Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October Surprise?

Believe it or not, there really is other news besides the collapse of the American economy circulating on the Internet and the blogosphere.

Well, maybe not news yet, but certainly good juicy rumors. And they all concern the Republican's anticipated October Surprise.

Have you thought about what it would be? Did you think maybe it would be bomb, bomb, bomb - bomb Iran? Or maybe the capture of Osama bin Laden? Maybe the removal of Sarah Palin from the ticket?

Nope - none of those (at least not yet!).

The October Surprise is probably going to be THE WEDDING.

Yep the long-anticipated joining together in holy matrimony of Bristol Palin and her "ice-hockey-playing fiancé" sometime before the Nov. 4th election.

Or so Sarah Baxter, the Washington correspondent of the Times of London speculates in her recent column.

"Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.” There is already some urgency to the wedding as Bristol, who is six months pregnant, may not want to walk down the aisle too close to her date of delivery. She turns 18 on October 18, a respectable age for a bride..."

New York magazine's Daily Intel column also picked up on the Baxter story.

I am so sure that this will be reality that I would bet my stock portfolio on it - that is if I had anything left in my stock portfolio. I don't believe any person or party is as ready to initiate such a self-serving publicity stunt as the McCain/Palin team.

When substance fails go for for the People Magazine cover.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Many thanks to Cara!

Just a short note to send a big thanks to Cara Kulwicki for guest blogging here for the past 2 weeks.

Now you know why lots of people read her posts on both The Curvature and Feministe.

Thanks Cara!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How Much Time Should She Do?

The How Much Time Should She Do? campaign is being run by NARAL Pro-Choice to highlight the extremist positions of John McCain and Sarah Palin by asking them: if you think that Roe vs. Wade should be over turned, how much time should a woman who has an illegal abortion serve in jail? After all, in many states abortion would become illegal automatically if Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned, and many others would move to outlaw the procedure very quickly after such a ruling.

The McCain campaign has responded by saying that it's preposterous to suggest that McCain wants to send women who have abortions to jail. But that leaves a pretty big question: why not? If a woman were to have an illegal abortion, she would be breaking the law. And the reason anti-choicers claim for wanting to outlaw abortion is that they believe it's "murder." Don't murderers go to jail?

What this campaign does is expose the truth behind anti-choice rhetoric. It's easier to be opposed to abortion personally and therefore want to legislate your views before thinking about the consequences. Some have argued that this campaign only heightens the rhetoric from anti-choicers, forcing them to propose a prison sentence, and is therefore dangerous. But personally, I have to ask -- what is wrong with anti-choicers heightening their rhetoric? Doesn't that only benefit us, by making the pro-choice side look far more reasonable -- which of course it is? I certainly think so. Many people want to "stop" abortion, without of course realizing that outlawing abortion doesn't stop it. A lot fewer people want to actually treat women like criminals, including particularly ardent anti-choicers:

One thing this video shows, in addition to the illogical nature of anti-choice arguments, is how very little those who oppose abortion actually think about the women who have them. How could one campaign to make abortion illegal for so long, without ever having thought about what might happen to women as a result? I'll let you draw your own conclusions there.

The How Much Time Should She Do? campaign does a few things:

1. It points out the extremism of the anti-choice view, including those held by public officials running for high offices.

2. It causes the viewer to think about the real consequences of outlawing abortion.

3. It brings the focus back to women, their health, and their well-being.

And I'd say there's a whole lot to like about that. We're never going to win the support of the most vehement abortion opponents. But the fight is for the hearts and minds of those whose views fall somewhere in between ours and theirs. Many people who oppose abortion do so because they're simply trying to do the right thing. I think it's about time we reframe what "the right thing" is, in a way that people who are uncomfortable with abortion can relate to.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Protect Women's Health -- Send Your Comments to HHS

Last month, the Bush Administration proposed a dangerous new Department of Health and Human Services rule, which would jeopardize the health of women across the nation. In a NY Times op-ed, Senator Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards explain:

It would require that any health care entity that receives federal financing — whether it’s a physician in private practice, a hospital or a state government — certify in writing that none of its employees are required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable.

