Taking the Scenic Route

“This is America…” quote

17th January 2011

“This is America…” quote

‎”This is America, where a white Catholic male Republican judge was murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon, all eulogized by our African American President.” Mark Shields, PBS (Happy MLK Day) -Sydney

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9th January 2011

Mad

It is time we hold politicians & pundits responsible when they put crosshairs on people they don’t agree with, state “don’t retreat, reload” and a child born on 9-11 dies in the crossfire. It is reprehensible to promote violence instead of peaceful conflict resolution. You should encourage voting and petitions, not assassination.

Exhibit 1:  From Sarah Palin

Exhibit 2:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/08/us-usa-shooting-congresswoman-idUSTRE7071IA20110108

(Reuters) – A congresswoman was shot in the head and seriously wounded and at least five other people were killed by a man who opened fire at a meeting the politician was holding in Tucson on Saturday, officials said.

Gabrielle Giffords, a 40-year-old Democrat in her third term in the House of Representatives, was airlifted to a hospital in Tucson after being shot at close range outside a grocery store in the Arizona city.

Giffords underwent surgery and one of the doctors who treated her said he was very optimistic about her recovery.

President Barack Obama said five people had been killed in the attack, including federal judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl. Obama said Giffords was battling for her life.

“We don’t yet know what provoked this unspeakable act,” Obama told reporters at the White House after dispatching FBI Director Robert Mueller to Arizona to oversee the investigation.

A federal law enforcement official identified the suspected gunman as Jared Loughner, 22, of Tucson. The official said the suspect was tackled after the shooting and was in custody.

Rick Kastigar, an official from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, told CNN that six people were killed among the 18 people shot.

Gun violence is common in the United States, which is periodically rocked by mass shootings, but political shootings are rare, although not unheard of.

The shooting followed contentious congressional elections in November marked by heated rhetoric over issues such as the Democratic party-led drive to overhaul the healthcare system and immigration reform.

A window in Giffords’ office was smashed last March, after Congress passed the healthcare overhaul that had been opposed by Republicans.

“The rhetoric is really heated. Not just the calls but the e-mails, the slurs,” Giffords told MSNBC at the time.

In several YouTube videos, a person who posted under the name Jared Lee Loughner criticizes the government and religion and calls for a new currency.

“The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in God!”

OPTIMISTIC ABOUT RECOVERY

Doctors said Giffords was in a critical condition but they were optimistic about her recovery.

“The neurosurgeons have finished operating on her and I can tell you that in the current time period I am very optimistic about recovery… she was following commands,” Dr. Peter Rhee told a news conference at Tucson University Medical Center.

Nine other shooting victims were being treated for wounds at the hospital, Rhee said.

Giffords was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event — public gatherings to give her constituents a chance to talk directly with her — when the gunman attacked from about 4 feet away, National Public Radio said.

The suspect used a pistol with an extended magazine and approached Giffords from behind, firing at least 20 shots at her and others in the crowd, television network MSNBC said, citing law enforcement officials and witnesses.

Giffords, whose district stretches from Tucson to the Mexican border, an area at the center of the debate on U.S. immigration, advocates a compromise policy of tough border security combined with a long-term path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

She criticized Arizona’s tough anti-immigration law passed last year, saying it would do nothing to secure the border or stop drug smuggling and gun running. Her Tucson office was vandalized due to her opposition to the law.

Regarded as a rising star in the Democratic Party, she narrowly defeated a conservative opponent and was one of the few Democrats to survive the Republican sweep in swing districts in the November elections.

A gun owner, Giffords differed with many Democrats on gun control and supported the Second Amendment to the Constitution on Americans’ right to bear arms.

Obama called the shooting a “senseless and terrible act of violence.”

The Washington Post said it was not the first time someone brought a gun to a Giffords event. A protester in August took a gun to a similar event in Douglas, Arizona. Police were alerted after he dropped the firearm, the newspaper said.

