Posts tagged Hillary Rodham Clinton

Change You Can Believe In (Cont’d)

From Mark Landler and Steven Erlanger (2011-02-05), Obama Backs Suleiman-Led Transition, at truthout:

Munich — The Obama administration on Saturday formally threw its weight behind a gradual transition in Egypt, backing attempts by the country’s vice president, Gen. Omar Sulei­man, to broker a compromise with opposition groups and prepare for new elections in September.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking to a conference here, said it was important to support Mr. Sulei­man as he seeks to defuse street protests and promises to reach out to opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Administration officials said earlier that Mr. Sulei­man and other military-backed leaders in Egypt are also considering ways to provide President Hosni Mubarak with a graceful exit from power.

That takes some time, Mrs. Clinton said. There are certain things that have to be done in order to prepare.

— Mark Landler and Steven Erlanger (2011-02-05), Obama Backs Suleiman-Led Transition, at truthout

Indeed! For example:

Nor has Mr. Suleiman, a former general, former intelligence chief and Mr. Mubarak’s longtime confidant, yet reached out to the leaders designated by the protesters to negotiate with the government, opposition groups said.

Instead of loosening its grip, the existing government appeared to be consolidating its power: The prime minister said police forces were returning to the streets, and an army general urged protesters to scale back their occupation of Tahrir Square.

. . .

In Tahrir Square, meanwhile, the military tightened its cordon around the protesters by reinforcing security checks at all the entrances.

— Kareem Fahim, Mark Landler and Anthony Shadid (2011-02-05), West [sic] Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition, New York Times

At home and abroad, the more things Change….

Elsewhere in the Times story, there’s this:

Protesters interpreted the simultaneous moves by the Western leaders and Mr. Suleiman as a rebuff to their demands for an end to the dictatorship led for almost three decades by Mr. Mubarak, a pivotal American ally[1] and pillar of the existing order in the Middle East.

Just days after President Obama demanded publicly that change in Egypt must begin right away, many in the streets accused the Obama administration of sacrificing concrete steps toward genuine change in favor of a familiar stability.

America doesn’t understand, said Ibrahim Mustafa, 42, who was waiting to enter Tahrir Square. The people know it is supporting an illegitimate regime.

— Kareem Fahim, Mark Landler and Anthony Shadid (2011-02-05), West [sic] Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition, New York Times

Of course Mr. Mustafa is right that that is what America — meaning the United States government — is doing. But I’m afraid I can’t agree with him if he blames it on the cluelessness or naïveté of Mr. Obama and his government. It’s not that they don’t understand what the people in Tahrir Square want and expect; it’s that they don’t care. The primary allies of governments are always other governments — because the first and most important commitment of any government is to government, just as such, and maintained at any cost.

See also:

  1. [1] Sic. Is Hosni Mubarak one of your pivotal allies?

Lazy Linking of the Libertarian Left

  • If you’ve decided that you’re not interested in helping limited-governmentalists make the trains run on time, one of the first replies you are always going to get from minarchists and minarcho-enablers is some snide remarks about how you must advocate doing nothing out of a prissy or sanctimonious concern for ideological purity. Of course, this reply is usually plain nonsense, since it depends on the completely unargued, and in fact easily refuted, principle that the only alternatives on the table are (1) partisan politicking in government elections, or else (2) doing nothing. Of course these are not the two options, and the only reasons that you would act as if they are is (a) if you are wearing the conceptual blinders of statist political analysis, or else (b) you don’t have a clear or concrete enough conception of what someone might put down for option (3). I tried to make my point clear about problem (a) in my follow-up post; but for a more straightforward approach to the problem, see also this great post tackling problem (b) from Francois Tremblay at Check Your Premises (2008-01-22): Eight ways you can personally help to smash the State: One of the problems with Anarchism is that, unlike other political ideologies which rely on the system, the courses of actions one can take are not obvious. People who are convinced by the arguments are discouraged by the notion that there’s nothing I can do, and new Anarchists, not seeing any way out, turn to political means as the only solution. … So what can we do to resist? Not as a movement, but personally? There are a number of things that a single individual can do that brings concrete, if small, change. Read the whole thing, and note especially numbers 5–8.

