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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A bad week for abortion rights

I have to admit I feel incredibly chilled by recent legislative and judicial developments:

Today the Supreme Court ruled (8-0) that RICO statutes could not be used against violent anti-abortion protestors, because no extortion or racketeering was involved. It's not an unreasonable ruling, but it's still a defeat.

More frightening is that last week, South Dakota's state legislature voted to ban access to virtually all abortions in the state, with no exceptions for rape or incest. It's unlikely that the law will withstand challenge (assuming the governor signs it), but it's a very aggressive move in an increasingly hostile political climate.

My reaction is that young women better stop taking their choices for granted, and start fighting, writing and voting to protect their rights.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The latest battle in "The Mommy Wars"

The ABC morning show, Good Morning America, started a two-part series on "The Mommy Wars" this morning, though this topic has kept hackles raised for several years now. Nothing like pitting educated women against each other to keep them from noticing who the real enemies of healthy family life are -- corporate greed and government ineptitude and public distraction. Linda Hirshman was today's guest, author of an article about how "privileged" women who choose to stay home with children are bad for society. That's coming on a bit strong, of course, but the SAHMs give tit for tat -- you'd think those of us who work were the natural kin of Eva Braun. Whatever. I totally understand why some women think it's best to stay home with their children, and I'm glad their financial circumstances allow them to make this choice, but I'm getting mighty sick of their holier-than-thou attitude toward those of us, from choice or necessity, are working outside the home. Let's call a truce and respect the choices that every woman makes for herself. If you 'd like to read some of the many volleys lobbed on the latest battleground:


ADDENDUM (3-1-06)

Newsweek's latest issue has a nice piece about Leslie Steiner's new book of essays, Mommy Wars (due out March 7).

URL for article -- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11569327/site/newsweek/

URL for book --

The article notes that the majority of women with children work (about 75%) and the percentage who do has not changed significantly in several decades. So no matter how many articles appear in magazines or on TV, there really is no such thing as the "Opt-Out Revolution" -- it's a media created phenomenon, not a real trend. Nice to know -- I'm always in favor of a reality check.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Port security and the UAE

Quite a political firestorm over the recent acquisition by a government-controlled company in the United Arab Emirates of the management company for ports in several major U.S. cities (the management company was previously owned by a London-based firm). Bush may have finally over-stepped -- his contempt for Congress is blatantly on display in his avowal to veto (for the first time in his presidency!) any legislation addressing the takeover, despite the fact that it has wide bi-partisan support (Shumer says it would pass "like a warm knife through butter"). The continued management by the newly-bought company was approved by Administration officials (though the Prez was not involved), who consider the UAE an ally (in this crazy world), though the UAE supported the Taliban and two of the 9/11 hijackers came from there. I commend the Dems for recognizing a winning issue when they see it, and the Repugs don't want to get left behind. The News Hour's David Brooks credits extremist radio host Michael Savage for jump-starting the issue (Brooks claims that Savage has a nose for issues that will resonate with the public). I suspect Bush's staunch support has more to do with backroom deals with cronies than it does with concerns, or lack thereof, regarding American security (I get more cynical all the time). Unfortunately the whole issue is no doubt a tempest in a teapot, as the American public (the 3% who are paying any attention) will soon enough be distracted by American Idol or the Olympics, and March Madness is right around the corner too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

To protect or not to protect

A minor firestorm has erupted among politically-inclined evangelicals, between those who support environmental protection and those who don't. The basis is different interpretations of the Bible (e.g., humans are appointed the stewards of the earth in Genesis). I've heard several stories about this rift and have to admit to being perversely glad, since any energy they spend fighting amongst themselves is less time they have to harange open-minded moderates like myself, as well as gays, women, various non-believers, and anyone who lives on a U.S. coast. Long may this battle rage.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The "Wyoming Experience"

I think this is hilarious -- Americans prove yet again that they are unable to distinguish between real life and entertainment. I read in the paper this morning that the Wyoming tourist office is getting lots of calls because of Brokeback Mountain -- people like the scenery. The funny part is that the movie, though set in Wyoming, was filmed in Alberta, Canada (Brokeback Mountain itself is made up -- there's no mountain of that name). No, that's not the funny part. The funny part is that after the tourist office tells people that the movie was filmed in Canada, they don't care -- they're still interested in Wyoming . . . they want the "Wyoming Experience." Which I think is especially funny coming from this movie, since in this movie, the "Wyoming Experience" is furtive gay sex in a tent. It reminds me of the many white middle class social events I've been to where everyone dances enthusiastically to the Village People's YMCA -- an anthem to gay sex. Too, too weird.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The day feminism died

Betty Friedan died on Saturday. When we heard the news on Sunday morning, my husband said, "Who's that?" Wow. He wasn't a Women's Studies major in college, but still -- she's a major cultural icon, a national icon. His excuse: "My mother wasn't a feminist." Well, whose was? I'm a little surprised that he's never even heard the name (but, on the other hand, he'd never heard of Frida Kahlo, or The Chronicles of Narnia, for that matter, so maybe he's just unusually culturally ignorant; though to be fair, I can't name anyone who played for the Yankees, ever, and he knows their names and their stats, going back at least 20 years). But in any case, his lack of awareness does say something about the profile of feminist leaders. We might shrug it off, but wouldn't we be shocked if he'd never even heard of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr? She was that central. Her book, The Feminist Mystique, is generally credited with starting the women's rights movement, and, more to the point, though she was a homemaker and mother of four, she still dared to ask, can't women aspire to more? Radical is almost too mild a word. In this day and age, it's all taken for granted, but it really wasn't that long ago that a majority of the population didn't even consider the question. She was a very important historical figure and she's someone we should all be on a first name basis with!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The State of our Union is surreal

Of course some of GWB's speech last night was really hard to listen to -- the rhetoric was all neo-con (American exceptionalism and liberty for all), but the legislative proposals were largely Democratic: support for science and math education, alternative fuels for crying out loud. It was like listening to a different president -- (Hillary) Clinton or (Ted) Kennedy. Even the scolding GWB gave about isolationism was so not Republican -- the Repugs have been the isolationist party for at least 50 years*. Weird. I wonder what the average American thought of this speech. Oh yeah, the average American didn't listen to this speech!

*Actually, that isn't quite accurate -- the Republicans were all about intervention during the Cold War. But they were very against entering WWII (when the term "isolationist" was coined) and they fought Bill Clinton all during the 1990s (re Haiti and Kosovo, etc). It seems hard to believe now, but GWB ran on a platform of international isolation in 2000 -- he pledged to have a "humble" foreign policy.