September 20, 2010

The Obama Achievements Center

I know I ranted about this at length in my post, That “Change” is Working Out Great for Me, Thanks for Asking! but I wanted to drive it home a little more because memories fade so quickly and people forget exactly how far America has come in the few short months since Obama took office, and how quickly this American ship has managed to right itself and set a course for prosperity. Are we there yet? No. Is Obama perfect? Not at all – but has he accomplished a lot? Is he trying? Is he a hell of a lot better than who we had before – both in the White House and his cronies in Congress? Absolutely on all counts.

That’s why I’m really thrilled to point out the existence of the Obama Achievements Center, a great resource for people who want quick ammo to rebut the claims of history-rewriting conservatives who think that Obama hasn’t done anything, or at least hasn’t done anything good, and are basking in this kind of false reality where America has become a worse place since he took office. Quite the contrary, to fact. Here’s what the site’s builders have to say:

This site is the preview version of our new Obama Achievements Center. It’s a work in progress and a labor of love — for our country.
We’re building a crowd-sourced compilation of the achievements of the Obama administration, with documentation for each achievement linked to it. It
In today’s frenzied media zones, far too much time has been spent putting the spotlight on complaints while significant achievements are either ignored, not reported, or minimized.

The Achievements

Determined to change the media narrative to finally include the good works of this administration, a group of Twitter users got together under Shoq’s leadership and compiled a list of the achievements and promises of the Obama administration, with documented links to every item. It will be updated on an ongoing basis, as this President accumulates more successes and lasting reforms.
Defining what an achievement is in any administration, is itself an interesting issue. We decided that we would define it broadly to include executive orders,important legislation, and significant initiatives or outcomes of any kind, both foreign and domestic. We worked hard to screen out minor or subjective items whenever we had agreement on them. As anyone can see from this very impressive list, they weren’t needed.

Isn’t it beautiful? This is worth a bookmark, people, and includes everything I mentioned in my last post and then some. Best of all, it’s organized by topic and category, so if you have a favorite cause of topic, you can zoom right to it.

[ The Obama Achievements Center ]

March 15, 2010

Utah Governor Signs Controversial Law Charging Women and Girls With Murder for Miscarriages

If you want a beautiful example of why health reform is badly needed and why the well being of our fellow Americans should never ever be left to conservatives, this is a great example. When left unchecked, they’ll go around passing laws like this, without any concern for the people who’ll actually be affected by them – all in the name of so-called moral principle and superiority, when in reality what it boils down to is an almost obsessive need for the conservative base to own not only the halls of the state, but you as a peripheral of it – and then never let go.

When conservatives talk about Obamacare as “socialist” and “nazist” and “communist,” they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about (because if they bothered to look up the meanings of the words they use, they’d see that clearly) but it’s legislation like this that borders on “your body is property of the state” fascism – the same kind conservatives claim to be against, but would never lift their finger towards because they agree.

On Monday afternoon, a controversial Utah bill that charges pregnant women and girls with murder for having miscarriages caused by “intentional or knowing” acts, was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert.

Contrary to media reports last week, the “Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments” or HB12, which previously also applied to miscarriages caused by “reckless” acts, was never “withdrawn” by its sponsor, Republican Representative Carl Wimmer (who is crafting similar “model legislation” for other states). After the governor expressed concern over “possible unintended consequences,” of the legislation as written, Rep. Wimmer swiftly introduced a new version, titled “Criminal Homicide and Abortion Revisions” (HB462), which omitted the word “reckless.” Gov. Herbert signed the new bill and vetoed the old one.

Nevertheless, women’s and civil rights groups say the new, just-signed version of the bill is just as dangerous.

“We are still passing legislation which seeks to criminalize women for their actions,” Marina Lowe, legislative and policy counsel for the ACLU of Utah, told AlterNet. “The language is still problematic.”

In the end, this is another piece of legislation that’s making small inroads to criminalizing abortion by criminalizing very specific abortions and behaviors that lead to the end of a pregnancy that don’t result in a bouncy white baby. Planned Parenthood is completely correct here:

Planned Parenthood’s Melissa Bird says the same questions that so alarmed the bill’s earlier critics still apply to the rewritten version that was just signed into law.

“What happens to women who are in abusive relationships?” she asks. “What happens if a woman threatens to leave the abuser, falls down the stairs and loses the baby? What if the abuser beats the woman and causes a miscarriage? Could he turn her in? Who would the prosecutor believe? What happens if a drug addict who’s trying to get clean loses her baby? Will she be brought up on murder charges?”