WARNING TO LAWMAKERS

House Speaker John Boehner, whose Republican Party won control of the House of Representatives in the November 2 elections, said in statement he was horrified by the attack on Giffords and members of her staff.

“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society,” he said.

U.S. Capitol Police, charged with protecting U.S. lawmakers and the Capitol complex, said in a statement it had advised House lawmakers to “take reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal safety and security.”

The shooting could affect the immediate congressional agenda, a senior Republican lawmaker said.

The House is scheduled to vote next week on a repeal of Obama’s healthcare overhaul, which Giffords backed despite angry opposition from conservative activists in her district.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, who is in charge of the House floor schedule, suggested the timing of the healthcare vote might change.

(Reporting by Roberta RamptonAndy Sullivan and Anthony Boadle in Washington and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Frances Kerry and Ross Colvin, Editing by Peter Cooney)

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6th January 2011

Wishing this was more prominent in mainstream media

http://www.juancole.com/2011/01/egyptian-muslims-throng-in-thousands-to-protect-christians.html

Thousands of Muslims honored a promise made by their leaders and showed up at Christmas Mass or at candlelight vigils outside Egyptian churches on Friday, offering their bodies as human shields against any acts of terrorists. The observances were tense, in view of the New Year’s Day bombing of a cathedral in Alexandria, which killed 21. The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7. Among those Muslims making this statement was beloved comedian Adil Imam. Since the 1990s Imam has been active in combating radicalism, memorably in his film “Kebab and Terrorism” (Kebab wa Irhab).

Father Marqus, the Bishop of Alexandria, said that in his entire life he had never seen the degree of solidarity of Muslims with Coptic Christians that he has witnessed in recent days. He said that Muslims attending the funeral of the Christian victims of the New Year’s Day bombing had treated them like Muslim martyrs, pronouncing ‘God is Great!’ in mourning, and had erupted in applause at the condemnation of the terrorists. He said that the bombing was like an aqua regia solution that would assay the metal of the Egyptian people and reveal their golden nature. The act of terror, he said, will have the opposite effect of the one intended, and will instead increase the love of Christians and Muslims for one another.

This report from Aljazeera English also shows the solidarity demonstrations and the extensive security protection offered the Christians by the Egyptian police and security forces:

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4th June 2009

Lumping people together.

In the last week, I have heard a lot of Pro-life people who want to make it clear that they do not agree with the actions taken by the murderer of Dr. Tiller. I completely agree. I understand the desire to completely seperate themselves from the Christian Fundamentalist Terrorist, because 99.9% of the people in the pro-life movement would never even consider doing such a thing.

With that in mind, I would hope that many would take that experience and evaluate if their perception of Muslims has maybe been distorted in the same way. The vast majority of Muslims, especially those not in the Middle East, would never consider doing any acts of terrorism. In fact, most left the Middle East for that exact reason…they wanted to live in peace with their families and not have to live with the craziness of war and terrorism in close vincinity.

Use this experience to remember to show kindness and respect to others, even if they disagree with you. Lumping groups together rarely accomplishes anything other than mistrust and misunderstanding.

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2nd June 2009

Tiller, part 2, the more personal post.

On a personal level, Tiller and the “Summer of Mercy” really shaped my beliefs. 

In 1991, when Randall Terry, Dobson, and Operation Rescue descended on Wichita, I was suddenly thrust in the middle of a fight that wasn’t mine.  I had never had an abortion, was pro-life, and didn’t really think much about the issue.  I had made up my mind, in that black and white world that the young inhabit, and didn’t really care to think about it much.  I was decided, that is, until I had to deal with the protesters.

I didn’t have the slightest idea where Dr. Tillers clinic was, but discovered that summer that it was right next door to the hotel I worked at. (you can actually see it in a lot of the news coverage of the clinic)  I remember being confused as to who all those people were that first day, but was suprised to learn what was going on.  I was supportive of the protesters cause.  That view grew thin as the weeks rode on. 

