Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bush Error 404 -- Bush Not Found In Crawford

I took a break from political poetry to go Bush hunting, but all I could find was this.

Reproductive rights: a matter of liberty, legally

With the confirmation hearings coming up, and a lot of assertions from purported allies in liberal and progressive circles that the heart of the matter is privacy -- Roberts' record on "the so-called right to privacy" and advocating a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a right to privacy -- I offer a different view: that the real issue is liberty, and what Roberts' attitudes are about due process and the 14th amendment. (IANAL - this is a lay interpretation.)

Pennywit reminds us of the 1992 opinion Justice O'Connor wrote regarding Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey:

Though abortion is conduct, it does not follow that the State is entitled to proscribe it in all instances. That is because the liberty of the woman is at stake in a sense unique to the human condition, and so, unique to the law. The mother who carries a child to full term is subject to anxieties, to physical constraints, to pain that only she must bear. That these sacrifices have from the beginning of the human race been endured by woman with a pride that ennobles her in the eyes of others and gives to the infant a bond of love cannot alone be grounds for the State to insist she make the sacrifice. Her suffering is too intimate and personal for the State to insist, without more, upon its own vision of the woman's role, however dominant that vision has been in the course of our history and our culture. The destiny of the woman must be shaped to a large extent on her own conception of her spiritual imperatives and her place in society.


Justice Stevens, in a separate opinion, writes:

The Court in Roe carefully considered, and rejected, the State's argument "that the fetus is a `person' within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment." 410 U.S., at 156 . After analyzing the usage of "person" in the Constitution, the Court concluded that that word "has application only postnatally." Id., at 157. Commenting on the contingent property interests of the unborn that are generally represented by guardians ad litem, the Court noted: Perfection of the interests involved, again, has generally been contingent upon live birth. In short, the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense. Id., at 162. Accordingly, an abortion is not "the termination of life entitled to Fourteenth Amendment protection." Id., at 159. From this holding, there was no dissent, see id., at 173; indeed, no Member of the Court has ever questioned this fundamental proposition. Thus, as a matter of federal constitutional law, a developing organism that is not yet a "person" does not have what is sometimes described as a "right to life." 2 This has been and, by the Court's holding today, [505 U.S. 833, 914] remains, a fundamental premise of our constitutional law governing reproductive autonomy.


In weighing the matter further, he clearly states:

One aspect of this liberty is a right to bodily integrity, a right to control one's person. See, e.g., Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165 (1952); Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel Williamson, 316 U.S. 535 (1942). This right is neutral on the question of abortion: the Constitution would be equally offended by an absolute requirement that all women undergo abortions as by an absolute prohibition on abortions. "Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds." Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 565 (1969). The same holds true for the power to control women's bodies.


That is the very slipperly slope down which the radical conservatives want to push us all -- State control over our bodies. This is the legal precedent that they want to empower their efforts to dismantle the basic Constitutional rights of women.

(If they were truly against abortions, one would think they would, in addition to their battles in the courthouse and outside of health clinics, embrace non-coercive means to reduce unwanted pregnancies, such as ready and affordable access to birth control and rational sex education for teenagers in school. But they don't like these things that help women have control over their bodies. It's almost as if they oppose abortion simply because abortion would end the punishment "promiscuous" women otherwise would have to endure.)

Justice Blackmun's opinion clarifies what's at stake:

A fervent view of individual liberty and the force of stare decisis have led the Court to this conclusion. Ante, at 853. Today a majority reaffirms that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment establishes "a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter," ante, at 847 - a realm whose outer limits cannot be determined by interpretations of the Constitution that focus only on the specific practices of States at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted. See ante, at 848-849. Included within this realm of liberty is "the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child." Ante, at 851, quoting Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438, 453 (1972).... These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the [505 U.S. 833, 924] liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Ante, at 851....


[emphasis added on all excerpts]

Liberty.

This isn't about being "pro-abortion." And while privacy certainly plays a part in the social and legal understanding of women's reproductive rights, ultimately it comes down to liberty. What's more American than that?

media girl

Monday, August 29, 2005

Two Crackpot Pats & Bush Vacation Humor

I've mustered up a new batch of political poems: two limericks about a pair of our country's Crackpot Pats, Pat Robertson and Pat Boone; and a poem and haiku about Bush's extended vacation and his summer reading list. Here's my Pat Robertson limerick:

A Broadcasting Preacher Named Pat
By Madeleine Begun Kane

A broadcasting preacher named Pat,
Who quite frequently talks through his hat,
Seems to think it's God's will
That we Prez Chavez kill.
Then we'll take all his oil, and that's that.

