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  • dtoub 2:37 am on Thursday, December 17, 2009, 2:37 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: health care reform, obama   

    dear president obama, 


    I doubt you’ll read this blog post. Let’s face it, it’s not like this is the Daily Kos or The Huffington Post, and with your busy schedule I don’t know that you’d even have time to read either of those more popular sites on the Web. But regardless, I feel the need to express some concerns.

    I know you’ve been trying to get your progressive agenda across. During the campaign, you expressed many progressive ideas, and stuck to your guns despite attacks from your opponents and nearly everyone with a mouthpiece on the right. You handled them well, didn’t capitulate, and earned my family’s support and the support of millions throughout the country and worldwide. I embraced your candidacy early on, recognizing your intellect, commitment, and the promise of being what Colin Powell referred to as a “transformational leader.” Since your election, you’ve been faced with a major economic recession, two wars, the Bush/Cheney legacy, Iran, Israel/Palestine and of course the ongoing threat from al Qaeda. It’s never easy to be president. It’s even tougher when your predecessor spent eight years really messing up the nation and the world.

    But if you don’t have time to read any further, here’s the take-home message I’d like to impart: try harder. Way harder.

    You speak very well. Your intentions are good. I applauded your speech to the Muslim world. On my iPhone, I still have your speech on race that you delivered so well in Philadelphia during the campaign. I was happy when you pursued a more even-handed policy towards the Middle East. I was hopeful when you signaled your intent to close Guantánamo Bay and also when you officially banned torture. And when you aggressively started the process of healthcare reform, seemingly based on the notion of universal health care, I was deeply impressed and excited.

    But something happened between January 20th and today; you dropped the ball. Your “tough love“ treatment of Israel was more ”love“ than ”tough“ and peace talks have stalled indefinitely. Guantánamo remains open. We still practice rendition. The covert prison at Bagram in Afghanistan remains open and out of reach of your presidential directives against torture. We’re getting out of Iraq at some point, but escalating the war in Afghanistan with inconsistent information as to when, and whether, we finally withdraw. Last time I checked, despite your continued promises to the gay, lesbian and transgendered community, both Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act remain in force.

    And now health care. You dropped the ball. I understood why you wanted to try to avoid some of the missteps of Bill and Hillary by empowering Congress to draft the bill. And in an earlier time, that might have worked out mostly okay. But this is a different world. It’s a time when your election has brought out the haters in our society, who never really went away but who at least knew to stay in their rat holes underground and out of sight. It gave a sense of urgency to racists in every state, and to those fringe Libertarian folks who hate the notion of government and who are too ”out there“ even for the Republican Party. Hence the ”teabaggers“ who are working to either take over the GOP or create an alternative party to make the GOP even more irrelevant than it is today.We still have folks like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and many others on the airwaves and on the Web who virulently hate you and who will never provide any balanced view or opinion on anything you do. Face it, the right-wing is united against you in a way that is far more organized, insidious and, regrettably, effective than any of the progressive groups were during the Bush/Cheney era.

    Have you spoken with Bill Clinton about his lovely time as president? At that time, I thought I had never seen such voracious attacks on any president. And that was true, until your ascent to the presidency. What’s going on now makes Whitewater and Travelgate seem like trivial events. Clinton’s impeachment was nothing compared to the hate-mongering that has been directed against you since 1/20/09. I don’t recall Clinton being called a socialist fascist communist racist. Nor did I ever see signs depicting Bill as a Nazi, nor was there ever any racial overtones to the attacks against him. After all was said and done, as much as the Right hated Clinton, he was still a white Southern boy. Too smart for his own good (he is brilliant, after all), and corrupted by a Northeastern and Oxford education. But Bill was still one of them in terms of background and race.

    For all intents and purposes, President Obama, you might as well be an alien to folks like Sarah Palin and most of the Republicans in Congress. Many of them still think you’re not a natural-born American citizen, and think it’s perfectly fine to raise questions about your birth just as they find it socially acceptable to question evolution. Hell, a lot of them still fear you’re a Muslim. What you really should do is come out as a Jew-deep down, many of these people don’t like us any more than the Muslims, when push comes to shove.

