American Taliban Book Signing

(Photo by Cal Schrotenboer: Markos speaks to a packed room at Books Inc. in Berkeley.)

(Photo by Cal Schrotenboer: Eli and I enjoy Papi’s talk at Books Inc. in Berkeley.)

As I am sure you have all heard on the blogosphere — or Fox News. Ha! — DH just wrote his third, and probably most controversial book yet, American Taliban. Being the wife has its perks, including getting to read a copy before it hits the bookstands.

I know that the title is off-putting, but like the many folks who blurbed the book, including Roger Ebert, Rachel Maddow, and Janeane Garofalo, I think there is some good stuff and it’s his strongest book yet. It is a short, accessible and entertaining read with a host of colorful characters that not even I, a news junky, had heard of, like, the folks at the Conservative Bible Project who are ridding the Holy Book of “liberal bias.” You know, the actual Christian parts of the bible. :)

Or, Shawna Forde, a former member of illegal immigrant vigilante group the Minute Men, who killed a 9-year-old girl and her family because she thought they were undocumented and had drugs. No drugs were found in their home, by the way.

It’s been disappointing to read reviews by liberals who don’t want to stoop down to the level of conservatives like Ann Coulter, who have no qualms writing books about the liberal crazies. But that is exactly the point of this book: no one has done it to conservatives, and as you all know, DH is not afraid to stick his neck out. I, for one, relished every story, which was hilariously put together and deliciously laced with profanity. (Again, only DH.)

The kids and I attended his book signing in Berkeley, our hometown, which was packed with 50 people. The bookstore had only 20 copies of the book and had to order more. I attended another well-attended signing in San Francisco on Friday. It’s always fun to meet the fans!

This is just a random post with gratuitous photos so feel free to discuss what you’d wish. And, of course, if you’d like to pick up a good and quick political read or piss off your conservative in-laws, American Taliban is a hoot.


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. He was shot before giving the Eucharist at a mass by right-wing death squads because he often railed against poverty and oppression of the poor during his homilies. He is a revered figure in Latin America, and someone my husband names as a personal role model on his website. I was sad to learn on a Daily Show news clip that certain members of the Texas State Board of Education had him stricken from the social studies curriculum. Here is the news clip on it and a wonderful homage to Archbishop Romero on Jim Wallis’s God’s Politics blog.

In somewhat related news, the Texas State Board of Education also gave preliminary approval last week to replacing the word “capitalism” with “free enterprise” in school textbooks, according to the Austin American Statesman.

I have to say, I am loving the Democratic Party lately. In addition to the passage of healthcare reform, the Congressional Democrats have introduced a bill to give needy students Pell grants as opposed to private loans, according to the New York Times.  

The Washington Post ran a sad “trend” story about separated couples who must live together because they cannot afford to divorce.

Twelve states plan to sue over the recent healthcare reform bill President Obama signed into law yesterday, according to Business Week. The states’ attorneys claim the law will place additional burdens on their already tight budgets. Those states are Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Call your governor’s offices, ladies!

Octomom Nadya Suleman is back in the news again. This time, she has fallen behind $450,000 on the mortgage and may lose the house, according to TMZ.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Would You Discriminate?

I almost missed a meeting after I dropped my son off at school. It was one of those NPR stories that compelled me to sit in the car until the very last minute….A mom, Stella Palau, who happens to be a leader of a far right wing German political party called NPD, was asked to leave a local child care coop. The NPD is anti-foreigner and seeks to preserve German culture. It’s been linked but not proven  that the NDP has ties to groups that work to overthrow the government, or to violent groups that beat up foreigners.

Palau feels she was unfairly kicked out of the co-op. The other moms feel a bit betrayed.

Susanne Mosch runs the co-op. She had never met a member of the NPD until Palau brought her daughter in.

“Just like the other mothers, she sat here with us, sang songs with us,” Mosch says. “We talked a lot. She was a completely normal mother.”

And Mosch was shocked to learn that Palau was a proponent of what Mosch considers dangerous, extreme views. Now Mosch feels abused.

“Of course, no one is here to express their political beliefs, but she intentionally kept back a lot of things,” Mosch says.

Yet, while her participation in this co-op appears normal and ordinary, perhaps it’s not.

Academics and officials who study the far right say the NPD is now trying new tactics, organizing volunteer fire brigades in small towns, or putting on children’s festivals — anything to be seen as more mainstream. They’re up against people like Alexander Froelich, a journalist who specializes in tracking the far right.

In fact, Palau’s participation in NPD was exposed by Froelich

Froelich informed the co-op staff that Palau was a leading member of the NPD after seeing her picture in the paper at a co-op event. Even though Palau has no record of criminal activity and belongs to a legal political party, Froelich believes he was right to warn the public.

“I have been the judge, but that’s why the press is there,” Froelich says. “I’m just based on constitution. And for me the NPD is an enemy. They don’t want this constitution.”

But excluding people and groups from the radical right might also be a force that creates more unity within their groups

Using the anonymity of online chat rooms, they say the Web is the only space where they can voice their opinions without alienating neighbors or losing customers. NPD official Patrick Wieschke says this sense of victimhood helps unite the party.

“The pressure of persecution against the NPD really strengthens the cohesion of party members,” Wieschke says. “Because of the fight against us, there’s more camaraderie in our group than in other parties.”

This story really got me thinking…I pride myself on being open-minded, exposing myself and my son to opportunities to know people of all kinds — races, classes, religions, even political beliefs…but how tolerant am I? Really? Would I object to a mother or father like Palau in my son’s after-school program?  There are Muslim parents who wear traditional clothing at his school.

What about you? Have you ever been in a parenting group (I’m not talking about schools) with mothers, fathers, kids, who had completely opposite political beliefs? Did you talk about your differences? How did the group handle them? Or, was it completely untolerable?