Friday, April 22, 2005

A question for Virginia readers and military observers

In the last few weeks, several military units have been called up across Virginia--so far the ones I've noticed have been around Culpepper and Richmond. The news broke today that a Richmond-based Virginia Army National Guard helicopter unit, the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation, has been told that it may be mobilized for active duty in the next three days. And, I have friends in the Guard who on stand-by to get "the call" any day now.

Why now, and why Richmond?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Language Points

I just picked up a new winning phrase from Pam's current post on Big Brass Blog about how Bill Gates and Microsoft have abandoned the GLBT community -- in an agressive and backhanded way. (Go read it. And do whatever you can to show some love to John Aravosis at AMERICA Blog cause he's busting his tail to keep breaking these stories.)

Back on the language track. The new phrase is..."Religious Reich."

I love it. Pam, did you coin it? Has it been around for a while? Am I the last kid on my block to have a Religious Reich?

Yo, meme boys: Bob, Ian, Jeremy et al, what do you think?

Big language points to Pam. I am going to get good milage with this.

Canadian women rocket past US counterparts

In some great news today for Canadian women, Health Canada just approved non-prescription sales of the morning after pill. Canadian women will soon have over-the-counter access to levonorgestrel, sold in Canada under the brand name Plan B.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the 49th parallel, one of the latest salvos in the ongoing assault against self-determination and reproductive rights for women has been the refusal of bigot pharmacists to dispense birth control prescriptions, while radical republicans work to encode the "right to discriminate" into local legislation (the same way they handled the "right to discrimination" cases against the civil rights movement).

Canadian girls are learning the birds and the bees along with STD prevention, while American girls are increasingly being taught to "keep your knees together so you can catch a good Christian husband."

Back when I was at university reading the lit on reproductive rights, cross-cultural and international studies showed that high access to fertility control corresponded to high status in society for women*.

Fastforward 15 or 20 years:
Which country do you think will have, per capita, the most women executives? The most women in government? The most women with advanced education? The most women in the paid workforce?

Which country do you think will have the most single mothers? The most women living in poverty?

Fastforward 30 or 40 years:
If you live in the US, what are the odds you'll still be able to find yourself a female dentist or GP or gynecologist? A woman lawyer to handle your divorce? A woman psychologist? A woman professor? A woman police officer in the local rape unit?

This is graham crackers and hysterectomies and valium and shock therapy and rest cures all over again, folks.

If reproductive rights "aren't your issue," think again, and pick up this fight for our daughters and granddaughters, for the social welfare net you don't want to pay for out of your retirement tax dollars, for the skilled labor force that is slipping through your fingers.

Reproductive rights are everybody's fight, and don't let anyone tell you differently.

*The glaring exception was, of course, Japan, a topic on which I can give chapter and verse to anyone that's interested, but it is beyond the scope of this particular post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Fanatic Pharmacists

The blogosphere, and especially political blogs by women, are full right now of the stories about pharmacists who refuse to fill medical prescriptions at whim, and the Republicans who goad and deify them. I'd like to review a few salient points that so far seem to be missing from the conversation. (If you're new to the issue, a good starting point is the ever-fabulous Bush v Choice blog.

Framing, Framing, Framing

Folks, these nut jobs are NOT "activist pharmacists." That's a Frank Luntz-tested GOP meme there, you're spending your own bandwidth to pass around.

Where I come from, "activists" are people who work hard to effect positive change. You know, suffragettes, civil rights workers, Cesar Chaves and the farm workers union. Not regressive, misogynist, religious zealots.

Sorry. Stinky GOP meme. If you are going to write about the issue, drop their language. Call them puritans, women-haters, anti-choice, prudes, religious fanatics, American taliban, luddites, GOP whores du jour, but not activist pharmacists.

The 800 Pound Gorilla

Where is Big Pharma in this conversation? Are Ortho et al happy to have their market share cut down by petty tyrant pill-withholders in rural America? Are they happy to be losing money?

Why aren't they raising hell? Where's the sweetheart deal? What are they getting in return for losing customers?

