Friday, May 30

:: What a Vile Human Being

Obama's campaign continues to be a vehicle through which some truly vile people vent their anger towards - and disgust with - white women
I had heard Obama had replaced Rev. Wright with a different spiritual advisor. As it happens, it was merely Obama's church inviting a guest speaker, who just so happened to have strong political opinions, and just so happened to share his opinion about Hillary. But because I don't pay that close attention, it wasn't until today that I learned this guy is some kind of bizarre Catholic priest - WWF wrestler hybrid. There's video, so I won't go too far in depth here. I'll just say that:

1) a very angry man screaming at the top of his lungs about how much he resents someone - how novel. A very angry man in a collar screaming at the top of his lungs about how much he resents some powerful woman - wow, I'm shocked.

We've all seen this plenty of times, from priests and non-priests, and it is always ugly. This guy sounds like one of those professional wrestlers when they go off on some diatribe about Jim McMahon. Except those guys are actually trying to act like steroid-addled freaks.

2) I'm glad to know that because not one of my ancestors had zip, zero, anything to do with slavery, I'm off the hook regarding contemporary racism. What a relief. Can't say the same for Scientist-at-Large though. He should be spending the rest of his life on his knees in abject apology for things his ancestors probably did.

3) Every presidential candidate believes he or she deserves the presidency. Why is this only evil when its a woman who believes in herself? And as for entitlement... there is no precedent for a woman becoming precedent. W felt entitled simply because of who he is - a member of the Bush family. Hillary had to fight her way to the top.

Okay, so I started to go in depth. Here's the link to the video; for the moment I've forgotten how to the do the embedding thing.

This guy is disgusting. And look at that flock of sheeple getting off on his anger. Its like Church of the Living Dead in there.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 28

:: OT: Blogging from the Apple Store

Before I begin, I have to say (with pride) that I am actually LIVE BLOGGING for the first time! Very exciting. (How do you write that anyway? Live blogging? Live-blogging? Liveblogging??)

What is not exciting is that I've come to believe that Young People have never learned any manners. I despair. I sat here for ages before anyone checked to see what I was doing, if I was being helped, if they could point me in the right direction. And not coincidentally, the only one who asked was the only woman behind the "Genius Bar"! Does being a genius mean that you do not have the capacity to make eye contact? They seem to be very nice to the people they are actually helping.

The other example of this sad trait was the woman who pushed up next to me when her name was called without even saying "Excuse me." I heard her speaking to the tech -- sorry, I mean, "genius" -- and she seems to speak English. Perhaps even as a first language. But apparently, "Excuse me" is not in her vocabulary. Sigh...
Read more!

Saturday, May 24

:: A Remarkable Thread

Go read these stories over at has a post up called "Feminist Poll Funtime: What Was Your "Click" Moment?" The poll is no biggie, but the comments - 86 and counting - are riveting. I don't know when I've seen so many personal stories written so well - so direct, so spare, so authentic. Go see. In fact, the less you feel you want to, the more you probably should. It'll be good, I swear. Go on now.
Read more!

Thursday, May 22

:: Why She's Still Fighting

Yes, its for the principle - and because she wants Democrats to win

Just thought I'd share a few poll numbers with the three of you. If you have any doubt about why Hillary is still fighting for the nomination, let these figures be your guide.

Quinnipiac University
McCain 45, Obama 41
Clinton 48, McCain 41

McCain 44, Obama 40
Clinton 48, Mccain 41

Obama 46, McCain 40
Clinton 50, McCain 37

Rasmussen Reports
McCain 50, Obama 40
Clinton 47, McCain 41

Survey USA
McCain 48, Obama 45
Clinton 48, McCain 46

North Carolina
McCain 51, Obama 43
Clinton 49, McCain 43

I'll be the first to say "snapshot" head-to-heads are pretty useless in terms of predicting the eventual results. That said, these numbers are pretty bad for Obama with regard to the argument of the moment.

Now, in related business, let's check in with our favorite constituency - those white female swing voters - the compassionate conservative women - who should be the holy grail of any Democratic presidential campaign. You know, one of the constiuencies Obama ignores.

Gallup has some new research to share.

May 21, 2008
Obama Faces Uphill Climb vs. McCain Among
White Voters
by Frank Newport

Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee, will likely enter the general election with more of a handicap among white voters than would have been the case if Hillary Clinton had been the nominee, based mainly on Clinton's stronger performance among white women.

