Abstinence-Only Education Funding In Health Reform Bill To Please Republicans

November 20, 2009

The House health care reform bill restricts abortions to get conservative votes. Now it turns out that conservatives also got something slipped into the Senate bill–funding for abstinence-only programs. From The Gaggle:

Their provision would restore a program called Title V, which, since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, has allocated a yearly $50 million in grants to abstinence-only education programs. Obama let the program lapse in June, leaving some abstinence-only groups in dire straits. So in September, Sen. Orrin Hatch offered an amendment to restore Title V via heath-care reform, which (much to the outrage of liberal groups) just squeaked through the Senate Finance Committee with a 12–11 vote. A similar amendment, offered in the House by Rep. Terry Lee from Nebraska, died in committee.

If the Senate language survives reconciliation, the Title V program will be extended through 2014. This will not, however, bring abstinence funding back to the levels of the past decade. In 2008, Title V grants accounted for just under 25 percent of the federal abstinence budget (the rest of the budget came from other abstinence-only funding sources not restored in the Senate bill, including Community Based Abstinence Education Grants and the Adolescent Family Life Act).

How do Republicans, who claim to be fiscal conservatives, justify spending money for abstinence-only programs when such programs have repeatedly been proven to be ineffective? What is the point of offering Republicans such compromises when they won’t vote for the final bill regardless of what is in it?


Stolen Emails Fuel Conservative Conspiracy Theories Denying Climate Change

November 20, 2009

Conservative bloggers are going wild after hackers got into the email from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The global warming deniers and conspiracy theorists are distorting the emails which have been posted on line to fuel their fantasies that the scientific consensus on climate change is a hoax. While it would be great if it turned out that we do not have to worry about climate change, the emails do not support the conspiracy theories of the right wing. Real Climate and Grist have reviewed their claims.

We are seeing three common techniques used by the right wing to distort the facts:

1) Taking statements out of context

2) Ignoring alternate meanings of words (for example, when scientists use “trick” in informal communications they are  talking about finding a clever way to make things work, not trying to deceive people or distort data), and

3) Ignoring the science. There is a strong body of scientific evidence supporting climate change and this is the consensus view of scientists working in the field from different institutions from around the world. The science is not altered by anything in these emails.


Republicans Try To Explain Their Flip Flop As They Vote To Screw Doctors

November 20, 2009

The House passed this year’s annual fix to the flawed Medicare payment formula which would cut payment to physicians by 21 percent. The bill would also fix the formula so that we don’t have to keep going through this every year. The vote was primarily along party lines, with Republicans opposing the bill.

The Republicans probably do receive more votes from doctors than they deserve considering their poor track record on health care issues. This will hopefully serve as one more wake up call for my colleagues who still support the GOP. The Republicans did try unsuccessfully to explain their flip flop on this issue, as is explained by Suzy Khimm.


Blog Back Up But Running Very Slowly

November 20, 2009

The blog is back up but running extremely slowly. I will wait a while longer to see how it is working before deciding upon whether to move the blog to another site.

Update: Things are back to normal as of Friday afternoon. I will add recent posts in case the blog goes back down.


Right Wingers Use Biblical Verse To Advocate Assassination of President

November 20, 2009

Right wingers who hate Obama have come up with a subtle way to advocate killing the president in public. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

There’s a new slogan making its way onto car bumpers and across the Internet. It reads simply: “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8”

A nice sentiment?

Maybe not.

The psalm reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Presidential criticism through witty slogans is nothing new. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with “1/20/09” commemorated President Bush’s last day in office.

But the verse immediately following the psalm referenced is a bit more ominous: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

The slogan comes at a time of heightened concern about antigovernment anger. Earlier this year, the president’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, said that Tea Parties could lead to something unhealthy. In September, authorities shut down a poll on Facebook asking if President Obama should be killed.

Still, that doesn’t push the Psalms citation into the realm of hate speech, says Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The use of Psalm 109:8 is ambiguous as to whether its users are calling for the President to serve “only one term, or less than one term,” he says.

Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights at the Anti-Defamation League agrees that the bumper sticker falls within acceptable political discourse.

For it to be considered hate speech, it “would advocate actual violence or cite scripture that was more clear in its message.”

But that doesn’t mean that it’s completely innocent.

Disgusting but clever. No civil liberties organization would tolerate suppressing someone’s right to quote their religious views (despite the occasional claim from Republicans that Democrats want to take away their Bibles). This just might be as close as is possible to publicly call for the assassination of the president and avoid a visit from the Secret Service.


Emergency Liberal Values Blog

November 20, 2009

This is a temporary set up while the main Liberal Values blog is down. If the blog stays down I’ll enter some of the recent posts here. Note that links from posts copied here are to the original blog and will not work while it is down.