    Anyway, it’s a very difficult, negative and backbiting world we live in. And you had a great idea-let’s do something to reform health insurance and health care delivery in this country. Few can argue, and none successfully, that such reform is necessary. We have tens of millions without insurance. We spend more in GDP in healthcare than any other major nation, yet our clinical outcomes lag far behind countries we generally don’t view as comparable.

    Most experts indicate that a single-payor system provides cost-effective care with better outcomes. I’m not going to argue that all single-payor systems are wonderful. Canada has its issues, for example, although I know a lot of Canadian gynecologists and they all seem pretty happy. And their clinical outcomes are not worse than ours. The NHS in the UK, the health system in France, the system in Israel are all single-payor, government-run health care and outcomes are great, costs are controlled, and the citizens are generally happy with their health plans. I have a friend who moved from this country to France specifically because of their health care system, and he’s doing quite fine as an expat.

    You know this. Your clinical and economic advisors know this. You also are an attorney and I’m sure have a good idea of what negotiation involves. Yet from the start, single-payor health care was off the table. It was never even raised for discussion. Instead, you moved quickly to have Congress draft a bill involving a public option. And it was all downhill from there. Despite your political capital and urging that this be accomplished quickly, we saw delays, obfuscation by the Republicans, and the ugly spectacle of town hall debates taken over by a group of rabble rousers reminiscent of the worst in our society. The message shifted. The health care plan grew more complex, and frankly, was never really consistent from week to week. One day we had a public option. Then an ”exchange.“ Then an ”opt-out“ public option. Then Medicare for 55 and up as a for-purchase option with no public option (which was probably okay as by then, the public option had been so watered down as to be inconsequential). Interspersed were arguments about fictional ”death panels,“ government bureaucrats coming between doctors and patients, lack of payment for preventative screening tests such as mammography, etc.

    You spoke to a joint session of Congress. I’m sure you remember-that was the night some lunatic expressed his free speech rights by calling you a liar on the floor of the Capitol. They didn’t even do that to poor Bill.

    But good for you. It looked like you were finally taking charge after ceding control to Congress on a very important issue.

    So what happened? You let it run out of control again. Sure, the Republicans were a thorn in your side. But they’re in the minority. A tiny minority. You have a majority in the House and Senate. Even better, there is what was heralded as a ”fillibuster-proof 60-vote majority“ in the Senate. You could do whatever you wanted to, right?

    Well of course not. That ”60-vote majority“ is a figment of some correspondent’s imagination. There never was a safe majority because there aren’t 60 progressives in the Senate. Instead, you have folks like Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman who are about as Democratic as Ronald Reagan. Sure, diversity is a good thing, and I’d love to think the Democratic Party can be a big tent (and in many ways, it really is, unlike the Republicans). But these folks can’t even agree to vote for cloture, let alone for the current health care reform legislation. And you allowed Lieberman, who’s as trusty as the Lion King’s uncle in that Disney movie, to take control and derail reform. He’s still doing it, and will continue to do it. And even if he decided to play nice (which he won’t), you still have major problems in terms of the irreconcilable divide relating to abortion. Good luck solving that one now that Stupak and Pitts opened that can of worms.

    So what can you do now? In all honesty, I have no definitive answers. But directing the Democratic leadership in Congress to play along with Joe Lieberman, Olympia Snowe and everyone else trying to muscle in and control the news of the day around health reform makes you look weak, indecisive, and even (and I really hate this word after it was so abused by that war criminal Dick Cheney) ”dithering.”

    With all due respect, you made the wrong decision in Afghanistan. But at least you made a decision, and I can respect that. The entire point of the Bhagavad-gita is that action is better than non-action. In the case of health care reform, you started by being decisive, but then failed to act. And you’re still acting, at best, in half measures. You need to think to yourself “What would Ronald Reagan do?“ Or JFK. Or Harry Truman. Or even LBJ (no one dared screw around with him). Despite all the forces allied against you, it is within your power to take the lead and control the arguments on health care. Giving a speech to Congress isn’t enough. You and I both have spent time in Chicago and I’m sure you know very well how it’s done-you have to become the alpha dog and even bust some heads to get somewhere. But sometimes the ends justify the means. You still have good favorability ratings. Far better than W during his last days. Use your capital-take control already. Push Lieberman aside. If you want to embrace the minimal sense of bipartisanship, sure, try to get Olympia Snowe to sign on. But do it from a position of strength, not weakness. Right now, Snowe and Lieberman have the power. Snatch it back. Threaten them in a subtle fashion. Bill Clinton would have done it in a heartbeat. You can have Lieberman lose his chairmanship in the Senate. I’m sure there’s some potential pound of flesh you could exact from Snowe to make her go along. But so far you’ve been caving in.