A new Gallup Poll analysis of Daily tracking data collected between May 1 and May 17 shows that Clinton's edge among white voters is not, as some have hypothesized, based on Obama's problems among blue-collar white men, but reflects more the fact of Clinton's strength among white women.

White Male Voters

In general, Obama and Clinton perform exactly the same among non-Hispanic white men when pitted against presumptive Republican nominee John McCain. Both Obama and Clinton lose to McCain among this group by 21-point margins, 36% to 57%.

There has been discussion of Obama's presumed problem among blue-collar white males should he win the Democratic nomination. The current analysis shows that relative to Clinton, however, Obama does not suffer from a large "blue-collar male" deficit as has been hypothesized. Obama loses to McCain in a hypothetical matchup among non-college-educated white men by 25 points, while Clinton loses by 20 points.

Additionally, Obama has a compensatory strength among white-collar men, defined here as those with a college education. Among this group, Obama loses to McCain by 13 points while Clinton loses by 22 points.

All in all, these data suggest that the Democrats' probable nomination of Obama rather than Clinton does not mean Democrats will enter the general election with a bigger deficit among white men than they would have if Clinton were the nominee. The data from May suggest that Clinton may have done only slightly better than Obama against McCain among blue-collar white men, and that this slight advantage likely would have been offset by Obama's slight advantage among college-educated men.

White Female Voters

Among non-Hispanic white women, however, there is a significant difference in the way the two Democratic candidates perform against McCain.

While Obama loses to McCain by 16 points among non-Hispanic white women with no college, Clinton ties McCain. And while Obama does manage to squeak out a four-point advantage over McCain among college-educated white women, Clinton has an 11-point margin.

Although there has been a great deal of discussion of the problems that await Obama among white men should he win the Democratic nomination, this analysis suggests that while McCain certainly has a strength among this group, it is no more of a strength against Obama than it would be against Clinton. Clinton's slight advantage among blue-collar white men is offset by Obama's advantage among white-collar white men.

The bigger issue appears to be Obama's problems among white women, when compared to how Clinton would perform among this group.

Obama loses to McCain by nine points among white women, while Clinton wins by three points. Clinton does better than Obama among both blue-collar and white-collar white women.

All in all, although both Democrats are to a degree handicapped against McCain among white voters, Clinton would perform better than Obama in a general-election matchup among non-Hispanic whites. Combining white voters of both genders, the current analysis shows that McCain wins over Obama among whites, 53% to 38%, and beats Clinton by a considerably smaller 51% to 42% margin.

It is important to note that Obama runs about as well vs. McCain as Clinton does, and both Democrats currently maintain a slight advantage over McCain in general-election trial heats. So any weaker relative performance for Obama vs. McCain among a demographic group (such as white women or lower-educated voters) is made up for by a stronger relative performance among another group (such as blacks or higher-educated voters).

This would not be so much of a problem if the Obama campaign did not appear to be pathologically unable to reach out to any constituency that does not catagorically prefer him. Okay, that was not well put. I'll try it a different way. He hasn't done a single thing to reach out to white women specifically, even thought the campaign knew he had a problem there as far back as the New Hampshire primary election night, and Axelrod talked about writing off working class whites, saying they never vote Democratic anyway.

This is echt Obama. Remember how he ignored Hillary at the SOTU? His body language at the last three-way debate? When Obama feels dissed, he disses back. He tries to cut the person / group off. He shuns them. He disengages. He's the opposite of Senator Clinton, who carefully and systematically won over her many of her enemies by engaging them on substantive matters. She is a fighter. He cuts his losses and turns his back, literally and figuratively.

My prediction: lowest gender gap among independents since 1996, advantage goes to McCain.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 21

:: Unfairness Totally Sucks

Sexism and misogyny have impacted the presidential primary, no matter what the chattering class claims.
I just followed an information trail that led me to a very sad and angry place. And of course, if it is sad and/or angry, it belongs on the Canary.

It started at with a cool item from the recent annual conference of public opinion wonksters, regarding a September 2007 paper called "Social Desirability Bias in Estimated Support for a Black Presidential Candidate." I immediately printed it out at someone else's expense, because I'm like that. Information should be free! You can't put a price on knowledge! and all that. Okay, so it looks terrific and I can't wait to read the whole thing. But first I did a search through it to see if gender was mentioned, because, you know, so much has been written about it, just reams and reams already, but I still wanted more.

