Yoda's World

SEPTEMBER 28, 2009

Poll: Majority of Americans want to end Bush Tax cuts for the rich
Michele Bachmann
Complaints filed with IRS on Hannity and North charity
GOP Unemployed "insignificant"
GOP to President Obama, its our way or nothing at all
Tea Party death threats mimic Muslim Terrorists
Guns at New Mexico teabaggers tea party
Dick Cheney no longer a chickenhawk, now just a chicken
The GOP purity and purge test
Limbaugh the most influential conservative in America
It smells like socialism
Right wing media always giddy when America loses
Glenn Beck: The body on the side of the road
The House on "C" Street
The top 20 Truths about Ronald Reagan
EFCA-Employee Free Choice Act
An Invention that Could Change the Internet for Ever


Net neutrality and free speech

By: David Phillips

Las Vegas Democrat Examiner

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just announced that they well be addressing what is called “Net Neutrality“, basically setting rules or guidelines that would cover all internet providers and prevent them from impeding and infringing on your ability to view web sites of your own choosing by slowing down traffic to certain sites, such as competitors.

Julius Genachowski chairman of the FCC earlier this week gave a speech at the Brookings Institution and said, “The fundamental goal of what I’ve outlined today is preserving the openness and freedom of the internet. We have an obligation to ensure that the internet is an enduring engine for U.S. economic growth and a foundation for democracy in the 21st century.”

“This is not about government regulation of the internet, it’s about fair rules of the road for companies that control access to the internet,… And open internet will benefit both consumers and businesses.” said Genachowski.

So what does this really mean for you the consumer. The proposals which would apply to all internet providers, wireless, DSL, and cable, would prevent them from blocking or slowing access to video downloads or phone service that you may use from a competitor.

The FCC’s proposed rules say:

Consumers are entitled to access any legal Internet content

Consumers are entitled to use any Internet applications or services

Consumers are entitled to connect to any devices that won’t harm the network

The same rules apply to cable/DSL and wireless Internet

Internet providers can’t block or slow competitors’ online services

Telecoms and other internet providers are not very happy about this because it would also prevent them from hiking up service prices to consumers for access to certain sites..

All of these rules will help keep things the way they are right now, an open internet where our 1st amendment rights can still be exercised with relative ease and access to sites on an even playing field regardless of who your internet provider is.

So why are Republicans against free speech? Six republicans came out with an amendment to the FCC announcement saying that they support corporations over free speech and are against Net Neutrality.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) introduced the amendment with five cosponsors, Senator John Ensign (R-NV), Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Senator David Thune (R-SD).

“I am deeply concerned by the direction the FCC appears to be heading,” Sen. Hutchison said in a statement. “Even during a severe downturn, America has experienced robust investment and innovation in network performance and online content and applications. For that innovation to continue, we must tread lightly when it comes to new regulations."

Republicans don’t care if its good for the people, they are against it for two reasons, first, the Telecom industry gives them money for their campaigns.

Campaign donations since each entered the Senate from: Telephone utilities, Telecom services and equipment, and Computers/Internet companies.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) $640,285

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) $411,956

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) $270,133

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) $551,237

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) $226,152

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). $269,052


And second, Democrats support it, so Republicans automatically go against it, it’s in their nature, and it’s the nature of politics in Washington DC these days.

The House of Representatives is expected to introduce a Net Neutrality Bill in the next few months where we will find out who cares about free speech in Congress and who does not.


Obama addresses black caucus on health care
Obama presses health care plan at Congressional Black Caucus' annual conference in Washington
AP News

President Barack Obama on Saturday resumed his push to overhaul the health care system, telling a Congressional Black Caucus conference that there comes a time when "the cup of endurance runs over."

"We have been waiting for health reform since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. We've been waiting since the days of Harry Truman," he said in remarks at the caucus foundation's annual dinner. "We've been waiting since Johnson and Nixon and Clinton."

"We cannot wait any longer," Obama said.

Obama spent the past week largely focused on global and economic issues in meetings with world leaders in New York and Pittsburgh.

