Sunday, March 27, 2005

Ulterior Motives

Dennis K said...

"You can have God back when you Dems give up the culture of death that you so willingly embrace."

This is a pretty amazing statement -- in several directions. First it implies complicity in the actual Swiping of God. I think Dennis K never got past the header on this blog. His comment, drive by shooting style, is simple sand-box taunting. We've got God. Nyah, nyah nyah!

My basic problem with this is HOW you got God, Dennis K.

When talk radio allows statements such as "all Dems are Godless and immoral" to be expressed and pass unchallenged (whether by disconnecting callers who disagree, or never putting them on the air to begin with), perceptions are formed. Hearing something enough times slides that perception into the realm of public belief. Discussions with friends and family blur the libel into truth. The simple fact that the majority of Dems are religious has been buried. The real issue, that the basic Democratic liberal platform promotes tolerance for all faiths and for non-believers, never gets discussed because the point is to create and promote a stereotype that is slanderous and false.

What we have is stereotyping in order to control. It's classic manipulation. Ask any person of color in this nation for clarification on just how wrong this really is. Better yet, read your bible. (You can start with Romans 13:10, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27, Mark 12:31, Mathew 22:39, Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:14, or James 2:8; it's all about the love, dude.)

Perhaps most telling is Zechariah 8:17. "Let no one have any evil thought in his heart against his neighbor; and have no love for false oaths: for all these things are hated by me, says the Lord."

HATED by me, says the Lord. Wow. This from a God who knows his way around a proper smite, thank you very much. Pharaoh who?

You see, Dennis K, you can't work against God's conduct requirements as an endgame to achieve personal power. Gloating about it puts the whole stinking mess right over the top.

Two words: NOT MORAL.

Another problem I have with your comment is the whole "culture of death" thing. That statement implies that all Dems actively seek non life embracing solutions. Are all convicted murderers Dems? How about nursing home abusers? Neo-nazi's? Members of the NRA and their fervent support for automatic weapon access? Perhaps all the pedophiles of the world are card-carrying Dems. Let's not forget those KKK idiots, surely they must be Dems. No?

I suspect the wildly flung culture of death taunt boils down to two things flogged excessively by talk radio: Abortion and Schiavo.

It's unfortunate that the manipulation of the abortion issue is so complete. Personally, I know NO one who loves abortion; I can't think of a single person desperate to get right out to the clinic and have one done. I believe that each individual's rights over their lives and bodies is granted constitutionally. I also believe that medical records are confidential documents. Legal medical procedures are just that, legal. If you don't support abortion, please don't have one. After all, it's YOUR body.

As for Terry Schiavo, I don't like the way her life is ending. I abhor the way her life has been artificially extended. When you attempt to play God and force life to continue well beyond the body's natural abilities to sustain itself, there is no platform of piety left to stand upon and pronounce your morality on the masses. You have taken it out of God's hands. Using this woman as a political pawn says a great deal about the scruples of the people exploiting her for personal motives.

Finally, here's a list of things I "willingly embrace".

Two sided discussions. (That's why I visited your site and welcomed you to return to God Dem.)

Tolerance of differences, and excitement over the possibilities each person adds to the mix.

Peaceful solutions.

Reaching out to the poor.

Caring for the elderly.

Protecting the earth.

Scientific study and exploration.

Clear thinking.


So there you have it. I don't need to get God BACK, Dennis K. I just have to live clean and be liberal. The bible tells me so.

Nobody OWNS God. Using manipulation, slander and pressure to split the faithful apart in order to cement power is NOT of God. When I wrote in my header that Dems feel like republicans swiped God from them, I meant that (from the Christian standpoint) what was happening within the body of believers was politically driven, against the word of God, and designed to increase power base by playing people who believe in God against each other.

I wouldn't be particularly proud of that.

Monday, March 21, 2005

My Kind of Cowboy

One of the worst parts of growing older is the acquiescence over the things you no longer believe you can change. At twenty, the paths stretch before you, your energy is boundless and the world is decidedly shiny. You believe with all certainty the mantras of your childhood: you can do it, all things can happen if you do your best, you can be anything you want to be if you try.

A few decades in the workplace strips optimism layers at a time. Focuses shift; it's much less you and your ideals, saving the world pales against saving for college. Three kids in college at the same time? Responsibilities ground dreams, sometimes permanently.

I can't help feeling that while I was distracted, America went to hell.

What happened to the Lone Rangers? Where are the people who are truly upright in their approach to each day? I see regular folks in daily life, people who give back the money if they're given incorrect change, or give a little at the grocery when the guy ahead of them comes up short. For every idiot who drives as if the roads I paid for with my taxes are their personal Indy, there are nice people who let me make a left during rush hour or a quick lane change when I need to. I see kindness to older people, time given in communities, or trash recycled.

