More on Hillary’s Message about Choice

Last night, I caught the tail end of Digby’s episode on Virtually Speaking.  Now, I like Digby.  I can be critical, and I will be in a moment, but I have to say that there are very few writers on the left that write with the clarity and precision of Digby.  Most of the time, she is spot on when it comes to analyzing issues.  During the last four years, I have dumped a lot of blogs from my reading list for their shameless selling out to the Obama dudes.  Taylor Marsh, DailyKos and TalkLeft come immediately to mind.  But I’ve always read Digby because she’s just that good.

But I think she’s wrong about Hillary’s “Safe, legal and rare” approach to abortion.  I am firmly convinced, after watching and reading Hillary Clinton’s opinions and speeches over the last 20 years, that she focuses almost all of her efforts on prevention so that abortions are unnecessary.  And why should she care to make them unnecessary?  It’s because they are inconvenient, difficult to obtain, sometimes dangerous and expensive in many parts of the world, including this country.  I don’t think that is a comment on how icky abortion is.  It’s more a comment on reality.   We technically have abortion on demand in this country but compared to even the most progressive nations in the world, and I do not count the US among those nations, abortion on demand throughout all nine months is unheard of.  That’s because women in the most progressive nations have access to good contraception, education about family planning and sexuality and social support systems for women who decide to carry their pregnancies to term.  If you put your emphasis on prevention up front, you have less to worry about afterwards and this leads to *more* power for women, not less.

I don’t know why this concept is so difficult to understand.  The prevention first position represents a significant amount of thought on the issue of reproductive rights from an empowerment and a societal point of view.  The abortion on demand, damn the torpedos, full speed ahead position represents, in my mind at least, a lack of planning, foresight and attention to detail.  It turns women into beggars because if societal sentiment ever changes through the efforts of a very vocal minority, there is no multiple backup system firmly embedded in the rest of society to pick up the slack. Finally, “safe, legal and rare” is proactive about sexuality while “abortion on demand at any time” is reactive.  The latter is what you get when everyone accepts the purity ring mentality.

But here’s the reason why I think the left missed a crucial opportunity for women when they took a pass on Hillary.  Watch her comments from the Women in the World event from a few days ago again:

There are two points she makes that illustrate that she gets it and has a mastery of this issue that Obama can’t touch.

The first is Choice.  The one thing that fundamentalists do not like for themselves or others is choice.  They see the world in binary.  You are either good or bad, a slut or a mother, saved or damned.  There is no room in their world for choice.  Choice makes them uncomfortable.  Nauseous even.  They want a world where their choices are made for them.  They want to be able to consult a book and have the answers written out.  If you’re a man, you conduct your life one way, if you’re a woman, you conduct your life another.  There are no choices.  Stick to the rules and no one gets hurt.  Your personal opinions, talents and goals are not important.  It’s a very Taliban mentality.  But that’s the way they want our country to operate.  To restrict choices to those strictly defined for each gender as written in the bible relieves their anxiety.  Whether this anxiety is natural or induced doesn’t matter.  Choice is to be avoided at all cost.

The second is Extremism.  She is saying that Extremists have it in for women.  She is not singling out any religion in particular and in fact, she says she values the right of each woman to make a choice about how she wants to worship.  But Hillary is saying that Extremists use religion to advance their goals.  Extremists are enemies of democracy.  She also says that the measure of a democracy is determined by how we treat women.  The logical conclusion is that you can’t have a democracy if you allow extremists to restrict the choices of a sizeable segment of your population.  We have seen that this is true in many countries around the world and are witnessing it in Israel and here in the US right now.

These are the points that Obama fails to acknowledge when it comes to addressing the contraception issue.  He fails to associate the word “choice” with freedom and “extremism” with an assault on democracy.

You Democratic party loyalists can talk amongst yourselves about why Obama fails to do this.  To me, his rationale is not important.  All that is important is that he fails to do it. But it is this precision of thought and analysis, which Digby herself should admire, that has always defined Hillary’s approach from Obama’s to me and why we “Hillary Holdouts” miss her voice on the domestic stage so sorely. It makes all of the difference.

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72 Responses

  1. Along with your other points, rare is good because not getting pregnant in the first place eliminates the inner struggle that some women have. Just because one believes in choice, just because they choose abortion, doesn’t mean they don’t feel badly about it.

