cowgrrrl blues

rants, tall tales, and meanderings from a wander-lust, activist, cowgrrrl extrordinaire

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

fire thunder, you're my hero!

let me first admit that i found this via but, really, this lady is so awesome on so many levels i had to highlight it. this nonsense that south dakota is trying to pull is utterly ridiculous, not to mention illegal and extremely harmful. just a little comfort to know that ms. fire thunder is giving them the finger.


"When Governor Mike Rounds signed HB 1215 into law it effectively banned all abortions in the state with the exception that it did allow saving the mother’s life. There were, however, no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. His actions, and the comments of State Senators like Bill Napoli of Rapid City, SD, set of a maelstrom of protests within the state.
Napoli suggested that if it was a case of “simple rape,” there should be no thoughts of ending a pregnancy. Letters by the hundreds appeared in local newspapers, mostly written by women, challenging Napoli’s description of rape as “simple.” He has yet to explain satisfactorily what he meant by “simple rape.”
The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, was incensed. A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women.
“To me, it is now a question of sovereignty,” she said to me last week. “I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.”
Strong words from a very strong lady. I hope Ms. Fire Thunder challenges Gov. Rounds and the state legislators on this law that is an affront to all independent women."

album covers

kris sent me this wonderful array of "worst album covers ever." they are so fabulous! the "devastatin' dave" one is my favorite. i love that it says 'zap' right over his crotch. i know that charlie will appreciate all the rhyming. and i'm sure amanda sees this design work as purely genius. as far as this other one...what the hell? so bizarre...and there are others that are even stranger. should i post them? hmm...thanks, susie b.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

just browsing?

it's come to my attention that from time to time this place is visited by you, my friends and public. may i kindly request that you make your presence known...? i value your commentary on this site, not simply in emails or via telephone.

Monday, March 27, 2006

for susie b.

i woke up this weekend thinking of you. found this old journal entry. like i said, come home so that your sisters can take care of you.

...when i moved to brooklyn i wanted a new new york. there was much in the streets to remind me of the old times, but i chose rooftop parties and late nights in my warehouse apartment. i met several boys, charmed a number of them, and habitually watched the sunrise with whomever i kissed that evening. i neglected my soulmates, hid from them. but kristina found me and said she would take the train north to penn station. she arrived looking more healthy than ever, but when she wrote poetry on my walls i couldn't help but remember the farm days. in the lavender field she confessed, "i wish i had been raped. it would make my nightmares more legitimate."

i was in no mood to discuss gender politics or violence. i was in the midst of hosting a party. everyone i encountered that summer needed to participate--the merry-go-round of wild antics. kristina needed to dance on tabletops. i persuaded her to allow me to cut her hair in a hipster style, paint her face with black eyeliner and sparkle pink lipstick. i had no female friends in new york but was itching to go to a lesbian bar in the west village with a funny no male policy.

we entered henrietta hudson's with the kind of energy particular to half-drunk girls on a saturday night. kristina drives like an elderly person and sings miserably; somehow i connected these qualities to mean that she also lack any rhythm, but kristina dances quite well. we twirled around the dance floor moving our hands seductively and pretending we were lovers. two other girls braided around us. one of the girls, the blonde one, asked kristina i she and i were 'together.' when kristina nodded 'no' both girls squealed in victory.

as people packed into the bar, the floor became suffocating. kristina and i stepped outside. a thirty-something woman insisted on chatting with us. she told us about her job at j crew and how she lived in san diego. she bored me, but i couldn't interrupt her long enough to excuse kristina and myself. when we finally returned to the dance floor the two girls could not be found. the obviously thought that we left them.

disappointed, we ventured out. by that time, the streets echoed with laughter that spilled out of the bars. three boys wandered into our path and asked for directions to houston. we were walking that way, so they joined us. the first boy was nigerian, so i quickly passed him off to kristina. from the other two, i learned that all three recently graduated from harvard. they were impressed that i could remember their names, that i attended law school, and, most of all, that kristina earned the marshall. they gawked on and on about how fabulous all of that was. they didn't bore me like the woman from san diego, but they kept complaining about walking. when one boy complained for the fifth time that he was tired, i decided these boys were way too useless for us. i pointed out their subway, grabbed kristina's hand, and sprinted across a busy intersection.