Farther up the representational ladder, there's a dearth of do-gooders. I know, I know, politics stink; this is not news. I always felt that in the morass of backroom dealings and back stabbings, there were a few people who actually believed, both in doing the right thing and American principles in general. The tone of the past political year seared belief from me, salted my sensibilities, and abandoned me. It's all corrupt. Deal with it.

The thing is, I love America. I can't stop looking for her just because she's lost. If I could find some help, a little inspiration even, I'd be mighty obliged.

In this year of sin in the name of morality, I found a hero. He may not ride a white horse, but he walks the walk of principle and decency.

Ronnie Earle is my kind of cowboy.

Because the Texas Attorney General's office does not have the authority to prosecute those suspected of committing crimes in their dealings with the state, the responsibility falls on Earle and his band of prosecutors in Travis County, home of the state capital.

It is a responsibility he has embraced, prosecuting 15 high profile cases against Republican and Democratic politicians during his 27 years in office. Many have drawn sharp criticism from both parties.

...Over the years, there have been bills to defund the controversial unit and to transfer its power to the attorney general's office. But the unit has persisted and Earle has prosecuted 12 Democrats and three Republicans - most of them successfully. --
Kris Axtman, Christian Science Monitor

Demanding deeds to suit the words....what a concept. This man must just be HATED in some circles. He's political; he served in the Texas State Legislature. Yet, he's honest. There is right and there is wrong. There is within the law, and there's breaking the law. Low-down skunks, especially political ones drunk with a power elixir that leaves them feeling immune to the rules the rest of the nation abides by, need to fear the long arm of this lawman.

Yet no case has been more important, or controversial, than the one Earle is now pursuing against a political action committee tied to House majority leader Tom DeLay (R) - one of the nation's most powerful politicians.

To Earle partisans, it's an example of his fearlessness in pursuing political malfeasance, a trait they say makes him the state's, and perhaps the country's, top ethics cop. But detractors see the investigation as a witch hunt, another case of the silver-thatched prosecutor acting out of political motivation and for personal gain.

Mr. DeLay calls the Democratic Earle "vindictive and partisan." So far, three of DeLay's associates have been indicted on charges of illegally funneling hundreds of thousands of corporate dollars to state GOP candidates in 2002. The Republican sweep that year fueled redistricting efforts in Texas that deepened Congressional control in 2004. Preparing for the possibility that DeLay might be charged, Republicans in Congress recently voted to change their rule requiring an indicted leader to relinquish his post.

For his part, Earle says the attacks are no different from those by the 15 other politicians he's prosecuted in almost three decades as Travis County DA. All have accused him of being politically motivated. "What else are they going to say?" he asks. --
Kris Axtman, Christian Science Monitor

I know what I'm going to say. Ronnie Earle is restoring my faith in the honest political animal. It's not all corrupt; it's not all crap. It's not so complicated that the average American disengages from the process. (They CAN, but they don't have too.) Morality is part of the American political landscape. It's just not the part we're being sold on. Morality is not paying lip service to God and then seeing how many deadly sins you can commit before breakfast. Morality is in the day to day decision making, morality is in the trenches. Morality is doing the right thing when it's difficult, scary, or puts one at risk.

Ronnie Earle is carefully, methodically following the truth. He is exposing the underbelly of the moral mandate and in the process, giving this American a much needed renewal.

The paths stretch before me again, my energy is recharging and the world has a glint of shine.

Yeeeeeee Haaaaaaa!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Rock the Boat

HR581 isn't the only cocked gun trained on the blogsphere. The FEC gun barrel is aimed at bloggers under the guise of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

John Samples of Reasononline offers this:

... the federal government is about to come down hard on

Here's why. In 2002, Congress passed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law which restricted political advertising by corporations and labor unions on television and radio. The Federal Election Commission—the agency charged with implementing McCain-Feingold—initially decided that Congress had not intended to restrict political speech on the Internet.

Last fall, a federal judge said exempting the Internet from the law's restrictions on political speech would undermine McCain-Feingold. Now the FEC is back at it trying to figure out how to restrict political speech on the Internet.

If you care about freedom of speech, there are good reasons for
concern. The FEC may conclude that allowing political advertising by campaigns and parties on websites will undermine the restrictions on ads in McCain-Feingold. Ads on the Internet would be a loophole to McCain-Feingold that
the FEC should close.

But bloggers don't necessarily work for a campaign or a political party and thus should not fall under McCain-Feingold, right?

Don't be too sure. Bloggers often endorse candidates or parties in an election. Those endorsements are of value to the candidates and may end up being treated as a campaign contribution, subject to limits and disclosure. Bloggers may also contribute to a campaign by linking to a candidate's website or republishing a candidate's press release.