Laws that have been on the books for some 30 years already allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions. The new rule would go further, ensuring that all employees and volunteers for health care entities can refuse to aid in providing any treatment they object to, which could include not only abortion and sterilization but also contraception.

Health and Human Services estimates that the rule, which would affect nearly 600,000 hospitals, clinics and other health care providers, would cost $44.5 million a year to administer. Astonishingly, the department does not even address the real cost to patients who might be refused access to these critical services. Women patients, who look to their health care providers as an unbiased source of medical information, might not even know they were being deprived of advice about their options or denied access to care.

The definition of abortion in the proposed rule is left open to interpretation. An earlier draft included a medically inaccurate definition that included commonly prescribed forms of contraception like birth control pills, IUD’s and emergency contraception. That language has been removed, but because the current version includes no definition at all, individual health care providers could decide on their own that birth control is the same as abortion.

If you read the news, you probably know that many Americans are facing difficult economic times. Millions are uninsured, and even more are under-insured. More and more, people are relying on low-cost health care from providers that receive government funding. And yet, the Bush administration is working to make it more difficult for low-income women to receive necessary medical care? Remember that women might not even know they're not receiving full information -- people tend to trust their doctors, and under this rule doctors would not have to inform patients of options they don't agree with.

You can help by writing Health and Human Services today. The rule has a 30 day comment period from the public before a decision is made about whether or not to instate it. But time is running out -- the deadline is September 25. You have only a couple of days to make your voice heard. Send your letter today, and urgently pass along the message to all of your friends and family!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reading The Fine Print

Hey everyone, this is Cara -- thanks for having me, I'm happy to be here.

I wanted to kick things off with this excellent video which I received today from the folks at South Dakota Healthy Families. SD Healthy Families is an advocacy group that was created to fight the abortion ban on this year's ballot. If you're getting deja vu, it's because anti-choicers in South Dakota tried to pass an abortion ban through a ballot initiative in 2006 -- they were thankfully defeated, but now the measure is back, this time with phony "exceptions" that do nothing to protect women.

Make no mistake: this ballot initiative would not only take away the right to choose if it were passed, it would also put the most vulnerable women in the greatest danger. Additionally, the measure contradicts Roe vs. Wade and is a direct challenge to the landmark court ruling that ensures abortion is legal throughout the United States. If Measure 11 is passed, it would embolden other states to try passing similar laws -- all of which could eventually end in Roe vs. Wade being overturned.

None of us want any of that to happen -- and so what's happening in South Dakota affects all of us. You can learn more about the ballot initiative and find ways to get involved through SD Healthy Families.

Friday, September 12, 2008

While I'm Away....Meet Cara Kulwicki

While I'm away for the next couple of weeks, I'm pleased to announce that Cara Kulwicki will be "guest" blogging here.

Cara is a feminist writer who blogs regularly at both The Curvature and Feministe. She is also a long-term volunteer with Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region, and writes for their blog Sex.Justice.Change.

Give Cara a warm welcome.

And me? I'll be here, and here and here and here.

See ya on Sept 29th.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Birth Control Week

Bush Administration Continues to Block Affordable Birth Control

It is that time of year again, the time of year when students start heading back to college to continue their education. On top of the rising cost of tuition, books, food and housing, college students across the country are finding out that they can add one more increased expense to that list, the skyrocketing cost of birth control. For months college women across the country have been drawing attention to this problem, but when they return to campus they will find that the Bush administration has blocked the fix at every turn. College women can expect to pay up to $50 a month for birth control at their college health clinic, when they had been used to paying $5–$10 a month.

This is a recent development. For more than 20 years, Congress has encouraged drug companies to offer discounted birth control to certain health care providers including college health clinics and other safety-net providers. Because these health care providers were able to buy birth control at a discounted rate, they were able to pass those savings along to college students and low-income patients.

Then, in 2005, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act, which tightened regulations about who was eligible for nominally priced drugs. In doing so, Congress inadvertently cut off college health centers and other safety-net providers from obtaining birth control at a low cost. As a result, since 2007, birth control prices have skyrocketed.

