Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “politics”

We Deserve a Better City Council

By Emerson Drake    

Prior City Councils helped to guide us through the recession created by the 2007-2008 financial crisis.  Recently we’ve been  faced with the need to chart a new course for Modesto.   Unfortunately the current council seems to be taking a step backward.  In the last four years we’ve had transparency replaced with obfuscation and thriftiness with a spend-it-like-you’ve-got-it mentality. The most tenured council members are Bill Zoslocki, Jenny Kenoyer, and Tony Madrigal and they just happen to be up for re-election.

No Council oversight:  City staff has run amuck with contracts.  An example is with the Garrett Thompson contract for soft patch, first being signed in 2012, then being doubled in 2014, then tripled from its original numbers in 2016, and the most recent increase was without Council approval.   And Acting City Manager Joe Lopez, tried to slip it in under the radar under a consent item at a recent Council meeting.  He blamed it on human error and accepted no responsibility.

Most recently we’ve been informed about a second contract where we paid $426,452 more than the contract called for.  Again… no real answer as to why this happened.

Should this surprise us?  Probably not since Joe Lopez says more of these financial bombshells will be coming. When will they be coming?  After the election.

Now they want to buy a city block:  The senior three council members, Zoslocki, Kenoyer, and Madrigal, all want to but a city block for $3.1 Million.  They want to use money (steal it would be more accurate) that earlier councils from 1998 to 2008, and we the taxpayers put aside, to build a fleet maintenance facility.  A facility we need since the one we were using was on the land we overpaid for and subsequently sold to the state for the new courthouse.  It doesn’t matter to these three that the same block has been up for sale for years and several developers have been pitched the deal and everyone of them walked away because they determined it wasn’t financially feasible.  When asked what they intend to do with the property, to paraphrase,  their answer was “we don’t have a clue, but it sure sounds like a good idea doesn’t it.”

The Red Lion will never go bankrupt!  As a reminder to put it short and sweet… in Modesto’s past, the city bought and then used the property under what’s now called (oops spoiler alert) the Double Tree as collateral for the Red Lion hotel to be built. It went bankrupt and the city lost the land.  But maybe it’ll be different this time! After all Ryan Swehla and Benchmark have already been offering their management services (for a price) to the city.  Even Craig Lewis offered his services for financial management. Local businessmen always want to get their fingers in our pockets.

Don’t they say that doing the same thing over and over is a sign of insanity?

Under the senior three we watched former City Manager Ted Holgerson threatened to terminate then Fire Chief Slamon which would result in him losing his retirement, if he gave the benefit of his experience and his opinions rather than giving the party line that Holgerson and the senior three wanted.  Because of this, Chief Slamon eventually resigned from his position and took a position with a city half the size of Modesto.

Under the senior three Zoslocki, Kenoyer, and Madrigal, over 14,000 emails weren’t applied to Public Record Requests.  Using private email accounts instead of city accounts to conduct city business is unethical and obfuscating.  These emails went missing during their term in office.  The city attorney has delayed his response to requests for these emails for the last six months.  To date we’ve received approximately six months worth out of three and a half years.

Under the senior three the City’s situation with CalPers and the union retirement accounts has become more dire.  The issue is so serious that according to some the City could possibly face bankruptcy in the next five years.  But the senior three intend to keep on spending like there’s no tomorrow.

The senior three’s experience hasn’t made Modesto more financially sound.  They seem intent on having us crawl further and further out that proverbial limb and refuse to provide the accountability and guidance staff obviously requires.

The senior three have had their chance it’s time for a new starting line-up.

 

 

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Sandra Fluke – A Young Woman To Be Admired

By Gaetana Drake

If you watched the Democratic National Convention last night,  you had the opportunity to listen to a speech given by Sandra Fluke.

Ms. Fluke is the young woman that Rush Limbaugh called a slut and a prostitute because she advocates for insurance coverage of birth control.  Ms. Fluke was denied the opportunity to testify before a congressional panel formed to discuss birth control.  I’d like to remind all of you that this was a panel comprised of MEN only!  Ms. Fluke finally got to testify before an informal panel and voiced her opinion that insurance should cover contraceptives.

The birth control pill is used not only to prevent pregnancy, but for a variety of medical reasons.  To regulate menstrual periods, to reduce the growth of ovarian cysts, to help relieve pain from migraine headaches, to treat severe acne, and to treat endometriosis.

