Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Michigan, My Michigan

I am still not sure if that is that state anthem or not, and I know I don't know the words either.  I grew up there, but have not lived over half my life in another state. 

It has been a tumultuous couple of weeks in Michigan and it seems like a bomb going off in the GOP party.  I can only sight a few random things, in part because I am having to work day and nights, so my mind is getting a littly mushy about now.

First, I understand I may be a rube about this - but I have tried to keep my work in the US employing US citizens.  But get this:
  • We're planning to hire another person and placed ads locally, netting a total of ZERO US citizens applying.  None. Zippo. This deserves a complete post of its own, but we'll probably end up having to sponsor someone from abroad.  This is not to say that there are not a lot of very bright and talented people that want to have jobs here and I won't feel bad about it, but there is something very wrong with our system if I can't even get a resume short of going to head hunters.
  • Recently for probably the 5th or 6th time, I had the opportunity to serve as a US representative for a company that wants to off-shore most of the labor.  They want to maximize what they can make here by selling their services with a local representative to serve as a face for the company and maximize their profit by employing the cheapest possible labor.  Understandable, but don't be surprised if there is a hidden cost in not being able to walk into the office down the hall and work out a difficult problem in 20 minutes versus via e-mail with a 8 to 12 hour lag.   
Anyway, given our funding approach to education, I doubt things are going to get better.

Sanctorum would, I guess, call me a snob for thinking we need to do crazy stuff like fund higher education and try to get more Americans into college.  Lets not kid ourselves, though, because these jobs and likely even mine will be off shored too and perhaps more easily because of the internet, but we have to stay in the game.  Once we are totally out of the game, there will not be a way back in.

Anyway, back to the original intent of the post:  Romney will win Michigan (or has) and is getting closer to wrapping it up.  The Southern states may keep Sanctorum or Gingrich alive for a while, but Romney is still grind it out in the end.  

Sanctorum jumped the shark in the last couple of weeks, so Mitt Romney, the bumbling boob from Michi-Massa-chewsets, super smart, business king, and disturbingly disconnected, will steadily wrap it up from here.  Romney will win because he is the only legitimate GOP candidate running.  While all of that social conservative red meat, which Sanctorum obviously believes in more than anything else, cost Sanctorum Michigan.   The separation of church and state makes Rick want to throw up?  Education after High School is indoctrination against religion?  Aren't these some thing very things we find disturbing about the Taliban?  

So I am watching a bit of Romney's speech in Michigan.  Romney is going full bore on tax cuts and the imaginary way on how he will preserve all of our programs and balance the budget.   He sounds pretty good right now.  If only I could drink the koolaid and it would really work out.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Work, Travel, Work

Boring background

It has been tough to get a good block of time to post.  I am resting at home this afternoon following an aborted dental implant procedure.  Apparently the last bone graft didn't take hold, so the implant couldn't be put in and we'll try again.  I did get the sinus lift done.  After having been on the way to bleeding to death a few weeks ago, I am hoping for a safer recovery now. 

Last weekend I took my daughter to a lacrosse clinic at American University and a campus tour. She  would be good fit there and I am thankful she's got schools she is really interested in.  We stopped and met with the Mary Washington coach, which I like as a school.  We have visited a number of other schools and it has been hard identifying just what she wants.  Two weekends ago, I was down in Myrtle Beach, SC for a soccer tournament.  My daughter's team won their group and scored a couple of goals.

Before that I worked both weekend days and I expect to work Saturday and Sunday this week.  I have been working most evenings in the last two weeks.

Anyway, you get the idea, I am getting pretty worn out.

Thoughts on Stuff, Mostly the Abortion

I can't imagine outlawing pre-natal testing even though it is functionally used in many cases to decide to abort children.  My wife was pregnant 5 times and we had 4 kids.  We never had amnio done because we would not have had an abortion for any of the things you detect with amnio and amnio has its own risks.

My view on abortion itself lies is pretty extreme and I hope that none of my daughters would ever go down that path.  However, I don't think making abortion illegal in all cases will stop all abortions, though it would stop some.  It will force other women desparate enough to put their lives at risk and make them criminals.  Just in the same way prohibition did not work.