    Nothing wrong with saying that “rare” minimizes potential guilt.

  2. I’m job hunting too and lately I’ve noticed quite a number of “church secretary” openings. Are churches growing that much, or are women abandoning them in large numbers, even quitting employment at them lately….(hope so).

    • I had dinner with some software vendors a couple of days ago. Really nice people. They told me that they have seen a lot of pharma researchers getting out of the business lately. So many chemists and modelers are just leaving research when they get laid off. They have no interest in being scientists anymore. I told them that I loved my last position and would do it again in a heartbeat if I could find one like it. They told me I was definitely an exception, which suggests to me that the discontent is deeper than just losing a job. I don’t think many people realize or appreciate just how difficult scientific research is. It’s mentally hard and sometimes physically hard. And now, it’s become a game of politics and salesmanship. And on top of that, some scientists have been laid off multiple times, having to relocate their families. I met one guy who told me that when the ax falls on him, and he knows it will, he’s out. He’s not staying in NJ and he’s not begging for an entry level job with reduced pay and bennies. People are burned out. So, they’re walking away. These are the most experienced people in the field. It’s not a good thing. It’s a national emergency. But the vendors told me that they are seeing more and more of it at every company they visit.

      • When Microsoft started requiring contractors to take a 90 day break in service once every year, I quit the IT industry too…a lot of people tend to grow to dislike their careers. When I first started at Microsoft, I was a contractor in an area where they didn’t hire “permanent” employees. Had they decided to hire me then, I would have jumped at the chance. The place felt like Disneyland! By the time they decided they wanted to keep me badly enough to make an exception to their hiring rules, I couldn’t stand the work anymore. The way I termed it, I “didn’t want to marry a job I couldn’t stand dating anymore ;-)”.

        BTW, I’m not looking for a job as a “church secretary”….it’s just that I sometimes peruse the “admin” sections of job pages because certain jobs in my field tend to get put there.

      • At least some of that “deeper discontent” is a consequence of realizing that science, while it may seem like it’s a profession, it’s actually not. Being a scientist, for all but a few celebrities (James Lovelock, Richard Dawkins, etc), is much closer to being a skilled, but non-unionized, industrial worker than a doctor, lawyer, or engineer (true professionals who typically need a license to practice). When the company no longer needs such skilled, non-unionized workers, they’re easy to get rid of.

        Political agitation in favor of making scientists true professionals (complete with required licensing) is one possible solution to this. Unionization is another possibility. Both courses would require enormous amounts of consciousness-raising among scientists. Is that even possible, given the temperment of most American scientists? Hard to say…

        • You should hang out at In the Pipeline. Consciousness has definitely been raised. And yes, while it appears to the managerial class that scientists are just highly skilled, non-unionized, industrial workers, this view represents a major misunderstanding of the nature of research. Sure, you can get Chinese and Indian PhDs to do the grunt work of turning out compounds like crazy but real discovery research takes more than just skill with glassware apparatus and stoichiometry.
          Actually, I feel sorry for the Indian and Chinese scientists who spent so many years getting their education only to have it squandered by a bunch of Wharton MBAs who think that any low paid flunky can do a Suzuki coupling. That takes all of the joy out of the discovery and scientific process. And that’s going to come back to bite us all in the ass. Because where there is no joy, there won’t be any discovery.

          Should we professionalize? Depends. Are you going to have to get a PhD or will 10,000 hours of experience at a PhD level qualify? Will we all have to take a test on organic synthesis or will there be areas of specialization tests? It would be great if the ACS would work on this but from what I can see, the ACS is run by a bunch of arrogant, old retired farts who see no reason to change anything. It’s working so well for them.

          • More than a few Chinese and Indian PhDs are returning to their home countries for the very reasons you state. And while it may be true that the managerial class misunderstands the nature of research, the likelihood of them converting to the “scientist as artist/national treasure” POV is extremely unlikely, and I think you know that, RD. For scientists to believe that if they could just put together a set of arguments that would effectively “make that case” to the managerial class (the Pipeline perspective, as best I can tell), they would see the error of their ways, is not realistic.

