Posts tagged “new york”

Truly Pro-Life

May 17, 2019   5:12 pm

I’m a big fan of what’s going on in Alabama. They recently passed the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a “clean” abortion ban (auto-play warning on that link) that only contains an exception for the life of the mother; no rape exception, no incest exception, no “health of the mother” exception. The people who passed it have said that they are presenting it as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that discovered this then-previously-unknown right.

I probably should qualify what I mean by being a “big fan” of it. It clearly articulates the value of human life from the moment of conception, and provides severe penalties for doctors who perform the procedure contrary to the law. Would I have written the law this way? Possibly; it’s easier to add exceptions to a clean bill than try to remove them, when they were part of the bill the way the legislature voted on it. Do I think it has a chance that it will take effect? Not one little bit; there will be an injunction while the bill travels through the courts.

However, the people decrying this as an “absolutist” bill were the same ones cheering when New York passed their Reproductive Health Act back in January, which, among other things, removed any consideration of personhood from unborn children. These are also the people who see Georgia’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, which does have rape and incest exceptions, as so bad… (How bad is it?) It’s so bad that they’re refusing to act there or have marital relations with their spouses! (Weird flex, but OK… glad to see the latter part only lasted a day or so.)

Personally, I believe that rape and incest are horrible, terrible crimes, that are not improved by committing another violent act. I also realize that, as a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” a law will probably end up having those exceptions in it. We don’t have to imagine any exception being exploited; I’m sure Georgia doctors can and will ultrasound not quite right, so the heartbeat isn’t found. I believe their police reporting requirement for invoking the rape and incest exceptions is an excellent step; many people who commit these terrible crimes don’t just commit them once, and getting these criminals off the street will prevent further victims.

A common argument against those who wear the “pro life” label is that we seem to only care about unborn life. That couldn’t be further from the truth; and, in reality, that characterization is often made by political groups trying to marginalize us when we’ve just made a good point. Most “pro life” people I know also support fostering and adoption (when they’re allowed to), work programs, and end of life care as well. What they do not seem to get is this - the key to being truly pro-life is valuing life from womb to tomb. Re-read the last sentence of the previous paragraph; that’s a statement that values life! Until we can figure out a way to un-rape someone, preventing future rapes by the same perpetrator is something we can actually do. If you want to move beyond “thoughts and prayers,” there’s something concrete.

Life begins at conception; the closer we get to protecting all human life from that point forward, the better off we will be.

2014 Year in Review - The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous (and the Funny)

January 3, 2015   1:54 pm

I missed this in 2013, and this is not a 3-post series as usual. Instead of writing a lot about each topic, I’ll give a short reason I categorized it where I did. Please make no assumptions or conclusions about what I don’t say; the fact that people are so apt to do that should probably make the “Bad” list, but not this year. Since this is a single post, we’ll lead with…

The Good

The Bad

The Ridiculous

The Funny

Continuing his tradition which he didn’t miss last year, Dave Barry has his take on the year’s events.

Here’s to 2015 - let’s hope it’s a good one!

2012 Year in Review - The Bad

January 2, 2013   12:00 am

Either way you read it, this is the middle post of the “2012 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous” series. This past year has given me no shortage of things from which to choose to compose this post.

Mass Murder x2

2012 saw two mass murders on U. S. soil. On July 20th, at a premiere of the movie The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, 12 people were killed and 58 injured by a freak who made himself look like the Joker. Then, on December 14th, a troubled young man killed his own mother, 20 children, 6 adults, and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. While the reaction made the ridiculous list this year, the murders themselves are here. They are a stark reminder that we live in a fallen world. Dr. Albert Mohler broke his less-than-a-day-old hiatus on The Briefing for a special edition, and he summed it up quite well.

Though the murders themselves were horrible and tragic, there were reports of heroes in both instances. In Colorado, men shielded others with their bodies, and ultimately gave their lives to save others In Connecticut, a teacher named Victoria Soto hid her students wherever she could, and told the gunman that the children were elsewhere. These ordinary people, stepping up to against evil, give us some hope that while we will never eliminate this sort of evil, it is far from the norm; and, there are those who will fight against it with little to no warning.