    I get it-it’s great when everyone gets along. I’d love it if the world could work that way. But it doesn’t. Remember the story of the scorpion and the frog? Well, right now, you’re the frog. There are a lot of scorpions out there, unfortunately.

    I’m disappointed, and so are many others who have supported you. Rather than go after Howard Dean, go after Joe Lieberman. Howard is right-this bill is pretty bad and really should be allowed to die in the hopes that something better could be salvaged and adopted by a 51-vote majority.

    More importantly, what happened to the Obama we elected? The Obama we went door-to-door for, who my wife and daughter worked phone banks for?  I understand there is a great void between running for office and running a nation. But even so, your first year has been marked by capitulation after capitulation without much of anything to show for it. It’s still possible to rebound; you have three more years, after all. Bill Clinton made some missteps during his first year as well, and he did well by the country even with his roving penis. You have a much better moral grounding. Now you need to channel some of Clinton’s and even W’s feistiness and even ruthlessness. Like I said, there are many scorpions out there. You can’t keep being the frog.

     
  • dtoub 8:14 am on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 8:14 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: obama   

    new conspiracy theory 


    Recently, Rachel Maddow interviewed the authors of the wildly successful Left Behind books. There apparently has been some concern among Evangelicals that Obama is the Antichrist. These guys put an end to that by stating that the Antichrist only comes after the Rapture, and since that clearly hasn’t happened, logically then, our president can’t be the Antichrist.

    But I think they missed something. According to Jerry Falwell, the Antichrist is well known to be a Jewish male. Indeed, Al Franken’s theory is that Barry Manilow is really the Antichrist. Which got me thinking; what if the Left Behind guys are all wrong? What if Obama really is the Antichrist? But he’s not Jewish, right?

    Well, maybe he is. Remember all those canards about how he’s a secret Muslim? How he’s also a member of an anti-White Christian church? Maybe these were all smokescreens. Let’s face it: a lot of Obama’s best friends are members of the tribe. He lived across the street from a synagogue. Michelle has a relative who is a rabbi. “Barack” might really be a cover for “Baruch.”

    So by the transitive property of religions, Obama is a secret Jew. And therefore could qualify as the Antichrist, since the Antichrist has to be Jewish. Ergo, Obama is the Antichrist. QED.

    Thank goodness I don’t believe in this endtimes stuff. Or else things could get really scary. Just like what’s posited in all these Left Behind books the Christian right seem to buy in droves.

    And I’m just kidding about all this anyway. Isn’t it obvious Barry Manilow really is the Antichrist?

     
    • Paul H. Muller 6:16 pm on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 6:16 pm Permalink

      Well I’ve spotted the obvious flaw in the Obama as Anti-Christ equation.

      Clearly Obama is an Irish name, which cancels out the Jewish possibilty.

      I’m going with Neil Diamond.

    • dtoub 8:06 pm on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 8:06 pm Permalink

      Paul, I’ve met at least one Irish Jew, and certainly have read Joyce’s Ulysses, so there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever why O’bama couldn’t be an Irish Jew. And therefore the antichrist. Again. QED. I do think you have a point with Neil Diamond—he’s up there with Barry Manilow in terms of antichristitude…

    • rchrd 8:51 pm on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 8:51 pm Permalink

      Nah. It’s Yanni, the crypto-Greek, for sure.
      Manilow is just his decoy.

  • dtoub 12:44 pm on Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 12:44 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: obama   

    this still gives me goosebumps one day later 


     
    • Paul H. Muller 6:35 pm on Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 6:35 pm Permalink

      I think Obama’s inauguration speech was solid and made some good points. Of course it was light years better than what we have become accustomed to hearing the last 8 years. Still, I think his victory speech in Chicago on election nite was better, but only by a little. His best speeches are yet to come.

      Obama will be remembered as one of our great Presidential orators – he is as good as Rooseveldt (either one) now and he has a chance to be the equal of Lincoln.

      Somewhere there is another Copeland waiting and listening and someday we will have a “Portrait of Obama”. If you are looking for a challenge, try putting it all into a post-minimal context!

