Abortion   (2017Mar11)

work

Saturday, March 11, 2017                                                 12:06 PM

Abortion has existed since ancient times. Earlier civilizations used certain herbs to terminate pregnancy, even before surgical methods were known. And abortion is still practiced today, even in countries where it is illegal. Like so many things, abortion happens whether the law allows it or not.

To imagine that making abortion illegal or unavailable will end abortion is the kind of simplistic thinking that causes more trouble than the issue itself. Shuttering Planned Parenthood, or even legally banning abortion, won’t stop abortions—it will only make them more dangerous and increase criminality.

Please note that I’m not advocating abortion—as a man, it’s really not something I’m prepared to have an opinion about. I’m advocating that we recognize human nature. Outlawing abortion won’t stop abortion. Defunding Planned Parenthood won’t stop abortion. Such things will only make it more dangerous and less controlled.

Don’t get me wrong—defunding Planned Parenthood will do something—it will take important health care away from women. If that’s what you want to do, then close it down—but it won’t stop abortion.

The history of our Prohibition era could teach us a lot, if we were willing to learn from history. Things like drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll happen, with or without legality—the only difference is that illegality creates an underworld, a criminal subculture that undermines local and federal government and increases violence.

Look at our DEA—initially an army against drug-abuse, now nothing more than a central focus of corruption and payoffs. Meanwhile drug abuse grows by leaps and bounds.

The thing these outlaw-crazy people miss is the fact that regulation is far more effective than a ban—it provides quality control, commercial control, age limits—hell, you can even collect taxes off it. And people don’t fight as hard against regulation as they do against deprivation. We have accepted this truth regarding alcohol, but for some reason we try to pretend that it doesn’t scale-up to everything else.

So you think abortion is a crime, an offense against God—whatever—I’m not going to try to change your opinion. I’m simply pointing out that abortion isn’t going anywhere—driving it underground actually ingrains it more deeply into our society, making it a cause instead of a mere service.

The stronger your sense of personal morality, the less sense it makes, to me, that you would want to take that personal choice away from someone else. If you think you have the right to decide what’s right and what’s wrong, how can you possibly believe that other people don’t have the same right?

If you want to disapprove of people who choose to get an abortion—that’s fine—you have your own morality—now you only have to learn to let them have theirs. Take that away from them and it’s only a matter of time before someone decides to take yours. This stuff works both ways, Einstein.

thought

Talking Politics   (2016Jan26)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016                                                4:54 PM

It’s Tuesday so let’s talk politics. I’m painfully saddened by the ongoing lead poisoning in the Flint, Michigan drinking water—this is what happens to the disenfranchised—they get chiseled to death by the wealthy. Flint is just an exaggeration of that principle—you can find it everywhere in America now. The powerful have become so entrenched, so abetted by the political machinery, that, far from realizing some American dream, lower income families are lucky to escape death by neglect. America has grown top-heavy, but as the top clings to and accumulates more and more power, it stands on the weaker and weaker legs of the population as a whole.

I’m overjoyed that Planned Parenthood has been cleared of all the trumped-up charges recently leveled against it—and that the trumper-uppers are now facing prosecution themselves—justice prevails! A rare victory for an embattled principle—women’s health care is attacked most effectively through local legislation that drives away health care institutions like Planned Parenthood—leaving whole swathes of the nation with no women’s health care for hundreds of miles in every direction. That the blatant lies so recently leveled against it have been proven false is but small comfort—to the far right, women are still the enemy.

That fundamentalists can still attack gays, which are but ten percent of our country, is bad enough—but that they can still find support for their attacks on women, who comprise fifty percent of the people, beggars belief. Add in their attempts to roll back voting rights and immigration reform and you can see that the right really is just the bastion of white Christian males—plus those they despise who are somehow confused enough to support them in spite of themselves. The GOP contains women like Carly Fiorina and minorities like Ben Carson—but not many, just the twisted, self-hating dregs of the groups their party works so hard to keep under the jackboot.

