Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flashpøint celebrates, Finnegans Wake

FLASHPØINT
www.flashpointmag.com
celebrates

FINNEGANS WAKE

on its
70th Re-Birthday!


GEORGE CINCLAIR GIBSON
MARY ELLEN BUTE
KARL REISMAN
SUZANNE NIXON
ERIC ROSENBLOOM
STEPHEN WALSH & BRIAN O'TOOLE
JAMES JOYCE
LUCIA JOYCE
STELLA STEYN
JOHN ATKINSON
KIT SMYTH BASQUIN
ELLIOT KAPLAN
JOHN MATTHIAS
JOHN RYSKAMP
DAVID HICKMAN
PETER O'BRIEN
ROSALIE GANCIE
JOE BRENNAN
JR FOLEY
CARLO PARCELLI

"Along the frontier
where the arts & politics clash ..."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Statement on Wind Power Generation in the Adirondack Park

By John Davis, Adirondack land conservationist:

The development of alternatives to traditional forms of electric generation is important to help minimize any future damage that the Adirondack Park may suffer from acid rain and climate change. However, there remain many concerns about negative impacts from some of those alternatives. In the case of wind generation, those concerns include both ecological effects and visual intrusion, particularly in a park setting. Energy conservation and efficiency, and reuse and recycling, are the surest ways to abate pollution problems.

The increased demand for wind energy development in New York State and within the Adirondack Park has been spurred, in part, by federal tax credits along with former Governor Pataki’s call for a retail renewable resource portfolio standard (RPS). The RPS calls for 24 percent of the State’s power to come from renewable sources by 2013.

We are adamantly opposed to the development of any towers on the Forest Preserve, including wind power turbines. Any proposal for towers on the Forest Preserve would be a violation of Article XIV of the State Constitution, the “Forever Wild” clause. We are also concerned with visual impacts of projects proposed on private lands that can be seen from Forest Preserve lands.

Although there are locations throughout the North Country where wind is sufficient to accommodate wind power generation, commercial wind facilities are also inappropriate on private lands within the Adirondack Park. Given the land use policies in the Adirondack Park Agency Act, the Adirondack Park Agency’s Policy on Agency Review of Proposals for New Telecommunications Towers and other Tall Structures in the Adirondack Park (APA’s Towers Policy), Adirondack Park Agency Rules and Regulations, the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the purposes for which the Park was created, and the Park’s critical importance to regional wildlife habitat integrity and connectivity, commercial wind tower facilities should not be permitted within the Blue Line.

We have learned from working on the re-licensing of hydro-electric facilities throughout the Park, that energy projects have significant adverse impacts on the environment. Ostensibly clean power, in the form of hydro-electric dams, has drastically altered the ecosystems of many of the Park’s main waterways and surrounding lands. Water bypasses, dams, turbines, and fluctuating impoundments have all harmed fish, amphibians, waterfowl and riverine habitat. An Act of Congress in the early 1990’s recognized the negative effects hydro-facilities have on the environment by requiring that natural resource and recreational impacts be considered and mitigated as much as possible when hydro-facilities are re-licensed. While some improvements have been made, once these facilities are in place, it is difficult to remove them.

Vistas and the Park’s other aesthetic resources should remain open and free from development and visual intrusion. This is essential to maintaining the wild character of the Park that generations of visitors and residents alike have cherished. Where development does occur, the visual impacts should be minimized and mitigated so as to make the development blend in with the surrounding landscape. Commercial wind towers, which can rise to over 400 feet and are equipped with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required blinking red lights, would have negative visual impacts and would not be easily integrated into their surroundings. It is unlikely that commercial wind facilities will be able to fulfill the mandate to be “substantially invisible” found in the APA’s Towers Policy.

We are even more concerned about the effect wind towers could have on wildlife, particularly resident and neotropical migratory bird species and bat species. The Adirondack Park contains the largest remaining habitat for some state and federally listed bird species, and many high altitude areas designated as Bird Conservation Areas could be optimal for wind generation. Construction of wind turbines in these areas would significantly and adversely affect bird habitat. Additional damage to the habitat and biota may also result from the construction of the infrastructure associated with wind towers, including roads and power lines and necessary clearing of the footprint to assemble the structures on site. Each tower needs at least one acre cleared for turbine and blade assembly. In addition, 300 tons or more of concrete are needed to build each foundation.