  • Thomas Knapp, a market anarchist and sometime Libertarian Party activist, who has used the freedom train metaphor often in the past (and who I quoted in Take the A-Train), has a lot of thoughtful remarks in reply to my criticism, in KN@PPSTER (2008-02-01): Train kept a-rollin’, part 1 of ???. There’s some good points here, both by way of objection and by way of agreement, which I should have linked some time ago, and which provide a lot of great discussion-fodder and deserve a reply when my brain is a bit less fried than it is right now. I’m not especially convinced by some of Knapp’s rejoinders — e.g. I think that the claim that it’s easier to get from Anarchotopia once the train has already pulled in at Minarchistan is refuted by, or at least faces an as-yet unanswered challenge from, precisely the points that I raised in my follow-up post. But while I unfry my brain enough to talk at more length, you should definitely read the whole thing.

  • Mutualists and counter-economists alike may find something of interest in Michel Bauwens’s mention of the unMoney Convergence - a conference on money, liberation and systems change, to be held in Seattle April 14–16. The convergence will discuss the emergence of alternatives to government money (community currencies, Internet currencies, open currencies, etc.); the development of open, peer-to-peer infrastructures for gifting, sharing, and exchange; and efforts to move to open money systems over the next ten years. (The convergence will no doubt include plenty of crankery and rubbish along with plenty of genuinely good discussion and perhaps even mildly thrilling developments. But that’s par for the course. Again, more stuff that I’d be interested to talk about and hash out — e.g. the tensions between genuine mutual money and community exchanges, and progressive Monopoly-money deliberately obstructing non-local use — once back in a post-brain-fried state.) Anyway, read the whole thing and follow the links.

  • Finally, for a change of speed, we have the latest Radical Healthcare Reform proposal from New York Times humor columnist Paul Krugman (2008-02-04): Clinton, Obama, Insurance, in which it is revealed that the most significant policy difference between Hillary Rodham Clinton’s scheme for massive government subsidies to third-party health insurance bureaucracies and Barack Obama’s scheme for massive government subsidies to third-party health insurance bureaucracies is that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plan would force everybody to buy health coverage from a big corporate insurer, whether it’s in their financial best interest or not; whereas Barack Obama’s plan, although forcing everyone to subsidize other people’s use of big corporate insurers through taxes, would at least give each individual person some choice over whether or not it’s in their own best interest to buy corporate health insurance for herself. Krugman then suggests that reveals a major defect in Obama’s plan and a major virtue of Clinton’s plan. Because, apparently, the purely statistical achievement of universal coverage is an obvious good, regardless of what that coverage amounts to or what the cost of achieving it is, whereas the notion that a bug-government-mandated captive market for big, bureaucratic insurance companies might not always be the best way for each and every one of 300,000,000 very different people with very different needs to get their healthcare costs covered, is an idea that could only be advanced by the dupes or hirelings of the same insurance firms that stand to massively profit from this subsidy program (!).

    This is, apparently, what passes for Leftist economics among the professional statist-blowhard class in America. Libertarian mutualists, i.e. the genuinely Leftist alternative to the corporate liberal managerialism and progressive statism fraudulently passed off as Leftism today, know that radical healthcare reform would mean something very different — the abolition of government obstacles in healthcare and the emergence of grassroots networks and institutions for mutual aid among the working class, not a massive effort by the policy elite to universalize and ossify the existing boss-and-bureaucrat model of third-party healthcare coverage.

Refuge of Oppression #4: Non sequitur edition

Happy 2008, everyone!

In celebration of the new year, here’s a recent correspondence I received over the holidays, from a friend of men’s college sports, a protector of men’s endangered penises, and a defender of virtue, righteousness, and old time religion generally against the assault from femists socialist man hating women, apparently including the elder statesman of Analytic philosophers.

I will bestow 100 bonus points on anyone who can identify absolutely anything in particular on my blog that this missive would count as a reply to.

From: healingchiropracticrehabcenter
To: Rad Geek
Date: 2007-12-28 8:01 PM
Subject: Hilary

Hilary and the rest of the femists socialist man hating women got it all wrong

Women want special treatment because they are woman but want to be lied to saying they achieved something by merit

But in reality by their skirt and flirt.

Women want all the oppertunities of a man but special affirmitive. Action treatment but want to keep their little priveledge of a stay at home housewife.

Womens goal is not to be equal but to destroy men

Examples
NCAA
ALMOST eliminated Wrestling like they did boxing.