The argument is being made that birth control is a “recreational” drug and therefore the government shouldn’t force insurers to cover it.  Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are purely recreational activities, yet insurance covers the medical treatment for all the  illnesses and diseases caused by engaging in these activities.

The average woman spends 30 years of her life trying to prevent pregnancy.  Birth control is preventive health-care, just like mammograms and pap smears and high blood pressure screenings.

If you don’t believe there is truly a war on women in this country, you simply haven’t been paying attention.  Consider the following:

*Personhood amendments proposed that would ban the birth control pill and the IUD, the most commonly used and most effective methods of contraception.

*Todd Akin (R) believing that women don’t get pregnant as a result of “legitimate” rape because the female body can “shut down” that function.

*Steve King (R) saying “I’ve never heard of a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest.

*Federal Judge James Leon Holmes, a Bush appointee, said in an article published circa 1997: “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

*Dr. Richard Dobbins, who works in the emergency department at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Kenton, Ohio told the Columbus Dispatch in 2006, “I think that life begins when the chromosomes of the sperm and egg line up”.  Dobbins also questioned the need for emergency contraception in rape cases, saying that most women “are not fertile during assault or do not become pregnant because the trauma prompts a hormonal response that prevents ovulation.”   I wonder….do rapists only rape women who are not in their “fertile period”?

*In 1995, Republican Henry Aldridge told the House Appropriations Committee:  “The facts show that people who are raped – who are truly raped – the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant”.

*Representative Stephen Freind, (R-Delaware County) said “the odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are ‘one in millions and millions’.  The reason, he said, “is that the traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to ‘secrete a certain secretion’ that tends to kill sperm.”

*Texas oilman Clayton Williams once ran against Ann Richards for Governor of Texas.  During the campaign he said “Rape is like the weather, if it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”

*Idaho Senator Chuck Winder (R) has made this unusual comment. “I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician, with a rape issue, that the physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape.”  Apparently in his mind, it’s part of “normal relations in a marriage” for a husband to rape his wife.

*The GOP has finalized it’s  party platform for this election.  It includes NO exception for federal funding for abortions for victims of rape or incest.  They are finally being honest enough to tell us that their goal is to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Mitt Romney has said he would sign a “personhood amendment” which would effectively ban the birth control pill and the IUD.  These are the most commonly used and most effective forms of birth control.

*Requiring a trans-vaginal probe (unpaid by insurance because it’s not medically required) prior to an abortion.  One male politician had the audacity to say if a woman didn’t want to watch, she could “just close her eyes.”

*Wanting to change the Affordable Care Act to allow any employer to suddenly decide he has a “moral” objection to birth control and deny coverage.

*Requiring three visits to a doctor prior to an abortion.

*Failing to renew the Violence Against Women Act, because it now includes protections for lesbians, illegal immigrants and mail-order brides.

*Censoring elected female representatives for daring to say “vagina” while men are passing legislation that controls our vaginas.

*Requiring physicians to lie to their pregnant patients about the effects of abortion, saying that it causes a higher rate of suicide (no study has ever shown that) and that having an abortion can cause cancer.  The truth is that carrying a pregnancy to term while you’re still a young woman tends to prevent cancer, but that does not equate to “having an abortion may cause cancer.”

*Re-defining “rape” to “forcible” rape in a proposed bill that would deny any federal funding of abortions for rape victims.  Date rape, statutory rape, rape in a case where a woman is under the influence and unable to give consent….no longer considered rape in their minds.

*Representative Mike Kelly (R-Fl), stated “I know in your mind you can think of two times America was attacked.  The first was December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day.  The second was 9/11, the day we were attacked by terrorists.  I want you to remember August 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom – that is a ‘day that will live in infamy’ along with the other dates”.  Representative Kelly believes America has been attacked because insurances are now required to cover birth control.

*Republicans voted down the Fair Pay Act and Mitt Romney has said he would repeal the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  Mind you, this act isn’t forcing employers to provide equal pay for equal work, it just gives women a legal recourse if they find they have been unfairly paid.

*Republicans have refused to renew the Violence Against Women Act.

*Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey (R) has complained that the republican party is having to “cater” to women.

Ms. Fluke was viciously attacked by Rush Limbaugh over the course of several days.  He repeatedly called her a slut and a prostitute, and even suggested that she should videotape her sexual activities so he could watch them.  As a result of his vicious attacks, she received an incredible amount of support from the average American.  Every one of us could imagine our daughter being verbally attacked for something as simple as standing up for what’s right.

