Friday, March 18, 2011


In Japanese the word "gaman" means to tolerate things with perseverance and dignity. Japanese-American actor George Takei discussed this when he was on CNN and other networks this week. "Today," he said, "we are all Japanese."

Our hearts go out to those who are enduring so much. Please give what you can. Thank you.

Here are some highly rated charities donate to help the victims of the Pacific earthquake & tsunami:
American Red Cross
Lutheran World Relief

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

They Never Had It So Good

We confess that it has been too long since The Thinking Women have spoken out. But the recent assault on the middle class has us shaking our heads in frustration and despair.

Guest columnist, Herbert F. Geller, recently summed it up neatly:

by Herbert F. Geller

Who says there is a recession? These are the best of times for the big corporations and the Wall Street Tycoons. They are making money hand over fist. Read the Wall Street Journal. The big corporations are posting record profits. The Dow Jones Report is way over 12,000 and the big banks are choked with cash they don't want to loan.

And who says they want to create more jobs? The less people they hire, the more money the top executives will make. They are perfectly happy with 9 or 10 percent unemployment.This means that they can pay less and give less benefits to the people they do hire. And the ones they do hire better not ask for more money or benefits or out they go. There are plenty more people who can take their jobs.

And the best thing they have to keep the poor slobs in line is their stooges, the Republican Tea Partiers. All they have to do is cry "Deficit! Deficit! Look at the taxes our poor children will have to pay," and they get what they want.

The Tea Partiers won the 2010 election and put into office a bunch of Know Nothings who are working hard to take away the power of middle-class and working-class Americns to get a decent share of the prosperity the big shots are enjoying. "We have to cut spending particularly for education, aid for the handicapped and preserving the environment but don't raise taxes for the rich," they say.

They elected people like Governor Walker of Wisconsin who wants to destroy the unions by taking away the right of collective bargaining and Governor Scott of Florida who opposes regulation of narcotics. "We must have limited government so corporations can avoid regulations." They would like a flat tax where a hardworking man or woman would have to pay a larger percentage of their income then a billionaire.

Yes they never had it so good. They are working hard to push American working people back to the 1870s and they are succeeding. When will our people realize what they are doing to destroy the American dream? And when will we fight back against the Tea Partiers and their corporate masters?

Herb Geller is a veteran of World War II, a New York State Democratic Committeeman, and an American Legion commander. As a journalist with nearly 60 years of experience, he has interviewed everyone from Presidents to the man next door.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Walter Cronkite: In Memorium

These days with things in Washington in pretty good hands with Barack Obama, and the many demands of our daily lives, it takes a lot to get the Thinking Women to come out of lurkdom and post.

But on Friday, our idol, the iconic journalist, Walter Cronkite, died after a long decline. We cannot let his passing go unremarked.

1964: It is Walter Cronkite's voice that solemnly shepherded us, as young children, through the events following the tragic assassination of President Kennedy, when our parents kept the television on almost constantly.

July 1969: And after listening to him comment with Wally Schirra on space launch after space launch, it was Walter Cronkite who choked up, perfectly capturing how we all felt as Neil Armstrong took his first step onto the surface of the moon.

1999: The Thinking Woman was an editor for the New Haven Register's Elm City Newpapers chain, and she saw Walter Cronkite talk about his career at Southern Connecticut State University. In person, he was grounded, humble, funny and sincere. Every bit the same Uncle Walter who had guided and informed us on the evening news.

It was Walter Cronkite who made the television news anchor a position of trust and integrity. He defined the role: In Sweden, news anchors are "Kronkiters;" in the Netherlands, "Cronkiters."

He worked hard to gain our trust, and worked hard to retain it. He kept his opinions to himself, putting, like a good newspaperman should, the facts ahead of the stories. He was, in a word, objective. But at the same time, he was proudly American. And in doing so, he reflected us. When we watched him, we saw the best of ourselves.

