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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Schools Aren't Safe

Yesterday the news broke of yet another school shooting. In a small town in Ohio, a student opened fire. Two students have died - one at the scene and one in the hospital, and three others were wounded.

Filling in for Dana Loesch yesterday Tony Katz made this statement:
"We are then forced to ask ourselves the question: are our schools safe?"

He went on to explain that we not only need to ask if our schools are safe when you consider how many classrooms have been affected by just this type of violence. But we must also ask the underlying question: "how did we get here?" How did our society evolve to a point at which people believe that violence on such a scale is a reasonable response to feeling bullied.

I ask a different question. We do need to ask if our schools are safe in terms of violence. We also need to ask if our schools are safe in terms of what they provide for our children - and is it worth the risk of violence that we accept in trade?

In recent years we have seen increases in gun control laws to the point of children being suspended over plastic green army men. Somehow, children are still shooting up schools.
We have seen an increase of mollycoddling in the form of teaching "self-esteem" rather than excellence. Somehow, children still feel worthless enough to believe that violence and (in most cases) suicide are their only escape.
We have seen an increase in teaching "tolerance" in regards to religion, race, ethnicity that borders on ridiculous. A seven year old now faces charges of racial discrimination for asking a boy on the playground "are you brown because you are from Africa?" And at the same time they are taught intolerance of traditional values and Christianity in particular.
We have seen increases in the power that schools and state governments exert over our children, regulating even what they can eat. And when parents get the call about their child, the shooter, they have no idea how it happened.

The common thread here is that the government, through the schools, is slowly usurping the roles of parents. And parents are letting them do it. Just recently, in the wake of the debate over the government inspecting school lunches brought from home, school officials were recorded saying that they believed that the school (and by extension, the state) knew better than their own parents what was best for children. The scary thing is that parents, whether because they don't have time or because they just don't want the responsibility, are letting this happen. They are breathing a sigh of relief when the school offers breakfast because that's one less thing they have to worry about in a busy home.

The schools aren't safe, folks. But the guns are only a symptom of the disease. Until we realize that and address the root cause, they will never be safe for our kids. (One more reason to bring the kids home.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The McCaskill comedy minute, now airing on 97.1fm

Many people in the St. Louis area were dismayed to learn recently that Claire McCaskill ads were being run on local conservative talk radio giant KFTK FM (97.1). While the radio station is free to take money from whomever it chooses (and I will never fault them for doing so), I personally choose to believe that KTFK chose to run those ads for no other reason than comic relief.

Take a listen to this. The only line you really even need to pay attention to is the following: "She is fighting to stop abortion."

And then let's take a gander at her voting record over the last ten years, shall we? 
She has voted against defining the unborn as "children" for SCHIP purposes, even though that would help pregnant women get low cost or free prenatal care. 
She voted against SA 607, which would have prevented financial aid given to other nations from being used to fund coerced abortions.
Some states that require parental consent for abortions also have laws preventing minors from crossing state lines to obtain abortions. She voted against the amendment that would have provided funding to enforce those laws.
She voted against an amendment that would prohibit federal funds from being dispersed to groups that either encourage or provide abortions.
She voted against the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.
She even called upon the Senate during the debate over the healthcare bill to defeat any move to embrace the tough anti-abortion language in the House's version of the bill.

So what should we glean from all of this? For Claire McCaskill to have "approved this message," it is apparent that she believes that Missourians are stupid or lazy. Her voting record is available to the public, and it took me all of ten minutes to sort through it. So either she believes that Missourians will take her word for it and not bother to look it up, or she believes that they are incapable of doing so.

As for why 97.1 airs the ad? I'm still going with comic relief. Where else but America can you take money from a candidate who is airing an ad that is riddled with fraudulent claims and then turn around and use that money to pay the very on-air personalities who will take every opportunity to point out each and every fraudulent claim? 
That's comedy gold, folks. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Abortion Debate

Just six weeks ago when Rick Santorum’s voters in Iowa listed abortion as the number one issue for this presidential election, the general public scoffed. They argued that without fixing the economy, the abortion issue was all but irrelevant. Imagine the surprise when, due to a massive overstep in the form of a contraception mandate, President Obama managed to shove the abortion debate to the forefront after all.

