Monday, December 29, 2008

I Am Woman. See Me Naked

She was first spotted on the Web. Then I saw her peeking out behind the comparatively chaste women's magazines on newsstands. She's so almost-bare that my husband was too embarrassed to buy a copy of the magazine with other women present.

But I want to buy 100 copies and paper my room with them. Make it my new screen saver. Text the image to all my friends. Jennifer Aniston on the cover of GQ is unabashed, naked except for a tie and strategically placed index fingers. She looks sexy, brash, and incredibly toned. She looks good. She looks very, very good. But that's not the best part.  She's thirty-freaking-nine. My age. The age of many of my friends, who also look good. 

If we send up a time capsule to Mars, I want that image in it. I want aliens to understand how good we can look at 39. Other life forms need to know.

Maybe Aniston did it for publicity or to remind Brad for the umpteenth time what he gave up to take on all those kids and the biggest ego this side of the equator. In short, I don't think this jaw-dropping cover was done with altruism in mind. But just look at her. Yes, I know that photo retouching is kind. But still. 

She looks free, happy, and maybe most important, very unencumbered. I want to shout it from the rooftops. She is me! She is 39 for all of us.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

She's Back, Baby!

Looks like another up side to getting Hillary Clinton into Obama's "team of rivals" is it brought back postpartum Amy Poehler to play her on  "SNL." Maybe there is humor to be found in an Obama administration. After all, it's a thrill to see Hill at State. But that does not mean that for every woman, he gets to pick a jerky man. I'm filled with ire over the pick of Larry Summers in a confirmation-free appointment, giving the ousted Harvard prez a second chance at showing he's not a total sexist pig, only an arrogant jerk. Obama, you've got some 'splaining to do.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Black Is the New Black
There is a new game in town. All it took to restore Democrats to government was two wars, a failed economy and a sitting president with one of the worst approval ratings in history. Not to mention opting out of public campaign financing in order to spend zillions to win.

But he did it. Obama is a presidential prodigy. Noone ever had a chance against his oratory, his organization and his inspiration. Here we are in 2008, where women finally came out to vote after only getting the vote in 1920 and the fight for Civil Rights movement is a recent memory that Obama harkened back to in the cadences of his speech. It's a new day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Campaign Accessories
Looks like Caribou Barbie has got the wardrobe to go with the name. In a move that only those of us outside "real America" could appreciate, the McCain campaign dropped some serious cash on their shiny Sarah star -- 150,000 large -- to outfit McCain's campaign accessory with some clothes and accessories of her own, from Neiman's, Barney's, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Wal-mart it's not.

The timing of the purchases, in early September, weren't reported till this month, so that the hockey mom had some time to burnish her blue collar, working girl image, takin' the "g" off her words, and showin' how she walked in the shoes of small-town Americans. Except her shoes are Manolo Blahniks. Joke's on you, Joe six pack!

This latest campaign fiasco, which has managed to enrage the left and the right, isn't going to help Palin's approval ratings, which are already sinking faster than an ice floe in the North Pole. Cost of overpriced campaign wardrobe: $150,000. Cost of losing the election: priceless.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Waxing On

You know an election is getting serious when you're in the beauty salon, and instead of the latest celeb gossip, your esthetician wants the political dirt.

The woman waxing me, Erin, who I've known for years, heated up the hot wax and then got heated. "I haven't seen the debates and I only wanted to ask you how they went," she said. Emphasis on you, which is me. She continued that another client, who was pro-McCain, had made herself ugly, despite Erin's best efforts, with her mean-spirited -- and misinformed -- comments about Obama's proposed tax policy.

"She's wrong." I said.

"I knew it!" said Erin. Then riiiiiip with the wax strip.

"He'll only -- ouch -- raises taxes on people who make over $250,000 a year." Which, really, is a lot less painful that what I was undergoing at the moment.

"Right," said Erin. Riiiiiip. "That's not what this client told me. I knew she was wrong." Riiiiiip.
Erin and I had both been Hillary supporters. But now we were both pulling for Obama, big time. 

The client had accused Erin of not knowing her facts, then stormed off when Erin questioned hers.

"I try to stay out of talking politics with people, but she just kept on coming at me," Erin said. Riiiiiip.

Fact is, what works for Erin's client won't work for the country. Unless, of course, we all want to get waxed. Where I'm standing, that wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

He Said, She Said

Okay, Joe Biden: I have words for you. Here's a line to use in the only VP debate in the election season that's tonight:

I know Hillary Clinton. I'm friends with Hillary Clinton. Sarah Palin, you're no Hillary Clinton.

That one's on the house.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Republican Convention. Sponsored by Amnesia

When conveniently forgetting is just the ticket for the Republican ticket.

To recap, John McCain's number two is a virulently anti-choice "woman" whose 17-year-old daughter, we've learned, is pregnant and "made the decision" to keep the pregnancy. What's another word for that? Samantha Bee from the Daily Show hit the floor at the Republican Convention to see if anyone could spit it out.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Chicks Coming Home to Roost
Don't you love it when the Republicans decide that an issue like a girl's pregnancy, who happens to be the teenage daughter of the V.P. candidate, is a private issue?

OK, fine. The family's off limits. Bristol Palin, the 17-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin, the Republican V.P. nominee, is pregnant, and intends to have the baby and marry the father. That we know. But if that's not our business (even though conservatives feel just fine about telling women what to do with their bodies, and their lives), let's focus on the policy of these hypocrites, sorry, candidates.

According to, Sarah Palin stood against any funding for sex ed in Alaska. (How'd that work out?)

John McCain has never really been able to discuss the issue of sex, STDs, AIDS or pregnancy without squirming or seeming completely uneducated on the topic. According to the same story:

In 2006, McCain joined fellow Republicans in voting against a Senate Democratic proposal to send $100 million to communities for teen-pregnancy prevention programs that would have included sex education about contraceptives.

In 2005, McCain opposed a Senate Democratic proposal that would have spent tens of millions of dollars to pay for pregnancy prevention programs other than abstinence-only education, including education on emergency contraception such as the morning-after pill. The bill also would have required insurance companies that cover Viagra to also pay for prescription contraception.

Sure, it's a private matter. But when your private beliefs affect all pregnant teens, it's all of our business.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

His Right to Choose

Hey, Obama, I just want you to know: about your veep pick, no hard feelings. It's not who I would have gone for. That Biden has a big mouth and it gets him into trouble. He has criticized you in the past -- but clearly you can let bygones...and it must feel good to have the guy who's used to running the roost in the Senate now eating out of your hand. I get it. And in the end, it's your choice. You're the one who's got to live with it.

But you know what, I've got to live with it, too. And not just me. America's got to live with it. So keep your boy in line and make sure he gets the job done.

Point is, nobody's perfect. Not even you. Can't make everyone happy, but you will if you win.

So get out there and win this thing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Clinton: Veep Nuclear Option

It's not just me who thinks this, and it's not just 'coz I supported HRC in the primary. She can do what no white man can do to the Obama ticket as number two -- add more excitement. This race is no slam dunk. The country is divided as ever. Despite Obama's amazing ability  in bringing out the young, new voters, it's not enough to win him a clear majority. He needs his veep to do more than add gravitas, he needs some magic.

