Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Fatty Melt

Ladies and gentlemen what you are looking at is called "the Fatty Melt", also called perfection. What is it, you ask? A hamburger with grilled cheese sandwiches as buns:

And this, is the bacon fatty melt, which improves upon perfection:

Finally this is the Double Bacon Fatty Melt:

My brain is trying to ignore the chest pains...

How to make these? Here and here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obama on Abortion

Huh, it seems that this is national abortion blog week.

From Jason Boyett's Blog,

Obama and Abortion

First, I'll apologize up front. I know not everyone wants to read about politics on this blog. You'd rather read funny stuff and gentle religious sarcasm and blatant self-promotion about my books and writing. I understand that, so this will probably be the last presidential-themed post I'll do up until the election. But I need to put this one out there so I ask that you indulge me, baby, one more time.

Very few people in Texas, where I live, plan to vote for Obama. At least, very few people I know. Most of my friends and family are pro-McCain and see support for Obama as downright unChristian (though they still love me and probably wouldn't ever say this to me outright). Because Obama is pro-choice, a vote for Obama is often equated with a vote for killing babies.

Just to ease my parents' minds, let me make it clear that I have no interest in killing babies. I'm pro-life, and I have credentials. Once, when I was 16 or 17, I participated in a March for Life, holding an "Abortion Is Murder" sign that someone handed to me on the way out the door. Of course, I'm not sure how effective a 100-person march against abortion is in a city that's overwhelmingly pro-life already, other than making the participants feel good about their activism, and especially good when a passing motorist flips them the bird, because: persecution! I've even done marketing work for the local crisis pregnancy center and donated money to their operating budget.

So I'm pro-life but I intend to vote for the pro-choice candidate. And I'll be honest: Obama is unapologetically pro-choice. This makes me a slobbering hypocrite (at least in this area...I'm a hypocrite in lots of other areas, too.) So how in the world do I justify this?

It's simple: I'm a pragmatist. Despite his claims to being pro-life, I don't believe voting for John McCain will do anything to end or even reduce abortion in the United States.

Point #1: We have had a pro-life president in the White House for 20 out of the last 28 years, since Reagan's election in 1980. Has this led to abortions being reduced? Yes, but barely. Has it led to Roe vs. Wade being overturned? No.

Point #2: What about Supreme Court justices? If the president has any sway on abortion, it's by picking pro-life judges to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, right? Sure. Except in 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey -- the first real opportunity to overturn the abortion law -- five Republican-appointed justices voted to uphold Roe v. Wade. And in this case, only two of these justices (Blackmun and Stevens) were supporters of Roe v. Wade when the case began. I doubt we will ever see this law overturned. But don't trust me on this. Trust Bush appointee and Chief Justice John Roberts, who said Roe v. Wade was the "settled law of the land," and vowed he would uphold it. (H/T: Bryan)

Point #3: But let's say it were overturned by the Supreme Court. Then what would happen? The abortion issue would be given back to the states. (This was how it worked before Roe vs. Wade.) Some states would maintain its legality. Some states would outlaw it. But if you wanted an abortion, you could still get one, simply by traveling to an abortion-friendly state. Would it reduce abortions? Probably not. It would just make the process of getting one -- at least in a pro-life state -- a little more challenging.

Conclusion: There is little chance of overturning the abortion law. That being the case, what can we then do to reduce the number of abortions? That's the question we need to be asking.

John McCain does not have a good answer to this question. His answer -- if he gives one -- always involves the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the argument about appointing Supreme Court justices, and various "abortion is evil" statements. Which are fine, but if you agree with points 1-3 above, those are useless answers. What we need are some ideas about how to reduce abortion. But the Republican party's only idea seems to be repealing Roe v. Wade. That's it. In fact, the Republican party's 2008 platform says very little about abortion other than opposing it and promoting "every effort" to "enable and empower [those considering abortion] to choose life." Fine. But how do you do this? What does this empowerment look like? Do issues like poverty and health care and family planning play any role in reducing abortions? Unfortunately, the platform doesn't give answers. Let's just demonize Roe v. Wade and that's enough. According to Catholic legal scholar Nicholas Cafardi, the RNC actually removed abortion-reducing language from their platform this year.

Removed. Abortion-reducing. Language.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama fought to add language to the 2008 Democratic platform after consulting with religious leaders and pro-life Democrats about the issue. The platform calls for reducing abortion by promoting abstinence, adoption, and personal responsibility. It also provides for reducing unintended pregnancies through family planning services, education, parenting skills training, and health care. These are the kinds of resources many pregnant women don't have when they find out they're pregnant, and which make them think abortion is the only option. Catholic and Protestant leaders called the addition of this plan to the platform a "historic and courageous step" for Democrats. To be fair, others have criticized it as adding a good thing to an evil position (I'd label it "lipstick on a pig" but that phrase has pretty much jumped the shark). Regardless, it is a hopeful plan and a big shift in the usually antagonistic relationship between Democrats and pro-lifers.

(Update: Pro-Life Democrats have proposed the 95-10 Plan, the goal of which is to reduce abortions by 95% within 10 years. I really like this plan, but it's unclear at this point whether or not Obama has come out in support of it.)

When it comes to reducing abortions, the Republican party talks about a pie-in-the-sky scenario -- repealing Roe v. Wade -- that still wouldn't have much effect on the issue. Barack Obama has a concrete, serious plan any pro-life voter can (and should) applaud.

Two final points and I'll step off my soapbox and put it away until the election's over so we can all be friends again.

