Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Barack Obama done in by a Pat Robertson Wannabe
Monday, April 28, 2008
'Secondary Virgins' Back in the News
But when the 'abstinence only' hypocrites talk about 'secondary virginity' that is a bit too much. What a phrase! Trust the gang that gave us "extraordinary rendition" and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to promote it.
- Has U.S. Abstinence Policy Failed ? (BBC News)
- US lawmakers are investigating whether to cut government funding for health education programmes that promote sexual abstinence until marriage.
- The move follows a report earlier this year from America's leading health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which revealed one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease.
Opponents of abstinence education say the approach ignores the fact that teenagers are sexually active and fails to give them accurate medical information or advice on safer sex.
"We get sex-ed classes in school and that should be where teens get the right information - but that isn't happening," says 15-year-old Mildred, from Arizona, who volunteers as a peer educator with the pro-choice organisation Planned Parenthood.
"They don't touch on subjects like sexuality, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), birth control - it's not allowed because of abstinence-only education. It leaves you on a cliff-hanger - and a lot of teenagers become sexually active in their middle school years."
Planned Parenthood estimates that two thirds of teenagers will have experienced sexual intercourse by the time they leave school.
And with some 750,000 teenage pregnancies a year, America has one of the highest teen birth rates in the developed world.
"This national programme which has wasted $1.5bn (£750m) of tax money is a failure and our teens are paying the price," says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.
"We've been wasting money on programmes that don't work and we're seeing the consequences every single day."
State governments receive federal money they must match to fund abstinence programmes.
At least 17 states have opted out of the system and others have suspended funding while Congress investigates whether such programmes work.
Critics say there is no evidence that they delay sexual activity and teenagers who have taken a vow of virginity are less likely to use protection if they break their promise.
Roger Norman, a Texas lawyer, describes himself as being part of the religious right.
He runs an organization called Wonderful Days which does not receive government funding but teaches abstinence as part of the health curriculum in some local schools.
"I am convinced that abstinence is the only way for kids," he says. "You begin by teaching the consequences of bad behaviour and the benefits of proper behaviour and you do that in a way that a child can grasp.
Teenagers who do have sex before marriage are given another chance by becoming "secondary virgins".
"Of course, if you view virginity as number one, and you've slept with someone, of course it's going to be different and you can never go back - but that doesn't mean there's no tomorrow," explains Ashley.
"Every day is a new decision and abstinence is not one you make once. You're going to have to make this decision over and over again. So if you fail once, you get back up and you try again."
Odette: Do you believe in centralized government or states' rights ?
Odette: I just want to know the kind of guy I'm marrying.
Dennis: I'm starting to get the distinct impression you don't want to do this anymore."
From Sarah Kernochan's 1998 film "Strike"(also released as "All I Wanna Do")
- New Delhi — The Indian prime minister described the growing practice of aborting female fetuses as a “national shame” on Monday, and called for stricter enforcement of laws designed to prevent doctors from helping parents to get rid of unwanted unborn daughters. (NY Times April 29, 2008)
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Armies of God
"Bigotry is the sacred disease."
NY Times 4-26-08
Specialist Hall’s lawsuit is the latest incident to raise questions about the military’s religion guidelines. In 2005, the Air Force issued new regulations in response to complaints from cadets at the Air Force Academy that evangelical Christian officers used their positions to proselytize. In general, the armed forces have regulations, Ms. Lainez said, that respect “the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs.”
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Democrats on the Brink
But I really don't worry about the future. I think it's very positive for the Democratic Party, and let me tell you why. I see George W. Bush channeling Herbert Hoover, for heaven's sakes, and now we see John McCain channeling George W. Bush. (Pat Schroeder on NewsHour)
What is happening is not positive. Democrats might not recover from the damage being done to chances of retaking the White House.
- Prominent Democrats only whisper when they compare Obama's experience, the first African American with a serious chance to be president, with what happened to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley a quarter-century ago. In 1982, exit polls showed Bradley, who was black, ahead in the race for governor of California, but he ultimately lost to Republican George Deukmejian. Pollster John Zogby (who predicted Clinton's double-digit win Tuesday) said what practicing Democrats would not: "I think voters face to face are not willing to say they would oppose an African American candidate."
Monday, April 21, 2008
Monday Morning Charivari
An Unusual April
"What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance." ~Jane Austen
Sunday, April 13, 2008
"Teeth into the Jugular", or Jingolytis of the Bosphongus
General Petraeus, supreme military commander in Iraq, likes "teeth into the jugular". David Broder reported in the Post that the General used the phrase a number of times during a meeting. Easy to picture the enemies -- whoever they happen to be in this fifh year of Operation Iraqi Freedom -- mortally injured. Remember what Vice President Cheney said about the insurgents being "in the last throes"? That was almost three years ago, on May 31, 2005. Those who gave us the war will say anything. They would love to start another war if only they can sell it. Currently, attempts are being made to shift attention to Iran. Fitness of the overstretched U.S. military ? Not important. They are doing what they can to demonize Iran just as they created the mythical stockpile of WMD in the prelude to the war. Tony Blair's government did its part with the "doctored dossier". The game plan worked. We are paying for it; we'll continue paying for it long after the end of the Bush presidency. Expect more jingolytis of the bosphongus to come down the pike.
