Let Kirsten be who Kirsten is

Another Rant by: BettyJean Kling

One of my own pet peeves is that women are put in boxes to begin with. Why is every women in the Democratic Party expected to fall in line behind every so called Democrat issue. Kirsten was attractive to me because she didn’t fit into that box to begin with and was expected not to cave into politico pressure. I am annoyed because we constantly beg our politicians to be on our side then expect them to be robots after all. Maybe some of us are Steppford Wives and want the same in our female representative – not I.

As far as I am concerned- I hope this gal sticks to her guns and does exactly as she damned well pleases. And personally I am sick to death of hearing what NARRAL has to say about a damned thing! We are so much more than reproductive organisms that walk lockstep to the tune of Democratic Party issues. All together now … All I want for Christmas is the Equal Rights under the Constitution of the United States of America. I want 52% representation in my government and I will decide what I want for myself in terms of life- choices.

Oh and about guns If you don’t want one – by all means don’t get one- as for me – I damned well intend to be able to protect myself from anyone coming into my house with an illegal gun to blow out my brains – I reserve the right to defend myself and my family and shoot first!

So let’s let Kirsten be who Kirsten is. Can’t she be a progressive conservative democrat with common sense and the ability to consider the needs of all her constituents rather than cave into the same old crap that has kept ALL women down all these years?

But I digress- the reason for this post is to bring attention to how female politicians are derailed. For example: Here we go again- let the lady stand on her own two feet and show any strength at all and the good ole boys will turn out their favorite hit men aka the media to spread falsehoods and distortions. They print it and get other women to repeat these smears to do their dirty work for them, just like they did with Sarah and Hillary. It is obvious; Kennedy and Obama don’t like her, Kennedy because of Carolyn, and Obama because among other things she voted against stimulus bill.

On the other side of things the female politician is then defended by the true democrats who come to her defense with all the old tired bull shit that centrists- moderates- progressives and independents are just plain tired of marching in lock step to. These old anti -Shaffely types are just as much as a turn off on this side of the aisle as Shaffely is on the other side and female politicians are paying the price, and we wonder why we have only 17% representation.

Senator Gillabrand has a stellar resume – I am curious what it would look like if we unfettered her from that which holds women hostage from breaking through that glass ceiling. For the hell of it – go through the pieces below and peruse while well meaning and very kind how her defenders choose to advocate for her. Call me crazy – but having called oneself a conservative democrat, perhaps NARAL, PP are tired old labels unnecessarily attributed to all progressive women now. Both the media and our friends may be doing us harm if you ask me – but then who asked?

I am all for giving her that chance – and I would let her speak for herself – while I am at it. The Senator has a very good reason for reconsidering her positions now that her constituency covers the entire state- that is something I had not considered before I went off half cocked- but I am still all for owning guns- every women needs a gun for self protection!

     PUSHING BACK!  Posting by “SAM” http://weblogs.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/politics/blog/2009/02/gillibrand_gun_flipflop.html

NYNewsday’s coverage of Kirsten Gillibrand is doing a disservice to its readers by distorting her positions and viewpoints. They have chosen to focus on only 2 issues–guns and immigration. There is no mention of the support she has from such groups as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the ACLU, Sierra Club, NAACP, League of Conservation Voters, the Farm Bureau and many other progressive groups. Perhaps Newsday should focus on her overall record and positions to give readers a true and more realistic picture of who Kirsten is. You have put her in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t position”–if she changes her views, then she is flip-flopping, yet if she doesn’t change her views, then she is rigid and not listening to her constituents. Kirsten shares the viewpoints of many of her fellow Democrats, including President Obama and Sen. Schumer. She deserves a chance and so do your readers deserve a chance to have a full picture of who Kirsten Gillibrand is–they will like what they see.

 

Kirsten astounded the political world when she won handily in that Upstate congressional district against a tough incumbent. She did it the way she does everything: lazer-like focus and determination, hard work, keen intellect, and an impressive, independent approach to problem-solving and decision-making.

JUDITH HOPE:

“Please meet my friend Kirsten Gillibrand” and pass along to others.”I want to tell you about my good friend Kirsten Gillibrand, and why I think she will be an outstanding US Senator for NY State.

I got to know Kirsten in the early days of organizing for the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee, a group with an impressive track record of electing progressive democratic women to state and local office.

Kirsten was a successful young corporate lawyer in New York City and I had known and worked with her legendary grandmother, Polly Noonan, who was, for decades, a power house in Albany County Democratic politics.

