Once I Found Items Like This Amusing….

It is sad, really.

I am a political junkie.  I have been for as long as I can remember.  I believe it was in 7th grade where I received my first detention hall punishment for turning my yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbon into an anti-war message.  That was during the first Gulf War, and my interest never waned.  At 16 I handed out campaign literature at a polling location in Martinsburg, PA, supporting soon to be President Clinton and other Democratic candidates while doing volunteer work for the AFL-CIO.  Martinsburg is a farming community of about two thousand a short drive away from Altoona.  It is a beautiful rural area, and like the vast majority of rural Pennsylvania, it is very conservative.  Still, people were polite to my fellow volunteer and I, with a fair number of Republican voters striking up conversations with the two of us, not to debate politics, but rather just to say it was nice to see young people taking an interest in the nations system of government.

Even after I started to fill my veins with poison, I held onto my interest in politics.  For those of you who have never seen the inside of a cell, believe me when I say you die a million little deaths when you are locked up.  One such death that I will never forget was the re-election of King George the W.  It haunted me, with my mind overwhelmed with unrealistic “what-if” scenarios; would the result have been the same if I would have been working the phones, going door to door, handing out literature, putting up signs, casting my ballot instead of being locked away?   Rationally, of course I realized that one more person working against Bush wouldn’t have swung the election; that Kerry was a flawed candidate who wasn’t prepared to deal with the dirty tactics perfected by Karl Rove’s merry men with the character assassination of John McCain during the previous election cycle.  And of course, perhaps most importantly, I didn’t live in Ohio anyway.

It is a subject that I love.  It fascinates me, the strategy, the tactics, the struggle for a majority of votes for the honor of representing a portion of the population, in order to work for the good of the nation.

So what went so wrong?

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Rich Lowry, Dishonesty, and the GOP’s Current Strategy to End Reproductive Rights

One could be forgiven, if upon completing a crash course in American politics, one held the belief that the far right, realizing that time, and demographics, was passing them by, abandoning them to the dust bin of history, decided to try to do as much damage to women’s rights and reproductive choice, to turn the clock as far back as they possibly could in the fleeting moments they had in power before changing norms, unstoppable demographic changes, and their own inability to change, to evolve, to let go of a system of belief forged in a bygone era with no resemblance to our own, swept them from relevance for the final time.  While most of the current crop of Tea Party Republicans in office were elected on a promise to concentrate on economic concerns, on fiscal conservatism while leaving the divisive moral battles for another time, once in office this facade was quickly dropped so that the War on Women and the men who believe in their rights and autonomy could be waged in earnest.  So many abortion restrictions were proposed that records were broken.  Fringe beliefs common amongst the anti-abortion zealots, mainly about rape, began to enter mainstream discussions on a woman’s right to choose.  Perhaps drunk on the rush of not hiding their more unpopular beliefs, birth control was revealed as an enemy of the so-called “pro-life,” as fetal life amendments were proposed, contraceptive coverage was opposed, and Sandra Fluke was slut-shamed.  It certainly felt like the last charge of a doomed battle, a social suicide bombing intended to take years of elections and legislation to undo.

But this is not a part of the culture war that is already decided, like some.  Marriage equality, for example, is a war the religious right has fought and lost.  Changing cultural norms, the widespread visibility of the openly homosexual, the fact that almost everyone has a family member or a close friend that they love who is a part of the LGBT community, and the complete lack of rational arguments by the other side has left no question as to which side will eventually be declared victorious.  There will still be battles, and in conservative areas there can still be setbacks; don’t get me wrong, it is not time to relax and assume we have no more work to do.  Many states have laws that need repealed, others need laws passed, it is not finished until there is total equality under the law without exception.  But while there is a chance that individual battles will end in setbacks and delays, the overall tide can not be reversed.  When the history books are written, we know the victors are equality and human rights, not hate, prejudice, and intolerance.