The Benghazi / Petraeus Affair

September 11th, for the past 11 years, has been a dicey day. Obviously, the one in 2001 was the worst; however, our intelligence and counter-terrorism forces have been vigilant to the point where we really had not had to deal with any actual attacks on that particular day. 2012 saw that streak come to an end, as a group of terrorists laid siege to the U. S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, kidnapping and then killing our ambassador and three others. Initially, the State Department blamed the attack on a spontaneous reaction to the film The Innocence of Muslims, a 16-minute film that made a great deal of fun over Mohammad. In the past few days (see why you write these things after the year is done?), the report has come out calling it “sloppy security.”

Conflicting reports came out about the threat level surrounding that particular embassy, and there were even conflicting reports on our reaction to the attack once we knew it was underway. Even with the report, many people still feel that the entire story is not known. Why would that be? Well, when a cover-up or misdirection is the initial response, how are the American people to know when the next answer is the right one?

But, surely, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, or the Secretary of State, could get the answers and bring them out, correct? This, too, was not to be in 2012. Thanks to a sexual harassment complaint launched in April and concluded in August, an affair between the CIA director, retired General David Petraeus, and his biographer, was revealed. This “trump card” was not played until after the election, and was used to oust Petraeus before he could give official testimony as the CIA director. At the same time, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, couldn’t testify due to scheduling conflicts, then due to the “flu.” It may be just as well; she doesn’t have a great history of having a very good memory when she’s placed under oath. Additionally, the African Command commander was relieved of his position shortly after the attack.

September 11, 2001 is generally considered a failure of intelligence. The more we learn about September 11, 2012, it looks less like a failure of intelligence and more a failure to take appropriate defensive action based on that intelligence. To put it more bluntly, we hung our own countrymen out to dry, and four of them are no longer with us.

The Fiscal Cliff

If Benghazi’s problem was inaction, then the CIA and State have learned it from the U. S. Congress. Over three years of Senate inaction have left us with a budget that is nearly 4 years old; Obamacare deferred-until-the-next-election mandates will kick in; we’re about to hit the extended-several-times debt ceiling; across-the-board cuts, called “sequestration,” a compromise from the last debt ceiling expansion, are set to kick in; and the so-called “Bush tax cuts” which were extended a few times are once again set to expire (itself a concept that probably deserves a spot on a ridiculous list at some point). Since that’s a lot to say, the term “fiscal cliff” was coined to describe these economic events all hitting at the same time.

What is required to keep the next U. S. national sport from being fiscal cliff diving? A budget. Will that be the solution presented? Probably not. As I write this (on the 1st), the Senate has passed a compromise bill, but several House members do not seem to approve. When the next congress is seated later this week, that bill will be invalid. Bills proposed by the president and the Senate have been rightly termed “unserious” by Republicans; however, their bills are not very serious either. On a family budget that’s $24,000 in the red each year, we’re cutting $360. Neither side wants to do the hard work of cutting spending where it needs to be cut.

Here’s hoping the water is deep enough at the bottom of this cliff that we don’t break our necks.

Mitt Romney Loses

I covered my incredulity at the results of the election in the ridiculous post; but here, the negative is that we do not have Mitt Romney at the helm to guide our nation away from this cliff. Not since Sarah Palin have I witnessed such a successful character assassination, where his positives became negatives, and his successes presented as disqualifications.

As a business, America is failing. The Securities and Exchange Commission wouldn’t let our stock be traded. We need someone who cares enough about our country to make hard decisions about what needs to be cut, so that a leaner America can emerge and once again regain her strength. Who better to do that than someone who ran a company that did that for businesses over and over again? And what if this someone had also donated his entire inheritance to charity, and given 2 years of his life for his religion? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

I know some of my fellow conservatives had some problems with him on social issues, or the size and scope of the state. I wasn’t 100% with him (though in an isidewith.com survey, I scored 97% Romney), but if our country is not economically viable, social and domestic policy matter little; at that point, we’ll be answering to someone else anyway.

