Religion and Politics

What is happening to the "Values Voter"? A new Pew study has found that

Fifty percent of conservatives think churches and other places of worship should stay out of social and political matters, up from 30 percent four years ago . . . On this question, the gap between conservatives and liberals is narrowing: just four years ago, liberals were twice as likely as conservatives to say churches should stay out of politics. Now, 50 percent of conservatives and 57 percent of liberals think that. Four years ago, 62 percent of liberals opposed church involvement in politics. Democrats and Republicans are about even on the question as well.
Hmmm. What is going on here? Are conservatives less religious than they were four years ago? Is our country losing its religion?!?!? No, I think the answer can be summed up in one word: disillusionment.

George W. Bush (with the help of Political Advisor Karl Rove) ran two Presidential campaigns aimed at garnering the evangelical Christian vote. Knowing that the religious base is a big component of their party, they capitalized on this base to barely squeak out a victory in 2000 and secure a respectable win in 2004.
Winning the souls, or at least the votes, of conservative evangelical Christians is central to the Republican Party strategy under President Bush . . . After the 2000 election, Rove lamented in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington that only 15 million evangelical voters had gone to the polls - 4 million fewer than expected. This disappointing turnout helped explain the close election, Rove said. Looking ahead, he vowed to pursue policies that would motivate evangelicals in 2004 - specifically the white conservative Protestants who overwhelmingly support Bush.
Rove's strategy worked well in 2000 and 2004 (and especially in the midterm congressional elections of 2002 when the Republicans had sweeping victories in both houses of Congress). After Bill Clinton and his sex scandal, I remember feeling energized at the thought of a "moral" President - someone who turns to prayer for answers. Our country can't go wrong with a God-fearing man for President, can it?
George W. Bush is among the most openly religious presidents in U.S. history. A daily Bible reader, he often talks about how Jesus changed his heart. He has spoken, publicly and privately, of hearing God's call to run for the presidency and of praying for God's help since he came into office.
That all sounds good to me. I want that in a President, and I voted for it!

The problem is that things haven't gone so well. I am not so sure we got what we were looking for in a President with GWB. Sure, he is a plenty nice guy. I appreciate and respect his religious views, but, to both conservatives and liberals alike, he hasn't done that great of a job of being President (as evidenced by his low, low approval ratings). The Iraq war, illegal immigration, the Harriet Miers fiasco . . .

GWB relies on "instinct" and "intuition" in making a lot of decisions.
Bush's top deputies - from cabinet members like Paul O'Neill, Christine Todd Whitman and Colin Powell to generals fighting in Iraq - have been told for years when they requested explanations for many of the president's decisions, policies that seem to collide with accepted facts . . . that [the President] relied on his "gut" or his "instinct" to guide the ship of state, and then he "prayed over it".
Maybe God-fearing isn't enough to be President. Prophet, perhaps. President, no.

At the same time, Democrats, seeing how effective turning out the religious vote was for the Republicans, have been trying it a bit themselves. I remember listening to John Kerry awkwardly try to inject scripture into his public speeches while running for President in 2004. He didn't come across as very sincere (in my opinion). But, fast forward to the Democrat National Convention of 2008: it's a regular old gospel fest!

At the first official event Sunday of the Democrat National Convention, a choir belted out a gospel song and was followed by a rabbi reciting a Torah reading about forgiveness and the future. Helen Prejean, the Catholic nun who wrote "Dead Man Walking", assailed the death penalty and use of torture.

Young muslims in headscarves sat near older African-American women in their finest Sunday hats.

Four years ago, such a scene would have been unthinkable at a Democratic National Convention. In 2004, there was one interfaith lunch at the Democratic gala in Boston.

But that same year, "values voters" helped re-elect President Bush, giving Democrats of faith the opening they needed to make party leaders listen to them
. . .

There will be four "faith caucus" meetings, blessings to open and close each night, and panels and parties run by Democratic-leaning religious advocacy groups that didn't even exist in 2004 . . .

One hallmark of Democratic faith efforts at the convention is diversity, which might soften objections from party activists wary of the Christian right or any mixing of religion and politics.

Behind the scenes, efforts to attract the religious vote will concentrate largely on Christian "values voters".

"If we create or become a mirror image of the religious right, we have failed", said Burns Strider, who ran religious outreach for Hillary Clinton's campaign and now does faith-based political consulting. "But if we have increased the number of chairs around the table, then we've succeeded".

Who exactly are the Democrats trying to "woo" with all of this religious talk (which honestly strikes me as a little hypocritical coming from the party in which so many states have added "separation of church and state" to their Democratic platforms)? It certainly can't be liberal Democrats. From 2004 to 2008, the percentage of Democrats who feel that churches need to stay out of politics barely budged. No, it's the conservative Republicans who are changing their minds. So, while more disillusioned conservatives are shaking their heads wondering what to do, the Democrats are welcoming them with open arms.

"People of faith are being engaged in the convention in a new and robust way, and it's because of Senator Obama's acknowledgement that people of faith and values have an important place in American public life," said Joshua DuBois, the Obama campaign's religious affairs director.

Uh, sure. More like Senator Obama's acknowledgement that he can pick off disaffected religious voters from the Republican party who want a "faith-full" president, but who don't trust the Republicans to deliver.

The campaign is giving a platform to people who otherwise would not have been invited to or attended a Democratic convention. One example is Joel Hunter, a moderate evangelical megachurch pastor from Orlando, Fla., who will offer the benediction Thursday, the night Obama accepts the nomination.

"Now there's a genuine interest in speaking with groups and religious groups who were previously considered enemies, said Rachel Laser, who works on culture issues for the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way.

(Note - another evangelical, Cameron Strang, backed out of offering a prayer Monday night.)

Will it work? Will "values voters" really jump ship? Will conservative Christians give up positions on important issues like abortion because of "compromise language in the Democrat's abortion platform that acknowledges the need to help women who want to keep their pregnancies" and flashy religious hoopla? Are we really dumb sheep who just follow whatever political shepherd is calling out God's name? "Mumble, mumble, mumble, GOD, mumble, mumble, mumble". Must . . . follow . . . President . . . talking . . . about . . . God . . .

I don't think so, and it doesn't appear to be so.

Despite all the effort, there is little evidence religious votes are shifting. A Pew poll released last week showed the political preferences of religious voters, including highly sought Catholics and white evangelicals, have scarcely budged since 2004.

Catholics are up for grabs, but white evangelicals have become so solidly Republican, Obama has little chance of carving too deeply into the Republican lead, said Allen Hertze, a University of Oklahoma political scientist.

