Friday, February 13, 2015

Edward R. Murrow, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you


The coffin of one of three young Muslims who were shot in Chapel Hill, N.C., this week was carried to a funeral prayer service on Thursday in Raleigh, N.C. Travis Dove for NYT
 
Credit
Newsflash: We have crazy, murderous extremists right here in America.

They torture and murder, oftentimes--to the shock of the rest of the world--spectacularly and en masse; oftentimes claiming they do it in the name of a larger cause: the voice of a deity in the heavens or the head, and even, most recently, a seething anger toward the Constitutionally-protected worshipping of any deity of choice, period.

Terrorists abroad usually have to steal their weapons and equipment, often from the people America had originally supplied them to; sometimes they finance their weapon stash by kidnapping journalists and aid workers and holding them for ransom. Here in the States, though, any crazy, murderous extremist (or group of them) with a few bucks on hand can just go to one of the more than 51,000 gun retailers currently in business. (Yes, America has more gun retailers than grocery stores.)

If these murderous people and organizations in America circulated slick propaganda videos of themselves carrying out their rapes, lynchings, and shootings (and on and on), would we be okay with having other countries start dropping bombs on us?

Because that's exactly what many in American media are calling for right now: Crazy murderous extremists are doing crazy, murderous, extreme things in Iraq and Syria, so let's go to WAR! (Again.)

Charles Krauthammer and Morning Joke are just the most baldfaced and risibly ignorant-sounding of the chattering lot.

What concerns me: the insidious influence of the quiet, "polite", well-remunerated chatterers--the nascent Judy Millers, and the ones who work for networks either owned by defense contractors or heavily advertised-on by same; many of whom, amazingly, moonlight as corporate speech-givers and de facto lobbyists. And have the nerve to call themselves journalists, all the while tut-tutting about the "black eye to our profession" they seem to think has occurred because the odd one among them got caught lying a bit too obviously.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Anti-Choice, therefore Anti-Health and Anti-Women



Go read Natasha Chart's heartbreaking piece at RH Reality Check, entitled I Had an Ectopic Pregnancy, and Anti-Choice Laws Could Have Made My Experience Much Worse.

It's stunning, and infuriating, that in addition to the heartbreak and fear a woman goes through when facing something like this, she must now think about things like, Is this hospital going to provide me with *actual* medical care, or are their decisions going to be guided by the misogynistic laws of a church I don't even belong to? Consider, for a moment, that in some regions of this great country, Catholic-controlled hospitals are all that are available if you need obstetric/gynecologic care--unless you wish to embark on some long-distance travel--and you'll begin to realize how commonplace this predicament has become.

How commonplace? The news is bad:
Between 2001 and 2011 the number of Catholic-sponsored or affiliated hospitals increased by 16 percent, while the overall number of hospitals nationwide declined. In 2011, one in ten acute-care hospitals were Catholic-sponsored or affiliated. That same year, 10 of the 25 largest hospital systems in the country were Catholic-sponsored. 
With the rise of Catholic hospitals has come the increasing danger that women's reproductive health care will be compromised by religious restrictions. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (the Directives), issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), govern care at these facilities. The Directives prohibit a range of reproductive health services, including contraception, sterilization, many infertility treatments, and abortion care, even when a woman's health or life is in danger. Moreover, they often restrict even the ability of hospital staff to provide patients with full information and referrals for care that conflict with religious teachings.
Are we or are we not living in the twenty-first century?

It needs to be said, over and over until everyone in the country (especially those who occupy the governors' mansions and state and national legislatures) gets it: By placing the prevention of pregnancy termination ahead of safeguarding a woman's health and, even, her life, you are stating in no uncertain terms that women are not people, and our very lives are of diminished value. It's that simple. Trust that women are fully-realized human beings endowed with natural rights to control our own bodies and health--that we are people--and the absolute necessity of protecting choice becomes obvious.

This is supposed to be a nation of laws, not a nation of churches.

But this is the reality:



Photo via ACLU Blog of Rights; graphic via ACLU.org.

UPDATE:

My friend Sara Robinson recommends the excellent blog Catholic Watch, which follows and reports on the various ways the church influences and controls healthcare in the United States.

They write:
The Catholic bishops are imposing their moral values upon Catholics and non-Catholics alike through their control of Catholic hospital and medical systems, which are heavily financed with taxpayer dollars. 
In WA State, almost half of the acute care hospital beds (a proxy for the health care system more broadly) are now subject to the "moral authority" of three Catholic bishops. These bishops oversee medical policy and employment practices for all Catholic "health care ministries," which now includes hospitals, labs, physician practices, hospices, and even insurance companies. These bishops oppose same-sex marriage, birth control, "direct" abortion in all cases - even to save the life of the mother, fertility treatments, and Death with Dignity. 
A recent article in Mother Jones showed that Catholic hospitals contributed 2.8% of total patient gross revenues as Charity Care, which is lower than the industry average of 2.9%.
CatholicWatch is committed to safeguarding patient and taxpayer rights and protecting our health care system from theocracy-based medicine.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Boko Haram terrorists slaughter hundreds--perhaps thousands--of Nigerians; US cable news too busy in Paris


Photo via The Telegraph

Here are terrorists brutally murdering--burning alive!--not just dozens, but as many as two thousand human beings in Baga, Nigeria. Same week as the AQAP attack in Paris. Just more deadly by orders of magnitude (and they're busily wiping out people in Cameroon now).

