Archive for the ‘abortion’ Category

The “culture wars” have been going on since before the founding of America – the Civil War, women’s suffrage, prohibition, desegregation/civil rights, religion in school, voting rights, abortion/reproCulture-Wars-Webductive rights, science versus faith, gay rights and more. In each of these there is/was a battle between tradition/faith (always in part justified by the Bible and conservative theology) and rationality/social progress. It’s a constant struggle over the meaning of America.

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this weekAnd THIS WEEK in the news…

1. In Alaska – one house of the state legislature passed a law that threatens to arrest law enforcement officers if they try to enforce federal laws relating to gun control. They have decided that they won’t recognize national laws and that they will arrest anyone who tries to enforce them. Rep. Andy Josephson, an Anchorage Democrat, argued that the bill alaska gunsviolated the Constitution’s supremacy clause and wouldn’t hold up under legal scrutiny. He says he can’t support the bill because he sees it as a breach of his oath of office. In fact, Representative Josephson had to stop twice during his testimony to hold back tears as he passionately argued against what he called “secessionist talk.”

Our star is on the flag – we implored the USA to let us join them. I’m proud to be an American. I care deeply about my state, and I’m very proud to be an American. Very proud. (pause to hold back tears) I think this is secessionist talk.

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2. Yesterday in Arkansas, the governor, Mike Beebe, vetoed an abortion ban that passed both chambers of the Republican- dominated legislature.

3. In Indiana the senate passed a forced vaginal ultrasound bill.

4. In Illinois Robin Kelly was elected as the Democratic nominee in a Chicago-area district to bidenreplace Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, who was forced out in an ethics scandal. Kelly is a strong supporter of gun control, which helped her to beat her opponent who had been highly rated by the NRA. Vice President Biden argued today that the primary election victory of a gun control advocate to represent Illinois in Congress sends a message that voters won’t stand for inaction in response to shooting violence after the Connecticut school shooting.

5. Pennsylvania Republicans are trying to move ahead with a scheme to rig that state’s electoral votes. Several electoral riggingother states flirted with this idea recently, but gave up on it after intense push back from their constituents and the media. “The Republican Party is on the wrong side of the issues and instead of appealing to the growing electorate, they’re scheming to rig the election,” says Melanie Roussell, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee. “The Republicans in the Pennsylvania House and Senate could push this legislation through both houses in a matter of days, while Republicans in Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida have all come out against Electoral College vote rigging in their states.”

6. The US supreme court is hearing a challenge to the voting rights act. In a fast-paced, 70-minute argument, the court’s liberals and conservatives engaged in a sometimes tense back and forth over whether there is an ongoing need in 2013 for a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure requires states with a history of discrimination, mainly in the Deep South, to get approval before making changes in the way elections are held.

7. Republicans are threatening John Brennen’s nomination to run the CIA.

same sex marriage8. 75 republican lawmakers just signed a brief to the supreme court telling them to side WITH same sex marriage rights. These are Republicans!

9. Chris Christi just became the 8th Republican governor who previously said he wanted nothing to do with Obama care to sign his state up for Obama care’s provisions.

10. Talks with Iran over their nuclear program got underway yesterday.

And of course Congress is focusing on none of these real crises or real fights or opportunities for real progress. What Washington is dealing with is a self-imposed crisis – the automatic budget cuts happening this coming Friday. This is a crisis they could just end. This is a crisis that the White House and Congress agreed to previously and one that they now almost unanimously agree will be bad for the country – and all they have to do is repeal it.

If they don’t, hundred of thousands of jobs will be lost. In fact, within the next 20 days, hundreds of thousands of civilians associated with the military will be furloughed and/or have their salaries cut by 20%. Teachers, police officers and others will lose their jobs. Social service agencies will cut back or close. Thousands of government employees will lose their jobs. All this while we are just now finally climbing out of recession.

And why? Tune in..same channel..next article: “Less then 10% of Americans know the truth…”

The tea partiers’ alternate reality

Reported by David Daley, Executive Director of Salon

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wants Republicans to stop being the stupid party — but apparently the memo hasn’t gotten out to state legislatures around the country.

