Disclaimer: Content on the YP4 blog does not necessarily reflect the views of Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation. The views, ideas, statements or claims posted on this site by members of the public cannot in any way be attributed to either Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation.
While abortion remains legal, the rising tide of violence is still jeopardizing access to vital medical services. I repeat, this is still jeopardizing aceess. Abortion today remains barely reachable in non-urban communities for women who do not have economic resources available to them. Abortion clinics deal with undue threats of violence every year. In the early 1990s several abortion doctors had their houses picketed by anti-abortion advocates who threatened the livelihoods of the few doctors in the country who could perform third trimester abortions. Abortion clinics provide a variety of affordable health services and in 2000 the Feminist Majority's National Clinic Violence Survey found that virtually all clinics (98%) provided other health care services in addition to abortion. Last year John Roberts was appointed head of the Supreme Court. Not a pleasant fact at all considered he defended Operation Rescue's claim that argued that abortion clinic violence is not discrimination against women despite the fact that women are the only people who are trying to get into the clinics for this service.
A new bill signed by Wisconsin's governor Jim Doyle forces sex-ed instructors to teach children that the only "safe sex" is abstinence. This will take effect July 1st. This bill will go farther than many abstinence only brochures to teach students that condoms are dangerous, not only that they are supposedly "ineffective."
I am tired of abstinence-only education lying about sex to the youth of America. Abstinence-only perpetuates that young people should withold from pro-pleasure activities because we should all "better be safe than sorry." The looming threat that parents will be notified induces more fear.
I am a pro-pleasure activist. We live in a culture that vilifies sex. I am tired and cynical of this propaganda that tells me that supposedly birth control will put me at a higher rate for cancer, as a brochure that a friend of mine showed me last summer said. We both laughed at the ridiculousness of these statements being presented to us as divine truths.
Multi-sex education is the only way to combat what abstinence-only proponents continuously argue is the "increasing of STDs among teens." They have been saying this for years and times are not the same and they are still sticking to this shopworn argument.
Here is a telling fact that I found last summer when I was interning at the Feminist Majority Foundation. I thought it was very telling so I immediately shared it with everyone I knew including putting it in an article I wrote and calling pro-Proposition 73 (Parental Notification Initiative) radio shows throughout CA. Here it is:
In a 2003 Journal of the American Medical Association study, 47 percent of teens surveyed indicated that they would stop using all sexual health care services if parental notification were required, but 99 percent of the girls indicated they would continue to have sex.
Take that to the streets.
(LAS VEGAS) On Friday at YearlyKos, an energetic state representative from Phoenix describes Arizona's Clean Elections laws and how they've made it easier for progressive candidates to run - and win. Outside in the hallway, a young woman sits on the floor, typing on her computer as the conference swirls around her. In the registration area, an earnest young man greets conference participants and invites them to a party later that night.
People For the American Way is very present here in Las Vegas. It's not just the orange lanyards everyone's wearing, emblazoned with People For's name and logo. And it's not just People For's President Ralph Neas and over a dozen members of the staff here supporting the conference. It's people like these, the future of the progressive movement.
Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema is an important part of People For's Young Elected Officials Network. Jessie Grenfell is a Young People For staffer who's live blogging from the conference on YP4's web page. Adam Conner is a Young People For fellow from D.C. who's taking time to work for Mark Warner's campaign. These are dedicated, talented people who are already making a difference and whose promise is even greater. People For didn't invent these people, but it is making a strategic investment in them and in other leaders - current and future - of the progressive movement.
Good Morning Folks,
It's only 8 AM here on the west coast and I am up bright and early to hear DNC Chairman Howard Dean address the rowdy YearlyKos crowd.
Before the Chairman spoke audience members were warmed up by a Bush impersonator! He did an AMAZING - spot on impression. When asked about what the Bush administration is doing to fight the "terrorists in the South," he appropriately responded by saying "I know you are talking about the illegal immigrants and gays."
Chairman Dean received a very warm welcome from a surprisingly energized (because of the early time) crowd.
Deans message to the crowd centered on restoring American values. Although he never outlined what exactly he meant by that, he did claim that the American people agree with Democrats on the issues and stated that the U.S. is a "big D Democratic country." As an example the Chairman said that most people think it is immoral for Republicans to spend their time bashing gays while children in America go to bed hungry and don't have access to healthcare.
Dean said that giving money is not enough to build a sustainable Democratic party. He believes people need to give money over the long term, help do VR/GOTV work, and encourage more people to run for office - starting at the local level.