You'll find all four of the poems here and my podcast version is here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Rich MAKE the laws, they don't ABIDE by them.

Amanda linked to an article that atrios linked to yesterday:


"I don't think you should be so `rah-rah' for a war that you aren't willing to send your own family members to,'' said Rose Gonzalez, 30, of Somerville, whose mother, a state employee, was deployed to Iraq in January.``If he thinks the war is so just and so important and we shouldn't pull out, then he should encourage his own sons to go."


and made an excellent point about privilege that Sally, in comments, really distilled for me in a way that made the whole argument applicable to all the ways in which the rich exempt themselves from their own laws...or rather, create oppressive rules/laws that they know that they will never be obligated to adhere to.

I think it was actually Amanda herself who responded "That's a tough concept for an 8-year old" when I told her about the conversation I had with Monk about theft and class. I am sure she didn't intend to imply that I shouldn't give the explanation to Monk, and she was certainly right that it's a tricky thing to explain. However, when Monk said to me "I know why poor people steal, mom." with an authoritativeness that implied that rich people do not, someone had already taught him the opposite lesson. The double-standard is so fucking pervasive that somehow my relatively media-free 8-year old has already been taught his first lessons about crime, visible punishment, and pseudo-moral exemption.

To universalize this particular link, abortion, too, is one of those "Not For My Kind Of People" issues. Not because rich women can avoid getting pregnant (although, as I am convinced that republican men are just awful in bed, it might be easier for rich women to do just that) but that the means to terminate a pregnancy for a rich woman is never in question, and it's not REALLY abortion when you are rich.

I'm sure there are a good number of ways that you can apply this rule of lawlessness. War. Theft. Death Penalty. The so-called murder of the unborn. Drug Abuse. It's not just that it's easier to get away with things when you have the means to do so; it's that if you believe in the meritocracy (which I doubt anyone REALLY does, so you just have to pretend to believe it as earnestly as possible) damnit it sure justifies a lot of bullshit if you can just say "I earned my privilege through hard fucking work, and those others just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and keep chugging along."

Edited To Add: Suzanne mentions via AIM: "just reading your post re: theft and class and remembering that I once worked for an ObGyn Dr's group in a very rich part of SF and the abortions were called Therapeutic Dilation and Curettage or TDC's. Women were scheduled for these all the time."

crossposted at my blog

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sacred Space in Motion

Dancing last night at Soul Motion with Vinn Marti, I prayed to the all-pervading light, "Can you use this moment? Can you use it to show me your ancient face? Let me use the body to lose the body. Show me that I am not a body."

At first I would see an image of myself moving a certain way, then decide to enact that vision. Gradually that gave way to discovering the movements as they occurred, watching myself dance. Finally I began to consciously note the movements only after they had occurred, as I stood in stillness waiting for the next motion to come. While in the midst of each movement there was no mind to observe with. There was only the motion itself.

At the spiritual singing circles with Wind Cloud there is a song we often sing, and usually I wind up being the dancer for the group. It goes something like this:

Loving is a beautiful feeling, dance 'til you rise in love.
Dancing is a beautiful feeling, dance 'til you rise above.
Disappear in the song, 'til the dancer is gone,
until only the dance remains.


And this I sing to you now, for you are sacred space. This is my prayer. May you use the body to lose the body. May you lose the dancer and become the dance. May you see your ancient face and recognize your true nature, in this very moment.

-- From the Indigo Ocean insight and inspiration weblog

Monday, August 15, 2005

*Another* dark side of V-J Day...

The first being nuclear fall-out...

Here's an article on today's SFGATE.com:

The dark side of V-J Day | The story of the city's deadliest riot has been largely forgotten
Today is the 60th anniversary of a terrible day in San Francisco's history -- a victory riot that left 11 dead, 1,000 injured and the city's reputation besmirched.

"It was the deadliest riot in the city's history,'' said Kevin Mullen, a retired deputy chief of police who has written extensively about crime in San Francisco.

The riot, which followed the Japanese surrender announcement by a day, was mostly confined to downtown San Francisco and involved thousands of drunken soldiers and sailors, most of them teenagers, who smashed store windows, attacked women, halted all traffic, wrecked Muni streetcars -- 30 of them were disabled, and one Muni worker was killed. The rioters took over Market Street and refused to leave until military and civilian police drove them away long after nightfall following hours of chaos.