We are also concerned about the possible ringing of the Park by wind power facilities. Scores of giant wind turbines already pierce the sky above the eastern Tughill Plateau, and hundreds more are proposed for the St. Lawrence Valley just north of the Park. Thorough ecological studies and strict siting criteria must precede new development. Siting criteria should include those appended below.

We expect that individuals will pursue residential wind power generation in the Adirondack Park. These projects will be on a much smaller scale than a commercial wind tower. Thus, they will generally have less dramatic and intrusive impacts on the Park’s ecological, scenic and aesthetic resources. We anticipate fewer problems associated with these mini-tower projects, as long as they are kept out of ecologically critical or sensitive sites and meet the “substantial invisibility” criteria of the APA’s Towers Policy.

The Adirondack Park has already sacrificed some of its natural resources for clean power, through the many hydro-electric dams that impede its rivers. The Park’s natural hydrology has been vastly altered by these facilities. The Park has been producing renewable energy for generations. Instead of once again disrupting the Park’s environment for the installation of “new” energy sources, commercial wind power generation should be pursued in areas that can sustain its development without harming fragile ecosystems or the long-protected wild character of the Adirondack Park. While we would not advocate for any particular location, we recognize that the agricultural lands of New York’s great valleys have been identified as candidates for such development.

Inappropriate areas for commercial wind facilities:
• Designated Parks
• Roadless areas
• Original ecosystems, such as old-growth forests
• Wetlands
• Lands or waters with sensitive or imperiled species
• Wildlife corridors

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, animal rights

"American Pastoral"

The account of the couple who gave up the suburban lifestyle and became farmers of organically raised livestock is troubling (Food: Field Report, by Christine Muhlke). There’s something just plain wrong with killing animals after treating them to a lovely and very short life. Is it better than killing them in horrific slaughter facilities after even shorter, truly miserable lives? Of course it is. But that doesn’t make it right or compassionate or decent.

Those of us who spend time with chickens and pigs know that each has a personality and a rich emotional life, complete with humor, love, fears and worries. Dealing out death to those who cannot defend themselves, who are young and healthy, and who love life as we all do, can’t be justified by fulfilling the human desire for a tastier bit of dead flesh, which is the solid manifestation of the terror and death pain of those who trusted their caretakers to treat them well.

SHEILA SEAMAN
Leverett, Mass.

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wind is 'dirty business' for farmers in Mexico

(As it is everywhere.)

By Chris Hawley, USA Today, 17 June 2009:

The windmills stand in rows like an army of Goliaths, steel towers taller than the Statue of Liberty and topped with blades as long as a jetliner’s wing. The blades whoosh through the humid air, carving energy from a wind that rushes across Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec on its journey from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. Nearly every day, another tower rises out of the countryside. ...

But the energy gold rush has also brought discord, as building crews slice through irrigation canals, divide pastures and cover crops with dust. Some farmers complain they were tricked into renting their land for as little as $46 an acre annually.

Opponents of Mexican President Felipe Calderón fear the generators are the first step toward privatizing Mexico’s energy sector. And some residents are angry that the electricity being generated is not going to homes here in Oaxaca, one of the poorest states in Mexico, but to power Walmart stores, Cemex cement plants and a few other industrial customers in Mexico.

“It has divided neighbors against each other,” said Alejo Giron, a communal farmer in La Venta. “If this place has so much possibility, where are the benefits for us?” ...

One day in 2006, a truck with a loudspeaker showed up in the town of Santa María Xadani.

“It went around saying there was going to be a program to help farmers, and that we should show up the next night for a meeting,” said farmer Abel Sánchez.

At the meeting, representatives from Spanish firm Endesa handed out soft drinks and explained that they wanted to rent land for their wind generators, Sánchez said.

It was a complicated deal. The company would pay 1.4% of the profit, plus $300 a year for each tower, with the money divided among the hundreds of landowners, a contract obtained by The Arizona Republic shows. Each landowner would get an additional $4.60 an acre annually, and the company would pay $182 per acre of land damaged during construction. There was a signing bonus of $37.

In exchange, property owners would have to get permission from the energy company before selling their land or striking deals for development.