Surprisingly, I did find a reference right away to a study from 2007 called "Social Desirability Effects and Support for a Female American President." Yay. It can be downloaded here.

Now here comes the point. These few sentences from the first report compare its findings to those in the second report. Reading this made me very, very upset, in that multivalent, polymorphous way that, I'm sorry to say, often leads to an outburst of some sort (I'll let you know when it happens). Here it is:
"Likewise, true support for a black presidential candidate increases monotonically as the level of education increases, a finding again at odds with existing literature and recent experimental evidence. In a similar list experiment, Streb et al (2007) recently reported that respondents with a bachelor's degree are more likely to express anger about a female presidential candidate than respondents without this degree. Our findings, on the other hand, suggest that respondents with higher levels of education are more likely to express support for a black presidential candidate. In other words, our findings are the opposite of those reported by Streb et al (2007)."
But, you know, only race is a factor in the election. So I think this is top, top secret information or something. So make sure you don't discuss it or anything. In fact, if asked, just respond that this information does not exist! Only race matters, god dammit!

I'm sure both papers will yield more interesting pull-out quotes. I'll just finish with part of the abstract for the second paper, the one on gender:
"Using an unobtrusive measure called the "list experiment" we find that public opinion polls are indeed exaggerating support for a female president. Roughly 26 percent of the public is 'angry or upset' about the prospect of a female president. Moreover, this level of dissatisfaction is constant across several demographic groups."

Shhh. Stay invisible. Don't mention sexism. Don't talk about what a "change" a female president would be. Don't talk about sexism shaping voters attitudes, and certainly don't talk about its influence on media coverage. Its not happening. It never happened. Shhh.

[fyi, I continue to think a vote boycott in November is a fine idea. ]

Read more!

Saturday, May 17

:: My baloney has a first name; it's N-A-R-A-L

This was so amazingly lame I felt it deserved it's own blogpost and not just a comment on ciccina's. Here's the transcript from the web chat NARAL held yesterday in response to the tremendous backlash that followed their endorsement of Barack Obama for president. Some of the questions seem pretty clearly planted by members of the NARAL staff. But most questioners really tried to get NARAL to be straightforward about why they were jumping on the Obama bandwagon at this late date.

Was it really necessary to endorse Sen. Obama before the primary ended when both candidates are pro-choice? Can't NARAL criticize Sen. McCain's record on choice without having to simultaneously support only one Democrat?

Elizabeth Shipp:
The vast majority of voters still don’t know just how pro-choice Barack Obama is and how anti-choice John McCain has been during the quarter-century he has been in Washington, DC. Many voters who may be inclined to support McCain don’t know his positions on specific issues, particularly his consistent opposition to a woman’s right to choose. They believe instead that John McCain is a “moderate” and a “maverick” so assume he must be pro-choice.

Senator Obama needs an organization like ours to help close the identification gap with key voting constituencies before the fall campaign begins in earnest and people’s opinions are already formed about the two candidates. We can help ensure a pro-choice victory in November, but only if we act now.

Without a clear Democratic nominee, Sen. John McCain has been getting a free ride with the media, and a critical voting bloc that could very well swing the election: pro-choice Independent and Republican women. These women could very well make the difference between a pro-choice president in the White House and another four years of anti-choice policies from John McCain.

With our endorsement, John McCain’s free ride ends.
Sadly, no matter how many different ways the questions was asked, Shipp and Keenan stuck to their unsatisfying talking points. The comments on the chat reflect that readers found it as unsatisfying as I did:

Wow...that chat was just...scary. I don't know if you are just rationalizing, naive, or downright stupid. And I don't believe for a minute that you thought carefully enough about the potential for backlash in your decision.

I just read the transcript of your contrived web talk. That was rediculous. Your organization and Nancy made no sense and continue to make no sense. Why can't you confess that you made a huge mistake? I think the many people who have expressed their anger at your endorsement should join together and protest in front of your headquarters until you accept your mistake and acknowledge our feelings in a more real and less paranizing manar. I want one of you talking heads to really address our disgust and anger!