Recently, McCain and Obama both appeared at a forum on faith to appeal to religious voters, although Obama appeared to be working a little harder.

In several cases, Obama gave a Christian interpretation to his generally liberal political views. He said he is redeemed by Jesus, who died for his sins.

McCain tended to give shorter, less complex answers, winning somewhat more applause than Obama from the large, evangelical church's audience.

McCain has been smart to, for the most part, not use "religion" to attract the conservative vote as Bush did. For one, McCain isn't such a religious guy. Hearing him recite scripture would sound a lot like hearing John Kerry recite scripture - it just doesn't work for him. For two, we've fallen for that once (okay twice), and we are not falling for it again. Not from a Republican (Mike Huckabee gave a go at it, and it didn't work out too well for him either), and not from a Democrat. We just want the issues and the platform to be in line with our own values. So don't tell us that your views are Christian - show us. Talk is cheap anymore.


Sarah Palin - A Curious Choice

Today, John McCain announced his selection of first-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate and Vice Presidential candidate. Most of the country immediately responded, "who?", and at least this blogger is pondering, "why?".

It is not particularly uncommon to select someone who is an unknown quantity to the public at large, but Palin strikes me as a particularly odd choice for a few reasons:

First, she immediately nullifies McCain's primary argument against an Obama presidency. The Republicans, even in their rebuttal to Obama's speech last night (which was masterful, BTW), have been criticizing Obama's relative lack of experience as The Reason he shouldn't be President. That's officially off the table, at least to any rational mind. Sarah Palin may be a fabulous person, but she has significantly less experience than Barack Obama. She has been Governor of Alaska for two years, before which her highest office was as mayor of a town of 8,000 residents. John McCain turns 72 years old today; his VP better be able to immediately step in and assume the Presidency.

Second, she's a horrible match with Joe Biden, Obama's VP selection. Biden will eat her alive in the VP debate in Missouri, and that has nothing to do with her gender.

Third, she is unlikely to swing many Hillary Clinton supporters. The Dems did an impressive job of unifying the party at their convention, and both Clintons gave rousing endorsements of Obama. There is very little doubt that the party is anything but Obama's at this point, and as I see it, the vast majority of Hillary supporters are now officially on the bandwagon. Those voters that are hell-bent on having a woman in the White House may give her a look, but I'd bet that many are too liberal to seriously consider a Republican despite her gender.

Fourth, she hails from a state that is relatively irrelevant to the electoral map. I do think the notion that a VP is supposed to bring his/her home state on board is overblown, but it does have some merit I think. Alaska wasn't going to land in Obama's column regardless of either candidate's VP pick.

Fifth, on the one issue on which Palin does have significant experience, oil (specifically on drilling for the stuff in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge), she disagrees with McCain. McCain has opposed drilling there, and Palin famously (in certain circles, anyway) supports it.

Sixth, she looks like she could be his daughter. :P

For all I know, she is a wonderful person and beauty pageant contestant (runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant back in the day), and she does deserve credit for her corruption-fighting in Alaska. But all in all, I find her to be a curious VP choice that highlights what I feel to be an increasing sense of desperation in the McCain camp.


Introduce yourself!

In another post, one of our newer participants, the faithful dissident, suggested that we all introduce ourselves. So please, take this opportunity to do just that. Tell us all where you came from, how you arrived at (and what has informed) your political ideology, how you feel it relates to your membership (or lack thereof) in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and what you think the world should look like.

Instead of our usual long-winded conversations, let's make this a one-hit-per-head-banger thread (movie reference, anyone?) - just introduce yourself and let the next person go.

I'll go first.

I'm Dave, husband to The Wizzle, and father of two (third to be arriving in September). I am a professional geek (I'm in technology consulting) and amateur (semi-professional?) musician. I love my family, basketball, the automobile, and politics. I am currently pursuing a BA in Political Science from Arizona State University. I was born to goodly, if staunchly conservative :P parents in Provo, Utah in 1981 (the second of six children), and moved to Arizona in 1990. My family has always been very active in the Church, and less so in politics.

I was a rather contrary lad as a teenager, and I lost my way somewhat with the Church for a period of several years. I did not serve a mission, and have since come to enormously regret that decision. However, the Wizzle and I dated during that time period and married in the Mesa, Arizona Temple when we were both 20. I have a wonderful wife and 2.9 (and counting) happy and beautiful children, so I can't say I would change my decision. Actually, that last 9/10ths of a kid may be neither be happy nor beautiful ... but I'm hoping for both. :)

My political awakening began in the last couple years of high school, particularly when I took a political quiz that, much to my surprise, pegged me solidly left of center. I previously had no idea that I was a liberal, but was pleased with the result as it was contrary (there's that word again) to my parents' ideology.

Over time I attempted to learn everything I could about the Constitution, American history, and the problems of society, and came to embrace liberalism as being able to provide the best solutions to the country's problems.

I will be the first one to admit I am a child of relative privilege. I'm a white male raised in a loving, relatively affluent, two-parent home in suburbia, taught to be a good person and work hard for what I want. I wasn't given everything on a silver platter (I had to earn a scholarship to go to college, get a job to buy a car, etc.), but I realize that my privileged existence is the exception, not the rule.

I see it as the purpose of government to provide each and every citizen the opportunity to improve his/her quality of life, and second, to provide a minimum standard of living for those that cannot (or in the case of the very few, will not) take advantage of those opportunities. As Ted Kennedy spoke last night, I believe decent, quality health care should be a fundamental right of all, not a privilege of the few. I believe that maxim also applies to education and living in a clean environment.

But I am also a firm believer in capitalism. College economics courses have really refined my perspective on capitalism. I believe that competitive markets, given adequate oversight, will produce socially optimal results. Instead of a tax on a socially undesirable activity, the government should create an incentive for businesses and individuals to change. And sometimes, the correct answer is deregulation as opposed to regulation. But I do believe that the government has a responsibility to ensure that corporations are socially responsible and provide adequate protections for the labor force and the environment. I reject the notion that what is best for business is best for America; I believe that what is best for Americans is best for America.

There is an old saying that goes something like, "if you aren't liberal when you're young, you're boring; if you're not conservative when you're old, you're stupid". I don't think I will ever call myself politically conservative, and I don't think that makes me stupid (on the contrary, actually), but I do believe both sides have valid points on most issues. More than anything I am a pragmatist and a realist, and practical solutions often require compromise. So maybe slightly left of center is a good place to be. :)


California's Proposition 8

I thought I'd write this post because references keep cropping up in other threads

For anyone who likes to follow political dealings and has been under a rock this year, Proposition 8 is a proposition that overturns several judges' decision to override a measure on the 2000 ballot which passed, defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Until 1977, since California's entry into statehood in 1850, marriage was assumed to apply only to a man and woman. In 1977 legislature was amended to read "a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman". Since then other state laws have passed which recognize domestic partnerships and afford them the benefits that married couples receive, such as health care benefits or property rights.

