Featured Quote

In 1913, Henry Ford wrote the following as the directors had been reaping the rewards of profits - "The wages we pay are too small in comparison with our profits. I think we should raise our minimum pay rate".

Friday, November 4, 2011

Religious Extremists and Why the GOP must be defeated

The United States of America was founded by people fleeing the religious persecution of the Government-Supported Church of England.  The Founders wrote protections from such abuses - by any religion - into our Constitution.

Religious Extremists have been fighting to destroy the constitution ever since.  Somehow they feel persecuted because they are prohibited from persecuting other religions - or the not-religious.

  • 1776 The USA Founded
  • 1782 The Motto "E Pluribus Unum" as official motto of U.S.
      Meaning : "Out of Many, One."  A very inclusive and unifying motto.
  • 1795 "E Pluribus Unum" put on U.S. Coins
  • 1862 First Paper Money printed in U.S.
  • 1864 "In God We Trust" added to U.S. Coins
      Religious response to the Civil War - a prime example of the Shock Doctrine.
  • 1892 Pledge of Allegiance written :
    "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." 
  • 1923 Pledge altered to specify "the flag of the United States of America"
      Original author objects.
  • 1954 "Under God" added to the Pledge of Allegiance
      Original author's daughter objects on his behalf.
      Religious response to the Communist threat - another Shock Doctrine moment.
  • 1956 "In God We Trust" adopted as official U.S. Motto
      A very divisive motto, potentially unconstitutional.
  • 1957 "In God We Trust" added to paper money
We can see an 88 year period of the United States as the (even very religious) Founders intended - a secular government with no religious bias.  Then the seditious attacks begin to succeed.  Now, the Religious Reich(1) talk as though the pledge always included "under god" and the motto was always "in god we trust." Even though it was officially "E Pluribus Unum" for the first 180 years of our country.

Our Democratic Republic has been under constant attack from the extremists of the Religious Reich on one side and the Corporatists on the other.  They are winning.  It is time we gather and fight back. It is time we bring Unity of Many instead of Preference to the Right Religion back to the forefront of politics.

I am not suggesting an end to religions, far from it.  I want religious bias out of government.  I want corporate money and influence out of government.  I want people to be free to express their religious beliefs without fear of persecution - no matter what their religion is.  I want politics to be free of the defacto requirement to support the right religion or religiously motivated policies.  I want people who are not millionaires, people who know what is going on it the real economy, people who are atheists or pagans, to be able to get elected to office! I want law and religion to be kept very, very far apart.

If you can find examples of where religion is taking over government, please post links to articles!

Here are some that prompted this blog post :

"Personhood" amendments, which seek to establish religious beliefs as law.
Defense of Marriage act - A few articles to link to on this one. Another religion as law item.
Presidential candidates pushed by religious zealots based on religion.
Michigan's Anti-Bullying law protects 'religiously motivated' bullying.

Oh, yeah... why the GOP must be defeated.  While the Religious and Corporatists are not exclusive to the GOP, they are most at home there and it is the GOP that is pushing the hardest for the most extreme ideas and ideals of the Religious Reich and the Corporations.

Sources :

(1) - Religious Reich : The extremists of the extreme Religious Right.  Those individuals and beliefs that make the Religious Right exclaim, "They are too extreme."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Living, Breathing People

There is a reason we have the phrase "Living, Breathing Person" in our language.  Breathing makes up a very significant portion of 'being alive.'

A commenter said : 
What then, is the fundamental difference between the 1 year old poor child and the 8.5 month baby about to be born into poverty?
I dont' ask that rhetorically. Tell us the age when you generally believe a "independent existence" begins. The age where you'd look at the thing and say "yep, that's a person". Then subtract 1 day. Tell us, biologically, what is the difference between the two?
The age an independent existence begins? Easy, obvious, common sense - Birth, whether that is natural or C-Section or some other method of becoming able to breathe.

Subtract one day? Not much difference. However, nobody, least of all me, is advocating for abortion at 8.5 months. His comment is a distraction and distortion - and quite frankly monstrous. One must wonder why they must sink to such methods to support their cause.