Every day I had to leave earlier and earlier to slog my way through the screaming crowds.  As time wore on, I found the protesters comments and insults yelled at me and my vehicle (I had the unfortunate combination of a very hot summer, a sweater vest as my work uniform, and no a/c, so I had to keep my windows down to keep from suffocating).  It wasn’t my fight, so why was I constantly being screamed at every day and had people trying to block my car?

I also started having to deal with the protesters personally.  They would follow guests into the hotel, harrassing them and being completely crappy to hotel employees.  Then, we started having groups of them come in to try and use our restrooms, then hang out looking for guests to come by, presumably patients.  The things they said were horrifying, and not words I would have EVER thought should come out of the mouths of supposed Christians.  We ended up having to hire security for the lobby to keep them out. 

By the time the six weeks was up, every one of us who worked there was about as fed up as we could be with the whole thing.  I just wanted the protesters to go home, and distinctly remembered starting to have the running joke as to whether I was going to go “people bowling” that day to get to work.  (just keep driving even if idiots jumped in my way again) because it was so frustrating.

I am pretty sure I am not the only one that started really looking at the issue during those weeks and found the pro-life movement to be lacking.  Their actions seemed to have very little resemblence to what they proclaimed to believe.  They were about the most un-Christ-like “Christians” I had ever seen (followed closely by the Franklin Graham representatives who all got drunk & rowdy in another hotel I worked at). 

The result of the “Summer of #$()#*$)%&” is that I utterly and completely did not want to be associated, in ANY WAY, with the pro-life movement.  I was still personally against abortion, but from that point on would always vote for choice.  There are a lot of things in this country that are legal, that I don’t agree with, but it is not for me to decide how everybody else should live. 

Even though I vote pro-choice, there was a part of me that was a little uncomfortable about that actual issues surrounding abortion.  After having 8 miscarriages myself, and a few friends who were faced with abortions, I knew that the feelings of an unwanted pregnancy were very similar to the feelings of both infertility and miscarriages.  At it’s root, it is the desperate feeling of being totally out of control of your body and your life.  

As I have gotten older, my views have only gone more towards pro-choice.  On the most major point, I realized that I will never be able to vote against abortions until there is actual, tangible, consistent support for children and mothers.  Frankly, the way the current laws are written, I think they are too restricting for that very reason alone.  When we, as a society, make sure that every child is able to be cared for and supported, then I would support restrictions.  I think it should always be available for cases of rape, especially incest, and for medical need. 

On a more personal level, I have seen, first hand, how difficult some of the severe birth defects are, both on the babies and the families.  I have seen instances where abortion can be the most selfless and giving act of a parent who can’t watch their child suffer any more.  Even though I think I would chose to deliver a child with severe, survivable defects, I do have more understanding of just how difficult that road is.  I can’t say “for sure” that I would never, because I have never been faced with it.  I am old enough to know that a lot of times your “nevers” are just a matter of “haven’t yet” because some things are out of your control.  Some things are beyond your understanding until it is laid out in front of you.

In an interesting way, Dr. Tillers death has brought me around to being more at peace with the pro-choice movement.  Some of the lingering questions were laid to rest as personal accounts, online and in person, have come to light.  Although it saddens me greatly that there is ever a need for an abortion, I am thankful that we do have the option.  I sincerely hope and pray that somebody with as much love, compassion, and expertise is able to step into Dr. Tiller’s shoes.  Until this week I didn’t understand why Tiller could be anything other than simply tolerated, now I understand why he is called a hero.

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2nd June 2009

Tiller, part 1

I have written about 3 or 4 posts about Dr. Tiller and his murder, and each time it has ended up with me so enraged I could hardly see straight, and in tears.  I do want to write a post, but I need to get to a place where it doesn’t turn into a tirade.  So, instead, I would like to share a few of the more interesting articles I have seen about him in the last few days.

One of the most interesting article I have seen on him.  It should be a must read for both sides of the debate and addresses the tough 3rd trimester abortion issues. 

