Although it’s been mentioned elsewhere recently, I want to put in another $.02 worth on the issue of abortion.

Specifically, I want to hear from the pro-lifers on this:

The pro-lifer’s worldview says that abortion is murder.  Period.  How many times have we all heard that?  “It’s the murder of unborn children”, etc etc ad nauseum.  You know the drill.

In an ideal universe, from the pro-lifer’s point of view, Roe v. Wade would be overturned and abortion would be illegal, making it more difficult for women to get one.  (Which wouldn’t change anything, really, because women who want to get an abortion will find a way.)

So my question is simply this – if Roe v. Wade were overturned, and since, to the pro-lifer’s mind, abortion is murder (murder, of course, being a crime), then to what extent should these women and doctors be punished?  How much jail time should a woman or doctor receive for taking part in this illegal act of murder?

I am not being flippant – this is a legitimate question.

I am pro-choice, but I don’t think, and certainly no pro-choice person that I’ve ever encountered thinks that abortion is this wonderful, joyous thing.  It’s never a “good thing”.  It’s almost always a belated response to a lack of responsibility in regards to sexual conduct.  It’s a big “whoopsy daisy!”   Certainly, there are fetuses that would have grown into children with severe disabilities and deformities that are aborted by mothers who wanted to forestall the child’s (and their own) suffering.  But let’s get real.  A lot of women who get abortions are women who just had a little too much unprotected fun and don’t want to be a mother as a consequence.  But hey, that’s OK with me.  I’d rather that every child that comes into this crazy world is wanted in the first place, not begrudgingly given its existence because of some religious guilt trip.

But no, not the pro-lifers.  They scream that it’s MURDER MURDER MURDER to abort that baby!  They want Roe v. Wade thrown out so that it’s illegal.

So, you big murder-screaming pro-life religious nutcases – what’s the minimum mandatory sentence going to be, then, for receiving or performing an abortion?  And who should get the stiffer sentence?  The doctor?  Because he/she actually did the murdering?  Or the woman?  Is she the real murderer because she  premeditated the whole thing?  Who is the murderer and who is the accomplice to the murder?  Or are they both equally guilty of the same offense?  Should the doctor be considered a serial murderer and receive consecutive life sentences?  And would there be officers working undercover to catch these women and these doctors?  Can you imagine the courts being clogged with this kind of nonsense?

I know, I know, the pro-lifers say: “It’s between a woman and god”.  OK, then fine.  So why does abortion have to be illegal, then?  The answer is – there is no reason.  The pro-life camp are  just a bunch of people who think, “Oh, look at the cute little baby” and “children are a gift from god” and they’re just thinking with their emotions and not with their intellect.

Once again, I really am not being flippant when I ask these questions.  I am merely trying to follow the pro-lifer’s logic and quickly realizing that there is no logic to follow at all.

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Mission accomplished.

January 24, 2009

This is another brilliant piece of writing by Bill Marvel, about whom I have enlightened my readers in an earlier post.  This column appeared in the January 19th edition of the Conway Daily Sun, and it is nothing short of brilliant.  Enjoy!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
by William Marvel
Conway Daily Sun
Monday, January 19th, 2009

Tomorrow ends one of the gloomiest epochs in American history.  The most cynical, selfish, and shortsighted presidential administration in 220 years will conclude just as it began, with most of the country’s population opposed to its occupation of the White House.  Now others must begin the enormous task of reparing the pervasive damage George W. Bush has done to our environment, our economy, our international prestige, our future, and our national spirit.

Our deliverance does not come without further volleys of Republican hypocrisy.  Republicans who lambasted Al Gore for his legal challenge to the close results of the Florida election now put their last hope in a legal challenge to the close results of the Minnesota election, straining to at least delay any increase in the Senate’s democratic majority.  Republicans who declared Bush’s one-percent margin a “mandate” in 2004 now belittle Barack Obama’s 53-to-47 percent victory as “not that significant” – studiously forgetting that Abraham Lincoln’s resounding 1864 triumph barely gleaned 55 percent of the popular vote, and that Andrew Jackson’s legendary landslide of 1828 only reached 56 percent.

Although he shows little regard for history, and even less knowledge of it, Bush appears belatedly concerned about his historical image.  To resuscitate his miserable environmental record, for instance, he lately transformed many leagues of the Pacific Ocean into national monuments – but only because the energy tycoons of his coterie have no practical means of exploiting the resources there.  Meanwhile, he spent his final days in office auctioning off mining and drilling concessions in some of our more precious domestic preserves, sacrificing historical and natural treasures for the sake of a few more months of fossil-fuel pollution.

