Trump’s HHS Dept. Ends 81 Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Grants

I have linked a very important article from the LA Times below, that discusses the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Trump appointees, has canceled $200 million of annual funding for 81 teen pregnancy prevention programs nationwide.

This is just so incredibly naive. It boggles my mind how any rational person can think like this. I guess the thought process goes something like this:

  1. Teens should not be having sex.
  2. Giving teens condoms encourages sexual behavior.
  3. We will therefor not give kids condoms.

But this ignores one simple and certain fact: The kids are going to have sex anyway. And without sex education and contraceptives, they will spread STD’s and they will make babies. And many of those babies will be aborted.

This is a perfect example of why progressive ideology serves the society so much better. Realistic and thoughtful policy decisions, based on sound science and social study, rather than dogma, help to alleviate problems such as this. Teen pregnancy prevention programs reduce the spread of STD’s, reduce the number of pregnancies, and reduce the number of abortions. How can any rational person see that as a bad thing?

I am a practicing Catholic. There is nothing wrong with my moral compass. But I’m also a realist. And I am also in full support of a complete and total separation of church and state. We don’t have to share the same religion, but we do have to share the same government. And I don’t want your God in charge of my government. Your God’s place is in your home, not my statehouse.

Trump makes good on a threat to kill teen pregnancy prevention programs

by Michael Hiltzik

Experts in teen pregnancy prevention were nervously holding their breaths as the Trump administration stocked key positions at the Department of Health and Human Services with advocates of ineffective abstinence-only sex education programs and opponents of birth control.

Now their fears have proven to be justified. Over the last couple of weeks, 81 teen pregnancy programs around the country have been informed that their grants will end in the next fiscal year, or as of June 30, 2018. At least one program that funded educational outreach by Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, among other institutions, was cut off immediately — just as it was beginning the second year of a five-year plan. In all, more than $200 million in annual funding is being ended, according to an analysis by the Center for Investigative Reporting, which made the shutdown public.

Read the full article from the LA Times here.

Stuff That Needs to be Said

I stumbled upon a fascinating blog tonight, after following a link on Facebook. I’d like to introduce you to John Pavlovitz. John writes a blog called, “Stuff That Needs to be Said.” He’s right. This stuff does need to be said. And he says it well.

Here are links to a few of John’s posts:

Yes, I’m a Christian—But I’m Not With Them

The Christians Who Defunded Jesus

The Christians Making Atheists

Christians Need to Stop Saying “The Bible Clearly Says”

No, Christian—People are Not “Struggling With Same-Sex Attraction”

Democrats and Vanilla Centrism

2017-07-12 latimes.com
Opinion

Democrats are doubling down on the same vanilla centrism that helped give us President Trump

Last Friday evening, a diverse crowd gathered in an airless Los Angeles church for a Democratic National Committee “Resistance Summer” rally. The plan was simple: to invigorate the base with speeches, then run a phone bank to oppose the Republican healthcare bill.

Instead, Democratic Party officials quickly lost control of the event.

Less than five minutes into DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison’s introductory remarks, a group of people stood up and chanted vehemently, “Single payer now!” They unfurled a banner across an entire pew, and heckled the speakers so freely that an older woman made the sign of the cross, as if warding off their revolutionary spirits, and said, “Shame on you.” Ellison’s remarks about party unification were nearly inaudible because two attendees were standing and screaming at each other. California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman simply stopped speaking. Halfway through the rally, two-dozen single-payer healthcare demonstrators — a fifth of the attendees — walked out, using a bullhorn to stage their own press conference on the sidewalk nearby.

Once again, the Democratic Party found itself unprepared to respond to its vocal left flank. Democratic Party handlers poked the demonstrators and begged them to sit, but the five-member security detail on hand stood at the back of the church, hands clasped. Their decision not to expel or otherwise silence the demonstrators was the right one.

Single-payer demonstrators weren’t the only attendees who hungered for the party to shift to the left. Those who demonstrated represented a variety of movements and political ideologies. One was a registered Democrat with the #RecallRendon movement, which has sought to push California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) out of office since he shelved Senate Bill 562, the state’s single-payer bill, in June. Another was a political independent with Our Revolution, a movement that seeks to continue the goals of Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy. Another was a self-described “revolutionary communist” with ResistFascism.org. And yet these demonstrators, who had organized themselves on Facebook, had a clear, singular message that dominated the event.

The Democratic Party speakers, who rhetorically wandered through a variety of issues, including women’s rights and the 1st Amendment, did not.

Many party speakers noted, in response to the demonstrators, that they’d been vocal supporters of single-payer healthcare, and in some cases had co-sponsored bills to enact it. But they were ad-libbing on the defensive, instead of setting the agenda for their own meeting, or sharing a vision for how to make a unified push for single-payer healthcare. Demonstrators didn’t come to see legislators talk about their collective helplessness — they wanted a plan of action.

