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It’s That Time Again…

Come warm your toes ’round the fire coming off this week’s  “THE LION’S SHARE” with Sherri Tags, and then c’mon back here for some after-show chat.  You’ll be glad you did!  COMMENTS WILL OPEN AT 11:00PM EST.  STICK WITH BOOMER’S OPEN POST UNTIL THEN!

Feminists do not horse-trade women’s rights to care for their bodies for Republican votes

(cross-posted at Heidi Li’s Potpourri)

A week or so into our new Presidential administration, and the strange sensation of living in a universe that only partially intersects that of many people I would formerly have have considered obvious political allies continues. Starting yesterday and on through today I began receiving messages from blogger friends and then from NOW-NY and then Planned Parenthood, that something very strange seemed to be happening with the economic stimulus bill. Apparently President Obama (who neither NOW nor Planned Parenthood can bring themselves to name as part of the problem, although Planned Parenthood does suggest calling the White House (see additional Conflucian posts here and here)) and Congressional Democrats are willing to curry votes from Republicans on the Hill by cutting the Medicaid Family Planning State Option from the stimulus package the Congress is hoping to have ready for presidential signing by mid-Februrary. The Medicaid Family Planning State option is a provision that would provide health care coverage for 2.3 million low-income women, according to Planned Parenthood, by “allow[ing] states to expand their Medicaid family planning services, including cancer screenings and other preventive care, to more women in need, without having to go through the burdensome Medicaid waiver process.” Or as the National Women’s Law Center puts it, “In a disappointing move, the economic recovery package will not include a provision to make it easier for states to make family planning services more accessible and affordable to the millions of women and families who depend on them. The Medicaid Family Planning State Option would have allowed states to expand Medicaid eligibility for family planning services without having to obtain a federal waiver.”  Meanwhile, when I went to look at the January 28 New York Times print edition to for details, I found no mention of this ditching of the Family Planning option until deep into one of the three stories on the stimulus package, mentioned in passing in a vague paragraph on page A16 of the Washington print edition of the Times:

As the House version of the legislation came to the floor on Tuesday, Democrats stripped from it a provision that Republicans had ridiculedas having nothing to do with economic stimulus, one expanding federal Medicaid coverage of family planning services. (The Congressional Budget Office had estimated that the provision would actually save the government $200 million over five years by reducing pregnancy and postnatal-care expenses.)

Then, as I sat down to compose my thoughts about this latest bit of chicanery over women’s bodies, things turned a bit more surreal. Apparently, despite its reported spike in subscriptions, Ms. Magazine has enough leftover editions of its inaugural issue – you know, the one with this patently ridiculous cover, to just today be offering me more “one more chance” to own the cover in poster size.


Please note: no way in hell does a feminist look like a person who is willing to horse-trade funds for family planning benefits under Medicaid to placate Republicans, who will do anything to beat back money for family planning which they are trying as quickly as possible to turn into an epithet. Family planning is a good idea. So is birth control in most people’s lives. So, in some cases, is access to safe and legal abortion. Family planning, birth control, access to safe and legal abortions: these are not dirty words. They are real world, practical options – options needed, at least as options, by all women if they are to be truly autonomous actors in our society; and therefore options that must be as available to those whose health insurance is provided by the government as to those whose insurance is provided by private insurers.

Here’s a little trick used by many who teach property law across the country. Most first year law students arrive in their Property Law courses with two visions of what property is: either the stuff they just put away in their dorm rooms or a field in the country somewhere. So we law professors often start by telling them that no,that isn’t property at all. What property really is, is the set of entitlements and rights any particular person or the state has to control or use the stuff they just put their dorm rooms or the field in the country. In other words, property is a bundle of say-so’s over what happens to the bits and pieces in the world. Continue reading

Obama Caves – Women’s Groups Shift Focus

So I was alerted to the Planned Parenthood and NY NOW statement regarding their worries and position on the Family Planning Provisions being stripped from the Stimulus Package.  I thought it was good that they were speaking out against it, but when I read the actual statement there was a glaring omission, see if you can figure it out.

Here is Planned Parenthoods response:

Dear *****,

I’m stunned. We’ve just confirmed news reports that provisions to expand access to affordable family planning will be stripped from the economic stimulus bill. Removing this provision is a betrayal of millions of low-income women, and it will place an even greater burden on state budgets that are already strained to the breaking point.