How about something that is actually being discussed? Subtract Three Months from birth - LOTS of difference. Right at the end of the second trimester, it can't exist outside the host, its not a person. Still, nobody is advocating for abortion after this point.

Even more appropriate, subtract SIX months. At the end of the first trimester - still an alien looking thing, still not a person. Abortion after this point should only be done if there is a great risk to the mother's health or life. Before this point... it should be left up to her, not a judge, not a legislator - her, her doctor and (if any) her family.

Now, what this amendment wants to do, subtract Eight and a half months. It is two to four cells and not even implanted yet. It is still at least a week before the woman becomes pregnant. Sure as the sun, a clump of cells is not a person.

I put living, breathing people above unborn. 26 will do great damage to the Life, Liberty and Happiness of lots of real, living, breathing people. ( articles below )

Before birth, a pre-embryo (fertilized egg) is a not-very-likely potential life, an embryo is a potential life, a fetus is a very potential life. There are medically recognized stages of development (Trimesters), therefore there are differences in the ratio of rights between the living, breathing woman and the potential life inside her.

A woman having a fertilized egg inside her does not automatically negate all of her rights, nor does she loose rights up to two weeks later when she might become pregnant, nor three months after that. There is a ratio that starts with all rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness belonging to the woman and gradually reaches a level of almost equality between the woman and potential life inside her.  I say almost here because until viable birth, I still put the woman before the potential life - even if her choice is 'save my baby' instead of her.

I will never support making a law to dictate someone else's choices.  i26 makes it law that two cells inside a woman instantly have more right to life than her liberty. You can have that belief and act that way in your life and that is fine with me, but I will vote No to that being the law.

How can we know what will happen with 'personhood?'  We just have to look at those places where embryonic 'personhood' is already the law.  You think it can't happen here? Then you need to wake up, wise up and think again! Review this Slate article and follow their links. In October 2007, The Guardian reported :
Last November it became a crime for a woman to have an abortion in Nicaragua, even if her life was in mortal danger. So far it has resulted in the death of at least 82 women. (11 months, 82 deaths)

This article (and the video it links to) are the stark reality of 'Personhood.'

This article outlines why it is such a horrible idea for Mississippi specifically.  We are already the worst state in the Union by most measures.  If 26 passes, it will only get worse.

This article, by a Mississippi Lawyer, outlines a lot of the legal issues with i26.

This article uses some interesting language - but it is long and technical and by a lawyer. Still worth a read if you have the time and inclination, which I did.
It might be more plausible to say that a fetus at this stage is a person, but that the person’s physical occupation of another person calls for a moral and legal approach that is distinct from what we ordinarily use in analyzing violence between two persons. 
This is very interesting. It suggests, to me anyway, a use of the Castle Doctrine to support elective abortion at any stage. A little extreme, but no more so than the 'personhood' of a few cells well before pregnancy occurs.
I liked the following lines as well :
The zygote or embryo does have human DNA, however, and pro-life advocates can accordingly call it a “person” as a way of saying that it is not a plant or a snail, neither of which would have human DNA.  But human skin cells also have human DNA, yet no one would call them “persons.”
LOVED her wrap-up :
To make a fully informed decision about what one thinks of the abortion issue, however, it is useful to remain aware that the word “person” can effectively distract us from three sorts of facts that are truly pertinent to the abortion question:  facts about the developing embryo and fetus at various stages; facts about what happens to a woman’s body when she is pregnant; and facts about what occurs when the government legally requires women to remain pregnant and give birth against their will.
 And, the Comments section!
Diogenes_Lantern 3 weeks ago
Just saying by reference, when I watch the In Memoriam part of This Week on Sunday mornings, I feel sorrow at every war death, but the feeling is deeper when the soldier is older.  It is nice that we value innocence but it should not be valued more than a life lived.  Wisdom and knowledge are far more valuable than innocence.  Were I ever in the untenable position of having to choose between the life of an adult woman over the life of her unborn child, I'd move for the woman every time.