As we watch the rise of blogging and the news as immediate gratification, sometimes at the expense of finding the truth, we see slower news sources slip away. Newspapers, once a refuge for the hard-found truth, are disappearing. And yet, we see the desire for truth lingering in the network news. As they struggle for ratings, we hope that they will remember Walter Cronkite, and refuse to mindlessly compete with the knee-jerk reporting and opining too often found in the rapid-paced blogosphere. Walter would never let the truth get away.

So we raise a glass in toast to Uncle Walter. And we dedicate what we do here at The Thinking Woman to the pursuit of truth, no matter what we think of it. We will remember that our only job is to let people know, "that was the way it was." 

Just like a Cronkiter should.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clinton or Obama?

The thinking women are back. It took a presidential primary to get us polish the leather and saddle up, but here we are, ready to provide guidance as the Democratic field narrows down to two: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

While we’d happily vote for whichever candidate gets the nomination, we are facing a Super Tuesday with an unprecedented opportunity – a chance to vote for a female or African-American nominee. As our hero Jon Stewart pointed out, 100 years ago in this country, neither one would have been able to run – or vote!

So how to decide? Here are two excellent arguments by intelligent, informed supporters of each candidate. We hope that reading them will help you decide. Let the debate begin.


I am a big supporter of Hillary Clinton. I think that the biggest argument against her seems to be that she is married to Bill Clinton, and that she has been around in politics longer than Obama. My problem with Obama is that he hasn't done much politically. I don't doubt that he is more than capable intellectually for the job, so I feel that the country will be in better hands with either Democrat, since it appears to be a two-way race.

But I like so many things about Hillary Clinton. I think she's extremely smart, she is from a working class family, and has been living the American
Dream. She is a woman who has been a successful working mother, and has made the extremely difficult choice of remaining in a marriage with someone whose behavior has been scrutinized and criticized, and her choices criticized.
She successfully won re-election to the Senate, and understands politics.

In addition, she is well respected, and personally known, internationally. I think that the president's primary job is going to be restoring friendships internationally. Hillary already knows a percentage of the politicians, and in most countries, a woman in a position of leadership is less controversial than here. The only place it will be a problem will be in the Middle Eastern countries. But if she restores the support of the majority of the world, that will be less of an issue.


You now have to decide whom, between the two remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination in August, you want to support. For me the decision is a simple one. It is simple because among the two remaining contenders one is a Corporate Democrat while the other is simply a Democrat.

Hillary Clinton is a corporate attorney. She sat on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart while that company was paying subsistence wages, creating miserable working conditions and firing workers who tried to organize into trade unions in order to better their lot. She is the politician who has received more money from the pharmaceutical industry than any other. Her only child learned well from her mom -- she's now a hedge-fund manager.

Barak Obama is a much better choice to lead us into the future. He has often spoken critically of corporate greed and comes from humble beginnings making him much more likely to mistrust, monitor, and restrain the moneyed power elite for the welfare of ordinary Americans. Mr. Obama's policies on universal single-payer health insurance, ending our involvement in the war in Iraq, care for returning Iraq war veterans -- nay, all veterans, the environment, education, etc. are very similar to John Edwards' policies. We can proudly stand behind Barak Obama.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Truth About Partial Birth Abortion

There are few more frightening political issues than the erroneously named “partial birth abortion.” On the surface, this sounds like a barbaric and inhumane procedure preformed for only the basest and most evil of reasons. Described by the Republican Congress as a procedure where a baby is delivered part of the way, then killed and extracted, sometimes in pieces, there’s no wonder that any decent human being would oppose such a thing.

The only problem is that this gruesome picture, like most stories designed to shock and scare, only retains a tiny fragment of the truth.

This procedure is properly called a D&E or dilation and extraction or a D&X, an “intact” D&E. It is this latter procedure that causes nightmares. It is extremely rare and seldom performed when a D&E is possible. In all cases, the procedure is performed in the second trimester of pregnancy before the baby is viable and only when the mother’s health is severely threatened or the fetus is severely deformed.

