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Unhappy Birthday: Cynthia Mathews doesn't know whether to plan a party or a funeral for Roe v. Wade.


The 'W' Is Not for 'Wade'

Bush is waging a straightforward war on women." Thus spake Planned Parenthood Del Monte director and City Councilmember Cynthia Mathews mere weeks before the 30th anniversary of Roe V. Wade.

At first, Nüz wondered if Mathews really meant "straightforward," since Bush rarely manages to be articulate, let alone straightforward. But after perusing Planned Parenthood's Anti-Choice Bush Chronicles, we have to admit that Bush's stand on women's reproductive rights is coming across loud and clear.

Consider the following:

* In 1994, Dubya announces: "I will do everything in my power to restrict abortions."

* In 2000, as governor of Texas, Bush signs 16 anti-choice measures into law, and chooses as running mate staunch anti-choicer Dick Cheney.

* Later in 2000, Bush appoints Attorney General John Ashcroft, who supports banning abortion in all cases, including rape and incest.

* In 2002, Bush announces, "We need common sense judges who understand our rights were derived from God. Those are the kind of judges I intend to put on the bench."

Roe was dealt a serious blow when Republicans regained control of the Senate in the fall, as Bush's previously rejected judicial nominees, Michael McConnell and Judge Dennis Shedd, were confirmed.

"As a result of the national election, the anti-choice agenda is unfettered, and it's not something limited to a few years," says Mathews. "Judicial appointments are for life and their effects are felt for decades."

Given that American women have enjoyed 30 years of reproductive choice, the idea of going back to the reproductive Dark Ages is frightening to say the least.

"And possible," warns Mathews, "unless people take their blinders off. People need to make it clear that this is not a negotiable issue for Americans--or anybody who cares about reproductive choice. This is an issue that transcends gender, race, and class. The idea that the government has power over this very personal area is fundamentally offensive."

To find out more about how Bush is working to repeal the rights we'll soon be going to war with Iraq to protect, check out the Pro-Choice Brunch, Jan. 18, at the First United Methodist Church; 425.1551, ext. 29.

Dolphin-Safe Tunes

The best part of meetings run by street performers? They use drum rolls instead of polite coughs to change topic.

That's at least what street performer Coleen Douglas did at an interactive meeting aimed at bringing all downtown stakeholders--merchants, hosts, residents, government officials, downtown commissioners, police and street performers--together to work on creating a downtown that feels good, safe and friendly.

But while participants wrote comments from all perspectives, there were no police, downtown hosts or merchants present, which led to Nüz witnessing one of 2003's most surreal scenes to date: gadfly Robert Norse writing from the point of view of a cop (hey, isn't it illegal to impersonate a police officer?).

Asked to write from the POV of a guvmint official, Nüz noted that since performers cause less than 1 percent of all problems downtown, we would not want to pass laws that cause more than 1 percent of all problems before council.

Kathy Bisbee, who is on the Downtown Comish as well as being Cruzio's marketing director, hopes to post all the comments at www.keepsantacruz.weird.com, a new Cruzio-hosted website that should be up by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, performers are uniformly frustrated at the time and space restrictions set to come into effect Jan. 15, which, btw, is the actual birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

"Whether it's 14 feet or 10 feet doesn't change the fact that we'll still be at the curb and playing towards the stores," says accordion player Julio Morgani. "We the street performers are the dolphins caught in the tuna net of ordinances. How can we cut the net open, so the dolphins can escape, but not the tuna?"

We're not exactly sure, Morgani, but we have heard rumors that performers will either boycott downtown entirely or organize a massive "play-in" until the drumming dolphins can swim free again.

Propaganda, All Is Phony

First, it was the Unreasonable Women in Marin, then the coed Naked Peace Sign in Santa Cruz, followed by the Men for Peace in Florida, all making peace signs with their naked bodies. And now a naked march is planned for the SF peace demo on Jan. 18.

Donna Sheehan, who now has organized three separate peace signs in and around Marin, is hoping to do a series, like a national spelling bee--but not necessarily all in the buff.

"Ideally, we want one from every state in the union, but obviously there's a weather problem right now," says Sheehan, who is thinking of having nurses in uniforms, teachers with books, and computer nerds with silicon chips. "By not insisting on nudity, we can make it more inclusive."

Here in Santa Cruz, Mayor Emily Reilly has promised to proclaim Dec. 15, 2002 (which just so happens to also be the date the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791) as Naked Peace Sign Day (or some such title) in honor of the 18 women and nine men who bared all for peace at Bonny Doon Beach.

But as peaceniks were invading the Cruz Dec. 15, actor Sean Penn was invading Iraq--on his own fact-finding mission.

"If there is a war or continued sanctions against Iraq, the blood of Americans and Iraqis will be on our hands," said Penn in a statement, just before coming under attack from Debbie Schlussel, a political commentator, attorney and frequent guest on the late Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and Fox News Channel.

"In Fast Times, Penn's long haired, pot-smoking Spicoli sets his goals high in life: "All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine." If only reality's Spicoli-Penn would stick to that and shut his mouth, we'd all be fine," Schlussel wrote.

But as Institute of Public Accuracy executive director Norman Solomon notes, "When our country appears to be on the verge of war, stepping out of line is always hazardous. All kinds of specious accusations fly. Whether you travel to Baghdad or hold an antiwar sign on Main Street back home, some people will accuse you of serving the propaganda interests of the foreign foe."

According to Solomon, who went with Penn on his three-day visit, Dead Man Walking and Casualties of War were the Penn movies most frequently mentioned by Iraqis during the trip.

"Film breaks down a lot of boundaries, and Iraqi society loves film. Despite all the tensions, the Iraqis were warm to us. I found it upsetting to be there and realize that the Pentagon is planning to send missiles into a city of almost 5 million. But it underscores the importance of seeing people in person rather then via media-filtered abstractions."

As for the officials in Iraq, Solomon says, "They all tell lies, just like the U.S. officials. To quote Bob Dylan, "Propaganda is always phony." But the U.S. has no legal, moral or ethical right to attack Iraq. Instead we should develop a foreign policy based on a single standard of human rights rather than be the military bully of the planet."

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the January 15-21, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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