Abstinence—It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore

One has to give the Bush administration credit. What they lack in common sense and insight, they more than make up for in sheer foolishness and chutzpah. Consider the following article from USA Today:

Abstinence message goes beyond teens

The federal government’s “no sex without marriage” message isn’t just for kids anymore.

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it’s a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

“They’ve stepped over the line of common sense,” said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. “To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It’s an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health.”

Abstinence education programs, which have focused on preteens and teens, teach that abstaining from sex is the only effective or acceptable method to prevent pregnancy or disease. They give no instruction on birth control or safe sex.

The National Center for Health Statistics says well over 90% of adults ages 20-29 have had sexual intercourse. [full text]

Those naughty 20-somethings! Doing with one another what the Bush administration has been doing to Americans of all ages for nearly 6 years. (At least, with the 20-somethings, it’s presumably consensual.) One has to admire the stamina and persistence of Team Bush. Though America may chafe, they push on—and blissfully ignore the scientific research that seriously questions the effectiveness of abstinence-only education (as discussed in an earlier post). Where is the sense in simply urging young adults to avoid sexual activity rather than take proper precautions? Frankly, it seems akin to advising young American soldiers in Iraq to just be careful rather than take care to wear body armor. It’s ridiculous.

Masked Blogger Attacked at Chafee-Whitehouse Debate

Pat Crowley, blogger and labor activist, added a rather disturbing post to his blog last evening. It seems that while attending the Chafee-Whitehouse debate, wearing his George Bush mask to remind everyone of the high stakes for our fearless leader in Rhode Island’s senate election, someone tried to pull off his mask. Later, while he was videotaping, someone tried to push him to the ground.

It seems to me that this is cause for concern. We are trying to have a civilization here, folks. Let’s all do our best to mind our manners and keep our hands to ourselves for the next 7 days, ‘mkay?

Giving It Away to Big Oil

“Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior.� —Earl E. Devaney, Inspector General for the Department of the Interior, in testimony before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy and Resources, September 13, 2006.

It’s bad enough that the Bush administration is in bed with Big Oil, but to let the corporate grease monkeys engage in maneuvers that make even an Inspector General blanch is just disgusting, not to mention slatternly. And the Bushers just keep giving it away, as reported by Edmund L. Andrews in the New York Times:

U.S. Drops Bid Over Royalties From Chevron

The Interior Department has dropped claims that the Chevron Corporation systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.

The agency had ordered Chevron to pay $6 million in additional royalties but could have sought tens of millions more had it prevailed. The decision also sets a precedent that could make it easier for oil and gas companies to lower the value of what they pump each year from federal property and thus their payments to the government.

Interior officials said on Friday that they had no choice but to drop their order to Chevron because a department appeals board had ruled against auditors in a separate case.

But state governments and private landowners have challenged the company over essentially the same practices and reached settlements in which the company has paid $70 million in additional royalties. [full text]

Imagining Justice

I am not, by nature, a violent or vindictive person. Though I may rage at times against the injustice and inhumanity and incompetence that I witness around me, I thankfully seem to possess sufficient self-restraint and judgment not to act out the anger, frustration, and despair that such circumstances can evoke—at least, not physically. Of course, being human and not wishing to bottle up all my feelings, I do occasionally indulge myself in vengeful imaginings. It’s a healthy tonic for these moronic times (and, apparently, still legal in 38 states). There’s nothing like a little darkly retributive fantasy to put a spring in your step.

So what should greet my eyes like a rude poke today but news that the American death toll in Iraq for the month of October has reached 100, making it “the fourth deadliest month for American troops since the war began in March 2003�? Meanwhile, as the blood of these brave young soldiers seeps into foreign soil, the second coming of the Three Stooges—Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld—continue to insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that there is “a plan for victory� and “the outcome is certain. We’ll prevail.� What a load of horse manure! They can attempt to cover or pretty it up all they want, but, at the end of the day, it still smells like crap and draws flies. Such glib assurances from those who, by proxy, wreak horrible death and destruction anger me deeply.

And then I happened to read a news story about “an inmate accused of forcibly tattooing a slain 10-year-old girl’s name onto her killer’s forehead in an Indiana prison.� While I do not approve of such vigilante justice, this event led me down a dim corridor to an intriguing revenge fantasy, which, if acted out, might look something like this:

President Bush shows off the first of what will be thousands of tattooed names

Should the Democrats gain control of the House and Senate, perhaps they ought consider—as an alternative to impeaching President Bush and his fellow scofflaws—forcibly tattooing them with the names of all the fallen. Their punishment would be to endure this process and thereafter to serve as living memorials to the thousands of Americans who nobly gave their lives for a less than noble cause. Doesn’t that seem fair?

Of course, this is little more than fanciful musing. Nonetheless, to quote Robert Frost, such imagining “has given my heart / a change of mood / and saved some part / of a day I had rued.�

An Assortment of Notable Lynx (10-30-06)

An assortment of notable lynx

Fears of Inquiry Dampen Giving by U.S. Muslims—An insightful piece by Neil MacFarquhar in the New York Times that relates how, “fearful that donations to an Islamic charity could bring unwanted attention from federal agents looking into potential ties to terrorism, many Muslim Americans have become reluctant to donate to Islamic causes, including charities.�

‘Nothing’s wrong with you’—The second of an informative four-part series by Thomas Farragher of the Boston Globe that offers a personal glimpse into the lives of two soldiers struggling to survive “the war after the war.�

Bush Appointee Said to Reject Advice on Endangered Species—An article by Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post that describes how “a senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department has rejected staff scientists’ recommendations to protect imperiled animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act at least six times in the past three years.�

Camden eatery’s framed gull found in violation of 1918 law—An article by Tom Groening of the Bangor Daily News (in Maine) that illustrates the paucity of common sense many government officials possess, as evidenced by the attempted confiscation of a 150+-year-old stuffed bird.