As is usually the case when abortion is brought up, people on both sides quickly got worked up. Many were outraged at the notion that Catholic hospitals would be forced to provide birth control to patients even though the Catholic faith strictly prohibits the use of birth control. Those who were in favor of the mandate argued that women have the right to get birth control, and should be able to obtain it at any hospital they chose to visit.

To add to the confusion, the state of Virginia brought up two pieces of legislation. One was a state mandate requiring ultrasounds prior to all abortion procedures. The second defined “personhood” as beginning at conception.

As expected, the interwebs virtually exploded. The ultrasound mandate was quickly labeled by the opposition as “state-mandated rape,” since in some cases the procedure would involve using a transvaginal ultrasound probe. Many also balked at the idea that “personhood” might be defined at conception, claiming rather that life began at birth or the age of viability, and that granting legal “personhood” status would leave a woman who miscarried to be held liable for murder.

The debates I witnessed (and joined) included topics ranging from the definition of personhood to a woman’s right to obtain birth control and her right to choose abortion. The following is a quick summation of my arguments, reposted here to clear up some of the misconceptions (no pun intended) I encountered concerning personhood, abortion, and Roe v. Wade:

First, on the topic of “personhood” – how should it be defined? Is personhood the same thing as humanity? If so, when does humanity begin? If not at conception, could we not reasonably expect some women to give birth to non-human progeny? The fact is that DNA stays the same from conception to death. Barring mutation, the DNA present when sperm meets egg for the first time is identical to the DNA present in blood drawn seconds prior to death. If the DNA just prior to death is considered to be human, the DNA present at conception cannot be labeled as anything but. (And it should also be noted that the DNA present at conception is not identical to the mother’s DNA, making the fetus present within her body without being part of it.) What changes, most notably, from conception to death is the human being’s ability (or lack thereof) to practice self-care. The unborn, as well as infants, toddlers, children, and in some cases, the elderly often have difficulty (or even a complete inability) to provide themselves with food, shelter or security. If the unborn should be denied “personhood” based on this, then how can we justify granting legal “personhood” to any of the other demographics mentioned? On the flip side, if you do not define “personhood” as beginning at conception, any other starting point must by definition be completely arbitrary.  Viability, for example, is constantly changing in light of medical advances.

Second, many were arguing that whether or not abortion ends a life is a matter of opinion. On this one I will cite my father in law, who says that “Truth is truth. You can’t have an opinion about truth.” The simple fact is that the purpose of the abortion procedure is, in fact, to terminate a life. If a fetus is to survive the abortion, the entire procedure is considered to have failed. Abortion is the only medical procedure to date in which for the operation to be considered a success, fifty percent of the patients are required to die.

And third, the big one. Roe v. Wade. Most people cite this particular case in regards to a woman’s right to privacy and her right to choose what is done with her body. Given the prior arguments concerning DNA and “personhood,” I think a fair case can be made that while the fetus resides inside the mother, it is not a part of her body.

As for the woman’s choice issue: Roe v. Wade, while it does allow for the legal procurement of abortions, never once mentions a woman's choice. In fact, the case law demands that the decision to abort be made not by the woman at all, but by her physician. It even suggests that she should be required to get the recommendation of at least two physicians. Not only that, but the language used refers to the woman as "the woman" through the first trimester only. Once she reaches the second trimester, she is always referred to as "the mother." Roe was never intended to be used to justify abortions beyond the first trimester, and the language of the law makes that abundantly clear.

Another problem with Roe, however, has more to do with the entity that drove the case. Many people were upset over the Citizens United decision, saying that interest groups should be limited in their control over law and lawmakers. Roe was driven by an interest group more commonly known as the National Organization for Women. By the time the case reached the Supreme Court, the woman we all know as "Roe" felt so bullied and undermined by NOW and their agenda (give us abortion and give it to us right now) that she did not even want to proceed with the case.

Now add in the "privacy" issue. People constantly argue that abortion is a privacy issue - a woman's personal and private decision. But it is by definition not at all private, because it necessarily involves not just the woman but one or two doctors and perhaps a third party who will be contracted to perform the abortion...

Now consider this final thought: if a baby is born at twenty-two weeks gestation and the mother asks to have him killed, she will likely be placed in the psych ward. If that same baby is carried to term and the mother opts to abort two weeks prior to the due date, in some states she can even get financial assistance to do so. What is the difference between the two babies? Physical location at the time of the act.

