Sunday, December 23, 2007

Headline as Haiku

The headline summed it up so accurately it made my teeth hurt: "Republican Unity Trumps Democratic Momentum".

Robert Pear and Carl Hulse wrote the article that sums up Congressional Democrats’ 2007 accomplishments, or lack of them, in the New York Times, December 21. But whoever wrote that headline gets my vote for the Pulitzer. In fewer syllables than a classic haiku, he or she described perfectly the essence of American politics since the extreme right has held sway over the Republican Party.

The Democrats might have better ideas and public opinion on their side right now, but the Republicans--even when they’re in the minority—still run strategic circles around them.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)said she didn't foresee this would happen. Excuse me, but what sand has her idealistic head been buried in? And what a dumb thing to say even if you think it, power politics being what they are.

But at least she took some responsibility. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)simply blamed the Republicans. Perhaps it’s not surprising that public opinion now ranks Congress even lower than the President.

The conservative right is effective because they stick together and mass their strengths; those on the progressive left not only lack the discipline to stick together, they so distrust power that they sully their own opportunities to advance measures they sincerely believe will make people's lives better—in other words, the very things they were elected to do.

These missed opportunities occur not just because the minority is more highly motivated than a majority to exercise discipline; we’ve seen the Republican majority steamroller brazenly over the Democrats too many times to exonerate the Democrats and their leadership from responsibility for becoming rolees of their own volition. The most obvious example is the continuing flow of money to the Iraq war even after it became clear the Bush administration had lied through its teeth to justify a war that has benefited their Halliburton cronies more than anyone else.

But from the first day George W. Bush took office in 2001, well before 9/11 gave him a free pass, he started to ramrod extreme right wing judicial nominees through the Senate. Democrats, led by wimpy minority leader Tom Daschle, never let the courage of their convictions take precedence over crass vote counting.

Even after the Senate’s breathtaking switch from Republican to Democratic hands when Vermont’s moderate Republican Senator Jim Jeffords switched to Independent and began to caucus with the Democrats in May of 2001, Democratic leaders were still unwilling to seize the opportunity to oppose Bush’s nominees until a large coalition of women’s and civil rights groups poured starch into the senators' spines and perhaps a little fear of reprisal into their hearts.

In one such hearing, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) looked straight at me and a few other heads of women’s organizations who were observing the committee hearing and angrily accused us of being the problem, rather than Bush’s nominees whose track records guaranteed that they were eminently prepared to eviscerate civil and reproductive rights that are core principles of the Democratic Party.

True, conservatives on occasion fail because they are so heartless in their pursuit of power that the vast silent middle of citizens finally rises up in outrage. The Terry Schiavo
case comes to mind. “Compassionate Conservatism” has been clearly demonstrated during the current Bush administration to be at best an oxymoron and at worst a cruel hoax. And every once in a wonderful while, their rigid acceptance of hierarchy backfires, and the likes of Tom DeLay finally get their due. But most of the time, their discipline to fight out their differences in their party’s caucus and then work the legislative floor together in lockstep allows them to leverage their effectiveness far beyond their numbers.

The Republicans are power mad. The Democrats are power averse.

So what did Pelosi and Reid expect when they took their majority leadership positions last January? Will they learn from their defeats and come out with agendas blazing and party unity next January in order to set a more favorable context for their party in next November’s elections?

Hope springs eternal.

© Gloria Feldt 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

You Looking at Me?

This is on Huffington Post too. Some days it seems like journalists don't have enough to do with their time so they create conflicts out of whole cloth as a form of entertainment. Fortunately for me, I make no claim to be objective. Let me know what you think. Better yet, go to HuffPo and put your comment there.

You know Hillary is no longer seen as the inevitable front runner in Iowa when Maureen Dowd (almost, at least till she gets to her punch line) writes something positive about her.

In response to the latest Drudge-Limbaugh-sexist bloggers' echo chamber campaign to denigrate Hillary for—gasp!--looking like a 60-year-old woman, when men of that certain age or even—gasp again--older are seen as distinguished and wise, Dowd observed: “Women are still scrutinized more critically on their looks, which seem to fluctuate more on camera, depending on lighting, bloating and wardrobe.”

It takes a sharp sense of humor as well as a tough hide to get beyond the frivolously discriminatory lens with women are judged. Chile’s president, Michele Bachelet, who ranks # 17 on Forbes’ list of “World’s Most Influential Women to Hillary’s #18, told a CNN reporter that when a male journalist asked her how she would wear the pants of the presidency she replied tartly, "or the skirt of the presidency."

Yet for women seeking leadership roles, the appearance issue is just one layer of the perceptual onion; each layer will have to be—and will be--peeled back over time to fully understand what the core resistance is about. By then, of course, it won’t matter because there will be enough women in leadership positions that seeing them in those roles feels normal.

When the luxuriantly pregnant Campbell Brown asked Clinton the first question at the Las Vegas Democratic presidential debate, it was clear that several layers have already disappeared.

To begin with, in Hillary’s elementary school days, a visibly pregnant woman wasn’t allowed to teach school, let alone imagine she could be a network television anchor, and an anchor interviewing a woman leading the presidential pack at that.

Second, this adorable exchange between Brown and Clinton highlighted a generational difference that need not be a divide, but is surely an onion layer to be acknowledged as we bid farewell to it along with Hillary’s knowing wink:

BROWN: But, Senator, if I can just ask you, what did you mean at Wellesley when you referred to the "boy's club"?

CLINTON: Campbell...


BROWN: Just curious.

CLINTON: Well, it is clear, I think, from women's experiences that from time to time, there may be some impediments.


And it has been my goal over the course of my lifetime to be part of this great movement of progress that includes all of us, but has particularly been significant to me as a woman.

And to be able to aim toward the highest, hardest glass ceiling is history-making.

Now, I'm not running because I'm a woman. I'm running because I think I'm the best qualified and experienced person to hit the ground running, but it's humbling...


By that debate, Hillary had taken her attire down a notch since John Edwards disparaged her pink jacket. She stood, earrings glistening, in a crisp but subdued salt-and-pepper tweed jacket with her black pants--a suit she laughingly described as "asbestos" in preparation for the scorching attacks she expected from her competitors.

(Oops, there’s that cackle again—but wait, she needs the humor here—now do we understand why Hillary sometimes seems to be walking a tightrope in her comments? She lives on the tightrope of transition, smack in the middle of profound social change that she is both the product of and the woman leading others to the next level.)

“Hillary doesn’t have to worry about her face. She has to worry about her mask,” concluded the ever-clever Dowd. But when I interviewed Hillary a few years ago for my book, The War on Choice, she summed up the real challenge better herself:

It’s human nature that when the established order has been changed, there will be a reaction, and the magnitude of the reaction shouldn’t surprise us. The advancement of women in the last fifty years has been breathtaking…There are victories along the way, but none of these victories is secure because of the pressures that undermine women’s rights and advancement…So now women who value their autonomy have to step up and take action.

Washington Post writer Howard Kurtz finally got some key journalists to acknowledge the obvious, that Hillary is treated differently, judged more harshly by the media across the board.

She's just held to a different standard in every respect," says Mark Halperin, Time's editor at large. "The press rooted for Obama to go negative, and when he did he was applauded. When she does it, it's treated as this huge violation of propriety." While Clinton's mistakes deserve full coverage, Halperin says, "the press's flaws -- wild swings, accentuating the negative -- are magnified 50 times when it comes to her. It's not a level playing field."

Attacks on Hillary’s gendered physical attributes, as even the Hillary-bashing Dowd has to agree, are often a convenient mask to obscure those odoriferous layers of misogyny that still exist and spill over where they shouldn’t be in determining the outcome of the Presidential race.

© Gloria Feldt 12/20/07

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why Oprah and Hillary are in this election together

12/12/07, 11:12 am--I filed this on Huffington Post just now. It should get posted later today. This time I am leaving in the HTML for the links in case you want to see them from this version. But if you go to read it at HuffPo, it will not only look nicer, you'll be able to leave your comment there and if you are so moved, to sign up to be notified when I have posted a HuffPo commentary, which is more or less weekly.
I want to expand on the Hillary-Oprah connection and would love to hear your thoughts on that. Here's today's post:

Her exquisitely lacquered red nails clasp the lever confidently, six fashion-
statement gold bangles punctuating her slender wrist. Though you can't see the
rest of her, if you read women's fashion magazines, you might guess this is
the smart, sophisticated Marie Claire

There's a good reason why the word "voting" is clearly painted under the lever, with an arrow pointing to it. This woman might well be one of the 35 million eligible women who didn't vote in the 2004 presidential election. And single women , we are told by the article, are less likely to vote than their married counterparts.

