Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Good Woman Down

Godammit we've lost one of the great ones. Molly Ivins, the syndicated columnist from Texas, hysterically funny, sharp-witted and liberal as they come, a Smithie and Texan to the core, unafraid of politicans or cancer, is dead at 62. Some samples of the syndicated columnist's words, courtesy of the Houston Chronicle. Molly, if I have just a bit of your wit, an ounce of your savvy, a dollop of your way with words, I will die happy. I hope you did too.

—"I'm sorry to say (cancer) can kill you but it doesn't make you a better person," she told the San Antonio Express-News in September 2006, the same month cancer claimed her friend former Gov. Ann Richards.

— "If you think his daddy had trouble with 'the vision thing,' wait'll you meet this one," Ivins on George W. Bush in "The Progressive," June 1999.

— "The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy," from a July 2006 column urging commentator Bill Moyers to run for president.

— "Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan's speech; it probably sounded better in the original German," Ivins in September 1992, commenting on the one-time presidential hopeful's speech to the Republican National Convention.

— "....our very own dreaded Legislature is almost upon us. Jan. 9 and they'll all be here, leaving many a village without its idiot," from a December 2000 column.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Good Advice!

From the Canada Globe and Mail:

Rural Quebec town bans stoning women

Canadian Press

Herouxville, about 165 kilometres northeast of Montreal, passed a document at a town council meeting this month that outlines what it considers to be its official behavioural norms.

The document, sent to both the provincial and federal governments, states that “a woman can. . . drive a car, sign cheques, dance, decide on her own.”
However, covering one's face other than on Halloween, burning women alive or burning them with acid is not considered acceptable.

I'm sorry, did I miss something? Can someone let me know what country burns women alive so I can be sure not to visit?

Cold Case

Here's a case that's sort of the anti-Judith Miller scenerio. Journalist Sarah Olsen got the only interview of the highest-ranking member of the military to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Now, Olson has been subpoenaed to testify as an Army witness in the Lieutenant’s February 5th court-martial. She has refused. Check out her blog posting with Women in Media & News.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Why Can't I Like Hillary?

I know I should. I should be thrilled there's a viable female candidate. For president! I want to be excited. And I'm even willing to excuse the fact that she's got to where she has because of her husband. I mean, Bush got to where he is because of his dad, the former president, too. So, all's fair in nepotism.

But there's something about her that's too much of a product and too little of a person. Does she really want to find the middle ground on abortion? Does she really believe she was right about the war in Iraq? Maybe she'll surprise me. But so far, I'm still waiting.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Noun Trouble

Maybe it was a slip of the tongue, but I doubt it. In Tuesday's State of the Union address, Bush congratulated the new democrat majority. Incorrect. He used a noun instead of an adjective. A friend of mine mentioned this reference to me and I thought she was being paranoid. But then I heard Bush do it. OK, I can see how maybe the mis-use of parts of speech may seem like kind of an obscure point. And maybe that's all they have now, those clever Republicans with their way with words, their minority status and Iraq quagmire and such. But of course, it's taking the noun for democrat -- and who isn't a democrat -- we're all democrats who believe in the system of democracy -- instead of the adjective democratic to describe the party. That's right. Instead of reaching across the aisle, he pretty much slapped Nancy in the face. It's a sly attempt to change the name of the party. Well, sorry, but just because the Dems have a better name doesn't mean you get to go and change it. It's rude. It's disrespectful. It's downright maddening! If you hear it used in the news, be sure to call any announcers on it. Don't fall into the democrat trap.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Madam Speaker

Yah, so how cool was that: President Bush addressing the Dem's leader as Madam Speaker for the first time in our country's history! But after that, the elation was gone. After all, it is a sweet thing to know that everyone's against him; even his own party. But then the reality sets in. The guy's giving his seventh (7th) and quite possibly his all-time worst State of the Union address. What might have been worse: his poll numbers, also at an all-time low. Even lower than Clinton after he received articles of impeachment. Dude, that takes some serious effort. This from a guy who tries very little to do much of anything. Says it's such an honor to say Madam Speaker, but shows no respect for women. Says he wants to win the war on terror, but then heedlessly moves forward in a war that causes more havoc and death. He said a lot of things and sounded, oh god, this is going to look bad: Schwarzenegger-esque. Health care for all. Get off our oil addiction with alternate fuels. Al Gore, anyone? Jim Webb's rebuttal had me riveted. Really. I never look forward to the Dem's address. Always so wooden. Boring. Pathetic. Loserish. But not tonight. Bush was the Big L.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Roe v. Wade: 34 Today

Where are my manners? I completely forgot to mention that today is the 34th anniversary of the Supreme’s Court decision on Roe v. Wade, which established women’s right to an abortion. Today is Blogging for Choice day, and you can check out the various posts at Feministing.