The event came on the heels of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s decision to release a series of slogans that sunk like a lead balloon with many in the base. While none were particularly inspired, one rankled the most: “Democrats 2018: I mean, have you seen the other guys?” The slogan made it abundantly clear that, after a bruising loss in November, Democrats wouldn’t be presenting new ideas or deeply examining their policy stances. Instead, they were doubling down on a visionless strategy of vanilla centrism, selling themselves as better than the worst dude.

Single-payer demonstrators weren’t the only attendees who hungered for the party to shift to the left. Polo Morales, a 40-year-old immigration advocate from Whittier, noted that the event platform said nothing about immigration — at a rally in a state with the United States’ largest immigrant population. Morales said that if the Democratic Party tries to swing to the center to win in 2018 without examining the root causes of its previous failures, then it’s going to have a “really difficult time” turning out the vote.

In an interview after the event, Ellison, who has supported single-payer healthcare, noted “social justice is often achieved through disruption. So that’s why I’m not out of joint about how the meeting went.”

Ellison said Democrats don’t need to go to the left, right or center; they need to go down, to the nail shops on the block, the college campuses and the union halls.

But while rhetorically compelling, Ellison’s argument is a straw man. No progressives or leftists I’ve met see their vision as incompatible with grassroots organizing.

Ellison says he’s keen on rebuilding trust between the Democratic Party and those it represents. “Look, how do you build a trust relationship?” Ellison asked. “You listen to me, I listen to you. When you count on me, when you call on me, you can count on me. But what have we had with the Democratic Party? Sometime around election time we call you and ask you to vote for us. Maybe we ask you for money and then you don’t see us again until we need more votes and more money.” One of the goals of the Resistance Summer events is to put the party in contact with the people it represents outside of an election year — a good and necessary idea.

So why wouldn’t Democrats, who could have easily seen these demonstrators were counter-organizing before the event, anticipate the concerns of the room and begin by directly addressing the single-payer advocates? The most radical course of action articulated that evening was to impeach Trump and put Vice President Mike Pence in office, a message that felt terribly lackluster for a crisis moment — that “better than the worst dude” vision again.

Demonstrators, on the other hand, came with a compelling vision — which made the Democratic Party’s pressing need for one all the more obvious.

Melissa Batchelor Warnke is a contributing writer to Opinion. Follow her @velvetmelvis on Twitter.

Copyright (c) 2017 Los Angeles Times



Are you interested in learning more about a growing, grass roots party that includes single payer health care as a central plank in its platform? Check out gp.org.

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The Cakeshop Case: A New Perspective

What follows is an excerpt of a very well written piece that centers on the Cakeshop case, soon to be decided by the Supreme Court. Here’s a completely different scenario given a class of college students, that takes “gay” out of the equation.

Suppose, I asked the students, an observant Jew has a florist shop. One day, a customer, who is also Jewish, comes to the shop to say she’s getting married and would like the florist to do the wedding. “That’s wonderful,” the florist says. “Where will you get married?” The customer replies that the wedding will be at a local nondenominational church, because her fiancé is Christian, and she, the customer, isn’t very observant. The florist thinks about it and then says, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t do your wedding. It’s nothing personal; I’m sure your fiancé is a fine person, as are you. It’s just that as an observant Jew I don’t approve of interfaith weddings. For our community to survive, we must avoid intermarriage and assimilation. Please understand. There are many other florists who can do your wedding. I’ll even suggest some. But I can’t, in good conscience, participate, myself.” What result?

Read the full article by Mark L. Movsesian here. There is a good comment section following the article.

First Friday Donations to the Green Party

We’re taking our Green Party message straight to the voters. But for that, we need your help. How? By becoming a sustainer.

Sustainers are activists just like you who make a monthly financial commitment to the party. It’s easy. Just sign up and we debit your pledge automatically from your debit or credit card. (Or make a one time donation here.)

Your donations matter, they make a difference. Our positions on the environment, opposing income inequality, racism, student debt, and police brutality … are now mainstream positions.

This means – our message is sinking in and people need leadership to organize for change!

To donate by check, make your check out to “Green Party of the United States” and mail it to:

The Green Party of the United States
PO Box 75075
Washington, DC 20013

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lib·er·al

From the LA Times:

According a Pew Research Poll, last year, a median of 61% held a favorable opinion of the U.S. across France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, compared with 26% who held unfavorable views. Since Trump, who has held office for five months, opinion in these countries was 46% positive to 52% negative. The change marked the first time since the final year of George W. Bush’s presidency in 2008 that the public in these European countries has expressed more unfavorable than favorable views of the U.S., the survey found. [source]

Thereby proving that regardless of who is in the White House, the civilized world thinks that conservative politics are wrong headed.

lib·er·al

favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms
synonyms: tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, open-minded, enlightened

If by a “Liberal,” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people – their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes that we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say that I’m a “Liberal…”

Our responsibility is not discharged by an announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons, that liberalism is our best and our only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 presidential campaign is whether our Government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.