In 2000 voters passed proposition 22 by approximately 61%, which formally defined marriage as between a man and woman in the state of California. Everyone thought this was the end of the story.

'Twas not to be. In 2004 San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decided to perform same-sex marriages (not civil unions) in San Francisco. This was part of a string of decisions on his part which have been unconstitutional, but to delve completely into Newsom's biography is meat enough for its own post...another day, another time. Anyway, Newsom's decision set off fireworks emotionally and politically. Newsom's performed marriages were declared invalid but in 2008 the California Supreme Court voted 4-3 to overturn proposition 22 and any other marriage-defining legislature. Same-sex marriages commenced a month later.

While the case was in the courts Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed at least 2 bills that would legalize same-sex marriage. I think he was wise to do so, because the voters spoke in 2000 and the majority declared that they agreed marriage should be defined as being between a man and woman. America was founded on principles of being governed by the majority, and the majority voted in 2000 to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Thats all. Domestic partnerships and civil unions that are granted in California give them married rights such as sharing property, visiting each other in hospitals, being financially tied together...

I don't think that this is a civil rights issue. Civilly, homosexuals are not denied any rights. Just the word 'marriage.' And this isn't anything new. Societies have defined marriage as being between a man and a woman since the dawn of time. No matter what country you look at, in whatever year or whatever century, societies are organized and gathered together with a man and woman forming what is known as: marriage. This isn't just modern 21st century America. Its a core fundamental truth of society: humanity originates from a man and a woman being joined together in marriage.

In response to all of the people that say that protecting marriage as a union set aside only for males and females in turn impedes on the rights of homosexuals; I have been unable to identify any rights that are not afforded them already in the State of California. However, our church believes that all children have the right to have the opportunity of being raised by a mother and a father. I believe in protecting the rights of children that don't have a voice to speak for themselves and that being raised in a family without a father and a mother is a sad situation which should be avoided.

Now there are some people out there who say that this isn't a civil issue, it is a moral issue. I agree. For myself, I believe that civil unions and domestic partnerships give homosexuals what they want. But I do believe that marriage is ordained of God. I believe God ordained marriage to be between a man and woman from the beginning of time onward to today. And I can't vote against my moral conscience. "Marriage" legally should be between a man and a woman.

Other shockingly scary things are happening right now too. Adoption agencies are being sued/shut down for wanting to place children in religious, traditional homes with a father and mother. For articles, click here and here. In San Diego a doctor was sued (and lost) because he wouldn't artificially impregnate a lesbian since doing so was against his religious beliefs. I think this is terrible. A similar case is happening in Sweden now. People, if your doctor isn't willing to do an optional procedure (not life or death, but optional!) then find yourself a different doctor! And since when did sexual orientation trump religious freedom?? This country was founded upon principles of religious freedom. Treating someone's religious beliefs so lightly does not bode well for our future. The time may soon come when judges decide that churches cannot perform legal marriages unless they also conduct homosexual marriages. There is much to be lost and we have been advised by our Church that now is the time to make the stand.

Now, since this is a political blog maintained by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I want to address the issue that many people appear to be shocked by; that is, that our current leader of the church, the prophet we sustained in General Conference last spring, President Thomas S Monson, has asked church members to vote in such a way that marriage is a definition preserved for a man and woman. Some people say that the church shouldn't get involved in politics. Others say that this violates people's agency. Well, I say that the prophet is THE PROPHET of the world, whether that world recognizes him or not. I believe that President Monson was called of God and receives instruction on how to lead us and guide us, regardless of political affiliation. Therefore I will listen and obey.

I won't listen and obey because I happen to agree with what he is asking of me: I will listen and obey because I believe he is a prophet of God and and I think my entire membership in this church is supported by principles like: my belief that the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift of God, and my belief that God has sent us prophets again to lead and guide us if we will but listen.

Ezra Taft Benson wrote: "in addition to Christ providing us the gift of his life as a model, he has provided us the gift of a prophet. Of all mortal men, we should keep our eyes most firmly fixed on the captain, the prophet, seer, and revelator, and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is the man who stands closest to the fountain of living waters. There are some heavenly instructions for us that we can only receive through the prophet. A good way to measure your standing with the Lord is to see how you feel about, and act upon, the inspired words of his earthly representative, the prophet-president. The inspired words of the president are not to be trifled with. All men are entitled to inspiration, and various men are entitled to revelation for their particular assignment. But only one man stands as the Lord’s spokesman to the Church and the world and he is the president of the Church. The word of all other men should be weighed against his inspired words.

Though his prophet is mortal, God will not let him lead his church astray. (See Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13.) God knows all things, the end from the beginning, and no man becomes president of the church of Jesus Christ by accident, or remains there by chance, or dies by happenstance.

The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age. This is the prophet who has today’s instructions from God to us. God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Every generation has need of the ancient scripture, plus the current scripture from the living prophet. Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering that you should do is of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece. That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words in Church periodicals."

He goes on to state "To publish differences we may think we have with the leaders of the Church, to create strife and division, is a sure road to apostasy."

So what are we being asked, exactly? Not much. Not to give up our homes and carry our possessions on our backs to literally follow the prophet to a new land. Not to leave the wives at home with young children while the men go off on missions that last an unknown number of years. Not to give up our entire savings accounts. Not some weird perverted sex thing. Just to vote in a way to legally establish something in our modern world that has been recognized as normal and truth in centuries past: that marriage is between a man and a woman.

So there you have it. If you are LDS and living in California you should ask yourself what your testimony of the prophet truly is: do you think he leads and guides us to do God's will and God will not allow the leader of His church to push personal agendas? Or do you think membership in this church doesn't entail doing every little thing the prophet, apostles, and other leaders ask of us? AND, if you are LDS and not living in California you should ask yourself what this particular chain of events means: are you simply happy that you're not being asked anything politically right now? or are you suspicious that if proposition 8 doesn't pass then you'll be facing similar legislation overwrites regarding same-sex marriage on your own state bills come voting season next year?

As saints in California we have been instructed on how to vote on this moral issue. However, we have also been instructed to do "all we can" to support proposition 8. If you would like to support proposition 8 please click here. Or go to



We've got a few roaring comment threads going still, but there are a lot of things worth discussing right now, so let's have a catch-all. Post any comment about any subject you want in the comment thread. Some things that are going on:

- Barack Obama selected Joe Biden as his running mate (with the vaunted text message going out around 3 AM EST - a parting shot at Hillary, perhaps?)