Although a D&E accounts for only 10 percent of abortions, the women we know who needed one had no other choice. In two cases, the fetus died in utero. You can only imagine how emotionally devastating this sort of thing can be. In both cases the mother went to the obstetrician’s office for a routine check-up and was told that there was no heart beat. The heartbreak of loosing a potential child was compounded by the fact that somehow the lost fetus needed to be extracted. When it came time to choose between hours of labor and its potential risks with no baby to hold at the end and a medical procedure they could sleep through, they chose the latter so as not to prolong the nightmare.

In another case, the mother learned that the child she carried was severely deformed and without most of its brain. Even if she carried this fetus to term, it would only survive a matter of hours and the deformities would cause an exceptionally difficult delivery. The woman and her husband chose a D&E instead, even though they found this choice so emotionally devastating it eventually ended their marriage.

This is the picture that is obscured when well-meaning but ignorant lawmakers climb upon their soapboxes to assure their constituency that they are indeed champions of the weak and defenseless. Sadly, suffering women are seldom included in those numbers.

Jewish teachings hold the life of the mother as paramount in these situations. Since this is the origin of our nation's Judeo-Christian tradition, can we at least hope that the Supreme Courst will consider this when deciding the case? Although we are missing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and her moderate and experienced views on the subject, perhaps this time the court will listen to unbiased and expert testimony that will shine a clearer light on this dark and frightening necessity.

Doing What Donkeys Do Best

"You’re the ones who made this bed. Now you’re the ones who are going to have to move over so a gay couple can sleep in it. Tomorrow you’re all going to wake up in a brave new world. A world where the constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones created in a stem-cell research lab run by homosexual doctors who sterilize their instruments over burning flags. Where tax & spend Democrats take all your hard-earned money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio and teach evolution to illegal immigrants. Oh – and everybody’s high!"
-- Stephen Colbert

Okay, we admit it. We’re a teeny bit high today. Not on drugs, but on the idea that the orderly transition of a government by the people, of the people, and for the people has not perished from this earth.

Oh, yeah, and we like the fact that the Democratic donkey did what donkeys do best: kicking.

We have to admit that as Democrats, we are not given to premature pronouncements or even the kind of self-empowered optimism found among members of other political parties. It wasn’t until the crawl along the bottom of our television screens started mounting up Democratic victories that we allowed ourselves to believe that what the pundits predicted would actually happen.

And even now, we fret a bit. Will Congress become even further to the right with the exit of moderate Republicans and the entrance of centrist Democrats? Can a Democrat capture the White House if there’s a Democratic majority in Congress? Will the Democrats really focus on doing what's good for the country, and not indulge in revenge politics?

One thing is certain – the brutality of the war in Iraq and the flagrant misbehavior by GOP office holders has worn the people down. And the Democrats have kicked the bums out.

Only time will tell if this is a good thing. But right now, riding on the wave of optimism that comes with the balance of powers in action, we look forward with the expectation that President Bush will finally live up to his 2000 campaign promise, that he is a uniter, not a divider.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Beyond Fight or Flight: Why Women's Friendships Work

We at The Thinking Woman are, first and foremost, proud to be women. We are proud of what women can accomplish, and, while we firmly believe women can do whatever they choose, we are proud of the differences between men and women.

That is why we want to share with you something that has recently come to our attention. A UCLA study of women's responses under stress suggest that women use friendships with other women and tending to others to deal with life's stressors, beyond the traditionally accepted "fight or flight."

Clicking the header will bring you directly to the study, but we think Gale Berkowitz did such a nifty job of summing it all up, that what follows is her analysis, found in the Utne Reader and at, among other places. We think you will agree that, more than just food for thought, this is affirming and enobling for women:

UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women
An alternative to fight or flight
©2002 Gale Berkowitz

A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more.

Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It's a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research---most of it on men---upside down. Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible, explains Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study's authors. It's an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.

Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone---which men produce in high levels when they're under stress---seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.

