Explanatory note: While the debate continues over at my previous post about Obama for Women, and I still wouldn’t vote for McCain under any circumstance, I’ve had to take a step back as I realized just how seriously damaging Obama’s comments about abortion and sex education could be. This situation is all the more reason he must give the sexism speech as I have suggested. He needs to do more than merely “clarify” his position on these issues; he needs to take a much bigger look at his own thinking about women’s rights and rightful place in the world. Here goes:

I was planning to attend Barack Obama’s big fundraising reception in New York Wednesday night and make the maximum contribution to his campaign, but I have torn up the invitation.

My decision isn’t about the money, though the thought of writing a check for $4600 takes my breath away. It seemed that important to do my part to prevent the 100% anti-choice John McCain’s election and a de facto third Bush term.

I supported Hillary Clinton in the primary because I believe she’s the most capable of meeting the enormous challenges the next president will face undoing the damage to women’s rights, health, and justice caused by Bush. Still, I’ve admired Obama since I met him at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Later, in Washington after he was elected to the Senate, I sensed he was genuine in his commitment to women’s equality. So, despite my still-raw feelings about Hillary’s concession, I was prepared to go forward this week and commit full support to Obama.

Then the danger signals started.

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Unity symbols abound on the Democratic side of the presidential campaign these days. Barack Obama writes a personal check to help retire Hillary Clinton’s campaign debt; the two appear together, smiling, in Unity NH. He phones Bill. Fundraising events coming up in NY will find them together raising money for both Obama’s campaign and to pay Clinton’s debt.

Week before last, I attended a breakfast where boldface New York Clinton supporters were invited by Women for Obama to bridge their candidate preference chasm. Perfect giant strawberries and mini-muffins remained untouched on their silver platters in the dining room, while former Random House scion Bob Bernstein’s elegant Upper East Side living room fairly burst with highly caffeinated women. Gloria Steinem, iconic Hillary endorser who had already publicly thrown her support to Barack, urged us in her ever-optimistic way to support Obama in the “interest of our best interests.”

It was a tough and impassioned group, three groups actually. Some were quite ready to support Obama because, as someone said, “the alternative is unthinkable”. Others, too bruised or bitter to do otherwise, urged Hillary for vice-president. I count myself among those strong Clinton supporters who know Obama needs not just our votes but also our enthusiasm for victory. This meeting didn’t get me there, and since then the candidate himself hasn’t helped his own cause.

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WHO IS JOHN McCAIN? Hint: Not a Moderate, in Case You Were Wondering

Jake Tapper, ABC News Senior National Correspondent, in his blog “Political Punch” June 27 post “McCain Gambles with Awkward Joke” started a bit of a blog-o-flap among some feminists who though the senator’s remark about wife beating grossly inappropriate and perhaps insensitive to domestic abuse. Here’s the relevant excerpt:

In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was asked by columnist Jon Ralston why he didn’t choose Gov. Jim Gibbons to chair his Nevada campaign…
Maybe it’s the governor’s approval rating and you are running from him like you are from the president? Asked Ralston in a question McCain clearly found loaded.
Said McCain, chuckling, “And I stopped beating my wife just a couple of weeks ago.”
Some have found the subject of McCain’s joke — wife-beating — inappropriate.
To be clear, McCain was alluding to the fictitious leading question “When did you stop beating your wife, senator?” It’s a bit of distasteful DC yuckery so commonly quoted it’s hackneyed.
But considering the subject McCain was discussing at the time, to allude to that joke was, well, …..awkward!
Gov. Gibbons last month filed for divorce from his wife Dawn citing incompatiblity…

There are several issues here and I’ll take a moment to sort them out:

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Reality Checking Ignorance Only Education

If the excellent website RH Reality Check isn’t on your bookmark or Google Reader list, it should be. Every day it brings me up to date on the good news, bad news, and interesting takes people are talking about concerning the big picture of reproductive health, rights, and justice. Not to mention handy information about things like how to knit a condom amulet, which would be much more useful than the abstinence only (non) sex (non) education that has been promoted by the (non) religious (non) right for the past decade or two.

Today, there’s Scott Swenson’s report on the encouraging trend by states to turn down funding for the now-discredited Federal abstinence only program, which never made any sense. I mean, ignorance has never really been bliss. That’s especially so when silence about sexual health and decision making is exacerbated by inaccurate teaching concerning the consequences of not just saying “no”, while failing to tell young people what “yes” means. Here’s Scott’s summary:

The Associated Press is just out with a major story about how in tough economic times, cash-strapped states are refusing federal tax dollars for abstinence-only programs. The story is one more in a long line of damning pieces of evidence about the failures of abstinence-only programs, the waste of tax dollars they represent, and should be a wake up call to Congress.