No, the War on Women is still being fought, and on this front of the culture war there are no assured victories.  Illegal abortion, and the toll it took in woman’s lives, health, well-being, opportunities, freedoms and rights is a phantom, not seen or felt by so many alive today who would be affected.    Casual misogyny twists the minds of many, turning the conflict into one between the innocent unborn and the irresponsible sluts who will kill them for convenience, over and over again.  In these minds, birth control never fails, and if it does, she is the one who rolled the dice by daring to be a sexual being.  Slut shaming, if not a treasured pastime, is at least a weekend hobby for several men I know.  And then seemingly rational ideas are put forward, statements are framed in such a way that only the radical could disagree, goalposts are moved and the middle of the debate is undergoing an attempted redefinition.

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Wait, If Masturbation is a Sin, Shouldn’t You Be Pro-Abortion Now? I Am So Confused….

From, well…, everywhere, but we’ll go with The Salon with a hat tip to The Wonkette:

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, said on Monday that he supports the proposed federal ban on abortion at 20 weeks because he has personally witnessed male fetuses with their hands “between their legs” pleasuring themselves at 15 weeks.

Well, that is perfectly reasonable….  Wait.  What the fuck did he just say?

“There is no question in my mind that a baby at 20-weeks after conception can feel pain. The fact of the matter is, I argue with the chairman because I thought the date was far too late. We should be setting this at 15-weeks, 16-weeks,” said the former OB-GYN during the House Rules Committee debate on the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” he continued. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?”

I know what you all are thinking.  “Why only male fetuses, Rep. Burgess?  We all know everyone does it!”  And while that is a perfectly hilarious response to such an idiotic argument, I have to go one step farther and ask why you aren’t condemning these sinful fetuses not only for the sin of masturbation, but for masturbating inside of their mother, which has to be incest in some way or another as well!

I know my Bible, Rep. Burgess.  Masturbation equals abomination.  Incest with your mother also equals abomination.  Screw the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” where is the “Incestuous Masturbating Unborn Child Mandatory Abortion Act?”

I mean, good God Rep. Burgess, if they are jacking it at 15 weeks, there won’t be a pillow in the house safe to lay your head on by the time they are a year old.  And that poor family dog.  This is one slippery slope argument I’ll endorse wholeheartedly!

Update on the Worst Parents in Pennsylvania

The first time they watched one of their children die an easily preventable death thanks to their religious beliefs (see my original post on this story here),  Herbert and Catherine Schaible were convicted of manslaughter but escaped incarceration, instead being sentenced to probation and allowed to retain custody of their children upon promising the judge they would not let another sick child go without medical care.

But now that another innocent child lies dead from their refusal to treat illness with anything other than prayer, Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner has made sure that they are very familiar before the trial with what will hopefully be their new home for many years to come; a jail cell.  Calling them a potential flight risk and fearing that religious supporters may harbor and aid them in fleeing from justice, Judge Lerner ordered that the Schaible’s be held without bail.

A judge acknowledged that the couple had never missed a court date in the first case but said he worried that might change amid the more serious charges. And he feared they may have supporters who would harbor them.

“Throughout this country … there are churches like the Schaibles’ whose members and leaders probably don’t think they did anything wrong, and might be willing — to paraphrase the Schaibles’ pastor — to put their interpretation of God’s will above the law,” Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said.

I honestly can not think of a punishment that I feel would be adequate for letting two innocent children die of treatable illnesses because you think your invisible sky daddy will save them if he wants to and damn you to hell if you try to help them yourself.  But they need to be in jail, and hopefully after the trial they are convicted of murder and locked away for a long time, not for retribution, but for some form of deterrent to other parents who share the same insane religious beliefs.  The state has a vested interest in protecting those who can not protect themselves, and the government needs to make it crystal clear that while freedom of religion is a cherished right in the United States, that freedom ends when the practice of your beliefs harm another citizen.  It needs to be known, without question, that while as adults you have the right to refuse medical treatment if you feel your God demands that of you, you do not have the right to sacrifice your minor children at the altar of those beliefs, and that you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law for withholding medical care from your children.  Freedom of religion can not be a “get out of child abuse free” card.

