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Posts Tagged ‘Susan Rose’



Planned Parenthood and the War Against Women

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

By Susan Rose
Special to Calbuzz

The memorable and courageous speech that California Representative Jackie Speier delivered on the House floor last week, challenging the Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood by sharing her personal experience of having an abortion for medical reasons, captured the frustration and anger of millions of American women.

At a time when the world watches the rippling revolutions in the Mideast, there is another war being conducted at home – a political war being waged against women.

Let’s be clear: what is at stake in the battle to eliminate Title X funding for Planned Parenthood is nothing less than an attempt to deny equality to women, an effort to restrict our social freedom and economic independence by taking away our right to determine when and if we will have a family.

The Republican war on women is not new, of course. Most recently, in  November 2009, the Republicans prevented coverage for abortions in the health care reform bill, a deal that Democrats accepted to get the legislation passed.

The right to control her own body, and thus to determine her course in life, is among the most powerful issues affecting a woman. Now that the Republicans hold a majority in the House, and have increased their overall numbers in Congress, they have ramped up their attacks on institutions that empower women to exercise this right, starting with Planned Parenthood and the range of health and family planning services the group provides.

The Pence Amendment that was passed by the House on Feb. 18th eliminates $327 million in national family planning programs.  Title X does not fund abortions; it does, however, provide a range of preventive health care such as contraception, pre-and post-natal care, cancer screenings and other health services for women, men and infants.

For every dollar spent on family planning the federal government saves four dollars in additional spending. The loss of Title X funding would prove particularly costly for California, where a Guttmacher Institute study shows these programs saved $581,890,000 in public funds in 2008.

As California Congresswoman Lois Capps put it on the floor of the House, the Pence Amendment is an “all-out Republican assault on women’s health.”

“By helping women and couples plan and space their pregnancies, family planning services have led to healthier mothers and children and have been instrumental in the long struggle for women’s equality in education, the workforce, and society.”

Other outrageous legislation pending in the House of Representatives would deny Title X funding if a clinic uses non-tax dollars for an abortion (HR217); allow a hospital to refuse to save a pregnant woman’s life if there was a threat to the fetus (HR358); impose penalties on private employers who offer health plans that would fund abortions (HR3).

The war against women is being waged on many fronts. In other states, legislatures are attempting to redefine rape victims as accusers, make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortions, and cut food and services for low-income women and their families as well as services for poor seniors, two-thirds of whom are women.

Planned Parenthood has issued a challenge to the U.S. Senate to stand with them, and to preserve the services provided by the 800 health centers funded by Title X.  Feminist organizations are sending email blasts and have activated their phone banks.  The call has gone out to save family planning heath care for women.

Vulnerable women has long been targets for the right wing. Women in America have fought for equality for two centuries. Suffragists went to jail to win the right to vote in 1918; despite progress made since then, it has been a slow advance. Violence, lack of affordable childcare, unequal pay and representation are among the problems many women face daily.

We have an obligation to our mothers and our daughters to keep fighting. We owe it to them to keep women out of the back alleys. We will not give in and we will not go back.

Susan Rose is a former Santa Barbara County Supervisor.  She previously served as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women and was a founding member of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee.

Why Some Women Candidates Just Aren’t Feminists

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

By Susan Rose
Special to Calbuzz

Gender balance in public office is a long-sought goal of the women’s movement.  What is politically crucial for feminists, however, is not simply electing equal numbers of women and men to office, but electing women and men who will further a feminist agenda.

While the mainstream media spew coverage about the success of Republican women candidates in last week’s primaries — including Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina in California, Nikki Haley in South Carolina and Sharron Angle in Nevada — the plain fact is that there was an utter lack of focus on feminist issues in these races.

Despite rhetorical declarations about “mama grizzly” feminism by Sarah Palin, none of these women has actively worked for women’s rights or advocated for social and political equality of the sexes.  They are not your mother’s feminists, nor your grandmother’s suffragists; they are conservative Republicans following the party line.

The California Republican party’s nomination of Whitman for governor and Fiorina for Senate, the first time the state GOP has ever selected a woman for either office, is historic, to be sure. But will they be voices for women in the general election?

It is instructive to note that the day after their victories, Whitman and Fiorina posed  together in a politically crafted tableau, captured in the June 10th LA Times front page photo of the two “united in victory.” The image seemed clearly intended to recall the energy and enthusiasm of 1992’s “Year of the Woman,” when Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein made history as the state’s first female U.S. Senators.

But a review of the platforms of Whitman and Fiorina, as presented on their web sites, shows no policy statements specific to women’s issues or language aimed at reaching out to women: Where do they stand on childcare, violence against women, economic justice, sex and race discrimination, to name a few of the social and political concerns of women?  As a billionaire and a multi-millionaire, respectively, how much do they care about such issues, or are they even aware of them? Apparently not, from the evidence to date.

