Saturday, August 30, 2008
"Feminists for Life" is much like Orwell's Ministry of Truth or Ministry of Peace or Ministry of Love.
By Ruth Rosen, AlterNet
Posted on August 30, 2008, Printed on August 30, 2008
Many people are unfamiliar with Feminists for Life and wonder what the choice of Sarah Palin, who is against abortion rights, signals to the electorate.
Well, let me tell you something about Feminists for Life. In 2003, I decided to investigate this group and its energetic leader, Serrin Foster. What did it mean, I wondered, to be a feminist and actively fight against the right to choose when or whether to have a child?
So I went to a church in sprawling, suburban, wealthy Danville, California to hear Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life, speak on "The Feminist Case Against Abortion" to a huge crowd of mainly high-school students.
Founded in 1972, one year before the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the historic Roe vs. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the United States, Feminists for Life now focuses exclusively on practical alternatives to abortion for college-age women.
No woman, argues Foster, should ever have to choose between having a child and a career. "Abortion is a reflection that society has failed women," she tells high school and college students as she tours the country.
"Women deserve better choices," she says and points to practical alternatives and resources available to a young woman who has an unwanted pregnancy. She can choose single parenthood and use food stamps or temporary assistance to needy families. She can choose adoption. Or, college-age women can pressure school campuses to offer child care and family housing so that they never, ever, have to choose between a pregnancy and an education.
Feminism is all about having choices, Foster told me, after her talk. I couldn't agree more. Young women, she says, should have the right to bear a child and have access to high-quality, affordable child care. Again, I heartily agreed.
But Foster is cleverly disingenuous. When I asked what she does to promote child care, her answers were vague and evasive. When I read the organization's brochures aimed at campus physicians and psychologists, I found nothing about campaigning for child care. The real goal is to convince professionals to persuade young women to "choose" to bear a baby.
Despite its protestations, Feminists for Life is not really about choice. You can see this on its Web site, where the slogan "refuse to choose" appeared repeatedly. Nor does the organization challenge the real difficulties working mothers face. Instead, it cleverly appropriates the words "feminist" and "choice" to convince young women that abortion is always an unacceptable choice.
Part of the problem is that Foster either does not know her history or purposefully distorts the past. She spoke that night as though she had invented the idea of child care and describes pioneer feminists of the 1960s and 1970s as selfish, diabolical creatures who never wanted women to have the choice to bear a child.
But she's wrong. The three demands made at the first national march in New York City in 1970 included child care, equal pay for equal work and the legal right to "choose" an abortion. Many feminists, moreover, spent years trying to persuade the institutions where they worked that real equality for women required family-friendly policies, including child care.
Foster also accused Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America of supporting abortion in order to stay in business. But I had to wonder about her own financial goals when I saw, in the organization's magazine, that I could buy a "stunning new logo pin" in either sterling silver or 24-carat gold for $75.
In the end, I decided that Feminists for Life is neither about feminism nor about choice. It is a cunning attempt to convince young women that choice means giving up the right to "choose."
Sarah Palin is the inexperienced woman Sen. John McCain has chosen as his running mate, hoping that she will attract the vital female vote.. It's the worst kind of affirmative action, choosing a person he barely knows, who is completely unprepared to assume any national office. It's like nominating Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. It's all about ideology and not about competence.
To put it bluntly, Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton. Nor does she have the vision and brilliance of Barack Obama. This is an incredible insult to most American women. Just how stupid does he think we are?
Ruth Rosen is a historian and journalist who teaches public policy at UC Berkeley. She is a senior fellow at the Longview Institute.
Labels: Republican Marketing Machine
McCain's VP Pandering to Women Voters May Backfire.
McCain's Sexist VP Pick
The GOP seems to think women will eagerly vote for any ticket that includes a member of their gender. That's Republican tokenism and pandering at its worst.
August 29, 2008 | web only
John McCain's decision to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate is the perfect end to several weeks in which we saw Republicans make weak claims that theirs is the party of women's rights.
