Tag Archives: Politics

YES WE DID!

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Ah, the scene from the bar as we learned about PRESIDENT OBAMA!  WOOO!

Here are some thoughts that have gone through my head about this in the last 40 minutes.

  • So, this is what it feels like to be really proud of being an American.  Cool.
  • DC right now is like Boston was when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.  ALL of the cars are honking as they drive down the street, everyone was cheering and dancing and high fiving strangers.  Some fireworks just went off.  It was crazy.  SO fun.  And last I saw 92% of us DC-ers voted for Obama, so we’re pumped.
  • If the Democrats get a super majority, I can die and go to heaven.
  • You betcha Tina Fey is psyched that her Sarah Palin days are over.
  • I hope some of my town of town friends want to come visit for the inauguration.  WOOO PARTY!
  • DC with the Obama people will definitely be cooler than DC with the Bush people.
  • I feel like my feminist office should shut down and just party tomorrow.
  • People at the bar and in the streets were crying they were so happy.  I love to see things like that.
  • I saw Obama’s Hope speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston.  I was up in the rafters of the then Fleet Center (now TD Bank North Garden, or something like that).  I was blown away then.  Now I feel like I was at something that was a huge part of history.
  • Did I mention I am excited for the inauguration?  Because I am really excited for it!
  • OOO, just thought of taking the White House tour now that Obama will be President.  Let’s put that on the January agenda!
  • The first puppy has come up a number of times now.  Obviously it should be a goldendoodle like this:teddy3

(On an unrelated note, CNN has lost it.  People connecting via hologram?!?!?!?!  I can’t wait to see what Jon Stewart does with that one.)

Ok, I thought about live blogging Obama’s speech, but instead I think I will kick back with my Sam Adams and enjoy it!
WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A little Wednesday morning update, we get to work on a transition memo at work!  YAY!

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I can see Russia from my yard!

In honor of Tina Fey winning a crap ton of Emmy’s (Best Writing in a Comedy Series, Best Actress in a Comedy Series, and Best Comedy Series) for 30 Rock, I figured it was a good time to put up her killer Palin impression.  Tina Fey, you are still my heroine!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Brilliant!

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Let’s Keep our Eyes on the Prize: Check Out Today’s Bob Herbert Column

Just wanted to tell everyone they should read Bob Herbert’s op-ed in today’s New York Times.  I’ve been thinking a lot in the last day or 2 how the Palin nomination really has the potential to lead to some media coverage and debates that will just end up making women look bad.  I worry that as stories about her daughter’s pregnancy and her youngest son (or according to rumors, grandson) come out, that people will be too focused on what women and moms should do to pay attention to real issues.  In my personal opinion, Palin’s record seems to provide enough reasons to vote for Obama/Biden, so why should we attack her for being a bad mom or a working mom?  To me, that just feels a little hypocritical and unhelpful.  I feel like I have been right on the verge of getting sucked into all of the scandal about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and rumors of Palin as a grandmother, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like I would like to try not get sucked into all of that madness.  This election is too important to be about a catfight or a fight about women’s roles that could set back feminist efforts, so I do hope that Palin’s record, her stances, and her experience, or lack thereof, will be more important than how she does/does not fit the proper role of a woman or mother.  Sadly, I am too cynical to believe that will actually happen, but I am glad people like Bob Herbert are out there trying to make us pay attention to what counts.

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Sarah Palin: Time to Learn the Difference Between Descriptive and Substantive Representation

Sad news today, it sounds like McCain has picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.  I have to say, this move honestly is killing my Obama is awesome buzz from last night because McCain running with a woman scares the hell out of me.  I know many people may be wondering why I am against a woman candidate for such a high office, so it’s time for me put on my political scientist hat and talk about the difference between descriptive and substantive representation.   In the political science literature, descriptive representation is basically defined to mean that people are represented by someone who looks like them.  So, women would be represented by women, people of color by people of color, etc.  The assumption is that people who share characteristics such as gender, race, sexuality, etc have the same interests, so if someone who looks like you represents you, your interests will be represented.  Substantive representation is quite different.  It means that people are represented by people who share their interests, but do not necessarily look like them.  Often, this substantive representation is much more important than descriptive representation, and that, in a nutshell is why Sarah Palin is not good for women just because she is a woman.

