WHY?

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An article published in the University of Wisconsin student newspaper “The Badger Herald” is headlined: “Paul Ryan: GOP must stay strong against abortion”.

In response to that, this blog post is simply titled: “WHY?

To begin with, the Badger article illuminates the immature logic of the anti-abortion crowd with statements like Paul Ryan’s statement: “pro-life advocates need to win over pro-choice supporters and key legislators by finding common areas where they can both agree.”

It is absolutely laughable to suggest that there is room for compromise on either side. Pro-choice supporters stand under one banner, the one that reads: “abortion is a choice that must be freely made ONLY by the woman who is carrying the unborn baby.” Pro-Life supporters, on the other hand, stand under the banner that reads: “The choice to give birth should NOT rest in the hands of the woman who is carrying the unborn baby. She has no choice!” The pro-life stance not only does not make sense, it ignores the fact that this is America and not a dictatorship or a theocracy. We have free choice, especially when it comes to our own bodies. Granted we are rapidly loosing that free choice thanks to the current crop of numskulls who daily gamble our futures in Washington D.C., but we must cling to the hope that that will change for the better.

Intelligent people understand that most people were brought up under the influence of a religion, that religions tend to be very dictatorial and religions tend to ‘forbid’ certain things. Some people however grow up and realize that free-choice in America also means freedom from religious dictates. Others refuse to embrace the free choice granted to them by the Constitution and would rather have the church make their difficult life decisions. Neither way is wrong! Everyone needs to make their own choices, but the fact is, ‘one size fits all’ only works in the garment industry and never works for people with free minds who would rather make their own life decisions.

I guess if Paul Ryan were to be totally honest (not that a politician can afford to be totally honest if he or she wants to keep his or her job) his answer to my “WHY?” would be simply ‘because I believe abortion is wrong’. To be totally honest, he would have to admit that his religious upbringing has made it impossible for him to think for himself about this (or possibly about many of life’s other difficult issues).

It would be a gargantuan task to convince people in Federal office that no one voted to put the fate of the human race in THEIR hands, we voted to put the security and sovereignty of the United States in their hands. It would be a gargantuan task but well worth the effort.

If any intelligent person is looking for moral guidance, moral clarity or a moral authority, I truly believe that the LAST place they will look is in the halls of Congress.

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Liars to the Left of me . . . Liars to the Right

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It’s a lie, but in some ways understandable when, to gain political points, a politician twists the meaning of something his opponent says . . . but it’s tragic when other politicians validate that lie.

The perfect example of a lie that has been validated thru the media and by other politicians is the reaction to Indiana Senator Richard Mourdock’s uncalled for platitude in a televised speech last week:

“Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen.”

Granted that sentence was poorly worded and could be interpreted to mean that the rape itself was intended by God but who in their right mind would HONESTLY interpret it like that?

Which brings me to my point: A politician who uses a lame argument like that to support his own beliefs about the evils of abortion is probably NOT in his right mind. To take it a step farther, ANY politician (and it’s mostly the “Conservative” ones that do this) who even broaches either of the two most controversial social subjects: abortion and gay rights, is doing a grave injustice to the public, to his or her party and to the American political system.

At the Federal level, every Senator and Congressman swears an oath upon taking that office that he or she will “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter” and every one of the “duties” involved in that office is intended to serve the people of their state or district. Not just the people who share that politicians religious and social views but ALL the people. Religious and social issues should be “off the menu” in every election, in every political speech and in every piece of legislation. Elected officials are elected to serve the people, not to shamelessly promote their own social/religious beliefs.

Reference:

Washington Post: “a href=”http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/richard-mourdocks-sick-and-twisted-critics/2012/10/25/3440966c-1eea-11e2-ba31-3083ca97c314_story.html”> Richard Mourdocks ‘sick and twisted’ critics

Paul Ryan on Abortion: ‘I believe this to be true and it doesn’t matter what YOU believe’

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“I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life.”

That was Congressman Paul Ryan beginning to answer the question: ‘What role has your religion played in your own personal views on Abortion?’

