Thursday, February 20, 2014

Twenty-Week Abortion Ban Bill -- Update

I am on my way out of town -- and a needed respite from politics -- but I want to send out important information about H 4223, the falsely named "pain capable" abortion bill.  

At this point, after an extensive subcommittee hearing, the bill was approved by a vote of 2-1, and now goes to the House Judiciary, which may hear this bill as early as next week.

You can find a list of the members of the Judiciary Committee at SC Statehouse.  Here is how to send a message:

Click on a name to get to their page.

Click on "Send Message to..."

Type in your message. (Note:  You can write your message in Word, then copy and paste it in the message area.  This way, you can copy the same message to as many members as you like.  The more you can contact, the better.)


I urge you to send messages to:  your own representatives, any representatives who may know you personally, representatives who may be more receptive to the message.

Here are some important points:

First of all, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has testified that a fetus cannot feel pain until 29-30 weeks, at which time thalamocortical connections have been developed.

Only a very small percentage (1%) of abortions occur this late.  Those that occur are because of serious abnormalities discovered that indicate risk to the woman, or fetal impairment, miscarriage or stillbirth.  Due to these life-threatening complications, such late abortions occur in what would otherwise be wanted pregnancies.

It is imperative that a physician be allowed to exercise their professional expertise and judgment, without fear of governmental reprisal, in advising a woman of these potential risks and recommending the best possible course of action.

It is essential that a woman experiencing complications during pregnancy has access to the best possible medical care, without fear of government interference.

There is no place in a woman's pregnancy that should be determined by government mandate.

Write your representatives.  Write a letter to the editor.  Talk to your friends, family, co-workers.

Let's all work to stop this intrusive piece of legislation.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bullies with Guns

I don't like going to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.  I don't like having my handbag searched.  It seems that over the years they have evolved their search policy, and that it has become ever more ridiculous.

After 9/11, and with the certainty that the next attack would be on the Arts in Charleston, the search was for guns.  A few years ago, I learned that they were now searching for cameras.  Management explained that it was part of their contract with the theater company that was performing.  Hmm, I thought, I wonder what would happen if the New York stage began to demand confiscation of cameras from their audiences....

This year, with no other option than to submit myself to a search in order to see Arlo Guthrie, I ruminated for weeks over whether they still confiscated cameras, and did that mean that they also took away smart phones?  I never for one second entertained the possibility that they would have done away with the searches.

When I was approached at the door for the search and I asked what they were looking for, I was directed to a quite large poster board that was standing by the door, where some dozen articles of search were listed.  Dumbfounded, and having lived in Charleston long enough not to want to make a fuss, I glanced at the list, noted that it included something about water bottles and, farther down, two-year-olds, stuck out my large purse and submitted to a cursory search and walked away.

Later I did go read the sign.  Topmost was no food or beverages.  Yes they can look in your pocketbook and confiscate a bag of M & M's.  Farther down on the list, somewhere around number 5, was something like:  No bottles, cans or weapons.  And no, the two-year-olds were not confiscated, they just had to have a ticket.  And they could not be in your purse.  Although now that I think about it, I guess they could search your purse for your two-year-old's ticket.  And guns was hidden behind bottles and cans, and within the word "weapons."

So as I waited for the concert, I continued to fume about the unquestioned right of a theater to search my personal property.  This led to thoughts about the recently passed South Carolina law allowing guns in bars and restaurants.  As amazing as the fact that the response to gun violence was not just to allow more guns to be sold, was that our legislators had now given express permission for them to be carried in the most volatile scenario, that where there is alcohol.

What was circling my mind, though, was the compromise that the usually more level-headed legislators reached.  If a bar or restaurant owner did not want guns in their establishment, they could post a sign.  That sign had to follow precise rules regarding wording and font size, exactly what walls and how high it needed to be posted, AND include a precise picture of a gun, all spelled out in Section 23-31-235.  In other words, the law had more restrictions on the signage than on the weapons.

There is a lot of hot air about how the federal government infringes on the rights of business owners in South Carolina.  And yet our legislators were happy to accept such detailed rules regarding being able to refuse to serve people carrying guns.  And considered it a victory in the gun control fight.