Last month, Bill Kristol was predicting that McCain would choose Palin because "Republicans are much more open to strong women." (He also decried the "horrible sexism and misogyny" Hillary Clinton faced in the Democratic primary, but somehow failed to mention his own comment during the primary that, "white women are a problem, that's, you know -- we all live with that.") As recently as last week he was railing against the "Democrats' glass ceiling." And today, FOX News was already crowing, "Looks like the glass ceiling hasn't been broken by Hillary Clinton, but by Senator McCain."
Palin's addition to the ticket takes Republican faux-feminism to a whole new level. As Adam Serwer pointed out on TAPPED, this is in fact a condescending move by the GOP. It plays to the assumption that disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters did not care about her politics -- only her gender. In picking Palin, Republicans are lending credence to the sexist assumption that women voters are too stupid to investigate or care about the issues, and merely want to vote for someone who looks like them. As Serwer noted, it's akin to choosing Alan Keyes in an attempt to compete with Obama for votes from black Americans.
I can't help but be, oh, a little bit skeptical of Republicans' sudden interest in the glass ceiling. After all, this is the party that threw women like Lilly Ledbetter under the bus, in favor of businesses that practice wage discrimination. The party that stymied the Equal Rights Amendment. The party that not only wants to force women here and abroad to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, but also wants to deny them access to a range of contraception options.
Not to mention hypocrisy at play. Republicans directed an inexcusable amount of sexist vitriol at Hillary during the primary. As Michelle Malkin said on Fox News about Hillary, "If that's the face of experience, I think it's going to scare away a lot of those independent voters that are on the fence." At National Review, Kathryn Jean Lopez blamed polling that said America isn't ready for a woman president on the failure of Geena Davis' TV show (in which she played a vice president who was elevated to commander in chief after the president's death). And Kristol credited Hillary's brief, misty-eyed moment for propelling her to victory in the New Hampshire primary: "It's the tears. She pretended to cry, the women felt sorry for her, and she won."
It's clear that Republicans believe that what made Hillary Clinton such a good candidate was her gender, not her political experience or positions on the issues. And McCain's decision to pick Palin shows he took this message to heart and chose to add her to the ticket primarily because of her gender. In so doing, McCain has turned the idea of the first woman in the White House from a true moment of change to an empty pander.
Why is this a pander? Because Palin is not a woman who has a record of representing women's interests. She is beloved by extremely right-wing conservatives for her anti-choice record (fittingly, she's a member of the faux-feminist anti-choice group Feminists for Life). Palin supports federal anti-gay marriage legislation. She believes schools should teach creationism. Alaska is currently considering spending more on abstinence-only sex education. And when it comes to a slew of other issues of importance to women, such as equal pay, she's not on the record.
Of course, I'm of the belief that more women in politics -- across the ideological spectrum -- is always a good thing. On a superficial level, nominating a woman to the Republican presidential ticket is indeed a milestone. But the real reason many women were excited about Hillary Clinton's candidacy is that she was the whole package -- a politician with a solid record on issues like choice and fair pay, and with a lot of experience, who was also a woman. Even feminists I disagreed with during the primary made the compelling point that it wasn't just about Hillary's gender. It was about her record, too.
Clearly, the GOP is banking on the votes of the subset of Hillary supporters who supported her on the basis of gender alone. Much ink and airtime have been devoted to analyzing these particular Hillary supporters and their motivations, but the bulk of voters will not cast their ballots on gender alone. The GOP's strategy may very well backfire. After all, most of us understand that a woman candidate is not the same thing as a woman's candidate.
Sarah Palin had trouble running Wasilla, the town of 5,500 where she was a two term mayor.
by smintheus at DKOS
Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 05:04:30 PM PDT
was had political experience only as a small town mayor until less than two years ago. What we don't know about her could fill a book. Here are a few things we're learning about Palin.