            That leaves a couple of alternatives. The first is unionization. Perhaps scientists need to begin talking to the International Chemical Workers Union and signing union cards. The other is professionalization, complete with licensing requirements and a code of ethics. Details would have to be worked out, but talking to doctors, lawyers (other professionals) for advice on how to go about doing this would be a useful endeavor. A famous man once said “power concedes nothing without a demand.”

      • OTOH, for some people, maybe the right thing to do is to consider pulling up stakes and moving to the Far East or India. There does come a point when trying to hang on (and hang on) in the U.S., for mis-guided nationalistic reasons more than anything else, becomes nothing more than an exercise in futility.

        日本語ができますか中国語ができますか。Can you speak Indian English?

        • Well, that leaves women scientists out. The sexism in America is bad enough. Why move to a country where women and widows are still treated like shit?

          • Not necessarily, though I understand your concern. While I didn’t mention it, the Far East does include such places as Australia and NZ. My larger point is that, for some scientists, the right option is going to be to vote with their feet and become an ex-pat.

            But let me ask you something, RD. Do you think that a scientist who makes such a choice has, on some level, “betrayed his country”? By taking his American education and willingly putting it in the service of Far Eastern foreign powers, has he/she only made it that much harder for those scientists who continue to hang on here to work for change, whether that be trying to persuade the US managerial class of the error of it’s ways, or unionizing the scientific workforce, or professionalizing science?

          • I don’t think it is a betrayal in the sense that people who are passionate about their work and have no other choice but go overseas to practice their art are doing what they think is best for them.
            But it’s bad strategy because the managerial class really has no damn clue what they’re doing with research and they don’t understand how research works and they don’t understand that it can’t always be managed like making a car or designing a new computer chip. So, following the lemmings overseas is only going to make the situation worse because it feeds into the wrong concept of research.
            So, I wish that scientists would move only as far as Michigan or some other place that is cheap to live and start their small companies there instead of on the coasts where overhead is ridiculous. That is the way I think we can survive intact and with some degree of independence.

          • Your answer seems to be a somewhat nuanced “yes”, then. In practical terms, an American scientist offered a research position in Singapore and accepting it does real harm to those scientists who choose to–or have no choice but to–remain in the US, because it feeds into managerial concepts of what research is (their concept being that research is decidedly NOT an artistic endeavor, but more like following a recipe). How does accepting a research position in the Far East feed into such managerial concepts?

            Overhead is ridiculous on the coasts, btw.

      • Is it paranoid to suggest that this is what the Financial Managerial Class is deliberately seeking to achieve on purpose? The mass-departure from the field of the most knowledgeable master practitioners so that there will be no one to teach the new apprentices?
        All part of a longer range plan to destroy First World level activity in America so as to push America into a fall-of-the-Soviet-Union style decline so that the Kleptons can Yeltsinize the wreckage?

        • RUR, another aspect of this is that the FMC does not view scientists as “national assets/national treasures” to be cherished and preserved. They’re seen as simply highly skilled, but non-professional, non-unionized industrial workers. Scientists, OTOH, DO commonly view themselves as “national assets/national treasures”, a POV scientists typically pick up while in college and graduate school. So scientists typically look at all this from a national perspective, while the FMC now looks at all this from an international perspective. The two perspectives are incompatible.

  3. Posting again, have you heard about the HEK293 controversy. We are apparently ‘eating fetuses’ now.

    I try to explain that the HEK293 cell line is essentially a cell manufacturing plant. The products from it are used in testing, not eaten. Yes, it was derived in the 70’s from a fetal kidney cell line. However, contrary to what the “pro-life” groups want people to believe, scientists are not aborting fetuses and harvesting their kidneys to make Pepsi….but it’s hard to convince people.

    Religious institutions tend to attract people who are “logic-process-deficient”. They will always be so inclined, but hopefully someday they will be marginalized, the way secular-thinkers have been for so long.

    • WTF? What’s next? Will PETA start going nuts about CHO cells?
      So much pseudoscience and superstition in the 21st century feels so not normal.

  4. I always found Hillary Clinton’s “Safe, legal and rare” to be brilliant, and never questioned her “rare” to be anything but a concern for the woman – and her health – involved. Taking into account that any intervention of that sort implies a risk and being concerned that as few women as possible need to go through that. Some sort of ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

  5. This post is a beautiful example of the stark contrast between HRC and BHO on women’s issues. I also love how her delivery is completely free of “aaaaand….”, “ummmmm….” and the always patronizing “folks”.