Hurricane Sandy

Cross an Atlantic hurricane with a nor’easter, and it’s not good. Hurricane Sandy battered much of the U. S. east coast in late October, merging with a northern storm just before Halloween, leading many to call it “Frankenstorm.” Its wake was no laughing matter, though, with over 100 dead. New York and New Jersey sustained the hardest direct hit, and current estimates have it as the second most costly storm on record, just behind 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

Those two states provided a stark contrast in dealing with preparation and relief. New York City was particularly bad, with refugees being evicted from hotels for the “show must go on” New York Marathon, while generators were pulled from relief efforts to power the tents for the race. Mayor Bloomberg, at first a strong proponent of continuing to hold the race, changed his mind, and the organizers agreed to cancel it. Meanwhile, the Federal government has yet to vote on any special aid for Sandy relief; the Senate passed a bill, but the House won’t take up any legislation except the fiscal cliff. (And these are the people we want in charge of health care? But I digress.)

Hurricane Sandy, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Sandra Fluke - 2012 was a bad year for disasters named Sandy.

Lance Armstrong Revelations

Lance Armstrong was a 7-time Tour de France champion. He did it while fighting cancer, and founding a charitable foundation. However, he had been fighting doping charges for years, and in 2012, decided to stop fighting the charges. All his wins have been vacated, Olympic medals stripped, and the Livestrong Foundation that he founded has kicked him out. His defense is that he was not taking any substance that was not banned, and that he had done nothing other than what others had done.

Even if we take him at his word - if everyone took the same enhancement, that’s still a terrible way to determine athletic prowess. Professional sports should not be about who has the best chemistry; it should be people training their bodies to perform a specific task so well that no one else can do it equally. I’m not so naïve as to think that this means that no one is going to try; even NASCAR has had its fair share of drug problems. However, anything short of pure physical ability will inevitably lead to more and more use, and more experimenting. The NFL is already dealing with players who feel they were unfairly exploited and put in harm’s way. How much worse would it be for the players who tried experimental (i.e., not-banned-yet) drugs whose side effects were unknown until much later?

 

There you have it. 2012 didn’t lead to the end of the world, but there was much that we will be happy to see pass into the rear-view mirror. Other issues will still be here for us in 2013, waiting to be dealt with then. May we have the fortitude to do so.

2011 Year in Review - The Ridiculous

January 2, 2012   9:00 am

This is the first (or last, depending on how you’re reading these) entry in the series “2011 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous.” 2011 may go down in history as one of the craziest yet. It’ll be tough to narrow it down to just a few things to keep this at a reasonable length - but, we’ll try.

Occupy Wall Street

For me, this was an easy pick. This movement, starting in the fall and continuing in some cities to this day, stands for… well, that’s part of it. They claimed inspiration from the Arab Spring, but had the minor detail that they weren’t under an oppressive regime. They boldly proclaimed that they were the 99% of income earners, railing against the income inequality between themselves and the top 1%. The phrase “I am the 99%” became one of their rallying cries. The main problem with the movement, however, was the absolute lack of a goal. What did they hope to accomplish? A list was posted online, but then others said that this list was not right. I addressed some of the issues surrounding that in my #OWS, Educate Thyself series, so I won’t re-hash that here.

Some claimed that this was the liberal’s response to the conservative Tea Party movement of 2010. However, their rap sheet grew rapidly, including rape, homicide, public indecency, and disturbing the peace. Public health concerns grew over these encampments, evidenced by a tuberculosis outbreak in Atlanta and “Zucotti Lung” among New York’s occupiers. This was no Tea Party. As some within the group tried to organize, others worked against organization, which led to confusion all around.