- Rumors that McCain has picked Mitt Romney as his running mate

- The flap over McCain's houses gaffe

- The dropping price of oil; why's that happening?

- The Olympics

- The debate over the drinking age

- Rumors (that are false, but still entertaining) that the Church put in a offer to buy Facebook!


Fat America

Is anyone else sick of hearing about how fat America is compared to other countries? I am.

I guess its just my share of national pride manifesting, but I feel like every single country in the world goes off on America's weight problem. Or maybe its just that when I run into people from other countries and we talk food then invariably it comes up and irks me.

Yes, I admit, there are a lot of people living in the US who don't pay enough attention to their health, including maintaining a proper BMI. But you never hear people on the news or in other countries singing America's praises for their anti-smoking laws or decreased teen smoking numbers.

But, perhaps it would hurt a little less if it weren't true. America is fat. I'm not talking about people with hormone related disorders or actual medical issues that contribute to their weight and BMI. What I'm saying here is generally directed at people whose only issue is lack of exercise---not any other health-related issue which increases their weight.

According to this article that just came out, America's obesity numbers grew in 37 states this year. I think that this is pretty horrible, but not entirely unexpected.

On talk radio today I listened to a program talking about how some communities are having to cancel schoolbus routes due to increased cost of fuel combined with lack of budget, and kids are now being asked to walk 20 minutes to get to school. Apparently many of the kids are freaking out and don't want to do it. (cue the old grandpa voice "when I was a lad I walked 20 miles to get to school...") Now those cities are projecting more traffic congestion as parents drive their kids to school so they won't have to walk. What is wrong with walking to school if you live in a safe neighborhood community?

I think that this has something to do with it. If you click on any links I'm referencing, please: click this one.

Now, I'm not going to blame the kids for being drawn to video games, computers, or texting. I'm going to blame their parents. Why? Not only because their parents are the ones buying them access to these indoor gadgets...but because their parents are IMO pursuing an obesity-prone lifestyle themselves. Kids aren't the only ones putting on pounds. Adults are as well. Its the adults who severely impact what the kids do, for how long they do it, and whether the kids stay indoors or out. And its the adults who do the grocery shopping, fast food drive-ins, and refuse to cook regularly with lots of fiber-rich veggies. (for every gram of fiber you consume you automatically burn at least 7 calories simply by passing the fiber through the digestive system. Do you get enough fiber in your diet?) Imagine if everyone actually ate enough fiber---plus some extra.

I live in a densely populated area in California. There are many walking trails, sidewalks, and pedestrian-friendly modifications conducive to walking/biking to work. Yes, some people use them. But not enough people do. There are so many people who would rather sleep an extra 15 minutes than leave the required 15 minutes early to walk rather than drive to the office. I think this is a problem of our parents and our generation, relatively new to the history books. Before the fifties people were conserving fuel during WWII, couldn't afford it or a car during the depression, and the majority didn't own cars in the twenties or earlier 1900s. So to get around locally you had to walk, run, ride your bike, or take the horse. Not anymore. Now you can pop into the car and zip 4 blocks down the road to work. Or around the corner to church. Lazy. Ridiculous. Is it any wonder Americans are steadily gaining weight?

I was reading this posting about public adult exercise parks in China, and I was actually impressed. Here in America they are probably a lawsuit waiting to happen, which is sad, but what a great idea! How many of you would jump on playground equipment if it were sized for an adult? How about if it were gym equipment in a cute little park? I would...but then, I have no pride. And hey, if it is a free workout--sign me up! Is it possible to believe that most Americans would like a freebie over sitting on their buns? Yes, the community government would have to build these parks, but if my tax dollars are being used to create/maintain/renew parks as it is, why not throw in one of these and see what happens?

Now some ethnicities are credited or assumed to have a better health ethic than others. Maybe some just have a better sense or lack of self pride when it comes to exercising in public. After all, isn't a feeling of wellbeing, increased pheromones, increased energy, increased clarity of thoughts, increased range of motion, increased muscle as opposed to fat, and a sense of accomplishment more important than what the next person thinks about what you look like? And isn't it a bit ironic that exercise makes people look better, but some are too embarrassed to exercise publicly because of what they think they look like to others while they're doing it?
Photo I took last summer of an AsianAmerican doing tai chi at Coit Tower

I wish everyone would take a walk after dinner around the block, or get up early enough to do something physical before breakfast and the workday. But I know it isn't always possible. But it is possible to limit the amount of television you watch, the amount of electronic games your children are allowed to play, and the amount of time you spend sitting on the couch. So make a goal and walk out the door to meet it!

Anyway, I just wanted to sound off on this a bit. What irks you about this subject?


Health Care Revisited

After the economy and the Iraq war, health care is the top concern for voters this fall. It is certainly a hot topic on this blog. We had a roaring discussion going a couple of months ago thanks to Wizzle's post, but I would like to review it again, specifically looking at Obama's and McCain's health care proposals and comparing them to my own ideas of what should change.

The symptoms of the health care crisis in America are too many uninsured and underinsured Americans, but the root cause is inflationary medical costs - not a new problem. (In fact, HMOs were created in 1973 to address medical costs that were rising faster than the rate of inflation. Didn't work out so well.) In my opinion, the top three contributors to rising medical costs are:

  1. For-profit managed care - This website gives an excellent historical overview of the rise of HMO's (Health Maintenance Organizations) and why they have been so damaging to health care in the U.S.
  2. Skyrocketing medical liability insurance for doctors - The average premium for emergency care doctors was $53,500 in 2003. Other medical specialists, like neurosurgeons and Obstetricians pay $200,000-$300,000 (wonder why it is so expensive to have that baby?)
  3. Uninsured receiving expensive mandated emergency care - half of all emergency room care in the U.S. goes uncompensated (even after government pitches in, and government pays roughly 44% of ALL medical expenses in the U.S. through Medicaid and Medicare), meaning hospitals have to write it off as charity or bad debt

Rising medical costs lead to rising health insurance premiums lead to increasing numbers of uninsured people leads to uninsured people waiting until small health concerns become emergencies meaning doctors provide the care but don't get paid, which leads to rising medical costs for everyone else, etc. etc. We are caught in a spiral. We need real solutions that curb the rising cost of medical care so insurance and medical care ARE affordable and available to every citizen in America. In my opinion, a real solution to the health care crisis in America needs to encompass the following:

