Mojo - June 2010

Teens' Sex Lives Suck, Too

| Tue Jun. 8, 2010 6:00 AM EDT

In May, AARP made headlines when its latest sex survey showed that the economy had taken a serious toll on the sex lives of the 45 and over set. Baby boomers are having way less sex now than they were in 2004, and even when they are, they're enjoying it less, AARP declared. But now it looks like it's not just baby boomers who aren't getting any. The Centers for Disease Control Monday released the 2009 data from its Youth Risk Surveillance System, which showed that teenagers were just a tiny bit less sexually active in 2009 than they were in 2007 (a data point evangelical Christian groups are, naturally, promoting as a sign that abstinence education is working).

More interesting, there was a bigger dip in the number of 9th through 12th graders who were getting wasted first and then having sex, a sign, perhaps, that today's recession-worn teenagers can't afford the sexual lubricants of booze or drugs. Either that or they're choosing to spend that money on birth control instead. The use of the Pill or Depo Provera shots went up sharply between 2007 and 2009. Sadly, that still means only 22 percent of teen girls are taking serious measures to prevent pregnancy. Still, the numbers suggest that, as with the baby boomers, the recession may have left teenagers feeling a lot less randy--one side-effect of the economic downturn their parents are no doubt cheering.

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for June 8, 2010

Tue Jun. 8, 2010 5:00 AM EDT

 

US Soldiers from the 17th Fires Brigade make their way up the stairs of the 4,000-year-old Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq, near Contingency Operating Base Adder, on May 18, 2010. Photo via the US Army by Spc. Samantha Ciaramitaro.

VIDEO: Death Panels Are Back, Baby!

| Tue Jun. 8, 2010 2:05 AM EDT

Pop quiz: Your political party, the one with the elephant logo, lost a congressional seat not long after the party's longtime incumbent turned out to be a closeted gay man texting inappropriate messages to his teenage male ex-interns. The new Democratic congressman, while occasionally prone to foot-in-mouth syndrome, is an energetic young firebrand with national media recognition. Also, the district is mostly in South Florida and mostly registered Democrats. Not much to run on locally here for a GOPer.

What do you do?

You lie and play to your constituency's deepest fears, according to PolitiFact. That's what the Pulitzer-winning news site is saying about Republican Dan Fanelli and his latest ad campaign to unseat Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), he of the regular Rachel Maddow sound-bite showcases. To win, Fanelli needs elderly and retired voters to swing his way. So in a TV spot whose lack of subtlety is rivaled only by its lack of production values, Fanelli is convincing the olds that OBAMACARE is going to BUMP THEM OFF:

PolitiFact's deconstruction of this ad—as if it needed it—is truly epic. Turns out the doctor in the spot is a real doctor, a dermatologist who purportedly saved Fanelli's wife's life once. But when contacted, the doctor (whose practice accepts Medicare) now says of Obamacare, "It's not going to happen like in the commercial,'' which he stresses should be read only as a "metaphor"...

Corn on Countdown: Cheney's Role in the BP Disaster

Mon Jun. 7, 2010 10:04 PM EDT

David Corn appeared on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann to discuss the lies and nepotism surrounding Dick Cheney's role in the BP disaster.

David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter.

Blackwater Opens a Retail Chain

| Mon Jun. 7, 2010 3:16 PM EDT

Hey, remember when Blackwater killed all those Iraqis in Baghdad's Nisour Square, and billed the government for prostitutes, and probably assassinated people was enlisted in an aborted US plan to maybe assassinate people, then got in trouble, then changed its name to Xe™ and attempted a rebranding campaign? To hell with all that, the company now says: It's time to market the Blackwater brand of clothing! After all, as M.I.A. just told the New York Times, "The best sportswear is on Blackwater operatives!"

Noah Shachtman of Wired's Danger Room blog caught wind today of a company plan to open two retail stores—one in Salem, Connecticut, and one in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg (home of the military's Special Operations Command). Blackwater Pro Shops, as it's being billed, already has an online store, selling firearms and beer coozies with the firm's bear-paw logo. On the front page, there's also a sale on T-shirts from the not-at-all-ironically-named Afghan outpost, Camp Integrity.

No word yet on when they'll open. But I'm looking forward to perusing the "sale rack" of Afghan and Iraqi antiquities. Maybe I can even get a $400-an-hour job as a sales associate!

VIDEO: Principal Vows AZ Mural Won't Be "Lightened"

| Mon Jun. 7, 2010 1:23 PM EDT

What can you say about Arizona that hasn't already been said here, and here, and here? A lot, apparently. The state that gave us SB 1070, black helicopters on the border, and Dodge City redux—all in little over a month—appeared late last week to have navigated its last swirling circle around the porcelain that lines the drain of common sense and decency. That's when a street mural in Prescott, Arizona, depicting a diverse group of children who attend Miller Valley Elementary School, was set to be whitewashed—literally. In order to please a bunch of motorists who just couldn't face another day of looking at two-dimensional brown people, the principal had ordered the offending dark faces to be lightened.

Today, though, comes news that this small part of Prescott history won't be painted over. Yet. The school district head and the principal, confronted with a crowd of protesters, made a dramatic about-face and announced by bullhorn that the mural would remain as is. "Miller Valley made made a mistake," said principal Jeff Lane. "When we asked R. [the artist] to lighten the mural, we made a mistake." (To which one protester yelled, "YOU made the mistake!")

