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Monday, April 30, 2012

FIGHTING BACK AGAINST THE WAR ON WOMEN

April 28 Speech
My understanding of how this event got started is that a couple of women simply had enough of the war on women. So those women, Karen Teegarden And Desiree Jordan started a new Facebook group, “Organizing Against the War On Women.” Within twenty-four hours there were almost 500 people asking to join and offering up their skills. This rally, and those like it across the country, is a result of those two women just saying “enough.”  They certainly struck a chord with the women of this land.  We are here today to keep that fire going and pick up the mantle of those that came before us. They fought hard for our rights, and we are not simply going to let them be thrown out the window.
last week  I heard Mr. Romney, say “people are saying we have a war on women.  There is no war on women.”
Well, Mr. Romney, yes, there is a war on women.  It’s been going on for quite some time and we are here today to fight back.
We are not talking about any violence here.  But be clear, we are strong.  We are determined.  And we do not intend to back down and lose all that previous generations of women gained for us.
Mr. Romney, this is how we know there is a war on women.  This is what it looks like:
Women waited for years for the Lily Ledbetter law that requires equal pay for equal work. There shouldn’t be anything radical about a person get paid fairly for their work.  But yet, a candidate for Senate right here in Michigan, Pete Hoekstra,  called The Lily Ledbetter Act annoying.  This man is running for Senate in this state and yet says it is annoying to have to pay us our worth.
Another piece of evidence of the war on women:  Virigina passed into law a bill forcing women to endure medical treatments against their will.  These are the very people who yammer about liberty.  Well, apparently they are not concerned about women’s liberty because they want to force women into unwanted medical treatments not ordered by the doctor.
Some legislators even suggested a bill that in cases where an abortion is required to save the mother’s life, hospitals allow women to simply be left to die. Maddie Oatman, Mother Earth News.
 A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." Victims of other less gendered crimes, of course, like burglary, would remain "victims."  According to this state legislator, however, when a woman is the victim, she is suddenly not a victim.  She is simply an accuser.
Right now there is an issue at the Federal level. The Violence Against Women Act became law in 1994 and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. Death from domestic violence fell dramatically as a result of this law.  It now needs to be reauthorized again.  It passed the Senate.  We don’t yet know what will happen in the House of Representatives.  But let’s keep our eye on it.  If any of our congress people vote against it, let’s expose them for waging this war on women.
It has been a bit of a challenge making this list, because every day my inbox is filled with more examples of this war on women.
They have tried to redefine rape, cut funding for women and children’s programs.  They have even tried to cut funding for early childhood programs because “women should stay home and raise their own children.”
Hundreds of pieces of legislation have been introduced across the country to harm women in a myriad of ways.
And these are from the “pro family” candidates.  I hate to see what they would do if they were “anti-family.”
So, yes, Mr. Romney, that is how we know there is a war against us.  And pretending there isn’t a war will not make it go away. Stopping the attacks is the only thing that will make them go away.
Today we are here to stand up in defense of women across this country.
Right now I am going to venture out and talk about the thorniest of all thorny issues:  abortion. 
This is the most complicated, frustrating, nuanced, divisive issue facing us as a country today.  And yet, we have boiled the whole issue down to just a few words:  pro choice or pro life.  And that’s where all discussion stops.
I think those labels miss the mark.   The question is this:  are we going to handle this dilemma by criminalizing it or denying access?  Or are we going to find a solution that is actually effective?