Big Drugs and the theocrats and the neocons and the republican radicals are all in bed together. So, how much does it cost to buy the cooperation of the Pharmaceutical industry? How many shekels were women's bodies sold out for this time?

The Lysistrata Strategy

If Big Pharma and the GOP are turning their backs on women, let's turn our backs on them.
  • Don't sleep with republicans. (Not that you would, of course.)
  • Stop using prescription birth control.
  • You heard me. Assault them in the sales figures--it is the closest you can get to kneeing a corporation in the balls.

    Why aren't women talking about The Billings Method of cost-free, side-effect free, non-carcinogenic, natural fertility control? It is advocated by the World Health Organization as 98.5% effective. It costs nothing. It works. And it doesn't put your dollars into the hands of people who donate them over to the GOP.

    Granted, Billings doesn't provide protection against STD transmission, and it requires the cooperation of your partner, so it is most appropriate for use in long-term, monogamous relationships. But hey--that is still an awful lot of us.

    Let's turn the tables: if crazy pharmacists want to boycott women, let's have women boycott pharmacists.

    Right now, the Pharmaceutical industry insists on selling us shoddy products that make us sick, financially prop up the party that is dead set on turning us into wombs-for-the-emperor, and rolls over and plays dead when fanatics refuse to fill our medical prescriptions. They can go to hell. Hit'em where it hurts: stop giving them our birth control dollars.

    That should get their attention, even if the ruckus over fanatic pharmacists doesn't.

    Damning with Faint Praise

    [I wasn't sure if I should title this post "Damning with Faint Praise," "Out of the Mouths of Trolls," or, in deference to the great Mr. Stewart, "I am not your monkey." Pick which ever you like best and pretend it is at the top, I suppose.]

    I have to share an excerpt from a recently deleted troll comment.

    I have been accused of being "a Democratic political operative."

    I really truly did laugh out loud.

    That's a little bit like Tucker Carlson calling Jon Stewart a "journalist," if you'll excuse the hyperbolic analogy.

    Sunday, April 17, 2005

    We're doing it, again

    We're in the middle of moving. Again. (Same city, new apartment)

    Our moves have become increasingly lackadaisical, while I've been ill. We straggle in, we unpack very little, and there is less and less packing and prep for the move that follows suit in 3 months to a year.

    Contract work, immigration, health issues, and campaign jobs have put us in extended-stay hotels, on friends' counches, and in strangers' basements, just as often as in apartments in the past 4 years.

    We have become friends with the proprietors of storage units.

    As we empty out the room here that were never sorted out and were always cluttered, suddenly this apartment seems twice as large and bright and promising, and we think to ourselves, "This is such a nice place. Why are we moving? Why don't we just stay here?"

    We do it every time.

    Our lifestyle is not conducive to the accumulation of material things. Some bookshelves, some books, some videos, and some changes of clothes.

    Ghandi is reputed to have given away half his worldly belongings every year. We aren't travelling quite that lightly, but Richmond's Diversity Thrift Store will do well by us on this move, just like Hope House in DC did this time last year.

    We flirted, briefly, with inflatible furniture a few years ago. The same company that makes the much-vaunted Aero Beds had a whole living room suite that was both aesthetic and functional, but poorly engineered, and the seams split in very short order.

    Otherwise, we mostly don't have furniture (a bed, a table, 2 bedside tables, 4 mismatched chairs, a boot bench - that's all). Our bookshelves are collapsible or modular. We look for things that disassemble and travel well.

    Maybe that's how we recognized each other and wound up married.

    Posting will, of course, be sporadic, as we shuffle from one address to the other. We have an overlap on our leases of two weeks, a rare luxury, so we can move somewhat at our leisure, and at least at a saner pace than so many of our moves.

    And naturally, I have at least a dozen topics I want to write on, but no time, and no energy. (I am still actively engaged in a number of Virginia campaigns; we got home from the last load out at the new address around midnight last night, and I was doing voter file management until 2:00 a.m.) There lies the essence of my blogging experience: inspiration and the time to write rarely coincide. Perhaps it would be more apt to call the paradox the essence of my writing experience all around.

    And yet, we chose this gypsy life, and for now at least, we wouldn't trade it for the world.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Do Not Fail Your Species

    Fortunately, we now have instructions to guide us.

