Posts Tagged ‘War on Women’

What’s that old saying; “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?” Maybe you’re too young to have heard it, but it means be grateful for whatever someone hands you. In the days before Oprah was giving away cars, horses were the penultimate gift. And you wouldn’t want to imply that this horse was “long in the tooth,” ie getting on in years with one hoof in the glue factory. That would be tacky.

But what if you’re an elected official, like say the GOP Governor in our fair state of Virginia. And what if one of your biggest political donors, let’s say he owns a pretty big vitamin supplement company and his name is Jonnie Williams Sr., chief executive of Star Scientific, let’s just say Jonnie decides to give you and your family gifts worth over six figures?

The First Lady of VA gets a Rolex to give to her hubby, and then a $15,000 shopping spree in NYC at Bergdorf’s.

The First Daughter receives a $15,000 wedding catering gift, and a another $10,000 engagement gift goes to a different daughter.

Believe me, I know weddings can be expensive! We have 4 this year to attend, and thank goodness for online wedding registries. I wonder what would cost $10,000? That wooden salad bowl?

Last week, R-Gov Bob McDonnell released a written statement apologizing for the scandal and saying that he had repaid Williams for $120,000 in loans: $70,000 to a real estate company owned by the governor and his sister and $50,000 to first lady Maureen McDonnell. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/mcdonnell-daughter-repaid-15000-catering-gift/2013/07/31/58bb18ba-f9ea-11e2-9bde-7ddaa186b751_story.html

So while everyone has been focusing on the slimy, sexual antics of other political men, our Governor was hoping all this would just go away. But the tables have turned and Jonnie (whatever happened to the “H” in John?) is cooperating with federal investigators, which can only mean they are planning to prosecute McDonnell under the Hobbs Act which “…prohibits elected officials from taking money or other items of value in exchange for the performance of official duties.” http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/star-donor-assists-u-s-in-mcdonnell-probe/article_f8012a33-00b4-56b9-b9af-1901751965e3.html

Now I had to raise my hand and swear I’d never take any gifts while I was a member of the School Board in NJ. And I was never offered any, still…there was no ambiguity about it, none whatsoever. And when I covered Borough Council Meetings, members would recuse themselves from votes if they had the slightest interest in a business.  On every level of government this conflict of interest oath must stand if we want to rise above the banana republics of the world.

Such a slippery slope our Governor has been on, and his holier than thou wanna-be replacement Ken Cuccinelli, running for his seat in November, hasn’t uttered a peep. Maybe Gov Ultrasound, and his  AG Cuccinelli who would like to overturn Roe vs Wade – who sponsored the ‘choose life’ license plates and supports fake pregnancy centers – maybe these two just need to refocus their public policy on the economy.

Something is rotten in the state of Virginia! Quick, call the veterinary dentist.


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I’m in love with two women. There, I said it. One is a widow, 83 years old, who studied  mathematics and worked at IBM, and the other is a single mom, 50 years old, who graduated from Harvard law School.

Largely because of Edith Windsor, the Rosa Parks in the fight for Marriage Equality, our nation is one step closer to that goal. It is already the law in France, and now California will have to re-legalize same-sex marriage.  Can Virginia be far behind? Windsor is a feisty senior citizen, who got a bill in the mail from the IRS that made her mad.

“Plaintiff Edith Windsor is an 83 year old resident of New York, who legally married her same-sex partner of over 40 years, Thea, in Canada in 2007. The State of New York recognized their marriage, but the United States government did not. Sadly, Edith’s wife, Thea, died in 2009. When Thea died, her estate was forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes that would not have been assessed if Thea and Edith were not a lesbian couple.”  http://www.marriageequality.org/Federal-cases-DOMA

In United States v Windsor, SCOTUS struck down DOMA as you’ve probably heard, saying that it was unconstitutional to discriminate against one group of people because of the gender of their partner in marriage. I particularly liked this phrase: “…(DOMA’s) effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.” Then they turned around and threw out Prop 8 in California! Well done SCOTUS!

I’m thinking of a second career as a wedding planner in San Francisco. Hey, I managed to make the magic happen on a mountain in an apple orchard! Well, with a lot of help.