  • dtoub 11:04 pm on Saturday, January 17, 2009, 11:04 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: obama   

    the inaugural express 


    Debbie, Arielle and I worked on the Obama campaign, both for the primary and the final GOTV effort. Debbie and Arielle in particular—Debbie ran the local phone bank, and Arielle did a lot of phone banking. I did door-to-door canvassing, and helped around the campaign office, but Debbie especially did a masterful amount of volunteer work for the campaign, putting in 14+-hour days towards the end.

    Perhaps by random, since we really don’t know what process was used, she was invited with a guest to attend the start of Obama’s inaugural train ride to DC this morning. Only 250 volunteers were to be part of this, so she really lucked out. Fortunately, Debbie chose to bring me over our daughter, so I got to go to see Obama and Arielle got to…well, she got to be really pissed off at me. Life’s like that—glad she’s learning this important lesson early.

    Anyway, we got there about 20 minutes before the doors opened. There were a lot of police and federal officers present, including bomb-sniffing dogs. While there were 250 of us, there was also a large number of VIPs, including politicians like Michael Nutter, Bob Casey, Arlen Specter, Harris Wofford, Josh Shapiro, Alyson Schwartz and Bob Casey. And many others, including those who were invited to travel on Obama’s train (now that would have been really cool), and even the CEO of US Airways, who I somehow recognized a few rows ahead of us (guess I read too many inflight US Airways magazines, since I fly them every other week or so). I avoided the temptation to complain about the crappy service on his airline this past summer, and instead was polite and told him that the pilot of that downed airplane that landed in the Hudson did a great job. It would have been nice, as a high roller with their airline, to have snared some sort of bonus, like an automatic first-class upgrade for my next trip to California, but that didn’t seem to happen. Sigh…

    After intros by local and statewide politicians, Obama, Michelle, Sasha and Malia came out and the crowd went wild. It was very hard to see, but we did manage to grab some halfway-decent photos. I was twittering the entire time, which also gets posted to my Facebook page, so I probably did more twittering today than anytime in the past. I really wish the iPhone had a zoom lens, though, since those were the shots getting posted to Twitter.

    While the crowd was a lot bigger than we thought, so it wasn’t a smallish gathering where everyone could shake hands with Obama, Deb did manage to shake Obama’s hand, give a Secret Service agent some homemade Obama earrings for Sasha and Malia, and procure autographs for our copies of Obama’s two books. Debbie also managed to get interviewed twice, one for Salon.com, and again for our local NBC station. The video of the NBC10 interview is below. Deb’s interview starts at 0:54—she did a great job on camera!

    Note the Obama earrings…


    So I don’t know how Debbie and I became one of 250 local volunteers to see Obama relatively close up at his 30th Street Station event that started his inaugural train ride to Washington, DC, but we’re really amazingly happy we got to attend. It was also wonderful to see several others we came to know through volunteering at the local Baderwood Obama campaign headquarters. When a true grassroots effort like this one actually succeeds, it’s very gratifying. I hope Obama continues to fulfill his promise, and his promises. I also hope that people get beyond partisanship. And race/religion/sexual orientation, etc. Maybe then, we can start to put the horrible events of the past eight years behind us.

     
    • josiahe 11:48 pm on Saturday, January 17, 2009, 11:48 pm Permalink

      It must be wonderful to still believe . . . . if only . . . .

    • Paul H. Muller 1:46 am on Sunday, January 18, 2009, 1:46 am Permalink

      Maybe it was luck or maybe not, but getting to see the start of the Obama Express was deserved for all the hard work. It will be quite a show on Tuesday.

  • dtoub 11:41 pm on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, 11:41 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: obama   

    ok, i’m really, really happy now 


    Hanging out here at our local Obama headquarters and it’s an amazing scene. After a lot of work involving my family and a ton of local friends and new acquaintances, along with the massive efforts of millions of volunteers, the people won. Sanity won. Maybe we finally have our country back. I really hope so.

     
    • Paul H. Muller 11:28 am on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 11:28 am Permalink

      Listening to Obama’s speech last night was like hearing Coltrane after 8 years of being stuck listening to nothing but Country & Western.

    • J.C. Combs 4:05 pm on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 4:05 pm Permalink

      Word.