One good cow can produce $90 of milk a month, so most farmers were unimpressed, Sánchez said. But the company representatives made it sound like a government program, he said, and there seemed to be little to lose. Many small landowners signed up even though they couldn’t read.

Meanwhile, construction began on other wind parks. Many landowners were shocked at the disruption. To support the huge generators, crews built gravel roads 50 feet across, hammered in pylons and poured 1,200 tons of concrete for each tower. Pads of gravel 100 feet long and 50 feet wide were dumped onto sorghum fields and grazing land to support the cranes.

Farmer Salvador Ordaz now has two roads cutting through his 16 acres of pasture and says part of the land is unusable because of dust and blocked irrigation lines. He has had to cut his herd to 10 cows from 30. “When you think of windmills, you just think of this one tower,” Ordaz said. “But it affects a lot more land than that.”

Some companies are paying 50 cents to $1 per square yard annually for damages and have promised to remove much of the gravel once construction is complete. But Sánchez and about 180 other farmers in the towns of Xadani, Union Hildago and Juchitán decided they wanted none of it. They sued Endesa and two other Spanish companies, Preneal and Union Fenosa, saying the companies had misled poorly educated landowners and tricked them into signing lopsided deals.

Endesa and Union Fenosa did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Preneal declined to comment.

Pasqualetti said the payments are a fraction of the $3,000 to $5,000 that energy companies pay annually to farmers in Iowa. “The evidence would indicate (Mexican landowners) are not getting what they should be getting,” he said.

In October, Preneal relented and canceled its contracts with the dissenting landowners. Endesa and Union Fenosa did the same in March.

“It’s clean energy but dirty business,” said Claudia Vera, a lawyer at the Tepeyac Human Rights Center who helped the landowners with their case.

Opposition has spread to other towns, sometimes opening up old racial and political feuds.

In San Mateo del Mar, populated by Huavé Indians, residents voted to keep out the energy companies, re-igniting territorial disputes with neighboring villages dominated by Zapotec Indians, said local activist Roselia Gutiérrez.

In La Venta, proponents and opponents have broken along political party lines, with Institutional Revolutionary Party members supporting the contracts and the more liberal Democratic Revolutionary Party opposing them. On the national level, the Democratic Revolutionary Party has accused Calderón of using the wind farms as a test case for privatizing Mexico’s oil and electricity sector.

Demonstrations in La Venta have halted construction six times at the Eurus wind farm, owned by Acciona Energy. Graffiti in the town blasts company officials and members of the local ejido, or farm cooperative. “Get out, Wilson!” says one. “La Venta belongs to the ejido members!” says another.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tehuantepec printed fliers depicting the Spanish companies as invading Spanish galleons. “No to the robbery of our territory! No to the wind power projects!” they say. Hundreds of protesters demonstrated when Calderón came to inaugurate a project in January. ...

Many residents say they’ve benefited. ...

Others wonder how long the good times will last. Once construction is finished, Acciona has promised to remove the gravel pads and reduce the access roads from 50 feet wide to 20. The land-damage fees it pays will shrink dramatically then.

“People are not thinking about the long term,” Giron said. “Those generators will be making millions of dollars for the company, and they will be limiting what you can do with your land for 30, 40 years. Soon, whatever they’re paying won’t seem like very much money anymore.”

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A PETITION TO CONGRESS Supporting Single-Payer Health Care

Whereas:
  • 46 million Americans are currently without health insurance;

  • 60 million Americans, both insured and uninsured, have inadequate access to primary care due to a shortage of physicians and other health service providers in their community;

  • 100 million Americans have no insurance to cover dental needs;

  • 116 million adults, nearly two-thirds of all non-seniors, struggled to pay medical bills, went without needed care because of cost, were uninsured for a time, or were underinsured in the last year;

  • The United States spends $2.3 trillion each year on health care, 16 percent of its Gross Domestic Product;

  • Americans spend $7,129 per person on health care, 50 percent more than other industrialized countries, including those with universal care;

  • The U.S. does not get what it pays for. We rank among the lowest in the health outcome rankings of developed countries, and on several major indices rank below some third-world nations;

  • The number of health insurance industry bureaucrats has grown at 25 times the growth of physicians in the past 30 years;

  • In 2006, the six largest insurance companies made $11 billion in profits even after paying for direct health care costs, administrative costs and marketing costs.