At the G-20 economic summit that wrapped up Friday in Pennsylvania, Obama told a story about an unnamed foreign leader who privately told the president he didn't understand the at-times contentious debate over changing the health care system.

"He says, 'We don't understand it. You're trying to make sure everybody has health care and they're putting a Hitler mustache on you. That doesn't make sense to me,'" Obama said, quoting the world leader he declined to identify.

The reference to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was to signs some people have waved outside of often testy town hall meetings around the country this summer where lawmakers discussed Obama's health care plan.

In the speech, Obama described his plan as one that would not require people with coverage to change anything but would make health insurance affordable for the millions of people who don't have any. Republicans dispute those claims.

The Senate Finance Committee is in the process of amending a health care bill introduced by Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Before becoming president, Obama was the only senator in the all-Democratic caucus, which now has 42 members. He wasn't particularly active in the group and isn't especially close to many of its members.

Animosity toward the president and his policies has bubbled up in recent weeks, most notably with Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., shouting "You lie!" at Obama during the president's recent health care speech to Congress.

Democrats from former President Jimmy Carter on down have blamed the increasingly harsh criticism of Obama on racism.

Obama says it's not racism but an intense debate over the proper role of government.

Before he began to speak, Obama walked to a podium facing the audience from the right side of the stage before he was directed to another one — the one affixed with the presidential seal — on stage left.

"They don't want me to be on the right," he joked. "This is the CBC."


Study: Conservatives are Retarded
Julian Borger in Washington
Article history

A study funded by the US government has concluded that conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in "fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity".

As if that was not enough to get Republican blood boiling, the report’s four authors linked Hitler,
Mussolini, Ronald Reagan and the rightwing talkshow host, Rush Limbaugh, arguing they all suffered from the same affliction.

All of them "preached a return to an idealised past and condoned inequality".

Republicans are demanding to know why the psychologists behind the report, Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition, received $1.2m in public funds for their research from the National Science

Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

The authors also peer into the psyche of President George Bush, who turns out to be a textbook case. The telltale signs are his preference for moral certainty and frequently expressed dislike of nuance.

"This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes, " the authors argue in the Psychological Bulletin.

One of the psychologists behind the study, Jack Glaser, said the aversion to shades of grey and the need for "closure" could explain the fact that the Bush administration ignored intelligence that contradicted its beliefs about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

The authors, presumably aware of the outrage they were likely to trigger, added a disclaimer that their study "does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false".

Another author, Arie Kruglanski, of the University of Maryland, said he had received hate mail since the article was published, but he insisted that the study "is not critical of conservatives at all". "The variables we talk about are general human dimensions, " he said. "These are the same dimensions that contribute to loyalty and commitment to the group. Liberals might be less intolerant of ambiguity, but they may be less decisive, less committed, less loyal."

But what drives the psychologists? George Will, a Washington Post columnist who has long suffered from ingrained conservatism, noted, tartly: "The professors have ideas; the rest of us have emanations of our psychological needs and neuroses."


Coulter suspects liberals behind Obama-as-Hitler posters
The Raw Story

For conservative political commentator Ann Coulter, it seems right-wingers can do no wrong — and, if they are seen to be doing wrong, it’s the fault of the left anyway.

Coulter says she suspects that posters of President Barack Obama with a Hitler mustache that appeared at Tea Party rallies are the work of “liberal agitators.”

During a discussion on Fox News’ Geraldo at Large on Saturday, host Geraldo Rivera played a clip of President Barack Obama addressing the Congressional Black Caucus, in which the president recounted an anecdote from last week’s G20 meetings.

“One of the leaders — I won’t mention who it was — he comes up to me … he says, ‘Barack, explain to me this health care debate,’” the president said. “He says, ‘We don’t understand it. You’re trying to make sure everybody gets health care and they’re putting a Hitler mustache on you. That doesn’t make sense to me. Explain that to me.’ He didn’t understand.”

“Isn’t it true that some of this extremist rhetoric [is] embarrassing to the United States and our president?” Rivera asked.

