Uncommon Sense

October 10, 2022

Republicans Claim They Can Be Trusted!

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 2:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The longest-tenured Republican in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, has pledged to vote against a national ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that Lindsay Graham (R) of South Carolina and chamber colleagues proposed last month, joining a growing chorus of conservative lawmakers opposed to that bill.

Now, if you believe him, there are still a few problems . . .

  1. How often have you heard politicians claim “I will not do A” and then turn around and do just that?
  2. Grassley’s motivation may be just to win the next election and hope that that bill never comes to a vote and he has six more years in the Senate for any furor to die down. (Besides, he is 86 and probably will be dead before his next term is up. He may even be running for the burial insurance.)
  3. Some GOPers oppose this bill because it is too liberal! They want stricter laws in place. Hershel Walker, GOP candidate for governor in Georgia, wants no abortions under any circumstances, for example.

August 14, 2022

Why, Religion, Why?

The current political climate in this country is fueled by an odd combination of Catholics, evangelicals, and fundamentalists. So, why are these strange bedfellows against abortion, contraception, same sex marriage, etc.?

The history of “the Church” tells us. Yes, I know “the Church” is not a monolith, but their differences within are small compared to the differences they have with secular/non-religious folk.

In any case, the history of the various churches is rife with a basic strategy and that is: to out populate their competitors. All of the above practices hold the birth rate down, you see. But the various religions promoted high birth rates by any means whatsoever. Then, after all the myriad babies were born, they promoted indoctrination of the children by various and often sordid means. Jewish boys were mutilated so that they would bear an unerasable physical sign of Judaism. This practice was also adopted by Christianity. Various “guidelines” as to how to dress, whether one’s hair could be exposed, etc. were all adopted to isolate “the flock” in the pen of the Church. You can see all of these in operation today, e.g. Sikh turbans, Christian dress codes, burqas, hijabs, etc. Various indoctrination schemes were implemented to stage the children up to full blown believers. And, these are still in operation today.

And now the Supreme Court of the U.S. is larded with people of this ilk who still believe they are fighting a war of attrition and that numbers matter more than anything else. Despite all of the signs that there are too many people now, the same bankrupt strategy is being employed by jurists who cannot think their way out a wet paper bag or see a future where we are all impoverished on a depleted Earth, but thinking they won because they ended up with more believers.

When believers ask “What harm does religion do?” Here is your answer. When religion is inserted into politics, it actively opposes necessary actions needed for the betterment of all citizens because of ancient practices they do not even understand. Right now we need to do everything in our power to hold down the population of humans on this planet. Religious zealots are currently putting the brakes on that effort.

June 24, 2022

Freedom!! Freedom!!

The GOP advanced their Freedom Agenda today, when their hand-picked Supreme Court Justices overturned Roe v. Wade which established abortion as a valid option for pregnant women everywhere in the country.

By voiding Roe, the GOP’s minions have established their small government, freedom loving vision upon the country. The government is expected to stay out of the private lives of citizens . . . , uh, well, except when a woman gets pregnant and the state steps in and exercises control over that woman’s uterus.

No other organ is thus “protected” by the state. The state (federal or local) cannot require you to accept an organ transplant, nor require you to donate any of your organs to another (even blood). The state cannot require you to protect your heart and lungs by not smoking. But uteruses, well, they’re special, you see.

And while the SCOTUS justices may have been correct that the constitution right to privacy may not be the shield Roe needed, there is this small matter of . . . the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” So women are secure in their persons, except when the anti-abortion states step in and exercise control over their uteruses. And determining that a woman is pregnant, how is that not an illegal search? How does that make any sense at all? And what about “equal protection” of the law? The Fourteenth Amendment states that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” but that apparently doesn’t apply to the United States collectively. So, in the United States, a women will get an abortion in one state and be arrested and tried for murder, but another woman, just on the other side of the state line, will get an abortion, paid for by her insurance company. This will happen because the U.S. itself doesn’t provide equal protection under the law.

Clearly the current crop of SCOTUS ne’er-do-wells were just looking for legal-schmegal language cover for what they wanted to do for their religiously inspired agendas.

The Republicans orchestrated this. The only solution is to vote them out, vote them all out.

May 16, 2022

How to Resolve the Abortion Issue

Filed under: Politics,Reason,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 2:16 pm
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It appears that the SCOTUS is going to return the power to make laws about abortion to the states. In this, they will not have gone far enough. They need to return that power to the people.

