Introductions all around.

Yesterday’s post about the GOP failing to notice women that can’t get pregnant without the help of a man got a fair flurry of attention! So I thought introductions were in order.

I write quite a bit about similar issues — reproductive rights, sexual assault, the language we use when we talk about women — but because of my general contention that these are not “women’s issues” but rather human issues, I don’t have a specific “women’s issues” category. You’ll find those posts under Body, Social Justice, and Activism (and occasionally Domestic Politics, Fury, and Rant – though I’ll be honest, I haven’t figured out yet what the difference is between “Fury” and “Rant”!).

These have included:

  1. 430 abortion restrictions introduced this year alone (sadly self explanatory).
  2. Rape as a defining characteristic of American society (also just what you would think it is).
  3. Like a girl and The daily barrage of insults (both regarding way that the very words we use serve to dehumanize girls and women).
  4. My President is a feminist (because he is, dang it).

I also post about a lot of other stuff, too, some of it lighthearted, or even whimsical!

Like Nathan Fillion, and penguins on an airplane, and Firefly, and the music of Billy Bragg and George Lucas! And then there’s the Israel/Palestine stuff and race relations and domestic politics generally. But, you know, a singing, dancing Canadian lobster puppet, too. So, kind of a mixed bag!

Anyhoo! Please do take a look around the place! I’m very glad to have you.

***A note about commenting***

Comments are open and welcome! Click here for my About Commenting page, but the rules pretty much boil down to: Be a person.

However! Each first comment goes into moderation and I do not work on Shabbat (sundown Friday to just after sundown Saturday, CST). Thus: If you get stuck in moderation for any length of time, please don’t worry! I will fish you out as soon as I can.

Thanks again for stopping by!


Me & The Daily Beast – a thing that’s really happening.


Peter Beinart, columnist at The Daily Beast (Newsweek’s online presence) and author of The Icarus Syndrome and the up-coming The Crisis of Zionism (and, not incidentally, of a cri de couer entitled “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment” that set the American Jewish world on its ear when the New York Review of Books ran it in June 2010, in that it told the truth that no one wanted to talk about) is launching a new group blog, called Zion Square, to be hosted on The Daily Beast.

I’m one of the columnists.


This is very cool. This is very, very cool, and in many ways, is the very thing I’ve been trying to achieve since I started writing op/eds in 2002, post-graduate school.

And I was hardly even talking about it, though it’s been in the works for a month or so, because as an old school reporter, I know that your story isn’t safe until it’s on someone’s doorstep (or, in this case, computer monitor) and why on earth would I want to jinx this? So, you know: Mum = the word!

But Tablet Magazine ran a piece about the project today, and, well – if it’s online, it must be true, right? Here’s what they said:

“I find very little interesting conversation about what Zionism is,” Peter Beinart, the former New Republic editor who has emerged in recent years as one of the most prominent center-left commentators on foreign policy, and especially Israel, told Tablet Magazine yesterday. “The term has become so politicized and associated with the right that this is a moment where the question of what Zionism is and the variety of different Zionisms that can exist really needs to be discussed.” The place he hopes this “intellectually open and unafraid” discussion will occur is Zion Square, his new group blog at The Daily Beast, which launches Monday.

According to Beinart, most of Zion Square’s contributors broadly share his belief in “the Jewish democratic state, based upon the principles of Israel’s declaration of independence,” alongside a Palestinian state….

Among Zion Square’s ten regular columnists, only one would commonly be thought of as offering a right-of-center perspective—the Israeli Benny Morris. The rest are: Bernard Avishai, Lara Friedman, Gershom Gorenberg, Emily L. Hauser, Hussein Ibish, Yehudah Mirsky, Yousef Munayyer, Trita Parsi, and Einat Wilf.

Friedman, of Americans for Peace Now, might be the farthest left (APN, for example, advocates boycotts of goods made in the occupied territories but not Israel). Mirsky, rabbinically ordained and concerned as much with Jewish identity as politics, could also be considered center to center-right. Gorenberg’s recent The Unmaking of Israel is, in my opinion, a fantastic book. Wilf is the only professional politician, a member of the Knesset from Ehud Barak’s Independence Party. And Parsi might prove the most controversial selection: the president of the National Iranian American Council, he has become a lightning rod in the Iran debate, criticized by the right for an allegedly overly credulous view of Iranian willingness to back away from a nuclear program.

Beinart is particularly excited to have voices from the Arab world, including Ibish, who is Lebanese, and Munayyer, who is Palestinian (and he noted that Parsi is Iranian). “One of the defining characteristics of the organized Jewish community’s discussion is the Palestinian voices rarely have a chance to be heard by a Jewish audience,” he argued. The ways in which the organized Jewish community narrow American discussion of Israel is a theme of Beinart’s book, which will be excerpted in Monday’s Newsweek (The Daily Beast’s print counterpart), as well as of the widely read essay he published nearly two years ago, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.”

I’ll note two things:

  1. I am every bit as left-wing at Lara Friedman! C’mon now, Tablet!
  2. Trita Parsi was interviewed on The Daily Show last night. I’m going to be blogging with the guy who Jon Stewart interviewed last night. /faints
  3. (okay, three things) Every name on that list but mine is well known in my circles – I’m currently envisioning a lot of people going “Emily L. – who, now?”

Aside from my excitement about mememememe, though, it should also be noted that the project is terrific and exciting, on it’s own, un-me related merits! These are conversations that anyone with a stake in Israel needs to be having, and I’m very grateful to be able to play a part.

Resistance is futile.

See that little blue button over on the right? I have been assimilated into the Twitter nation.

Never say never, my friends! Never, ever say never.