i told kristina that the bartender at the next place was an irishman named ross whose goodlooks and accent compensated fro the seven dollar price of a beer. my last time at the bar he asked me home, but i skid away in a cab to will's. i knew that will would prepare a midnight breakfast and not ask for so much as a smile until the morning. when kristina and i entered the bar ross smiled blankly. "you don't remember me," i mocked. "how's your exboyfriend?" he countered then grinned.

kristina and i chose a few songs from the jukebox, but it took far too long for our songs to play. so, we danced to whatever happened to be on. we were the only dancers. i glanced at kristina with a fiery-eyed expression. we blew kisses and giggled. again, ross insisted that visit his apartment. i explained that kristina, my dearest friend, planned to stay with me and i refused to desert her. with that, we caught a cab and phoned will to inform him we planned to arrive in 10 minutes. he was a great sport about our self-invited entrance. he cooked first-rate omlettes. i ate five forkfulls, then fell asleep without so much as a goodnight.

in the morning, kristina and i stumbled to the subway. once in brooklyn, the air snapped at me with a kind of beauty particular to autumn in new york. williamsburg sounded quiet, despite the rattle of trash that the wind swept across the asphalt. as kristina and i strolled along the sidewalk, i admired the graffiti. that morning we did not giggle. we did not exchange silly, knowing glances. instead of proposing an adventure for the day, i whispered to kristina that my heart was broken. i thought about all the boys i kissed that summer, how i never intended to love a single one, how all i ever wanted was a distraction from my nightmares. i never wanted to sleep alone.

so many tears streamed down my face that i could no longer see where we were walking. i plopped down on the sidewalk unconcerned by the gravel and broken glass. sitting on that curb sobbing with kristina--honestly--that was the best i'd felt in weeks. all the bars and boys in brooklyn couldn't make me forget what kept me awake at night; pretending otherwise exhausted me. i cried because the dirt on north 4th street made me so happy that morning and that, much more than the fiasco i created, made life worth living. i was near giving up on living until kristina and i stumbled through that broken-down alley. i almost hated that street for seeming so beautiful, because it would have been easier to skip from one rooftop party to another until i skipped off the rooftop altogether.

i thought about this quote by picasso to matisse. picasso said something to effect that the two must communicate as much as possible because once one of the pair died, the other one would never be able to have that level off dialogue again...that brilliance of understanding would cease to exist. precisely.

Friday, March 24, 2006

my favorite opinion

Below is Justice Goldberg's concurrence in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)-- a landmark decision that opened the door for Roe v. Wade. This is one of the only opinions in Supreme Court history to discuss the proper role of the 9th Amendment (Mind you, it's only a concurrence). None of what this guy wrote about the 9th Amendment is part of our current jurisprudence, even though it makes so much more sense than "penumbras" making rights via the 14th Amendment. Yeah, yeah, I know...this is the uber-nerd in me...but try to read it. Honestly, if you think about what he's saying you'll realize that those old, dead white guys who wrote the Constitution were leftist radicals--racist, sexist, classist radicals, but really cool leftists nonetheless. The short of it: I heart the 9th Amendment!


...I do agree that the concept of liberty protects those personal rights that are fundamental, and is not confined to the specific terms of the Bill of Rights. My conclusion that the concept of liberty is not so restricted and that it embraces the right of marital privacy though that right is not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution is supported both by numerous decisions of this Court, referred to in the Court's opinion, and by the language and history of the Ninth Amendment. In reaching the conclusion that the right of marital privacy is protected, as being within the protected penumbra of specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights, the Court refers to the Ninth Amendment. I add these words to emphasize the relevance of that Amendment to the Court's holding.

The Court stated many years ago that the Due Process Clause protects those liberties that are "so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental." Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U.S. 97, 105. In Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652, 666, the Court said:

"For present purposes we may and do assume that freedom of speech and of the press -- which are protected by the First Amendment from abridgment by Congress -- are among the fundamental personal rights and 'liberties' protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the States." (Emphasis added.)

And, in Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399, the Court, referring to the Fourteenth Amendment, stated:

"While this Court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also [for example,] the right . . . to marry, establish a home and bring up children . . . ."

This Court, in a series of decisions, has held that the Fourteenth Amendment absorbs and applies to the States those specifics of the first eight amendments which express fundamental personal rights. The language and history of the Ninth Amendment reveal that the Framers of the Constitution believed that there are additional fundamental rights, protected from governmental infringement, which exist alongside those fundamental rights specifically mentioned in the first eight constitutional amendments.