February has been a banner month for truly silly and anti-intellectual bills in state capitals. Some of these bills are based on the idea that birth control is poison, and that students should not be corrected for arguing in biology class that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. Others would stop gun control efforts by making it a felony to try to enact gun control.

This is not the Onion: Here are some of the actual proposals.

1. Let corporations vote!

corporationsIn Montana, state Rep. Steve Lavin introduced a bill that would allow corporations to vote in local elections, taking the idea that “corporations are people” to new heights.

Think Progress reports that under the proposal, “if a firm, partnership, company, or corporation owns real property within the municipality, the president, vice president, secretary, or other designee of the entity is eligible to vote.”

2. Criminalize gun control!

In Missouri, state Rep. Mike Leara believes even proposing gun control should be illegal. So he has proposed legislation that would make it a felony for “any member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”

“I filed HB 633 as a matter of principle and as a statement in defense of the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians,” Leara told Buzzfeed. “I want it to be clear that the Missouri House will stand in defense of the people’s Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

3. Birth control is poison

“Part of (women’s) identity is the potential to be a mother,” says a state senator from Oklahoma. “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”viagra

The full state Senate in Oklahoma will take up a measure to allow companies to strip birth control and abortion coverage from employer healthcare plans under a bill that unanimously cleared the committee level last week. This puts the law in conflict with the Obamacare provision that mandates contraception coverage in employee group insurance plans, unless the company in question meets the religious organization that qualifies for an exemption.

4. Read Ayn Rand or don't graduate

The chairman of the education committee in Idaho’s Senate introduced a bill earlier this month that would make students read — and pass a test — on “Atlas Shrugged” as a requirement for a high school diploma. He says that book “made my son a Republican,” then added, “well, he’s not a practicing Republican. But it certainly made him conservative.”

The senator, John Goedde, told the Idaho Spokesman-Review he was “sending a message to the State Board of Education, because he’s unhappy with its recent move to repeal a rule requiring two online courses to graduate from high school, and with its decision to back off on another planned rule regarding principal evaluations.”

Creationism5. Make science teachers contradict science

In Kansas, the state Board of Education will vote on new science standards this year, so the legislative jockeying has begun. A bill before the House Education Committee would make schools include evidence against climate change in science classes.

According to the bill, science teachers would be required to “provide information to students of scientific evidence which both supports and counters a scientific theory or hypothesis.”

There is no specific sponsor on the bill, which carries the committee’s name. The committee is controlled by Republicans, most of whom have made anti-science statements, including one who believes that “evolution is a lie from Satan.”

In Oklahoma, however, go right ahead and argue that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time. On a 9-8 vote last week, the Oklahoma Common Education committee approved the so-called Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act.

If the bill becomes law, it would make it illegal for biology teachers to fail students who write papers against evolution, creationism (1)climate change and other theories with near 100 percent approval in the scientific community.

“I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks,” said state Rep. Gus Blackwell.

You wanna see something worse? Go to http://stuffthatmattersblog.com/2013/02/28/this-weeks-bloomberg-poll-less-than-10-of-americans-know-the-truth/

conservative-liberal-road-sign-cropped-proto-custom_28Potentially another coming out story, of sorts. I previously wrote (with some fear and trembling about what my many Christian friends would think) of my journey away from evangelicalism. Now here I am again, possibly coming out of yet another closet, with an opportunity to alienate a whole different group of friends.

For much of my life I was a closeted liberal. While a part of the conservative Christian church, I kept discovering that many of my personal convictions didn’t seem to line up with the party line. While immersed in the institution founded by the “they will know we are Christians by our love” itinerant first century preacher, I kept discovering that my own convictions seemed more compassionate, more justice-focused, more humane than those of my own religion. I know that sounds arrogant – and I hate that it sounds that way. I am certainly not saying that I myself am more loving than my Christians friends. Far from it. I can be kind of an asshole when I’m not careful, and I have so many Christian friends who are the most loving, kindhearted people I know. (The church I attended was also a very loving place.) But my actual convictions – my positions on social issues – just seemed to me to be more compassionate than those of the evangelism movement, and this was confusing to me for many years. I would want to collect money to support hungry kids in Africa, and I’d have Christians tell me they wouldn’t help out because we weren’t handing out Bibles or preaching at them. I would want to help low-income people who are being evicted from their trailer park, and some Christians would refuse to donate for fear of “enabling these people’s dependent lifestyles.” I would develop a close friendship with someone who was gay, and a Christian would warn me about not appearing to condone sin.