It also makes no sense to force a fetus into a life that will very likely only result in harm to it.  For instance, unwanted pregnancies for reasons of alcoholism, drug addiction, rape, incest, disease, genetics (oh, I can hear the screams of eugenics as I write, but the decision lies solely with the mother-to-be) and other well-known horrors for an infant to be forced to endure.

And for me, the argument that a person has a right to control his or her own body in every way, stands strong among what I believe to be inalienable human rights.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

i26 Targets IVF

I was looking over the wording and came to a realization.  i26 Targets In Vitro Fertilization.

Bear with me here. Terminology is important.

How Conception Works :

The First step is getting the egg fertilized by the sperm.  This happens quite a lot.  It takes two to four days from the moment of fertilization for the egg to get around to implanting into the uterus. Up to 90% of fertilized eggs don't make it this far.  So, in an i26 world, more than half of all "persons" die a natural death before their mother is even pregnant.(source, source)
How many fertilized eggs complete the task of implantation?
A) 85 – 95% B) 60 – 70% C) 30 – 40% D) 10 – 20%
Test your Knowledge!

The Next step is implantation.
Approximately one week after fertilization, the blastocyst embeds itself in the thickened wall of the uterus, a process called implantation, and pregnancy is established.(source)
So, why label a 'person' well before pregnancy occurs?  The only explanation is to be able to target IVF, Birth Control pills, Emergency Contraception and other Family Planning methods.

Court challenges of i26 in Mississippi

The full text of i26 is :

SUMMARY: Initiative #26 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word “person” or “persons”, as those terms are used in Article III of the state constitution, to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.
Entire amendment :
“Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi:
SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ:
Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”
The petition can be found here.

The first issue the initiative will run into - if passed - will be a Mississippi Constitution problem.  I've quoted the pertinent sections :


SECTION 5.        Government originating in the people.

(1) Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed by the Legislature or by initiative of the people.
(5) The initiative process shall not be used:

  (a) For the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the Bill of Rights of this Constitution;
We can see that Section 1 Article 3 is the "Bill of Rights." We can also see that the initiative process shall not be used to modify the Bill of Rights.  Looking at the amendment text, initiative 26 is constitutionally illegal.

What does this mean?  The first taxpayer funded court challenge will be based on this legal conflict. 26 can not stand because it is illegal to use the ballot initiative process to alter the Bill of Rights.  There will be no basis for further court challenges that the authors of this amendment seek.  It will be struck down based on ballot initiative law rather than anything to do with abortion.

Lets say that the level of corruption in the Mississippi Court System is high enough that a judge would totally ignore our constitution and let the ballot initiative stand and go into effect. What next?

The next issue is that Federal Law supersedes State Law.  i26 will not outlaw abortion because the Roe vs. Wade decision protects a woman's right to medical privacy.  In other words, the initiative will not achieve the goal of the authors - it will not, can not, outlaw abortion.  This is the conflict that the authors are seeking to get to.  They want Mississippi taxpayers to fund their challenges to federal law.

So, if the amendment can not actually outlaw abortion without the expensive court challenges, what can it actually do?
  • Outlaw Birth Control methods that may cause the fertilized egg to be unable to implant. ie, most of them.  Pending, of course, expensive court cases.
  • Reduce or Eliminate In Vitro Fertilization procedures. I believe the wording of the proposed amendment actually targets IVF.
  • Encourage the investigation and prosecution of women who have miscarriages.
  • Prevent treatment for ectopic pregnancies or other serious issues.
The Mississippi Supreme Court refused to rule in a suit brought by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood to block the initiative from being on the ballot.  This judgment said that a court could not get involved until the initiative passed.
"We cannot invade the territory of the legislature or the electorate to review the substantive validity of a proposed initiative, and thereby, we will honor the maxim embodied in the constitutional mandate of separation of powers," said Justice Randy Pierce for the court.
He said any challenges to the constitutionality of such statutes can come only after they are enacted or approved by voters. (source)
While I think that ruling was stupid, the courts were technically correct.  The corruption that allowed the initiative on the ballot was that of Delbert Hoseman as the Secretary of State.  He should have not allowed it due to the restrictions that it violates. Unfortunately, there is no challenger for his position.