We need you to take action now by calling the White House and voicing your support for the Medicaid Family Planning State Option.
Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 to speak out now — click here for more details on what to say, and to let us know you called.
I was frustrated when I saw a parade of legislators and talking heads on television this weekend spreading false information about this commonsense bill. House Minority Leader John Boehner even claimed that the provision would cost millions of dollars — when the fact is it would save the federal government $700 million over 10 years.

I was even more shocked to read today that congressional leaders have taken these false arguments seriously and will remove family planning provisions from the stimulus bill. It’s time for Washington to hear from the millions of Americans who support commonsense policies that invest in health care and help ease the economic downturn.

Call the White House at 202-456-1111 — it’s a quick and easy way to make a big impact. Click here for more details on what to say, and to report back to Planned Parenthood on your call. (A phone call is the best way to make your voice heard, but if you can’t make the call, you can send an email here.)

Let me be clear. The Medicaid Family Planning State Option is a simple way to make health care affordable for millions of Americans. It would do two important things:
It would allow millions of women to obtain basic health care. It would extend safety-net health care coverage for millions who are losing their jobs and health insurance in the economic downturn. Studies estimate that 2.3 million low-income women would receive coverage under this provision by 2014, and 500,000 women would be able to avoid unintended pregnancies.

In these difficult times, this provision would save states money. State budgets are being squeezed by the economic downturn, just as millions are losing their jobs and health insurance. The Medicaid Family Planning State Option not only would help states extend their coverage, it would generate savings for states and the federal government by expanding access to preventive care.

Please, take two minutes now to help us raise a public outcry. Click here for details you can use on your call, and to let us know you spoke out.

Thank you so much for speaking out, and please stay tuned for more details on this critical issue.


Cecile Richards, President
Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Here is NY NOW’s response:

NOW-NYS Decries Dropping Life-saving Family Planning provisions from Stimulus-Package

The Obama Economic Stimulus Package that Congress hopes to pass includes providing the states with Medicaid matching funds to cover such conditions as diabetes, heart surgery and ongoing health maintenance like asthma medication. Until today, the Package also included funds to help poor women afford family planning.

Although many conservatives say they firmly support family planning, this is certainly not the case in today’s Congress. House Republican leaders ridiculed the stimulus package for including family planning and now, in the name of “bipartisan compromise’ the President and Congressional Democratic leaders would rather switch than fight for poor women’s reproductive health.

Despite the fact that safe birth control is used by – and considered acceptable to – most Americans, and in spite of the fact that the prevailing majority attitude is that it is irresponsible to have sex without contraception unless pregnancy is intended, conservative Republicans have now prevailed, pressuring President Obama and the Congress to remove contraceptive funding from the Stimulus Package. NY NOW, proud to be “partisan” for ALL women, does not consider this some gesture of common ground but rather a cave in to the bombastic and untruthful statements of the anti-women Republican House leaders.

Meanwhile, because it is generally acknowledged worldwide that family planning has a positive effect on family health and economic development, President Obama is restoring UNPFA (International Family Planning funds), and has lifted the Bush Administration’s Global Gag Rule that banned US funds to organizations who even counseled about abortion. We of NOW-New York State say it is beyond hypocrisy to restore international family planning funds while eliminating such monies for poor women in the United States.

Our Congress is prepared to roll over and abandon women’s reproductive health even when women’s lives are literally hanging in the balance. Surely this is not the time for our allies to sit back, taking the expedient route of eliminating “contentious” women’s issues from the discussion. Are we only pretending we have a government friendly to women. Indeed, in spite of promises to the contrary, women’s bodies are being held hostage once again.

Marcia A. Pappas, PresidentNational Organization for Women-NYS1500 Central AvenueAlbany, NY 12205
Phone: 518-452-3944
Fax: 518-452-3861
Presidents Email: NewYorkStateNOW@aol.comGeneral
Email: Info@nownys.orgwww.nownys.org

Is it obvious to anyone else??? Not one mention of Barack Obama and his willingness to throw this provision under the bus. Until Women’s Groups who assume to speak for women begin to hold the correct party responsible, we will not achieve one dang thing.

Democrats hold majorities in both houses and the executive branch. There was no reason to strip this from the stimulus plan.

HOLD the person who made this concession accountable – THE PRESIDENT – BARACK OBAMA. Then women may become more engaged in the efforts of these women’s groups.

