Here I am, another week-long absence wiser (debatable, of course) and a day away from another annual filing deadline. The first is a result of the second, yet somehow that doesn't seem like a good enough excuse. I could also claim amnesia, what with the hours I've been keeping in and out of the office, or the lack of sleep that has accompanied the last week or ten days, or the extreme cold that has invaded and infested New York City.
Again, however, those seem like lame excuses.
Or perhaps it's just a variety of Boogie-worthy topics but not enough time on which to expound thereon. Between the post-Katrina Mardi Gras images (both the celebratory carnival pics and the non-carnival, desolation-filled images); President Bush disclosing that he beat John Kerry with bin Laden's help (despite today's latest poll showing Bush at a new low of 34% approval); controversial gerrymandering in Texas; Anna Nicole "Trim-Spa" Smith visiting the Supreme Court to fight for a third or half of her late husband's 1.5 billion dollar fortune; the US and Canadian hockey teams being unceremoniously bounced from the Olympics; the NFL attempting to avoid a 2008 lockout (after an uncapped 2007); and most recently, the revelation that Allegra, a popular prescription antihistamine is now strictly an over-the-counter purchase away.
In a nutshell, I was very moved by just how little the landscape and the political climate in New Orleans has changed since Katrina hit what is now a broken, fledgling city. On some level, it seems -- as per usual -- it's more about blaming the people that screwed up (Brown, President Bush, and the government in general) and less about solving the problems. Then there's the increasing threat to Roe v. Wade's legalization of abortion, thanks to the newly-confirmed Roberts and Alito, although today's Supreme Court decision in Scheidler v. National Organization for Women found unanimously in favor of protestors at the entrances to abortion clinics, 8-0, since Alito was not on the Court in November when this case was initially heard. At the center of the dispute is The Hobbs Act, which was passed by Congress in 1946 to prevent rackateering, specifically using prohibitory language which forbids the obstruction of commerce "by robbery or extortion." For awhile, in the 1980's, abortion clinics successfully kept protest organizers like Operation Rescue and the Pro-Life Action League by citing the Hobbs Act. However, in 2003, the Supreme Court rescinded that protection, and today's confirmation of same put to bed a last-chance hope that the High Court would agree with a Federal ruling that this anti-abortion behavior represented a continued pattern of activity deigned to prevent commerce.
While I lament today's decision -- visiting an abortion clinic must be an extremely traumatic, disturbing, difficult activity for a woman, and doing so with a dozen or more people screaming at you and calling you a baby-killer must make the experience that much more traumatic -- I think, legally speaking, the Court got the decision right. I'm not advocating protestors' rights here; they deserve their voice, but they shouldn't be allowed to accost -- verbally or otherwise -- visitors to a clinic. However, using the law -- to be legally and technically precise -- to limit one party abusing another is misusing the law. At some point, considering there is a distinct pro-choice majority, it needs to be clarified to the members of congress -- even if they are personally pro-life -- that they need to support legislation that supports women's rights. Just as with the Teri Schiavo incident, a small minority of extremists should not be given greater voice. And they for sure shouldn't be empowered to block the entrances to abortion clinics just as they should be forbidden from shooting doctors, intimidate health care workers and whisper in the President's -- and in the Supreme Court's -- ears.
Baby steps. One day at a time.
Or seven, considering the week I've had.
And yes, I'll be back tomorrow. Until then...