Of course, The New York Times can endorse candidates for office and promote their causes, and you might think that bloggers would enjoy the same First Amendment protections. But you would be wrong. The FEC has not given news sites or bloggers what is tellingly called "the press exemption" from campaign finance laws. What bloggers say and do may well fall under federal campaign finance restrictions.

We need to rock this boat, hard, and rock it NOW.

Here's how. The Online Coalition is a bi-partisan group formed after FEC Chairman Bradley Smith gave an interview on CNET in which he suggested a "coming crackdown" on bloggers and online journalists. They have drafted a letter and petition to be given to the FEC when they release their proposed rules to govern us.

Here's the link. I've signed this petition. So have 2800 other concerned people either in our media or reading us. Thomas McCay over at AmericanEX has likened bloggers to modern minutemen, shoulder to shoulder on the bridge at Concord. We are being pushed. It's time to push back.

Please, take the time to endorse this effort and pass the word.

Ours may be small voices for truth, but it's big truth.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

HR581: You have the Right to Remain Silent

Wending an insidious path on capitol hill, is the legislation I've been dreading. Throughout the blogsphere, I've mentioned my fear of control of blogging, the silencing of the small voices for truth. To me, blogs represent a web of interconnected thoughts, a forum for exchange and change. Blogs are places where I look for information, like minds, and an education on the opposition.

Under the misnomer of "Free Flow of Information Act", Bloggers will be punishable. They will not be accorded any of the protections provided to Journalists. In the California courts, Apple is currently winning in their efforts to force three blogs to reveal their sources. I want to go on record here that I think leaking information against your company is extremely unethical. If that was all this is about and resolving the Apple issue would be the end of it, I wouldn't care all that much. Nobody want their ideas stolen. I don't want my writing taken without getting credit for it. Most people get that.

Unfortunately, that's NOT the end of it. Here's the scary stuff:

In the HR581 Bill:

(1) The term `covered person' means--

(A) an entity that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means AND that--

(i) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

(ii) operates a radio or television broadcast station (or network of such stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or

(iii) operates a news agency or wire service;

(B) a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such an entity; or

(C) an employee, contractor, or other person who gathers, edits, photographs, records, prepares, or disseminates news or information for such an entity.

(2) The term `document' means writings, recordings, and photographs, as those terms are defined by Federal Rule of Evidence 1001 (28 U.S.C. App.).

(3) The term `Federal entity' means an entity or employee of the judicial, legislative, or executive branch of the Federal Government with the power to issue a subpoena or provide other compulsory process.

(4) The term `third party' means a person other than a covered person.

The emphasis is mine. That one little AND is the fatal word. Bloggers, as individuals, have no parent company, are self published, and aren't functioning as newsletters for their employers. They publish for themselves, as provided under their right to free speech. HR581 is the initial step to begin to undermine the small voices. If passed, you can continue to blog, continue to provide access to stories the big news machine doesn't have space for, but you do so knowing that people who don't like what you do can apply some heavy pressure on you -- you have no protections. They can sue you claiming you libeled them. How many bloggers will lose their houses and cars before the silencing begins?

There's a link on the sidebar. Let your rep know how you feel. Unless, of course, you'd like to meet up here this time next year and have a recipe swap.

One Blogger who is taking the bull by the horns is Garret M. Graff. The White House said that press passes were easy to obtain. Graff tested that theory.

He made 20 phone calls and got nowhere. Bigger blogs picked up on his saga, and traffic on FishbowlDC increased tenfold, he said. But it was not until the traditional media joined in, Mr. Graff said, that the White House relented.

"USA Today started making calls on Thursday. CNN mentioned it on 'Inside Politics,' and Ron Hutcheson, president of the White House Correspondents Association, raised the issue with the White House Press Office," he said. "I think a combination of all of that made the White House pay attention and decide to let me in." -- NY Times

And guess what? Once past security, they handed him a PRESS PASS. Just like the journalists.

Blogging is an evolving media, as radio and television were in their day. Bloggers break stories and keep the heat on. They are undisciplined, opinionated and some are liars. We read blogs. We all know this. But many blogs are labors of love, well researched and determined for the truth. They can be exciting, disturbing, and beacons against the mainstream media that so many bloggers find disappointing.

But, what is important here is that we get the opportunity to refine our media niche and not be silenced before that can happen.

Preserve your voice. It is the voice of true democracy.

You have the right to remain... for now.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Just a Girl in the World....

Few issues push the hot button like abortion rights, although the word Liberal is gaining ground. The zeal and funding by opponents of Roe v. Wade is creating a political power block. The atmosphere of the country is ripe with the smell of control.

