Friday, September 29, 2006

The Brighter the Mask, The Darker The Soul

The Scum doth protest too much, methinks.

Mark Foley, R-Florida, and Chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, resigned today after being caught sending emails to young boys, "Do I make you horny?"

From there, the messages get much, much worse.

Remember Jimmy Swaggart? (A name surely a cosmic joke by a snickering deity above.) Preached hell and damnation lightning bolt style for all sinners until he was caught with a prostitute, a prostitute mind you, who referred to his choice of acts with her as "perverted."

Then there are the Catholic priests, those committed to God and sworn to a life of celibacy, those we are told to look to for spiritual wisdom and moral guidance. Not all of them, of course, but, oh, the statistics are mortifying.

Will spare you details (except no, it wasn't drinking), but I had the misfortune of finding myself so sick I could barely function one night on a street in a large city. A homeless (probably) man saw me on my knees, and based on my clothing, knew I had money. He lifted me up, hailed a cab, and hoisted me into the car.

He asked for nothing, and that I was too incoherent to give him something haunts me to this day.

I will say this. He wore no mask.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Reproductive Freedom with a Little History

All right, a thread over at The Data Port touched on the abortion debate, and it has really set me off. First, I need to quote an excellent distinction posted by TDP Blogger Art Jacobson:

Let me take it a step further and suggest that it is systematically unresolvable because there is not really one argument going on here, but two. We tend to conflate them.

One argument is about whether a woman has the ultimate right over control of her body. Another argument is about whether life begins at conception and whether abortion is immoral.

These are two different arguments, not two branches of the same argument. How we settle one probably has no force in the settlement of the other.

The one thing we could argue about and decide would be the question of the social utility of banning abortion, Socio-political consequences, costs, effects of family structure, effect on children who were allowed to come to term unwanted, and so forth.

Most well said, Art. Now I must rant.

Will spare folks Susan B. Anthony, suffrage, Rosie the Riveter, and start in 1960 with FDA approval of the birth control pill and in 1963 with Smith College Betty Friedan’s publication of The Feminine Mystique and also Smith College Gloria Steinem's undercover article. We had the 60’s questioning authority, questioning everything, exploring free love, with exploding university enrollment, Friedan’s book, and the pill well in the mix.

In 1970 Norma McCorvy files a lawsuit against Texas abortion laws, claiming her pregnancy was the result of a rape. In 1972 Steinem starts publishing Ms. Magazine and the 92nd Congress of the United States submits the following proposed amendment to the US Constitution:

SECTION 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
SEC. 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
SEC. 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

To take effect, 38 states had to ratify. We got to 35, and this conversation was HUGE.

In 1973 McCorvy, now known as "Jane Roe," sees her suit culminate with the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

The Feminist movement cheered and continued to gain momentum. That same year Boston Women's Health Book Collective published Our Bodies, Ourselves, a book written by women for women, which women devoured, and Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Fisher in a highly watched televised battle of the sexes tennis match.

WARNING!! This link actually does play the song.

In 1978 Mormon activist Sonia Johnson testified for the ERA before the US Senate’s Constitutional Rights Subcommittee. The Mormons excommunicated her. In 1984 she was the US Citizens Party’s candidate for president and spoke at the Republican convention.

Now throughout all of this, a bunch of guys are getting really irritated, and in 1979 some men together with televangelist Jerry Falwell form a major political organization The Moral Majority that claims to be all about "family" and "family values." One of its key objectives: outlaw abortion but it also held that homosexuality was a crime, and it made headlines by proposing censorship of literature and other publications it found offensive. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, and now the president is sympathetic to the "their side" of things. The ERA died.

Make no mistake, and my key point here, is that this organization and its proponents main opposition to abortion flows from the same stream with the same motivation as the objection to homosexuality and the ERA, and their promotion of "family values." The belief that life begins at conception is an expedient notion they have integrated into their rhetoric to fortify their argument.

Yes, it’s a mess, and must acknowledge the Catholic Church immediately in 1973 groaned over the Supreme Court’s decision and voiced the belief that life begins at conception.

The Moral Majority evolved into the Christian Coalition run by Pat Robertson, who as we know, ran for president and can be quoted with all sorts of comments like small towns in Pennsylvania deserving Armageddon because he didn’t agree with the vote of its school board, and if I’m not mistaken, didn’t he suggest we assassinate the President of Venezuela?

All that said, will return to Art’s insightful remarks that the debate cannot be resolved, and will re-assert that Reproductive Freedom is part of a sane civilization and that society is not best served by restricting a woman’s access to this freedom.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Reproductive Freedom—Part of a Sane Society

Those who have been reading the blogs of "this neighborhood" and familiar with my remarks know that I have for the most part defended candidates against attacks from supporters of their opponents during the primary. I didn’t say much about issues because, well, the candidates all had views more or less matching mine.

Those days are over

Through evolution or design of another order, what cannot be disputed is that all living species are designed to perpetuate themselves. We’re designed to have sex, and individual freedom and self control over this is part of a civilized society.

Unless commentators draw me into it, rigorous academic discourse of the abortion issue is beyond the scope of this blog. I will jump to the punch-line that it has less to do with “right to life” and more to do with suppressing the sexuality of women, in particular, young women. Dig deeper, and you find an insecurity about sex rooted deep within our religious history.

