a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Unmarried women vote Democratic

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 17th January 2007

Writing for The Emerging Democratic Majority (a.k.a. “DonkeyRising”), Ruy Teixeira discusses a report released by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Women’s Voices Women Votes (WVWV) titled “Unmarried Women in the 2004 Presidential Election.” The central finding is that “Unmarried women voted for Kerry by a 25-point margin (62 to 37 percent), while married women voted for President Bush by an 11-point margin (55 percent to 44 percent).” Teixeira’s take:

Clearly single women are a very good and growing constituency for the Democrats. The report does not, however, address how to appeal directly to this constituency without aggravating the Democrats’ already existing problems among married women voters. That would be a useful subject for debate among Democrats because this report demonstrates that single women voters could a critically important source of Democratic votes in the future. If that source can be further tapped without worsening Democratic performance among married women–or ideally improving that performance–the Democrats could have a winning formula.

Well, I don’t know; seems to me like the Democrats already have a winning formula here. With this kind of breakout — 25+ among unmarrieds, 11- among marrieds — and the fact that unmarried women are a growing share of the population, I’m not sure that’s what either these results or the 2006 elections tell me. For another thing, and at the risk of being pedantic, the WVWV study wasn’t about

Unmarried women were strongly opposed to the war in Iraq. They believe that the Bush Administration’s pursuit of the war made America less safe, not more secure. This is the opposite conclusion from that drawn by many blue-collar voters.

Whether or not this proves an analytical dead end, those facts in turn remind me of an interesting post digby once wrote about the popular Dixie Chicks song “Not Ready to Make Nice” — as close to an anti-Bush anthem as the popular music scene has generated:

I think this song expresses how many of us feel after 20 years of a non-stop assault from the right — and the eager capitulation of those who find us a convenient strawman from whom they can distance themselves…

Maybe this was in the comments somewhere, or maybe someone else like Avedon Carol or Duncan Black wrote it, because digby doesn’t say this in so many words. But large parts of “Not Ready” work both as a workup of the “ashamed Bush is my president” brouhaha and as a story of realizing you’re better off out of an bad, even abusive relationship than you are trying to revive it:

Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I’m not sure I could.
They say time heals everything,
But I’m still waiting

I’m through, with doubt,
There’s nothing left for me to figure out,
I’ve paid a price, and I’ll keep paying

I’m not ready to make nice,
I’m not ready to back down,
I’m still mad as hell
And I don’t have time
To go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is
You think I should

I know you said
Why can’t you just get over it,
It turned my whole world around
and I kind of like it

Now even assuming there’s a strong connection between not taking any crap in your private life or in your politics, the fed-up formerly-married set probably isn’t the major demographic accounting for that 62-37 margin. But add in women who are avoiding marriages of the oppressive kind in the first place, and you might have an interesting working theory about these aggregate findings, or at least a different question for future research. Or maybe just raw material for another country crossover song.

Before anyone jumps down my throat about this, I said “might,” “theory,” and “aggregate”, and I’m admittedly just about as unknowledgeable about the sociodemographics and attitude surveys of women in America as can be. Someone who could speculate a good deal more knowledgeably than I can about all this is eRobin (“fact-esque”), who spent most of the fall campaign season working for PA Action in coordination with WVWV, based on just these findings.

NOTE: Teixeira item via digby (“hullabaloo”).
UPDATE, 1/17: Avedon Carol remarks: “I instantly find myself wondering what result you’d get if you looked at women who describe themselves as happily married.”

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What Israel is doing is wrong

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 18th July 2006

For a short while last week, before I understood the scope of the Israeli attacks, I supported them. The attack on and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers was an act of war by Hezbollah, an organization (or elements of it) that had no business sticking out the rest of Lebanon’s neck for it. Despite hopeful signs in Lebanon, this was also but the latest in a string of serious provocations by Hezbollah since the “Cedar Revolution” that only failed to be lethal by good luck, Israeli resistance, and/or poor execution.