Since the nation’s citizens are so widely divided on the topic, no federal or state can say that it is representing its people with any particular legislation. In other words, the states have no compelling interest in the topic, certainly not any interest that imposes any particular viewpoint upon millions of people.

So, whether to abort a fetus or not is a decision to be made by a woman, in consultation with others of her choosing (husband, doctors, friends. clergy, relatives, etc.). The only role for government is to ensure that safe practices be followed in any such procedures.

In the Bill of Rights it says “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” (Amendment IX) which indicates that the people do have powers in our system of government.

My recommendation is based upon “government of the People, by the People, and for the People.” Who better to adjudicate an abortion question than the only people who it affects, the pregnant woman and her advisors. No one else should have any say in the issue because they have no stake in the game. Anyone who claims to support “freedom” should support this, otherwise they claim to support freedom, except when they use the government to take away the freedoms of others. Those exercises of governmental power don’t count.

As to those who claim the fetus has a stake in the game, that may be true, but all current laws support total bodily autonomy of the mother in such matters. The government cannot force someone to donate part of their body, even blood, even in extreme cases. It can only ask or beg. Government cannot demand a kidney for transplantation into another person, or any other organ either. So, the government cannot demand that a women’s uterus be used to their ends, either.

Power to the People, baby!

Addendum
. . . the full scope of the liberty guaranteed by the Due Process Clause cannot be found in or limited by the precise terms of the specific guarantees elsewhere provided in the Constitution. This ‘liberty’ is not a series of isolated points pricked out in terms of the taking of property; the freedom of speech, press, and religion; the right to keep and bear arms in the United States; the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures; and so on. It is a rational continuum which, broadly speaking, includes a freedom from all substantial arbitrary impositions and purposeless restraints. (Emphasis mine.)
—Justice John Marshall Harlan writing in Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 543 (1961)

Oh, but this SCOTUS is no longer interested in stare decisis.

July 25, 2018

Why Are We Still Discussing Contraception? (Hint: Religion)

Contraception has still been around for a very long time, and yet we are still debating the topic and are passing laws regulating it. Of course the reason for this is religion.

In the Muslim world, they are still in a phase in which, as a religion, they are trying to out populate the other religions it competes with. This was a phase for Christianity, too, a phase we haven’t entirely left.

Now, realize that if the radical religionists get their way, they will use state power to regulate contraception, as well as other sex-related topics and, I suspect there are reasons to believe you will not like it. As just an example of what to expect, should the most recent Antonin Scalia clone gets hoisted to the US Supreme Court, Louisiana has already passed a law that takes effect when Roe v. Wade is overturned in the SCOTUS. That law makes abortion a crime, sending everyone involved to jail with large fines attached, e.g. if a daughter is raped and her mother or father helps her get an abortion, the parent, the child, and the doctor are all heading for the slammer.

You may have noticed that states like Louisiana have coerced abortion clinics out of existence in their states, making the operation almost unavailable if you are poor and can’t travel out of state already. (As an aside, I wonder if the promoters of these laws have compared the birth rates of their state’s populations. The “white” birth rate is the lowest, hence they are speeding along the path to becoming a “white-minority” state.

Okay, back to the original topic. where did these anti-contraception ideas come from? The answer, of course, is Christianity (in the U.S.). So where did the Christians get their ideas? well, it wasn’t from scripture. Their scripture states that a baby becomes a “person” when they inhale the breath of life just after they are born. This hasn’t stopped the Christians from trying to pass a bogus law declaring the baby is a person at conception. (Once the pregnancy test shows blue, register the child for a Social Security number and claim then as a dependent on your tax returns. With the savings, go to another state for an abortion and you will have a “State funded abortion” whether they want it or not. Just sayin’.)

I have been paying more attention to church history of late and that history clearly shows the evolution of the churches stance toward sex and contraception. These ideas, not to be found in scripture, were created by Church Fathers like Paul and Augustine and, well, the usual crowd. Most of these people make clear that they believed that the most desirable state for Christians was celibacy. Augustine’s battles over his sexual nature make an interesting study of self-inflicted psychological wounds.

These people were, of course, unmarried for which fact they made self-serving excuses. Imagine these “holy men,” not at all likely to be much fun. They are overly serious, overly religious, and obsessed … not exactly marriage material. If they ever did have sex, each occurrence was probably the equivalent of a teenaged boy’s first sexual experience, that is to say explosive and overwhelming. They never got to the stage where sex with a committed partner becomes a gentle, affirmation of their relationship. So, they equated sex with lust, a cardinal sin. So, they started making rules about a subject they knew almost nothing about and which they mischaracterized from the beginning. At least the Quakers had the grace to die out, but the early Christians were playing the political dominance game, where the church with the most followers “wins,” just as Muslims are doing now.