In order to prevent embarassing revelations about the president or his associates, the Bush administration routinely disregarded the Presidential Records Act, the Freedom of Information Act, or any other law that might provide incriminating documents.  E-mails conveniently disappeared, in flagrant violation of federal statute, and in many instances their deletion represents the destruction of criminal evidence.

This unlawful secrecy ensnared even the pension records of the last surviving veteran of the Civil War.  Half a century after his death the Department of Veterans Affairs should release his records, but that requires a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act.  I filed such a request two years ago – but, six years into the Bush presidency, I was informed that there was a six-year backlog of such requests.  The old veteran’s pension file probably doesn’t hold very dangerous insights into the workings of the Bush-Cheney cabal, but letting more innocent FOIA requests accumulate by the thousands effectively buries the really damaging information.

Democrats, to their eternal discredit, assidiously avoided every opportunity to prosecute a president who smirked his way through innumerable offenses far more serious than hiding an extramarital affair.  Were every American truly equal under the law, Bush should have been impeached two years ago for violating federal statutes against domestic wiretapping and torture.  Bush and Cheney might even have been handed over to the Hague for war crimes.

Instead, hand-wringing Democrats cringe at the thought of “putting our country through such an ordeal,” just as they did in 1974.  That didn’t stop ruthless Republicans from frivolously impeaching a Democrat, and the Democrats’ perenial cowardice about impeachment only allows those Republicans to resume the attack with all the self-righteousness of the unindicted.  They are doing just that, too, by ballyhooing the investigation of one dubious Democratic governor to make the public forget Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley, Scooter Libby, Ted Stevens, all the pardoned Reagan-era criminals whom Bush re-appointed, and countless other Republican scoundrels.

Bush ultimately betrayed almost everyone.  His rapacious economic and foreign policies horrified even the traditional conservatives of the Republican party, including his own father.  Under the dishonest guise of compassionate conservatism, his cronies cultivated the worst elements of the Republican base.  Bush leaped blindly into the abyss of neoconservatism.  He enthusiastically embraced the apocalyptic world view of his fellow biblical literalists, whose primitive lunacy and enforced ignorance mirrors that of their fundamentalist Muslim counterparts.

Through their failure to control the renegades who hijacked the party, and their willingness to accept reckless leadership in return for electoral victory, Republican leaders forfeited any further claim on the loyalty of the American public.  Their party now represents almost no one but corporate hyenas, chauvinistic imperialists, and religious fanatics.  Those deplorable constituencies are all personified by that swaggering monument to unearned who starts back to Texas tomorrow afternoon.

William Marvel lives in South Conway.

Enough already!

January 22, 2009

I’ve officially had it with the Obama-worship.

It was getting a bit sickening during the election, but come on.  He hasn’t even been the prez for 48 hours yet and I swear that people are going to declare a national moment of reverence for every time he has to take an Oval Office shit.

The only reason I voted for him was to vote against McCain.  That’s it.  Not a big Obama fan.

And stop comparing him to Reagan!  Of course, I’m no fan of Reagan, but let’s get real here – Obama’s socialist tendencies would have that old geezer turning in his fucking grave.

Yeah, I admit, I watched a little of the inauguration.  Online.  At work.  All I saw was the tail-end of Rick Warren’s little homage to the baby Jesus, I saw Aretha and her ridiculous hat, I saw Joe get sworn in, I saw Yo Yo Ma, I saw Obama fuck up his oath, I heard his speech, and that was all I needed to see.  No 2 MPH parade in the limo, no first dance, no luncheon, nothing.  Who cares about all that shit?  That’s bullshit is not newsworthy.

I admit that it’s a big deal that this country elected a black president.  But let the man get to work, for chrissake.  And first on the fucking list should be finding a treasury secretary who doesn’t cheat on his own taxes.  Agreed?

Hope over fear, change you can believe in, blah blah blah, yeah yeah, sure sure, buddy.  Now you and your Clintonites are in.  We got it.  Once the country gets over its little “happiness hangover”, I think it’s gonna be business as fucking usual.

Am I close-minded?

January 17, 2009

Am I being close-minded when I say that things like:

“There is no god.”

“Homeopathy is bullshit.”

“There is no such thing as reincarnation.”

I could go on, but you get the picture, right?

There was a time when I would’ve believed and sometimes did believe in any number of these and other similar, fantastical things.  What has made me so cynical, so doubtful of everything?

Years ago, I saw an interview on TV of Billy Bob Thornton, and, while I’m not a huge fan of his, he did say something that really stuck with me.  He said, “It is arrogant to say that something isn’t true simply because you don’t believe it.”  That statement has been like a koan for me all these years, and I think of it sometimes when I ponder the growth of my skepticism.

