Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The water is freezing and there aren't enough boats.
This is how the “mandatory evacuation” of New Orleans was organised:
Ruth: Will the lifeboats be seated according to class? I hope they aren’t too crowded.
Rose: Oh mother, shut up! Don’t you understand? The water is freezing and there aren’t enough boats. Not enough by half. Half the people on this ship are going to die.
Cal Hockley: Not the better half.
You watch the movie the Titanic and come away shaking at the awful, selfish heartlessness of the first class passengers who took their seats in lifeboats as of right, while the steerage passengers were left behind to drown. This doesn’t quite reflect reality, but it’s a movie.
What happened in New Orleans is no movie, though.
From an e-mail sent by a rescue worker, via Boingboing:
The poorest 20% (you can argue with the number—10%? 18%? no one knows) of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn’t leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in New Orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn’t be able to get out. The resources—meaning, the political will—weren’t there to get them out.
Mayor Nagin ordered “a mandatory evacuation of the city’s 485,000 residents Sunday morning” - but this was meaningless: there was no plan and no resources to evacuate anyone. Instead: “The city opened 10 shelters, including the 70,000-seat Superdome, for the estimated 100,000 residents without the means to leave and the tourists with nowhere to go.”
This was a foreseeable disaster - a predicted disaster - that came from a failure to plan and a failure to provide needed resources.
Granted, the state of Louisiana was trying and failing (see below) to get desperately needed funding that might have saved the levees and thus the city from flooding. (Reportedly, the reason for the first breach in the levee was that choppers that should have been lowering sandbags were out rescuing people trapped by the floods. So, had there been an organised evacuation, those choppers might have been in use sandbagging the levee, and the refugees might even have had a city to come back to.
But it didn’t have to be this bad even with the resources available. Ignore the talk of how some people just didn’t want to leave: the fact is, that no one who didn’t have a car could leave.
A few weeks ago, terrorists struck in London: a worst-case scenario, bombs going off in the Underground at rush hour. Given what could have been, there were remarkably few casualties: only 56 people died. The reason for the low numbers was dead simple: after September 11, Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, told the emergency services that they should assume that a worst-case scenario might take place at any time, and make plans accordingly. When the terrorists struck, the emergency services had plans which had been tested and rehearsed. They knew what to do, they had resources available, and they did it.
New Orleans had known since 1995 that they were at a high risk of a hurricane strike: and yet, neither Mayor nor Governor planned how to get anyone out of the city who didn’t own a car. Indeed, the evacuation planning amounted to telling people they had to leave, not in any way providing transport or assistance. The Superdome was a shabby, dead-end solution: as soon as the city flooded, all sanitation was lost, and airlifting the refugees out of it is a far more expensive solution that getting them out by bus, or train.
Why weren’t the inbound roads declared offlimits to incoming traffic and buses used to get people out of New Orleans?
Why weren’t the four railway lines being used to transport people out of New Orleans? (Well, reportedly one answer to that is: Amtrak had (reportedly) simply refused to allow their trains to be used to move refugees out of the city, and short of the President cutting short his vacation last week to declare a federal state of emergency, there’s really nothing anyone else could do to force Amtrak to put their rolling stock at risk in order to save several thousand people from drowning. Not that Amtrak is even the major villain in this; it’s just their villainy is on a scale of human comprehension.)
Why wasn’t there planning about where the refugees were to go? Especially those with little or no money who couldn’t afford an indefinite hotel stay.
And where did the money to repair the levees go? Apparently, to Iraq:
New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.
Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security—coming at the same time as federal tax cuts—was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.
If there is such a thing as a group Pulitzer, the New Orleans Times-Picayune deserves it. While other social institutions in that city are falling apart, this paper is providing its community with a vital resource through their breaking newslog and for their yeoman’s work over the last several year with their Washed Away Series.
The “newslog” posts range from small pieces of helpful advice:
Cellphone users who share the 504 area code have had difficulty contacting each other in the aftermath of the hurricane. Here’s a solution: Text message family and friends to stay in touch.
To vital updates:
Jeff officials plead for ‘necessities of life’
The normally unflappable Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Walter Maestri broke into tears as he broadcast a call to help for anyone who could offer food or water to officials at the parish’s emergency operations center in Marrero.
Maestri said anyone who can help with the necessities of life for workers at the center can call (504) 349-5360.
Maestri said the water situation is so dire that like many people in the parish and the area, they are trapped in the center.
To the heartbreaking:
Lower 9th Ward evacuees
Deotis Washington, 38, and Nicole Rayford, 32, fled their Lower 9th Ward neighborhood in New Orleans on Saturday in Rayford’s truck, and landed safely in Baton Rouge. By Tuesday night, Rayford cried outside a Baton Rouge drug store for the families they left behind.
“My mother, she was ready to go but she didn’t have a ride,” Rayford said, through tears as she stood beside her best friend Washington. “She was going to wait on my brother’s old lady. My brother called and said, ‘How could you leave mama?” I told him I didn’t, she was waiting on both of them.”
They are showing why a free and independent press is vital to a free society. I offer this tribute to them, and wish them health and safety in the coming days.
n., pl. -chies.
Absence of any form of political authority.
Political disorder and confusion.
Absence of any cohesive principle, such as a common standard or purpose.
[New Latin anarchia, from Greek anarkhiÄ?, from anarkhos, without a ruler : an-, without; see aâ€“1 + arkhos, ruler; see â€“arch.]
There is a disturbing trend in the media to focus on looters. (A diary by mrcurmudgeon at dailyKos justaposes the captions describing white refugees and black refugees from Yahoo News is instructive of the tenor of these stories). As often happens in America, there is a nasty edge of blame in these stories, an edge of disgust and condemnation toward the desparate people stripping stores clean.
Lets look again at that definition: Political disorder and confusion:
BATON ROUGE—Gov. Kathleen Blanco called for an
evacuation of the 20,000 storm refugees from the
Superdome after she visited the hurricane-damaged
stadium Tuesday evening for the second time of the
She set no timetable for the withdrawal but insisted
that the facility was damaged, degrading and no longer
able to support the local citizens who had sought
refuge in the Dome from Hurricane Katrina.
â€œItâ€™s a very, very desperate situation,â€? Blanco said
late Tuesday after returning to the capital from her
visit, when she comforted the exhausted throngs of
people, many of whom checked in over the weekend.
â€œItâ€™s imperative that we get them out. The situation
is degenerating rapidly.â€?
Now, this is an overwhelming disaster, but there seems to have been little or no planning, and this isn’t even the direct hit that some feared had been heading New Orlean’s way:
State officials are establishing evacuation sites,
which will be outside of Orleans Parish, where power
is expected to be off for many days if not weeks.
Blanco said the commodes are not working in the Dome.