Marie Claire's "Election '08" articles, of which this is the start, are joined
with a larger nonpartisan effort called “Every Woman Counts” that is spearheaded by Lifetime TV and two other Hearst magazines--CosmoGirl! and Redbook--plus a coalition of dozens of other organizations working to elevate the women's vote in 2008 ,and to increase women’s participation in the political process in general. (Disclosure, I've signed on to the campaign as an individual,

The whole political activist world seems to know, even if the word still hasn't
permeated the consciousness of those 35 million eligible-but-not-voting women, that women are the key to the outcome of the 2008 elections, not just at the presidential level but all up and down the ticket. Especially telling is that women in the typically “red” Midwestern states are more likely to vote than women in the typically “blue” states. One must wonder whether this translates to higher voting rates for conservative women than for centrist, progressive and liberal women.

These facts are precisely the reason why Oprah
and Hillary, not Barak and Hillary, and are currently the leading players in the presidential campaign.

As the crawl at bottom of one Marie Claire pages tells us without needing to
explain its application to 2008: "If more single women had voted in the swing states in 2000, Al Gore would have won the election."

And the rest, as they say, would have been a very different history for our country.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Henry Hyde's Hypocrisy: Rest Not in Peace

I posted this on Huffington Post late yesterday. Best to read it there so you get all the links, but I did include the comments so far. What do you think? Let me know here or at HuffPo or both.

I was in Arizona awaiting my grandson Eli's birth in March, 1997, when I received a panicked call from my Washington, D. C. staff. "We've been summoned to appear before the joint House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committees to testify about the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Act. It's going to be a witch hunt," they told me. "You have to come back and prepare. It's a really big deal--you'll be under oath and intense media scrutiny."

This would be my first face-to-face encounter with Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), the silver-maned, vociferously anti-choice, then-chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who died on November 29. It'd be my first congressional testimony since I had become national president of Planned Parenthood the previous year, when President Clinton vetoed in play again.

The Federal Abortion Ban, as I call it because it is, had engendered as much controversy within the pro-choice movement as within the Congress and public. In my view, that internal angst came about because the abortion ban wasn't immediately outed for the frontal assault on Roe v Wade it has since proven itself to be. (A full rendition of this brilliantly deceptive legislation's history is in my book, The War on Choice.)

Green though I was to the federal political theater, I knew we had to reset the agenda and change the terms of the debate. And one thing I'd learned from the frontlines during 22 years at the helm of Planned Parenthood affiliates in bright red West Texas and Arizona was that the hotter the flames of controversy, the more they got people's attention and illuminated what we had to say.

I grumpily boarded the plane to Washington, hoping the baby would await my return. Perusing Hyde's voting record, I found something striking: in all his years of strident opposition to abortion, the man had never voted to support family planning programs that would lessen the need for abortion. What kind of hypocrisy was that? Not only was he the author of the infamous Hyde Amendment that since 1977 had robbed women relying on Medicaid for health care of coverage for abortion, but he had done absolutely nothing to help them prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place.

In the imposing hearing room, Committee members sat behind tables on a high, well-lighted platform looking down upon the testifiers below in what felt like a pit. Behind us sat an audience of advocates from both sides. News cameras lined the back of the room.

The prepared testimony of the four pro-choice organization leaders called to testify had been carefully vetted by our staffs, legal advisors, and media consultants. Tension was thick.

But one thing you can depend on is that a zealot will eventually hoist himself on the petard of his own extremism. Hyde didn't even attempt to cloak himself in the charade of the abortion ban bill's supposed moderation. Instead, he roared his first question: "Ms. Feldt, does it trouble you that there are so many abortions?"
"Mr. Hyde, if it troubles you," I went off script to reply, "why have you never once voted for family planning services?"

The chamber erupted in applause; the hearing chairman cautioned them to quiet down or be ejected. The previously timid committee Democrats perked up. The lion had been bearded in his lair. Hyde's response can only be described as "blub, blub", while he attempted to deflect the palpable shift in energy. Then he began to attack me in earnest, and Sen. Ted Kennedy leapt to my defense and cut him off.

The other testifiers similarly took energy from this confrontation so that in the end, the hearing was not the rout anti-choice forces had hoped for and pro-choice forces had feared. But it was a line of demarcation between a pro-choice strategy of defense and one where we would put forward a positive agenda.

Afterward, I stepped to the platform to shake hands with the Congress members. When I got to Mr. Hyde, he leaned over the table and looked searingly into my eyes. I expected he would either compliment me for taking him on or lecture me on the error of my ways.

Instead, he leered, "Your organization hires the best-looking women."

I wish I could say I had a clever retort, but I burst out laughing at this typical male technique for diminishing a woman.

I made it back for Eli's joyfully awaited birth. But America has yet to ensure every woman can enjoy the blessings of motherhood in freedom.
Hyde would go on to lead the impeachment process against President Clinton, only to have his own hypocrisy revealed again: he'd had an affair -- which he excused as a "youthful indiscretion" though when it happened, he was married with children and in his 40's.

Hyde's relentless opposition to a woman's human right to make her own childbearing decisions, including his consistent record, through his retirement last year, of voting against preventive family planning services, continues to cause immense human suffering and injustice.

Let Henry Hyde rest, but not in peace.

Comments (31)as of 12/4/ at noon
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NEW expand collapse Goofy (See profile | I'm a fan of Goofy)
Bravo!! This country is in a civil war, and this is not the time to comfort the enemey ...
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 08:41 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse rucognizant (See profile | I'm a fan of rucognizant)
jumundstuk, REREAD............That was 1997 NOT 1977!
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 07:18 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse retarius (See profile | I'm a fan of retarius)
I have no particular axe to grind on abortion: from my perspective it is a private issue between the folks that were involved in the pregnancy (that is 'folks' rathrr than 'folk' or 'woman' in my opinion the man should have a say as well)...but I'm glad that this filthy hypocrite has finally died...if there were any justice he would have died years ago, after a long, painful, disfiguring and disabling is times like these that I wished that I believed in some sort of afterlife, since the thought of this silver-maned turd roasting in hell would have warmed my heart.
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 06:26 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse jmundstuk (See profile | I'm a fan of jmundstuk)
Nice post and story, except that Hyde couldn't have been chair of the House Judiciary Committee in 1977. The Democrats were in the majority and would remain so until the 1994 election. Maybe you testified before a joint committee, which would explain why Kennedy, a senator, was present and maybe Hyde was ranking member or something. Makes a better story your way, but facts do matter.
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 02:21 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse retarius (See profile | I'm a fan of retarius)
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 06:20 am on 12/04/2007
NEW expand collapse GloriaFeldt (See profile | I'm a fan of GloriaFeldt)
Just to clarify- he was chair of the Judiciary committee in 1997. The Hyde amendment went into effect in 1977. It's easy to transpose those two dates when you are reading.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 08:41 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse Lisette (See profile | I'm a fan of Lisette)

Thanks for the great post. Many people agree with you, including me.

Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 11:48 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse nunzia (See profile | I'm a fan of nunzia)
I echo Lisette's comment. Great post. Thanks.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 06:10 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse jimhum (See profile | I'm a fan of jimhum)
Instead, he leered, "Your organization hires the best-looking women."

I wish I could say I had a clever retort, but I burst out laughing at this typical male technique for diminishing a woman.
Now why on earth would that be considered diminishing? There is nothing more beautiful than a beautiful lady. That is a compliment. I get sick and tired of ladies who dress to be seen, and complain if anyone looks.

The other day the cashier in the bank bent down to her counter, and I could almost see her belly button. I laughed and said, "That"s beautiful, but did you know that when you got dressed this morning." She laughed and admitted she had no reason at all to complain when a man got the nice view.

Here"s a question that I have posted many times, and have yet to get an answer, "Are you one of those who watch TV news stories of starving babies, then cheer, and say, At least she didn't get an abortion!"
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 10:57 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse MsLiz (See profile | I'm a fan of MsLiz)
"Now why on earth would that be considered diminishing?"

The author was at the hearing to address an important issue. She was old enough to be a grandmother. Instead of saying something along the lines of "thank you for your testimony, nice to meet you," he revealed that he had evaluated her solely in terms of what she had to offer his libido. It was a discount of her knowledge and views.