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Eventually, of course, I embraced my inner-liberal, and have been a happy camper ever since.  But lately I’ve been experiencing some strange thoughts and urges that confuse me.  Last week I noticed myself cringing when I discovered the Facebook communities called “Republicans are morons,” “The Republican party makes me sick’” and “Liberals who hate conservatives.” Then I noticed feelings of empathy when I read about sincere, Christian employers who were put into a moral and ethical no-win situation when the government required them to pay for their employees’ “morning after pills,” essentially forcing them to fund what they believe to be murder.  And I’m suddenly uncomfortable with the black and white, reactive responses to nuanced issues that I sometimes see on liberal websites and publications – the same kinds of responses they regularly denounce conservatives for.

What is happening to me?

Is it possible that I’m bi-political??? God, what will my friends say when they find out?

Mike's liberal/conservative issues list

Mike’s liberal/conservative issues list

Ok, here’s what I’m going to do…right now, as I write this article. I’m going to creative a self-administered political inventory to help me figure out where I really stand. I’m going to choose several issues in which liberals and conservatives tend to disagree (see graph on the left), then assign positions along a spectrum (see below) ranging from a negative five (totally liberal) to a positive five (totally conservative), with zero representing a “middle of the road” approach, as in “I see equal validity and truth on both sides.”

political spectrum
(Of course, this is just my list. If you decide to try this yourself, feel free to come up with different issues.)

Again – I’m doing this in real-time. You are going to see the result of my self-administered survey just a few minutes after I do. Here we go!

1. Abortion
I’m starting out with a tough one. (And this is one of the reasons I started to suspect I was bi.) Weirdly enough, I am against murder (as I kind of hope you are). So the question does seem to come down to when a “fetus” becomes a “human,” and thus a being that can be “murdered.” I have to be honest – I have trouble with the whole “a trip through the birth canal magically makes you a human being” argument. So then the question becomes…well, when? When does the baby become less an extension of the woman’s body and more an actual person? And this isn’t a religious question for me: If anything (for what 6105123it’s worth) I think the Bible supports non-personhood for the fetus, as in Exodus 21:22 where killing a woman is a capital offense, but causing a miscarriage leads to only a monetary fine. For me it’s a matter of the “slippery slope.” Is it morally justifiable to kill a baby one second after birth? I think not. Well, what about one second before birth? See what I mean? I feel stuck on this one. But I also think it’s ridiculous to extend “personhood” back to conception or the zygote. But on the other hand, what about abortions for preferred sexual orientation, gender, and other physical preferences? That makes me sort of sick. But on the other hand (how many hands am I up to here?), I have a real hard time with the government mandating what is right for women in terms of their own bodies and their own health care. It seems like this needs to be the woman’s decision…not congress’s. And I definitely feel anger toward conservatives who call themselves “pro-life,” but really only care about the life of a fetus, and don’t seem to give a shit (policy-wise) about what happens to the life of the child after it’s born.  And don’t even get me started on the war on birth control.  I give myself a +1 on this one.

2. Guns
I’ve written extensively about this elsewhere on this blog, and I’m pretty solid in my position. While I don’t view the second amendment as granting a right to individuals to own guns (the whole “well regulated militia” thing), I do think it’s unnecessary and even tyrannical for the government to outlaw guns completely. But (pay attention, here, right-wingers) no one is trying to do that! People do have basic rights to own things, including guns (although not Wayne LaPierrenecessarily constitutionally granted), but I also have a basic right not to be shot by you. I believe that what Obama is proposing is right on target (pardon the pun). Ban certain assault weapons (whose actual purpose is to kill as many people as possible in the quickest way possible), beef up regulations around background checks, provide better mental health services, deal with early prevention, and more.