    P.S. I think Taylor Marsh has come back to her senses.

    • But Taylor Marsh may lose them again when it’s convenient.
      It’s a trust issue.

    • Did you ever notice how Obama always seems to have secret friends planted in the audience so that it seems like there is some private joke he is having with a few special kool kidz that the rest of us are supposed to wish we were in on? Next time you see him speak, see if you don’t notice that.

      • I had not noticed that. If I am unable to avoid his TV appearances in future, I will watch for that. That would be a lot more subtle than the obvious cardboard-replica “blackcent” he puts on when he wants to sound like he’s “down with the people, man”.

      • The fainting ladies in the front role who received his water bottle. Happened multiple times. Kind of like his orchestrated third finger head scratch at the same time during his read speech when his speech writer had him ding Hill for trouncing The One in a debate.

        Yes, we can! What a brand.

      • I believe it was Bill Clinton who “invented” the gesture of pointing to a – actual or pretend we’ll never know – friend in the audience, showing both surprise and delight, then waving. Lol. It worked for a while. Then when everyone else started doing it, it became more of a joke.

    • I’d be interested in hearing what you know about Taylor Marsh. I ended up over here at The Confluence as a direct result of her spineless defection. I sooo hated the way she couched it in terms of she’d reached level 4 maturity while the rest of us were stuck at level 3. It was infuriating.

  6. I love your site and respect your opinion (as a woman, as an out pharma scientist, as a Clinton supporter…), but I have to say that I think if Clinton had won, she would be much more muted on many things while an “Obama in exile” woud be saying all the right things. Maybe less so on womens’ rights, but definitely on things like the economy, Iran, the unitary executive, etc.

    Politicians in power will do and say what they (and more importantly, and stupidly, their advisors) think will keep them in power. The office itself become a vice, and every advisor a miniature Machiabelli (and they’re all the same, the “conventional wisdom” is all the same…)

    I still like Clinton, but I also think it’s true that you can’t prove a counterfactual. Most politicians are better people when they are free from running from office.

    • Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single Democratic ideal that Obama has supported robustly. Hillary would have had to be unconscious to be “much more muted” than he has been.

    • Ok, let me see if I have this right: she would have been better on women’s rights but she would have been more muted than her campaign rhetoric on everything else. And this is supposed to convince me of the superiority of Obama’s performance…how, exactly?
      Even if I agreed with you, and I don’t, Hillary comes out on top just on the issues that affect more than half of the population. How is that a loss for us?
      You know, this logic about “Oh, she wouldn’t have done any differently” never did make any damn sense. And now we can see why in all its glory. You Obama supporters have completely lost all credibility. She’s not the one who hired Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. She’s not the one who didn’t have a plan to address the mortgage problem when he came into office. And as far as I can tell, she hasn’t started any war with Iran in four years, which is what the left was telling us was *sure* to happen if she was elected. Not only that but we’re back on track with North Korea, following the same strategy her husband had before he left office. AFAIK, she’s not in charge of Guantanemo and she voted against the telecomm immunity bill. Obama voted for it.
      So, you guys backed the wrong person and the rest of us are suffering for it. Don’t expect us to cut you a break now.

      • One only had to compare their voting records in congress to know who was the true progressive and who was, by his own admission letting people project onto him their fantasies… I lost count how many times I gave the link to Progressive Punch’s website in 2008. In short- Hillary’s voting record was very progressive across the line (Only Kuchnich had an more progressive record, and that only on certain issues- mainly in connection to the war.) When it came to human rights and labor union issues Hillary was the most liberal. In contrast Obama was way down around the Republicans on EVERY issue. Only Biden had a more Republican like voting record of the Democratic candidates- and look who the Democratic leadership choose to manipulate the results to get- the two most Republican like candidates…

        • I think there must have been different sealed-off blog-silos at that time (and maybe now). I never heard of this site you mention till just now reading it here. And I never heard about The Confluence until
          until M ft I told us about it over at Hullabaloo in mid-late 2011. And I don’t remember seeing The Confluence anywhere in Hullabaloo’s blogroll. So how would I have known about it in my little blog-silo?

