Contraceptive Fund Raising

It didn’t take long for the Democrats to exploit Obama’s missteps on requiring Catholic institutions to provide employees with contraceptives. Just this week I received two e-mails on this issue. Here is the first.

This is just unconscionable: Republicans in Congress are trying to make it legal for ANY employer to deny birth control coverage to their employees.

Yes, you read that right. Republicans are on track to give corporations the power to deny women access to health care.

The vote is set for this week — we must act IMMEDIATELY.

We must raise $50,000 by midnight tonight to get activists mobilized and ads up and running in Republican districts about this atrocious assault on women’s health care.

Will you contribute $3 or more right now to our urgent Women’s Health Rapid Response Fund?

We can’t afford to fall short and delay taking action for another day. Women across the country deserve to know that right-wing Republicans intend to take women’s health care back to the dark ages. Please give what you can today.

Because if the government doesn’t provide it, it must be unobtainable.I mean it’s not like people can get birth control on their own.

Here is the other one.

BREAKING NEWS: Senate Republicans are pushing the Blunt Amendment, a radical piece of legislation that would cannibalize health care reform by letting any employer deny any part of your heath care coverage due to “moral convictions.”

David, this goes way beyond taking away birth control coverage. An employer could decide that they couldn’t shell out the money necessary for your expensive cancer treatment because of their “moral convictions,” and you’d be out of luck. Their goal isn’t just to end contraception coverage. Their goal is to implode our entire health care system and strike a deadly blow to President Obama’s historic health care reform.

Republicans are going to try to bring this to a vote as early as today. Before the vote, I need you and 49,999 other people who value health care reform to take a strong stand against the Blunt Amendment.

Republicans are dead wrong on this. Employers should not be allowed to decide what health care you and your family can receive. They’ve been wanting to kill “Obamacare,” and this disgusting amendment would do just that.

Sign the petition, and forward this email on to friends and family who value comprehensive health care. Thanks for your help, and I’ll let you know what happens.

Guy Cecil
Executive Director, DSCC

 

Why should any employer be required to provide birth control if they don’t want to, regardless of the reasons? Why shouldn’t they be free to provide whatever coverage they want to? If an employee doesn’t like the coverage he is getting, he can go elsewhere. Since when are contraceptives considered health care anyway? They don’t cure any disease or promote good health. (I know that oral contraceptives are sometimes prescribed for medical reasons, but that is another issue.) Why shouldn’t people pay for them out of their own pockets.

The whole idea here is that the government should be able to coerce employers into providing what the government thinks they should. They ought not to have any say in managing their own affairs. In other words, the point of these e-mails is really to persuade the reader to assist them in the project of making other people government serfs with the promise of a share in the loot. Only a great fool would agree to this but unfortunately, as the King said to the Duke in Huckleberry Finn.

Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?

Or in a country.

Home Schooling Demographics

The increasing acceptance and popularity of home schooling has to be acutely embarrassing to the educational establishment. To make matters worse for them, the stereotype of home schooling families as religious fanatics who don’t want their children to learn about evolution is no longer true, if indeed it ever was. The other day, I read an article in USA Today noting the changing demographics of people who decide to home school their children. An increasing number of parents who are opting for home schooling are secular minded.

There was a time when Heather Kirchner thought mothers who home-schooled their children were only the types “who wore long skirts and praised Jesus and all that.”

That was before the New Jersey resident decided to home-school her own daughter, Anya.

Kirchner favors jeans, and like the two dozen other families that are part of the year-old Homeschool Village Co-op in central New Jersey, she doesn’t consider herself to be particularly religious. “I was definitely not ready to hand over to anybody my 5-year-old, my baby,” she says. “I would hate to miss this. They grow too quickly.”

The New Jersey co-op is among hundreds of secular and inclusive home-schooling groups in the USA aimed at providing opportunities for parents to network and for children to socialize, conduct science experiments, play sports and games and more, according to Homeschool World, the website of Practical Homeschooling Magazine.

Secular organizations across the country report their numbers are growing. Though government records indicate religion is still the driving force in home schooling, members of these organizations say the face of home schooling is changing, not because of faith, but because of what parents see as shortcomings in public and private schools.

She says her area near Baton Rouge has some of the lowest-scoring schools in the nation. “A lot of the children are just falling through the cracks,” Burges says. Her five children, ages 16 to 35, were home-schooled, says Burges, a Democrat running for City Council in Baker City, La. “Parents are struggling, trying to see what they can do.”

One obvious reason for the increase in home schooling is a concern over the quality of the education that students in public schools are receiving. Parents trapped in substandard school districts have long since become frustrated in making any improvements. But I think a more fundamental reason for the growth of home schooling is that many parents perceive that the schools are teaching values different from and even contrary to the values they would like their children to learn.