Sandra Fluke is a graduate of Georgetown Law School.  She is intelligent.  She is articulate.  She is proud.  She walked onto the stage at the DNC with her head held high and received a standing ovation.  She stood up to the male chauvinists like Rush Limbaugh and showed them that they could not silence her.

She is a young woman to be admired.

Rapists Have Visitation and Custody Rights??

By Gaetana Drake

We’ve all heard the recent comment by Representative Todd Akin (R-Missouri) who believes that women don’t get pregnant as a result of rape, because “the female body has a way of shutting down that function.”  In case you needed more proof that that statement is incredibly ignorant, consider this – 31 states allow rapists to sue for visitation and custody rights concerning the child they fathered during a rape!

Can you imagine the terror a woman feels while she is being raped?  If she goes to the hospital for a rape exam, she is violated again.  The actual collection of evidence (swabs from every orifice) and a close inspection of her body for bruising and other injuries, takes several hours.  During this exam a law enforcement officer is in the exam room to observe the collection of evidence.  Imagine how humiliating this is.  Then there is the stigma attached to being raped.  I grew up during a time when it was believed that “good girls don’t get raped”, or “she was asking for it, look at the clothes she was wearing.”  And after the exam, she has to wait to see if she became pregnant.  Many hospitals won’t provide her with the emergency contraception pill, due to their “religious” beliefs, and the official party platform of the GOP states that there will be no exception for abortions due to rape or incest.

So after going through all that, imagine this victim finding out that she is, in fact, pregnant.  Now comes the turmoil every woman faces when she has an unwanted pregnancy.  Do I abort?  Do I have the child of my rapist?  Many women choose to continue the pregnancy to term and keep the child.  Now….she finds out that her rapist can take her to court to win custody and/or visitation rights!

After going through such a horrible experience, but rising above it and deciding to raise her child, she can now be tethered to her rapist for the next 18 years, until the child is an adult.  He will come to her house to pick up the child.  He will come to her house to drop the child off.  He will be involved in holiday and school activities.  He will be a constant presence in her life that reminds her of the worst thing that ever happened to her.  It must be like being raped over and over for 18 years.

We all know that rape isn’t about sex.  It’s about power and control.  After fathering a child through rape, the rapist is now able to exert power and control over his victim for another 18 years. 

Who in their right mind can possibly believe that it is healthy for a child to spend time with a rapist?  I can only believe that some of these “rights” for rapists were decided by the same kind of men who have no compassion for rape victims, like many of the Republican elected officials.

It’s estimated that 54% of rapes in this country go unreported.  Now I understand why.  Studies have shown that women who live in the states listed below, often choose not to press charges against their rapist, in order to avoid the possibility of the man suing for custody or visition:

Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, maryland, Massachussetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Can you believe that in America, rapists have such rights?

Is Robert Bork Right For America?

By Gaetana Drake

It’s good to understand one of the most important reasons we should all vote and that is because the President of the United States nominates Supreme Court Justices.  The Supreme Court makes decisions that effect our everyday lives.

Mitt Romney has chosen Robert Bork as co-chair of his Judicial Advisory Committee.  This means Mr. Bork will be suggesting to Mr. Romney names of possible future Supreme Court Justices and federally appointed judges throughout the country.   Mr. Bork was nominated by President Reagan to be a member of the Supreme Court, but the nomination was not approved. 

Here are some of his beliefs:

In 1963 he wrote an article for The New Republic called “Civil Rights – A Challenge”.  He claimed that laws requiring desegregation were a violation of the freedom of business owners to associate only with the people they chose.  His argument was “the natural right not to associate with others in commerce should not be overridden in the interests of civil rights, social justice, or most significantly, the interests of the moral order.”   

Republican led states are trying to impose severe voter restriction laws. Mr. Bork has a record of defending the constitutionality of poll taxes and literacy tests in state elections.  Obviously, the right-wing believes he is the man they need to help restrict voters’ rights in America.

Mr. Bork also believes that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned.  He would also give individual states the power to prosecute women and doctors who violate abortion laws.   By using Mr. Bork as “judicial advisor”, it is obvious that any future Supreme Court nominee would have to pass the anti-choice litmus test.  Mr. Bork has denounced the Supreme Court’s protection of a constitutional right to privacy in decision-making, the basis of Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized a woman’s right to use birth control.