As described on Yahoo! News in running through a Clinton "dream ticket" scenario:
If Obama takes the stage in front of the Old State Capital in Springfield, Illinois, Saturday with Evan Bayh at his side, it will be news -- but not very exciting news. If he does so with Joe Biden, it will be bigger new -- but it's not like Biden brings the "wow" factor.

If Obama takes the stage with Clinton at his side, it will be the dominant news story of the weekend, the convention and perhaps of the fall campaign.
'Nuf said.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Demographic Shift

Finally, my demographic is being recognized (or should I clarify, my almost-demographic):

Twenty percent of women in the age range of 40-44 are having fewer or no kids compared to 30 years ago, according to the latest study by the Census Bureau.

As reported by the New York Times:

"Clearly women have competing alternatives for the use of their time, with the labor market and employment being one and delayed marriage, which has been another trend,” said Suzanne Bianchi, chairwoman of the sociology department at the University of Maryland. “The interesting question is, has it stopped? Is this it, or will we see even higher rates of childlessness among future generations?”

In economically under-developed nations, the logic has always been to improve the lot of women, and the birth rate goes down. I guess here in the U.S. we can consider the lot of women, at least for this age group, improved.

Obama -- Pick One for the Dames

Sen. Obama, I just can't take it. All these news reports that the top VP picks are a slot of liberal, white men. Safeties. Make the white guys in the middle of the country happy, because, for sure those guys would go for you over a really white candidate.

Seriously. Did you get where you are by being safe?

If that's the case, then you should go for the truly safe choice. Pick Hillary.

Why? First, Clinton got almost as many votes as you did. She got the bitter vote (and with her not on your ticket, instead of facing bitter white men, you're facing bitter white women -- one would argue much worse for you), she's the top pick of VP choices in the polls, and frankly, she'd be great.

I want to wake up tomorrow with a text message from you -- the candidate of tomorrow -- telling me that you've made a choice that's smart today.

Here's to hoping.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Take Your "Staycation" with B-Side

Dog days of summer got you down? Then tune in and cheer up -- the new B-Side edition is here.

Click to B-Side for your latest dose of summer fun without ever leaving the house or gassing up. Here's the best part: This latest B-Side won't even leave you with lack-of-time-off rage, 'coz it's all about vacations that didn't quite live up to the hype. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

When the Personal Is Just Sleazy

It's always hard to get our lessons from "The National Enquirer." But their dogged reporting seems to be really good at bringing down good liberal men -- Gary Hart's "monkey business," Bill Clinton's Gennifer Flowers imbroglio, and now John Edwards with his outed affair. For John Edwards, whose political career had been careening downwards since he helped Kerry lose the presidency in '04, this just seems a tawdry footnote to a candidate who came across to me as rather a too-smooth operator. 

Sure, lots of people have affairs, and to judge his is an all-too American -- and rather boring -- pursuit. It really doesn't help his case that the guy presented himself as a family man and a self-less (sort of) hero continuing on with his losing presidential bid by the side of his wife who is struggling with her battle with cancer. 

But when the story of their  lives becomes the blueprint for which the American people get asked to vote on, then, well, it is fair game -- in an unfair, "National Enquirer" world.

Feeling the Economic Pinch -- Also Women's Work

If the economy seems to be getting you down, you're not alone. It's bad for sisters all over. At least according to one recent poll, women are way more likely than men to worry about meeting their financial goals over the next five years. Gives depression a whole new meaning.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Turns Out, Math Class Isn't Hard

A new study out of high school students shows no gender gap in math scores. Take that, Barbie. You know, the one who said "Math class is tough." Yah, not so much anymore.

According to the story in the New York Times,

Although boys in high school performed better than girls in math 20 years ago, the researchers found, that is no longer the case. The reason, they said, is simple: Girls used to take fewer advanced math courses than boys, but now they are taking just as many.

“Now that enrollment in advanced math courses is equalized, we don’t see gender differences in test performance,” said Marcia C. Linn of the University of California, Berkeley, a co-author of the study. “But people are surprised by these findings, which suggests to me that the stereotypes are still there.”

Maybe a new Math Genius Barbie would do the trick.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Finally, a Remote Control You'll Want Your Man to Have

If you're like me, you either have too many remotes in your house, or find yourself at battle over who gets to control them. Here's a twist on the topic I never expected: scientists in Australia are hard at work developing a remote control over men's sperm count. According to the article,

"Since it is flexible, the polymer either contracts or expands as a result, and this movement allows the valve to be opened or closed as needed," explains team leader Said Al-Sarawi.

"It will be like turning a TV on and off with a remote control," added team founder Derek Abbott, "except that the remote will probably be locked away in your local doctor's office to safeguard against accidental pregnancy or potential misuse of the device."

Aw, no fair!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nineties Nostalgia
Maybe it was the idea of Hillary Clinton bringing sexy back to the White House for a rehash of '90s policy, peace and prosperity. Or maybe it was the sudden outcropping of frozen yogurt shops again. Or possibly, the acerbic T-shirts, new fondness for grunge rock and way-back hip-hop I've noticed in movies like Definitely,  Maybe (much of which takes place during the Clinton run for the White House in '92) or The Wackness, set very seriously in 1994. But it seems like we've hardly crested the 00s when we're trying to re-live the 90s. 

Now, I'm not digging up my favorite pair or vintage men's Levis, the ones with holes carefully cut out of them and rolled up just so. My hair is down to a reasonable size for once -- this decade has been good for curly hair. So I'm not advocating diving back in. But the 90s, and maybe this is because of  9/11 and the ugliness of the Bush administration, they just keep looking better and better. Hey, maybe rollerblading will come back, too. Now that was fun.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Not Fertile? Not a Problem

First I saw them when traveling on BART. Then I got home and tuned to the classical station and heard them. I'm beginning to feel tracked. They're fertility treatment ads for a for-profit fertility treatment center in San Francisco. That's right; for profit. But I'm sure they have everyone's best interests at heart. It's not that I begrudge women this option; what gets me worked into a hot lather is the marketing campaign around a procedure that is neither easy nor fail-safe, nor covered by insurance. 