So, where do I fall on my scale? My gut tells me to get as far away from the NRA nuts as possible…but that’s not actually difficult, since they are at probably a positive 7 on my scale. I give myself a -3

3. Gay rights/gay marriage
I don’t care who people have sex with, or who they marry. However, this one took me awhile to get here. My traditional way of thinking kept me back for many years – and I have to admit, I still have a little nostalgia for the old “man and wife” idea. But the bottom line for me is human rights. Being gay is not a choice – our sexuality is an ingrained, integrated, deeply personal and even sacred part of who we are, and to deny someone even one commonly enjoyed privilege due to this aspect of their personhood to me seems immoral. I’m a -4. (I’m only not a -5 because I’m still “letting go” of my old sense of propriety and my years of Biblical moralism.) (Writing my “truth” articles helped me a lot with this, by the way.)

4. Religion in the public sphere
The separation of church and state is an essential component of our constitution and our system of government. The framers church-and-statewere very specific about this. The bill currently being considered in Arizona requiring high school students to take a loyalty pledge ‘in God’s name’ in order to receive their diploma is just the latest symptom of the slow erosion of Jefferson’s “wall of separation,” and I applaud the ACLU’s watchdog work in this area. This country is not a theocracy, thank the gods. Your religious beliefs are personal, and no matter how important they are to you, you do not have the right to impose them on me through government action.

That being said, I have to be honest – I get really cranky when liberals go all spastic about public nativity scenes and crosses and such. Give it a rest, guys. Live and let live. I’m giving myself a -3.

(One more note: FOX news’ “war on Christmas” is a freak show. Has anyone told them that the word “holiday” – as in “happy holidays” – is from an ancient word meaning “holy?” Back off, FOX, and maybe try to find some actual news to report.)

5. Legislating morality
I’m a mess on this one. As stated previously, I don’t care who people have sex with. I also don’t care what people smoke. I do care, however, how you treat people. Liberals want the government to stay out of their bedrooms, but they demand that the government punish people who say mean things, as in “hate speech.” I’m pretty torn on this one. I hate racism, I despise the Ku Klux Klan, I’m passionate about stopping bullying…but I also believe in freedom of speech and think the liberal “thought police” sometimes go a little too far. So…where do I fall on my numerical scale? Stay out of my bedroom…I’m a -5. Stand against racism and hate speech…I’m also a -5. But how we stand against such speech…maybe I’m a zero, because I’m still struggling with the whole freedom of speech thing. I’m going to give myself a -3. (Readers, feel free to educate me on this.)

6. Economic philosophy
I’m a liberal here, no doubt. Our country has never done better economically than under Roosevelt, then again under JFK, then under Clinton. The Democrats have this nailed. I don’t for a moment buy into the crap on the internet (and FOX news) about Obama’s free-spending, reckless, America-killing ways. Under Clinton we actually had no deficit! He left Bush a surplus, which was quickly squandered on wars and tax cuts. Our country is still suffering bipartisan-struggle(although in recovery) from years of bad economic policies. And guess what? Cuts in spending have never brought our country out of financial crisis. Just look at what the austerity measures have done to the European countries. It’s the Democrats that have consistently brought us prosperity. Why is the media not reporting this?

A few facts: (check out Bob Deitrick and Lew Godlfarb’s great, easy to read book; “Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box”)

  • Disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more under Democratic presidents
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 7 times more under Democratic presidents
  • Corporate profits have grown over 16% more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53%/year)
  • Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democrat administrations you had $3.9M at the end)
  • Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents
  • The two times the economy steered into the ditch (Great Depression and Great Recession) were during Republican, laissez faire administrations

I’m a -4

(Ok, I’m already starting to suspect that I’m not as “middle of the road” as I was afraid of…so far there have been a lot of negative 3 to negative 5 ratings.)

7. The government’s role in providing for the poor
Cardinal Roger Mahony recently stated (1998):

“Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members ; the last, the least, the littlest.”