Cut football scholarships back
And gave mens football and basketball money to womens sports and mens sports that do not generate revenue

Mens Div 1 Basketball 13 Scholarships
Womens Div 1 basketball 15 scholarships

The National Council of Communist athletes calls this. Gender Equity

Womens Volleyball 15 Scolarships
Mens. Volleyball 41/2 scholarships

Crew. Women can have 40 scholarships
Men. 0 scholarships

Men in football or basketball are picked
Cheverlet player of the game and the money is given to the ” gen Scholarship fund which equates to non male non male athlete benifets

Hollywood and TV is always showing women beating up on men and its okey while the men are being faggy hairstylist and waitressess and nurses

Women walk around in these evolution shirts starting as amonkey progressing to a football player then a high heeled bossy bitch

There are also much more qualified women to run than hilary that love our country Hilary loves the. United Nations of Islamic Terroists

By the way Hila ry already served her 2 terms as President.

Only in America Lorena Bobbit cut off her husbands dick. Stayed out of Prison and Kept Her License to Carry Scissors and cut hair.

If A Man Cut out a womens vagina or cut of her breasts , what do you think would of happened to. The. Guy

One Last Situation

If The Terrorist where White Christian Male military veterans would they get any symathy

Timothy Mcvey killed around 160 people from the IRS They ececuted him within 5 years

Over 6 years after 911 which almost
4000 were killed how many terrorist or planners have been killed
What would the femenist view be if they were white christian heterosexual men who played contact sports and served in the military?

I am sure you can see the point

Where is the outcry when a Muslim converts to christianity and sentenced to death By Now

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

O.K., fess up. Which of you actually penned this over-the-top satire on the illiterate buffoonery of antifeminist Internet trolls? It’s not that it’s not funny, in its own way, but I’d say that it is entirely too ham-handed to be ultimately successful.

More by and about Andrea Dworkin

I want to say some more about Andrea Dworkin and what her life’s work meant and what we have lost with her death. If there’s one fact about her that’s hard to avoid, it’s how fiercely personal the reactions she inspired were. (The reactions were, at the same time intensely political. That’s because that famous slogan happens to be the truth.) I’ve only encountered Andrea Dworkin through her writing—I never had the chance to meet her or to hear her speak, but the news of the death felt like hearing about the death of someone I had known half my life. But rather than saying more than the halting words I said last night when I heard the news, I think it may be better to remember her in her own words, and in the impact that she made on others in life.

Here’s how L. put it earlier today:

Andrea Dworkin has died, and I’ve wanted to say something about it, and I’m at a loss, because I didn’t expect her absence to feel so immediate and so huge. I hadn’t read very much by her in the past few years, but Intercourse and Letters from a War Zone were probably the last books to really change my life, back at the frayed end of my arrogant adolescence, steeped as I was in privilege and bad literary criticism, when I went around telling everyone that Dworkin was a brilliant rhetorician to avoid having to confront her ideas.

The best I can do is repeat what someone said on feminist_rage: that Andrea Dworkin was “a necessary person.” It’s common, and tempting, to wish peace on the dead, and Andrea Dworkin deserves to be at peace, but I can’t imagine her being satisfied with death, or with anything short of an almost unimaginable justice.

Andrea’s partner, John Stoltenberg, sent out an obituary and bio this morning based on information for publishers that she had prepared before her death. I got this over the off our backs e-mail list:

ANDREA DWORKIN

September 26, 1946 - April 9, 2005

BIOGRAPHY

Andrea Dworkin is internationally renowned as a radical feminist activist and author who has helped break the silence around violence against women. In her determination to articulate the experiences of poor, lower-class, marginal, and prostituted women, Dworkin has deepened public awareness of rape, battery, pornography, and prostitution. She is co-author of the pioneering Minneapolis and Indianapolis ordinances that define pornography as a civil-rights violation against women. She has testified before the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography and a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has appeared on national television shows including Donahue, MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, 60 Minutes, CBS Evening News, and 48 hours. She has been a focus of articles in The New York Times, Newsweek, The New Republic, and Time. And an hour-long documentary called Against Pornography: The Feminism of Andrea Dworkin, produced by the BBC, was watched by more viewers in England than any other program in the Omnibus series and has been syndicated throughout Europe and Australia. Filmed in New York City and Portland, Oregon, it included excerpts from Dworkin’s impassioned public speaking and intimate conversations between Dworkin and women who had been used in prostitution and pornography, most since childhood.