It initially shocked me that two groups were not coming out in loud opposition to the law:  police officers and bar/restaurant owners.  But when I saw the sign at the Performing Arts Center in which the prohibition against guns was hidden under "bottles, cans or weapons," it suddenly made sense.

We are all being held hostage by the bullies with guns.  We need to tread carefully around them, because to enrage them may not be fatal (although it might) but would certainly make it harder for us to go about our business.  In the case of bar and restaurant owners, their association would not want to alienate this powerful group, because retribution by A.L.E.C. and the NRA, both of whom control our legislators, would be swift and painful.  Police groups would also face retaliation in the form of budget and jobs.  Those who post those precisely drawn signs risk the wrath of any gun bullies that may have patronized their business as well as many who do not.

And gun bullies are not afraid to rage against those that question their unfettered right to bear arms, because, after all, they are the ones with the guns.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Every Day Is April Fool's Day

Lately I've been expecting to see headlines that say, "Lee Bright to introduce hand-grenade bill" or "Lindsey Graham Bill Says Life Begins Before Conception."

Really, this election year is turning out to be just the best season ever of that perennial favorite, "Idiots in Politics."  Graham can't be getting much sleep these days, firing off nearly daily emails pledging his war against Obamacare, educational standards, gun control and women.

Graham firing off emails.
The word "freedom" is getting its workout these days as well.  Freedom as we know it here in the South means the freedom of the powerful to trample the rights of the rest of us.  It also means making sure the wealthy continue to have freedom to be wealthy.  Basically, if you have to vote for freedom, you can't afford it.

Then there are all those fun-filled contradictions.  All those state's rights folks don't mind it when the federal government wants to ban gay marriage or twenty-week abortions, but listen to them all squeal when them-there liberals talk about a standard of education for the entire country.  Why, that would mean forcing us to change our standards from the proud "minimally adequate" bar that makes us Dixie.  And you surely don't mean that poor folk have the same right to an expensive education that those rich folk have.  To be fair, we do insist that rich and poor, black and white, are taught that God created the earth 6,000 years ago, and that we all romped with the dinosaurs back then.

We won't be straying too far from ignorance if we revisit the popular political stance that there is no situation that cannot be enhanced by the barrel of a gun.  To that end (of the gun), our right wing-nuts are enjoying a real shoot-out at the Okay Y'all Corral this election year, with Lindsey Graham matching Lee Bright dumb thought for dumb thought.

Only one idiot will win.
And as homophobic as is our Lindsey Graham, he's not going into battle alone.  His string of emails of late link him with homegrown lunatic Trey Gowdy -- against Obamacare -- and the Wild Bunch:  Chuck Grassley, Jim Inhofe, Mike Enzi, the unfortunately indefatigable Ted Cruz and even his strange bedfellow Tim Scott, the Bunch signing on against Common Core and pro-ignorance.  Wonder if Graham's gotten too crazy for even his old dancing partner John McCain.

Back to freedom and guns, though, which by the way go together like women and misogyny.  Freedom ends where the OB/GYN's office begins.  While it may be risky to let just anyone carry a gun anywhere in South Carolina, the risk to freedom is greater.  That same freedom, by the way, comes into play with women's ability to reproduce.  What I mean is, Lindsey and pals have the right to demand that a woman carry a pregnancy, or for that matter, get pregnant.  See, the freedom is that the guys with the guns get to control reproduction.  It's like "keep 'em barefoot and pregnant," but thanks to those commie liberals, most of us are going to be able to have shoes.

Here's a thought, and I hope Lee and Lindsey get right on it.  They have both accidentally come out on the right (meaning the correct) side against drone surveillance.  Only because our President has been caught with his hands on the drones.  What I fully expect to see in this battle of nitwits, is a bill to allow drones in the offices at Planned Parenthood. After all, the freedom of the wealthy and powerful are at stake here.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Guns and Irony

We who are not fearful that the government is going to come banging on our doors to confiscate our guns are more fearful of those people whose paranoia demands total freedom to bear -- and bare -- their weapons.  We wondered at the bizarre result of the tragedy of 20 children shot and killed in Newtown in December of 2012:  more states passing more laws allowing more weapons with less training in more public places.

