Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More on the Hypocrisy Bandwagon

I thought about writing some cute exemplar of how assinine this latest example of hypocrisy is, but instead I decided on straightforward railing. I'll save the creative energies for later.

I lived in the Old Dominion for three years while attending school from '89-'92. Not the DC suburbs, either. A way down in the southwestern part of the state, right on the ever scenic I81. Virginia was not run by loons then, but it sure is now.

Here's the story, if you want the details:

Backing down after a well deserved campaign of national ridicule for passing a bill that would require women seeking abortions to have a transvaginal ultrasound, which requires the insertion of a probe into the vagina, the moral paragons have instead only required an external ultrasound of the sort so often seen on TV with the jell on the stomach. For good measure, they threw in an exception for women who are victims of incest or rape. This is the Senate version which now goes to the House of Delegates for likely passage there, too, and eventually signing into law by the governor.

Where to start with the hypocrisy? There are three huge, pink elephants worth that strike me right off the top.

First, we're talking about the commonwealth that was one of the first to file suit to oppose the federal healthcare reform legislation. Much of the purported opposition to that legislation is that it puts health care decisions in the hands of government regulators rather than the individual and his or her doctor. Which is bullshit, but was a big talking point all the same. So now we have the same commonwealth dictating to women what they have to do in their health care. They claim it's to provide all the information possible to women, but women are already given all the information. The ultrasound is solely designed to have women look at an image of a blob on the screen in the hopes that she'll suddenly have an overwhelming love for it and abandon all consideration of an abortion. There's no medical need to require the ultrasound and it shouldn't, based on their opposition to health care, be a decision made by the Virginia government. It should be a decision made by a woman and her doctor.

That's hypocrisy number one.

Second, there's the right wingnuts of the Family Foundation, quoted at the end of the article, who continue to foist the idea that abortion providers are some sort of profit driven industry that just want more and more abortions so doctors who perform them can live a life of luxury. Never mind the reality that it's difficult to find doctors who will perform abortions in most of the lesser populated portions of the US because sympathizers with the Family Foundation have assassinated such doctors and waged decades long campaigns of intimidation against both the doctors and the women seeking their services. Their position is despicable but the hypocrisy comes into play in their silence in the face of actual profit driven medicine. Where's their opposition to plastic surgery on people without health reasons? Where's their opposition to health insurance providers cutting services to people with health problems that need them, all in the name of boosting the bottom line? Fah.

That's hypocrisy number two.

My favorite hypocrisy is the third. The ultrasound will be required for women seeking abortions unless they are victims of incest or rape. So a procedure that is supposed to be performed at commonwealth instruction for the benefit of the health and knowledge of the woman is not needed for victims of rape and incest. Surely if this procedure were really for the benefit of the patients then there'd be no need for the exception. Victims of rape and incest are just as much in need of this valuable health information as women who just became pregnant after a wild night or an unexpected birth control failure, if not more so. But, once again, this just shows the real purpose of the legislation - shove a picture in front of a woman to try to force her to love the image and change her decision. Because, you know, she didn't really think about it before. She just said, "Oh, well. I'm pregnant. Better get down to the abortion provider on the nearest corner, because they're so profitable they're on every block like Starbucks, to get rid of this inconvenience."

Here's a funny (in the not amusing sense) thing. This right to life driven crowd proclaims that human life starts at conception. They also argue that all human life should not be ended before birth. Therefore, by that rationale all fetuses are equal. All of them had no say in their conception and have the equal right to be carried to miscarriage or birth. But, an exception to the ultrasound law, designed as it is to emotionally blackmail women into forgoing abortion, says that the commonwealth has decided that fetuses resulting from rape or incest are not equal to all other fetuses and are valid targets for termination. Why? The movement's logic says these are innocent humans. They're being condemned to termination due to the midseeds of their progenitors, not any crime of their own.

And that's hypocrisy number three. A trifecta of shame for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Parental Pride/Parental Frustration

A bit late posting today, for all 2 or so of you reading.

I could have put this up yesterday but the Carroll County Commissioners were just to rich a target to forgo.

Parental pride kicked in on Saturday when my daughter received notice (by good old fashioned USPS) that she has been admitted to Carver HS for its dance program. This is the premier dance program for Baltimore County public high schools and accepts a maximum of 25 dancers each class year. The program accepts fewer than that, though, if not enough applicants meet the minimum scoring requirements of 80%.