Then the time came to evict these protesters, which led to even more ridiculousness. Some mayors were more adamant than others, and some even spoke against their own police forces. Pepper spray flew in many cities, and on the campus of the University of California Davis. Occupiers in Portland are trying to shut down ports. As winter sets in, many of the camps have closed, but the aimless angst continues. The needed conversations regarding ridiculous executive compensation and police tactics will likely be drowned out by the shouting.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

This is a late-breaking entry, but it still happened in 2011. This bill gives the US Government the right to redirect Domain Name Service (DNS) entries for sites that host or participate in software piracy to a different site, similar to the ICE domain seizures that have been happening for a while now. There are many problems with this idea (which may sound good to some, on the surface). First, this breaks the DNS system, particularly the upcoming DNS Secure (DNSSec) protocol, which aims to prevent the DNS cache poisoning attacks that are becoming quite prevalent. Secondly, the concept of seizing an entire domain over suspected (not proven) activity circumvents due process; many large sites are approaching common-carrier status, and apart from DMCA take-down notices, aren’t able to police or censor their content. It completely misses the point of how the Internet works. Creating a system like this just invites abuse, which is ironic, considering the law purports to be trying to fight it.

The main forces behind this legislation are the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), two organizations who have shown themselves clueless as to how the Internet works time and time again. This brings in the biggest problem of all. This is the equivalent of the horse-and-buggy lobby writing laws against cars, to ensure their continued existence. There were many fine buggy crafstmen, I’m sure, who were put out of work by these new horseless carriages. Those craftsmen who chose to adapt and learn new skills were successful; those who sat on the sidelines were not.

The RIAA and MPAA have fought tooth and nail against technology for decades. (Anyone remember DAT?) They are slow to adapt. It was said that FM radio was going to kill record sales, because people wouldn’t buy them when they could hear the music for free. The cassette recorder would kill album sales, because people could record music themselves. The VCR would kill movie sales, because people could record movies from TV, cable, and LaserDiscs. They’ve proved themselves on the wrong side of technology at nearly every turn, and they’re wrong here. Their current efforts are doing two things - frustrating people like Tom Merritt (Update: Google+ is gone, and so is the link), who want to comply with the law, and encouraging piracy.

Casey Anthony

Back in 2008, a young girl named Caylee Anthony disappeared in Florida. Her mom reported her missing, and a half a year later, her remains were found. Through the police investigation, the clues they found all pointed toward one conclusion - her mother Casey had killed her and hidden her body. I won’t recount all the details for that - you can see them at that link. It’s not ridiculous, it’s just sad.

The ridiculous parts of this, though, were plentiful. The first was the “Trial of the Century” hype; this was, to some extent, a self-fulfilling prophecy. The media should cover the story, they should not be the story. The trial should have been covered, but the circus that was the trial was absolutely ridiculous. The second was Casey’s behavior. Her daughter is dead, she knows about it (according to her testimony), yet she’s out partying like there’s no tomorrow. Even if that were her regular M.O., I can assure you that if one of my children is missing, I wouldn’t be occupying my usual schedule. The third was her defense - Caylee died in the pool, and she was too scared to call the police, instead dumping the child’s body and instigating a huge manhunt for this child. Really? And her parents supported her in these claims! The fourth was the verdict - not guilty. There was so much wrong with this case, even if there wasn’t enough for capital murder, there were lesser charges that were also found not guilty.

The narrative is drama-filled, Casey is an attractive young lady, so this story is probably not done. I wish it were. I hesitated on putting her on this list, because attention to people like this only encourages them.

CelebuTwits

This seemed to be the year when many folks found out how Twitter works the hard way. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) tweeted a picture of his (let’s just say “namesake”) to a follower. Instead of using a direct message, which is private, he simply typed an @ symbol followed by the follower’s name, which is public to whoever views his timeline. He claimed to have been hacked; these claims were refuted, and he admitted to sending the message, as well as to many indiscretions against his newly-pregnant wife. He resigned his seat in the wake of this.

Other celebrities had trouble with the filter that’s supposed to sit between the texting fingers and the brain. Gilbert Gottfried tweeted jokes about the Japanese tsunami, and was dropped as the voice of the AFLAC duck. Ashton Kutcher tweeted his support of Penn State’s Joe Paterno in the wake of Paterno’s firing, which he later clarified once he learned the reasons behind. Alec Baldwin explored a New York mayoral run via Twitter, and ended up canceling his account after being booted from an airline flight for failing to turn off his iPad. His reason? Words with Friends. And, early in the year, Twitter was one of the places where Charlie Sheen’s epic breakdown unfolded, giving birth to the hashtag #WINNING.