If you read up on current literature and arguments being put forth, very few people actually argue whether or not the unborn is a child. *They don't care.* Many of them argue that whether or not the baby is alive is irrelevant because the Supreme Court gives them the "right" to abort *in spite of* the personhood of their child. In much the same way slave owners felt they could beat or kill their “property,” abortion advocates feel their “privacy" allows them to use the unborn's physical location as a justification for free reign to murder.

And now, for a redirect...

Lately I have shifted my focus to a second blog for a few reasons. First, this one tends to be extremely analytical, and the amount of time I have to put into each post can be quite excessive. With everything I have going on with kids, husband and full time school, I don't always have as much time as I'd like to do the more in depth posts.

Second, I got a great idea for a shorter blog while I was at CPAC. It seems that everyday, at least once a day, you hear about a politician, pundit, or other public figure who is sorely in need of a boot up his a$$. So I have taken it upon myself to go through the daily headlines, find that guy (or girl) and display him for public consumption. Who knows, maybe I'll tally them all in December and offer an annual prize.

I will stil be updating this blog as often as I can, but in the mean time please join me for a few laughs at http://puntthepolitician.blogspot.com

Contraceptive rights? Right...

The recent contraception mandate, especially in regards to Catholic hospitals, has been all over the news lately. I have just a few simple responses.

First, when did contraception become an inalienable right? I mean, I understand that the right to USE contraception stems from the perceived right to privacy, but at what point did it change to mean that a woman has a right to demand it? It certainly isn't a women's health issue, since more health issues arise for women who take the pill than who do not, including, but not limited to: stroke, heart attack, breast cancers, and hormonal imbalances or mental health issues.

Second, why would anyone suggest that a Catholic hospital should be required to provide something that violates the tenets of their religion? It would be akin to walking into a Kosher deli and suing because you want bacon on your sandwich. And since women can receive contraception from hospitals that are not Catholic, making contraception available at Catholic hospitals as well serves no purpose other than to force the church to bend at the whim of the government. (which I would argue that the government would like to do occasionally simply to prove that it can.)

And third, to those that argue that a Catholic hospital that opens its doors to people of other faiths must provide contaception for that reason alone, I say this: you can attend a Catholic school without professing to be of the Catholic faith. However, if you choose to attend the school, you cannot then opt out of all religion classes on the basis of your personal faith. It is counterintuitive to believe that you should be able to do the same in terms of medical care.

It is true that hospitals, regardless of church affiliation or lack thereof, must provide emergency care to anyone who comes in the door, regardless of his church affiliation or lack thereof. However, the notion of contraception as emergency care does not pass the sniff test. Sorry.

I survived CPAC...

Last week I had the opportunity to attend CPAC 2012 in Washington DC. I got the chance, while there, to meet several people who have fought long and hard for the conservative cause. Besides hanging out with Dana and Chris Loesch, Stacy Washington and Kane, I had the chance to meet Dr. Alveda King, Christine ODonnell, COL Allen West, and Stephen Baldwin (just to name a few)

By far the most exciting part of the weekend came around noon on Friday. Mitt Romney was speaking, and since I hadn't wanted to fight the crowd trying to get into the main ballroom for the speech, I opted instead to stand outside the ballroom and watch the speech on one of the monitors. Midway through the speech, however, people in the hallway near the monitors began to be jostled by passersby. Within seconds, however I realized that something was off. (perhaps it was the smell?) The people pushing themselves to the front were all wearing the same shirts which read "silence is poverty." They wore stickers over their mouths that read "we are the 99%."
Once they had gotten into position, they stood directly in front of the monitors, pushing back anyone who tried to get to where they could see Governor Romney, much less hear him. They ignored the fact that by effectively silencing Mitt Romney they were inflicting their definition of poverty on us... The hotel staff threw them out shortly after.

Of course, later we learned that the Occupy DC crowd had been funded to protest CPAC by SEIU, to the tune of $60 per day...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cars, Cowboys, and Subliminal Messaging

Everyone in America has at least heard about this commercial:



In a narrative that recalls the feel of President Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" campaign ad, Clint Eastwood lends his gravelly voice to a pro-Detroit, pro-business, and pro-America message.