    Go on and point your pineal attennae at the Little Golden Book About ZOGG.

    With many thanks and hail mary's to Sister Novena.

    PS It's true -- I got my own head start in life by devouring any competitor spawn.

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    Tech Savvy Virginia Politics


    Years ago, I went to visit my brother in Vancouver when he was living in The Heatly, at the corner of Heatly and Main: a welfare hotel build in the 30's? 40's? I think he may have been the only resident who was neither retired, nor a veteran, nor alcoholic (at least not full fledged), nor consumptive.

    He decided to spruce the place up in honor of my pending visit. He went over to the health food store by Sweet Cherubim, and got a herbal mixture that was supposed to lure out roaches, and then poison them.

    Only, the mix was wrong. All lure, no poison. It was bloody roach-nip.

    His apartment became spring break for roaches, Ft. Lauderdale and Mazatlan rolled into one. Roach City. Roach Mardi Gras. Roaches were coming on buses from other time zones. It was out of control.

    We both stayed at his girlfriend's place. For a week.

    I roll out this story for your edification because, as fellow bloggers and blog readers, you will have all experienced that strange phenomenon of "troll-nip"--a post or topic that pulls trolls out of the woodwork.

    The original iteration of this post was sheer troll nip. Verging on troll-cocaine, actually, from the housekeeping I've had to do here.

    Well, I'm in the middle of moving, as stated above. I have no patience for trolls, and a heavy delete key, but right now, I just don't have the resources to smack their little trolly bottoms.

    So, you if you have followed a link from elsewhere to this post, you are getting a little story about roach nip instead of the advertised fare.

    And I go back to the more pressing concerns of real life (like carrying boxes up 3 flights of stairs, and getting Democrats elected), until I have the time to shine a bright light as needed and make the trolls scatter back under the refridgerator.

    Happy reading, happy blogging, happy living--and don't step in the troll-nip.

    Pas de Pape Canadien

    I can not cheer for the prospect of a Canadian-born pope.

    The CBC has noted that Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellete is on a short-list of papal candidates. CBC has previously noted that Ouellet's regarded as papabili, or "pope-able."

  • Ouellet's views have been described as "conservative" and "aligned with the pope;"

  • On Jan 20, Ouellete issued an open letter to all Canadians attacking advances in GLBT civil rights in Canada as "offensive to the moral and religious sensibility;"

  • and finally, the last thing we need is an outbreak of Catholic fervor in Quebec. Seriously.
  • Are there *any* cardinals on the short list who aren't woman-hating, conservative homophobes? Any cause for hope?

    If any readers are following the selection process, I'd love to hear any good news about prospective new popes. My own fingers right now are crossed for Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico and Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil.

    Of course, since JP chose 114 of the 117 electors, the odds for a less extremist pope aren't great. But then, I work in Democratic politics: I'm good for long odds.

    Of course, if the cardinals' recent pronouncements to the press are correct, and it is indeed the agency of the Holy Spirit that makes the decision, we've got nothing to worry about.

    US anti-choice politics infiltrating Canada

    Julia at Julia said reprints Heather Mallick's Globe and Mail column exposing the US anti-choice activists behind an anti-abortion fraud group in Canada.

    The kicker: through an affinity credit card program, the Bank of Montreal is giving money to support the anti-choice scheme.

    Go read the entire article.

    I hope you'll join Heather Mallick and I, along with the Canadian choice community, in boycotting the Bank of Montreal.

    In the bigger picture, though, this is just a shot across the bow: look for more US extremist groups to try to promote the radical republican agenda of gay-baiting, racism, woman-hating, and war-mongering in Canada.

    Having Canada as a civilized country on their doorstep is a major embarrasment for republican extremists and they are already doing something about it. Canadians who care about sovereignty, tolerance, and civil liberties need to take that threat seriously, and hit back hard.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    Girls On Top

    A roundup of great news from the great women of Virginia politics:

  • Leslie Byrne for Lieutenant Governor is first to file for the Democratic Primary for Lieutenant Governor.

  • Janet Oleszek makes top of the ballot in the Democratic Primary for House District 37 in Fairfax.

