What’s Your Take On This?

I ran across an interesting article today, and instead of writing a prolonged entry on my take on it, I thought maybe I would share the article and ask what other people thought.  I am hoping some sort of discussion (a civil one) will take place in the comments section.

Anyway, here is the article.  Please comment with what you think.


Hypocritical Much? Part Ten

Wow, double digits.  I probably could have reached this level sooner if I could possibly keep up with all of the hypocrisy, especially in Washington, but I can’t.  But today’s winner was almost too good to pass up.

If you are former Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, and you were afforded the opportunity to vote on Articles of Impeachment for a sitting President of the United States (Clinton) for having lied under oath about a consensual sexual relationship he had with an intern, would you at least have the common decency to ensure that you were faithful in your marriage?  I mean, wouldn’t it make sense for someone who wants to preserve “family values” to actually have some family values?  You would think so, but you would be wrong, at least if you think that Pete Domenici of New Mexico saw anything hypocritical about calling President Clinton out for cheating on his wife.  Apparently, however, Domenici subscribes to the “do as I say, not as I do” mantra that is becoming a hallmark of the Republican party.

As it turns out, Domenici had fathered a child with a woman who is not his wife.  And he did so more than a decade before President Clinton’s transgressions.  He cheated on his wife and fathered a son back in 1982, if my math is correct (his son is 30 years old, so unless he has already had his birthday this year, it stands to reason he was born in 1982; at the very least, Mr. Domenici had an affair in 1982).  But it gets even better than that.

The woman who he had an affair with was not just any woman in Washington or in his home state of New Mexico.  Nope, she is the daughter of another former Senator, Paul Lexalt of Nevada.  It is a safe assumption that Mr. Lexalt was unaware that his grandson was fathered by a colleague of his.

I find it both funny and hypocritical that so many Republican lawmakers espouse being for “family values,” yet cheat on their spouses (not that it makes their infidelity acceptable, but it is rare that you hear a Democratic lawmaker screaming about “family values”); Republicans rail against homosexuality, yet get busted in an airport restroom for trying to solicit a homosexual encounter (Larry Craig of Idaho), or have a daughter who is a lesbian (Dick Cheney); Republicans tend to vigorously fight against a woman’s right to choose, yet send their wives and daughters for abortions when necessary (Rick Santorum) (Santorum claims that his wife did not have an abortion, she had an “induced miscarriage” due to becoming severely ill while pregnant in 1996.  Santorum is staunchly anti-abortion, even when the life of the mother is in danger.  Unless the mother happens to be his wife, apparently.).


Hypocriticial Much? Part Two

A little bit before Election Day, I shared the hypocrisy of Mike Huckabee, which can be found here.  Today brings a new day and new hypocrisy.  And my honest intent before reading this article on CNN.com was to steer clear of this topic altogether for a little bit, and I even fought with myself about writing about it today.

If you do not want to read the article I linked to above, I ask you to reconsider.  It offers context and the “more to the story” that the snippets I am about to share do not.  Although I am not adding anything to what is found in the article, I am deliberately leaving out parts that really have little to do with this particular issue, but may speak to the character of the subject of the article.

Where to begin?  I guess I will start at the beginning (that’s as good a place as any).  Tennessee Republican Scott DesJarlais is a self-described anti-abortion conservative.  According to the article, his campaign website says, “All life should be cherished and protected.  We are pro-life.”  If that were the end of the story, that would be great.  Representative DesJarlais would have been commended for his steadfast adherence to his belief.  Except, as Paul Harvey used to say, “and now, the rest of the story.”

It turns out, from transcripts of testimony from his divorce from his now ex-wife, she had gotten not one, but two abortions.  Representative DesJarlais offers explanations in his own words:

“She was on a experimental drug called Lupron and was not supposed to have gotten pregnant. There were potential risks. It was a therapeutic.  One was after she had gotten back from Desert Storm and things were not going well between us and it was a mutual decision.”

So because she was on an experimental drug and became pregnant when she was not supposed to, an abortion was ok?  Understood.  And the other was because she had just gotten back from Desert Storm and there were some marital problems, so that one was ok as well?  Understood again.