So I felt that striking back at Hezbollah military targets — their rockets, headquarters, and so forth — was legitimate, and I even thought wrecking Beirut Airport runways and some bridges in South Lebanon was not an outrageous way of both slowing the kidnappers and of getting the rest of Lebanon’s undivided attention, so long as civilians were not injured.

But it’s clear to me now that Israeli government does not care enough about minimizing collateral damage, probably never was merely aiming to slow kidnappers, and is waging a wholly disproportionate war on Lebanon as a whole. From the Irish Times, via Juan Cole (“Informed Comment”):

The civilian toll continued to mount in Lebanon yesterday as Israeli planes struck dozens of targets. Nine civilians, including two children, were killed when they were hit by a missile that struck a bridge in the southern port city of Sidon. In the southern city of Tyre , rescue workers pulled nine more bodies from the civil defence building that was hit on Sunday in an Israeli strike.

Close to 200 civilians have been killed in Lebanon since the Israeli offensive began last week, when Hizbullah attacked an Israeli border patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two. Five more soldiers were killed when they gave chase into Lebanon .

I understand and support Israel’s efforts not to be subjected to missile barrages or border raids, but what they’re doing is grossly excessive collective punishment. Ehud Olmert is writing a shameful chapter in Israel’s history.

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House Republicans to servicewomen: scr*w you

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 29th May 2005

Just in time for Memorial Day, a National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) e-mailing reports on the latest outrage from the House:

House Republican leaders refused to allow debate or votes on two amendments that would have provided compassionate health care to military women who’ve been raped. The first would have ensured that the morning-after pill, ordinary birth control pills that can prevent pregnancy after sex or assault, is made available to servicewomen at every military base. The second amendment would have allowed women to use their military health insurance for abortion care in cases of rape or incest.

NARAL comments that rapes of servicewomen rose 25% in 2004. The House didn’t leave it at that, either:

Military women were also yet again denied the right to access abortion care at military facilities overseas when the House defeated an amendment to repeal a ban that forbids servicewomen and female military dependents from using their own money to pay for an abortion at overseas military hospitals.(emphasis added)

Is that even constitutional? (I mean right now. I’m sure it will be in a few years.)

For more on the amendments that were voted down, here’s are NARAL press releases about the denial of self-funded abortions, and the denial of morning-after pills. If you want to get more of this kind of news — and after all, who doesn’t — here’s a NARAL Pro-Choice signup form. NARAL also maintains a blog called Bush v. Choice.

UPDATE, 5/29: Sunday New York Times editorial: “Disrespecting Women Soldiers.”

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A mother’s advice, a hard-won right

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 27th August 2004

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

84 years ago today, women gained the right to vote in the United States when Secretary of State Bainbridge certified the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Eight days earlier, on August 18, 1920, Tennessee had become the 36th state to ratify the amendment. Writing for the “BlueShoe Nashville” travel guide site, Cheryl Hiers tells the story well; pro- and anti-suffragist supporters had descended on the the Tennessee capital wearing roses: yellow for suffragist, red for anti-suffragists. The voting in the Tennessee State House was close; after 2 votes, the legislators were deadlocked at 48-48. What happened next?

With wilted collars and frayed nerves, the legislators squared off for the third roll call. A blatant red rose on his breast, Harry Burn–the youngest member of the legislature–suddenly broke the deadlock. Despite his red rose, he voted in favor of the bill and the house erupted into pandemonium. With his “yea,” Burn had delivered universal suffrage to all American women. The outraged opponents to the bill began chasing Representative Burn around the room. In order to escape the angry mob, Burn climbed out one of the third-floor windows of the Capitol. Making his way along a ledge, he was able to save himself by hiding in the Capitol attic.

What did Burn tell his erstwhile anti-suffragist allies? He’d received a telegram from his mother Febb, urging him to “be a good boy” and vote to ratify the amendment. “I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for her boy to follow,” said Burn, in what Gail Collins once notedmay have been the only truly useful political speech ever on the subject of motherhood.”

