Friday, November 30, 2007

Passing judgment on the victim

Is it just me? Really, it must be. But I just don't see it any other way.

Pennsylvania House Bill 288 is reasonable legislation that would see to it that emergency contraception, commonly known as the morning-after pill, is available to any rape victim who wanted it, no matter what hospital she was in. It would provide a guarantee that all rape victims have information and access to emergency contraception in every Pennsylvania emergency room.

Unfortunately, even something as straightforward as guaranteeing rape victims access to pregnancy prevention may be too moderate a concept for our esteemed House members to embrace.

A vote on this bill is expected on Monday.

As initially presented, House Bill 288 proposed sane much-needed guarantees to rape victims, offering assurances that they would be treated humanely when seeking medical help from any of Pennsylvania's hospitals.

But the "McCall amendment" to the proposed law, to also be presented Monday, would permit faith-based hospitals to exempt themselves from the bill's requirement for religious or moral reasons – gutting the very guarantees the legislation would provide.

So what can't I help but assuming about any lawmaker who votes in favor of the exemption? That he is a Neanderthal less concerned with defending the rights of a rape victim and more concerned that some sanctimonious jerk in a lab coat has the right to impose his personal moral views on brutalized women.

I mean, what else is a person to conclude about these guys?

Well, I guess we could also conclude that they think Pennsylvania voters are a bunch of religious extremists who want women, even rape victims, not to have access to birth control. And, they are so cynical that they are willing to sell their votes to what they assume is a majority of Pennsylvanians for the assurance of continued support for a cushy job and a nice fat pension.

Scary thoughts indeed.

Let us go over it again: Emergency contraception is not abortion (pdf). When used soon after unprotected sex, it can prevent pregnancy.

A Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece, written by two members of the Womens Donor Network, sums up the issue quite nicely. The article is here. It points out:
On Oct. 18, Pennsylvania's Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved regulations that would allow health-care facilities with religious affiliations or moral objections to claim an exemption from a laudable new rule that requires hospitals to inform rape victims of their right to emergency contraception, and to provide the contraceptive pills to the raped woman if she wants them. The regulation was handed down just as legislators were scheduled to take up a bill that would have required Pennsylvania hospitals and health-care facilities essentially to offer the rule without a so-called conscience clause.

With the clause, state regulators have apparently appeased opponents to the proposed legislation who want to allow facilities to withhold birth control - even from rape victims - based on theological or moral grounds. Others seek to muddy the waters by claiming that emergency birth control is something it's not. (Emergency birth control is nothing more than two birth-control pills combined. It does not terminate a pregnancy; it prevents one from happening.)

Readers in Pennsylvania should call their elected representatives, urging them to support House Bill 288 as it stands and to oppose this mean-spirited Amendment.

Lauri in York

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

ACLU lobbyist at Firedoglake today

Caroline Fredrickson, the director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, visited Firedoglake today for a chat on what's going on with FISA. Lots of fascinating insight to be had. Some of it is real political junkie crack. (For example, will Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thwart Chris Dodd's filibuster threat by bringing up the bill while Dodd is campaigning in Iowa?)

The discussion can be found here. The dialogue is preceded by more scuttlebutt about the Joe Klein, TIME magazine screw-up on FISA.

I knew about this chat on Wednesday and probably should have posted it here. If you were our friend at MySpace you would have known since we sent a bulletin to our friends.

Andy in Harrisburg

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Simply Atrocious

Saturday was my first day as a Patient Escort at the Philadelphia Women's Center, and it is a day I will never forget. I approached Appletree Street from 8th Avenue expecting a large crowd of anti-abortion protestors, but I was not prepared for what was to come next.

Nervous and fearful I would recognized as the opposition, I quickly walked through the crowd. Approaching the clinic door at 6:35 am, I noticed a group of people sitting on the entrance steps. At first, the thought of a blockade did not register... I had learned that this was illegal... and could not believe that this could happen... but there they were.

Confused and disturbed, I frantically searched for escorts in yellow pinnies. I crossed the police line and tried to make sense of the situation. I soon learned that the Operation Rescue protestors had trapped some employees and patients inside and were barring entrance to anyone who attempted to pass.