The second woman I’m in love with this morning is Sen Wendy Davis of TX. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/26/who-is-wendy-davis/

Because I’m on the Twittisphere, I followed along in real time on her filibuster in pink sneakers. The NYT called her a “Fashion icon” on the Hill, but she is so much more than a pretty face. What guts, what glory! I could not stand for nearly 13 hours without a potty break. The GOP in the lone star state, those anti-choice politicians so affectionately called “Gynoticians” because of their untiring need to legislate a woman’s body, were trying to sneak in a crippling blow of TRAP bills that would have closed most of the Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. Go ahead you idiot Govenor, try to reconvene and pass those bills. I’m sure there will be people spilling out all over your state house. We women love our bodies enough to fight for them.

We usually know when and how we get pregnant. We know what a rape kit does and does not do. We don’t like to undergo unnecessary and unwanted vaginal probes anywhere and at any time. And yes, we usually know who we love right from the start. Our knees get weak and our hearts start racing, and before you know it we’ve got a ring on our finger – or a brooch –  as Edith and Thea had to hide their relationship. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/26/edith-windsor-thea-spyer-doma

The government may stop disparaging and injuring women now.

edith windor

Photo by Bless Bless Productions

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Today we find out that Augusta National Golf Club in the great state of Georgia has admitted 2 women, Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/golf/19323577 This news fell like a thud at my feet. As someone who could not receive a credit card unless it was in my husband’s name, or could not obtain birth control pills until I was married, my reaction to this big golfing news was anti-climactic. What do you know, this private club actually thinks a woman’s money is just as green as a man’s…oh, and maybe they won’t be such a distraction on the links? Hey, If the Tiger can play there, why not Condi? I shrugged.

And, while smiling this sardonic smile, we find out that 2 other iconic women have made headlines today. The great Phyllis Diller died at the grand old age of 95. I remember watching her on TV, and thinking so, a woman can make a living in comedy. I didn’t necessarily like her rampages about “Fang” her husband, and I certainly didn’t like the smoking and the bouffant of teased hair. But I was young, I didn’t know this was part of her schicht! She was the female doppelgänger of “Take my wife, please.” And she was doing this when women were not allowed in many university and private clubs around the country, unless they were on the arm of some male member. The second female comedian making news is Rosie O’Donnell. She revealed that she had a heart attack, and how women need to pay attention to our particular signs and symptoms. I’ve always loved Rosie, but instead of calling 911, she googled her symptoms and took an aspirin – bad Rosie – not funny. http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/20/rosie-odonnell-happy-to-be-alive-after-heart-attack/?iref=allsearch

And for the last distinctly sad bit of doubledealing, we have a Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, Todd Akin, who thinks he misspoke about RAPE, and the Republican VP pick, Paul Ryan, who desperately wants to distance himself from him. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-todd-akins-rape-comments-abortion-is-back-in-the-campaign-spotlight/2012/08/20/c497bae4-eac7-11e1-a80b-9f898562d010_story.html

But can we separate the two? Not at all. Let’s put on our thinking caps – rejecting science and reason in many forms seems to be an extreme right agenda. And today, the GOP platform has called for a “Human Life Amendment” with absolutely no exception for rape, much in the same way Paul Ryan backed all those personhood bills that kept popping up all over the country. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/21/no-rape-exception-in-republican-platforms-constitutional-abortion-ban/

Are we witches? This must be the year of magical thinking, when a woman’s body can just kill off those rapist sperm and prevent pregnancy – oh yeah, party of the big spenders and free markets – tell us how that works! I’m supposed to feel better that Mitt believes in the rape exception? Like I’m supposed to be happy we can play golf at Augusta?

Smart, thinking women are not buying into this circus comedy of GOP clowns. Tell me the GOP is not waging a war on women. Put on your best Dan Draper smile, and make me believe you’ll still call me in the morning. http://nymag.com/news/frank-rich/gop-women-problem-2012-4/

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Poor Mitt. Talking GOP heads are trying to convince us all that 3 years mean nothing, that from 1999 to 2002 their guy was “retroactively retired” despite evidence that he was in fact involved and listed as CEO, president and chairman of Bain while they were actively outsourcing jobs. Who are we to believe? On one hand, that he had no “active” involvement, that he was too busy with the Olympic Committee; or on the other hand as Huff Post reported, “…that he was still listed as one of two managing members at a Bain Capital entity, …including on a filing form from 2002, and that he attended board meetings, signed documents and received a six-figure salary.” So he was paid $100,000 for each year (not counting dividends and bonuses) plus his undisclosed (like his taxes) parting financial package. Turns out, the rich are very different!