A number of the commenters were appropriately ticked by Keenan's response to POLITICO, basically telling angry Clinton supporters (and even Obama supporters) to get over themselves. "In response to the current controversy, Keenan says people will get over their 'broken hearts.'" Oh, yeah. That'll bring 'em back to you, Nancy! The article is a fine read. NARAL may have been trying to ensure their place in the new administration, but they have succeeded in pissing off a number of women leaders on the Hill. Good job! That should help the movement! Read more!

Friday, May 16

:: NARAL Jumps In Hole; Digs Deeper

Could NARAL get any more pathetic?
I know you don't have to be a rocket scientist to "do" advocacy, but I didn't realize the standards had dropped this low. These women are rock-solid stone stupid.

Perhaps you saw the New York Times article on the endorsement. Here is the link. I will share with you the dumbest moment, because I wouldn't want you to miss it. I've never met Elizabeth Schipp, and after this I hope I never have to.
Ms. Schipp also said there was a feeling on the board that endorsing a black man at a high-profile juncture might help Naral shed its image as an organization for white women only.

“Has it been in the past?,” Ms. Schipp asked. “Yes. Do I think the face of the choice movement is different today and do I hope Naral plays a role in that? You bet.”

Wrong. NARAL is NOT an organization for white women only. It is an organization for MORONS only. Or at least it is now.

There are no words. There are too many words. How many ways can you say stupid? How many synonyms? In how many languages? How about antonyms for "smart"? There are a lot of those, too. I could fill pages with them. I could add new ones. From now on, the term "to pull a Nancy Keenan" will mean "to defeat your own purpose in one spectacularly stupid gesture."

Tomorrow at 3pm there's a "web chat" that I guess you can access from their website. I'm going to watch it if I remember (that's a big IF, I know). I want to see how many false-positive comments they plant. This has the potential to turn into a virtual auto-da-fe, which would make me very happy.

There are quite a few so-called feminist leaders who share the blame for this, but NARAL really jettisoned to the head of the pack - in one season, they have pissed away all the clout we have worked to accrue for women voters. Gone. These so-called leaders have demonstrated that a candidate doesn't need to talk about women's issues, doesn't need to have a strong record, and doesn't need to commit to anything - and you can still get the support of women's groups. And, if for some reason you don't, no matter - because you can win without the women's vote. Just move forward talking about real issues with real voters - the women will come along eventually (they always do).

Incredible. NARAL should not continue to exist as an organization. They need to fold up the tent and send the circus clowns home.
Read more!

Wednesday, May 14

:: Shame on NARAL

With one despicable endorsement, Nancy Keenan puts the last nail in NARAL's coffin.

First, let's get one thing straight: NARAL is irrelevant. Those of us within the movement who have had the misfortune of attending their yearly galas know its more like a wake than a celebration. Gone are the clusters of members of Congress and celebrities.

Gone are the tables featuring the big-dog presidents of major organizations. What's left are a bunch of interns and low level staff sent to fill up the seats at the tables their employers paid for. NARAL has virtually no grassroots and they've been invisible so far in the presidential race. We all knew that when Kate left NARAL was going to go D-List. But I didn't think things would end in such a embarrassing way.

As I'm sure you know, they've endorsed Obama. I could not be more disgusted. I guess they forgot that they are supposed to support champions for choice, not just the guy who fills out the questionnaire okay. I guess they have forgotten how important ICPD is, VAWA, SCHIP and so on. I note that in NARAL's endorsement statement they don't list any substantial accomplishments Obama has made on women's issues.

Apparently none of that matters.

And apparently Obama's squirmy position on choice has been forgotten too. So let's refresh our memories, shall we? I'll point back to three previous entries at the Canary that discuss this problem.

First there are his answers at last month's Compassion Forum in Gratham, Pennsylvania. To be clear, he refers to himself as pro-choice. But he also uses language that should worry women's rights advocates. It should worry them because the point of using waffle language like this is to imply that you would be willing to deal around the edges. He sounds very uncomfortable - like he's trying to squirm around the questions.

"I think we will continue to suggest that that's the right legal framework to deal with the issue. But at least we can start focusing on how to move in a better direction than the one we've been in the past."

There is also this answer to a question about life beginning at conception:

"What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates."