While trying to make sense of this unbelievable situation, I repeatedly asked, "Isn't this illegal? How can the police allow the protestors to do this? Shouldn't they all be arrested for blocking the entrance? What about the safety of the patients, the staff and the volunteers?" My mind was spinning while I did my best to act as a visual barrier between the patients and anti's.

For what seemed like hours, the police allowed the protestors to block the entrance while the patients either stood out in the cold or waited in nearby cars. The anti's got really close to the patients, their family and friends. They used scare tactics and offered fake money in an attempt to change their minds. They insulted the escorts by insinuating that we are "not pro-choice" and that we are "harming women." While the patients were free to speak with the anti's, to us, they only expressed anger or fear in regards to their presence.

Even though this happened more than 3 days ago, my mind has not yet processed these events and it is still difficult for me to find the words. It is absolutely unbelievable that something like this can happen in light of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which forbids the use of "force, threat of force or physical obstruction" to prevent someone from providing or receiving reproductive health services. Is this not clear enough? I just don't understand.

Stephanie Chando, Duvall Project Intern

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Derailing the so-called new third rail of politics

There are public officials, anti-immigrant advocates, and trolls at SF that think that the anti-immigrant sentiment prevails in America and that the wind is at their back. Democrat wonderboy Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-Illin') even claims that immigration is the "new third rail" of politics.

Not so fast, my friends.

In an analysis after Election Day, The Washington Post noted that demagoging on the immigration issue got candidates nowhere in local elections in Virginia.
Voters across Virginia chose candidates in state and local elections yesterday not out of anger over illegal immigration but based on party affiliation, a preference for moderation and strong views on such key issues as residential growth and traffic congestion.

With a few notable exceptions, the trend benefited Democrats and not those who campaigned the loudest for tough sanctions against illegal immigrants.

A less conclusive but still telling analysis was in The New York Times on the Empire State's local elections.
Democrats declared yesterday that Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants had not proved to be the electoral boon Republicans had hoped for in local elections, despite the Republicans' aggressive efforts to exploit overwhelming public opposition to the proposal.

The Republican presidential primary looks like a race to the gutter on this issue, and the Democratic hopefuls are standing at the cliff deciding whether or not to follow the nativist lemmings over the edge. They're all failing to give the American people credit for being more mature than a 12-year-old. Let's face it, the American people embrace people who work hard and have strong family values, and that's why polling has consistently shown that most people in the country want comprehensive immigration reform.

And if you need further proof that the demagogue frame is a loser at the ballot box, look no further than this guy. For weeks leading up to the election in 2006, "Casey for Amnesty" signs were all over the place in PA. And Santorum lost by 17 points.

Andy in Harrisburg

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Everytime I read the news, I'm always more confused

As we returned to work from the long holiday weekend, many of us were no doubt sharing with our colleagues the best clueless remarks made round the Thanksgiving dinner table by some of our well-meaning but woefully uninformed relatives. Waiting for the caffeine to kick in this morning, we tried to one up each other with tales of expressed opinions so outrageous it would make even Bill O'Reilly blush. (Warning: You can't outdo my stories. "George Bush is a great environmentalist?" Nobody draws out the stupid like me.)

Of course, one has to wonder where such notions come from. Don't these folks read the news? Well, unfortunately, maybe they do. It's this kind of thing that leads to an uninformed citizenry.

Joe Klein's column in last week's Time Magazine contained quite a few inaccuracies about the new FISA bill -- The RESTORE Act -- passed by House Democrats last week. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out in
The most obvious and harmful inaccuracy was his claim that that bill 'would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court' and that it therefore 'would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans.' Based on those outright falsehoods, Klein called the House Democrats' bill 'well beyond stupid.'

As Greenwald pointed out, the bill is pretty clear.

Under Section 2 of the RESTORE Act -- the very first section after the "Definitions" section:


Sec. 105A. (a) Foreign to Foreign Communications-

(1) IN GENERAL - Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a court order is not required for electronic surveillance directed at the acquisition of the contents of any communication between persons that are not known to be United States persons and are reasonably believed to be located outside the United States for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the United States or the surveillance device is located within the United States.

The blog Firedoglake has a great assessment of what this means to readers looking to Time Magazine to inform them on an issue critical to the Fourth Amendment and our rights to privacy.