The Compassion of Dr. Tiller

The Web site A Heartbreaking Choice is a place where women share their stories of late-term abortion. Though clearly pro-choice, the point of the site is not political; it is a support group for grieving parents. These are women who desperately wanted their babies but whose pregnancies turned disastrous. A section of the site is devoted to “Kansas Stories,” because when women learn very late in their pregnancies that their fetuses have abnormalities that are likely to be fatal, Dr. George Tiller’s Wichita clinic, Women’s Health Care Services, was one of the only places in the country that could help them.
One woman described her elation at being pregnant and how the possibility of motherhood offered a glimmer of hope through several family deaths. Then she found out her fetus had severe spinal and cerebral deformities. “I laid on the table crying and knowing in my heart at that point my son was not going to make it,” she wrote. At almost 23 weeks pregnant, she was too far along for an abortion in her own state, and so, like many women in her situation, she made the anguished pilgrimage to Wichita.

Writing five weeks after her abortion, she said, “I hate that my son is gone. I hate that I had to make the decision to end his life. I hate that my womb and my arms are empty. But I am strengthened in the fact that I made my decision by focusing on him and what was best for him. I am eternally grateful to the wonderful people that guided me through this horrible experience with compassion, love, and understanding.”

Her gratitude toward Tiller and his staff is not unique. Ayliea Holl, the administrator of the site, saw a different doctor for her own abortion, but she’s met many of Tiller’s patients. “Every single one of them received the kindest, most caring and compassionate, the best health care that they could get,” she says. “Dr. Tiller was extremely compassionate. He was so helpful to so many women.”

After his murder, it’s not clear who will take his place. In the mainstream media, Tiller is frequently described as “controversial.” But in the tight-knit world of abortion providers and pro-choice activists, he was often called a saint, because he took on the hardest cases, whether they could pay or not, and was incredibly tender with his patients. “His clinic was known for really treating women with extraordinary decency and respect,” says Carol Joffe, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis, and one of the country’s foremost experts on abortion. They sent him volumes worth of letters of effusive and urgent thanks.

Tiller’s death is an incalculable loss to women’s health care. There are two other clinics that do late-term abortions, but neither are known for taking patients regardless of their ability to pay or for ministering so comprehensively to their emotional needs. Tiller’s murder leaves a void that could imperil women across the country.

Late-term abortion is often spoken of as the most morally dubious aspect of the abortion debate. Many people who are nominally pro-choice, particularly politicians, are quick to condemn it, to treat the work that Tiller did as repugnant even if it’s legal.

Ironically, though, many of the procedures Tiller did were as far away from the much-reviled concept of “abortion on demand” as one could get. Unwanted pregnancy can, to some extent, be prevented. A pregnancy that goes horribly wrong cannot. Almost anyone of child-bearing age could end up needing Tiller’s services. And now some of them will be forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will even when their fetuses can’t survive outside the womb.

Bill Harrison, an abortion provider in Arkansas, referred hundreds of patients to Tiller over the years. “To do what George does is like doing major cancer surgery,” he says. “It’s a subspecialty all its own. It took a real organization to do it safely and effectively and cheaply like he did it.” Over the years, Harrison had 20 or 30 patients who were so poor that he had to give them money for gasoline to get to Wichita. “I would call him and tell him about the patients, and he would say, ‘Send them up,’” he says. “Obviously if they couldn’t pay for gasoline, they couldn’t pay for anything, and he did the abortions anyway.”

Of course, not all of Tiller’s cases were as morally clear-cut as those recounted on A Heartbreaking Choice. Tiller performed abortions at 26 or 27 weeks for developmentally disabled abuse victims or girls who’d hidden their pregnancies and then become suicidal. Harrison himself is uncomfortable with such late abortions. When patients of his sought them, “unless they were a real threat to the mother’s life, and I consider suicide a threat to her life, we would talk about having a baby and putting it up for adoption,” he says. But it was precisely because such abortions are so grueling for everyone involved that Harrison admires Tiller’s willingness to do them. As everyone who knew Tiller points out, Tiller’s motto was “trust women.” He had the phrase printed up on buttons.