Getting there wasn’t always this sweet by any means; only three years earlier, women picketing the White House for the right to vote were thrown into an Occoquan, Virginia prison where they were routinely subjected to abuses culminating in “The Night of Terror” of November 14, 1917:

On Whittaker’s order, one woman wrote later, “I was immediately seized by two heavy guards, dragged across the room, scattering chairs and furniture as I went…so fast that my feet could not touch the ground…to the punishment cells, where I was flung into a concrete cell with an iron-barred door.”

“I saw Dorothy Day brought in,” wrote Mary Nolan, at 73 the oldest of the suffragist prisoners. “The two men handling her were twisting her arms above her head. Then suddenly they lifted her up and banged her down over the arm of an iron bench — twice…and we heard one of them yell, ‘The damned suffrager!'”*

Maddie and me, fall 2003To Dorothy Day, Mary Nolan, and Febb Burn; to Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; to countless others, and yes, to Harry Burn: thank you from me, and on behalf of my favorite little person.

To all the women old enough to vote this November: don’t take it for granted. Register to vote if you’re not already registered. You have about a month left in most states.


* The account is from “Suffragists’ Storm Over Washington,” by William and Mary Lavender, writing for TheHistoryNet. (EDIT, 8/27)

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Karen Hughes followup

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 29th April 2004

Via Kathryn Cramer, I see that Karen Hughes has denied making the implication that abortion rights advocates were like terrorists, calling that a “gross distortion” of what she said.

But the Washington Post article by Dan Balz provides the “bridge” between the two remarks I quoted Monday, and basically, she made the implication that abortion rights advocates were like terrorists:

Asked by host Wolf Blitzer how big an issue she thought abortion would be in this year’s presidential election, Hughes responded: “Well, Wolf, it’s always an issue. And I frankly think it’s changing somewhat. I think after September 11th the American people are valuing life more and realizing that we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life.”

The former White House counselor then noted that President Bush has urged Americans to “be reasonable” about the issue and to encourage a reduction in the number of abortions performed each year in a variety of ways, including by encouraging more adoptions.

“And I think those are the kind of policies that the American people can support, particularly at a time when we’re facing an enemy, and really the fundamental difference between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life,” she added.

You can believe Hughes’ denial this was an incredible insult to pro-choice demonstrators — fellow Americans too, remember? — if you want to. But you’d be wrong. This was a nasty, clumsy shoe-horning of the abortion issue into the war on terror as copyrighted by the “anything goes” Bush administration.

Shame on Karen Hughes, and shame on George W. Bush for letting her speak for him. John Kerry ought to get that CNN tape and turn it into a campaign advertisement.


UPDATE, 4/30:

  • CNN covered a press conference in which leaders of last weekend’s march demanded Hughes apologize for her statements; they’re also providing a provisional transcript of Hughes remarks, which bears out the Washington Post account.
  • Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood has a web page where you can add your name to a petition demanding an apology. But since they know that apologies don’t come naturally to the Bush administration, they also provide Ms. Hughes with helpful pointers, developed by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, about “When And How To Apologize“:

    One key to getting along well with people is knowing when to say you’re sorry. Sometimes little comments or actions can hurt or offend others. Heavy workloads and stress may keep us from seeing how our actions make others feel. The little things can add up. It doesn’t take long for someone to hold a grudge and for grudges to grow into conflicts. In most cases, if someone is offended by something you do or say, it’s much better to apologize right away. That solves the small problem and keeps it from getting bigger.

  • Who knows, maybe Karen would even get a great big hug!

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    Terrorists and Nazis take over Washington, D.C.!

    Posted by Thomas Nephew on 27th April 2004

    The Center for American Progress highlights a couple of rabid reactions to this weekend’s huge pro-choice rally in Washington, D.C.:

  • Karen Hughes, Bush’s close political advisor:

    “I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life….Really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life.”

    (via Kevin Drum)

    The New York Times — which Bob Somerby is persuading me is a dysfunctional newspaper — dropped the Hughes quote from the final version of their story about the rally.