  1. Repeal of for-profit managed care - When investors are making money off of health insurance, it means that money is coming from the pockets of doctors or patients. And if it is coming out of the pockets of doctors, you can bet it is coming out of the pockets of patients. And when an HMO is making decisions on what care will be covered and what care won't, that ties a physician's hands on providing the best care. We need to go back to non-profit, traditional insurance plans.
  2. Mandated minimum health insurance coverage - When someone doesn't have health insurance but does require expensive emergency medical care and doesn't pay for it, hospitals and the government pay for it, which really means that the rest of us taxpayers, insured, and those without insurance who DO pay their bills pay for it. I think that just as it is the law for drivers to carry at least a minimum liability insurance, we should have a law that requires every individual to at least care a minimal traditional health insurance policy so that if something big happens, it will be covered.
  3. Change insurance from employer-based to individual-based - Individuals should purchase insurance on the open market, but employers can retain the choice to supplement part of the premium as a benefit if they choose (or, better yet, salaries will increase). That way, if an employee loses their job, they don't lose their insurance (known as "portability").
  4. A tax on health insurance premiums that goes into a government fund (a REAL trust fund - none of this Social Security Trust Fund crap) for one of two reasons - 1. to subsidize private insurance premiums for low-income families, or 2. (see #5)
  5. A government-sponsored, non-profit health insurance plan to provide insurance for those who don't have it otherwise. Likely, this means that it would have a disproportionate number of "pre-existing condition", unemployed or low-income people in the pool. To off-set this, see #4 (yes, me, a conservative, proposes adding this tax - mostly because I think that the overall costs to individuals will decline this way, so even with the tax, individuals will be paying less for health care overall)
  6. Expanded use of retail clinics

How would I accomplish these objectives? Instead of HMO's, I would go back to traditional insurance plans. Individuals can choose what level of coverage they want in terms of deductible and coinsurance (up to a maximum $20,000 deductible for mandated coverage, with all expenses over $20,000 covered at 100% for "essential" care). And the coverage would be per family or "per insured".

It works like car insurance. You are required to have a minimal level of coverage for liability purposes (to protect OTHERS), but you can choose how much coverage you want according to your needs/budget. When we were poor students, we knew that if something happened to our car, we were toast. So we budgeted in higher premiums in return for full coverage with a low deductible (something like $250). Now that we have a bit more cushion and can afford a higher deductible, we pay a lower premium. Currently with health care, people obtain coverage through their employer, so the employer works out the details of the coverage. Basically, you get what you get as an employee. But, with individual, portable insurance, each individual could choose the coverage appropriate to them - from a small $250 deductible to a large $20,000 deductible, and from a 99/1 split to a 50/50 split on coinsurance (with all "essential" expenses over $20,000 covered at 100%). Since everyone is putting into the pot, the premiums would be reduced.

Therefore, the max that an individual could possibly pay out-of-pocket (above premiums) in any given year is $20,000 if they purchase the minimal mandated health coverage and have an accident or catastrophic illness. If they are healthy and don't want any other health care, they wouldn't pay anything besides their very small insurance premium.

On the other hand, a low-income family could choose a plan like the 99/1 split with a $250 deductible. If they meet income requirements, part or all of their premium would be subsidized. For a very poor family whose premium is completely subsidized, the most they would possibly pay given an accident or catastrophic illness is $2225 ($250 deductible plus 1% of any costs up to $20,000, covered completely after that), which could be financed with the hospital.

In return for a pretty low premium, a family like mine might choose a $5,000 deductible with an 80/20 split. In a typical year, we would likely pay for any care received just out of pocket, but in the case of an accident or catastrophic illness, we would pay a maximum of $8,000 (and be able to deduct it on our taxes given current tax laws that allow deduction for medical expenses once they exceed 7% of income. Plus, we would use a Health Savings Account to save up the $5000 deductible tax-free).

The reason I like this plan is that it addresses the costs while ensuring coverage for every American in a way that returns the power, responsibility and "profit" back to doctors and patients. Individuals can make all of their own decisions. They are not limited to "in-network" providers; they can choose how much risk to assume; they can decide what care they want. Any decision to seek medical care comes knowing that you will pay a portion of that care that you already decided is reasonable and affordable for you. Free market principles are at play. Operations like MinuteClinics can flourish that make simple health care more accessible and affordable.

Under this plan, hospitals that provide expensive emergency medical care will be paid (at least above and beyond $20,000) because everyone would be covered for that "essential" care through their mandated minimal insurance.

Also, I support nationwide tort reform to reduce medical liability insurance premiums, which will further reduce the cost of medical care (particularly for surgeons and OBs - we need more specialists, not less!)

So, with that as a background, let's evaluate Barack Obama's and John McCain's health care proposals. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to read both. Obama's is not the socialized medicine nightmare, and McCain's is not the uncompassionate status quo that I thought they were. In fact, they actually have a lot in common.

Similarities between Obama's and McCain's healthcare proposals:

  1. Both propose an optional national health plan that does not replace existing private insurance plans, but that does provide coverage to anyone, regardless of illness or pre-existing conditions.
  2. Both propose subsidizing health insurance premiums for low-income Americans.
  3. Both support making health insurance portable.
  4. Both support reducing drug costs through allowing importation of American drugs from other countries and increasing availability of generics.
  5. Both emphasize prevention and early detection of chronic illnesses.
  6. Both think we should utilize technology to streamline records and care.
  7. Both want to bring transparency to medical costs.
  8. Both specifically mention bringing more attention to autism.

Differences (Obama):

  1. Obama's national health plan is managed care that covers all "essential medical services".
  2. Obama's proposal requires a lot more regulations and reporting data from insurance companies and doctors.
  3. Obama supports taxing employers who do not provide (enough) health insurance to pay for the national plan.
  4. Obama proposes that the government subsidize employer health plans for a portion of catastrophic costs.
  5. Obama plans to expand eligibility for Medicaid and SCHIP programs.
  6. Obama supports mandatory disease management programs.
  7. Insurance reform: Obama will strengthen anti-trust laws to prevent insurers from overcharging physicians for their malpractice insurance and will promote new models for addressing errors that improve patient safety, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and reduce the need for malpractice suits.
  8. Obama supports [forcing] insurers to pay out a reasonable share of their premiums for patient care instead of keeping exorbitant amounts for profit and administration. His new National Health Exchange will help increase competition from insurers.
  9. A bunch of other stuff that I perceive as government getting more involved than necessary.