Kirsten, with her characteristic high energy, enthusiasm, and generous spirit, jumped in and did a fabulous job hosting events and recruiting other young women professionals to get involved. She was asked to join the board of Directors of ERLC where she continued to contribute with her sound judgment and thoughtful, well-considered opinions.

She and her husband Jonathan (who is wonderful) decided to move to Hudson, NY, near the area where she grew up, shortly after the birth of their first child. When Kirsten first told me she was thinking of running for the House of Representatives from the district, I was not encouraging. It was (and is) one of the most Republican districts in NY State – seemingly impossible for a progressive Democrat to win.

Two years later, she won re-election with a whopping 62% of the vote against a self-funded, multi-millionaire, former Chair of the State GOP who spent almost $6 million against her.

She won in this conservative, heavily Republican district despite very high marks from most of the national progressive watch-dog organizations: She has a 100% voting record with the ACLU, NARAL, NOW, and Planned Parenthood. She has 95% from the League of Conservation Voters, and 96% from the NAACP. She was also endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, the National Education Association, and the Sierra Club.

She has come under fire for her past votes on immigration issues and gun control. Her positions on these issues have been influenced by the concerns of the district where hunting is a historic part of the local culture, and where an influx of immigrants has coincided with high unemployment and severe economic hardship.

She has said that, now that her constituency includes all of NY State with our remarkable diversity of interests and concerns, she will seek to find a balance among those concerns. She moved quickly to meet with urban constituents to find common ground and to craft real solutions to their problems. For example, she is drafting legislation aimed at stopping the traffic of illegal firearms from southern states – a major source of gun violence in our cities. And she is championing the DREAM Act to give children of illegal immigrants the opportunity to attend college.

I hope that the news media and New York voters will give her a fair chance, something often denied to women when there is an intense competition for political power. I know she has the talent and the heart to become a truly outstanding leader in the US Senate.

I wanted to share my thoughts with you because the Kirsten who is being portrayed by the media is so different from the one I have come to know and admire. I appreciate your taking the time to read this.

Many thanks,

Judith

Has The New Agenda Lost Its Way? Part 5

A six part series by:
BettyJean Kling WWW.Free-US-Now.com
PG of http://bertrandrussell.blogspot.com

In Part 1 - Accentuating the negative, we pointed out that our experience has been that Amy Siskind, far from encouraging a grassroots organization, is running The New Agenda in a hierarchical and elitist “top-down” manner. Rather than appealing to the intelligence of American women, she expects people to accept her agenda without doing any thinking for themselves. We also introduced a NOW 50 state membership drive for March.

 In Part 2 – Lack of focus, we note The New Agenda seems to get some CNN interviews and quotes in local papers, but question the actual national membership and get-out-the-vote ability. We also pointed out inconsistency regarding sexism and misogyny which may not be attributed to partisan favoritism but to the same media pressure which Amy Siskind enjoys the light of so long as she obeys their rules.

In Part 3- Failure to make the most of members’ expertise and capabilities, we noted that the New Agenda’s failure to educate its members about issues on which it asks them to take action leaves TNA’s eligibility for a 501(c)(3) foundation — which must be educational (http://www.nowfoundation.org/) and non-political — in question. We also pointed out the lack of disclosure extends to a shortage of information about The New Agenda’s goals.

In Part 4- Lack of diversity in the faces and voices representing The New Agenda, a pattern of dictatorial elitism emerges. Without divulging the names of the innocent, we have uncovered the scope of Amy Siskind’s true agenda, which, like the Wizard of OZ, is drastically smaller than the thundering illusion of a grassroots feminist movement that she purports to want. Instead, her goal appears to be to rule and reign over a few. Betty Jean also has demonstrated firsthand knowledge of Siskind’s willingness to attack and defame anyone who dares to disagree with her.


5) Loosen the reins.

This relates to the last two points, but is worth discussing in itself because it seems to be a cause of those symptoms. While every online forum has to fend off spam and trolls, Siskind seems to be using her powers of moderation on The New Agenda’s blog to ban commenters who are simply critical. This fear of criticism and debate is very self-destructive and echoes the same problems the Democratic Party had last year when it misconstrued women’s complaints about the treatment of Secretary of State Clinton as an effort to hurt the Party. An organization, whether the Democratic Party or The New Agenda, that cannot withstanding informed, reasoned critiques is an organization too weak to stand the test of time.

