Lee’s poetry, he “was amazed by the large vision, the deep seriousness and the almost heroic ideal “reminiscent more of John Keats, Rainer Maria Rilke and perhaps Theodore Roethke than William Carlos Williams on the one hand or T.S. Eliot on the other.” Stern added that what characterizes Lee’s poetry “Is a certain humility, a kind of cunning, a love of plain speech, a search for wisdom and understanding…”
Stern also wrote in his foreword that the “father” in contemporary poetry “tends to be a pathetic soul or bungler or a sweet loser, overwhelmed by the demands of family and culture and workplace.” He said that the father in Lee’s poems isn’t anything like that. He said the “father” in Lee’s poetry is “more godlike”–and that the poet’s job “becomes not to benignly or tenderly forgive him, but to withstand him and comprehend him, and variously fear and love him.”
Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University, a historian of education, and author of more than ten books—including The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (2003) and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010). Ravitch served as Assistant Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993 during the administration of George H. W. Bush. When she was Assistant Secretary, she led the federal effort to promote the creation of voluntary state and national academic standards. “From 1997 to 2004, she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal testing program. She was appointed by the Clinton administration’s Secretary of Education Richard Riley in 1997 and reappointed by him in 2001. From 1995 until 2005, she held the Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution and edited Brookings Papers on Education Policy. Before entering government service, she was Adjunct Professor of History and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.”
Ravitch, once a champion of charter schools, supported the No Child Left Behind initiative. After careful investigation, Ravitch changed her mind and became one of our country’s most well-known critics of charter-based education. She believes that “the privatization of public education has to stop.” In late March, Ravitch sat down with Bill Moyers on Moyers & Company to discuss the subject of privatizing of public schools—which has become “big business as bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity investors are entering what they consider to be an ‘emerging market.’” You can view a video of that program, Public Schools for Sale?, below the fold.