    I remember happening to watch Hughes for a while on Charlie Rose a few weeks back, and, so help me, I thought she actually seemed OK. (The low expectations two-step: they don’t froth at the mouth and presto! they’re reasonable people.) It’s one thing to be sincerely troubled by or opposed to abortion; it’s another to group your opponents with terrorists. Given the Times’ past artful use of ellipses, it’s just possible there was some kind of sane bridge between Hughes’ first and second sentence. Probably not, though.

  • Terry Randall, long-time pro-life activist and current president of the anti-abortion group Society for Truth and Justice, speaking to CNN:

    “These celebrities who have attached their names to [the march], their names are going to have a certain amount of shame with it. Remember, Adolf Hitler in the mid ’30s had really big crowds and had a lot of famous people saying he was a great guy. It didn’t do him much good in 1945.”

    Both items are clearly not designed to win over middle-of-the-roaders, they’re “just” more red meat for the religious far right. As long as we’re throwing around “Nazi” charges, allow me to guess that Randall Terry would probably like the Nazi Party’s social prescription for women (Kinder, Kueche, Kirche: children, kitchen, church) a lot more than, say, Kate Michelman or Hillary Clinton ever would.

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    Amina Lawal update

    Posted by Thomas Nephew on 25th September 2003

    The New York Times reports that Amina Lawal, a Nigerian woman facing execution by stoning for adultery under Islamic Shariah law, will go free. An international petition drive had been mounted to protest her case. But the Nigerian appeals court’s decision was made on the basis of the details of the case, and not on general principles:

    The Islamic appeals panel ruled the conviction couldn’t stand because Lawal wasn’t given enough time to understand the charges against her; only one judge, instead of the required three, presided at her trial; and she was not caught in the act of sex out of wedlock.

    That third item presumably makes stonings in Nigeria any time soon in Nigeria unlikely — but not impossible. But for now, one woman has escaped that fate, and that will have to do.

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    Gotcha, you bastard: the continuing series

    Posted by Thomas Nephew on 31st May 2003

    Not Al Qaeda this time — although similarities come to mind: Olympics Bombing Suspect Rudolph Arrested. Abortion clinic bomber suspect, too. Sayonara, a**h*le. Way to go, FBI. (Prior “Gotchas” here.)

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    Peter Maass with the Marines in Iraq

    Posted by Thomas Nephew on 22nd April 2003

    Peter Maass is one of the best reporters and journalists around today. His book “Love Thy Neighbor” stands as one of the most compelling accounts of Bosnia in the 1990s that I know of. His writing is generally matter of fact yet skillful, so that the peculiar mixture of horror and hypocrisy of that war, or the squalor of Pakistani slums, or the chaos of Kandahar in the wake of the Taliban defeat all speak for themselves, and stay in your mind long after you’ve read about them.

    Maass introduces “Good Kills,” his New York Times Magazine account of the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines campaign in Iraq, like this:

    As the war in Iraq is debated and turned into history, the emphasis will be on the role of technology — precision bombing, cruise missiles, decapitation strikes. That was what was new. But there was another side to the war, and it was the one that most of the fighting men and women in Iraq experienced, even if it wasn’t what Americans watching at home saw: raw military might, humans killing humans.

    …and ends it like this:

    Collateral damage is far easier to bear for those who are responsible for it from afar — from the cockpit of a B-1 bomber, from the command center of a Navy destroyer, from the rear positions of artillery crews. These warriors do not see the faces of the mothers and fathers they have killed. They do not see the blood and hear the screams and live with those memories for the rest of their lives. The grunts suffer this. The Third Battalion accomplished its mission of bringing military calamity upon the regime of Saddam Hussein; the statue of Saddam fell just a few minutes after the sniper and I spoke. But the sniper, and many other marines of the Third Battalion, could not feel as joyous as the officers in the rear, the generals in Qatar and the politicians in Washington.

    The civilians who were killed — a precise number is not and probably never will be available for the toll at Diyala bridge, or in the rest of Iraq — paid the ultimate price. But a price was paid, too, by the men who were responsible for killing them. For these men, this was not a clean war of smart bombs and surgical strikes. It was war as it has always been, war at close range, war as Sherman described it, bloody and cruel.