The 2007 survey showed 83.3% of home-schooling parents named “a desire to provide religious or moral instruction” as an important reason to home-school.

Susan Beatty, co-founder and general manager of the Christian Home Educators Association of California, who home-schooled three now-grown children, says most of her group’s members are looking to offer “a distinctly Christian education.”

Amy Wilson, 42, on the board of the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, says the government statistics don’t paint a complete picture.

Wilson is an atheist and former senior research analyst for a nonprofit group. She home-schools her 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter in a state where home-school numbers are up from about 18,800 a decade ago to about 32,000 last year, according to the Virginia Department of Education.

“There are a lot of folks who choose home schooling, in part at least, because they’re concerned about transmitting their values,” Wilson said. “If someone answers (a survey question about morals) in the affirmative, it doesn’t mean they fit the stereotype of the evangelical Christian home-schooler.”

You don’t have to be very religious in order to believe that kindergarten is too early for children to learn about using condoms or that any age is inappropriate to learn about fisting.

The growth of the home schooling movement is a sign of our times. More than ever before people like choices and reject one size fits all institutions. Since every child in unique, shouldn’t each child have an education tailored to his or her needs. It seems to me that having twenty or thirty children in a classroom  all expected to learn at the same pace really isn’t a system that would work very well, even under the best of circumstances. When we have an educational system as consistently resistant to reform as our public school system is, the result can only be a disaster.

Valentine’s Day

English: Saint Valentine kneeling
Valentine?

Today is Valentine’s Day, or St. Valentine‘s Day. Who was Valentine and why does he get a day named after him? The truth is, nobody really knows.Valentine or Valentinus was the name of an early Christian saint and martyr. The trouble is that nothing is known of him except his name. He may have been a Roman priest who was martyred in 269. There was a Valentine who was bishop of Terni who may have been the same man. St. Valentine was dropped from the Roman calendar of Saints in 1969 because of these uncertainties but local churches may still celebrate his day.

It is also not certain how Valentine’s day became associated with love. Some have speculated that the holiday was a Christian substitute for the Roman festival of Lupercalia. However, there is no hint of any association of Valentine’s Day with romance until the time of Chauncer. The holiday seems to have really taken off with the invention of greeting cards.

. Valentine postcard, circa 1900–1910

Camelot

The Camelot mythology regarding John F. Kennedy has to be one of the greatest humbugs ever foisted on the American people by the mainstream media and the liberals. The more we learn about John Kennedy, the more deplorable his actions seem to be. He and his father lied about his war record. He took sole credit for his book Profiles in Courage, even though Theodore Sorensen did the actual writing. His personal life was far sleazier than Bill Clinton’s worst fantasies. He was not as healthy and vigorous as claimed but may well have suffered from addison’s disease, which could have affected his judgement. And yet, according to the left, he was one of our greatest presidents since Obama.

In case you’re wondering, it was this article I read in Big Journalism that brought on that rant. Here are a few excerpts, but you have to read it all.

With the recent news of a 19 year old White House intern having her virginity taken by the 45 year old JFK, the apologists were lined up on NBC’s Rock Center (the show has now moved to Wednesday’s because the Monday ratings were horrible—perhaps they should bring Leno back to do it.)

John Fitzgerald Kennedy remains a mythic figure in American public life and in the memories of so many of us,” said host Brian Williams. Mythic? Is that the word you use after broadcasting an hour of Mimi Alford’s account of the trysts in the White House that included oral sex with at least one member of Kennedy’s Cabinet while JFK watched? “Mythic”? Perverted might be a better word (Alford also claims JFK wanted her to “service” little brother Teddy, but she said no to that; so at there was some decency here).

Say what you will about Clinton, but he never tried to share Monica Lewinsky with any members of his cabinet, or with his brother. And, I am positive that none of the women Clinton slept with was actually a spy.

The news that before the embargo of Cuban products JFK asked Pierre Salinger to buy him as many Cuban cigars as he could. Salinger got 1,200 of them and when they were brought into the Oval Office, Kennedy immediately signed the embargo that is still in place today. Quite the leader there, once he had his Cuban cigars, he was good to go. Regardless of what you think of the embargo, this is a classic abuse of power that is not surprising now that we know the real JFK. Maybe the Rushmore likeness can have him smoking one of those cigars.

Also, while we’re talking legacy here, did you know JFK was the guy who, with his brother Bobby, illegally wiretapped Martin Luther King and that both sat in the White House during the famous “I Have A Dream” speech because they were worried about the political ramifications had they gone to it? Probably didn’t know that, did ya? Hard to see through the aura of Camelot.