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This article is getting too long, and there is much I want to say about this…I’ll save it for another article. I do believe there are plenty of “welfare queens.” I do think that the system is abused and must be made more efficient, fair and less prone to fraud. But I also believe that institutional racism and classism exist and that we will never be able to cut the poor loose and “leave it up to the churches” to care for them. I have a friend who constantly claims to have “lifted himself up by his bootstraps,” and he complains about people who “soak the system.” His grandparents left him a house and a car and some money. There were no bootstraps. He has no idea what it’s like to experience misfortune and have no safety nets, no emergency “go to” people, no resources. Read Barbara Ehreneich’s Nickeled and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America – she goes “undercover” as a minimum wage earning single mom just to see how possible it is to make it without help. Great book! I give myself a -3

8. Health care
Socialized health care policies in America? Hell, yes. And soon. I’m a -5 on this one.

In the World Health Organization’s ranking of the world’s health care systems, based on a series of performance indicators, the United States comes in at number 37, behind such countries as Oman, Greece, Costa Rica, Cyprus, and Morocco.  AND our health care system is the number one most expensive in the world!   I want socialized medicine, and I want it now. People are dying.

9. Immigration
If I had a magic wand, I’d make it impossible to get into this country illegally. And I would give everyone who is already here amnesty, and get them into the tax-paying workforce as soon possible. And three cheers for the Dream Act! I’m a -1.

10. Intervention in other countries
Yes – intervene for humanitarian reasons (genocide, chemical weapons used against citizens) or when American lives are at risk. Use force, if necessary, but always start with efforts toward diplomacy. No – let’s never again use force to protect American financial interests. We’ve done a lot of damage in the world in the last 100 years (Guatemala, Iran, South America, Iraq) by trying to shape the world in our own image. We’ve acted immorally many times. I give myself a -2

11. Business versus individuals; Management versus unions
This is a tough one. Here’s my score:images-18

  • Corporations are people? Hell no. The Supreme’s 2010 Citizens United decision is one of the court’s lowest moments ever, almost as bad as the day they handed the presidency to Bush. (See – I’m still a Liberal!) Thankfully, however, it didn’t actually end up swaying the 2012 election. -5
  • Collective bargaining. Yes! -4
  • Union involvement on the job? +4 (As an organizational development consultant I’ve come to dislike unions and the sense of entitlement they bring to the workforce. I have spent 17 years helping management learn to create high-moral, positive workplaces, and whenever I’ve dealt with union shops, it seems that no good deed on the part of management goes unpunished.) My final score for this item: -2

12. The environment
98% of scientists believe in global warming. Climate change really is a thing. Rep Jim Sensenbrenner, who sits on the congressional science committee, is a renowned climate change skeptic who has alternately decried “scientific fascism” and described research on climate change as an “international conspiracy.” He’s not alone – it seems that science-denial in general, and denying this particular scientific fact in particular, is a hallmark of conservatism. Why? Is it because you have objectively examined the science and for some inexplicable reason find it wanting? Or is it because it’s so damn inconvenient – because you and your causes are funded by big business, including oil, and without them you wouldn’t have enough money to fuel your campaigns? If that’s the case, then shame on you. The truth is we’re in trouble, by our own making, and it’s up to us to do something about it. -5

surveysays1 I’m actually a little nervous about the results! Am I bi?  Or am I a flaming liberal?


the issues results

political spectrum

So, I’m a -2.8. Apparently I’m on the high end of “moderately liberal.” Am I too liberal for my conservative friends? Too anti- religious for my Christian friends? Too conservative for my liberal friends? Too spiritual for my atheist friends? Am I the only one in my camp? And do I even care anymore?

Well – I guess I’m not bi. I’m only bi-curious.

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PictureMany people think that a human being is created at the time of conception.  Is this belief supported by the Bible?   Some say that the Bible teaches that a fetus is not a living person with a soul until after drawing its first breath.   Is the Bible relevent to your view on when life begins?   Does it matter when “life” begins?    What do you think?