Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You Cannot Make This Up

From an interview with Martha Raddatz on ABC News:
BUSH: Clearly, one of the most important parts of my job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people. There have been no attacks since I have been president, since 9/11. One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take ...

RADDATZ: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

BUSH: Yeah, that's right. So what?

44 Comments:

Anonymous Robert said...

Off-topic, but there's a touching article in today's Post on the Whitman-Walker Clinic, DC's premier HIV clinic and LGBT health agency (front page, below the fold):

Whitman-Walker Moves Out

Everyone with ties to the lgbt community should read this article.

December 16, 2008 6:02 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bush is a total moron. He should be in jail for what he's done to Iraq and the U.S. economy. Years from now the enduring image of Bush will be him ducking as the Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at him.

December 16, 2008 6:22 PM  
Anonymous old-anon said...

The shoe incident shows just how much Bush has done for Iraq. Here's today's WSJ:

"On Sunday, as everyone in the world now knows, a young Iraqi TV reporter named Muntander al-Zaidi took the opportunity of a press conference to throw his shoes at George W. Bush and call the President a "dog."

Congratulations, Iraq: You really are a free country.

Yesterday, the New York Times queried dozens of Iraqis from across the country for their views of Mr. Zaidi's act. Reactions ranged from enthusiastic support to the feeling that it was unprofessional for a journalist and no way to treat a guest. One Iraqi feared that the President would take some sort of terrible revenge, but he relaxed after Mr. Bush laughed the incident off. Another, who claimed to have spent five years in Saddam's jails, offered that "the journalist has to throw flowers on Bush, not a shoe, because Bush saved the Iraqi people from a bloody regime."

So everyone has an opinion, and everyone seems prepared to share it (along with their name and city of residence) with a newspaper that somebody in the Iraqi government is likely to read. For its part, the Iraqi government is not amused. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called Mr. Zaidi's stunt a "shameful, savage act" and demanded an apology from the reporter's employers. So far, none has been forthcoming, and Mr. Zaidi potentially faces jail time for harming a visiting dignitary.

Mr. Zaidi works for an anti-American TV outlet, and was known to sign off on his televised reports from "occupied Baghdad." But if Mr. Maliki wants his revenge, he could do no better than to let Mr. Zaidi walk free. As for Mr. Bush's critics, both in the West and the Arab world, they will see one more opportunity to bemoan the folly of Iraq's liberation. We suspect many Iraqis will reflect on what would have been the fate of any journalist who dared to throw his shoes at Saddam Hussein."

The Iraq war has indeed been a defeat for al Quaeda. Before that, the was a great deal of admiration in the Arab street for Bin Laden. Now, Arabs everywhere have seen clearly, in Iraq, the true nature of al Quaeda. They have little support left anywhere except some subterranean territory in Pakistan.

December 16, 2008 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Reader said...

Thanks for sharing, Robert. As someone who reads this blog every now and then and is HIV+, I appreciate you keeping us up-to-date.

December 17, 2008 2:04 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I shared the article with some of my colleagues at work. I wasn't part of the community during the
'80s and '90s, and my friends only speak of that time in oblique references. My friend and I were discussing that it is a failure of our health system worldwide and locally, and our economic system, that millions of people on this planet, and thousands in this country, die from a disease that can be, at least in part, treated effectively.

I've followed a little of the effects of funding cuts on Whitman-Walker. They still have their units in Virginia, SE and Maryland open, but have suffered financially. I noted on their website that more than half the people they serve have incomes under $20,000 per year. DC gives them money, and Virginia gives some, but not enough.

December 17, 2008 6:33 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

"The shoe incident shows just how much Bush has done for Iraq."

Bush's Rove-sponsored "legacy tour" turned the shoe thrower into a hero in the Arab World.

Meanwhile, here at home, spending vast quantities of our tax dollars on Bush's blunder into Iraq remains an economic drain on our economy and we get to read daily headlines like:

Welfare Rolls See First Climb in Years:
Job Losses Bring Applicants From Middle Class, Test New Focus on Finding Work


Md., Va. Eye Even Deeper Cutbacks
More Layoffs, Furloughs Ahead


New Poll Shows 63% Are Already Hurt by Downturn

Unlike those few folks who lurk out on the far fringes, more than two thirds of Americans do not support Bush's blunder Poll Finds Support for Obama's War Views:
Less Pessimism on Iraq, But 70% Back Pullout

December 17, 2008 7:17 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Apparently the shoe thrower has had an arm and a couple of ribs broken.

Meanwhile Iraqi LGBTs suffer under the U.S. lead puppet government far worse than they did under Sadam. Government sponsored death squads roam Iraq murdering LGBTS with impunity:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/aug/06/gayrights.iraq

The plight of gay Iraqis symbolizes the plight of many ordinary Iraqi citizens - things were bad under Sadam but now under the rampant lawlessness Bush brought things are much wors.

December 17, 2008 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

This is what LGBT American servicemen and women have given their lives and health for?

The US government has not supported the UN resolution against discriminatory laws, and the Vatican is actively opposing it. Something about marriage, or Christian charity, or something like that. Cretins.

December 17, 2008 11:53 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

What's happening in Iraq shows how much validity there is in bad anonymous's preposterous idea that intolerance towards gays protects them.