The author of 13 books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Dworkin is a political artist of unparalleled achievement. In every century, there are a handful of writers who help the human race to evolve, said Gloria Steinem; Andrea is one of them. Dworkin’s first novel, Ice and Fire, was published in 1986; Mercy followed in 1990 to wide acclaim in the U.S. and abroad- lyrical and passionate, said The New York Times; one of the great postwar novels, said London’s Sunday Telegraph; a fantastically powerful book, said the Glasgow Herald. Her latest nonfiction book is Life and Death: Unapologetic Writings on the Continuing War Against Women (The Free Press).

Dworkin’s activist political life began early. In 1965, when she was 18 and a student at Bennington College, she was arrested at the United States Mission to the United Nations, protesting against the Vietnam War. She was sent to the Women’s House of Detention, where she was given a brutal internal examination. Her brave testimony about the sadism of that experience—reported in newspapers around the world—helped bring public pressure on the New York City government to close the Women’s House of Detention down. An unmarked community garden now grows in Greenwich Village where that prison once stood.

Dworkin’s radical-feminist critique of pornography and violence against women began with her first book, Woman Hating, published in 1974 when she was 27. She went on to speak often about the harms to women of pornography and addressed the historic rally in 1978 when 3,000 women attending the first feminist conference on pornography held the first Take Back the Night March and shut down San Francisco’s pornography district for one night.

In 1980 Dworkin asked Yale law professor Catharine A. MacKinnon for help in bringing a civil-rights suit for Linda Marchiano, who as Linda Lovelace had been coerced into pornography, including Deep Throat. Under current law, Dworkin and MacKinnon discovered, there was no way to help her. Later, in 1983, while co-teaching a course on pornography at the University of Minnesota Law School in 1983, they were commissioned by the Minneapolis City Council to draft a local ordinance that would embody the legal principle, first proposed by Dworkin in Linda Marchiano’s behalf, that pornography violates the civil rights of women. Dworkin, MacKinnon, and others organized public hearings on the ordinance-the first time in history that victims of pornography testified directly before a governmental body. Dworkin has been a uniquely influential inspiration both to legal thinkers and to grass-roots feminist organizers. Her original legal theory—that harm done to women ought not be legally protected just because it is done through speech, and that sexual abuse denies women’s speech rights—has not only fomented a rift between advocates of civil rights and civil liberties but has also generated a Constitutional crisis, a fundamental conflict between existing interpretations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. A tireless fighter against the pornography industry and those who collaborate with it, Dworkin has herself been stigmatized professionally for her efforts to help women harmed by pornography—in part because U.S. media conglomerates side with pornographers’ right to turn women into speech. Since the American Booksellers Association and the American Publishers Association became plaintiffs in a 1984 lawsuit against the Indianapolis ordinance, Dworkin’s options for publishing in the U.S. have dropped off dramatically. Her last three books have had to be published in England first. Attempts to get the BBC documentary broadcast in the U.S. have so far been unsuccessful. Yet in 1992 the BBC invited Dworkin to return, to participate in a nationally televised debate on political correctness at the prestigious Cambridge Union.

Called the eloquent feminist by syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman, Dworkin has been a featured speaker at universities, conferences, and Take Back the Night marches throughout North America and Europe, speaking out powerfully against crimes of violence against women, the new right, racism, and anti-Semitism. The New York Times described one of her lectures on pornography at New York University Law School as highly passionate, and reported that the audience responded with a standing ovation. She moved this audience to action, said a Stanford University spokesperson. A University of Washington spokesperson said, She empowered the women and men present; in fact a coalition on violence against women came out of her lecture. Ms. magazine admires the relentless courage of Dworkin’s revolutionary demands… Her gift … is to make radical ideas seem clear and obvious.

Stoltenberg said that contributions in memory of Andrea’s life and work can be made to:

The Schlesinger Library
The Andrea Dworkin Fund
Radcliffe Institute
10 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-3600

… or to the domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center of your choice.

(Contributions to The Schlesinger Library designated for the Andrea Dworkin Fund will go towards processing her papers and creating an online guide to her work—much of which is hard to find or out of print.)

There’s more about her life, her legacy, and her passing at:

One of the most fitting pieces I’ve read on Andrea and her life’s work is actually a few years old: Louise Armstrong’s piece (in The Guardian, again), The trouble with Andrea (2005-06-25):

It may well be time to face one of the stranger phenomena of contemporary feminist life. And it is this: despite all the requirements for feminist celebrity status, spelt out for us recently by Elaine Showalter in these pages — TV appearances, public buzz, a blitz of stories in the press — the ur-feminist icon, the real template, is a woman with none of the above. It is not Hillary Clinton or Oprah or Princess Diana. This woman is not a celebrity by the acknowledged standard. She is… Andrea Dworkin. More than any of the above, she matches Showalter’s definition of feminist icon: someone on to whom a disproportionate amount of adulation and loathing is projected.