I asked my business consultant what he thought about the debacle. After all, Bob left his business back in NJ and commuted back and forth, before selling all shares and handing over the keys to one of his partners. He said that maybe a year, sure he’d give him a year to get his affairs in order. But 3 years? To us, this sounds rather misleading. When you have started a business and it’s been your baby for many years, the work never stops. Every small and large business owner knows this. Emails and phone calls continue into the night, and all through the weekend. Particularly since Bob’s urgent care was open all weekend. I remember the middle of the night call in VA from the security office in NJ, and the calls to the local police department to determine that a balloon had been setting off the motion detectors in the office. This whole “part-time,” not really retired schtick is not only misleading, it’s disingenuous.

Let’s stop all the attack ads, let’s start being honest boys. We all know that this retroactive excuse is just another point in a pattern of duplicitous deceptions. We all know you made tons of money, so show us the tax returns Mitt. Show us the money! Maybe those independents sitting on the proverbial fence have seen enough? Your poll numbers have been slipping with women; we know how you feel about Planned Parenthood, Mitt, why not try some transparency for a change and shed some light on your finances?

My little town is gearing up for another bus trip, but this time we’re heading for The Hill. Lace up your sneakers ladies, estrogen will be flowing by the Potomac in August. If you’re tired of all this male bonding (and religious distraction) over our sex lives, let’s go retro and March Rally on Washington…again.

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I have received a “Call to Action.” In the midst of a historic heat wave (108 today), my bus riding feminist sisters would like me to ignore my physical ailments du jour, and ride on over to Richmond as counter-point to the Family Research Council’s “Values Bus Tour.” In the past I’ve marched for peace, rallied for Planned Parenthood, and yes, got on the bus for Richmond to protest the Republican-led War on Women. But I have never, ever been asked to serve as the opposing view at someone else’s rally. I must be moving up in the social hierarchy of activism!

“The “Values Bus Tour” is billed as ‘bringing Americans around the nation together to voice support for fiscal responsibility, religious liberty, life and marriage,’ according to an announcement from the Family Foundation of Virginia.” They are rolling into Richmond on Tuesday, July 10th for a Conservative Coalition Meeting with the Virginia Institute for Public Policy at 10 am, followed by a press conference on the Myth of the War on Women at 12:15. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/virginia-politics/post/values-bus-tour-rolls-into-virginia/2012/07/05/gJQA5Ud4PW_blog.html

If you would like to know just what the Family Research Council is about, you can read all about their misinformation and faux policy research on the LGBT community here: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/family-research-council Thank you Southern Poverty Law Center. OK, I get that they view gays as a threat to their value system, not that I understand it at all but I get the hatred. Bigotry is alive and well, and in certain parts of our country its roots run deep. But the GOP is barking up the wrong tree if they think they can sell the War on Women as a myth. Holler!

According to the Chicago Tribune, “There were over 1100 antichoice provisions introduced in 2011 and 900 antichoice provisions introduced so far in 2012. Legislators in 13 states have introduced 22 bills seeking to mandate that a woman obtain an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion. Of these, seven states are pursuing the state-rape vaginal probe variety. In addition, legislators in 13 states have sponsored right-wing “Personhood” type bills, too extreme even for the electorate of Mississippi, that could make both abortion and reproductive choices highly restricted.” http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-11/news/sns-201204111215usnewsusnwr201204090410debate.women.baapr11_1_gop-war-ultrasound-bill-poor-women

I think they are scared, because many Republican women are not buying this myth business. And women are not a minority, like the LGBT community, or undocumented workers. We women vote, and will do so in unprecedented numbers this fall. We women know when a myth, disguised as religious freedom, works its way into the public discourse and starts chipping away at our human rights. We would like to call on that elephant with all those arms to get these ridiculous bills out of our state capitols. One person’s myth is another person’s caterpillar, or elephant.