Details of how and when the evacuation will take place
are now being determined.
Meanwhile, the Boy Prince who is running this country into the ground and into infamy is busy playing golf and play(ing) a guitar presented to him by Country Singer Mark Wills:
No leadership is apparent. Several organizations are frantically trying to help, to plug the holes in the levees, to help stranded and injured people, yet two days after this huge storm there is no apparent leadership or coordination.
To the definition again:
Louisiana governor calls for prayer as conditions worsen
Anger was rising along with the muddy water in New Orleans.
Mayor Ray Nagin on Tuesday night blasted what he called a lack of coordination in relief efforts for setting behind the city’s recovery.
“There is way too many fricking ... cooks in the kitchen,” Nagin said in a phone interview with WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi. (Full story)
Nagin was fuming over what he said were scuttled plans to plug a 200-yard breach near the 17th Street Canal, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to spill into the central business district. (Map)
An earlier breach occurred along the Industrial Canal in the city’s Lower 9th Ward.
The rising flood waters overwhelmed pumping stations that would normally keep the city dry. About 80 percent of the city was flooded with water up to 20 feet deep after the two levees collapsed. (See video of knee-deep and rising water in the French Quarter—1:19)
Nagin told CNN that at least 30 buildings had collapsed but that no attempt had been made to determine a death toll.
“There are dead bodies floating in some of the water,” Nagin said. “The rescuers would basically push them aside as they were trying to save individuals.”
Nagin said that as of late Tuesday “a significant amount of water” is flowing into the bowl-shaped city and sections of the city now dry could be under 9 or 10 feet of water within hours.
“The bowl is filling up,” he said.
Frustration was also rising among people who now find themselves refugees in their own city.
Thousands of people were being housed in the Louisiana Superdome, where toilets were overflowing and there was no air conditioning to provide relief from 90-degree heat.
Nagin estimated the number of people in the Superdome at between 12,000 and 15,000 people as of late Tuesday. He said they could be there for a week unless evacuated sooner.
As fingers are pointed at desperate and frightened people, it becomes increasingly apparent that the government is asleep at the switch. This is, of course, a huge disaster, but we were told over and over that “things are different now” after 9/11.
Homeland security starts at home, and desperate people will do as they will when their government fails and social structures break down. Empty campaign promises of leadership are revealed as just that: empty. As the finger pointing ramps up, it might be a good idea to look at that definition again:
ABSENCE OF ANY FORM OF POLITICAL AUTHORITY.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - With water rising in the streets of New Orleans and conditions rapidly deteriorating, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday that the tens of thousands of people now huddled in the Superdome and other rescue centres would have to be evacuated.
“The situation is untenable,” Blanco said at a news conference. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
Knight Ridder reports
Water suddenly rose in the French Quarter and other areas of the sodden city of 485,000 people, a place that sits like a bowl between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.
‘’The levee broke!’’ one woman yelled outside Johnny White’s Bar on Bourbon Street.
Workers dropped 3,000-pound sandbags from helicopters into the breaches, but the water kept coming.
‘’It appears that now the bowl is beginning to fill—not rapidly but slowly,’’ said Walter Maestri, emergency operations manager for Jefferson Parish, a county just west of New Orleans.
Mayor C. Ray Megin told city workers to flee for their lives. Staffers at New Orleans’ main newspaper hastily evacuated their building. Canal Street became a canal.
At the press conference I feel Mary Landrieu had been crying, soft red spots under each eye. CNN reported that Charity Hospital, the largest, must be evacuated. Generators in 4 hospitals, including Tulane U Hospital, are failing. Hotels must be evacuated. Water is lapping at the Super Dome.
Blanco was saying what she could, toward the end after it was stated they are now to evacuate the entire city, they said they know they face rebuilding the city.
In New Orleans, residents who had ridden out the brunt of Katrina faced another, delayed threat: rising water. Failed pumps and levees sent water from Lake Pontchartrain coursing through the streets Tuesday in the Big Easy, which sits mostly below sea level.
Rising water forced one New Orleans hospital to move patients to the Louisiana Superdome, where some 10,000 people had taken shelter, authorities said.
In downtown New Orleans, streets that were relatively clear in the hours after the storm were filled with 1 to 1 1/2 feet of water Tuesday morning. Water was knee-deep around the Superdome. Canal Street was literally a canal. Water lapped at the edge of the French Quarter.
Little islands of red ants floated in the gasoline-fouled waters through downtown. The Hyatt Hotel and other high-rise around the Superdome had rows and rows of shattered windows.
I have been in and out of NO most of my life… wonderful amazing city… small evocations of Paris all thru it but unlike anywhere else. Large areas of the city forgotten and lovely. And you know you are at one of the unique spots in America.... From Terpsichore, to Desire, Magazine, Rue Royale to Ramparts on the eastern edge of the Quarter. The street names alone evoke and open dream and desire.
Early this morning I took a peek and saw the small old hotel I usually stay in on Rue Chartres, standing, water sluicing about, but it was there… people walking about in the quarter, shaking themselves out after a compression but not inundated.
Then word came the water was rising. A levee at Lake Pontchartrain had been breeched and water was ‘’pouring’’ out from the lake, and two breeches of a large levee at St Bernard, tho not as destructive as the breech at Pontchartrain.
[Authorâ€™s Note: This frame sort of developed as a joke, but as I developed it, it started making more and more sense. Now Iâ€™m a little frightened by it.]
As Iâ€™ve watched the right-wing overreact to, well, pretty much everything this year, Iâ€™m reminded of the one, true, overriding core principle of the Republican Partyâ€”the Conan Doctrine.
Think about it. Name one of their other alleged core principles that they havenâ€™t violated or ignored in the interest of acquiring or holding power? Fiscal discipline? Donâ€™t make me laugh. The Gubâ€™mentâ€™s grown by over 50% since Bush took office. Even if you eliminate defense spending, Bush is still spending money like a latter-day Anna Nicole Smith facing a pending court ruling. Personal responsibility? Still waiting for President Bush to take responsibility forâ€¦anything, really. Keeping government out of your life? Sounds good until you realize that Republicans are happy for government to get all up in your womb. Or your bedroom. Or your sex life.
Apparently to be a conservative (as I used to be) you have to accept that these core principles are malleable. They can be bent around ideas that you support, and let go to smack the ones you donâ€™t. Right now theyâ€™re happy to apply them to Democrats, and once theyâ€™re gone theyâ€™ll see about applying them to themselves. Itâ€™s like if England decided to have traffic switch sides of the road, but did it incrementally. â€œWeâ€™ll start by having the eighteen-wheelers switch sides for a while, and see how that goes. Then motorcycles, and finally the rest of the cars.â€?
