Archive for February, 2007

Other Bloggers on Abortion

February 16, 2007

So the Utah legislature decided to back down and return to the original abortion “trigger bill.” With that decision, and the subsequent spate of inane legislation spewing forth from the Utah legislature, the blog chatter on abortion seems to have died down. At its peak, however, there were some very profound and very heartfelt examinations of the topic.

Amanda of Might as Well Dance shared a very clear and reasonable position on the matter.

Jennifer of Jen’s Green Journal discussed the evolution of her beliefs in a very open, honest, even intimate essay.

Bob of The World According to Me has made a number of posts on abortion, most of them short, with some very canny points.

The Voice of Utah looked at the aborted Supreme Court challenge (sorry, I couldn’t resist) not from the moral perspective, but rather from a legal angle. While the author hints that while they (I’m using the gender neutral plural, as I’m not sure whether the author was male or female) might not be considered pro-choice, they and the pro-life people with whom they were conversing did not appreciate a law directly contradicting a prior Supreme Court ruling. This raised an interesting question in my mind: how does one seek to revisit past Supreme Court rulings? If this sort of direct confrontation isn’t considered appropriate, what other methods are there? After all, I like to be consistent. While I am not especially eager to have Roe vs. Wade overturned, there are other rulings I would like changed. I’m not about to say that a state shouldn’t challenge the Supreme Court with a law when it involves abortion, but should go ahead when it suits the causes I favor. What is the legal principle or strategy which we can ethically expect to apply across the board?

So the Shooter was Muslim

February 16, 2007

So what? What does that have to do with anything?

I’m not surprised that Michael Savage, perhaps the most vile and hateful voice in the media I’ve ever heard, would try to make the connection between our recent tragedy and terrorism. Savage has relished religious warmongering and hate-baiting over the past few years. But I am rather disappointed to hear people within our community and faith giving vent to such ignorance.

Anytime the media reports on an LDS person involved in some crime, I hear fellow Mormons grumbling about the media making note of the criminal’s faith. After all, their religion has nothing to do with their crimes.

But some of these same people are complaining that the media hasn’t been loud enough in broadcasting the faith of Talovic.

So much for the Golden Rule.

Other thoughts on elements of the public response to the shootings:

Other Bloggers on Pollution

February 14, 2007

A few weeks ago, Allie of The Life I’m Choosing posted about her experience watching An Inconvenient Truth (a movie I’ve yet to see, but which our Bishop got for Christmas and keeps telling us we need to come over and watch), gave a nice common-sense justification for embracing environmentalism, and shared some great ideas on being more conscientious stewards of this planet we’ve been blessed with. Nice job, Allie.

On Rob’s Utah Amicus, guest author and physician Brian Moench posted an article a few weeks back about the pollution of the inversion detailing the costs to our health we suffer from it. Rather eye-opening.

I’m not Going to Talk About It

February 14, 2007

I was rather intrigued this morning during the President’s press conference when he was asked whether or not he had authorized the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity. President Bush steadfastly—and rather petulantly—refused to answer the question. Why not? If the President is as opposed to leaks as he claimed while condemning the leak about the financial tracking of suspected terrorist agents, why not deny any involvement and publically condemn the leak? Does he have something to hide? Is there some unexplained double-standard when it comes to leaks? “Leaks that may potentially threaten the lives of operatives and punish opponents of the administration are okay, but leaks that expose questionable government operations are disgraceful.” What does the President’s testy response say about his integrity?

Trolley Square Tragedy

February 13, 2007

I found out about the Trolley Square Massacre when my mother-in-law called to make sure we weren’t involved (well, to make sure Sara wasn’t involved. She might have been hoping I was in the vicinity…). What a tragedy. My heart broke not only for the victims and their families, but for the gunman and his family. What demons drove him to such a heinous act?

Oldenberg at The Third Avenue has a very profound and troubling perspective on the matter. Its well worth reading.

Showdown with Iran

February 12, 2007

From the time the administration prepared (so to speak) for the invasion of Iraq, I suspect that they intended to speedily follow that up with an encore liberation of Iran. When the stabilization of Iraq turned out to be vastly more difficult than the administration had conceived—when to their surprise, the U.S. troops were not greeted with candies and flowers—any potential campaign against Iran became too impractical even for this administration to pursue for the time being. But many believe that intervention against Iran is still on the administration’s agenda.

The administration has recently accused Iran of inciting and arming some of the insurgents in Iraq, contributing to the chaos there. While I have little faith in the integrity of this administration, I would hardly be surprised if Iran was indeed meddling in the turmoil of Iraq. But that doesn’t mean that I think the U.S. should begin gearing up to move into Persia. Aside from my belief and faith in non-violent methods of conflict resolution, I believe that such an attack would in many ways play right into the hands of the Tehran and exacerbate the situation, much as the two prior campaigns have multiplied the problems and created playgrounds for terrorists and thugs.

KCPW recently aired an interview with Michael McFaul, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, and expert on Iran. They discussed McFaul’s recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, “Iran’s weakened hard-liners crave a US attack.” McFaul explains his own suspicions about the administration’s intention to mount a military campaign and why he believes such an action would be counterproductive. Listen at Midday Utah (scroll down to Feb 9, or do a search for Michael McFaul in the search box on that page).