Differences (McCain):

  1. McCain will reform the tax code to offer more choices beyond Employer-Based Health Insurance Coverage. While still having the option of employer-based coverage, every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit -effectively cash - of $2500 for individuals and $5000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Families will be able to choose the insurance provider that suits them best and the money would be sent directly to the insurance provider. Those obtaining innovative insurance that costs less than the credit can deposit the remainder in expanded Health Savings Accounts.
  2. McCain supports Health Savings Accounts so families can save money tax-free to pay for medical expenses.
  3. McCain supports expanding walk-in clinics in retail outlets.
  4. McCain wants to reform the system that pays Medicare and Medicaid providers.
  5. McCain wants tort reform that eliminates lawsuits aimed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to safety protocol.
  6. McCain proposes a plan to help seniors by giving them a monthly stipend to use for in-home care. (not really sure where the money to pay for that is supposed to come from)

Both Obama's and McCain's plans have some things that I like: an optional, affordable plan that is available to everyone, subsidies for low-income Americans, portability. Neither actually goes as far as I would like in eliminating for-profit managed care and mandating coverage (do I sound like a liberal or what?).

BUT, overall (and not surprisingly), I prefer McCain's health care proposal, and his vision is why:

John McCain's Vision for Health Care Reform John McCain believes the key to health care reform is to restore control to the patients themselves. We want a system of health care in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care they need. Health care should be available to all and not limited by where you work or how much you make. Families should be in charge of their health care dollars and have more control over care . . . An important part of his plan is to use competition to improve the quality of health insurance with greater variety to match people's needs, lower prices, and portability . . . When families are informed about medical choices, they are more capable of making their own decisions and often decide against unnecessary options. Health Savings Accounts take an important step in the direction of putting families in charge of what they pay for.

Ooh, the empowerment. The control. ME making decisions about MY health care. I LOVE it.


"In God We Trust"

I know that this has no real significance, since laws aren't enforced by what the people actually want in this country anyways...but, I figured I'd take an opportunity to encourage you all to vote the same as me (except David, of course;) Actually, I'm surprised that I feel this to be so important - especially considering how it came to me - by a forward - I hate forwards!!!! Anyways, basically, some athiest somewhere is petitioning to get "in god we trust" taken off our legal tender. So, MSNBC started a poll to see what America thinks. The athiest says this establishes Christianity as the official religion and does not seperate church and state. The other arguement is that this phrase has cultural and historical significance and does nothing to establish one religion above the other. I agree. Therfore, lets all go cast our vote in this pole - I know, silly, but I figured this is an acceptable place for me to make my plug. Kay, I 've wasted enough words on this silly debate. here is the link.


The Value of Not Cheating On Your Flippin' Wife

Another mighty one has fallen. That's right, he stepped out on his wife, who had been diagnosed with incurable breast cancer, and may or may not have fathered a love child.

What is with these people?!

John Edwards.
Eliot Spitzer.
Mark Foley.
Larry Craig.
Duke Cunningham.
Newt Gingrich.
David Vitter.
Gary Hart.
...John McCain

And, of course, the big one: President Bill Clinton.

Can you conceive of the arrogance required to believe you were the best person to represent your party in a critical presidential election while you're cheating on your cancer-stricken wife? Can you imagine if he was the nominee right now? It's terrifying to me to think about just how little we actually know about these politicians who run the world.

What does this actually tell us about these people? Are their personal lives our business? Bill Clinton was an excellent president, his personal failings aside, but what about trust? We know that these folks are willing to break sacred oaths, so how do we know they won't break their oath of office? The worst part is the hypocrisy. “I think this President has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen,” said Edwards in 1999. And don't get me started on some of those Republican cheaters, who spend half their lives trying to think of ways to inconvenience gay people and then get caught tapping their feet under the stall.

So how do you McCain supporters feel about his admitted infidelities? Does time heal all wounds? Or do you, like Sean Hannity, float him a pass because he was a POW? Are you at least squirming a little bit, the way us Democrats squirmed through Lewinsky-gate?

This is how I feel: you have to consider candidates/politicians as a total package. There are issues of integrity to political issues as well as personal integrity, and, to me, the former is most important for elected officials. Take Mitt Romney as an example: by all accounts, he is a paragon of personal integrity, but in terms of his politics, you could make a convincing case that he lacks conviction, integrity and core beliefs and follows the prevailing political winds. The same could be said for a post-2000 John McCain. The same could never be said about Fred Thompson, or Russ Feingold, or a number of centrists who break from the party line about issues that are important to them.

If Bill was running against Hillary, I'd vote for Hillary, because while their politics are essential identical, he's shown a monstrous personal failing, as well as a disrespect for the office of President. If Bill was running against Dubya, I'd campaign for Bill, because Bill's problems pale in comparison to the Bush administration's actual failures. (On a side note, I get such a kick out of those who criticize Obama and his supporters for being a part of a "cult of personality". When I hear that, all I can think of is George W. Bush.)

"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16) I would rather have a politician who I disagreed with on many issues, but who had a coherent belief structure and fought for it - in other words, who stood for something, then a politician who I agree or disagree with depending on the time of day or the most recent lobbyist meeting. When it comes to personal life, I'd rather have a politician who shows respect and love for their families, and, when and if mistakes are made, owns up to them and doesn't do it again. Both are important, but when it comes down to it, the latter issues takes the gold medal.



Wow, It's been a while since I had my own post - but, please forgive me, as I'm living outside of the country - and it has become increasingly difficult to get involved with US current affairs. So here we go. The following is presented with, I admit, some sarcasm - The intent is not to hurt feelings, or belittle anyone, but to show the other point of view:

I was particularly struck with Stephanie's post on the Sanctity of Life. I feel that I have a quite good appreciation of and embracal of the sanctity of life. Therefore, I was, I feel justifiably, perturbed by the continual use of "Pro-Life" as a descriptive for one who takes Stephanie's stances. I felt that if I don't line up with that Pro-life stance, what does that make me? Pro-death? I don't blame Stephanie for this - actually, I think it is quite common, and has been shown over and over again in multiple posts and comments by many conservative contributers. There is an unsettling preference by quite a few to call the morality and desencey of the left-view point into question. I feel this is unfortunate. For this reason, I have decided to, at least for the extent of this post, claim the title of "Pro-death" - since i find myself in a contrary position to what has been defined as the "pro-life stance" on just about every issue.

I am Pro-death. On one level, this means that I am not anti-abortion. Sure, I disagree with people's reasons for abortion most of the time, but I feel that it is their choice to make (because i don't believe that human life starts at fertilization). I can't see a clear way of defining "rape" and therefore cant understand how one could legislate abortion on more than a superficial level. Therefore, I don't think it is a reasonable or helpful legislation to society as a whole. For this reason, I am generally in favor of not legislating abortion - though I think there should be some sort of parental cosent, doctor's consent, etc.