Sarah Palin left the finances of her town Wasilla in tatters when she moved on in 2002 (h/t xgz). She wanted a legacy as mayor, it seems, and pushed hard for the town to build a hyper-expensive sports complex. But Palin screwed the process up badly. Instead of buying the land for the complex when it was offered, her administration allowed a developer named Gary Lundgren to snap it up. Then Wasilla tried to seize the land from Lundgren through eminent domain. In the end, what with court costs Wasilla paid at least $ 1.7 million for land it could have bought for less than one tenth that sum - if the purchase had been handled properly. For this incompetence, Wasilla is still paying a steep price: higher taxes and cutbacks in services. In other words Palin is about as efficient as Michael Brown, onetime head of FEMA.
Diarist loyalson, a resident of Wasilla, has more to say about the damage Palin did to his town while she was mayor.
On the single most debated issue of our times, the Iraq war, Sarah Palin similarly was out to lunch until as recently as last spring. Shortly after becoming governor, she was asked her views on the surge (h/t LizzyPop):
Alaska Business Monthly: We've lost a lot of Alaska's military members to the war in Iraq. How do you feel about sending more troops into battle, as President Bush is suggesting?
Palin: I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe. Every life lost is such a tragedy.
John McCain would have us believe that Iraq is the central battle in the war on terror, and yet he selects as his running mate somebody who was paying almost no attention to the Iraq war for 4 long years after the invasion.
So what was Palin focused on?
Alaska Business Monthly: It's extremely early to ask this, but when your tenure as governor is over, what would you like to have accomplished? How would you like to be remembered?
Palin: I want people to remember me as having always conducted the state's business in an upright and honest manner. I want them to understand that I put Alaska first in every decision I made.
Try to square that with the troopergate scandal, in which Palin allegedly misused her power as governor by bringing inappropriate pressure for two employees to be fired. What's perhaps most interesting is that Palin appears to have begun misusing power almost as soon as she got any real power.
Speaking of inconsistencies, earlier this month Palin praised Barack Obama's energy plan (h/t Excelscior1). Here is the cached version of the press release that had been posted at the Governor's website. The original document has been scrubbed sometime during the last day (since Aug. 28). I wonder if that could have anything to do with McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate?
Gov. Palin, Thank You.
I'm guessing that McCain chose you because he mistakenly assumes that we Clinton supporters were only behind her because she's a woman. That's not even close to being the case. We supported her because she's tough, brilliant, hard-working, dedicated, and just a damned fine lawmaker and public servant all-around. The gender thing was mostly just the icing on the cake, so to speak. There are some within our ranks (not many, but some) who until recently were still rather dubious about voting for Obama. The wounds of the primary hurt badly, and left scars.
However, the moment that McCain nominated you as his running mate and you made your ill-fated little comments, you became the butterfly wings that started a windstorm. In this case, that storm didn't damage--it healed. It blew away months of resentment and hurt, and brought us all together again. People who were angry at Senator Clinton are now angry at YOU for comparing yourself to her--right or wrong, she's OURS. Clinton supporters who were hurting over the primaries are now furious with YOU for pretending that you're even fit to stand in her shadow, much less take her place in our hearts.
Governor Palin, let me be plain. You are a joke. You're a hyped-up beauty queen with practically no experience. You're in the midst of a scandal because you abused your power as a governor in order to get a bit of revenge on someone who refused to cater to your pathetic and petty nepotism. You're a woman who wants to strip away the bodily autonomy of your fellow women--a traitor of the vilest sort. You're only on the Republican ticket because Hillary Rodham Clinton worked her ASS off to convince America that a woman CAN be tough enough to lead this nation. Love Clinton or hate her, nobody can deny that she's tough as nails; her historic primary run, controversies and all, certainly made sure that the vast majority of America now believes that women ARE tough enough to lead. If not for the work she did in changing the status-quo mindset about what women are capable of doing, YOU would not be where you are today.
