Saturday, December 18, 2004

Big Brother is Watching You...
I have discovered a very interesting phenomenon in the last few weeks. We are being watched in the privacy of our own homes, only those doing the watching don't do so behind the aegis of the Fed'ral Gubmint --- they are telemarketers.

I screen my calls. I have the caller ID feature on my phone as well. I do so because I'm very often a sucker for a good sales pitch. Thanks to phone-based telemarketers I have subscriptions to magazines I hardly ever read, but will be paying for for many a year. I can't tell you how many times I've almost fallen for the free-vacation-if-you-come-look-at-our-timeshare-situation-in-Florida routine. I'm kinda weak-kneed when confronted by something like this. I don't know what it is, but it's something I'm gonna have to stop. Perhaps more therapy?

Anyway, what I've noticed is that if i use the phone after I've gotten and ignored a call from one of these folks, my phone invariably rings several minutes later, and they're back. They know when I'm home and they know when I'm using my phone. There's supposed to be some new phone service (I think it's *38 or something), that automatically redials a busy number every so often.

If the Government of the United States did this, the ACLU would be filing lawsuits from sea to shining sea. If the CIA was doing this we'd have Congressional hearings. Because private business is doing it, we hear nary a word.

The worst offenders are the bill collectors. The second worst are those seeking donations to save the spotted-three-finned-tuna or something like it. The most unconscionable offenders are universities seeking to drum up support for protests against everything from the bomb to transgendered automony for the Indians of the Amazon.

Politicians have used this service as wel, since I got four calls (count 'em) from Bill Clinton on Election Day, urgin me to vote for both John Kerry and Erskine Bowles. I wouldn't have voted for either one if you threatened to cut my scrotum off at the base. With a rusty sheep shear.

For all of you who considered John Ashcroft the biggest threat to privacy rights and personal security, I offer you this to think about. At least Ashcroft and his blakshirts were never calling me every 15 minutes, interupting my own phone calls with call waiting signals, and forcing me to pay the phone company for a feature I really could do without, just to ask for a donation to the cause celebre of the week.

And while I'm at it...
Saw a report today (sorry, no link!) that scientists in Germany have been able to harvest adult stem cells from human fat tissue. According to this story, the stem cells were used to help a little girl with severe head injuries (if I recall, she had multiple fractures). I think this adds yet another argument against unbridled abortion on demand --- one of the arguments for abortion is that stem cells could be harvested from the aborted children. This would seem to indicate that not all stem cells need to come from the results of abortion.

It was a pretty weak argument to make in the first place, sez me. To begin with, there is not one laboratory on the planet doing anything that can be considered research with fetal stem cells, but if you ask the proponents, they will tell you all the wonderful, if theorhetical, things fetal stem cells will be able to do. We'll be able to cure scabies, enable the regeneration of lost limbs, fly and perhaps even bend spoons mentally like Uri Geller, if only fetal stem cells are available for research. The argument, thus, is that some must die that others may have a better quality of life, and perhaps live themselves.

But quality of life is the key phrase. Those that support fetal stem cell research are not so much interested in actually curing disease or improving the lot of humans on this sorry planet. Instead, they are more interested in ensuring AIDS victims can continue the disguting practices that gave them the disease in the first place or somesuch, for example, and still justify the killling of the unborn. Again, we have the premise that the individual must be protected from personal responsibility and consequence.

Apparently, in their minds, you can justify killing someone if someone else manages to benefit from it. This is the same reasoning that allowed the Nazis to kill Jews for their gold teeth.

What this report, if true, demonstrates is that the stem cells don't necessarily have to come from an aborted fetus. It also reinforces the notion that all of this is still experimental and in the theorhetical stage and that we should not leap to conclusions as to what cells are used or where they come from.

Friday, December 17, 2004

How do you explain this, NARAL?
I normally don't think much about abortion, but recently, I've been thinking a lot about it. The impetus for this expenditure of brain cells has been some of the items reported in the nes as of late.

First, there is the Scott Peterson verdict. The State of California has seen fit to sentence Scott to death (okay, the jury did) for the murder of his wife and his unborn son. The court, probably because it was in the prosecutor's interest to think so, established that an unborn child is in fact a human being. We can wrangle over the infamous "24 week rule" and all sorts of other stuff, but in the end, an unborn child was considered a human being for the purposes of bringing criminal charges against his killer.

The second impetus was the case, plastered all over the news today, of a 23-year old Missouri woman, brutally murdered, who's killers took the time and effort to remove her unborn baby from her womb --- and then fled with it. As of 5:30 this evening, reports are circulating that the child has been found alive.

Which brings me to why I'm thinking of abortion.

To a supporter of abortion rights, neither COnnor Peterson nor this other unfortunate child from Missouri would be considered a person. Why? Because they hadn't been born yet. Yet the state, or more directly, the people of the state, do in fact consider the unborn as people, not as a mass of undelivered cells. The fact that a murder charge was brought in the death of one, and a multi-state manhunt was launched for the recovery of the other, pretty much proves it, if you ask me.

It's a known fact that surgery can be performed on a fetus in the womb, prior to it's birth, to correct brth defects. Gene therapy can be used on a developing baby before it takes it first breath. Doctors routinely prescribe medications to pregnan women on behalf of their unborn children. If this doesn't prove, once and for all, that the unborn are people, I don't know what does.

But NARAL, and others like them, don't see things that way. In their world, a fetus is an appendage until it is capable of sustaining the minimum life activities on it's own: breathing, crying, blinking, and for all we know, splitting atoms. To NARAL and it's ilk, a baby is not a baby until you can dress it in non-gender-specific clothing and send it off to a three-day seminar on the societal problems faced by Lesbian Six-toed Beastiality afficianados.

Why is this?

