Betty here, weighing in on Alito and the Democratic Party

Hello, Rebecca's out of pocket tonight and I'm filling in for her. Betty here and I spent the last two hours getting advice. Mike said open with a greeting and everything's easy from there. Kat told me I was making it too hard.

So let's get started.

I've got not sex to talk about, three young children may be the best known birth control, so let's move on to politics. Politics? How about this from Feminist Daily Wire?

Group of Senate Democrats Launch Filibuster on Alito
A group of Democratic Senators, led by Massachusetts Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, has launched a filibuster to block the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has called for a cloture vote on Monday at 4:30 p.m. to end debate and move to a vote on Alito. To win a cloture vote, Frist has to muster 60 votes in favor of ending debate."

Millions of people have called and emailed their Senators, urging them to save the Supreme Court for women's rights, civil rights, environment protections, civil liberties, separation of church and state, disability rights, and to stop a Bush power grab. The Democrats have heard this message loud and clear," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. "This filibuster is historically important because it is sending a message to the President -- people will not tolerate his packing of the Supreme Court."
TAKE ACTION Urge your Democratic Senators to filibuster Alito!
GET THE INSIDE SCOOP with The Smeal Report and the New Leif blogs at MsMagazine.com
DONATE Make an emergency contribution to the Feminist Majority's Save Roe Campaign. We must be a strong voice in this crucial fight to save Roe and the Supreme Court for women's rights.

So Monday looks like the big test. Are we going to give it our all and let our Senators know we won't stand for this? And will the Democratic Party listen to us?

This really is a line in the sand.

For Alito and for the Democratic Party.

I'll start with Alito. As a Black woman and a mother, I don't see a thing worth getting excited about. His record indicates a hostility to civil rights. Or maybe you think justice can be served without black people? Alito doesn't seem to think that we have a right to sit on juries. I guess Black people aren't necessary to justice. Or is it that we just can't understand things like "guilty" or "innocent?"

Here's one thing I can understand. If a police officer doesn't have a warrant to search a ten-year-old girl, you don't strip search her. And this isn't like CAPS. That's Concerned Alumini for Princeton which Alito was a member of as late as 1985 when he was putting it on a job application. He claims he has no recollections of it today.

Which is sort of funny if you think about how much time he spent at the hearings telling everyone why he probably signed up. If someone doesn't remember, you'd think, "I don't remember" would say it all. But CAPS wasn't happy that Princeton was opening enrollment to women and felt that people of color, along with gays and lesbians, were forgetting their place which, CAP seemed to think, was the back of the bus.

Back to the ten-year-old girl. Doe v. Grody was about the police being given a search warrant to search a house and the decision by the police that somehow a search warrent meant pull the clothes off a ten-year-old girl.

I was surprised that the press didn't attempt to go with this story. Every woman I know who is a mother responds to this story with, "He did what?" Because Alito was the judge hearing this issue and he didn't see a problem with it. And it was in 2004. Not in the eighties, not in the seventies.

Then there's the issue of who decides about our bodies. Women, of all races, may find themselves back on the plantation as our bodies stop being our own. Reproductive rights are women's rights. I'm glad, happy, thrilled when any male supports us on this but, in the end, this is about our having the final say about our bodies.

I've never had to face the decision of having an abortion. But the option is out there. And no one, male or female, should be able to take it away from the woman who finds herself pregnant.
Ava and C.I. were hoping to a do a piece, last week at The Third Estate Sunday Review, on how abortion is portrayed on TV but time ran out while everyone was working on that edition.

There has been this demonizing of a medical procedure. It used to be you'd see men on TV screaming about it but they seem to have learned that it's better to create a front group of women to push their words through.

So now we get "concerned" women. Any woman who is truly concerned about another woman doesn't try to limit her options. It's a medical procedure and unless you're the one contemplating it, you've really got no say in whether a woman has it or not. It's about as much your business if Jane Roe has one as it is whether she has her tonsils removed. It's her medical decision.

