Thursday, September 15, 2005

 

Sea of conservative ideas?

Josh Marshall is worried, as well he should be, about Bush & Co.'s planned attempt to spend its way back back into favorable terrority with the American people - and the intentions that may be afoot:
Maybe you want to spend $200 billion on rebuilding the Delta region too. Fine. Something like that will probably be necessary. But don't fool yourself into thinking that what's coming is just a matter of a different chef making the same meal. This will be Iraq all over again, with the same fetid mix of graft, zeal and hubris. Cronyism like you wouldn't believe. Money blown on ideological fantasies and half-baked test-cases.

You could come up with a hundred reasons why that's true. But at root intentions drive all. You'll never separate this operation or its results from the fact that the people in charge see it as a political operation. The use of this money for political purposes, for what amounts to a political campaign, tells you everything you need to know about what's coming. [emphasis added]
What ideological fantasies and half-baked test cases? In today's Wall Street Journal reporters John Wike and Brody Mullins start to get their arms around the stench that's ahead:
Congressional Republicans, backed by the White House, say they are using relief measures for the hurricane-ravaged Gulf coast to achieve a broad range of conservative economic and social policies, both in the storm zone and beyond.

Some new measures are already taking shape. In the past week, the Bush administration has suspended some union-friendly rules that require federal contractors pay prevailing wages, moved to ease tariffs on Canadian lumber, and allowed more foreign sugar imports to calm rising sugar prices. Just yesterday, it waived some affirmative-action rules for employers with federal contracts in the Gulf region.

Now, Republicans are working on legislation that would limit victims' right to sue, offer vouchers for displaced school children, lift some environment restrictions on new refineries and create tax-advantaged enterprise zones to maximize private-sector participation in recovery and reconstruction. Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would offer sweeping protection against lawsuits to any person or organization that helps Katrina victims without compensation.

"The desire to bring conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast is white hot," says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who leads the Republican Study Group, an influential caucus of conservative House members. "We want to turn the Gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was."
So, despite the utter failure of the vaunted "free-enterprise" conservative experiment in Iraq, the same despicable gang wants to make Louisiana into a laboratory.

We're cynical enough to believe the Bush & Rove couldn't care less about these experiments, but support them, in part, to assuage the concerns of the conservative fiscal hawks, and in part, to provide a smokescreen for the KBR (and others) loot-a-thon that's already working to transfer public funds to private wealth. Hasn't that been the MO since the start of the Iraq war?

God help the people of New Orleans from these sewer rats.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

 

Did Chabot vote to block release of DSM documents

Josh Marshall says the House International Relations Committee voted today three times against the release of important documents related to the infamous Downing Street Memo. He says the vote was along party lines. Ohio has two legislators on this committee, Sherrod Brown and Steve Chabot. Sherrod's position is a no-brainer, but now we know where Chabot stands.

 

An important warning . . .

from Suddes:
. . . trite though the "vision thing" may be, unless Democrats sketch a future better than the one Ohioans now foresee -- at home, at work, in school -- voters could easily stick with names they know rather than buy into untried, untested Brand X.

 

Cheney's priorities

Everyone knew a story of this type was going to surface sooner or later:
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.

That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt.

 

Central Ohio RON organizing meeting

As expected, the RON Coalition has activated it's field operations over the last week. The greater Columbus area will be a key region and we have learned that there will an important meeting to plan out organizing in Franklin County tomorrow night (Thursday, Sept. 15):
What - RON Franklin Co. organizing meeting, preview of plans, event identification, organizational commitments, etc.

Where - Columbus Northside Library, 1423 N. High Street in the Short North area.

When - Thursday, Sept. 15 6:30 pm

Contact - David Algoso (Common Cause and Reform Ohio Now) dalgoso@commoncause.org
We'll post notices about other organizing meetings as we receive them.

Monday, September 12, 2005

 

Rod Parsley's world: Meet Valerie Huber

Today we take a little diversion from the usual medley of Capital corruption to bring readers another solid reason that the Christ-o-crats are dangerous:
Valerie Huber
Valerie Huber manages Ohio's abstinence education program and is also the state's Title V coordinator. She says in the case of Timken High, many of the female students want to have babies. However, she believes another factor is also fueling the teen pregnancy problem.

"There has not been an abstinence education program at that school for a minimum of two and a half years," Huber points out, "so the message of 'wait to have sex until you're married' has not been presented to those students for at least two and a half years."

Nor, she adds, have the rationale and reasons for waiting been presented to the students in "a risk elimination-type model."
The abstinence education advocate believes Timken High School would do well to implement one of the two abstinence programs available in Stark County, where the school is located. "Now, within an abstinence program, it's not just a 'just say no' message," she asserts. "It's skill building, decision-making, future orientation."
What? You didn't know that your tax dollars were being spent to pay the salary of an arch theocrat to be the abstinence education advocate in the Ohio Department of Health?