I’m also linking to an essay I wrote about growing up with the right to choose.
Girl Goalies

Remember in gym class when you had to play in a co-ed soccer team and to keep it fair each team had a girl goalie? Well, sorry, but that's what I was thinking about when Hillary Clinton announced -- online -- her candidacy for president. Who will be the Republicans' choice if Hillary takes the primaries? Elizabeth Dole? Frankly, I always thought the Republicans would be the first to put up a woman candidate. If Hillary takes the nomination, it might be the best firepower they have. Except of course for the I Hate Hillary constituency, which if you believe Fox news, is rather large.

Not that being a woman president is anything new anywhere outside of the U.S. Chile, Germany, Liberia, for crissake. It's only here that we're only slightly behind the times in contemplating our first woman president. Of course, on TV we've got a black president (24) and a woman president (Commander in Chief). It's just real life where we seem to have trouble going beyond anyone with the last name Bush.

As Walter Shapiro writes for Salon today on Clinton’s announcement:

The challenge for both Clinton and Obama is to move beyond the blandness of their announcement videos to create a compelling set of issues to propel their candidacies. Edwards, who may ultimately benefit from Hillary and Barack fatigue, has predicated his campaign on a revitalized concern for poverty and the economically challenged. Colorado-based political consultant Rick Ridder, who was Howard Dean's first campaign manager, highlighted the need for a candidate to combine a formal campaign structure with a grass-roots movement. As he put it, "The question for Obama is at what point does the Barack movement become a candidacy? And the challenge for Hillary is just the opposite, since she is a candidacy looking for a movement."
Note to NPR

Just because you say "so called" before "partial-birth abortion" does not make it right. Your story this morning on the federal abortion ban up for review could have been worded just that way. "Partial-birth" abortion is not a medical term. It's a made-up political term by the anti-abortion movement who want to attach a moral judgment to a sometimes medically necessary and extremely rare procedure that happens because a fetus has a life-threatening birth-defect or the life of the mother is in the balance. Don't play to the hands of this movement. I thought NPR was a so-called objective news source.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Look good and think good?

So in today's Style section of the New York Times, Speaker Pelosi (my rep. from San Francisco, now the apex of power, can’t help but always mention it) is making waves not just for her first 100 hours but for her first 100 outfits. Not that it’s hard to stand out in the pol crowd, when most are wearing boring, boring, boring suits. Remember that scene in Legally Blonde 2 when Reese Witherspoon is heading up the Capitol Hill steps dressed head to toe in Pepto-Bismol pink against a sea of dark suits? You don’t? Well, it’s like that. That’s Nancy. Except in purple velvet. Wine wool. Rich tweed. She looks sharp. And she thinks sharp.Unlike Legally Blonde 2, where a cute blonde is like a secret weapon with a Harvard Law degree, nobody is fooled into thinking that Nancy Pelosi worries about her accessories and not her policies. This woman of style is also a woman of substance.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My husband loves me.

Proof positive: He's not intimidated by my complete adoration of Alec Baldwin, and maybe even shares it.

In fact, he even got Alec Baldwin to call me. Yes, me. Even though he's a famous actor of stage and screen. He wasn't even above telling me I have great legs. The only disappointment was that he couldn't pronounce my name. I mean, maybe he could have in real life, like if I had actually introduced myself to him in person. He could have looked down at me with those bedroom eyes and said with his deep, husky voice. "Nice to meet you, Claudine." But this was automated Alec, too dumb or lazy to put two consonants together. Sad, but still. It's Alec flipping Baldwin.

If you want to give it a try, go to the NBC Web site

Happy Golden Globe, Alec. You so deserve it.

Friday, January 05, 2007

B-Side Featured on NPR Podcast

The B-Side Coping Show -- my essay on retail therapy airs on this show -- is going to be featured on an NPR podcast, in conjunction with the Public Radio Exchange.

It's a special podcast in which NPR highlights work done by independent
producers and station-based employees around the country. We're totally
honored and excited. Check out this link and as a bonus you can read an interview with Tamara Keith -- senior producer and friend to the blog -- about B-Side.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy Shoe Year

The new Bloomies opened up in SF recently and in it I thought I'd found my perfect pair of shoes: black patent leather slingback on a wooden wedge. Lightweight, fun, funky and so cute. Until I saw the price: Six hundred and fifty dollars. Six. Hundred. For shoes. For cute shoes, but still. What the?? Just when I'd been bracing to pay some disgustingly obsence sum for my new "it" bag. Now I have to suck it up for shoes, too?