But instead, it's being demonized. A very good friend told me last week that she was opposed to abortion. I was shocked. Because she's very pro-choice. We were talking about Alito and about how reproductive rights need to be protected. In the course of conversation, she said she was going to tell me something she'd never told anyone. Right away, I'm curious. That's when she said that for her, she couldn't ethically have an abortion. (Ethically was the word she used.)

"But you're so pro-choice," I replied.

She is. And she's reached her own personal decision. But she thinks that's what you do, you keep the procedure legal and available and women who want to utilize it, can. She said she never talks about it because she fears it would be misunderstood and someone would lump her in with the anti-choice crowd.

She's not anti-choice. But she feels that a woman needs to make her own decisions. She's not for any limitations or erosions on reproductive rights. I have a family member who's the same way.

Abortion has been a huge issue in conversations I've taken part in during the last two weeks. I've always been pro-choice and I'd usually leave it at that. It's the sort of thing you toss out and that's really all for a lot of women my age. Abortion has always been legal in our lifetime.

Alito's anti-choice positions have resulted in many women who never went beyond "pro-choice" in their conversations having some serious discussions about it. I found out about two friends abortions in the past week. I wasn't aware them because I didn't know them when they made their decisions. One has four children and was nearing graduation. Her ex popped back into her life during spring break of her last semester. He'd "changed" and wanted to be with her and his children. He hung around for about half the week before he disappeared again. Right before graduation, as she was lining up job interviews, she learned she was pregnant.

He was out of the picture, again, and she was looking at not being able to find a job and having five children one of which would be an infant. She made her decision and she didn't regret it then or now. (And for anyone wanting to scream "Birth control!" she was on birth control pills.)
Women make these choices not because they're bored or wanting to try something new (like a hair cut) but because they seriously weigh the realities.

Another friend told me about why she had divorced. I never knew anything except for the fact that it wasn't a happy marriage. He liked rough sex. He liked a show of force. He raped her. She'd wake up in the middle of the night to him forcing himself on her. Before they married, they had slept together and it was never a problem. They got married and all the sudden everything she did was wrong and he'd tell her, "My mother . . ."

She thinks he had some issues with his mother and that's why he ended up not being able to have sex without it being rough or rape. He really had a need to degrade to get in the mood.
She ended it and kicked him out. (It was her house. She'd bought it before they were married.)
He whined about having left something at the house and kept calling her at work. She finally left the door in the garage unlocked and called him from work to tell him to get his stuff and get out.
She came home that night and was making dinner when it turned out he was still there. He raped her.

She told me her story and asked me to mention it if we did a roundtable on abortion at The Third Estate Sunday Review. When Rebecca asked me if I'd like to grab one of her blog days, I called my friend to see if it was okay to share it here and she was fine with it.

She wanted the man out of her life. She wasn't on birth control because she wasn't having sex. She had filed for divorce and was not in the mood to be around any man. After he raped her and left, she had a fear that she'd end up pregnant and that is what happened.

"Is it my obligation to explain to the world how bad my marriage was?"

That was her question. She didn't think so. She was embarrassed that it had gone on while they were married and that she had made excuses for it for three months. She'd talk to him about not liking the rough sex and he'd apologize but then he would do it again and the rough sex quickly turned to rape. That's when she knew she had to end her marriage.

She went into therapy to deal with the pain of her marriage and that was incredibly hard for her because she's a very private person. She didn't want a child with this man. She didn't want any connection to him, she just wanted him out of her life.

She had the abortion before the divorce was granted because she didn't want him trying to use her pregancy to get back into her life and she was told that the judge might ask her, as a formality, if she was pregnant before he granted the divorce.

She said that there are people like her who do not go on Oprah and spill every detail of their lives for public consumption.

I'll tell one more story. It involves a cousin of mine. We were all so proud of "Ralph" (not his real name) because he seemed to have his head together. He had goals and was pursuing them.
And among his friends, to be over 21 and not have one or more children was a big thing. My grandmother felt he was really responsible and mature "focused on the future."