So, I am pro-death on the issue of abortion. But, that is not all. I am also pro-death on the issue of animal rights. I would never define myself that way - I do it, because it seems that my point of view is against the stand taken by pro-lifers. I feel that human kind's gross misuse of animial products and its blatant disregard for animal life is detestable. I am not a member of PETA and disagree with their occasionally voilent approach - but I do think that legilsation against overconsumption is a good idea - even if that meant putting some beef farmers out of business. I could only imagine how their families might suffer when dad's beef production livelihood is brought to a halt. I do consider myself an animal rights actavist. It has been said, "Animal rights activists have no problem potentially killing or maiming children to try and stop animal research." I could argue that I do not fit this stereotype, but will not bother at this point - I am already claiming to be pro-death, afterall.

I am also pro-death because I see some amount of value in stem-cell research (as I see some amount of value in animal research - If done humanely, and respectfully - and not for cosmetics and other useless stuff. I again don't consider embryonic stem-cells to generally be based in human life. Pro-death all the way.

I am also, apperantly pro-death when it comes to the environment. My wife and I have decided to have only 1 or 2 children by means of natural birth (if possible), and to adopt another 1 or 2 from suffering countries. We feel honestly that increasing the population of earth at this stage is irresponsible particularly when there are so many children that are not recieving the basic needs of human life and are dying in suffering countries.

I further feel that trying to "reduce our carbon footprint," besides being very in vouge right now (green is the new black), is a seriously important commitment for people of faith to make. We are the stewards of this planet and have a responsibility to it. I also feel that there comes a certian point where we, as Americans, cease to be responsible and instead, become addicted or obsessed to a certian way of life that has been engrained in us by generations of Christian breeding mixed with the supreme quality in neo-natal and pedeatric health care. The earth (as David has commented) has been replenished - it doesn't need to be desroyed by us - God's crowning creations. In fact, I'm so pro-death that I'd encourage others who are in a position to seriously ponder making a similar choice, as I sincerly feel it to be right - at least for me and my family.

Following my one-two children, I plan on procuring some change to ensure that I don't have more. Indeed, I will intentionally do things to stop a pregnancy from occuring. I will interfer with the natural processes of human sexuality and reproduction and, "play god" to some extent to ensure that my wife and I don't have a pregnancy that we're not prepared for. I see very little difference between unfertilized reproductive cells, and fertilized ones. If this makes me pro-death, then so be-it. However, I am positive that most people, in and out of the church, make a similar choice all of the time.

Refering to the Scripture quoted previously:

For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

We need to remember that this was revealed in the early 1830's, when the population of planet earth had just reached 1 billion - as opposed to the 7 Billion that it will reach in 2012 - about 200 years later. There definately was enough to spare in 1830. Now, the tables have been turned - thanks to our gross overconsumption. I believe it is "moral" to place the earth and it's needs above the desire to have continually larger and larger families. Is this really pro-death?

I am also pro-death when it comes to dying. I sincerely believe that when a person is in constant pain, suffering, sorrow, and physical anguish - that will NOT get better over the course of his or her natural lifespan, that it is only charitable and loving to allow that person to gracefully exit this life. I read what the official church's stance is. Good for the official stance. That has no bearing on what I sincerely feel in my heart of hearts to be the most cheritable and loving approach. Pro-death one more time.

Because of my stance on these issues, does that make me a champion for human death? I recognize that my opinions will often differ from many of yours - maybe even all of you. But I do not, however, truely feel myself to be pro-death. I simply feel that I view things from a different point of view. Extremes on both sids (blowing up a research lab to blowing up an abortion clinic) are wrong. As long as we are avoiding those extremes, lets work to garner a healthy respect for BOTH points of view, rather than make one the champion of life and the other the champion of...death. Lets keep in mind that we have our different viewpoints for a reason.


Sending "others" to war

It has been decided that a United States Marine will stand trial for "unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty" for apparently killing an unarmed Iraqi militant in Fallujah in 2004. Are you kidding me? We not only are sending people to war to "defend" our country, we are now also trying to send them to prison for murders that occurred in a war zone while they were carrying out their missions. C'mon, people.

I am admittedly biased. I have two younger brothers who are active duty Marines. One spent six months in Iraq last year. I don't hear much about what goes on over there from him; it isn't something he likes to talk about. I know my brother, and his relative silence means that the stuff that really goes on over there is beyond not good.

Guess what? War ain't pretty and it ain't for everybody. But somebody has to do it. Somebody that stands up and says "Send me." Somebody that does that and then does his or her best to make the correct split second decisions while storming one of the most heavily guarded and fortified cities of the entire conflict should be applauded. Making a wrong decision under these circumstances is just one of those things that should be swept under the rug. We should not be criminalizing killing bad guys during war.

This happened in November 2004. This makes it during the Second Battle of Fallujah or "Operation Phantom Fury". The U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces stormed Fallujah where 4000-5000 buttheads were waiting to kill us. We had 5000-10000 combat troops. Those are pretty blasted even numbers when you think about the kind of resistance we normally encounter. We lost 95 soldiers in this battle and had 560 wounded. Admittedly, we did better than the bad guys (which is a good thing!), as they lost somewhere around 1350 people. And we took 1500 prisoners. Point is, this was a very, very hot combat zone during these few months. Marines were literally moving from house to house fighting the insurgency.

Here is a blib from CNN from this battle (Tues, Nov 16, 2004):

"Friday, the Marines were fired upon by snipers and insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades from a mosque and an adjacent building. The Marines returned fire with tank shells and machine guns.

They eventually stormed the mosque, killing 10 insurgents and wounding five others, and showing off a cache of rifles and grenades for journalists.

The Marines told the pool reporter that the wounded men would be left behind for others to pick up and move to the rear for treatment. But Saturday, another squad of Marines found that the mosque had been reoccupied by insurgents and attacked it again, only to find the same wounded men inside."

So back to today's news. Apparently, some Marines stormed a house, finding weapons and capturing four men. The platoon commander radioed asking if the Iraqis were dead yet. The four men ended up dead, and Sgt. Ryan Weemer has been charged with "one count of murder and six counts of dereliction of duty encompassing failure to follow the rules of engagement in Fallujah and failing to follow standard operating procedures for apprehending or treating detainees or civilian prisoners of war." (from MSNBC article)

These charges seem wrong to me, though there are admittedly very few details. I'm sorry, but this just stinks of war. Much worse has been done, and much worse is being done. If you ask me, Sgt. Weemer is partly to blame for his current legal trouble as he volunteered information when applying to a Secret Service position. I don't blame him for doing what was done, though. If you close your eyes and envision what the situation must have been like; the chaos, bullets flying, constant gunfire, very close quarters, invading enemy territory, RPG explosions, overturned cars, not seeing your enemy, trying to keep track of your friends, everything moving so fast... No, I can't say I wouldn't have reacted the same way.