The Ninth Amendment reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The Amendment is almost entirely the work of James Madison. It was introduced in Congress by him and passed the House and Senate with little or no debate and virtually no change in language. It was proffered to quiet expressed fears that a bill of specifically enumerated rights n3 could not be sufficiently broad to cover all essential rights and that the specific mention of certain rights would be interpreted as a denial that others were protected. (Footnote #4)

In presenting the proposed Amendment, Madison said:

"It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard urged against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution [the Ninth Amendment]." I Annals of Congress 439 (Gales and Seaton ed. 1834).

Mr. Justice Story wrote of this argument against a bill of rights and the meaning of the Ninth Amendment:

"In regard to . . . [a] suggestion, that the affirmance of certain rights might disparage others, or might lead to argumentative implications in favor of other powers, it might be sufficient to say that such a course of reasoning could never be sustained upon any solid basis . . . . But a conclusive answer is, that such an attempt may be interdicted (as it has been) by a positive declaration in such a bill of rights that the enumeration of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." II Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States 626-627 (5th ed. 1891).

He further stated, referring to the Ninth Amendment:

"This clause was manifestly introduced to prevent any perverse or ingenious misapplication of the well-known maxim, that an affirmation in particular cases implies a negation in all others; and, e converso, that a negation in particular cases implies an affirmation in all others."

These statements of Madison and Story make clear that the Framers did not intend that the first eight amendments be construed to exhaust the basic and fundamental rights which the Constitution guaranteed to the people.

While this Court has had little occasion to interpret the Ninth Amendment, "it cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect." Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 174. In interpreting the Constitution, "real effect should be given to all the words it uses." Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52, 151. The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution may be regarded by some as a recent discovery and may be forgotten by others, but since 1791 it has been a basic part of the Constitution which we are sworn to uphold. To hold that a right so basic and fundamental and so deep-rooted in our society as the right of privacy in marriage may be infringed because that right is not guaranteed in so many words by the first eight amendments to the Constitution is to ignore the Ninth Amendment and to give it no effect whatsoever. Moreover, a judicial construction that this fundamental right is not protected by the Constitution because it is not mentioned in explicit terms by one of the first eight amendments or elsewhere in the Constitution would violate the Ninth Amendment, which specifically states that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

A dissenting opinion suggests that my interpretation of the Ninth Amendment somehow "broaden[s] the powers of this Court." Post, at 520. With all due respect, I believe that it misses the import of what I am saying. I do not take the position of my Brother BLACK in his dissent in Adamson v. California, 332 U.S. 46, 68, that the entire Bill of Rights is incorporated in the Fourteenth Amendment, and I do not mean to imply that the Ninth Amendment is applied against the States by the Fourteenth. Nor do I mean to state that the Ninth Amendment constitutes an independent source of rights protected from infringement by either the States or the Federal Government. Rather, the Ninth Amendment shows a belief of the Constitution's authors that fundamental rights exist that are not expressly enumerated in the first eight amendments and an intent that the list of rights included there not be deemed exhaustive. As any student of this Court's opinions knows, this Court has held, often unanimously, that the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments protect certain fundamental personal liberties from abridgment by the Federal Government or the States. The Ninth Amendment simply shows the intent of the Constitution's authors that other fundamental personal rights should not be denied such protection or disparaged in any other way simply because they are not specifically listed in the first eight constitutional amendments. I do not see how this broadens the authority of the Court; rather it serves to support what this Court has been doing in protecting fundamental rights.

Nor am I turning somersaults with history in arguing that the Ninth Amendment is relevant in a case dealing with a State's infringement of a fundamental right. While the Ninth Amendment -- and indeed the entire Bill of Rights -- originally concerned restrictions upon federal power, the subsequently enacted Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the States as well from abridging fundamental personal liberties. And, the Ninth Amendment, in indicating that not all such liberties are specifically mentioned in the first eight amendments, is surely relevant in showing the existence of other fundamental personal rights, now protected from state, as well as federal, infringement. In sum, the Ninth Amendment simply lends strong support to the view that the "liberty" protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments from infringement by the Federal Government or the States is not restricted to rights specifically mentioned in the first eight amendments.