As to your second question: No.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 12:46 am on 12/04/2007
NEW expand collapse GloriaFeldt (See profile | I'm a fan of GloriaFeldt)
MsLiz and Jimhum-
I generally am quite happy to be praised for my appearance. These days I even wear a little cleavage from time to time in honor of Hillary. But a Congressional hearing is supposed to be the height of decorum for one thing (hence I wore a very conservative brown suit and pearls that day as I recall). For another, Hyde liked to appear gentlemanly even when he was skewering you, and for a traditional man like him to skewer a woman, he had to resort to diminishing me by reducing me to a physical being rather than acknowledging characteristics that would equal power in the political realm.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 08:51 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse Ravenlea (See profile | I'm a fan of Ravenlea)
Try the situation in reverse. You have just appeared before Congress and done a fine job of it. Nancy Pelosi rather than thanking you or complimenting you on your presentation, leers at you and remarks that "your company sure hires good-looking men." I doubt you'd be just thrilled to your toe-nails that the nice important lady said you were attractive or swoon with delight.

While in some contexts a good compliment is enjoyable, there are other times when it is either not offered to make the recipient feel good but to objectify and thereby diminish them or it's just inappropriate.

Men often use such comments to dismiss smart women. Some men think it's charming. It's not. It's creepy.

And what does this issue have to do with being for or against abortions? (I'm pro abortion, by the way.)

I hope you're an old fart like me, because I have deluded myself into thinking that younger men have more awareness than the men of my generation did/do.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 01:21 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse dgrffy (See profile | I'm a fan of dgrffy)
A vile editorial. The disrespect and 'who cares if they don't agree with us' attitude speaks volumes for our culture. When I read things like this, it reminds me why I am never surprised when kids walk into schools and open fire. Why shouldn't they? Where are their examples? He sucked, he was evil, I'm glad he's dead? And we have the gall of acting shocked when one of our youngsters (those 3 out of 4 who weren't aborted) walk into a room and open fire. Why wouldn't Henry be a hypocrite? If he wasn't, he would have been a lonely man in a country filled with them.
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 09:25 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse DonL (See profile | I'm a fan of DonL)
I think you missed the point. Hyde wasn't evil, he was in a position to actually help stop abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancy and instead he chose to take sides and fight those with whom he disagreed. What should bother you is that in this country, it has become acceptable to go to war with your opposition instead of trying to work with them, to posture and moralize instead of accepting that someone might have a different set of values to which they are entitled. Where does a school shooting come out of this?
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 10:50 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse dgrffy (See profile | I'm a fan of dgrffy)
What you said is true - but for all involved. Hyde merely did what everyone does, and that is pick one side against the other, then fight. Where the school shootings come from is a generation of children watching adults act worse than the children of bygone days. When adults call each other evil, when they speak of others as worthless because of a host of reasons, when they all but crow over the demise of those with whom they disagree - because they feel nothing but contempt - it has an impact on those generations that follow. The hatred and contempt and lack of respect that the adults show in public discourse is being watched, and watched by the kids who will one day run our country; run it if they should live so long.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 11:06 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse Ravenlea (See profile | I'm a fan of Ravenlea)
Ms Feldt didn't say she was glad he was dead. You are putting words into her mouth that aren't there.

Hyde was a hypocrite across the board. One of the problems these days - one of the reasons this country is in the mess that it's in is because people are choosing sides to be popular or to get ahead, rather than trying to do what's right. Hyde stood against abortion but did nothing to prevent the need for abortion. He made sanctimonious speeches about Clinton's infidelity when his own extra-marital affair wrecked another man's marriage. Now we hear that he supposedly opposed impeachment but didn't want to go against the crowd in power. Talk about the root-cause of high school shootings! Children who do those shootings are almost always outsiders who have been bullied by the in crowd. And that kind of thing goes on because people who know bullying is wrong do nothing to stop it.

I agree that there is too much meanness in the world right now, too much name-calling. But I don't subscribe to the view that it's wrong to criticize people who deserve criticism.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 01:39 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse dgrffy (See profile | I'm a fan of dgrffy)
Of course it isn't wrong to criticize issues, or the people with whom we disagree. But it's how. No, she didn't say she was glad he was dead, though others have. She did, more or less, spit on his grave over various issues. It is a mark of the lack of respect in our culture. Folks are free to disagree and criticize. It's how you do it that says so much. Especially because our kids are listening.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 07:12 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse texanna (See profile | I'm a fan of texanna)
Sweet Karma would be his return as a girl, born to a poor woman who had too many children already and no resources for her latest offspring.
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 08:21 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse rollingdivision (See profile | I'm a fan of rollingdivision)
The author's closing remark speaks volumes.
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 07:32 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse sorenmeetsdylan (See profile | I'm a fan of sorenmeetsdylan)
How indecent can you get, to wish ill to a man who is deceased?
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 07:22 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse davedave (See profile | I'm a fan of davedave)
not ill.

he is dead, way beyond ill.

but one can express relief...

Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 07:52 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse Superfelo (See profile | I'm a fan of Superfelo)
Well, let us say we cannot get as indecent as being a hypocrite; not voting for family planning programs; cheating on one's wife, while married with children; being a Republican; never speaking out against Racism; that, it seems to me, goes beyond the limit of indecency; almost as indecent as tapping on the filthy floor of a bathroom stall.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 08:12 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse Dlynne14 (See profile | I'm a fan of Dlynne14)
Like Mr. Falwell, who passed away this year, Mr. Hyde is your typical, hypocritical right wing Neocon man.
And he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom for his love of the unborn???!!! What a joke. What about the love of the already born?

It is so sad that these foolish, self centered men, who could never walk in the foot steps of a woman, have the power to dictate what he believes is best for them.
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 07:19 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse mediamarv (See profile | I'm a fan of mediamarv)
I had forgotten that he died! I was traveling and not at the computer where I get my news....
I won't miss him and I don't care what the HuffPo interns think about that!
Now, puttiing together my Christmas wish list......
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 07:03 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse Desiderata (See profile | I'm a fan of Desiderata)
Hyde's sanctimoneous speeches during the impeachment hearings over Bill Clinton's morals opened the pandora's box of personal destruction to overturn the will of the majority of the American electorate.

That attempted coup birthed the treason of the Supreme Court in Bush vs Gore.

Rest in Hell.
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 06:35 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse rollingdivision (See profile | I'm a fan of rollingdivision)
Do you have a link to Hyde's sanctimonious speeches you referred to in your post?
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 07:38 pm on 12/03/2007
expand collapse MsLiz (See profile | I'm a fan of MsLiz)
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 12:51 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse MsLiz (See profile | I'm a fan of MsLiz)
Here's more:,%20Henry%20J.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 12:59 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse nunzia (See profile | I'm a fan of nunzia)
Desiderata -well said.
Hyde, rest in hell.
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 06:14 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse Joeseo (See profile | I'm a fan of Joeseo)
Reply | Parent | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 08:05 am on 12/04/2007
expand collapse Ravenlea (See profile | I'm a fan of Ravenlea)
Brava! Once again there is an effort at death to revise who someone was in life and make them seem better than they were. Hyde seems to me to have been the embodiment of hypocrisy and I see no reason to praise him simply because he is dead. Good for you beating him at his own game at the hearings. Must have felt good.
Reply | Favorite| Flag as abusive | posted 06:07 pm on 12/03/2007
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clinton, Couric, and Chris Matthews’ Sexist Spin

When it comes to Chris Matthews’s interpretation of Hillary Clinton’s words—any of her words—she’s damned if she yeas and damned if she nays.

After gloating that a new poll found Hillary losing in a matchup with any one of five Republican presidential candidates, Matthews later in the same program spun her November 26 interview with Katie Couric, in which--like any candidate with half a brain and a quarter of a spine--Clinton showed confidence in her ability to win the Democratic nomination.

Couric: If it's not you, how disappointed will you be?"

Clinton: “Well, it will be me.”

Later, Couric asked whether she has considered the possibility she won't be the nominee. "No, I haven't," Clinton said.

Matthews played clips of the interview on his November 27 show and ranted: “Hillary thinks she’s got it sewed up.” As though there were anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld
would say.

Does Chris expect a anyone running for public office to enter a race assuming he or she is going to lose? If Hillary were Henry, would Matthews judge him negatively for asserting confidence? Just the opposite I suspect. In a man, such confidence would be applauded. Or more likely, the question would never even be asked.

Clinton told Couric she would stand behind any other Democratic nominee, if it came to that. “We're going to have unified party, behind whoever we nominate.” That’s showing the humility and loyalty constituents expect from a candidate. Matthews failed to mention this. And dollars to doughnuts, if she had answered, “Yes I can imagine a scenario where I don’t win.” he would have pounced on her for not being strong enough for the gloves-off political game.

Eric Alterman wrote in The Nation about Chris’s many “man crushes”. Watching Hardball over time, you see him become enamored of candidate after candidate, from John McCain (who, trust me, is not a nice man) to Barak Obama, depending on their level of ascendancy in the media mashup of the day.

But from Day One, Matthews has found so many ways to trash Hillary Clinton that many of his own journalistic colleagues have accused him of picking on her.

