The Continuing War on Women’s Health

 

President Obama speaking

President Obama speaks to a group about Health Care on Wednesday

Written by: Katie Garren

 

Recently, President Obama made a statement on the subject of birth control that became a hotly contested issue. Recently, there seems to be an increased focus placed on the matter of women’s health.  This matter always seems to come up during an election year. This year has been no different, with a slew of Republican hopefuls bringing up the subjects of birth control and abortion.

In Obama’s policy, he stated that health insurance plans would be required to provide free birth control to all female employees, including plans for Catholic hospitals, universities and charities.  The President’s administration saw this as a matter of equality for women.  Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, said upon the policy’s announcement, “I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”  This policy was intended to provide even preventative medicine for both men and women.  The contraceptive requirement was accompanied by requirements for blood-pressure screening and childhood immunizations.

The speech quickly became a talking point, both for people who approve and those who do not approve of its requirements.  Religious leaders were not at all open to the concept of providing contraceptives to women.  Catholic bishops were outraged, saying that this requirement “continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions.” They later vowed to fight the legislation through the other two branches of government.  Many leading Republicans also saw an opportunity to attack the President’s speech and interpret it as anti-religious. “This attack … on religious freedom in our country cannot stand and will not stand,” Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a speech on the floor of the chamber.  Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich added to the increasing ire having said, “If he (Obama) is re-elected he will wage war on the Catholic Church the day after (he is elected). We don’t trust him.”

On Friday, Obama changed his position. In a calculated measure, Obama sought to quell the controversy created by his policy.  In this revision, he states that religious organizations would not be required to provide free contraceptives to female employees.  “Religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women,” Obama told reporters.

Worst Company EVER: Biotech Giant Monsanto is Under Attack, Obama and the FDA are Under the Gun

 

CREDO Action - Dump Michael Taylor

Via CREDO Action website

By Allison Hibbs

Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation long reviled by organic farmers, environmentalists and conscientious foodies worldwide, has drawn more than the usual amount of rancor in recent months. While assailants are hoping the media blitzkrieg will prove as damaging to the company as they claim that its bioengineering and genetic modification practices are to the planet, that hope may prove optimistic in light of its cozy relationship with the United States federal government. Efforts to diminish that relationship have led to the recent circulation of more than one petition calling for the dismissal of FDA Food Safety Czar, Michael Taylor, a former top Monsanto executive.

One reason for the recent outrage is a perceived “crusade” by the FDA against small raw milk dairy farmers, many of whom are Amish, even as they overlook repeated violations by larger, industrial producers. CREDO, a publication of Working Assets, began a campaign in late January to educate and motivate consumers to sign a pledge beseeching President Obama to expel Taylor from the administration.

"While factory farm operators are getting away with serious food safety violations, raw milk dairy farmers and distributors across the country have been subjected to armed raids and hauled away in handcuffs."

CREDO Action

CREDO believes that the FDA’s efforts would be better spent enforcing food safety regulations at the largest industrial producers, where it claims that “antibiotic resistance has run amuck,” rather than focusing so much of the administration’s efforts on sting operations to arrest small dairy farmers.

"Incredibly, Michael Taylor and FDA inspectors have not arrested or fined the Iowa agribusinessman -- Jack DeCoster -- who was wholly responsible for the more than 500 million eggs that were recalled in 2010 salmonella-tainted egg recall. 3Though this industrial agribusinessman endangered the health of millions, Michael Taylor thinks Amish farmers producing fresh milk are more deserving targets of his FDA enforcement raids with guns drawn."

CREDO Action

 

The petition had garnered 151,160 signatures as of SuperBowl Sunday, 75 percent of its 200,000 goal.

SignOn.org Petition: Tell Obama to Cease FDA Ties to Monsanto

Another petition circulating on Twitter and Facebook had reached a total of 220,000 signatures by game time, far surpassing its original goal of 75,000. Written and circulated by Frederick Ravid, this petition includes a longer letter to the president, expressing opposition to the his administration’s appointment of Taylor three years ago.

“Taylor is the same person who as a high-ranking official at the FDA in the 1990s promoted allowing genetically modified organisms into the U.S. food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety or risks,” reads the letter. “This is a travesty.” Pointing out that Taylor was in charge of policy regarding the widely-opposed bovine growth hormone and that he fought against the requirement for disclosures on milk from cows that had been treated with the hormone, Ravid goes on to decry Monsanto as a company directly threatening the health and well-being of US citizens.

Reinforcing these concerns are WikiLeaks documents that surfaced last year implicating the Bush administration in questionable tactics used against countries in Europe to impel them to purchase Monsanto GMO products that they were resisting. Other documents imply that the US government considered putting pressure on the Pope to come out in favor of GMO foods. If any such actions were taken, they have proven largely unsuccessful and Monsanto has been repeatedly thwarted in France, Germany and the UK.