Overall, Dean's speech focused a lot on grassroots work and putting the future of the party back into the hands of the states and local leadership.
Brendan Ballou-Kelley, blog team member who often talks about the issue of network neutrality, will be happy to know that Dean touched on the issue and stated his commitment to keeping phone companies from controlling the internet and essentially limiting access and regulating the internet.
Now, I am sitting in a panel discussion about blogging trying to think of questions that I am going to ask Senator Harry Reid tonight when I get the opportunity to meet him!!
This is my final plea, help me think of questions to ask Harry Reid!
(LAS VEGAS) - This is the first opportunity I've been given to post to the YP4 blog, and I am grateful to Shawn Dixon and Jessie Grenfell. They are part of the great People For the American Way and Young People For team here in Las Vegas.
The YearlyKos conference has been interesting. It began Thursday with training workshops and caucus meetings. I attended a training workshop on candidate recruitment and several of the caucus meetings. In the regional caucus of the southern states, a mainstream Protestant minister spoke with sadness about his denomination is muzzling its once-proud social justice tradition in the onslaught of denominational conservatives who think gay marriage and abortion are moral issues, but poverty and racial discrimination are not.
Friday was full of panels on both issue areas and skill sets, punctuated with a breakfast hosted by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a noon speech by Senator Barbara Boxer and an evening party hosted by former Virginia Governor Mark Warner. Richardson's was the most productive setting, with the Governor dialoguing with a small group of about 50 for over an hour. Warner's party was held in the Stratosphere Tower, with its stunning view of Las Vegas 1,000 feet below.
There is a healthy mix of bloggers and non-bloggers here, but the overarching themes of the participants are great pride and patriotism, a deeply-felt sense that our country is on the wrong track, and a willingness to invest themselves in making it better. You simply cannot get any more American than that.
Well folks, the media credentials have done it again. Moments ago I had the opportunity to sit in a room with Senator Barbara Boxer (I was seated on the floor about 3 feet from her while I held my recorder in the air towards her mouth) as reporters asked her questions.
In the press room the Senator wanted to talk about was her opposition to the Iraq war. She stated that the Iraq war is the most important issue for citizens to consider when voting in the upcoming elections in November.
As expected someone mentioned Joe Lieberman and questioned the Senator's support for her colleague in Connecticut. Although she seemed to think Lieberman made a mistake by trumpeting his support for the war, she went on to say that she does support his candidacy.
Interestingly, as she was leaving, the Senator questioned the man who kept pressing her to state her support for Lieberman asking him why he was so focused on Lieberman. He responded by saying that everyone at the Netroots conference was focused on Lieberman. The Senator disagreed and said this was the first she had heard of it. Is it possible that Senators are so insulated from reality that they aren't aware of the grassroots movement to unseat Lieberman?
Either way, the press conference was a blast and I was very excited to get to be in the room!
Tomorrow when I am in the room with Sen Harry Reid, I promise to ask a question. But, I honestly need your help!!!!!!! What should I ask??
This is Jessie, Online Communications Manager of YP4, blogging live from YearlyKos. Shawn has given me the honor of putting up a post on Barbara Boxer's keynote speech, but you'll be hearing more from him later. While I wait for Senator Boxer to get on stage, I'll tell you a little about what I've been up to since I've been here.
Yesterday I attended the Student Caucus, where I may have been the oldest person in the room. There was a lot of talk about the challenges facing students committed to campus activism and how many progressive youths don't always know how to remain active in the progressive community once they graduate from college, two issues that YP4 is working on addressing. So it was nice to get that confirmation that we are on the right track, not that I was particularly concerned. There was one student from Illinois, and I apologize that I've forgotten which university she attends, but she was asking for suggestions on how to best leverage the interest that had been generated on campus on the issue of fees. She had organized events, but felt like she didn't always know the best strategies to make the most of the energy. So I reached out to her and told her about the program and she seemed happy to discover that there was an organization out there with the resources for which she's been searching.
I also attended the Science Bloggers Caucus, which was rather disheartening, but more on that later because Barbara Boxer is about to get on stage.
