Monday, October 27, 2008


i just got word that a pastor from my church died this morning. i'm in a mild state of shock.

it's so sad. she was a tough, spiritual, smart woman. her husband had a position with another presbytery in the area and they had two children. she had been gravely ill a number of years ago, fought it, came back to ministry stronger than ever and then, about a month ago, an infection set in. doctors were baffled, thought they had isolated it, did a couple of surgeries but, in the end, she lost her battle early this morning.

it's a serious blow to my church's staff. she was so strong, so smart. a good woman with vision, style, humor, and a steel magnolia quality that made you gird your loins during staff meetings. our senior pastor relied on her a lot and it's going to be difficult watching him, as well as the other members of the pastoral staff, grieve.

sudden death like this never gets easy to process.

Friday, October 24, 2008

privacy and punishment: how much time should i do?

A hypothetical scenario:
Let's say I'm with my partner and, despite our best efforts, one of his swimmers gets through; let's also say that my right to control my fertility (either through consistent and regular access to birth control and/or abortion services) has been rendered illegal. The right to medical privacy, as well as the right to a safe and legal abortion, has been taken away from me and millions of other women in my state.

How much time should I do for getting an abortion?

Watch the video, read about the campaign here and share your thoughts.

Friday, October 17, 2008

the right to privacy

My head nearly exploded on debate night when the conversation turned to the Supreme Court. I was watching with a couple of friends, including my Roomie, and the comment was made that she was glad that Roberts was, at least, 'more judicious' than Justices Alito or Scalia. To my Roomie, that meant that she was glad that he seemed to be a justice who would hesitate to overturn previous Supreme Court rulings or previously standing statute.

I totally disagreed. (And this is also when I thought that folks need to pay a little bit more attention to what's happening in the Court before they say something.) I thought that a Roberts court probably has a much narrower view of 'rights' - either states' rights or the rights of an individual - than ever and that whatever moderate seeming qualities Chief Justice Roberts might have, his opinions have contained ideas that should make all of us look aslant at the impact his court will have on our society.

In other words, who frakking cares about the intent of his character when the impact of his court's rulings will be to limit/eradicate your most basic civil liberties?

Feministe, for some reason, is acting up so I'm going to put Jill's whole post on what a McCain presidency would mean for privacy rights and for the SCOTUS. The fight for the Supreme Court is about more than preserving Roe v. Wade. It's about privacy.

And if you don't think that's important I suggest you look up what 'social authoritarianism' means:

Thanks to Matt for the link.

Here’s what Obama and McCain had to say about abortion rights and Roe v. Wade at last night’s debate:

In other words, neither of them would have “litmus tests,” except that they would.
I know the threat of overturning Roe gets tossed out every election as a way to scare pro-choice voters into supporting Democrats. There’s a market Roe fatigue, I think — and it seems like it’s coming up far less this election than it did in the last one. But the next president will likely be appointing three Supreme Court justices. Our last Republican president appointed two. The entire future of the court rests with this presidency, and that’s not small beans — not just for Roe, but for the face of American law and policy for generations.

Because Roe isn’t just about Roe; it’s about a greater judicial philosophy that influences and extends into our most fundamental rights and liberties.
It’s already been a scary eight years of Supreme Court decisions. Power is increasingly centered in the executive with little oversight, and the valued balance between the legislative, judicial and executive branches has been thrown thoroughly off-kilter. Even the good decisions — like Kennedy v. Louisiana, where the court ruled that you can’t use the death penalty as punishment for child rape, and Roper v. Simmons, which held that it is unconstitutional to execute children, among others — are marked by narrow splits: Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts (where Alito and Roberts were on the court) consistently side together, and consistently produce dissents that promulgate some very scary views.

Throw on even one more conservative justice to replace one of the liberals and we’re in for an incredibly regressive next few decaes. Replace three justices — which is what the next president very well may do — with people in the vein of Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, and I quite honestly would not raise my kids in the country we’ll likely have.

It’s about much more than Roe. But it’s about Roe, too, and what Roe stands for.
Roe v. Wadeis based on a right to privacy that more conservative justices and students of the law will tell you is made up. And it’s true that nowhere in the Constitution does it say that you have a right to privacy. But part of the reason that we have a Supreme Court is because the Constitution is a fairly short document, and it can’t possibly cover the full range of issues that are going to come up — it demands interpretation. Many of the most important decisions in our nation’s history were premised on rights that aren’t explicitly stated in the Constitution, or that can be evaluated differently under changed social circumstances (Brown v. Board of Ed, Skinner v. Oklahoma and Lawrence v. Texas are two illustrative cases). And, in my view, Constitutional interpretation should err on the side of giving citizens more rights, not fewer. The Framers didn’t detail every minute right for a reason: The idea of America is premised on a broad set of rights and liberties, and the purpose of the Bill of Rights is to restrict the federal government, not to restrict the rights of the people. If we evaluate the language of the constitution based on what it meant precisely at the time of its writing, we’re going to end up with some mighty problematic decisions. If I ever got to sit down with Scalia, I would like to ask him how he would have decided Brown — after all, Plessy was decided not long after the 14th Amendment was ratified. Certainly the justices on the court then were closer to knowing the intent and purpose of the 14th Amendment, and they held that “separate but equal” treatment of blacks didn’t violate the law. That’s Constitutional literalism for you. And Scalia’s former colleague and fellow Constitutional literalist, William Rehnquist, apparently agreed when as a law clerk during the Brown proceedings he wrote:

“I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by ‘liberal’ colleagues but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed.” He continued, “To the argument… that a majority may not deprive a minority of its constitutional right, the answer must be made that while this is sound in theory, in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are.”