Projected is the key word here. To the pornographers and the new female libertines, she is the symbol for man-hater, sex-hater, killjoy. The feminists who adore her and flock to her lectures sit so rapt it is tempting to use the word rapture (she is a brilliant, even mesmerising speaker). There is something quasi-religious about the divide between devoted followers and those who would brand her a heretic, pillorying her over and over, as though to reassure themselves that they have the power.

Both sides have transformed a human being into a symbol. No other living person I can think of, who is so much out of the public eye, is so deeply entrenched in the public psyche as either heroine or demon.

What is strangest about the demonisers is, why do they bother? She does not have her own TV show, her books are not bestsellers. Why the need to keep bringing her up in order to put her down? It is parallel to what so much media does to feminism itself: It’s over! Retro! Let’s party, girls!

So strong a signifier has Dworkin’s name become that it is dragged in, higgledy-piggledy, whenever the speaker/author wishes to dump poo on advocacy with which he/she disagrees. I have seen her name yanked in out of left field, in the New York Times, for example, to say that an author displays an Andrea Dworkin-like attitude toward the genetic alteration of apples.

Think of it this way: Dworkin is a true feminist icon precisely because she is not a celebrity in the safe sense. She has not been brought down to scale, as Hillary Clinton was, by constant exposure; by Bill’s peccadilloes; by her own efforts to adjust to please the public, to moderate.

Dworkin is a threat, of course, to exactly the extent that radical feminists have always posed a threat — pointing out unapologetically the degree to which violence against women and children by men remains rampant. She will not shut up.

Read the whole thing.

And it’s true, as Armstrong says, that it’s tempting to say that if Andrea Dworkin didn’t exist, we would have had to invent her. … Which, come to think about it, is exactly what we have done. But the truth is that Andrea was not just a symbol—although she was that—she was a living, breathing, fierce, outraged, loving, hurt, unflinchingly principled, deeply compassionate human being. She could not have been made what she has been made, or meant what she has meant, without being who she is. And that is something that’s best experienced first hand, in her own words. You can read a lot of her most important work at The Andrea Dworkin Web Site. Here are some passages that struck me last night and today when I was reading over her books again.

These quotes are from Letters from a War Zone, a collection of essays, articles, and speeches from 1976 - 1989.

From Feminism: An Agenda (1983):

So let me just talk with you briefly about how the women’s movement gets its information, and why we are almost always right. In the last ten years there has been a pattern. Feminists have said that something happens or is true and then ten thousand authorities have said that’s bullshit. And then somebody started doing studies, and then three years later they say, well, well, rape is endemic. Right? They say to us, well your figure was too low, it’s ten times that, right? The FBI discovers rape, right?

The same thing happened with battery. Women love to be beaten: that is what authorities think and say. Battered wives begin speaking. Women begin to emerge from situations in which they have been held captive and terrorized for ten years, twelve years, fifteen years. Oh, what crap, the authorities say. Five years later we have sociologists telling us that they did a study in California and found out that fifty percent of married women have been beaten. It wasn’t news to us. We have a terrific trick. We listen to the women. It is an unbelievably top secret method that we don’t let anyone else know about.

From A Feminist Looks at Saudi Arabia (1978):

But mostly, inability to believe surfaces on days when Mr Carter and his cronies—and yes, I must admit, especially Andrew Young—discuss our good friend, Saudi Arabia. That is, their good friend, Saudi Arabia. I hear on newscasts that Mr Carter was enchanted by Saudi Arabia, that he had a wonderful time. I remember that Mrs Carter used the back door. I remember that the use of contraceptives in Saudi Arabia is a capital crime. I remember that in Saudi Arabia, women are a despised and imprisoned caste, denied all civil rights, sold into marriage, imprisoned as sexual and domestic servants in harems. I remember that in Saudi Arabia women are forced to breed babies, who had better be boys, until they die.