“We believe in divine healing, that Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil’s power,” Herbert Schaible, 44, told Philadelphia homicide detectives after their ninth child, Brandon, died in April. Medicine, he said, “is against our religious beliefs.”

….

“He is incarcerated because of his faith,” said lawyer Bobby Hoof, who described client Herbert Schaible’s mindset as resolute.

“He’s strong willed,” Hoof said. “(Yet) he’s mourning this son. He’s hurting as any dad would.”

Bullshit.  He is not being incarcerated because of his faith.  He is being incarcerated because he let 2 of his children die from easily treatable illnesses.  It is not legal in our nation to refuse to provide medical care to your children, no matter the reason.  No one will ever force Herbert Schaible to see a doctor.  If he wants to rely on God to heal him from illness, that is his right.  Once his children are legal adults, if they share his beliefs, they will have the same right.  Minor children however can not refuse medical treatment, because they are children and do not have fully developed minds that can comprehend the consequences of the actions.  One thing lawyer Hoof said does ring very true though.  It is obvious that Herbert Schaible is strong willed.  So strong willed that he let two of his children die rather than call a doctor.  I will never understand willpower like that.  Heartless motherfucker.

They can say that he is mourning his son and hurting like any dad would all that they want and I will never buy it.  Perhaps an argument can be made that they really trusted in God to heal the first child that died, but when you already know the end result of refusing to provide medical care for a child is the death of a child, and then continue to refuse to provide that care, I can see you as nothing but human debris.

“I think that we all on the jury thought that it would not happen again, that whatever social and legal institutions needed to be involved in their situation would just take over … and that the mandated visits would be robust enough that they would not be able to do this again,” Vincent Bertolini, 51, a former college professor who served as jury foreman at the Schaibles’ first trial, said Friday. That jury convicted the couple of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.

And yet, another child is dead.  And this man is still preaching.

Their pastor, Nelson Clark, has said the Schaibles lost their sons because of a “spiritual lack” in their lives and insisted they would not seek medical care even if another child appeared near death.

A spiritual lack.  If I believed in the soul, I would suggest that Pastor Clark was lacking one.

This story makes me so sick.

“Eerily Similar” Circumstances

One of the great selling points of the United States is the whole “freedom of religion” thing.  While I am an atheist, I also believe that you should have the right to believe in whatever religion you wish, and that you should be free to practice that religion without constraints as long as you do not infringe upon the rights of others.

I have started this post a full 11 times so far, only to hit the backspace key and wipe it all out to try again.  I’ve been following stories like this one for over a decade now.  Unfortunately, one took place in the area that I am from, and it was also a case that had multiple victims.  It is bad enough when your belief in God costs an innocent child their life.  But when it takes the life of a second innocent child, years after the first, it is enough to anger me past any logical response.

Yes, the United States has freedom of religion.  And yes, it is one of those things that makes this a great country.  But the justice system really needs to grow a spine and start treating these cases as what they are: child abuse.  When these monsters neglected their first child to death 4 years ago, they received probation.  Why?  Because they hid behind “freedom of religion.”  I promise you that if they wouldn’t have answered “religion” when asked why they didn’t take their child to the doctor, they would have got a much stronger punishment than probation.  They should have been charged with murder the first time, and thrown in jail.  Yes, their children would have been taken away from their “parents.”  But they also would all be alive.

I’m sorry.  This shit just makes me sick.

From Philly.com: (Bolding is mine as always.)

Catherine and Herbert Schaible, the Philadelphia faith-healing couple convicted once of manslaughter for allowing their sick toddler to die, were charged Wednesday with third-degree murder in the death of another son, infant Brandon.

….

At a news conference announcing the charges, (District Attorney Seth) Williams described the child’s death as a tragedy.

