Sound Bites I'd Love To Hear

Daily Howler

Scene: Talking heads at a roundtable discussion of Social Security

How many people at this table make over $90,000 in a year? All of us do, right?

Well, we know something that a lot of Americans watching us don't: after the first $90,000 in a year, we stop paying Social Security tax.

That means the payroll tax is regressive. Poor people pay a greater percentage of their income than we do. If this ceiling were eliminated, there would be no problem with Social Security. It would be fully funded.

Now why do you suppose we aren't talking about that?
Hey, a hobbit can dream, can't he?

Virginia Lawmaker: Have Miscarriage, Go To Jail

Smirking Chimp > Democracy For Virginia

Imagine the following scenario.

You are at home alone at 8:00 on a Friday night.  You are 8 weeks pregnant.  You are excited about the pregnancy, but being cautious, you haven’t told anyone about it yet except your partner, your best friend, your parents, and your doctor. 

All of a sudden, you begin to experience heavy cramping.  Bleeding ensues.  You realize with shock and sadness that you are probably experiencing a miscarriage.  You leave a message with your doctor’s service.  The on-call doctor calls back, offers sympathies, and advises taking pain medication or going to the hospital if the bleeding gets worse. She offers you the next available appointment for a follow-up exam - Monday at 3PM.  You accept. You are overwhelmed with grief and surprised by the intensity of physical pain involved. You call your partner and ask him to come home from his “boys night out”, sparing him the reason over the phone.  You call your best friend.  She offers to come over immediately and make you cocoa.  You cry. 

You decide not to tell your parents yet; let them sleep through the night before delivering the terrible news.  Your partner comes home and you break the sad news to him.  He holds you on the couch and you both cry together.  Your best friend comes over with cocoa.  You cry some more.  Over the next few hours, you suffer pain, cramping, and intermittent bleeding.  Exhausted, you finally fall asleep in your partner’s arms around 4 AM.  You sleep until noon, and then gird yourself for the difficult call to your parents, who were so eagerly anticipating their first grandchild.

Guess what?  You just earned yourself up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.  Why?  Because you failed to call the cops and report your miscarriage within 12 hours.
This isn't law yet, it's the latest attack on women coming from the prolific pen of John A. Cosgrove, a Virginia state legislator.

Born in Montgomery, AL, John's a Southern Baptist. Here's the text of this proposed law (still in committee for the moment):
Report of fetal death by mother; penalty.  Provides that when a fetal death occurs without medical attendance, it shall be the woman's responsibility to report the death to the proper law-enforcement agency within 12 hours of the delivery. Violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Cosgrove really gets off on these types of laws - he formerly sponsored an amendment to make the failure to report a birth without doctor's care a Class 1 misdemeanor as well.
Any woman who, without the assistance of a health care professional, gives birth after more than 24 weeks have elapsed since the beginning of her last menstrual period and who, though she is reasonably able to do so, fails to report the birth, whether a live birth or stillbirth, within 12 hours of the event, to the local sheriff, police department or fire department is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
I don't know if this is law or not - it doesn't seem to have passed.

He got a feticide bill passed last year:
Feticide. Provides that any person who unlawfully, willfully, deliberately, maliciously and with premeditation kills the fetus of another is guilty of a Class 2 felony. The bill also provides that any person who unlawfully, willfully, deliberately and maliciously kills the fetus of another is guilty of a felony punishable by confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than five nor more than 40 years. This bill is identical to SB 319.
"Del. John A. Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, the sponsor of the feticide measure, said the bill has nothing to do with abortion; he called the proposal 'a murder bill, pure and simple.'"

Isn't there something about lying in the Ten Commandments? Because once Roe v. Wade is buried at a crossroads with a stake in its heart, laws like these will be all about abortion.

The feticide bill became popular after the death of Laci Peterson and her unborn child. Can't you just see it? The Scott Peterson trial kicks off and all around the country, Republican eyes light up - "Say, we could use all this free publicity to make it harder to have abortions!"

How else do you get a rating of 100% from the Virginia Society for Human Life?

America, this is your future. You voted for it.

Tsunami: World Disaster or Bill Frist Photo Op?

Just before his helicopter lifted off, Frist and aides took snapshots of each other near a pile of tsunami debris.

"Get some devastation in the back,'' Frist told a photographer.
I've got your back, Senator.

Friday Cat Blogging

That's 18 pounds of "You interrupted my nap for what?"

Reagan v. Bush

The Rude Pundit

The Rude Pundit wisely counsels us to sic Reagan on George Bush's Social Security PR campaign.

So as we gear up for the battle over Social Security, the greatest tool in the toolbox of the Democratic Party is actually Ronald Reagan. Because, you know, history is a series of repetitions: "As you know, the Social Security System is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Over the next five years, the Social Security trust fund could encounter deficits of up to $111 billion, and in the decades ahead its unfunded obligations could run well into the trillions. Unless we in government are willing to act, a sword of Damocles will soon hang over the welfare of millions of our citizens." That's from Reagan's 1981 Letter to Congress, setting up a bipartisan commission to look into solutions for Social Security. Reagan said there were three goals in preserving Social Security: "First, this nation must preserve the integrity of the Social Security trust fund and the basic benefit structure that protects older Americans. Second, we must hold down the tax burden on the workers who support Social Security. Finally, we must eliminate all abuses in the system that can rob the elderly of their rightful legacy."
Very nicely done, RP.

All Hail The Honorable Barbara Boxer (D-CA)!

The Smirking Chimp

Senator Boxer became the single Senator needed to force debate over voting irregularities in Ohio before the Electoral College votes can be counted.

