Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A "pillow angel"...

While an article in the Nation magazine, entitled "Judge Not?", delved into unrelated topics such as racial inequality, lack of universal health-care, the conditions at Walter Reed, and dubbing the concept of "Who are you to judge?" as "glib libertarianism", seeming all to sell the usual liberal agenda, I must say that I did find myself agreeing with some of the opinions put forth by the author of the article, Nation contributor Patricia J. Williams.

Some excerpts:
"For the last several months, I've been fretting about the policy implications of the case of Ashley, Seattle's so-called "pillow angel." Ashley is a 9-year-old child who was born with a debilitating disorder that caused her brain to stop developing at about the age of three months. She is sensate, she smiles, she seems at times to recognize her family members and to enjoy music. But she can barely move and will never learn to speak. When she was 6, Ashley's parents subjected her body to a series of interventions ostensibly designed to keep her small, easy to lift and thus less prone to bedsores and to render her permanently childlike.
"To these ends, her breast buds were removed, in part because of a family history of breast cancer but, more immediately, to accommodate the harness straps that hold her upright. According to her parents' blog, "developed breasts...would only be a source of discomfort to her." Her appendix was removed because were she to get appendicitis it was feared she would not be able to communicate her distress. She was given sufficiently high doses of estrogen to insure that her growth plates would close, limiting her height. This, despite the fact that estrogen at such doses carries other risks, most significant an increase in the incidence of blood clots; but her parents felt that being able to easily lift her outweighed that possible detriment. Her uterus, too, was removed, to spare her the pain of menstrual cramps "or pregnancy in the event of rape.
"I think this course was wrong for Ashley. Who of us, with full capacity to consent, would undergo the painful invasiveness of a full hysterectomy just to prevent cramps or as a prophylactic against rape's violations? Why then should it be permitted in the case of someone who has no capacity to protest?
"This was also very wrong as a matter of ethics and public policy. There seems to be, in the national debate about this case a popular consensus that the parents were well motivated, so who are the rest of us to judge? [...]
"I do not question either how much Ashley's parents love their daughter or how overwhelming their responsibilities must be. I do, however, fault the hospital establishment for allowing these surgeries to happen. In essence, the hospital allowed ethical questions about Ashley's long-term care and comfort to be privatized by deferring so unquestioningly to her parents' posited love."
I too wonder how ethical all of this is. And if we allow such things as this under these sort of circumstances, then what else? As Patricia Williams goes on to ask in her article, "why not remove all her teeth to spare her the pain of cavities? Why not excise her fingernails to spare her the pain of accidentally scratching herself? Why not remove one of her healthy spare kidneys and donate it?—that might make her and the world a little lighter."

Maybe some of what the parents have done here was for the best. Then again perhaps euthanizing is for the best? And if it is not only acceptable but in the best interests of the patient to do this then why not mandate it? For instance in the case of wards of the state...

I most certainly do not support the notion that the government mandate either procedures like this, nor euthanasia, I think the government should stay out of it — neither forcing nor prohibiting persons or their legal guardians in making such decisions. I do wonder, though, how can someone both argue that it was ethical and/or legal for Terri Schiavo to have been euthanized, yet argue against this?

Some other articles on this subject:
The Guardian — Frozen in time: the disabled nine-year-old girl who will remain a child all her life by Ed Pilkington

Time magazine — Pillow Angel Ethics by Nancy Gibbs part1

Time magazine — Pillow Angel Ethics by Nancy Gibbs part2

Friday, March 16, 2007

Anti-gay rhetoric shows lack of integrity among Dems

While I don't always agree with his stance, I have developed a respect for Virginia Senator and former Navy secretary John Warner when he, along with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, stood up to Bush {at least for a little while} on the treatment of detainees and torture. They showed {for a little while} that they had the conviction to take the ethical high road while so many others in their party pandered to right-wing conservatives talking as if we need not be concerned about these 'evil terrorists who hate America and want to destroy us' -- as if everyone detained by the brownshirts are indeed guilty as terrorists.

Of course he's also shown himself to be a centrist rather than an ideologue who just votes in lock-step with the party. I have a lot of respect for that. But I gained a new respect for Sen. Warner when he took a stand against the anti-gay comments from General Peter Pace.
It can't be easy for a Republican to dissent against the prevailing view of the party's socially conservative base and object to the view of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs by saying, "I respectfully, but strongly disagree with the chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral."

It’s too bad I can't say the same for both Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama, who each initially gave very weak responses to the General's comments. Hillary, whom I've never cared for much, did not condemn the comments until after John Warner did. Initially, she said she opposed 'Don't ask, Don't tell' but when pressed on the morality question replied, “Well I’m going to leave that to others to conclude.” She added, "I'm very proud of the gays and lesbians I know who perform work that is essential to our country, who want to serve their country and I want make sure they can." But, obviously she isn’t proud enough to declare unambiguously that gays are not immoral.