And yet... Did you see 24/7 cable news coverage of this horrific slaughter, as we saw of the Paris murders?

Can you guess why? Go on, guess.

UPDATE:

Amnesty International has details. Awful, sick-making details. And satellite shots that give one a clearer appreciation for the scope of these shocking attacks (click to enlarge):


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Whiter Shade of Male: Meet the GOP's 2016 Presidential Lineup 1.0


From Sean Hannity comes the January 2015/FOX News version of the GOP's 2016 Presidential Offerings, fondly referred to--among lefty wags, at least--as The Clown Car.  It's early still, and the thing is not quite ready for market--call it a Concept Clown Car.

For one thing, Rand Paul, Dr. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Allen West seem to be missing, though you'll often hear their names bandied about the blogosphere and Twitterverse. And where is Marco #DubiousRubio Rubio, Mr. Hannity? Do you have something against Floridians? Harrumph.

Which Republican do you want to be president? Hannity asks brightly.

No, there's not a woman in sight, but Hell's bells, people, look at all these choices! You've got:

  • Overweight White Guy
  • Wealthy White Guy From Political Family
  • Generic White Guy
  • Generic White Guy with White Hair
  • Another Generic White Guy
  • White Guy With Indian Name Who Changed His First Name To Sound More White-Guy-ish
  • White Guy with Glasses and Felony Indictment
  • White Guy With Strong Religious Convictions and Simmering Woman Issues, and…
  • Wealthy White Guy, Also With Religious Convictions, Also From Political Family, Also With Simmering Woman Issues (binders full of 'em, in fact).

Never let it be said that the Republican Party isn't all about the diversity.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Thoughts on Paris #JeSuisCharlie


To arms, comrades! #CharlieHebdo
By Chilean political cartoonist Francisco J. Olea

Writing, drawing, and publishing criticism of people's religion--and doing so in a deliberately crass, offensive, and even obscene way--is not something that I personally would engage in. Even if it was not, in today's environment, the equivalent of poking at a wasp's nest or splashing kerosene on smoldering coals, I simply wouldn't do it. Not in that manner.

I don't belong to any organized religion. But some of the people I love, do. To them, and to people I don't know and may never know, but whose rights to believe as they see fit I nonetheless recognize and respect, it is my custom to extend the courtesy of not mocking their religion. Of refraining from questioning tenets of their faith, no matter how silly I might consider them, until and unless they affect me personally or affect public policy. And even then, I would challenge their beliefs only inasmuch as they restricted the freedoms of others; I would do my best to avoid being nasty or sneering. TL;DR: I'm a nice girl, and being a provocateur is not my job.

At the same time, though, I not only wholeheartedly support the right of citizens and members of the press to write, draw, and publish criticism of people's religion--even highly offensive criticism--I'm also moved to reiterate the absolute necessity of them doing so in a free society, and to oppose any and all notions that the state should somehow restrict the free expression of religious criticism.

To invoke Frank Zappa: Words. Just Words.

I sometimes get offended by things I see and read. But I am not harmed by them: instead, they provoke me to examine my thinking, at which point I may be offered, as Mill once said, "the opportunity of exchanging error for truth", or else "the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

Moreover, I have the freedom to click away; to turn my head from the television; to not buy the magazine; to ignore; to forget.

When power--be it in the form of traditional government or self-appointed or state-sponsored terrorist forces--gets involved in restricting free speech, we no longer fully have those opportunities, perceptions, or rights. Because the end result of the restriction of speech by power is violence, as it was in Paris yesterday. And when people wind up dead, we no longer have anything at all--neither freedom, nor rights, nor, ultimately, breath.


Je suis Charlie.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Florida's proposed Amendment 2, the Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, begets advocacy group Kush Liberty


As the November elections draw near, with Amendment 2--commonly known as the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative--getting plenty of press in our state, I wanted to share this press release sent to me today:

Kush Liberty of Tampa, Florida, a group of local marijuana advocatesthat provide marijuana news and resources via their websiteKushLiberty.com, are raising funds for an online community and mobile application that will serve as advocacy tools for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and industrial uses.
The Group is asking for $30,000 with which the team will produce an online community, a mobile application, and the necessary marketing and promotional tools to build awareness of the Group's offerings. The online community will be an extension of the current website and will provide a safe environment for users to communicate publicly or privately and to organize meet-ups and rallies. The Android/Apple mobile app will provide updated stats and information about the legalization of marijuana. The Group feels these tools will enable the community to be effective advocates who will then work to spark the vote in Florida and beyond. 

Lots more information here.

Be sure to get out and vote, everyone!