The good news is that this is something that can be easily fixed. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have introduced legislation, the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, that would restore affordable birth control at college health clinics and safety-net providers and increase access to affordable birth control. This legislation, introduce by Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), will not cost the taxpayers a single dime and has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

Birth control is basic health care. Affordable birth control is smart public health policy and politicians should not interfere with women’s access to affordable birth control. We should be making it easier for women to obtain affordable birth control and take control of their lives, not more difficult. Contraceptive use reduces the likelihood of unintended pregnancies and allows women the opportunity to plan healthy families.

Women’s health matters. Before leaving office, the Bush administration needs to stop playing politics with women’s health and work with Congress to fix this problem or the consequences will continue to be devastating for college students and low-income women across the country.

Write your elected official today demanding that sanity return to birth control pricing.

The graphic at the top is Planned Parenthood of New York City's newly launched birth control campaign in Brooklyn. The "wallscape" is located at Flatbush and Fulton at the entrance to Fulton Mall. Click on the picture for a bigger image.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hurricane Sarah

I canceled my trip down to South Jersey tomorrow to see my son and his family because our local weather prognosticators are predicting torrential rains and heavy winds. Evidently Hurricane Hanna is about to pay a visit to the East Coast tonight and tomorrow.

So it got me thinking about how hurricanes seem to be visited upon us much more frequently these days. In rapid succession there was Hurricane Gustav, then Hurricane Hanna and now Hurricane Sarah - the so-called (hockey) mother of all hurricanes.

To the lay person hurricanes seem to be formed in total secrecy, gather power as they consolidate their blowing winds and hot air, and then appear as if out of the blue to cause damage wherever they land.

Hurricane Sarah is like that. A minor depression just weeks ago, Sarah has now become a storm and appears ready to take on the role of a full-blown hurricane.

But unlike Gustav and Hanna - hurricanes which people can only prepare for, not stop - Hurricane Sarah is preventable.

How you ask?

By telling everyone you know, including daughters and mothers, husbands and wives, sons and fathers, lovers and partners, that Hurricane Sarah when coupled with Tropical Depression John, will wreak havoc on their personal lives and the lives of the people they love.

Don't wait. Act now. The storm clouds are building. Don't let this disaster hit our shores.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back to School

This time of year fills me with conflicting emotions - feelings of both melancholy and excitement.

Melancholy because
the end of Summer is the end of carefree times with friends and family. The end of watching my granddaughters frolic in the swimming pool. The end of watching my dogs run for hours in the park. The end of dining outdoors at my favorite cafe. And to top it all off, it gets darker earlier.

But I'm filled with excitement at this time of year also. The same kind of excitement I felt as a young man preparing to return to school. Who will I meet? What will I discover anew? What will I learn that will help me grow? What challenges lie ahead? What victories can we achieve?

A lot of people call this time of year "Back to School."

"Back to School" marks a time of sober thoughtfulness as we look toward the immediate future.

And our immediate future is filled with both uncertainty and promise.

The presidential election in November is one of the most important we have faced in years. The U.S. is dealing with international conflicts and war on multiple fronts, and with disasters, both natural and man-made, at home. National pride and confidence are at an all-time low. We simply cannot afford a continuation of the failed policies of the last 8 years.

Yet the promise of a new beginning is in the air.
And if we go "Back to School" to learn new skills we can assure that the promise of a new beginning will be fulfilled.

We must learn how to urge people to vote for their own best interests. We must learn how to educate people about what is at stake for women. About what is at stake for reproductive health and rights, for equal pay for equal work, for access to health care and education and for affordable housing and good jobs.

At the New York State level we must learn how to educate people about the need to pass the
Reproductive Health Act which will guarantee a woman the right to make her own decision about when or whether to become a parent. We must learn how to educate people about the importance of turning the New York State Senate into a pro-choice body. And, we must learn how to educate people about the need to re-envision the Healthy Teen Act and finally get our kids real sex education that will positively impact their lives.

So let's recommit ourselves to learning and to teaching as best we know how.

Let's give ourselves, our kids and our grand kids a new beginning.