“If so, then liberals really did a number on America’s image over the eight years of [President] George Bush,” Coulter replied, going on to describe various hyperbolic protests that took place over the course of the Bush administration.

But in the case of liberals protesting Bush, “it was done much more egregiously,” Coulter added. “And we don’t know that the rare Hitler mustache you see at these Tea Parties was even [done by] a conservative. I suspect they were liberal agitators.”

That made Rivera laugh. “Those sneaky liberal agitators!” he exclaimed.

“Yeah, of course they do that,” Coulter retorted, adding that it is “a way to shut down speech.”


David Letterman's Top Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before Spending $63,500 On Dinner With Sarah Palin

10."Is the tip included?"
9."Do my kids really need to go to college?"
8."Is it 'All the Moose You Can Eat'?"
7."Should I prepare by reading every magazine and newspaper?"
6."Does it have to be at the Denny's where Todd works?"
5."Should we have dinner in Alaska or Russia?"
4."Will she hunt and shoot the main course?"
3."63 grand? That's nearly half of her weekly wardrobe budget!" Remember that reference?
2."Is there valet parking for my snowmobile?"
1."Will I be done in time to get to the 'Fire Dave' rally?"


Second GOP Senator Calls For 'Regime Change' In Iran
Ben Frumin


Earlier we told you about Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) plan for Iran: sticks and "regime change."

Well, apparently Kyl's not the only GOP Senator pushing regime change in Iran today. Here's Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) on FOX News Sunday:

    We have to have strong sanctions, economic sanctions that can force either a regime change or the Ayatollahs to change their policy.

To be fair, Bond's suggesting sanctions -- not some all-out attack or covert military operation -- as the way to achieve regime change. But he is pushing regime change nonetheless. He also needled those suggesting diplomacy.

    Today's action in firing the missiles is really a poke in the eye to those who think that diplomatic efforts and agreements and inspections are going to change the way Iran's going.

For those keeping score at home, that's now no fewer than two Republican Senators who called today for regime change in Iran.


Palin Fan Pays $63,500 for Dinner
By: Lisa Derrick
Cathy Maples, a spunky stalker fan of Sarah Palin, paid $63,500 in a charity eBay auction to dine with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. The auction will benefit Ride to Recovery, a charity for service men and women disabled in the Iraqi war. Maples of Huntsville, Alabama owns a defense contracting business, so I guess what comes around goes around.

It won't be Maples' first time meeting ex-Gov GILF. Oh no, this granny is really a huge fan!

The first time the two met was at a fundraiser in North Carolina during the presidential campaign. The second time was this July in Alaska when Maples took her grandson, family members and friends to Alaska as a graduation present. The Hunstville Times reports:

    Maples, who said "persistent is something they say about me," made several phone calls trying to see Palin. Finally, Todd Palin himself called her to coordinate the meeting, which came just after Palin announced she was resigning as governor.

    The couple spent about 15 minutes with Maples' group at the Anchorage airport, and Palin posed for pictures with everyone.

The eBay auction terms prohibit the winner from reporting on or posting pictures of the Palin dinner, so don't expect Cathy Maples' Facebook page to be filled with glowing reports. In anticipation of the meal, Maples told the Huntsville Times his feelings about sassy Sarah:

    I like her morals, and I believe she loves America and would like to do what is best for America. She doesn't compromise her morals for votes. That's very unusual in a politician.

Maples beat out author/Palin critic Joe McGinnis who had bid over $60,000 for the dubious dining privilege. Since Palin had veto power over the winner, it seems unlikely she would have agreed to break bread with him anyway.


By John Byrne

The man who helped oversee President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program now has a new job: a membership on the Public Interest Declassification Board.

Former Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who led the National Security Agency under President Bush from 1999 to 2005 and the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 until President Barack Obama’s inauguration, was appointed during the Labor Day recess by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The news was announced in the Congressional Record Sept. 8 and discovered yesterday by Secrecy News.

Hayden’s appointment may come as a surprise to critics of Bush-era secrecy. The onetime general isn’t known as an advocate of transparency — in fact, Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program was one of the administration’s most guarded secrets. Moreover, he’s been a critic of President Obama’s decision to release CIA and Justice Department memos, particularly those that detailed the agency’s policies on torture.