Pondering moral issues is fine in the context of personal decisions. When it comes to legal frameworks, "moral weight" sounds a lot like something you balance against a woman's fundamental right to autonomy. Actually, it reminds me Justice Kennedy's dreadful opinion from the last time SCOTUS took this up.

How about this, from the RH Reality Check candidate questionnaire:

Question: Does (the candidate) support any restrictions on abortion, or does s/he believe it should be entirely up to women?

Obama's answer: Obama supports those restrictions that are consistent with the legal framework outlined by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade."

Again, every restriction we have on the books has been considered by the Supreme Court to be consistent within Roe's framework.

Again, not a leader. Not a champion.

And neither is NARAL. Say goodnight, Nancy.

Read more!

Tuesday, May 13

:: The Lady is a Fighter

Is it my imagination, or did Hillary just flip the bird to the media?
The lady kicked some ass in West Virginia today. Right now CNN has the results at 65 to 28%, with 61% reporting. That's... wait a sec.... counting.... a 37 point margin, right? If she breaks 70% it'll be a record. I don't know how far that goes to canceling out her NC loss and putting us right back where we were before the latest round of media bullying, but it speaks to the wisdom of staying in this race to the finish.

Women were only 53% of the electorate - on the low side. Shockingly, a major cable news station mentioned gender tonight, at least on their website. Here's Bill Schneider (the Andy Rooney of pundits)...

"The gender gap, a factor earlier on in the Democratic presidential race, seemed to disappear over the last few weeks. But the gap is certainly back in West Virginia.

In early exit polls, 55 percent of Hillary Clinton's supporters are women, and 45 percent are men.

How about Barack Obama's voters?

Just about the reverse: 57 percent of Obama supporters were men, and 43 percent were women.

So it looks like the gender gap, long a feature of politics between Democrats and Republicans, has established itself in the Democratic primaries."

Isn't that nice, Bill. But from my own sad little spreadsheet of exit poll results, women have voter from men by a margin of 8 points in more than half the primaries so far. Here's the top 14....

State / C women / C men / gap

UT / 48 / 28 / 20
NH / 46 / 29 / 17
CT / 53 / 38 / 15
RI / 66 / 51 / 15
MA / 62 / 48 / 14
CA / 59 / 45 / 14
FL / 54 / 42 / 12
NY / 62 / 50 / 12
TN / 58 / 47 / 11
AZ / 53 / 43 / 10
NJ / 58 / 48 / 10
PA / 59 / 49 / 10
VA / 39 / 30 / 9
NM / 52 / 43 / 9

Oops. Forgot to add IN and NC to my little grid. So maybe they belong on this list too.

In short, men have had a problem voting for Hillary from the get-go. So what is Bill on about? Did something different actually happen, or is he just resorting to the "b-list" material since there isn't much data by race to talk about?

Sorry about the sarcasm. Being invisible makes me cranky.
Read more!

Monday, May 12

:: A Good Man

Do read this essay, "Go, Hillary, I'm With You!" by Dr. Syed Manssor Hussain, published in the Daily Times, "The Leading News Resource of Pakistan." Not only is it a thoughtful piece that brings up a few points that would never see the light of day in a U.S. publication, its quite lovely to see a man self-identify as a feminist. But you get this kind of thing when our issues are discussed in an "international" context... the U.S. is falling further and further behind in addressing women's issues.

I take issue, however, with one point that Dr. Hussain seems to make - that feminism has diminished in relevance as more women's rights have been realized. While it is certainly true that we have made enormous progress, the sense that its "mission accomplished" is largely a product of the sexism and misogyny of our public discourse. The major area where this is clear is violence against women. As a nation, we take it for granted that sexual violence is persistant and that women are "natural victims." We have no national strategy to combat sexual violence, and in general, the discussion of the topic is rife with horrific bias and scorn (much of which is directed at male victims, especially those who are incarcerated). As a matter of policy, we are uninterested in the high level of sex crimes that go unreported because of lack of faith in the legal system and the fear of shame and stigma.

And we seem to have no problem that certain areas, at certain times, are as "off-limits" to women as they would be in a developing country. When you consider the number of places that a woman cannot go, unaccompanied by a male, for fear of gender based punishment, the reality of our lives doesn't look all that dissimilar to those of women in more obviously oppressive situations.