Tiller never set out to become an abortion provider, or even an ob/gyn. The son of a doctor, Tiller was working as a Navy surgeon when his father, mother, sister, and brother-in-law were killed in a plane crash. He took over his father’s family practice, and soon women started asking him if he was going to do what his father did. That’s how he found out his father had provided abortions in the years before Roe v. Wade. He committed himself to providing the same service.

“He came to this because it was what his patients needed in the middle of Kansas,” says Susan Yanow, the founder of the Abortion Access Project and a longtime friend and colleague of Tiller’s who referred many women to him. Whenever Tiller was asked why he endured the endless threats and harassment that came with providing late-term abortions, he would simply say he was doing what his patients needed. “George was able to be with the woman who was his patient in a truly unique way,” says Yanow.

Randi Berry saw what that meant six years ago, when her 14-year-old cousin got pregnant. Her cousin hid the pregnancy from her parents until it was too late to get an abortion in New York. At the time, her cousin’s mother, Berry’s aunt, was herself six months pregnant with twins. Her cousin was “having thoughts of suicide,” says Berry. “She was extremely depressed and isolated.” She and her family wanted an abortion but her mother couldn’t travel, so Berry accompanied her to Witchita.

It was a harrowing time, but at Women’s Health Care Services, “everyone was so gentle and understanding,” Berry says. “They gave us as much advice as we felt like we needed.” There was extensive counseling, individually and in groups. “One of the families that really struck me while I was there, their daughter was developmentally challenged and had a really difficult time communicating,” says Berry. “Her parents had no idea what had happened to her, whether she was raped or became sexually active.” Without Tiller, she says, “I don’t know what they would have done.”

The same is true, she says, of her cousin. “I have no idea what would have happened to my cousin if we had to go back to her and say, ‘Your only option is to have this baby and put this baby up for adoption.’ I don’t know if she would have made it.” Today, she says, her cousin is doing well. She finished school and has a committed partner and a young child. Berry isn’t sure how to break the news to her about Tiller. “I’m sure she looks to him as somebody who saved her life,” she says.

Whatever his own qualms about very late-term abortions, Harrison says that if he were younger, he’d take up Tiller’s practice. At 73, though, he’s already largely given up performing major surgery. “As I say, this is a complex, tough procedure, and I’m much too old to learn this new trick,” he says. Women will surely still come to him, sick or desperate or both and too far along for him to end their pregnancies. “I don’t know what happens to them now,” he says.

Another article:  Freedom, Speech, and Consequences: O’Reilly and Accountability

An article addressing Bill O’Reilly’s most common comments on Tiller:  Lying down on the Job

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20th January 2009

Watching History

#20 “Watching History” Obama’s inaguration took place right after Speech Therapy, and since Zora and Zane were engaged playing, I decided to amble over to the TV in the other waiting room so I could watch with the group gathered there while the kids played. (an interesting note: before we started therapy here, I would have NEVER been able to let Zane play at a distance in public, EVER.) It was fun watching with a group of people and hear their commentary too. Taken with my phone camera.

posted in Autistic Life, In the News, Politics, project 365 | Comments Off

1st January 2009

A great way to bring in the new year…go vote!

It isn’t perfect, and there are things I would add to it, especially to protect the rights of autistic adults (like including autistics on the panel suggested in #12), but it is a serious step in the right direction.

As a country we have watched Autism Spectrum Disorders grow in a devastating number. Over the last decade it has spiraled so quickly out of control that:

1.) There must not just be one person but an ENTIRE U.S. OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE for Educating Children with Autism.

2.) The use of Time Out Rooms, Corporal punishments, Restraints, and the high amount of Abuse must be monitored with severe penalties to states and fines or conviction of those that break such a REFORM Law.