There will be lots of Repuke-olicious rhetoric decrying this move during the debate. But Senator Boxer just ensured that the asterisk remains next to Bush's name for his second term.

This is still America.

Let's See If They Publish It

Dear Editor (of the Tennessean):

Bill Frist opened up the new session of Congress seething about the Democratic filibusters of President Bush's extremist judicial nominees. The Senate, he said, failed to give their Constitutional "advice and consent" to the President's nominees.

Senator Frist, let me set you straight on a couple of things. Consent to a president's nominees is not a constitutional mandate. The various senators should give their consent only when they feel such consent is warranted. And in the cases of the very few judicial nominees that were filibustered, such consent was not worth giving.

Still, somehow, the Senate was able to confirm 204 of President Bush's nominees. At this rate of confirmation, President Bush is poised to have appointed more judges than any other President in our history. And yet you hector the Democrats for obstructing his agenda?

You yourself voted on March 8, 2000 to filibuster one of President Clinton's judicial nominees, for the express purpose of blocking that nominee from consideration by the Senate as a whole. In other words, you voted to do exactly what you condemn the Democratic Senators for doing. Your hypocrisy on this issue is astonishing and a black eye on Tennessee.

Get off your high horse, sir, and get to the real problems facing this nation.

Bolo Boffin
Nashville, TN

UPDATE (Jan. 6, 2004): They didn't dood it today...

UPDATE (Jan. 7, 2004): They didn't dood it today, either...

Romans: Reflecting

Instead of continuing with the text, I think it's fair to stop and take a reflective moment of what this all means to me.

Because at this point, it may seem that I'm agreeing with Paul and his religion. Explaining clearly what he means doesn't mean I agree wholesale with it, though.

Here's the mechanism that I see Paul advocating: All are sinners, Christ provides a safe haven from God's just wrath, and humans take advantage of it by believing that the haven is actually available. It's all a bit ontological, isn't it? Much like Dorothy and her ruby slippers, or better, how Harry Potter gets the Philosopher's Stone from the Mirror of Esired. You see it happening, and it happens.

Paul's very apparent rejection of the flesh is going to appear soon here in Romans. It's a constant theme of his: he advocates no marriage if possible, and derides his theological opponents for their preoccupation with circumcision (in one of his cattiest remarks, he wishes that if his opponents like cutting down there so much, they should just cut the whole thing off and be done with it!).

It's a symptom of Paul's ultimate orientation to the Greek mindset, where body and soul were so seperated. His writings reveal to me someone who had rejected this background to become a passionate student of the Law, and then just as violently rejected this for his new purpose, synthesizing both viewpoints.

Such a mindset couldn't have thought much of the daily animal sacrifices at the Temple. How much neater the one sacrifice of Jesus, once for all, so that the effluvia and slaughter could cease! It was a modern take on the old religion - by separating the fleshly bias of the Torah from its spiritual underpinnings, Paul hit upon a system to convince the world of the value of the Jewish revelations, one much easier to understand than the writings of his contemporary Philo.

Because all things Jewish are Paul's true concern - how to preserve the specialness of the Jewish covenant in the modern Greek world. For Paul, the answer was the gospel he was called to preach, the reason for his existence and opportunities: the story of Christ crucified and exalted. Jesus becomes as vivid a turning point in Paul's history of the Jews as the Exodus, and it is this history that gives the life and death of Jesus any significance at all. It is the context. You would think it impossible to honor the Messiah and dishonor the people who produced him, wouldn't you?

We know the unfortunate falsity of that sentence, though.

And isn't reuniting the two viewpoints of my past what I'm up to here, in a way? Convinced of the value of my youthful religion, yet stuck smack dab in the middle of this modern world, here I type, working out a way to understand both while respecting both. The respect for both may not always be perceived, just as Paul, and God forbid I kick off a new religion. Mormonism and Scientology are enough modern religion for anybody. The world doesn't need any more religion - we're all eaten up with it as it is.

No, I'll be content with understanding where Paul's coming from, and if there's any value to that message today, and how to apply it. Joseph Campbell had no affection for Christianity - he labeled it a sick religion, and did give his reasons for doing so. Yet his ultimate summary of the spiritual core of mythology is this: Follow your bliss. No one can deny that Paul did just that. Paul had the temerity to suggest that a particular bliss might be worth more than the others, and gave his reasons as well. Romans is one of his greatest statements on the matter.

Where Paul is going is this statement: "Welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed you, to the glory of God." It's the Pauline version of John's "Love one another." The greatest bliss is finding a way to live among each other in peace, and sharing that way with others. Seeing how this message worked its way through the life and writings of Paul can only help us as we labor to bring that message out into our world today.

GOP Abandons Ethics Changes

Washington Post

Awww. All the really fun stuff happens while I'm at work. I was all set to come home and get C-Span hooked up to the VCR - I was even going to have my roommate change a tape for me.

To think of the sheer unadulterated fun that the American public has missed now that the Republicans saw the error of their ethics-loosening it going to be enough that the Republicans are still pressing ahead with one of the controversial measures?

Republicans voted to go ahead with another of their controversial ethics proposals and will ask the full House to approve a change that could curtail ethics committee investigations. Under the change, a Republican vote would be required before an inquiry can begin. The committee is evenly divided between the two parties, and under current rules a deadlock means an investigation begins automatically.
That's a little too obtuse to understand - the "Republican vote" required is a single Republican member of the ethics committee. In other words, ties no longer trigger an automatic investigation. A majority of the panel must agree.

So if the Republicans ban together against strong Democratic opposition to the latest ethics outrage, no investigation of said outrage will occur. How special.