Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's not always about Roe...

It's times like this that I get extremely annoyed with "abortion-rights" (i.e. pro-abortion) activists, as I do with many so-called activists who seem to care about taking their particular issue, and every tangentially related issue, to its furthest extreme.

And they wallow in their hypocracy as they do it.

Also notice that I didn't say "pro-choice" - there's a difference between pro-choice advocates and pro-abortion activists.

No, this isn't an article about the pros and cons of legalized abortion. Nor is it yet another unwinnable discussion on the definition of life - although I will add that whether or not you believe a fetus is a human life, there is no debate over the fact that a fetus, left intact, has the full potential of becoming human life.

There is also no debate over the fact that an abortion is a medical procedure, and one that can be risky at times - one that should be performed by qualified medical personnel. This in fact has always been part of the argument for the availability of legal abortion.

So it is with much disdain that I consider the debate over parental notification of abortion by a minor.

I am amazed, as the New Hampshire law requiring parental notification goes before the Supreme Court, to see abortion rights activists take a stand that quite honestly doesn't protect abortion - it instead actively promotes abortion as a righteous ideal by putting abortion itself as a higher personal right than any other legal right, including parental rights. And it puts the right to an abortion above all other concerns or objections, regardless of age, relationship, etc.

I'm also amazed to see pro-abortion groups using outlandish spin to turn this case into something it's not. For example, Jennifer Dalven, attorney for Planned Parenthood, stated "In an emergency, a woman needs to go to the hospital not a courthouse." No one disputes that. But the decision to have an abortion is not an emergency medical need that a 48 hour wait period would effect. And if there were a true need for emergency medical treatment, the fact that an abortion was part of the mix would be a moot point.

And, we see how well these activists understand the concepts at issue here as they walk around with their signs which say "Save Roe!"

Save Roe? Roe was about the right to privacy of an adult woman. It was about making abortion a safe procedure performed under medical supervision and not performed in a back alley. It was about the right of an individual to have an abortion without fear of legal prosecution. Roe was all about personal responsibility.

Roe was not about scared minors not wanting to tell their parents, and the stripping of legal guardians of their rights.

The argument that this case somehow threatens Roe is, rationally, an argument based on camel dung. Not every case involving abortion is about Roe.

As we progress further into the 21st century we see a shift towards more parental responsibility towards their minor children's actions. If my son drinks and drives and kills someone, even though I had no idea he was drinking, and I was not around, I can be found liable for his actions and can be sued or prosecuted. So, I am expected to have increasing parental responsibility, but my parental rights are going to be considered unconstitutional? This doesn't seem odd to anyone?

But what if we don't even consider the parental rights issue at all. Then what? Is there still an argument here?

My daughter can't enter into a binding legal contract at age 13, nor can she legally make her own medical decisions at 13, or schedule surgery, or get prescriptions, or be treated in the hospital, or even take an aspirin at school without my written permission.

Yet she can get an abortion without my even knowing about it?

Let's not forget that an abortion is a medical procedure - one that does carry potential risk. Can a scared 13 year old who wants an abortion, who also has a medical condition that would prevent a doctor from performing the procedure, be expected to tell the truth about her medical history and disqualify herself from the procedure? I don't know of any 13 year old who would.

That's part of what parental rights are about - the right to protect your children, not only from others, but also from themselves.

And if you're worried about children where notifying their parents could be a life-threatening event, well the courts already allow exceptions for that. But that's much different than a child who merely wants to avoid punishment from her parents. Sorry, welcome to the world of being a child.

Don't let the activists confuse you. This case is NOT about emergency services, legal abortion, or Roe. It is about stripping parental rights. It is about allowing medical procedures to be performed on children without the knowledge (much less the consent) of their parents. It is about putting children at risk so adult activists can fulfill their agenda.

If my knowing about my child's medical procedures is deemed unconstitutional, then maybe the Constitution isn't the document I once thought it was.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Potter 4... for the love of money!

Let's talk about something light-hearted...

Well, here's hoping for an extended version on DVD.

As a proclaimed Potter fanatic (along with my 10 year old son) we've been anxiously awaiting the release of movie number 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, for almost a year now - counting down the days over the last 3 months.