Disbelief increases in intensity as I think about South Africa, where suddenly the United States is on the side of the angels. Like most of my generation of the proud and notorious sixties, a considerable part of my life has been spent organizing against apartheid, there and here. The connections have always been palpable. The ruthless economic and sexual interests of the exploiters have always been clear. The contemptuous racism of the two vile systems has hurt my heart and given me good reason to think democracy a psychotic lie. Slowly activists have forced our government, stubborn in its support of pure evil, to acknowledge in its foreign policy that racist systems of social organization are abhorrent and intolerable. The shallowness of this new commitment is evident in the almost comical slogan that supposedly articulates the aspirations of the despised: One Man, One Vote. Amerikan foreign policy has finally caught up, just barely, with the human rights imperatives of the early nineteenth century, rendered reactionary if not obsolete by the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

From I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape (1983):

And if there would be a plea or a question or a human address in that scream, it would be this: why are you so slow? Why are you so slow to understand the simplest things; not the complicated ideological things. You understand those. The simple things. The clichés. Simply that women are human to precisely the degree and quality that you are.

And also: that we do not have time. We women. We don’t have forever. Some of us don’t have another week or another day to take the time for you to discuss whatever it is that will enable you to go out into those streets and do something.

I want to see this men’s movement make a commitment to ending rape because that is the only meaningful commitment to equality. It is astonishing that in all our worlds of feminism and antisexism we never talk seriously about ending rape. Ending it. Stopping it. No more. No more rape. In the back of our minds, are we holding on to its inevitability as the last preserve of the biological? Do we think that it is always going to exist no matter what we do? All of our political actions are lies if we don’t make a commitment to ending the practice of rape. This commitment has to be political. It has to be serious. It has to be systematic. It has to be public. It can’t be self-indulgent.

From Look, Dick, Look. See Jane Blow It. (1979):

I came here to say one simple thing: our honor and our hope is in our ability to name integrity the essential reality of revolution; our future will bring that integrity to realization only if it we put it first; we put it first by keeping our relationship to real life immediate and by respecting our capacity to understand experience ourselves, not through the medium of male ideology, male interpretation, or male intellection. Male values have devalued us: we cannot expect to be valued by honoring male values. This is a contradiction without resolution except in our obliteration.

These passages are from Andrea’s memoir, Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant (2002, pp. 191, 211):

I long to touch my sisters; I wish I could take away the pain; I’ve heard so much heartbreak among us. I think I’ve pretty much done what I can do; I’m empty; there’s not much left, not inside me. I think that it’s bad to give up, but maybe it’s not bad to rest, to sit in silence for a while. I’m told by my friends that it’s not evil to rest. At the same time, as they know, there’s a child being pimped by her father with everyone around her either taking a piece of her or looking the other way. How can anyone rest, really? What would make it possible? I say to myself, Think about the fourth-generation daughter who wasn’t a prostitute; think about her. I say, Think about the woman who asked herself whether or not it was bad to penetrate a baby with an object and figured out that it might be; think about her. These are miracles, political miracles, and there will be so many more. I think that there will be many more.

A memoir, which is what this is, says: this is what my memory insists on; this is what my memory will not let go; these points of memory make me who I am, and all that others find incomprehensible about me is explained by what’s in here. I need say that I don’t care about being understood; I want my work to exist on its merits and not on the power of personality or celebrity. I have done this book because a lot of people asked me to, and I hope this work can serve as a kind of bridge over which some girls and women can pass into their own feminist work, perhaps more ambitious than mine but never less ambitious, because that is too easy. I want women to stop crimes against women. There I stand or fall.

Let the hand-wringing begin

Nobody likes to have an abortion, and nobody would like to have one even under the best of conditions. Things are much better now than they were in the dark days of back-alley butchers; and they could be made much better yet if it weren’t for miles of punitive regulations and red tape made with the explicit purpose of making abortions harder for legally vulnerable women to obtain. But even without the cultural bullies and screaming protestors, even without the government-imposed cartel costs and the intense curtailment of options for procedures, your choices would still in the end be between invasive surgery of some form or another or drugs that make you nauseous and bleeding over the course of a few days. Of course abortion is not the horrendous experience that anti-choicers repeatedly make it out to be; it is far safer and quicker and easier on both patient and provider than nearly every other kind of surgery that there is. It’s safer and less psychologically taxing than giving birth. (Somehow these comparisons don’t seem to get made very often by either the anti-choice leadership or their foot soldiers. How strange.) But root canals are very safe and relatively simple too; that doesn’t mean that anyone is excited to have one.