— Address of John F. Kennedy upon Accepting the Liberal Party Nomination for President, New York, New York, September 14, 1960 [source]

Legal Discrimination?

Below, I have pasted an article from the LA Times about a case the U.S. Supreme Court will hear in the fall. I do understand both sides of the issue, but I don’t understand how people can be so hard headed.

In my personal life, I can draw an analogy from my job at Walgreen’s. Our store sells the “morning after pill.” I am not pro-abortion. Were I a woman, I strongly doubt that I’d choose an abortion for myself. But I recognize that this is a decision that only a woman can make for herself. When I sell a Plan B pill to a customer, I am not taking part in any action she takes with it. No more so than a gun manufacturer is responsible for what a gun buyer does with a weapon.

Using that same reasoning, I think that a person who bakes a wedding cake is not taking part in the ceremony, or endorsing the bond. He’s making a cake. And if his cake business is open to the public, and he refuses to bake a cake because the customer is gay, he is violating that customer’s civil rights. Can he choose to refuse service to Blacks, or Mexicans, or Indians? He used to be able to. Do we want to go back there?

Cake case could put limits on civil rights

Justices to weigh a baker’s rebuff of a gay couple

By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Monday that it would hear a major religious liberties case that could grant new freedoms to businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians — and potentially others — based on the faith of the owners.

The case involves the Christian owner of a Colorado bakery who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The high-profile dispute pits the rights of religious individuals against gay rights, two issues that have been at the forefront of several recent Supreme Court decisions. Both are high priorities for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whose vote in this matter will probably be key.

In the past, Kennedy has been both a strong supporter of gay rights and a defender of religious liberty.

The Colorado case is likely to become one of the court’s most contentious cases next term. It could decide whether business owners are allowed to cite their religious views as a reason for refusing to serve gay and lesbian couples. Potentially, it could sweep even more broadly, opening a religious exemption to civil rights laws that could allow discrimination against other groups.

The case, to be heard in the fall, could have a wide effect in states like California that prohibit discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation.

No federal law requires businesses to serve all customers without regard to their sexual orientation, but 21 states have “public accommodations” laws that prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians.

States with such anti-discrimination laws are mostly in the West, East Coast and upper Midwest. No state in the South or on the Great Plains has such a law.

Colorado is one of the states whose laws protect gay couples, and Jack Phillips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., was charged with violating it.

In 2012, he said he politely declined to make a wedding cake for Charles Craig and David Mullins, who had planned to marry in Massachusetts but then have a reception in their home state of Colorado. They lodged a complaint with the state civil rights commission.
The commission ruled that Phillips’ refusal to make the wedding cake violated the provision in the state’s anti-discrimination law that says businesses open to the public may not deny service to customers based on their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. The panel ordered him to provide wedding cakes on an equal basis for same-sex couples.

Phillips appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing he deserved a religious exemption based on the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. His lawyers say he refused to comply with the commission ruling while his appeal proceeded.

They described Phillips as a “cake artist” who will “not create cakes celebrating any marriage that is contrary to his understanding of biblical teaching.”

They also said he has refused to make cakes to celebrate Halloween or create baked goods that have “anti-American or anti-family themes” or carry profane messages.
“They said you have to create cakes for same-sex couples, so he removed himself from the market. He chose to stop making wedding cakes,” said Jeremy Tedesco, a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom, who appealed on Phillips’ behalf.

Lawyers for the state commission and the American Civil Liberties Union urged the court to turn down the appeal in Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. They said it could open a “gaping hole” in civil rights laws if business owners could cite their religious beliefs as a valid basis for denying service to certain customers.

“This has always been about more than a cake,” Mullins said in a statement. “Businesses should not be allowed to violate the law and discriminate against us because of who we are and who we love.”

James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project said the “law is squarely on David and Charlie’s side because when businesses are open to the public, they’re supposed to be open to everyone.”

But Justice Kennedy, who wrote the court’s opinion upholding same-sex marriages, has also joined the court’s conservatives in upholding religious exemptions. He joined the 5-4 majority in the Hobby Lobby case, which said the Christian family who owned a chain of craft stores could refuse to provide their employees the full range of contraceptives called for by the federal healthcare law.

Public opinion polls show that most Americans support the rights of same-sex couples to marry and that support has steadily increased, even among groups who have been opposed in the past, notably evangelical Christians.

Advocates on the Christian right, however, say the government should not force believers to endorse marriages that conflict with their faith.

Two years ago, the justices turned down a similar appeal from a wedding photographer in New Mexico. Since then, the issue has arisen in several other states whose laws forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The appeal in the Colorado case has been pending since January, suggesting the justices were closely split on what to do. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, a Colorado native and a well-known defender of religious liberty claims, joined the court in April.

It takes only four votes to hear the case, and on the last day before the summer recess, the justices announced they would hear the issue during the fall….

david.savage@latimes.com
Twitter: DavidGSavage

[source]