In determining which rights are fundamental, judges are not left at large to decide cases in light of their personal and private notions. Rather, they must look to the "traditions and [collective] conscience of our people" to determine whether a principle is "so rooted [there] . . . as to be ranked as fundamental." Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U.S. 97, 105. The inquiry is whether a right involved "is of such a character that it cannot be denied without violating those 'fundamental principles of liberty and justice [**1687] which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions' . . . ." Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45, 67. "Liberty" also "gains content from the emanations of . . . specific [constitutional] guarantees" and "from experience with the requirements of a free society." Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 517 (dissenting opinion of MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS). n7

I agree fully with the Court that, applying these tests, the right of privacy is a fundamental personal right, emanating "from the totality of the constitutional scheme under which we live." Id., at 521. Mr. Justice Brandeis, dissenting in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 478, comprehensively summarized the principles underlying the Constitution's guarantees of privacy:

"The protection guaranteed by the [Fourth and Fifth] Amendments is much broader in scope. The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men."

The Connecticut statutes here involved deal with a particularly important and sensitive area of privacy -- that of the marital relation and the marital home. This Court recognized in Meyer v. Nebraska, supra, that the right "to marry, establish a home and bring up children" was an essential part of the liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. 262 U.S., at 399. In Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, the Court held unconstitutional an Oregon Act which forbade parents from sending their children to private schools because such an act "unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control." 268 U.S., at 534-535. As this Court said in Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, at 166, the Meyer and Pierce decisions "have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter."

I agree with MR. JUSTICE HARLAN'S statement in his dissenting opinion in Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 551-552: "Certainly the safeguarding of the home does not follow merely from the sanctity of property rights. The home derives its pre-eminence as the seat of family life. And the integrity of that life is something so fundamental that it has been found to draw to its protection the principles of more than one explicitly granted Constitutional right. . . . Of this whole 'private realm of family life' it is difficult to imagine what is more private or more intimate than a husband and wife's marital relations."

The entire fabric of the Constitution and the purposes that clearly underlie its specific guarantees demonstrate that the rights to marital privacy and to marry and raise a family are of similar order and magnitude as the fundamental rights specifically protected.

Although the Constitution does not speak in so many words of the right of privacy in marriage, I cannot believe that it offers these fundamental rights no protection. The fact that no particular provision of the Constitution explicitly forbids the State from disrupting the traditional relation of the family -- a relation as old and as fundamental as our entire civilization -- surely does not show that the Government was meant to have the power to do so. Rather, as the Ninth Amendment expressly recognizes, there are fundamental personal rights such as this one, which are protected from abridgment by the Government though not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

My Brother STEWART, while characterizing the Connecticut birth control law as "an uncommonly silly law," post, at 527, would nevertheless let it stand on the ground that it is not for the courts to "'substitute their social and economic beliefs for the judgment of legislative bodies, who are elected to pass laws.'" Post, at 528. Elsewhere, I have stated that "while I quite agree with Mr. Justice Brandeis that . . . 'a . . . State may . . . serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments,' New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262, 280, 311 (dissenting opinion), I do not believe that this includes the power to experiment with the fundamental liberties of citizens . . . ." The vice of the dissenters' views is that it would permit such experimentation by the States in the area of the fundamental personal rights of its citizens. I cannot agree that the Constitution grants such power either to the States or to the Federal Government.

The logic of the dissents would sanction federal or state legislation that seems to me even more plainly unconstitutional than the statute before us. Surely the Government, absent a showing of a compelling subordinating state interest, could not decree that all husbands and wives must be sterilized after two children have been born to them. Yet by their reasoning such an invasion of marital privacy would not be subject to constitutional challenge because, while it might be "silly," no provision of the Constitution specifically prevents the Government from curtailing the marital right to bear children and raise a family. While it may shock some of my Brethren that the Court today holds that the Constitution protects the right of marital privacy, in my view it is far more shocking to believe that the personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution does not include protection against such totalitarian limitation of family size, which is at complete variance with our constitutional concepts. Yet, if upon a showing of a slender basis of rationality, a law outlawing voluntary birth control by married persons is valid, then, by the same reasoning, a law requiring compulsory birth control also would seem to be valid. In my view, however, both types of law would unjustifiably intrude upon rights of marital privacy which are constitutionally protected.