What you end up with is a 52-car pileup of principles, and a lot of little people get smeared in the process. What you ultimately find is that the only true core principle of the Republican Party is the Conan Doctrine. â€œWhat is best in life? To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.â€? In that frame everything they do makes sense.
â€œTo Crush Your Enemiesâ€?
Itâ€™s not enough that prayer is allowed in schools. It has to be mandatory, and social pressures should be brought to bear in order to reach the unbelievers. Itâ€™s not enough to raise your kids to not â€œchoose gay.â€? Homosexuals must be marginalized. Maybe if theyâ€™re forced to live as second-class citizens for awhile theyâ€™ll â€œchooseâ€? to be straight so they can have equal rights. Why canâ€™t we nuke Mecca?
â€œSee Them Driven Before Youâ€?
Let nothing stand between Republicans and victory. Decorated veterans will be slandered as liars and cowards. Those who oppose the war will be labeled as traitors. Muslims will be detained indefinitely, tortured, and killed as the President sees fit.
â€œHear the Lamentations of Their Womenâ€?
Cindy Sheehan is making it all up! Ariana Huffington is a hypocritical bitch! Valerie Plame deserved what she got! Anita Hill is a publicity whore! Colleen Rowley is incompetent!
The Republican agenda is fueled by one, simple principleâ€”revenge. For every wrong they suffered under a Democrat majority, theyâ€™ve not made up for it 20-fold. Even most conservatives are willing to accept that Republicans in the House are being way more vindictive than Democrats ever were when they were in charge. As far as American deaths after 9/11 are concerned, that revenge is almost complete. For every American killed on 9/11, theyâ€™ve now killed 13 innocent Muslims (a term which most conservatives will find anachronistic) in Iraq alone.
What they do not realize (nor are they ever likely to realize) is that revenge-driven policy is a rudderless ship. Right now the Republican Party stands, quite literally, for nothing. Just empty catch phrases, and a desperate desire to hold onto the power they have acquired. But as the saying goes, when you stand for nothing, youâ€™ll fall for anything. So it doesnâ€™t bother them that Iraq had no collaborative ties to Al Qaeda or WMDs. It doesnâ€™t matter that weâ€™re installing a radical, Iran-allied, Shiite government in Iraq, instead of a blossoming Jeffersonian Democracy. It doesnâ€™t matter that we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. We just need to â€˜stay the courseâ€™ until it works.
And thatâ€™s why the Republican Party is collapsing like the â€˜Black Holeâ€™ that it is. The politics of anger can only take you so far. At some point you have to have a positive agenda. You can only ride â€˜Conan-servatismâ€™ so far. At some point the people realize that even though your party controls everything, life still sucks more than it has ever sucked before. Or as King Osric put itâ€¦
â€œThere comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father’s love for his child.â€?
For the Republican Party, that time is now. The jewel of Iraq doesn’t sparkle anymore. The gold of homophobia has lost its luster. Now the power they once coveted has become their prison. And all they’re left with is the sour taste of their wasted opportunity and the contemplation of it as they are nailed to the 2006 Interim Election Tree of Woe.
So let us stand back and enjoy as we watch the Republican Party standing “paralyzed in the disruption of the faculties which demoralizes anyone who is confronted by an impossible negation of sanity.”
We had an ostrich loose on the Golden Gate Bridge last evening. Tired of being cooped up in the van with a companion ostrich, she took a leap out the back window (having broken the window for egress, enterprising and not willing to be stopped!) and went “dancing” in commute traffic at 4:50 PM.
Head up, no sand in view, she did not jump (the greatest GBCW dive there is)... OK, this ostrich is not the MIA Democratic Party. Nor its asleep at the wheel consultant class, where ever they may be found (no one hunts for them anymore).
Helen Gives the Smackdown
By HELEN THOMAS
WASHINGTON—It’s time for the Democratic Party to take a courageous stand and call for the withdrawal of troops from the senseless war in Iraq.
Its human cost and the billion-dollars-a-week tab in Iraq should give all Americans pause.
Would the Republicans have hesitated to challenge the Democrats if the shoe were on the other foot? Did the opposition party give President Clinton any slack while he was in office?
That is, of course, a rhetorical question. Of course they would. I believe I actually heard Trent Lott on Hardball blame the gas price hikes that will result from Hurricane Katrina on the Democrats delaying the Energy Bill (which in the end, many of the Democrats supported, not that THAT will stop the attacks) as the cause. Not the policies of the Bush Administration, the fury of Nature or the greed of Big Oil. Nope, the Democrats. The DC Democrats, hapless dupes that so many of them are, fail to understand that politics is blood sport, and they are coming to fight with those pillow bats that therapists give to patients in group therapy.
Well, that is except for the ones that are perfectly okay with the GOP agenda (like Senator MBNA) ...
Anyway, back to Helen ...
Both Clinton and Biden are presumed presidential contenders in 2008. That leaves Democratic voters—many of whom are anti-war—with no choice if either wins the party nomination.
Can Biden and Clinton give young men and women any valid reason why they should lay down their lives in a war that we didn’t have to fight in the first place?
The fallback position apparently runs like this: “We’re there and we have to stay there now. We can’t cut and run.”
I heard the same refrain during the dying days of the Vietnam War. And so did the moderate Democrats.
Whether viewed as a “mistake” or a “noble cause,” the fact is that Vietnam survived and thrived after we departed. It is a participant in the global economy and fairly friendly to us.
We are, of course, blind to history, because in politics, history has become whatever the Republican Noise Machine DEFINES it to be.
I always thought the debacle in Vietnam and its aftermath had taught us a lesson. But apparently not.
Not all Democrats are so clueless. In an opinion article on Wednesday in The Washington Post, former Sen. Gary Hart, D-Col., wrote that “history will deal with George W. Bush and the neoconservatives who misled a mighty nation into a flawed war that is draining the finest military in the world ... diverting Guard and Reserve forces that should be on the front line of homeland defense, shredding international alliances that prevailed in two world wars and the Cold War ... and weakening America’s national security.”
But he is also tough on his own party and asks: “What will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on?"
So yes, there are some Democrats who see the writing on the wall, who’re trying to lead us out of this dangerous wilderness. However, Helen thinks even those efforts have been too timid:
Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., is proposing a total pullout of U.S. troops by Dec. 31, 2006. Why wait a year?
Some Democrats think the party should simply take a back seat, bide its time and watch the administration defensively struggle for answers to Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who lost her son, Casey, in Iraq. Her vigil continues adjacent the president’s Texas ranch.
While I applaud Senator Feingold’s move to be the first to step forward, I do hope as the situation evolves, he will represent the case for ending this criminal war more and more forcefully.