  • dtoub 10:04 am on Monday, November 3, 2008, 10:04 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: obama,   

    VOTE!!!! 


    I’ve been blogging much more of late on politics than on new music and other things, but this election is really important.

    No surprise here: I totally endorse Obama/BIden. The McCain of 2000 would have made this a tough choice. But McCain has proven to be a tool of George Bush. McCain reversed his principled stance on torture, supporting the Bush Administration’s idiotic belief that waterboarding doesn’t constitute torture and therefore can be applied to detainees. McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin was pandering at best, extremely dangerous and divisive judgement at worst. The tone of McCain’s campaign was the worst I’ve ever seen, and at one point even McCain seemed to realize he’d created a monster out of control. The last time I saw such blatant racism out in front was, maybe, the 60’s. I’m not saying McCain is racist; I don’t believe that at all. But I do think a lot of the core Conservatives out there who are coming to the McCain/Palin rallies are very racist.

    I think most folks who read this blog (all five of you) are keenly aware of how important this election is. It’s like the lettering on any auto transmission: if you choose D you go forward, R takes you backwards. i don’t want to go back to the same crap we’ve just been through for the past eight years. Some people don’t think that McCain’s administration will be another Bush administration. The reality is that McCain’s policies are very close, and often identical, to those of the failed Bush Administration. Indeed, Palin and many other McCain campaign officials can’t come up with any ways that McCain would be different from Bush whenever they get asked that by reporters.

    So please vote tomorrow. It’s not just a right, but a responsibility. And for those few people I’ve come across who remain unregistered and refuse to vote at all, don’t bitch when the government does something you disagree with.

    What remains to be seen is how much disenfranchisement will occur. We need to have some form of automatic voter registration, so that voter suppression will no longer be a tool of the right wing.


     
    • Paul H. Muller 3:49 pm on Monday, November 3, 2008, 3:49 pm Permalink

      I predict Obama with 340+ electoral votes.

      Voter suppression, ballot confusion and other such tricks only work in a closely divided contest where the margin of victory is less than the margin of error (Florida, 2000).

      Won’t work this time. Too many people want to throw the bums out.

    • Mary Jane Leach 8:30 pm on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, 8:30 pm Permalink

      I drove to New Hampshire after voting at 6am here in NY. I am so glad I did – it was truly inspiring. So many volunteers, flooding in from all over. Talking to voters who not only voted for Obama, but were emphatically for him. I’m exhausted, but it was really worth it.

    • Mary Jane Leach 8:32 pm on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, 8:32 pm Permalink

      I drove to New Hampshire after voting at 6am here in NY. I am so glad I did – it was truly inspiring. So many volunteers, flooding in from all over. Talking to voters who not only voted for Obama, but were emphatically for him. I’m exhausted, but it was really worth it.

    • everette minchew 10:04 pm on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 10:04 pm Permalink

      I agree the Mccain of 2000 was a good candidate. This would have been a tougher decision to make if it had been that way.

      McCain was a better candidate before he started pandering and becoming W-ultra lite.

  • dtoub 9:18 am on Monday, November 3, 2008, 9:18 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: obama   

    obama earrings in geneva 


    As anyone who looks at this blog knows, I’m a very big supporter of Obama’s campaign. So’s my entire immediate family—we volunteer, canvas, do phone banking, etc. In particular, my wife Debbie has been giving tons of her time helping to manage the local phone banking activities, and also makes these great Obama earrings (showing the campaign’s logo) that she sells for the campaign.

    Anyway, Debbie sent a pair of Obama earrings to her cousin who lives in Geneva, Switzerland. A local news program apparently did a spot on local US expatriates who are voting for Obama and Deb’s cousin, along with the earrings, made it on the program. It’s hard to see in the image below, since it’s bitmapped a bit, but they’re there. Nice to see that Obama’s reach is pretty global.

     
  • dtoub 1:05 pm on Friday, October 10, 2008, 1:05 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: obama,   

    we’re turning into a nation of haters, thanks to McSame/Palin 


    I’ve lived in Allentown, which is right next door to Bethlehem. Not everyone there is like this. Honest. But some are, and they’re pretty vocal. Fascism, I thought, was thrown in the waste bucket of history after WWII, but perhaps not. This is disgraceful, and none of the Republican candidates are really disowning this or discouraging their minions from becoming an angry mob. Guess that means the good guys are winning, but it’s really scary. Reminds me of the run up to Rabin’s assassination in Israel years ago.