Ryan was obviously answering a different (unasked) question: ‘How do you justify your public position on abortion?’ That is the more interesting and relevant question but I find it revealing as well as disturbing that a Congressman who is elected to serve a diverse constituency, is unable to separate his personal religious beliefs from his sworn oath to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.” One of the duties of the office of Congressman is clearly NOT to serve your own personal needs by forcing your religious beliefs on others with different beliefs.

That’s religious arrogance, and it is the hallmark of most religions: “I believe this to be true and it doesn’t matter what YOU believe.” That is also a personal arrogance that is not appropriate for a public servant, especially one who is elected to a Federal office.

The Conservative ‘talkers’ on the radio this morning unanimously agree that Ryan’s “it doesn’t matter what YOU believe” position is the absolutely correct position for a Federally elected official. Just like Ryan, and the vast majority of those who call themselves Conservative, they want their religion front and center — ‘in your face those of you who have different beliefs, like it or not, my church is your church.’

How they can feel that this is an appropriate position in a ‘free country’ is baffling and unbelievable. It’s obvious that Conservatives believe that a Theocratic form of government is perfectly appropriate as long as Christian doctrine is the theology being pushed.

Congressman Ryan, if you don’t believe in abortion fight against it at home, in your family, among your circle of friends and when the subject is brought up in public meetings fight against it there; but don’t tell the American voter that they HAVE TO agree with you because that is the “policy of the Romney administration.”

It’s not your choice to separate your public life from your private life Paul, it’s your DUTY as a Federally elected official.

By contrast, Vice President Biden gave the perfect answer to the abortion question:

“with regard to abortion. I accept my church’s position on abortion as a == what we call a (unknown Latin word) doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the — the congressman. I — I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that — women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I’m not going to interfere with that.”

In spite of how much I agree with Obama/Biden on this one issue, I see them as inadequate on almost every other issue when compared to Romney/Ryan. Vote Republican, I certainly will!

Reference: For the full debate transcript one of the many places you can go is:

documentcloud.org

Social engineering ‘in the name of God’ is still social engineering

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The RNC Convention left me feeling great about our country’s future, IF Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are successful in November . . . but, at the same time, the frequent heavily Social Conservative messages I heard leave me feeling less than great about OUR personal futures.

Social engineering ‘in the name of God’ is still social engineering and when the prospective leaders of our country are the ones engaging in that social engineering, OUR personal futures are worrisome. The primary role of government is (or at least should be) to protect the rights of American citizens’ — those basic inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those right were not granted by the Constitution (they are “inalienable,” i.e., natural and inherently legal) and cannot be taken away by the government. Yet Social Conservatives have taken biblical moral imperatives and are attempting to fraudulently insert them into the Constitution.

My problem with Social Conservatism really has nothing to do with being an atheist (I am) — it has to do with the Social Conservative’s lack of respect for people who believe that their personal lives should be insulated from our government’s interference — interference by any level of government — as long as they are obeying existing laws. This level of ‘insulation’ is not a whim or even a personal belief; it’s specified in the Constitution.

The first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, were written to protect the freedoms and liberties OF the people FROM government overreach. Yet Social Conservatives try to use part of the Fifth Amendment (“No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”) as a legal justification for outlawing a woman’s freedom of choose to terminate a pregnancy. Properly stated, this phrase in the Fifth Amendment should read: ‘The government shall not deny it’s citizens the right to life, liberty or property ownership without due process of law.’ By trying to deny a woman’s freedom of choice in matters of abortion they are, in fact, denying that woman’s “liberty.”

Back To Religion

Social Conservatives are not only try to subvert the Constitution by denying the real purpose of the Bill of Rights (to protect YOU from THEM), they whitewash their real motivation to try and remove a woman’s freedom of choice; the real (and only) motivation they have is their personal and religious belief that abortion is ‘sinful.’

They might be right that every abortion is a ‘sin against God’ but that (fact or not) has absolutely no relevance to our laws — laws that clearly recognize every citizen’s right to manage his or her own body and it’s functions — law that, by their absence, do not make “sins against God” illegal.