Democrats have gone about their lives after giving the president a blank check to do anything he thought was necessary. They think they have absolved themselves of responsibility. It’s somebody else’s war.
But they might find that if they don’t get some backbone and take a stand soon, the voters might not be that forgiving.
You tell ‘em Helen, not that I think they’ll listen.
Monday, August 29, 2005
CommuniquÃ© from The Morning-After Pill Conspiracy
The Food and Drug Administration has now “indefinitely” put off a decision on making Plan B â€“ also called Emergency Contraception (EC) and the Morning-After Pill—available over-the-counter. The FDA promised, during (then acting) FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford’s confirmation hearings, to issue a final decision by September 1, 2005. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Patty Murray then released the hold they had placed on Crawfordâ€™s confirmation. And as soon as Crawford became the official head of the FDA, he issued the ruling earlier than promised â€“ proving that even .
For years the MAP Conspiracy has been fighting to make sure that all women can get EC in an emergency.
Here is the latest information on what the MAP Conspiracy is, what they are doing to protect the right of all women to take control of their own reproduction, and what you can do to help tomorrow, tonight ... and the morning after.
We are the MAP Conspiracy.
MAP Conspiracyâ€™s name is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that so many women have to conspire to break the law in order to get the Morning After Pill.
We began passing out the pills publicly on February 15, 2004. Our campaign uses speak-outs and civil disobedience to highlight the injustice of the prescription requirement and to show that women are the real experts on why women need unrestricted access to the Morning-After Pill.
We have held speak-outs and passed out the pill in New York City, Washington, D.C., Rockville, MD and Gainesville, Florida.
This fight is over nothing less than birth control-- and the FDA, along with its friends of the Rapture Right—seem determined to keep this safe and effective way of preventing pregnancy out of women’s hands.
- For four years the FDA has ignored a citizen’s petition requesting that Emergency Contraception be available without a prescription.
- The FDAâ€™s own advisory panels unanimously said EC was safe and voted 23 to 4 that it should be sold over-the-counter.
- The American Medical Association, the New England Journal of Medicine and other mainstream medical organizations say that EC is safe.
- Major newspapers all over the country have run editorials in favor of over-the-counter sales, and more than 3,000 women across the nation have pledged to commit acts of civil disobedience by giving out the Morning-After Pill to friends who need it (http://www.mapconspiracy.org to sign the pledge)
The FDA has already received thousands of calls, emails and letters from women who want EC available over-the-counter.
How much more â€œpublic commentâ€? does the FDA need?
ACTIONS AROUND THE COUNTRY
On Tuesday August 30th at 1pm, outside the NYC Office of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Women’s Liberation Birth Control Project is holding a press conference and then, in an act of civil disobedience, passing out packages of the Morning-After Pill to
women who want it. Come on your lunch break!
WHEN: Tuesday August 30th from 1-1:45pm
WHERE: 26 Federal Plaza, Jacob K. Javits Federal Building. Sidewalk
in front of main entrance on Broadway.
CONTACT: Annie (917) 842-5306 or Cecilia (917) 859-9379
DIRECTIONS: From R/W City Hall Subway stop walk north on Broadway 3 blocks. Women will be holding signs. The exact location is Broadway between Duane and Thomas Streets.
National Organization for Women, has called a National Day of Action on Emergency Contraception
WHERE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Service 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20201
WHEN: Tuesday, August 30 @ 12:00 pm
CONTACT: Phone: (202) 628-8669
Members of the MAP Conspiracy in Gainesville, FL will be setting up a Feminist Phone Booth for the upcoming weeks so women can call Lester
Crawford on the spot and give him their opinions.
Please help by donating your time, your money or your cell phone minutes to the Feminist Phone Booth so we can give Lester Crawford the public opinion he has asked for!
In solidarity with the actions in NY and DC, we will be faxing 3,000 pledge signatures directly to Lester Crawford on Tuesday.
CONTACT: 352-380-9934 to help out.
Utah NOW Young Feminist Task Force and Campus Action Network
Contact: Meghan at (801) 949-4546
CALL LESTER CRAWFORD and PILE ON THE PRESSURE!
Call Commissioner Crawford on Tuesday, and any day after that, and tell him to make Plan B available over-the-counter for all women. You can leave him a message at (301) 827-2410 during business hours.
With actions in NY and DC, faxes and calls, we can give the FDA the “public opinion” they are asking for!
Your financial contribution will help us pay for cell phone minutes for the Feminist Phone Booth.
It will help us organize a civil disobedience action in New York City, organize women across the country to call the FDA, and even go to Washington DC if necessary
* To use a credit card or direct withdrawal from your bank account,go to Paypal.com, and donate any amount, using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org
* To mail in a check, make checks payable to:
Gainesville Area NOW
PO Box 2235, Gainesville, FL, 32602-2235
(please put Morning-After Pill in the memo line)
Actions are taking place all over the country. Let us know if you are having one in your town.
You can reach the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy at:
The city as a leftist oasis
We’ve long known that cities attract and reproduce people with leftist and progressive ideals. Union members, gay communities, minorities, progressive whites, and educated graduates tend to make up a large city’s population. It’s no surprise that all of our country’s large cities overwhelmingly voted against the chimp last year. Given the urban population and mindset, combined with the ability to congregate easily and share ideas, cities have always been beacons of progress and change.
There are some rural areas like Northern California, Vermont, and Massachusetts where traditional progressive values have long been the norm, but for the most part, it is safe to say that rural folks tend to be more red than blue.
So, it is with great interest that I read this piece about the ’urban archipelago‘ in The Nation. Using Lawrence, Kansas in the opening as a frame of reference, the article highlights the more aggressive stances and policies that are coming out of cities as the state and federal governments are now controlled by right wing extremists.
(By the way, I have been to Lawrence, Kansas. It is more of a fortress than an archipelago. After I got to Lawrence, I kept looking behind me to see if the pitchforks and torches were still visible.)
Lawrence, a progressive oasis of higher education and high-tech development in what, thanks to Thomas Frank’s 2004 book, is the nation’s most famously conservative state, hasn’t exactly gone wild. Highberger and the other officials elected with the support of Progressive Lawrence--a local group that two years ago wrested power from more conservative, pro-development forces--have focused on the basics of implementing “smart growth” strategies to prevent sprawl, working with local employees to improve delivery of services and promoting tolerance in a state where that can be controversial. “We haven’t exactly reversed the whole ‘What’s the Matter With Kansas?’ thing, but we’re working on it,” jokes Highberger, a lawyer who got Lawrence to officially condemn the USA Patriot Act but who spends most of his time on mundane municipal issues like funding library services and buying new land for park space. “The things that happen in Washington and Topeka are fairly abstract, and usually frustrating. When we make a decision on the city commission--on protecting the environment, on treating people fairly--people see something change in their backyard the next day. Local politics is where progressives should be.”