United States v. Virginia is the Supreme Court’s 7 – 1 decision which required the Virginia Military Institute to stop discriminating and to admit its first women cadets.  Thousands and thousands of female soldiers have since served bravely and honorably, but Mr. Bork has attacked that decision for producing the “feminization of the military.”  He wrote, “radical feminism, an increasingly powerful force across the full range of American institutions, overrode the Constitution in United States v. Virginia.  VMI is only one example of a feminized Court transforming the Constitution.”

In 1971 Mr. Bork argued that the First Amendment protects only political speech, not art or science or literature.  He continues to promote censorship to deal with what he calls the “rot and decadence” of American society.  In a 1997 interview with Michael Cromartie, he expressed such disgust with the state of American culture that he said he was in favor of a return to censorship boards in America.

Rather than allow states to make their own decisions on the issue of same-sex marriage, he has advocated a constitutional amendment that would permanently define marriage as between “one man and one woman”.  He would also prevent individual states from offering gay couples equal benefits of any kind.

In 2005 the Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons, struck down the death penalty for juvenile offenders.  Bork called the decision a “new low” for the Court.  Between 1990 (when the Court last considered this issue) and 2005, there were only seven countries other than the United States that executed juvenile offenders.  They were Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and China.  Mr. Bork, however, found nothing cruel and unusual in executing minors.

And finally, Mr. Bork once ruled that an employer may require its female workers to be sterilized in order to reduce employer liability for harm to potential children, in cases where employers used toxic chemicals.  He also believes politicians should be able to ban birth control.

Poll taxes, literacy tests, forced sterilization in order to maintain employment, executing minors, censorship boards, corporate powers over individual rights, repealing civil rights and making criminals out of doctors and women…..is Robert Bork right for America?

August 1, 2012 – A Day That Will Live In Infamy?

By Gaetana Drake

Representative Mike Kelly (R-Fl), stated “I know in your mind you can think of two times America was attacked.  The first was December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day.  The second was 9/11, the day we were attacked by terrorists.  I want you to remember August 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom – that is a ‘day that will live in infamy’ along with the other dates”.  Representative Kelly believes America has been attacked because of the following:

Several aspects of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act went into effect on August 1, 2012.  They include:

Pap smears, mammograms, STD screenings, well-woman check-ups, HPV testing, HIV screening, gestational diabetes screening, breast-feeding supplies and assistance, domestic violence screenings and counseling, and the now infamous birth control coverage, being provided to women with insurance with no co-pay and no deductible.  This does not mean the services are free – the women are still paying for their insurance coverage.  The only change is that there will be no co-pay or deductible for these preventive services.  Private insurances are now required to include birth control coverage if they didn’t already.

On July 31, 2012, the eve of these great changes (which will benefit millions of American women) taking effect, the Republicans voted for the 34th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Believe me, there is a war on women, as they have shown for the 34th time.

Representative Kelly believes that providing American women access to affordable birth control is an attack on America.  There is already an exemption in the Affordable Care Act for employers whose primary purpose is the promotion of their religious beliefs, such as churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and so on.  Apparently requiring other non-religious employers to cover birth control is an attack on their religious freedom.  No one will EVER force a woman to use birth control if she doesn’t want to.  No one will EVER force a woman to have an abortion if she doesn’t want to.  But it is wrong to allow non-religious organizations to suddenly claim they have a moral or religious objection to this very basic, very important part of a woman’s health care.  At this point, their religious freedom is impacting the personal freedom of American women to have access to health care.

Opponents to the Affordable Care Act have said that insurance premiums will go up.  One year ago, another part of the ACA took effect, which says that if your insurance company spends less than 80 – 85% of your premiums on your health care, you must be refunded the difference!  Now, a year after this provision took effect, refund checks are being mailed to businesses and individuals.  Checks that will total $1.1 billion dollars!  That’s $1.1 billion that will go back into our economy as people getting refunds use the money to buy a car, to help pay for their child’s education, to help make their mortgage payment, or even just to buy groceries.  This is money that goes back to the people and businesses who paid for the insurance, instead of going to a $50 million dollar bonus for the CEO of an insurance company.