I think that war is a very bad place to be. We cannot be holding our soldiers to standards that are near impossible. We can't have soldiers second-guessing themselves at critical times. The vast majority of the time, they make the right decisions. They took more prisoners during this battle then people that were killed. That is a testament to the skill and training and split-second decision making capabilities of our soldiers.

Now let's remember what the deal is here and go kill Osama!


The Value of Human Life

I am pro-life. On an obvious and most basic level, this means that I am anti-abortion. Sure, I am pro-choice, too. I believe women have the right to be responsible about their own reproductive choices. When you choose to have sex, you choose to accept the potential consequences, one of which is pregnancy. Except in cases of rape and incest (where obviously the victim did not make a choice), that pregnancy represents a choice that was already made, and therefore, choosing to kill the unborn baby represents another choice - the choice to kill an unborn baby. Just as murder is not a choice we "allow" in our society, I don't think that abortion is a choice we should allow if we truly value the sanctity of life (except in the rare cases I mentioned above).

So, I am pro-life on the issue of abortion. But, that is not all. I am also pro-life on the issue of animal rights. I read this article about how extreme animal rights activists are terrorizing medical researchers into giving up their research for fear of their families' safety. What are some of the tactics of these animals rights activists? Early Saturday morning,

a firebomb erupted in the townhouse of assistant biology professor David Feldheim. As smoke and flames filled the first floor, Feldheim, his wife, their 7-year old son and 6 year-old daughter were forced to use a drop ladder to escape from a second floor bedroom.

Jerry Vlasak, who, as a spokeman for the Animal Liberation Press Office, serves as an apologist for animal rights zealots, issued this statement: "This is historically what happens whenever revolutionaries begin to take the oppression and suffering of their fellow beings seriously, whether human or nonhuman. It's regrettable that certain scientists are willing to put their families at risk by choosing to do wasteful animal experiments in this day and age".

Wow, really? These attempted murderers are "revolutionaries"? The nonhuman "fellow beings" have more value than the family of a scientist? Animal rights activists have no problem potentially killing or maiming children to try and stop animal research? What exactly is this research? Feldheim studies neural connections in the brain and their effect on vision using mice.

Other scientists who use animals in their research develop drugs to treat (or even eradicate) cancer, Alzheimer's, AIDS, etc. They develop compounds, and when they think they have one that appears to work on a cellular level, they test it in mice for effectiveness and toxicity. What exactly are the extreme animal activists hoping to accomplish in terrorizing scientists? Have scientists test the drugs on actual humans first instead of mice so that humans can suffer side-effects (possibly death) if the drug or the dose proves too dangerous to go to market? Stop the development of drugs altogether that have the potential to save lives or significantly improve the quality of life for humans? Both of these "solutions" show a clear preference for animal life over human life.

Are these activists the same ones advocating for embryonic stem cell research that would destroy viable embryos in the name of scientific research that could "save lives or significantly improve the quality of life for humans"? Oh wait, that DOES devalue (embyonic) human life. Well, as long as they're consistent . . .

But, that is not all. I am also pro-life when it comes to the environment. I read this article about couples who are choosing sterilization so they don't "pollute" the environment with children.

Toni Vernelli was sterilized at age 27 to reduce her carbon footprint . . . "Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet" says Toni, 35. "Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population".

While most parents view their children as the ultimate miracle of nature, Toni seems to see them as a sinister threat to the future. But when she was 25, disaster struck.

"I discovered that despite taking the pill, I'd accidentally fallen pregnant by my boyfriend. I was horrified. I knew straight away there was no option of having the baby. I went to the doctor about having a termination, and asked if I could be sterilized at the same time [the doctor said no - sterilization took place two years later as noted above]. I didn't like having a termination, but it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt would only be a burden to the world".

Yeah, good thing she did the "moral" thing and chose to have an abortion.

Toni is not the only one. Sarah Irving and fiance Mark Hudson opted for Mark to have a vasectomy. From a young age,

Sarah dreamed of helping the environment - and as she agonized over the perils of climate change, the loss of animal species, and destruction of wilderness, she came to the extraordinary decision never to have a child . . .

"I realized then that a baby would pollute the planet - and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do" . . . Mark adds, "we do everything we can do reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child. That's why I had a vasectomy. It would be morally wrong of me to add to climate change and the destruction of earth . . . What makes us happy is knowing we are doing our bit to save our precious planet."

Oh, there's that whole morality thing again. Funny how "morality" is a taboo word when it comes to chastity because it is associated with religion, but perfectly fine when it comes to environmentalism (the religion of some). Anyways, back to post - sure, each of us is responsible for our own choice of whether or not to have children (before we choose to have sex, of course). People who don't want children definitely should not have them - that is just common courtesy to the child! But, I found some of their comments to be a bit chilling. Children are a burden to the world? A sinister threat to the future? Doing "our bit" to "save the planet" means not having children because they will add to climate change and the destruction of the earth?!?!?

Since when is "the planet" worth more than a human life? Why does "the planet" even have value? It seems to me that "the planet's" whole purpose is to sustain human life. D&C 104:17

For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

Sure, I am all for doing reasonable things to preserve our environment (particularly for future generations of PEOPLE), but holding the "morality" of environmentalism above the value of children and people in our world reeks of disdain for human life.

But, that is not all. Oh, no! That is not all! I am also pro-life when it comes to dying. Barbara Wagner of Oregon was denied cancer treatment by the Oregon Health Plan (the state health program), but was offered pallative care, which includes assisted suicide. Since assisted suicide in Oregon is legal, offering assisted suicide is just one of the many "benefits" of state health care. (Well, that certainly increases my desire for a national health care plan [eyes rolling]. Incidentally, the pharmaceutical company that sells the drug stepped up and is offering a year of treatment to the woman for free - those evil, nasty, for-profit capitalists.) On the other hand, this does have the potential to solve our aging population problem. Instead of actually helping to care for all these elderly people, let's just deny them medical care and instead offer to "assist" them in passing on. When we deem that their cost to society outweighs their contribution, let's put them out of their (and our economic) misery. Plus, it will help the environment! Those liberals think of everything.

So, yes, I am a champion for human life - life before birth, life before death, life before the environment, human life before animal life. Considering that so many liberal causes seem to have it the other way around, what does that say about the sanctity of human life?

We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)