You can leave Chris your comment about this on or send your thoughts to MSNBC.

11/28/07 © Gloria Feldt

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Best of the web?

In the you-never-know-what's-going-to-catch-them category, I was surprised to discover this morning that the Wall Street Journal, of all places, took umbrage at my clever rendition of Rudy Giuliani's well reported cross-dressing appearance, and cited a blog lambasting me and others as "gay baiters" in their "Best of the Web" section.

Well, OK, just spell my name right.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Rudy and the Hooker Principle

Here's the link to the Huffington Post version. Take a moment to post a comment there if you get a chance. I really can't believe the media has given Rudy such a free ride as he triangulates and prostitutes himself all over the place.

With some politicians, there’s not a question what they are; it’s just a matter of negotiating the price. In accepting Pat Robertson’s endorsement this week, Rudy Giuliani would have been advised by one the wisest and wittiest of my college professors, the late Bob Rothstein, to apply what he called “the hooker principle”: first, get paid.

Even John McCain, who was at the exact same moment assuming the position in order to snag the endorsement of the more dangerous but less flamboyant Sen. Sam Brownback and establish his own creds with the hard rightwing, extreme anti-choice, anti-gay Republican base, was rendered speechless at the news about the unholy alliance between Robertson and Giuliani. For bald face political two-step, Giuliani has out danced them all.

One surely hopes that Pat paid Rudy well up front in whatever value he thinks he can deliver, because Robertson’s past disreputable actions certainly bring clear losses on the other side of this endorsement, as reported by The American Prospect Senior Editor, Garance Franke-Ruta,

Marc Ambinder reported this morning that Iowa Christian Alliance president Steve Scheffler is not going to follow Christian Coalition co-founder Pat Robertson’s lead and support Rudy Giuliani. That’s not too much of a surprise, as the Iowa branch of once-vigorous Christian Coalition was so disgusted by the scandals of the national group that it broke with the Coalition and changed its name to the Christian Alliance in March 2006, saying “the Board… would rather function as an independent organization than as an organization shrouded with perceptions contrary to its Christian commitments.”

Both men would have been well served to heed Proverbs 13:20: “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm”.

Certainly Pat Robertson has shown himself to be a fool many times over. Besides blaming the evils of a secular nation—epitomized always by Rudy’s New York—for the 9/11 attacks, he famously said that the feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women, but rather about a “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians”.

But Rudy’s acceptance of Pat Robertson’s endorsement is equally foolish. Not only has it made utterly transparent that Giuliani isn’t just a cross dresser but also a man capable of practicing the oldest profession as well as any Jezebel; it makes the press (yes, the same press that spent all last week creaming Hillary for acknowledging there was more than one way to look at a question) look foolish for trumpeting this hypocritical endorsement with too-little criticism of Giuliani’s blatant doublespeak on the social issues.

© Gloria Feldt 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

If Brownback is comfortable, I'm not


Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy

Friday, October 26, 2007

Election 2008
Brownback Says He Is 'More Comfortable' With Giuliani's Stance on Abortion
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) on Thursday said he is "much more comfortable" with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's (R) position on abortion after meeting with him in Washington, D.C., the AP/CBS News reports. Giuliani is running for the Republican presidential nomination. Brownback withdrew from the race last week, and the Republican candidates have been "seeking his endorsement," according to the AP/CBS News.

Giuliani and Brownback spoke with reporters following their meeting. "Justices are key," Brownback said, adding, [Giuliani has] stated publicly many times about his support for strict constructionists like" Chief Justice John Roberts. Brownback said he believes that if elected president, Giuliani would appoint Supreme Court justices who take a limited and conservative view on abortion, like Roberts. Asked whether he would endorse an abortion-rights candidate like Giuliani, Brownback said, "I don't know that he would ... describe himself as a pro-choice mayor or a pro-choice candidate."

Giuliani, when asked how he would describe his position on abortion, said, "You know what I am," adding, "I've described it in the past. I've opposed abortion. I'd like to see a society in which there is no abortion. I think you have to get there by changing people's minds and hearts. I'm not in favor of changing the law and the right that presently exists."

However, Giuliani added that he is in "favor of everything else that would limit the number of abortions, that would increase the number of adoptions and that would move us in the direction of many fewer abortions. And if we could get to no abortions based on people's decision-making, I'd be in favor of that" (AP/CBS News, 10/25).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When Sex and Politics Collide

Posted October 23, 2007 | 10:57 AM (EST) on Huffington Post Their title was "Something Wrong with This Picture?" and I'd originally titled it "Let's Keroack Orr", but Women's Voices for Change reposted it and gave it a better title. I didn't have time to insert all the links here so goo read it on HuffPo if you want to see them--and by all means, please leave a comment.

My goodness, I go away for a week and miss all sorts of happenings in the world where sex and politics collide.

I returned from my high school reunion, then a week with family in Arizona without my computer or New York Times subscription, and found messages asking for comment on the Portland, ME, middle school that has added prescription contraceptives to its health clinic services. You can imagine the twitter from the self-righteous right who believe no one would ever think about sex if we pro-sex education and pro-contraception people didn't call it to their attention. They have apparently forgotten their own adolescence (I suggest they attend their high school reunions to revive those repressed memories).

Fortunately, many parents spoke up with exactly what needed to be said: while they rightly prefer that their kids abstain from sexual activity at such a tender age, they want even more for the school to help them keep their kids safe from disease and pregnancy if and when they do become sexually active. The school board voted to keep its policy of providing the full range of contraceptives in its health care formulary.

Meanwhile, there was related national news I was mercifully oblivious to last week as well. It seems that as surely as young people discover their sexuality no matter how ardently adults may wish to the contrary, George W. Bush just as surely and ardently continues his pattern of filling the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DASPA) -- the person in charge of administering Title X, our nation's major family planning program for low income uninsured individuals -- with a person -- Dr. Susan Orr, who fundamentally opposes birth control.

Read that last sentence again slowly to fully savor the irony.

With W of course, up is down and down is sideways. We've grown inured to the duplicity, the sleight of hand, the wink while Halliburton profits as our sons and daughters die in Iraq, the ruthlessness with which the one percent get richer while the rest of us get a burgeoning national debt and fewer of us get health insurance.

So it's no surprise that the man talks piously about creating a culture of life while taking funding from lifesaving prevention programs like family planning and giving it to abstinence only preachers. This makes the U. S. the laughingstock of the world's public health organizations and in the end paradoxically increases disease, unintended pregnancies, abortions, and deaths.

Usually, though, this administration and its right wing buddies at least try to obfuscate their Orwellian redefinitions. Not so, however when it comes to overseeing a program founded by his father, and for decades enjoying bipartisan support because it provides contraceptive services to over five million American women each year through some 4,500 public health facilities, preventing 1.3 million unintended pregnancies and hundreds of thousands of abortions, and saving taxpayers $3 on Medicaid pregnancy and newborn-related care for every dollar spent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists family planning as one of "Ten Greatest Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century" for good reason.

Last year, Dr. Eric Keroack was appointed to the position of DASPA. Among other wacky ideas, Keroack alleged that pre-marital sex changes the brain chemistry so that bonding to another person becomes difficult. A non board-certified ob/gyn, Keroack not only opposed birth control, he was also medical director of A Woman's Concern, one of many chains of so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers, whose purpose is to dissuade women from choosing abortion under any circumstances. But family planning prevents abortion, right? Yes, but these organizations support sexual abstinence until marriage, oppose contraception, and do not distribute information promoting birth control.

Fortunately for women who depend on Title-X for their most basic health care including annual gyn exams, breast and cervical cancer screening, and birth control methods, Keroack soon fell like Humpty Dumpty from the weight of his own corruption. It turned out he was under investigation for Medicaid fraud in his private practice.

The appointment of Susan Orr -- who is not a medical doctor -- while also clearly in the down is up category, seems less like Humpty Dumpty and more like those Bozo Bop Bags that were popular with kids in the 1960s. You know, the clown punching bags with weights in the bottom so that you could punch and punch till you wore yourself out but never knock it down or out.

Orr, formerly senior director for marriage and families at the Family Research Council, supported Bush's move to strip federal employees' health insurance of contraceptive coverage and told the Washington Post, "We're quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It's not a medical necessity that you have [contraception]." And she is on record as supporting the gag rule that denies funding to family planning programs that give women accurate information or counseling about abortion.

It's no surprise that the ideological right, exemplified and led by groups such as the Family Research Council, opposes abortion, but now it should be abundantly clear they also oppose birth control. It's not that they don't understand birth control prevents abortion; it's that they don't want women to have birth control in the first place. Or the sexual and reproductive self-determination that goes with the ability to plan and space one's own childbearing.