Like I said, this is all taken for granted as a "natural" state of affairs. There are no large scale policy initiatives or programs. We're supposed to accept that this is our lot in life - to be wary of walking alone in a parking lot, to know if you've been drinking its quite possible someone could sexually abuse you without legal repercussions.

No, the feminist agenda is by no means irrelevant. But it has been fragmented by stupid decisions (supporting Barack over Hillary, for one) that minimize its clout and all but silenced by the media.
Read more!

Thursday, May 8

:: Obama on Choice - "I think we will continue to suggest that that's the right legal framework"

The only way Barack could give a more weaselly answer on choice would be if he were an actual weasel.
Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were both asked about their position on reproductive choice at a recent candidate forum. Didn't hear about it? Maybe that's because the political chattering class has decided, once again, that "women's issues" don't matter - no suprise there. Maybe its also because this time around, women's groups aren't clamoring after the candidates to clarify their positions and raise the profile of these vital issues.

This time around, most feminist leaders are silent. Perhaps that's part of the reason even dedicated feminists like myself only come across items like this from specialized news clipping services (aka the kid in charge of the clips).

The following statements by Clinton and Obama on reproductive choice are excerpted from a CNN transcript from the "Democratic Candidates Compassion Forum" at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, on April 13, 2008.

Let's start with Clinton's section, because it reflects the gold standard in statements of this nature. She addresses the legal, moral and public health aspects of the issue and places it in global context.

Senator, do you believe personally that life begins at conception?


I believe that the potential for life begins at conception. I am a Methodist, as you know. My church has struggled with this issue. In fact, you can look at the Methodist Book of Discipline and see the contradiction and the challenge of trying to sort that very profound question out.

But for me, it is also not only about a potential life; it is about the other lives involved. And, therefore, I have concluded, after great, you know, concern and searching my own mind and heart over many years, that our task should be in this pluralistic, diverse life of ours in this nation that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision, because the alternative would be such an intrusion of government authority that it would be very difficult to sustain in our kind of open society.

And as some of you've heard me discuss before, I think abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare.

And I have spent many years now, as a private citizen, as first lady, and now as senator, trying to make it rare, trying to create the conditions where women had other choices.

I have supported adoption, foster care. I helped to create the campaign against teenage pregnancy, which fulfilled our original goal 10 years ago of reducing teenage pregnancies by about a third.

And I think we have to do even more.

And I am committed to doing that. And I guess I would just add from my own personal experience, I have been in countries that have taken very different views about this profoundly challenging question.

Some of you know, I went to China in 1995 and spoke out against the Chinese government's one child policy, which led to forced abortions and forced sterilization because I believed that we needed to bear witness against what was an intrusive, abusive, dehumanizing effort to dictate how women and men would proceed with respect to the children they wished to have.

And then shortly after that, I was in Romania and there I met women who had been subjected to the Communist regime of the 1970s and '80s where they were essentially forced to bear as many children as possible for the good of the state. And where abortion was criminalized and women were literally forced to have physical exams and followed by the secret police and so many children were abandoned and left to the orphanages that, unfortunately, led to an AIDS epidemic.

So, you know, when I think about this issue, I think about the whole range of concerns and challenges associated with it and I will continue to do what I can to reduce the number and to improve and increase the care for women and particularly the adoption system and the other opportunities that women would have to make different choices.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen Nicaragua mentioned in her answer, because everyone needs to hear over and over again that the end-point of the "pro-life" doctrine is the real death of real women, and moreover, that this end-point is considered acceptable in the "pro-life" moral framework. I would also like to hear the First Amendment / Establishment Clause argument brought up, because people seem to forget that the Constitution explicitly prohibits the government from privileging one religious viewpoint over another. But that's me. Overall, Senator Clinton's answer is fine.

Later in the forum, Senator Obama responded to similar questions.

Senator Obama, the vast majority of Americans believe that abortion is a decision to be made by a woman, her family and her doctors. However, the vast majority of Americans similarly believe that abortion is the taking of a human life.

The terms pro-choice and pro-life, do they encapsulate that reality in our 21st Century setting and can we find common ground?


I absolutely think we can find common ground. And it requires a couple of things. Number one, it requires us to acknowledge that there is a moral dimension to abortion, which I think that all too often those of us who are pro-choice have not talked about or tried to tamp down. I think that's a mistake because I think all of us understand that it is a wrenching choice for anybody to think about.