Or maybe it's that the ad in BART wasn't to get a fertility treatment: it was after my eggs (well, not mine, but someone 20 years younger with better SAT scores). They're also all over the classifieds (someone must still be reading those). As the popularity and well, simply the stigma attached to IVF goes away as older women seek to reproduce, the demand for those young, healthy eggs will only increase. And it strikes me as a little too much like trafficking in flesh. I imagine two vastly different types of women, one providing -- shouldered with higher education loans and a low-paying first job, willing to give up what she has for a nice, fat check. On the other end are the highly successful women who never had time to think about their eggs until it was too late, now lining up to thumb through the books of descriptions and photos of the eggs for sale. What she can't offer on her own is now yet another problem solved with stacks of cash. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cavalier and Clay
He brought us New York. He brought us Ms. (but thought it odd for a man to be publisher of a feminist pub, so handed it off to Gloria Steinem). He brought us Urban Cowboy and Saturday Night Fever. But what I know from Clay Felker was a semester in journalism school where he tried to re-create the new journalism for the new journalists. As a student of his, I loved the stories, but struggled to sound like Tom Wolfe. He sent us to bars to find a story (I wrote about one in the Mission that gave manicures with the drinks.) He sent us to profile journalists, which we later found out was an exercise in networking, possibly not far off from actual journalism. He could be gruff and dismissive. He could also be inspiring and poetic. But mainly gruff and dismissive. He told me I was lucky I was a woman, since people would trust me who shouldn't. We had no allusions about what we'd learn from him in that magazine writing class. We wanted to learn about the old school new journalism, and that's what he delivered.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wait Wait, Tell Me

Years ago, my husband Larry was a contestant on the NPR quiz show Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! He won and for years we had Carl Kasell's voice on our answering machine. That was when we actually used an answering machine. Anyway, now that we're all about iPhones and Wait Wait is all about podcasts (and people actually know what it is), you can listen to Larry's few minutes of fame here. Scroll down to Round 3: Bluff the Listener. 

Friday, June 27, 2008


There was all kinds of fanfare, ads and then an expansion of the wonder-drug for HPV, Gardasil. There was talk of expanding it beyond the range of young girls to most women. But turns out the FDA has other ideas. They want more documentation that it's effective.

According to the article,
"Merck said it has already discussed the questions with FDA and expects to respond to the agency in July. Amy Rose, a spokesperson for Merck, said, "Once we go back to the FDA, we'll have a better sense of what the review timing looks like." Linda Bannister, an analyst for Edward Jones, said, "It's hard to get a feel for if this is a dead issue or if this is delayed."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wuv. Troo Wuv.

I remember the first time I saw The Princess Bride. In college. On campus. With hundreds of women. But it certainly wasn't my last. It was my Star Wars, or something like that. Sometimes, watching a movie over and over on VHS just isn't enough. That's at least the premise behind those developing the Princess Bride game, based on the movie. When you think about it, the whole thing is just game candy. Rodents of Unusual Sizes? A battle of wits? Inconceivable!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm an Icon

And this time not even in my own mind, but to a very small sample size of one, that is, my desk mate, who is sad to see me leave my current job, and by default, him. His ode to moi, here. You know, fellow enchained worker, it doesn't end here. Due to the miracles of communication, I know our bon mots will continue to stream through cyberspace.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What I Learned from Madonna

I find birthdays super-depressing. I love the lead-up. Never saw a gift I didn't like. But the actual day can be a little hard to take. It never helps that my birthday reliably falls on the day when San Francisco has a serious Arctic flashback and becomes even more foggy, windy and cold than I thought was possible from the year before.

Back when I was kid, the mournful day usually fell during finals week, so I spent my birthday having one of those exams that most of us re-visit in our nightmares and wake up in a cold sweat.

No matter. This year, one of the gifts my husband gave me was the new Madonna CD, Hard Candy. And immediately I got some perspective. Here's a woman who has made a career out of re-inventing herself, and for laughing at the idea that a rock star, especially a woman, has to be young and drug addled. She's certainly not young (50?) but she's got a body so cut it could break glass.

Madonna isn't just the woman whose music I rocked out to in the living room with my best friends in high school, or showed my voguing skills at the Madonna black bra parties in college. I have followed her career trajectory as I have muddled through mine. She's made a bigger splash, way, bigger, but way, way bigger mistakes than I'll ever come close to making, I hope (Sex book, anyone?). But at least she's out there, doing it. And, as she reminds me every time I go for a run to my Madonna play list, all I've got is four minutes.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

B-Side on KQED

Happy Father's Day from B-Side. Tune into a special Father's Day edition of our show on the San Francisco public radio station, KQED. Or listen online.
OMG: The Media Is Sexist

The post-mortem of Hillary Clinton's failed bid for president had started way before she had actually conceded the race. Mainly cooing tributes about how Hillary Clinton had buried the idea that women couldn't seriously be considered viable presidential candidates or commanders-in-chief. The New York Times reported that NOW and EMILY's list are going after the media for sexist coverage of their candidate. NOW has gone so far as to create a media hall of shame.

Back before the campaign had started in early 2007, when Clinton's name was mentioned, when she was a celeb member of the Senate, helping the Democratic Party resuscitate its image and fundraising for candidates like Obama, Ellen Goodman spoke at the Women, Action and Media conference. She remarked that Clinton had effectively "de-gendered" herself. Clinton wasn't promoting herself as a potential woman candidate for president, but as the leading candidate for president. For women trying to pioneer any kind of new role, this is often the most effective strategy: being better than everyone else, making sex a second thought. So she put sex aside. But the media was having none of that.

Still, sexism was only one of Clinton's problems.

Obama's way was using narrative as his strength. His speeches often drew from his memoir. Clinton didn't want it to be about her, but about, as she would say, all of us. She tended toward telling the story of the people set met while on the campaign, preferring policy to the personal. In the end, the cable commentator cracks said more about them than her.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And Speaking of Superheroes

Watch The Daily Show's Kristen Schaal fight sexism with a single bound, and stripping.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Super Heroine

So Hillary Clinton's out of the race. And just when I think she's changed everything, there in the Style section of Sunday's New York Times is a nothing piece dissecting Michelle Obama's style.

And so it goes. See how great she wears purple shift dresses and channels a mixture of Barbara Bush (the fake pearls) and Jackie O. (the hair). So are we to think her biggest goal is re-decorating the White House? Seems so hollow coming on the heels of a substance (and sometimes substance-abusive) primary season. Not that Clinton got her due respect just because she was running as the candidate, and not the candidate's wife. There was the "iron my shirt" incident. Cleavage-gate. And who could forget the pandemonium around a misty-eyed moment. Of course these weren't the moments that lost the campaign for her. They were the telling moments that said more about the electorate, rigid notions of gender and the media frenzy than it did about her. Through it, Clinton kept going with her 90-point plan on health care and green jobs and the rest of it, showing that hard work is the answer to any demented sexist comment, rather than stooping to respond.

Still, maybe it was that one nothing style story that let me know reality had hit: back to covering male politicians' women as arm candy, as decorative pieces. Sure, these are the upgraded models with more brains and bod, but that's what we're left with. Our candidate has a stylish wife.

This weekend I took in the Superheroes fashion show now showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And while there are plenty of superheroes to go around, it reminded me that I grew up on a steady diet of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, and everyone from Eartha Kitt to Michaelle Pfeiffer trying their paws at Catwoman. Maybe these characters weren't role models, but they did embody the ideals of the '70s-chic notion that women were sexy and strong, powerful and smart. For the next show, there should be a superhero in a pantsuit.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No Tears

Hillary Clinton may have gotten teary-eyed in New Hampshire last year right before swooping to victory the next day. But I'm not shedding tears now. As a Hillary Clinton supporter (albeit incredibly torn between the candidates) I found myself in the strange position of being able to cast a happy and historical vote no matter which way I cast my ballot.

