Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Abortion in the 21st Century

With the Democratic National Convention currently being held in Denver, the topic of abortion is once again being thrust into the spotlight, albeit in a much less brightness thanks to Bush's efforts in Iraq.  Be that as it may, this topic should have been put to rest a long time ago, and by people on both sides of the issue.  It certainly should not be a tool used by the Republicans to garner votes, and yet that is exactly what it has become.

Republicans have successfully convinced Democrats that if they vote for anyone in their party they are voting for abortion.  These politicians have used religious innuendo to sway voters away from their own party, and have shown a great amount of success in this endeavor.  One must applaud their efforts.

Republicans are not interested in changing our abortion laws, and their actions have proven this.  They need this issue to stay alive to be able to use it as a wedge issue come election time, and anyone who wishes to outlaw abortion in this country needs to realize this.  Consider the facts: since the passage of Roe vs. Wade in 1973 there have been six presidents of the United States.  In that time, four of them (Ford, Reagan and both Bushes) have been Republican.  Only two (Carter and Clinton) have been Democrats, yet the laws have not been changed.

Further, when Clinton took office in 1993, the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, but two years later, the Republicans won both houses.  For the remainder of Clinton's terms in office, the Republicans were in control of the congress.  The laws remained unchanged.

Finally, in 2001, George W. Bush, a Republican, took office.  For the next two years the Republicans were fully in control, holding the White House, the Senate and the Congress, and yet the laws remained unchanged.  This would have been the opportune time to enact legislation to outlaw abortion HAD THEY TRULY MEANT TO DO SO.  No such legislation was ever passed.

The Republicans need this issue to win elections.  As long as good-hearted Democrats believe that Republicans want to outlaw abortion (which they don't), those Democrats will vote the Republicans in and the Democrats out.  So, what's to be done?

First, we need to look at abortion logically rather than emotionally.  In the days before the passage of Roe vs. Wade abortions were being performed in this country, but not legally.  The following statistics come largely from the Centers for Disease Control, as this group has been recording such information since 1969.  

In 1972, the year before the legalization of abortion by the U.S. Supreme Court, there were 586,760 abortions performed in this country.  It is necessary to interject here that this number is lower than the actual number of abortions, as the practice was illegal at the time.  This number reflects the women who were known to have had an abortion, either because of an examination by their doctor, or by being brought to an emergency room because of the results of that abortion.

Using this number as our base, and looking at the total number of births in this country in 1972 (3,258,411) we have 18% of pregnancies that were ended in abortion.  In 2003, 30 years later, when abortion had been legal for three decades, the total number of births has risen to 4,089,950 and the total number of abortions has increased to 854,122.  Again, it's important to note that the number from 1972 is lower than the actual number of abortions, so the increase is not as significant as that.  Taking the total number of abortions in 2003 as a percentage of the number of pregnancies brings us to 21%.  From 18% to 21% is not a huge increase, so anyone who thinks that legalizing abortion has caused more abortions is not accurate.

So what does cause abortion?  Women who do not want to be pregnant.  According to the CDC, 91.8% of women who have had abortions did not want to be pregnant in the first place.  Only 8.2% of pregnancies are aborted because the woman's health is at risk, or the baby's health is at risk, or for some other reason.

What this tells me is that the pro-life groups need to shift their focus if they truly wish to lower the abortion rate in this country.  If the goal is to achieve zero abortions, the goal is not reasonable.  Abortions are not new and will not end with legislation against them.  The goal needs to be something reasonable, and that can be achieved.  Taking the figures for 2003, if only those abortions were conducted where someone's health was in danger, then rather than 854,122 abortions there would have been 70,038.  This lowers the percentage of abortions per pregnancies from 20% to less than two percent.  

This is a goal that can be achieved, and all it takes is for the pro-life groups to work with groups like Planned Parenthood to educate women on birth control.  Women who do not get pregnant do not have abortions 100% of the time.  This simple act would reduce the number of abortions in this country by a larger number than any legislation possibly can.  This action would also allow good-hearted Democrats to vote their conscience, and keep our government in the hands of the party that runs it best.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Joe Biden -

So, Obama has made his choice and his choice is Joe Biden.  Is this a good move, or has he single-handedly taken one of the most successful presidential campaigns in American history and nullified it?  Time will tell.

I have to wonder if Biden is the right choice, given Obama's stance.  The main platform of the Obama campaign was that our country needed change, and to that effect he (and his administration) would be the ones to initiate that change.  To exemplify that change, he has selected a man who spent the last 36 years working as a Senator.  How much change is that?  Wouldn't it make more sense to take someone relatively new to Congress (as Obama himself is), and thus show that change is really in the air?