The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was made in a classic "aha" moment shared by two women scientists who were talking one day in a lab at UCLA. There was this joke that when the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own. I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her the data from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were onto something.

The women cleared their schedules and started meeting with one scientist after another from various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor discovered that by not including women in stress research, scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress differently than men has significant implications for our health.

It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways that oxytocin encourages us to care for children and hang out with other women, but the "tend and befriend" notion developed by Drs. Klein and Taylor may explain why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. There's no doubt, says Dr. Klein, that friends are helping us live longer.

In one study, for example, researchers found that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%.

Friends are also helping us live better. The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight.

And that's not all. When the researchers looked at how well the women functioned after the death of their spouse, they found that even in the face of this biggest stressor of all, those women who had a close friend and confidante were more likely to survive the experience without any new physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality. Those without friends were not always so fortunate. Yet if friends counter the stress that seems to swallow up so much of our life these days, if they keep us healthy and even add years to our life, why is it so hard to find time to be with them? That's a question that also troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., co-author of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships (Three Rivers Press, 1998). The following paragraph is, in my opinion, very, very true and something all women should be aware of and NOT put our female friends on the back burners.

Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push the m right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a very healing experience.

Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight" Psychol Rev, 107(3):41-429.
Geary DC, Flinn MV.
Sex differences in behavioral and hormonal response to social threat: commentary on Taylor et al. Psychol Rev 2002 Oct;109(4):745-50; discussion 751-3
Cousino Klein L, Corwin EJ.
Seeing the unexpected: how sex differences in stress responses may provide a new perspective on the manifestation of psychiatric disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2002 Dec;4(6):441-8.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Happy Feet

We have a confession to make. Those of us who have grown up to be thinking women started out as thinking girls who loved to put Broadway albums on the hi-fi (yes, kids, this was in the days before CDs, cassettes, and even stereos), dress up in mom’s old evening dresses and dance. It didn’t even matter whether we had seen the musicals, all that mattered was the dancing.

Later, we got to know the real thing through high school drama clubs, regional performances and late-night babysitting viewings of those dashing hoofers who leaped and twirled in old MGM musicals. Let's face it: it was impossible not to have a crush on Gene Kelly.

It gives us real pleasure when the things we loved as kids and thought were gone forever, return. So we are tickled pink to see the renewed interest in dance, thanks, in large part, to the Brits. First came ABC's smash success last summer, "Dancing With The Stars," which pairs celebrities with professional ballroom dancers, and shows us the process of training a non-dancer to compete with the pros.

Then, the brilliant Nigel Lythgoe took the formula he developed back home in England, and brought it to America, first as "American Idol," and then this summer's hit, "So You Think You Can Dance."

In a blockbuster finale, the winner of "So You Think You Can Dance" was a young man from California named Benji Schwimmer. His lively personality, lovable goofiness and awesome dancing talent won him the hearts of America and gave Fox the highest rated program this summer.

But it wasn’t just young Benji – who reminds us of another Benji we know – who dazzled America. He was accompanied by nine other young dancers who reminded the nation of the athleticism, poetry and excitement of the art form. As they tackled everything from hip-hop to Viennese waltz to Broadway with stops in between for salsa, contemporary and swing, the young dancers reawakened interest in moving to the beat.

The outcome has been phenomenal. Programs that feature dancing are proliferating. "Dancing With The Stars" starts its third season in a couple of weeks, and hopes to repeat last year’s ratings. A new movie about a street dancer and a ballerina opened big at the box office last weekend. And the recently announced national tour of the top ten contestants on "So You Think You Can Dance" sold out in 11 minutes in New York.

Can a renewed appreciation of such classics as "Top Hat" and "An American in Paris" be far behind? We can only hope that a new generation will appreciate Gene Kelly tap dancing on roller skates, Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling, or the legendary Bill Robinson showing Shirley Temple how it’s done.

All of this does more than give us pleasure. It makes us feel like putting on our dancing shoes.

Dancing, anyone?