Four months ago, Ralph became a father. None of us knew anything about it until after. He doesn't do anything he doesn't have to do. The child has some medical problems and that's how we found out. The mother of the child called my grandmother's one Sunday to ask that Ralph please show up at the hospital because the baby was having trouble breathing. That was our introduction to our newest member of the family.

Ralph does nothing for the child. He gives nothing to support the baby. He goes out of his way to avoid the mother and the child. We knew the mother when he was dating her. He dropped her shortly after she got pregnant. She is a nice young woman. We've seen her go from the most put together, turned out young woman to someone who has time only to focus on her sick child. Ralph still dresses nice. He just bought a new car two months ago. He's living fine.

She's had to quit her job because her child is in and out of the hospital and her employer told her she needed to think about her "priorities." She is struggling so hard.

We've welcomed her into the family as we should. We all try to help out. If the child goes back to the hospital, which is a weekly thing, we always try to make sure at least one of us is there with her. We're helping out as a family with money and time and we'd be doing that anyway if Ralph was stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility. But he's not doing that.

Which is one reason she's struggling. Another reason is, of course, because of the child's medical condition. She has support but it's still really hard. My grandmother has finally convinced her that she and the baby should move into my grandmother's house and hopefully that will lessen the load.

But these are the realities that women face and these are the realities they have to think through when they make their decisions. A lot of toads pass themselves off as Prince Charming. They turn back into a toad and leap frog away and women are left to do it all by themselves.
She's at the point right now where if Ralph showed back up, my grandmother has told him that until he can start contributing some money and spending some time with his child to stay away from her house, and was making promises, she would be willing to give it another try.

That's because she's tired. She's really worn out. Even when we watch the child and tell her to go take a nap or go see a movie or just get some time for herself, she's still worrying about her baby. And usually when we are at our weakest is when a boy like "Ralph" (he's no man), starts thinking it might be fun to be a daddy or starts getting ragged on too much by his friends, so he shows up all full of promises and sometimes carrying flowers. Most women I know, and maybe this is just true for Black women but I doubt it, can tell you that within a week or two the Ralphs split. They can't handle the reality, even if the child is healthy.

But when you're doing it all yourself and the father of your child suddenly tells you, "I made a mistake, I want to be here for you and my child" you don't say, "Yeah, right." You say, "Thank God." You trick yourself into believing it's true. And yes, it's happened to me too.

A guy at work was running down this woman and saying she was "tough." She'd shot him down when he'd asked her out. She's been through this cycle of Ralphs and she knows the score. I do as well which is why my focus is on my children and I don't date. When I shared that in an interview with The Third Estate Sunday Review, a few people took offense to that. A few thought I was saying, "This makes me a better mother than it does mothers who date." It does make me a better mother than I would be if I was dating. It makes me be a better mother. It doesn't make me be a better mother than any other mother.

That's the choice I had to make. Not because my family suggested it. They think I should be dating. I made the decision because I get too caught up in "romance" and fall for anything and everything. So, like the woman the guy was running down at work, I'm sure I'm seem as "tough." But we have to make the choices we make based on what we know.

And if a woman knows that she can't manage various things, she needs to make her decision and not be questioned on it. Whether it's my decision to postpone dating until my children are older and I'm a bit wiser or whether it's a woman's decision to postpone motherhood (or never become a mother). Reality is always around but circumstances make us evaluate and address it.

No woman owes anyone an explanation as to why they decide to terminate a pregnancy. She's made her decision and she's weighed the options and odds. No woman owes anyone an explanation of why she decided to have a child either. These are basic decisions and they should belong to us because we are the ones who live with them.

You can support a decision of whether or not to have a child but I don't think it's your right to question it. And when I see what Ralph's done, someone my whole family thought was responsible and was mature, I'm only reminded all the more of how the decision must be the woman's and only her decision.

Now let's deal with the Democrat. But let me apologize first because I started this entry late and I've gone on and on so it will post even later.