Rep. Wimmer claims such women would not be prosecuted because they didn’t knowingly act to terminate their pregnancies. But Bird says that is not necessarily the point.

“Even if the prosecutor doesn’t take the case, nothing precludes a woman from being brought to the attention of law enforcement in the first place,” she said. “What we’re doing is driving women underground and preventing them from getting health care and prenatal care.”

To put this in human terms, had Rep. Wimmer’s bill been on the books last spring — and had the 17-year-old’s fetus not survived — she would have faced a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Rep. Wimmer says he’s OK with that because the teenager has to face the “consequences of her barbaric actions.”

“It’s pretty rare for a politician to openly support jail time for girls who have abortions, no matter how desperate they seem to be” a 40-something abortion provider who asked to remain anonymous, told AlterNet. “This is extreme. Mark my words. If they can get away with this, they will try to make abortion illegal in the state of Utah. People need to wake up.”

The fact that this provider didn’t want to give his or her name just proves the point that this brand of conservatives have already made inroads entirely too deep into our health communities. The fact that abortion providers have been bombed, shot, and otherwise killed because they dare provide reproductive health services to women who desperately need them in the form of something tested and proven and healthy and not just “go home and pray,” proves that the far religious-right has lost their concience and instead is focused entirely on making sure they can legislate morality for the rest of us.

[ Utah Governor Signs Controversial Law Charging Women and Girls With Murder for Miscarriages ]
Source: AlterNet

November 16, 2009

15 Awful Things Republicans Would Do If They Had the Chance

Remember just a year or so ago, when people were dancing in the streets because George W Bush wouldn’t be their president anymore? When people were so thrilled that the Republicans were out of office that they couldn’t help but celebrate the future?

Sure, some of that euphoria has worn off, and the honeymoon is definitely over with President Obama, but if you ask anyone if they’d rather go back to the civil-liberties-stealing, war-funding, fear-mongering, terrorists-blaming days of a government run and managed by the Republicans, most Americans would visibly shudder in fear. Why? Because even though things aren’t perfect today and there are serious hardships at hand, people still feel like today is a better day than yesterday.

But what if the Republicans were still in control? Let’s take a look at what kinds of “change” we probably would have to deal with if they were still in power. Here are some of my favorites from a roundup at Alternet:

3) Stubbornly deny the existence of ominous climate change while blithely pumping more pollutants into the environment from lucrative, dirty industries and practices. Although reputable scientists say 350 carbon parts per atmospheric million is the safe limit for sustained life on Earth, Republicans dismiss the frightening fact that we’re already at a carbon level of roughly 390 ppm.

4) Remove “restrictive” regulations on everything from investment banks and credit card companies to a broad array of “profit-eroding” consumer protections, leaving the American masses exposed to a host of resulting abuses and dangers.

5) Continue to criticize and insufficiently fund public education, advocating private schooling instead, thus entirely ignoring that progressive public systems are used in every country that has education outcomes superior to our own.

6) Outlaw abortion, under a fraudulently moral guise, compelling the US to bloodily join those benighted, backward nations where thousands of already-born, living, breathing, socially functioning females perish because of sexist denials of their basic reproductive rights.

7) Continue to recite a Pledge of Allegiance whose last six words are “with liberty and justice for all,” while remaining numbly oblivious to the harsh hypocrisy of preventing our homosexual citizens from marrying.

8 ) Speak often and loftily of freedom, but engage in secret wiretapping, repression of domestic dissent, neo-McCarthyite witch hunts, Red-baiting name calling, and a panoply of Patriot Act transgressions against the Constitution of the United States…all under the misused rubric of “national security.”

Those are some good ones, but here are some shiners:

14) Give full vent to the intensely bigoted hatred that has crazed extremists dreaming of literally tearing Barack Obama to pieces and gassing all liberals…if only they could.

15) Place the livelihoods and lives of over 300 million Americans in the hands of incompetent ideological “purists” such as Sarah Palin.

Yeah, that sums it up nicely.

[ 15 Awful Things Republicans Would Do If They Had the Chance ]
Source: Alternet

December 6, 2008

A New Sexual Agenda: 9 Ways to Halt the Right Wing Culture Wars and Bring Sanity to Sexual Policy

While I don’t think David Rosen’s suggestions would really halt the culture wars (if anything, it might anger the far-right more), I definitely think his suggestions are solid and we should move towards them as soon as possible. When the conservatives took control of the Congress and the White House, they made every attempt possible to criminalize sex and sexuality and punish anyone who dared speak openly about it; there’s a lot of work required to undo the damage.