And, whereas:
  • Medicare has administrative costs far lower than any private health insurance plan;

  • The potential savings on health insurance paperwork, more than $350 billion per year, is enough to provide comprehensive coverage to every uninsured American;

  • Only a single-payer Medicare-for-all plan can realize these enormous savings and provide comprehensive and affordable health care to every citizen.

Now, therefore:
  • We, the undersigned, urge the United States Congress to pass a single-payer Medicare-for-all program which will provide quality, comprehensive health care for all Americans.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Big wind, little power

In the introduction to a story on Vermont Public Radio this morning about the proposed 80-MW wind turbine facility in Ira and neighboring towns, it was stated that "If completed, it would be the second largest energy producer in the state after Vermont Yankee."

With 400–500-feet-high machines sprawling over two prominent mountains in western Vermont, it would actually be the biggest facility in the state.

But its likely average output of less than 20 MW (less than one-thirtieth of the output of Vermont Yankee) would put it quite a bit farther down the list in terms of actual energy production.

The gross imbalance of cost and benefit is obvious.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, animal rights, human rights, Vermont

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Politics

It's "bottom-up" -- of the people, by the people, for the people -- until that populist surge puts you at the top. Then it's "top-down" -- trust me, this will help you, too -- all the way.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

American Taliban

Dave Lindorff writes:

Sunday’s cowardly assassination of abortion doctor George Tiller demonstrates once again that the US is not all that different from Pakistan.

One thing that these two violent societies share is having a group of rabid religious fundamentalists who are each on a jihad against those in their nation with whom they disagree, and who are ready to kill and maim their enemies without mercy or hesitation. The other thing—perhaps the more dangerous thing—that they share is a government apparatus in which certain elements are overtly or surreptitiously supportive of the jihadists, hoping to use them for their own political advantage, and in which other elements are cowed into silence and inaction. ...

If we want to take the parallel further, we can see President Barack Obama acting like a string of Pakistani leaders who have refused to take a stand against the jihadists in their midst, seeking instead, accommodation. Even after Tiller’s murder—the ninth in a string of murders of abortion doctors across the country (and 17 attempted murders), not to mention uncounted numbers of attacks on abortion clinics—Obama said benignly that “however profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”

Fine, even-handed words of conciliation, as usual, from our silver-tongued president, but note that there was not a word of condemnation for those who have provoked that violence, nor was there any word of defense or praise for a doctor who was simply and courageously acting under the law to provide women with appropriate medical services. ...

We are not that different, either in terms of our own jihadist movements or our political establishment and leaders, from the countries and movements that we are currently attacking.

human rights

Monday, June 01, 2009

Common ground: the murder of Dr. Tiller

Debra Sweet writes:

... Having been nose to nose with anti-abortion leaders in front of clinics, and sometimes between them and doctors, for decades, I know them as the active base of a deeply dangerous, Christian theocratic, and fascist movement. They believe, as Randall Terry screamed in my face in 1987, that women must be kept subservient to men. Their god is a vengeful god, they remind us, and we deserve death for not obeying him. ... They believe that this country’s laws should be based on their interpretation of their God’s law, so you, too, would have no choice in the matter. And they want to kill us: the women who aren’t subservient, and the doctors who foster our agency. ...

What about the “leaders” of the Democratic Party who counsel us to find common ground with these fascists and religious fanatics? You have a president who invites an outspoken homophobe to give his inaugural prayer, citing “common ground” with this as somehow a step forward. You have a president who won’t come out in favor of gay marriage, tacitly encouraging many of his supporters to vote FOR Proposition 8 in California. You have a president who bends over backwards to give legitimacy to the anti-abortion cause and to the honesty of their leaders’ convictions.

If you watched the scene developing in May, weeks before Barack Obama’s appearance at the Notre Dame commencement, as Randall Terry and hundreds of others were getting arrested on the campus, and working themselves into a frenzy – all carefully covered by the national media – and you saw Obama give a speech that didn’t confront them for being wrong, you knew a murder like this would happen. The “pro-choice” movement, for its part, has surrendered its activism and resources almost completely to the Democratic Party and its “common ground” strategy. ...

(((( ))))

Jill McLaughlin writes:

I've just learned the news of the cold blooded killing of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas City. He was one of the very few doctors in the country to perform late term abortions He was shot at his church this morning.