On the threshold feminist issue of reproductive rights, Whitman declares herself pro-choice but with so many qualifiers that Planned Parenthood’s California political action committee opposes her candidacy.  In “The Truth About Meg Whitman,” PPAC notes that she does not support a minor’s right to access abortion services nor funding for family planning services.

Fiorina is adamant in her opposition to abortion rights and defines herself as pro-life.  She is endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee and the California Pro-Life Council.  [Editor's note: Calbuzz has already called attention to Fiorina's statement cited in the New Yorker:  “I absolutely would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if the opportunity presented itself.” ]

With three of the four top candidates in the general election being women, will we see a gender focus in the general election? How much will the women’s vote count in November? And who will win it?

Attorney General Jerry Brown and Senator Barbara Boxer, two longtime Democratic elected officeholders, both have long histories in California of supporting progressive issues and feminist goals.  Each has a legislative track record.  Boxer has been a passionate voice for pro-choice issues and Brown has a strong record of including women and minorities in his administrations.

They will be challenged by two female wealthy former CEOs with corporate experience, huge resources and no record of commitment to issues affecting women. Can these GOP women convince women voters they will do a better job in Sacramento and Washington?

In the world according to Sarah Palin, feminism can be defined by a working mother who is running for office.  But these female candidates are not feminist advocates. Their platforms reflect no commitment to the advancement of women.

Gender balance is about having a voice inside the halls of government.  If Whitman and Fiorina should win, they will not make women’s issues a priority.  It will be a big loss for women and years before we can regain those voices.

Once again California will be a test case for the nation.

Susan Rose is a former Santa Barbara County Supervisor and served as Executive Director of the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women.  She was a founding member of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, an organization dedicated to helping women achieve elected and appointive office.

*An earlier version of this post included a summary of Susan Rose’s bio that included an  out-of-date description of her connection to California Women Lead.

Arnold vs Calbuzz; eMeg’s Ad Buy; Memo to Media

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Calbuzz contributor Susan Rose, in a post filed Tuesday, roundly bashed Governor Arnold, characterizing his tenure as “a combination of insults, bullying, threats and failures.” After the post, David Crane, Special Adviser to Governor Schwarzenegger, asked for a chance to respond:

By David Crane
Special to Calbuzz

Susan Rose’s recent attack on Governor Schwarzenegger shows an utter disregard for facts.

Ms. Rose conveniently left out the single most important fact about the state budget, namely that explosive growth in government-employee compensation is responsible for crowding out spending for all those social programs she favors.

As one example, from 2003-2010, retirement benefit costs took more than $25 billion away from higher education, parks & recreation, environmental protection, health & human services and other important programs.  As another example, the per employee cost of compensation nearly doubled over the last ten years, stripping money from programs.

All of these costs were cemented into place by contracts and legislation passed by the last administration.  Governor Schwarzenegger has fought mightily to reform those contracts and legislation but legislators in hock to special interests refuse to budge.

Ms. Rose’s column is just another example of non-fact-based partisanship designed to fulfill the wishes of one special interest or another.  The real fact is that the only way to protect programs is by reforming government employee compensation.   While Ms. Rose is happy to raise taxes in order to keep paying more to government employees, Governor Schwarzenegger is not.

Actions speak louder than words. When Ms. Rose is ready to do something about the damage being caused by out-of-control government employee compensation it’ll be time to listen to her.

All eMeg All the Time: The Calbuzz Department of Dumpster Diving & Green Earth Recycling has stumbled upon an internal report from Meg Whitman’s campaign which details the size and reach of her current advertising buy, which can be described in two words: Holy Cow.

The campaign’s Gross Rating Point report, measuring total delivery of the current week’s broadcast ad schedule in 11 markets in California, shows that eMeg’s buy is comparable to what a fully-loaded campaign might ordinarily deliver in the closing weeks of a heated race – not three months before a primary that she’s prohibitively leading.

“These are some big fuckin’ numbers,” said Bill Carrick, the veteran Democratic media consultant after reviewing the report. “She’s buying the whole shebang.”

As a practical matter, 1,000 GRPs a week means that an average TV viewer in a large market would have about 10 opportunities a week to see a Meg Whitman ad;  in smaller markets, with only two or three stations, 700-800 GRPs would be a significant buy. Here’s what the internal campaign report shows she’s doing around the state (N.B. Calbuzz did not independently confirm these numbers):

–Bakersfield 806
–Chico-Redding 603
–Eureka 631
–Fresno-Visalia 986
–L.A. 1,008
–Monterey-Salinas 635
–Palm Springs 806
–Sacramento 984
–San Diego 1,008
–San Francisco 702
–Santa Barbara 929

“With this buy, the chances of not seeing a Meg Whitman spot are pretty slim,” Carrick said.

