Little Red Ribbon-Hood: April 2008: Archives

April 30, 2008

The Daily Show: Abstinence - The Global War In Your Pants genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

In the following video, Jon Stewart tackles the question of abstinence-only sex education (with all of the appropriate sarcasm) and the fact that it has proven ineffective in reducing teen pregnancies and the transmission of STD's.

He first offers us a look at some of the techniques used and some of the arguments being offered by those opposed to comprehensive sex education. You're bound to love the dirty toothbrush example as well as the "god stick and shame cave" analogy that Stewart attributes to the likes of Senator Brownback. It's a good thing we've advanced from more primitive deterrent strategies and adopted these advanced measures of preventing children from exploring their sexuality.

He closes the segment with a pubic service announcement promoting dry humping as a reasonable alternative to getting 'dirty'. Stewart tells teens that dry humping is safe...it avoids the need for those disgusting condoms...and it allows you to still get into heaven.

Tagged as: Abstinence-Only Education, Condoms, Humor, Jon Stewart, Pregnancy, Religion, Senator Sam Brownback, Sex, The Daily Show

Daniel DiRito | April 30, 2008 | 2:16 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 24, 2008

Why Johnny Can't Breed - An Abstinence-Only Fairy Tale genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

Back in 1955, Rudolf Flesch, author of the book Why Johnny Can't Read, took issue with the latest trend in teaching children to read. Rather than learning phonics, students were simply being taught to recognize words and Flesch argued that the practice left them ill-prepared for the unknown. In other words, when confronted with unrecognized words, they lacked the ability and the tools to succeed.

Under the auspices of the Bush administration, children are being similarly handicapped with regards to sex education. Rather than provide children with the knowledge and the tools to confront their emerging sexuality, the president and his faith-based followers insist upon spending huge sums of money on programs that teach abstinence-only.

New data and testimony offered to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform suggests that we're reaching the point at which we must explore "Why Johnny can't breed...without transmitting an STD or getting Jane pregnant".

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Programs teaching U.S. schoolchildren to abstain from sex have not cut teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases or delayed the age at which sex begins, health groups told Congress on Wednesday.

"Vast sums of federal monies continue to be directed toward these programs. And, in fact, there is evidence to suggest that some of these programs are even harmful and have negative consequences by not providing adequate information for those teens who do become sexually active," Dr. Margaret Blythe of the American Academy of Pediatrics told the committee.

These programs, backed by many social conservatives who oppose the teaching of contraception methods to teenagers in schools, have received about $1.3 billion in federal funds since the late 1990s. Currently, 17 of the 50 U.S. states refuse to accept federal funds for such programs.

Experts from the American Public Health Association and U.S. Institute of Medicine testified that scientific studies have not found that abstinence-only teaching works to cut pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases or the age when sexual activity begins.

Comprehensive sex education programs should emphasize abstinence as the best way for a teenager to avoid pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease (STD), Blythe said.

Lawmakers cited government statistics showing that one in four U.S. teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease and 30 percent of U.S. girls become pregnant before the age of 20.

Panel chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, said, "We are showering funds on abstinence-only programs that don't appear to work, while ignoring proven comprehensive sex education programs that can delay sex, protect teens from disease, and result in fewer teen pregnancies."

"Meanwhile, we have no dedicated source of federal funding specifically for comprehensive classroom sex education," Waxman added.

Frankly, this insistence on offering abstinence-only education while resisting comprehensive sex education is another example of religious ideologues ignoring solid scientific evidence. This policy comes from the same president who is willing to pour trillions of dollars down the drain to fund a war that appears unlikely to resolve at any time in the near future. It just goes to show that the application of an absolutist template to matters of reason and rationality will frequently result in flawed judgments.

Further demonstrating the tendency of this president to apply absurd and arbitrary logic, he is seeking to cut 13 billion dollars from Medicaid spending for the poor. I guess he's seeking to assuage his legacy of unbridled deficit spending...and by all means...it's best to do so at the expense of the poor. After all, that's both compassionate and conservative, right? Fortunately, Congress rejected his efforts by what appears to be a veto proof margin.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

WASHINGTON - The House voted yesterday to block the Bush administration from cutting federal spending on Medicaid health care for the poor by $13 billion over the next five years.
President Bush has threatened a veto, but supporters have more than enough votes in the House to override him, and maybe in the Senate, too.

Two-thirds of the Republicans joined every voting Democrat in the 349-62 vote to impose a one-year moratorium, through next March, on seven rules changes the administration argues are needed to rectify waste and abuse in the state-federal partnership to provide health care to the poor.