“If one were searching for an individual to represent the public interest in promoting declassification of government records, the first name that came to mind would probably not be Michael V. Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency,” Secrecy News’ Stephen Aftergood wrote Thursday.

“When the late Senator Daniel P. Moynihan conceived of a Public Interest Declassification Board a decade ago, he would not have imagined that the national security classification system might be employed by a present-day U.S. Administration to help circumvent laws against warrantless surveillance or torture,” Aftergood continued. “And yet here we are.”

McConnell, in an email to the Washington Post, said “The country is fortunate that Gen. Michael Hayden has agreed to serve as a member” and that “his long history of service as an intelligence professional makes him ideally suited for balancing the interests of secrecy and disclosure in protecting our national security.”

Hayden wasn’t simply the administrator of Bush’s wiretapping program: he was a self-proclaimed “leading architect.”

During his confirmation hearing in 2006, Hayden said he was a leading architect of the NSA program monitoring Americans’ phone calls and emails without obtaining court approval, and defended the agency’s collection of communications records on tens of millions of Americans.

The Classification Board, while having no direct jurisdiction, is developing new classification guidelines for the executive branch. Obama National Security Adviser James Jones plans a substantial revision of classification directives, which saw significant dilution under President Bush.

Declassification proponent? Not so much, says the ACLU.

“To this day, the NSA continues to conceal virtually all information about the warrantless wiretapping program,” Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, has said. “As CIA director, General Hayden claimed that destruction of waterboarding tapes was ‘in line with the law.’ “

*This really sucks...


Dispatches from Glenn Beck event in Mount Vernon

Glenn Beck spoke for about an hour, reminiscing about his time growing up in Mount Vernon, which he described as a "magical place," connected to the values of small-town America. "I believe in Norman Rockwell's America," Beck said.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Glenn Beck spoke for about an hour, reminiscing about his time growing up in Mount Vernon, which he described as a "magical place," connected to the values of small-town America.

"I believe in Norman Rockwell's America," Beck said.

He talked about the old wooden flagpole in town, the time he got busted stealing chewing gum, and how he used to act as the remote control in his household by sitting close to the TV. He said he used to be the boy who came to school smelling like cake, because his parents ran a bakery in the town.

For the most part, Beck stayed away from talking about politics.

He said that when he was growing up, he couldn't get out of the small town fast enough.

"Now, I would give my right arm to live in a town like Mount Vernon. And I discovered today that there are a ton of people ready to cut it off," he joked. "It doesn't bother me, because I have the key to their house now."

At one point, when talking about going to the Lincoln Theater with his mother, Beck wept. He said that tonight's event, a fundraiser for the theater, had raised $10,000 — which he would match with another $10,000. He also told the crowd that he'd put down $500 at the Big Scoop ice-cream parlor — which he used to enjoy as a kid — for them all to go and get free ice-creams.

Beck said he didn't remember politics being divisive growing up, and that if people now could just stop "tearing each other apart" there was a bright future for the country.


The Leadership of the GOP

Move over, Rush: Ex-US Rep. Foley has radio show

There's a surprising new voice in the world of political talk radio as former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley returns to the spotlight three years after a lurid scandal ruined his congressional career.

Foley taped his first stint behind the mic for "Inside the Mind of Mark Foley" on Tuesday. It will air Sept. 22 on WSVU out of North Palm Beach, Fla. On it, he tackles topics such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and its role in the Bernie Madoff scandal.

There's even hope for eventual syndication of the show, which will explore Washington politics.

"I don't see anything stopping it," said Joe Raineri, the show's producer. "I can tell you, he's very good."

Foley, who represented parts of Palm Beach County in Florida, resigned in 2006 after sending salacious Internet messages to male teens who had worked on Capitol Hill as congressional pages. Criminal investigations ended without charges.

The popular politician was seeking his seventh term in his South Florida district, where he kept busy attending lavish parties and fundraisers in glitzy Palm Beach.