The rather stern Protestant inheritors of these positions have accepted them, even though they are based in Catholic theology, and run with the ball. This is hardly surprising as the conservative Protestants are responsible for the Catholic majority on the Supreme Court. (Shush, don’t tell anyone, you’ll let the cat out of the bag.)

How we continue to let celibate clergymen dictate to us is beyond me. But then the church is hardly democratic. The only appeals they make to democracy is asking to be let to vote upon whether the U.S. should be declared a Christian nation.

This ridiculous demand can be quashed by a simple ballot. The first question is: “Should the U.S. be declared a Christian Nation (yes or no)? The second question is “Which denomination (Mormon, Scientologist, Catholic, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Charismatic, Quaker, Episcopalian, Seventh Day Adventist, and 10,000 more)? (check one).

The whole idea of the separation of church and state is to keep items of religion off of the ballot! The evangelical churches around the time of the adoption of the Constitution knew this as they were in a small minority at the time and would have been voted into obscurity. Better a level playing field for all than to give the currently popular churches the state power to collect tithes, etc.  Now that they are ascendant in conservative political circles, now they want to vote.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

If you want to see how states with endorsed religions behave, just look at history. It isn’t pretty. Why would they want this? I guess it is because they are still following tradition … traditions that were invented by lustful celibates thousands of years ago.

And, as I have been saying over and over: a religion will not continue to exist unless it coerces the labor of the masses to the benefit of the secular and religious elites. In the realm of sex, those being coerced are women. Rules made by men who did not and do not understand women or sex are still being used to control women. Women are to be “used” as vessels for men’s seed, and as caregivers to children, and then as a support system for their girl children’s children. That’s it. Oh, and clean the house and cook dinner and don’t forget to pick up my dry cleaning.

Disgusting.

Oh, and they are winning right now. If they break down the wall between church and state, get ready for religious wars.

February 10, 2018

How to Solve the Abortion Contretemps

Filed under: Culture,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 9:49 am
Tags: , ,

All over the world, the issue of abortion is contentious. On one side are women who want to control their own bodies. On the other side are people who think “life is sacred” (and there are probably 42 other sides as well). Please do not buy the argument that “life is sacred” as it is not a valid argument. The behaviors of those who claim life is sacred do not exhibit a commitment to that idea. So, the argument is a smokescreen for their real reasoning, which is suspect is based upon a millennia old fear of the power of women.

In any case, I can solve this difficulty with little political fuss. Currently through artificial birth control suppression and abortion suppression, women are being forced to have babies they do not want to have. If they do have a baby and abandon it, they are subject to child abandonment laws. If they do have a baby and do not raise their children to a level acceptable to society they face social punishments up to and including legal punishments. This forced baby having is a punishment that takes 15-18 years to play out, sometimes longer. (Please, no “how can you not love a baby” comments. If you do not know, just grab the nearest male and ask them.)

To solve the abortion and even the artificial contraception issue, simply make fathers 100% responsible for their progeny. If a father abandons a mate and child, the law finds him and makes him pay. If a mother does not care adequately for a child, it is the father’s fault and his will be the punishment of not providing for his children.

Were this to be implemented, you would soon find no legal prohibitions of artificial birth control methods or abortion. And rape would be a crime punishable by death or at least a slot in a cell as some large person’s bunk muffin.

Simple, easy, effective.

This is also a route to solving the hijab/burkha issue also. Men need to be masters of their sexual urges. If the visual stimulation of an attractive female incites a male to attack her, it is not her fault and the entire burden falls upon the male. How it is that the control of the male libido was transfer to women is beyond me. Any male who cannot control his own urges is clearly a danger to society and needs to be locked up.

 

January 31, 2018

What Religion … Trying to Control Us?

I continue to insist that no matter why a religion was created in the first (or second, third, etc.) place, it continues to exist because it controls the great masses of a society to the benefit of the religious and secular elites. The easiest example is Christianity. If Christianity had not supported slavery, it would never have become the state religion of Rome and would have remained an obscure Jewish sect.