Once looked down on as dead end jobs, city political posts for progressives are now all the rage. We can do much more on the local level than we can on the state and certainly the federal. The best way to combat the extremists in power is to do it in our own backyards. Measures that protect workers that have been absent from the federal level and defeated at the state level are easily passed in municipalities:
More than 120 communities nationwide, from Ashland, Oregon, to Camden, New Jersey, have passed living-wage laws, raising hourly pay rates as high as $12 an hour for employees of firms that contract with municipalities. In Chicago, Moore is sponsoring a “Big Box Living Wage” ordinance that requires chain stores like Wal-Mart to pay workers $10 an hour and provide benefits. “That’s an idea that couldn’t get off the ground in Congress right now but that I imagine would have a lot of appeal in cities across the country,” says Moore, who plans to spread the word about the initiative through the Cities for Progress network.
A great example of the viral effects of populist bills occurred in Madison, Wisconsin:
“At the municipal level we can break new ground, show what can be done, start trends that bubble upward.” Cieslewicz uses the example of Madison’s decision to set a local minimum wage that will rise to $7.75 an hour by 2008. Other Wisconsin cities followed suit, putting pressure on the state to increase its minimum wage. “So the cities started it, the state picked up on it and when enough states pass minimum-wage increases, the pressure is going to be on the federal government,” says Cieslewicz.
Here in New York state we had one minimum wage increase vetoed by that pathetic flounder, Pataki. Yet I can imagine that if the progressive cities in my state like Albany, Rochester, and Buffalo passed measures to increase the wage locally, the pressure would indeed be too much to ignore in the state capitol.
Of course, state governments have tried to crack down on local progressive measures, but the truth is, they are ultimately unable to keep locals from handling their own business. Oppressive state leaders tend to get involved when there are politically-valuable issues involved, like gay marriage, but these hypocrites stay out of the fray when a populist local bill is supported by the majority of the citizenry.
So what’s the moral of this article and why did it appeal to me so much? The moral is not to pack your bags and sing “We’re gonna make it after all.” The moral is to try to be more vocal in your locale. In my county, a red county, local townships have taken to getting on local boards and getting involved on the very local level to promote progressive policy, and its infectious. We can push policy.
Unless you live in Oklahoma, then you’re fucked.
Cross-posted by Bob Riven from Meat-eating leftist.
Well. I sure never hid it. Right up front in the first piece I lodged here I made it clear: free speech matters.
What is more, all manner of free speech matters but most particularly, most absolutely, political free speech matters. Whether one chooses or not to use it, it must be available. When the rather too suspicious conversation turns to “tone” and little quibbles that daily are as silly putty to the weather, censorship raises it’s head.
Reading during the night with thoughts of free speech in mind I landed on a column by the Guardian/Observer commentator, David Aaronovitch, referencing the recent televised showing by the BBC2 of the opera (!?! yes!) Jerry Springer The Opera ... Aaronovitch makes several points quite nicely:
(flip, you can skip the flop, we are quite dizzy, still, from the recent election)
On Friday evening a noisy group of Christian protesters, estimated by the Daily Telegraph as of ‘over 120 people’, stood outside the BBC and shouted that they wanted ‘No more blasphemy’. Earlier in the week the decision they were complaining about - to screen Jerry Springer, the Opera on BBC2 - was also criticised by a Whitehousean remnant organisation. ‘Why can’t they show Mama Mia instead,’ complained its spokesperson self-parodically. ‘That’s a show that many people like.’
Oh yes yes, the old saw, gather in the many for the mild. No thank you… if only for sheer novelty we shall embrace the perverse. Leave the many and the mild to their fitful diversions.
Remember: Not speaking of votes here but free speech.
Anyway, blasphemy running wild on a fully contained channel that one may turn off (clue) gives the (questionably) good church goers something to pray about. They should thank us (the libertines). From their knees, hands in prayerful pose....
And the language. When the fictional Springer is required by Satan to take his show to Hell he is told that non-compliance will lead to him being ‘tortured and toasted, barbecued and roasted. And fucked up the ass with barbed wire’. [oh ouch]
So funny are some of these lyrics that when a Church figure wrote that showing Jerry was ‘a major departure from the current high expectations of viewers regarding offensive material on a publicly-funded public service channel’, I found myself wondering whether the truth wasn’t the exact opposite. This is exactly the kind of offensive material that I want to see on TV - albeit when the seven year-old is in bed.
Well Aaronovitch is an adult. There you go. He likes free speech.
BTW, he sadly (and with some remains of anger) pegged Mr Kerry a loser in the late summer, right along about the time I wrote to Pelosi and explained why I would not vote for the nominee (if you don’t like reading that slap your own wrist, my vote is my vote). She had held a luncheon on the Hill in spring to express dissatisfaction to the useless and clueless Shaheen about the hapless campaign and was soundly excoriated on the net(s). Gee. One thing Nancy got right, complain early. Be clear and up front. Of course that was before Nov 2, she ain’t battin’ too fine lately. Oops Nancy: Do better.
Now that right there is some very (as in very) mild free speech. If it hurts, do do look away. But it will not be stopped.
Back to David Aaronovitch:
The director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson illustrated that point last week when he told critics that as a ‘practising Christian ... there is nothing in this which I believe to be blasphemous’, as if that somehow settled it. Blasphemy, however, is defined as ‘impious or profane talk’ and the word ‘profane’ is defined as ‘treating a sacred thing with irreverence or disregard’. I think we can say that Jerry treats its Jesus with irreverence; Thompson’s Christianity is just his own.
Quite right. There you go: don’t explain it away, or try to make it mild by insisting it is. It may indeed be blasphemy. It is still free speech. The many might care to realise that without the profane we cannot have the sacred. I am no christian (thanks be to somebody’s god) but this is undeniably true. And I do believe in both the sacred and the profane, having sensed both at work on the earth. A pagan can get it. Many christians get it. And muslims and so on.
Aaronovitch makes a few tart comments wrt religious institutions (which may of course live with many prohibitions, their choice) that also apply in different ways to many secular institutions, self-selecting groups and private clubs (who also may make their own rules, tho their ear drums may pop from the pressure, LOL)
That’s why it is so inappropriate that the cudgels were taken up by Christians specifically. It is true that religious institutions, with their emphasis on cohesion and denial [there you go!, cohesion and denial, core goals and core states of being for many institutions and private clubs], are often sensitive, but Jerry is simply not about religion. And those reporters who have described the show as featuring ‘Jesus in a nappy’ have misunderstood. This is not Jesus in a nappy, it is a Jesus in a nappy - in this case the Jerry. Jesus. You cannot - as the Church has - give kids Jesus at school, Jesus in carols, Jesus in hymns, give adults God in various guises in Thought for the [bloody] Day and the Lord knows what besides, and then not expect us all to have our own Jesuses. We do, millions of them and - frankly - they don’t belong to the Church.
