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A letter from Lynette

I am reprinting a letter from Dr. Lynette Long that was sent to me today. Although I agree with many of the points Lynette makes, I am not as willing to go as far as she has with an endorsement. Everyone is encouraged to take as much time as they like in choosing whether to vote or not this year. This is Dr. Long’s POV and I find her thoughts on gender equity point on. My own daughter, who scores in the top 2% nationally in math has been forced to repeat a year of pre-algebra in spite of good grades. Many of her male classmates with her scores are taking a math class that will put her two years behind them next year. There was no arguing with the teacher. Brook just didn’t register on her radar and after March, she stopped calling on Brook in class. Brook is 12. Fortunately, she was admitted to Stanford University’s EPGY program based on the strength of her standardized test scores. She doesn’t have to fall behind but it is a sad situation that forces her to teach herself, via distance learning, with virtually no encouragement from her teachers or peer group. Already, it is expected that she will have to work much harder to get half as far. Discrimination starts young.

Without further interruption, a letter from Lynette:

The X Factor

by Lynette Long

Gloria Steinem, in her recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times, came out strongly against Governor Palin claiming the only thing women have in common with Palin is an X chromosome. I respectfully disagree. Governor Palin knows what it is like to be a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister – things the two men on the Democratic ticket can never fully understand. She knows what it is like to grow up invisible in an incredibly sexist society, to be stared at, groped, and sexually harassed. She knows what it is like to be smaller in stature than men and physically vulnerable. She knows what it’s like to worry that you are pregnant when you don’t want to be or that you are not pregnant when you want to be. Sarah Palin knows what it is to experience the joys and sorrows of motherhood, to nurse a baby while holding down a job, to leave for work in the morning with a toddler tugging at your pant leg, or to have your children calling you at work to diffuse squabbles or ask for help with homework. She knows that once you get to work you have to speak twice as loud and twice as often to be heard and work twice a hard to go half as far. She knows what it is to be a member of the second sex.

Gender is the most fundamental human characteristic. The first comment made when a child is born is either, “It’s a girl” or “It’s a boy.” From that second on, boys and girls live in parallel universes in the same culture. From the nursery room to the board room, boys and girls are given different messages about their respective roles in the world. At the hospital they are given different types of names and wrapped in different color blankets. Once home, baby girls and boys wear fundamentally different clothes and play with different toys. This differentiation extends through school where girls are given less attention, picked less frequently to answer questions and placed less often in advanced science and math classes. Once in the workforce, women are steered into lower-paying careers, paid less for the same work, and forced to juggle the responsibilities of work and home. You can’t learn what it is to be a woman, unless you are one. You can’t have a government essentially devoid of women that knows what’s best for women. You can’t legislate for women, without women.

After the last Democratic Primary was over and it was clear Senator Clinton was not going to get the Democratic nomination, myself, and a small group of Clinton supporters met with Senator McCain and Carly Fiorina. I personally explained to Senator McCain that women comprise well over half of the population, yet are underrepresented in every branch of government. I asked him loudly and clearly to choose a woman for the VP slot and to increase the number of women in the cabinet and on the Supreme Court. Senator McCain listened respectfully to my request. Representatives of The New Agenda also met with Carly Fiorina and as well as representatives from the Obama campaign to
make similar requests.

After the Democratic Primary, I was also in contact with a member of Obama’s Finance Committee. He left several messages on my office phone, “urging” me to support Senator Obama. We had numerous contentious conversations and I finally told him I would be happy to vote for Senator Obama and rally other Hillary supporters to vote for Senator Obama but in return I wanted Obama to pledge gender parity in the cabinet. I foolishly thought equal representation in government was a reasonable request. “What if there aren’t qualified women you still expect us to appoint half women to the cabinet?” he replied. I was confused. “There are 300 million people in this country; you’re telling me you can’t find ten qualified women?” His responded, “You can’t have that.” We had no further conversations. There was nothing more to say.

Weeks later I approached a training session for DNC canvassers at a park in my neighborhood. Eager to practice their new skills, they all ran up to me, “Do you support Senator Obama? Do you want to donate money to the DNC?” After explaining that I was a Hillary supporter, I again made my request. I will support Senator Obama if he will pick a woman as his running mate and promise gender parity in the cabinet. The men in the group openly laughed at me and found my request ridiculous. I looked at the horrified faces of the newly minted female canvassers. “They’re laughing at you too,” I muttered.

Not one to give up, I contacted a daughter of a friend of mine who is a policy advisor for Obama. She assured me Obama was a good guy, so I posed my request to her. She generously responded, “I’ll ask him.” When I did not hear back from her in a few days, I shot her another email. She told me how disappointed she was in me for making such a stupid request. Obama was on the “right” side of the issues. Why did it matter whether men or women legislated those issues? I guess the answer from Obama was No. What saddened me was her mother was one of this nation’s greatest champions of title nine, educational equity and gender parity. Her mother and I counted the number of pictures of boys and girls in text books, male and female cartoon characters, and documented the underrepresentation of girls in math classes in our nation’s schools. Yes, policy is important but who decides and delivers that policy is even more important. As Marshall McLuhan profoundly noted, “The medium is the message.” Children incorporate many of their perceptions about gender by five years old. Little girls won’t understand if Sarah Palin is pro-life or pro-choice, believes in gun control or is a member of the NRA, but they will know the Vice-President of the United States of America is a girl and that alone will alter their perceptions of themselves.