While I'm sickened by this, I'm not surprised. Why am I not surprised, you may ask? Well, I'm not surprised because this is what happens from seeking common ground with those who do not want common ground with you. Our President has talked about common ground throughout his campaign and up to his controversial appearance at Notre Dame. Sunsara Taylor has spoken at length about the deadly illusion that somehow there is common ground to be had and puts that question of whether we should even seek common ground with Christian fascists on trial.

The “pro-life” crowd, as they like to call themselves, have no respect for life or reality as it is. The reality is that a fetus is not a person. The reality is that women are not the property of men, nor are their bodies nor are they the property of any god that these men and women believe in. They do not respect women in the least if they continually insist that somehow it's their duty to determine what a woman does with her body.

Sadly, the pro-choice movement has been blunted so much by the politics as usual and politics of the possible so that there is a lack of a real voice of resistance to these onslaughts by Christian fascists. They too are enamored by the illusions and delusions that they can find common ground with these folks. It's time they start acting like they want there rights and lives respected and do so without apology. They need to start acting like the advocates for women's rights that they consider themselves to be.

I have written this in raw anger and without apology. I will not back down.

(((( ))))

Sunsara Taylor wrote (before the murder of Dr. Tiller):

In the weeks leading up to Barack Obama’s delivery of the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, the national eye was drawn once again to the question of women’s right to abortion. Anti-abortion Catholics and Christian fundamentalists, many of whom have been at the heart of some of the most violent tactics against doctors, women and clinics, descended on the campus. They trespassed. They got arrested. They put up billboards. More than 70 bishops condemned Notre Dame’s decision.

However, on March 17, when graduation day finally arrived, Obama received a standing ovation upon entrance, a glowing introduction from the Catholic president of the university, and repeated cheers as he spoke.

In his speech, Obama called for “fair-minded words” on both sides of the abortion issue. He called on people to express their differences but not to demonize those who think differently than themselves. He called for “common ground” and pointed to where he felt this could be found, as well as some of the challenges he sees in achieving it.

To many, these were reasonable words. To many, the response to him by the overwhelming majority of the student body -- together with a significant number of prominent Catholic figures -- represents motion in a positive direction.

But, when Obama speaks of “common ground” on abortion, he is not standing on some neutral “middle ground” -- he is accepting the terms of the anti-abortion movement and adapting aspects of a pro-choice position into that framework while gutting the heart of the abortion-rights position. In so doing, he is legitimizing and strengthening a viciously anti-woman program while both abandoning the much needed fight to expand access to abortion and birth control and giving up the moral and ideological basis on which the pro-choice position stands.

Much of what is wrong with Obama’s approach is concentrated in a few key sentences of hiss speech, where he speaks directly to the question of abortion:

“Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions. So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoptions more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term.”

First, and very importantly, abortion is not a “heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make.” A great many women are not conflicted at all about their abortions. Many feel relief and even joy at having their lives and their futures more fully back in their control.

This is as it should be. The simple fact is that a fetus is not a baby, it is a subordinate part of a woman’s body. A woman has no moral obligation to carry a fetus to term simply because she gets pregnant. And a woman who chooses at whatever point and for whatever reason to terminate a pregnancy, should feel fine about doing so and should be able to.

When it comes to abortion, there really is only one moral question: Will women be free to determine their own lives, including whether and when they will bear children, or will women be subjugated to patriarchal male authority and forced to breed against their will?

By denying the experience of the many women who feel positively about their abortions, Obama is undermining the legitimacy of this response and reinforcing all the many voices in society that tell women they should feel heart-wrenched for terminating a pregnancy.

As for the fact that many women do feel conflicted or even deeply guilty about getting an abortion, this doesn’t prove that abortion is a morally complex issue any more than the fact that many women feel guilty or ashamed after being raped makes rape a morally complex issue. ...

From here, Obama moves forward, stating that “common ground” can be found by working “together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions” and to “reduce unintended pregnancies.”

But, as I wrote previously,
To talk today of reducing the number of abortions is to talk about strengthening the chains on women. The goal should NOT be to reduce the number of abortions. The goal should be to break down the barriers that still exist in every sphere of society to women’s full and equal participation as emancipated human beings. In this society, right now, that means there will be -- and therefore should be -- more abortions.

