mooreroom is moving

I have finally gotten around to installing WordPress on my own site, so from now on “mooreroom” will be the blog of mooretoons.com, my creative hub (or so I intend.) I put the blog on the front page of the site, because that’s where all the new info goes. And I hate trying to find people’s updated information. Plus I installed some handy navigation plug-ins that should make moving through the site fairly intuitive. Certain pages are, of course, in the “under construction” phase, but they aren’t some annoying 404 error.

This wordpress blog will serve as a link to the main blog, but from now on, no more updates here. All new stuff – over at the new site. So please change your bookmarks, links, and RSS feeds accordingly. Sorry for the pain – but after a year of dinking around with blogging software and installations and such-like, I finally made up my mind. The new “mooretoons” will be much better. Already is! Honest! Ya gots ta believe me!

See you there.

Zero Shame Game

At the Washington Post, Patrick Welsh wrings his hands over the more supportive treatment pregnant teens and teen moms are receiving from some school districts. He is dismayed that teen moms are openly flaunting their motherhood.

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? 

Heavens! Helping people without censuring them? As one nurse observes, “There is zero shame.” Zero shame! Ooooh God, Nooooo! How can we expect people to act more like us responsible middle class types if we don’t instill them with self-loathing?

In fact, as you no doubt suspected, these people are bringing it on themselves. (Aren’t they always, those lazy, shiftless people?) Our anguished writer cites the same school nurse to dredge up the “pregnancy pact” myth spread last Summer by a high school principal in Massachusetts. Say, whatever happened to that story? Oh, that’s right — two weeks after Time.com fomented another reason for adults to fear their irrational teens, it was refuted. By the mayor. So whatcha bet that the school nurse in this article has no direct knowledge of such a pact among her students; that she overheard some “buzz” somewhere (conservative talk radio? news headlines next to her email? an opinionated colleague?); and that she parroted this bit of conventional wisdom for the benefit of our gullible writer?

And if you detect a slight trace of racial privilege mingled with the classist overtones, your nose will soon get out of joint. Welsh notes that overall teen pregnancies have dropped significantly:

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.

Sensitive liberal guy that he is, Welsh hastens to note that white teens get pregnant, too, but it’s a class thing, and where he lives, class translates into ethnicity. Fair enough. Poverty and disadvantage hit people of color a lot harder than people of, um, non-color. But this is the point where Welsh starts dredging up the “pregnancy pact” myth and quoting high school students of, um, non-color whose disapproval is hard to conceal. These Hispanic teen moms “are living in a dream world” so says a girl in AP English. I was relieved (surprised, too) that Welsh got around to talking to at least one of the young women he spends so much time discussing with other people.

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.

See? He’s a nice guy! He’s “torn”! He doesn’t “begrudge” Cynthia. He’ll even go into details about her “grueling” day — and, indeed, he chose the right word. But it doesn’t take him long to revert to ethnic stereotypes — and with Cynthia’s corroboration: a lot of her friends “actively tried to get pregnant” (but not Cynthia; she missed a Depo shot one day.) And according to a medical director, “most of these girls and their families see no problem with being unmarried and having a child at 16 or 17.”

Waiting for the “drain on public services” argument? Here it co-oo-omes!

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.

Welsh repeatedly singles out Latina teens and “the rising birth rate among Hispanics” as sources of trouble for befuddled and overworked social workers, educators and health officials. Get it? They are a burden. They’re a drain on tax dollars that should be going to bailing out the financial industry or failing to reconstruct countries we’ve bombed into chaos and desperation. Damn these poor people and their grubby demands!

Look, no matter what age a woman becomes a mom, our society is not prepared to support the needs of children. Period. If “shame” needs to be directed at anyone, it’s the opponents of universal health care, education and a living wage. It’s the unthinking voters who have consistently clamored for tax cuts and psuedo-patriotic war-mongering. We’re momentarily in a “season of Hope/Change/Transformation/Whatever” but all along there have been these undercurrents of resentment against Hispanics and of frustration with our broken social safety nets. An article like this only feeds the fire.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Right Wing Syllogism Du Jour

Shorter NY Times Caucus blog on conservative reactions to the pay-for-play scandal in Illinois: Obama is from Illinois. Blagojevich is from Illinois. Blagojevich is a scumbug. Therefore Obama must be a scumbag.