That is not a responsible view for Supreme Court justices to take, particularly given the fact that we have a court specifically to make sure that minority groups aren’t railroaded by the majority. “Constitutional literalism,” it seems, is less about reading the actual words and spirit of the Constitution, and more about trying to cram the document into a narrow, conservative ideological box.

As Obama pointed out last night, this isn’t a question about “state’s rights,” it’s a question about fundamental freedoms and our rights as human beings and as citizens. And questions as fundamental as that of privacy and bodily integrity should not be turned to the states to regulate and restrict as they see fit.
What many also fail to appreciate is that overturning Roe wouldn’t just be about Roe or abortion. Unless the Court overturned Roe solely on the grounds that the fetus is a person — which they won’t — they’ll do away with abortion rights by doing away with those much-maligned privacy rights generally. And if there’s no right to privacy that can be inferred from the Constitution, then a whole series of other important decisions are up for grabs. Griswold v. Connecticut, the case securing contraception access for married couples (which was followed by cases securing such access for unmarried people) is premised on the right to privacy. So is Lawrence v. Texas, the case that overturned Texas sodomy laws. Overturn Roe on privacy grounds and there is no longer strong legal precedent to keep the government out of your bedroom and out of your reproductive decisions.

Some argue that overturning Roe wouldn’t be a big deal, because abortion would remain legal in several states. Even pro-choicers and feminists make the argument that Roe is already effectively overturned, because abortion is inaccessible for many women, so we shouldn’t put too much focus on it and just let the Court go.
Well, that’s crap. Abortion is inaccessible or incresingly difficult to access for too many women, and that is a huge problem that requires more of our attention. But 1.3 million women still have abortions every year. A lot of those women go through significant hardship to do so. I’ve met a few of those women, and I’ve walked them out of the clinic. Believe me, Roe still matters. There are levels of inaccessability, and there are a lot of women who live on the fringes. There are a lot of women who live in red states surrounded by other red states, where the only abortion clinic is a five-hour drive and requires a two-day waiting period between visits — but some of them can get there. They can’t get to New York or California. Overturn Roe and those women are thrown under the bus.

And it’s not just a state-by-state issue. There’s a whole lot of talk about “state’s rights” when it comes to abortion, but that talk mysteriously disappears in the Republican Party Platform:
We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.

Overturning Roe is just the beginning. The ultimate goal is to make abortion illegal, for everyone, in every state. That’s why the people who argue that we should just drop the “divisive” abortion question, let Roe go and call the matter settled are delusional. For the GOP, overturning Roe is a first step, not a conclusive victory. And if anti-choice groups continue to exercise strong influence over the Republican party, you can bet that outlawing abortion won’t even be the end — contraception is on the list, too.

This is bigger than one election, or one justice, or one issue. It’s about the most fundamental underpinnings of our democracy, and what our country is going to look like for decades. Supreme Court decisions aren’t easily overturnable, and the calls that get made now are going to be with us for the duration of our lifetimes. Many of them will be around for all of our children’s lifetimes, too.

That’s something I hope everyone thinks about when they’re pulling that lever on election day: Who do you trust to appoint the justices that are going to shape the legal landscape of our country for generations?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

this debate

is giving me a headache.

so far, apparently, economic issues trump every other domestic policy that matters to a significant portion of this population? 45 minutes of taxes, negative campaigning nonsense (where McCain thinks criticism of policy = personal attacks), vice presidential suitability and nothing about reproductive justice, women's particular vulnerability in this economic time, equal pay or the right to privacy; also nothing (so far) on their differing views on the SCOTUS and what their legacy would be.

how's the debate treating you?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Saturday morning, during the WLF breakfast, I said that I never thought I'd see the day a black man would be president. The woman next to me scrunched her nose and said, 'Really?'

Uh, yeah, lady. Really. Are you kidding? With this country's history?

I'm reading a book called The Color of Wealth which covers the racial disparities in wealth acquisition in this country. In detail, it shows how our country's history of systematic racial oppression is sprinkled with documented government supported acts of land theft, displacement and economic cock-blocking (for lack of a better word.)

I've just finished the chapter on Native Americans and it was depressing as hell - and infuriating.

It was depressing to think of this people systematically deprived of the assets that rightfully belong to them (it goes SO much farther than just land theft - it's about billions and billions of dollars cheated from tribes because private enterprise and our US govt colluded to strip them of rights to natural resources and revenue, as well as mismanaged the funds that were supposed to be held in 'trust' for them.) These are dollars that could, right now, make a material impact on generations of Native Americans who currently hit the lowest indicators for economic sustainability, employment, education, and health.