Now, back to the comment about “a day that will live in infamy”.  Does Representative Kelly understand how insulting comparing birth control coverage to Pearl Harbor or 9/11 is?  Does he realize he just insulted every service man and woman, past, present and future, who have died and those who continue to risk their lives for us?  My father served in the Navy during WWII, one of my uncles stormed the beach at Normandy, and my great-great-grandfather fought at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Mr. Kelly has just insulted each of them.  Shame on you, Mr. Kelly.  You are no American.

A last thought about birth control – my grandson made an observation yesterday when we were discussing this.  He wondered, “why do men even get to vote on this?”   A good point…why are men getting to control the reproductive lives of all American women?

The Most Dangerous Place To Give Birth

By Gaetana Drake

Here in the United States we have the highest infant/maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country.  But listen to the stories of two women who live in Gabu, Guinea-Bissau, located in Africa.

Gabu is considered the most dangerous place in the world for a woman to give birth.  A woman here has a 1 in 19 chance of dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 2,100 chance in the U.S.

Most births still take place in villages, and if something goes wrong the woman can be hours away from medical help.  Cell phones (if someone in the village has one) work sporadically, travel by boat depends on the tides and automobiles are rare and expensive.  A journey of just a few miles can take hours.

When a woman arrives at a hospital or clinic, she is not treated until her family pays up front for any necessary medication.  The clinics do not have pharmacies and a family member will be told what medication the woman needs and be sent to purchase it before treatment can begin.

Generators are used only for storage.  Mid-wives work by flashlight or candlelight.  There is no power for refrigeration to store blood donations or to run incubators for premature babies.

Cultural practices make it even more difficult for women.  It is common for girls to marry as young as 13.  Unicef estimates that 7% of girls under the age of 15 are already married and mothers.  Most of the women of the region have undergone female mutilation.

Aissato Sanha is spending the last few weeks of her high risk pregnancy in a bed near the surgery room.  Her room is filled with women in labor.  She tells the nurse she is 18, but the nurse believes she is probably 15.  Her water breaks early in the morning and she goes into labor.  By the next day her baby is no closer to being born and the hospital director determines that she needs a Cesarean section for her and the baby to survive.  But first her mother must go to the pharmacy to buy the necessary medications.  When Aissato’s son is finally born he is missing part of a leg and his fingers are webbed.  One eye socket is completely obscured by a cleft palate and his head is abnormally large.  The massive deformaties were not discovered during the pregnancy because ultrasounds are not part of pre-natal care in this region.  The baby will go home with the family, but in many cases, severely deformed babies are neglected and die.

Fatumata Djau stayed home to give birth to her fourth child.  The placenta does not deliver normally and hours later she is at a maternity ward, losing a lot of blood.  Her brother is sent to buy medicine to stop the bleeding, but comes back with the wrong one.  He goes off to the pharmacy again, while his sister continues to hemorrhage.  Fatumata goes into convulsions and cardiac arrest.  CPR fails.  She leaves behind 4 daughters and a 75 year old husband.

Outreach teams operated by Catholic Relief Services have helped cut the mortality rate in the past two decades by going into remote villages and determining which women have high risk pregnancies and providing training for mid-wives.  However, the one thing they won’t do is provide birth control education.  Women in remote villages don’t know there is such a thing as birth control.  They grow up knowing they will probably have many more children than they can care for and will more than likely die in childbirth.  Remember, young girls are given to older men in arranged marriages.  They do not have legal, political or financial power.  They are subjugated to men.

For some reason many people equate “population control” or even birth control with “extermination”.  The world is over-populated.  Thousands of people die every day from starvation and lack of clean drinking water.  Is it humane to allow this to continue?  Isn’t it more humane to help women control their reproductive lives so they don’t die?  So they don’t have to watch their children die?

We should all support the effort to bring birth control to third world countries.  Lives depend on it. 

 

 

Why Won’t They Stand Up For Women?

By EOM Staff

House Republicans recently presented a watered down version of the Violence Against Women Act for approval.  Remember, this act was approved in 1994 for the purpose of providing criminal justice to female victims of violence (we are the majority of victims of violent crimes), and to provide education and better prepared responses to domestic violence.  It has been overwhelmingly approved each time it has come up for renewal.  That is, until this year.

Republicans didn’t like the expanded version of the act, which would have provided protection for LGBT victims, Native American victims, illegal immigrant victims and even mail order brides who become victims.  Apparently, these women don’t deserve any kind of justice or protection.