Repeat ad nauseum until 2012 or until something else rises from the murk. At least it gets Sean Hannity off of Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. For a little while.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wanderlost: Search Party Page 14


Click the image to read the whole cartoon.

Yep. Black and white. So it goes.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Scahill Tries to be Heard Through Din of “Change”

Change change change change change hope hope hope hope hope change change cha -

I’m sorry – did you say something, Jeremy Scahill?

Anyone who took the time to cut past Barack Obama’s campaign rhetoric of “change” and bringing an “end” to the Iraq war realized early on that the now-president-elect had a plan that boiled down to a down-sizing and rebranding of the occupation. While he emphasized his pledge to withdraw U.S. “combat forces” from Iraq in 16 months (which may or may not happen), he has always said that he intends to keep “residual forces” in place for the foreseeable future.

It’s an interesting choice of terms. “Residual” is defined as “the quantity left over at the end of a process.” This means that the forces Obama plans to leave in Iraq will remain after he has completed his “withdrawal” plan. No matter how Obama chooses to label the forces he keeps in Iraq, the fact is, they will be occupation forces.

Announcing his national security team this week, Obama reasserted his position. “I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary — likely to be necessary — to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq.” While some have protrayed this as Obama going back on his campaign pledge, it is not. What is new is that some people seem to just now be waking up to the fact that Obama never had a comprehensive plan to fully end the occupation.

Bu-bu-bu-but – change! Changey change. Hopey change hopey?

Answering anti-war liberal critics who seem surprised that Obama isn’t Dennis Kucinich, Scahill parses Obama’s voting record, his public statements, and the comments of his foreign policy campaign advisers. Worth a full read.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wanderlost Notice

Notice page
That’s right. December 9th. Next Wednesday. How will this be accomplished? Simple: By taking a break from political cartooning.

Said break will last only a month. I am taking advantage of the holiday season to relax a little and focus on catching up with the “Search Party” story line.

I’m also thinking of some changes for In Contempt. I won’t say what those are, as they are a little vague right now. But my thoughts are grounded in my view that political cartooning as we know it is moribund. I want to work on something new, though recognizably political and coherent with what I have done with In Contempt so far. That’s all I should say for now. Like I said – “vague.”

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Eff The 90′s

Have you been watching President-elect Barack Obama’s appointments to his administration with a sense of confusion? A feeling of anti-nostalgia? Crying out, “Why all the ClintonAdmin re-treads!?”

Steve Fraser is your man. Writing in The Nation, Fraser echoes a familiar complaint by liberals about recent appointments, registers dismay at the nearly uniform “neo-liberal” ideology, and compares the group think to the greater diversity that stocked Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet during a transition period frought with peril.

Worth reading for historical boning up, I suppose, but I was more interested in Fraser’s call for bolder action:

Under the present dispensation, the bailout state makes the government the handmaiden of the financial sector. Under a new one, the tables might be turned. But who will speak for that option within the limited councils of the Obama team?

A real democratic nationalization of the banks–good value for our money rather than good money to add to their value–should be part of the policy agenda up for discussion in the Obama era. As things now stand, the public supplies the loans and the investment capital, but the key decisions about how they are to be deployed remain in private hands. A democratic version of nationalizing the financial system would transfer these critical decisions to new institutions created by the Congress and designed to pursue public, not private, objectives. How to subject the flow of credit and investment capital to public control ought to be on the drawing boards if we are to look beyond the old New Deal to a new one.

Or, for instance, if we are to bail out the auto industry, which we should–millions of jobs, businesses, communities, and what’s left of once powerful and proud unions are at stake–then why not talk about its nationalization too? Why not create a representative body of workers, consumers, environmentalists, suppliers and other interested parties to supervise the industry’s reorganization and retooling to produce, just as the president-elect says he wants, new green means of transportation–and not just cars?

Why not apply the same model to the rehabilitation of the nation’s infrastructure; indeed, why not to the reindustrialization of the country as a whole? If, as so many commentators are now claiming, what lies ahead is the kind of massive, crippling deflation characteristic of such crises, then why not consider creating democratic mechanisms to impose an incomes policy on wages and prices that works against that deflation?

Why not, in effect, assert greater control by the people over the economic forces that affect them? “Cuz that way lies socialism! Aaagh!” Onoz. Heavens to betsy. And, well, probably not. More like neo-social democracy.

Blogged with the Flock Browser