     
    • Paul H. Muller 2:10 pm on Friday, October 10, 2008, 2:10 pm Permalink

      Fascism in Germany was a response to the economic and social turmoil of the 1920’s resulting from the world-wide economic downturn and – at least in part – from the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Fascism was seen as the way forward, not as a defense of the existing government and failed policies.

      The critical time for the US will be after the election: will the new President and Congress be seen as effective in addressing our failing economy and unsuccessful war efforts?

      If yes, democracy will have prevailed. But if Congress persists in being captive to special interests and too many people wind up living on the street with nothing to lose….

      Look out.

    • kraig Grady 9:33 pm on Friday, October 10, 2008, 9:33 pm Permalink

      What a herd!
      Even their insults are mere repeats of what someone before them. It shows what TV does to people.

      Is the US a Fascism if the army is sent into the streets?
      3rd infantry awaits

    • ks 10:09 am on Saturday, October 11, 2008, 10:09 am Permalink

      “Every nation has the government it deserves.”

      ~Joseph Marie de Maistre

    • J.C. Combs 5:54 pm on Thursday, October 23, 2008, 5:54 pm Permalink

      If somebody were to tell me all these people were actors portraying a bunch of stereotypical bigots, I wouldn’t be surprised.

      Lets face it, we know those people were simply staying silent in order to avoid a racist reputation. A little rhetoric from the right (Palin pumping up the base) and all of a sudden their racist silence is turned up.

    • mark 7:29 pm on Sunday, December 7, 2008, 7:29 pm Permalink

      and to imaging that those people have guns!
      yikes all the way from Europe here…

  • dtoub 5:23 pm on Friday, October 3, 2008, 5:23 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: obama   

    the things I miss for work… 


    I’m in Mexico for work, all while my wife and daughter got to be a few feet away from our next president during his rally in Abington, PA, just minutes from our house in Wyncote. Sigh…


     
    • Paul H. Muller 10:08 pm on Friday, October 3, 2008, 10:08 pm Permalink

      You are lucky to live in a battleground state.

      Here in SoCal everyone has written us off into the Democrat column, so we don’t get any candidates to visit except to raise money from Hollywood types. Side Benefit: no campaign ads.

      At least in Mexico the food will be good.

    • dtoub 1:08 am on Saturday, October 4, 2008, 1:08 am Permalink

      True—we’re definitely getting attention as a state for a change. The ads do get to be a bit much after awhile though, as you note.

      The food isn’t bad. Not the most vegetarian-friendly place, but dinner was just fine tonight. Thanks!

  • dtoub 12:45 am on Saturday, July 12, 2008, 12:45 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Canada, obama, political expediency   

    an enlightened attitude about abortion 


    I had dinner tonight with two Canadian colleagues, and near the end of dinner (after regaling each other with the usual gynecologic surgery “war stories”), somehow the topic of abortion came up. For starters, unlike some experiences I’ve had with gynecologists in my own country, I was not shunned nor was the conversation suddenly uncomfortable for the other physicians. Even better, I was told that in Canada, there are simply no laws regulating abortion; none whatsoever. Instead, it is considered something outside of the legal and legislative domains; it is a matter between a woman and her physician. 

    Amazing. This was literally one of the few times I didn’t feel slightly ill at ease when talking about one of the most common gynecologic procedures with my fellow gynecologists. Usually someone looks at me when the subject comes up and says something to the effect of “Oh David, do we have to talk about that?” or “Mind you, I’m ‘pro-choice.’ Really. But I don’t do voluntary interruptions of pregnancy; they’re kind of associated with a certain reputation.“ Or else they just stop talking and politely find an excuse to walk away. These folks never mention the ”a-word.“ Every medical euphemism gets used instead: ”voluntary interruption of pregnancy,“ ”VIP,“ ”elective terminations.“ But never the word ”abortion.“ I think I have a scarlet ”a“ on my forehead, even a decade after stopping clinical practice altogether.

    So it was refreshing that up here they wouldn’t interfere with the most private decisions, indeed some of the most difficult decisions, a woman makes in conjunction with her physician. They don’t determine, for example, when a fetus becomes a person. They also don’t legislate moral and religious questions such as when does life begin, questions that lack sufficient medical or scientific answers.