  • Linda Crandell adds her name to the ticket in House District 99 in Northern Neck.
  • Senator Leslie Byrne and School Board Member Janet Oleszek filing their papers first in their respective primaries is big news in the context of this year's election regulations in Virginia. To put her name on the ballot, a candidate must file the signatures of supporting registered voters in her district. Byrne needed 10,000 signatures statewide; the number of signatures drops as you work down the ballot. In the past, candidates' names have appeared on the ballot in alphabetical order. However, this year, the first candidate to file in a given primary appears on top. In other words, first to file = first on the ballot. Thus, being first to file puts Byrne and Oleszek at the top of their candidate listings and gives them each a significant strategic advantage in their own races.

    Colonial Beach Town Council Member Linda Crandell is stepping up to hold the seat of retiring Northern Neck Democrat Al Pollard, Jr. Pollard and Crandell are both accomplished and widely respected Democrats. The Democratic party is lucky to have a candidate of Crandell's caliber to hang on to a seat that Virginia republicans are characterising as "a GOP-leaning district, but ... also very winnable for the Dems."

    To appreciate the news from the Byrne, Oleszek, and Crandell campaigns, we need to look at the demographics of Virginia state politics. When Democrats Paula J. Miller and Rosalyn Dance won their special elections this winter, they became respectively the 10th and 11th women in the 100-member Virginia House of Delegates. The Miller and Dance wins bring the Democratic tally in the House up to 38 members. Six of those Democrats, including Miller and Dance, are women--but Delegate Marian Van Landingham (House District 45 in Alexandria) recently announced her retirement, and Delegate Viola Baskerville (House District 71 in Richmond) is running in the Lieutenant Governor primary and is expected to step down from her house seat.

    Women may constitute over 50% of the population and be the backbone of the Democratic party...but in the game of "representative politics," we've got a lot of catching up and representing to do.

    It is great to see Crandell and other great Democratic women standing for office this year. Some of the great women Democrats joining Crandell, Oleszek, and Byrne on the ballot in other parts of the state include:

  • Jennifer McClellan (House District 71 in Richmond), running in the Democratic primary to step up as a successor to Delegate Baskerville;
  • Supriya Christopher (House District 84 in Virginia Beach), a broadcaster and a navy wife, running a great campaign in an open seat race to replace a retiring republican;
  • Prince William County Supervisor Hilda Barg (House District 52 in Prince William County), mounting a challenge against a vulnerable anti-tax extremist republican freshman.
  • As Matt Stoller pointed out in his fabulous W is for Women post live-blogging from the Republican National Convention this summer, the republicans admit internally that they can not win against competitive, female Democratic candidates.

    It's great to see the Democrats are finally waking up to what the republicans have known for a long time: to win, we need to run more women.

    If Byrne or Baskerville were to win the Lieutenant Governor nomination this year, they stand a shot at not only being the first woman Lieutenant Governor in Virginia, but from there in 2009 to being our first female Governor.

    Let's get serious about turning Virginia blue and send a woman straight to the top.

    Cross posted to BOP News.


    Friday, April 01, 2005

    Give Back To Your Community

    The Cannibal Flesh Donor Program

    Via, naturally, Umair Haque's Bubblegeneration.

    Another woman on the ticket!

    Great news, via Virginia's ever-fabulous Waldo Jaquith. Waldo writes:
    "Linda Crandell, a fellow member of the current class of the Sorensen Institute’s Political Leaders Program has announced her candidacy for House of Delegates up in the Northern Neck, in the 99th District. Linda is a Democrat, a Colonial Beach Councilwoman, and is facing at least one challenger for the nomination. As a Sorensen fellow, she’s particularly well-suited to serve in the General Assembly — it demonstrates a commitment to bipartisanship, ethical behavior, and good governance. Of course, the mere fact that she was accepted into the program is a strong endorsement of her leadership abilities. Having gotten to know her, I’m excited about her candidacy, and intend to help her in any way that I can."
    I take Waldo's endorsements very seriously, and I'm excited to learn more about Crandell.

    Add one more woman to the ticket in Virginia this year!