Monthly Archives: February 2012

Faith before country

Rick Santorum had an odd way of thanking the man who, more than any other, paved the way for his presidential candidacy.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy faced a huge obstacle in his pursuit of the presidency. He was a Catholic, and many Americans feared his primary obedience would be not to the nation but to his church.
It was against that backdrop that Kennedy gave a speech expressing his belief that “the separation of church and state is absolute.”
As president, Kennedy honored his pledge.
He honored it so well, in fact, that voters no longer have reservations about a Catholic candidate like Santorum.
It thus came as a surprise when Santorum said Kennedy’s speech “makes me throw up.”
Kennedy promised that the nation, not Catholicism, would receive his primary loyalty. Santorum is promising the opposite.

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Filed under Election 2012, Religion

Seeking even more publicity

Lawmakers who support a bill that would provide incentives for companies that produce films in Alabama recognize the value of publicity to the state.

Indeed, most of them have been tireless in providing such publicity with anti-immigrant and anti-abortion legislation.

House Bill 243 would offer production companies up to $25 million a year in incentives. The logic behind the bill is that films produced in Alabama provide a unique value to the state in the form of good exposure. The bill places a monetary value on the public-relations benefits.

According to an old saw, “All publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell your name right.”

If that’s the case, our Legislature has provided an incalculable service to the state, even without the use of incentives.

No state in the nation can brag of more extensive, international coverage than Alabama.

We made global headlines with an immigration law that was more vicious than any other state could devise.

We are in the news again with an anti-abortion bill that would force a woman — even if she is a rape victim and suicidal, even if the fetus is severely deformed — to submit to a vaginal ultrasound and listen to a doctor narrate the description of the to-be-aborted fetus.

If all publicity is good publicity, we hardly need incentives to attract more.

Indeed, we suspect that many filmmakers will jump at the chance to document the tragic consequences of legislation our representatives supported. What an irony if the same Legislature gives those producers tax rebates to help them in their efforts.

http://www.decaturdaily.com/stories/Seeking-even-more-publicity,92271

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Filed under Abortion, Alabama politics, immigration

SB12 ‘abortion’ definition flawed

Legislators need to revise the definition of “abortion” to limit the most disturbing consequences of SB12. Currently, all of its provisions apply to the removal of a fetus after a miscarriage. I’m not sure what the drafters intended, but I’m pretty sure that was not the intent of the sponsors. (HB418 uses identical language.)

Here I will set forth the actual language of the definition. Then I will set forth the only way it can be interpreted. Then I will set forth the way I suspect it was supposed to be drafted.

First, the definition included in the current bill:

(1) ABORTION. The intentional use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or devise (sic) or method to terminate the life of an unborn child, to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with an intention other than to produce a live birth and preserve the life and health of the child after live birth, to remove an ectopic pregnancy, or to remove a dead unborn child who died as the result of natural causes, accidental trauma, or a criminal assault on the pregnant woman or her unborn child.

Second, the only possible interpretation. For clarity I have added a colon and numerals, but the wording is identical to that of the bill:

ABORTION:
The intentional use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or devise (sic) or method:
(1) to terminate the life of an unborn child,
(2) to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with an intention other than to produce a live birth and preserve the life and health of the child after live birth,
(3) to remove an ectopic pregnancy,
or (4) to remove a dead unborn child who died as the result of natural causes, accidental trauma, or a criminal assault on the pregnant woman or her unborn child.

The grammatical structure requires an interpretation in which “to remove an ectopic pregnancy” is a procedure that constitutes an abortion, as is “to remove a dead unborn child.” The sentence structure only allows “other than” to apply to the clause in which it is included.

The Senate Health Committee at least partially recognized this interpretation by amending the definition to delete “to remove an ectopic pregnancy.”

Here is what I suspect the sponsors intended:

ABORTION:
The intentional use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device or method:
(1) to terminate the life of an unborn child, OR
(2) to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with an intention other than: (a) to produce a live birth and preserve the life and health of the child after live birth, (b) to remove an ectopic pregnancy, or (c) to remove a dead unborn child who died as the result of (i) natural causes, (ii) accidental trauma, or (iii) a criminal assault on the pregnant woman or her unborn child.

The problem is that the existing language does not support this definition of “abortion” because the OR I have inserted is not in the bill.

The problem gets worse because of the Senate Health Committee’s deletion of “to remove an ectopic pregnancy.” Under this version of the definition, the Health Committee’s amendment actually broadened the definition to include ectopic-pregnancy removals as a type of abortion. So even in the unlikely event a judge decides the Legislature must have mistakenly omitted the OR and rewrites the statute to correct it, he must also conclude that the Health Committee intended to include removal of ectopic pregnancies as an abortion procedure.