Yes, Jeeeeesus! is out and free, the churches talked about him so much people did hear about him! And people will kick the baby Jeeeeeeesus! thru the goal posts of life. It will happen: irreverence will counter reverence. Be thankful (rejoice, whatever) or prepare for the ear drums to pop from the pressure!
What we are offended by depends mostly on us, not on the person doing the offending. Some Christians decided to be offended, but Jerry also features tap-dancing klansmen and The Producers, famously, features balletic storm-troopers. Blacks and Jews could easily decide that such levity was appalling. Instead they’ve decided that it’s not just tolerable, but wonderful.
I was still a child, holding my mother’s hand (pretty sure mother was smoking her English Ovals) as we walked to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. An elderly white haired gentleman, dressed in black, stood on a small box and my mother explained that any one could get up and say whatever. I vaguely remember some feverish tract that day, on what, well, gone with the afternoon wind, but he spoke freely.
One thing I note, partly, but only partly, due to safeguards taken in good time (such as the trust from 1932 that protects The Guardian), to my eye Rupert Murdoch obtains less purchase in the UK than he does here.
The great pity of America is that repeatedly she bows to self-censorship. A monster that lies in wait…
Susan Sontag, with whom I often disagreed, after 9/11 did what other Americans have done in the past. In the farther past: Satchmo, to avoid the mob who wanted to get their hooks into him, lean on his contracts, etc., and the nearer past: Altman decamped post ‘00 selection, he calls America, BushLand. Sontag went to Paris for a while, to get away from America and its harrassment of her. I feel certain she received death threats (I can no longer remember precisely). Why oh why is that the ‘’early and often’’ response in America. We tolerate that speech (very hard to prosecute a threat). But not political free speech.
Liberte Egalite Solidarite. If those are in place, and active inside our lives, we will have Free Speech.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Information ISN'T Free
Many have worried over the years about some overt regime of information control. Hollywood visions of screens pumping out propaganda and newspeak. Nightmares of jackboots and overt government censorship. A powerful piece by Mike Whitney points out that they’ve done it much more quietly:
This may seem like a minor point, but in fact the conduct of the Bush administration cannot be seriously evaluated without understanding that deceit is the cornerstone of their class-based world view.
Evidence of this is everywhere, right down to the language that is painstakingly minted in right-wing think tanks to conceal the real meaning of administration policy. “The war on terror”, preemption”, and “enemy combatant” are just three expressions that are intentionally designed to mislead the public. The real purpose of this language is to elicit support for unpopular policies that serve the exclusive interests of elites.
They are the perfect reflection of the ruling class in this country, and they learned these tricks in the corporate world. Many of us spend our days awash in lies and carefully chosen language defined to produce ... well ... production. In the Bush Administration language is used to produce consent, support and power.
The line between private and public is being erased, but only in favor of one class of the public; the corporate class and the extremely wealthy who benefit most from Wall Street. The government has been taken down by a hostile takeover and the pieces are being sold off to the highest bidders, with the media, the one private endeavor enshrined in the US Constitution, hired as Gov’t Inc’s PR firm:
The “privately” owned media is only capable of producing a narrative that is compatible with the goals of ownership. Curtailing civil liberties (Patriot Act, National ID etc) and waging war are never in the public interest; they only serve the narrow objectives of the few who stand to gain from them directly. It is critical that the propaganda-system be progressively exposed so the public can see its destructiveness and work to create a different model.
The Democratic Party for quite some time has been on the corporate payroll as well. There are some genuine representatives in the party, but they are marginalized and sold out regularly by their supposed allies. Many hope that a growing sense of discontent amongst the populace will lead to change in Washington, but we can all bet that the corporate class, and their minions in the parties, will do everything they can to head attempts to organize:
Bush’s top lieutenants are entirely committed to creating their own storyline and calling it news. They are not restrained by the facts that emerge from the"reality-based" community. They are equally zealous about seeking out conflicting points-of-view and silencing them through their attack-dogs in right-wing radio. We should assume that they will do whatever it takes to eliminate the voices that compete with the one message they want to convey.
This means that the internet, which is perhaps the last outpost of democracy in America today, is undoubtedly part of the broader government strategy for controlling information. The internet is seen as “command and control” for the disparate leftist and liberal groups that foment resistance against the political establishment. There should be back-up plans to protect this vital resource. The Bush administration has already demonstrated its penchant for toppling regimes through “decapitation” or removal of the leadership. As the nexus for leftist organization, the internet is a logical target for this type of government disruption. Any attack on the system would be catastrophic for the antiwar and anti-imperial movements as well as a serious body-blow to personal freedom.
Mr. Whitney seems to be warning that the internet will be brought down, sites blocked, but as the success of the current regime has shown, there are other ways to remove leadership that might help focus resistance. Buy it off. As many supposedly liberal and leftist bigger blogs turn their backs on women’s health advocates (single issue voters) and antiwar activists (hippies) one has to wonder if the fundraising done through the blogs, overt advocacy for party structures and access to party leaders through conference calls isn’t corroding their independence.
It’s important that we on the left, those who resist the continued corrosion of our personal autonomy and freedoms, do everything we can to keep communicating, keep advocating, keep resisting. As Mr. Whitney concludes:
Both free speech and its antecedent the truth are much greater threats to the state than any bomb-wielding revolutionary. In the new world order only the managers are entitled to the truth, not the managed. That way, the public can be moved sheep-like in the direction of government policy. This means that hard news
on any topic is the implicit enemy of the political establishment. It is only by providing a constant stream of diversions and fear engendering alarms that the public can be kept in a persistent fog and deprived of the right to choose. Information is freedom; and that freedom is destined to become the province of the ruling class alone if the public fails to organize resistance.
The administration is “privatizing” information in the same way they have privatized all of the other tangible forms of wealth. The rest of us are left with the lies and distortions that course through the government’s ideological-filter. This isn’t a battle that can be won without a struggle. We believe that the truth is the birthright of every human being who will pursue it with an open heart and an inquiring mind. And, we will fight to preserve that right.
Removing the horns
This weekend, Cindy Sheehan and other Gold Star mothers are staging the final weekend of protest at Bush’s Crawford ranch and making plans to move on to Washington at month’s end. Does Sheehan speak for all grieving military mothers? Of course she doesn’t, but it’s amazing how supporters of the war (and of “patriotism") have tried to denigrate the voice she does have—the voice of the mother—and trying to pretend that what she says doesn’t matter; it’s just the “free will” of volunteer soldiers (usually men?) that matters. And of course, the will of the Big Man—the President.