I have witnessed the careers of Senator Obama and Senator Clinton with admiration, frustration, and a deep sense of gratitude for being born in time to see all of these wonderful changes happen. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton brought more positive change to America during a PRIMARY than the Republican party has been able to muster after a GENERAL election win. We know Senator Obama and Senator Clinton; they are part of us, and we are part of them. John McCain is no Barack Obama, and YOU are certainly no Hillary Clinton. But in comparing yourself to her, you did what many of us thought could never happen--you brought Obama and Clinton supporters together again. Thank you ever so much--we appreciate it.
John McCain and Sarah Palin, be aware--you are standing on the tracks, and the Democratic train is coming. Oh yes it is. We are united, we are Democrats together, and we are unstoppable. The wisest thing that either of you two nincompoops could do would be to get the hell OUT OF THE WAY.
Kitchen sink? Get ready for the whole goddamned kitchen.
posted by oktobertrain at Democratic Underground.
Friday, August 29, 2008
John McCain Throws A Bone To Vagina Voters.
And at his age.. 72, she's got a realistic shot of becoming the First Female President in American History!
She's also a "Feminist" according to her Bio.
Which means she's rabidly Pro-Life, and opposes abortion even in cases of RAPE AND INCEST.
And she's a member of the NRA.
And she opposes gay marriage.
And she was a beauty queen.
She supports the Death Penalty.
She supports teaching Creationism in public schools.
She supports drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.
3 years ago she was the mayor of a town of 9,000.
She has zero foreign policy experience.
She opposes Universal Health Care.
You know, just like Hillary Clinton.
John McCain must think you're stupid.
So it's official - John McCain has thrown a Hail Mary and tapped Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. The trad med types are ga-ga about what a game-changing choice Palin is. And they're right. It is a game-changer. The Palin pick takes a race already leaning toward Obama and pushes it further into his corner.
Why? Because Sarah Palin is the most unqualified VP nominee in modern history, with the possible exception of Admiral Stockdale.
She's worse than Quayle.
After his selection in 1988, Dan Quayle was rightly lambasted as a dim, inexperienced lightweight with no real pertinent experience who was named by George H. W. Bush as a gimmick - a case of an old, out-of touch candidate trying to appear relevant by teaming up with a much younger pol. Now, Palin's not Quayle - by all accounts, she's quite bright. But she's fantastically inexperienced, far more so than Quayle was when he was tapped. And she possesses an attribute far worse than Quayle's stupidity - she's a big corrupt wheel in Alaska's big corrupt Republican Party, arguably the most corrupt political apparatus in the United States.
We're told that McCain really wanted to pick his old friend Joe Lieberman to run with him, but that Karl Rove and the rest of the elite Republican politburo nixed the idea, and told McCain that he had to take a conservative. And as he has at every step of his campaign, the one-time "maverick" sold out to the venal, icy core of the Republican leadership, and acquiesced by selecting Palin. Palin is really a Republican after Rove's heart - she's a product of the party that produced the indicted Ted Stevens and ethically tarred Don Young, and she's embroiled in a Troopergate scandal of her own, with state investigators looking at serious allegations that Palin abused her office by pressuring the state Public Safety Commissioner to fire "an Alaska state trooper involved in a rough divorce from Palin's sister." Sounds like a woman after Karl Rove's heart.
In addition to further associating McCain with the Republican culture of corruption, the Palin pick undermines one of his main anti-Obama narratives. It's going to be laughable to hear McCain assail Obama's supposed lack of experience after naming the first-term governor -- only one-and-a-half years into her term -- of the 47th largest state to be his running mate. Palin lacks any foreign policy experience, and is bereft of even the two core areas of policy expertise that governors are supposed to bring to a ticket -- ag policy (Alaska doesn't have much in the way of traditional agriculture) and urban affairs (Anchorage is the 65th largest city in the US, behind giants such as Corpus Christi). She's easily the least experienced running mate in recent memory, which is pretty scary, given McCain's age and his history of cancer.