This is because there are many, many women who want abortions who are unable to get them due to the tremendous legal, social and economic obstacles that have been put in their way. These obstacles include parental notification laws, mandatory waiting periods, anti-abortion fake clinics that disorient and delay women, the fact that 84% of counties have no abortion providers at all, and countless other cruel and humiliating restrictions.
Right now, as you read, real women’s lives are being foreclosed and degraded due to lack of accessible abortion services.

As for reducing unintended pregnancies, it would be truly wonderful if all young people received frank and scientific education about their bodies, their sexuality, and how to form healthy and mutually respectful emotional and physical relationships. It would be truly wonderful if birth control were widely and easily available and its use was popularized. This would be the best and most effective way to reduce unintended pregnancies. However, this is not something that the forces behind the “pro-life” movement will agree to. The same biblical scripture that drives these forces to try to force women to carry every pregnancy to term also drives them to oppose birth control. There is not a single “pro-life” organization that supports birth control.

At its core and from its inception, the “pro-life” movement has been driven by the biblical mandate that women must leave it up to god to decide how many children they have. This mandate is rooted in the Christian mythology of “original sin” and its repercussions.

As the Bible tells it, “god” created man (Adam) first, and then made a woman (Eve) out of his rib. These two lived in innocent bliss in the “Garden of Eden” until a serpent tempted Eve and Eve tempted Adam to eat the “forbidden fruit.” For this “original sin,” Adam and Eve were cast out of paradise and ever since—so the myth goes—mankind has had an evil nature which has led to all the horrors humankind has inflicted on each other ever since.

Flowing from this -- and central to the “right-to-life” movement -- a special additional curse is put on women. Right there, in Genesis, the “Lord” is quoted as saying to women, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Later, the Bible articulates that women can only redeem themselves by submitting to men and bearing children: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, providing they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” (1 Timothy 2: 13-15)

There can be no “common ground” with this view, even in the aim of preventing unwanted pregnancies. And, by seeking to find “common ground” here, Obama is just moving the ball further down the court towards enforced motherhood; he is leading pro-choice people away from the fight that needs to be waged for abortion while at the same time setting the stage for another losing battle around sex education and birth control.

What’s perhaps even more outrageous is the fact that Obama -- rather than challenging the mandate embedded within the “original sin” mythology that women become obedient breeders -- himself cites and legitimates this farcical and very harmful myth. Earlier in his speech, Obama offers a non-explanation as to why “common ground” is often hard to find between, among others, “the soldier and the lawyer” who “both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm” and between “the gay activist and the evangelical pastor” who “both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts.” He says, “part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of men -- our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin.”

No. “Common ground” is not hard to find because we demonize those who are fighting to subjugate women, those carrying out torture and war crimes against detainees, or those who want to deny fundamental rights to gay people. “Common ground” is not hard to find because we have big egos or are too prideful or insecure.

“Common ground” is difficult to find because those who uphold women’s right to abortion are coming from a point of view that is completely antagonistic to those who are trying to take away this right. In the same way, those who condemn torture are coming from a view that is antagonistic to justifying, covering up and continuing that torture. And those who recognize the basic rights and humanity of gay people as well as the need for real education about safe sex are coming from a view that is completely antagonistic to the biblical motivation that sees any sex outside of procreation as an abomination.

As I stated earlier, there is no such thing as a “neutral middle ground” between antagonistic positions. Even the illusion of “common ground” can only be achieved when one side capitulates to the terms of the other side. This is exactly what Obama has done. ...

Finally, Obama tips his hat entirely to the anti-abortion position when he says we can unite to “provide care and support for women who do carry their child to term.” Here, in one phrase he accepts the unscientific, anti-abortion rhetoric that refers to fetuses as children. Flowing from this, a woman who chooses to terminate is killing her “child.”

In many ways, the approach Obama has taken to abortion -- and what he mapped out in his speech -- could prove even more dangerous to women’s rights and women’s lives than the religious fascists who were gathered at the gate. This is because Obama is dragging along many women and men who ought to know better -- who, if there were outright attacks on the legality of abortion very well might be up in arms, but who are being lullabied to sleep by Obama’s calm and reasonable tone as he barters away women’s fundamental rights. ....

human rights