Saturday, May 19, 2007
One of the things I do in the book is I expose the tactics and the instruments O’Reilly uses to present his propaganda as “facts”. I identify eight instruments or devices he frequently utilizes to twist his lies into what he calls the “truth”. If one can grasp the underlying psychology surrounding these techniques, one will easily be able to debunk the lies and propaganda that O’Reilly engages in on a routine basis. For example, one of the techniques he constantly uses to deceive his viewers into accepting his point of view is what I call Omission. With this tactic, he deliberately omits information that does not support his argument, or leaves out facts that disprove his case. This may seem like a simple and straightforward idea, but yet it is one of the most powerful tools O’Reilly employs on a daily basis to get his propaganda across. This tactic is particularly effective because most of the time O’Reilly’s viewers don’t have all of the facts, and they tend to take what O’Reilly says and run with it. And to make matters worse, the mainstream media seems to be asleep and just lets O’Reilly get away with it without challenging him.
One of the themes he has persistently hammered home to his viewers is the falsehood that the ACLU is an anti-religious organization. He claims that the ACLU wants to remove religion from American society. In his own words, “The American Civil Liberties Union, along with legal secularists like Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and John Paul Stevens, are using the Constitution to bludgeon any form of public spirituality.” To back up his argument he would rehash the court cases that the ACLU has been involved with pertaining to the Separation Of Church And State. But what he completely omits is the fact that the ACLU has also repeatedly fought for freedom of religion in America. You wouldn’t believe it, but I myself at one time believed O’Reilly’s propaganda that the ACLU was anti-religious. It was only what I started doing my research for this book that I found out that the ACLU has been involved with many court cases fighting for the personal religious freedom of ordinary Americans. In my book I cite ten cases that the ACLU has been involved with whereby they fought consistently to protect individual’s religious rights.
One of these cases involved the issue of whether a church should be allowed to conduct baptisms in a public park, and you will probably be stunned when you find out what the ACLU’s position is on this. Here is the relevant section from Chapter Five of my book:
“On Sunday May 23, 2004 Rev. Todd Pyle of the Cornerstone Baptist Church had planned to conduct a series of baptism in Falmouth Waterside Park in Stafford County, but was advised by Brian Robinson, the Park Manager, that religious activities are not allowed in the park. The ACLU of Virginia immediately informed Rev. Pyle that he had a constitutional right to conduct baptisms in the park and threatened to challenge in federal court the Park Authority’s ban on religious activities. The Federicksburg–Stafford Park Authority which controlled access to the public park backed off and announced that it would issue written policies making it clear that religious groups have the same right to use the park as all other groups. Here is what Kent Willis, Executive Director ACLU of Virginia said about the matter: ‘The rules are really very simple, Government officials merely need to make sure that religious activities have the same rights as any other activities in a public park. If swimming is allowed, then baptism must be allowed. If groups can gather for sports or cultural activities, then groups can gather for religious ceremonies.’”
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
"A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of..."
You probably take for granted that the policies that your government sets and funds with your tax dollars to educate, gather and provide information about, as well as to set standards related to, Americans’ sexual and reproductive health are based on science and making sure that reproductive health medicine is safe and effective. You probably take it for granted that such policies would leave the moral choices about your sex life to you.
You might not want to be so complacent.
If the idea of the government promoting health policies that focus on the morality of your sexual choices rather than on science and basic health frightens and creeps you out, keep reading.
To answer the question at the beginning of this post, the responsibilities of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Population Affairs include:
... the implementation of the mandated provisions of two categorical grant programs:
- The Family Planning program authorized under Title X of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), and
- The Adolescent Family Life (AFL) Demonstration and Research program authorized under Title XX of the PHSA.
Here are some of the services that the Title X program provides:
The Title X program is the only Federal program devoted solely to the provision of family planning and reproductive health care. The program is designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons. A broad range of effective and acceptable family planning methods and related preventive health services are available on a voluntary and confidential basis. In addition to contraceptive services and related counseling, Title X supported clinics also provide a number of preventive health services such as: patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic examinations; cervical cancer, STD and HIV screenings; and pregnancy diagnosis and counseling. For many clients, Title X clinics provide the only continuing source of health care and health education.
