Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Rhetorical obfuscation can ruin people's lives. Consider the president's State of the Union remarks about Medicare. First, he said he believed seniors should have a choice when it comes to their medical care. Then he said that under his plan, seniors could get reimbursement for prescription medicines.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Only it isn't. Did the president lie? No.

Except...yes. He did the worst kind of lying--the kind that omits, twists, and plays with the meanings of words.

It is true that he has a plan whereby seniors will get reimbursed by Medicare for prescription drugs. It is true they have a choice. However, this is the choice: Under Bush's plan, an older American may choose to keep the current Medicare program and thereby choose her physicians. Or...she may choose to get reimbursement for her medicines by joining an HMO, and thereby lose her right to select her own doctors.

This Scylla and Charybdis choice was made public recently, but that doesn't mean that Americans heard about it. And it is being made public again today (by the other side), but that is also no guarantee that Americans will hear about it. They may not have heard about it because, sadly, thousands of citizens simply do not bother to stay informed. Then, when they tune in to the razzle-dazzle known as the State of the Union address, they hear "compassionate conservatism" and breathe a sigh of relief that the voted for the president.

By the way, he performed the same rhetorical card tricks with his environmental program, just in case you missed it. It is time to pay attention.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Today is the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The Bush administration has already made it clear that it intends to keep chipping away at the reproductive rights of women, including the right to use what is now considered standard types of birth control. In discouraging condom use and lying about the effectiveness of condoms, the administration has also begun to chip away at the reproductive and health protection rights of men, as well.

The next step is to appoint Supreme Court justices whose agenda is to severely alter--and eventually repeal--Roe v. Wade. If this is allowed to happen, women and their doctors will become criminals, and there will once again be procedures botched by unqualified "practitiioners" whose only goal is to make money.

The people who support repeal of Roe v. Wade believe that life begins at conception. No one can say when life really begins, because to make such a determination means that we must define "life," and there is a lot of debate about what meaningful life is. It is perhaps more significant, then, to examine the people in the right-to-life movement, for their belief in the sanctity of life appears very selective.

For example, most of them eat meat and wear leather. Not only were the animals involved slaughtered, but they were also tortured under very cruel conditions on farms. I am going to take an educated guess that most right-to-life proponents are not protesting animal cruelty in industry, farming, and science. In other words--by their behavior--it is easy to see that their regard for the sanctity of life is for human life only. I find this difficult to fathom, but for now, I will accept it.

So if the right-to-life movement's concern is with the sanctity of human life only, then my next question is: Are these same people actively involved in trying to get their states and their country to do something--anythingto prevent the huge volume of American child abuse? Are they lobbying and writing letters and forming protests to do something to help the thousands of children that are neglected, whipped, beaten, molested, raped, screamed at, humiliated, and murdered?

I don't think they are.

What a strange "humane" movement. Only humans matter, and really, when you get down to it, only fetuses matter.

There is no such thing as "pro-abortion," as right-to-life people are prone to say. No one is "for" abortion. For a number of reasons, abortion should be rarely chosen option. But an option, a choice, it must be. For if a woman has no reproductive rights, then she is locked away forever in a prison designed by her own culture. Such prisons have been used to lock women away for centuries.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the old saying sums it up better than anything else: If men could get pregnant, the right to have an abortion would have never been questioned.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
Dr. Martin Luther King

Friday, January 17, 2003

Acccording to the Village Voice, only 1 in 5 American women and 1 in 7 American men identify themselves as feminists. Nothing I have read lately has made me quite as sad or as disgusted as this. 20% of American women purport to be in favor of social, political and ecomonic equality for women. That means that 80% do not. There is nothing I can say that screams any louder than that number.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Last week, it was reported that an eighth grade student in Santa Rosa, California declined to say the Pledge of Allegiance and was sent out of the classroom by his teacher. Though California law requires students to participate in some type of patriotic exercise, no state can require a student to say the Pledge. That legal precedent was set in 1943. The student, who objected to what he considered corrupt decisions made by U.S. leaders, presented his teacher with a packet of information regarding his legal rights. The teacher threw the packet in the trash and said he didn't care what the law was.

Well, there's a patriotic exercise for you, and an experiential one, at that. Demand that a student do something against his will and within his rights to refuse to do, ban him, and tell him that the law is immaterial. It was only a class in U.S. history and the Constitution. No harm done.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Women of America, help has arrived at last. president Bush gave us all a present on Christmas Eve by appointing Robert Hager to the Food and Drug Administration's Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs. You remember Hager. Bush announced his intention to appoint him in October, and the protests were loud and forceful. So the president waited until we were opening Christmas gifts and drinking eggnog--and the media was doing a hundred holiday stories--and quietly made the appointment.

Hager has a lot to offer women. A member of several fundamentalist Christian medical groups, he has condemned the use of birth control pills because he believes they lead to premarital sex (boy, does he need to get out more), and he has lobbied to reverse the FDA's approval of RU-486.

But his most outstanding contribution is his cure for PMS: hold a Bible, pray and do scripture readings. This cannot possibly make him very popular with pharmaceutical companies, but the thousands of women who suffer from severe cramping, agitation and depression are free at last...

Saturday, January 04, 2003

The other day, I heard Rush Limbaugh criticize president Bush for not having the kind of vision in his domestic agenda that he has in his international agenda. How I wish that were true.

It appears to me that the president's domestic agenda is focused to a fault. This is what we know so far:

1. Stock the courts with right-wing judges who (according to the names he's already presented) have a history of being anti-woman, anti-gay, and anti-person of color.

2. Tie the hands of scientists who might be able to find preventions or cures for disabling diseases.

3. Destroy separation of church and state by giving money to religious groups to carry out public service.

4 .Enact a tax cut designed to give "relief" to a few very wealthy citizens.

5. Ignore evidence that animal testing can be highly significantly reduced, and reverse the reduction that was in place, resulting in the torture of millions of animals.

6. Encourage Americans to spy on one another.

7. Appoint criminals as heads of crucial national agencies.

8. Allow military tribunals to try people in the U.S.

9. Eliminate laws that are helping us reach goals of having clean air, clean water, and parcels of undisturbed forest.

10. Award a justice official whose negligence played a role in a national tragedy.

Seems pretty clear to me, Rush.