It’s been truly said that true democracy isn’t about how you elect a leader, but how you remove a leader. In America, traditionally we have focused more on checks and balances between branches than on articles of impeachment. But a look back in the past of democratic systems of government in our own country (before it was our country) reveals that it was women—specifically, mothers—who had a major say in how bad leaders were removed from power in democratic fashion.
I have recently been reading Sally Roesch Wagner’s brief study on the women’s rights movement in America, Sisters in Spirit: Haudenosaunee Influence on Early American Feminists. This is a welcome look at the not-coincidental fact that the birthplace of the American women’s rights movement was also in the heart of the Haudenosaunee homeland. Was there a connection? How well did the Founding Mothers know the Clan Mothers? It turns out they knew and conversed with each other quite often.
The institutionalized role of Haudenosaunee clan mothers in nominating their chiefs is well known, but less known is the fact that they had equal and exclusive power to remove bad chiefs. This process was known as “de-horning,” or removing him from power and returning him to private life. Even when the Seneca Nation switched from a traditional form of government to a more American-style voting democracy in the 19th century, no Seneca treaty could be ratified unless approved by three-fourths of the mothers of the nation.
Even more ingrained in the Haudenosaunee tradition was the process surrounding the declaration of war. In 1822, an observer wrote,
If the women opposed the enterprise [of war] the warriors always gave it up, because the opposition of such a female council to any public undertaking was regarded as a bad omen.
Haudenosaunee women also were seriously paid attention to when they would expressly forbid young warriors from entering battle; this was documented before and during the American Revolution several times.
An Onondaga woman who spoke to local residents in Syracuse recently put it very simply: Mothers are the ones who raise the children who become grown men - potential chiefs. Not only do they know which ones will grow up to be good chiefs, but when it comes to questions of putting the people in danger through potentially violent confrontation, of course it is the mothers of the nation who must have the final say. Although Haudenosaunee no longer go to war, over the past decades there have been a few potentially contentious confrontations with “the authorities” as they defend their rights and so that is what they apply the principle to. (She related a well-known occasion about 30 years ago where this consultation took place, although fortunately the standoff did not turn violent - the cops went to Attica instead.)
So here we are in the 21st century, and the Haudenosaunee women still are light years ahead of us. In the greatest questions of war and peace, our mothers are still mocked. Dare they de-horn this president?
Pro-war, pro-death: The counterprotest pictures
Bloodthirsty knuckleheads made it to Bush country to protest Cindy Sheehan and call her a terrorist. Here are some fascinating pics:
Two college professors from Crawford Community made an appearance:
I love this next one. Look at the paunch on the guy telling me that I’m a chicken. This guy is so tough he isn’t in Iraq, he is in Crawford protesting a mother who lost her kid. Nice.
Cross-posted by Bob Riven from meat-eating leftist.
Dear Hillary and Patty: Go to Plan B
Damn it, girls, you just got screwed again by the usual suspects -- Republicans. And I hope for your sakes that you insisted on condoms, because the pathologically sex-obsessed right wankers who are running this country are still making sure that â€œgoing to Plan Bâ€? isnâ€™t going to get easier any time soon.
Plan B is a brand of emergency contraception, or EC, manufactured by Barr Pharmaceuticals. Itâ€™s a specific dosage of levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone used in regular birth control pills that is about 90% effective in preventing pregnancy when taken up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse. The FDAâ€™s own advisory panel of experts on womenâ€™s health, voting 23 to 4 to approve Plan B for sale over the counter, concluded that it is safer than aspirin, and that there is no reason at all that it shouldnâ€™t be available to women without a doctorâ€™s prescription.
Imagine . . . a couple of magic pills letting females of the species have sex without the ever-present fear of getting pregnant -- or as one Republican legislator more colorfully put it, turning young women into chemical Love Canals for frat house playboys -- which is, of course, exactly why the Rapture Right reaches orgasmic heights of fury at the very thought of EC sitting on a shelf at CVS right next to the Clearasil and shiny red lip gloss.
Despite pervasive anti-choice propaganda that emergency contraception facilitates early â€œchemical abortionâ€? by preventing implantation of a fertilized ovum, it has been demonstrated conclusively that Plan B works only by delaying ovulation until the risk of fertilization has passed. All EC does is prevent conception from ever occurring in the first place -- and since thatâ€™s all it does, that can be the only reason that George W. Bushâ€™s FDA doesnâ€™t want you to come by it.
Seven states -- Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Washington -- already allow women to buy Plan B from pharmacists without a prescription, and with no age restrictions. Massachusetts is ready to become the eighth within a couple of months, as soon as lawmakers there override abortion rights flip-flopper Mitt Romney's veto of nonprescription sales.
Thatâ€™s a good thing, because aside from the fact that women are most likely to need emergency contraception on weekends when their doctorsâ€™ offices are closed, far too many physicians invoke their traditional MDeity status to deny women one last, shiny chance at birth control.
And during the prolonged wrangle over the fate of Plan B, one such physician, Dr. David Hager, has flexed a disproportionate amount of muscle at the FDA. Hager is a devoutly â€œChristianâ€? OB/GYN appointed by George W. Bush to the FDA advisory committee charged with overseeing matters related to womenâ€™s health, and he cast one of the four votes opposing non-prescription status for Plan B. Hager was once best known for prescribing prayer and the reading of scripture as cures for PMS and menstrual cramping, as well as for his absolute opposition to premarital sex, abortion and all forms of birth control.
But those seemed like relatively minor oddities when we learned that the fervently religious Dr. Hager was given to anally raping his wife as she lay in narcoleptic unconsciousness, explaining to his bitterly outraged spouse that with the lights turned off, there was no way he could be expected to tell the difference between her anus and her vagina. Hagerâ€™s remarkable degree of gynecological skill and expertise, along with his highly moral family values, make it easy to see why heâ€™s Dubyaâ€™s kind of OB/GYN.
Hager publicly boasted that he was asked to oppose Barrâ€™s Plan B application by submitting a â€œminority opinionâ€? directly to the commissioner of the FDA. While playing coy with specifics, Hager strongly implied in a sermon he delivered last fall at Asbury College that the request to do â€œGodâ€™s willâ€? came from the White House itself â€“ and that it wasnâ€™t his brutal sodomization of his wife, but his dedication to â€œGodâ€™s workâ€? that had cost him his marriage.
That day, a mostly friendly audience of 1,500 students and faculty packed into the seats in front of him. With the autumn sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows, Hager opened his Bible to the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel and looked out into the audience. "I want to share with you some information about how...God has called me to stand in the gap," he declared. "Not only for others, but regarding ethical and moral issues in our country."