The program supports a nationwide network of approximately 4,600 clinics and provides reproductive health services to approximately 5 million persons each year. Title X service funds are allocated to the ten DHHS Regional Offices. The Regional Offices manage the competitive review process, make grant awards and monitor program performance. In fiscal year 2003, Title X provided Federal funds for service delivery grants to 86 public and private organizations to support the provision of comprehensive family planning services and information. Services are delivered through a network of community-based clinics that include State and local health departments, hospitals, university health centers, Planned Parenthood affiliates, independent clinics, and public and non-profit agencies. In nearly 75 percent of U.S. counties, at least one provider of contraceptive services is funded by the Title X family planning program.
Title X funds are critical to maintaining and operating clinics which ensure the availability of family planning services to low-income and uninsured individuals in the United States. Over the last thirty years, the network of Title X family planning clinics has played a critical role in ensuring access to confidential family planning services for millions of low-income or uninsured women at no cost or at a reduced cost. Title X also provides access for many under-insured women who do not have coverage for contraceptive services, devices or drugs. For many women, Title X serves as an entry point into the health care system, as well as a source of primary health care services. Title X-funded services, available regardless of ability to pay, help ensure access to reproductive health care for low-income and uninsured persons, a population which is disproportionately composed of racial and ethnic minorities. Nearly two-thirds of Title X clients have incomes below 100 percent of the poverty level and 89 percent have incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level.
The contraceptive counseling and services available in Title X-funded clinic settings help couples space births and plan intended pregnancies, an important element in ensuring positive birth outcomes and a healthy start for infants. Each year, publicly subsidized family planning services help women avoid an estimated 1.3 million unintended pregnancies. Estimates also show that every public dollar spent for contraceptive services saves an average of $3 in Medicaid costs for pregnancy-related health care and for medical care of newborns. Title X services assist individuals in preventing sexually transmitted infections including HIV and concomitant complications and also play a major role in the early detection of breast and cervical cancer.
And here are some of the services provided by Title XX of the PHSA:
The Adolescent Family Life (AFL) Demonstration and Research program, created in 1981 as Title XX of the Public Health Service Act, supports both demonstration and research grants. Within OPA, the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs (OAPP) is responsible for administering the program. The AFL program is funded at $30.7 million in fiscal year 2006. Johanna Nestor is the Director, OAPP.
The AFL program supports demonstration projects to develop, implement and evaluate program interventions to promote abstinence from sexual activity among adolescents and to provide comprehensive health care, education and social services to pregnant and parenting adolescents. The program supports two basic types of demonstration projects: (1) prevention demonstration projects to develop, test, and use curricula that provide education and activities designed to encourage adolescents to postpone sexual activity until marriage, and (2) care demonstration projects to develop interventions with pregnant and parenting teens, their infants, male partners, and family members in an effort to ameliorate the effects of too-early-childbearing for teen parents, their babies and their families. The AFL program also funds grants to support research on the causes and consequences of adolescent premarital sexual relations, adolescent pregnancy and parenting.
The Title XX funds not only help the teens and families they serve directly, but also provide valuable information and evaluation findings that can serve as a basis for future strategies. Every program that receives AFL grant funds is required to include an independent evaluation component. This ensures that the lessons learned by each community will benefit others in the future.
In addition, to ensure that all AFL project staff at the local level have the necessary skills and training to implement these programs, the OAPP has conducted numerous technical assistance workshops annually since1998 to train front line care and prevention project staff to provide more comprehensive services to their clients.
In fiscal year 2006-2007, the AFL program is supporting 89 demonstration projects across the country. These projects consist of 57abstinence education programs and 32 care programs.
You might be interested to know that the person who was nominated by the Bush Administration and who occupied this post before being replaced by someone who is possibly even crazier than she is was Alma L. Golden, M.D. About Ms. Golden:
With support from a federal grant, Dr. Golden served as medical director for S.A.G.E. Advice, a program that trains physicians in techniques encouraging health risk avoidance and delay of sexual activity until marriage for preadolescents through young adults. Typical of the training is this directive: “I’m glad you haven’t started having sex. Waiting until marriage allows you to avoid STD’s, pregnancy, and a broken heart.” An additional sexual-risk avoidance tip Dr. Golden suggests is one that worked for her: Her father gave her flying lessons so she could expend her thrill-seeking enthusiasm in the air.