In particular, to return to Point #1, Ms. Siskind’s response to questions about TNA’s anti-endorsement of Gandy is very telling: “[W]e very purposely chose to not list line items as to why we do not endorse Gandy. But suffice it to say that it was unanimous (less one) amongst our Founders group who are prominent women from around the country and perhaps, through our connections, we know more information than you know. Could that be?” This lack of transparency, accountability and access for all members (no matter how non-prominent or unconnected!) is the theme that runs through all of these concerns.

Concerns about Ms. Siskind’s undisclosed motives and secretive tactics may derail The New Agenda — something that couldn’t happen over a problem with a single person if leadership were diversified. Questions are beginning to pop up all over the internet.

According to this site (http://www.rumproast.com/index.php/site/comments/why_is_the_new_agenda_smearing_nows_kim_gandy/), Siskind sent the following email on the down-low to select “feminist bloggers” in order to sandbag Gandy:

From: Amy Siskind
Subject: CONFIDENTIAL – Kim Gandy seeks powerful position in DC in Obama Admin
Fellow Feminist Bloggers:
We learned yesterday that Kim Gandy has made public her intention to ask for one of the most powerful positions in federal gov’t for women – Director of the Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labor.
TNA has watched Gandy shift positions again and again to stand up for Obama and sell out women – for example, on Larry Summers …
Our view is that she has sold out the women of this country for some back room deal – well now we know what the back room deal is!!!
We are asking all feminist bloggers to post a story on their blogs on Sunday, February 8th at NOON EST in protest of Kim Gandy. Feel free to use whatever rationale you see fit – I know that we each have our own gripes.
But letting this woman be in a position of power, as reward for selling out her constituents (women) would be a crime.
Please forward this to all the feminist bloggers you know that are like-minded – with one caveat: WHEN YOU FORWARD IT – IT DID NOT COME FROM ME OR TNA – AND TAKE OUT THE FIRST FEW PARAGRAPHS HERE AND JUST PUT IN INTO YOUR OWN WORDS!!!
Remember, post your story on Sunday, Feb 8th at Noon.

The Rumproast blogger questioned Siskind regarding her attack on Gandy.

“When confronted with copious evidence that her statements about Gandy were flat-out false on Monday, Siskind promised a more complete accounting of the case against Gandy Tuesday. She said she knew Gandy actually opposed Clinton during the primary (despite video evidence to the contrary) and would include an account of that in her clarification. This is what she delivered — a completely fact-free and pathetic “parable.” (http://thenewagenda.net/2009/02/10/a-parable/)

When people expressed puzzlement over what the “parable” was supposed to tell them about Kim Gandy, Siskind didn’t try to explain. Again, typical of her preference for putting others down instead of trying to persuade them to join her, she said,

“You seem an intelligent woman, but you seem to have totally missed the gist of the parable,” and added “This ain’t rocket science – read it again!”
(http://thenewagenda.net/2009/02/10/a-parable/)

Again, from the same article (http://www.rumproast.com/index.php/site/comments/why_is_the_new_agenda_smearing_nows_kim_gandy/), more evidence that Siskind censors anyone who dares to question her claims:

“And to stave off dissent, she’s censoring or deleting comments from polite though persistent questioners like this woman and me, and she scrubbed her own comment promising a more substantive critique. In other words, Siskind has got nothing, and she doesn’t want anyone pointing it out.
“… Siskind purports to speak for women via The New Agenda and from her status as a go-to “feminist” for our stupid media. Therefore, the standard of proof is higher. I say they either produce evidence of the offenses they’ve accused Gandy of or retract the scurrilous attacks which they’ve thus far failed to substantiate.”

This is turning into an unfortunately personal kind of battle, which it need not have been. Had The New Agenda presented its preferred slate of candidates without mentioning Gandy; had the New Agenda, in recommending against Gandy, given evidence of her unfitness for the office instead of unsourced rumors based on Siskind’s “connections”; had Siskind just shown the basic honesty not to push a blog campaign against Gandy while telling people that they didn’t hear it from Siskind — we wouldn’t be seeing The New Agenda disparaged by connection.

Again, the actions of only one person won’t smear an organization if the organization is truly grassroots, broadly-based and democratic. Unfortunately, The New Agenda hasn’t reached that status, and it’s hard to tell how it can under its current leadership. An organization that is transparent and accountable is what women need. Does it really make sense for women who are disenchanted with the Democratic Party to sign up for another organization that works in secret and won’t explain its decisions?