"A looting, smashing crowd is tearing up Market Street tonight,'' Chronicle reporter Stanton Delaplane wrote at 8 o'clock that Wednesday night. "... this crowd is out of hand. You couldn't stop it if you tried, not short of tear gas and fire hoses.''
And under a quintessential shot of soldiers force-kissing young women, the caption reads:
As the party turned ugly, there were -- along with iconic images of sailors kissing strangers -- eyewitness reports of gang rapes.
This story hardly surprises me as I've always kind of assumed these celebrations broke out in this manner at some point during the course of the day. Take a large number of men who assume they can force themselves on random women, add booze and the acceptability of such behavior in the name of "victory," and you've got a recipe for violence against women. Seems odd that the focus is only on San Francisco. I truly doubt this behavior, on such a large scale, only happened here on that day or any day like it.

It also bugs me that in the mainstream media, violent riots of primarily white people hardly result in the social and political legacies that people of color get to deal with.

The article goes on to quote a retired deputy police chief:

"If you pull all restraints off and add liquor, that's what happens,'' said Mullen, the former deputy police chief. "Everybody went nuts. These were not veterans, they were young people who hadn't been in the war. They were not warriors,'' he said.

They hadn't seen the war, and now they didn't have to. There would be no invasion of Japan, no long casualty lists. These young men would not see combat. So they got drunk. They were all drunk, the reporter Delaplane wrote. One in four, he thought, was "falling down drunk.''

"You put young girls with them and add liquor, and that's what happens,'' Mullen said. Some of the women were not so willing; there were several rapes, some gang rapes reported by eyewitnesses, but none was ever officially reported.
I just love it when people who have any amount of privilege give dismissive explanations so we can all can just murmur, "Ohhhh..." and nod our heads vapidly.

This is also posted on my (recently resurrected) blog Zoloft, Take Me Away. Cheers!

Ode To Cindy Sheehan

Will Cindy Sheehan's Crawford encampment prove to be a tipping point? Will her Texas standoff with George Bush inspire an antiwar activism growth spurt? The answer to both questions is a definite maybe. But whatever happens, we owe Cindy Sheehan a debt of gratitude, and I owe her this Ode:

Ode To Cindy Sheehan
By Madeleine Begun Kane

"The mother of a soldier dead
Has Dubya running scared.
Her very name fills Bush with dread.
Face Sheehan? Dub don't dare.

She's camped outside Dub's pseudo-ranch,
In Crawford's daunting heat..."

The rest of my Ode to Cindy Sheehan is here.

And the audio / podcast version is here.

Girl Group Doo Wop Brill Building Heaven



Gonna Take a Miracle [Expanded]
Laura Nyro with LaBelle

When I saw this CD in my local B&N last week it was all I could do not to scream, I was that ecstatic. Even if I had screamed, I'm sure the guys behind the counter would not have flinched. They're used to me coming in, usually looking for something that's a little bit off the beaten track, and then when I find it they have to put up with 10 minutes of me waxing rhapsodic about how fabulous whatever it is, is.

Now you must understand, my LP version of Gonna Take A Miracle is 34 years old, and for at least the last 25 of those years it's been unplayable, thanks to a certain ex's surefire breakup technique:

1) take a paperclip.
2) bend one end of paperclip outward.
3) take Terrible Soon-to-be Ex-girlfriend's favorite LP out of its cover.
4) apply sharp outwardly-pointing end of paperclip to LP.
5) repeat step 4 ten or eleven times

Not to mention that my cat Sonny sprayed boy-kitty spunk all over it.

But was all that enough to make me throw the LP away? Oh god no. I tried scrubbing off the cat jizz but nothing could get rid of the reek, so I wrapped it in 3-mil poly and eventually it got stashed away in boxes with all the other vinyl. For a long time it was so painful to remember how much I loved that record that I put it out of my mind completely for lo these many years, never seeking it out on CD until suddenly: there it was! In re-mastered, reissued and EXPANDED CD format! And it was all I could do not to do the ecstatic scream thing.

In the late 60s and into the 70s, there was a succession of female singer-songwriters who provided the soundtrack to my life. Sometimes it would be Joni Mitchell singing A Case of You; other times it would be Judy Collins singing Marat/Sade
but most often it was Laura Nyro singing New York Tendaberry

My mother, bless her eternally well-intentioned but incurably ditsy heart, would put up with Laura Nyro playing nonstop on the clunky big console stereo in the dining room of our house in south Minneapolis; endless hours of Bronx-born Jewish/Italian Nyro wailing, until finally Mom would say:
"Honey, would you please turn that colored woman down!?"