And, since we are in fact paying her, she could at least get her facts right. As Jeff Seemann documented over at Kos, the Canton school system had an abstinence program. The one fact Huber dodged is this: The abstinence program failed. Like the leaders of a certain Iraq war we know, when things go bad, well . . . you just lie!

Seeman and others like the Pandagon folks have already discussed and debunked most of the crap that's surfaced around the Timken pregnancies. Since they've already covered that ground, we wanted you to know a little more about Valerie Huber, and how she developed the amazing wisdom displayed above.

Surely, you think, she must be some kind of ace sociologist or psychologist or doctor to be put in charge of trying to protect the virtue of Ohio's teens.

Think again! Her main qualification is that God personally gave her a gold star:
God placed a passion in Valerie's heart to provide parents and teachers with materials and skills to communicate the message of abstinence to youth.
As a mother in western Ohio, she apparently had a full blown conniption after her son's health teacher (who was always the shlub football coach when we were growing up) warned the boys be smart and always put a wrapper on that wiener:
Like many parents, Valerie Huber of the West Milton Ohio GBC was frustrated by the messages that target youth. What frustrated her the most was where her son was hearing this message - Health Class! Valerie contacted her son's health teacher, a man who professed faith in Christ, but found that he was intentionally promoting a mixed message about morality: "Don't have sex, but if you do, use protection."
Now, Ohio and many other states use lots of federal 'pass thru' dollars to pay for abstinence programs in the school systems. Congress stipulates that abstinence must be promoted as the healthiest option, but not the only option. We might quibble with that healthiest option stuff given some of the recent studies, but we could probably bear to live with it.

Unfortunately, it seems that Valerie apparently has been taking it upon herself to take the abstinence idea one step further.
. . . this program is still in its infancy, giving Valerie the unique opportunity to develop and fine-tune it. Valerie is infusing her Christian beliefs into this program.

. . .

Valerie Huber defines abstinence as, "voluntarily refraining from sexual activity until marriage." There are two key differences in this definition from the one Planned Parenthood is offering. First, refrain from sexual activity - not just sex. Second, one must refrain from such activity until marriage.

Many organizations support abstinence, but it is abstinence until you feel you're ready or simply feel like it. In other words, we're all abstinent until we do it again. Valerie Huber is advocating a different code of morality - the biblical standard of abstinence until marriage.
Huber's substitution of religious tenets for science hasn't gone totally unnoticed. Case Western public health researcher Dr. John Frank has been raising hell and issued a report about the situation back in June when he (naively) hoped the Republican legislators in the Statehouse would take a break from the non-stop blowjobs by the Capital Square whores lobbyists and ask for proof that the $32 million they have spent for Huber and her programs were working.

To its credit the PD covered Frank's attempt to restore sanity to Ohio's school's health education programs.
[Frank's] report found that some abstinence-until-marriage programs:
  • Overstate the failure rates of condom use, blame contraceptives for poor mental health among youths and erroneously suggest that birth control pills will increase a girl's future chances of infertility.

  • Misrepresent religious conviction as scientific fact. One program urges teens to "follow God's plan for purity," while another recommends books that are religious in nature.

  • Contain inaccurate or misleading information about the transmission or detection of sexual diseases. One curriculum described HIV as a virus that can remain undetected either by test or physical symptoms for six months to 10 years, when in fact most antibodies are present within two to eight weeks after exposure. The curriculum also suggested incorrectly that HIV can be transmitted through tears and open-mouth kissing.

  • Is not applicable to gay teens because same-sex marriages are illegal in Ohio.
Speaking of gay relationships, the Gay People's Chronicle has caught Huber in a little homophobia scandal of her own. No - it's not what you were probably hoping. Instead, it's just that it seems that Val is paying top dollar to bring in astroturfer Maggie Gallagher to be the keynote speaker at the Ohio Department of Health's abstinence conference mid-October.

Gallagher, despite having absolutely no credentials (like Valerie, herself), was a syndicated op-ed columnist. She ran into a bit of a problem earlier this year when it was revealed that she was being paid by the Bush administration to copyright PR materials about W's "marriage initiatives" and then endorse them in her columns.

Gallagher's appearance isn't the first time Huber's tried to impart an anti-gay theme to a DOH conference. Last year, the Dispatch reported:
[An] Ohio Department of Health-sponsored conference on abstinence education has come under fire from AIDS groups that say its abstinence-until-marriage focus completely ignores gay men — the group most at risk for HIV/AIDS.

. . .