His sexual orientation was a poorly kept secret, but he cloaked himself in a false public persona and kept his personal life hush. Upon resigning, Foley announced to the world he was gay.

He has since been working in real estate investment and has shied from the spotlight - until now.

Raineri said Foley approached the station a few months ago with the idea for a show. Station honchos then huddled to discuss the pros and cons - the main con being whether listeners would be turned off by Foley's past.

"We weighed the informative aspect of it against everything else and determined that what he has to say is much more important," Raineri said.

And it won't cost them a dime. Foley is working for free, and has said he'd bring his own advertisers.

Raineri described it as a "conversational 'Meet the Press' type of show."

The first hour-long episode will be an interview with Foley by the station manager. As he gets comfortable, Raineri said, the show will go live, take calls, and have guests.

Foley did not respond to telephone messages from The Associated Press.

"So do you want to know what's inside the mind of Mark Foley?" an announcer says in the show's promo.

Foley then expounds on Bernie Madoff, the SEC, and life as a politician.

Asked why the SEC didn't catch Madoff's multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme sooner, Foley said SEC members have more on their minds.

"Members who work for the SEC, and not all of them are bad, but all of them are hoping to parlay their government service into a big paying, New York, Wall Street job," Foley says.

"A real insider's view into the inner workings of Washington, D.C.," the announcer continues.


Republican candidate holds 'machine gun social'
SC candidate raffles off AK-47 at campaign rally
Bullets and barbecue: SC candidate raffles off AK-47, offers target practice at campaign rally
AP News

A candidate to be South Carolina's next National Guard leader skipped the fiery speeches for firepower, launching his campaign with what he called a "machine-gun social."

The Greenville News reports some 500 people came out to a shooting range Saturday for Republican Dean Allen's political rally. He wants to be the next adjutant general, the person who leads the state's National Guard.

Attendees paid $25 for barbecue, a clip of bullets for target practice and the chance to win a semiautomatic AK-47. Whoever wins the rifle will have to undergo a background check.

Allen says he is an Army veteran who wanted to celebrate Second Amendment rights. South Carolina is the only state that elects its adjutant general.



Romney Touts Fox Nation Website As Ticket To GOP Political Success ‘In 2010 And The Years Beyond’

By Faiz Shakir


Earlier this year, the so-called “fair and balanced” network launched its Fox Nation website, an opinionated online forum. Fox VP Bill Shine said, “We’re calling it a mix between the Huffington Post and Drudge,” and asserted that the network’s reporting is “aggressive but not ideological.” Promotional materials for the site claim: “It’s time to say NO to biased media.” Apparently, leading Republican officials didn’t get the talking points.

In a video posted on YouTube, top GOP figures — like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) — urge viewers to click on Fox Nation. But the most interesting endorsement came from former Gov. Mitt Romney, who touted the site’s political impact:

Hey, FoxNation.com and my fans there, they’re the best. Congratulations to you guys for getting that up there. Keep it going. I hope that we get a lot of strength, and that helps us in 2010 and the years beyond.

In the video, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) said the site provides a “great forum, I think, for some robust debate.” For example, the site has asked whether parents would “keep your kids home the day Obama speaks to schools,” wondered “is Obama targeting Catholics,” and questioned if the health care debate is “a showdown between Socialism & Freedom.” Robust indeed.


Watch it:


Michele Bachmann
From Dickipedia - A Wiki of Dicks

Michele Marie Bachmann (born April 6, 1956) is a Republican Congresswoman from Minnesota, a former Senator, a homophobe, and a dick.

In addition to being a dick, Bachmann's track record has proven she is also a full-fledged nutjob. The type of person that makes you turn to your friend the moment she gets up to use the bathroom and mouth "She's craaaaaaazy," complete with hand motions and bug-eyes.

While Bachmann has always been a local dick, she didn't come onto the national dick scene until the 2008 election when she accused Barack Obama and many members of Congress of being "anti-American."