But the glow of Super Tuesday has long since faded, and now I'm grimly waiting for the end of a great primary season and the start of political grind of politics as usual. Now, Obama may disagree with me, but maybe the thrill of the strong, talented Democratic pool of talent initially blinded me to the fact that in politics, nothing really has changed. After all, our system is just as stupid, inefficient and money-hemorrhaging as ever. Millions have been spent for two strong candidates to battle it out, when I read that there's trouble raising funds toward the Democratic Convention and beyond. Both candidates have made gaffes that were really not much of anything, made much of a lot by the media and the competing campaigns. I laugh when I read that this was a muddy campaign. Ask Michael Dukakis about mud. Ask John Kerry about mud. They had mud.

The campaign that transcended race can't seem to win where lots of white people live. The campaign that transcended gender is crying sexism when that is, in some ways, the least of Clinton's problems.

I am no fool. I don't want to hear Clinton's obituaries written all too eagerly by the likes of Arianna Huffington, who praise Clinton and want to bury her. Clinton has changed the way people see women, or elections, or leaders, or whatever. No, not really. Because what Clinton represents is as exceptional as her rival Obama. They are both stand-outs. And it will be a long, long time before we see another candidate with Clinton's tenancity, fortitude and brass ones. Not to mention name recognition and bundles of money. And really, same for Obama, unless you know of other star black politicians with best-selling memoirs who also graduated from Harvard who can orate like JFK.

It's an exceptional political season. I'm glad I lived to see it. I'm sorry to see it go, because it may not come again in my lifetime.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Not Just About You

Years ago, when Amy Richards was promoting Grassroots Feminism, the book she co-wrote with Jessica Baumgardner, I interviewed her on riding the third wave of feminism. I told her many of my friends who embraced feminism were struggling with the new role of motherhood. She, a new mother, told me she was working on a new book called "Opting In," about being a feminist and a mother. Opting in plays on the now infamous Lisa Belkin 2003 piece for the New York Times Magazine on the "Opt-Out Revolution," that trumpeted the pseudo-trend of smart women leaving high-powered careers for mommy and me playdates. While Richards didn't buy it, she also wanted to push moms to not just make their mom-work-lives work for them personally, but get involved to change policy, too. Here's some of Courtney Martin's interview with Richards in Alternet on her new book. On a feminist litmus test:

For me, the best way to explain it is that it has to be about more than you. It's great if you want to have and can have a home birth, but can others? It's great that you and your partner can start a chore wheel to have a more equitable household -- but what if you don't even have time to start a chore wheel? Feminism isn't about securing rights just for yourself as a mother, it's about ensuring that others can have that confidence and freedom, too.

On why the personal is threatening:

I think it's really hard for us to bring things down to a personal level -- one, because we don't want to be perceived as judging others, and two, we don't want to be vulnerable or exposed. Also, lobbying for legislation simply requires us to say, "Yes, parenting is hard work and it should be remunerated," or to show up at a meeting and testify that early childhood education is an under-addressed problem. But more personal transformation actually requires us to re-examine our lives. For instance, if we really want to be "green," why are we buying that new sweater? If we really want to be a progressive parent, why are we frustrated that we have to pay our babysitter $18 an hour, which is a living wage, rather than $12? Personal activism requires so much more from us. . .

. . . I do think the mere fact that I gave birth "out of wedlock" gives me certain feminist credibility, though there are lots of feminists out there still asking me when I'm going to get married. And yet it wasn't so much a well-thought-out choice -- more circumstantial than premeditated. But yes, I think feminism's job, and this goes beyond parenting issues, is to keep us from being lazy. And yet, feminism requires so much from us that sometimes I often want to just retreat into convention.

One argument I make in Opting In is that I'm sympathetic to women who want to "just stay home." It's the societally accepted choice, and it makes sense that people would be seduced by it. I don't think this makes your life easier, but I think you have to explain yourself less. And yet, feminism's job is to get us to not just accept our roles, but legitimately choose them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sex and the City Girls

I wasn't going to comment about the summer movie phenom that's coming to bazillions of movie screens soon near you. (That's right, there really isn't any reason to get tickets early or stand in line in overly high heels. Really.) The proud chick-flick tradition of Thelma and Louise (even if they did end up offing themselves for their freedom) has begat the Manolo-clad foursome of a larger than life TV show turned (I'm just guessing here), over-hyped movie. It doesn't help that women aren't seeing a lot of women on screen this summer -- after all, when do we ever? I'm not going to the opening weekend (of course not, I am flying to NYC to see it the weekend after) and pink drinks give me a headache.

I mean who really needs "Sex" when we could have power? I'll take the reality Hillary Clinton show any day of the week. It's been a good run, but this summer it looks like we'll be back to having our fantasy on movies, and not in the White House.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Barely Legal

I don't want to brag or anything, but California just became an even cooler state to live in: we just got word that the state supreme court overturned the gay-marriage ban. And you that as California goes, so goes the nation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Conventional Thinking

Like many Democrats these days, I have my eyes on the Convention. But that seems an awfully long time away from now -- it'll be in August. And miles away from W. Virginia, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.

It's funny. With Clinton winning West Virginia in a cake walk, she is still up against the conventional thinking that this is racism that got her where she is. I love the idea that these ignorant, no-education white men would happily vote for the status quo candidate: a 60-year-old, white woman. I can't believe that all these racists ran out and voted for a Democrat, and a woman at that.

I really can't wrap my mind around a Democratic party that turns out a 95% white voting population. So this victory rings a little hollow, since she has the racist vote, or at least 2 in 10 in the exit polls saying race played a factor, according to New York Times exit polls. So all these under-educated racially biased folks in West Virginia are happy to vote for the woman candidate over the black candidate?

One small point -- and I do hate to upset the conventional wisdom of this race. But if Clinton won so lopsidedly, over 60% looks like, then didn't she just by sheer majority, also get those Obama demographics, too: young people and people with college education? Oh, wait. She did. According to the New York Times, in one of the last grafs of its story:

She also won the support of most voters younger than 30, a group that has typically voted heavily for Mr. Obama. The New Yorker also edged out Mr. Obama among college graduates and higher-income voters, also groups Mr. Obama has relied on.
Not that race is a new factor in this race. The New York Times did a good job a couple of weeks ago of tracking the history of Democrats, race, and the southern strategy.

Race has been a marker in this election, just that there hasn't been such a white state. In North Carolina, where Obama won a similar lopsided victory, exit polls showed him winning 9 in 10 blacks.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dame's Eye View

There's just too much out there for a card-carrying feminist like me to choose.

First, getting ready for the Sex and the City movie coming out at the end of the month, a story from ABC News says, it proves you can have sex at any age. Since when did 40 become octogenarian? And, if you believe Manohla Dargis' screed bemoaning the dearth of women in summer movies -- she dismissed SATC friends as a bunch of gay men in drag -- they're not women anyway. As the story on ABC tells it:

Today's middle-aged woman is a far cry from her dowdy and prudish mother.

"Women can be sexual at any age," Sari Locker, sexologist and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex," told

"With advances today in both plastic surgery and fitness centers everywhere, and even the information about eating healthy out there, not to mention the beauty industry, women are really looking for youth far later in life," she said.

As someone getting ever closer to 40, I can't wait to tell my mother who came of age during the free love 60s and the second wave of feminism, the arrival of the pill and legalized abortion, how dowdy and prudish she is compared to me.