While creating the mural, "We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars," said artist R.E. Wall of the Prescott Downtown Mural Project. "We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics)."

I assume you can fill in those blanks.

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Selling Health Care Reform Until 2012—and Beyond

| Mon Jun. 7, 2010 1:03 PM EDT

President Barack Obama and his allies have launched a new PR offensive to help sell health care law to the American public—and they’re prepared to keep pushing the issue well past Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. On Tuesday, Obama will kick off the effort with a nationally televised Q & A on $250 rebate checks that will help seniors pay for Medicare prescription drugs. Over 10,000 people are expected to participate over the phone in a “tele-town hall” with Obama for the event in Maryland. “But it is only an early hint of what is to come throughout the summer and fall, officials say, as other consumer-friendly provisions—a high-risk pool for hard-to-insure people, a Web site comparing coverage plans, tough new restrictions on insurers—take effect,” the New York Times explains.

A number of deep-pocketed outside groups will be amplifying the White House effort. Former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and Vicky Kennedy—Ted Kennedy’s wife—are expected to co-chair an independent, tax-exempt group called the Health Information Center to halt the spread of disinformation about health reform and to help states put the law into place, Politico reports. Staffed by Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director, as well as other veteran Democratic operatives, the group will have a hefty budget of $25 million a year over the next five years.

The scope of such efforts is just the latest reminder of the long road ahead for Obama’s health care law, both politically and policy-wise. Democrats tried to include concrete benefits that would take effect before the midterm elections, rightfully concerned that Republicans would try to make hay of the public’s mistrust of the bill. But the biggest changes will take years to implement: administration officials are still in the process of writing the regulations that aim to crack down on exploitative insurance practices, and the health insurance exchanges won't be set up until 2014. Though their health care votes may help sink or save congressional Democrats this year, the bigger political test for the Democratic Party may be in 2012, when much more of the law will be in place—and the public expectations for change will be that much higher.

Could BP Derail Economic Recovery?

| Mon Jun. 7, 2010 10:04 AM EDT

Not only is BP's 49-day-old oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the worst in US history, its after-effects—especially the moratorium on offshore drilling instituted by President Obama in May—could lead to a crippling economic disaster in the Gulf Coast region, if not the country. In a worst-case scenario, if the spill continues to shut down local industry deep into this fall, experts in the Gulf coast region say the Deepwater Horizon calamity could pave the way for a double-dip recession.

Among the sectors facing shutdown stemming from Obama's moratorium are Louisiana's oil and gas, fishing, and tourism industries. Yet, as NPR's John Ydstie reported today, the woes of those industries will ripple throughout Gulf Coast states' economies, hurting everyone from tug boat captains, boat engine repairmen, hotel operators, to bar owners. As Ydstie reported, the oil and gas industry makes up 16 percent of Louisiana's GDP; tourism and fishing comprise 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively. The state's economic development organization estimates that 20,000 jobs could be lost, and the Tulane University Energy Institute went so far as to say that the spill's economic reverberations could cause a double-dip recession. (Analysts with Moody's Economy.com denied that claim, NPR's Ydstie says.) "Guys that sell maintenance and repairs, guys that sell engines—there's lots of banks out there who only loan money to the oil and gas sector," Shane Guidry, chairman and CEO of Harvey Gulf International Marine, told NPR. "They're going to be affected. I mean, it just goes on and on and on. Carmakers—people won't be buying cars, houses...They won't have jobs to pay for it."

All of this leaves Obama in a nasty pickle. He had practically no choice, in the spill's aftermath, but to place a temporary moratorium on offshore drilling. (Though that hasn't completely stopped the practice.) But in doing so, he risks partly undermining his own efforts to stabilize the economy and add jobs to the workforce each month—not eliminate them. And job creation, at least in the private sector, is something the president's having enough trouble with already. Obama has said he would consider ending the moratorium early based on the findings of a commission studying the spill, but if he does, the move will certainly rile up environmental groups who want an end to offshore drilling altogether. He's stuck between a rock and a hard place, with few good options anywhere he looks.

The Baby Boomers' Suicide Spike

| Mon Jun. 7, 2010 8:17 AM EDT

The recession has hit the baby boomers hard. Not only has it affected their earnings, their ability to own a home and other trappings of middle-class life, but also, of course, their sex lives, which AARP reported last month had taken a major hit during the recession. But now, in perhaps a related bit of news, the New York Times reported this weekend that for the second year in a row, middle-aged people have suffered the highest suicide rate in the country. Normally, people over 80 are the most likely to take their own lives. But since 2006, baby boomers in the 45- to 54-year-old range have been killing themselves in record numbers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.

In hindsight, the suicide numbers look like a warning sign about the coming collapse of the economy, suggesting that many people in their prime working years were already feeling the economic stress of what would become an epidemic of foreclosures and job losses before those losses actually started showing up on anyone's radar screen. The middle-age suicide rate jumped first in 2006, at the peak of the housing bubble, a sign perhaps that it wasn't just John Paulson who understood back then that the bust was imminent.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for June 7, 2010

Mon Jun. 7, 2010 5:00 AM EDT

 

A Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kan., M119 Howitzer crew fires high-explosive, 105mm artillery rounds during the battery's crew certifications, May 28 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher. Photo via the US Army by Sgt. Shantelle Campbell.