Just to let everyone know, I am one of the lucky people in the midwestern U.S. who does not have power because of the ice storm, holed up where it is warm, but won’t be able to blog until things get back to normal.
A huge congratulations to Jane Roberts for this excellent interview in the New York Times. I met Jane, who co-founded 34 Million Friends of UNFPA, about a year and a half ago at the 3rd International Peace Conference in Dallas. We immediately bonded and realized that our work had much in common. It is a privilege to know her and to have her as a member of the Feminist Peace Network. Here is an excerpt from the interview, but you should definitely click the link and read it all:
Gender inequality is really at the base of population and environmental issues. In her Senate hearings to become Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stated: “Of particular concern to me is the plight of women and girls who comprise the majority of the world’s unhealthy, unschooled, unfed, and unpaid. I say: “When the world takes care of women, women take care of the world.”
Thank you Jane, for your wisdom and all of your hard work!
According to President Obama, we should put aside politics and pass his stimulus bill. Unfortunately his definition of politics also includes affordable birth control. The President has indicated that he will not stand up for the inclusion of funding for birth control coverage under Medicaid if that is what it takes to bring Republicans on board with his economic plan.
Republicans are up-in-arms over the family planning provision, calling it a wasteful giveaway that will not stimulate the economy. They claim it is an attempt by Democrats to push through their expansion of health care agenda — via an unrelated bill. Looking for an overwhelming victory out of the gates, Obama has tried to placate such GOPers by stripping provisions he would otherwise support — like bankruptcy reform, or in this case expanded health care coverage — to produce a bill Republicans will vote for en-masse.
Say what? Not even a week ago, women’s human rights advocates everywhere were seriously feeling the love for Obama’s swift rescission of the Global Gag rule. Sounds like the honeymoon is over. The truly perverse thing here is that funding birth control makes excellent economic sense. As Christina Page points out,
Yesterday, the Republicans, accompanied by a sadly uninformed media, led a frenzied bitch fest over the inclusion of a family planning provision in the Democrats’ stimulus package. That provision, a mere $200 million of a $825 billion stimulus package, which represents 1/4 of 1%, or 0.225%, of the overall budget, offered a safety net for Americans who need contraceptive coverage but ordinarily would be ineligible for that assistance.
And in another excellent piece from RH Reality Check, this from Cory Richards,
Assisting states with their Medicaid programs is a proven and effective strategy for stimulating the economy in times of economic distress. That’s why the stimulus package contains $87 billion to help states with Medicaid costs. One can only assume that Rep. Boehner’s singling out for criticism the Medicaid spending for contraception is politically motivated.
Not only is it politically motivated, it is highly ironic coming from a self-described fiscal conservative who repeatedly says the stimulus package should include spending that doesn’t increase the deficit. When the Congressional Budget Office assessed a virtually identical provision in 2007, it found that it would save the federal government $200 million over five years by helping women voluntarily avoid pregnancies that otherwise would result in Medicaid-funded births. An expansion such as the one permitted by the stimulus package could save Rep. Boehner’s state of Ohio $1.4 million in 2009 – money that could make a real difference in a hard-hit state that is struggling with significant budget shortfalls.
Finally, writing under the excellent headline, “Boehner Titilates to Tank Stimulus”, Amanda Marcotte writes,
For a group of people largely committed to opposing legal abortion, House Republicans seem to show surprising enthusiasm for keeping the abortion rate sky high.
(W)hile Republicans have latched onto a sexy way to get onto the talk shows to protest the bill, if it wasn’t family planning, it would just be something else.
Serious times like ours demand mature responses. So why on earth is Boehner acting like he’s 10 years old and he just found out what sex is? “Ew, this package has sex cooties all over it!” shouldn’t be the response of a congressman who wishes to be taken as anything but a major league clown.
And while for most of us it isn’t news that the sadly named John Boehner is a sexually repressed misogynist idiot, what I find far more disturbing, although not really surprising is that it would appear that Obama is just as limp when it comes to standing for what is truly, morally right. The government of this country can no longer afford to be run as if it were a political football. It is time that our politicians, starting with our President start doing things because they are the right thing to do, not because they are politically expedient.
Always so hard to pick among the many worthy contenders, but today we honor Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for,
“saying that deploying more troops on Italian streets following a series of rape cases would not guarantee the safety of the country’s women because “we would need as many soldiers as there are beautiful girls in Italy – which we will never manage”.”
Mr. Prime Minister, are you suggesting that women get raped because they are beautiful? Or that women you see as less attractive women don’t deserve to be safe from rape? And oh by the way, adding to your military presence is more likely to increase sexual violence against women than to decrease it. Just ask the women of Iraq, or Rwanda, or the the DRC.
We also want to give honorable mention to Tania Lundeen at Ty Inc. who, when asked why Ty was commodifying on the first daughters celebrity in the form of Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia dolls replied, “How can we resist?”
Um, unless you really think exploiting children is a good idea, it shouldn’t be all that hard. As Christine points out on Our Bodies Our Blog,
“Sadly, these dolls lack agency in their own world. Malia doesn’t even have her own camera.
Instead, they “come with a password to an online ‘virtual world’ where real girls can decorate their dolls’ room, change their clothes or go shopping,” reports the Chicago Sun Times.”
Definitely not the kind of capitalism anyone should believe in.
A huge congragulations to Code Pink for being named by The Nation as the Most Valuable Progressive Organization of the Bush-Cheney era, an honor much deserved. As their email announcement says,
Four years ago, CODEPINK founders spent inauguration night in a miserable jail call, charged with disorderly conduct for unfurling a “Stop the War” banner during the ceremony. This year, instead of handcuffs, we got front row seats–and hugs and kisses from the crowd as we unfurled peace banners, danced the can-can while singing “Yes we can-can end war” and handed out thousands of pink ribbons calling on President Obama to keep his peace promises.
As The Washington Times noted, “You know things have changed in Washington when CODEPINK gets seats up front at the inauguration.” You know things have changed when Army Chief of Staff General Casey enthusiastically let us tie a Promises for Peace ribbon on his wrist and pledged to join us in working for peace.
Wow, a girl could get used to that! As Code Pink points out however, President Obama made a number of promises regarding peace issues during the campaign, including:
- End the war in Iraq
- Shut Down Guantánamo
- Reject the Military Commissions Act
- Stop Torture
- Work to eliminate nuclear weapons
- Hold direct, unconditional talks with Iran.
- Abide by Senate approved international treaties.
We join Code Pink in stressing the importance of making sure that President Obama follows through.