According to the report, Steve Poizner’s current buy in various markets is a fraction of eMeg’s – ranging from 15 to 50 percent – which seems in the ballpark, based on anecdotal reports from several veteran California media consultants who watch TV incessantly.

One Republican source not affiliated with the governor’s race said he thought the eMeg strategy of going on the air so heavy so early in the campaign might backfire:

“She’s way overdoing it – she’s going to wear out her welcome.”

Meg wears out her welcome: And that’s exactly what the Great Woman did in the East Bay yesterday, when she set off a row with veteran Bay Area political reporters by once again refusing to take any questions – after inviting press coverage of her tour of the Union Pacific Railroad site at the Port of Oakland. Chronicler Carla Marinucci picks up the story:

Then came the news that Whitman also wouldn’t take questions; reporters had been called in to “see” her make statements on “how she could be helpful as governor” on jobs and the economy, Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said.

Veteran reporters, who included KTVU’s Randy Shandobil and KPIX’s Hank Plante, were among the crowd that wasn’t amused. Question: is Whitman a candidate for governor, or a museum piece to be “watched” by reporters?

Pompei told reporters Whitman said the no press tour was a Union Pacific call — that the company’s officials did not want media coverage. (Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt begs to differ. He just told us that “we planned, actually, to have press talk with Meg on the tour….we understood there would be media availability and we wanted to work with that.”)

Calbuzz last year was among the first to throw a flag on eMeg’s obsessive avoidance of the California press corps as a significant campaign issue. (While Steve Poizner and Jerry Brown have both granted us extended interviews, the ticking clock on our request for a sit-down with Her Megness is now six months, three days and counting).

After Tuesday’s disgraceful performance, it seems clear that there are serious issues of  temperament and judgment – control freak arrogance, fear and contempt for reporters whose job is to serve as the eyes and ears of ordinary voters, for starters – that raise questions about her fitness to handle elected office and public life.

Here’s a suggestion for our campaign trail media colleagues: Don’t reward eMeg’s bad behavior. She’s not the governor, she’s not even the nominee of her party, she is a CANDIDATE for the nomination, and so far she has earned exactly nothing.

If Whitman is unwilling to abide by the norms and forms appropriate to a political campaign, then she should not receive coverage appropriate for candidates who do. Stop running stories on any Whitman events in which she refuses to take questions from reporters. Period.

Guest POV: Arnold Is the Elephant in the Room

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

By Susan Rose
Special to Calbuzz

With all the hype about the California governor’s race, and insider jabber from outfits like Calbuzz, the media is paying insufficient attention to  Governor Schwarzenegger’s final months in office.

Sadly, the man can do a lot more damage to the state before his term ends.

From the time he took office in 2003, Arnold’s style of governance has been a combination of insults, bullying, threats and failures. From the beginning, he was unable to use the bully pulpit to break Sacramento’s political gridlock, as he had promised during his campaign.

Each year’s budget process has seen a tsunami of cuts, from parks to poor people’s health care. The governor’s manipulative tactics were most recently demonstrated by his budget proposal to defund the state Parks Department unless the Tranquillon Ridge oil proposal is approved, a highly controversial deal among California environmentalists.

This year California faces a looming $20 billion deficit. Completing his last budget cycle in office, Arnold is moving from cutting major programs to eliminating many of them unless the state gets a huge load of federal dollars. Only on Fantasy Island could anyone imagine Washington bailing out California.

A few examples of the governor’s draconian proposals to get us out of the quagmire he dug for the state: elimination of Calworks; In-Home Supportive Services; Healthy Families Programs; California Food Assistance Program and Adult Day Care Center benefits. Once again the poor, the sick, the disabled and the elderly are his target, as a reading of his proposed 2010-11 budget shows.

Other Schwarzenegger-era changes are reflected in the demise of our once highly regarded educational institutions. The UC and CSU systems are experiencing major increases in tuition, fees, faculty furloughs, loss of academic programs and a reduction in student admissions. Likewise, at the elementary level, school days and years are being shortened, teachers fired and class sizes increased. This is not the kind of change Californians voted for in 2003.

For many, it has been unclear who is managing our state government. Who is making these decisions? On Jan. 17, 2010 the LA Times answered that question with a front page story that fully described the role of Susan Kennedy, his chief of staff, as Schwarzenegger’s alter ego.

Kennedy, the one time liberal activist with strong Democratic Party credentials, was hired by Schwarzenegger in 2005 to run his office.  Neither political party was thrilled. In the process of retooling Team Schwarzenegger, Kennedy has taken control of steering the ship of state.