A recent Facebook meme quotes Donald Trump from 1998, “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They love anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.” Right-wingers were quick to fact-check this—and claim that he never said it—that, in fact, there was no Trump interview in People magazine that year. Still, it sounds like something he would say—and I’m only too glad to spread the quote, even if it’s not true. He definitely did say, just recently, that he could shoot someone in the street without losing any supporters—and while that may speak well of his political ability, it certainly doesn’t say much different about his supporters than the debunked quote does. To my mind, it’s even more insulting.

Everyone seems to be talking about the caucuses now—as if the arcane nomination process will protect the establishment candidates, protecting the Republicans from a popular candidate that doesn’t represent them—and protecting the Democrats from getting stuck with Bernie, whose popularity within the party may not translate to popularity in a national race. It’s been said that the lines at the registration desks—where first-timers sign in—will tell the story long before the nominations are tallied—this phenomenon was observed during Obama’s first campaign caucuses and it’s considered a sure sign of ‘outsider’ strength.

Well, that’s as far as I’m willing to go with discussing politics—any further and I risk upsetting myself to the point of illness. Basically nothing has changed—our fates hang by a thread, good may triumph but its odds are long, and no news is good news—unless, like Flint, you’re already in the news.

Today is our daughter Jessy’s birthday, so we miss her back east here while she celebrates in sunny CA.

Undeclared News   (2015Dec04)

Friday, December 04, 2015                                               12:54 PM

We must fight for liberty—freedom isn’t free. That makes us a fighting kind of people even though our present military is less than 1% of our population—and civilian-military engagement, like all social interaction, is less today than it was during the Big One, or even during Nam. No, today’s young whippersnapper doesn’t spring up to drive to the recruitment office and prove his manhood (or, as of today, her womanhood).

delightZ

But we do express our combativeness by buying guns—we’re not going down without a fight. And, yes, there is crime—and certainly more crime in certain places than others—but, by and large, the suburbs are designed to be lived in without gunfire. In most cases, everybody is too busy with other things. Putting aside the far greater, so-called white-collar crimes, we find that crime stats follow poverty stats. That seems clear to me—what do you think? You end crime by ending income inequality—by giving a hand to the underserved, by making the whole place rich and not just your patch of it.

I’m troubled by the undeclared aspects of recent news—the unadmitted connections between things we favor and things we disapprove of. The Senate just passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood (which won’t pass but plays well to the base, I guess?) but the GOP are bending over backwards to deny that there’s anything wrong with the 2nd Amendment. You can’t revere the sanctity of life for the unborn if you don’t care about tens of thousands of annual gun-related killings.

delightr_Detail_01

There’s something else notable about mass-shootings and gun violence in general—there’s always wounded as well as killed. In San Bernardino 14 people died—and 17 were wounded. I’ve never been wounded by a bullet and gone to the hospital—for anything from a Band-Aid to a wheelchair for my paralyzed body—but I imagine that pretty well ruins your whole day. And on top of all the death that day seventeen people had that experience. There’s always more wounded than killed (maybe the same mind that goes to trigger-pulling isn’t that keen on the whole aiming thing) and with gun-shot wounds, you have to go on living with whatever havoc a hunk of metal has wreaked on your poor, baby-soft skin.

The truth is these right-wingers don’t revere the sanctity of life—not nearly as much as they fear being disarmed. They only want to revere their God above women’s reproductive rights—and opposing legal abortion is the only way they can do it without revealing how backward they are. But they should try it—I’ve got my sixtieth birthday coming up in a month or so, and I’ve never owned a gun or handled a firearm—and I’ve never been in a situation where that made a bit of difference. I’ve almost died from disease, fire, traffic, and bad-living—but I’ve never been shot at. Am I just lucky—or does not being a part of the gun culture make me lucky?