In other news, seems that Starbucks, having introduced its retro 70s logo of a woman showing some tail, is in danger of being boycotted for promoting slutty coffee. From the MoJo blog:

"The Starbucks logo has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute," explains alarmist Mark Dice, of a Christian group called The Resistance. "Need I say more? It's extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves Slutbucks."
I'm so glad we have groups like this to remind me of what's important in life. Sex and coffee.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Did the Fat Lady Sing?

It's odd when a victory is basically explained away as a defeat, as is happening in the news today with Hillary Clinton's win in Indiana.

There aren't too many races left, and it'll all be over in June, one way or the other. Still, the only ones who get to decide who the nominee is voters, delegates and superdelegates. And not pundits. More than anything this election season, they have proved to be less than worthless. Not that their errors in judgment have stopped them from prognosticating. But it should make us, the readers, the consumers of such opinion, wary.

Update: Mother Jones' blog has an astute analysis of Hillary's choices.

First, keep fighting like nothing has changed. When their candidate is challenged, Clinton supporters respond with huge monetary shows of support. And when their careers are challenged, the Clintons themselves kick it into another gear. Hillary Clinton can double down on the upcoming primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky (where she leads by large margins), ratchet up the calls to seat Michigan and Florida, make a zillion phone calls to superdelegates every day, and hope that Obama gets caught in another Reverend Wright-esque sandstorm. . .

Second, she can drop out immediately. Despite the calls for this that are certain to ring through Obama-friendly parts of the blogosphere today, this may not be the best option for Obama. If Clinton drops out this week, Obama may lose the upcoming primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky to someone who is not on the ballot. . .

Third, lay the groundwork for a graceful exit in a few weeks. Assuming that Clinton sees the end of the road on the horizon, this choice has several advantages over option number two. First, the Clintons have donated a lot of their own money to the campaign; staying in and continuing to raise funds allows them to retire some of that debt. Second, the last two weeks of the campaign can take a conciliatory tone, attempting to convince Democratic voters who have cast their lot with Clinton that Obama ain't so bad after all. . .

At this point, the race is all about Hillary Clinton's psychology. She and she alone has to choose one of these three options. . .

Monday, May 05, 2008

Straight Talk?

The NYT turned me on to this campaign. Once the general campaign gets into gear, we can start to remember what an anti-choice, scary candidate McCain is. But why wait? This NARAL spin-off organization is trying to jump-start the conversation, so we can be scared now.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An Elitist Speaks

As someone who voted for Hillary Clinton who is neither blue collar, working class or a white man, I am starting to get a little annoyed, since apparently everyone who votes with her fits that description, if you believe what you read in the press.

David Brooks yesterday said that Democratic voters aren't split along class lines, but education lines, suggesting that Hillary's stance as a resilient fighter plays well "down market. " For the record, I had an iced latte yesterday, am class secretary for my Seven Sisters school, and am under 40. I don't wear a hard hat to work and, as far as I can tell, Clinton and Obama's records are about as different a graduate from Harvard vs. Yale.

Don't create differences where there are hardly any. The Democrats are split, and they're torn. Polls have been unpredictable because Dems can't decide, some until they walk into the polling station. When they can't decide, they usually go for Clinton last minute because she's known. This whole latte vs. beer thing between supporters of two liberal, Democratic candidates is all going to disappear soon enough, in time for the general election, when Red and Blue America will be back, big time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sex Sales

I am a proud third generation Bloomie's customer and if I could move in or have my house re-decorated to match the black and white flooring, I would. (Also love the pink suede furniture in the Diane von Furstenberg section, but I digress.) After college, jobless, I spent my days perfecting my rollerblading skills in NYC (did I mention it was 1991?) and showed up at the 59th Street store on wheels to purchase my signature color Chanel lipstick. Well, at least I had my priorities in order.

But even I have been keeping my distance from the department stores with the credit crisis (mine). Unless, of course, there's a sale. But not all sales are created equal.

While snapping up super-marked down cashmere sweaters at the pre-Christmas sale at Bloomie's, my gal pal and I picked up on it right away: the men's sweaters were cheaper to begin with, and marked off even more. (That worked out well for my husband, not so much for me. I left the still quite expensive cashmere for her on the rack.) Another friend who was helping her BF shop noticed the same thing at Macy's: menswear markdowns so low the silk and cashmere pullovers were practically cheaper than the lattes they picked up at Starbucks to fuel the spree.

OK, sure, I know I can find a $4 sweater at the bargain bin at Mervyn's, or some cheap knock-off at Target. But Macy's?

We know that men's clothing isn't less fabric, in fact, it's more. And the quality can't really be that different. A sweater is a sweater. No, I think the retailing industry has us women where they want us: Ready, willing and sort-of able to pay more.

Of course, without guidance, not all men can score the best deals. A co-worker confided in me that she was at Nordstrom the other day with her husband and a saleswoman helpfully pulled out an armload of shirts for him to try on. He seemed content until she stepped in and took a practical look at the price tag.

Mediocre, over-priced shirt: $500. Loving wife who saves her man from being manhandled: priceless.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What a Pill

It's hard enough these days trying to cover basics without your birth control pill costs going up, four to five times, what they've been at health clinics. Why? Oh, a little glitch in Congress caused drug companies to no longer offer the low, low prices that college gals and low-income women the benefit of low-cost pills. You can contact Congress today and get them to reverse this inadvertent increase.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Welcome to My World

Barack Obama was outed a few weeks ago during a fundraiser in elite San Francisco with his "elitist" comments on the bitter folks in Pennsylvania, clinging to their guns and religion in times of economic despair. Some say it was the bitter comment that lost him the white male vote in the Pennsylvania primary.

For the rest of the country, San Francisco is code word for elite, effete and indiscreet. So the whole affair came off as a bit redundant. But in thinking about it more, the country feels more like San Francisco then even San Francisco does these days.

Think about it.

The race: Two liberal democrats competing for your votes and a marginalized republican. See: Every San Francisco mayoral race.

The national conversation: Two candidates debating how fast we can end the war, who has a better universal health-care plan and how pro-choice they are. See: every conversation I have every day with my fellow San Franciscans. (Or my complaint e-mails to the Speaker of the House and crasher of the marble ceiling, Nancy Pelosi).

The weather: Not too hot, not too cold across the country. Basically, you are experiencing the weather we have year-round. I know it has nothing really to do with the election, I just wanted to rub it in.

So yes, maybe I am one of those people who believes in hope: the hope that this race never ends, so we keep on living the dream that the whole country is just like San Francisco.
We've (Sort of) Come a Long Way

With all the sniping around Hillary Clinton's win in PA (really, you would have thought she'd lost) on the way to the Democratic nomination for president, I thought it might be fun to cast our minds back to the year 1943. When Rosie the Riveter entered the workplace. Helpful tips on a workforce of women for the men who hired them. Guidelines like: husky women have better temperaments than their underweight sisters. Making sure to give women working in outside work a sense of time constraint, and allow those working in an office to change their duties a lot, because they tend to be nervous. (House slaves vs. field slaves, anyone?)