This was absolutely pathetic. As far as I’m concerned this said one of two things about Hillary, that she’s completely disingenuous — too concerned about her image, or that she agrees with his comments or at least doesn’t strongly disagree with them. I think a statement she had 2 days after the incident, and well after Republican Sen. Warner came out strongly against the General’s comments confirms that it is the latter. After taking some heat for not taking a stronger stance, Hillary said, “
I disagree with General Pace completely. I do not think homosexuality is immoral.” Too little, too late.

Then there is Barrack Obama. He is a politician I've been rather interested in as of late who did the same by stating, "I think the question here is whether somebody is willing to sacrifice for their country, should they be able to if they're doing all the things that should be done." He too avoided the direct question posed to him about the morality of it and only took a stronger stance against the statements well after the fact and the heat was on.

I suppose that’s just a part of running for President, one has to check with focus groups to see if it is "politically expedient" or not to take a stand on something, no matter how right it may be. I think that shows a lack of character. Of course, that is what modern politics has done to elected officials isn't it?

I must say, along with Jim Webb, John Warner shows that former Secretaries of the Navy from
Virginia have got a lot of guts! And at least two of the front runners for President among the Democrats do not.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The anti-gay hate debate still rages on...

As if it wasn't enough that we'd seen the propaganda about some supposed connection between homosexuality and Nazism, then ran through the whole religious debate against homosexuality, now Pioneer, the Catholic, Bush-apologizing, homophobic, irascible old bigot on the Newsleader forum is quoting "studies" from discredited homosexual-hating "researcher" Dr. Paul Cameron. His "research" relies on faulty methods and invalidated studies to make his case against homosexuals.

The excerpt that Pioneer provided tried to make the case that homosexuality has a link to rape, pedophilia, and even murder, stating, "Along with serial murder, there appears to be a connection between homosexuality and murder." Next to Fred Phelps, his "research" is the most despicable anti-gay bigoted garbage I've ever seen.

Of course, I did some research of my own not only on Paul Cameron but also on heterosexual child killers; sick sadistic HETEROSEXUAL men that have raped, murdered, and dismembered little girls in an attempt to ask, 'so what does this say about heterosexual men? In my experience, especially with Pioneer, I've found that one good conspiracy theory that relies on generalizations deserves another. :-D So, I brought up the Catholic pedophile priest scandal too, just for good measure. Darn those Catholics, why can't they just keep their twisted hands off those little altar boys?

I don't think I've ever had a dialog with someone that I had less respect for than this hateful bigot. Other than perhaps that white supremacist that used to be on the forum...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Anti-gay bigots support 'Don't ask, don't tell'

General Peter Pace, a Bush lackey who has been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 2005, obviously bearing some of the responsibility for the fiasco that has become the Iraq war, was asked about the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy by a reporter from the Chicago Tribune. He said that he supports the policy. Of course...
Unfortunately, he also went on to add his personal views on homosexuality saying, "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," adding, "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."

He also went on to compare homosexual relations in general to adultery saying, "s an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior." I've heard such comparisons before, of course. One would think it would occur to these bigots at some point that consensual acts between a monogamous couple does not equate cheating on one's spouse... Ah, but then prejudice gets in the way of reason all too often.

It's truly disgusting, insulting, and a huge disrespect not only to the homosexual citizens of this country, but especially the homosexual soldiers who serve it and General Pace, that he offers in return a slap in the face like this. Such a shameful disgrace. Furthermore, considering how he's handled the situation in Iraq and been such a weak lackey for Bush, I don't think the General has any place to be lecturing "morality" to others.

Those that support keeping gays out of the military, or at least keeping them hidden, rely on a lot of red herrings to make their case. First these soldiers are talented, dedicated, heroic, and then somehow they are suddenly incapable of performing their duties because of having relations with the same gender. Another example is the notion that it somehow harms morale. So we're supposed to believe that the morale of our dedicated professional soldiers is so easily shaken?

According to Army Capt. Sharon Alexander of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund, "Every
study that's been commissioned by the Pentagon to study the question of whether openly gay people in the ranks contribute negatively to unit cohesion has come to the conclusion that they do not."

Then there is the preposterous notion that somehow allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military will harm recruitment. Not only is it absurd that heterosexual folks would decide not to enlist because of gays in the military, but this totally disregards the reality that unknown numbers of homosexuals are not enlisting now because of a fear of what life and a career in the military would be like. Funny how there is no concern over this. Nor is there any concern over the 11,000 gay soldiers that have been unfairly discharged from the military since 1993.

