Dover Bitch

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Faith the music, Connecticut

During the 2004 presidential campaign there were plenty of atrocities. One of the most infuriating to this blogger was the insulting way George Bush talked about Massachusetts. He said the name like it was a venereal disease.

As unseemly as it was for a sitting president to disparage an entire state of his constituents to score some political points, it wasn't completely surprising. After all, he was speaking to his base and we all know what they think of latte-drinking, body-piercing liberal freaks in New England.

You know, his base being people like this:

On the broadcast of the Christian television program "The 700 Club," Falwell made the following statement:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Falwell, pastor of the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, viewed the [9/11] attacks as God's judgment on America for "throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked."


Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club program, seemed to agree with Falwell's earlier statements in a prayer during the program.

A couple of swell guys. But nobody can argue that these two didn't have a whole lot of success when it came to getting out Republican voters and getting Bush reelected. And they certainly spent a lot of money, which is why it's no surprise that these guys were also proponents of Bush's faith-based initiatives. Falwell with a few reservations:

I think that when persons are clearly bigoted towards other persons in the human family, they should be disqualified from funds. For that reason, Islam should be out the door before they knock.

(And that was before 9/11.)

It's also no surprise that they are big fans of Joe Lieberman.

The obvious problem with Lieberman is the way he has allowed the GOP to use him to shut down debate. Whenever the Democrats seem on the verge of amounting a real challenge to the GOP agenda, there's Joe to warn against partisanship or undermining presidential authority. Meanwhile, the voters of Connecticut, like voters in all the Blue states, have their voices silenced. The GOP has run the country like they have a mandate since Bush was handed his authority by a divided court (and divided nation). People in Connecticut deserve a representative that will fight for their rights, values and well-being. Instead, they have Lieberman.

During the primary debate with Ned Lamont, we heard this exchange:

LIEBERMAN: Well, that's the point of it. And let me stress again, I intend to win the primary, but I want to say, why did I do what I announced the other day, create the option? It's because I believe this man can't be elected in November.

And I know -- and I have to say this directly -- that I can do a better job for the people of Connecticut, a lot of whom are going to need some special help in the next six years than either he or Alan Schlesinger can, and I want to give all the voters, including a lot of Democrats, the opportunity to make that final decision in November.

NESTI: Thank you, Senator.

Mr. Lamont, you need 30 seconds or ...

LAMONT: Yes, look at the last 18 years. We have lost 40 percent of our manufacturing-related jobs. We have lost over half of our defense-related jobs. People are earning less. A lot of our good paying jobs are leaving the state and leaving the country. Senator Lieberman has never seen a trade agreement that he didn't applaud.

I don't think this is the type of leadership we want. When it comes to bringing home things for the state of Connecticut, we are 49th out of 50 states -- 49th out of 50. New Jersey is last. I think we can do an awful lot better.

Lamont was absolutely correct. Connecticut gets squat when it comes to federal funding. Lieberman has done practically nothing to get Connecticut its fair share of federal funding, and while the president mocks liberal states like Massachusetts for taxing and spending, Red states like Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia get nearly triple the return on their tax dollars.

But don't suggest that Lieberman hasn't taken the lead when it comes to directing those federal funds.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Mr. President. Thanks for your leadership on this, and thanks to Senator Santorum and all our colleagues and our staffs that worked very hard on this.

I have always believed that faith, right from the beginning of this country, was one of the great unifiers of the American people, and that faith has been strong enough to unify all of us as we went forward to find a constitutionally appropriate way to have a faith- based initiative, to help people who want to do good works and whose desire to do good works is motivated by their faith.

Outstanding. He joined with Rick Santorum (with whom he now shares campaign workers and now, apparently, tactics) to help George Bush erode the wall between Church and State.

But what does that mean in terms of dollars? Here's a clue: In the election year 2004, the federal government gave over $2 billion of taxpayer money to faith-based groups. That would be, all things being equal (which they are not), an average of $40 million per state (actually a little less with three territories included). Based strictly on population, Connecticut would have received $24 million.

So how much did Connecticut get? $7.4 million. By contrast, Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing received $9.6 million (and $14.4 million in 2005). Another example of Lieberman selling out his state for what he considers "unity."

While Lieberman was supposed to be fighting for his constituents, he was paving the way for the Bush Administration to take taxpayer money out of Connecticut's pockets and hand it over to the nuttiest right-wing theocrats. The same people who blame liberals for 9/11 and used their churches to ensure that the federal government would not be representative of people like Connecticut Democrats.

Sure he's got the NARAL and Planned Parenthood endorsements. But what has Lieberman wrought on the nation?

In the Bush administration, conservatives are discovering that turnabout is fair play: Millions of dollars in taxpayer funds have flowed to groups that support President Bush's agenda on abortion and other social issues.

Under the auspices of its religion-based initiatives and other federal programs, the administration has funneled at least $157 million in grants to organizations run by political and ideological allies, according to federal grant documents and interviews.

An example is Heritage Community Services in Charleston, S.C. A decade ago, Heritage was a tiny organization with deeply conservative social philosophy but not much muscle to promote it. An offshoot of an antiabortion pregnancy crisis center, Heritage promoted abstinence education at the county fair, local schools and the local Navy base. The budget was $51,288.

By 2004, Heritage Community Services had become a major player in the booming business of abstinence education. Its budget passed $3 million -- much of it in federal grants distributed by Bush's Department of Health and Human Services -- supporting programs for students in middle school and high school in South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky.

Again, the "pro-choice" Lieberman is in Washington, spending his time working to help Bush, Falwell, Robertson, James Dobson and all the rest take money from Connecticut voters and hand it over to pro-life "abstinence educators."

And when that money does come back to Connecticut, look what it's used for: The largest faith-based grant in Connecticut in 2003 went to "sexual abstinence-only programs."

But Lieberman's been running around claiming that he's the only one who can fix health care and energy prices.

49th out of 50, Connecticut. Dump him already.

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