Stupak-Stupid in (Women’s) Suffrage Month

Dear Readers,

Why oh why is this happening? Here’s the latest scoop, from my perspective.

At the links above, you’ll see my commentary on the President’s recent policymaking on the matter of access to abortion. These posts of mine elicited hundreds of comments on The Huffington Post, a symptom, I imagine, of interest in the topic.

As most of you know, I’ve not been a happy camper on this front.

Well, now, not even the President’s strongest allies at the national pro-choice women’s organizations are happy, either. They seem almost as distressed as I. They have submitted letters, called for reconsideration, and, I imagine, have had private meetings. [To no avail, so far.]

So, why, oh why, is this happening? Why is the President taking this course?

I can only conclude that the President is, in this instance, as he says he always does, making policy according to his own lights. In this instance, however, he damns the fact that pro-choice women elected him.

Well, the problem is that this latest approach of his just won’t work. Further, it seems a bad decision, if his goal is advancing women’s overall good health and preventive healthcare.

Whatever the reason for the President’s decision, it’s really, really important for each of us to let the President know our view. You can do that here: “White House dot gov.” This makes a lot of sense to me in this week when we celebrate women’s suffrage.

Sincerely,

Rebecca

Abort the Executive Order

Dear Readers,

Here are my thoughts about the Executive Order the President signed yesterday, in the presence of Bart Stupak and his anti-choice cronies. I have to say this really, really doesn’t feel good.

Go to this link for the post at RH Reality Check: www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2010/03/25/abort-executive-order

Sincerely,

Rebecca

www.rebeccasive.com/blogSubscribe/htm





Wreckonciliation or Reconciliation?

Dear Readers,

“Americans who support abortion rights need to make their voices heard.”

That’s according to today’s New York Times. [See here: http://wwwnytimes.com/2010/03/10/opinion/10wed2.html?ref=opinion.]

As it happens, I spoke-out earlier this week, on Monday, International Women’s Day.

My goal was to prod people, (no surprise there!), on this auspicious day.

Below is the link to that blogpost of mine, “Wreckonciliation,” at RH Reality Check.

The post also appeared in Huffington Post Politics and Huffington Post Chicago and was picked-up by Daily Kos and Medical News Today, among others.

I’m confident you, too, will strike a chord when you speak-up.

Here is the link to “Wreckonciliation”:
http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2010/03/08/wreckonciliation

Last, as if further proof were needed that it’s now or never, last night on Rachel Maddow, Congresswoman Diane DeGette, the Co-Chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said: “History has shown that if we pass a resolution restricting women’s right to choose, we never get it back.” [See here: http://www.rhreality.org/]

Time to make our voices heard, indeed.

Rebecca

www.rebeccasive.com/blogSubscribe.htm

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“Wreckonciliation”

On International Women’s Day, I imagined the White House full of cooing, hugging women, celebrating the wonder of the world’s and America’s women, and I had to ask: where’s the wonder?

To coin a cliché: Where’s the beef?

Here’s my beef: We, the women of America, are being told by those on-high, starting with those who might have been at the White House on International Women’s Day, including Nancy Pelosi–the most important woman in America right about now–that American women’s most fundamental right, our right to control our reproductive destiny, should be of no consequence in the effort to reform healthcare.

Yup, that’s the bottom line for the Speaker, the bottom line she reached Thursday, near the end of her soon-to-be, five-month death march to wreckoncilation. “This is not about abortion,” the Speaker said, when even the most politically untrained, outside-the-Beltway bystander knows otherwise.

Well, Madame Speaker: You would be wrong about that. “Abortion could be health bill deal breaker in House,” according to the D.C.-insiders’ bible, Politico.

Yup, Madame Speaker, right-about-now healthcare reform is about nothing but abortion, as some of us have been saying all along it would be; in fact, as some of us were saying it would need to be, if there were to be any justice in this enterprise. And, Madame Speaker, truth-be-told, you and the President have also known this, at least since last November, four months and counting, ago, when “…[You were] forced to give [Rep. Bart] Stupak a floor vote that incorporated his strict abortion funding provision,” in order to pass your healthcare reform bill.

Four months and a day later, Rep. Stupak would be right: “‘Nothing has changed,’ said [Rep.] Stupak. ‘I don’t think they have the votes to pass it (a healthcare reform bill without Stupak Amendment-type language re access to abortion).”

Madame Speaker, like it or not, and I say it again, Rep. Stupak is right: The future of (your and the President’s) healthcare reform has come down to this: Can you and the White House come to a winning plan on how to deal with access to abortion.

Why? Because access to abortion is the marker of women’s equality, and who are you and the President, if you’re willing to win without this?

Madame Speaker: But for legal access to abortion, no American woman has equal opportunity. I can’t believe this is something you don’t want.

And, anyway, Rep. Stupak is playing hardball: What choice do you have?