In the meantime, with 'teeth into the jugular' the evil ones are in their 'last throes'. 21 more American soldiers died in the first 13 days of April. And so it goes.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Tenderness in the Desert - "The Band's Visit"
The Band's Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret) * Chet Baker
In his review, Ty Burr of the Boston Globe wrote:
- The Israel of "The Band's Visit" is one in which God has pushed the pause button.
- Here's an irony for you, then: Because over 50 percent of "The Band's Visit" is in English, the film - an Israeli smash hit and multiple award winner - was deemed ineligible for this year's foreign language Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It has also been banned from film festivals in Cairo and Abu Dhabi. What this pellucid little movie uses to unite its characters - language and love - others are using to divide. You don't have to make the same mistake.
Khaled (Saleh Bakri), trumpet player in the band, talked about Chet Baker (1929-1988) and My Funny Valentine. Found a Chet Baker CD in my collection.
Chet Baker - trumpet
Bill Perkins - tenor sax
Russ Freeman - piano
Carson Smith - bass
Bob Neel - drums
Monday, April 07, 2008
"Stop-Loss", A Movie about Soldiers and Bush's War
"A Love Letter to American Soldiers"
Bush's war, however, is very much alive, alive but not well. It continues to take its toll both in lives and dollars. And for the families of soldiers serving in Iraq it is an ever present fear about the safety of their loved ones. Latest figures from icasualties.org show that out of 4020 soldiers who died in the war, 509 (12.7%) were 21 yrs old. It is noteworthy that two of the primary architects of the war had dodged Vietnam.
David Denby of The New Yorker, in his review of "Stop-Loss", the movie by Kimberly Peirce, wrote:
- "This movie may become the central coming-home-from-the-war story of this period, just as “The Best Years of Our Lives,” made in 1946, became central to the period after the Second World War. Like that extraordinary work, “Stop-Loss” is devoted to the men’s hidden wounds—the wired-up tensions and nightmares that lead to drunkenness, fights, smashed love affairs and marriages. Throughout the Second World War, Hollywood made dozens of patriotic combat films, as well as occasional home-front movies (like “Tender Comrade,” with Ginger Rogers) about gallant wives. The Korean War, except for B-movies by Samuel Fuller and Joseph H. Lewis, went undramatized until it was over, and this was largely true of the Vietnam War, too. During all these wars, none of the discomforts of the returning soldier, or the dismay of his friends and family, were shown on the screen."
- The movie, which she developed with the novelist and TV producer Mark Richard, is a complicated love letter to American soldiers—and to young American men in general, whose minds Peirce has tried, in a way, to enter before.
- The soldiers are held together by their love for one another, and that element of Army life may make “Stop-Loss” popular with both liberals and conservatives, but no one, I think, will be happy about what the movie suggests is happening to some of the best young people in the country.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
The Infamous John C. Yoo Back in the Spotlight
Thought we had read and heard enough about John Yoo. But, no. Two recent reports highlighted his nefarious role in Bush-Cheney administration.
What would be a fitting epitaph for such a man?
"He blindly served his president and never encountered a law that he couldn't bend to justify torture of prisoners and abuse of our Constitution".
And John C. Yoo is law professor at Berkeley!
Dan Eggen and Josh White in The Washington Post April 2, 2008
Laws Didn't Apply to Interrogators
- The Justice Department sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such statutes.
- Interrogators who harmed a prisoner would be protected by a "national and international version of the right to self-defense," Yoo wrote. He also articulated a definition of illegal conduct in interrogations -- that it must "shock the conscience" -- that the Bush administration advocated for years.
- "Whether conduct is conscience-shocking turns in part on whether it is without any justification," Yoo wrote, explaining, for example, that it would have to be inspired by malice or sadism before it could be prosecuted.
- The declassified memo was sent by the Defense and Justice departments late yesterday to Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Carl M. Levin (Mich.) and Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), who had seen the document in classified form and pushed for its release.
- The document is similar, although much broader, than a notorious memo primarily written by Yoo in August 2002 that narrowly defined what constitutes illegal torture. That document was also later withdrawn.
April 1, 2008
- The Justice Department late Tuesday released a declassified 2003 memorandum long sought by congressional Democrats and other administration critics that outlines the government's legal justification for harsh interrogation techniques used by the military against captured enemy combatants outside the United States.(Here are part one and part two of the memo.)
- The memo, written by John Yoo, then a key architect of legal policy in the wake of 9/11, dismisses several legal impediments to the use of extreme techniques.
- Yoo was long a proponent of an aggressive approach in the war against terrorism and a believer in executive branch authority. But the memo was withdrawn as formal government policy less than a year after it was written.
- In the March 14, 2003 memo, Yoo says the Constitution was not in play with regard to the interrogations because the Fifth Amendment (which provides for due process of law) and the Eighth Amendment (which prevents the government from employing cruel and usual punishment) does "not extend to alien enemy combatants held abroad."
Pro Choice? Yes