By picking Palin, McCain revealed his desperation to make a splash to rival the genuine excitement generated by the Obama campaign. But desperation leads to poor decisions -- and McCain's Hail Mary, like most last second desperation moves, is destined to fail miserably. He's smeared himself with the pungent mud of Alaska Republican corruption, while cutting the legs out from one of his most reliable attacks against Obama. And he's presented Americans with the prospect of electing a dangerous neophyte to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, behind a man whose life expectancy is less than two presidential terms.
We all expected McCain to pick someone underwhelming to run with him. But we never could have expected a pick worse than Quayle. Yet that's what we got. Thanks, John!
(And for those who are certain to point out that Bush-Quayle won in '88 -- do you really think that Barack Obama is remotely close to Michael Dukakis in political skill? No? Didn't think so.)
"I Accept Your Nomination for President of The United States." -Barack Obama
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Joe "Pa" Biden Rocks The House. Worth Watching if you missed it.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Dear Hillary Supporters: She Lost. Get the Fuck Over It.
Nerves are all aflutter at the DNC, and not in a "just fell in love" kind of way. The Clinton and Obama camps are apparently not getting along very well. Bill's pissed. Hill's pissed but hiding it. But most pissed of all are Hillary's supporters and associates.
|One senior Obama supporter said the Clinton associates negotiating on her behalf act like "Japanese soldiers in the South Pacific still fighting after the war is over."|
Yikes. Sounds like they're not over it yet. Everyone's worried about how these never-say-concede supporters are going to behave during the convention. To help keep things orderly, we drew up a quick handout of helpful tips Hillary supporters need to know before they hit the convention center floor. Feel free to print this out and pass it around on the floor to anyone who happens to be scowling:
Labels: Sore Losers
Monday, August 25, 2008
Iraqi's To Bush: Get Out. "Time Horizon" is too vague. We want a Timetable for Withdrawal. So the Iraqi's want to "Cut and Run?"
BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Monday no security agreement with the United States could be reached unless it included a "specific deadline" for the withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq.
Last week, U.S. and Iraqi officials said the two sides had agreed tentatively to a schedule which included a broad pullout of combat forces by the end of 2011 with a residual U.S. force remaining behind to continue training and advising the Iraqi security forces.
But al-Maliki's remarks Monday suggested that the Iraqi government is still not satisfied with that arrangement. An aide to the prime minister said Monday that Iraq remained adamant that the last American soldier must leave Iraq by the end of 2011 _ regardless of conditions at the time.
The official, like others who spoke about the specifics of the debate, spoke on condition of anonymity because the text had not been approved by either government.
President Bush has long resisted a timetable for pulling out troops from Iraq, even under heavy pressure from a nation distressed by American deaths and discouraged by the length of the war that began in 2003.
"There can be no treaty or agreement except on the basis of Iraq's full sovereignty," al-Maliki told a gathering of tribal sheiks. He said such an agreement must be based on the principle that "no foreign soldier remains in Iraq after a specific deadline, not an open time frame."
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said negotiations with the Iraqis continued, but reiterated the U.S. stance depended on conditions in Iraq.
"We're optimistic that Iraq and the U.S. can reach a mutual agreement on flexible goals for U.S. troops to continue to return on success _ based on conditions on the ground _ and allow Iraqi forces to provide security for a sovereign Iraq," he said in Crawford, Texas.
The Bush administration now speaks about "time horizons," but even that now appears unacceptable to al-Maliki's government.
"We find this to be too vague," a close al-Maliki aide told The Associated Press on Monday. "We don't want the phrase 'time horizons.' We are not comfortable with that phrase," said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations.
Another top al-Maliki aide, also speaking on condition of anonymity for the same reason, said the Iraqi government has "stopped talking about the withdrawal of combat troops. We just talk about withdrawals," including trainers and logistics troops.
In his Monday address, al-Maliki also suggested that the question of granting immunity to U.S. military personnel or contractors continued to be a sticking point in the negotiations.
In one key part of the draft agreement, private U.S. contractors would be subject to Iraqi law but the Americans are holding firm that U.S. troops would remain subject exclusively to U.S. legal jurisdiction.