Like her pal Palin, Bachmann is deceptively attractive. While Palin is attractive in a "if she just put down that gun, took off those glasses, and started forming complete sentences" sort of way, Bachmann has the whole girl next door thing working for her. But only if you grew up next to an insane asylum.

Bachmann has claimed that many of her career moves have been dictated by messages from God. Abraham, Moses...Michele Bachmann. That sounds about right.



"According to The New York Times, Manuel Zelaya, the recently deposed president of Honduras, he's holed up with supporters who don't bathe, eat only rice and beans and one guy who hasn't changed his Che Guevara T-shirt in days. So apparently, Manuel Zelaya is holed up in my freshman dorm room." --Conan O'Brien

"Health officials are now saying that the swine flu could be spread at college keg parties. They say if you attend a keg party and come home feeling numb and vomiting profusely, you're probably fine." --Conan O'Brien

"This week, Chrysler announced it's replacing its owners' manuals with a DVD. In a related story, most Americans have replaced their Chrysler with a Toyota." --Conan O'Brien

"Federal authorities have issued a flurry of bulletins warning that sports stadiums, entertainment complexes, hotels, motels, apartment buildings, and transit systems could be targets of terrorist attacks. Well thanks for narrowing it down." --Jay Leno

"In fact, you know the safest place to be now? Airplanes. Stay in the air as long as you can." --Jay Leno

"Well, according to the FBI, terrorists may be targeting sporting events here in the United States and people attending games are being told keep an eye out for anybody looking suspicious or anybody who looks like they might be a threat. Well, what do you do at an Oakland Raiders game? That's everybody." --Jay Leno

"Oh, and that Colorado man that's arrested for lying to the FBI and having links to al Qaeda, well, they got him on an additional charge. Planning to use weapons of mass destruction. He reportedly purchased bomb-making ingredients from a beauty supply store. Did you hear his defense today? He said, 'Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.'" --Jay Leno

"And yesterday at the United Nations, President Barack Obama told the world, 'Don't expect America to fix all your problems.' Hey, hey, what happened to 'Yes we can?'" --Jay Leno

"You know about Qaddafi living in his tent? You know this whole wacky story? After residents complained, Qaddafi had to dismantle his tent he was living in outside of New York City, in Bedford, New York. You know, say what you want about Qaddafi, but don't you wish your relatives, when they came, would stay in a tent on the front lawn?" --Jay Leno

"Sarah Palin gave a speech to a conference of investors in Hong Kong yesterday morning. Then she spent the afternoon shooting pandas from a helicopter." --Jay Leno

"And according to the latest rumors, the former CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman, about to announce she is running for governor of California. See, that shows you how bad the economy is getting here in California. Now we're just another piece of crap on eBay." --Jay Leno

"You know, it was fun at the beginning of the week when we had all of the world leaders here in New York City visiting the U.N. for the big grand opening of the U.N. It was fun for a while but now we are sick of them and want them to go home. Traffic is insane. You can't get anywhere. And Qaddafi with that stretch camel, who's he kidding?" --David Letterman

"But President Obama, God bless the guy, has been very busy. Yesterday, he actually headed up a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Meanwhile, in Arizona, John McCain called a waitress 'Toots.'" --David Letterman

"Did you hear President Obama's speech about nuclear proliferation? It was impressive. It's nice to have a president who can pronounce nuclear, isn't it?" --David Letterman

"And then they had the madman hour yesterday afternoon. And it was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and he gave a speech to the U.N. He said he hated the US, said he hated Israel, and he hated that dumb pedestrian mall on Broadway. But Ahmadinejad did say if Iran is given access to uranium, he promises not to make weapons. And I said, 'Well, that's good enough for me.'" --David Letterman


This Week in God!!!


Teen birth rates highest in most religious states
Link may be due to communities frowning on contraception, researchers say
By Jeanna Bryner

U.S. states whose residents have more conservative religious beliefs on average tend to have higher rates of teenagers giving birth, a new study suggests.

The relationship could be due to the fact that communities with such religious beliefs (a literal interpretation of the Bible, for instance) may frown upon contraception, researchers say. If that same culture isn't successfully discouraging teen sex, the pregnancy and birth rates rise.