But so what? Nobody goes around talking about the terrible tragedy of root canals either, or about the need to reach across the divide to unite with the anti-root-canal community (I take it that there are some Christian Scientist types who oppose dental surgery out of deeply felt religious conviction) in order to prevent unwanted tooth decay. Nobody feels the need to prefix every remark about their support for the right to get a root canal with a half-hour of qualifications and apologies. Yet the Party Hack wing of the Democratic leadership seems to have decided, yet again, that this is just what they need. Here, for example, is how Hillary Rodham Clinton decided to celebrate the anniversary of one of the greatest political triumphs for women’s liberation in recent history:

In a speech to about 1,000 abortion rights supporters near the New York State Capitol, Mrs. Clinton firmly restated her support for the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. But then she quickly shifted gears, offering warm words to opponents of legalized abortion and praising the influence of “religious and moral values” on delaying teenage girls from becoming sexually active.

There is an opportunity for people of good faith to find common ground in this debate — we should be able to agree that we want every child born in this country to be wanted, cherished and loved, Mrs. Clinton said.

Her speech came on the same day as the annual anti-abortion rally in Washington marking the Roe v. Wade anniversary.

Mrs. Clinton, widely seen as a possible candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008, appeared to be reaching out beyond traditional core Democrats who support abortion rights. She did so not by changing her political stands, but by underscoring her views in preventing unplanned pregnancies, promoting adoption, recognizing the influence of religion in abstinence and championing what she has long called teenage celibacy.

She called on abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion campaigners to form a broad alliance to support sexual education — including abstinence counseling — family planning, and morning-after emergency contraception for victims of sexual assault as ways to reduce unintended pregnancies.

We can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women, Mrs. Clinton told the annual conference of the Family Planning Advocates of New York State. The fact is that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

Most of this is true enough, as far as it goes. Nobody wants abortion instead of widesperad contraception and responsible sexual education. Nobody likes to get an abortion. And in the present political and cultural climate, all too many women are made to feel far worse about their decision to have an abortion than should be. Fine. But the latter isn’t an unchangeable given; it’s a political fact that is enforced by a constant and intentional climate of harassment and intimidation. And the fact that we’d rather women were able to avoid unwanted pregnancy in the first place is no reason to spend hours hand-wringing over it and apologizing for it unless you already think that there’s something wrong with getting an abortion. But why should you think that?

Actually, there is one other reason that you might do all that hand-wringing. You might be cavilling in spite of your own beliefs because you think that kind of dissembling is politically useful. I hate to say it about Hillary — she gave such a great speech at the March and all — but it’s hard to know what else to conclude about this particular strategy:

Mrs. Clinton’s address came as the Democratic Party itself engages in its own re-examination of its handling of the issue in the wake of Senator John Kerry’s loss in the presidential race.

Democratic senators such as Harry Reid of Nevada and Dianne Feinstein of California have also pressed for a greater focus on reducing unintended pregnancies, and some Democratic consultants have urged that party leaders mint new language to reach voters who identified moral values as a top issue for them in last November’s election.

Jesus Christ people. Look. No. Just, no.

First, you’re not trying to mint new language. You’re repeating the same crap that you did for the past 12 years. Here, for example, is how Electable John Kerry answered questions on abortion during the second and third debates:

Mr. Schieffer Senator Kerry a new question for you. The New York Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like you because you support a woman’s right to choose an abortion and unlimited stem call research. What is your reaction to that?

Mr. Kerry I respect their views. I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect those views, but I disagree with them, as do many. I believe that I can’t legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn’t share that article of faith. I believe that choice, a woman’s choice is between a woman, God and her doctor. And that’s why I support that. Now I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade. The president has never said whether or not he would do that. But we know from the people he’s tried to appoint to the court he wants to. I will not. I will defend the right of Roe v. Wade.

Now with respect to religion, you know, as I said I grew up a Catholic. I was an altar boy. I know that throughout my life this has made a difference to me. And as President Kennedy said when he ran for president, he said, I’m not running to be a Catholic president. I’m running to be a president who happens to be Catholic. Now my faith affects everything that I do and choose. There’s a great passage of the Bible that says What does it mean my brother to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead. And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people. That’s why I fight against poverty. That’s why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth. That’s why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith. But I know this: that President Kennedy in his inaugural address told of us that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own. And that’s what we have to - I think that’s the test of public service.

And before that in the second debate:

DEGENHART: Senator Kerry, suppose you are speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?

KERRY: I would say to that person exactly what I will say to you right now.