“He did what he wanted to do regardless of other people’s feelings and I think that made him strong,” added Matthews. Amazing, ignoring others feelings is now a sign of strength in a President. We’ll expect you to use that same standard on the Republican candidates during this campaign cycle when you spew your venom towards them on MSNBC. Ignoring others feelings is now a sign of strength (when it’s JFK.)  Brilliant. Love to see you mention that when you accuse Mitt Romney of being out of touch. Also—help me out here—were the Kennedy’s wealthy? I forget. Oh ya, that’s right, pops made money as an illegal bootlegger and passed it on to his boys. Camelot.

Yes, at least Romney made his money legally. By the way, why do we still have an embargo against Cuba? If we can trade with Communist China, why not with Communist Cuba?

In a way, being assassinated was the best thing that could have happened to Kennedy, in that it made him a martyr of sorts and beyond criticism for at least two decades. If he had survived, he almost certainly would have been re-elected to a second term and I have a feeling that some of the sordidness of Camelot would have leaked out despite the efforts of the media to protect him, not to mention the troubles that our increasing involvement in Vietnam would have brought.

Romney Wins Maine Caucus

Now it’s time for Romney to win one. This one being the Maine caucus. He won 39% of the vote with Pon Paul in second place with 36%. Romney also managed to win the CPAC straw poll with 38% against Santorum’s 31%. By number of delegates, which is the only number that really matters,Romney is way ahead with 98 delegates. Santorum is in second place with 44, Gingrich in third with 32 and Paul last with 20.

There is some question whether or not this long, hard-fought primary campaign is good or bad for the GOP. I have a feeling that the millions of dollars these candidates are spending to attack each other might be better spent against Obama. Still, it’s a whole lot more interesting this way.

Tantalizing

In ancient Greek mythology, Tantalus was the name of a king of Lydia. He decided to shame the gods by inviting them to dinner and serving his son dismembered, hoping to trick them into cannibalism. The gods were not so easily deceived and they punished him by taking him to Tartarus and placing him in a pool of water. Whenever he would bend down to drink, the water would drain away. There were fruits hanging from branches above him. Whenever he would reach up to pluck one, the branch would move out of his reach. So, Tantalus was condemned to suffer from hunger and thirst with food and drink forever just out of reach.

Mitt Romney must be getting some idea of how Tantalus must have felt. Everytime it looks as if he is finally on the road to clinching the nomination, something happens to take it out of his grasp. Santorum won the contests in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota, by fairly wide margins. Santorum won 55% of the vote in Missouri, 45% in Minnesota, and 40% in Colorado. Romney was actually in third place in Minnesota, behind Ron Paul.

This is turning out to be the most exciting primary season since, well, since Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama fought it out in 2008. Just when we thought it would be a two man race between Romney and Gingrich, Santorum revives and Gingrich fades. What’s next? A Ron Paul victory?

 

 

Supercontinent

English: Pangea animation
Image via Wikipedia

Never let it be said that USA Today does not deliver the latest, most up to date news possible. Today, I saw a report that in only 100 million years the continents of Asia and the Americas will come together to form a new super-continent.

Don’t lay out any welcome mats — wait about 100 million years or so — but eventually Asia and the Americas will smash together, geologists report, burying both the Arctic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

The future supercontinent, “Amasia,” described in the journal Nature on Wednesday, will encompass Asia, Africa and the Americas. Driven by continental drift, the assemblies of such “supercontinents,” such as Pangea some 300 million years ago, have reoccurred throughout Earth’s history.

“We are due for a supercontinent to form within about the next 50 to 200 million years,” says study lead author Ross Mitchell of Yale University. “In theory, we think this supercontinent will cover half a hemisphere of the Earth.”

Asia already rests on continental crusts from India, Siberia and Europe, but the coming confluence of continents would create an unbroken landmass unrivaled in size since the dawn of the age of the dinosaurs. “Antarctica just ends up hanging out there by itself,” Mitchell says.

Like titanic jigsaw puzzle pieces, three such supercontinents including Pangea, which encompassed all the continents, have formed and broken apart on Earth in the last 1.8 billion years.

Who else can report the news millions of years ahead? Personally, I’m glad to see this happening. I have been wanting to visit China and India but I don’t want to mess with all the irritating security measures that come with air travel. Now, if I am patient, I can make it a road trip.

Hitler and Mussolini Would Love Our Public Schools

That is the opinion of the Catholic Bishop of Harrisburg Pennsylvania. I read this in CNS news.

 The Catholic bishop of Harrisburg, Pa., has apologized for offending anyone with his recent comments that Hitler and Mussolini “would love” the public school system in Pennsylvania, because it is similar to what they sought to create in their totalitarian states.

But in a statement issued by the diocese of Harrisburg, Bishop Joseph McFadden did not retract comments he made during an interview on Jan. 24 with WHTM-TV, the ABC affiliate in Harrisburg.

The bishop made a comparison between the interests of the public school system and totalitarianism, while discussing what he sees as a lack of school choice in Pennsylvania.