After this commercial aired, it was clear that the message people got was somewhat different. Because Chrysler (and indeed, the entire city of Detroit) was set to collapse under its own weight prior to the Obama Administration funded auto-bailouts, some saw this particular commercial as a nod to the President that said, "See, the bailouts helped. Detroit is recovering. The Obama Presidency is working for America."
Karl Rove was one of those who held this opinion, saying, "The leadership of the auto companies feel they need to do something to repay their political patronage. It is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising."


Fuel was added to the fire when it was discovered that members of the team that produced the ad had donated time and artwork to the 2008 Obama Campaign


In an effort to deflect criticisms, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne insisted in an interview that the ad was not intended to have any political content. Of course, he then went on to clarify that "I can't stop anybody from associating themselves with a message but it was not intended to be any type of political overture on our part."


Whether or not a subliminal pro-Obama message was intended by the producers or by Chrysler, it certainly was not intended by Clint Eastwood. Donating the money he earned for the spot to charity, Eastwood made the following statement: "I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr Obama. It was meant to be a message about job growth and the spirit of America."


Indeed, Eastwood supported John McCain in his campaign against Obama in 2008, and has been a longtime libertarian/Republican voter. He has also been quite vocal in his criticism of the auto-bailouts. 
"I’m a big hawk on cutting the deficit. I was against the stimulus thing too. We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies. If a CEO can’t figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn’t be the CEO." -LATimes interview, November 7, 2011
The problem here is that what the average American sees is not Clint Eastwood's nearly unbroken Republican voting record. (He did support Democrat Gray Davis for California Governor.) They don't hear him talking about his deep admiration for one-time Presidential candidate Herman Cain. They don't understand that the "only the strong survive" mantra that is so evident in many of the characters he plays on screen is also the mantra of the man at home. 


Instead, they see a man who praises the "growth" of a city that came not from hard work but from a tax-payer funded rescue mission. They see a man who stands up and on national television equates taking a government handout with pulling oneself up by the proverbial bootstraps, and a failure to take responsibility for one's own failures with the strength of the American spirit.


Even the educated viewer sometimes has difficulty separating the character from the actor. And as someone who has spent most of his adult life in the entertainment industry, Clint Eastwood SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why Missouri matters

Rick Santorum, as I write this, is celebrating victory in Missouri. There are those who scoff and say it's silly and premature, especially since the Missouri primary election is non-binding. But he isn't just celebrating over Missouri. Though his victory party is in St. Charles, MO, just an hour from where I currently sit, he is watching the polls carefully in two other states. Two other states that, if early numbers prove accurate, are likely to give Santorum the biggest night of the campaign thus far. With 18% reporting in Minnesota, Santorum leads his closest competitor, Ron Paul, 43%-27%. In Colorado only 7% has reported in, but there Santorum leads Gingrich 49%-21%.

Even though Missouri's primary is not binding, when combined with the other two primaries that are running concurrently, it does mean something. First, it gives a preview of what the binding Missouri Caucus (happening in March) might look like. And second, it gives a clear view of a strong GOP candidate who isn't Mitt Romney. In all three states, Santorum leads Romney by healthy double digits - and more than double his votes.

What does this mean for Republicans? Many have said that the 2012 general election will be a referendum on President Obama and his policies. It is becoming abundantly clear that the GOP primary is a referendum on what does and does not constitute conservatism. What remains to be seen is whether or not conservatism will emerge as the new voice of the (grand) old party.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Open letter to Susan. G. Komen Foundation

To the Susan G. Komen Foundation:

           There are those who would make the events of the past week about politics, but it truly goes much deeper than that. The fact that some in this country allow themselves to reduce human life to a political bargaining chip is a sad indictment of where we have come as a nation. Planned Parenthood, whatever other services they choose to perform, refer, or support, is first and foremost in the business of ending human life. Abortion may make up a small percentage in terms of “services offered,” but the 2010 numbers state that abortion services account for over half of Planned Parenthood’s income. The fact that the Susan G. Komen Foundation can continue to offer support – either verbal or financial – to an organization that clearly values a woman’s convenience more highly than her health speaks volumes.