Well, aside from the fact that women still only make 77 cents on the dollar, at least we have a viable female candidate for president. Even if she seems to be the persona non want arounda for the Democratic Party.

Today, a lot of Obama supporters are annoyed that Hillary Clinton is still in the race so Obama can't win. But she gets to be a contender as long as she wants, especially if she's, well, winning. Rather than the press focusing on the fact that we still have two good candidates, why not focus on the fact that we have two good candidates, and actually ask real, substantive questions.

Oh, sorry, for a moment I thought I was in 1943.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Looking for Lots of Good Women

The Marines has scraped the bottom of the barely eligible barrel for male recruits -- felons, those who hadn't completed their high school education, a tad overweight. Not exactly the image portrayed in their ads, or their image. Their ads also sorta skipped a major demographic that could be open to being recruited (and to kick their sorry-ass male counterparts' butts): women. There's an idea!

The New York Times reports today there are now ads in women's mags like Self and Fitness, as well as -- wait for it -- on American Idol. Not sure who they're going for there. Chances of being a Marine are slightly higher than being the next Idol. And the humiliation factor might even be about the same for newbies.

There is something about this cynical type of targeting that makes my skin crawl. First it was going after high school students, then seriously under-qualified men. Now the desperate armed forces need to fill their ranks with more fodder. The few, the proud? I guess there are too few. Let's hope not too many women fall for that line.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What Gender Gap? Women Reign in Spain

I woke up this morning to a story on NPR interviewing macho men of Spain railing against their newest Minister of Defense. She's not just a woman (Dios!) but a pregnant woman. Not just a pregnant woman, but a seven-months-out about to burst pregnant. I am woman in full bloom pregnant. I am woman with child pregnant. The translator had some undone man railing against that pregnant chick . . . quick, everyone, let's invade Spain!

She's not the only one. Well, she may be the only visibly pregnant member of Spain's cabinet, which now boasts more women than men in power.

And in case this isn't delightful enough to hear, check out the new book arguing for more women in leadership positions.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Knowledge Gap

David Brooks, in his column in the New York Times today on the various forces that have transformed the work place, makes an egregious error. He asserts the proto-Republican pap that women coming into the workforce pushed down men's wages. Really. So why is that the women are still only making 77 cents to every dollar a man earns? Maybe everyone is earning less, but men are still earning more than women.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Refreshing Change

It's hard to imagine that for the Democratic party, with two competing, liberal senators both relatively new to politics competing for the mantle of change or experience.

To me, just having them dominate the airwaves with their post-Bush viewpoints has me quite happy. And if I represent anything of the electorate, it's why we ant the contest for a democratic candidate to go on. Forever. I want to just hear them talk about how to make the country better -- such a tonic after almost 8 years of republican rule.

For instance, talking about being pro-choice to a religious audience. Now that's change.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More B-Side Radio

Can't get enough of the B-Side? Well, lucky you: part 2 of the show on Clothes is now available for you. Click to listen.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Over 40? You've Got Options

When it comes to birth control, that is. Use to be, women after a certain age couldn't use the pill because of dangerous side effects of high doses of hormones. Now, hormone doses are lower, and more women over 40 are choosing to stay on the pill instead of tying their tubes -- just in case of a case they want to have kids at that age. When it comes to 40, it's really the new 20. At least in mindset, if not biology.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Abortion a Dirty Word?

John Hopkins reproductive search database and been scrubbed of the search term abortion to appease funders. Oh, so that would make the funders feel better? Ignore it and it goes away? Call it by any other name, but it's censorship. Apparently, scientists agreed since the decision was reversed when when met witha

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Burning for Change

You know, March is Women's History Month, (yah, I hope you celebrated). But I like to celebrate women's history year round. I was completely horrified when a friend of mine who shall go unnamed, a good 1o years younger, had no idea what ERA stood for. Or that bra burning was just a myth. So all you millennials out there, check out my entry on Huffington Post today.
Women In Action

Just returned from the WAM! conference (Women, Action and the Media) at Cambridge, MA. The attendance was the largest yet -- 600 spilling out of conference sessions, standing in the doorframe of the keynote address, and filling MIT with inspiring, smart voices. It was great to see people I usually just e-mail, like Lisa Jervis, founder of Bitch. Jessica Wakeman, a blog editor at Huffington Post. And Jennifer Pozner, of Women in Media and News, blogging at the conference and encouraging women to blog away. Here's a cool fact: half of all bloggers are women. And they're not all mom bloggers, either. Plenty of feminist bloggers are out there. What do we need? Money and power! When do we need it? Now!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It Is What It is
America doesn't want to choose. That's been clear by the inability of either Democratic candidate in this year's primaries to scooch ahead. But the annoyance that the media has shown toward Hillary (why doesn't she step aside already) doesn't gel with the feelings of the country. If the country felt that way, they would vote straight Obama and not split the vote, the delegates and status of frontrunner. This may happen next month, but until then, why should Hillary back down? The truth is, Obama fought just as hard to make sure that Florida and Michigan wouldn't count, because it wouldn't help him. As Gail Collins points out in her column in today's New York Times:

But the idea that Clinton would quit at this juncture goes contrary to every single thing we have learned about her over the past 17 years. She may irritate people. She may lose the health care initiative. She may even imagine that she was under fire in Bosnia when in fact she was standing on the tarmac accepting flowers from a little blonde girl. But she never gives up.

The one unassailable fact about Hillary Clinton is not that she’d make the best decision when the phone rings at 3 a.m. in the White House. It’s that if the phone rang at the same time that her polls were at 12 percent and her attorney general was under indictment and the economy was in the tank and California had just broken off and fallen into the sea, she would still pick up the receiver.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gloria Steinem Is 74.
She looks way younger but as she would say, this is what 74 looks like. She is vital, vibrant and still has a lot to say about women and feminism. In her honor (her birthday was March 25) you can read or listen to her NPR essay This I Believe.

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's not just for kids.
Gardasil, that is. Or should be opened up for women, not just girls. It's the vaccine that guards against HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer. And in one of those rare times when big phrma and good health policy align, the FDA is fast-tracking approval to get this vaccine out to you and me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

High-Class Call Girl Story a Low Blow
Exactly what news use did it serve to write a profile on the high-priced call girl/aspiring singer/Facebook user selected by disgraced ex-Gov. Spitzer?

Just because the governor oggled does not mean you have to, too, New York Times. Really. Great that you broke the story and brought down a governor. Not so great that you're unearthing everyone to be hurt in this scandal. You're just showing off, and it's getting ugly.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ho No He Didn't
In the on-going saga of ways democrats can mess up a perfectly good thing, exhibit A is Eliot Spitzer. You know things are bad when you haven't resigned yet and the New York Times is running a story on your career like you've died. And in a way, he has. Well, he's dead to me, anyway. You can read the TMI details if you can stomach them here -- from his perfect LSAT scores to his wiretapping phone calls with the escort service. You know, I never get tired of saying it: we really do need more women in office.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Things Are Looking Up
Reading poll numbers has never felt more like reading tea leaves. If we've learned anything over this never-ending election cycle, it's that we know nothing. Or at least pollsters know nothing. Still, given that the Dems are now fighting amongst themselves while Republicans have aligned and McCain appears to be on vacation until, well, probably August, it's still good to see the polls are looking good for Dems. But, of course, the Dems have probably figured out how to blow it: fight it out till August. O well.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Clinton's Got Her Base Back
The polls had me believing that this Not As Super Tuesday would be tight, but it was kind of a blowout in Ohio. So one thing I was wondering: the media made it seem like everyone except grannies over 80 had gone over the moon for Obama. So when I started seeing the numbers coming in for Clinton, my first question was: who voted for her? This quick break-down on the MoJo blog shows Hillary's campaign has got some serious legs. And her gams aren't bad, either.