“In the totalitarian government, they would love our system,” McFadden said. “This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all them tried to establish — a monolith; so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.”

McFadden’s comments drew immediate criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union – which complained that the bishop had raised the specter of the Holocaust.

“We respect the Bishop and his position in the Church.  We appreciate his commitment the education of children and the viability of Catholic schools.  However, he should not be making his point at the expense of the memory of six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust,” Barry Morrison, Eastern Pennsylvania/Southern New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

I think his comparison is uncalled for and unfair. I am positive that the schools in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were able to teach almost all of their students to read.

Actually, I see the bishop’s point, as he explained in his apology.

In a statement on the Diocese of Harrisburg Web site, the bishop issued an apology to anyone who was offended by his remarks, but went on to explain and justify his references to Hitler and Mussolini:

“To those who may have been offended by my remarks, I apologize to them assuring them that I purposely did not mention the holocaust,” the bishop said.

“The reference to dictators and totalitarian governments of the 20th century which I made in an interview on the topic of school choice was to make a dramatic illustration of how these unchecked monolithic governments of the past used schools to curtail the primary responsibility of the parent in the education of their children,” he said.

“Today many parents in our state experience the same lack of freedom in choosing an education that bests suits their child as those parents oppressed by dictators of the past. I intentionally did not make reference to the holocaust in my remarks,”

He’s right. I think that in the long run there is going to have to be some sort of school choice allowed in our public school system. The educational establishment is fighting any reform tooth and nail, but the failures of the system have become so obvious that I do not imagine they will be able to hold off reform for long.

 

 

 

Spanking Kids Causes Harm

So says a study reported by Yahoo News.

TORONTO (Reuters) – Spanking children can cause long-term developmental damage and may even lower a child’s IQ, according to a new Canadian analysis that seeks to shift the ethical debate over corporal punishment into the medical sphere.

The study, published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reached its conclusion after examining 20 years of published research on the issue. The authors say the medical finding have been largely overlooked and overshadowed by concerns that parents should have the right to determine how their children are disciplined.

While spanking is certainly not as widespread as it was 20 years ago, many still cling to the practice and see prohibiting spanking as limiting the rights of parents.

That point of view highlights the difficulty in changing hearts and minds on the issue, despite a mountain of accumulated evidence showing the damage physical punishment can have on a child, says Joan Durant, a professor at University of Manitoba and one of the authors of the study.

“We’re really past the point of calling this a controversy. That’s a word that’s used and I don’t know why, because in the research there really is no controversy,” she said in an interview.

Well, there you have it. The Science is Settled. There is no controversy. Our masters have spoken. Obviously parents should have no right to discipline children as they see fit. What do they know?

I like this part.

“What people have realized is that physical punishment doesn’t only predict aggression consistently, it also predicts internalizing kinds of difficulties, like depression and substance use,” said Durant.

“There are no studies that show any long term positive outcomes from physical punishment.”

I think better behaved children might be a positive outcome. Since spanking has fallen into disrepute, more and more children have become ungovernable brats. I could make some sort of connection but I am obviously not qualified to dispute Settled Science.

With the study, Durant hopes parents will start to look at the issue from a medical perspective.

“What we’re hoping is that physicians will take that message and do more to counsel parents around this and to help them understand that physical punishment isn’t getting them where they want to go,” she said.

She also hopes that countries that allow the practice – including Canada – will take another look at their child protection laws.

Because we can’t allow parents to decide how to raise children. It takes a village, or at least governments to do it right.

And, to conclude with some comedy,

Canada is one of more than 190 countries to have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a 1989 treaty that sets out protections for children.

The treaty – which has been ratified by all UN member states except for the United States, Somalia and South Sudan – includes a passage stating that countries must protect children from “all forms of physical or mental violence”.

Somehow the fact that states such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have signed this treaty has not prevented the practice of honor killings in these countries. But then, that treaty is not about the welfare of children. It is about eroding the concept of national sovereignty. This study, I suspect, is not about spanking. It is about giving the state an increased opportunity to intervene in private life.

Remember, “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.”

Gallup Predicts Obama Loss

I saw this piece in the Washington Examiner last week and have been meaning to mention it. Essentially the argument is that if Obama wins only the states where he has a positive approval rating, he will be looking for a new home on January 20, 2013. Here is the map they provide.

Of course it is really to early to make any predictions, especially when it is not entirely certain who he will be running against. Yes, it looks like it will be Romney, but he hasn’t gotten the nomination yet. It looks like they got that map from 270towin. I’ve been playing around with the map and based on the past voting history of the states, I think it will be a whole lot harder for any republican to defeat Obama than this map indicates. In any case I hope no one in the RNC sees this. They do not need to be getting overconfident.