Lauri in York

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Friday, November 23, 2007

The infrastructure for a police state

When my sister-in-law recently told me about the Global Positioning System in her new vehicle, I kiddingly harassed her and said that I would never get a GPS because it is a part of the infrastructure of a police state. Her husband stopped me dead in my righteous tracks and reminded me that our cell phones are easily tracked. I mumbled something like, "Yeah, but I like my phone."

Today The Washington Post reports that federal agents are using cell phones to track suspects. This is no surprise. They should be tracking suspected criminals by any lawful means possible.

The disturbing aspect of the Post story is that judges are issuing warrants without requiring that the agents meet the constitutional standard of probable cause.
In some cases, judges have granted the requests without requiring the government to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime is taking place or that the inquiry will yield evidence of a crime. Privacy advocates fear such a practice may expose average Americans to a new level of government scrutiny of their daily lives.

Such requests run counter to the Justice Department's internal recommendation that federal prosecutors seek warrants based on probable cause to obtain precise location data in private areas.

That second paragraph is particularly troubling. Here's a piece from later in the article.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said field attorneys should follow the department's policy. "We strongly recommend that prosecutors in the field obtain a warrant based on probable cause" to get location data "in a private area not accessible to the public," he said. "When we become aware of situations where this has not occurred, we contact the field office and discuss the matter."

When did following the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution become a "recommendation"?
Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

For more on this issue, visit the ACLU's Privacy & Technology page.

Andy in Harrisburg

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Inner Sanctum

This week I had the opportunity to view the interiors of two Pennsylvania women’s centers where abortions are performed. For all the horrible images painted by the anti's of these "abortuaries," I was relieved to know that women who choose to have an abortion can do so in a comforting, safe and soothing environment.

The waiting room of the Allentown Women's Center is cozy with messages of support from patients displayed on the walls. There are photographs of men and women depicting the various choices women have including medication abortion, carrying the pregnancy to term, or choosing high school over an unwanted pregnancy. There are also artsy photographs of hypocritical racists who protest abortion while draped in white robes. The most calming aspect of the room, however, is a large painting of brightly colored palm trees on the ceiling. Beyond the doors of the waiting room are counseling rooms, procedure rooms, and the recovery area.

At the Philadelphia Women's Center, the area beyond the waiting room is a light shade of pink, with purple accents, and feminist artwork portraying various aspects of women’s strengths. Women can choose to listen to the soothing sounds of birds chirping or to read encouraging words from other women who have been in the same situation.

Although making the decision to have an abortion may be difficult, it is wonderful to know that women have safe and supportive environments to go to when they are need of them the most.

Stephanie Chando, Duvall Project Intern

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Wanted: Rational debate

Earlier this month, Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer wrote an interesting piece on the realities of U.S. immigration policy. He addressed what he considers to be the economic and social dangers of having a large group of people forced into an exiled status in the country in which they were raised.

From Oppenheimer's column on the subject:
You may have violated a rule, but that should not make you an 'illegal' person. You may have gotten a ticket for speeding, but that doesn't make you an 'illegal' human being, even if the potential harm of your reckless driving is much greater than anything done by most of the hard-working undocumented immigrants in this country.

Carrying out enforcement-only policies, labeling undocumented workers as 'illegals' and depriving them of hope for upward mobility -- rather than working toward greater economic cooperation with Latin America to reduce migration pressures -- is not only wrong, but dangerous. The millions of undocumented among us will not leave. They will only get angrier.

So, Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly learned of the column. And in the interest of public discourse and rational debate, he offered a well reasoned and thoughtful assessment, laying out a lucid analysis of why Oppenheimer was wrong. (OK, I'm just kidding about that part. But you probably already guessed that.) No, no. The transcript is here. Mr. O'Reilly responded by calling Mr. Oppenheimer a "nut job" and a "crazy columnist." Certainly can't argue with the logical nuance and depth of understanding he brings to these thorny and complex legal issues.

Also, Laura Ingraham, who was on the show commenting, said it seemed like Oppenheimer was trying to incite a race war. (The woman really needs to work on her reading comprehension. He doesn't say that at all.) Here is Oppenheimer's response to the accusation. Notice how he actually responds to the issues. And no matter what your position is on the immigration issue, his points are an important reminder that this is a not something that will be solved with simplistic and pat responses.