Has The New Agenda Lost Its Way? Part 4

A six part series by:
BettyJean Kling WWW.Free-US-Now.com
PG of http://bertrandrussell.blogspot.com

In Part 1 - Accentuating the negative, we pointed out that our experience has been that Amy Siskind, far from encouraging a grassroots organization, is running The New Agenda in a hierarchical and elitist “top-down” manner. Rather than appealing to the intelligence of American women, she expects people to accept her agenda without doing any thinking for themselves. We also introduced a NOW 50 state membership drive for March.

 In Part 2 – Lack of focus, we note The New Agenda seems to get some CNN interviews and quotes in local papers, but question the actual national membership and get-out-the-vote ability. We also pointed out inconsistency regarding sexism and misogyny which may not be attributed to partisan favoritism but to the same media pressure which Amy Siskind enjoys the light of so long as she obeys their rules.

In Part 3- Failure to make the most of members’ expertise and capabilities, we noted that the New Agenda’s failure to educate its members about issues on which it asks them to take action leaves TNA’s eligibility for a 501(c)(3) foundation — which must be educational (http://www.nowfoundation.org/) and non-political — in question. We also pointed out the lack of disclosure extends to a shortage of information about The New Agenda’s goals.

4) Lack of diversity in the faces and voices representing The New Agenda.

TNA President Amy Siskind has been effective in leveraging her media connections to get herself on TV. However, Ms. Siskind is a white, upper class woman from the suburbs, and having that be the only face seen as “The New Agenda” may leach away the support that ought to exist for the organization from minority, middle and lower income, urban and rural women who also are outraged by sexism and who seek sex equality.

To the extent that The New Agenda’s natural base is among Hillary Clinton’s supporters, TNA ought to be attracting Latinas, working-class and rural folks, not just Wall Streeters (http://thenewagenda.net/2008/10/11/wall-street-without-its-top-three-women/) in Westchester. Its agenda should be informed by those diverse perspectives as well.

Siskind insists on the names of the founders being kept secret, and no one speaks to the media except Siskind — while she is accountable to no one. If a member wants to talk to the other founders – one cannot.

Betty Jean was invited to join by an original founder and thus became privy to that founders’ list. Looking at the original press release, why people were asked to join is now obvious: to get at least one from each of the five fledgling Pro Democracy groups, mostly from the tri state area, with a sprinkling of founders from four further states to inflate a claim of nationwide presence.

When in a serious discussion (explained in the next paragraph) with Siskind over the Favreau turn-around, Betty Jean copied the entire discussions to two other founders, insisting that if this group were to be speaking up for all the women of America, then before they were going to do a 180 turn they should at least consult with the membership or discuss it with other founders. Siskind cut off Betty Jean from the blog, and defamed her as a crazy, dangerous stalker, for the temerity of demanding democracy in The New Agenda. When Betty Jean reached out to the other founders on the list regarding this situation, the founder who gave her the list was immediately removed from the “secret society.” These Stalinist tactics, coupled with further defamation of Betty Jean, led to the resignation of eight members within a very short time, several of whom were attorneys. Do we want this kind of an organization: secret founders; dictatorial, undemocratic behavior; willingness to spread false, derogatory information about a member who disagrees with Siskind?

Regarding Favreau, Betty Jean urged Siskind to rethink her change from demanding that Favreau be fired, to having him be forced to volunteer at a battered women’s shelter. This latter suggestion would make the previously-stated concern about Favreau’s attitude toward women look ludicrous. Who would send a man with a history of disrespecting women and their bodies to a battered women’s shelter? Typical of her elitism, Siskind seemed to view a battered women’s shelter as a rehab center for sexist men — the equivalent of juvenile offenders’ doing highway trash cleanup — not as a refuge for women fleeing the misogyny and violence occurring in their own homes. Betty Jean encouraged Siskind to bring the matter to the membership, rather than changing TNA’s stance and speaking for all the women of the country based solely on Siskind’s personal decision. Siskind cut off Betty Jean, telling others that BJ was a crazy old stalker for wanting to continue to the discussion instead of just trusting in Siskind’s judgment.

Within days, Betty Jean’s daughter Louisa was shot in the head by another man who had been slapped on the wrist for his previous treatment of women. Violence against women is serious; battered women’s shelters aren’t places for Siskind to dispatch men whom she has said are encouraging acquaintance rape (http://thenewagenda.net/2008/12/06/will-president-elect-obama-fire-jon-favreau/). Any organization with leadership that will not listen to its membership, instead demeaning other women as “nobodies,” doesn’t deserve to represent those nobodies. There are plenty of “nobodies” among American women who won’t put up with this. They demand that their voices be respected, even by “prominent” and “connected” women. If there’s an income requirement for getting Amy Siskind’s respect, let her run the Pound Ridge Bridge Club!