    Read it all.

    I think Dan Adesnik, of Oxblog, misinterprets Maass’s intent with this article. As the final paragraph makes clear, it isn’t to portray the Marines as monsters, not even Colonel McCoy. Rather, it simply describes the forward motion of an organization with a “consistent strategy as it moved toward Baghdad: kill every fighter who refused to surrender”, and the firepower (and enemy) allowing them to execute that strategy as unstoppably as a bulldozer grading a construction site.

    That’s not “anti-military bias,” as Adesnik charges. That’s what any military dreams of, that’s what they’re for — not to die for their country, but to make the other fellows die for theirs, as Patton is claimed to have said. It’s best to get a good hard look at that when it’s done in your country’s name, and that’s what Maass gives you.

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    Notes from Iran

    Posted by Thomas Nephew on 9th March 2003

    Via the quietly incredible “Notes from an Iranian Girl,” I learn that the “Iranmania” news site reported on March 1 that Afghan repatriation from Iran nears 400,000:

    The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that the number of Afghans who have returned to their homeland from Iran is approaching the 400,000 mark, IRNA quoted the press here on Saturday. The Persian-language daily `Aftab-E Yazd’ quoted the agency’s spokeswoman Laura O’Mahony as saying that 395,752 Afghans had voluntarily returned home since a UNHCR joint program with Tehran to the effect began on April 9, 2002.[…]

    Iranian officials have put the number of Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic at two million, saying all will be repatriated in the next three years. […]

    Since August 28 last year, Iranian police have been dealing with those Afghans who lack proper papers for residence following an Interior Ministry announcement that Afghan nationals who continue staying in the country after the deadline for voluntary repatriation are no longer subject to the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees.

    I’m not sure what to make of that last part, and therefore of the story as a whole; “deadline for voluntary repatriation” sort of seems like a contradiction in terms. UNHCR reports like this one make clear that many of the refugees pre-date “Operation Enduring Freedom” and 9/11. On the whole, given fairly upbeat current UNHCR reports on the matter, I’m hopeful this is the good thing the headline makes it appear to be. For her part, “Iranian girl” writes:

    I believe that It’s better for both Iranians & afghans, because afghans were not really in comfort & most of them had to work very hard with a little money & also many Iranians were not satisfied that they were here…anyway, today we Iranians that before this though [ed.: thought of] Afghans as poor refugees should envy that they’ll have a nice & free land…

    From various entries, I gather that “Iranian girl” lives somewhere in Tehran. Just fascinating stuff: demonstrations in Tehran, photos of women weavers from Northern Iran, lots of links to blogs by Iranians in English, including “Editor: Myself,” by Hossein Derakhshan, whose Farsi log appears to get a lot of traffic.

    The photo gallery of weavers, by the way, was via the “womeniniran” web site, where the news includes “Death sentence by stoning will be suspended,” and “Unfolding of an underground abortion center in Tehran“:

    After being released from the hospital, Niloufar — the last person to get an abortion — told the judge, “My husband likes to have a son and had told me that my first child should be a boy like the other brides of the family. After sonography when I found out that my child is a girl I didn’t know what to do. I was introduced to Roya by one of my friends and she asked for 300,000 tomans (500 dollar CND) for the abortion.”

    An extensive search has begun to find the remaining two members of this band. The judge told our reporter, “These abortion places lack any medical equipment and sometimes women lose their lives at these centers after abortion or they are infected by HIV viruses.”

    Worth remembering: when you don’t have legal abortions, this is what you will definitely get. And this is what women’s rights really means in practical terms elsewhere in the world: the freedom to choose, the freedom not to get stoned, the respect not to be considered a second-class child. “Iranian girl” seems like the kind of young woman who will help see to her own rights in the years to come. Good luck to her; you can follow her via a new blog link in my ever-growing collection — or via Moira Breen’s blog “inappropriate response,” where I first noticed her.

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