Before you send me nasty e-mails, consider this from Randy Scholfield of The Wichita Eagle:

Upon taking office, Attorney General Phill Kline vowed to enforce Kansas abortion law more aggressively than his predecessor. But his recent effort to force the release of private abortion clinic records goes too far -- and raises questions of whether anti-abortion fervor is clouding his legal judgment.

As revealed by legal briefs made public this week, Mr. Kline for months has been waging a secret battle to force two abortion clinics to release the full records of some 90 patients, including girls under age 16, who had abortions.

It's just about holding adult sexual predators responsible for their crimes, he says.

But medical providers rightly argue that another principle is at stake -- the privacy of medical records, especially regarding one of the most painful and private decisions a woman can make.

What's more, the investigation smacks of a fishing expedition.

The clinics offered to give the attorney general copies with irrelevant private information blacked out. But that apparently wasn't good enough. Why not, if the purpose is to prosecute criminals, not harass women who have sought abortions?

Why focus on records of patients who had late-term abortions, after 22 weeks -- even though many underage teens presumably obtain abortions sooner -- if the intention is to punish sexual predators, not late-term abortion providers?

It's a good question.

I'm tired of seeing persecution of and disregard for the personal privacy of females. I think Kline picked what he saw as an easy target -- young girls with little life experience and education and to whom fighting a nasty lawsuit would seem an insurmountable obstacle. If he got the records, they would not sue to retrieve. The clinic's offer to provide records with irrelevant private information blacked out was reasonable. The fact that it wasn't smacks of an ulterior motive.

On February 24th, according to Ron Sylvester of The Wichita Eagle:

Kline addressed one of the two reasons that have been cited in court records for his investigation -- the sexual activity of girls.

"Rape is a serious crime, and when a 10-, 11-, or 12-year-old is
pregnant, they have been raped under Kansas law," Kline said Thursday. In Kansas, no one under the age of 16 can legally consent to sex.

"There are two things child predators want, access to children and secrecy, and as attorney general I am bound and determined to not give them either."

Then on March 3rd, AP released this:

Kline has said he needs the materials for an investigation into underage
sex and illegal late-term abortions.

Kline is seeking records of women who sought abortions at the clinics during or after their 22nd week of pregnancy. The two unnamed clinics are fighting Kline's request, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.

The records Kline wants include patient's name, medical history, birth control practices and psychological profile, and details of her sex life.

To me, this sounds more truthful. I'm glad Kline ditched the subterfuge: this is about gunning for the clinics. Dr. Tiller of the Wichita Clinic knows a thing or two about people gunning for him. In 1994 he was shot 5 times outside his clinic. Sanctity of life, indeed.

Kansas may be a red state that is roughly 60% republican, but there is uproar in the wheat fields.

On February 25th, according to The Wichita Eagle:

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and a group of female Democratic lawmakers criticized Attorney General Phill Kline on Friday for seeking medical records of women and girls who have had abortions.

In separate news conferences, Sebelius and the lawmakers said Kline's actions were an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

"I find the potential to reveal very personal health histories of women and girls extremely troubling," Sebelius said.

... Fourteen female state representatives, all Democrats, said
Kline's actions were a "fishing expedition," the same term used by lawyers for two abortion clinics fighting Kline's subpoena. The group included Reps. Judith Loganbill, Melody McCray-Miller, Geraldine Flaharty, Delia Garcia and Oletha Faust-Goudeau, all of Wichita.

This was published by The Wichita Eagle on March 1st:

"If this breach of medical privacy is allowed to go forward, no one of us, man or woman, can have confidence that our medical records can be held as private," said the Rev. Bill Ester, pastor of West Side United Methodist Church and co-chairman of the Kansas Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

... Noting Kline's long-standing opposition to abortion, members of the religious coalition said the investigation appears to be aimed directly at the clinics. Candy Krueger and others at the coalition news conference charged that Kline appears to be pursuing abortion providers for evidence of under-age sex, but not doing the same with anti-abortion groups that provide medical services and counseling to young girls.
Reverend Ester makes an excellent point. While this initial subpoena is aimed towards an anti-abortion agenda, what is really troubling is the precedent it will set in the courts for future requests. This instance can be cited as an example of why other private medical records can be taken and used. Once this Pandora's box is opened, I am afraid it will be a real bitch to close it back up.

Do you really want your personal information available to everybody? How about your child's? If you have a child with behavioral issues, do you want that public? How will that affect him or her as they grow? If you have a disability, do you want your prospective employer to hire you based on the medical records they pulled on you or your excellent work history? If you are female, do you want the number of children you have become part of whether or not you are qualified for a job? If you were hurt on a job previously, do you want that or your abilities to be the deciding factor in the hiring decision?

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of abortion, allowing unfettered access to medical records is a terrible idea.