AP reporter Kevin Freking writes:

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Where Were You 6 Months Ago, Katie?

So now that Hillary Clinton has lost her bid to be the first woman to win a major party’s nomination for president, Katie Couric has decided to speak out. My my. What a profile in courage.

Watch the video teaser and read more here on Huffington Post.

“One of the great lessons of [Hillary Clinton's] campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life, particularly in the media….It isn’t just Hillary Clinton who needs to learn a lesson from this primary season — it’s all the people who crossed the line, and all the women and men who let them get away with it,” says Katie. Well, yeahhhhh!

Not that I don’t appreciate her speaking truth to power now–I really do–but where was she six months ago?

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How Bo Diddley Can Teach Hillary a Note or Two

It’s been a tough week. The death of legendary rock n’ roller Bo Diddley and the demise of Hillary Clinton’s groundbreaking presidential campaign both hit me hard. I’m a cockeyed optimist, but these two events forced me to confront certain basic truths: dreams don’t always come true; hopes sometimes remain just that.

So the passing of the musical pioneer whose distinctive raw sounds [be sure to watch this video] made my bones dance of their own volition as a teenager of the 1950’s is as traumatic as the passing of the campaign of the first viable female presidential candidate is today to this mature woman, whose life’s work has been about advancing equality and justice for women.

I never paid attention to Diddley’s lyrics; I was simply moved by the rhythms. But now they seem quite relevant.

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Repairing the Damage, Before Roe by Waldo Fielding M.D., in today’s New York Times is a must read and must share. Fielding is 80; his generation of doctors knows the real stories about the injustices of illegal abortion. An excerpt:

With the Supreme Court becoming more conservative, many people who support women’s right to choose an abortion fear that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that gave them that right, is in danger of being swept aside. When such fears arise, we often hear about the pre-Roe “bad old days.” Yet there are few physicians today who can relate to them from personal experience. I can.

I am a retired gynecologist, in my mid-80s. My early formal training in my specialty was spent in New York City, from 1948 to 1953, in two of the city’s large municipal hospitals. There I saw and treated almost every complication of illegal abortion…

Now it’s up to the generation now present to make the coat hanger (photos of which accompnied the article) a symbol of women’s empowerment rather than victimization.

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The Democrats’ Cow Pasture

Today’s the big day when the Democrats will find out whether they can effectively get out of the pasture of cow patties they created for themselves without either stepping in too many or causing a stampede among the supporters of either
Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Check out this very thorough analysis Anita, a reader of Heartfeldt placed on another post.

The Democratic Party leaders voted on Aug. 25, 2007, to sanction Florida Democrats for moving the date of their presidential primary to January 29, a week before the February 5 date which the party’s rules had set as the official start of primary season. They excepted the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary which have traditionally been the earliest–no one wanted to tamper with that little bit of presidential election theater even though it gives two small states way more influence in framing the narrative of the race than they deserve. Then in typical Democratic party fashion, they allowed South Carolina and Nevada to go early in the interest of geographic and ethnic diversity. New Hampshire’s state law requires them to hold their primary at least a week earlier than any other, setting off another series of oscillating primary date debates.

To make a long story short, it began to look something like the old children’s game of placing hands over hands into a tower and moving whoever’s hand was on the bottom to the top of the tower with increasing velocity until everybody disintegrates into a writhing pile of bodies on the floor. Michigan retaliated by moving their primary to January 15, and they were sanctioned accordingly.

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Walk a Mile in My Shoes

[caption id="attachment_3820" align="alignright" width="250" caption="My red shoes"][/caption]

What kind of shoes represent you? Or, maybe the better question is: if you were a pair of shoes, what would you be? Cowboy boots? Sneakers? Bare feet? My red shoes, as pictured below express my agreement that all the votes should be counted so that all the people will feel their voices have been heard. Democracy takes patience and participation. (No Dorothy allusions, please–her shoes were actually silver.) Check out the Walk a Mile in My Shoes Website and let the Democratic National Committee know what you think. Be sure to post your comment here too!

Here’s what Ginny said:

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As my daddy used to say, “That’s what makes horse races.”

The many and multi-textured responses with varied opinions I received to my comments in the AP story last week which I link to in “Saturday Morning Coffee Questions on Women and Voting Power” below came via e-mail rather than on this site and warrant a post of their own. (Note to readers—I always love to hear from you, but I would appreciate your posting comments here on Heartfelt so other readers can have the benefit of them too.) Excerpts from two e-mails that especially touched me are below; I’ll introduce each one and share my reactions.

First from Lakeisha, whose depth of feeling about Obama’s candidacy is so compelling, it brought me to tears:

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