Lauri in York

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Controversy over Nova episode on intelligent design case

Judgment Day, the PBS/Nova's show on Dover's intelligent design trial has aired. For those who were part of it, what played out for two hours on the television set could never fully capture (but indeed, came as close as I think anyone could) to this amazing experience. (Full disclosure - I appear in the show.)

However, in something of an ironic twist, the show seems to have sparked a bit of a brouhaha over censorship. In Tennessee, the land of the Scopes Monkey Trial, the subject was deemed too controversial for Memphis public broadcast viewers. Sigh. While most of the country was able to watch the show on local Public Broadcasting System stations (or, as the oh-so-irked Discovery Institute likes to refer to it, "The Propaganda Broadcasting System." Oh my goodness, Casey. It's funny because it's so clever.), folks there watched a post-Veterans Day show on WWII.

To their credit, many viewers are not pleased.

According to the article in The Memphis Commercial Appeal, "in response to one viewer complaint, WKNO program manager Debi Robertson said Wednesday that while the 'Nova' episode reported the outcome of the trial and the arguments during the trial it 'might look particularly one-sided to most of our audience.' " As the letter writers correctly point out, the station's decision to protect viewers from information with which they might or might not disagree, is an abdication of public television's commitments and responsibilities. It smacks of condescending paternalism of the worst kind.

The good news, however, is that overall, most stations had no qualms about airing the show. According to Paula Apsell, the show's senior executive producer, "the pick-up of this show in the PBS system at large was terrific." Ninety-eight percent of the top fifty markets aired it.

And while we're on the subject, (Well, sort of related) the Flying Spaghetti Monster is on the agenda of the American Academy of Religion's annual meeting this weekend.

The discussion's title? "Evolutionary Controversy and a Side of Pasta: The Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Subversive Function of Religious Parody."

Lauri in York

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


The pro-choice community celebrated on Thursday, November 8, when a federal judge ordered an infamous Reading anti-abortion activist, John Dunkle, to remove posts from his internet website and blog that "clearly constituted a threat" against physicians, staff and patients of several abortion clinics in the region. With pending threats against abortion rights at both the state and federal levels, it is comforting to know that the Attorney General's office is willing to protect doctors and staff involved with abortion services.

On a daily basis, the frontline superheroes of the reproductive rights movement face villains claiming moral superiority. Like John Dunkle, these protestors barricade clinic entrances, send terrorist threats to clinic employees and physicians, and shove frightening anti-choice propoganda in the faces of clinic patients. In the name of God, they "protect the innocent" by threatening the lives of men and women. But who are they to judge?

I would like to thank those men and women, especially Dr. Mary Blanks and Jennifer Boulanger from the Allentown Women's Center, who were willing to come forward and stand up against a man labeled as a "domestic terrorist," by one of the assistant U.S. attorneys. I would also like to thank the clinic staff, physicians, and escorts who work hard on a daily basis to provide women with choices when they need them the most.

Even though Dunkle's website has been cobbled, there are many more anti's out there threatening patients and clinics. The infamous anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, who has been disavowed by Operation Rescue, is planning a clinic protest in the Philadelphia area on Saturday, Nov. 24th. We are seeking to train escorts in anticipation. If you are interested, please click here.

To read more about Gonzalez vs. Dunkle click here and here.

Stephanie Chando, Duvall Project Intern

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We the sheeple

According to Rep. Sam Rohrer (R-Berks), the federal Real ID Act will allow the federal government to track us "like common livestock."

Opposition to Real ID is not exclusive to one ideology or political party. Everyone's against it.

Today at the state capitol, Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would stop Pennsylvania from taking part in the Real ID program.

"If you think dealing with PennDOT is a headache now, you ain't seen nothing," Folmer said, referencing the increased workload for DMVs and the increased number of hoops that residents will have to jump through to get a license under Real ID.

"Diminished privacy, higher fees, a new mountain of bureaucracy, and will we actually be any safer? No, we will not," Folmer added.

Folmer was joined by Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) and Rohrer, co-sponsors of House Bill 1351, which will also block the Commonwealth's participation in Real ID.

"The fact that the federal government doesn't seem to be able to keep track of their computers or the data on their computers," Josephs said, "this is not safe. This is not the way to go."

Real ID will create a massive new database linking DMVs from all 50 states and the U.S. territories, creating a honeypot for identity thieves.