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Yesterday’s Richmond Rally was rainy and inspiring. Twenty years ago I marched in DC with my daughter and my niece; now I march with a new friend who was a lifelong Republican. I am encouraged by these women, and by the power of social media. Women’s rights are human rights! Legislators, we are the deciders. A vote for the Personhood Bill (and many other demeaning and demoralizing bills) tells us you care less about our fertility and access to contraception, and more about your religious dogma.

Our next Senator, Tim Kaine was there. He is listening.

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If you’re old enough to remember Nixon’s bid for re-election against George McGovern in 1972, then you may have read the best selling book about that campaign as seen through the eyes of the mostly male political press corps, “The Boys on the Bus” by Timothy Crouse. Ah those were the days: reporters only had one deadline a day; many had intimate access to the candidates; boozing and cavorting were de rigueur, and applauded! http://www.npr.org/2012/04/19/150577036/boys-on-the-bus-40-years-later-many-are-girls These were Mad Men indeed, writing copy that could possibly sway a nation. I was 23 years old, had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and it was my first presidential vote. Only one state went blue, and later Nixon brought us Watergate. To this day, I am proud that along with the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I voted for McGovern.

This Saturday women, and some of the men who love them, will be boarding buses all over these United States in order to unite our sisters as one voice. Our bodies, Our Choices, Our vote. Back in the day, when I had one deadline a week in MA, women were still being categorized as “soft” copy. Articles by and for women, as often as not, appeared buried in the “Style” section. Today, with a 24/7 news cycle and social media, gender-specific issues can hit the front page anywhere, and a bill about “Personhood” in MS might just roll across your Facebook news feed in VA. My friend in NY, will read about our Governor rethinking the “Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound Bill” because he had ‘no idea’ it was that intrusive.

And so it adds up – like death by a thousand cuts – we see a slow but steady legislative assault on our very autonomy, on our civil rights. “Nine hundred forty four bills (to limit women’s reproductive health and rights) in the first three months of this year alone. Nine hundred sixteen such bills introduced and considered in 2011, and hundreds in 2010. Never before on any matter has there been such a legislative offensive, such a coordinated drive to overrule the law of the land and force everyone to adhere to one set of religious beliefs.”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-helfert/from-the-frontlines-of-the-war-on-women_b_1450296.html
For one woman it was seeing Sandra Fluke denied her right to speak, and then being degraded by a right-wing nut case. For another it was a presidential candidate threatening to ban contraception! Margaret Sanger, we need you again. So two ordinary women, united by their belief in a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about her body, got together on Facebook and started a revolution…they said we have to take to the streets, again. And we bi-partisan women, blue, red and all other shades, we were listening.

If you are fed up with the “Boys on the Bus” mentality, with the kind of thinking that brought us this religious vs state testimony excluding women from the conversation and you want to join us, feel free. Our bus leaves for Richmond at 11:30 and arrives at Nina F. Abady Festival Park, 449 N. 7th Street, Richmond, VA for a 2pm rally. 50 state capitals will be filled with women on Saturday. I wonder who will be listening. To find your state’s event: http://unitewomen.org/unite/

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Hazily coming up out of a semi-good night’s sleep, I heard what I thought was a duck being strangled. Then Ms Bean’s bark was added to a chorus of early morning, pre-dawn sounds. Bob was heading into the hospital, and I was stumbling toward the door to see if our small brown shelter dog thought she was a large golden retriever. There, sitting regally in the top of a tree near our driveway, was a very real, very mad peahen!

Once upon a time I had purchased 2 peacocks, who are always male, for my brother Mike’s birthday. His home in MS has a beautiful 14 acre park for a backyard and I thought this would be the best lawn decoration ever. As soon as they were delivered to the manse, one flew into a tree and proceeded to squawk to his buddy, “Hey let’s split this place, no peahens!” Here is a picture of the family at my niece’s wedding in a beautiful, but peacock-less Japanese garden.

And while I am writing this, I’ve been informed by my daughter via text that she is indeed having a girl! She and her husband are in the doctor’s office and she has managed to text me a picture of the ultrasound. I am beyond jubilant and think my peahen was announcing this like a trumpeter to the Queen of Little Sleep this morning, “Wake up, wake up, it’s going to be a girl!” And honey, I’m ordering this onsie for you right now. Cause you know it’s not a war on caterpillars we’ve been fighting ever since your Great Great Grandmother Anna Robinson, my Nana, got the vote, as one Republican has opined. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/rnc-chair-reince-priebus-compares-war-on-women-to-war-on-caterpillars-its-a-fiction/

We’re going to dream big for you baby girl. It’s going to be cups and ice all the way, in a land where peacocks and peahens play.