Katya has said for a few years now that she wants to be a professional dancer. She's learned a lot at Tami Gee's Studio of Dance in Finksburg, MD, but my wife and I both believe that if she wants to be a professional, she needs more training by more people. Tami agrees and provided a recommendation for Katya. With the news on Saturday, all of us were excited and happy. Well, all of us but Katya.

She doesn't want to leave her circle of friends to go to a new school. Now, some of her friends would be going someplace other than Franklin HS anyway, and her friend, Erin, is also going to Carver for the dance program. That's the way of transitions from middle school to high school, especially in a place like Baltimore County where there are a lot of options for students. It's not like being in Middleburg, PA like I was. Everyone went to the same school. That's all there was unless you went to a small, private Christian school or, later in HS, to the Vo-Tech.

I'm convinced she'll be happy with Carver and learn a lot. She'll be concentrating in ballet and modern there so she'll continue at Tami's in hip hop and the other styles she likes, as well as being on the competition team there. She'll have Erin going with her and she'll make a lot of new friends. Hell, most of her friends at Franklin MS are not people she went to ES with. She's made new friends throughout her MS stay.

Pride in the girl's accomplishment. Frustration with the girl's attitude. Life with a 13 year old. Good thing I love the girl.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Local Hypocrisy

A minor uproar made the pages of the Baltimore Sun last week when the all Republican, five member Carroll County Commission (the bunch who run the county in lieu of a county council and county executive that more populous counties have, and Carroll arguably should have) spent $800 in county taxpayer money to have the pastor of an Anne Arundel County church present a seminar, whose attendance was originally strongly urged for county employees. Seems the pastor is a prime mover in a group called The Institute for the Constitution, which believes the US Constitution is biblically based.

Not surprisingly, both the ACLU and Americans United for the Separtion of Church and State opposed the whole thing. The Commissioners ended up clarifying that attendance was voluntary, and all of about 50 people attended the seminar. The pastor also managed to hardly mention God or religion, which is a neat trick, considering.

Quoting the Baltimore Sun's report on the seminar, we have mention of one of the Commissioners who attended, and David Whitney, the pastor.

'"We made clear that this would be an objective look with no proselytizing." (Commisioner Richard Rothschild)

Whitney walked the class through Maryland's early history and asked the audience to travel back nearly 250 years to understand the rationale of the time. In the 18th century, only men 21 and older who owned at least 50 acres could vote.

"Property owners paid taxes," he said. "Those who paid nothing in taxes had no vote."

He described how the state's constitution evolved but never deviated from one basic concept.

"Our rights come from God, not the government," Whitney said, in one of only a few religious references Friday.'

I'm trying to figure out how this is an objective look. Whitney espouses a view in favor of natural law. Granted, that was a common view when the original Maryland, as well as US, Contstitution was created, but less so when the current Maryland Constitution was drafted in 1867. Furthermore, the Maryland Constitution has nearly 200 amendments, the most recent of which came into force in 2008. Obviously, a lot of philosophy from a lot of different eras has been glommed onto the Maryland Constitution. An originalist argument is invalid on its face because it essentially says that we should not pay attention to all those amendments.

This is the same problem with the Know Nothings (aka the Tea Party), just on a local scale. A talismanic view of a constitution is not only unrealistic, it makes the document itself useless as an instrument of governance. Both the US and Maryland Constitutions were drafted as changeable documents. Hell, the Founding Fathers were still running the country when they were fighting over what the US Constitution meant, so it's hardly possible for people now to claim to have the knowledge of what the US Constitution meant then and that such view should the final say on the matter. Marbury v Madison, anyone?

I suppose Whitney can contend that he's quoted out of context, but the above quote from the Sun implies that he views with favor that only white males who owned 50 acres or more could vote, or at the very least, it wouldn't be a bad thing to allow only people who pay taxes now to vote. Ironically, this might disenfranchise the very wealthy who pay an effective rate of 0 with their deductions and living off of investments rather than earned income.

Regardless, he certainly seems to think that it was fair that voting was restricted in that way at that time because it limited voting to those who paid taxes. Except it also disenfranchised people who paid taxes. Though not common, women and non-whites did own property. Furthermore, plenty of white men who owned less than 50 acres, which they still paid taxes on, wouldn't have qualified to vote, either.