It also shouldn't surprise anyone that a president who values blind fealty above all tows the line of the far right that he believes elected him, and sees that his administrative appointees do so as well. But he might have instructed Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt to be rather more careful this time in selecting a person who actually supports the program she or he is appointed to administer.

If you agree there is something wrong with this picture, then write and tell Secretary Leavitt. Rep. Louise Slaughter tells you how. While you're at it, copy all your members of Congress and 10 friends, urging them to do the same. Orr can be Keroacked if the public outcry is loud enough.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gloria Steinem to Speak on 21st Century Feminism

In my family where there are three Glorias. I am known as Gloria #1. But in the world of feminism and activism for women, we all know who Gloria # 1 is. Alex and I are pleased as punch to invite you to our annual Women of the World lecture at Arizona State University. Gloria Steinem will honor us as our very special guest lecturer on October 17 at 7pm in the Memorial Union. It'll be a happening, honey! Click the image at left to enlarge it for more information.

Check this out: Working Mothers--Who's opting Out?

Here's a very timely program starring some of my great friends and colleagues who'll set the record straight about women, work, and family--who's opting out or not, who's staying in and why, and what the media has got right and wrong.

Tuesday, October 16, 7 p.m., $8 admission
The New School, New York City
Wollman Hall, 65 West 11th Street, 5th floor (enter at 66 West 12th Street)

You've read the articles--and gotten angry at the debate. Are vast numbers of working mothers bolting the career track--or dreaming of doing so? Are elite women betraying feminism by staying home with their children? Or do the Opt-Out stories rely too heavily on anecdotal evidence--while shoving aside actual labor statistics and working families' needs?

JOIN US as some of the KEY THINKERS and CRITICS of the "opt-out" storyline DISCUSS & DEBATE the real state of working motherhood in America today.

Moderated by E.J. Graff, senior researcher, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Brandeis University, collaborator on Getting Even: Why Women Don't Get Paid Like Men and What to Do About It. The panel includes Joan Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and author of Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It; Linda Hirshman, lawyer, professor emeritus Brandeis University and author of Get to Work; Heather Boushey, senior economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research, and co-author of Hardships in America and The Real Story of Working Families; and Ellen Bravo, author of Taking On the Big Boys: Why Feminism Is Good for Families and Business and the Nation.

Here's all the information.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Buggers Can’t Be Choosers

Posted on HuffPo 10/5/07

Oh how I wish I’d said that first. But though the quip’s origin is often attributed to Winston Churchill --as are most great lines--it was apparently British writer and academic Cecil Maurice Bowra
who said it first, to explain his engagement to a “plain girl” named Audrey Beecham.

Sexism be damned, I sincerely doubt I will be the last to cite this clever turn of phrase each time poor beleaguered Sen. Larry Craig (R-Wide Stance, to quote another great phrasemeister, former Rep. Sam Coppersmith, D-AZ) flashes onto our news screen. Craig’s seems to be the story that just won’t die, much to the chagrin of his Republican leadership. Kind of like those groundhogs, headlines just keep popping up all over, their incessantly high-pitched chatter mocking the holier-than-thou’s who have a headlock on the party of their choice.

That’s the same party that wants to deny reproductive choice to others, by the way.

The rest of us like to act as though we really don’t care that much about Craig’s sexual proclivities. But his little toe-tap wouldn’t have become such a big story unless we cared about it-- a lot.

So when Craig announced today that he will stay in Congress despite the Minnesota distroct court’s ruling that he can’t withdraw the guilty plea he entered after being “stung” in the now-enshrined Minneapolis airport men’s restroom-cum-tourist destination, the groundhogs immediately reared their little heads and began chattering away again.

I suspect Larry Craig will come out of this just fine eventually, as did Bowra. In fact, Bowra became the head of Wadham College and in 1992 a building was even named for him there. Meanwhile, he continued to supply us with a steady stream of quotables. On hearing of the marriage of a well-known literary pair, for example, he snipped, “Splendid couple – [I] slept with both of them".

But then though the British love their sex scandals as much as we do, they tend to regard them as entertainment rather than political morality lessons. Until we in the USA come to terms with the fact that sexuality is part of every human being’s life and develop a healthier relationship with sex, we will continue to spend way too much of the GNP on hiring plainclothes cops to track down gay men, even if they have to lure them into action in order to establish their sexual orientation.

Perhaps buggers can’t be choosers. But as a body politic, Americans can choose to spend our time and resources making sure everyone has healthcare, bringing an unworthy war to an end, and transforming abstinence-only sex education classes into medically accurate and comprehensive ones, rather than allowing our political agenda to be led by those who have an obsession with Larry Craig’s—and everyone else’s--sex life.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Appeasement is Lethal

The Huffington Post
Gloria Feldt and Maria Luisa Sanchez Fuentes| BIO | I'M A FAN OF THIS BLOGGER
Appeasement is LethalPosted October 3, 2007 | 02:20 PM (EST)
(The HuffPo link takes you directly to this post where you can comment.)

Rosaura "Rosie" Jiménez died bleeding and doubled over in excruciating pain from infection caused by the botched illegal abortion she sought in desperation. She was 27, a scholarship student in McAllen, Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border, six months shy of getting her teaching credential and struggling to make a better life for herself and her 5-year-old daughter when she was caught in a vise called the Hyde Amendment [PDF]. This law denied her, as it has denied millions of low income women who depend on Medicaid for their health care, financial access to a safe abortion.

Rosie's life was sacrificed on the altar of politically expedient appeasement.

Pro-choice members of Congress, it seems, hadn't fought the bill, so sure were they that the courts would find such discrimination unconstitutional.

Once the Hyde amendment of 1977 put the anti-woman camel's nose under the tent, and pro-choice forces were in part unwilling and in part unable to wrestle the beast to the ground, increasingly draconian restrictions became the norm. Abortion opponents learned that while they were unsuccessful in making abortion illegal, they could lull the public to inaction by switching to a slow, incremental strategy of making abortion inaccessible, one restriction at a time. So barriers to access are increasing for all U.S. women, but especially the young, the poor, and those living in the 87 percent of counties without an abortion provider.

Rosie's Sisters in the U.S. and Mexico

We speak together as Rosie's sisters. For women are all sisters in the slow march toward full equality and simple justice. And no where are we more connected in that march than across the U.S.-Mexico border.

In Mexico, where abortion has been largely illegal for many years, unsafe abortion is the third to fourth highest cause of maternal mortality, and has caused many thousands of women's deaths through the years. Approximately 1,000 women die and over 100,000 have been hospitalized every year from the ravages of illegal abortion.

In the U.S. today, where abortion has been legal since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, such deaths are exceedingly rare. That Rosie's death -- the first known to be a consequence of Hyde -- is unusual is evidence that safe, legal, and accessible abortion care is truly a blessing for the lives and health of women everywhere.

On April 24 of this year, a woman-made miracle occurred in Mexico City. The capital city decriminalized abortion to the twelfth week of pregnancy -- an enormous victory for women's health, rights, and dignity, and one that has set a precedent not only for Mexico, but for all of Latin America. Since then, more than 2,500 women have received safe abortion care with zero complications.

In Mexico, unlike the U.S., the right to health is protected by the constitution. So, the law's constitutionality will almost certainly be upheld by the federal Supreme Court. In turn pro-choice activists are working to guarantee that these new freedoms will soon be expanded to other Mexican states.

The Mexico City Ministry of Health has also put forward clear guidelines to ensure access to legal abortion services, while reinforcing access to sexuality education (that actually talks about sex) and contraception. They understand that the way to make abortion rare is not to deny access but to make unintended pregnancy rare by making access to reliable contraception and medically accurate sex education universal, and trusting women to use their minds and moral frameworks.

Without access, rights mean nothing
Yet, while Mexico and many other countries from Colombia to Portugal to Ethiopia move forward toward respecting women's legal and moral autonomy to make decisions about their own lives, shamefully, the U.S. is sliding backward.

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent Gonzales v Carhart decision overturning almost 35 years of precedent that made women's health the primary value in the law must be itself overturned by new laws such as the Freedom of Choice Act [PDF] that guarantee women the human and civil right to make their own childbearing decisions.

To start the long road back to full access, biased counseling mandates, required delays, denial of insurance coverage, forced involvement by parents, violence and harassment of providers and patients, and travel burdens -- all part of the U.S. landscape -- must be replaced with laws and services that respect women's desire for motherhood and freedom.

No, appeasing is not the middle ground that allows restrictions on women's consciences; the middle ground is prevention [PDF].

Rosie Jiménez was everyone's sister -- or daughter, mother, aunt, wife, cousin, friend.