After Ms. Golden resigned, the Bush Administration nominated her replacement, Eric Keroack, M.D. About Mr. Keroack:
To the surprise of many that anticipated a more balanced approach to governing following the 2006 elections, the White House named Erik Keroack, MD to head government Title X programs that provide contraceptives, family planning, and other reproductive health services to lower income individuals in every state. Keroack, an ardent anti-choice OB-Gyn, opposes much of the mission of Title X and his career has been dedicated to promoting flawed abstinence-only programs, which have enjoyed federal support of more than $1 billion. He serves on the Medical Advisory Council for the Abstinence Clearinghouse and is a member of the Federal Expert Panel commissioned to define the guidelines for most governmental funding of abstinence education in our public schools-programs that have grown over recent years and have yet to be proven effective. In fact, a recent government report concludes that federally-funded programs do not always contain medically-accurate information. Keroack was the Medical Director of A Woman's Concern crisis pregnancy centes, an organization that opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at any of its six centers. Its website states, "A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness." Unfortunatley, Dr. Keroack's clinics seem to be unaware that Title X programs have--among other things benefiting women--enabled them to avoid one million unintended pregnancies every year, which leads to fewer abortions as well. This position does ot require confirmation from the Senate, and Keroack began work in December 2006. The Massachusetts Office of Medicaid filed an action against Keroack in March and as a result, Keroack resigned from this position on March 28, 2007.
Anyone notice any contradiciton between the personal and moral beliefs of these two nominees (and the way that they have relied on those beliefs in their capacity as health professionals) and the responsibilities of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Population Affairs, a position funded by tax dollars to oversee programs that affect the sexual and reproductive health of millions of Americans, (potentially you) many of whom may not share such beliefs or want others' morals inappropriately and unjustly influencing policies that affect their own persoanl sexual choices?
"THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
HHS REPRESENTS ALMOST A QUARTER OF ALL FEDERAL OUTLAYS, and it administers more grant dollars than all other federal agencies combined. HHS' Medicare program is the nation's largest health insurer, handling more than 1 billion claims per year. Medicare and Medicaid together provide health care insurance for one in four Americans.
HHS WORKS CLOSELY WITH STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, and many HHS-funded services are provided at the local level by state or county agencies, or through private sector grantees. The Department's programs are administered by 11 operating divisions, including eight agencies in the U.S. Public Health Service and three human services agencies. In addition to the services they deliver, the HHS programs provide for equitable treatment of beneficiaries nationwide, and they enable the collection of national health and other data."
Let's recap some important points contained in this short description.
- [ HHS] is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans
- [ HHS] administers more grant dollars than all other federal agencies combined
- [HHS'] Medicare program is the nation's largest health insurer, handling more than 1 billion claims per year
- [HHS' programs] enable the collection of national health and other data
This is a very broad description of what this tax payer funded institution is responsible for. However, just reading this brief description and focusing on the bulleted information above it should be obvious that this agency affects the lives of most Americans in direct and indirect ways that many of us may not be aware of and, of course, probably don't ever really think about. It would be interesting to find some information or case studies of some sort that describe how an individual is affected by the policies, programs, and regulations which fall under the purview of the Department of Heath & Human Services in order to illustrate concretely how you or I are likely to benefit from or be affected by the the services that this department provides and the work that it does. However, for now I just wanted to post this basic description in order to bring some very general awareness regarding what HHS does. Now, there is a reason that I took valuable time out of my day to look up and post this information and it's not because I have temporarily gone insane or becuase I am just that bored. I have been working on a post that (is unfortunatley not quite finished) provides some very interesting and alarming information related to this agency, which I hope to have up soon. In the meantime, however, please take a few minutes and read the bulleted points again and then just think about them for a second or two.
Monday, May 14, 2007
My best friend Katie moved back from D.C. almost exactly 45 minutes ago. I am so happy! She moved to D.C. for work about a year ago and, although I have seen her a couple of times since, I have missed her terribly. She is actually more like a sister and is part of my family. Right now she is a little freaked out because she was unsure if she was making the right decision to leave her job for something new even though she has wanted to move back home for a while and there were many valid and important considerations that resulted in this decision. Although she is a little worried about her decision to give up a job she was excellent at and that paid well, I know she will have many wonderful opportunities ahead of her as she is very smart, talented, charming, determined, and very cute (so if all else fails, she can always become a bar tender and make excellent tips or just dance on tables for a living, just kidding, but not about the cute part). So, Welcome Home Katie! I Love You!