 

Additionally, lawsuits have been brought against the biotech giant by India and Canada for biopiracy and biocontamination, respectively; and a group of 270,000 American organic farmers are also suing the company for biocontamination. Ironically, the move is intended to protect these farmers against possible patent-infringement lawsuits brought by Monsanto over GMO seeds that have migrated to – and compromised – their lands.

For all of these reasons (and more), Monsanto has been voted Worst Company of 2011 by Natural Society, and the public seems increasingly to agree. As the acrimony grows, it is beginning to look like the corporation’s PR department has some serious damage control to do if it hopes to retain any influence over government activity.  It is, after all, an election year and Obama may not have the luxury of ignoring so many voters crying “Why, O, why?”

The Whipping Boy: Obama Takes Previous President’s Scrutiny In Stride

Written by: Alexis Poole

Recently, President Obama appeared on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and responded to scrutiny by Newt Gingrich, calling him “the most effective [food stamp] president.” Rather than debase himself to name-calling and slander, Obama chose to focus on the issues at hand, saying that he’s leaving it up to Americans to decide “who reflects the sort of core values that helped create this country–the values of hard work, responsibility, but also looking out for one another–and who is tapping into some of our worst instincts.”

With such diplomatic answers, Sawyer leans and implies, “Watching the debates?”

Obama shook his head saying, “You know, I don’t watch the debates, I gotta say. Now I read the reports, and what I get a sense of is that whoever wins the Republican primaries is going to be a standard bearer for the vision of the country that I don’t think reflects who we are.”

By not watching the debate, Obama focuses on the facts that have culminated to our country’s current state, rather than view sensationalized debates that have been watered down to slanderous disrespect and a riddling off of certain keywords and phrases used to illicit a positive response from would-be constituents. Hopefully, his charts and graphs are better than what we’ve been subjected to.

Chart of many mistakes

Given the mistakes, could you trust this author's credibility?

Separating the Jelly Beans Fact From Fiction

As we move from reading our news in papers onto reading primarily on the Internet, we must take into consideration the time lost in heavy research and who stands to gain from our inability or sheer lack of inclination to fact check all we come across through fast channels like Twitter and Facebook. Election time always brings out the emotional side in us all, tugging at purse strings and heart strings like a puppeteer. However, as American citizens, it is our duty to choose a worthy candidate through means of logic. And that’s where this chart falls flat, at the peril of MrConservative.com.

Since when does 8.5 percent minus 7.8 percent equal a difference of 9 percent?

When graphs like this one are presented, it’s our duty to use all the skills that our educated selves can conjure up and look at everything from an OBJECTIVE perspective. It also helps if we can add and subtract, unlike the odd math in row 2: Unemployment Rate.

First of all, subtracting percentages is simple enough. In the case of row 2, where the difference between 8.5 and 7.8 is somehow bigger than either initial number, the chart creator’s credibility comes into play. One could suggest that the percentages in row 2 should have been number of people in the millions, where a difference between them could very well be 9%–but since Mr. Conservative can’t edit his own work, his credibility is shot, as should anyone’s trust in him.

Secondly, in order for a chart to be accurate, it must compare separate and equal entities. If the chart presented the responses of a number of people who favored one jellybean flavor over another, we should all be able to agree that no matter how many different flavors presented, we’d still be talking about jellybeans.

According to the above chart, the ‘Inauguration Day’ column stands for, and could have been more accurately titled, ‘Pre-Obama’. Two presidential terms’ worth of George Bush, Jr equals the figures in the first column, whereas the middle column ‘Today’ combines the figures of both Bush terms and Obama’s singular term. To be completely fair, a graph would have to compare presidents’ contributions singularly and side-by-side; For example…We would ONLY have 14 million people on SNAP benefits (food stamps) if it wasn’t for Bush’s initial “contribution” of 32 million. While the numbers have indeed risen in almost every category, Obama’s “contributions” to these issues are far less than what he was presented with when he took office. Our deficit would only be $4.6 trillion if it wasn’t for Bush’s “contribution” of $10.6 trillion.

Instead of focusing on the differences however, we should be wondering how we incurred a deficit (of any size) to begin with. We all pay our taxes every year, we all get taxes taken out of our checks, some more than others. What is any elected official doing with our tax dollars? We need to be objective and prioritize our expectations. We know we elect human beings for president. Can we expect one human being (a president) or one group of human beings (an Administration) to clean up two terms’ worth of declining numbers AND make every American prosperous and happy? AND IN ONE TERM, no less?! We know the presidents we elect are human. We hope whoever holds the next term is HUMANE as well. Compared to Bush Jr. and the wildcard Mitt Romney, Obama might be the most humane of all…that is, unless we turn a little more attention to Ron Paul.

The Reasonable Lunacy of Ron Paul Action Figures

Super Politician Ron Paul!