Madame Speaker: I know that you and other inside-the-Beltway women’s-issues’ dealmakers, not to mention your post-racial, post-feminist thirty-something staffers don’t like hearing this, but it’s true. I know you’d all rather spend International Women’s Day lauding one another and having us laud you. Well, no can do.

And anyway, the proof of my point is, so-to-speak, in the (Catholic Bishop’s) pudding. They’re cooking up lots, right about now.

Just look at how hard they are fighting to prevent access to abortion, just because they know what you’ll know too, in your heart-of-hearts, and here I repeat: Access to abortion is the marker of women’s equality.

And, as if all this pudding could get any more distasteful, take a good, hard look at just how the Bishops are cooking it up–doing just what politicians (and bishops) do when things get really right-down-to-it: Covering-up their real intentions with lofty sentiments about morality and justice while they cook-away, and deal-away, behind closed doors, hoping those of us out in the hinterlands are lulled into complacency by talk of morality and justice.

Madame Speaker, to coin another cliché: “This will never do.”

So, Madame Speaker, please read these theses I’ve nailed to your D.C.-church door, the building otherwise known as the House of Representatives:

1) There is no proof that we can’t have a healthcare reform bill, providing for unfettered access to abortion, just as it does for all other lawful medical procedures. Why? Because we haven’t yet heard any at-the-table Beltway-dealmakers, say that healthcare reform is an oxymoron if it doesn’t provide for women’s equal access to healthcare, and then fight for just that.

By contrast, Rep. Stupak, and his “merry anti-choice band,” are doing what true believers generally do: They are fighting really, really smart, and really, really hard for what they (truly) believe in.

Madame Speaker: Are you a true believer (in women’s equality)?

Madame Speaker: Why are you going down without a fight, especially for the sake of rich-as-Croesus-already health insurers, who are just going to get richer, once your Stupak-lite passes, because the risk pool they’ll then be insuring will be getting riskier (once all those people with expensive pre-existing conditions are in the pool), and so premium costs will go up even more than they already have.

And, Madame Speaker, even if there’s some, as yet unshared-with-the-public proof that the only healthcare bill that could ever be on the table for a vote in 2010 is Stupak-lite, why in the world should the women Members and Senators–led down that rose-garden path by you–vote for Stupak-lite? Because something is better than nothing?

I don’t buy it. See above for starters. There hasn’t been battle-one yet.

How about an equally aggressive fight, led by you? How about saying something this evening at The White House?!

This takes me to thesis two.

2) “I won’t always be there with you.”

Some in Chicago heard the President–in the earliest months of his Presidential campaign–say just those words, talking about the issue of abortion.

Yup, just as I’ve been writing in these pages for months: The President never promised us a Rose Garden. And boy has he kept his promise. Not once during this year of speaking, meeting, deal-making, power-breaking, think-tanking, and healthcare-summiting has the President ever said that women’s health is as important as men’s, and that, therefore, it ought to be recognized as such in his healthcare reform bill.

So, maybe, you’ve been thinking all this time that, ah gee, he’ll come home when it really matters. Well, he hasn’t. Not to our home.

Instead, when the President finally stated his legislative preference for a healthcare reform bill over a year into his Presidency, and almost four months after Mr. Stupak had his say (and his wish come true), the President’s preference was for the healthcare bill passed by the U.S. Senate: Yup, that one.

Stupak-lite, and that’s putting the best face on it. Stupak-lite: The one that contains noxious, rabidly anti-women language, effectively mooting American women’s constitutionally protected access to abortion.

Stupak-lite: The one that has no public option, no national health insurance exchange, (but, instead, state-based health insurance exchanges, permitting a network of anti-women local pols to govern American women’s healthcare; boy, that’s worked out really well for women), and no employer mandate to provide health insurance (even at the employee’s own expense). Well, you get the drift.

Stupak-lite: The one that is really, really light, not-to-say ephemeral, when it comes to protecting the women of America.

3) Sisterhood is powerful, but it is only powerful when it advances the rights of all sisters. [Neither Stupak-lite, nor the current federal laws governing access to abortion, do that for American women.]

Madame Speaker: According to published reports, when the proverbial “[healthcare reform] s(…) hit the fan” last Thursday, you called to your office a group of Beltway women’s-issues advocates and power brokers.

Did anyone at that meeting ask you whether you think it’s right–for the women of America–that you and other women Members and Senators are mooting our constitutional right for the sake of Stupak-lite?

Assuming you said “yes,” or, alternatively, that you said “no, but that’s the only choice I have,” why do you sound so righteous as you discard the rights of your sisters?

Why do you sound so righteous when neither Stupak-lite, nor the current federal laws governing access to abortion, do that for American women?

4) Some bill, any bill, (won’t) do.

Madam Speaker, I feel like we’re all becoming slaves to Baltimore, or Chicago, or Beltway art-of-the-possible approaches to governing, ones you and the President know so well; ones that say some bill, any bill, will do; ones that say that the only failed health reform bill is no health reform bill.