And after I got through laughing, of course I would. Turn the volume down on Laura Nyro, I mean. At least, I did until Gonna Take A Miracle came out in 1971. Then whenever it was on the turntable the volume was always cranked up to 11. Always.

Laura Nyro and Patti Labelle happened to meet in 1971 and discovered they were rabid fans of each other's music. They shared a love for the kind of music they grew up singing, the a capella arrangements soaring up from street corners and echoing in train station stairwells. Laura was already beginnning to gravitate towards that style in her newest album Christmas and the Beads of Sweat, which included the Goffin-King song Up On the Roof. With Laura singing lead vocals backed by soul trio "Labelle", which included Patti Labelle, Nona Hendryx and Sara Dash, they decided to do an entire album of nothing but covers of those girl group, doo wop, Brill Building Sound songs from the early 60s.

The liner notes say there was a very tight six-day window to record in, but the singers spent so much time just "vibing" together that 5 days went by without recording a single note. So the recording was all done on that sixth and last day, and because of the time constraints, most of the tracks are first takes. For that reason, and even more because of the obvious love and bond between the musicians that manifests on every track, the sheer power and raw emotion of this album knocks you right back on your ass.

This record was the soundtrack to our days in 1971 and 1972 and 1973, and by "our days" I mean mine and Annie's and Chris's and Greta's and Barbara's and California Chris's and a couple other women whose names I've forgotten now.

We were white, Scandy, Lutheran girls attending a small liberal arts college in rural Minnesota. More important [to us, anyway] was that we were also Earth mothers; girl freaks; hippie chicks; and Amazons [plus one Little French Waif]. We felt deeply. We had raised consciousness. We had passion in our souls. We had sisterhood, and sisterhood was powerful. This was our music, and we did not share it with men. Ever. [Oooh, like they felt so left out. Of course, guys were unbelievably relieved to not have to listen to this stuff.]

Gonna Take a Miracle could be a good soundtrack for those times when we were newly in love and life was a never-ending stoned soul picnic, but more frequently it was the soundtrack when relationships went sour. When love went bad and nothing was ever going to be the same ever again.

And by "love" we didn't mean that Incense and Peppermints I Got You Babe crapola.
No, even then we knew that what we meant was Crazy love. Obsessive love. Years Of Psychotherapy In Your Future love. Restraining Order love. Love so wild and scary that white Scandy Lutheran girls --even progressive counterculture ones-- would never be able to express it in song. Only dark, ethnic, New York women, with their powerful voices and gritty strength were capable of really, really, really singing about that kind of love.

These are the tracks that appeared on the original release in 1971:

1. I Met Him on a Sunday
[doo Sunday ronday ronday ronday boppa doo ron]
2. The Bells
[remember, if you ever leave me I'll go insane!]
3. Monkey Time/Dancing in the Street
[wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate]
4. Desiree*
5. You've Really Got a Hold on Me
[Tighter...]
6. Spanish Harlem
[love's growing in the street, right up through the concrete]
7. Jimmy Mack
[that boy he keeps coming around/he's trying to wear my resistance down]
8. The Wind*
9. Nowhere to Run
[cuz I know you're no good for me, but free of you I never will be]
10.It's Gonna Take a Miracle
[didn't you know/it wouldn't be so easy letting you go?]

*If you had to skip any, I'd say skip the two dreamy, ethereal cuts "Desiree" and "The Wind". We don't want that "wispy" "breathy" "dreamy" love shit. No! We want obsessive compulsive love like "You Really Got a Hold On Me" and psychotic I- hear- voices- nobody- else- can- hear love like "The Bells"!

The expanded part of the CD is four previously-unreleased tracks from a May 30, 1971 performance at the Fillmore East. Just Laura at the piano, first riffing through Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing and then a segue to You Make me Feel Like a Natural Woman and then a verse of Ooh Child Things Are Gonna Get Easier, and finally you can hear a collective ecstatic gasp from the audience as they recognize the opening of Up On The Roof.

It's sweet soulful psycho girl music. And

no, Ma, I will NOT turn that colored woman down.



This post also appears here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bolton and Novak and Bush, Oh, My!

I've written three new limericks about John Bolton's recess appointment, Bob Novak's on-air freak out, and our country's lame excuse for a president. Here's one of the limericks:

Dubya's Down Time
By Madeleine Begun Kane

George Dubya sure loves to vacation,
And his workout time Dub rarely rations.
He likes recesses too,
For the power imbued
To name refuse to wreck our fine nation.

My three new limericks are here and my audio version is here.