Al-Maliki said Monday that his country could not grant "open immunity" to Iraqis or foreigners because that would be tantamount to a violating the "sanctity of Iraqi blood." He did not elaborate.
The agreement had been scheduled to be concluded by the end of last month.
No new date has been set, but the two al-Maliki aides said a final draft was now available to the political leaderships in Baghdad and Washington. One of the two said a breakthrough was not expected before next month.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Biden = Good Choice
The Associated Press is becoming a Joke. Ron Fournier has turned it into Fox New Lite.
FOURNIER IS AT IT AGAIN.... The latest piece from Ron Fournier, the AP's Washington bureau chief and the man responsible for directing the wire service's coverage of the presidential campaign, on Joe Biden joining the Democratic ticket, is drawing a fair amount of attention this morning. More importantly, McCain campaign staffers are pushing it fairly aggressively to other reporters, in large part because it mirrors the Republican line with minimal variation.
By choosing Biden, Fournier argues, Barack Obama is showing a "lack of confidence," and is siding with "the status quo."
There are two ways to consider Fournier's piece: substantively and in the broader context.
First, on the substance, Fournier's analysis seems a little lazy. By his logic, any potential running mate shows a "lack of confidence" -- picking Hillary would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over women voters; picking Bayh would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over independents and conservative Dems; picking Webb would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over voters concerned about national security; picking Kaine would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over voters in the South; etc. For that matter, "the status quo" in Washington has been conservative Republican rule. Biden may be an old pro and a DC insider, but he's anything but "the status quo."
Second, in context, Fournier's objectivity covering the presidential race continues to look shaky. We are, after all, talking about a journalist who, as recently as last year, considered working for the McCain campaign.
Before Ron Fournier returned to The Associated Press in March 2007, the veteran political reporter had another professional suitor: John McCain's presidential campaign.
In October 2006, the McCain team approached Fournier about joining the fledgling operation, according to a source with knowledge of the talks. In the months that followed, said a source, Fournier spoke about the job possibility with members of McCain's inner circle, including political aides Mark Salter, John Weaver and Rick Davis.
We learned not too long ago that Fournier exchanged emails with Karl Rove about Pat Tillman, in which Fournier wrote, "The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight." Fournier was also one of the journalists who, at a gathering of the nation's newspaper editors, extended McCain a box of his favorite donuts ("Oh, yes, with sprinkles!" McCain said).
It's led to a series of AP reports that can, at best, be described as "questionable."
In March, for example, Fournier wrote an item -- whether it was a news article or an opinion piece was unclear -- that said Barack Obama is "bordering on arrogance," "a bit too cocky," and that the senator and his wife "ooze a sense of entitlement." To substantiate the criticism, Fournier pointed to ... not a whole lot. It was basically the Republicans' "uppity" talking point in the form of an AP article.
But much of the AP's coverage has deteriorated since. There was a slam-job on Obama that read like an RNC oppo dump, followed by a scathing, 900-word reprimand of Obama's decision to bypass the public financing system in the general election, filled with errors of fact and judgment.
When Obama unveiled his faith-based plan, the AP got the story backwards. When Obama talked about his Iraq policy on July 3, the AP said he'd "opened the door" to reversing course, even though he hadn't.
The AP pushed the objectivity envelope a little further with a mind-numbing, 1,100-word piece on Obama "being shadowed by giant flip-flops."
The AP flubbed the story on McCain joking about killing Iranians, and then flubbed the story about McCain's promise to eliminate the deficit. It's part of a very discouraging trend for the AP that's been ongoing throughout the campaign.
And then, within hours of Obama announcing his running mate, there's Fournier again, writing up another piece -- whether it's a news article or an opinion piece is, again, unclear -- that the McCain campaign just loves.
Sandy Johnson, the former DC bureau chief of the AP, was asked about Fournier and the bureau when she was forced out as part of a staff shake-up. "I just hope he doesn't destroy it," she said.
The more I see the AP's coverage, the more I think about that quote.
by Steve Benen
at Political Animal