If you are not familiar with the drug Lupron, and I was not, it is used, in women, for treatment for endometriosis (when cells from the uterus grow in other areas of the body), including endometriotic lesions and also for iron therapy before fibroid surgery (the removal of benign fibroids in women).  Among the known side effects are birth defects, and it is advised that women who are pregnant or may become pregnant not take the drug.  Now, I am not going to claim that I know the pain either of those conditions cause, but I can imagine that it is pretty great.

Getting back to the article, however, it is striking to me how he and his then-wife came to a “mutual decision” about the abortions, meaning that she had a choice in the matter.

I do not mean to come across as judgemental when I am pointing out the hypocrisy here.  Maybe Representative DesJarlais had a change of stance from pro-choice to staunch pro-life sometime after the second procedure.  Good for him if he did.  To me, however, it is a hard leap to make when you go from taking advantage of having a choice in the matter, to wanting to restrict the right to have that choice in the first place.  I am not saying that he does not have the right to change his position, because he certainly does, it just appears to me that he would even want to outlaw the procedure, even if the same scenario he and his ex-wife had plays out for someone else.

I am sure that there are people out there who actually like abortion, but I am not one of them.  I am also not going to tell someone they cannot have one.  I like choice.

Which One?

I know that this post might generate some comments (maybe as many as yesterday’s, maybe not), and I might take some heat for it, but I have been thinking more and more about the reasons why people want to prohibit abortions based off of Biblical principles or Christian values.  I am not trying to start a Holy War here, or put one religion above another.  Not the “why” from their perspective, but the “why” as in “why Christian-based?”  Why should our country, with its 1st Amendment commitment of both freedom of and freedom from religion, adopt Christian laws?  Why shouldn’t we adopt laws from another religion, such as Judaism.

Why did I pick Judaism?  Why not?  My picking Judaism is no more arbitrary than saying we should have Christian-based laws in our country.  But there is more to my picking Judaism, and that is that it has specific references to when life begins.

There are a number of people who believe that life begins at conception, and I appreciate and respect that view.  In Judaism, however, life begins at birth, or when the first breath is taken, more specifically when the “greater part” of the child emerges during the birthing process (it is generally accepted that the head is the “greater part”).  With that established, if our country adopted that position regarding abortion, there could hypothetically be an abortion performed minutes before birth.**

What does Judaism say about abortion?  Apparently, Jewish law not only permits abortions, but sometimes requires it (in the case of mother’s health) (source).  Judaism recognizes a “potential human life” that is not to be terminated casually, but it does not have as much value of  life already in existence (same source).

I find it interesting that people want to establish laws in our country based on one religion over another.  That, to me, is a striking example of religious discrimination.  Just like it would not be right to force our entire population to follow Jewish law or Muslim laws, nor is it right to force everyone to follow Christian laws.

**A quick note about something that was raised in a comment yesterday regarding a post-birth abortion.  Before it was brought up in a comment, I will admit to having never heard that term before.  So I did some research.  I think it is unfair to paint someone who is pro-choice as someone who also supports post-birth abortions.  It is exactly what you imagine it would be if you just take the three words at their accepted definitions.  I do not know anybody that would support such a procedure.  I certainly do not.

Yesterday’s post generated a spirited debate between myself and a friend of mine.  I respect his comments and his views and appreciate that he chose to share them with me and with other readers.  I encourage you, as a reader, to check out what he commented, and also check out what he has written on this topic by clicking here.  I think that, no matter what your position is on this topic, you will benefit from reading what he has written and continues to write.  I encourage you to form your own opinion on this topic.  If you read his posts on this topic and agree, great; if you disagree, great; if you choose to comment on his site, please be respectful of him and of other commenters.

I will close with the final comment I made on yesterday’s post, “I don’t like abortions, but I am not going to tell anybody they cannot have one.”

When Religion and Health Collide

Ireland’s constitution officially bans abortions, but their Supreme Court, in 1992, ruled that it should be legalized in cases where the mother’s life is in jeopardy if the pregnancy were to continue.  Ireland is a very Catholic country.  Abortion is still illegal in Ireland, with no provisions for mother’s health.  So far, religion has the upper hand over health concerns in Ireland.