“Sadly, there is only one reason for it: his parents,” Williams said. “Instead of caring and nurturing him, they ultimately caused his death by praying over his body rather than taking him to the doctor.”

Brandon Scott Schaible was 7 months and 18 days old when he died April 18 of bacterial pneumonia, severe dehydration, and strep after his parents withheld medical care for four days.

The infant first developed a rash on his head, then became irritable with diarrhea and had little appetite, according to prosecutors and police.

Two days before his death, his breathing became so labored that he was breathing out of his mouth, Catherine Schaible told police.

But rather than call a doctor – as they were ordered to do under the terms of probation in the 2009 death of 2-year-old son Kent – the Schaibles called an assistant pastor to come and anoint Brandon and pray.

When the child stopped breathing, the couple told police, they prayed for him to be revived. Then they called a funeral home.

Murder seems like the fitting charge here.  They couldn’t call an ambulance, but they sure could call the funeral home.  Let’s take a deep breath and see what the First Assistant District Attorney has to say on why he filed murder charges.  He is going to make sense.

First Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann said Wednesday that authorities “carefully considered” whether third-degree murder – which carries a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years – was the appropriate charge in Brandon’s death.

How many kids have to die before it becomes an extreme indifference to the value of human life?” McCann said, noting the legal threshold of murder.

When you are praying over your child when your child is not breathing, when you have a prior child who died of a clearly preventable disease, and when you were required by the court to seek medical treatment if your child was sick and you don’t do so – based on all those circumstances, it was our assessment that the murder charges were appropriate.”

Before I print this next quote, let me state that I understand that these people are entitled to legal representation, and since it is coming from their lawyer, it really isn’t a surprising statement.  That being said…..

Mythri Jayaraman, an attorney for Catherine Schaible, said her client was “certainly shook up.”

“I think she’s more reeling from losing Brandon than she is from this arrest itself,” Jayaraman said.

To suggest Catherine was indifferent to her children’s lives and health couldn’t be further from the truth,” Jayaraman added. “This is a woman who is a completely devoted mother.”

Oh, fuck you.  Fuck you, fuck your god, fuck the horse you rode in on, fuck your pastor, fuck it all.  Devoted mothers do not let their children, multiple fucking children, die of easily preventable causes.  If you want to shun medical care and die of some easily curable disease because prayer is the only medicine you are allowed, have the fuck at it.  It is your right.  You are an adult, you can make your own choices.  Neither of these children ever had a choice about anything.  You took all their choices away.  Any choice they would ever get a chance to make, robbed from them because of your fringe interpretation of a bronze age religion.  Devoted mothers do everything in their power to save their children, to protect them, to give them the opportunity to live a full and rewarding life.  You know, the complete fucking opposite of what you did.

The Schaibles are members of First Century Gospel Church, a congregation of about 500 members that rejects medical care and almost all modern health and safety precautions, including dental work, toothpaste, eyeglasses, even seat belts. Trust in medicine and doctors is a sin, according to church doctrine.

When does it move from being a religion to being a mental illness?  Can anyone make one legitimate argument that every single child in this congregation is not a victim of child abuse?  No car seats, no corrective lenses, no vaccinations, no check ups, no dental work, no fucking toothpaste?  Try any of that shit without hiding behind religion, and see how long you get to keep custody of your children.

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, who prosecuted the Schaibles in Kent’s death and is handling Brandon’s case, said Wednesday that the cases are “eerily similar.”

“I knew something like this could have easily happened,” she said of the second child to die. “I knew at their sentencing that they were not going to follow the judge’s instructions.”

The Schaibles’ remaining seven children, who range in age from about 8 to 17, were immediately placed in temporary foster care after Brandon’s death. They were allowed to see their parents during supervised visits and were permitted to attend a recent church service.

