Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Christians, Jesus, and Reality

I'm not big on public displays about religion.  To me, religion is a private matter, best handled between each individual and their own belief system.  I have no problem with someone saying Grace before eating at a restaurant, nor, for that matter, much of anything else.  I don't expect you to "check your religion at the door" when you're out in public.

However, there are times when I think something needs to be said.  This is one of those times.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Connecting the Dots - An unscheduled War Update

For probably as long as mankind has been fighting wars, the aspect of intelligence has been important.  No, not how stupid the whole idea is in the first place, because it's obviously stupid, but the concept that the more you know about what your enemy is up to...or capable of doing...the more likely you can prevail.

I have no idea when the first "connect the dots" picture was created, and apparently neither does Wikipedia, but the idea is pretty well known.  You are given a page with a bunch of numbered dots, and if you draw a line through the dots in proper sequence an image will appear.  The concept has found its way into the lexicon of warfare, usually explaining how an attack was not predicted because somebody "didn't connect the dots."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The War of the Uterus - an update from the front lines

Right off I need to acknowledge two things.  First, this is long overdue.  The War has so many fronts, and new battles popping up every day that touring the battle lines, in a hopeless attempt to gather as much information as possible has kept me hopping.  I haven't made it to every known battle, but I'm going to try to cover the major developments.

Second, since so much is happening, with changes in the front lines occurring almost hourly, I'm not going to try to "write" this story as much as simply present several synopsises (yes, that is the dictionary spelling of the plural form) and then provide links to the original data.  Sorry, but otherwise this posting is going to be millions of wasted words.

So, let's get on with it.  In no particular order, here are things that have happened.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Battlefield Update #1

The war seems to be spreading, so there is news on several fronts.  The overall objective remains unclear, but at this point the defenders are beginning to rally, and I suspect some counterattacks are beginning to have an effect.  Here, in no particular order, are dispatches from the front.  Please keep in mind that, like other wars, there are different, separate battles being fought in many different locations.  Like WWII, a battle in Norway or Italy might be completely disconnected from a battle on Luzon or Bikini atoll.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's time for a new war...and this one is going to be a good one

Over the years, the United States, even before it was The United States, has participated in a number of wars. Of course, that's true of almost every country, so the US is hardly unique.  There was the Revolutionary War, which was hardly revolutionary unless you consider that rule change which the British didn't agree with.  The one that said..."we'll hide behind trees in camouflage clothing and shoot at you, while you wear bright red coats and march down the middle of the road."  (credit to whomever said this first)

There was also the famous French and Indian War, which was called the 7 Years War around the rest of the world.  In fact, the British have always had better names for their wars.  The War of the Roses always sounds to me like some sort of dispute between neighbors...where there is some question where the property line lies in connection with some plants.  However, by far and away the best has to be The War of Jenkin's Ear.  Is that a cool name or what?  In researching this entry, I also discovered that there is a War of Jennifer's Ear, which was also British but didn't include actual combat.

In any case, let's get back to this new war that's been declared within the US.

Wars seem to need cool names to really inspire the people to come to battle.  Remember the Alamo was a great rallying cry, along with Remember the Maine.  I've personally been partial to 54-40 or Fight, but so few people know that one it makes it somewhat insignificant.  Remember Pearl Harbor did pretty well.  Along those lines, I have a name in mind, but let me describe the situation first. last name thingy.  The American Civil War was always a problem.  It was anything but civil.  The War between the States seems reasonable, but in some places it's still known as the War of Northern Aggression.  Point of view is everything when naming a war, and I've kept that in mind.

So, what's happened?

In the last couple of weeks, various members of the Republican Party have (apparently) decided that the 2012 election won't be about the economy.  I'm not really clear why they decided that, but perhaps the slightly more positive news on unemployment, coupled with some other polling data, suggests it's not going to fly for them.  In any case, jobs don't seem to be the big thing right now.

So, in short order, we've seen several brawls over abortion, contraception, and women's health in general.

President Obama probably started it (although that's unclear) when he said that company-provided health insurance must include birth control medications.  Immediately some religious institutions complained, saying they shouldn't be required to provide such coverage when it was against their beliefs.  They claimed Freedom of Religion.