I have given my loyalty to the Democratic Party for decades. My party, which is comprised primary of women, has not put a woman on a presidential ticket for 24 years. My party refused to nominate my candidate, Hillary Clinton, for president or vice president, even though she received more votes than any other candidate in history. My party stood silently by as Hillary Clinton was eviscerated by the mainstream media. My party was mute while MSM repeatedly called Clinton a bitch and symbolically called me and every other woman in this country a bitch. My party was disturbingly silent when the MSM commented on Hillary’s body or the shrillness of her voice, reminding me and every other woman the fundamental disrespect we endure on a daily basis. My party’s candidate was mute when Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Father Pfleger openly mocked Senator Clinton from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ. My party’s candidate was silent when the rapper Ludicrous released a new song calling Hillary a bitch. My party and it’s candidate gave their tacit approval for the attacks on Senator Hillary Clinton and consequently women in general.

I have a choice. I can vote for my party and it’s candidates which have demonstrated a blatant disrespect for women and a fundamental lack of integrity or I can vote for the Republican ticket which has heard our concerns and put a woman on the ticket but with whom I fundamentally don’t agree on most issues. If Democratic women wait for the perfect woman to come along, we will never elect a woman. We have to seize opportunity where it presents itself. Besides, the Democratic Party is no longer my home. I have no home, but this election I will make my bed somewhere else.

I respect Gloria Steinem’s right to support the presidential ticket of her choice but she is openly trying to derail Sarah Palin’s historic candidacy. As Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” I will vote for McCain-Palin. I urge other women to do the same. I might not personally agree with Palin on every issue and I promise to the first person knocking on her door, if Roe v. Wade, or any other legislation that goes against the rights of women is threatened. But in Governor Palin I find a woman of integrity, who not only talks the talk but walks the walk. I can work with that. I will work with that. When I walk down the street, I don’t have democrat printed on my forehead, but my gender is obvious to everyone and impacts every interaction in my life. Since my country is far from gender neutral, right now for me gender trumps everything else. I urge other women to join me in this fight for equality. Sometimes opportunities occur where you least expect them.

Lynette Long

Murphy and Friends: Gloooooria, G-L-O-R-I-A

Yes, indeed, kiddies, looks like Murphy has scored a big get.  Gloria Allred will be a guest on NO-WE WON’T tonight.  If you want to know what happened during the roll call vote from the inside of the Pepsi Center, set your cat channels for Murphy and Friends on NO WE WON’T/PUMA radio at 9:00PM EST tonight.

Ruh-Roh, There goes the collaboration

Obama was looking for a long term relationship with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick:

Er, except Kilpatrick resigned yesterday for allegedly breaking three Michigan laws.

Guilt by association would be so much easier to brush off your shoulder if it hadn’t been for that miscarriage of justice that was the Demcratic National Convention last week…

What do they say about fair weather friends?  Obama hurries to distance himself.

That could explain why Obama has worked so hard lately to stiff-arm the mayor he once embraced. First, he asked him to stay away from the Democratic National Convention-which was no problem, since the mayor was wearing an electronic tether at the time and had been ordered by a judge not to travel beyond metropolitan Detroit. Then on Wednesday evening, a few hours after the prosecutor announced Kilpatrick was copping a plea, Obama issued a statement saying, “It is time for the mayor to step aside so that the city can move forward.”

Ahh, there’s the Obama we all know and love.   It must suck to get incoming from the Republicans AND voters in your own base.  Do you think this experience will make him empathize with what Hillary went through?  Nah, I didn’t think so either.

Saturday: Getting down to business

The direction is clear.  We are voting for Downticket Democrats (double D’s?) this year.  Our goal is clear: no matter who ends up president, we need representatives with strong progressive values who will stand up to the Blue Dog Democrats, the financial interests, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.   In my humble opinion, that’s the best way for us to honor Hillary Clinton’s request without us violating our consciences. It is up to us to save the Democratic party from itself (BTW, whose job was it to remove sharp objects from the room whenever the DNC meets?)  It’s a thankless job.  Just ask Hillary about it.  No good deed goes unpunished.  Nevertheless, it is the right thing to do.   So, to that end, I am putting together an ActBlue page for The Confluence that will allow those of us who feel so inclined to make contributions to these new leaders.

But I’m only one person and I can’t analyze every race so I’d like you to give me some direction.  You know your local races better and can tell who will move the ball forward and who won’t.  For the moment, I think we ought to cut a break for the candidates who caved to pressure and endorsed Obama.  There are exceptions of course.  For example, no one should feel obligated to donate money to John Kerry, Robert Wexler, Frank Lautenberg (Hmmm, how hard is it to run for Senate in NJ?  I wonder…) etc.