I did a little research to find out how other countries handle this.  What I discovered is not only shocking, it is counterintuitive.  The countries that have criminalized abortions actually have MORE abortions.  I want to repeat that.  The countries that have criminalized it actually have MORE abortions.  Countries where it is legal, but there is good solid education and available birth control, have a greatly reduced abortion rate.  THAT is what we need to be talking about.  This information does NOT come from any biased organization; it doesn’t come from the right-to-life organization or Planned Parenthood.   It comes from scientific studies by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization.
So today I am calling on those organizations that call themselves “pro life” to join with us on developing and implementing EFFECTIVE solutions that we can all agree on -- making birth control available, education, and medidal research.  How about a motto like this?  Education, not legislation.  There is a huge common ground here and we need to find it, so we can resolve this issue and  address other important dilemmas we are all facing:  global climate change, public education, public safety and public health to name a few.  While we are fighting about whether to criminalize abortion, which we now know is an ineffective solution, all those issues are lying dormant and unresolved.
So – Education, not Legislation
Another point I’d like to make is that when we look at our elected officials we immediately see that women are drastically underrepresented.  In the state of Michigan, not even 25% of our legislators are women.   The governor, Lt. Gov and Attorney General:  all men.  As a matter of fact, of the top six most powerful people in this state, five of them are men.  I don’t know how it is in your town, but where I live, in Muskegon County, there is only one woman on our county board.  There has never been more than one woman at a time on our county board. 
So women, it’s time for us to stand up, get out in front and become leaders in our communities.  No one will ever address our issues as well as we do. We need YOU to run for public office, so women’s voices can be heard.  Studies have shown that the more women who are in an elected body, the less corruption.  When there are women on board, the men simply act better.  So we are needed out there.
Sometimes, though we are our own worst enemy.  We were told so long we are not capable, that we have come to believe it.  But ya know what?  That is simply not true.  We are smart, committed, and capable and should be out there doing our share.
So we know there is a war on women.  How do we stop it?  We can now see that ignoring it didn’t help; it just got worse.
It is up to each one of us to meet our legislators, talk to them, find out what makes them tick and where women fit into this society.  Remember.  You are THEIR boss.  You do not need to be intimidated by them or worry about what they think.  YOU are the boss; you have every right to find out about their stands on issues.  More importantly, you can research their votes.  There are plenty of legislators out there who say they are pro-women, then introduce or even vote for legislation that will harm us.  Talk to them, but do your research as well.  It is your right and duty as a citizen of a democracy.
And when you figure out who is truly your ally.  Do everything you can possibly do to get that person elected.  Talk to others about them, knock on doors for them, walk in parades.  And lastly. DONATE!!  We all hate the corrupting influence of money on politics.  But if we don’t donate, our candidates will lose.
There is a pretty strong war going on against us.  They are well-financed, well organized and they never give up.  But there are more of us.  But we need to be on the front lines making informed decisions about who we vote for and we need YOU to work in the trenches.
Today is the day.  This is the day we pick up the mantle left to us by previous generations of women run with it.
I want to close with a quote from Harriet Tubman, who DID change the world.
“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to change the world.”
Thank you.

Friday, April 27, 2012

MY TESTIMONY AT THE STATE BOARD OF CANVASSERS MEETING

My testimony at the State Board of Canvassers committee hearing yesterday.  The Board voted to throw the petitions out based on a nonexistent font error.  It was supposed to be 14 point bold, in capital letters, and it was.



In the past year, volunteers from across the state gathered nearly a quarter of a million signatures to call for a referendum on Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager Law.

These were not paid petition-gatherers.  Hundreds of volunteer citizens did the hard work of a democracy.  They sat in hot parking lots, went to farmer's markets, attended meetings and worked for months to circulate petitions and gather signatures.

Citizen volunteers then unloaded boxes and boxes of petitions to take to the Secretary of State's Office for validation.  202,238 signatures have now been validated.

A few hours before the deadline to submit a complaint, a small group of Lansing insiders drummed up nonsensical allegations to try to silence the voices of these hundreds of thousands of citizens.

Everyone in this room knows the claim of using the wrong font has absolutely no merit.  There is not one speck of doubt in anyone's mind; this is a completely bogus complaint.

Clearly, it is the constitutional right of those citizens for this referendum to go on the ballot in November and let the citizens decide if they like PA4.

This issue has now made national news.  The eyes of the entire nation are on you.  Those people here in this room -- and all the people who are watching and listening to this issue from their homes, what will they learn about our state?  Will we be a state that honors the constitution?  Or are we a state that throws out the constitution when it is inconvenient?

Whether you are for PA4 or against it is irrelevant.  This issue at hand is this.  Will the citizens' constitutional right to a referendum be honored?

If a few powerful Lansing insiders can overturn the voices of thousands of citizens, our constitution is at serious risk.  It is your responsibility to protect our constitution.

It is time to stop the erosion of our constitutional rights.

Please.  Protect the constitutional rights of the citizens of this state.  Allow those thousands of voices to be heard.  Put this referendum on the ballot.

Thank you.




Friday, April 20, 2012

DEPOSE, FIRE, NULLIFY AND ELIMINATE

MY TURN

What is it called when a “government” consists of one man who can do virtually anything he wants and the governed have no voice or vote? That’s a dictatorship, and it’s what the LDN inexplicably endorsed in a recent editorial on the so-called “emergency manager law”. 


Under this law, the governor can unilaterally appoint a crony to rule absolutely over any municipality or school district. This person can sell off, depose, fire, nullify, eliminate, or dissolve anything he pleases with the excuse that it’s financially expedient—and pay himself from whatever is left. Thus far this law has been applied primarily to poor minorities (surprise!), but there is nothing to prevent much wider application as the state takes away resources and then blames communities for lacking them. 


“But something has to be done,” says the well-heeled outsider whose community is not yet hit. Something has been done. First corporations have abandoned the communities that nurtured and supported them in favor of outsourcing in pursuit of record-breaking profits. Second, the state has gutted appropriations, especially to school districts, which are no longer allowed to raise their own operating revenue. The resulting flattened income cannot be “managed” by the wisest guru; the only alternatives are to restore/replace the revenues or to slash and burn. Of course, the powers that be like option two. In the process, the most fundamental right of Americans, the right to vote, is simply eliminated! 


