It's not news that the Bush administration doesn't want teenagers to think about sex, much less do the deed. (It's spent $1 billion on abstinence-only programs alreadysee "Virginity for Sale" in the current issue of Mother Jones.) But now it's encouraging grown adults not to go there, either. From today's USA Today:
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. [snip]
But Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the revision is aimed at 19- to 29-year-olds because more unmarried women in that age group are having children. [snip]
"The message is 'It's better to wait until you're married to bear or father children,' " Horn said. "The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence."
Certainly, a 23-year-old can't be trusted to figure out contraception. And, let's not forget that avoiding sex before marriage will save you not just from premature parenthood but a host of other ills (to quote one federally-funded abstinence curriculum):
"Infertility, isolation, jealousy, poverty, heartbreak, substance abuse, AIDS, pregnancy, cervical cancer, genital herpes, unstable long-term commitments, depression, embarrassment, meaningless wedding, sexual violence, personal disappointment, suicide, feelings of being used, loss of honesty, loneliness, loss of personal goals, distrust of others, pelvic inflammatory disease, loss of reputation, fear of pregnancy, disappointed parents, loss of self-esteem..."
Can't wait to see the educational materials that will be coming out of the Don't Sleep With Anyone Before 30 campaign.
There's a provision in the defense authorization bill signed two weeks ago by President Bush that makes it easier for the White House to assume command of the National Guard during a major national emergency. This quiet yet significant expansion of executive power is causing all kinds of anxious buzz on lefty blogs. BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow fumes, "Between the right-to-torture bill and this one, it's clear that Bush intends to bring back the pork-politics glory of the Cold War by reinventing the Soviet Union on American soil." At towardfreedom.com, Frank Morales intones, "[I]t is particularly worrying that President Bush has seen fit, at this juncture to, in effect, declare himself dictator." The provison, which modifies the president's powers under the Insurrection Act and Posse Comitatus Act, allows him to mobilize the National Guard without governors' approval in order to respond to natural disasters, epidemics, terrorist attacks, and insurrections. This is feeding into conspiracy theories that, in the wake of a Democratic congressional victory (or mass protests against a rigged Republican victory) the administration will simply declare martial law. Why else, as Gore Vidal told the Huffington Post, would Bush seem so confident about the upcoming election results?
Let's catch our breath for a moment. For all the talk of this being a "stealth" provision, it's worth noting that the National Governors Association was against it, as were many members of Congress, including Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.). Does the law expand presidential powers unnecessarily? It certainly appears so. As Leahy explained publicly before the provision was made official:
[T[he Defense Authorization Bill will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial lawsomething has been done in only threethreeoccasions over the past several decades.... [W]e certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law. Invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military for law enforcement activities goes against some of the central tenets of our democracy. It creates needless tension among the various levels of governmentone can easily envision governors and mayors in charge of an emergency having to constantly look over their shoulders while someone who has never visited their communities gives the orders.
Yep, it looks like Congress gave Bush and Co. another big fat constitutional freebie, buried inside a big bill that passed the Senate unanimously and the House 398 to 23. But does this mean that Karl Rove is smiling because he's going send tanks down Main Street November 8? For all its flaws, there's nothing in the new law that hints that such a move is suddenly legal. And the last time I checked, the National Guard kind of had its hands full dealing with a much bigger disaster than the prospect of Speaker Pelosi.
So now the White House is saying that Dick Cheney wasn't really talking about water boarding when he said that water boarding is "a no-brainer" Tuesday. As Tony Snow explained, "You know as a matter of common sense that the vice president of the United States is not going to be talking about water boarding. Never would, never does, never will. You think Dick Cheney's going to slip up on something like this? No, come on." Put aside the laughable notion that Cheney never slips up for a moment. What's Snow really saying? That we don't waterboard or we just don't talk about it? If it's the latter, does this mark the first time in six years that Cheney has leaked something the administration doesn't want the public to know about?
Meanwhile, if you're wondering what waterboarding really looks like, check out this video in which a gutsy young journalist endures 24 minutes of near-suffocation (and talking with Alan Dershowitz) to find out if it really is torture. Not easy to watch.