Our country basically committed genocide against a whole population and built a nation on top of their bodies and land. Sickening.

But it was also depressing to think about how racism has crippled us, as a whole. We are diminished, when we don't know our whole history. When they teach us about the Homestead Act but don't mention the little details that expose it for a racist (only white men got land that was stolen or misappropriated from Native populations)government policy, then how can we truly know who we really are and what it means to benefit from that kind of legacy?

Why do we really rely so much on our myths? Are we really that childlike and feeble?

I wrote an earlier post about chickens coming home to roost for the GOP but I think that I could say the same thing about our country as a whole. There is karmic payback for the blood and death we've caused. I don't care if folks think what I'm saying is unpatriotic - it's true. You can't pick and choose which parts of our history are worthy of mythmaking and then hope no one remembers or knows about the other; it's all part of the same.

When someone wins a battle, someone else dies; when you build a city, you've destroyed someone's home; when you're on top, there's somone suffocating on the bottom. We've been winning for a few centuries now and I'm guessing that the pendulum is about to swing the other way.

That's the way the world works; it's the balance of the universe. One could even call it justice.

(Ding's process: This was supposed to be a funny post about apple picking in Wisconsin this weekend, but it became something a little bit more sobering. Sometimes I write with a plan and sometimes the writing abruptly veers off my self-imposed topic. Apple picking reminded me of 'cherry picking' which made me think of selectively reading history, this weekend's conference, the Obama candidacy as a way for history to come full circle but also how it prompts the idea of payback and triggers the fears of those racists at recent McCain/Palin rallies who are expressing, IMO, fear of karmic payback. Funny how writing works.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

hey, i'm blogging about the friday session of the WLIF over at Bitch, PhD. Come on by!

Friday, October 10, 2008

if i meet him, i can't pass out!

Sometimes, unexpected opportunities just fall into your lap.

It's been a stressful week at Large Metropolitan Non Profit, as well as with my other non profit board obligation, but all of that will have been worth it because of what's going to happen in a few hours. My CEO (a very generous woman) is giving me her credentials for the National Women's Leadership Issues conference, being held in Chicago today and tomorrow.

Barack & Michelle Obama, high-level policy makers, and campaign advisors will all be there and I, little ol' me, will be soaking it all in. To hear about issues directly from policy wonks I've only read about - for two days! This kind of access is unbelievable. I'm giddy! Thank goodness I brought a cute suit and shoes to work and have an eyebrow appt at lunch. Yes, I am a sucker for political celebrity.

(I'd Twitter it for y'all but, alas, my Twitter is under my real name and I'm not for blowing my cover right now. I'll do my best to post something about it, though!)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

good lord, that was a boring debate.
and tom didn't pick any questions about women's issues?

what are we, chopped ovaries?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

hello, chickens. like your roost?

Speak correctly, or build a big bunker --

Poor conservative Kathleen Parker. She's shocked - absolutely shocked - that today's political discourse has devolved so much. Oh, the invective hurled at her for suggesting Palin isn't fit for the Republican ticket. Goodness! The insults. The ire! The death threats!

Such extreme partisanship has a crippling effect on government, which may be desirable at times, but not now. More important in the long term is the less-tangible effect of stifling free speech. My mail paints an ugly picture and a bleak future if we do not soon correct ourselves.

The picture is this: Anyone who dares express an opinion that runs counter to the party line will be silenced. That doesn't sound American to me, but Stalin would approve. Readers have every right to reject my opinion. But when we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different than one's own, then we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk. (I hear you, Dixie Chicks.)

I'm sorry folks said her parents should have aborted her, but the disingenuity here is a little hard to swallow.

Where has Ms. Parker been for the past 8 years? Where was she last month, during the GOP convention, and Amy Goodman was pitched in jail for covering it? Where was she to decry the national trashing of our political discourse when non-Republicans were called appeasers, traitors, terrorist collaborators and folks on the Hill were forced to eat those silly Freedom Fries; where was she when folks who objected to the unconstitutional reach of the Patriot Act, who correctly thought the run up to the Iraq war was full of bullshit, who said Guantanamo was a blight to our democratic legacy were called un-American; where has she been as American Muslims continute to suffer racial profiling, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and have had their loyalties called into question because of their religion or heritage; where was she for the last two elections when two pretty smart presidential candidates lost their races because her party accused them of being soft on defense while backing a mediocre guy whose sole act of mental agility was cooking up ways to get out of military service; and where has she been for the last 18 months as her party, and its lapdog punditocracy, made a point of racially Othering the Obamas and saying some pretty racist shit in the process?

And, yes, where has Kathleen Parker been for the last 20 years as her party got all comfy in its bed next to the Christian Right, who have no problem wearing the robes of a Pharisee?

Spare me the concern, Ms. Parker. Spare me your disappointment at how the nation's political discourse has become vile, limited, intellectually bankrupt and savage. Your party built this roost and I'd say it's about time you saw exactly what your chickens look like.

[cross-posted at Screed]

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I, myself, am a half-breed silk jacquard but who am I to judge?

What We’re Up Against | RaceWire