Rohrer called for hearings on HB 1351 and an investigation into PennDOT's recent agreement with a private company to implement Real ID "so the sunshine can light up this contract."

"My path is clear," Rohrer said. "Pennsylvania should flatly and by law reject the implementation of Real ID in this Commonwealth."

For more on Real ID, visit

Andy in Harrisburg

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What desperation sounds like

You may remember a couple of years ago when the Dover school board was sued for requiring science teachers at its schools to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. Tonight Nova premiered its two hour special on the Dover Intelligent Design trial. Now, two years after suffering a drubbing at the hands of the ACLU and the judge (a conservative Bush II appointee), the folks who brought you intelligent design are apparently searching for yet another path to get a whipping in court.

You see, the Nova documentary has an accompanying briefing packet for teachers. Here is the section from the FAQ portion of the briefing packet that has given Dr. John West and his cronies at the Discovery Institute the vapors:
"Can you accept evolution and still believe in religion?"

"Yes. The common view that evolution is anti-religious is simply false. All that evolution tells us is that life on this planet could have arisen by natural processes. For many people of various faiths, showing that something is due to a natural process doesn't take it outside the realm of the divine. Religious thinkers across the ages have written that merely showing that something is natural puts it within the influence of God, the creator of all nature. By definition science cannot address supernatural causes because its methodology is confined to the natural world. Therefore science has nothing to say about the nature of God or about people's spiritual beliefs. This does not mean science is anti-religious; rather it means science cannot engage in this level of explanation."

Dr. West and the Discovery Institute assert that this answer "encourages the injection of religion into classroom teaching about evolution in a way that likely would violate current Supreme Court precedents about the First Amendment's Establishment Clause". They have insinuated the threat of legal action against PBS, ominously warning that the Discovery Institute had sent the Nova teaching guide out to 16 attorneys and legal scholars for review and analysis of its constitutionality. If these are the same attorneys and legal scholars who worked on the Dover case for them, I'd say Nova and PBS don't have much to worry about.

What Dr. West and his colleagues ignore is that PBS can't violate the establishment clause or any other constitutional principle because PBS is not in the business of passing laws. In fact, last time I checked PBS can't compel anybody to do anything, otherwise we would probably be forced to spend a significant portion of our lives watching their interminable pledge drives. Aside from the obvious fact that PBS and Nova do not have the same legal authority to compel cooperation from educators as say, the Dover School Board, their assertion that the answer would violate the establishment clause is almost as thin as the scientific basis for intelligent design. It is quite clear that a discussion of "many people of various faiths" is far cry from a state sponsored establishment of a particular religion, even if it were a phrase uttered by a teacher in a public school classroom. What religion is being established here? Where does it say that one religion is more legitimate than another? As far as I can tell the FAQ answer simply points out that some people believe the natural world is also divine and that science really can't address any of these questions. Or maybe the Discovery Institute is taking on a new mission heretofore thought of as too wacky even for them: that evolution is just another religious "ism", so teaching evolution as science is the same as teaching Christianity or Judaism as science.

Of course, I wanted to tell you what the "16 attorneys and legal scholars" had to say about the constitutionality of the briefing packet. Unfortunately I can't because the press conference the Discovery Institute had planned to release the findings was canceled when Dr. West was stricken with a wicked case of laryngitis. I don't know about intelligent design, but that sure sounds like divine retribution to me.

Pamela in Pittsburgh

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Monday, November 12, 2007

New Jersey sets a date with the executioner.... put him out of business. In a few weeks, the legislature will vote on abolishing capital punishment.

Andy in Harrisburg

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Fear the taco!

So, while thumbing through a magazine recently, I ran across this letter to the editor:
Given the current political,social, and economic crisis concerning illegal aliens, your September issue crossed over from a good-living mouthpiece to a sensitivity lecture. Devoting an entire slanted issue to projecting your political preferences into this firestorm is an intrusion...

So, you ask, what's the name of this obviously left-leaning, commie-backing, politically correct, and (Horrors, not that!) ACLU-supporting magazine?


As in food.

And what was the heinous and irresponsible topic of the September issue?

What the gentleman, or woman (One can't tell. He or she only used the initials H.F. from Florida), was upset about was the fact that a magazine about eating had devoted an entire issue to Latino cooking.