    In a week when the Republican candidate can’t recall his previous vote against requiring insurers to pay for birth control (when they already cover Viagra) and then claims to not have thought about the issue at all, and a week when my candidate inexplicably claims that second-trimester abortion can be restricted by states when the indication is ”mental distress,“ it’s refreshing to be in a country, albeit temporarily, that at least recognizes that women have brains and should have control over their bodies.

    Barack, just between you and me: my family and I are volunteers for your campaign in the Philadelphia suburbs. I am about as strong an Obama supporter as you’ll ever see. But with all due respect, what were you thinking? States should be able to prohibit second-trimester abortion unless there is a physical disorder that would result from the pregnancy?  I get it…you’re trying to pick up some right-wing voters. But good luck with that; they don’t trust you on abortion and probably never will. Worse: some of us progressives are now questioning your commitment to our issues in light of your FISA vote, your comments on abortion, and your sudden support for faith-based initiatives. Going to the center during the general election is one thing, but going into Rush Limbaugh-ville is scary. 

    For starters, please stop using the phrase ”late-term abortion.“ There is no such medical term. A term pregnancy is 37-42 weeks in gestation. So isn’t late-term what we would usually call ”post-term pregnancy,“ namely 42 weeks and above? We don’t do abortions at that point. I don’t think I’ve done one above 20 weeks personally, and know of very few folks who do them even at 28 weeks (and those few generally do them in cases of severe fetal defects incompatible with normal life). Also, for anyone to suggest that a woman wakes up one morning at 24 weeks of pregnancy and decides then that ”What the hell, let’s go have an abortion” is both insulting and ridiculous at the same time. When we use the term “acute situational anxiety of pregnancy” as an indication for abortion, we’re talking about women who, after a complicated and very difficult decision process, clearly indicate that their lives would be abnormally and unduly burdensome due to a pregnancy. We’re not talking about a temporary inconvenience that some women are callously avoiding, much like the way that Corporal Klinger tried to avoid being in the military on M*A*S*H by faking a gender disorder. We’re talking about much more than that. To say that “mental distress” should not justify a second-trimester abortion is not within your purview as a presidential candidate, as an attorney and legislator, and most importantly, as a non-clinician.

    I expect McCain to say something ridiculous vis a vis women’s rights, like trying to duck the fact that he voted down legislation to compel insurers to fund contraception. I expected Barack Obama to be much more sensitive to the rights of women when they are faced with an unexpected and undesired pregnancy, much like how I expected Obama to stand up for privacy rights and against the telecommunications companies that colluded with the Bush administration to spy on private communications. I’ll still vote for you and will of course continue to vigorously volunteer for your campaign as much as I can with limited free time. But please don’t disappoint me again. Do I have to visit Canada to encounter a more advanced attitude towards women? Can’t I at least expect this attitude in my own country as part of the change I can believe in? Right now I’m tired, and am not sure what to believe anymore.

     
    • J.C. Combs 1:32 am on Saturday, July 12, 2008, 1:32 am Permalink

      On a similar note: I’m a huge Obama supporter, but what the F was he thinking by signing the spy bill????

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121563101362340065.html

    • James Ross 8:47 pm on Sunday, July 13, 2008, 8:47 pm Permalink

      Strong post, David.

      Sadly, Obama is doing what he has to do. He needs the center. No matter what he may say. The “liberal/progressive” vote is in the bank. Seriously, is there anything he could do to make you to shift your vote to McCain? Or to cause you to sit out the election?

      I hate seeing him do this.

    • David 5:35 am on Monday, July 14, 2008, 5:35 am Permalink

      I agree, James. Still, had to vent a bit…

    • PassionateProvider 12:32 pm on Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 12:32 pm Permalink

      “To say that “mental distress” should not justify a second-trimester abortion is not within your purview as a presidential candidate, as an attorney and legislator, and most importantly, as a non-clinician.” Very well said. This is something that frustrates me to no end. The private lives and choices of women have been forced into the public realm where any random asshole feels justified and even entitled in imposing their judgments.

      By the way, I would advise you to stay away from Alberta (the Texas of the North). It might taint your image of our otherwise fairly progressive country.

    • dtoub 1:05 pm on Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 1:05 pm Permalink

      Thanks. So Alberta is like the US then? 8-)

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