 

As with all of these reviews, this is nowhere close to an exhaustive list; but, that’ll do. Some of these are ongoing; we’ll hope and pray that if they make next year’s list, it’ll be on the good list due to their dissolution.

The 3rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. / Sanctity of Human Life Column

January 16, 2006   9:38 pm

Again this year, I’m combining my thoughts on these two days into one column. (If you’d like, you can review 2005’s combined entry and 2004’s entries for MLK’s birthday and the sanctity of human life.) Much has happened over the past year in the realm of life issues and race relations, and I’d like to take a look back to see what we can learn from these recent happenings.

Recently, discussion on abortion has come to the forefront, thanks to the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. The people on the left like to pitch this as a case of women’s rights, but the issue before the Supreme Court is even more basic than that. That question is, “Is there a right to ‘privacy’ in the Constitution?” In the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court “found” this previously unrecognized right deep within a “penumbra” in our nearly 200-year-old Constitution. In this specific case, we learn that the Constitution prohibits states from having laws prohibiting the sale of contraceptives. (I’m curious as to whether any people have appealed laws against other types of drugs, citing this precedent.) Based on the faulty logic of Griswold, the 1973 case Roe v. Wade struck down all restrictions on abortion, viewing it as just another contraceptive method.

In last year’s entry, I dealt with the medical advances over the intervening 30 years since Roe was decided. I will, though, give you a link to one of the best abortion information resources I’ve seen - Abortion Facts. This site has links and information on almost every aspect of reproductive health, from a worldview that values life and realizes the negative effect that abortion has had not only on the babies that die each day, but on our society’s view of life, women, and appropriate sexual behavior. Also, a startling statistic from the New York Daily News - for every 100 births in NYC last year, 74 abortions were performed. That’s 42.5%!

Back in March 2005, we had another fight regarding life, this time on the other side with Terri Schiavo, a lady who had been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state for several years, but who had not recorded her wishes before she died. Her husband Michael claims that she had said that she would not have wanted heroic measures used to prolong her life, and that her current nature of medical care constituted “heroic” measures. He petitioned the court to order her nursing home to remove the feeding tube that was giving her food and water. On the other side, Terri’s parents did not feel that their daughter would want to starve to death; rather, they wanted Michael to divorce Terri, at which point they would become the ones responsible for continuing her care. (Of course, had he divorced her, he wouldn’t get any insurance money… Hmmm…) Astoundingly, Michael won, and Terri was starved to death, passing away on March 31st. He claims that it was what she would have wanted - but, sadly, she’s not here to present her side. (Here’s a link to the entry I wrote at the time about Terri and her case.)

This is the case where the “pro-choice” movement morphed into the “pro-death” movement. Their true beliefs about their opinion of human life was on display for all to see. Terri Schiavo had made her choice. Choosing not to have a living will means that her care would fall back to normal medical processes - every attempt to save her life would be made. The “pro-choice” crowd, though, ignoring her choice, sided with her adulterous husband in his quest for her death. I guess they’re pro-choice, as long as the choice is death.

On January 28th, 2005, Condoleezza Rice was sworn in as only the second black (and first black female) Secretary of State. It is interesting that, for all the lip service the Democrats give to people of color, it was a Republican President who has appointed both black Secretaries of State our nation has had. Throughout this past year, she has been quite busy, working hard to act as this country’s face to the rest of the world. She is presiding over the difficult diplomatic processes with North Korea and Iran, two rogue countries that are dangerously close to developing nuclear weapons.