From safeguarding Roe v. Wade to ending abstinence-only sex education and getting religion out of our classrooms for good, Rosen’s ideas would bring us up to speed to a real, solid, fact-and-evidence based sexual policy and bring some sanity to the way America deals with sex and sexuality. Maybe then the rest of the world (excluding super-religious states like those in the Middle East, of course) will stop laughing at us for being essentially a nation whose sexual policy is descended from the Puritans who fled from Europe because they couldn’t deal with anyone who differed from them.

[ A New Sexual Agenda: 9 Ways to Halt the Right Wing Culture Wars and Bring Sanity to Sexual Policy ]
Source: CounterPunch

October 12, 2008

The Straight-Talk Express Breaks Down on Birth Control

Sometimes I almost feel bad for the guy when he not only doesn’t remember his own voting record (must be all of that “experience”) but when he can’t come up with a comprehensive stand on a critical issue to women across the country:

Millions of Americans are more than aware of what John McCain is sadly not: the fact that most insurance companies in the country are more than happy to pay for Viagra for men, but refuse to cover birth control for women. It’s a long-standing outrage, and poor sleepy John doesn’t even seem to understand the question, much less know the answer.

The video is part of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s “Meet The Real McCain” campaign, which we’ve covered before not once, but twice.

NARAL has a petition going to get the issue of birth control into the third and final presidential debate, and I’d urge everyone to sign it; not because McCain is weak on the issue, but because the American people have the right to know where a candidate for the Presidency stands on the issue.

[ Meet The Real McCain: Where’s the Straight Talk on Birth Control, Senator? ]
Source: NARAL Pro-Choice America

March 12, 2008

The Real McCain

Speaking of John McCain’s “maverick” ruse, it’s about time to turn at least some attention towards the Republican nominee and all of the things he’s likely hoping to do as soon as he takes office.

For example, continue the erosion of reproductive rights and the basic freedom to decide when and how you’re planning to have children or raise a family. I’ve said multiple times that choice is not an “issue,” not a political bargaining chip, not a ploy, it’s matter of basic human rights. It’s about freedom, and it’s about liberty, and it’s about the people who are willing to erode those freedoms and rights because of their own moral doctrine without scientific or realistic basis in fact whatsoever. In the end, it’s about people who want to take your freedom and impose their own moral imperative and code on others – no better or worse than in fundamental Islamic countries where theocratic laws are the norm.

Beyond that, it’s about time we’re all absolutely clear on McCain’s stance. From NARAL Pro-Choice America:

The REAL McCain has:

* Voted anti-choice 125 out of 130 times in his congressional career;
* Consistently voted to restrict access to abortion care;
* Voted against measures to prevent unintended pregnancy;
* Voted for the global gag rule, which prohibits federally funded family-planning clinics from giving women full information about their reproductive-health options;
* Voted for and co-sponsored the Federal Abortion Ban; and
* Voted in favor of anti-choice Supreme Court Justices like Samuel Alito, John Roberts, and Clarence Thomas.

Sound about right to you? McCain has a history of supporting abstinence-only education even though study upon study shows that it’s ineffective, McCain has a history of supporting efforts to whittle away abortion rights, access to contraceptives, and even access to fair, honest information about their options for pregnant women.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire McCain for a lot of things, but his record on choice certainly isn’t one of them, and is certainly cause for attention. The fact that this hasn’t been more widely discussed is in itself an issue. NARAL is sponsoring a petition to get the word out about McCain’s anti-choice record. Link’s below.

[ Meet the Real McCain ]
Source: NARAL Pro-Choice America

April 19, 2007

Supreme Court Upholds Late Abortion Ban: Right-wing Judicial Activism Run Amok

I’m actually very amused by the turn of phrase against the Right of the term “judicial activism.” It’s a dirty term, polluted by conservative idealogues who were desperately seeking a way to describe even the smallest judicial ruling that they disagreed with. I almost take exception to using it in this situation; but in this case it’s not a matter of agreeing, or a matter of smallness – this issue is huge, and will have a chilling effect on not only women’s rights in America in the future, but also human rights around the world. America is often looked to as an example of human rights, and nations far less willing to allow their peoples the ability to control their own lives, their own destinies, and at heart- their own families, will follow in the footsteps of this decision in a sad and painful way.

