Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: The Return!

Friday Cat Blogging is back baby! And once again we have a guest cat appearance. This is from my Portland friend, Melissa: Oscar Wilde. He does seem to love reading his Portland Mercury.

According to her Oscar Wilde is also known as "AKA Bosco, AKA Piss Factory." He is one of ELEVEN cats that she owns. ( and I might add she's married!) That's enough cats to keep Friday cat blogging in guest cat pics for months. She also wrote that she likes his David Niven 'stash. It took me a while to see it, and then I couldn't see anything but.

Anyway aside from my regular day job of trying to keep the teens from becoming pregnant, I've been attending panels about abstinence-only education (which were gate-crashed by abstinence-only teachers) and reading the book about adoption "The Girls Who Went Away." I feel like there's some kind of blog coming up about all that.

In the meantime, Virginia's Senate voted to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood this week (the House had been really eager to do it months ago. And this is DESPITE the fact that Democrats are in power in both bodies).

The Main culprit: Democrat Sen. Charles J. Colgan from Prince William County. He switched his votes which allowed the vote to go to a tie so that the Lieutenant Governor would break it to side with the Republicans.

We're talking about $250,000 to $500,000 that has normally been budgeted for Planned Parenthood. Funds that NEVER apply for abortion services. I'm talking about providing pap smears, ob-gyn examinations and low-cost birth control. Clearly services you don't want your communities to have. (I've love it if Sen. Colgan can now explain to his Prince William County residents where they will get their low-cost birth control?) I mean, there are plenty of low-income health clinic around that we can afford to shut some down right?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lack of Posts

For my readers, all five of you, I guess I wanted to say that there will be Friday Cat Blogging tommorrow. (I really want to shout "I'VE ABANDONED MY BLOG! I'VE ABANDONED MY CHILD!") If you haven't noticed, I tend to get annoyed with myself when I have a week with no posts other than Cat Blogging. So, in order to avoid the embarrassment I've gotten into the habit of "skipping" a Friday Cat Blogging post if I haven't posted anything in a week. Not a particularly honest reason to skip posting, but there ya go.

My job has gotten incredibly busy lately, what with trying to teach kids not to be abstinent and everything. (As Jon Stewart says, thank god for knocked up teens).

Anyway, once again, there will be posting again soon. But for now, enjoy pictures of my roommate's cats.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: Dangling Paw

Quite a late Friday Cat Blogging tonight but I just took this adorable picture.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days, And Abortion Politics

Ever since I’d heard of the subject matter of “Four Months, Three Weeks & Two Days,” I’ve been calling it “the Romanian abortion movie.” It’s essentially about two women and the lengths they must go to obtain an abortion in Romania in 1987. It is not a pleasant movie to sit through. I think the scene with the kittens is about the only “nice” thing to look at in the movie.

Because of the nature of my career I felt I had to see movie. I spend a lot of time working for reproductive rights but I think what escaped me about the movie, until I listened to an NPR interview with the director, was during that time period not only was abortion outlawed, but so was birth control. You can imagine for yourself what that would do the country’s population and what kind of position that would often put the women in. The director himself was part of the generation boom that Ceauşescu tried to achieve. (He’s of the age that the protagonists are in 1987. So in many ways it’s a period piece of some of what he experienced as a young adult. FYI, the name Ceauşescu is never uttered in the movie.)

We end up knowing almost nothing about the circumstances of the pregnancy or even any explicit reasons why the woman is desperate to get one. Partially I think the director didn’t explain or didn’t want to, was precisely because this isn’t an American “political” film about abortion. From the same NPR interview, its clear he’s pro-choice, but the movie feels like it’s more interested in preserving a part of Romanian history in people’s minds and talking about oppression. It’s about choices made by people living under oppression not just “Choice.”

As much as horrible things happen to the protagonists in this movie, apparently some of the real stories in Romania are worse. Its estimated that likely half of the women seeking an abortion in Romania died from it. One story the director mentioned in the interview, was a woman went to a man (not even a doctor) and the guy showed her two barrels. One was full of water, and the other was empty. The guy told her, if everything goes well, you’ll use the water to wash up. But if something goes wrong, I’m going to put you in the barrel and get rid of your body. Apparently she still agreed to have do the procedure and everything turned out okay. Not everyone was so lucky.