Not surprisingly, she voiced the importance that blogs have gained in the political process. Brendan will be happy to hear that she spoke to the issue of net neutrality (if you couldn't guess, she's for it). She also spoke in disgust about ISPs providing the government records of our web surfing. With the intensity she's known for, she chastised the right wing's complete lack of focus on the topics that really matter to Americans and instead bringing to Marriage Amendment to a vote. "Well I say, if you really want to do something to help marriages, and I do, raise the minimum wage!" Addressing our health care system would also help marriages. She brought up the fact that the divorce rate of soldiers in Iraq has doubled in the last year, so bringing them home would take that pressure off of those families and save marriage. It was great to see her speak live and Shawn is right now in a press session with her so he may have more to report later!
You won't believe this, but at YearlyKos there are breakout groups by region. I am in the Southern region caucus and honestly it's a riot.
This session reminds me why I love the south. The people in here are SO friendly. There are probably 50 people and we are going around the room one by one and introducing ourselves. Southerners are hysterical!
Funniest exchange I've heard so far:
Woman : " I grew up in Houston so we don't have cows in the backyard or anything"
Another woman: "Not unless they are milking them for oil."
This is a really interesting group of people - southern in everyway: thick accents, charm, talkative, deeply religious backgrounds - and progressive to the core. This groups of forward thinking southerners makes me feel good about the opportunity for progress in the south.
Good news! Senate Republicans' attempt to eliminate the estate tax failed!
A few quick facts:
- the estate tax is the most progressive tax in the country. It affects less than 1% of all estates in the country
- only estates worth more than $2 million (or $4 million for couples) are taxed
- repealing the tax would cost between $700 billion and $1 trillion in just the first 10 years
- repealing the estate tax doesn't just cripple social services, it hurts private charities too. People often make large charitable donations to escape the highest estate tax brakets- eliminating the estate tax eliminates the incentive to give to charity. In fact, the last time the estate tax was slashed, the IRS found an 18% drop is bequeaths to charity.
I get so mad when Republican senators talk about the estate tax destroying America's work ethic. The opposite is true- Superrich parents don't need superrich kids. The estate tax insures that parents can provide for their children, but that the children still have to provide for themselves.
I finally got around to seeing Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" a few days ago with some YP4 fellows who are in DC and I was really struck by a few things. First, it really brings together all of the disparate things about global warming I had known for years but had never really strung together.
But there were two things in particular that really struck a chord within me, how all of the scientific evidence has been denied and ignored and how much we have at stake to lose. And I think the reason that it hits me right in the guts comes from where I grew up.
I'm from a place called Los Alamos, New Mexico. It's world renowned as one of the leading centers for science in the world (yes, we're famous for inventing the atomic bomb. But today the Los Alamos National Lab engages in a lot more than just that). Growing up in the place with the most PhDs per capita in the world, where my friends parents were literally rocket scientists, and where the majority of the my friends from high school went on to study science and math, I think gave me a unique appreciation for science (even if I didn't choose that path). So my outrage over the effort to discredit the science proving global warming particularly piqued my outrage. (A friend of mine once told me a story about a former high-level republican congressional leader spoke to his class and denied the existence of global warming. When questioned about how no peer-reviewed study, aka actual science, had ever dissented against the existence of global warming he responded by noting that author Michael Crichton didn't believe in it and even wrote a FICTIONAL book about the "hoax.")
But not only is Los Alamos one of the science capitals of the world, but it is also one of the most beautiful locations I've ever witnessed. Nestled in the Jemez Mountains, tucked away at 7,500 feet in a location selected for its natural isolation, its majestic beauty still takes my breath away every time I see it.
And yet, looking back, the effects of global warming have been affecting my home for years. Every year, for the last ten or so years, New Mexico and the American West have suffered terrible droughts, some of the worst on record. Lower snowfall (yes, we get snow in New Mexico) doesn't just mean terrible ski seasons (or snowboard) but when coupled with the drought, has severe consequences come wildfire season. Without that necessary moisture devastating wildfires have been seen from California to Montana. In fact when I was a sophomore in high school one of the worst fires in American history, the Cerro Grande Fire, swept through my town and destroyed almost 20% of the homes there.
To pour gasoline on the fire, Pine Beetles have begun ravaging the forests of the west. Usually cold and moisture help keep them at bay, but with the warmer temperatures and drought, they've been raging out of control, and the dead trees they leave add an even greater fire danger.
All of this comes back to the realization I had that my home is already experiencing the effects of global warming. And it's only going to get worse unless we start to do something. Coming from a place of both science, which has not only proven the existence and impact of global warming but is also working on some of the solutions, and of majestic natural beauty which is now increasingly threatened, reminds me that this issue is anything but far from home.