Media Blackout – Woman Beheaded in New York State

National Organization for Women-NYS Questions Media Blackout

Press Release
February 16th, 2009
Contact: Marcia Pappas, 518-452-3944

 

Woman Beheaded in New York State

National Organization for Women-NYS Questions Media Blackout

ALBANY, NY (02/16/2009; 1237)(readMedia)– On February 12, 2009, in Orchard Park, Buffalo, NY, forty-four year-old Muzzamil Hassan, a prominent Muslim businessman, was arrested for having allegedly beheaded his wife, thirty-seven year-old Aasiya Z. Hassan. What was Aasiya’s crime? Why, Aasiya was having Muzzamil served with divorce papers. And apparently, on February 6, Aasiya obtained an order of protection which had forced her violent husband out of their home.

NOW New York State is horrified that Erie County DA, Frank A. SeditaII, has referred to this ghastly crime as “the worst form of domestic violence possible.” The ridiculous juxtaposition of “domestic” and “beheading” in the same journalistic breath points up the inherent weakness of the whole “domestic violence” lexicon.

What is “domestic” about this violence? NOW NYS President Marcia Pappas says “it is high time we stop regarding assaults and murders as a lover’s quarrels gone bad. We further demand of lawmakers that punishments fit crimes. We of NOW decry the selective enforcement of assault laws and call for judicial enforcement of our mandatory arrest policy, even when the axe-wielder is known by his victim.”

And why is this horrendous story not all over the news? Is a Muslim woman’s life not worth a five-minute report? This was, apparently, a terroristic version of “honor killing,” a murder rooted in cultural notions about women’s subordination to men. Are we now so respectful of the Muslim’s religion that we soft-peddle atrocities committed in it’s name? Millions of women in this country are maimed and killed by their husbands or partners. Had this awful murder been perpetrated by a African American, a Latino, a Jew, or a Catholic, the story would be flooding the airwaves. What is this deafening silence?

And exactly what do orders of protection do? Was Aasiya desperately waving the order of protection in Muzzamil’s face when he slashed at her throat? Was it still clutched in her hand as her head hit the floor?

You of the press, please shine a light on this most dreadful of murders. In a bizarre twist of fate it comes out that Muzzamil Hassan is founder of a television network called Bridges TV, whose purpose it was to portray Muslims in a positive light. This a huge story. Please tell it!

-end-

Marcia A. Pappas, President
National Organization for Women-NYS
Phone: 518-452-3944
Presidents Email: NewYorkStateNOW@aol.com

Has the New Agenda Lost Its Way? Part 3

A six part series by:
BettyJean Kling WWW.Free-US-Now.com
PG of http://bertrandrussell.blogspot.com

In Part 1 - Accentuating the negative, we pointed out that our experience has been that Amy Siskind, far from encouraging a grassroots organization, is running The New Agenda in a hierarchical and elitist “top-down” manner. Rather than appealing to the intelligence of American women, she expects people to accept her agenda without doing any thinking for themselves. We also introduced a NOW 50 state membership drive for March.

 In Part 2 – Lack of focus, we note The New Agenda seems to get some CNN interviews and quotes in local papers, but question the actual national membership and get-out-the-vote ability. We also pointed out inconsistency regarding sexism and misogyny which may not be attributed to partisan favoritism but to the same media pressure which Amy Siskind enjoys the light of so long as she obeys their rules.

3) Failure to make the most of members’ expertise and capabilities.

Members should be recruited to write about topics such as legislation or the media based on having some background on these topics.  Instead, posts seem to be written regardless of whether the blogger can provide the necessary depth of knowledge to complex matters.  For example, several posts on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the still-just-a-bill Paycheck Fairness legislation stated that the Fair Pay Act was not enough and that the Paycheck Fairness Act also was necessary – but didn’t explain why.  This left several people who were not familiar with the laws confused about what the Ledbetter Act did and what the Paycheck Fairness Act was proposed to do.

TNA member Prof. Ann Bartow could have done a great job writing about what the Fair Pay Act just passed, and the Paycheck Fairness Act still waiting to be passed, actually mean in practical impact, but obviously she has her own blog to maintain in addition to her career as a law professor, and cannot carry the burden of posting regularly at TNA as well.  Therefore TNA ought to be recruiting people who do have the appropriate background (or willingness to do research) to be a solid, reliable source of useful information.  This has become especially important now that The New Agenda has created a 501(c)(3) (i.e. charitable donations are tax-deductible) foundation that cannot have a political purpose and therefore must stick to educational activities.