I wonder how many men have hurried through a dark parking lot, nervous and looking over their shoulder, trying to get to their car as quickly as possible.  Do many men check the back seats of their cars before getting in?  How many men quickly lock the doors as soon as they are in their car?  These are things that are habits for women.  I wonder how many men wait for an abusive wife to come home and beat them up?  Not many, I don’t suppose.  1 of 7 American women will be the victim of a rape or attempted rape during her life.  1 of 3 American women will be the victim of a violent attack during her life.  Can’t say the same for men.

If violence against women is ever going to be curtailed, we need the force of law to help us defend ourselves. Don’t these Republicans know that they are denying protection to their own wives, daughters, sisters and mothers?

Then there’s the matter of contraception.  While most women think it’s nobody’s business but theirs, there are many laws being passed that restrict birth control.  The most bizarre one is the proposal that would allow an employer to deny women contraception coverage even if the employer has no moral or religious objection to it.   These male politicians (83% of Congress is male), should not be deciding what is best for women.  Do they believe we are not intelligent enough to make our own decisions?  Do they think we have no moral compass?  We are adults, and we know better than men what it means to bear and raise children.  Women spend an average of 30 years of their lives trying to prevent pregnancy.  Consider the financial burden of that if your insurance doesn’t cover it.

Now we have politicians trying (and succeeding, I’m afraid) to limit access to safe and legal abortions.  Apparently, we need to be punished for making the difficult decision to end a pregnancy.  I can’t imagine anything more humiliating that a trans-vaginal ultrasound being required prior to undergoing a legal procedure.  Their mind-set seems to be “you have sinned, now we must humiliate you.”  As usual, it is the woman who has “sinned”, with no burden placed on the man who sinned with her.  Makes me wonder if Mr. Limbaugh would have us all wear a scarlet “S” (he thinks we’re sluts, you know) on our clothes.

And just a few days ago, the Republicans voted down the Fair Pay Act.  Men are supposedly better at math than women.  Why don’t they understand that getting paid .77 to every 1.00 they earn for the same work isn’t fair?  With this kind of wage gap, how can women support all the babies they’ll be having if these male politicians have their way? 

And the battle over President Obama’s health care plan is still to be resolved.  Maybe these politicians don’t realize that in some states it’s legal to charge a woman up to 80% more for insurance than a man.  Mind you, women in these states are paying more for insurance, while making less for the same work.  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  The responsibility for birth control falls to women 99% of the time.  Thirty years of birth control costs, while earning less for the same work. I guess having ovaries is a “pre-existing” condition that makes this practice acceptable.

A hundred plus years ago, men ruled over women.  They owned the property, we couldn’t.  They served on juries, we couldn’t.  They could vote, we couldn’t.  Women needed to be “guided” by a firm masculine hand.  Our mothers’ and grandmothers’ generations tolerated that.  This is a new generation of women.  The party is over, boys.  You’ve started a war.  If you want peace in your lives again, it’s time to draw up a truce.  One where women control their own lives, not you and not the politicians.

To quote from Madeleine Kunin, first and only female Governor of Vermont, “if you persist in fighting women on these fronts, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that, especially in an election year, you end up looking and sounding stupid.”

Pay attention, guys.  More women than men voted in the 2008 presidential election.  And there will be even more this year.  Get your act together and start fighting for the rights of the women in your lives.  We won’t go back to the way it used to be.

The War Being Fought FOR Women

In 1994, the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development set goals to improve access to reproductive and sexual health services including family planning, and infant, child and maternal mortality.  They hope to meet their goals by 2015.

The conference participants envisioned rich countries helping poor countries to meet these goals, but no one was given a free ride.  Developing countries agreed to provide 2/3 of the money needed.  For every $1.00 spent in these countries to meet these goals, they save $1.40 in maternal and newborn health care costs.  It’s a win-win for the health of women and their babies, and a win-win for the financial well-being of the developing countries.

But as noted, this isn’t just about saving money.  This is about saving the lives of women and children.  The International Planned Parenthood Foundation works in 153 countries around the world.  Their Director-General, Tewondros Melesse reports that while maternal deaths have fallen by 47 percent since 1990, women in sub-saharan Africa still have a 1 in 39 lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy related causes.  If the goals set in Cairo are met, it would result in global unintended pregnancies dropping from 75 million to 22 million.  There would be approximately 25 million fewer abortions (a goal we should all get behind), 22 million fewer unplanned pregnancies, and almost 1 million fewer deaths among women and newborns.  Right here in America, we have the highest maternal death rate of all industrialized countries due to lack of pre-natal care for low-income and uninsured women.