By now we all know the Supreme Court’s decision, but the truly sad part is that the Court decided to abandon decades of precedence and prior ruling to uphold the ban, doing exactly what President Bush chose his nominees to do- sway the court of so-called “moral” issues that are critical energizing issues for the conservative base’s religious, evangelical, and socially fascist elements – those people who believe that the government has every right to tell American citizens not only what they can and cannot do with their bodies in a medical situation (a la Terri Schaivo), but those who believe that your body does and should belong to the State, that the government and the church should have every right to enforce and choose when, how, and with what method a woman or a family has a child but cares little about the future rearing of that child, and so on. These are the folks who truly believe that their misguided interpretation of religion, or in other cases their misguided interpretation of what powers a government should have (eg, you can tell me how or when to or not to have a child, but you can’t keep me from arming myself and shooting my neighbors) gives them just cause to impose their will on millions of Americans who are perfectly capable of directing their own lives. It’s saddening.

Even so, the Justices that begged and pleaded with the Senate before their confirmation hearings that they would not bring a political agenda to the court and won votes because of their convincing act have done exactly as they were tapped to do now that they’ve been allowed to make a crucial decision like this. Future women’s and human rights cases will stall and hesitate before coming to the Supreme Court for justice, just as planned, and this opens the door to future abortion bans and reproductive rights restrictions that the anti-choice crowd have been wringing their hands in glee to push through various state and the federal legislatures for years now.

Over at Alternet, there’s an excellent rundown of the turnabout that the most recently confirmed justices made in their attempts to highlight their multi-sided work before and through the confirmation hearings, but their gleeful demeanor at overturning previous legislation at their first real opportunity. As thrilled as the mainstream and progressive communities have been at some of the court’s rulings to date, this proves that all it takes is one incredibly contentious issue (and interestingly, one seat) to swing the court backwards from America’s great tradition of individual rights and freedoms.

[ Supreme Court Upholds Late Abortion Ban: Right-wing Judicial Activism Run Amok ]
Source: Alternet

February 19, 2007

Tell Wal-Mart to Sell Plan B to the Women Who Need It, Not Laugh at Them!

I’m going to let this piece of activism speak for itself. I was so incredibly horrified at the scenario that reading it alone made me want to pass the message along.

Last month, Tashina Byrd and her boyfriend tried to purchase the emergency contraceptive Plan B® at the Springfield, Ohio Wal-Mart after their condom broke. Instead, the pharmacist not only refused to provide Plan B® to them, but he laughed in their faces.

Please join NARAL Pro-Choice America in sending Wal-Mart President & CEO H. Lee Scott, Jr. a message urging him to improve company policy to require Wal-Mart pharmacies to fulfill requests for Plan B® without intimidation, humiliation, or delay.

Byrd’s exact experience?

The pharmacist laughed in our faces and told us, “We have it on hand, but there’s no one here who can dispense it.”

That’s horrifying. It’s bad enough when pharmacists believe they have the right to not do their jobs if they don’t feel like it, it’s almost worse when a pharmacist decides that they have the moral authority to make value judgments about the people who come to them for their prescriptions and medications. In all actuality, I would expect nothing else from Wal-Mart, the thought police of the retail world, but in many communities and cities around the country, Wal-Mart is most people’s only (and in other cases, only affordable) option for medication. If that’s going to be the case, they should observe the law, do their jobs, or fire their pharmacists and hire people willing to perform their duties.

[ Take Action: Don’t Let Wal-Mart Have The Last Laugh on Plan B ]
Source: NARAL Pro-Choice America

January 22, 2007

Blogging for Choice

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

Happy anniversary! It’s the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. And I particularly like the idea of Blogging for Choice, to show my support not just for a monumental legal decision that had far reaching effects and sparked a firestorm of discussion and debate over the past three decades, but also to answer the fundamental question that the Blogging for Choice site poses. So in that spirit, let’s get started.

This year’s topic is a simple one: tell us, and your readers, why you’re pro-choice.

This is simple: because I believe in the power of the individual to choose the direction of their own lives.

It’s actually much deeper than that, to be honest, but it starts there. I believe that no one, regardless of their religion, their personal belief system, their personal morality, or their personal decisions, whether those beliefs and choices happen to be pro-choice or anti-choice, have the right to tell anyone else what they can and can’t do with their own bodies, how they can and cannot lead their lives, when they can and cannot start and raise a family, and how they choose or do not choose to have sex or have children. I simply believe that abortion is a matter between a woman, her doctor, and potentially her mate or partner, and that’s where the conversation can and absolutely should end.