For all the supposed harm that is supposed to come from allowing gays to serve openly, it's funny how so many other militaries in the world allow this, 20 out of the 25 NATO nations, including such allies as the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Russia. Among those countries that do ban homosexuals from their militaries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, and of course the United States... Quite interesting company we keep. My, aren't we proud?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Why We Fight

While this movie has been out for a while and is no doubt old news to some folks, I just recently got around to watching a movie that has been highly recommended to me - 'Why We Fight' - and I found it to be an excellent documentary. I think every American who gives a damn about their country should watch it. This is definitely not the sort of movie that needs be forgotten.
Whereas Bush advocates liked to point out how personal and partisan 'Fahrenheit 9/11' was against Bush & Co., this movie is much more neutral. It isn't about partisan politics and going after one administration {though it does focus on 9/11 and the Iraq war}, it's about the collusion between the military, industry, and the congress and how it is undermining American values, integrity, and world stability. It's disgusting how war has become a business, human misery a commodity to be traded for profit or political expediency.

It was definitely interesting to see how marketable {and profitable} war is, and how it gets sold to the American public. Administrations have hidden behind such lofty notions as "freeing peoples", "overthrowing dictators", "stopping the spread of communism", and now "spreading democracy".

With the Cold War we traded defending ourselves against aggressors to making war with enemies who are enemies solely because of ideology. So much of the last half of the last century was spent in war to 'stop the spread of Communism'. We seemed willing to pay any price to do this, and in so doing we wrought misery and destruction, propped up ruthless regimes, made the world into the volatile place it is today, and of course made some people a lot of money. Now we have "terror" as the elusive 'ism' that we must fight. And even worse than with communism, our 'war on terror' is creating much more of it than it is neutralizing. And so it goes...

One of the most interesting quotes from the movie was by Chalmers Johnson, a Ph. D. and author who worked for the CIA 1967-1973:
"'Blowback’: it’s a CIA term. Blowback does not mean simply the unintended consequences of foreign operations. It means the unintended consequences of foreign operations that were deliberately kept secret from the American public. So that when the retaliation comes, the American public is not able to put it in context; to put cause and effect together that they come up with questions like, ‘why do they hate us?"
More from Mr. Johnson in a Nation Magazine article: Blowback

The powers that be have whipped up the paranoia and dressed it up as a 'war we must win for our very survival' to the point the Prez and Congress has had a blank check to stifle liberties and wage war virtually at their discretion. It's hard to argue against a war for our survival. As many dissenters know, if you're lucky you're called 'unpatriotic', sometimes 'a treasonous terrorist-sympathizer' from those who are intoxicated with irrational nationalism. Maybe it's a bit dramatic, but to a lot of folks it feels like what one would imagine 1930's Germany to be like with the rise of the Nazis.

What really concerns me most though isn't the harm that has come to this country via the Patriot Act & the Iraq war, it is the harm that is yet to come with the next inevitable terrorist attack in this country. If 3,000 dead in 9/11 can cause this country to usher in all of this police state imperialism, then what will the death of 300,000 or 3 million bring? I can't begin to imagine, but freedom as we have known it will not see the light of day again in this country — in most of the world for generations. The scariest thing of all is that we as a nation will demand a totalitarian state, it won't need to be forced on us.

Wikipedia article: 'Why We Fight'
Official site: 'Why We Fight' (2005)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Debate with a Catholic anti-gay bigot

I have been debating with some real Christianist bigots for quite a while now on a blog forum for a newspaper. A gay man had sent a letter to the editor about life in the Ozarks and living with anti-gay prejudice. Naturally this sent the bigoted bloggers into a tissy. In the ensuing discussions I made a direct request to a Christian Fundie in a newspaper blog forum: "Are the passages that Pioneer provided the only ones in the NT which you claim explicitly condemn homosexuality? Are there others? Where are they? Book, chapter, verses please....?"
Which I then followed with another post which included a cartoon that fit him all too well. To which the user 'Pioneer' proceeded to ultimately prove that this cartoon truly is an accurate depiction of him beyond a doubt!

{Begin quote, Pioneer--}

Saturday, March 03, 2007


This is so fitting. Bryan sent it to me saying that it reminded him of that homophobic bigot, Pioneer, at the News-leader forum who has long since been claiming the "homosexual agenda" {we're some sort of homogenous monolith of "narcissistic self-abusing" Nazi-like fascists} is going to eventually persecute Christians and heterosexuals. Speaking of Nazis... Didn't they make similar claims about a minority in Germany known as the Jews before they threw them into death camps? Those evil Jews with their "Jewish media", control of the banks, spreading disease, immorality, and undermining the master race. ~GASP!~

In further Nazi-like behavior, Pioneer recently admitted to compiling a "data bank" of information he's collected about me from our discussions, just in case I should ever become some sort of "dictator" in a more "official capacity", supposedly he and his people will have material to use against me.

The only difference between the exchange in this cartoon and the way it's been between Pioneer and I is that when he hit me with his anti-gay stick I didn't just stand around, I beat him back with my anti-bigot rod of doom... Oh, I'm soooo intolerant!

I'll bet it even looks like him too!