Yeah, that’s great.  So the church members can continue indoctrinating them.  “Your parents did nothing wrong, God wanted your brother up in heaven, medicine is a sin, the evil government is persecuting us all because the DA is a servant of Satan, don’t trust the police or your foster parents.”

At the Schaibles’ sentencing in 2011, a different judge ordered the probation department, rather than the city’s child-welfare agency, to supervise the children’s medical needs, a decision child advocates have criticized.

Why would that decision be criticized?  I can’t think of anyone more qualified to supervise the medical needs of children than untrained, overworked, underpaid, probation officers with heavy caseloads of non-violent drug offenders to harass.

Brandon was seen by a doctor only once, just 10 days after he was born.

With the couple now arrested for a second time for following the church’s most central tenet, the new charges seem to put First Century Gospel on the wrong side of the law.

“We’re not in the business of prosecuting people for their sincerely held beliefs,” McCann, the first assistant district attorney, said. “But if these beliefs again intersect with something like this – where it’s clear that medical attention was needed by children – then on a case-by-case basis, we’re going to have to deal with that.”

McCann would not rule out whether the church pastor, Nelson Clark, could face charges as head of First Century Gospel.

“That is something we’re going to have to consider looking into as we further investigate this case,” McCann said. “It’s not over at this point.”

Ah, yes.  The churches pastor.  Nelson Clark.  Ready for the most disgusting, disturbing, vomit worthy quote of this entire sickening article?

Clark told The Inquirer last month that the children died because of a “spiritual lack” on the part of their parents.

I can honestly not even put into words the sense of revulsion I feel towards Pastor Nelson Clark after reading those words.  Got that?  The kids died because the parents didn’t fucking pray hard enough.  Fucking human debris.

When asked Wednesday in an interview if he was concerned that he could be arrested, Clark said: “The thought crosses my mind, of course, because the buck stops somewhere. But I can’t stop preaching what I think is the truth from the Bible.”

….

For his part, when asked what he would tell his church, Clark did not hesitate.

“We have to obey God rather than man,” he said.

Oh, for fucks sake.  I’m going hiking.  I’ll be back tomorrow.  Sorry for only one post today, but I can’t even look at any other stories after this one.

Virginia Sen. Mark Obenshain Is On To You Women and Your Slut Tricks.

As GOP’ers everywhere attempt to surpass one another in a game of pro-life leap frog, it seems like the Republican candidate for Attorney General of Virginia, State Sen. Mark Obenshain played the ultimate trump card way back in 2009 when he decided to go after those tricksy women and their “miscarriages.”

a measure, introduced by Obenshain in 2009, to force women to report miscarriages to the police within 24 hours or face up to a year in jail.

Because you know, then the police could investigate and see if it was an honest, God-said-no-baby-for-you miscarriage or fake miscarriage by a slut drunk on aborting babies.  Since everybody* knows that 90% of all miscarriages**are actually at home abortions provided by secret agents of Planned Parenthood*** in order to supply fetuses to satanic cults****.

*Everybody in this statement refers to apparently the vast majority of Virginian republicans.

** 54% of all statistics are created by the person quoting them.

***Planned Parenthood does not actually employ secret agents

****There are no satanic cults.  Get over it.

No Health Insurance, But At Least I Still Have My Dignity

I am not a happy Foster this morning.  I am, however, apparently still a Foster with his dignity.

According to the Altoona Mirror, Gov. Tom Corbett (R- Pennsyltucky) has decided that Pennsylvania will not be taking part in the upcoming expansion of Medicaid.

…Gov. Tom Corbett has misgivings about the Medicaid program. In his budget address Tuesday, he said he wouldn’t expand it here, as the federal government has invited states to do, until there are program reforms and clarifications.

Am I shocked?  Of course not.  As a single male member of the working poor, I’ve been following this issue pretty closely, since it directly affects me.  My income puts me over the medicaid limit currently, yet under the expanded medicaid program I would be eligible.  While I was hopeful that Gov. Corbett would approve the expansion, since he has been pretty indecisive about it up until now, he is a member of the GOP and is as conservative as he can get away with in PA.  (For example, Voter ID.)