Mad Kane

Monday, August 08, 2005

"Being me isn't a choice"

On Friday the Spokane, WA Spokesman-Review finally got around to covering a story I've been following most of the week. I've held off writing, waiting for details to be confirmed, and those details, more of which can be found on RootBeerRock's blog, are ugly.

Kimberly Stankovich is a transgendered father of two. Her marriage broke up following her coming out as a woman and everything has gone down hill from there. She claims her ex outed her to her employer (the ex disputes this), and has since been unable to find work in ultra-conservative Spokane, leaving her unable to pay court-ordered child support.

From the Spokesman-Review:
At a July 14 hearing, Superior Court Commissioner Royce Moe found Stankovich in contempt for not paying nearly $1,000 a month in child support and spousal maintenance to Stankovich's wife of 15 years, Marnie. The couple filed for divorce in July 2004.

Moe said he was not convinced that Stankovich did not make a choice to be transgendered.

"How is what your client did any different from deciding that she wants to be a punk rocker," Moe asked Stankovich's attorney during a July 1 hearing.

Stankovich, a former Eastern Washington University psychology student, was sent to jail for "willful failure" to meet her court-ordered obligation. Moe gave Stankovich a month to pay or appear on July 29 for one week of incarceration.

Stankovich, who said she has not had more than $1,000 a month to live on since 1996, reported for jail accompanied by an entourage of social activists belonging to a group called Stop the Clock. Once incarcerated, she was placed in a men's wing of the jail, where she was verbally abused for two days until an expert in gender identity dysphoria contacted the jail commander to inform him of the psychological damage such treatment could cause.

[snip]

...at one point, court commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur ordered Stankovich to dress as a man during visitations with her daughters, ages 15 and 12, to spare them the embarrassment of having a transgendered father.

Judge Maryann Moreno later revised that order, allowing Stankovich to dress as a woman. Stankovich is allowed to see her daughters every other weekend and one weekday a month.

She is currently receiving hormones to facilitate her transition to physically becoming a woman but said she cannot afford the necessary surgery.


Kimberly is now out of jail after serving 7 days for contempt. When the divorce goes to trail on August 22, 2005, her attorney intends to argue that transgenderism is not a choice but a situation into which one is born. Kimberly replies that it is a choice, "But it's a choice like eating. If you don't nourish your soul, like not eating, you die."

(cross-posted at I See Invisible People)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Courage to Follow Your Signals

I was going to do the 24-hour blogathon this year [The Worthwhile Cause: Outward Bound - Women of Courage]. All Signals were off though. From the web production to even registering. I think the solution was perfect. A simple statement, a simple direction. No statistics keeping or excessive content. Simply Outward Bound has a wonderful program for women in need "Women of Courage" and this is what it is about.

On Friday evening I was talking about this Blogathon 2005 campaign to a roommate. That talk was very useful. It changed the direction of what I was going to write about (music) to relationships.

I will be keeping this Worthwhile blog up and it will be about relationships. I've got to get the comments to work. I hope that during the course of this blogging others will discuss (otherwise known as comment). Discussion is the most important part of blogging I think. Its growth.

That's what I always look for in relationships with myself and with others, growth.

We get so many signals about relationships of all kinds in our life. How many of us have the courage to follow those signals. Its hard indeed.

My roommate and many others in my life and people I come in contact with everyday all have this same topic of discussion. This significant other in their life (or wannabe) isn't giving them what they want. I always see that as a big signal in my own life. #1 can someone else give us what we want? #2 if someone can't give us what we've asked for (getting it) should we keep looking for it #3 can we grow with someone else (as long as we are both playing or working on getting it to achieve this desire. These are points discussed on the Dr. Phil show, Oprah and capitalized in Amazon.com bestsellers (such as "Closing the Deal : Two Married Guys Take You from Single Miss to Wedded Bliss")

We all have our own original answers and experiences. I believe that there is no one answer to these questions or points of discussion. We each have to make up our own (hearts&mind) Discussion via the media I've mentioned above helps. If we keep ourselves open to discussion I believe we can get what we want in this life.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Books Women will Love

Illustrator and book addict Patricia Storms recounts her indignation at finding a table of "Books Men Will Love" and "Books Women Will Love" laden with stereotypical selections of politics and chick lit, respectively. But, not only did she take her concerns to the book store staff, and the company's head office, she sent a letter to the CEO of the book store chain, with positive results.

Someone should write a book about standing up to subtle, pervasive forms of sexism in our culture. That would be a book that women will love (and hopefully men too!).