3.) School Districts/States must each have an ” Office of Autism Education Compliance or be subject to loss of Federal Funding.

4.) Due Process Hearing Officers must NOT be employees of the state and shall be employed by the Federal Government ONLY.

5.) Insurance companies MUST provide the Early Interventions such as ABA Discreet Trial at no cost to parents.

6.) Protection and Advocacy MUST be funded properly to allow parents that need help get it without any more then a 15 day waiting period.

7.) Grants for research, education, and non profit organizations for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders must be made in the amount of 5 billion dollars.

8.) Relief for parents who have paid out of pocket to educate their children must be made swiftly with 100% reimbursement.

9.) Behavior Intervention Plans must accompany all Individual Education Plans.

10.) Insurance companies must make available all resources for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders including but not limited to any items deemed necessary by the physician for the treatment of metal toxicities and any other theraputic orders their physician may order.

11.) The Autism Reform Act shall consider all Autism Spectrum Disorders including Aspergers.

12.) This Reform Act must be ‘open’ for additions as needed and create a 12 parent panel to propose such additions.

- Michael Robinson (Founder The Office of Advocacy), Wahiawa, HI

posted in Autism, Politics | 2 Comments

20th November 2008

The Bailout

The basic ground rules in the USA when companies want a bailout:

If it is during a Republican administration, a bailout is vital to support our captitalist society.
If it is during a Democratic administration, a bailout is SOCIALISM and destroying our society.

I don’t disagree with the concept of bailout, but I really think those CEOs should be fired fired fired. They need to put people in charge who aren’t so stupid and greedy that they take individual $20K jets to ask for money. I would have a real problem giving them money if they weren’t willing to sacrifice (can you really call “don’t take a jet” a sacrifice in any normal person’s life?) some of their own salary and benefits to help the people under them and the company survive.

I question their ability to lead a company and manage money and I question their intentions. I am angry that they aren’t requiring them to retool (that is what they are funding…retooling the factories) to make more gas efficient vehicles. They already make them in Europe and the technology already exists, why are we not allowed to have them here in the US? Doesn’t it seem backwards to anybody else that using tax money to retool the factories is going to push back making fuel efficient vehicles? ARG!

posted in In the News, Politics | 2 Comments

5th November 2008

Politics, the refreshing changes I am seeing this election cycle.

As anybody who really knows me understands, I have VERY strong feelings on politics. I am actively working to restrain myself in my comments, as to not alienate a lot of people I love dearly, who are on the opposite end of the political spectrum. In that spirit, I do think there needs to be a recognition of some of the really neat things that are happening this time around.

    Some of the changes I have noticed:

  • It is so nice to see such classy winners and losers. Both men, in their respective speeches last night, where dignified, gracious, and humble. Everything from the words used, the message, and the music that surrounded the appearances was appropriate for the occasion.
  • It was refreshing to see at least one of the crowds be gracious to the opponent and clap when their name was mentioned. I was heartened by McCain who met boos and negative comments in the crowd with dispapproval. There is hope that with bipartisan leadership, this country will be able to heal and move forward, for the betterment of all. I was inspired by Obama’s inclusion of those who did not vote for him, and his desire to have their voices also heard in his administration.
  • I like to see that the senate and house shifted away from extremsits and moved more to the center. Of course the extremist still exist, in both parties, but the overwhelming voice is now much more moderate.

It is times like this that do much more to further the cause of democracy than any invasion can possibly accomplish. Killing those who disagree with you is never remotely as effective as inspiring those who want a better life, want a country who is able to have a peaceful and cooperative transfer of power, and want a country who is able to self-correct when we start going down the wrong path. For once, I saw the country I have always heard about, but never witnessed first hand.

I am very proud to be an American today. I hope you are too.

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  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 15 years, 9 months, and 21 days old
  • Zora's age

  • Zora is 11 years, 9 months, and 25 days old
  • Random Quote

  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:27

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