So it was just another ironic happenstance today that the front page of The State's website headlined "Officer Involved Shootings on the Rise in South Carolina, Richland County," with the third story on the page being, "Haley Will Sign Bill that Allows Concealed Weapons in Bars, Restaurants on Tuesday."

Where is the disconnect???  Is it a matter of the more things get out of control, the greater the paranoia and the more things get out of control?  Are we being controlled by the NRA and ALEC or is it the gun nuts who, like the most psychotic people in the neighborhood, are also the loudest and the hardest to speak over?

When logic is constantly being defeated by radical ideology, as it is in the South these days, I think the question has to be why those capable of reason -- those who I still believe are the majority -- continue to be uninformed, uninterested, uninvolved.  I can understand why those who are rageful and irrational are the ones who persistently and tirelessly show up at abortion clinics and the state capital, and stand in line at Chick-fil-A to wave their dollars in support of homophobia.

What I can't understand is the number of citizens that understand the issues and don't vote.  And the ones who know the issues but minimize the importance and continue to vote on a party line.  And for gods' sake, our own Democrats and Democratic Party that vote for guns and against the rights of women and gays, what on earth is that all about?

So here we have it, consolidated into one front page website, the insanity that more people are being killed by guns while our politicians are voting to allow the freedom to carry weapons into public places, bars, restaurants, schools.  And coming soon:  legislation to allow people to "open carry," so the paranoid can actually see that those people they believed were coming to get them are armed.

I don't know where it ends, but the crazies are indeed tireless and, unlike so many of the rest of us, they vote.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Rand Paul Rorschach Test

I thought it was beyond interesting to hear today that Rand Paul has decided that Bill Clinton's sexual high-jinx while in office were so offensive that anyone who has received campaign contributions from him should return them.  In fact, he called Clinton a "sexual predator."  The reason I did a double-take at this presumed moral attitude, is that I recalled an incident from Rand Paul's college days which came up during his 2010 campaign.

Paul, who was (seemingly appropriately) known as "Randy," was a member of a "secret society."  Their goal in life appears to have been to have a high time and pull pranks.  The incident that was made public in 2010 involved the kidnapping of an undergraduate woman.  Talk about your pot calling your kettle etc.

But here's what makes the attack even more terribly wrong.

Bill Clinton, regardless of how stupid was his extramarital pursuit of women, was not taking them anywhere or anyhow against their will.  The Rand Paul incident was quite the opposite.  The young woman was blindfolded and tied up, taken to Paul's apartment where he and a friend attempted to force her to smoke pot.  After she refused, they forced her back into the car, took her to a creek, and made her perform a bizarre worship of a god they invented for the purpose of the prank.  Hilarious, right?

So you have to wonder about the incredibly bad judgment that would cause him to attack Clinton for behavior that was not even as bad as his own.

I can only assume that the incredibly warped logic had to do with attacking Hillary, who he sees as a likely opponent in 2016, through her husband.  And making it seem as though he is a defender of women.

I just wonder if when it all comes down to it, this kind of crazy stuff will result in Rand Paul lasting little longer than Rick Perry, Herman Cain or Rick Santorum when he actually hits the campaign trail.  I am hoping it will be a brief but thoroughly entertaining run.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Obamacare -- Good News and Lies

Horrors!  The Congressional Budget Office report states that people are leaving their jobs because of Obamacare.  The champagne was overflowing yesterday as the republicans celebrated the proof of just how we lazy Americans would quickly begin to suck on the government teat when given cheap -- read "affordable" -- health insurance.

While employers have been twirling their mustaches and  threatening to let workers go if Obamacare was put into place, only some of us were aware of just how many of us have been stuck in jobs just so we could get health insurance.  And if our employer wasn't providing health insurance, we were stuck in badly paying jobs -- often more than one -- with horrendous hours and no benefits in an attempt to keep our heads above water without health insurance.

Well, fact is, now we have some options.  Some of us can quit our job to go back to school or train for better jobs.  Some of us can stay home to take care of our children or parents.  And some of us can quit jobs that were physically hurting us, many older people who were trapped until age 65 when they could be insured under Medicare.

All of the above absolutely infuriates those who have kept wages low because they always had a line of applicants willing to do anything to make ends meet.  Just listen to the whining from those who will now have to raise their standards if they want a work force.

