On Labor Day, Working Women Need Straight Answers from John McCain

UC Davis professor Carole Joff and I just published this commentary on Huffington Post.  We felt that the connection between economic and reproductive justice has not been fully made as yet, especially in the media, and we decided to do …

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NO WAY, NO HOW, NO McCAIN: HILLARY, THE DESIGNATED ADULT

Her orange pantsuit might be a Glamour magazine “don’t”, but like every word Hillary spoke last night during her moment at the Democratic National Convention, it was so right, so Hillary.

Her once-ridiculed pantsuit is part of the Hillary brand now, like Barry Goldwater’s thick-rimmed black glasses, Winston Churchill’s smelly cigars, Joe Biden’s train tickets.

Standing sharp against the cobalt blue DNC backdrop in the organgest pantsuit I ever saw, Clinton paid tribute to her “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits”. It was a moment of feminist humor and a nod to the fact that she was today truly, completely, and finally ceding the Democratic nomination to her former chief rival, Barack Obama.

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IN WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY SPEECH, HILLARY WILL LOOK WITH LONG EYES

All eyes will be on Hillary Clinton when she speaks tonight at the Democratic National Convention.

Media pundits and McCain loyalists will be parsing her every word, scrutinizing her every nuance, analyzing every element of her body language for quite a different reason. They love a political food fight. They’ll pounce on any whiff of tepidness, real or imagined, in her support for Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy. The Republicans have even set up a “Happy Hour for Hillary”, lying in wait to whip up animosity toward Obama, whether their spin is real, or if all else fails, conjured up by their Rovian attack dogs.

But while talking heads will strain to see any shred of conflict between the Democratic nominee-to-be and the second-runner, some of us will be looking at the occasion with what the Tohono O’Odham people call “long eyes”.

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Going to Denver? Watch Out for Dingbat Campaign Consultants

No, I’m not in Denver. Been there, done that, got lots of t-shirts, hats, buttons, and memories of spending the days in transit from event to event and watching hordes of people cruising from event to event to see who they might see there and of course to be seen themselves. I plan on keeping tabs on the convention happenings and blog throughout though. And I imagine I’ll have a better seat from my home office. Here’s one good convention website resource with schedules, speakers, events, and up to date electoral information all in one place.

Do you Twitter? I’ve never Twittered before, but I signed up so I can follow Huffington Post bloggers and perhaps post Twitters there, if I can figure out how to say anything in 140 characters or less.

My worst convention memory was in 2004 when I spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

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OBAMA DIDN’T CHOOSE KAINE…SO WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BIDEN?

What time did you get the text message?

Whatever time it was, by then, many people had guessed Sen. Joe Biden would be Barack Obama’s runnning mate. Did he make the right call? Why? Tell us what you think of the choice by posting your comment below.

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“Omaba Caint” Post Sure Could Get Blog Buzz Going

Seems like my last post, “Obama Caint Choose Kaine”, riled some folks up.

Erin Kotecki Vest, who blogs at BlogHer and Queen of Spain, got on my case with several arguments worthy of response. I have great respect for Erin, and am pleased for this excuse to congratulate her in public on becoming BlogHer’s Producer of Special Projects (high five here!).

However, I learned from hard knocks on the political frontlines that her argument on behalf of Gov. Kaine is self-defeating. Sadly, it also demonstrates how we can make it so incredibly hard to hold politicians’ feet to the fire about reproductive rights, health, and justice, and how women are often entirely too well behaved to make history turn out the way we want it.

True, the issues of birth control, sex education, reproductive rights, and abortion have been so polarized by the media’s false balance (someone else used that phrase on HuffPo last week, but I made it up when I wrote The War on Choice) that both the facts and the framing get skewed in public discourse. That’s frustrating to be sure. But, the deal is, whoever defines the terms of the debate is probably going to win it. And you can’t ever win at all if you don’t stay in the game.

If you haven’t already, please read “Obama Caint Chose Kaine” for my key points about Obama’s veep pick, which I won’t reiterate here. Here’s an excerpt of Erin’s reaction:

We could go through and talk about Kaine’s repeated his position supporting Roe and what he’s done as Governor…however, let’s just put all that aside too.