Mississippi topped the list for conservative religious beliefs and teen birth rates, according to the study results, which will be detailed in a forthcoming issue of the journal Reproductive Health. (See chart below.)

However, the results don't say anything about cause and effect, though study researcher Joseph Strayhorn of Drexel University College of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh offers a speculation of the most probable explanation: "We conjecture that religious communities in the U.S. are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself."

The study comes with other significant caveats, too:

The same link might not be found for other types of religious beliefs that are perhaps more liberal, researchers say. And while the study reveals information about states as a whole, it doesn't shed light on whether an individual teen who is more religious will also be more likely to have a child.

"You can't talk about individuals, because you don't know what's producing the [teen birth] rate," said Amy Adamczyk, a sociologist at the City University of New York, who was not involved in the current study. "Are there just a couple of really precocious religious teenagers who are running around and getting pregnant and having all of these babies, but that's not the norm?"

Strayhorn agrees and says the study aimed to look at communities (or states) as a whole.

"It is possible that an anti-contraception attitude could be caused by religious cultures and that could exert its effect mainly on the non-religious individuals in the culture," Strayhorn told LiveScience. But, he added, "We don't know."

Bible states
Strayhorn compiled data from various data sets. The religiosity information came from a sample of nearly 36,000 participants who were part of the U.S. Religious Landscapes Survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted in 2007, while the teen birth and abortion statistics came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For religiosity, the researchers averaged the percentage of respondents who agreed with conservative responses to eight statements, including: ''There is only one way to interpret the teachings of my religion," and ''Scripture should be taken literally, word for word."

They found a strong correlation between statewide conservative religiousness and statewide teen birth rate even when they accounted for income and abortion rates.

More abortions among teens in less religious states
For instance, the results showed more abortions among teenagers in the less religious states, which would skew the findings since fewer teens in these states would have births. But even after accounting for the abortions, the study team still found a state's level of religiosity could predict their teen birth rate. The higher the religiosity, the higher was the teen birth rate on average.

John Santelli of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University calls the study "well-done," adding that the results are not surprising.

"The index of religiosity is tapping into more fundamentalist religious belief," Santelli said. "I'm sure there are parts of New England that have very low teen birth rates, which have pretty high religious participation, but they're probably less conservative, less fundamentalist type of congregations."

Other factors that may have been important to consider include ethnic backgrounds of state residents, according to Adamczyk, the City University of New York sociologist.

"We know that African American women on average tend to underreport their abortions, which means they could also underreport the likelihood that they got pregnant," Adamczyk said. "If you're dealing with states with a high number of African American women, you might run into that problem."

Adamczyk's own, separate research has shown a nearly opposite correlation, at the individual level. "What we find is that more religious women are less likely to engage in riskier sex behaviors, and as a result they are less likely to have a premarital pregnancy," Adamczyk said during a telephone interview. But for those religious teens who do choose to have premarital sex, they might be more likely to ditch their religious views and have an abortion, she has found.

Cause and effect?
Adamczyk says the idea that anti-contraception principles could be behind the link is controversial, as studies on the topic have varied results. "The idea is that in the heat of the moment, a young woman who has said, 'I'm going to be a virgin on my wedding night,' is with her boyfriend and she says 'Let's just do it.' And since they didn't plan it, nobody has a condom. And so it increases their chances of a pregnancy," Adamczyk said.

Earlier marriage among religious individuals could also partly explain the finding.

"In the south, there is a higher rate of marriage of teenagers. And one possible explanation is just that in the southern states, which are also more religious, people just get married earlier and have planned pregnancies and those have perfectly good outcomes," Strayhorn said. He added that he doesn't think the earlier marriage idea explains the religion-birth link.


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YodasWorld.org is updated each Monday. Some of the items from the previous week are added to the various topic links on the left side of the main page. Links embedded should be good for at least the date posted. After the posting date, link reliability depends on the policy of the linked sites. Some sites require visitors to register before allowing access to articles. Material presented on this page represent the opinion's of YodasWorld.org.
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