So Corbett’s decision did not come as a great surprise.  In fact, it actually left me kind of hopeful, since he didn’t come right out and say that PA would not be taking part in the expansion, period.  He left the door open at least.  As little as I can stand Corbett, he is not actually the cause of Foster’s bad morning.

Who is, you may ask?  Let’s take a closer look at the above linked article (Bolding is mine as always):

To illustrate his opposition to an expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania, Dr. Zane Gates – founder of two free clinics in the region that help the working poor – told a story from his childhood.

He was shopping at the A&P in Eldorado, near Evergreen Manors housing project where he grew up, when he saw a classmate.

Instead of checking out, Gates walked around the store until the classmate left, before handing over his food stamps for groceries.

Modern Medicaid is like food stamps because it generates embarrassment – “it takes a lot of people’s dignity away” – largely because the program’s low reimbursements cause providers to refuse service to cardholders, Gates said this week.

Thank you, Dr. Gates.  Thank you for caring so much about my dignity.

And fuck off.

Yes, Dr. Gates.  Some places do not accept medicaid because of the low reimbursements.  But some places do.

Do you know what hurts my dignity, Dr. Gates?  Having 8 teeth, and not being able to get them out so I can get dentures because I don’t have 2000$.  If I had medicaid, perhaps I couldn’t go to my preferred provider.  But I could go somewhere, and I wouldn’t have had to learn to hold my jaw just right so no one can tell how bad my teeth are.  Hell, perhaps I could even smile.  Now that I think of it, smiling is a bit undignified.  Looking out for me again, Dr. Gates.

What else hurts my dignity?  How about not having an annual check-up for the last 15 years?  Or are physicals undignified?

Not going to the doctor when I am sick.  Sure helps my dignity.  Or spending a large fraction of my paycheck, which I don’t have to spare, on the doctor when I have no choice.

Of course, maybe I am lucky enough to have access to a free clinic, like the ones you operate.  Lucky me!  Free clinics are oh so dignified.  Of course, I still have to pay for my prescription.   Almost forgot about that!  If covered by medicaid, my script would cost a 1 to 3 dollar co-pay.  Much more dignified for me to stand at the pharmacy counter asking what each prescription costs, counting my money, trying to figure out which ones I can do without.

Some people live in the real world:

Program advocates said it’s crazy to refuse the invitation, which includes a federal promise to pay – temporarily – almost all the costs of expanding enrollment from 100 percent of federal poverty to 133 percent.

“It’s a tragedy if the state doesn’t,” said Dr. Deborah Baceski, who runs a free medical clinic in Somerset.

“It would truly be an act of fiscal malpractice for the governor to reject Medicaid expansion,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

….

“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.

….

Medicaid is imperfect, but it isn’t the dignity-robbing program Gates imagines, according to Pollack.

Surveys of Medicaid recipients in recent years – including a Harvard researcher’s study of Oregon residents – show the program “makes a huge difference in giving people true access to care,” Pollack said.

It also has a high satisfaction rating, he said.

“Things have changed,” Pollack said, referring to Gates’ experience with the food stamp program decades ago.

But FREE CLINICS!!!!!

Gates believes that a reasonable alternative to Medicaid expansion is expansion of the free clinic model he pioneered with Buffalo insurance broker Patrick Reilly.

Corbett’s budget includes $5 million for clinics – including some for hospitals to reproduce the Gates-Reilly model.

But REALITY!!!!

Pollack thinks that’s wishful thinking.

Clinics do good work, but they can only be “a drop in the bucket” compared to the comprehensive reach of Medicaid, said.

Free clinics like the ones Dr. Gates has opened are great.  They do good things.  But they are not medicaid.  They are not health insurance.

So fuck Dr. Gates.  And fuck my dignity while we’re at it.

I rather have Medicaid.