Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is editor-in-chief of the Progressive Magazine. A native of Madison, WIsconsin, she began her career as a political writer working with Erwin Knoll and has continued to cover progressive politics ever since, including elections, welfare reform, the war on drugs, feminism, and public education.

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Mommy Blues
by Ruth Conniff

February 21, 2005

The latest mommy book was all over the news last week. Judith Warner's "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in an Age of Anxiety" is about how women of my generation drive ourselves nuts trying keep up with impossible cultural expectations. Though I didn't like her Valentine's Day op-ed in The New York Times (previous blog), the Newsweek cover story (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6959880/site/newsweek/), an excerpt of Warner's book, was more congenial--especially paired with the always warm-and-fuzzy pro-woman, pro-family Anna Quindlen.

Valentine's Day
by Ruth Conniff

February 14, 2005

Like everything romantic, Valentine's Day is a hit-or-miss proposition. If you're happily in love, it's great. If not, hearts and flowers make you feel like everyone else has found happiness, and this time of year is the dreariest.

Bush's Budget
by Ruth Conniff

February 7, 2005

Today is the day the President puts his money where his mouth is. In his State of the Union address last Wednesday, Bush said, "a society is measured by how it treats the weak and vulnerable."

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Citizen Stan
by Ruth Conniff

January 31, 2005

I have just been watching, for the second time, the DVD "Citizen Stan" (link to Variety review: www.variety.com/review/VE1117925288?categoryid=31 ).

The bio film is a tribute to Stanley Sheinbaum by leftwing journalist Robert Scheer. Everyone should know about Stanley, and how he helped stop the war in Vietnam. Like a charming Zelig character, he has somehow been present and made a difference at so many major historical moments of the last century.

Boys and Girls
by Ruth Conniff

January 24, 2005

It is almost irresistible to talk about sex differences with other parents of young children. Watching the interplay of nature and nurture, the emerging of an individual personality in our kids, we find all kinds of ways of marveling at the big mystery of life: Where did you come from, we ask our children. Who are you? What goes on in that little brain of yours?

Culture Rot
by Ruth Conniff

January 10, 2005

Going indoors to exercise this winter, I recently rejoined my old health club and was dismayed to find the place taken over by giant, state-of-the-art TV screens. Future research will probably show some sort of neurological dysfunction results from running on a treadmill, increasing your heart rate and adrenaline levels, while watching images of "Fear Factor" participants writhing while being stuck with pins and vomiting from eating slugs.

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Don't Capitulate on Abortion
by Ruth Conniff

January 3, 2005

Happy New Year! And welcome to the hangover from 2004. Just when you thought they couldn't slide any further . . . the Democrats ended their year of defeat by talking about whether they ought to loosen up their position on abortion rights.

Come again?

The Word from Washington | Ruth Conniff

Larry Klayman Gets His Man

What a strange turn of events for those rightwing voters sporting "Love my country, fear my government" bumper stickers.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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