What is faster than a liberal? More politically powerful than a lobbyist? Able to leap Ben Bernanke in a single bound? It’s..it’s….Ron Paul action figures! Representing a new wave of politically clever campaigning, the figures are being sold by Revolution PAC with all proceeds going to support Paul’s run for president. And who can blame Paul or his supporters for thinking outside-the-box, considering Paul’s main obstacle in running for the White House.

Since Ronald Ernest Paul first emerged on the presidential spectrum in 1988 as the Libertarian Party’s nominee, equal coverage has always been an issue. In his inaugural presidential campaign in 1988, Paul’s received little attention even within his own libertarian party. Garnering not even 1% of the vote in the presidential elections, nobody seemed to mind as George Bush went on to defeat Michael Dukakis.

A decade later in the 2008 presidential elections, not much had changed. While Paul opted for the Republican nomination that time around, his congressional record in the previous ten years apparently gained him little or no respect, perhaps evidenced  by the fact that FOX News chose to leave Paul off the debate invitee list.

Has the Paul campaign experienced any difference in treatment in 2011-12? Certainly the age of free-social media advertising has helped level the playing field, giving all candidates an equal voice, right? (Did anyone realize that the Socialist Party of California Chairman, Stewart Alexander is running! Or Fred Karger, the first openly gay presidential hopeful?)

In a recent media report published by the Pew Research Center, Texas Congressman Ron Paul received the least amount of news coverage of all, serious, GOP candidates (astoundingly, he was even beat out by Sarah Palin whose presidential campaign this year…..oh wait). While Pew’s report does state that Paul received a great deal of attention in the blogosphere, as well as an overall positive spin, this should not be equated to things like mainstream media coverage, or time and attention garnered in the one too many GOP debates.

Even more damming evidence against Paul’s fair coverage emerged as he announced his “Plan for America.” Contrary to ex-running mate Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan or Mitt Romney’s 59 point proposal, Paul’s plan has received little attention even by the endlessly hungry 24-7 news cycle. Maybe it just needs a catchier moniker?

The lack of attention attributed to Ron Paul could easily be attributed to his “radical” ideas, but why hasn’t his vision caught on with more of those dissatisfied with status quo politics? With the continuing malcontent rising in the American voice and Occupy movements, many citizens are completely dissatisfied with “politics” in general.  For instance, in the 2008 election, 56.8% of the voting population turned out, leaving nearly half the nation at home. While that percentage is considerably large relative to past elections and the highest since 1968, it still leaves close to a hundred million people who decided to abstain.

On one hand, they are the apathetic, the disinterested, and the jaded. If a candidate could tap into the lethargic voting base, the political scene could dramatically change in an instant. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the Occupy Wall Street groups whose platform, though admittedly undefined, more closely resembles Ron Paul’s positions than any other candidate on either siade of party lines. Surely the ultra-libertarian Paul and these groups could form a politically strong symbiotic relationship that, if nothing else, should garner Paul more attention than he is getting.

In the past decades of Paul’s political career, the narrative on him certainly has been that he is a “fringe candidate”, a “kook”, and at best, someone whose ideas were interesting but just so crazy that they shouldn’t even be considered a realistic possibility. But as the Occupy Wall Street protesters like to remind us, aren’t we in need of some radical change? If the country is to reverse it’s a trajectory, one in which the majority of Americans believe is going in the wrong direction, it won’t be made at the margins with tax tweaks or spending cuts here and there. Systemic change, the kind President Obama promised yet hasn’t seemed to deliver, is necessary. In which case, taking Ron Paul’s ideas more seriously should be more than just an interesting notion.

Obama will talk to Jon Stewart, but Not Stephen Colbert

The Leader of The Colbert Nation

The Leader of The Colbert Nation

Though President Obama is interested in appearing on the Daily Show, he is hesitant to show up for an interview on the Colbert Report. As it turns out, a politician has yet to get the best of news ‘fundit’ Stephen Colbert, and according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Obama doesn’t want to take the first shot.

But, considering the stark differences between the respective atmospheres of these two comedic news programs, his hesitation isn’t hard to understand. On the Daily Show, Jon Stewart offers a straightforward approach to exposing and exploiting contradictions found in the political arena, while on the Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert dances a jig of pure satire and irony.

Allegedly, President Obama is frightened by too much sarcasm, and can’t find the confidence to go head to head with Mr. Colbert. But, it’s kind of hard to believe that the same man who blasted the Republicans during their own dinner could be afraid of a five minute interview with a host on Comedy Central.

Host of The Daily Show

Host of The Daily Show

Who knows, maybe Stephen is more intimidating than most people think. Perhaps Mr. Colbert should tone it down to get the president to show up. Whatever happens, Jon Stewart is sure to make his french-named friend a little jealous if he’s the only one to get some presidential love.