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.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Miscarriage? It's Your Fault.

A new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, finds that pregnant women who consume 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day — the amount in 10 ounces of coffee or 25 ounces of tea — may double their risk of miscarriage. Spurn that supersized Starbucks. If not, you could be, you know, miscarrying your pregnancy.

But here's the thing. Miscarriage is actually complicated. No-one can really tell you why you miscarry. Most likely, it probably isn't your fault, unless you're a meth-addled alcoholic. And as a doctor friend has observed over the years, those women always seem to be pregnant and having babies just fine.

As The New York Times put it:

Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and epidemiology, at Columbia University Medical Center, had reservations about the study, noting that miscarriage is difficult to study or explain. Dr. Westhoff said most miscarriages resulted from chromosomal abnormalities, and there was no evidence that caffeine could cause those problems.
What are more direct factors? She says smoking, chlamydia and getting pregnant when you're old. Makes me want to suck down a capuccino right now.

Civil Rights and Women's Rights

While it's not likely that the anniversary of Roe v. Wade will ever be a national holiday, the impact to women is not unlike the impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. whose birthday we observe today. King wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham jail, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," bringing universal relevance to civil rights movement -- and why his legacy resonates today. Thirty-five years ago, the Supreme Court made first trimester abortion the law of the land. No more sneaking across borders. Women officially could control their reproductive choices in the U.S.

So the fact that the two major candidates competing for the democratic presidential nomination are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are the eloquent reminder of how far we've come. The important thing now is not to go backwards, and to keep moving forward.

Monday, January 14, 2008

First came the Feminine Mystique. Now, feminine-ism? In Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle (I know, I know, I saw it as I was about to throw it away) , this opinion piece caught my eye. The author argues that with Hillary Clinton as leading, teary-eyed candidate for president, power and emotional intelligence will come together. Her fantasy? Hill divorces Bill on day one of her presidency.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dewey Beats Truman

Truly, people are acting crazy about the Hillary win -- blaming it, or attributing it, to a moment of emotion, restrained as it was.

But to me it seems that there's an echo chamber that won't stop till the last vote is counted on Election Day. Really, why do we think the pundits know all? Why do we think that because everyone says it, that makes it true? One thing that's for sure, newspapers and polls don't decide elections. Tears or near-tears don't either. Only voters do. And to think for a minute that N.H. voters were going to sit back and be told how the election was going to pan out before they'd finished voting, well, you mis-underestimate.

The show of emotion was symbolic of what Hillary Clinton did in the few days she had to prove herself to N.H. voters. As she put it, she found her voice. If that voice cracked because she wanted to win so bad, well, that's not so bad. What everyone forgets now that she's won, is that they thought the tears would hurt, not help her. As Maureen Dowd's column put it, Will Hillary Cry Her Way to the White House? But the point is, she may not have to.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hillary Takes It!

I couldn't help but be swept up in tonight's history making primary. The first primary in the nation. The first woman to win it. I know that a lot of people are going to explain away her victory with all sorts of guesses. So I'm throwing mine in -- I think this editorial from Gloria Steinem may have helped. In an op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times comparing the ground-breaking campaigns of Clinton and Obama she wrote:

So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.
So maybe Clinton can't win -- she was chided for being too cold on the campaign trail. Then derided again for showing emotion. But if she really was showing her softer side, maybe it was all a ploy for votes. But here's the thing: Clinton did win. So for now, pundits aside, the voters spoke. And they voted, not for change, not for status quo. They voted for a woman. The vajority has spoken.
Word of the Day

Today, I learned something, so I'm sharing it with you: I'm part of the vajority.

The majority of women.
The vajority will vote for
Hillary in 2008.

Isn't that too great? Gives VJ day a whole new meeting, donchya think?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hillary's Moment

Oh, dear, I think Hill's taken my advice to heart. She girled it up today all right, by tearing up about getting up in the morning. It was a pretty innocuous question -- how do you do it -- at a campaign event, and she just kind of lost it. One moment of a lifetime of moments where she's been hard as nails. Now there's Edwards saying she's not tough enough for the job. There's every headline story on the New Hampshire campaign leading with her breaking up. As my friend commented after watching the grueling campaigns, "You know it's what every man campaigning wanted to do." You'd think from the hysteria of the coverage that she just lost the election. When all she lost was her cool.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Change, Thy Name Is Woman

It's true. Hillary started it. She de-gendered herself in the presidential campaign. She's not the woman candidate, she's the establishment candidate. She's the one the Republicans invoke, she's the one her party, and her rival party, love to hate. Her democratic rivals have happily dropped her gender and referred to her as "status quo." This from two of her fellow colleagues, a former and current senators Edwards and Obama, who promise change and cast themselves as Washington outsiders. (Maybe because neither has done much inside of Washington to brag about. Just saying.)

I admit that I kind of hoped for a more inspiring woman to lead as candidate for president. But I never thought that our first viable female candidate wouldn't even be seen as a woman at all. So, my advice to Hillary Clinton, is this: once and a while, you maybe should remind people you're a woman. Hillary Clinton may be the status quo to Obama's change, but she's also a woman. If that isn't change in the Oval Office, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year, Same Old Outlook

Isn't it just so like human nature that we start off on New Year's Eve with resolve to do better, bigger, smarter in the next year, and then kick off the very first day with a hang over?

Not that I drank in the new year, since I'm still recovering from a nasty cold. But that didn't exempt me from having a sense of dread around coming up with resolutions, or intentions, as a friend suggested as a kinder, gentler alternative.

No matter what I do with my life this year, I can definitely look good compared with the world. Like Pakistan. Kenya or Iraq. (So much for the flowering of democracy and an end to ethnic conflict.) We're no closer to peace on earth and good will toward men (or women) than we were last year. On the other hand, we've got our work cut out for us. So let's get to it.