Valerie Huber, program manager for the abstinence-education program at the Health Department, said the exclusion of gays from Ohio's abstinence program emanates from a 1996 federal law that provided funding for state-sponsored abstinence programs. “Since 90 percent of Americans will marry at some point in their life, we really think that this message has value,” Huber noted.
But, what set's this year's conference off is the speakers fee. Huber has agreed to pay this shill $5,000. Again, from the Gay People's Chronicle:
AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland director Earl Pike, a critic of the conference, said he called other abstinence educators to see what their fees were. None were higher than $2,000, which was the fee of Dr. Douglas Kirby, formerly of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Kirby’s work, however, is of a scientific nature, and far more critical of abstinence-only claims than Gallagher’s opinion pieces. It also lacks the overt anti-gay message.
We hope to have more on Huber's appointment to the DOH position in the future.

 

Pink eye

"Fuck these men, and God damn you if you voted for them." Why? For starters, see this.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

 

Dan hearts Jen

Dan Williamson is the political (reporter, columnist, dope?) for the Other Paper and occasionally for the Columbus Monthly magazine, both owned by CM Media. The OP is a free weekly entertainment and quasi-"alternative" paper.

Unfortunately - or fortunately, as the case may be - the OP's website is so touch-and-go that Williamson's columns are seldom seen online. Thus, readers who don't make it to central Ohio very often are going to have to take our word about Williamson.

We've never understood why the CM Media keeps him, but maybe he reflects the views of owner Max Brown. We hope not. Despite being the only regular "political" column in the paper and magazine, his pieces over the years have been trite, moronic and error-ridden.

More disturbingly, Williamson seems to have a man-crush on Kenny Blackwell and manages to blow one or two kisses to him seemingly every week. We find it especially odd to for a paper that has historically tried to position itself as the alternative to the Columbus Dispatch (hence the moniker, the Other Paper) to have its only political columnist be to the right of the CD.

A few weeks ago he wrote an incoherent column that to both trashed the RON amendments and lecture the RON organizers about how they should have put the amendments together. And, of course, blow a few more kisses to his idol Kenny.

This week, Williamson's column continues the KB love affair, using Democratic Secretary of State candidate Jennifer Brunner's opposition to the RON amendments as the vehicle. To be sure, if there were ever two more closely matched, clueless and moronic soulmates than Dan and Jen, we don't know where they are.

But, don't waste your time trying to find or read the article. Your brain cells have better things to do. As a public service, Hypothetically Speaking World Headquarters provides this summary:
Issue 5 - that would give the Ohio Secretary of State's election duties to a bi-partisan panel - is bad. It's bad because, heck, the Secretary of State just won't know what to do if those duties are taken away. And, the SOS budget will just go to waste.
Boo hoo hoo.

Williamson does provide us with an additional inane comment from Brunner:
I just don't know how the current system of the 88 county boards is gong to mesh with a nine-member board and elections supervisor.
You don't know? Well, fuck Jen, read the fine print in the amendment! It lays it all out right there. And, since the Issue 5 state election board structure is modeled after the county board structure, we are pretty confident all the affected parties can figure the "meshing" out.

Furthermore, the fact is that SOS will still have plenty to do, like administering the paperwork of Ohio's corporations and nonprofit organizations, policing trademarks, administering the state's UCC and notary system. Yes, the SOS will no longer have a $17 million budget. It's a no-brainer that a big chunk of that money would go to fund the new elections board.

And, what is Issue 5 passes and she is elected SOS?
"I'll still have a lot of enthusiasm [if elected]. I still intend to stay with it. I started out in that office as a corporations lawyer," she said. "We kept business records and legislative records for the state."

Bet that was fun.
Bet that was fun?!? That comment pretty much sums up Williamson astounding argument against Issue 5: It's stops the fun for Ken Blackwell.

What a fucktard.

 

AG fails vigilance test

When even the small-town papers are dismissing your candidacy this early in the race, you're pretty well done.

From a Willoughby New-Herald editorial:
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro's political aspirations to be governor are sinking with his slow response to problems at the state Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

. . .

Petro's duties compel him to serve as our watchdog over legal matters involving state government. If there's even a hint that something is wrong, it's time to get answers.
The SEC information should have initiated a deeper probe to learn how big the fire was where this smoke billowed.

The concern about Petro's response isn't that he didn't do this job. The problem is he didn't display the required level of vigilance when he had an opportunity to peel the lid off this scandal.

In light of the millions of dollars now missing, some argue that questioning bureau leaders about the SEC letter might have led to other discoveries. Maybe attorneys would have uncovered red flags by auditors about bureau investments that lost a lot of money.
Possibly, it would have been the catalyst for a conversation with state Auditor Betty Montgomery, who also wants to be governor. At the very least, it should have been checked into. There was no drive to find answers.

When Gov. Taft acknowledged he committed state ethics violations, his insistence to stay in office relegated him to being a wholly impotent leader. Will Petro's albatross - the real or perceived lack of action as watchdog - lead to his political undoing?

The reality is the BWC scandal has become Ohio's political tsunami for Republicans and it's still uncertain who will get caught in its wake.
[Update: You spelling vigilentes and bee-boys should mind your own business. But thanks for the tip.]

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