I have a few people in the page already who I think would be very nice additions.  Linda Stender, my personal fave, is joined by Dennis Schulman, probably the only blind candidate running for Congress this year.  Eric Massa in NY, used to be an aide to General Wesley Clark, has a wonderful charismatic presence and is a good progressive.

When making your selections, you might want to use FrenchDoc’s criteria in mind (updated and edited).  Use your best judgment.  We aren’t looking for ideological purity.  We are looking for candidates who are committed to the Common Good, sharing risk, social justice, fiscal responsibility, a healthy planet, privacy and wise use of diplomacy.  The candidate should be committed to:

  • take privatization of SS off the table
  • prosecution of the Bush crime clan
  • promotion of women’s and LGBT’s rights
  • progressive economic policies
  • committment to energy independence and Green Collar jobs
  • Universal health care
  • repeal of no child left behind; committment to world class education
  • out of Iraq / no bombing of Pakistan
  • reinstate habeas corpus
  • commitment to appointing progressive judges on SCOTUS, no waffling
  • commitment to reproductive rights, pro-choice (safe, legal, rare will do)
  • no telco immunity (substitute Net Neutrality since FISA is off the table.  Thanks for nada, BO)

Ok, get busy, Conflucians.  Find me your candidates.  You can either pitch your candidate in the comments or send them to me via email.  Here’s the address: theconfluence08 at yahoo dot com.  I will add your picks to our ActBlue page and together, we can send reinforcements to Congress this fall.  And don’t forget that your monetary contributions are only a small part of the effort require to get these people elected.  We will also need to canvass and phone bank for these new leaders.  We’ll be organizing those efforts in the weeks ahead.  Time’s a-wastin’!

And now an update to the Drawing the Line post the other night: According to the NYT, it seems that our heroine may be indisposed to carry Obama’s water.  She’s busy, busy, busy, working for downticket Dems, probably for the same reasons we are.  Obama might lose.  Says so right in the article.  Anyway, the Obama campaign may be waking up to the stupid corner they have painted themselves into and are realizing they are f%*&ed where Sarah Palin is concerned.  Couldn’t happen to a better Chicago politician.

McCain shouldn’t get too cocky.  We may be easy but we ain’t cheap.  Getting our support is going to come dearly.  We want to see a committment to equal pay, for example.  Put your money where your mouth is.  We do not subscribe to the theory “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”  R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me!

The Hail Mary: A Play in One Ironic Act

 (H/t, LadyBoomerNYC, who very kindly gave me the inspiration for this one.)

HA Ha!

HA Ha!

THE SCENE: BILL and HILLARY CLINTON’S bedroom at 3:00 a.m. It’s warm, welcoming and done in classic American Country style. Photos of friends and family cover every surface, and their various awards and commendations hang on the walls. BILL and HILLARY are asleep in bed. Both are wearing her black t-shirt with the white writing and pantsuit picture on it. Next to each CLINTON is a bedside table with a red phone on it. The phone is modern, with caller ID.

The red phone next to HILLARY’s side rings. Both CLINTONS sit up in bed immediately.

BILL: Yours, or mine?

HILLARY: Mine. (checks the caller ID) Oh, well well well. It’s DNC Headquarters in Chicago.

BILL (grinning devilishly): Heh. I’ve been waiting for this one. Put it on speaker, honey.

(HILLARY picks up the phone and hits the speaker button.)


BARACK OBAMA (on the phone): Hey there, Hillary. Sorry to call you so late, but I’ve had a really hard time getting you on your cell lately.

HILLARY (rolling her eyes at Bill): Uh-huh. Gosh, sorry about that, Barack, but I’ve been busy trying to stop President Bush’s latest outrageous blow against contraception and choice. I figured since you didn’t pick me for Vice President, and I’ve already said my piece about Sarah Palin, our business together was concluded until after the election.

BARACK (uncomfortably): Well, um, uh, see, I think I, uh, still need your help.

HILLARY (leaning back into her pillow, starting to enjoy herself): Oh, really?

BARACK (even more uncomfortably): Yeah. Uh, see, it looks like Palin’s not the cream puff I thought she was. We went after her with everything we had for six days, and she just came out smelling like a rose. The conservative base loves her, and – and – she was MEAN to me, Hillary! (He is barely suppressing tears of frustration)

HILLARY (with malicious pleasure): All true, Barack. So, what do you want ME to do about it?

BARACK (suddenly angry): I want you to STOP HER! I want you to go out there and take that mooseburger eatin’, rifle-shootin’, baby-makin’ FEMALE DOWN!!!

(A slight pause. Then, HILLARY begins laughing. She laughs for a long time.)

HILLARY (finally calming down): Why in God’s name would I do that for you, Barack? What possible benefit would there be to me? Here’s an idea: Do it yourself. And stop calling me!

BARACK (to the others in the room): Guys, she said no. I told you she would! NOW what do I do?

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