NOW has been active in lobbying for legislation that helps women, which rebuts some of Siskind’s claims about how NOW is just indifferent and moribund. NOW has room for improvement, but it is getting some stuff right and is structured such that there’s transparency about the membership and control, and members can take control if they’re unhappy with the folks at the top.

NOW has issued multiple statements explaining the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA). For example, this action alert (http://www.now.org/lists/now-action-list/msg00368.html) asks voters to call their House Representative to support the PFA, and it explains, “Among the bill’s many important provisions that would advance fair pay for women are ones that close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and prevent retaliation against workers who disclose the amount of their wages.” NOW doesn’t just issue marching orders to the dumb masses, but expects to have to explain and persuade women before asking them to take action.  For an even more extensive discussion of the Paycheck Fairness Act, see the statement Gandy issued when the House first passed the Paycheck Fairness Act (it later was stopped from coming to a vote in the Senate): http://www.now.org/press/08-08/08-01.html.

Lack of disclosure also is a problem in the shortage of information about The New Agenda’s goals.  For example, one goal is “Implementing Code of Conduct/FCC Modifications,” but what does that entail?  Will someone at the FCC be in charge of deciding what is sexist, just as there’s someone now deciding what is obscene?  Obscenity at least has a fairly clear meaning in American culture: George Carlin’s 7 Words and nudity.  People can disagree about whether those things ought to be punished and whether punishing them infringes the First Amendment, but almost everyone agrees that “c*nt” is an obscene word that doesn’t belong on Sesame Street.  On the other hand, punishing sexist speech will be much more controversial and will almost certainly involve a lot of First Amendment litigation.  The Supreme Court already has ruled that “hate speech” is protected speech.  It is very unlikely to approve the government’s regulating what speech is too sexist to be allowed on the airwaves.  (Rush “Feminazi” Limbaugh certainly won’t be able to broadcast in such a world.)

Has the New Agenda Lost Its Way? Part 2

A six part series by:
BettyJean Kling WWW.Free-US-Now.com
PG of http://bertrandrussell.blogspot.com

In Part 1 - Accentuating the negative, we pointed out that our experience has been that Amy Siskind, far from encouraging a grassroots organization, is running The New Agenda in a hierarchical and elitist “top-down” manner. Rather than appealing to the intelligence of American women, she expects people to accept her agenda without doing any thinking for themselves. We also introduced a NOW 50 state membership drive for March.
Please consider this — we are talking about $40.00! We do not have another turn-key 50 state organization, built for this type of bottom-up membership, just sitting there begging for the masses to walk in and be heard. Please read the six-part series and understand that we already have an organization with a *democratic* foundation. Time is of the essence. Join NOW March 1st.

Instead of fighting over NOW as it was, NOW as it should and could be is up to us. If you are waiting for someone to hand you your every wish without contributing some hard work then you will probably always settle for what you get, like it or not. I propose something quite different: a mass membership so big and so strong that either the existing leadership will have to reflect the membership needs, or we vote out that leadership and replace it with management that reflects the wishes of the majority of the new membership.

Please consider this — we are talking about $40.00! We do not have another turn-key 50 state organization, built for this type of bottom-up membership, just sitting there begging for the masses to walk in and be heard. Please read the six-part series and understand that we already have an organization with a *democratic* foundation. Time is of the essence. Join NOW March 1st.

Part 2) Lack of focus.

Again, TNA began last year with a great strategy: untie women from the Democratic Party and instead shop around a list of priorities that either party can promise to take on and thus gain TNA’s support. Unfortunately, TNA doesn’t seem to be following through. Look at The New Agenda from the perspective of, say, the Delaware Republican Party looking for an edge in the run for Biden’s Delaware Senate seat (reputedly being kept warm for Beau Biden on his return from Iraq). If the Republicans are trying to figure out whether it’s worthwhile to court The New Agenda, they’ll want to know two things: what do we have to give, and what do we get? Neither is very clear at TNA. For example, if the Delaware GOP does not have a female candidate appropriate for the position who wants to run in 2010, should they not bother trying to get TNA’s endorsement? Which of the goals listed on the website are the most important, and does a politician needs to support certain of them, or even any of them, to gain The New Agenda’s endorsement? For example, would someone holding Gov. Palin’s political positions — nearly all of which diverge from TNA’s stated goals — be eligible for TNA endorsement nonetheless? What is the policy on endorsements anyway?