Wednesday: The NYTimes grinds its ax on Gillibrand

Does she know the man in the middle is a wetback from Britain??

Does she know the man in the middle is a wetback from Britain??

They are just not going to get over it.  Caroline Kennedy was their girl.  The great heaving mass of aging Baby Boomers besotted with Camelot is going to hurl its ire at New York’s interim senator until she goes away, just like they did to Hillary Clinton.  For all we know, Hillary’s ability to snag the Secretary of State position is driving them to these extremes.   She eluded their grasp. It now appears that the Times doesn’t really care if a Democrat keeps the senate seat just as long as it isn’t Gillibrand.  After all, the NYTimes did not give her their blessing.  Therefore, it will pursue a mean spirited and destructive personal vendetta against Gillibrand until she yields or is defeated.  Die!, you evil upstate wench!

Today, Gillibrand is being racked for being an anti-immigrant crusader:

Ms. Gillibrand, a Democrat, opposed any sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants, supported deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws, spoke out against Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to allow illegal immigrants to have driver’s licenses and sought to make English the official language of the United States.

Still, Ms. Gillibrand has not backed down from her long-standing opposition to “amnesty” for illegal immigrants, which has left some immigrant advocates wondering whether she would support any law that would establish a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

In Washington on Tuesday, the new senator elaborated, saying, “I don’t support amnesty because I don’t think it will work.” She added that the amnesty bill was “fatally flawed.”

She said, for example, that “the guest worker program all but guaranteed illegal immigration.” But she suggested one alternative might be to allow consecutive five-year work visas, with the ability to apply for permanent residency at the end.

Ms. Gillibrand also said that she would support finding ways to speed up the reunification of immigrant families; some of them can wait as long as eight years.

“They should get rid of the backlog,” she told reporters in the Russell Senate Office Building.

Damn!  I happen to agree with her on the guest worker program.  It always seemed to me like a backdoor way of creating a permanent underclass of cheap labor with no rights.  I suppose my position “borders on xenophobia” as well.  I could be wrong about this but as conservative as she seems on immigration, it appears that some of her positions are being deliberately taken out of context.  For example, when she says she wants to increase funding for enforcement of immigration laws, does she mean she wants more ICE squads rounding up factories full of Mexican chicken pluckers or does she mean she wants the chicken plucker factory owners trembling with fear whenever they attempt to hire an illegal?  The article is vague on this point, perhaps deliberately so.  Oh, and she wants to speed up reunification efforts.  Well, that seems positively heartless.   Maybe she is secretly hoping to deport her own husband as well.  Those Brits will do just about ANYTHING to stay in the states including marrying an up and coming politician. Logical consistency is not necessary.  They’ll throw everything and see what sticks.

She represented a conservative district.  She had some pretty unpleasant conservative positions.  But she’s also a fierce defender of unions and new deal programs.  She has a couple of years to make a transformation from being the rep from a beautiful but rural section of New York to being a senator who represents the vast majority of New Yorkers who are progressive.

But all of that is beside the point.  The Times is out to get her.  They are going to smear her within an inch of her life on everything she says or does.  All voters are equal but some voters, with access to large amounts of ink, paper and bandwidth, are more equal than others.  The NYTimes is now slapped with junk bond status, the result of Pinch Sultzberger’s cludgy and stupid management decisions.  He retained Judy Miller, who had to have been cooperating with the Bush war machine.  He charged subscription fees for the Op/Ed columnists, who are virtually worthless in a burgeoning blogosphere, while giving away his most valuable commodity, the news.  Then he allowed his paper to be turned into an Obamarama special for nearly a year.  Didn’t anyone stop and think that these decisions might end up alienating a good hunk of the target audience?  Lately, even the news has taken on a nasty negative tone.  Can’t they just report and save the editorializing for the Op/Ed pages?  Or are the years of practice in propaganda just too hard to shake so that it has to creep into every bloody article?  The only thing worth reading anymore at the Times is Krugman and occasionally Kristoff.  Everyone else needs to take Obama’s advice and “change!”  Pretty soon the only thing the paper will be good for is kindling.

Going after Gillibrand is just going to drive more readers away.  Give it up already.

For those of you who want to even the score, Gillibrand is now accepting donations for her Senate run.

California Dreamin’ Open Thread

For those of you back east wondering what happened to global warming.