January 06, 2005



The appointment of Claude Allen as Bush's new chief domestic policy advisor is another triumph for the Republican theocrats. A reactionary black kapo, Allen is one of the darlings of the "family values" ultra-conservative religious right led by James Dobson and his Focus on the Family.

Recruited by Karl Rove as his watchdog on then-HHS secretary Tommy Thompson (who had a much-exaggerated reputation as a "moderate"), Allen--a visceral political homophobe-- was a former top aide Sen. Jesse Helms, and in 1984 accused Helms' Democratic challenger, then-Gov. James Hunt, of having links to "queers," "radical feminists," socialists, and unions (Hunt was, in fact, a bible-quoting right-wing Dem).

  As Health and Human Services Commissioner for very conservative Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Allen bent public health priorities to the religious right's agenda and led a state-sponsored anti-safe sex crusade that he had cooked up with the abstinence-only Institute for Youth Development, whose mission is to teach children to fear rather than understand sex, and says that condoms don't work to prevent AIDS. Says Allen of condom use: "It's like telling your child, 'Don't use the car,' but then leaving the keys in the Lamborghini and saying, 'But if you do, buckle up.'" In November 2001, Thompson toed the Bush-Rove line when he put Allen in charge of supervising HHS' audit of HIV-prevention spending: Allen led an HHS witch-hunt that investigated all of the AIDS service organizations (like Gay Men's Health Crisis) whose members staged a demonstration that disrupted Tommy Thompson's speech to the international AIDS conference in Barcelona, and purged several ASO's (like San Francisco's Stop Aids Project) whose politics and science-based sex ed Allen didn't like. Allen has regularly been on POZ magazine's list of the AIDS community's top enemies (a tradition I began when I wrote a column on the politics of AIDS for the mag.)

Also in his Virginia years, Allen was notorious for his opposition to abortion--which he took to extreme lengths. As People for the American Way noted when it and other liberal and civil rights groups (including the NAACP) successfully opposed Bush's nomination of Allen for a federal judgeship, "As Secretary of Virginia’s DHHS, Claude Allen also built a long record of hostility to reproductive freedoms. In one example, Allen worked to defeat legislation that provided health insurance for children of the working poor, largely because the program covered abortion services for rape and incest victims under the age of eighteen. When the law was ultimately enacted, Allen was faulted for not enrolling children quickly enough. He admitted 'abortion was a sticking point' delaying the enrollment of children. In this episode, Allen proved himself to be so adamantly opposed to reproductive rights that he found it preferable for poor children to go without health coverage than to risk an underage sexual abuse victim having access to state-funded abortion services."

Watch for the patronage system known as "faith-based initiatives" to be considerably expanded on Allen's watch as domestic policy adviser.

Posted by Direland at 06:48 PM | Permalink


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