So, here is why I believe Sarah Palin will not provide substantive representation for women.  I’m sure there will be more as there’s more information available about her record!  If you know more, I’d love to hear it!

  • She’s pro-life (and is a member of Feminists for Life, even though feminists are not pro-life).  It’s interesting that she is a member of Feminists for Life and also supports the death penalty, by the way.
  • She opposes same sex marriage
  • She believes health care should be provided competitively, i.e. not universally through the government
  • She’s a lifetime member of the NRA (note: Guns are definitely something that help preserve life.)
  • She’s for drilling in ANWR
  • She’s participated in beauty pageants, and therefore implicitly supported the objectification of women.
  • She’s for intelligent design in schools.
  • She’s involved in a state scandal about whether or not she tried to convince a state official to fire her ex-brother-in-law.
  • This is basically like the Republican party, saying, “Hey women, we think you are stupid enough that you won’t consider issues and you will blindly vote for anyone with a vagina.”

Let’s also do a quick review, here’s why Obama is great for women.

  • He’s pro-choice.
  • He supports family leave and paid sick days.
  • He’s for equal pay for equal work.
  • He’s for providing health care for all Americans
  • He’s for research on women’s health issues
  • He wants to strengthen domestic violence laws.
  • He wants to invest in women-owned business.
  • He wants to protect women’s Social Security benefits.
  • He wants to improve collection of child support.
  • He will raise the minimum wage and focus on helping low-income workers (the majority of whom are women).
  • He’ll protect Title IX.
  • He’ll expand early childhood care and education.

Ultimately, I hope that women, especially the bitter Hillary Clinton supporters, will take these issues to heart.  The idea that women would vote for a woman just to spite the Democrats or vote for a woman without critically thinking about her stances on issues and how she would actually represent them scares the hell out of me.  Women know better.  We’re critical thinkers and we can generally spot BS!  So, let’s make sure to select leaders who truly represent our needs and concerns! I say, let’s get Hillary back out there and have her take on Palin and talk about what policies will really support women.  Let Hillary take Palin down!  And, to close, woo Obama!

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A Rant about Reproductive Choice and the Religious Right

Today’s Washington Post has an article about the Bush adminstration’s proposal to deny federal money to hospitals, clinics, and health plans that do not allow workers to deny women access to abortions and contraception because of their religious beliefs. The Post frames the issue as a question of religious freedom versus patient’s rights. I have a major problem with that frame. As I understand religious freedom, it seems to mean that people are able to practice their own religions in their own lives. I believe once you are talking about denying access to birth control and contraception, you are talking about imposing your religious beliefs on someone else. Not OK. The other thing I find troubling about this policy is the way that abortions and contraception is so closely linked. Contraception is not abortion. In fact, contraception can help prevent abortions. Every time I hear abortion and contraception mentioned in the same breath I just have to cringe. I believe almost every woman I know is on birth control and I think that has been my experience since college. Can you imagine if that many people lost the ability to control their reproduction decisions? Here’s the other thing about this issue, if you are a religious person going into a medical field don’t you know that you could be asked to provide access to contraception and abortions? If you have a major problem with that, shouldn’t you consider that when you are making your career choices? Couldn’t you pick a medical field where that would not be an issue or a different career all together? I mean, think about it. The federal government would NEVER deny the military federal funds for not allowing its employees to choose not to kill others because they have a religious objection to it. So, why should this be any different!?! So, most people who choose not to kill people as a career simply do not opt to join the military. It’s just upsetting to me that the administration feels it is OK to protect religious freedom when it means denying women access to medicines and procedures that allow them to make intelligent decisions about having a child and allowing the religious right to impose their will on women, but that religious freedom is never an issue when things like the military are involved. It just provides extremely clear evidence that the administration’s priorities are all about keeping women at home, pumping out babies.

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Where the crap is Family and Medical Leave when I need it?!?!

This is absolutely going to be a somewhat self-indulgent rant, but I think it’s a bit instructive and I need to get this off my chest so I focus on some work. As anyone who read my post about women and sports injuries knows, I will be going under the knife myself for hip surgery myself in June. My experience in scheduling and preparing for this surgery seems to be a perfect example of the ways that the current economy and health care system totally fucks over single young adults, those who do not yet have children and who are not necessarily under the care of their parents anymore. We already know that people in this age group face lower rates of health insurance than their older counterparts (Center for American Progress and Demos 2008), but I believe my age groups faces challenges in accessing health care in a number of other ways as well, most notably lack of care and being underinsured.