The world’s population hit 7 billion last year.  Half of the world’s citizens are under the age of 25.  It is imperative that these young people are educated about reproductive rights and have access to necessary reproductive health care.

While countries around the world are trying to provide better access to reproductive health care, right here in America we are trying to curb that access.  In 2011, states enacted 135 new reproductive healthcare laws ranging from personhood amendments, to trans-vaginal ultrasounds as a pre-requisite to receiving an abortion, to attacks on contraception, including allowing employers to decline to cover contraception, even when they hold no moral or religious objection to it.  In some states it is legal to charge a woman up to 80% more for insurance coverage than a man of the same age and health status.

But the truth is clear now.  Opponents of abortion have often said they simply want to end abortion.  We can see now that their ultimate goal is to end access to contraception.

We won that battle almost 50 years ago with a Supreme Court Decision (Griswold vs. Connecticut).  Yet here we are again, fighting once more to have control over our reproductive lives.

So there is a world wide war being fought FOR women.  It’s just not happening here in America.  Right here, we have a war AGAINST women.  If you don’t see that, you haven’t been paying attention.

The teen pregnancy rate in the US is at the lowest in four decades.  This is a direct result of two things:  sex education in public schools and access to birth control.  Many states are banning sex education and many more are trying to limit access to birth control.  This will only result in an increase in teen pregnancy.

Talk to your wives, your mothers, your sisters and daughters.  Ask them what they think about birth control.  Ask them what they think about the possibility of NOT having birth control.   And please register to vote.  This presidential election will be one of the most important elections for women in the last 50 years.

Is President Obama A Communist?

By EOM Staff

If you’ve been watching the news the last couple of days, you might be surprised to find out that our president is a communist/socialist/marxist.  This is because he is using the word “Forward” as his new campaign slogan.  You might wonder why this word makes him a communist.  It’s because (according to the far-right pundits) Chairman Mao once used the slogan “A Great Leap Forward.”  Apparently, that means any future use of the word forward indicates communism.

I wonder how the fine citizens of Wisconsin feel about being communists.  Their state motto is “Forward”.  It’s printed on their state quarter.  It’s on their state flag.  It’s been there since 1848 when they joined the Union.  Those poor people!  They didn’t realize they were communists!

Then there’s Richard Nixon.  You remember him, right?  Tricky Dick, Watergate…a fine example of a Republican.  When he was running for president in 1968, his campaign slogan was “Forward Together”.   We all failed to understand that we actually elected a communist president in 1968!

The right-wing pundits are saying that use of the word forward is a “secret signal” of President Obama’s intention to turn America into a communist country.

May I suggest that we all think for ourselves and don’t drink the kool-aid the far right is pouring?

It’s Time to Take Special Interest’s Big Money out of Local Politics

By Emerson Drake

Last night during the public comment period at the Modesto City Council meeting a man stood up and asked for the Council to take another look at Modesto’s “Time Is Now, Clean Up Politics” or TIN CUP ordinance.  This is an opportunity for EVERYONE, regardless of political bent, to help level the playing field of local politics. 

Do you believe unions hold too much sway or think developers can buy our elected officials by the handful?  Since we are in between local election cycles,  now is the time to change the rules our local politicians are required to play by.

At this point in time we have a $3,000  limit before our elected representatives are required to step back or recuse themselves from voting for a contributors project.  That, in the opinion of many Modesto Citizens, is too high.

What was proposed last night is a $1,000 limit on Council races and a $2,000  limit for Mayoral races with a 48 month floating window.

People are still allowed and encouraged to contribute to their favorite candidates as much as they choose so this doesn’t violate anyones civil liberties. The only caveat is if they go over the limit, the individuals receiving the contribution would not be allowed to speak to or vote on any measure put forth by, or that financially benefits, their contributor.

This seems very straight forward and you would think anyone  for better government would be standing in line to endorse this measure.

Very soon we’ll have  a link  to a petition for everyone who wants clean government can sign.  We hope the Modesto Chamber of Commerce will support and endorse this proposal.

Citizens of Modesto, the ball is in your court. Please help us hit a grand slam  for the home team by knocking it out of the park.

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