In her memory, October is designated Abortion Access Month in the U.S. The reproductive health crime perpetrated against Rosie is symbolic of the 68,000 women and girls who die every year globally as a result of oppressive laws and lack of access to safe abortions. But these deaths are a miniscule part of the story of illness, misery, and suffering that can be averted by guaranteeing that abortion is safe, legal and accessible.

Appeasement is lethal to women and the pro-choice movement!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

U.S.-Mexico Border Crossings Go Both ways

The Huffington Post

Border Crossings, Both Ways

Posted October 2, 2007 09:42 AM (EST)
Mention the U.S.-Mexico border and you set off political hot buttons. Everyone knows the two countries share complex historical, economic, and cultural relationships. But one relationship is seldom acknowledged: the movement of women across the border in both directions to obtain abortions over the years.

Sarah was a 22-year-old law school student at the University of Texas when she became pregnant in 1964. Her future husband was planning to attend law school after she graduated and got a job. They agreed they didn't want to have a child before marriage and felt they both deserved the chance to finish school. Together, they went to Piedras Negras across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, where she had an illegal, but thankfully safe, abortion.

Jane was a young housewife with three preschool children in a southern Arizona ranching community in pre-pill 1958. The thought of caring for four children on a budget that strained hard to feed three had stressed her relationship with her husband almost to the breaking point. As much as she loved her children, Jane cried for days and thought she would either go insane or kill herself if she had to have another child. Three women friends who had made the journey previously accompanied Jane across the border to Nogales, Mexico, where abortions were illegal, as they were then in Arizona and every other state in the U.S, While the women had heard of doctors in Phoenix who would terminate pregnancies for $1,000 or more, Jane couldn't begin to afford that. So for the U. S. equivalent of $100, Jane had an abortion. She bled profusely and was treated for infection after she returned -- but she regained her emotional balance, and was able to hold the family together. She later volunteered for the local NARAL affiliate determined that American women should not suffer the humiliation, indignities, and sheer terror she experienced.

Jane is a composite of women who have told me their stories over the years. Sarah is Sarah Weddington, a Methodist minister's daughter who at age 26 became the youngest woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. Her winning case was the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the U.S and has since saved the lives, health, and dignity of millions of women. She later served in the Texas legislature and the Carter administration; she remains a leading advocate for women.

Since Roe, and until very recently, Mexican women of means have routinely traveled to the U.S. for safe, legal abortions, much as Sarah and Jane traveled to Mexico in a previous generation for illegal ones.

A seismic shift occurred last April when Mexico City decriminalized abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. While they wait for what they predict will be a favorable ruling by the Federal Supreme Court, reproductive rights activists are consolidating their gains by training medical and social workers in counseling women respectfully about all their pregnancy options.

According to Maria Luisa Sanchez Fuentes, executive director of GIRE, Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Eligida/Information Group on Reproductive Choice, they are also working to ensure that public hospitals meet the law's requirements to provide abortion services free of charge as part of routine healthcare, and that the law's provisions for universal access to birth control methods and sexuality education to prevent unintended pregnancy from occurring in the first place are fully in force.

Abortion remains illegal in most of Mexico, except for cases of rape, incest, and in some states certain other reasons. Activists like Sanchez Fuentes are working to change that, heartened by public support in Mexico City, where the slogan is "Women decide, society respects, and the state guarantees."

Abortion, legal or not, exists in all societies because women the world over want a few simple things: to make a decent life for the children they have -- in the U.S., over 60 percent are mothers with one or more children when they choose abortion --and the right to their own lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. And because unintended pregnancies inevitably occur for a variety of reasons.

The difference is that when abortion is clandestine, women die or suffer debilitating illness such as infection or infertility. And in a profound sense, the psychological stigma of going to the back alley instead of the front door of a medical facility is harder to bear than the risk of infection, for it signals complete disregard for women's moral capacity to think and make responsible decisions.

Will women's rights activists in Mexico learn the lessons from U.S. that "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance" as Thomas Jefferson famously cautioned, so that the organized backlash against reproductive self-determination for women does not bring political setbacks like those in the U.S.?

Will we in the U.S. learn the lessons from Mexico, and make sure women have not just legal affirmation of the human right to make their own childbearing decisions, but also access to preventive services that reduce the need for abortion and full access to abortion services regardless of ability to pay? Or will we reach a point that American women must resort once more to crossing the border to Mexico for essential health care and respect they can't get at home?

Next: Safe, Legal, (accessible) and Rare

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malcolmfriedberg (See profile I'm a fan of malcolmfriedberg)
Sending women to Mexico to get the vital health-related services they need sounds criminal.
Log in posted 10:39 am on 10/02/2007
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Margaret

Woman must have her freedom, the fundamental freedom of choosing whether or not she will be a mother and how many children she will have. Regardless of what man's attitude may be, that problem is hers - and before it can be his, it is hers alone.

September 14 is the birthday of Margaret Sanger, founder of the U.S. birth control movement. She was born Margaret Higgins in Corning NY in 1879, though ever vain, she would later alter the family Bible to appear three years younger. The sixth child of eleven living siblings, her earliest childhood memories were of crying beside her mother’s bed as after she almost died following a difficult childbirth.

Sanger’s mother, Anne Higgins, did die, worn out from those too frequent pregnancies and births, at age 50. These experiences formed the sensibilities that propelled Margaret Sanger to advocate for birth control. She dedicated her first book on the fundamental rights of women to control their fertility to her mother. The quotation above and those that follow reveal her clear worldview about women and a laser beam focus on the work she believed with all her heart to be the most essential to women’s health, wellbeing, and rightful place in the world:

She goes through the vale of death alone, each time a babe is born. As it is the right neither of man nor the state to coerce her into this ordeal, so it is her right to decide whether she will endure it

War, famine, poverty and oppression of the workers will continue while woman makes life cheap. They will cease only when she limits her reproductivity and human life is no longer a thing to be wasted.

Perhaps the best-known and most quoted of Sanger’s statements is this one that cuts to the core of why reproductive self determination is simple justice for woman, and without the freedom to make her own childbearing decisions, no other freedoms have meaning:

No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.

But her belief in the value of birth control went beyond feminism and women’s freedom. Too often, the right to sexual pleasure is pushed aside in the debates over birth control access today. Margaret took this subject on in the same frank way she took on other issues, and even included guidance about achieving orgasm in some of her writings. She spent much of her life raising money and supporting the research that led to the birth control pill, believing that a reliable method that could separate intercourse from the mechanics of birth control could not only dramatically reduce unintended pregnancies but also increase a couple’s sexual pleasure.

A mutual and satisfied sexual act is of great benefit to the average woman, the magnetism of it is health giving. When it is not desired on the part of the woman and she gives no response, it should not take place.

When she started her quest at the dawn of the 20th century, birth control was illegal and such methods as existed were rudimentary at best. Indeed, the term “birth control” hadn’t even been created; “family limitation” was the term of art at the time, and “reproductive health” wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye. Sanger had neither funds nor powerful supporters nor the force of public opinion behind her when she took her first bold steps. But she had passion for her mission, a vision of how she would bring birth control to women through a network of clinics that ultimately became Planned Parenthood. She had a sharp sense of how to use controversy and the media to stir up support for her cause

Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.

Sanger’s words which have most influenced my approach to life and my work for women’s reproductive rights, health, and justice are simply these:

Life has taught me: we must put our convictions into action.

I suspect that were she still alive, it would please her greatly to know know that so many people continue to put our convictions into action for the cause she began, though she would be appalled to see the many challenges that still exist to keep women from having universal and affordable access to birth control. Ellen Chesler’s biography of Sanger ends with her granddaughter and namesake, Margaret Sanger Marston, asking her grandmother how she wanted to be remembered. Margaret Sanger’s response was that “she hoped she would be remembered for helping women, because women are the strength of the future. They take care of culture and tradition and preserve what is good.”

And that’s how we should remember her today. Forgive the pun, but thanks to Sanger, so many women can now joyously celebrate their freely chosen “birth days”.

© Gloria Feldt 9/12/07

Friday, August 24, 2007

August 26, National Women's Equality--oops--Toilet Paper Day

"Another of those silly jokes she forwards to her whole list," I thought as I warily opened the e-mail from my friend and former U. S. Senate candidate, Claire Sargent. But this was no joke. Claire had forwarded a message from another long time tiller of the women's equality fields, Paula Cullison, who reported that when she went to AOL's greeting cards seeking to send Women's Equality Day greeting cards in honor of the 87th anniversary of women's right to vote, August 26, she found instead a card honoring National Toilet Paper Day .

Not to disparage toilet paper, given its importance to human comfort and cleanliness, but I was, pardon me, wiped out at the thought that AOL/American Greeting Cards offers a card for every single day in the year but absolutely nothing to recognize Women's Equality Day.