In my own case, I have to go to Baltimore, about an hour away and only accessible by car, for my surgery and at least 5 pre- and post-op appointments. In each case, I will be unable to drive myself to Baltimore because I will have either a non-functional leg or I will be woozy from donating my own blood for use during my surgery. This means that I have to beg anyone I know to try to take me there which will require that they miss work on a weekday. Obviously, this has been an enormous challenge, but I have one friend who has stepped up to the challenge. I’ve also been arguing with my mother about whether or not my sister, who is moving here in a couple weeks, will be able to help. If nothing else, I thought that my sister’s new employer would be understanding because the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provides unpaid leave for people to care for their own illness or the illness of a family member. Turns out though, that according to the FMLA, only spouses, parents, and children count as family members. That means anyone who is old enough to be out of their parents’ home and not yet married is basically fucked. It means that employers will not recognize that my own sister or any of my friends can legitimately ask for an hour or two or some flexible scheduling to help me deal with my medical needs. The FMLA has long been acknowledged as insufficient because it only provides for unpaid leave, but I feel my experience has revealed another shortcoming of the law, it was still designed with the traditional family in mind. It’s not only people like me that suffer from this definition, but also many Americans, such as gay and lesbian couples who cannot marry, and therefore, cannot access these benefits. It’s important to keep this issue in mind as the movement for paid sick days and paid family leave has been gathering steam in anticipation of a possible Democratic administration in 2009. Furthermore, I’m extremely disappointed that the feminists fighting for this issue have not made a bigger deal out of the way that the FMLA fails to care for unmarried Americans. I’m actually “punch a hole in the wall angry” that this is yet another example of the way that unmarried Americans are punished for not starting a family and pumping out babies immediately after college. As long as that kind of thinking guides our policy-making, we will never be able to adapt to the new reality that many younger Americans are delaying marriage to start their careers and are often forced to rely on friends or siblings their own age for the care they cannot receive from a spouse or a parent.

While this post is mostly a rant about the ways that federal policies such as the FMLA, I also want to point out that my experience has brought up the ways that I, like many people in my generation, am under-insured by the health care system. While I am extremely luck to have health insurance that my employer completely pays for, that has come at the expense of high co-pays each time I have had to go see a doctor, get an MRI, go to physical therapy, etc. At $25 a pop on my meager non-profit salary, those expenses add up quickly and it will only get worse as rehab will involve even more physical therapy appointments for quite a few months. The thing that really sucks about this is that I am a relatively healthy person! I can only imagine the challenges that people my age who make less, who are saddled by student loans, or who have far more severe health needs deal with this problem!

I raise these issues because I feel that progressives, particularly feminists, have been incredibly enthusiastic about the promise of a care economy, feeling that it unites all women because valuing care would improve lives for older women (who are cared for by their children), middle age women (who need help with work/family balance), and children (who would have greater care from their parents). It is obvious that younger, unmarried, childless women (as well as gays and lesbians) are missing from that way of thinking. We’re out there struggling all the time on not that much money and trying to piece together support networks of friends and siblings that are seen as illegitimate by policies that do not reflect our realities. It just makes me so angry I could die. When will people wake up and realize that young, unmarried Americans are really struggling these days and actually do something for them? It really is an outrage the way that our challenges and experiences are consistently ignored by policy makers, political leaders, and even those people we have to interact with on a daily basis.

UPDATE (5/14): I have been talking to one of my co-workers here at IWPR about the FMLA and paid sick days legislation to learn more about these issues.  Here’s what she had to say:

I think you would be happier with the language in most of the paid sick days legislation. A typical definition includes “any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” (I GUESS you could say your relationship with your sister is ALMOST like being family!) So this covers sibs, grandparents, same-sex partners, etc. etc. There’s been a lot of discussion about broadening the FMLA definition but since 2001 it has not been reasonable to expect to make any positive changes to that law.

So, it looks like some people (including IWPR, YAY!) are working hard on trying to make the FMLA and paid sick days legislation work for all people.  Let’s show them some love!

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