“But this will get them on a ‘sound’ financial footing,” says the all-knowing outsider. “Sound” here, means destroying those communities or school districts by guaranteeing that no one with the ability to get out will stay in them as they precipitously deteriorate. People prefer to be somewhere where they can actually vote as the Constitution guarantees. This accelerates a race to the bottom while destroying democracy as we have known it. 

“But there’s corruption in these localities!” says the superior outsider. Quite possibly so—government and business are both prone to it. Case in point: Petitions have been filed to place the overturn of this law on the ballot, and there is no chance of eliminating enough signatures to void them. So a Lansing law firm with right-wing ties has filed a lawsuit claiming they should be voided because of the font size at the top! By the way, one of the partners in the law firm sits on the four-person board that will hear the suit. That sounds like corruption on the state level to me—not to mention the height of the ridiculous. But it’s a power grab that may work.


“But the governor doesn’t want to run towns and school districts”, says the mind reader. Probably true—he has his cronies for that. Quid pro quo is illegal (just ask Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois governor doing fourteen years’ hard time), and our governor is too clever to engage in it. He just expects his managers’ eternal gratitude—and whatever else might flow naturally and legally from that. 


“But they’re ‘not like us’ in those towns”, says the bigot. Jesus answered that one in Matthew 25: “Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me”. The big shots in Lansing would say we’re “not like them” too—we’re not rich enough, powerful enough, or well enough connected. 


It boils down to three simple questions: Do we live in a democracy or not? Will we stand by while the right to vote is taken away from others on the assumption that it couldn’t happen to us? If that
assumption were true, would that make it OK?


So what can we, the powerless, do about it? 

* PAY ATTENTION-- What if the governor should decide that Pentwater Schools are too small to be financially viable? Or that Amber, Summit, Hamlin, Pere Marquette, and Ludington should be combined to cut costs? Under this law, it can happen. We can’t vote it down because under this law we have no vote, but we can make a lot of noise. We can also support loudly those it’s already being done to.
* SPEAK UP—whenever and wherever you see voter suppression taking place, even by
shortening voting hours, providing fewer machines, etc.
* BEWARE THE GOVERNOR—He shares goals with the about-to-be-recalled governor across the lake in Wisconsin; he’s just slicker.

Hard times are no excuse: DEMOCRACY MUST PREVAIL OR THIS ISN’T AMERICA. 
Carol Rodwell
PM Township

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

MADDOW AGAIN


Rachel Maddow covered more nonsense from Michigan this evening; it gets worse by the day. 
Remember all the hours we spent gathering signatures last summer to put the repeal of the Emergency Manager/Dictator law (PA4) on the ballot?
It has turned out that a group called Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility is trying to disqualify all those signatures, throw out all of our hard work – over – get this – the size of the font on a heading of the petition.  It will go to the board of canvassers and guess what?  One of those who put in the complaint about the font size is on that board. 
That’s right.  This guy, who is from a Republican consulting firm, puts in a complaint, then sits on the board to determine if the complaint has merit.  There are four people on the board, two Republicans and two Dems. According to Tim Skubick, the complaint will put an end to the petition if there is not a majority vote on the board of canvassers.  With two Dems and two Republicans on that board, does anyone think there will be a majority to overturn the complaint? 
But it can go to the courts so we can have justice, right? Ultimately it will end up at the Supreme Court;  historically, this supreme court has thrown justice out the window and instead rules the way the Republican Party tells them to.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is now in the hands of powerful Republicans who will ultimately throw it out, whether that is right or wrong, whether the petition was legal or not. The truth is that there is nothing wrong with the petition. There is nothing wrong with the font size.  But it won’t matter.  I hope I’m wrong, but from where I am sitting, no matter what happens, no matter how wrong they are and how right we are, this will end up at the Supreme Court and it will go with the Republicans.   That is how bad the situation in this state has become.
Many people were upset about Michigan’s Immediate Effect problem, partially because of the footage of Democrats unable to get the attention of Republican leadership.  The potential repeal of PA4 situation does not have that compelling footage.  But believe me, it is far worse.  A few people in power are in a position to literally rip our democracy right out of our hands.
What do we do?  Should we stand back and watch?  Or do we move into action? 
The least we can do is let people know what is happening on the Supreme Court.  We voted the ineffective board in.  We can vote in a more effective Supreme Court in November.
The Supreme Court candidates I am supporting are Bridget Mary McCormack, Sheila Johnson, and Connie Marie Kelly.  Remember those names; tell your friends and neighbors to vote for them in November.  We simply must get a Supreme Court that believes in justice for the people.
So I ask again.  What do we do?  People stood with the family of Trayvon Martin; the populace erupted and his killer has now been charged with second degree murder.  Glen Beck lost his job and Rush Limbaugh was significantly weakened because we stood together.  Is it time for us in Michigan to act in regard to the Repeal of PA4?