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A music festival was happening right in my own backyard and I didn’t even know about it until now! This weekend kicks off the 1st Annual Tom Tom Founders Festival http://www.tomtomfest.com/ in honor of, you guessed it, Mr Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. Lucky for us, it’s a month long celebration! There was a 10 band block party last night on the steps of the old McGuffey Arts Center, that spilled into the park where the Groom first saw his Bride!

This sounds like an ambitious and highly creative project that maybe needs a better PR team, but hey, this is the run-up to next year. It’s like MOMA meets SXSW and a modern day southern Woodstock is born!

Bob is flying to Williamburg today for a lunch date with his Woodstock buddy, Al and his son Brian. Brian is many hours into pilot training and did a tour in Cville at the JAG Law School. I’m glad the Army chose to keep him in the area. Part of the second generation of Big Chillers, I’m also thankful one of that group became a lawyer. Along with doctors, rock stars, engineers, and travel executives, you never know when you might need a good lawyer…

Which leads me to my very BFF in MA, Lee. She was an assistant DA for many years while having her children; later, she opened her own law practice. My favorite Mother’s Day memory was playing with our babies while the dads grilled dinner in our backyard. For the GOP to start up with the whole “Working Mothers” divide is semantics at its worst. Ann Romney is right when she said we all have that choice to make; we women, our bodies, our babies, our choices. The naughty little twist in that equation is that money can make the choices much, much easier. Single moms, and moms who must work outside the home to make ends meet, they know the true story. Some moms can afford nannies, and some can barely pay for day care (that’s another problem), some have husbands who are parenting at home, while some choose to stay at home working… Let’s not divert the war that is being waged on reproductive rights with a false dialogue on working women.

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It’s official, the vernal equinox has arrived, and how do we know? Because Google tells us so with a happy doddle design by Marimekko. Known for its bright/big/bold prints, I happen to love this Finnish textile company. When the Rocker was 2 years old, I ordered blue and white sky fabric to make cloud curtains for his bedroom, desperately hoping that would help him to sleep through the night. And it did help, that and not being quite so desperate for sleep myself.

Two famous housewives are in the news lately. First there’s Nicolette Sheridan aka Edie Britt; her wrongful termination trial was thrown out of court. The jury was hung, so they quit in a life imitates art moment. Was she struck forcefully and intimidated then summarily fired by Marc Cherry, the creator of Desperate Housewives? Or was it all a playful swat, just a pattern of reckless hand gesturing that accidentally hit her up side the head after he had decided to kill her off anyway? We’ll never know, but chances are there will be a very nice settlement for Ms Sheridan.

Raising money is on the Spring to-do list of another hot TV mama. Eva Longoria has been named President Obama’s newest campaign co-chair; “Obama, for me, is the only one that understands that the success and the future of America is intricately tied to the success of the Hispanic community.” In the midst of celebrating her 37th birthday, Ms Longoria is also hoping to appeal to women voters.
Well Hallelujah!!

The latest attacks on women have seen New Hampshire Republicans putting forth a bill that would condone a doctor’s “right” to lie or withhold information on genetic abnormalities in a fetus from its mother. Kind of hard to believe isn’t it? Well of course it’s OK to sue for CP, but not for lying about a positive genetic test?!

And now for your further enjoyment, the great state of Tennessee has decided it would like to make the names of abortion providers – and the women who seek their services – public!
Honestly, sometimes I think the GOP would like to go back in time and just brand us with a letter. Come on ladies, lets all wear the big “S” on our arms and emblazoned on our shirts. If you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale in a while, it’s time to pick it up again. Here is my well worn copy, next to a picture of my Father’s family. He is sitting like the sun on a table, with his 4 sisters and a brother in orbit around him.

Celebrity star gazing is fun, but the trajectory of our democracy is in peril. Tonight the sun will begin to come back across our Blue Mountains and arrive at its other intersecting point in the middle of our ridgeline. We may be able to predict the sun’s path across the sky, but can we predict how we women will vote? Let’s not be despondent ladies, let’s organize!

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