Monday, March 03, 2008

B-Side Undressed
The new B-Side episode is up. Check out my story on the myth of the bra burners that has taken on its own shape, if you will. I will. Go listen. There are cool stories about your first suit, and a behind the scenes look at what goes on a one of those cool T-shirt companies.
And Now, a Message from the Washington Post

Beware anyone who starts out their sentences with "the problem with women is. . ."
The Washington Post this weekend had no problem giving a hell of a lot of space to an idiotic column on women as the weaker sex. Her reasoning: (some) women screaming and fainting at Obama events, Oprah and Celine Dion. Come again? Seriously, if you are in the mood to get riled up, take a read, then send a note to the Washington Post for publishing such pap.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hillary v. Obama on Economy: It's Not What You Think

Mother Jones looks at the two candidates, and Hillary comes out on top. Read the analysis here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bitch Is the New Black

Yah, that's right. Bitch is the new black. She said it. Tina Fey. And who is the queen of all bitches. Hillary Clinton. Check it out. Own it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

It's All About Ohio

Ohio is the make-or-break primary state in this race for the democratic party nomination, and delegates. Here's a good story that explains the thinking in Alternet. Here's the start of the piece:

It is widely believed that Ohio's primary on March 4 will play a pivotal role in determining the Democratic candidate for President. If Obama wins the statewide popular vote, the pundits proclaim, his victory likely would propel him to similar success in Pennsylvania (on April 22), and the party's "superdelegates" -- who by all accounts will control the outcome of the party's national convention in Denver -- will fall in line. Conversely, if Clinton prevails in the Ohio primary's popular vote, then she would be expected to do the same in Pennsylvania, and these two victories in states that will be major battlegrounds in the general election campaign will cause the superdelegates to favor her.
And in the New York Times today, Geraldine Ferraro, who is a superdelegate, gives a history of how they came about and what the point of them is (spoiler alert: it's coz the Dems are such a disorganized mess).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Just Like a Woman

Ellen Goodman in her column today points out that Obama is running a campaign that is way in touch with his feminine side. It's a campaign brought to you by the feminist movement. Too bad Hillary can't tap in to her feminine side. She has to appear tough as nails, a hawk to Obama's dove, to be taken seriously. So, with gender roles being reversed, why does it feel like women still don't come out on top in this scenario? Because they -- she -- isn't.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Super Confusing

In explaining the process of picking a nominee for president, there is always the reference to the smoke-filled room of yore. Well, that may not be how it is these days. Actually, the Internet has blown that room wide open. But that makes it no less archaic and enigmatic, and well, downright baffling.

My good friend Jen Nix has set to de-obfuscating us with her supercool blog tracking the superdelegates. And check it out, the New York Times has noticed!

As a side note: I think you have officially made it when you are called Ms. So and So in the New York Times. Can we all agree on that?

These sites, like Jen's and Congresspedia, are seeking to create transparency around the superdelegate process. Oy, good luck with that. What's flummoxing pundits and regular people alike is the inability to know the outcome. It's like an election like we haven't seen in a loooong time. Seriously, check out these links for grassroots level info. It'll blow your mind. Or at least, blow your theories.
Clinton the Man Responds
Clinton the husband was in Ohio this weekend campaigning for his wife and confronted some anti-choice hecklers.

Here's how it went down, according to the CBS Blog From the Road. Says Clinton to crazy pro-lifer:

“I gave you the answer. We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree,” he said. “If you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison. And you won’t say you wanna do that because you know that because you know that you wouldn’t have a lick of political support.

And then Clinton related the issue back to his wife: “You can’t name me anybody presently in politics that did more to introduce policies that reduce the number of real abortions instead of the hot air putting out to tear people up and make votes by dividing America.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bitch Now Even Bitchier

Bitch, which launched my foray into feminist critiques, has gone Web 2.0. Check out their super-cool new and improved Web site, catch up on back issues and fill up on original Web postings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Does the Obama-Clinton Contest Remind You of Something?

Click here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hillary Hatred

I don't think it's too big a leap to see the pointed swipes at Hillary's gender as anti-woman. Here's an opinion piece in the Boston Herald that contrasts the media love-fest for Obama with the Hillary hating comments. Here's a snippet:

No word on what they think about MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson saying that whenever Hillary comes on television, “I involuntarily cross my legs.” He first said this last summer when his producer talked about a Clinton doll advertised on the Web site It features “serrated stainless steel thighs that, well, crack nuts,” said producer Willie Geist, who introduced the story this way: “I think the metaphor in this next story, Tucker, is pretty clear.” Then came Carlson’s “cross my legs” response.

Implying an MSNBC pattern, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson noted that another MSNBC star, Chris Matthews, apologized just last month after saying Hillary Clinton was elected senator because voters felt sorry for her nonstop humiliations by philandering husband Bill. “She didn’t win there on her merits,” Matthews said.

The New York Times this weekend even suggested that Obama's claims of drug use were not much more than that. When was the last time you read an article in the paper debunking a candidate's drug use?

Paul Krugman also weighs in today, asserting that Obama's people are getting too heated and partisan around their candidate, in a way that Nixon did around theirs.
He says:

For now, Clinton rules are working in Mr. Obama’s favor. But his supporters should not take comfort in that fact.

For one thing, Mrs. Clinton may yet be the nominee — and if Obama supporters care about anything beyond hero worship, they should want to see her win in November.

For another, if history is any guide, if Mr. Obama wins the nomination, he will quickly find himself being subjected to Clinton rules. Democrats always do.

But most of all, progressives should realize that Nixonland is not the country we want to be. Racism, misogyny and character assassination are all ways of distracting voters from the issues, and people who care about the issues have a shared interest in making the politics of hatred unacceptable.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Long Slog Ahead

What we learned from Super Tuesday is that we know nothing. Do women hate Hillary? Not bloody likely. Are people worried about Obama's resume? Doesn't really seem like it. Ellen Goodman's column is great in laying out the choice. Instead of the media soaking up the candidates' trite messaging (tested and experienced, time for change) it's time for a more in-depth conversation.

I worry that the lack of decisive victory for the democrats and the long haul ahead means more fracturing for a party that is fractured enough. I hope we can weather it and still come out ahead come November.

Monday, February 04, 2008

What's a Feminist to Do

Back in college, we had this T-shirt with caricatures of Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush (who both went to Smith College) with the mantra: there must be a better way to get a Smithie to the White House.