Still I came away from that movie feeling like because the desperation of the women wasn’t fully explored (we know what they are willing to go through with, without exactly knowing why) that an anti-choice person watching the movie might come away with different emotions. The director is showing the horror of abortion in places where it is outlawed. (They not only jailed doctors, but the women seeking abortions.) If you are supportive of keeping abortion legal to prevent such horrific scenes from happening in the U.S. then the movie can provide a motivation and greater understanding of what “choice” really means and why it is such an essential right.

But I think if you are anti-choice the movie could look like a morality play justifying the inherent “evilness” of abortion.

However, that’s just my opinion. My roommate who saw the movie with me, thought differently.
The problem is that most strongly anti-choice people wouldn’t see this movie anyway. So I’ll probably never know what it made them think.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It Took Me Over An Hour To Vote

In order to vote for Barrack Obama in the Virginia primary today I had to stand outside, in 20 degree weather, for over an hour. The problem seemed to be they had a) only two books to check people in and b) only three machines (which were touch-screen only, with no paper trail).

God I hate democracy. I feel like I'll never get the feeling back in my toes.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: Al Checks My Messages

Another week of using Keeper of the Cats' photos. For this one she told me that Al was fascinated by the blinking red light on my answering machine. ("Mom, I swear I'll call you back soon!") However since he's deaf it's doubtful he could take down the messages for me.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Background on Obama’s Present Votes on Abortion

I am thoroughly grateful to Lynn Harris article on Salon about Barack Obama's handful of "present" votes on abortion measures in the Illinois Senate. The story’s been getting out there like a whisper campaign (only not whispering) but the message the story is supposed to convey goes something like this: “These present votes show Obama isn’t going to defend reproductive rights as vigorously as you might think. He’s only going to do it when it’s convenient or easy but he’s not going to stick his political neck out defending abortion rights.”

Harris’ reporting provides a lot of context about the votes but what it seems to break down to is there was a bit of schism between Illinois NOW and NARAL of Illinois and Planned Parenthood. The later two wanted the bills to fail, and in order to get that, they needed to coax some friendly Republicans to side with them by voting “present” – and Obama was kind of used as ‘cover by numbers’ to coax this into happening. In other words, Obama could have voted “no” but if he had voted “no” it’s possible the pro-choice side might have lost some “present” votes from Republicans who would have switched to “yes.” (At least so goes the theory…)

This makes the schism a lot more understandable to me. It’s basically between an organization that had a stronger group of political purists and one that was more practical or realistic. (Basically like the differences between Green party voters and progressive democratic party voters). I’m more of a realist, if LBJ-canniness will get the job done, then so be it. And it’s also good to ask, do you want to be right or do you want to succeed? And can you achieve your goals without being so shrill as to turn off your allies.

State NOW organizations tend to be a little more of the purist strand than your statewide Planned Parenthood will be. And if Planned Parenthood of Illinois either thought up, or signed off on Obama’s strategy of voting present, then the explanation makes sense.

Anyway major love to Lynn Harris for ending the article as she does.

Anyway. That's the story. Make of it what you will: Mountain? Molehill? Obama's "present" votes, cannily pragmatic or lame? If "cannily pragmatic," then is he not the Man Who'll Change Politics that he says he is? Should we, while we're at it, worry about his law-nerdily understated support for Roe as worded? Or the fact that -- if
you ask me -- neither Dem seems to get that even parental consent with judicial bypass is unacceptable, too? Or should we quit splitting hairs, given that anyone's better on, well, everything than John "'Moderate' My Ass" McCain?

Damn straight! Which candidate is actually going to push for eliminating parental consent laws and not just try to knock them down. I’m not convinced that either one will actually put any kind of political capital working to expand access to abortion nationwide -- only try to keep it from shrinking to “only legal in blue states.”

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: Lena Hiding

Lena in a moment of cuteness. And I'm the one who constantly puts her down for being uncute.