In light of Schwarzenegger’s acting career, it is easy to describe his administration in terms of a Hollywood B movie ,with Arnold as the lead. From the time he announced his plan to run for Governor on the Jay Leno show on Aug. 7, 2003, Californians in fact have been forced to watch the Terminator play a role, unfortunately on that did not end with his election.

A seven-year balance sheet of the Schwarzenegger- Kennedy years shows a few progressive environmental victories, stacked up against the worst economic social crisis since the Great Depression. Today, the paucity of leadership in the governor’s office has put California behind most states in the fields of education, business, technology and innovation.

Upon taking office, the Governor kept a campaign promise and rolled back a vehicle license fee that had been approved by his predecessor Gray Davis. Kenneth T. Rosen’s piece, “California’s Fiscal Crisis: Some Simple Solutions,” estimates $28 billion in revenue has been lost during the last six years, an amount that would have largely staunched California’s slide into economic despair, and possibly prevented it altogether.

An oil severance tax could also have eased state budgetary pain, but his dogmatic opposition to progressive tax increases, coupled with his movie start approach to governance, reflect a lack of compassion for the health and well being of those who elected him.

As if this is not enough, the Governor is leaving us with a parting gift: an $11 billion bond to “fix” California’s water system, a special interest grab bag that will add another $60 million a year to the state’s debt service burden, already the fastest growing item in the budget..

In short, the governor has fiddled while California burned, always more interested in appearing on Sunday talk shows than in real governance. It could have been avoided. That is the legacy of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Calbuzz contributor Susan Rose is former two-term member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

A Feminist’s Outrage at Abortion-Health Care Deal

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Susan RoseSusan_Rose
Special to Calbuzz

Saturday night’s vote on health care reform was a disaster of mega proportions for American women.

Amid the legislative horse-trading that occurred to pass the bill, women lost big time: the House of Representatives cast 220 votes for health care – and 220 against reproductive health for women.

Between the Catholic Bishops lobbying and the Democratic Blue Dogs yelping we should have seen this coming months ago. We didn’t have a chance.

President Obama said he didn’t want to change the status quo (the existing policy embodied in the Hyde Amendment allows abortions for rape, incest or when a mother’s life is at stake) but that policy has been wavering for years – one vote away at the Supreme Court.

Now Congress has done the hard work for the Supremes. It has been 36 years since Roe v. Wade was decided and now women are about to lose access to safe abortion services. Women are the sacrificial lambs for health care reform and the Democratic Party led the way.

The weapon of choice was the anti-abortion amendment authored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.

It cleverly blocks coverage of abortions from several directions: Private insurance companies participating in the new public health exchange would not be able to cover any abortions; women receiving tax subsidies could not use their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion, even if it is 100 percent of their own funds; low-income women who depend entirely on public health care would have no access to abortion and no alternative to care; other women would be forced to buy a separate insurance “rider” to cover any future abortions. With these restrictions squeezing out nearly all insurance for abortions, who would be left to provide such services?

The health care debate now moves to the U.S. Senate.

Even if Senators eliminate the offensive Stupak amendment, a final bill must, of course, satisfy both houses. As currently proposed, the health care reform bill would cause more women to have less access to comprehensive health care.

For more than 25 years, the Democratic Party has championed reproductive freedom for women. It has been a main plank in party platforms and all national political conventions. Women’s organizations like NOW, Emily’s List and The Feminist Majority have made choice a litmus test for their endorsements and, in return, have recruited candidates and raised money for their elections. The Democratic Party depended on this support.

nancy_pelosiThe Democrats had an excruciating choice: health care reform or reproductive rights for women. Under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership they chose health care. Perhaps the Speaker believes that this will be worked out in conference committee, but considering the firestorm now ignited on both sides of the debate, I doubt it. Once again women have been sent a message that they don’t count.

Women may hold up “half the sky” in the rest of the world, but in the US culture, not much has changed. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) introduced in 1972 still hasn’t passed, and CEDAW, the international treaty proposing the elimination of “all forms of discrimination against women,” has been ratified by 186 countries but not by the US. Rape and domestic violence exist in epidemic proportions and universal childcare is not available. Women still don’t matter.

A friend and longtime Democrat told me yesterday she is re-registering as an Independent. The Democratic Party has a lot at stake in this health care vote, not least the majority support of women voters.

Am I angry? You better believe it. The message from Washington D.C. is clear – our government will decide for women how and in what way we control our bodies. We have been hearing the debate for years but we are now much closer to that reality. It was the closing bell on Saturday night.

Susan Rose, a board member of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, served 8 years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and writes regularly about women’s issues for Calbuzz.