Part of it is ideology. This ideology states that women will always be releagted to teh scrap heap of history because the bearing of children and the responsibility of a family will always prevent her from reaching her fullest potential. This is the logic behind the "Equal Rights Amendment" and the (in-)famous "Glass Ceiling". Taking care of children is incompatible with the drive for success, whether in business, government, academia or NASACR, according to this bunch.

The second part is the old bugaboo of all liberal-inspired nonsense: the avoidance of personal responsibility. In this regard, abrotion, no matter how early, how late or how disgusting, is viewed merely as a means of birth control of the last resort. The other methods of birth control available (the pill, prophylactics, surgery, abstinance) are never ever discussed as anything but a male responsibility or as poor substitutes for abortion. With the exception of the pill, the responsibility for birth control should always land squarely upon the male, with a woman insisting on other methods merely as a failsafe. Until the failsafe fails. Then a woman must have the penultimate method available for dodging responsibility: killing her children. The poin tis not whether or not we're talking about a person or potential person, but whether the woman can avoid her responsibility and the attendant pain in the ass it entails.

We could argue semantics all day, which is what the proponents of unfettered abortion do, but when you come down to it, a baby is a baby, whether you choose to call it such or refer to it as a mere cluster of cells.

But when you read about things like this, it has to make you shake your head.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Scott's Frying...Finally...
It's about time, too. I feel as if two years of my life has been wasted by the constant news coverage of the Peterson Trial. Yes, it was a heinous crime. Certainly, it was the stuff of a made-for-TV drama but Scott-and-Laci nearly 24 hours a day maes your head spin.

I'll tell you this much about showcase trials in California; they continue to get weirder and weirder by the day. The prosecution takes six months to lay out their case. The defense calls 39 charater witnesses to beg for Scott's life in the penalty phase. Lawyers offer outlandish theories about who else might have wanted Laci dead, throwing out every conceivable conspiracy tale, regardless of how ridiculous. Laci is killed by a Satanic cult. Laci has a tragic industrial combine accident, Laci spontaneously combusted. Mark Geragos, Scott's lawyer, should be ashamed to show his face in public.

I haven't seen anything this ridiculous since OJ, and with the Robert Blake trial coming up soon, it will probably get loonier. Why is that in California, it seems, we can't have a staright-forward murder trial? The juries, once they actually get to have their say, seem to come back incredibly quickly with their verdicts (I believe 4 hours for OJ, 6 for Scott), but the lawyers engage in constant drama, there are twists and turns that would bedazzle the most verteran Hollywood screenwriter --- bloody gloves, mistresses taping phone calls, dogs as potential witnesses, concrete experts, blood spatter experts, leather-shrinkage experts. It's enough to make your head spin. I mean, who in their right mind studies the properties of shrinking leather? Jurors drop out under mysterious circumstances. Who's writing a book in the juror's box? Who's holding things up playing Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men? What the heck is the judge doing? Greta Van Susteren has 1 hour of face time to fill every night, let's split legal hairs for six months.

If you ask me, and I know you didn't but this is my blog (so there!), it's another example of the deification of the American lawyer that is to blame. Somehow, we in this country have elevated to lofty heights, men and women whose only talents in clude semantics, active imaginations, and ultimately, manipulation of a set of rules that might as well be written in Sanskrit for all the clarity and conciseness that the lawyers themselves put into them. We expect them to be superhuman folks, the defenders of justice, the guardians of this sacred scroll called The Law. In the end, they become actors in a melodrama that your typical American considers entertainment.

Two people are dead. One was a pregnant woman and the other was an unborn child who never took his first breath. You can't get more defenseless victims anyplace else except perhaps Afghanistan. You have a defendant who appears to be so psychopathic that he barely shows emotion when day after day, for six months, he's portrayed as an in human monster who deliberately plotted their deaths and constructed a conspiracy so flimsy that even a democrat could see through it. And then the lawyers waste everyone's time in front of the cameras, acting their parts on the public stage.

This case was simple: pregnant woman disappears, her husband has a mistress, mistress is told the wife is dead before she goes missing, the husband buys a boat, the husband sets up a concrete anchor factory in his garage, the boat is full of concrete residue, the bodies are found exactly where the husband claims to be fishing, the husband makes an attempt to alter his appearance and tries to flee in a car obtained under dubious circumstances with a load of cash and his golf clubs (gotta take the sticks, dude!). The husband has motive, he has the means, he has the opportunity, and ultimately, he's sloppy and gets caught. This was a one week trial, if you ask me.

But that would make boring television. Gotta have that courtroom drama, since Fear Factor is already old hat.

If this trial teaches us anything it is that evil constinues to exist. The killing of your wife and child, for whatever reason, is evil. The attempts by your legal counsel to do everything possible, including lying, cheating, obscuring the obvious, demonizing the victims, is evil. The legal system, as it stands today, is broken. It's no longer a symbol of American civilization when it becomes a tiny stage play in front of cameras being watched by millions across the globe.

Scott Peterson, in a perfect world, would have already been fried five months ago. It was obvious that long ago just who was responsible for the deaths of Laci and Connor. But, we must be entertained, the lawyers must preen and strut for the cameras, the talking heads must have something to cackle about, and in the end, something that is a pillar of American life, our justice system, becomes little more than the Roman Arena.

To Laci and Connor, I say requiesat in pacem. To Scott Peterson, I hope that Hell has a special spot reserved for you where your torment will be eternal. Perhaps, ultimately, Scott could become Bill Clinton's roommate in the Netherworld. To everyone else who watched this thing with the same sort of intensity that a scientist would apply to finding a cure to cancer, who congregated at the courthouse holding daily vigils, to the idiots who went there only to get their face on television (the famous Lookie Lou's), you all disgust me.

Let's put a little sanity back into the process of dispensing justice, shall we?