December 17, 2008 12:12 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Robert, get this, the Vatican says it opposes decriminalizing gayness because doing so could result in discrimination against Christians. Not real discrimination as in being fired from your job or evicted from your home, but "discrimination" as in people might think you're mean when you say its immoral to be gay if there's no law to imprison and execute gays. How twisted is that - "we have to continue to imprison and execute gays or people might look down on us for criticizing them" - there's Islamic-Christian values for you.

December 17, 2008 12:30 PM  
Anonymous old-anon said...

You know everyone in America is now interested in politics. This level of interest in public service has not been seen since the early sixties and, let's face it, Sarah Palin is the reason.

Time magazine just named her runner-up for Man of the Year. She was nominated by distinguished political commentator Ann Coulter and now Time has agreed she was a worthy contender for the honor:

"In the beginning, she winked. "I was just your average hockey mom," she told us by way of introduction, which was a charming diversion from the reality of the most astonishing political debut in modern times. Sarah Palin did indeed show she could play politics as a contact sport; her motherhood did become central to her message. But average? Not in your wildest dreams.

Maybe Sarah was the girl next door once upon a time, but not on the day we met her, back in late August, her 20th wedding anniversary with Todd, the Iron Dog champion. She was not just a governor, but the most popular governor in the country; not just a mom but a mother of five, with a family made for reality TV. And she wasn't just a running mate; she was a one-woman rescue team for the Republican ticket. Largely unknown but suddenly exalted, she was the perfect wide screen onto which people projected pride and prejudice in equal measure: she's fresh, she's phony; an inspiration to women, an insult to them; the bright future of the Republican Party, the cartoon princess of its populist past. She split people then, and they're divided still, and she's the one subplot in this story that remains utterly unresolved.

Hardly anyone saw Palin coming. The newspapers had to tell readers how to pronounce her name. The culture war had gone quiet but had not gone away: conservatives had been searching for a soul mate for ages, and it sure wasn't John McCain; the left was primed for a fight that Barack Obama seemed unwilling to wage. Women, meanwhile, were wondering what comes next: if Hillary Clinton, the wonky workaholic with her legions of fans, could not capture the White House flag, who was next in line? Palin broke it all open, even before she headed out to conquer what she termed the "pro-America parts" of America. She arrived at the bonfire with the tinder stacked high, and somehow it fell to her to be the match.

Those first days gave us the 2008 campaign in miniature, if only we'd known what to look for. "She's exactly who I need," McCain said when he introduced her, sounding like Dr. Frankenstein putting the pieces together, an Evangelical arm, a reformist backbone and, just for good measure, lipstick. The base of his party exulted, and not a moment too soon. McCain was never really one of them: too ironic, too profane, too beloved by the media, a Baptist who'd never been baptized, for heaven's sake. But now John gave them Sarah, and his campaign was born again. "They're beyond ecstatic," said Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition. Rush Limbaugh, who had spent much of the year looking for new ways to clobber McCain, all but sent him flowers. "Palin = Guns, Babies, Jesus," he wrote to Politico, adding, "Home f___ing run."

The reaction of the right was fueled by the response of the left. Democrats were instantly and gleefully appalled that the Republicans would consider a one-term governor qualified to challenge their one-term Senator. She was the welfare-state queen pretending to be the independent frontier gal, the crusader against cronyism who had installed her own courtiers and blackballed her enemies. And who goes to four colleges in six years anyway, and names her children after sports seasons and fishing spots? Right away, before she'd had a chance to take off her coat, the attack was intense, intimate.

The most stunning accusation was not about her experience or intellect or attitude; it was the allegation that she had committed a stupendous moral fraud, faking her infant son Trig's birth to cover up her teen daughter's pregnancy. Throughout the weekend after her selection, the rumor moved from Daily Kos to the Times of London at Internet speed: the fact that it spread as far and as fast as it did signaled just how much the two sides of our cultural divide distrust each other.

When the Palins were forced by the rumors to announce that daughter Bristol was, in fact, currently pregnant and due to be married, it merely replaced one frenzy with another. It's a wonder the nation's servers didn't melt under the strain: the New York Times ran a much e-mailed story observing, "It's the Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition." Given her family situation, the story argued, Palin "has set off a fierce argument among women about whether there are enough hours in the day for her to take on the vice presidency and whether she is right to try." A blogger on Jezebel posted "Why Sarah Palin Incites Near-Violent Rage in Normally Reasonable Women." Rudy Giuliani, the thrice-married mayor whose daughter's Facebook profile placed her in Camp Obama, was especially jubilant as he introduced Palin to her party at the Republican Convention: "How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be Vice President?'' Giuliani said. "How dare they do that? When do they ever ask a man that question?''

By then, more Americans had decided to tune in to her speech than watched the Olympics' opening ceremonies in Beijing. She emerged onto the stage, and the arena roared its welcome as if she were some kind of conquering hero. She looked out and smiled as she stared her critics down. She sassed them. She stabbed them. She derided the "élites" whose opinions meant nothing to her. Her lipstick joke was all about being tough — your basic well-coiffed pit bull can handle it when Bill Maher calls you a Category 5 moron. And when she finished and the crowd screamed and danced, she twirled across the stage with the baby in her arms, signaling to women everywhere that nothing was going to stop her, and to conservatives everywhere that nothing would make her abort a Down-syndrome baby, and her daughter stood there with her, clutching her boyfriend's hand. The critics who were disgusted by the double standard of a campaign that claimed that Palin's family members were off-limits except when it suited her purposes to invoke them had to consider whether she didn't have the right to brandish a child they said wasn't hers and a daughter they claimed she was ashamed of."

Barack Obama won the honor, deservedly. Other runner-ups included the pro-American French President and George Bush's Treasury Secretary, who has had to cope with the mess the Democrats made of the economy after only two years in control of the key Congressional oversight committees.

December 17, 2008 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Financial interests hoped the 109th Congress would be the one that finally approved legislation making it more difficult for individuals to escape from debt by filing for bankruptcy protection. Banks, credit card companies, retailers and auto manufacturers that have long complained that consumers abuse the law by filing for bankruptcy even when they can afford to repay at least some of their debts. Of course, supporters of bankruptcy reform had been optimistic before, only to see their efforts fail. But because of their expanded majority in the House and Senate following the 2004 elections, Republican congressional leaders succeeded in pushing bankruptcy reform legislation through both chambers. During the Senate debate, Republicans defeated every major Democratic amendment that bankruptcy reform supporters claim would have weakened the bill. Perhaps the most significant of the amendments, proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), would have added a provision to prevent anti-abortion activists from using bankruptcy proceedings to avoid paying court fines. The fight over abortion language has scuttled bankruptcy reform legislation before. Consumer groups charge that the legislation will allow some wealthy creditors to declare bankruptcy without risking the loss of their expensive homes. They also blame credit card companies for their aggressive marketing and inadequate disclosure of interest rates and penalties."

"When in 2005 Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill written by the credit card industry to gut bankruptcy laws, progressives were right to try to stop it -- and not just because it was an immoral move to legalize usury. We were right because, as the New York Federal Reserve Bank reports, the bill played an integral role in the recent foreclosure surge that crushed the economy.

In the past, bankruptcy laws made sure debtors first and foremost continued paying their mortgages so that they could stay in their homes. But the 2005 legislation effectively compels debtors to first pay off their credit cards, meaning many then have no money left to pay the mortgage. The Fed’s report estimates that the bankruptcy bill is causing 32,000 more foreclosures per quarter than the economy would have already generated."

December 17, 2008 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Children have fewer problems at school and home when they live with their biological parents and frequently attend religious services, according to a study released today by the Family Research Council's Mapping America Project.

Drs. Nicholas Zill and Philip Fletcher analyzed data from the National Survey of Children's Health and found the benefits hold up even after controlling for family income and poverty, low parent education levels, and race and ethnicity.

Among their findings: children in this group are five times less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to have behavior problems at home and school, and are more likely to be cooperative and understanding of others' feelings. Parents of these children report less stress, healthier parent-child relationships and fewer concerns about their children's achievement.

"Social-science data continue to demonstrate overwhelmingly that the intact married family that worships weekly is the greatest generator of human goods and social benefits and is the core strength of the United States," said Dr. Pat Fagan, senior fellow and director of FRC's Center for Family and Religion.

"Policymakers should strongly consider whether their policy proposals give support to such a family structure. Children are not the only beneficiaries but also their parents, families, communities and all of society."

December 17, 2008 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the 2,211 students at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., at least 70 girls are soon-to-be or already mothers.

More sobering are the numbers from 2006. According to the Virginia Department of Health, there were 204 pregnancies among Alexandria teens that year, resulting in 102 births and 99 abortions.

Patrick Welsh, an English teacher at T.C. Williams, shares his perspective on the crisis in a Washington Post column titled, “They’re Having Babies. Are We Helping?”

At T.C. Williams, every student is required to take a "family life" course that teaches about birth control, sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancy, Welsh writes. The Adolescent Health Center, which provides birth control to girls as young as 13, is just a few blocks from the school.

Yet girls continue to get pregnant. And taxpayer money continues to fund so-called "comprehensive" sex education, as well as abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

Sandy Pickert, executive director of the Abstinence Education Corp. in Wichita, Kan., told CitizenLink that kids receive a double message in "comprehensive" sex-education programs. They may be told abstinence is the best option to avoid getting pregnant, but they also receive plenty of information on contraception.

"They're reading right through that," she said. "They’re thinking, 'Well, maybe abstinence is the only 100 percent way to avoid pregnancy and STDs, but hey they’re giving me this option.' ”

In a 55-page memo to President-elect Barack Obama, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and more than 50 of their pro-abortion allies have laid out their priorities.

Included in their recommendations for Obama's first 100 days in office: investing in "comprehensive" sex education and de-funding abstinence education.

December 17, 2008 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All Christians owe a debt of thanks to the American Humanist Association for giving us an opportunity to answer the question:

Why believe in God?

If any TTFers are members, extend our appreciation.

"When the American Humanist Association (AHA) spent $40,000 to put its message on Washington, D.C., buses last month, Christians decided to respond in kind.

The humanist ads read: "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake."

Which gave JoEllen Murphy an idea.

The stay-at-home mom from McLean, Va., raised $9,000 to launch her own campaign, The Washington Post reported. The bus ads feature God's finger reaching out to Adam and the words "Why Believe? Because I created you and I love you, for goodness' sake.” GOD."

"On a superficial level, it's fun," Murphy, a former Capitol Hill staffer, told The Post. "Let's have a bus going one way saying there's not a God, and let's have another bus going the other way saying yes, there is. Obviously, there's a deeper reason behind that that motivated me."

WGTS-91.9, a Christian radio station in Washington, D.C., joined the cause this week with a full-page newspaper ad that reads: Why believe in God? He believes in you, Good or Bad. The ad ran in the Express, the free commuter newspaper published by The Washington Post.

"AHA went out of its way to stick it to Christians during this special time of year," said WGTS Morning Show Host Angela Stevens. "We are standing for the overwhelming majority of Americans who not only believe in God, but know that His love and goodness, whether we are good or bad, is the reason we believe.

It is in these difficult times that people really do need a Savior."

WGTS is inviting the public to answer the question, "Why do you believe in God?" Submissions may be used in future ads."

December 17, 2008 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Anonymous has apparently been reading the newspaper, and has cut-and-pasted most of it here. Saves me the 75 cents, thanks.

December 17, 2008 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Wake up, Jim! Anons are posting FRC and Citizen Link spin again. It's time to remind Anon that if TTF readers were interested in reading right wing FRC spin we'd subscribe to CitizensLink ourselves. And as usual, Anon's comments have NOTHING to do with Bush's statement about Iraq.

In the interest of full disclosure, here's the full text of what Patrick Welsh had to say about life at TC Williams High School in his recent Washington Post editorial. This way readers can see what FRC's Citizen Link spun out of it.

They're Having Babies. Are We Helping?

By Patrick Welsh
Sunday, December 14, 2008; B01

The girls gather in small groups outside Alexandria's T.C. Williams High School most mornings, standing with their babies on their hips, talking and giggling like sorority sisters. Sometimes their mothers drop the kids (and their kids) off with a carefree smile and a wave. As I watch the girls carry their children into the Tiny Titans day-care center in our new $100 million building, I can't help wondering what Sister Mary Avelina, my 11th-grade English teacher, would have thought.

Okay, I'm an old guy from the 1950s, an era light-years from today. But even in these less censorious times, I'm amazed -- and concerned -- by the apparently nonchalant attitude both these girls and their mothers exhibit in front of teachers, administrators and hundreds of students each day. Last I heard, teen pregnancy is still a major concern in this country -- teenage mothers are less likely to finish school and more likely to live in poverty; their children are more likely to have difficulties in school and with the law; and on and on.

But none of that seems to register with these young women. In fact, "some girls seem to be really into it," says T.C. senior Mary Ball. "They are embracing their pregnancies." Nor is the sight of a pregnant classmate much of a surprise to the students at T.C. anymore. "When I was in middle school, I'd be shocked to see a pregnant eighth-grader," says Ball. "Now it seems so ordinary that we don't even talk about it."

Teenage pregnancy has been bright on American radar screens for the past year: TV teen starlet Jamie Lynn Spears's pregnancy caused a minor media storm last December. The pregnant-teen movie "Juno" won Oscar nods. And there was Bristol Palin, daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, bringing the issue front and center during the recent presidential campaign. But I've been observing the phenomenon up close for a couple of years now, and the picture I see is more troubling than any of those high-profile pregnancies make it seem.

The somber statistics about teen motherhood are the reason the day-care center, run by the local nonprofit Campagna Center, was opened in T.C. Williams two years ago. The idea is to keep the girls in school, let them get their diplomas and help them avoid the kind of fate described earlier. I've been a teacher for more than 30 years, and I want the best for my students and to help them succeed in every way possible. I know that these girls need support. But I can't help thinking we're going at this all wrong.

On the surface, Alexandria seems to be striving to stem teen pregnancy. Every high school student is required to take a "family life" course that teaches about birth control, sexually transmitted disease and teen pregnancy. The Adolescent Health Center, a clinic providing birth control, was built a few blocks from the school. The city-run Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy sponsors workshops for parents and teens. But none of this coalesces to hit the teens with the message that getting pregnant is a disaster. And within the school, apart from the family life class, the attitude is laissez-faire, as if teachers and administrators are afraid to address the issue for fear of offending the students who have children.

Once a girl gets pregnant, though, the school leaps in to do everything for her. But I wonder: Is it possible that all this assistance -- with little or no comment about the kids' actions -- has the unintended effect of actually encouraging them to get pregnant? Are we making it easier for girls to make a bad choice and helping them avoid the truth about the consequences?

And for many, it does seem to be a choice. "There's a myth that these pregnancies are accidental," says school nurse Nancy Runton. "But many of them aren't. I've known girls who've made 'I'll get pregnant if you get pregnant' pacts. It's a status thing. These girls go around school telling each other how beautiful they look pregnant, how cute their tummies look."

Pregnancy pacts, too, were in the news earlier this year when a group of girls in a Massachusetts high school reportedly made one (though some denied it). But that's only one way the situation at T.C. reflects what's happening across the country. The birth rate among teens, after falling 36 percent since 1990, went up 3 percent in 2006, the first increase in 15 years. And most of the rise is due to pregnancies among Hispanic girls.

Lots of white teens nationally have babies, but that's not really the case at T.C. Teen motherhood here is mostly a class issue -- and given Alexandria's demographics, that means the teen mothers are virtually all lower-income blacks and Hispanics with few financial or other resources. Moreover, the number of Hispanic girls with babies is double the number of black girls, which also reflects a national trend. According to Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Hispanics now have the highest rate of teen pregnancy and births of any racial or ethnic group in the country.

In our school of 2,211 students, we now have at least 70 girls who are soon-to-be or already mothers. Many T.C. teachers and administrators have decidedly mixed emotions about the situation. Social worker Terri Wright says that for many girls, getting pregnant before they turn 18 is a rite of passage. "They don't wear sweatshirts or baggy dresses to conceal their pregnancies," says Wright. "I get invitations to baby showers. Girls bring me pictures of their kids dressed up like little dolls."

"There is zero shame," agrees school nurse Runton. One girl walked into a colleague's class last month, announced that she was pregnant and began showing her sonogram around. Another 16-year-old proudly proclaimed that she was "going on maternity leave." The teacher tried to explain that maternity leave is a job benefit that doesn't apply to high school students.

"I don't personally accept it, but once a girl is pregnant, I have to be all open arms," Wright says.

The pregnant teens' classmates don't necessarily applaud the phenomenon, either. "These girls having babies are living in a dream world," says Lauren Heming, a senior in my AP English class. "They think that because the school is giving them all this help now, things will be easy for them when they graduate."

Kayla Tall, another senior, sees lots of girls as under "great pressure to grow up fast by having sex." And, she says, "A lot of girls think that if they have the baby, they can keep hanging on to the boyfriend. In fact, these guys are little boys who have used the girls to prove themselves to each other."

I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that I'm torn about T.C's teen moms and the Tiny Titans center. As upset as I get at the recklessness I see in some of the girls and their boyfriends, I can't begrudge someone like Cynthia Quinteros the help she needs to raise her one-year-old son. "If it wasn't for the day-care center, I would have to quit school to take care of Angel," says the 16-year-old. "My mother is a single mom, and my brother is 11. My mom has to work."

Cynthia's days are grueling. She gets up at 6 a.m., feeds and dresses Angel and is at school by 7:50. She drops Angel off at the center, eats breakfast in the cafeteria and heads for class. Her mom picks her and the baby up at 3:15 p.m. At home, Cynthia eats, plays with Angel, starts homework and then leaves at 4:50 for her supermarket cashier's job. She gets home at 10:10, does a little homework and goes to bed.

Cynthia says that lots of her friends actively tried to get pregnant, but she didn't. Like many girls she knows, she was getting a shot of the contraceptive DMPA/Depo-Provera every three months at the teen health clinic starting when she was 13. (Which evokes further conflicting emotions on my part and surely must do the same to health-care providers called upon to provide birth-control shots to 13-year-old girls.)

Cynthia would tell her mom that she had to stay after school and then go to the clinic, but when her mother insisted that she come home right away, she missed her shots and got pregnant at 15 by an 18-year-old guy. She says that all her friends who have babies wish they had waited. "They've learned the hard way," she says. "None of them want to have another baby now. Most of them are getting their Depo shots regularly."

Angel's father isn't involved with the baby, but not all the guys who father children by teenage girls are AWOL. Every morning, 19-year-old Gustavo Martinez drives 16-year-old Karla Becerra to school and carries their 3-month-old son into day care before going to work for a local contractor. He's at school by 4 every day to pick them up. "My father was never around, and I don't want to have that happen to my son," Gustavo told me. He says he's saving money so that he and Karla can have their own place and get married.

But they are very much the exception. The fact is, says Robert Wolverton, medical director of the teen health clinic, most of these girls and their families see no problem with being unmarried and having a child at 16 or 17.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there were 204 pregnancies among Alexandria teens in 2006, resulting in 102 births and 99 abortions. Pregnancy rates among Latinas were the highest of any group.

The Tiny Titans center is at maximum capacity and has a long waiting list. It currently cares for eight babies ranging from 6 weeks to 24 months, eight toddlers from 24 months to 36 months and 18 children from 3 to 5 years of age.

Most of the mothers are in free and reduced school-lunch programs, and few have insurance. So when they get pregnant, a whole tax-supported industry kicks into action: The Health Department assigns a nurse to the girl, a group called Resource Mothers is notified to pick girls up at school or home and drive them to doctor's appointments, and the Campagna Center plans day care for the child. The school dietitian plans nutritious meals for the mothers. The federally funded WIC program provides free formula, milk, cheese, peanut butter and the like to the teens and their babies. In Virginia, girls from 13 on up are eligible for free reproductive services -- prenatal care, hospital visits and delivery.

According to a study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teen childbearing nationwide cost taxpayers $9.1 billion in 2004. Teens 17 and under -- the ages of most of the girls at T.C. -- account for $8.6 billion of that total, or an average of $4,080 per teen mother annually.

School social worker David Wynne states the obvious: "Whatever we're doing, it's not working." It's hard to say whether other school districts do any better than Alexandria at discouraging teen pregnancy. According to Brown, school sex-ed programs nationwide are a patchwork that includes everything from required HIV/AIDS education to using students as peer counselors to abstinence-only programs. No one really knows what's working where. But at T.C., I know that almost every adult involved in helping our girls seems to be at a loss, especially in the face of the rising birth rate among Hispanics.

Cynthia Quinteros, however, has a theory. "I feel that the community is afraid to talk about all the girls who are getting pregnant," she says. "Once you get pregnant, they do everything for you, but they ought to be doing all they can do to show girls how difficult their lives will be if they have a baby. I love Angel, but if I didn't have him I wouldn't have to work after school, I could study more, I could be a normal teenager."

Out of the mouths of babes.

patrwelsh@gmail.com

Patrick Welsh teaches English at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria.


It was not until after Bush lavishly funded ineffective abstinence-only sex education programs for public schools that the fifteen year, 36% downward trend in teen pregnancy rate turned upward. Bristol Palin, "Juno," and Jamie Lynn Spears, are bad examples for our teenager daughters.

December 17, 2008 4:53 PM  
Blogger David S. Fishback said...

The humanist bus ads read: "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake."

The response bus ads feature God's finger reaching out to Adam and the words "Why Believe? Because I created you and I love you, for goodness' sake. GOD."

***********************
Both sentiments are worth presenting in the public square. We certainly should "be good for goodness' sake." And it is certainly a comforting thought that God loves us. No meanness in either ad, and I find it all rather pleasant.

The first ad does raise an interesting question: Are humans generally capable of being "good for goodness' sake," without the fear of divine retribution if we are not good? Some would say yes, others would say no, most probably would say the human race is a mixed bag on this matter. But the answer gets us no closer to a resolution of the question of whether there is a God; rather, the answer may suggest the need to believe in God.

The second ad also raises an interesting question. If God loves us, why is there so much suffering in the world? To state this age-old question does not call into doubt the existence of God. But it does raise questions about the nature of God.

Personally, I am not sure human beings are capable of absolutely knowing the nature of God. But I am pretty sure that we would all be better off if we assumed that, writ large, God is good and expects us to treat each other with kindness.

That said, Happy Holidays to all.

December 17, 2008 5:02 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

David asked "Are humans generally capable of being "good for goodness' sake," without the fear of divine retribution if we are not good?".

The answer is obviously "yes". Atheists, being a moderate proportion of the USA population (about 8-16%) are disproportionately less in the prison populations (0.21%):

http://www.holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm


Atheist doctors are also more likely to help the poor than religious ones:

http://pressesc.com/news/80931072007/atheist-doctors-more-likely-care-poor-religious-ones

and atheists are less prejudiced than religious people:

http://www.cleveland.com/living/plaindealer/david_briggs/index.ssf?/base/living-0/1195292716294310.xml&coll=2&thispage=1

December 17, 2008 6:56 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

David said "If God loves us, why is there so much suffering in the world? To state this age-old question does not call into doubt the existence of God.".

The existence of suffering proves there is no such thing as a loving omnipotent god. A loving omnipotent god would not allow suffering to exist.

December 17, 2008 6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea-not anon
I have been home sick but I got a good laugh from old-anon. Ann Coulter nominating Sarah Palin for Time magazine's person of the Year- well, pot and kettle- what can I say?
Hey, when is the lovely shot gun wedding? The rumor I hear is that it is off because there is no need to force this girl to marry that lunkhead drop-out- a marriage solely planned to appeal to Princess Sarah's supporters. More decent people would see that a single mom with a supportive family is a better life than being forced into marriage with a teenager who doesn't want kids and dropped out of school.

I do continue to enjoy the GOP struggle over who will be their next candidate. I hear Charlie- sham marriage- Crist wants the spot too.

December 17, 2008 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Yeah, what's up with Charlie Crist getting married?

December 18, 2008 6:32 AM  
Anonymous old-anon said...

Good news!

Barack Obama continues to distance himself from the homosexual agenda. He has chosen a vocal supporter of Prop 8 in California to give the invocation at his inauguration.

"(Dec. 18) - In a move that's infuriated homosexual rights activists, President-elect Barack Obama has chosen a evangelical minister opposed to same-sex marriage to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

The controversy over the selection of Rick Warren threatens to put something of a damper on the inauguration festivities.

Warren is the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, and he supported a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Joe Solomonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, described the selection of Warren as a "genuine blow" to gays and their supporters."

Yeah, that's a shame, Joe.

December 18, 2008 9:47 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 18, 2008 1:18 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "Barack Obama continues to distance himself from equal rights for gays"

Once again you're excited over nothing. If Obama was trying to distance himself from equal rights for gays his transition web site wouldn't specifically address the gay community and say this:

"Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

The Obama-Biden Plan

Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not."


http://change.gov/agenda/civil_rights_agenda/

Rick Warren won't be making any decisions for Obama, he's been given no power or ongoing authority, his giving a single speech is of no significance.

December 18, 2008 1:21 PM  
Anonymous old-anon said...

Priya, Priya....so naive.

Statements from politicians running for office aren't often promises kept. Especially with Democrats.

You may remember when Democrats were elected to a majority in Congress two years ago with all kinds of promises like cutting off funding and pulling troops out of Iraq immediately.

What happened to that?

Gay rights is on Obama's list all right. Right down at the bottom.

Sounds most lunatic fringe gay advocates aren't as tickled pink with Obama as Priya is:

"WASHINGTON -President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday defended his choice of a popular evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, rejecting criticism that it slights gays.

The selection of Pastor Rick Warren brought objections from gay rights advocates, who strongly supported Obama during the election campaign.

The advocates are angry over Warren's backing of a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage. That measure was approved by voters last month.
But Obama told reporters in Chicago that America needs to "come together," even when there's disagreement on social issues. "That dialogue is part of what my campaign is all about," he said.

Warren, a best-selling author and leader of a Southern California megachurch, is one of a new breed of evangelicals who stress the need for action on social issues such as reducing poverty and protecting the environment, alongside traditional theological themes.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization, said Warren's opposition to gay marriage is a sign of intolerance.

"We feel a deep level of disrespect when one of the architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination," the group said in a letter to Obama, asking him to reconsider.

Obama's selection of Warren is seen as a signal to religious conservatives that the president-elect will listen to their views.

During the campaign, Warren interviewed Obama and Republican John McCain in a widely watched television program that focused on religious concerns.

Gay rights advocates say they are troubled that Obama would give Warren such a visible role at his swearing-in. "By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table," the letter said.

Obama, however, pointed out that a couple of years ago, he was invited to speak at Warren's church.

The president-elect said a "wide range of viewpoints" will be presented during the inaugural ceremonies."

Meet the new boss.

Same as the old boss!

December 18, 2008 2:21 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "Statements from politicians running for office aren't often promises kept. Especially with Democrats.".

Oh, it'd be a bit of a surprise if he kept all his promises verbatim, but even a fraction of them will be vastly superior to what the alternative was offering and a step forward. You on the other hand make me laugh. You think Obama's going to go back on all his promises and oppose gays when he's made no committment at all to do that, at this, or at any other time. You're going to be disappointed once again just like you were when you were insisting the Republicans would clean up in the 2006 elections, Huckabee would be president, Huckabee would be Mccain's running mate, Condoleeza rice would be Mccain's running mate, Colin Powel would be Mccain's running mate, Mccain would be president, and on and on and on.

I appreciate your assurance that Obama won't deliver on his promises. A prediction from you is a virtual guarantee that the opposite will happen.

December 18, 2008 2:33 PM  
Anonymous old-anon said...

"You think Obama's going to go back on all his promises and oppose gays when he's made no committment at all to do that, at this, or at any other time."

Let's just call it benign neglect.

Remember Obama has to be elected again. He won't have George Bush to kick around anymore. The next election will be about issues rather performance.

Special rights for sexual deviants isn't exactly a big winner at the ballot box.

The gay nuts can't even deliver California! No politician in his right mind will stick his neck out to get special privileges for gays.

Remember Bill Clinton and DADT!

December 18, 2008 3:00 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "Special rights for sexual deviants isn't exactly a big winner at the ballot box.".

No one's asking for special rights for sexual deviants.

Bad anonymous said "No politician in his right mind will stick his neck out to get special privileges for gays.".

Gays aren't asking for special pivileges so that won't be a problem.

Bad anonymous said "Remember Bill Clinton and DADT!".

DADT was an improvement over the status quo. At that time gays couldn't serve in the military regardless of any refusal to tell and they were most certainly asking. The march towards equal rights for gays inevitably continues, the vast majority of the American public supports repealing DADT and opposes employment discrimination against gays. These are no risk positions for politicians and they will definitely happen during Obama's terms.

December 18, 2008 4:01 PM  
Anonymous old-anon said...

What needs to be remembered is that Clinton tried to allow openly practicing homosexuals in the U.S. military and paid a heavy political price.

December 18, 2008 5:22 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Yeah, right, that's why he served two terms and was the most popular president in modern history.

December 18, 2008 5:38 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Back in Clinton's first term the majority of the public opposed gays being openly in the military as did the charismatic Republican Colin Powell. Now the majority of the public supports open gays in the military as does the well respected Colin Powell who now supports the Democratic president.

December 18, 2008 5:41 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Face it bad anonymous, bit by bit the U.S. is inevitably marching towards equality for all its citizens. You're looking forward to a future where your attitudes are going to be considered just as despicable as a racists attitudes are today. You're going to be a lonely despised old man.

December 18, 2008 5:44 PM  
Anonymous old-anon said...

it's interesting how all of Priya's personalities feel compelled to respond to every post

at least they didn't start deleting each other this time out

Priya-A said:

"Yeah, right, that's why he served two terms and was the most popular president in modern history."

Did you know that Bill Clinton's unpopularity is why Hillary lost the primary race?

It's a well-known secret!

Priya-B said:

"Back in Clinton's first term the majority of the public opposed gays being openly in the military as did the charismatic Republican Colin Powell. Now the majority of the public supports open gays in the military as does the well respected Colin Powell who now supports the Democratic president."

Kinda like no one supports gay marriage now, including B Obama!

B O won't repeat the Clinton error.

Priya-C said:

"Face it bad anonymous, bit by bit the U.S. is inevitably marching towards equality for all its citizens."

All its citizens are already equal. Government doesn't bestow equality in America. It gets out of the way.

"You're looking forward to a future where your attitudes are going to be considered just as despicable as a racists attitudes are today."

That's actually not true. The more visible homosexuality is, the more people are repulsed by it. Been to a gay "pride" parade lately?

Racism is unfair because it is based on irrelevant physical characteristics.

Homosexuality, on the other hand, is a matter of desire and behavior, key components of character.

"You're going to be a lonely despised old man."

People in the future will consider people like you, who condone and endorse the killing of unborn children, to be a little lower on the scale below those who burned witches in Salem.

Since more the half of voters in every one of the 36 states that have voted on gay marriage have rejected it, I think there will be plenty of company for a guy like me.

Thanks for the concern though.

Thanks to all three of you for sharing!

It's all part of the magic that is America.

Oh, that's right.

never mind

December 18, 2008 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Alas for our world, Anonymous does in fact have plenty of company.

Be good for goodness' sake.

December 19, 2008 7:49 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

All its citizens are already equal. Government doesn't bestow equality in America.

What a moron. Why did we pass the 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution and why did we enact the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s? America will enact more laws and Constitutional Amendments to impart EQUAL rights to LGBT folk who do not have them now.

December 19, 2008 8:11 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "Kinda like no one supports gay marriage now, including B Obama!".

Wrong. About 1/3 support equal marriage and another 1/3 support civil unions while 1/3 oppose either. The vast majority of americans support some sort of recognition for gay unions - you are in the minority already.


http://simba1.newsvine.com/_news/2008/12/05/2183042-newsweek-poll-support-for-gay-marriage-surges

When voters in California, Florida and Arizona approved measures banning same-sex marriage last month, opponents lamented that the country appeared to be turning increasingly intolerant toward gay and lesbian rights. But the latest NEWSWEEK Poll finds growing public support for gay marriage and civil unions—and strong backing for the granting of certain rights associated with marriage, to same-sex couples.

Bad anonymous said "B O won't repeat the Clinton error.".

Yeah, right, president Huckabee. No error on the part of Clinton, DADT was a step forward for gays at the time and Obama will take the next step. The vast majority of the government, the military and its advisors support it.

Bad anonymous said "All its citizens are already equal. Government doesn't bestow equality in America".


LOL, thanks for once again highlighting your stupidity for all to see - you couldn't be more wrong. Citizens who are not allowed to serve openly in the military and marry the person of their choosing are not equal. Citizens who are not included in hate crimes and anti-discrimination laws like other citizens are not equal. The government most certainly controls equality as in Massachusetts, and Conneticut where it mandated that gays be given equal marriage rights and as in the examples Aunt Bea pointed out.

Bad anonymous said "The more visible gayness is, the more people are repulsed by it.".

Wrong. The opposite is true. Gayness has been increasingly visible since the 60's and the percentage of people saying it is wrong has steadily declined while the percentage of people saying gay relationships should be recognized and that gays should not be discriminated against in employment has steadily risen. Several studies have shown that those who know a gay person are more likely to accept gays in general.

You're looking forward to a future where your attitudes are going to be considered just as despicable as a racists attitudes are today. You're going to be a lonely despised old man."

December 19, 2008 11:29 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "Racism is unfair because it is based on irrelevant physical characteristics. Gayness, on the other hand, is a matter of desire and behavior, key components of character.".

Gayness has nothing to do with behavior. It is a same sex attraction. One is gay or straight regardless of any behavior they may or may not undertake. Like race it is an irrelevant characteristic. By your logic it is acceptable to discriminate against christians because religiostity is a matter of behavior and often reflects negatively upon a person's character - yourself as prime example.

December 19, 2008 11:54 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "The more visible homosexuality is, the more people are repulsed by it. Been to a gay "pride" parade lately?".

Have you been to Mardi Gras or Carnival lately? The more visible heterosexuality is the more people are repulsed by it. If you don't agree with that what you said doesn't apply either.

December 19, 2008 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone is disturbed by Mardi Gras except for the gay aspects of it.

Certainly there is nothing that approaches the depravity of gay "pride" parades.

Here locally even the gay newspaper, the Blade has decried the scene.

December 19, 2008 10:19 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

There are no gay aspects to Mardi Gras. If no one is offended by Mardi gras then no one is offended by gay pride parades.

December 20, 2008 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If no one is offended by Mardi gras then no one is offended by gay pride parades."

LOL.

Your "if,then" formulation makes no more sense than anything else you say.

Even gay publications have noted the depravity present in gay "have no shame" pride parades.

December 20, 2008 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

So Anonymous, you read the Blade? Metro Weekly too? What do you think of that Austin Allen?

December 21, 2008 4:41 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous, your claim that people are disgusted by gay pride but not Mardi Gras is as stupid as your claim that people are disgusted by gayness but that if its tolerated people will find it so irresistable that they will choose to be gay.

December 21, 2008 12:34 PM  

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