The Democrats have said they'd fight. They were going to make sure that "never again" would voters be disenfranchised after Florida 2000. Then, in the very next presidential election cycle, voters were disenfranchised in Florida and Ohio and there was no fight. They caved. I'm sure candidates will go before Black voters in 2008 and make promises of "never again" all over again. We're getting real tired of empty promises. We're getting real tired of a Democratic Party that won't fight.

Some pundits are saying that to fight when you might lose would hurt the Democratic Party. Did MLK hurt the party when he lost some rounds? No. His being in the Birmingham jail could be seen as loss. But he proved he was a fighter and he inspired us all with his dedication.

Anyone can win the easy battles. They're meaingless. Winning the easy win is like breathing, we expect that everyone will do that. But courage is what we're looking for and we haven't seen it in abundance from the Democratic Party.

If the party is attempting to send the message that they will buckle and give in, message received. But don't expect us to fight for you if you won't fight for us.

As a mother, I'm fighting every day. I'm fighting to make sure there's food on the table for my children, I'm fighting to make sure they're getting what they need. Those are the battles that I should win. But that's not where the fighting stops. If something happens that calls on me to stand up to entire school system for one of my children, I should be willing to fight that fight. I shouldn't say, "Well, I'll probably lose so I should save my energy."

You fight for a principle, not for an easy win. If your convictions are so hollow that you'll stay silent and roll over, that's sad. If you're an elected official who rolls over, you don't need to be in office. Black History is full of fighters and they didn't always "win." They didn't always live to see change. But they fought because it was the right thing to do. By fighting, they laid the groundwork for others. They inspired and they educated by struggling.

There's nothing inspiring in a member of Congress who won't stand up. Don't come to someone like me, a working woman with three kids, and expect me to give up my lunch hour at work to go down to the polls and vote for you if you aren't willing to stand up for me. We don't have a national holiday for voting (we should). I do have to sacrifice to stand in line on election day and vote. I go to that trouble because it's what I should do. It's part of standing up for democracy.
So Senators who think that they shouldn't filibuster because they might lose better think about the message they're sending out.

On election day in November 2006, maybe my candidate of choice could lose? By their logic, since I have other battles to fight, I should stay away from the polls and not vote. It's not "wise" for me to waste my time on a fight that I might not win, by their logic.

If they want to inspire me, if they want me to feel that I'm not just doing my duty but doing something worthwhile by voting, they need to show some fight and some spirit.

And, as C.I. said to me on the phone Thursday night, they're missing the best campaign moment. Filibuster Alito because it's the right thing to do. And don't be scared of losing. If you lose, that's your campaign moment. That's what you use to make the case to the American people for returning the Congress to the Democrats. "Look what happened in the Senate! If we'd been the majority party, we could have stopped the confirmation of Alito! That's why you need to help us take back the Senate!" That's your campaign slogan.

(And thanks to C.I. for letting me have that. When we were talking on the phone last night, I said, "Oh that's so great. Write it up so I can link to it when I fill in for Rebecca." C.I. said I was so impassioned about the slogan that I could have it. I will take it but, please note, it was C.I. who thought it up.)

You get on every chat & chew and you say, "Well if we'd be in control, we would have won the fight on Alito. We didn't have the seats to win it, but America saw that we will fight regardless and America liked what they saw which is why they're going to be returning the Senate to Democratic control." You repeat that at every campaign stop. "Why do we need to be in charge? Because we are fighters. We showed you we were fighters. What we need from you is the support to get enough of us back into office so that we can keep fighting and can actually win."

I'll say I'm sorry one last time for the fact that I started late and for the fact that I ran off at the mouth. Thank you to Rebecca for letting me have this opportunity. There's so much that I'd like to note at my site but never can because I'm dealing with an outline and writing in character. Rebecca told me that I'd enjoy this and she wasn't kidding. Thank you to her readers for putting up with my rants. I know her readers are already active on stopping Alito's confirmation and that they don't need me to tell them what to do or how to do it. So I'll just close by saying that I'm in this fight with you and honored to be standing with so many fighters who don't play the odds but stand up for what is right. Thank you.