With the run up to the 2008 elections already big daily news in no small part because the presidential field includes our first truly viable woman candidate for commander in chief, it is well to recall that America’s Constitution denied the right to vote to women and slaves when it was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

The movement to get women the right to vote first seriously began during the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY. It took 72 years of diligent organizing, continuous campaigning, and courageous speaking out before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was adopted. Only one attendee of the Seneca Falls convention—Charlotte Woodward—was still alive by then; she cast her first vote at age 81.

Yet even in the face of allegations that giving women the vote would cause the demise of the family, and of charges that women were much too emotional to be entrusted with the serious act of voting and other such nonsense, the suffragists persisted until they prevailed, and female citizens of our nation achieved that basic right of all free people: to have an equal voice in electing those who represent us in making the laws and policies that govern our lives.I called Paula Cullison, who is President Arizona Women's Partnership, inc. a non-profit organization that funds grass roots charities that assist at risk Arizona women and children, to ask her why she had been moved to send her message around to 10 of her friends. She fumed, "What has happened, when one of the most important events in American History, Women's Suffrage Day, is denigrated by American Greetings to Toilet Paper Day! As an American woman who values the right to vote, I am ashamed of this corporate giant who profits from women, who buy the majority of greeting cards."So I decided to check other e-card services. None of the others suggest Toilet Paper Day cards for August 26, but few offer cards for Women’s Equality Day. Hallmark doesn’t have one, Blue Mountain doesn’t have one though they make it easy to create your own, and 123 Greetings has Women’s Equality Day cards but they are inanely devoid of content related to the day’s true meaning.

Cullison sent her message to 10 friends who use AOL's e-mail service and encouraged them to join the company's web chat where they could express their dismay. AOL can also be e-mailed at its “Give Us Your Feedback”link. If you use AOL, let them know what you think. If you use some other e-card service, check out whether they offer Women's Equality Day cards. Complain to those that don't. Thank those that do, and send their Women's Equality Day Cards to every woman in your address book with a reminder to cast her vote in every election.

Because unless women actively exercise equality at the ballot box, we lose much more than any greeting card can give and we'll have a bigger mess than all the toilet paper in the world can clean up.

© Gloria Feldt 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Letter the Washington Post Didn't Publish re Hillary's Cleavage

My friend Friedrike Merck suggested that I create a section on my website called "Salon Refusee", in which we could archive the many letters-to-the-editor that we write but they don't publish. Perhaps I will someday, but meanwhile, here is my latest letter that didn't get published:

To the Editor, Washington Post :

Re: “Hillary Clinton’s Tentative Dip Into New Neckline Territory”, Robin Givhan, Washington Post, July 20, 2007

When women of my age and Hillary’s began to achieve “firsts” in what had always been exclusively a man’s world, we were told to dress for success in the female equivalent of men’s dark business suit, stiff shirt, and bow tie. It was a given that we should appear sexless. Heaven forfend our pulchritude should distract the men from their terribly serious work.

That was over 30 years ago, but apparently women’s attire—or should I simply say “women?”-- remains a distraction, particularly if the woman in question is breaking some “first” barrier. The focus on physical appearance, especially sexuality, is a time-honored way to demean women. It’s the verbal equivalent of patting them on the head dismissively.

I acknowledge we had a national conversation about whether Bill wore boxers of briefs. But that seemed to have a note of lightness and fun about it. It made him seem more human. Instead, Givhan’s analysis of Hillary Clinton’s cleavage makes it a metaphor for aspersions Givhan proceeds to cast on Clinton's character.

Nancy Pelosi got the same treatment (“the Armani Grandma”, Newsweek called her) until she showed without doubt that she has the chops for her job.

As will Hillary Clinton when she becomes President.

Gloria Feldt

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The First Ever SWIA Award

I am mentioned 10 times—more than even Jane Fonda or Betty Friedan--by the anti-feminist Kate O'Beirne in her book Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports, which was endorsed--surprise--by Peggy Noonan, Rush Limbaugh, and Laura Ingraham, This must mean I am doing something right. With those credentials as well as being an afficionada of Keith Olberman's nightly "Worst Person in the World" shtick, I have decided to start my own award for the stupidest women in America (SWIAA ™).

O'Beirne, has the hubris necessary to claim the right to worldwide judgment. Humble person that I am, I'm planning to highlight only the stupidest women in America. And because as everyone knows I am inherently biased toward liberals, I'll let Olberman slide this time.

My first SWIAA™ award goes hands down to Harriet Miers. Miers, the former White House Counsel who was George W. Bush's obviously underqualified and clearly doomed token female nominee for U. S. Supreme Court who was quickly withdrawn so he could pick the white male Justice he really wanted. She continues to stand by her man with her mouth clamped shut while Congress slaps her around.

The House Judiciary Committee, on July 25, ruled her in contempt of Congress for failing to respond to their subpoena for information related to the use of blatant political influence in the firing of a whole slew of U. S. Attorneys general. These AG's failed in one way or another to tow the administration's line.

But Miers is the Tower-in-Chief. She is the always good little girl seeking the big boys' approval, the woman who meekly does as asked when George W. Bush or his minions do the asking, the unmarried woman who so needs to be part of the hierarchical rightwing male bastion of power that she subordinates herself to men to whom she is not married but is clearly tethered in unholy alliance. These are men, not coincidentally, for whom abrogating women's Constitutional rights to equality in everything from salaries to sports to reproductive self-determination is just their breakfast cereal.

And what do you bet than faster than Scooter Libby was pardoned, Miers will swing in the wind, with that frozen I'm-a-good-little-girl smile still on her face?

Maybe someday I'll expand this award to men (SMIAA ™), but since Miers inspired me to start this SWIAA ™ list, I'm going to start by recognizing women like Miers who have no sense of their own best interest. Or perhaps they erroneously think their best interest is in identifying with their oppressors. "Ventriloquists for the patriarchy", Jane Fonda has aptly called such women.

Miers deserves my first SWIAA™ so much that I am thinking about naming it after her: the Harriet Miers Stupidest Woman in America Award. What do ya'll think?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Elle Magazine : "The Incredible Shrinking Woman"

ELLE magazine has a terrific section (its title, “The Incredible Shrinking Woman”, came from the original title of my article in it!)on the impact on women of the Gonzales v Carhart decision. Take a gander at he photo of the Supreme Court. It is the perfect visual metaphor—Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the sole woman looking so tiny among the male justices. Here are three links:

My essay entitled “The Time Is Now”
My exclusive Q and A “You Don’t Choose, You Lose”
The full article “The Incredible Shrinking Woman”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Turn Down the Heat on Clinic Protests

It’s the sweltering heat of summer. We can count on seeing ads for escapes to the beach, reminders to wear sunscreen, and the extreme anti-reproductive rights, homophobic Operation Save America's annual attempt to turn up the political heat by mounting a media-circus demonstration at a high profile women's health center that provides abortions. This summer, July 14-22, the target-of-choice is the New Woman, Every Woman Healthcare Clinic in Birmingham AL.

If the location and clinic name ring a bell, there’s good reason. In 1998, Eric Robert Rudolf detonated a firebomb of dynamite and nails at the clinic’s front door, killing police officer Robert “Sandy” Sanderson on his beat and seriously wounding clinic nurse Emily Lyons. In addition to sustaining first, second, and third degree burns covering the front of her body, Lyons lost her left eye and her right was seriously damaged. A hole the size of a fist was blown in her abdomen and her left leg was shattered—just for starters.

There's something else we can count on too during these heated summer encounters. The doctors and women's health groups subject to these demonstrations, along with their allies in pro-choice organizations such as NOW and the Feminist Majority that flock to defend women from OSA's intimidating harassment, will be joined together with their adversaries in the Kabuki theater of irreconcilable opposites locked into predictable but intractable battles.

"Both sides"--to use the media's favored way of telling that story of those who line up for or against women's right and moral capacity to make their own childbearing decisions--are urged on in their performances by reporters terrified to appear to take a stance yet eager to have a controversy to report on.

The only way to stop the Kabuki dance that resolves nothing is for the community around all of these player to decide enough, stop, we're changing the story. Three groups bear a special responsibility to cool things down.

Community leaders of good conscience, regardless of where they stand on the abortion issue, must see themselves as part of the story, whether they want to be or not. It is they who must set the standard for what constitutes freedom of speech versus what constitutes harassment, intimidation, possible incitement to violence, and definite interference with providing and receiving health care services. Do not accept these demonstrations as just normal free speech because they are most certainly not, neither in intent nor practice. Give groups like OSA their platforms for expression to be sure, but not at a location where women can be hurt--and especially not a place where their own allies have killed and maimed in the past. Every city council should pass two resolutions: one to set a tone of civility and the other to establish alternate ways for dissenters (and they are dissenters—fully 2/3 of Americans want abortion to remain legal and safe) to express themselves away from the health care facility. And there must be zero tolerance for violence against the women, the doctors and other staff, or the facilities. That’s terrorism, plain and simple. Name it and confront it.