Now, a couple of things immediately pop to mind.  First, they can make a case that such a mandate might be considered the State stepping into the doings of religions, something the Constitution says isn't legal.  However, by saying they shouldn't have to comply, they are doing the same thing, namely mandating that their employees, who may be of some other religion, must conform to their rules...thus mandating religious beliefs upon their employees.  Whoops!  There's a real problem here.

However, the President found a solution.  He said that employers didn't have to "pay extra" to provide that coverage, but that Health Insurance providers must include the coverage in their products.  Sounds simple.  The churches are off the hook, and everyone can believe as they wish.  That should have been acceptable, and even some of the complainers said, begrudgingly..."Okay."

However, that, of course, wasn't the end of it.  Some in Congress started holding hearings, claiming that the entire thing had nothing to do with women's health but was purely Freedom of Religion.  To make their point, they invited witnesses to testify...notably all of them male.  Somehow the idea that women might have an opinion on the matter just...slipped past them.  When a Democrat, the minority party in the House, asked to add a woman to the witness list, he was summarily slapped down, told this has nothing to do with women!

So, let's move on now.  In Virginia, the House of Delegates voted to require that a woman must have a trans-vaginal ultrasound prior to having the abortion.  Why?  Well, first it's because a regular ultra-sound won't provide much of a picture during the first tri-mester, when abortions are legal.  However, in either case, there is no medically-based reason for the ultrasound.  It is done purely as an attempt to convince the woman to change her mind.

Since the trans-vaginal ultrasound involves inserting a probe into a woman's vagina, and since there is no medical reason for the procedure, two things happen.  One, the cost of the abortion procedure...which is completely LEGAL medical procedure goes up...for no reason.  Two, because there is no medically-valid reason, the State is turning the doctor into a rapist.  Yup, that action meets all the legal definitions of the crime.

If the woman says "No" the doctor cannot proceed.  If he/she does, there is a crime being committed.  However, obviously it's not the doctor perpetrating this's...yup...the Republicans.

Now, during the discussion of this bill, C. Todd Gilbert, Republican from Woodstock, said he saw "most abortions  as a 'lifestyle convenience' for women."  I somehow doubt a rape victim sees it that way.  In fact, although I'm not female, I'll bet most women don't see it that way.

Moving right along now, there's one more example in the opening salvo of this war.

In Congress, the Republican House is trying to kill continuing funding for the Violence Against Women Act.  It's always been re-authorized before, but this year it's different.  Why?

Well, there are some new provisions, that make the act include the LGBTQ community.  There are also some provisions dealing with handling such cases in Native American courts, and considering that the highest percentage of crimes occur in that segment of the population, it seems reasonable.  Another reason, which is really just a spin move, is that rate of domestic violence have risen, so "the act clearly isn't doing the job."

In fact, those rates prove the exact opposite.  It is the act itself that have encouraged women to come forward and report the of the most under-reported crimes in the country.

So, we have this New War.  Since it's not a military action (more on this in a minute) we should look at other non-military wars for a name.  We've had the War on Poverty.  It may still officially be going on, but I'm not sure.  In any case, last time I checked the Census Date, poverty was still winning.

We've had the War on Drugs.  Drugs are winning, although we're doing a great job of filling up new jails.  We even had a Drug Czar...or Tsar if you prefer the traditional spelling.  In history, the Tsars didn't do real well winning wars, and this seems to be no different.

So, with all this in mind, I think the GOP should simply, and formally, declare WAR!  With that, I bring you....

The War of the Uterus

Now, two parting thoughts.  If the GOP doesn't want women to serve in combat roles, they probably shouldn't have picked this fight.  Last time I checked, women have complete control over every available Uterus.

Second, with the election looming, they have just declared war on about 1/2 of the voters in this country, and don't think those women haven't noticed.  Given the weaknesses of the GOP candidates, this wasn't a good time to be making enemies in the electorate.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Syria makes sense....

The news from Syria is bad.  It's been bad for a long time, and just keeps getting worse.  I fear we're about to witness a complete catastrophe happen before our eyes.  I don't think I've got a solution, at least not a good one.  I do, however, think the whole situation makes perfect sense...if you look at it objectively

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Politics as usual?

In moments of lucidity, we'd all like to believe that some things we encounter aren't "political."  Unfortunately, these days it seems every time we turn around we discover that it's never true.  Everything has become political.