"I think it therefore important to encourage other, mostly silent, and, no doubt,
bewildered members of the masses to contribute their insights and write about
their concerns. Fortunately, I am lucky enough to know many bright, talented and funny people who have a visceral loathing of all things Bush or who are just pissed off at the current state of affairs in America. So, I have asked a few of my friends to contribute to my blog on a somewhat regular basis. Hopefully, you will be able to meet some of my fellow comrades soon."
I have to admit that I don't have any close friends who are avowedly conservative, although plenty of my family members are. This is not because I can't or won't be friends with someone who has strong conservative beliefs; I don't choose my friends based soley on their political beliefs and identities. Things have just worked out this way. I do know, however, that I have friends who identify themselves more or less as Republicans or who tend to vote for Republicans. I live in a Red state, after all. Thus, the main reason that I am writing this post is for my for my friends, whom I imagine will be the people who are initially reading this blog and so I want to add this:
While many of you do share a loathing for all things Bush and are liberals to the extent that you identify yourselves as belonging in one or the other of the liberal/conservative categories, some of you probably aren't. Some of you, whom I hope will read my blog from time to time (and some of you who have expressed an interest in contributing some posts), are not self-identified liberals and probably don't generally vote Democratic and that's fine. In fact, I think it's a good thing. That is why I also inclued the phrase, "or who are just pissed off at the current state of affairs in America," in the excerpted paragraph above. Even if you don't share all of my political beliefs and even if you tend to lean toward the Republican side of the aisle, I still value your opinions and insights.
I am also writing this post because I want to bring up another important reason that I started this blog. In the past 4 years or so my level of interest in politics has increased dramatically and the more I become informed about what is going in our country the more disgusted I am. There are many things that Americans in general, Democrats and Republicans, are frustated and disgusted with such as healthcare, the economy, and the war in Iraq to name a few. So, as a further welcome to my friends, I hope to hear your opinions and insights and would like to know what issues you are concerned about becuase the point of starting this blog is to discuss and debate. Yes, I look forward to ranting about the things that concern and piss me off, but that is only a part of what I hope this blog will be for. After all, if I was just looking for a means to deal with my general frutration, I would continue informing myself and just start drinking even more.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I became somewhat interested in politics after taking a political science course in college and started to pay a lot more attention after 9/11 and especially after Bush declared his pre-emptive war in Iraq. In the past couple of years I have been a regular reader of the wonderful blogs of the Angry Left and have started reading more books and articles from various sources on politics. Thus, I am sort of a novice at sharing my political insights with others and should, therefore, fit right in with the other unhinged and angry folks who rant regularly in their in their pajamas and so piss of the MSM.
When I started thinking about creating my own blog it occurred to me that it would be as much of a learning experience as it would be a chance for me to rant and make fun of conservatives. In light of my recent awakening to the sad plight of America’s political discourse, I started to think about all the other people out there who have gone from being relatively uninterested in politics to being angered and alarmed enough, in however vague a sense, to look around and exclaim, “What the Fuck!” I am convinced that these people are many.
I think it therefore important to encourage other, mostly silent, and, no doubt, bewildered members of the masses to contribute their insights and write about their concerns. Fortunately, I am lucky enough to know many bright, talented and funny people who have a visceral loathing of all things Bush or who are just pissed off at the current state of affairs in America. So, I have asked a few of my friends to contribute to my blog on a somewhat regular basis. Hopefully, you will be able to meet some of my fellow comrades soon.
In the meantime my focus will mainly be on politics with some extra rants thrown in for shits and giggles. I reserve the right to rant at random about whatever strikes me as important, healthcare (torture), economics (twisted conservative fantasy land/the Darwinian economic structure), family/moral values (the Inquisition), foreign policy (Neoconia), the MSM and popular culture (Am I having a bad acid trip?), beer pong, thongs, what I like to read, why I think conservatives have a secret conspiracy to destroy and/or outlaw chocolate, global warming and whatever else I feel like writing about.