Clergy, regardless of where they stand on abortion, must join hands preemptively, before the demonstrations start, and declare their own open microphone day to decry violence and intimidation of women. Pro-choice clergy have an especially important role to publicly support the women who are making decisions they believe as fervently are moral and responsible ones as their detractors scream are otherwise. Pro-choice people of faith need to create a supportive welcome to the women and courageous staff and volunteers by their public words and deeds.

Clinics are vulnerable to violence and harassment precisely because they are isolated from the rest of medical practice. And how ironic it is that these very same clinics are so often women’s main source of medical care, in particular family planning services that prevent unintended pregnancy and abortion. So the medical community has a role to play too. Abortion should be defined and practiced as part of women's health care, and that would in itself diffuse much of the confrontation.

It’s the heat of summer. Time to go to the beach slathered in sunscreen. Time to take a new look at an old story and cool down the script so that our passion can be spent not on fighting intractable battles but on assuring that women have the health care, information, and social supports to make their own childbearing decisions without fear.

Gloria Feldt is the author of The War on Choice: the Right-wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back and former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She frequently lectures on the history and future vision for reproductive rights, health, and justice.
Published by American Forum 7/13/07
© Gloria Feldt 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Take a look at this study from the Women's Campaign Forum Foundation

Note from Gloria: I think this new report from the Women's Campaign Forum Foundation is worth a read so I am posting the introductory information and link to it below.

Dear Friend:
We are pleased to announce the completion of the Women’s Campaign Forum Foundation’s premier report, “Vote With Your Purse: Harnessing the Power of Women’s Political Giving for the 2008 Election and Beyond.” As you’ve been hearing, after the completion of the 2006 election cycle, WCF Foundation set out to understand women’s political giving, to determine how women make political spending decisions and to develop methodologies to motivate greater financial political action from women. Our findings from extensive research, polling and focus groups are attached.
Click here to view the full report.
In conjunction with the report release today, we are also launching an online poll to capture a snapshot of the smaller donor community and their ideas about giving politically. A number of our partners have agreed to post a link on their website to our online poll or send a blast email out to their contacts to get the word out and we invite you to do the same. We will be able to track where each poll participant linked from and send you data from your list. If you are interested in participating, please send Lissy Moskowitz an email at: and she will get you the relevant information.
We hope you take the time to review the attached study and share these findings with others. As “Vote With Your Purse” demonstrates, women have the opportunity to dramatically impact the 2008 elections – together, we can make a difference.
Ilana GoldmanPresident
734 15th St NW, Suite 500Washington, DC 20005

Thursday, April 26, 2007

On abortion and breast cancer, New York Times gets headline right, story wrong

How do I even begin to comment on all the fallacies, misuse of language, and out-and-out false dichotomizing of “Breast Cancer Not Linked to Abortion, Study Says” (4/24/07) by Nicholas Bakalar in the New York Times? Though the headline is accurate, the article itself offers false balance at its worst, both creating controversy where there is none and weighing ideology against scientific facts as though they were equal.

Perhaps I’ll just start with the one and only pull quote from the piece: “New findings and a new abortion ruling may sharpen a debate.” Excuse me, but isn’t the reportage in question yet another in a long and distinguished line of peer reviewed scientific studies — published by such credible sources as the New England Journal of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute — that collectively followed millions of women over a generation and consistently found no causal link between abortion, induced or not, and breast cancer? Shouldn’t the new information diminish the debate since there seems to be little or nothing to debate about?

The newest study was published by The Archives of Internal Medicine and tracked 105,716 women, almost 40,000 of whom reported having had an induced abortion or miscarriage. The lead researcher is Karin Michels, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard.

This builds on widescale and widely accepted scientific research that, according to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997, induced abortions have no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer, based upon a review of the study in Denmark of 1.5 million women. (For more information, see the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy’s “Beyond the Cancer Myth,” which exlains the anti-choice movement’s use of this unproven and untrue breast cancer theory in court cases and legislation restricting access to abortion.)

Yet despite the weight of this newest, additional evidence, the reporter chose to give equal weight in the piece to Joel Brind, professor of biology and epidemiology at Baruch College , who opposes abortion and has long been trying to create the myth of a link between abortion and the incidence of breast cancer. This is clearly media seeking what I call false balance, and it is an example at its most harmful to women’s health. What the data actually shows is that full term pregnancy affords some protection against breast cancer. So the fact is that women who have not been pregnant at all also fail to get the protection against breast cancer that full term pregnancy confers—a very different conclusion which Brind turns on its head.

The Times quotes Michels as noting this very important point that illustrates the connection between state-mandated propaganda and your health: “There are still some states that require women to be informed about the risk of breast cancer if they get an abortion…that may not be justified based on the current evidence.”

Compounding his errors, Bakalar uses the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Gonzales v Carhart decision upholding a federal abortion ban statute as the take-off point for asserting the non-existent controversy. But in saying the court’s ruling is premised on the legitimacy of outlawing a procedure if it posed a threat to women’s health, when the ruling actually eviscerated a central and often-reaffirmed precedent that the woman’s health must be weighed more heavily than potential fetal life in abortion law, the New York Times went beyond false balance and head-standing to pure fiction.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Partial Truth Decision

"[The] partial birth abortion ban is a political scam but a public relations goldmine...The major benefit is the debate that surrounds it."

So said Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, a militant anti-choice group that blockaded abortion providers, in 2003.

Today's U.S. Supreme Court's Gonzales v Carhart decision upholding the federal abortion ban is based that pubic relations goldmine. It is a travesty of language bought and repeated endlessly by journalists who were sometimes uninformed and sometimes just too lazy to get it right.

Indeed, the travesty of language around abortion is so pervasive that even Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the decision for the Court's majority, in addition to using the term "partial birth abortion", also used the term "abortion doctor" repeatedly in the ruling. Opinion (Gonzales v. Carhart) Why did he not simply refer to doctors as "doctors", or if ob/gyns call them "ob/gyns"? If another surgical procedure were under scrutiny, would he have he referred to "tonsillectomy doctor" or "hysterectomy doctor"? Of course not. But those who want to take away a woman's human right to make her own childbearing decisions entirely have for so long used the term "abortion doctor" as an epithet that they have succeeded in getting even the highest court in the land to use their language.

But such bias is just the tip of the iceberg in the battle over what losing plaintiff Dr. Leroy Carhart has called "partial truth abortion". There is no such thing as partial birth abortion. The term will be found in no medical book. It was made up in 1995 by Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right-to-Life Committee, and former U.S. Representative and current Florida appeals court judge Charles Canady explicitly to confuse, horrify, and deceive--to manipulate language with the intent of sensationalizing the abortion debate. In particular, they intended to take the focus away from the woman and place the attention and the greater value on the fetus instead. The leading medical associations all agreed this was a misleading term, but the media never checked their language and by 2001, 90% of articles were using the term without so much as a "so-called" attached. As I reported in my 2004 book The War on Choice, an AP managing editor admitted when challenged that "partial birth abortion" was emotionally loaded, but said they continued to use it because it was instantly recognizable. Another major daily newspaper editor admitted it wasn't correct but said it was easier to use than alternatives.

Though an almost identical abortion ban was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the past, it was a different Supreme Court. Elections have consequences. Since then, President George W. Bush has had the opportunity to appoint two new justices to the Court, justices who are ideologically in synch with the biased language. That shift made all the difference to women today and tomorrow.

Now we have a landmark Supreme Court decision, built upon the counterfeit foundation of a made-up term that the media accepted and used uncritically, and that has propelled the highest court to issue a ruling allowing to stand a law which at a minimum:

1. Does not provide adequate exceptions for a woman's health, which means that a fundamental legal principle of the primary importance of women's health has been overturned.
2. For the first time upholds a federal law which steps directly into the physician's exam room and tells him or her what medical technique cannot be used even if the physician's judgment is that it is the safest to protect her health and future fertility.
3. Will not reduce the number of abortions but will over time, according to the doctors who know women's health best, cause an increase in medical complications, and possibly even deaths.

The public relations goldmine of those who aim for nothing less than to eliminate reproductive justice at all times from all women has paid off for them today. Language, after all, has consequences too.


Here's the Center for Reproductive Rights complete background on the ruling and the arguments in the case:

For a little more context, here's an article I wrote about a recent case that took another step backward for women's health; it will probably be the next thing to come back before the Court.
High Court Case Takes Aim at Heart of Roe