Further, if you are going to outlaw abortion on moral grounds, then I think you should also accept the next step on the same moral grounds:   accepting at least responsibility for the life you are now bringing into existence.  If we are going to outlaw all abortion, then we should be prepared to take over the care of those children when the mother or parents are not capable.  By forcing someone to try to care of child, special needs or not, that they are incapable of caring for will, of course, often lead to pretty bad outcomes for the parent, the child, and add costs to society.  If you choose to force parents to bring kids forward against their wishes, then you have to cough up the tax money to actually make the world better including providing for some support of that child.  While I may little sympathy for the parents, it is not fault of a child that they are born into a bad or difficult setting.

If some guy that could afford insurance, did not buy it, but then develops some disease he now can't afford to treat, I don't mind saying tough luck.  However, if a child is born into poverty and their family can't afford treatment, it is not fault of the child.  If your morality requires that child be born, surely your morals require that you value their life outside the womb to at least the degree to cared for it in the womb.

As Jesus said, the rich man has the same chance entering heaven as a camel has passing through the eye of a needle.  Rather, he needs to get rid of his riches and lead a life based on serving God and serving others.  So at least Christians, opposing abortion on religious grounds, should be more than willing to give their resources to caring for society, especially kids from single-parent households.

For myself, I already know that I not that great and I want the opportunity to make my older years be more secure and easy.  Further, I believe that capitalism ultimately produces and helps more people than other systems - but it needs rules and we are better for with a safety net for the oldest and poorest.  However, black and white we may feel abortion is, it does involve imposing on a woman's body if you are going to restrict it complete, let alone dip into birth control.

Settting aside the forced vaginal ultrasound (e.g. forced rape) rule, which is completely obscence, perhaps then the status quo is rather sensible.  We have plenty of room to push for fewer abortions without making women criminals that make that decision.  Allowing women to have choice, knowing that is a very difficult decision, acknowledges that we don't walk in their shoes.  It also acknowledges that we are no better as a society in so many other areas.  This allows us to remain righteous without having to face that fact that very few of us really live up what Jesus' ask of us.  It allows us the room to avoid full embracing the less comfortable aspects of a complete Christian life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Holy Moly Start Stockpiling Condoms

Holy Smokes!  Obama makes an over reach on birth control and then backpedals to the obvious position of not requiring religious organizations to fund it if it at odds with their beliefs.   Republicans, faced with a chance to let Obama twist in the wind a bit and save it up to bring up for the next 9 months, BLOW IT.

How in the world do you go from there to apparently wanting to stop all women from using birth control?  Are the Catholic Bishops running the GOP?  Are condoms next?  Doesn't the GOP know that porn is more popular in Red states? 

Last I saw, there were more women than men in the US.  Last I knew, the vast majority of women use some form of birth control at some time in their lives.  Many of them using BCPs. 

Do Republicans just want to lose?  

Clearly this is what Romney means by severely conservative:  so conservative that you have a burning desire to violate the separation of church and state to impose the most antiquated and misogynistic religious beliefs with regard to women's health to appease some imaginary voting block.

May be someone will explain to me why the Republican candidates would turn Obama's mistake into a massive victory for him? 

Do you hear that flushing noise GOP?  That is your presidential aspirations going down the toilet. 

Everyone else - if the GOP wins - start stockpiling beer and condoms.  Because shackling women to the house, pregnant and barefoot, is just phase I of some fantasy about reviving the Victorian age.

PS  We're trying to hire a couple of employees and we're able to give raises this year- after 2 years of downsizing and tightening.  I hope this means that the economy really has started to turn loose some cash.  It feels good, so I hope it sticks.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Who's hypocritical?

 On the Separation of Church and State

Obama is on the wrong side of the insurance issue with the Catholic Church.  Sure, the red state of GA has a similar law.  Sure, the law may have been that way during the Bush years at some point.  Sure, the Catholic Church may have looked aside allowing years of child sexual abuse go on.  All that doesn't matter.  The Catholic Church should not be forced to provide insurance that pays for birth control it does not approve of nor should it be forced to cover abortion costs it doesn't approve of.  The Church is not a secular organization.  Opposition to birth control and abortion are legitimate and long establishes policies consistent with the long standing beliefs of the Church.  Imposing that the Church violate deep and long-standing tenets of its beliefs clearly crosses the line between the separation of Church and state.