Of course, it is a different story that is being put forth by the right wing, those corporate patsies who themselves have never had to worry about medical bills since they are graced with taxpayer covered insurance plans.  According to them, we suddenly have no work force.  People are bailing out so they can watch TV and drink margaritas, I guess.

In actual fact, the result of people choosing to leave their jobs is that jobs will be created for those who have been seeking employment.  We seem to be looking at a reduction in unemployment (and payment of unemployment benefits), a healthier and younger work force, and maybe even healthier retirees.

This is exactly why the right wing has been doing everything in its power to kill Obamacare before it could take a breath.  That is, because it works.  Suddenly the power base has somewhat shifted, and there is fear and loathing in corporate America.

But just as every progressive movement, from raising the minimum wage to the implementation of Social Security, has begun with wails and accusations of anti-Americanism, fist thumping and threats, this tantrum too shall pass.  As more people successfully enroll in health insurance, its opponents will search for other misinformation and attempts to scare us.  When it becomes apparent that in fact Americans are not quitting their jobs to live off the government, the muttering will turn to something else.

But the fact is that as more people are able to afford to be insured, more people are free to leave work for better jobs or to live healthier lives, fewer people will be on unemployment rolls, and employers will have to offer better wages, benefits and work conditions in order to staff their businesses.

And that's what is called a good start.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Truly Painful Abortion Ban

South Carolina's Lindsey Graham has taken up the important question of who is more willing to stand up against women's medical rights by championing the twenty-week abortion ban in the U.S. Senate.  Thankfully, in this 2014 Senate the bill won't pass.

However, here in South Carolina, legislators are rabid to get on board the Tea Party Express to hell before the primaries.  They have shown passion if not reason in their quest to control women.  But there are really only a few of these crazed fanatics in our legislature.  Others who would vote in favor of these bills opposing women's reproductive rights do so because they fear repercussions, and really don't have a grasp of the issues.

Thursday at 9 a.m. there will be a hearing in Columbia on H 4223, what is erroneously called the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Bill," in Room 516 of the Blatt Office Building.  The ACLU will be there giving testimony.  If you can make it there in support, if you or someone you know has testimony you can give about why passage of this bill would be wrong, please be there.

I urge you to contact your legislators in the House.  You can find out who that is, as well as contact information, at SC Statehouse.  It is important to let your legislator know that you live in their district.  Some legislators pay more attention to actual snail mail, because of the extra time and attention it takes to send a message that way.  Individually written messages are more likely to get attention as opposed to mass emails.  On the other hand, do whatever you are able; any contact at all is better than none.

That said, here are a few important points that you can make when you contact your legislator:

Twenty week abortions are rare.  They are undertaken when a problem has occurred in the pregnancy that either could not be detected or was unclear earlier in the pregnancy.  Most often these are wanted pregnancies, and the decision is extremely difficult. 
The diagnosis of the medical problem and determination of whether or not to proceed with the pregnancy requires expert analysis.  The recommendation of trained physicians is critical.  There have been instances elsewhere in which, due to an existing anti-abortion law, women have been forced to continue with a pregnancy despite medical indications of extreme trauma, only to give birth to a severely impaired infant who dies (in pain) shortly thereafter. 
The decision where there is a possible serious problem needs to be made by a woman who has been well-informed by a knowledgeable medical professional.  I would not ever want to be in the position of making this critical decision, and neither should our legislators. 
Regarding the issue of pain, solid science has determined that thalamocortical connections, which are not developed until week 29/30 at the earliest, are necessary for the experience of pain.  Until that time, although there may be reflexive movement, there is no feeling of pain. 
Whereas, and I have to emphasize this fact, if a pregnancy is continued despite evidence of severe trauma, it may well result in undue pain by mother and a child who is not capable of survival, and possibly the death of the mother. 
And again, twenty week abortions happen rarely, and in desperate circumstances, and under the advice of a medical professional. 
So H 4223 is not only unnecessary as it addresses a problem that occurs very rarely, but it prevents licensed medical professionals from making critical recommendations during the course of problems that arise during the pregnancy.
Please speak out to your legislators, and talk to family and friends and educate them about what the real issues are in this proposed twenty-week abortion ban.