First of all, I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I’m a Catholic, raised a Catholic. I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life. It helped lead me through a war, leads me today.

But I can’t take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn’t share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can’t do that.

But I can counsel people. I can talk reasonably about life and about responsibility. I can talk to people, as my wife Teresa does, about making other choices, and about abstinence, and about all these other things that we ought to do as a responsible society.

But as a president, I have to represent all the people in the nation. And I have to make that judgment.

Now, I believe that you can take that position and not be pro-abortion, but you have to afford people their constitutional rights. And that means being smart about allowing people to be fully educated, to know what their options are in life, and making certain that you don’t deny a poor person the right to be able to have whatever the constitution affords them if they can’t afford it otherwise.

That’s why I think it’s important. That’s why I think it’s important for the United States, for instance, not to have this rigid ideological restriction on helping families around the world to be able to make a smart decision about family planning.

You’ll help prevent AIDS.

You’ll help prevent unwanted children, unwanted pregnancies.

You’ll actually do a better job, I think, of passing on the moral responsibility that is expressed in your question. And I truly respect it.

Apparently the apparatchiks have decided that there isn’t enough hand-wringing and pandering to the sensibilities of the Religious Right there. I don’t know how you could add any more hand-wringing and searching for “common ground” with the Christian Right there without the references to a woman’s right to an abortion disappearing entirely, but there you have it.

Guess what? It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. Why in the world do they think that it would? Are they trying to win votes from the Christian Right? Do they honestly think that moving the political debate over reproductive freedom back from abortion to the Sanger-era fights over birth control and sex education is going to improve the political climate in this country?

In other words: stop treating the right to abortion like you treat free speech rights for the Klan. If you don’t think there’s anything wrong with abortion then quit hemming and hawing forever about how much you respect the position of people who do and how much you’d like to work with them on birth control. You’re wasting your time: a lot if not most ofthem also hate birth control and sex education anyway. And in the process of wasting your time you are also dissembling about your real motives and spitting on women’s struggle for freedom.

Incidentally, Rox, among the reasons I like Howard Dean as much as I do is that in the heat of an election, this is how he answers a question about abortion:

Diane Rehm: We have seen reports that builders across the country are refusing to participate in the construction of Planned Parenthood buildings. What would you do about the threats to freedom for a woman to choose?

Howard Dean: Well, I think that’s a very dangerous game those builders are playing, especially in the city of Austin, which is where it’s going on. Were I down there I would immediately refuse to do business with any of the contractors who were boycotting that. So all groups can play that game; you have the right-wingers playing the game today, but other groups who may disagree with that can also play that game. And I think that’s a mistake for them to do that.

I am pro-choice. I’m a doctor; I frankly believe that it’s none of the government’s business to interfere in a woman’s making decisions about her own healthcare. And I tend not to be very supportive of efforts to enforce political points of view on individuals’ healthcare, and that’s what’s going on in Austin, Texas.

On the Diane Rehms show, WAMU, 2004-12-01 10:00am (they don’t seem to have a transcript; the question is around 45’45” on the audio version)

Elsewhere he’s also directly, and without apology or cavil, taken on both parental consent restrictions and late-term abortion bans, and pointedly insisted that on the issue of abortion, We can change our vocabulary but I don’t think we ought to change our principles..

Second, even if this were a new tack, and even if there were any reason to believe that it would get anything worth accomplishing accomplished, why would you think that women’s control over their own bodies is an acceptable bargaining chip? Women are not pawns to be sacrificed for better board position. Lots of Democrats bolted the party in the late 1960s to become Republicans because the national leadership would no longer keep silent about Jim Crow and the efforts of efforts such as the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party finally broke the Eastland-Wallace white supremacist stranglehold on the Southern state parties. That lost the Democrats a lot of voters. The difference even lost them several elections. So what? Does anyone think that it would be a good idea to endlessly fret about how to reach out across the divide and find common ground to bring the Klan vote back into the party?

To hell with that. If you’re going to get hung up on winning political office, this is not how you should be trying to do it. Falling back on the apparatchiks and electable candidates using electably mealy-mouthed rhetoric doesn’t work and it wouldn’t have gained anything worth winning even if it did. Meanwhile, the other side won’t believe it, your side won’t pull out the stops for you, and the people in the middle won’t know where the hell you actually stand.

If Democrats are looking for new language with which to frame the abortion debate, I’d like to suggest a good old standard: ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY.