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“Gun Violence On The Other Hand…”: Republican Platform Labels Pornography ‘A Public Health Crisis’

It was just a few months ago when state policymakers in Utah approved a measure condemning pornography as a “public health crisis.” Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed a resolution, approved by the GOP-led legislature, calling for new policies to combat the porn scourge.

And at the time, much of the country had a good laugh about this, recognizing that Utah is one of the nation’s most conservative states, more likely than most to overreact to a pornography “crisis” that doesn’t really exist. But as Yahoo News reported yesterday, Republicans in Utah evidently aren’t alone on the issue.

Republican delegates unanimously adopted an amendment to their draft platform Monday morning that called pornography “a public health crisis” and a “public menace” that is destroying lives.

The language went further in its condemnation of porn than the 2012 GOP platform, which condemned child pornography and encouraged the enforcement of obscenity and pornography laws.

The new amendment, which will be added to the national party’s 2016 platform, reads, “Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life [sic] of millions. We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children’s safety and wellbeing.”

Now take a moment to read that exact same quote, only this time, replace “pornography” with “gun violence.” The national Republican Party’s platform committee unanimously approved the porn measure yesterday; is there any doubt it would have unanimously rejected the same language if it pertained to guns?

The point of a national party’s platform is to articulate its core values and priorities. Unfortunately, the RNC platform is doing exactly that.

The document, which won’t be formally approved until the Republican convention next week, also opposes “policies that encourage cohabitation,” supports crackpot “gay conversion therapy” in which sexual orientation is changed through prayer, expresses concern over electromagnetic pulse threats, declares coal power as “clean,” and seeks to turn back the clock on marriage equality.

The contemporary Republican Party, in other words, appears committed to looking backwards, and restoring policies of the past. If GOP officials are lucky, the American mainstream won’t read or hear much about their 2016 platform.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 12, 2016

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Gun Violence, Pornography, Public Health, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Steady Drumbeat”: Republican Governors Buck Party Tenets To Seek Expanded Medicaid

Republican governors are pressing forward to expand Medicaid even after being stymied by lawmakers in their own party.

As the Obama administration vows to help develop plans that will pass muster with conservatives, the governors of Utah and Wyoming said they still want the health care program for the poor broadened. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who declined to act in 2013, may seek a federal waiver to make insurance available to more residents. Louisiana’s Republican legislature also opened a legal door.

Their views challenge party orthodoxy, even if some governors are crafting their own proposals and denying that what they’re doing is expanding Medicaid. Twenty states have refused the expansion under President Barack Obama’s 2009 health care overhaul because of cost and ideological opposition. The resistance is easing as states see a chance to recoup tax dollars and help hospitals get paid for charity care.

“This is about your citizens’ financial and health security, and it’s also about the economic health of your states,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, U.S. secretary of health and human services, said Saturday at a National Governors Association meeting in West Virginia. “We want to help you design a system.”

This month, Alaska became the 30th state to expand, including 10 with Republican governors, according to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, a health-research group in Menlo Park, California. Gov. Bill Walker, a first-term independent, used his authority under state law to accept the expansion unless the legislature returns by September 1 and votes it down.

“I did it unilaterally because it was the right thing to do,” Walker said in an interview.

Governors in Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming lack the ability to act alone, and their Republican-led legislatures declined to adopt expansion this year.

Even so, Utah’s Gary Herbert plans to meet with legislative leaders this week and said he hopes to call a special session in September to pass what he’s calling an alternative to Medicaid expansion.

Herbert’s program also would require a waiver from Medicaid officials for elements designed to appeal to Republicans, such as having applicants get job training.

“I’m optimistic,” Herbert said in an interview. “I think our approach is better than traditional government-assistance Medicaid.”

In Georgia, lawmakers last year blocked the governor from expanding Medicaid without their approval. A provision tucked into this year’s budget, though, allows the state to pursue a waiver.

Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead called his expansion effort “a colossal failure.” Still, he hopes to bring it back in February’s budget session or in 2017.

“It’s going to take probably some time and continued work by all of us to eventually get to that point,” Mead said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, said he doesn’t know whether he’ll try next year after failing in February.

While Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican presidential candidate, has been an adamant opponent, his state still could move, said Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University.

Jindal leaves office at year’s end, and Republicans running to replace him have all expressed support for expansion in some form, she said. The legislature has passed a provision requiring hospitals to pay the state’s share of expansion.

“I don’t think we are going to see a super-large number of states moving forward,” Alker said. “But it is a steady drumbeat.”

 

By: Mark Niquette and Margaret Newkirk, The National Memo, July 29, 2015

August 1, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Medicaid Expansion, Republican Governors | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Three Minute Woman”: Jan Brewer Struggles To Draw A Crowd

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer hosted a meeting of the Western Governors Association over the weekend, where she was scheduled to deliver a speech on energy policy. Beforehand, the governor chatted with local TV station KTVK, which asked whether Brewer believes in climate change.