          Well . . . if I would have been reading DailyKos at or before that time I might have known Riverdaughter and followed her over to this blog here. But I didn’t read DailyKos either, because of time limitations and because of the physical ugliness of the site.

          So who and how might identify some of those other blog-silos that people are in and begin leading people from those blog-silos to this blog-silo here? I can’t , because I am secretly stealth-banned at Hullabaloo. ( And of course Digby’s writing r and analysis remains just as good as Riverdaughter says it is, which makes me all the more bitter at being secretly stealth-banned. I go there every two or three weeks to read the writing and renew the well of my bilious rage.)

          • @RUR–The Hullabazoo keepers banned both of us, but they allow the hyperactive ditz who calls herself “pieceofcake” to spam comment threads at will. :roll:

            Digby’s been assimilated into the Oborg Collective, as has the once-mighty Driftglass.

            I had started to think of those people, and many others, as friends. One of many reasons that I will never vote for Obummer is that his PR technicians stole their minds and turned them into Oborg. Sadly, they still display flashes of their former brilliance, but I doubt they will ever recover their true selves again. :(

          • I got here directly from obscure link I clicked on Taylor Marsh. Before that, I got to Taylor Marsh directly from obsure lin I clicked on Political Animal. It’s kinda like natural selection.

      • I am NOT an Obama supporter and I do not appreciate being addressed that way.

        My point was that once in power people, and their advisors, get political. When not in power or no longer in power, things change. I am not an Obama supporter, but I DO think that Hillary would have handled the financial crisis in a very similar manner. That’s just me being cynical about the powerful vs. the powerless, Wall St. vs. Main St., 1% vs. 99%, take your pick. It’s not a statement about Obama vs. Hillary.

        If I don’t praise Hillary Clinton am I automatically an enemy? We’re on the same damn side in the grand scheme of things, and you are attacking me! I voted for Obama in the primaries, yes, but I admit that it was a bad decision. And I was never involved with the campaign, nor am I an “Obot”. I was just a voter. How about giving me a break there?

        If you and I, two like-minded people, have to be at each others’ throats then there is an us-vs-them bubble within the left almost as bad as the us-vs-them bubble on the right. And that’s probably just how Larry Summers likes it.

    • And I think that if Obama hadn’t won … he wouldn’t even be in politics anymore.

    • Hillary has always been outspoken and Obama has always been constrained. Hillary has always been bold, Obama has always needed totus. And he has always hidden behind his enforcers as they have gone about doing his dirty work and slight of hand. He’s one Obama for one group and a different Obama for another.
      Only this year it won’t work. We have all seen who he is and the only thing that is saving him is that Wall Street and the Banksters have decided they like the job he is doing for them and will keep him around for another four years. And that is why the republican field is such a disaster.

      • If the Rs could somehow be tortured into nominating someone like Romney or Elizabeth Dole or Kaye Bailey Hutchison, then their fear-factor would be significantly lowered and many people would feel safe in voting away from Obama. Since Romney is the only non-maniac running in the R primaries, I hope that Romney gets nominated and that the Rs at least make his VP the least maniacal of the others. That might encourage at least some people to walk away from Obama.

        • But even if Romney is nominated he will be crucified in the media. That is the problem. Look what happened to Gore. Look what happened to Hillary. To me it feels hopeless. I don’t know what has to happen to break the hold big corps and big media have over our election process, but I hope it happens soon, or any chance of us being the nation we once were is gone. Just my opinion.

    • “…it’s true that you can’t prove a counterfactual…” That’s absolutely true, and I’ve wrestled with the question of whether or not Clinton would have been better myself. I have no doubt that she would have disappointed me and even infuriated me at times. But, these are my grounds for hypothesizing…note I say hypothesizing and not proving…that she would have been a better President:

      1. She would have entered office ahead of any rival in terms of political experience. Obama has yet to catch up with her, even today.

      2. She would have entered office having been tempered in the partisan fire and having already developed effective processes for getting things done in spite of partisanship. Again, this is something Obama has yet to master.

      3. Though she admitted it’s been hurtful not to be liked, she’s conspicuously beyond caring about it. Unfortunately, for our President, he cares deeply. He wants to be cool. He wants to be liked. I’ve observed that this is often the Achilles heel of charismatic people born with his easy charm.