< ... >
"You see...there is a war going on in this country," he said gravely. "And I'm not speaking about the war in Iraq. It's a war being waged against Christians, particularly evangelical Christians. It wasn't my scientific record that came under scrutiny [at the FDA]. It was my faith.... By making myself available, God has used me to stand in the breach.... Just as he has used me, he can use you."
< ... >
"In early 2002," Hager told the churchgoers that day, "my world fell apart.... After thirty-two years of marriage, I was suddenly alone in a new home that we had built as our dream home. Time spent 'doing God's will' had kept me from spending the time I needed to nourish my marriage." Hager noted with pride that in his darkest hour, Focus on the Family estimated that 50 million people worldwide were praying for him.
And their prayers were answered when the FDA listened to what Hager and his friends from groups like Focus on the Family had to say â€“ in essence, that allowing women to avoid pregnancy as a consequence of sex will dissolve the last thin shreds of decency holding the fabric of our society together. The earthly manifestation of those millions of prayers was a denial of the Plan B application on the grounds that it might not be safe for girls under 17, who arenâ€™t sufficiently sophisticated to understand the dosage directions: you know, confusing instructions like â€œtake one now, and the other one later.â€?
During one of his confirmation hearings last March 17, Dr. Lester Crawford â€“ veterinarian, acting commissioner of the FDA and Bushâ€™s nominee to head the agency -- assured the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that a decision on Plan B would be forthcoming â€œwithin weeks.â€? But weeks passed, then months, and Crawford's promised decision never came.
Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Patty Murray are strong proponents of over-the-counter status for Plan B. Tired of the delaying tactics employed by the Rapture Right regarding Barrâ€™s application, they finally took a stand.
Washington, DC -- U.S. Senators Patty Murray (Wash) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), members of the Senate Health Education and Labor Committee (HELP), today voted against the nomination of Dr. Lester Crawford to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and placed a hold on his nomination, delaying consideration by the full Senate.
The Senators' hold will remain in effect until FDA issues a yes or no decision on the over-the-counter application of Plan B emergency contraceptives.
"We are asking FDA to explain why they are delaying an over-the-counter application for Plan B that even their own Advisory Panel overwhelmingly recommended for approval. We are not asking for a specific outcome, but for some final outcome," Senator Murray said. "American consumers demand an independent FDA and American women deserve direct access to safe and effective treatments. I fear that the case of Plan B highlights a leadership problem at FDA -- a leadership that can be biased or open to undue influence."
"Our request is simple and straightforward. We want the FDA to make a decision -- yes or no. After almost two years of waiting, the American people have the right to an answer," said Senator Clinton. "At a time when the FDA needs a strong leader to restore its reputation, I fear that Dr. Crawford's record demonstrates a lack of vision and drive to ensure that the FDA upholds its gold standard of drug regulation. He has failed to address the concerns raised by his own employees about the needs of the agency. And he cannot provide assurances that the FDA will make science, not ideology or other interests, the cornerstone of its decision making."
Clinton and Murray lifted their hold on Lester Crawford's approval as head of the FDA as soon as the FDA issued a letter committing to a final decision on OTC status for Plan B by September 1, 2005. Crawford immediately got his long-awaited confirmation from the Senate. And once Dubyaâ€™s favorite veterinarian was safely installed as head of the FDA, there was no longer any reason to delay the agencyâ€™s definitive "final" decision on Plan B until September 1.
Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE: BRL) today announced that it has received a letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning the Company's Supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) seeking Over-the-Counter (OTC) status for its Plan B(R) emergency contraceptive product. The letter states that "the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research ... has completed its review of this application, as amended, and has concluded that the available scientific data are sufficient to support the safe use of Plan B as an OTC product ... for women who are 17 years of age and older."
Notwithstanding this clear scientific determination, the FDA has delayed any action on the application. Instead, the FDA informed the Company that it intends to seek public comment on issues related to the approval of a product that has OTC status for patients 17 and older and prescription status for patients 16 and under. In its communication with the Company, the FDA did not commit to any timetable for initiating or concluding the rulemaking proceeding.
And there you have it: wham, bam, and thank you, ma'am.
This is what happens when nice Democratic girls talk themselves into believing that those irresistibly powerful Republican guys are still going to respect them in the morning. Somebody please, please, explain that to Hillary and Patty -- as if they shouldn't have known. But the ink is still wet on Lester Crawfordâ€™s premature release, so thereâ€™s still time for a couple of United States Senators to call their physiciansâ€™ offices and get a doctorâ€™s prescription for Plan B. If they succeed, theyâ€™ll be luckier than many of their less privileged sisters.
What happens next? Thatâ€™s just as predictable as what happened to Hillary and Patty. Now the monolithic and well-oiled â€œantiâ€? machine â€“ including Focus on the Family, the Concerned Women for America, the American Life League, Priests for Life and yes, honey, we could go on all night -- stands to attention, answers the call to action and inundates the FDA with "public comment." Just like the last time.
Always and forever, nice girls finish last.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Christ for president
In his political song Christ for President, Woody Guthrie mocked the crooked politicians of his day by arguing that only Jesus himself in the White House would do a decent job of taking care of Americans and our country. Thing is, Guthrie was joking.
But a group of aspiring politicians in Washington is trying to (almost) accomplish what Guthrie joked about: They are taking classes that teach them how to combine christian scripture with public policy. Difference is, they won’t be as caring or humane as the politician in Guthrie’s song.
“Holy Father, we thank you for providing us with guidance,” said Bouma, who works for an influential televangelist. “Thank you, Lord, for these students. Build them up as your warriors and your ambassadors on Capitol Hill.”
“Amen,” the students murmured. Then they picked up their pens expectantly.
Nearly every Monday for six months, as many as a dozen congressional aides â€” many of them aspiring politicians â€” have gathered over takeout dinners to mine the Bible for ancient wisdom on modern policy debates about tax rates, foreign aid, education, cloning and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
They learn to view every vote as a religious duty, and to consider compromise a sin.
That puts them at the vanguard of a bold effort by evangelical conservatives to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God.
The article goes on and on.
Why is it always christians pulling crap like this? How come Buddhists or Jews don’t get into politics to impose their views on every person in this country? It’s always the extreme christians who think that I actually care about their religion and their idea of morality. They think that without their moral guidance I will be corrupt and banished to their hell.
I dunno. Its a pretty scary time. There are six programs like this on Washington right now breeding more christs for president. We’ve said it before but I blame those damn terrorists on 9/11 for all this. This is the unintended side effect. Muslims threaten christianity and now I have to sit here and read about these uptight, insipid christians grooming themselves to make laws that will effect me and my kids. Thanks a lot, Mohammed.
cross-posted by AK from Meat-eating leftist.