Fast forward to today and Ireland is having a referendum on the legality of abortions. In the U.S. there has been a massive anti-abortion campaign being waged for the last thirty years (at least). A primary source of the energy for the “opposed” position on abortion has come from the Catholic Church.

So, what do you think the scriptural basis for this opposition is? For some, the important distinction was of “ensoulment,” the exact moment in time a fetus receives its soul. So, what does the OT have to say about this? While the Hebrew Bible only requires a fine for the loss of a fetus through the actions of another, whatever its stage of development, the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Hebrew text (a pre-Christian translation that the early Christians used and quoted extensively in the NT) introduced a distinction between an Aristotelian “formed” and an “unformed” fetus and treated destruction of the former as murder. The debate was over when the fetus became “formed.” So, the scriptures were distorted to include Greek philosophical distinctions by Greek translators. (The NT is rampant with such things, both segments having their science based upon Aristotle or superstition.)

The “debate” was not settled quickly (nor has it been settled now). In 1679, Pope Innocent XI publicly condemned sixty-five propositions taken chiefly from the writings of Escobar, Suarez and other casuists as “at least scandalous and in practice dangerous.” He forbade anyone to teach them under penalty of excommunication. The condemned propositions included:

  1. It is lawful to procure abortion before ensoulment of the fetus lest a girl, detected as pregnant, be killed or defamed.
  2. It seems probable that the fetus (as long as it is in the uterus) lacks a rational soul and begins to first have one when it is born and consequently it must be said that no abortion is homicide.

That these teachings that were being condemned were of Jesuit Catholics, it can hardly be claimed that scripture is crystal clear on the topic.

Of late, the idea of ensoulment at the moment of conception has become popular, but not because it is supported by scripture, just by the Catholic hierarchy, which means it is political.

Now, why would Christianity in the form of the Catholic Church and many Protestant sects (allies in the anti-abortion movement), have its position “evolve” in this manner? For one, each religion has seen itself involved in a war of attrition. People in general did not tend to lose their faith (it wasn’t healthy) but to dominate, more “believers” were needed, consequently more and more children were favored. The Catholic Church didn’t just oppose abortion, it has opposed all artificial birth control methods. More Catholics means more power and that is the name of the game they are playing.

It is a bit of fun watching the Catholic Church squirm as it is rapidly approaching “majority minority” status. The highest birth rates in Catholicism are in Latin America, Latino Americans, and Africa, etc. Pope Francis may come from Argentina but his parents were Italian and of Italian-extraction, so he is far from being a South American, just another overseas Italian and the church does love them some Italian (aka white) popes. How well that will continue to go down as Catholics become more and more brown and black skinned is what will be interesting to watch.

Still, the name of the religion game is to control the behavior of the masses to the benefit of the religious and secular elites. Since, for example, 96% of Catholic American women have used artificial birth control at some point in their lives, that control seems to be slipping. Ireland has approved gay marriage and may decriminalize abortion.

But the Catholic Church and other churches will continue to have opinions, backed with political muscle in these debates. Be sure, however, that there is no clear guidance from scripture on these and many other issues. (The Catholic Church also extols “tradition” as a basis for their opinions which equates to “the way we have always done things” which, surprise!, puts them in control of their opinions.)

And what do you call someone whose political stance is to preserve the status quo and all its institutions? Answer: a conservative. More and more the “opinions” of churches (for example, on the fitness of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States) is determined by their conservatism rather than their professed faith.

The game is all about power … over us. Are you surprised?

February 27, 2017

What Are Your Views on Abortion?

A recent piece in the N.Y. Times pointed out that in a recent survey of views on abortion, just over half of all American women want to see further restrictions on abortion. The piece also chastised “feminists” for ignoring this fact.

As far as I am concerned, both parties and their opinions can go take a flying leap.

In my opinion, having an abortion … or not …. is an intensely personal decision and the opinions of the rest of society just do not matter. In order for them to matter, the issue would have to involve one in which there was a profound societal interest. We are talking about birthing new citizens here. If we had a profound worker shortage or a severe lack of people available to serve in the military, I would recognize a significant societal interest. But we are up to our assess in people and no such interest exists. The only reason there is an abortion issue is that there is a morality issue.

There is an axiom that “you cannot legislate morals,” but we keep trying, idiots that we are. The danger here is if we do insist that there is a profound societal interest, we open a box of snakes. The only form that interest could take would be a population based one (morals aren’t addressed in the Constitution). If we take “action” in the form of policy, say an anti-abortion policy, we are essentially saying we have the right to force women to bear children. A short step away are laws restricting the uses of contraception. Neither of these kinds of policies touch the American experiment where it lives. These are totalitarian policies and are supported only by totalitarian religions.