Not being able to attend during the initial release weekend, my excitement only grew as I watched Potter 4 rake in over $100 million in its first three days, and saw "A" and "B+" critical reviews with such raves as:
"...indisputably the best movie in the franchise thus far."
" may be the best filmed Potter of them all..."
So, last night the time finally came, and there we were, snuggled in our seats, popcorn and Whoppers in hand! Glory Halleluiah!

You can then imagine my dismay when the final credits started rolling and I sat there thinking "That was it?"...

Don't get me wrong, Potter 4 is as well "filmed" a Potter as any. And the cast is as good as ever... well, what you see of them at least.

But, as one viewer commented "Where's the book?"

Obviously the critics who thought this is the best Potter movie yet are the same ones who thought Shrek 2 was better than Shrek – who knows what they were looking at.

To me the biggest question around Potter 4 is how much film was left on the editing room floor?

The Goblet of Fire was the longest of the first four Potter books - and not because it contained the fluff of Book 5. No, The Goblet of Fire was a complex and fulfilling journey with intricate insight and revelation. Potter 4, the movie, developed little of that.

Why? Because Potter 4, the movie, became the most commercialized of the series - because Potter 4 was cut to a "commercially acceptable" 2.5 hours. And The Goblet of Fire is not a story that can be told in 2.5 hours.

This lovely piece of business is done so cinemas can fit in at least one or two extra showings each day - padding their revenues with additional $. There's no other explanation for cutting a film with this much content into a shallow 2.5 hours. Show me the money, baby.

This was the first of the Potter films where I felt "Man, if I hadn't read the book, I wouldn't know a damn thing going on here." And even having read the book, I feel short-changed by the film version.

This movie felt like a combination of a lot of little scenes that were never really fleshed out as they should have been - trying to show that it "knows" the book, but then never painting the complete picture nor being true to any of the individual scenes, nor letting them develop into anything memorable.

I'll give a few examples.

1. Rita Skeeter. In the book this was a huge thread (albeit not an important one). In the movie, she shows up prominently at the beginning and then... poof, never heard from again. Why was she included in the beginning then? Her inclusion, as is, adds nothing to the film.

2. Sirius Black. We see one single interaction. That's it for Sirius?

3. Snape. Why is he even in the film? His part is huge in the book, but here he's onscreen for what, about 5 minutes - tops? Where is the insight into the dark mark and Snape's history?

4. Karkarov. Well, we see him, but... just like Snape, there's so much to his character, in the book that relates to the dark mark, etc. and yet he is truly a nothing in the film.

5. The mermaid task. Sure, some cool effects here - but where is the utter shock and terror the champions felt when they found that it was their loved ones who would die should they not complete the task? They all came out of the water as if they had been out for a casual swim.

6. The Maze. Dumbledore warns "You may lose yourself" in the maze, and we all know the many things that happen there in the book. And yet in the film the maze has nothing more than some vines that grab your legs. Huh?

7. The ending. Probably my biggest problem is the ending - knowing what's coming on Potter 5. What's up with this? Where is the battle between the Ministry and Dumbledore? Where is the distrust of Harry? Where is the sending off of Hagrid to the Giants, the sending off of Snape, the... Damn, there's nothing! This is the key element to the closure of The Goblet of Fire, the fact that there is now a complete dissention and growing rift amongst the "good" wizards.

I could go on, but, that might take longer than the movie lasted itself.

Hopefully when the DVD comes out there will be a 3.5 hour extended version that actually tells the story in some sort of congruous manner. That would be a nice payback for those of us who paid millions to watch a film that really isn't what it could, or should, have been.

Until then, I'll be disappointed in Potter 4... each and every time I go back to see it.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Leave No Some Child(ren) Behind....

Today the Supreme Court handed down a very disappointing ruling, which will unfortunately have a chilling effect on any progress children with disabiliites have made under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

I have personally been waiting for the outcome of this case, having a child with disabilities myself, and needless to say this is NOT the outcome I had hoped for.

This is a crucial issue for many of us who have fought with school districts over inadequacies of the school's proposed educational services.