#1: There is more to being pro-life than fighting against abortion. For me, the pro-life platform includes things like poverty, women's rights, global human rights, environmental stewardship, torture, war, and racism. I think Obama is a more compelling choice than McCain on all of those. All of them. How can I be pro-life if I vote for the lesser candidate in 7 out of 8 pro-life categories?

#2: When it comes to elections, I am not a single-issue voter. Some people are, and if that's how you choose to vote, that's fine. But if a member of my family is in a terrible accident and we're rushed to the hospital emergency room, and I have the option of choosing one out of two doctors to perform emergency surgery, I'm not going to choose based on which surgeon is pro-life. I'm going to pick the professional I believe will do the best job in healing my injured family member. I apply the same reasoning when I vote for president. Parts of this country are broken or are in the process of breaking (and I include abortion among the "broken" stuff). But I'm going to choose a candidate based not just on his beliefs about that one issue, but on how I believe he will respond to all the issues. Which candidate will be the best healer?

Obama's stance on abortion falls far short of the Christian ideal. In fact, I think it's on the wrong side of the Christian ideal. But there are lots of issues to consider in addition to the abortion one, and when it comes to healing the rest of the brokenness, he's the doctor I'd choose.

Owen likes the planet Mars. I like Obama. Both of us are standing firm.

We'll return to inanity tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The A-word and the current US Presidential campaign

Well, I'm shocked. James Dobson has publicly urged his listening audience to vote for McCain. I never saw this coming.

He specifically gives 4 reasons for this choice (which he insists is not an endorsement):

1. McCain & Obama's Saddleback forum comments about life
2. Pro life & general conservative positions of the republican party
3. Sen. McCain selected pro life/pro family VP Palin
4. Obama’s liberal views. His record is more liberal than any other senator.

Let's focus on #1. Some points to consider are below. But first, a disclaimer: I lean right of center, and am unashamedly pro-life. I also haven't decided who I should support. Abortion is one topic I have recently put a lot of thought on, much of which is below:

1. One of Dobson's reasons for voting for McCain is that he wants someone in the White house that will appoint conservative judges who will consider the "protection of life in the womb".

Is that right? Consider these statistics: (source)

What Supreme Court Justices did the pro-life folk put on the court? Seven of the nine Justices were appointed by Republicans. Does that startle anyone? Further, Justices appointed by Ronald Reagan (Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy) participated in voting down challenges to Roe v. Wade -- two such cases being Planned Parenthood vs. Casey and Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services.

George Herbert Walker Bush appointee David Souter also participated in defending Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, writing that to overturn Roe would have been "a surrender to political pressure... So to overrule under fire in the absence of the most compelling reason to re-examine a watershed decision would subvert the Court's legitimacy beyond any serious question."

Secondly, from Dobson's himself: (source)

"I am deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, voted for embryonic stem-cell research to kill nascent human beings..."

So is it a slam dunk that McCain will appoint those judges that Dobson wants? Not really. Even if it is, I think it may be more likely that if McCain were president, he'd get gunshy about the approval process and appoint a moderate.

2. If one says he/she is pro-life, does that only apply to the womb? What about prevention of unwanted pregnancies? Christians are good at crisis pregancy centers, where they counsel pregnant women not to get abortions. But what about career advice/Job training to help moms take care of their families? Child care to help moms provide for their families? What about parental training? We Christians are so preoccupied with keeping babies alive, we forget about keeping them alive.

3. How have pro-life republicans rewarded Christians' support? Not much. Why will it change with McCain? If abortion is one of the most important reasons for going with McCain, will he deliver?

4. Is Obama really that bad in his support of late term abortion? We know he is pro-choice, but what about the horrific late-term and live birth situations? See below for excerpts from his interview with Cameron Strang, publisher of Relevant Magazine:

Strang: Based on emails we received, another issue of deep importance to our readers is a candidate’s stance on abortion. We largely know your platform, but there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?

Obama: I absolutely can, so please don’t believe the emails. I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.

The other email rumor that’s been floating around is that somehow I’m unwilling to see doctors offer life-saving care to children who were born as a result of an induced abortion. That’s just false. There was a bill that came up in Illinois that was called the “Born Alive” bill that purported to require life-saving treatment to such infants. And I did vote against that bill. The reason was that there was already a law in place in Illinois that said that you always have to supply life-saving treatment to any infant under any circumstances, and this bill actually was designed to overturn Roe v. Wade, so I didn’t think it was going to pass constitutional muster.

Ever since that time, emails have been sent out suggesting that, somehow, I would be in favor of letting an infant die in a hospital because of this particular vote. That’s not a fair characterization, and that’s not an honest characterization. It defies common sense to think that a hospital wouldn't provide life-saving treatment to an infant that was alive and had a chance of survival.

Strang: You’ve said you’re personally against abortion and would like to see a reduction in the number of abortions under your administration. So, as president, how would do you propose accomplishing that?

Obama: I think we know that abortions rise when unwanted pregnancies rise. So, if we are continuing what has been a promising trend in the reduction of teen pregnancies, through education and abstinence education giving good information to teenagers. That is important—emphasizing the sacredness of sexual behavior to our children. I think that’s something that we can encourage. I think encouraging adoptions in a significant way. I think the proper role of government. So there are ways that we can make a difference, and those are going to be things I focus on when I am president

The conclusion: Abortion is always wrong. But should abortion be a litmus test in selecting our leaders? No. Should it be a consideration? Sure. But why is it the only issue that many Christians consider?