If a pregnant woman is considering an abortion, the decision is a very emotional, personal decision. She is not deciding to “never have children.” She is not deciding to restrict the number she will have. But if we collectively were to force her to have this baby after she decided she did not want it, the emotional scars from that action may affect those possibilities and how would that serve the societal interest? And who wants there to be more unwanted children in the world? The impact on the child is rarely mentioned by the anti-abortion zealots, other than to describe an abortion as a murder. Once the child is brought to term it can go fuck itself for all of the anti crowd cares.

Much of the anti-abortion fever, I believe, is fueled by people wanting “others” to be responsible for their actions. The punishment for a young girl exploring sex and getting pregnant (made unsafe by the same politics as the antis espouse) is to be forced to bear that child and raise it, possibly forestalling any hopes she had for her own life and possibly truncating any positive future for that child. “That will teach her not to be promiscuous.” (Is there any evidence that this form of “discipline” works?)

If a woman is contemplating an abortion, the best thing we can do is get out of the way. If we are close to her, offer support, share your opinion if that is requested, but get out of the way. And stop recommending laws to restrict peoples actions in these personal decisions.

How would you like it if you are told you have heart disease, but the procedure that could cure you and save your life has been condemned as immoral and made illegal. (It involves the use of stem cells.) How would you feel if laws were passed that operations were immoral as they denied the healing powers of God? Do not let totalitarian religions determine our social policies. Only when there is a demonstrated significant societal interest should we intervene. Child abuse, spousal abuse, poverty, hunger, homelessness: there are so many problems of this sort that have societal interests and citizens involved that deserve our attention. In the absence of such an interest, as in the case of the “legality” of abortions, we should get out of the way and reinforce our belief in individual action. To do otherwise is to extend the totalitarian aspects of these religions to our collective agreements with one another.

PS Pop Quiz Can you tell from the graph what year abortion was made legal in the US? (If not legal abortions do not affect population growth and there can not be a societal interest in them.)

united-states-population

(Answer to Pop Quiz: It was 1973.)

May 15, 2014

The World According to Rubio . . .

According to Senator Marco Rubio (R Florida) there is a 100% scientific consensus that life begins at conception.

This is a fascinating claim from a scientific ignoramus. Consider if this were true. You could immediately claim an extra deduction on your income taxes. You could ask your fetus to get a job, support him- or herself, and maybe charge for room and board. (Talk about a taker!) I know of no agreed upon scientific definition of “life” so a 100% consensus on it beginning in a long train of human reproductory events (injection of sperm, egg fertilization, zygote development,  … , birth, suckling, … , etc.) in any particular place is beyond comprehension. We have a “legal” definition (or rather definitions) of when life “begins” to avoid the potential absurdities associated with the birth of a child. When a child is born, it is either dead or alive. If it is alive, it is accorded privileges (but not full privileges) as a citizen. A definition of life beginning at conception would be a legal nightmare. What rights would the little beastie be accorded? I believe the Senator would insist upon the right not to be aborted. For anything else he cares not.

He also cares not about truth or reality and is willing to lie, cheat, and steal to become President. Interesting process we have here, the one where we ask our political candidates to prove their worthiness to lead . . . by not understanding important science topics like climate change, conception and birth, etc. yet still having “firm” and often bizarre beliefs on those topics.

March 20, 2013

And I Thought Rand Paul was a Libertarian

Rand Paul, junior Senator from Kentucky, recently submitted a bill for Senate consideration that would define life as beginning at conception, a so-called “personhood” bill. Now, as I understand it, libertarians are staunch advocates for personal liberty and against government interference in citizen’s lives. I guess we can scratch Rand Paul’s name off of that list.

I do believe in personal liberty and freedom of (and from) religion. That leads me to the idea that government should have no position on abortion other than whether to expend public funds for the medical procedures involved for those who cannot afford them. Having an abortion is an immensely personal issue and should be left to those directly involved to decide. Counsel from doctors and, yes, even clergy (although I can’t understand how they would have any personal or even scriptural experience bearing on the topic), and immediate family members are all that is required. I don’t see why I, through my government, should have any say whatsoever in the matter.

In this I am more of a libertarian than Rand Paul. He, like so many other “small government” hypocrites only believe in small government on other people’s issues. On their own pet theories, they want the government 100% involved.

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