Here's more enlightenment from another Gourmet reader:
Dedicating the entire September issue to Hispanic cooking, in light of the enormous damage illegal immigration is causing this country, is quite inexcusable. To seemingly glorify the efforts of those who are violating our laws and placing a severe burden is, simply put, quite wrong.

What could be next? An issue devoted to, perhaps, Italian cooking? Indian? Or even, shudder, Chinese? Where would it end? Pretty soon, Gourmet would be celebrating the melting pot (or, if you prefer, masala or bouquet garni) of America's varied and vibrant food culture and history.

Thankfully, many letters praised the issue. Most of the folks who responded said they appreciated the many recipes, or recalled eating at places mentioned in the articles. One writer grew nostalgic at the memory of eating from Mexico's taco trucks. (I understand. From time to time, I catch myself musing dreamily over the carne asada purchased one night at 3 a.m. from a truck in Austin, Tex. - My friend, if you're reading, remember?)

One woman, (who hails from Puerto Rico and is, as you know, a U.S. citizen) thanked Gourmet for "so eloquently high-lighting the cultural nuances that go into Latino cooking."

Alas, as we know, apparently not everyone grasps such nuance.

So, what does it mean when people become so fearful of a culture that even its food is demonized? I don't know. Perhaps underneath the cloak of concern lurks naked fear and bigotry? I could be wrong. But one certainly has to wonder what Rep. Daryl Metcalfe and his buddies think of tacos.

Lauri in York


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"A Stunning Disgrace"

"Placing politics before public health and ideology over science have now become bipartisan follies," according to James Wagoner. With a $28 million increase, the federal budget for abstinence-only programs will reach $141 million next year, crushing hopes that comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed would become the standard. With the Democrats in control of Congress, was this too much to ask for?

Apparently it is...

Despite the studies that show abstinence-only programs have "no impact on adolescent behavior," "threaten fundamental human rights to health, information and life,"and "contain false or misleading information," both Republican AND Democratic leadership frivolously waste tax-payers money and endanger the lives of youth by supporting these failed programs.

While 13 states have rejected this money, Arlen Specter has turned Pennsylvania into "the abstinence-earmark capital of the country, directing more than $8 million (over $1 million this year alone) into dozens of programs." According to Scott Hoeflich, the senator's chief of staff, Specter views the abstinence earmarks as a response to "a significant segment of his constituency, which he believes is entitled to implement programs most consistent with their values.” We can only assume, however, that these earmarks help to keep his conservative supporters happy.

In a call to arms, Advocates for Youth demands that we start holding our pro-choice Democratic leadership accountable "for what they have done to undermine the health and safety of young people in this country." The time has come to denounce the continued bipartisan support of abstinence-only program funding by its true title: "A stunning disgrace."

Click here to see article on Specter

Click here to see James Wagoner's article

Stephanie Chando, Duvall Project Intern

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Monday, November 05, 2007

A whopper from the White House

This is too rich to let it pass by.
Q: Is it ever reasonable to restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism?

WH Press Secretary Dana Perino: In our opinion, no.

More from Think Progress.

Andy in Harrisburg

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Where we've been, where we need to go

Studs Terkel had an op-ed in Monday's NY Times on warrantless surveillance.
In 1978, with broad public support, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which placed national security investigations, including wiretapping, under a system of warrants approved by a special court. The law was not perfect, but as a result of its enactment and a series of subsequent federal laws, a generation of Americans has come to adulthood protected by a legal structure and a social compact making clear that government will not engage in unbridled, dragnet seizure of electronic communications.

The Bush administration, however, tore apart that carefully devised legal structure and social compact. To make matters worse, after its intrusive programs were exposed, the White House and the Senate Intelligence Committee proposed a bill that legitimized blanket wiretapping without individual warrants. The legislation directly conflicts with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, requiring the government to obtain a warrant before reading the e-mail messages or listening to the telephone calls of its citizens, and to state with particularity where it intends to search and what it expects to find.

To look back at yesterday's post and the question of just how many voices it will take, Terkel is optimistic about the American people's ability to set us back on the right track.
I always feel uplifted by this: Given the facts and an opportunity to act, the body politic generally does the right thing. By revealing the truth in a public forum, the American people will have the facts to play their historic, heroic role in putting our nation back on the path toward freedom.

Andy in Harrisburg

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