What are the easily seen, superficial signs? Well, to start, if it were truly about minimizing the number of abortions performed, sex education and availability of contraception would be seen as allies. Note that those violently opposed to abortion rights resist efforts to promote either, preferring scary sermons about abstinence. This isn’t hard.

My father is Midwest conservative bible folk who changed driving routes to avoid proximity to theaters while “Brokeback Mountain” was playing. He is solid “pro-life,” but even he will say that when a girl is raped, the thought of forcing her to carry the pregnancy to term is an abomination.

Randy Graf is on record saying that the law of the land in this country should deny an abortion to a woman even if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

I have a daughter, and should the unthinkable scenario have her pregnant as the result of a rape, my to-do list (before “properly processing” the perpetrator) will be terminating that pregnancy and getting her the help she needs to heal. Randy Graf thinks I shouldn’t be able to do this.

According to his website, Randy Graf has a son and grandson. Perhaps if he watched a little girl, his little girl, grow into a young woman who deserves a bright future, some sanity might alter his extremist views on a woman’s reproductive rights.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Border--Take Two on Nightline, Lunch with Karl

ABC News ran some additional material on the CD 8 border, immigration, and the upcoming election on Nightline. The write up is available here.

As noted several weeks ago, Karl Rove is indeed coming to town. Those on lists that do not include my name are receiving invitations for a lunch with Darth Rove and Matt Salmon here in Tucson September 29th.

Darth Rove is coming to Tucson why?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Naming a Blog--Part One

Just a few words for now on the name:

This humble blogger’s opinion is that humanity has truly reached the point where, tree huggers aside, we really do need to think about the rate at which we consume from that which produces. Politics and ethics aside, this is physics. Will skip the lessons about photosynthesis, rain forests, global warming and oxygen, and just cut to the chase, ultimately what is out of balance is returned to balance.

The question is not whether this happens, but how it happens and when.

My view: Our handling it is preferable to physics handling it for us.

It’s rather easy in a third grade class to get kids raising their hands that everyone should be entitled to “fair” housing and food, that we are all rather the same and deserve the same. Why should Joe get a bigger house? Well, give them a few years. Let’s hope we’ve learned that equality by cutting every tree to the height of the shortest is political and economic suicide. Can we skip the academics and recognize that less than 1% of folks having just about everything is nuts? Bottom line: We desperately need leaders that serve the needs of everyone, that think in terms of the big picture and maximizing public welfare overall.

Leaders that serve the best interests of the few are driving us down the road to ruin.

Before you dismiss this: Who did Abraham Lincoln serve? FDR? Ike? JFK?

Bush and Cheney?

This is not about real estate. I use this word to capture everything associated with the advancement of knowledge and wisdom. Today we get that other solar systems have planets, that the earth is not the center of the universe, that (well, most of us) the earth was formed over more than seven days and considerably longer than a few thousand years ago. For this first time in my life I see a White House resistant to science, a President more interested in preserving old views than learning new ones.

It is development that awakens the frog and gets it to jump out of the water before it’s too late.

Not meaning to preach and don't claim to have said anything profound, just sharing my angle on things, and I assert the above three distinctions are critical for elected officials today.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Arizona CD 8 Candidate Websites—After the Primary

A full week has now passed since the primary election, plenty of time for each candidate and campaign to update their websites to reflect their thoughts on a race that for most of them is now complete.

Naturally, those victorious on Tuesday were eager to update their content. Randy Graf wasted no time posting “Victory!” on his home page along with press coverage of the event. Gabrielle Giffords less dramatically featured her primary victory as another news item in the updated news section of her home page, yet another milestone, clearly the largest so far, of many favorable announcements regarding endorsements, poll results, and other releases.

More telling perhaps are the websites of those who saw defeat last week. The high road, in the mind of this author, would be to publish words of acknowledgement, heartfelt thanks to supporters, and some words regarding the future and any leadership the candidate wishes to express.

Patty Weiss quickly rose to the occasion and echoed her classy appearance before Giffords supporters the night of the election. Her home page now speaks to the importance of the democrats taking this seat and suggesting we rally behind Gabrielle and support her moving into November.

Francine Shacter also thanked her supporters and reflected positively on her experience, highlighting the important issues facing our country and her support for a democratic victory on November 7.

The Jeff Latas, Alex Rodriguez, and Bill Johnson websites remain unchanged. My understanding is that Jeff developed a very loyal following of hard working volunteers. I find this disappointing in light of how easy it would be to publish a letter of thanks and acknowledgement on the home page. Yes, he could have sent them personal letters. He could have sent them emails. My take remains that classier still is to also include the public remarks before the unknown and possibly infinite viewership of the world wide web post 9/12.

On the republican side, Frank Antoneri updated his site with the Thank You! Heading and voicing his leadership and commitment to keep the seat in Republican control--the analogous statement to Weiss support of blue victory and support for Giffords. Mike Jenkins posted a simple and friendly thank you page, and Mike Hellon published a similarly neat single page that includes a link to his original site.

What stands out, of course, is what occurred with Huffman's site, with all content stripped to a one line sentence. They even removed the title tags that give a page a title in the blue bar at the top.

My assertion is that all of the websites, changed or not, deliver a communication. I wonder what Steve is saying.