Why am I writing about the Emerald Isle today?  In what is probably not a first, a woman was denied what could have been a life-saving abortion, and lost her life as well.  It’s easy to criticize Ireland’s law and forced religious beliefs on this woman since she was not a Catholic, and I would be doing so from the perspective of someone who lives in a country with religious freedom and freedom from religion.  To expect the Irish to share my view that religion should not be forced on people would be irresponsible on my part, and hypocritical of me.

This case, however, demonstrates what can happen when women do not have the right to choose their own healthcare.  From what I read, the mother, Savita Halappanavar, had every intention of carrying her baby to term.  It is not like she was looking to have an abortion because she was irresponsible with her choices or because she thought it was a good idea.  She requested an abortion because she had developed blood poisoning while in the process of having a miscarriage at approximately 17 weeks pregnant.  There is speculation that her blood poisoning could have been treated and reversed had she been able to have an abortion instead of waiting for the fetus to die before treatment could be administered.

In our country, there is and has been a movement to make abortions illegal.  Taking the fact that we would be basically telling women that they are not entitled to the same type of rights as men out of the equation (more on this in a second), we would be setting ourselves up for cases just like the one in Ireland.  Women needlessly losing their lives when an abortion could have and would have saved it.  In the case of this woman in Ireland, the fetus had not even reached viability, which is generally set at 28 weeks.  Viability, when referring to a fetus, is the ability to survive outside the fetus, even with artificial means.  In the Ireland case, the woman’s husband lost both his wife and his child when one of them, his wife, quite possibly could have been saved.

As promised, here is the more on restricting women’s rights versus men’s.  People seem to feel that it is just fine and dandy to limit women’s reproductive rights; women are made to feel like they are terrible when they choose to take birth control pills, or if they choose to have an abortion.  They are unjustly judged.  Men, on the other hand, seem to get a free pass.  If I scheduled a vasectomy for myself for next week (I have not, and it is not in the plans, either), nobody would even bat an eye.  When you hear or read about reproductive rights, the focus is always on criminalizing abortion, but a vasectomy is never even brought up.  Is it because a male’s sperm are not considered as having “life” to them?  I guess that could be one argument, but that alone does not justify taking away a woman’s reproductive rights.  While it is true that a husband cannot force his wife to have an abortion, isn’t that the point?  Shouldn’t our country stand for equality when it comes to the rights of men and women?  Shouldn’t we follow what the 1st Amendment spells out and have both freedom of and freedom from religion?  I ask that because what you will generally find is that the argument against abortion is almost always a religious one.

I will close with this.  Ireland is a great country with wonderful people, but I do not want to live in Ireland.  One thing that differentiates us from Ireland is that we, as citizens, have both freedom of and freedom from religion.  Religious beliefs are not forced on any of us through our laws.  Those who came and settled in the colonies all those years ago, did so while fleeing overt and strict religious rule, at least partially.  Do we, as a country, really want to become exactly what the colonists fled from?  Do we want to rule our women with the “Iron Thumb” and dictate to them their every thought, deed, and action?  If so, what would make us any different from the Taliban in Afghanistan?

A Little Random

A little post-election randomness, because sometimes I just cannot help myself.

*Some Republicans have drawn a line in the sand regarding raising taxes on those earning over $250,000, saying that it is not wise to raise taxes on the “job creators” during what has been a drawn-out recovery.  That made me wonder, if the tax rates that are in effect, and have been in effect since the Bush Presidency, then the “job creators” have had about a decade of lower tax rates.  That being said, shouldn’t they be creating more jobs than they have been, thus lowering the unemployment rate?  Or are Republicans hiding behind “job creators” to shield their wealthy backers from having to actually pay a fair amount of taxes.  This is not about socialism or redistribution, this is about those who have more paying a little more.  Why should those in the middle and bottom pay more, as a percentage, than those with the most?  Our country will not see an increase in revenue by cutting spending alone; just like with your household budget and checking account, the balance rises when you spend more wisely and when you make more money.  And how does the government make money?  From tax revenues.