It should be noted that both Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh were considered to be on the list as potential running mates, and that both of these Senators have less than a decade in the senate, thus the selection of either would indicate that the candidate of change was true to his word.  By selecting Biden, it seems that his administration is not so much about change as it is about more of the same.  One of Obama's strengths is that he's an African American and by electing him, we're showing that the age of racism is over.  Hillary Clinton, while not African American (that I know of) is a female (as far as I know) and the election of her shows that sexism is also over.  On the other hand, the Republicans only had old white men to select from.  So, who does Obama choose as a running mate?  An old, white man.

I also have to wonder about Biden's ideology.  While many of the votes taken in the senate while all three were in office were in agreement, there were a couple of times when Biden seems to go off on his own.  For example, on November 17, 2005 the senate voted to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to put a temporary tax on oil and give $100 per personal exemption to each taxpayer.  Obama voted in favor of the bill, as did Clinton, yet Biden voted against it (which put him in agreement with McCain.  Coincidence?).

On March 2, 2005 a vote was held to require credit card companies to provide information to consumers on the ramifications of making minimum payments on their credit card debt.  Both Obama and Clinton voted in favor, while Biden and McCain voted against.  Why would Biden vote against such legislation?  Hmmmmmmm.

On May 11, 2005 a bill was put forward to fund motorcycle safety programs specifically in those state that did not have helmet laws.  It seems to me that if you're stupid enough to get on a motorcycle without wearing a helmet you deserve what you get, but legislation was put forward to spend our tax dollars on these folks.  Obama and Clinton both voted no, as did McCain, but Biden voted for it.  I wonder if Biden rides without a helmet.  That could explain many things.

One of Obama's key messages was that the war in Iraq is wrong, and he points to the fact that he did not vote for it (which he couldn't because he wasn't in the senate yet), but that Hillary Clinton did.  So did Joe Biden.  Wouldn't that make Joe Biden just as wrong as Hillary?  Then why choose him as a running mate?

One vote that I found particularly disturbing was on October 26, 2005 when the senate voted on a measure to increase funding for AIDS drugs.  McCain voted for the funding, but Obama, Biden and Clinton all voted against it.  On November 3, 2005 a measure was put forth to give financial assistance to schools devastated by hurricane Katrina, and again McCain voted in favor while the other three opposed it.  It kind of makes you wonder who the good guys are, doesn't it?

I have to question whether Biden is really a good choice, given his record.  I understand that he has foreign policy experience, but Obama has to win the election before that experience can come in handy.  At this point, I seriously doubt that he's done that.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What is McCain Doing?

What is John McCain doing? During the last election, it seems to me that he was able to defeat other candidates (many of whom I considered much more worthy) by showing people what a nice person he is. Now that he's the last man standing, that niceness has fallen off of him like teeth from a hockey player.

Now that the election is down to two opponents, McCain has taken the gloves off. Actually, I think it's more accurate to say he's taken the mask off and is showing his true face. He doesn't seem to have any interest in telling us what he will do if elected, but rather by telling us what he believes Obama would do if Obama were elected. McCain is apparently clairvoyant.

Clairvoyance is a wonderful ability to have, and certainly one that would be a bonus to a president, but before we all go rushing off to the polls to vote Republican, we have to remember that McCain has not proven that he is clairvoyant; he has only attempted clairvoyance.

I think the best thing that McCain can do at this point is to tell us what will happen next week. Who will die, who will file for divorce, where will the next major tragedy strike, how well will Madonna's next album do, etc. The things that matter. Once he's done this, then we can look at his predictions and decide for ourselves if he actually has the gift or not. If he does, we would do well to vote for him. If he doesn't, then Obama might be a better choice.

Clairvoyance certainly isn't the only ability that a president should have, but in looking over the last eight years, and the last campaigns, I can't help but be concerned. The Republicans have shown a history of running smere campaigns, particularly when they run candidates without much merit (I know, many people believe that no Republicans have merit, but I'm not going there). Looking at McCain's campaign, what I see is an extension of the current administration.

Sorry John. You almost had my vote. I was concerned that Obama's lack of experience would not be in the best interest of this country, and that is still a concern to me, but your campaign tactics make me question your abilities even more. I've ordered my Obama bumper sticker and will be supporting the Democrat this time around.

One suggestion for any future campaigns; stick to your strengths. Tell the people what you can do that will make you the best person for the job. Don't tell us what someone else won't do (or will do that's bad), because you don't know that. Don't tell us why the other person is not the right person for the job; we have Fox News for that. Tell us what makes you the right person. Without that, you tell us that you're not.