Other Bloggers on Vouchers

February 12, 2007

Its been nice the last few days to be able to spend more time blogging on the subjects important to me. Now I’m finally getting caught up on my blog reading. There have been many great posts in the last few weeks, and I’ll be pointing some of my favorites over the next few days.

The voucher bill in the Utah legislature has caused quite a stir in the blogosphere. The Davis Dijeridu has posted a series of very insightful essays on public education and vouchers. Start here and then click on “new post” to read subsequent posts. Very impressive.

Rob at Utah Amicus has posted a number of articles and letters by guest authors, including by Don Miller, professor Jonathan W. Herbertson, Davis County Democratic Chair Richard Watson, and Scott Shaw. Good reads all.

Real Support for the Sanctity of Life

February 11, 2007

This year, with a new federal supreme court more conservative than any in recent decades, the Utah legislature is considering House Bill 235, a bill intended to force a challenge to Roe vs. Wade. The bill seems to have sparked a renewed debate between those referring to themselves as “pro-choice,” and those who call themselves “pro-life.”

I personally find the term “pro-life” a bit misleading. The prefix “pro” means “in favor of, supportive of.” While the nominally pro-life side may zealously defend the sanctity of life at one stage (the pre-natal stage), they often seem strangely indifferent to life once that life has left the womb.

To be supportive of life means much more than to merely outlaw abortion and advocate retributive penalties on those who undergo or perform abortions. Some religious leaders, most notably Catholic theologians, have come up with what they call the Consistent Life Ethic, or “Seamless Garment of Life.” This philosophy shows a broader perspective which better suits the definition of the word “pro-life.”

Pro-life shouldn’t simply be about forcing expectant mothers to carry their babies to term, but rather about ensuring they have the medical, financial, and emotional support which will help reduce the feelings of desperation and isolation which lead many women to seek abortions.

Pro-life means not merely fighting to provide every child the opportunity to draw breath outside the womb, but fighting just as diligently to provide them the food, shelter, clothing, and health care needed to maintain that life with some measure of dignity until its natural end.

Pro-life means working to provide every individual has access to a quality education and economic opportunities, so that they can find meaning in life and become contributing members of society.

Pro-life means promoting a penal system focused on rehabilitation and healing rather than punishment. How can one claim to be pro-life when they support the use of death by the state as a means of punishment and crime prevention, risking irrevocable tragedy when innocents are mistakenly convicted and executed and robbing the rightfully convicted of the opportunity of repentance and restitution to society?

Pro-life means promoting peace over war, actively and persistently pursuing alternatives to the violent taking of life in conflict resolution. Efforts to establish a U.S. Department of Peace show a creative and consistent commitment to life.

Pro-life means establishing a system by which we can provide the comfort and temporal support we owe our elders as they approach the end of their natural lives.

I’d be more inclined to support the efforts of self-described pro-life advocates if they seemed more genuinely interested in “the sanctity of life,” and less interested in punishing those who have sinned.

The Pentagon “twisted Iraq findings”

February 9, 2007

Defense Department Inspector General Thomas Gimble has now released a report which states that the Pentagon twisted intelligence on Iraq to prove the fanciful link between Al Qaeda and Hussein.

Just another item to add to the mound of evidence suggesting this administration has repeatedly lied in the pursuit of their agenda.

Giving Environmentalists Their Due

February 7, 2007

A reader made a comment on my last post about the current air quality along the Wasatch Front. While that pollution doesn’t actually relate to global warming as far as I know, I agree wholeheartedly with her implied sentiment that we need to be as concerned about the local, immediate environmental conditions as the long-term, global-scale environmental problems. The pollution to which she referred, the winter inversion, is the twin of the summer pollution problem I posted regarding some months ago, and which is caused by the same problems (Our decentralized communities, dependence on automobiles and our highly mobile and independent lifestyle).

When they hear people complain about the inversion and its effect on their health, many “old timers” like to retort that conditions are much better than they were in the middle of the last century. According to them, the smog was much thicker and lasted longer back “in the day.” Things are better, so we should stop our environmentalist whining.

Perhaps this is so. Very likely things have improved—at least per capita, though the burgeoning population growth along the Wasatch Front means that it is crucial that per capita pollution must continue to be driven down if our children are to be able to live here. If, for example the pollution released by the average vehical is cut in half, but our vehical total increases four-fold in the next five years, the aggregate pollution has still doubled, and the improvements are insufficient.

I like to ask those elders why they think the conditions have improved. The answer is not because of the benevolence of the corporate world, or the unassisted gears of the market turning inexorably toward a greener economy. It is, of course, because of environmentalists. It is because the tree huggers began to whine about the source of the problems. It is because organizations like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and national and international organizations mobilized their money and grassroots support in a worldwide concerted effort to call attention to the sources of pollution, to the problems that pollution was causing us, or communities, and our planet, and began proposing alternatives. It is because people passionate about their stewardship of the earth created Earth Day and other awareness activities.

Through their efforts, awareness was raised and a combination of public pressure and legislation coerced industries to clean up their processes, relocate to safer sites, and when necessary, close down throughout the planet—including here in the U.S. and Utah.

In other words, the progress we’ve made in having cleaner communities is because of environmentalist whining. And with an burgeoning population which will continue to increase the pressure on the environment, I’m happy to be among the environmentalists keeping up the pressure for further improvement.