            When I was a child, the worst thing my parents could ever say to me was that they were disappointed in me. When they were angry, I certainly got punished. When they were furious, I got an earful. When their faces turned red and the veins in their temples began to pop, when they sputtered and stuttered because they were too exasperated with me to form sentences, I was sure to hear about it later. But I was all right with that, because anger fades quickly. The situation would be rectified, and life would go on as usual. But when their faces fell because they knew I could be better than I was, when they looked as though they might cry because I failed to act in a way that reflected my intelligence and potential, that was devastating. Most of the time they didn’t even have to say the word, but when they did tell me that I had disappointed them, I was devastated. Disappointing them meant that I had betrayed their trust, something that would not be given again right away.

            When the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced earlier this week that they would be severing ties with abortion giant Planned Parenthood, I, like many others, was hopeful. I was excited to finally be able to offer my own support to an organization that has helped millions through funding breast cancer research without compromising my deeply held belief that all life is sacred. I was ready to put on the t-shirt, wear the pink ribbons, and recommend that all of my pro-life friends do the same.  In fact, I immediately took to Twitter and Facebook in support of Komen, encouraging others to help defend against the onslaught of negative attacks and comments from those who were upset over the situation. I posted an article on my personal blog urging my readers to offer their support to Susan G. Komen in any way that they could.

            During the few days that Komen stood their ground, standing by the decision to withhold funding for Planned Parenthood, the internet nearly caught fire. I watched in disbelief as businesses, politicians and individual citizens lashed out in anger. They made nasty and hurtful comments. They threatened to withdraw their support. They threatened major boycotts. And they accused the Susan G. Komen Foundation of cowering in the face of political pressure from pro-life groups and the religious right. The irony of course, is that they accused Komen of valuing politics over women’s health when they refused to continue to support Planned Parenthood. And then they protested Komen’s decision by threatening to withdraw all of their support for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, proving that their political agenda meant more than continuing to support an organization that has helped millions of women since its founding.

            When I heard this morning that the Susan G. Komen Foundation had reversed its decision to continue to withhold funding from Planned Parenthood, I was not angry. I was not even terribly surprised. I was, however, extremely disappointed. I was saddened by the fact that Susan G. Komen would allow principle to be offered up as currency in the political marketplace. I take solace in the fact that I was not one of the hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates who jumped at the chance in the last few days to finally donate to Susan G. Komen without feeling as though they were doing so at the cost of innocent souls. But I also find it unbearable to think about the possibility that many may have donated to Komen on my word.

            I know that I am not alone in my disappointment, and while I truly hope that Susan G. Komen will continue to work for women’s health, I do not believe that a continued partnership with Planned Parenthood will work toward that end. I do not believe that an organization that profits from ending the lives of unborn humans can be trusted to value a woman’s life beyond the profit that it can provide for them.

            I wait for the day that the Susan G. Komen Foundation values the lives and health of women more highly than the political capital available from compromise, and my donations and support will wait for that day as well.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Komen Conspiracy

This week when the Gingrich-Romney insults stopped flying long enough for the media to get a word in edgewise, the big story was the Susan G. Komen Foundation severing long-held ties with abortion giant Planned Parenthood.


The Komen Foundation cited current Congressional investigations into Planned Parenthood's financial records as the reason for the split. The investigation is set to determine whether any funding from the Komen Foundation and other donors specifically to be used for breast exams was instead improperly funneled into abortion services. 


Of course, Planned Parenthood claims a much larger conspiracy. They blame the split partially on the fact that Komen's newest executive, Karen Handel, once ran for Governor of Georgia on a pro-life platform. They also claim that Komen may have backed out of the relationship because of pro-life groups that have put pressure on them through boycotts and political action. 


This gives conservatives a major opportunity, especially considering the fact that now many supporters of Planned Parenthood are threatening to withdraw their support from the Komen Foundation. If we go out en masse now and support Komen, we can show them that our support is worth having. 


There are those conservatives who fear that once the investigation is over, Komen will go back to business as usual and return their financial support to Planned Parenthood. Some of them are even suggesting that we withhold our support for Komen until we are certain that the relationship is over for good. If we do that, we lose the best chance we have to ensure the permanence of this divide. A massive push of support right now will prove how many people are in favor of a Komen Foundation free of ties to abortion. If Komen does eventually return to supporting Planned Parenthood, when we withdraw our support again they will feel it that much more deeply.


So go out. Buy the pink stuff. Race for the Cure. Send a message to the Komen Foundation that they are better off with support that is not paid for through the ransoming of innocent souls.