delightS

Anyway, there’s a far stickier wicket in the unacknowledged issues department—religion. We make the distinction between ISIL terrorists and average Muslims who have no truck with violence—and we have this right-wing nonsense about grouping everyone together—terrorist and Muslims, terrorists and Syrian refugees. But what we don’t address is the part being played by religion, both in the Planned Parenthood shootings and in the San Bernardino shootings—these people imagine themselves in some kind of battle between good and evil—a battle where dogma outweighs human life.

delightc

I don’t blame religion for what these people did—if they didn’t have a religion to turn to, they would have made up one of their own—crazy is crazy. I’m just saying that there is an association between religion and crazy—cult-leaders are an embarrassment—as are pedophile priests—yet no one sees an obvious connection between a strong fundamentalism and mental imbalance. If you think about it, Al Queda and ISIL are really just cult-leaders gone pro, and gone global. Reality won’t be obscured, though—there are communities now that purposely isolate themselves to lessen the cognitive dissonance between their overblown zealotry and the run-of-the-mill Protestant. It is far more difficult for such nut-jobs to maintain their self-importance when they are individual oddballs sprinkled throughout our average communities.

delightW

The original pilgrims’ decision to separate church and state was the first time that a society put practicality above its supernatural beliefs—at least publicly. You have to remember, back then, they still believed in a monarch’s ‘divine right’ to a throne—entire governments were based as much on religious dogma as on bloodlines. And the colonists still accepted that—they would remain loyal to the crown—even if they couldn’t decide on exactly which divinity was granting the right. That whole Revolutionary War stuff would come a hundred years later—America has always been more about getting on with life without letting religious nonsense cause trouble, than it has ever been about freedom or democracy. Indeed, you can’t have either of those things until you chuck religion, anyway.

delightr

Religion is okay for kids, and it’s okay for people to believe something in their hearts—but our important decisions should never concern themselves with anything other than justice and fairness and kindness, no matter how many people believe in stuff they can’t see. That’s what separation of church and state is all about. Those Christians who wish to drive a religious wedge into American politics and government are just as dangerous as ISIL—perhaps more so, in the long run. And right-wingers who wish to lay off all gun violence on the mentally ill should take a look at ISIL’s behavior—and ask themselves, “Are these Muslims, or are these just sociopaths using religion to cover their troublemaking?”

delightX

Millions of people live their lives, going to church on Sunday, but not basing their lifestyle on their afterlife—they accept religion in its rightful place and leave the rest until they have more evidence—a sensible approach. But some would have us all join them in their conviction that all life is just a journey towards an afterlife, with very specific rules—some will even go further, convinced that the world will end on a specific date—then the afterlife, as if the end of the world is just a feature. And religion doesn’t have to worry about charges of false advertising, because no one comes back to complain—of any religion, by the way—so we can assume that all are satisfied customers, regardless of faith. End-of-Days people have had their embarrassments, it’s true—but it is the nature of religion that most of these people just pick a new date and carry on.

delightd

Now these beliefs are beautiful and strange—I would never resent anyone investing their interior life with such exoticism—but there is a bullying quality to evangelism, to caliphate-building, to confessions and shaming, to exclusion, regimentation and dogma—these are the signs of someone using religion for self-aggrandizement—and I really don’t see how people fail to see through their bullshit. So—religion—good stuff—but keep it to yourself, please—and don’t go terrorist, whatever your faith.

delightU

A final question—since it was reported yesterday that this year’s mass shootings outnumber the days in the year, giving an average of more than one mass shooting per day. Where are all the stories of the brave, armed-for-self-defense Americans that fired back at these crazed gunmen? If we need guns for self-defense, why are none of these victims defending themselves? Is it because only the nut-jobs feel the need to carry weapons? Is it because we don’t live in the Wild Goddamned West anymore—and the average American prefers not to carry a gun?

delightT

Hieronymus Bosch did all these religious paintings, by the way–anyone want to debate me on that point about the connection between fundamentalism and mental imbalance?