This ruling - which now places the burden on parents to "prove" that a program, an IEP, or offered services are inadequate - will be a significant blow to children on IEPs.

In essence, the ruling states, without question, that "the schools know best" what your child needs. If you don't agree - prove it!

By putting the burden of proof on parents, it puts the full burden of cost on parents as well. Cost which most parents of a disabled child already can't afford. Many schools already drag out Due Process hearings just waiting for the parents to run out of money and drop the case. While some schools agreed to pay for additional testing to dispute parents' claims in the past (and have a leg-up during due process), let parents now be warned: never again will any special testing be done on the school's dime.

And in reality, we all know the sad truth of the matter anyway: there is no way to prove the inadequacy of any program except to show "after the fact" that it didn't work. Parents will never now be in a position to demand change because a school can say "we believe this will work..." and you can't "prove" it won't until after it already hasn't. The ultimate Catch-22. The only way to prove inadequacy is to let your child suffer and fail - repeatedly.

Interesting that the Bush administration took a public position and backed the school district on this case. Yes, let's "leave no child behind" - unless they have a learning disability that is.

This news truly makes today a lousy day. And, unfortunately, I know my own child will be directly effected by this because this has always been the basis for our issues with her school.

Who knows best what she needs? Experts on the cognitive differences and learning styles of children with her disability? Or public school administrators who believe in one-size-fits-all special ed programs?

Wow... and to believe it got 6 votes too...


Friday, November 11, 2005

Christianity,ID and... Pat

Loving thy neighbor seems to have taken a twist...

I was so outraged when I read Pat Robertson's recent condemnation of the city of Dover, Pennsylvania, where he said:
"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city."
that I was determined to write a scathing (yet intelligent, of course) article about it here.

But I was beaten to the punch in an excellent article on The Hue & Cry, which pretty much conveys my sentiments.

Read it here.

Whether you believe in God or not, or whether you believe in ID or not, we should all agree on one thing: Pat is not doing a bang-up job of being the spokesman for any group.

One final note to Pat: It's time to re-read your New Testament my friend.

And one final note to both Christians and supporters of Intelligent Design: Is this really who you want representing you?


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

When stupidity reigns supreme...

You know... you always read about stuff like this, but never think it's happening right in your own backyard...

But here it is, the wonderfully intelligent Loveland City Council voted yesterday not to dismiss it's legal case against "tax evader" Deborah Combs, and to continue pursuing $200 in late fees (and possibly $4000 in fines and up to 18 months in jail) for Ms. Combs.

Her crime? $1.16 in unpaid taxes.

Yes - you read that right. That's one dollar and sixteen cents.

The City of Loveland has spent thousands of dollars on attorney's fees prosecuting Ms. Combs, and she also has spent her share.

But at this point, stupidity reigns, because she's not allowed to pay the outstanding tax without also ponying up the $200 in late fees.

Give me a break.

All of these idiots on City Council should have been thrown out on their ears in yesterday's election. Unfortunately, they weren't.

In my opinion City Council should face criminal charges of misuse of public funds. Spending thousands on something worth $1.16 is abuse, plain and simple.

I hope they waste thousands more public dollars pursuing these ridiculous cases and the City faces financial strain because of it. That seems to be the only the public will take a step back and say "What idiots thought this was a good idea?"

In the business world these people would all be fired.

It should have happened here as well.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Don't complain if...

... you don't do anything about it.

Today is one of the greatest celebrations of freedom in the world: Election Day.

Unfortunately, in most non-presidential elections, 2/3 of the voting age population in the United States says, quite loudly, "I don't give a damn."

What an apathetic (and pathetic) reflection that is on our society. We like to debate about how divided our country is these days when in reality, the majority of the population are in unanamous agreement: they couldn't care less.

I'd love to continue writing about this, but I believe enough has been said already.

You either believe your right to vote is a precious gift - paid for you by the blood of our ancestors. Or, you think voting isn't worth your own precious time.

If you're the former, then you don't have time to read any more right now - you're on your way to vote.

If you're the latter, then I don't need to waste my own time entertaining you here.

Gotta go... time to vote.