For, God-forbid, Barack Obama should have the same stripe on his back as Bill Clinton: The one that says: I failed to pass a health reform bill. For, God-forbid Rahm should return to Chicago as just another rich investment banker, former D.C. insider who couldn’t get the big one done. God-forbid you should go down in history as a Speaker who couldn’t get the big one done, either. The women of America will just have to be sacrificed to avoid all this unpleasantness.

5) Madame Speaker: I repeat: That will never do.

Madame Speaker: Hear this: The only healthcare reform bill that matters right now is about abortion, and that’s a good thing. And here’s why. As you sit in those oh-so-lovely White House and Capitol rooms this International Women’s Day, remember this: What you give away today will never suffice; they’ll just ask for more tomorrow. That’s how Washington works; that’s how men in power work; that’s how women in power who don’t care about other women work. That’s wreckonciliation.

So, you might as well fight for what really matters: Fight for our (not God-given, but even better than that, Supreme-Court given) right to abortion. Fight for reconciliation.
_________________________________________________________________

Rebecca

www.rebeccasive.com/blogSubscribe.htm

Shades of Stokely Carmichael

Dear Readers,

You can find “Shades of Stokely Carmichael,” my commentary on the guest list, and the problems therein, for today’s White House healthcare summit, here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/node/12702, or see the full post below.

_________________________________________________________________________________

So, like any good policy wonk, first thing this morning, as always, was my coffee and skimming the Washington Post Politics Morning Edition. I was particularly eager to read the Post this morning since, after all the healthcare hullabaloo of the last year, today is: WHITE HOUSE HEALTHCARE SUMMIT DAY.



The relevant Washington Post article turned-out to be: “Democrats Looking Past Summit to Final Talks.” (See here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/24/AR2010022405633.html?wpisrc=nl_politics).

The relevant article attachment was: “Guest List,” which connects you to an AP story: “Who’s Invited to the Healthcare Summit.” (See here: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/02/whos-invited-to-the-health-car.html?wprss=44.)

Turns out, 38 people were invited. But who, you ask?

Well, of course, if you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll be wondering how many women were invited. Girls and guys, hold your breath; here’s your answer: Grand total: Four.



That’s right, four, one of whom is Nancy Pelosi. So, three, count ‘em, three other women members of Congress, (total membership : 535 people), including one, count her, one woman U.S. Senator. That would be Patty Murray (D, WA).

Wait, it gets better: The total number of women invited by the White House, apart from Nancy Pelosi, 0. Yes, that’s right: 0.

You ask about the White House invitation approach; well, here it is, according to the AP, “The White House invited 22 high-ranking lawmakers and also asked each of the top four congressional leaders to designate four more lawmakers for invitations.” (See here: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/02/whos-invited-to-the-health-car.html?wprss=44.)

So, here’s what I saw when I looked at the White House guest list some more: The “lawmakers invited by the White House” are all either in Senate or House leadership, chair committees, or are a “ranking member” of a committee, with one exception.

Guess what, that exception; he’s a guy too: Senator Chris Dodd, member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and so unpopular in his home state he’s being forced to retire.



Other members of that Senate committee? Well, for starters, there’s Senator Barbara Mikulski, the next (third) ranking member after Sen Dodd, and then there’s Senator Patty Murray, the fifth ranking member.

But neither Mikulski nor Murray were invited by the White House, even in light of the fact that the issue of women’s health, not to say, abortion rights, is front and center in the debate over healthcare reform.

Murray had to wait to get invited, according to the AP, by “the House and Senate leadership,” along with one other pro-choice Democratic woman, that’s right, one other–Rep. Louis Slaughter.



According to the published reports I can find at this hour (10am CST), the final chapter in this sorry saga was written late yesterday when Rep. John Boehner requested that the White House invite Rep. Bart Stupak, he of the infamous “Stupak Amendment.” (See here: http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thegaggle/archive/2010/02/24/stupak-v-slaughter-a-summit-match, and here:http://freerepublic.com/.)

Apparently, when the White House was asked about Rep. Boehner’s request, “…the [unnamed White House] official said, “If they want Stupak to come, they can bring him.”

Back-in-the-day, some of us got “fired up and ready to go,” (See here: http://chattahbox.com/us/2009/09/07/president-obama-fired-up-ready-to-go-on-health-care-reform), in our case, to fight for women’s reproductive rights, because we heard stuff like this: “The proper position of women in SNCC, (the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, a leading civil rights organization of the 1960’s civil rights movement) is prone.” (See here: http://www.crmvet.org/mem/stodely1.htm.). Some say Stokely Carmichael spoke in jest, but what matter?

This all feels like “déjà vu all over again,”* just in a different venue.

Rebecca

http://www.rebeccasive.com/blogSubscribe.htm

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogi_Berra