Those are just the question on the “what do we have to give?” side from a Republican politico’s perspective. Then there’s the “get”: The New Agenda seems to get some CNN interviews and quotes in local papers, but does it have a national mailing list of members that would be worthwhile for the Delaware GOP to obtain for fundraising and get-out-the-vote? How big *is* the membership? (Big enough to be worth taking a position, for example in favor of increased funding to Biden’s signature Violence Against Women Act, that may lose some conservative votes?)

There also isn’t a clear line drawn about what The New Agenda is willing to tolerate in terms of misogyny or sexism by men in politics. The New Agenda was widely perceived as giving Senator McCain a “pass” on his past errors like publicly joking about rape (http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2008/07/17/mccain-in-bad-shape-over-ape-rape-jape/) and making fun of an teenage Chelsea Clinton, as well as Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno (http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2008/02/19/mccain-why-is-chelsea-clinton-so-ugly/). Yet The New Agenda was very angry about Jon Favreau’s being photographed rubbing the breast of a cardboard figure of Clinton and called for Favreau to be fired from Obama’s staff – even though Favreau, like McCain, apologized and admitted that he was wrong. Then after a humiliating media dressing down from CNN, (http://freemenow.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/whose-agenda-is-this-anyway/) , Amy Siskind, did yet another turn-around without consulting any of the other executive members leading to an exodus of at least 8 original founders and the banning of many original members.

To mark today’s International Human Rights Day – a day designated to affirm the rights of all people, The New Agenda called on White House speechwriter Jon Favreau to turn his bad behavior and poor judgment into a global good by volunteering at a battered women’s shelter

“Instead of a summary dismissal of Favreau, we believe more good could be gained by opening a national dialogue on domestic violence,” said Amy Siskind, co-founder of The New Agenda. “If Favreau were to mark today by making a public apology and volunteering at a battered women’s shelter it would show authentic contrition and channel the deluge of negative public attention he continues to receive toward a productive end.”

It is important for an organization that seeks influence to be unmistakable in what kind of behavior will require just an apology, and what kind must be answered with loss of office. Otherwise, like NOW and other women’s groups during President Clinton’s sexual harassment and sex scandals, TNA will get dragged down by claims of inconsistency, partisan favoritism and worse.

How The New Agenda Lost Its Way! Part 1

A six part series by:
BettyJean Kling  WWW.Free-US-Now.com
PG of
http://bertrandrussell.blogspot.com

In honor of Women’s History Month and in advance of my ambitious March Membership Drive on behalf of your local NOWnow chapters,  I bring you the following 6 part series as I ask you to join your local NOW organization beginning March 1. By joining NOW in massive numbers we can shape the agenda of an already existing 50 state organization that has been working for women’s equality and advancement for over 40 years. NOW isn’t perfect, but it is structured so that we can work from within it to make it ours and it better.

Part 1 Accentuating the negative 

The following series of posts is intended to provide constructive criticism of The New Agenda. TNA still has a chance to become a significant national organization, but the longer it remains a “top-down” entity run on the whims of a single person, the less chance it has to make an impact. In particular, its campaign of denigration against Kim Gandy and the National Organization for Women — spreading false rumors about Gandy’s having been unwilling to endorse Sen. Clinton the Democratic primaries, and about NOW’s having failed to protest the treatment of Clinton and Gov. Palin by the media — threatens to divide politically active American women into opposing camps based on a conflict of personalities. This is completely the wrong direction for TNA to take. Now is the time to use the energy and enthusiasm generated by the 2008 election to elect more women to local, state and national office; get more women appointed to executive and judicial positions; ensure that women are not left out of massive federal programs to encourage lending, entrepreneurship and employment; and drive for legislation to protect women’s rights at the workplace, their safety in the home and streets, and their health, reproductive choices and otherwise.

Until TNA shapes itself into a viable national organization, NOW remains the best conduit for women’s activism on these issues, and should be supported. You can join today at the national (https://www.now.org/member.html?srce=wbsppg) or local (http://www.now.org/chapters/) level, take action on legislation (http://www.now.org/actions/) and work with NOW PACs to empower women in politics (http://www.nowpacs.org/).

The New Agenda, which began with a list of very specific “asks” and the promise of support for whichever party would deal favorably with those requests (http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2008/08/21/obama-camp-warm-to-the-new-agenda/), has begun to decline in its ability to be relevant for a broad spectrum of American women. An underlying lack of transparency, accountability and access has manifested itself recently in several ways.