Let’s deal with the realities of this country. The reality of government. The reality of America in 2008.

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Obama Caint Choose Kaine

In Texas where I come from, “caint” is a perfectly good word. If it’s not already in the dictionary, it should be.

Definition: what someone must not do, as in “Barack Obama caint choose Virginia’s anti-choice Gov. Tim Kaine as his running mate.”

Think about it. If Obama had won vastly more popular votes than Clinton, he might have more leeway in his vice presidential choice while still hoping to keep progressive women who form the core of Clinton supporters. But he didn’t. Clinton and Obama were nearly even in the aggregate primary votes.

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John Edwards and the Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants

How many male politicians do you think are burning their little black books and expunging e-mails today, as another of their brotherhood bites the dust from his own lack of zipper control?

We have way too much information about John Edwards and his self-described narcissism. Clearly, like any good lawyer, John Edwards can look us straight in the eye and lie like a rug, as he did initially about his affair with Rielle Hunter.

But then sex, lies, and politics go together like peanut butter, jelly, and bread in America. And sex scandals are the one aspect of government that consistently works across geography and party lines. After all John McCain has admitted to affairs himself. There’s no partisanship in bed, except for short-lived tactics where the sway of sex can be used to bring one’s opponent down.

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McCAIN MISSED THE MEMO: IT’S NO LONGER OK TO OBJECTIFY WOMEN, EVEN YOUR WIFE

When I was an adolescent growing up in wild West Texas back in the Stone Age 1950’s, I matured early, as they used to say. It wasn’t unusual for the boys to make public jokes about my physique. All in good humor of course. They probably thought it was a compliment. Commentary about breast size, what was under your skirt, or how you might fare in a wet t-shirt contest was just the way things were: that era’s version of cowboy chic. A woman had to grin and bear it if a man objectified her this way or she’d risk losing her friends, her job, her popularity at school. The term “sexual harassment” hadn’t been coined, let alone become the subject of laws to prevent the various abusive behaviors that fall into its rubric.

But, thanks to the courageous action of women and men who had the good sense to recognize such abuse of power for what it is, there are laws now to protect people from that kind of humiliation.

Laws that apparently don’t faze one man running for president of the United States. John McCain’s disrespect for women was captured by this video. I was in pain watching Cindy McCain. She looked like she’d swallowed a lemon when at a South Dakota biker rally, Senator(!) McCain suggested that Cindy enter the notoriously raunchy and frequently topless Miss Buffalo Chip contest. Instead of swallowing and laughing like I did in my pre-consciousness-raised youth, she should have called him on it and walked off the stage. I’ll bet she would have been cheered.

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Bite Your Tongue When It Comes to Politics? Hmmm.

Are you in the same boat?

My friend Ruth Nemzoff, Resident Scholar at Brandeis University Women’s Studies, has written a new book that totally resonates with me as a parent and/or step-parent of six adult children, five of whom have spouses (one an almost ex-spouse, further complicating things) as well. The book is called Don’t Bite your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children. Great title, isn’t it?

Here’s just one of the helpful tidbits in the book, as summarized by Ruth, and believe it or not, it relates directly to Heartfeldt Politics:

It is summer and many families are vacationing together. The Republican and Democratic conventions are about to begin. But families aren’t talking politics. No, politics is often off limits. It is not a “safe” topic like the weather or the latest tennis match. It could lead to disagreements, and no one wants the unpleasantness of a fight. But when families don’t talk politics, they miss an opportunity to learn about each others’ lives and understand the other’s point of view. Instead, adult children wonder how their parents could hold such Neanderthal views. Liberal parents wonder how they raised such conservative children, or vice versa. No one really connects. Part of the problem is vocabulary. One generation’s description is another generation’s slur. We would all benefit from ignoring vocabulary and instead probe for on the hopes and experiences behind the words.

Many of us avoid politics because we fear conflagrations. However, but if we are to create close relationships we families often need to talk about difficult topics without flaring up. Listening with interest can help; so can asking questions. If we in families can’t talk about what matters to us, how can we as a nation?

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