I really want to believe that anything is possible – that, for example, a woman performing Reiki can put her hands on someone dying of cancer and the patient is spontaneously healed.  (I do not, however, as is sometimes the claims of the religiously devout about atheists, yearn to believe in a god – I have no desire to live my life under the rule of a sadistic, absent, yet supposedly all-powerful and benevolent father figure “in heaven”, or what Christopher Hitchens humorously calls “a celestial North Korea”.)  It is a beautiful thought and many of us have heard of such spontaneous healings – but these are all anecdotal accounts and are hardly a good basis for any kind of proof.  Once again, my intellect, and my constant and insatiable desire to know what is actually true, will not afford me the faith that is required to completely believe in those accounts.  Of course, I really cannot rule out any possibility, but I also cannot fully embrace every “low probability event” as an indication of a likely trend, either.

In other words, I need proof, dammit!

But yes, haven’t all of us had experiences that we cannot explain?  I, for example, once had an out-of-body experience for which I have no reasonable explanation.  I was completely lucid, sober, not under the influence of any drugs, stimulants or any other physical stresses, such as lack of sleep, food, or water.   I can recall exactly where I was, the feeling of floating in the room, looking down at my body.  It was a bit alarming, but, once I got over the initial shock of it, the experience was also very peaceful and dream-like.  I was actually watching myself doing things as I was doing them.  Whenever I have spoken about this to others who are, for lack of better terms, “New Age-y”, they say things like, “Oh well, it was your soul yearning to be momentarily free of your physical body” or things of that nature.  They say these things so unabashedly, believing them so completely, that I sometimes – only sometimes, mind you – wish I had the ability to engage in that sort of willful abandon of my critical thought.

However, given that all my searching leads me back to the mind, the intellect, reason, logic, and critical thought, these tools obviously have their limits (at least at this point in the evolution of our species).  For instance, no one really knows, empirically, what atomic particles are made of.  (String theory, anyone?)  No one really knows the answer to my friend Marde‘s favorite question:  Why is there something rather than nothing?  No one really knows why – the larger why – bad things happen to good people.  Perhaps faith in the unseen is necessary for those who would otherwise lose themselves too easily in the idea of oblivion, or of the seemingly random nature of what is surely the miracle – yes, I said miracle – of our existence.

So where does all this mental meandering and search for meaning leave me on a daily basis?  Sometimes it leaves me breathless, when the search is frustrating.  Sometimes depressed, when the search seems fruitless or even pointless.  Sometimes overjoyed, when I reflect on the sheer luck of the draw that I should be existing at this moment on this amazing planet, for all of its and my flaws.

But most often, it leaves me with this belief, which I know I’ve written here before, but it is worth repeating:

I would rather know the cold, hard, unequivocal truth of something than be comforted by something that is false.

No silent H here.

January 13, 2009

It’s not “an historic event.”

It’s “a historic event.”

Stop trying to make me sound like a Brit.

I’ve stumbled upon an organization called Truth Wins Out, who, according to their website, are “fighting right wing lies and the ‘ex-gay’ fraud”.  Sounds good to me.  I found one of their videos on good ol’ YouTube, and I was nearly moved to tears when I watched it today.  It is revolting – yet not at all surprising – that the Mormon church (among others) has encouraged gay people to marry someone of the opposite sex in an effort to “cure” them of their homosexuality.  Lester and Barbara Leavitt have a much different, much sadder story to tell.  As you’ll see in the video, “isn’t it time we stopped destroying families in the name of Family Values?”  For lack of a better word, amen to that.

Jugs and java!

January 8, 2009

Well, my beloved state is in the news again, and this time, it’s juicy as hell!

Donald Crabtree of Ellsworth, Maine, wants to convert Vassalboro’s old Grand View Motel into – get this – a topless coffee shop!

Of course, public opinion in the small town is polarized, with some saying outrageous things like, “Well, my daughter catches the bus down the street from there, so I think it’s a bad idea” and others saying things like, “Who cares?  We all need to make a living.”

Seriously, though, why do these prudish small-town people think that this “sort of place” would attract “the wrong crowd”?  I don’t know of too many straight men who don’t enjoy looking at a nice rack.  Aren’t we all, then, surrounded by “the wrong crowd”?  Why not give this “crowd” a place to congregate and drink – of all things – coffee?

But, at the moment, Crabtree is in luck, because the planning board unanimously approved the proposal.

I just hope they come up with a cute name for the place.

Like Jugs ‘n’ Java.

Or Hoes ‘n’ Joe.

Or Bean Brew ‘n’ Boobs.

I can just hear the men of Vassalboro now:  “Sure, honey, I don’t mind running into town and getting you a coffee.”