From here the case against Social Conservatives naturally turns to their other pet “sin,” gay marriage. There are, no doubt, many bible verses that can be used to show that religions are justified when they call gay marriage an abomination — but there is not one phrase, in a fair reading of the Constitution, that outlaws it.

Could it be that Social Conservatives have edited their copies of the Constitution to include biblical admonitions?

The concept of separation of church and state may not be written into the Constitution per se but the spirit of that concept is very clearly embodied in that document.

Beck: Only hookers need Planned Parenthood

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The quote in the title is the headline (title) of a Huffington Post article paraphrasing Glenn Beck as he made fun of Lawrence O’Donnell for his tearful plea for Planned Parenthood.

OK! These guys hate each other and when they are trading insults there is sure to be lots of bloviation (hat tip to Bill O’Reilly) and overstatement. In other words, ignore the pompas asses until they can put some logic behind their rants in place of their emotions and personal preferences.

Beck’s implied statement that only hookers need Planned Parenthood is a gross exaggeration and he knows it but then that’s his job: to exaggerate the truth and make his listeners happy. Thousands of women, men, couples and teens (teens who have a disinterested, distant or non-existent family structure) use planned parenthood for advise, testing and other services.

The fact is, people like Beck, Palin and many others who spout their anti-abortion rhetoric are religious extremists who live somewhere other than with the common, ordinary people who have to deal with issues like unwanted pregnancies and contraception. Moralists are very bad neighbors and are even worse when they have access to the media.

If there is anything “bad” about Planned Parenthood it is that (according to their 2010 Annual Report) 1/3 of their funding is provided by our Federal tax dollars, and some taxpayers don’t want their money going to Planned Parenthood.

Well folks, lets get real! There are thousands of ongoing projects across the U.S. that WE are paying for and I would bet that if given a list of these projets you could find hundreds that you don’t wish to pay for. So what’s different about Planned Parenthood?

They directly and indirectly provide abortions.

It’s good to remember that in-spite of the very vocal anti-abortionists who wish they could inject their morality directly into the bloodstream of America, abortion is legal and if there is any justice left in the three branches of the United States government, it will remain legal.

The tragedy would be allowing the government to interdict the free will of a pregnant woman.

No free choice in South Dakota (without government consent)

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According to Politics Daily, South Dakota’s Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard has signed a bill that requires women who want an abortion in the state of South Dakota to wait three days — three days, that is, after being forced to receive “counseling” from a doctor (probably a government appointed doctor) and from an anti-abortion counselor. If the woman cannot be successfully brain-washed in three days, she is then apparently free to receive an abortion.

Governor Daugaard, after signing the bill, made this statement:

“I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives. I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.”

“Good choices?” Since when is the government responsible for directing or judging our choices when no law is being broken? Doesn’t that sound a little too Orwellian?

Regardless of what Governor Daugaard and the other religious conservatives in the South Dakota capital “think,” the fact, according to Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in South Dakota. is: the majority of the people in South Dakota don’t agree!

“The voters of South Dakota, by resounding margins at the ballot box, TWICE have told their legislators that the decision to have an abortion is between a woman, her family and her doctor and that government should not intrude on that decision,” Ms. Stoesz said.

I couldn’t agree more! Neither the government nor the church should have any control whatsoever over the decision of a free individual to carry a baby to term or to terminate the pregnancy.

The bottom line is: anti-abortion sentiment is fueled by the Christian Religious Right and over the past two decades the Religious Right’s hold on our governments, and therefore on our lives, has continually grown stronger.

On a personal level, religious beliefs are wonderful but when those beliefs are forced on people by government fiat you may soon find yourself immersed in a burgeoning Theocracy.

I’m sure that the governor of South Dakota “thinks” that he is doing the right thing by circumventing the stated will of the people, but then so has every tyrant, dictator and religious fanatic in history.