*Not to keep bringing the subject up, but I stumbled on an interesting take on abortion the other day, one that I am still uncertain of my position on, but one that I thought I would share.  (This touchy subject has been the topic of a lot of posts on here recently, and if you check out this earlier entry, there are multiple links available.  Or you can just browse the archives on this site.)  But back to the topic at hand, and that is the elimination of a woman’s right to choose.  There are some who believe that forcing a woman to carry a baby to term amounts to a violation of the 13th Amendment, which, in addition to abolishing slavery, also abolished involuntary servitude, which is a person laboring against their will to benefit another (not laboring in the sense of labor before delivery, labor as in work).  If that is the case, then it can be argued that the 13th Amendment protects a woman’s right to choose, regardless of any court ruling to the contrary (since the only way to undo that provision would be a Constitutional Amendment).  I really do not know what I think about that argument, to be honest with you, so I will commit to research it some more and dedicate a future post to it.

*Forgiveness is a neat character trait of the human race.  I have written a lot about my feelings when someone uses the term “retard” the way that Ann Coulter freely does (search her name in our archives).  I got a text from my mom yesterday morning that said “what’s with Jimbo?” referring to FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher.  At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was interested to find out what she was asking me.  It turns out that Coach Fisher, in a press conference Monday, referred to the BCS ranking system as “retarded,” and I think she was testing me to see if I would speak out about his remark the way I have about Ann Coulter.  I did.  And not that it matters to Coach Fisher, but I have also forgiven him for what he said, in part because he quickly realized his mistake and apologized, and I believe him.  It’s not that I am giving him a free pass, but I also am one to forgive when someone recognizes they have messed up.  Coach Fisher is a good man, a good husband, and a good father, and I know that his remark was made in error and that he is deeply sorry for saying it.  The ability of humans to show compassion is what sets us apart from other species, and to forgive is a measure of that compassion.

*What is more important, the “scandal” with General Petraeus, or the fact that we are still in Afghanistan and losing troops on a regular basis?  I am going to go with Afghanistan.  Unless it is proven that General Petraeus revealed any classified information during his extramarital affair, the issue should remain between him and his wife.  But to see it on TV, it is way more important than our troops still needlessly in Afghanistan.  Our priorities are messed up in this country to where a public official’s affair garners more attention than does a prolonged war.  Yes, some people still put on a sad face when they show the flag-draped coffins being offloaded at Dover Air Force base, but they forget real quick by the next commercial break.  When a service member is killed in action, the pain does not stop with the arrival of the remains or with the conclusion of the funeral.  Family and friends feel that pain every day, yet are forgotten (I am more referring to family here).  I am a firm believer that we should honor all members of the military at all times, and we should always honor those who have fallen defending our country.  When was the last time you thanked a member of the military?  If it was more than a few days ago, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Interesting Take Aways…

..from last week’s election, and I am not talking about the foolish people who want to secede, although I have an opinion on that and you can read it here.  No, I am talking about some interesting numbers that surfaced in exit polls.

On taxes:

according to the exit polls from last week’s presidential election, a combined 60% said that tax rates should increase either for everyone or for those making more than $250,000. Just 35% said the tax rates shouldn’t increase for anyone.

Maybe the folks in the House and in the Senate will take a minute to consider that 60% figure as they work toward a debt and deficit reduction deal before the end of the year.  The message seems clear to me, raising taxes on the wealthy is ok with a vast majority of Americans.

On women’s rights:

59% said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

But what do 59% of Americans know, right?  I would argue that the only part above that would need to be addressed would be the “most cases” part.  Do we really want to go down the road of having a woman prove she was raped or a victim of incest?  Who signs the “permission slip” in that case?

On marriage equality:

by a 49%-to-46% margin, voters said that their states should legally recognize same-sex marriage.

So a plurality of those surveyed in the exit poll think that marriage should be recognized by their states?  Interesting.  Does that mean that, by a margin of 49% to 46%, people think that, since you have to get a marriage license from your state to get married, but not necessarily anything from a church, that gay people should be allowed to marry?  Do they realize that this might upset some people?  Will “the gay” spread?

I guess the point in sharing those numbers is to show that our country, especially when it comes to social issues, seems to be more for not restricting the rights of people than it is for restricting rights of anybody.  It seems clear to me that 59% of those surveyed believe that women should have the right to choose (and if you still think there is no difference between pro-choice and pro-abortion, I have explained it for you here.), and 49% are ok with same-sex couples being married.

I don’t really know if our politicians are smart enough to pay attention to what the public is telling them in those exit poll numbers.  I suspect they are not.  As great as our country is, we will be even better when we commit to working together, and not when we restrict people from having the same rights as everyone else.