I believe that those people standing outside of medical clinics holding photoshopped placards of blender babies that apparently are supposed to make me sympathize but instead make me chuckle at the horrible post-processing work done on the images have an agenda, and that agenda has nothing to do with protecting life, or a “culture of life,” I believe it has nothing to do with proving that all life is sacred, and I believe that they have no one’s best interests at heart and no good intentions to bring to bear. They have a sense of self-righteous, indignant morality that they seek to impose on everyone else-women, children, men, everyone. They seek to control our lives and our bodies, and the matter of abortion is only a first step, and those who believe that this begins and ends with “life,” or begins and ends with “abortion” are either incredibly naive or allowing themselves to be played as pawns in a greater campaign by a vocal minority of evangelical, radical, and incredibly un-Christian religious crusaders and far-right conservative fascists. The question is, then, inevitably, what that campaign seeks to achieve, and the answer is clear: starting with abortion, these people seek to define, legalize, and enforce morality according to their own beliefs and forsaking all others and any sense of pluralism and compassionate civil society. These are the people who would have adulteresses stoned in public and homosexuals beaten, the same people speaking from the same pulpits who felt so strongly about the “horrific ungodliness” of interracial marriage that they would rather castrate and hang young Black men than even stand the possibility that he may have given a white woman a sideways glance. This isn’t about “defending life,” it’s about asserting morality and dominating power, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing at all noble.

I draw these relationships between all of these same people because their eventual goal is crystal clear: to shape and form society in the image of their own morality, their own misinterpreted religious ideas, and their own corrupted sense of right and wrong. There are no analogies between abortion and murder to be drawn here, only between choice and freedom and the oppressive lack thereof.

Why am I pro-choice? I believe in freedom. I believe in liberty, and I believe in the rights of the individual to steer the direction of their own lives, and that includes the basic human right to voluntary reproduction, not compulsory reproduction. Extending this right includes the right to available, affordable, and effective contraception, reproductive care, (which includes not just abortion, but pre-natal care for women who opt to have children-note the opt, and extended care for children who have been born, a group the anti-choice community seems to conspicuously ignore) and education.

There’s nothing more American than choice, than freedom, than liberty, than the power of the individual to chart the course of their own lives, to rise and fall under their own power. It’s the American dream that we all stumble towards and grasp for, advantaged or not, and that choice, that freedom, is that makes us who we are.

Now then. Who are these people who dare try to take our freedom away from us?

December 26, 2006

Contraception Saves Money and Marriages

Something that seems like common sense to the vast majority of us is unfathomable nonsense to the evangelical right-the notion that by being able to freely engage in sexual behavior-as consenting adults have the right to do and to agree to do, religion or no-but retain the basic human right to decide when and how to have a family and raise children, is something that empowers couples, saves them from financial ruin raising children that they may not be prepared to raise, and alleviating stress and friction in their relationships by giving them the freedom to love, be loved, and make love, while deciding when and how to raise a family.

… Another truth is that when the birth control revolution got underway, women waited to marry and start a family. In 1970, the average age of a new mother was 21 years old. By 2000, the average age was 28. Harvard researchers recently reported that legalization of contraception is directly linked to the spike in the number of women becoming more highly educated and entering the “career” professions. In 1970, 5 percent of all lawyers and judges were women; today there are six times that. In 1970, one in 10 physicians was female, today it’s one in three. Similar patterns are true for women architects, dentists, veterinarians, economists and women in most of the engineering fields.

Few women today would trade places with the typical 1950s woman and mother, the one fervently idealized by so-called “pro-family” groups. In the 1950s, women didn’t approach parity with men in education and, guess what, their housework time was constant — despite having new “time-saving” technologies. This was the era in which birth rates soared and doubled the time devoted to child care. And with women assigned to endless tasks of the home, men shouldered the full responsibility of supporting the family economically. One dire consequence was that one in four Americans in the mid-1950s lived in poverty. By the end of the 1950s, one in three American children lived in poverty.

Not surprisingly, researchers in the ’50s found that less than one in three married couples reported being happy or very happy with their relationship. Compare that to today, when 61 percent of married Americans report themselves to be “very happy” in their marriage. Part of the sour spouse problem of the ’50s was that many couples didn’t really want to be married to each other. Often, they were trapped into marriage by unintended pregnancy. With no sex-ed, no birth control, no legal abortion — the exact legislative agenda of today’s pro-life movement! — teen birth rates soared, reaching highs that have not been equaled since: there were twice as many teen mothers in the ’50s than today.

Sounds about right to me-the “good old days” apparently aren’t what they “used” to be.

[ Contraception Saves Money and Marriages ]
Source: AlterNet