Fear not, reader, this shopper walked away.

But I was reminded of this shoe incident when reading Alex Kuczynski's "Critical Shopper" column today in the New York Times on a new Spanish shoe store in Soho. She takes a moment to compare the Spanish prices for shoes (reasonable) to current price tags on fashionista must-wears:

To anyone who looks at Vogue or W, it would appear that in order to be fashionable, to be stylish -- to be, in fact, footwear -- shoes must cost $700. There is something dark about this, as if we have become Stepford Wives, marching off to the high-end shoe brands as if our brains has been sucked out of our skulls and replaced with slots for credit cards. Ka-ching.
Have Your Say for 2006

What's a look back without a little anger and a little pride? NARAL's Hero and Zero Awards are just the thing. Who's the biggest evil doer and the greatest pro-choice hero? You decide.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Dame Good Year

A woman at the helm of the speakership of the House. A viable woman candidate for president. Oprah's opened a school for girls in South Africa (seems more productive than sweeping in and taking one home. Hell, she could probably adopt the whole country). Damn, it's going to be the year of the dame.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006: Good-bye, Betty. Hello, Britney?

Looking back on 2006, we lost one of my heroes, Betty Friedan. But what a year for women otherwise. On the plus side: HPV vaccine, voting down the South Dakota abortion ban, and voting in Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House (she takes that position today.)

Aside from seeing waaaaay too much of Britney Spears (giving new meaning to raunch culture but doing great favors for the Brazilian)I love this summary by Salon, some of it I'm posting here:

This year also saw the approval of a vaccine for human papillomavirus, an STD that affects 80 percent of American women by the time they hit 50. HPV is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer, and the FDA's approval of the vaccine to fight it should prevent a lot of ill health in future generations. The FDA also recommended the vaccine be given to girls aged 11-12, since it is most effective when administered before first intercourse. But that claim is facing a lot of opposition from the religious right, which argues that it would interfere with abstinence-only programs. Because, as you well know, readers, human papillomavirus vaccinations make teens horny.

Speaking of which, in the wonderful world of hormonal contraception, medical wizards this year discovered that the pill has been linked to a loss of libido for women. Nuh. Uh.

But birth-control enthusiasts rejoice! Scientists are well on their way to developing a male pill that promises no hormonal side effects, just a temporary suppression of sperm and a spooge-free climax. Oddly, many guys are not clamoring to get their paws on it; messing with your body to control reproduction is for girls!

And according to the government, reproduction itself isn't just for girls -- it's for women of practically all ages, from menarche to menopause, all of whom should start taking folic acid and treating themselves as "pre-pregnant" regardless of whether they have any intention of having children soon or ever! Because we all owe it to our unborn and possibly never-to-be-born children to treat our bodies as if they might at any moment achieve their highest calling by becoming holy vessels of birth. Women looking for an effective response to these new government guidelines might consider voting against assholes in future elections.

Does Kennedy Swing Both Ways?

Supreme Court watchers are naming Kennedy as an important swing vote on a key late-term abortion case. Linda Greenhouse wrote in the NY Times Week in Review:

THE Supreme Court, having decided only four cases since the term began in October, has not exactly been living in the fast lane. But the pace is about to pick up.

The coming months will be a testing time for the young Roberts court, including decisions due by early summer on abortion, school integration and environmental policy, with an unusually large emphasis on cases of significance to the business community.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has spoken often of the virtues of a court that speaks modestly and unanimously. Those goals may well prove elusive. The court’s conservative bloc reached out to hear challenges to voluntary integration plans put in place by the public school systems of Louisville, Ky., and Seattle, which had been upheld by lower courts.

If the Dec. 4 arguments were any indication, a majority will overturn student assignment plans that seek to maintain racial balance in systems that struggled for years to achieve it. The outcome is likely to prove divisive both within the court and outside it.

The Nov. 8 arguments in two cases on the constitutionality of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 did not provide such a clear basis for prediction. Instead, they served to showcase Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s position at the center of a court that is closely divided in cases that Justice Antonin Scalia has described as battles in the culture war. Before she retired a year ago, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor held that pivotal position.

Justice Kennedy did not tip his hand during the abortion arguments. But enough other justices tipped theirs to make clear that the first federal statute ever to make an abortion procedure a crime will stand or fall depending on Justice Kennedy’s opinion.