Once September rolled around, though, we saw something much less inspiring. Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, destroying Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi and, though it only hit New Orleans, Louisiana with a glancing blow, the water broke some of the levees around the city, and it flooded. We heard reports of stacks of bodies, rapes, and rampant looting. (Thankfully, all but the looting seems to have been vastly overreported.) Then, we have the ridiculous outburst from Kanye West during a Katrina fundraising special, claiming that our President doesn’t care about black people. Preposterous! And, during a time of national disaster, an irresponsible and disrespetful thing to do. Seems it was all a publicity stunt - his album came out a few weeks later, and his name was fresh on people’s minds. So, he basically exploited the same people he claimed President Bush didn’t care about. Definitely not a high point…

To wrap up our mini year-in-review, let’s come back to the recently completed Alito hearings. Aspersions were cast on Judge Alito’s character because he had been a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), and that group had written that it opposed allowing minorities and women into Princeton. The only problem is that those lines came from a parody that was published in the Princeton student newspaper. (Look for the quotes from Dinesh D’Souza in that article.) Turns out, CAP was also concerned about the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program being banished from Princeton, and that is why Justice-to-Be Alito had joined the group. The group did oppose quotas of minority/female admissions, and they also opposed lowered admissions standards for minority/female admissions - but, they were not opposed to minorities or women based on their race or gender. (And, this insinuation from the left is getting more than a little insulting!) Also, during the hearings, one of the committee members said that they couldn’t think of a single decision that Judge Alito had made that was beneficial to minorities. However, this article, written in November of 2005, shows his belief that all people are equal under the law, no matter what their skin color.

Our nation misses Dr. King’s guidance. He believed that, just as God sees us all as people, men should look at men with color-blind eyes as well. I hope that, over the next few years, less focus will be placed on divisive things. And, I hope that minorities realize that while one group emphasizes our differences, there is another group that has accepted those of whatever color, and encourage them to do the things that will improve their lives.

Apologize? For What?

July 12, 2005   10:30 pm

Here recently, there has been a spate of apologies. Now, I believe in owning up for your actions when you are wrong, and I am training my children to do the same. But these mass apologies to which I’m referring are nothing more than meaningless “I feel your pain” drivel.

First up is the recent Senate apology for not outlawing lynching. For starters, there is no one in the Senate today who was around then and didn’t “outlaw” lynching at the Federal level. Besides, lynching was already illegal, under assault and murder laws - whether backwoods Southern police departments prosecuted offenders is not the domain of the Senate (legislative branch - law enforcement is a task of the executive branch). The only thing this resolution does is bring up, yet again, the terrible part of Southern history that is lynching. It reminds some Americans, now in their eighties and nineties, of a time that they’ve worked hard to overcome and forget. With the Senate still dragging their feet on judicial confirmations, wasting their time on this meaningless document seems ludicrous. One pundit has an interesting take on it (although his view of whether it was “good” or not differs from mine) - he says that this resolution forced Senators to make a political choice. (I’m proud to say that one my senators, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), as well as Richard Shelby (R-AL) and both Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX) did not put their names on this.)

Next up is Richard Durbin’s comments regarding the military, and his subsequent statement that he termed an “apology.” He has used the patented “if then” apology technique - if what I said offended you, then I’m sorry. It’s hard to say when this came into vogue - he’s certainly not the first to try to pass something like that off as an apology. He said what he said, and offered us a window into his soul, his beliefs. If he doesn’t have the spine to stick up for his conviction, well… that probably makes him like 70%+ of the elected officials in Washington, I suppose. ScrappleFace had a great parody on Sen. Durbin’s apology - the “first draft” is a lot closer to an apology than what he actually said!

This apologizing can really get inane and picky - a candidate for office in New York has now apologized because, in describing her civil rights work in the 1960’s, referred to a police vehicle as a “paddy wagon.” This is absolutely ridiculous. I’m glad our Founding Fathers didn’t have such thin skin as their progeny has now developed - they would have demanded an apology from Britain, and while they were standing there with their hands on their hips, the British would have killed them all.

Mass apologies, and apologies over trifiling little issues, are meaningless. The only good thing they do is make it easy to tell who is more concerned with feelings than with accomplishment. As we go through life, things happen that either offend us, hurt us, or make us mad. When faced with these circumstances, we have two choices; we can either allow it to keep us down, and focus on our own feelings, or we can use it as motivation to make our lives better. The rugged men who founded our country chose the latter, and so do I. What will you choose?