Hillary Clinton proved there is: you run on your husband's presidential coattails. Let me tell you about some other ways men have gotten to the White House: with names like Bush, like Kennedy, like Roosevelt. This is what they mean when they say the old boys' network. Hillary Clinton knows that game. Does it lessen her impact, her historical gain, to come this close to winning the nomination? Actually, I don't think it does. It may not be the cleanest first step for a pioneer, but it is a first step, nonetheless. If you disagree, you don't vote for her.

You vote for Barack Obama. He's new, and fresh. He speaks like a god. He gets the kids excited, and he gets them out to vote (although, according to the Linda Hirshman NYT story in the magazine on Sunday, women are more likely to get involved in an election when a woman is running.)

What a nice problem to have: two amazing candidates. Two candidates who are not middle-aged white men. Forget the oratory: who are we kidding -- a vote for Obama or Clinton is a vote for a big change.

I watched the Hollywood CNN debate and listened to them both. It didn't help. I like them both. I'm excited by them both. And yet.

I'm put off by the idea that Hillary is a shrill, manipulative, overly ambitious woman to Obama's well-suited, smooth demeanor. He's the cool guy in the room. She's the smart woman. He loves to be carried away by words. She loves policy. It sounds like a bad episode of the Odd Couple. Tomorrow, one of them will take us to a much better place. But today, I have to choose between the two.

Remember back in '92 when we wore buttons that said Hillary's husband for president? Remember? I'm voting for her and for uncool, smart women everywhere. I am going to give her this one chance and see where it takes us. I'm voting for Hillary.
Yes, We Can

A little mid-day inspiration, courtesy of Black Eyed Peas.

The mandate for healthcare.

One more topic to consider if you're looking at the competing democrats: their plans for universal healthcare coverage.

At a rally I attended Friday night, Hillary Clinton said, "I'm for universal coverage because I wouldn't know who to leave out."

Paul Krugman in his New York Times column today, agrees that Clinton's plan is the most comprehensive:

Specifically, new estimates say that a plan resembling Mrs. Clinton’s would cover almost twice as many of those now uninsured as a plan resembling Mr. Obama’s — at only slightly higher cost.

Let’s talk about how the plans compare.

Both plans require that private insurers offer policies to everyone, regardless of medical history. Both also allow people to buy into government-offered insurance instead.

And both plans seek to make insurance affordable to lower-income Americans. The Clinton plan is, however, more explicit about affordability, promising to limit insurance costs as a percentage of family income. And it also seems to include more funds for subsidies.

But the big difference is mandates: the Clinton plan requires that everyone have insurance; the Obama plan doesn’t.

Not a white man? You're a special interest.

Why is that men are always the default setting in politics. ABC News is talking about the pull that women feel between the two candidates -- but really, aren't all democrats torn, not just women? The polls would suggest that -- since Clinton and Obama are neck and neck in Super Tuesday states. This kind of baiting is hardly news-worthy. These candidates can't be put down to the lowest common denominator of race or sex. But they can't be considered outside those identities either. You can't step aside of your race or gender. But the (white, male) media is fine doing just that.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Is the best guy for the job a woman?

She wore low-heeled, sensible shoes (yes, I noticed) and a navy blue suit. She stood with Ted Danson as he gushed about what a smart and beautiful woman she is, and then the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, gushed about what a great debate she had last night (she really did).

Then Hillary spoke for almost an hour, because well, it seemed to me, people don't get her passionate, policy does. She has so many ideas, "I got tired just watching her," my friend who came along to the Orpheum Theater fundraiser tonight, said. Exactly. It made me think, who in the world would want this clean-up after Bush job? Thank god she does. She didn't talk about herself, her narrative arc, her history. She got up like, of course we know who she is and why she has to do this. I wish she'd have talked about herself. Who doesn't want to hear her dish? Why is she such a woman about it, talking about how she cares so much for others, when we're there to see if we care about her.

Maybe the most inspiring moment of the whole night was seeing the 10-year-olds in the crowd with their moms, watching a woman who may just be the first female president, standing on stage talking about the future. There she is, talking about the future. There they are, the future.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Missing Molly Ivins

A year ago today, Molly Ivins left us. She left us to face the horrors of the Bush administration, the outrages of the war, the everyday annoyances of daily life, without her funny, folksy take. Her columns were wickedly witty. I posted today on OpenLeft with my thoughts about her.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who Cares What the Kennedys Think?

Caroline Kennedy and Uncle Ted have endorsed Obama, and someone's hopping mad . . . over at NY NOW. For some reason, they sort of freaked out when they heard Ted was turning his back on the proto-political family of the Clintons' and jumping on with Obama.

Right, Ted Kennedy, known for his huge respect of women. Still, NY NOW felt the need to put it out there, calling his endorsement a "betrayal."

Even though the Kennedys are not much more than a name these days, maybe the name is enough. After all, Clinton is banking on hers.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Do the Numbers: Prevention Works

In case you missed this New York Times editorial this weekend, it's important to be repeated. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, abortion rates are at an all-time low. Not because it's harder to get one.

According to the Times,

The lesson: prevention works. Restrictions on abortion serve mainly to hurt poor women by postponing abortions until later in pregnancy. While shifting social mores may change some people’s behavior, the best practical strategy for reducing abortions is to focus on helping women avoid unwanted pregnancies.

One of the most intriguing findings of the abortion study has to do with RU-486, which allows women to safely terminate a pregnancy in its first weeks without surgery. Guttmacher Institute researchers found that a significant decline in the number of abortion providers over the past decade is being offset by an increase in providers that offer the drug.

This growing access, along with refinements in ultrasound imaging help explain the positive trend toward earlier abortions. It has long been true that nearly 90 percent of abortions in this country occur in the first trimester, but the number that occur within the first eight weeks of pregnancy has increased sharply.

States with no abortion restrictions have the lowest numbers. Do the math: prevention and access are the key.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New York Times Likes Hill

It's official. The paper of record has gone for the candidate of record, choosing the woman over the two guys -- Obama they called untested, Edwards had changed his mind too much (maybe he's the woman in the race). They also endorsed McCain on the Republican side -- and went out of their way to explain why and how Guiliani is bad, bad, bad.

There is something about seeing the historic candidate endorsed by the Times that made it feel more real to me. The elections are coming! And California and New York are going to decide this thing. Kinda cool.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And the worst record on choice goes to . . .

It's award season, and some of our presidential candidates really stand out for what they stand against. So in the spirit of the Academy Awards, I thought they deserved some recognition.

Nominees for most inconsistent record. . .
A tie between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, who has been a long-time supporter of abortion rights but recently said it was OK if Roe v. Wade was repealed. Romney used to be pro-choice until he wasn't. Sen. John McCain is staunchly anti-choice (hello, independents, he's not your shining light) and asserted this as recently as Tuesday on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Worst. Record. Ever.
But the decidedly worst record on choice goes to the creationist-loving, bible-thumping Mike Huckabee. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Republican with the most unswerving position is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who says he first became politically active to fight abortion. Huckabee favors a constitutional amendment that would not only overrule Roe vs. Wade but would also outlaw abortion in all states - a proposal contained in the 2000 and 2004 Republican platforms, but one that is not backed by any other presidential candidate.