In a long series of cases this Court has held that where fundamental personal liberties are involved, they may not be abridged by the States simply on a showing that a regulatory statute has some rational relationship to the effectuation of a proper state purpose. "Where there is a significant encroachment upon personal liberty, the State may prevail only upon showing a subordinating interest which is compelling," Bates v. Little Rock, 361 U.S. 516, 524. The law must be shown "necessary, and not merely rationally related, to the accomplishment of a permissible state policy." McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U.S. 184, 196. See Schneider v. Irvington, 308 U.S. 147, 161...

...In sum, I believe that the right of privacy in the marital relation is fundamental and basic -- a personal right "retained by the people" within the meaning of the Ninth Amendment. Connecticut cannot constitutionally abridge this fundamental right, which is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from infringement by the States. I agree with the Court that petitioners' convictions must therefore be reversed.

Footnote #4
Alexander Hamilton was opposed to a bill of rights on the ground that it was unnecessary because the Federal Government was a government of delegated powers and it was not granted the power to intrude upon fundamental personal rights. The Federalist, No. 84 (Cooke ed. 1961), at 578-579. He also argued,

"I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colourable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretence for claiming that power." Id., at 579.

The Ninth Amendment and the Tenth Amendment, which provides, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," were apparently also designed in part to meet the above-quoted argument of Hamilton.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

from san diego

i heart california! i've been real wishy-washy on staying in new york versus going back to the west coast. yeah, so one hike on the coast near san diego cleared up that confusion. bay area kids: i'm coming home in august. for you east coasters: i'll miss you...and, yes, i'll miss new york city, my first love...but like all first loves, always beautiful and a great growing experience, but ultimately you move on...sometimes you just have to move on twice, i guess.

ps- this is yvonne, charlie and i checking out hermit crabs and cool ocean stuff in a little tide pool.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

a rebel clown's insight

What’s in the Bag?

The police have given us the scenic route to Dungavel Detention Centre: Serco-owned prison for men, women, and children asylum seekers. It’s July 5th – 4th day in a week of actions against the G8. Tomorrow we will converge on the golf resort and summit site Gleneagles. The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (C.I.R.C.A.) will unveil Operation H.A.H.A.H.A.A. (Helping Authorities House Arrest Half-Witted Authoritarian Androids). By ‘building the fences higher’ and helping police to keep the 8 greatest ‘errorists’ safely contained, we’ll turn the day on its head and congratulate the thousands who have already ‘won.’

This summer’s protest against the emperors of corporate globalization has been special in its local politics. We’ve built a community garden in line of a motorway slotted through working-class Glasgow, and we’ve shut down the Faslane Nuclear Submarine Base. Today police have emptied Dungavel to hide its prisoners elsewhere. For now, cries of solidarity bounce back from the dark hollow of the prison, but in the months to come a movement to end the criminalizing of ‘distant others’ in ‘our’ midst will swell.

Police stop us tumbling, motion-sick, off the bus. Before letting us join a depressed rally in dire need of a laugh, they have orders to search all clowns. In Basic Rebel Clown Training we learned to stuff our pockets with surprises – dildos and false teeth – for the police to find. We also practiced the arts of emptying our egos, re-inventing our worlds, and keeping our power. To my left, General Support treats her cops to a song about bananas. Major Pan-Sweat salutes and runs through his ‘clownbattant’ details like a loon P.O.W… ‘What’s in the bag?’ My attention turns to the owner of the gruff question – young male cop looking bored and vaguely scared. ‘In there?’ I point, happy to oblige. ‘Why, that’s a water bottle, and above it is a rainbow, and next door is a package of band-aids, and tucked underneath, waving up at you, is my secret flock of tiny green men…What’s in your bag?’ He manages a smile.

Kristina Weaver (aka Sgt. Ina) studies geography and creative writing at Glasgow University. She is a contributor to Shut Them Down! The G8, Gleneagles 2005 and the Movement of Movements.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Giving Birth While Tied to the Bed...

The title of this NY Times article says it all: Prisons Often Shackle Pregnant Inmates in Labor. It's hard to imagine a woman who is the middle of giving birth honestly being a "flight risk." Even more shocking, only two states outlaw this practice--and only recently! This practice is a civil rights case (§ 1983) just waiting to be litigated...and rightly so. Can we say 'cruel and unusual punishment?' How about 'deprivation of substantive due process?' All I can say is that if more women were legislators, there is no way that this practice would still be permissible. The guy from Amnesty got it right when he said the practice is "almost as stupid as shackling someone in a coma."