The second thing, once we acknowledge that, is to recognize that people of good will can exist on both sides. That nobody wishes to be placed in a circumstance where they are even confronted with the choice of abortion. How we determine what's right at that moment, I think, people of good will can differ.

And if we can acknowledge that much, then we can certainly agree on the fact that we should be doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies that might even lead somebody to consider having an abortion.

And we've actually made progress over the last several years in reducing teen pregnancies, for example. And what I have consistently talked about is to take a comprehensive approach where we focus on abstinence, where we are teaching the sacredness of sexuality to our children.

But we also recognize the importance of good medical care for women, that we're also recognizing the importance of age-appropriate education to reduce risks. I do believe that contraception has to be part of that education process.

And if we do those things, then I think that we can reduce abortions and I think we should make sure that adoption is an option for people out there. If we put all of those things in place, then I think we will take some of the edge off the debate.

We're not going to completely resolve it. I mean, there -- you know, at some point, there may just be an irreconcilable difference. And those who are opposed to abortion, I think, should continue to be able to lawfully object and try to change the laws.

Those of us, like myself, who believe that in this difficult situation it is a woman's responsibility and choice to make in consultation with her doctor and her pastor and her family.

I think we will continue to suggest that that's the right legal framework to deal with the issue. But at least we can start focusing on how to move in a better direction than the one we've been in the past.


Senator, do you personally believe that life begins at conception? And if not, when does it begin?


This is something that I have not, I think, come to a firm resolution on.

I think it's very hard to know what that means, when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don't presume to know the answer to that question.

What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates.
Where to begin. He does self-identify as pro-choice (see bold text). That is good. He does it as part of a statement that props up the canard that pro-choice people haven't been sensitive to moral issues - that we're concerned with rights while they are concerned with values - but, whatever. He's bringing us together.

Then Obama does something unexpected - he raises the morality bar. Its not enough to prevent the need for abortion - we should prevent circumstances "
that might even lead somebody to consider" abortion. But, you know, whatever.

Obama then states that he trusts the judgment of the woman - and her entourage: "Those of us, like myself, who believe that in this difficult situation it is a woman's responsibility and choice to make in consultation with her doctor and her pastor and her family."

I know that's the configuration that polls the best - but really, that's quite a lot of people to all squeeze into an examination room. And what if you don't have a pastor? Maybe the court can appoint one for you. But things like spousal consent, mandatory lectures, waiting periods and so aren't really up for discussion. So, like, whatever.

And here's the doozy: "I think we will continue to suggest that that's the right legal framework to deal with the issue. But at least we can start focusing on how to move in a better direction than the one we've been in the past."

Now that's what I like to see - a hard and fast commitment to upholding the right to privacy, the right to control one's own reproductive processes without government intrusion. I mean, what part of "I think we will continue to suggest" doesn't say "you can count on me"? And what does "at least" mean? "At least" now, until we can come up with something better? Or "at least" until we all agree on this? Perhaps "at least" now, until we have 100% sexual responsibility, no mishaps, no genetic anomalies, no adverse life-changing events? I am truly curious.

The next bit,
"this is something that I have not, I think, come to a firm resolution on" just strikes me as funny. Is he not sure whether he's resolved for himself whether life begins at conception? Maybe he should ask himself. No wait, he just did. [sigh] I think if you're not sure whether you've come to a firm resolution, its pretty safe to say that you've haven't come to a firm resolution.

But what follows is not funny: "
What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates." Taking "moral weight" into consideration sounds very much like what Justice Kennedy did in the last major Supreme Court decision on choice.

If these words were spoken by a Republican candidate, we all know what we'd conclude. But somehow, with Obama, we're supposed to just accept that what he says is not what he means, or what he will do. We're all supposed to understand, as Samantha Power put it in her BBC interview, that there are some things you say on the campaign trail that don't carry over into governing. But why? Senator Obama - the Man With the Golden Tongue - is all about words.

What bothers me the most about these words is that they reek of stigma. He sounds almost ashamed to be pro-choice, like he needs to defend and explain, couch and coddle his way around a very unpalatable stance.

He sounds tentative, timid, apologetic. Not at all like the champion he purports to be, the champion that - for pity's sake, after all these years! - we women deserve.

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