Supporters of the bill said the rules would merely shift financial burdens to the states at a time of economic distress while reducing access to health care for the country's neediest people.

The governors of all 50 states, state Medicaid directors, and others oppose the rules, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (D., Mich.) told the House. "They know the devastating effects these rules would have on local communities, upon hospitals, and upon vulnerable beneficiaries."

The White House, in a statement Tuesday warning of a veto threat, said the House bill would "thwart these efforts of the federal government to regain fiscal accountability and integrity in Medicaid."

I find it truly amazing that this president routinely chooses programs designed for those most in need to demonstrate his fiscal bonafides. He's willing to spend billions on unproven abstinence-only education but caring for the basic health of the poor just can't be justified. Such actions are not only hypocritical; they demonstrate the inherent lack of logical cohesion that has typified this president's tenure.

With that in mind, I thought I would have a little fun at the expense of science challenged Christian compassionate conservatives. The following graphic includes an updated book cover titled "Why Johnny Can't Breed" as well as my list of the top ten guidelines required to provide Johnny with proper abstinence-only training.

WhyJohnnyCan'tRead.jpg

Tagged as: Abstinence-Only Programs, Faith Based Programs, Humor, Religion, Religious Right, Sex Education, STD's, Teen Pregnancy

Daniel DiRito | April 24, 2008 | 9:50 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 19, 2008

GAO Calls Bush On His Game Of Chicken SCHIP genre: Econ-Recon & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

LittleBigMan.jpg

Last year, President Bush shut down legislation designed to provide health insurance to more low income families and rewrote the rules to limit the coverage states could provide. At the time, his minions were busy eviscerating a family that spoke in favor of the measure. According to the Government Accountability Office, it turns out that the President didn't have the authority he thought and and actually violated the law. Nothing new there, eh?

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration violated federal law last year when it restricted states' ability to provide health insurance to children of middle-income families, and its new policy is therefore unenforceable, lawyers from the Government Accountability Office said Friday.

The ruling strengthens the hand of at least 22 states, including New York and New Jersey, that already provide such coverage or want to do so. And it significantly reduces the chance that the new policy can be put into effect before President Bush leaves office in nine months.

At issue is the future of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, financed jointly by the federal government and the states. Congress last year twice passed bills to expand the popular program, and Mr. Bush vetoed both.

In a formal legal opinion Friday, the accountability office said the new policy "amounts to a marked departure" from a longstanding, settled interpretation of federal law. It is therefore a rule and, under a 1996 law, must be submitted to Congress for review before it can take effect, the opinion said.

But Jeff Nelligan, a spokesman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said, "G.A.O.'s opinion does not change our conclusion that the Aug. 17 letter is still in effect."

What happens next is not clear. New York, New Jersey and several other states have filed lawsuits challenging the Bush administration policy. In addition, Congress may consider legislation to suspend the directive.

Under the Aug. 17 directive, states cannot expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to cover youngsters with family incomes over 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($53,000 for a family of four) unless they can prove that they already cover 95 percent of eligible children below twice the poverty level ($42,400).

Moreover, in such states, children who lose or drop private coverage must be uninsured for 12 months before they can enroll in the Children's Health Insurance Program, and co-payments in the public program must be similar to those in private plans.

The administration told states they must comply with the directive by August of this year or else they face "corrective action." Compliance could mean cutting back programs.

It amazes me that a President who sold himself to the electorate as a compassionate conservative is willing to restrict health care to the needy while insisting on spending billions of dollars year after year on his failed war in Iraq. It makes one wonder just who the President is protecting with his war on terror. I suspect those who risk losing coverage under Bush's arbitrary guidelines feel terrorized by their own government.

Then again, we shouldn't be surprised that a man of privilege (who acted out like a rebellious teenager until reaching the age of forty) lacks any tangible empathy for those in need. No, he would rather wax endlessly about the need to make permanent his tax cuts for the wealthy and finish the job his daddy didn't have the wherewithal to pursue.

When it's all said and done, I can't help but conclude that America has been the playground for an insecure and ego-challenged charlatan with little regard for anything that didn't serve to stroke his obtuse persona. Yes, his legacy will be legendary...though I'd wager it won't be of the nature he had hoped. In the end, I doubt many Americans will shed any tears when this 'little big man' rides off into the sunset.

Tagged as: Compassionate Conservatism, George W. Bush, Health Care, Iraq, Little Big Man, Poverty, SCHIP, State Children's Health Insurance Program, Tax Cuts

Daniel DiRito | April 19, 2008 | 4:11 PM | link | Comments (1)
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