So, I'm thinking, how many people does the Carroll County GOP want to disenfranchise? Since they're a little shy of a religious litmus test, maybe they'll propose only county taxpayers can vote? Not that such a thing would survive court challenges, even with the Federalist Know Nothings on the Supreme Court now.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

International Hypocrisy

“History will make us who we are, and today we are witnessing a journey that started 200 years ago,” he said. “This is not money. This is historical heritage.”

These are the words of Spanish ambassador to the US Jorge Dezcallar de Mazar upon the return of 594,000 silver coins to Spain. He's talking about silver coins made from Peruvian silver when Peru was part of the Spanish empire. These coins were lost in a shipwreck off the coast of Portugal in 1804 and salvaged by an American dive company, which took the coins to Florida.

I don't have any issue with the dive compnay losing claim to the coins. I'd sooner see them preserved in a public setting than sold off to private collectors around the world. I just love the hypocrisy of the Spanish Ambassador laying claim to them as Spanish heritage. You know, the heritage of subjugating the Americas, killing off the native populations with disease, war and bottom of the caste status while pillaging the natural resources of the Americas for the sole benefit of the elites of Spain. Kind of a heritage much like the alleged piracy of the American salvage company.

Unfortunately, Peru's last minute appeals to the US Supreme Court failed. They're the ones that ought to have the coins.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kill 'em all and start over

I've been posting on Comics and...Other Imaginary Tales for a few years. I don't run that blog and sometimes I have something that strikes me that I want to shout about to the world, but Comics and isn't really the right forum. So, here I am with my own blog. Of course, it'll probably be just me reading it, but what the hell.

Don't expect anything fancy here. It's about what I have to say, not the graphics.

I'm going to try to post at least daily on work days (M-F), but maybe more, mabye less.

I'll start with Afghanistan. I haven't checked my history in any depth, but I'd venture the US is the first to occupy Afghanistan not because it wanted to control the territory but because the mooks who did control the territory allowed it to be used as a base of attack. That's an arguably more laudible reason to control a territory but the end result is the same. We're stuck in a primitive land that has only a mariginal interest in being a part of the 21st century.

This week brought us the baffling spectacle of people being killed over the burning of books. Now, as a general rule, I'm opposed to the burning of books. I don't care if it's the Quran, Shakespear, Fanny Hill, or Mein Kampf. If it's to be disposed, recycle it into another paper product, but don't burn it. Too much symbolism with that.

That being said, what the hell's the matter with a society that thinks the solution to book burning is to kill people? They value a book, not books in general, to such a degree that they have to kill someone over any insult to the book. It's a weak faith indeed that can't withstand a burning of the holy book, whether intentional or not.

Maybe it can be traced to the early history of Islam, where the answer to persecution was to wage jihad, but this is hardly the same. Despite the diatribes of Islamic extermists, no one who spends any time observing the current state of affairs can make a reasoned argument that the US or Europe are waging a war on Islam (the occasional idiotic statement of politicians notwithstanding). So killing Afghans and NATO soldiers because a few Qurans (which, by the way, were being used to spread extermist propaganda among prisoners, via notes in the margins), were burned is a disporportionate response to an action that did warrant objection. Christians wouldn't be happy if Muslims burned the Bible, after all. However, I know of no country where it would be acceptable for Christians to kill Muslims over it.

I shouldn't expect much of a land where women are chattel and the only export is opium. Human life is a devalued commodity and the supposedly devout are highly hypocritical. Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, not to mention Buddhism, Hinduism, and just about any of the other faiths of the world, can be read to espouse peace or violence. Certainly there have been examples in each of them where people have used the faith as a basis for killing on a large scale. Fortunately, the vast majority of Muslims around the world take the peaceful view.

Which, to me, means that the problem with Afghanistan is one of culture, not faith. The Afghan culture, fractured amongst several tribes, seems to have one commonality, that it's ok to kill anyone who disagrees with you. Not much of a basis for forming a united nation.

When I was in college, where I was a government major and history minor, a friend and I posited, in darkest jest, the Mexico Plan. To our minds, Mexicio was such a mess it was unsalvageable. Therefore, the Mexico Plan was simple: Kill them all and start over. Sometimes that seems like the best option for Afghanistan. It's not, but it feels like it.