I will be tweeting links to my own posts, and occasional links to other articles or posts that I find interesting or useful. There will be no overshare, and they may not even be more than one or two tweets in any given day, but I have come to understand that Twitter is, as I always say about technology, just a tool — as good or bad as the people using it.

And it looks like a pretty good tool, if used correctly, and use it correctly I shall! Or at least I shall endeavor to do so.

Follow me, won’t you?

Home again, home again.

Jiggity jig! Except not really.

Life, and the stuff of life, and the way that lives sometimes come to their conclusions — all these things have come together and will jointly keep me from doing much, if any, work this week. It is a week in which it turns out that, hey presto! Sometimes it’s good to be vastly underemployed.

It further turns out that being middle-aged is not all fun and games and reading good books and taking your kids to Disney World. Sometimes being middle-aged means finding yourself on the receiving end of heartbreaking phone calls that one could never have imagined two decades earlier; sometimes it just means that the bodies of those you love are falling into undignified decrepitude as rapidly as is your own. For me, this week, it also means surveying all that surrounds me every night when I go to sleep, and feeling an oceanic gratitude that I have so much of what too many have so little of.

I’m rambling, and this all sounds so vague and disjointed, in no small part because I’m writing from a hotel lobby in southwestern Wisconsin. This is where life brought me today. Tomorrow, it will bring me into the northern neighborhoods of Chicago; over the weekend, it will bring me back to Wisconsin, but to a different part. Unless I wind up back here, too. Shit happens, and right now, it’s happening all over my Middle West.

So this is a place-holder post. My hope is that I will post something a little more focused, with something akin to a point, tonight — but who can tell what the night will bring?

In the meantime, I will say this: Disney was a blast, and only in part because it was Disney. I am so lucky to be a part of my family.

I’ll be back as soon as I can.

A dream dies.

Ah, the life of a contract writer! In two weeks, my big, regular gig — the one that has kept me in regular checks for more than five years — will be going away, and I’ve been too busy working to look for work. Maybe a new career all together…?
Agnes - November 13, 2009

And then, just like that, “hot, sultry salsa dancer” fell off the list of possibilities….

(Make sure to visit Agnes at her online home!)

(Oh, and if you have a job? I’m open!)


For those who are interested, you can now see what I look like, on the About page.

Good times!


Two updates to announce:

1) I have created an “About commenting” page. Peruse it, won’t you?

2) I have added a ton of links (and a couple of minor corrections) to yesterday’s post on Israel/Palestine. Click on them, won’t you?

ellaesther logs out.

Jezebel and I have parted ways.

After a year or more of maintaining a steady Jezebel habit, out of which I spent about eight months as an active (occasionally too active, given that the day only ever has 24 hours in it) commenter, I’ve stopped, cold turkey. Many of the people who are kind enough to occasionally read this blog know me by my Jezebel username, ellaesther, and are here because of the camaraderie that developed over there.

But Gawker Media recently introduced a new, system-wide commenting system that I found unpleasant on all possible levels, from the visual up through to the social, particularly on Jezebel, where the social aspect — the community of commenters — was such a crucial piece of the larger picture.

I chose to flagrantly ignore one particular rule that I found particularly unkind and counter-productive; they chose to publicly reprimand me (and many others, on the same day) by stripping me of certain new commenting privileges without warning. (Full disclosure: I was told that a generalized warning was given in a particular post, but that presumes that every reader has the time and inclination to read every single post, which also strikes me as counter-productive).

And so, I’m off! I have never stuck around when I determine that someone is treating me and/or people important to me badly, and that is now my opinion of Jezebel. What had once been a delightful, and surprisingly central, part of my day no longer is, and really no longer can be.

But, it must be said that without Jezebel, I wouldn’t be here right now, and so I am in fact very grateful for all I got there. I learned so much about the world and the people in it — both from the posts and from the commenters — and I learned further that the blogosphere is not, or need not be, an annoying place. Eighteen months ago, I had nothing whatsoever to do with any blog, ever. Today I comment on three (well, now two), and maintain my own blog, as well as being a regular presence on a message board made up of Jezebel pals. Old dogs, new tricks! Etc.

So. It seemed only right to note here what is for me a pretty sizeable change, and now, I’m moving on, with a whole lot more time on my hands. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Thanks for the good times Jezebel. I’ll miss you!

You’re invited to the In My Head Mixer.

Ok, I have an idea — we’ll just have to see if it works! Lots and lots of people to whom I’ve mentioned this site have blogs of their own (whodda thunk?).  I like the idea of all of us pimping for – uh, supporting – each other, but have grown really attached to all the white space on my front page — and, ultimately, I think it’s easy for the eye to skip over a long list, if there’s no context.

So, I’m going to dedicate a page just to the blogs of people I know who want a little extra advertising — a cyber-mixer, where we can stop in and get to know some folks we might not otherwise have met! I realize this is not the most elegant idea, but who knows what we might find?

If you’d like to participate, send a link to your site + a one-two sentence description of what it’s all about, to elhauser (at) hotmail (dot) com. When I have a decent handful, I’ll set it up.

Then we can all mingle and have little virtual drinks together! It’ll be fabulous.

Also: Please consider this a place-marker post, until a little later in the day. Life calls, and I must answer, but I’ll be back.

Hmm. Something’s amiss!

Note to self:

  1. You have many lists on your blog.
  2. You do not like the current trend in internet writing known as “the listicle.”
  3. Stop writing lists.

I think I’m going to lay off the lists for awhile! Unless, you know, I come up with a new one. I’m thinking of a list of general Middle East books (I haven’t had a chance to tout the truly terrific Heavy Metal Islam yet!), but I’ll try to hold myself off for a few days. At least.