Thou Shall Not Govern

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Separation

When I ran across a recent article at “Air America” online titled: Abortion Restrictions In House Bill Show Power Of Organized Religion In Politics I broke into a sweat! (Well not literally!) However, how could it be that I, a self-professed proponent of Conservatism, could agree with ANYTHING that the “wacko Libs” at Air America propose. Perhaps I need to reevaluate my dedication to Conservative values as well as my blanket condemnation of “Libs.”

The Air America article begins like this:

The Catholic Church successfully helped deliver a crushing blow to the abortion rights movement on Saturday by insisting that abortion restrictions be inserted into the newly passed House health care bill. But this isn’t the first time that a religious organization has used its power, money, and influence to merge dogma with public policy.

Well, damn it all, they’re ALMOST absolutely right!

Two things: 1) Their naming of the “Catholic Church” as the culprit is a bit questionable — Evangelicals do deserve a big share of the credit; and 2) While they are correct that abortion restrictions ARE based solely on religious dogma and they are also correct that this isn’t the first time religion has influenced government actions; (same-sex marriage restrictions are now, thanks to religious influence on government, imposed by most states and are fully supported by federal fiat.) They are NOT right however when they suggest that the health care bill should have no restrictions on abortion. Taking religion out of the equation, abortion, in the majority of cases anyway, is a completely elective procedure and, as such, neither abortion or any other strictly elective procedure should be paid for by U.S. taxpayers. (Of course if sanity prevails, there will be NO Federal Health Care bill and this discussion will be moot.)

What about those Conservative values that deserve my reconsideration?

After just a bit of investigation I quickly discovered that I am not a textbook Conservative but I’m not far off. “Conservapedia” — the Conservative version of Wikipedia — lists 19 specific Conservative agenda items that a true Conservative is supposed is supposed to embrace:

– Classroom prayer *
– Prohibition of abortion *
– Abstinence education
– Traditional marriage, not same-sex marriage *
– Respect for differences between men and women, boys and girls
– Laws against pornography *
– The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms
– Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)
– The death penalty
– Parental control of education
– Private medical care and retirement plans
– Canceling failed social support programs
– No world government
– Enforcement of current laws regarding immigration
– Respect for our military … past and present
– Rejection of junk science such as evolutionism and global warming
– Low taxes, especially for families
– Federalism (less power for the federal government and more for local and state governments)
– A strong national defense

The four asterisked (*) items above are where I personally take my leave from this particular set of values; allow me to clarify my reasoning. Conservatism is, to me, a strictly political realm and while this list reflects a great set of personal values, those four asterisked items, IMO, have no place in the world of laws or politics. You may have also noted that these items are near the top of their list — a clear indication of how religion has already perverted political thinking.

My bottom line is this: Religious values are important to many (or most) people but they properly belong only where people willingly accept them: in the church, in the home, possibly in some microcosm of the community (where they are accepted by all members of that community) and, in general, in the lives of those who embrace them; they should NOT however have the force of law. Our great nation is NOT just populated by Christians or Jews or Hindus or Moslems or by any other single religious group and our laws should be strictly secular — not reflect the beliefs of any religion.

There are, of course, logical exceptions to a general statement like the preceding and they are, without exception, already codified into all of our laws: restrictions against causing physical harm, taking someone else’s property, etc. These may all be religious values, at least in most religions but in the context of law, they are the rules of any civilized nation.

One final note on abortion: My view, embraced by those people who are falsely label pro-abortion, is that an unborn baby is not subject to the laws of the United States (or any other entity) until it is born. People who believe this are pro-choice, not pro-abortion; they recognize that abortion does indeed terminate a potential life and that act (or “sin” for you religious folks) is the responsibility of and the rightful decision of the woman carrying the unborn child and the man who took part in the conception. That’s called “choice” and an individual’s choice is far more valuable than the religious proclamations of any religious or government body. You can “damn a woman to Hell” for her choice but arbitrary laws should never be able to prevent her from making that choice. That would be (or should be) completely outside of the realm of government.

We seriously need to keep the gate closed between the worlds of religion and politics — not doing that will, eventually, draw our system of government closer and closer to theocracy.