      It’s just common sense to hire the more experienced, tested, proven candidate over the lesser one. No one can prove Clinton would have been better. None of us here would be foolish enough to try.

      • It other words, the Democrats were foolish to select the candidate who needed the first administration to get ready for the second. This country was in big trouble in 2008 and is in worse shape today mainly because progress has been stalled while our President serves his apprenticeship. We needed someone ready on day 1. Hmmm. Who said that? I know it’s not as snappy as “change you can believe in”, but it resonanted with me.

        • s/b first term, not first administration…

        • Also, bells go off when I hear the word “believe”. There’s waaaaay too much believing going on in this country. I repeat something I posted earlier:

          To paraphrase Russell, the practice of believing on faith what we want has many advantages. They are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil.
          —Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

  7. For most women, I would suspect that having an abortion is very different from having a tooth pulled. The fewer women and girls who have to have that experience, the better. Hillary’s commitment to “safe, legal and rare” is the most feminist perspective on the issue that I’ve ever heard.

    • Emotionally different? That would depend on the woman (and perhaps on the tooth).

      But otherwise I think it’s a good comparison. Better to pay for floss and toothpaste than for extraction, which is painful, dangerous, and expensive.

      So you could talk about ‘preventing extractions’ but common sense tells us that would mean preventing decay, rather than leaving the bad tooth in place.

      • “That would depend on the woman (and perhaps on the tooth).”

        I wet my pants on that one.

  8. Whoo-hoo! Brooke is a national finalist for the summer exchange prize to Germany. One more hurdle to go. Next step is selection by the national committee.
    Go, Brooke! Go, Brooke!

    • Re-crossing my fingers. :)

      • Yes, keep them crossed. It seems to be working.

      • Here’s part of the notification letter:

        Choosing the nominees was very difficult, since all the candidates were highly qualified. We wish to congratulate you both on your excellent interview and for achieving such an outstanding percentile score of 99 on the Level II test which was administered to thousands of students nationwide. These are both remarkable achievements, of which you should be extremely proud. We hope that you will continue your excellent work in German.

        All members of the committee very much enjoyed interviewing you last week–and were exceedingly impressed with your presence and German ability. We have forwarded your application to the AATG national headquarters in Cherry Hill, NJ and you will hear from them very soon regarding their final list of award winners.

        {{chills!}}

        • So does she have to do anything else or just wait for the final answer?

        • !!! wow I wish I could keep ALL my fingers crossed! OMG. Awesome.

          Yay, Brooke!

        • Awesome…Go Brooke!

        • It is probably all to the best that there is nothing else for her to specifically do. The nervousness might somehow spoil performance in a yet-next level of testing.

          So the dice have been thrown and the wheel spun and now one can only wait.

        • “These are both remarkable achievements, of which you should be extremely proud.”
          And good reasons for ‘Mom’ to be both chilled, thrilled and proud. :D

          • Oh, I had nothing to do with any of it. She did it all on her own. Spent *hours* in the basement last summer learning German instead of going to the pool. To be honest, I didn’t think it was healthy. She wasn’t even shooting for an award. She just wanted to get into a class with all of her friends who were taking German. As it turned out, she overshot and now she’s in the class above them. But if it turns out she’s going to Germany, then it will have been all worth it.

    • Das ist fantastisch!

    • Such great news! Congratulations, Mama.

  9. I found a link to an interesting article in the Lambert’s Links section of Naked Capitalism. It is a NyTimes article titled: Obama Plans Big Effort to Build Support Among Women. Here is the link.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/us/politics/obama-campaign-plans-big-effort-to-court-women.html?_r=1

    Perhaps some of the Psy-Ops Warriors at this site can study his methods in advance and in real-time as they unfold, and . . . ummm . . . “abort” his efforts.

    • Cynical. If he’d done squat for women’s rights he wouldn’t have to focus his tender attentions like this.

  10. At least there are women in power on TV. My husband’s been watching a Danish series, Borgen, about a woman’s rise to power as Prime Minister. Looks like the West Wing, sounds like the Swedish Chef.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1526318/

    (I’d watch too but I’m busy reading books about French history and politics–we have an election coming up.)

