Archive for March, 2011

Our History is Our Strength

Brownie Troop 3263

As March comes to a close, so too does Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Our History is Our Strength.” It’s hard to imagine a time when women did not have the right to vote. When Millicent Fenwick was born in 1910, women did not have that fundamental right. But by the time Fenwick was old enough to vote she could thanks to trailblazers like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul.

In 1974, when Fenwick was first elected to Congress, she was 1 of just 18 women in the House of Representatives. There were no women in the Senate. Yet despite this, 1974 was dubbed “The Year of the Breakthrough for Women” by the chair of the National Women’s Political Caucus because more women ran for office that year than ever before.

By contrast, there are now 88 women in Congress – 71 in the House of Representatives and 17 in the Senate. While this represents great strides in the years since Fenwick was in Congress, the 112th Congress represents a slight decrease – two less seats held by women. In that same span of time we’ve seen a woman become Speaker of the House, become the vice presidential candidate on both tickets (the Democrats had Geraldine Ferraro and the Republicans had Sarah Palin), and, of course, there was Hillary Clinton’s recent bid for the presidency. All of these women have helped pave the path for future generations and it’s knowing this history that is our strength.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, may the girls of today look towards public service tomorrow. Go Brownie Troop 3263!

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The Cell

Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. That was the theme of The Cell (The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab), a new Denver Museum dedicated to understanding the threat of terrorism. It’s a thought provoking exhibit that reminds people that terrorism isn’t something that started September 11. The exhibit includes footage of terrorist attacks, recent examples of cases such as a Colorado shuttle driver, Najibullah Zazi, who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges related to a subway plot, and quotes from subject matter experts and political leaders on issues related to terrorism, with one quote dating back to a speech President Kennedy delivered about terrorism.

And, of course, what do I think of, but September 11, 1979. For it was on that day that Millicent Fenwick introduced an antiterrorism amendment to the Export Administrations Act. The irony of the date is hard to forget. The original intention was to close a loophole that allowed countries such as Libya and Syria to purchase civilian equipment that could be used for military purposes. Among the triggers for the legislation was the Department of Commerce’s approval of a license to sell trucks to Libya. Although the trucks in question were not armored, there was concern. Those same trucks, with armor, were used by the United States and Canada as a military tank transporter.

The legislation became law when President Carter signed it on September 29, 1979. One of the first sales impacted by the new law was of gas turbine engines to Iraq intended for missile warships. Those same ships could have been used against the U.S. during the Gulf War. The law itself applies to export licenses to “such countries [that have] repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” Who could have imagined more than thirty years ago that this legislation would still be a valuable resource in the fight against terrorism.

Gridiron Reprise

I’m filled with Glee thanks to the Gridiron Reprise. On Saturday, President Obama got to see it and last night yours truly did. The show opened with a parody of politicians straight from Glee. The journalists sang tunes to Don’t Stop Believing and Living on a Prayer. Cheerleaders wore an R (for either Republicans or Rutgers) and D (for Democrats or Dartmouth, or, was that Duke?). Clearly, I wasn’t a cheerleader.

Among the journalists performing were Bob Schieffer, David Corn, Candy Crowley, Mark Shields and David Purdum. The evening also featured the first husband and wife to serve as presidents of the Gridiron. This year it was Susan Page and a few years back it was her husband, Carl Leubsorf. “I’m convinced the only reason why, I was president first is because I’m older”, said Leubsdorf.

Another skit featured a stage full of 2012 GOP presidential contenders including a Guiliani dressed in drag, a waving Pailn, and Mitch Daniels as himself (an earlier skit had him zooming on stage riding a motorcycle). The whole evening had me roaring and remembering why I love this city.

My only disappointment was leaving early to catch a plane just as Mark Shields was recapping Obama’s best lines from the night before. Next year, no leaving early for me!

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And, what is the Fenwick connection you ask? The New Jersey State Society, of course. They offered tickets to their members for the special Sunday night reprise. I joined NJSS thanks to Fenwick, and my Jersey roots. So glad!

p.s. The biographer in me feels compelled to note that I’m in Denver so it’s still Monday here, but it’s already Tuesday on the east coast, so technically it was two nights ago.

Millicent Fenwick

After doing some recent guest blogs I decided it was time to start my own and what better way to do so than with a picture of this blog’s namesake, Millicent Fenwick. She was always stirring up trouble in Congress and in the comics. Fenwick was the real life inspiration behind Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury character, Lacey Davenport. Like Fenwick, Lacey was “As indispensable as sensible shoes.”

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