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Filed under Alabama politics, Law

Lent and simple sacrifice

The season of Lent, which began with Ash Wednesday, is a time of sacrifice. It is a time in which Christians focus on the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus.
The sacrifices of Lent — both his 40 days in the desert and ours — are difficult, but not complex. For Jesus, we read, the fasting and prayer was in preparation for a short life of sacrificial service.
Christians believe Jesus went on to serve others unreservedly. He sacrificed for and served others with the utmost simplicity. They were ill and he healed them. They were hungry and he fed them.
In our 21st Century sophistication, we increasingly spurn such simplicity. Healing the sick, we convince ourselves, can lead to unhealthy lifestyles and can degrade medical excellence. Feeding the hungry creates dependence and destroys fragile economic incentives. Providing life-sustaining service to the wrong people can cause them to come to us in excessive numbers, instead of staying in their own countries. Giving food to the hungry can encourage their drug habits.
The complexities we impose on service invariably reduce the extent of our sacrifice. By refraining from healing and feeding, we reduce our taxes. We create a tidy package in which failure to help the needy benefits both them and us.
There are complexities in running a state and nation, but we should guard against rationalizations.
Lent is a reminder that the purest sacrifice is also the simplest. The Jesus that Christians honor at Lent was unconditional in his love and in his assistance to those in need.

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Filed under Conservatism, Health care, Religion

Alabama feisty but dependent

The political rhetoric and financial realities of Alabama are frequently at odds, but never more so than when the economy struggles.
We resent the federal government politically while depending on it financially.
The resentment permeates state politics. Our elected officials campaign less on state solutions than on anti-federal rhetoric. Our Legislature — confronted with enormous problems that range from inadequate revenue to public corruption to generational poverty — spends much of its time drafting and passing bills with no purpose other than feeding the anti-Washington mania.
All the while, the people of Alabama receive more federal funding than they pay out in taxes. In Morgan County, one-fifth of the average resident’s income comes from the entitlement programs that we are busy attacking politically.
There may come a time when Alabama is so good at taking care of its own problems that it can, without hypocrisy, complain about federal spending aimed at alleviating poverty. This is not the time.
The taxpayers of other states are stuck with the task of helping to care for the neediest Alabamians. They are paying for the task because we have failed. That makes our political rants about federal intrusions on state sovereignty ring hollow.

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Filed under Alabama politics, Federalism, Health care, States' rights

The Bible as political weapon

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s efforts to use religion to attack President Barack Obama are disturbing.
In his most recent sermonizing, Santorum said Obama’s actions are based on “some phony theology, not a theology based on the Bible.”
Santorum uses the language of religion to condemn Obama’s effort to increase access to contraceptives, an odd approach given the importance of contraception in preventing the unwanted pregnancies that often lead to abortion.
Providing women with access to prenatal tests also falls outside Santorum’s narrow view of what’s theologically proper because, he theorizes, the results of those tests sometimes encourage women to have an abortion.
An emphasis on the environment by Obama also falls short of Santorum’s reading of the Bible, as the candidate says it “elevates the Earth above man.”
Judging political opponents as being theologically deficient is nothing new. It’s all the rage in Iran right now as hard-line theocrats try to squelch calls for peace by the less enlightened rabble.
Can Santorum make the strategy work against a president whose alleged sins are providing health-care to the poor and improving our stewardship of the Earth?

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Filed under Election 2012, Health care, obama, Religion

The Bible as political weapon

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s efforts to use religion to attack President Barack Obama are disturbing.
In his most recent sermonizing, Santorum said Obama’s actions are based on “some phony theology, not a theology based on the Bible.”
Santorum uses the language of religion to condemn Obama’s effort to increase access to contraceptives, an odd approach given the importance of contraception in preventing the unwanted pregnancies that often lead to abortion.
Providing women with access to prenatal tests also falls outside Santorum’s narrow view of what’s theologically proper because, he theorizes, the results of those tests sometimes encourage women to have an abortion.
An emphasis on the environment by Obama also falls short of Santorum’s reading of the Bible, as the candidate says it “elevates the Earth above man.”
Judging political opponents as being theologically deficient is nothing new. It’s all the rage in Iran right now as hard-line theocrats try to squelch calls for peace by the less enlightened rabble.
Can Santorum make the strategy work against a president whose alleged sins are providing health-care to the poor and improving our stewardship of the Earth?

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Filed under Election 2012, Health care, obama, Religion