    • Would that be THIS Swedish Chef? :mrgreen:

    • “… sounds like the Swedish Chef.” Lol. Actually Swedish is much, much nicer sounding than Danish.

      And I might be just about the only Dane, who hasn’t watched “Borgen”. I simply can’t tolerate actors mostly standing up straight sounding as if they are rea…ding their lines. But as everyone and her uncle is referring to the series all the time, I wish my senses weren’t so … ‘delicate’ when it comes to acting, hmmm. :?

      Wrt the French election, our media has been so over the top preoccupied with the US Republican primary, that they have almost forgotten to report on this. Only now, having been criticised for this, are they picking up speed.

      At this point my – strongly unqualified – prediction is that Sarcozy will win another term.

      • Lots of people are predicting Sarko’s defeat here, and he is laboring under a lot of negatives (even his base is sick to death of him), but he’s a shrewd little operator and I wouldn’t count him out. François Hollande of the PS has been holding a steady if narrowing lead.

        In his most recent appearance on TV Sarko fended off criticisms of fancy dinners and boat rides in a half-victimised, half-apologetic way that I, and many other viewers, found distasteful. I was waiting for him to say that the kids loved Checkers and he wouldn’t give him back. :) He had a huge rally on Sunday where he pandered to the right with Europe-bashing.

        Marine Le Pen has been carrying on that she doesn’t have her 500 sponsorships to get on the ballot, but I think she does and she’s just stirring up shit.

        In the center we have François Bayrou. I have no idea why he’s running.

        Jean-Luc Mélénchon of the Front de Gauche is up to 10% in the polls and suddenly the media is taking him seriously. He ate Marine Le Pen’s lunch when she refused to debate him on TV. (“He called me a half-wit.” “Well, that leaves you the other half!”) He is always great fun to watch in debate–if you get snippy with him he will stick his foot in your ass.

        Philippe Poutou of the NPA is starting to get a little bit known. After a rocky start he is acclimating to the media. He is the real deal, a factory worker, and brings an Occupy-like critique to the table. He seems like a good guy. Nathalie Arthaud of Lutte Ouvrière, a ‘real communiste’ candidate, has all her sponsorships as does our local LaRouche type, a man named Cheminade.

        Candidates have to drop off their sponsorships this week at the Conseil constitutionnel by this Friday. http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/conseil-constitutionnel/francais/election-presidentielle-2012/parrainages/parrainages-election-presidentielle-2012.104284.html

        • Thanks Ugsome!

          I so enjoy and appreciate your informed comments on French politics.

          And yes, it does seem like Marine Le Pen has now reached the necessary number of signatures. And yes, Sarkozy does appear to be a ‘shrewd little operator’ [lol!] which is why I don’t really give Hollande much of a chance.

          But it most certainly will be interesting to follow this election.

          • You’re welcome! Always glad to put my Canard enchaîné habit to good use.

            Sarko is a survivor. Too bad je les niquerai tous (I’ll screw ‘em all) isn’t a governing philosophy.

            Oh, speaking of women candidates, we have a little situation brewing in my district. The Greens cut a deal with the PS in return for which they were granted a certain number of districts in which to run their own candidates unopposed by the PS. My rock-solid PS district was awarded to Cécile Duflot, a fairly high profile Green, but I don’t think the PS incumbent, Danielle Rispal, is gonna take that lying down. Parisian women elected officials just held a dinner in her support and honor and she hasn’t said she will stand down. We’ll see. Hope it works out because I’d hate to see the district go UMP because of a divided vote.

          • Oh, and Sarko has his own Karl Rove/David Axelrod in the form of Patrick Buisson (‘bush’ in French :/ ), issue from the far right, who slices, dices, baits and manipulates electorates as bloodlessly as Axelrove.

  11. In considering ‘safe, legal and rare,’ I separate rights from policy: safe and rare are policy goals and legal stems from its being a right. Hilary’s common-sense, ounce-of-prevention approach always resonated with me too.

  12. Abortion is an operation. It should be more rare than contraception. It is a form of birth control an invasive form. Early simple forms of aborting a fetus are safer than full term birth, but are NOT safer than contraception. OF COURSE ABORTION SHOULD BE RARE, FOR THE SAKE OF THE HEALTH OF WOMEN.
    Can women stop being their own worst enemies now, please?

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