Accentuating the negative. TNA has been criticized by several feminist blogs lately for declaring Kim Gandy, president of NOW, to be an unacceptable choice to lead the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor. TNA’s statement on the matter contained no specific explanation about why Gandy would be wrong for the job; it simply insulted her (http://thenewagenda.net/2009/02/08/no-way-no-how-to-kim-gandy-for-director-of-womens-bureau/):

The New Agenda believes that while serving as President of the National Organization for Women, Ms. Gandy did not represent the women whom she was elected to represent. The New Agenda believes that Ms. Gandy used her role primarily to advance her own career interests.

The New Agenda would endorse the following candidates for Director of the Women’s Bureau:

  1. Anita Perez Ferguson, Former President Natl. Women’s Political Caucus
  2. Mary Beth Maxwell, Founding executive director of American Rights at Work
  3. Ellen Bravo, Former National Director of 9to5
  4. Robin Leeds, Winning Strategies

These candidates have represented and worked for women’s rights as opposed to their own self-interest.

While all four of these other women also are accomplished and talented, at least one of the candidates (Anita Perez Ferguson) has no experience whatsoever in labor issues, yet is deemed superior to Gandy, who

  • used her law degree to litigate sex discrimination employment cases;
  • served on the drafting committees the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which gave women the right to a jury trial and monetary damages in cases of sex discrimination and sexual harassment;
  • testified before Congress about the problems facing undocumented workers who are women;
  • lobbied to make Wal-Mart a more women-friendly workplace;
  • literally stood with Hilda Solis, the nominee for Secretary of Labor, in testifying and rallying for more ownership by women of media outlets.
Amy Siskind, happy with her own agenda

Amy Siskind Miscalculates the intelligence of American Women. She appears to be an elitist with an agenda which expects people to accept her say-so without doing any thinking for themselves.

The New Agenda thus far has not stated why Ms. Gandy is unacceptable. When a commenter on The New Agenda’s blog asked for the rationale behind TNA’s animus toward the president of NOW, TNA president Amy Siskind replied, “[W]e very purposely chose to not list line items as to why we do not endorse Gandy. But suffice it to say that it was unanimous (less one) amongst our Founders group who are prominent women from around the country and perhaps, through our connections, we know more information than you know. Could that be?”

The elitism typified by Ms. Siskind’s response to a reasonable question – a juvenile sort of “nyah nyah, *I* know but I’m not going to tell *you*” – seems far better calculated to drive potential TNA allies away than to attract them into becoming part of the community. Ms. Siskind did not even give a courteous reply such as, “I’m afraid our decision was based partly on confidential information that we are not free to publicize at this point, but I will follow up with publicly-available information that also weighed in our decision, so that you can judge for yourself and hopefully come to the same conclusion that we did.” Instead, Ms. Siskind expects people to accept her say-so without doing any thinking for themselves.

Indeed, an elitism at odds with a true grassroots attitude has become Ms. Siskind’s trademark at The New Agenda. An entire section of The New Agenda website is devoted to the gender balance of the Obama Cabinet – an important issue, but the 21 seats available in that Cabinet are not available to 99.99% of all Americans, regardless of sex. That 99.99% instead is concerned about keeping their jobs or finding new ones, making their rent/ mortgage, caring for sick family members and otherwise living real life outside Capitol Hill and Wall Street. Their lives are affected by the people in government, but having women as the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, Interior, etc. will not make a crucial difference in whether the average American makes it through this recession with life, health and dignity intact.

Because of that, The New Agenda’s call for President Obama to dismiss Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner for his tax problems (http://thenewagenda.net/media/press-releases/obama-gets-do-over-and-a-new-chance-for-women/ ) – after those problems had been fully disclosed and Geithner nonetheless confirmed by the Senate – verged on irresponsible. Geithner’s work as Sec. Treasurer has not been impressive thus far (one cannot resist comparing it to Secretary Hillary Clinton, who appears to have revitalized the State Department simply by walking in the door (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaLH2HvP0qk)), but calls for his departure, based on an issue that already has been thoroughly dissected and debated, do no service to women or to America generally. Geithner should be out at Treasury if he fails at his job, but he shouldn’t be pushed out prematurely just to have a woman considered as his replacement, particularly when done without suggesting someone who would do the job (restoring faith in the markets) more effectively. Urging that type of reckless destabilization in a time of financial crisis is not an action that would be taken by an organization that feels a serious sense of duty toward American women.

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