“Everybody has an opinion on it, you know, and I, you know, I probably don’t believe that it’s man made,” she said. “I believe that, you know, that weather elements are controlled maybe by different things.”

Once the interview was over, Brewer asked the local reporter, “Where in the hell did that come from?”

Of course. Because nothing’s more outlandish than asking a governor about climate change before a speech on energy policy.

And how did the speech go? Not well.

Although she was introduced as a political rock star Saturday, Gov. Jan Brewer wasn’t a very big draw.

The Western Governors’ Association held its annual winter meeting in Paradise Valley. But of the 19 governors in the group, only two showed up to see Brewer deliver a brief keynote speech. […]

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) were the two governors who attended the meeting. They are the current vice chairman and chairman of the organization.

Brewer spoke for a grand total of three minutes before leaving the stage.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 3, 2012

December 3, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Creating A Whole New Meaning” In Utah: The Difference Between Contraception And Mainlining Heroin

Utah Governor Gary Herbert vetoed an abstinence-only sex ed bill, prompting the measure’s co-sponsor to go on the offensive.

Last week, I mentioned two state legislatures had passed abstinence-only sex education bills. While Wisconsin’s governor was already supportive of the measure, in Utah, Governor Gary Herbert was less certain. The measure would have banned any discussion of contraception, or for that matter, homosexuality. The current law in Utah already requires parents to “opt-in” if the course includes discussion of contraceptives, but this measure would have actually removed even the option for students to learn about more than simply abstinence. It had passed overwhelmingly in both chambers, despite protests and opposition from the state PTA and teachers’ groups.

Late Friday, after protests, phone calls, and significant pressure from both sides, Herbert announced he had vetoed the measure. In his statement, he said he was unwilling to say “the State knows better than Utah’s parents,” noting a majority of parents choose to have their children learn about contraception. Herbert described himself as pushing “the reset button” on the conversation around sex-ed in the state.

But given the national rhetoric around sex right now, I’m not so sure a simply flourish of his pen will put the genie back in the bottle. Senate co-sponsor Margaret Dayton told the Salt Lake Tribune that “teaching children about contraception is comparable to telling kids not to do drugs, then showing them how to ‘mainline’ heroin.”

The national conversation around sex has shifted radically. Dayton is not alone in seeing sex as akin to one of the most dangerous street drugs around. A dangerous and corrupting activity that puts our youth at risk. Meanwhile, non-radical conservatives generally see sex as a healthy and normal activity, at least among adults, and teaching teenagers to use contraception means teaching them to be responsible. There’s such a major rift between the two sides right now, it’s hard to see what kind of conversation can be had.

Of course, a poll in Utah showed 58 percent of residents favored sex-ed that included contraceptives. So maybe they don’t need to have a conversation in the first place.

 

By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, March 19, 2012

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Women, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Talking In The Bathroom”: Abstinence-Only Education May Well Come To Wisconsin And Utah

Here’s a way to save time debating women’s health. Rather than allow people to fight and debate the issues around birth control and access to healthcare, simply don’t tell them key facts about contraception and sexual health. That way, rather than fighting, kids will be blissfully ignorant. Or, you know, rely on the wisdom of my sister’s best friend’s cousin who says you definitely can’t get pregnant if it’s a full moon.

Legislatures in both Wisconsin and Utah have passed abstinence-only education bills. It’s now up to governors in both states to determine whether or not to make the measures law.

Utah’s proposal is significantly more stringent. It would actually ban schools from teaching about contraceptives—and, for that matter, homosexuality. The Deseret News reports that hundreds of protesters have flooded the capitol, asking Governor Gary Herbert to veto the bill. The governor has said the public efforts against the measure won’t sway him; according to the News, a survey at Brigham Young University showed 58 percent of Utah residents believe contraceptives should be part of the curriculum in sexual education. Herbert is expected to decide on the bill next week. In the meantime, parents may want to stock up some Judy Blume books.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is already a fan of the measure, and is expected to sign it into law. The Green Bay Gazette explains that the bill, passed, 60-34 in the GOP-dominated House this week, would require schools “to teach abstinence as the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.” Abstinence-only education has been banned since 2010, but if this measure passes, schools won’t have to mention contraception, though according to HuffPo, they do have to get into “the socioeconomic benefits of marriage.” (Presumably LGBT kids can sit out that day, since the party isn’t big on letting them get married.)

Last year, the New York Times Magazine featured a fascinating story on what would happen if we actually taught children sex-positive education, dealing with questions not only about sexual health but also about sexual pleasure. The article made a key point—that many of today’s adolescents rely on internet pornography for much of their knowledge around sex. Kids get exposed to sex at younger and younger ages. Regardless of one’s opinions on that, it’s disturbing that those same kids will lose potential adult mentors who could have offered accurate information to counter the many falsehoods that come, either from the porn industry or simply talking in the school bathroom.

By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, March 15, 2012

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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