In a similar vein, the state is obliged the protect the rights of all individuals.  Bans on gay marriage are based solely on the religious beliefs of individuals or inherent prejudice against gays, and ought to be struck down everywhere they appear.  Marriage as it is performed by the state is strictly a legal agreement.  Yes, many religions are against homosexuality.  Yes, successful marriages are glued together by love rather than the law.  But within the context of the state, barring gays from marriage, treats them as different before the law.  A state that claims the mantel of freedom won't be free to all until the law provides the same rights to all individuals.

This is not an attempt to draw an equivalency between the two.  It is true, however, an observation that it is hypocritical to claim on side of the argument without embracing the other.

Komen and Goin'

The left was quick to jump down the throat of the Komen foundation for pulling funding for breast cancer screening by Planned Parenthood.  However, it is absolutely true that if you fund any operation some part of that many goes into the infrastructure of the organization.  The infrastructure of Planned Parenthood includes some abortion services.  Hence, even though Planned Parenthood claims the funds are ear-marked for only one thing, it is almost impoossible for it to be completely true.

This reasoning is exactly why state funds should never be given to religious charities even though they are providing needed services.  It is almost impossible for some part of that funding to support the infrastructure of the religion, violating the separation of Church and state.

Komen, got exactly what it deserved:  a massive black eye and likely a drop in donations for a year or two.  The move was transparently political and driven by the newly departed VP.  They were, however, perfectly entitled to cut-off the funding - even it was to deprive screening for women that might otherwise not get it.  But if you want to do it because you are against abortion, say you are doing it because you are against abortion.  Then let the market place decide if it wants to support your cause or not.

Passing comments

What fun it was to see Romney get his ass handed handed to him by Sanctorum.

Duke beat UNC - :( - but a great victory for Duke.

We're still living in la la land on the deficit.  Yes, Virginia we will need to cut social programs and raise taxes.  That problem makes the separation of Church and State seem a bit more trivial.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Educational Experience

A brief bit of excitement.  I had an uneventful colonscopy on Friday ... until yesterday when I developed some bleeding.  Short story:  I bled ~2 units before the GI docs clamped off the bleed.  So I am back home today, not too much worse to wear, but a bit tired.  It provided a few moments of reflection:  1) they don't warn you about the risks of a procedure for nothing and 2) don't take those warnings too lightly.  Needless to say I am happy I contacted my MD and went to the ER.  While I wasn't on the edge of death, the bleeding could have gone on indefinitely.  The doctor's collegues met me at the ER and treated me within a couple of hours, I am thankful for their responsiveness and professionalism.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mitt Potter

Last week - having turned 50 - I had my first colonoscopy.  Rather than get into details of that - the more pertinent thing:  I watched It's a Wonderful Life with my daughter while she was sick and I was forced to take half a day off.  To the point then, it was easy to see Mitt Romney serving the role of a modern day Mr. Potter:  he profits from the failing businesses of others without concern for the very poor.  Of course, Potter would be glorified as a king by today's GOP, particularly his disregard for the struggling.  George Bailey fights Mr. Potter at every turn by using his own money to stave off the run at the savings and loan.  George organizes the people with money in savings and loan to sit tight - saving their community - in the face of financial disaster.  The movie is, of course, about the great things the George achieves in his life and his inability to appreciate his accomplishments or the love of the people he has helped because his heart is somewhere else.  George, the community organizer, would be a rube in today's GOP.  (The movie was initially a flop but has since become of the greatest holiday movies of all time).

Mitt seems a lot nicer than Mr. Potter, but he is so totally disconnected from the way poor people live, that it may be worse.  George, you're doing a great job Brownie, was similarly disconnected but not as nice.  Probably having grown up with money, being educated, and being financially disconnected from economic fears of most of the rest of us, Mitt probably cannot connect.  But may be he should take a little reality check from George Bailey.

If the GOP wants to co-op It's a Wonderful Life, they could point out that George Bailey didn't look for the government to solve the communities problems.  But they'd have to admit that Mr. Potter wasn't the solution.