Tag Archives: politics

Oklahoma – Let’s override the Veto

May 21, 2014

Hey Oklahoma, you may be wondering why your FB feed is blowing up with people upset about some “veto”. 

Here it is in a nutshell: 

“Gov. Fallin vetoed a bill that was passed in both chambers that would have returned some local control to parents and schools regarding retention of third graders. The bill loosened the terms of the Reading Sufficiency Act to allow a team consisting of teachers, the principal, a reading specialist and a parent to decide whether or not a student would be promoted to fourth grade. That’s sensible.

Gov. Fallin vetoed it. Logic implosion.”
(Betty Casey, tulsakids.com)

It’s not too late to fix this mess.  Here’s what we need to do.  Email or Call your Representatives – RIGHT NOW.  Start with Speaker of the House, Speaker Hickman, (405) 557-7339.

Not sure what to say?  Here is a script.  It will really help so you won’t get flustered and sound like an idiot.  Trust me.  I know all about sounding like an idiot on the phone.

Override the veto script:

Hi, this is (your name).  I live in (your town) Oklahoma.  I’m calling to urge your to override the veto of House Bill 2625.  I am a concerned (mother, father, educator, business owner, etc.) and I am shocked that the Governor vetoed this bill.  I agree that our kids need to be proficient readers in order to succeed in school.  However, this veto would strip the ability of our educators, reading specialists and parents to determine if a child truly needs to be held back or would benefit from additional help in order to move on.  Don’t allow a single test to determine the future of our kids.  Please give some of the power back to our educators and parents who know what is best for their students and children.  Please override House Bill 2625.  Thank you.

More than likely you will get a voicemail or their assistant.  Either way, leave this message and leave a call back number to show that your are serious.  Stay calm, don’t ramble, try not to get overly excited or angry.  

Go, go now and call.  Call like the wind.  Please.

 

Let your light shine in spite of gun violence

November 21, 2013

darkness cannot drive out darkness

We’re approaching the one year anniversary.  The day our nation came to a screeching halt and every parent gave extra hugs and bed time cuddles.  The day 26 precious lives were taken at Sandy Hook Elementary and we started a revised definition of gun violence in America.

Over the past year our lives have moved on.  Last December was a really tough time.  My optimism was put to the test but over time my hope and faith in the goodness of people rose back up to its normal levels.  As a nation we were able to pick ourselves back up and continue with life.  We hugged and cuddled our kids a little more and then they drove us crazy like normal.  Normal; life went back to normal.  And when it wasn’t normal we figured out a way to make it right.

This week I read this post about a group of open carry supporters “peaceably” protesting a small group of women who were meeting to discuss gun policy.  The women were members of a group called Moms Demand Action.  Moms Demand Action was formed after Sandy Hook in an effort to find ways to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people.  They don’t oppose gun ownership or the right to bear arms.  They just want to make sure that responsible adults are gun owners and use their guns responsibly.  Radical, right?

After I finished reading it my faith in humanity dropped several notches.  I felt sick to my stomach reading through the threats and comments that have been aimed at Moms Demand Action members and founder, Shannon Watts.  Is this were we are headed?  Do we just shrug our shoulders at this type of behavior online and off?  If so, we have a serious leg up on achieving idiocracy.  You may say that the people who spew such hate and filth are the minority.  Maybe so, but they are the loudest and you know what they say about the squeaky wheel.

I’m curious to know if the men who “peaceably” assembled, armed to the teeth, were in church the Sunday before.  They could have been sitting a few pews down from these women for all they know.  I wonder if they people who write threatening and hate filled comments on the Moms Demand Action website and facebook page label themselves as Christians.  If they do then that is all it is, a label.  This behavior is the furthest thing I can think of from the example Christ set for us and wants us to live by.

Since Sandy Hook, CDC estimates 31,075 gun deaths in America.  That number is too high.  Those were preventable deaths.  Moms Demand Action was formed, not to take guns away from owners but rather to find sensible, rational solutions to this tragedy that our nation doesn’t seem to give a flip about.  I honestly believe that there is absolutely nothing in the world anyone could say to those protesters or people who threaten those seeking change.  Their ears are closed to anything that contradicts their warped view of society and reality.  The concept of working for the greater good, selflessness and loving their neighbor as well as their enemy is lost on them.  I bet that they think the statement “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” is about the dumbest verse in the bible.  Right behind turn the other cheek.

It’s pointless to try and talk to someone who won’t hold a civil debate but you know who is listening?  Politicians.  The individuals at the state and national level whom we entrust to do the right thing for the greater good listen.  They are interested to who is making the most noise because their end game is reelection.  For the love of public safety email your Senator and Representative.  Don’t post on their Facebook pages.  The haters troll those places and you will experience their wrath.  Trust me, I know.

I wanted to title this post If you don’t have anything nice to say then shut the hell up.  That wouldn’t be very nice of me, now would it.  Violence does not have to be the norm and statistics don’t have to keep rising.  Darkness is just the absence of light.  While my faith in humanity may be tested, I know in my heart that there are more of us out there who chose light and love.  We just need to let that light shine.

A Blank Check – What Commitment Really Means

October 16, 2013

I sang at a funeral today.  Nobody I knew, just something I do every now and then if I’m requested or if the other singer isn’t available.

The man the service was for was a life time military man.  He served in Vietnam and was highly decorated.  He knew what it meant to serve his God, family and country honorably.  When they began to wheel the casket out two older men in the congregation popped up and saluted while this gentleman made his last trip down our church’s aisle.  I can go the entire service dry eyed, sing heart wrenching songs with out a crack in my voice, but when something like that happens my eyes well up and threaten to brim over.

In the last few weeks of his life he spoke with our minister about how he wanted his service to be preformed and about his life in the military.  He explained what it means to be a veteran.  He said that when you make a commitment to your country you are signing your name to a blank check with the knowledge that you will make good on the payment whatever the cost.  He said you never default on that check and always pay your debts.  When you make a commitment to God or family or country the right and honorable thing to do is keep your commitment.  This man, like so many others, served their country honorably and never ever defaulted on their debt.

What a poignant sentiment to hear when our country is on the brink of defaulting on it’s debts.  Good, honest people are serving our country, making sacrifices and are now going without because our leaders can’t quit their squabbling.  While our economy is at a precipice and people are going to work without pay, our “leaders” continue to bicker.

Washington, please, do the right thing.  For the sake of every American who is serving their country.  For the sake of my friend’s husband who just finished basic training for the Army reserve only to come home and find out he won’t get the pay he was counting on.  For the sake of the families who are mourning their loved ones and a thought they weren’t going to get their benefits.  For the sake of this honorable man who served his country and never dreamed of defaulting on his debts.

For goodness sakes,  if you’re not sure what it means to make a commitment and live up to it just look to the people who are suffering from your folly.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

April 16, 2013

stained glass

Something has been on my heart since December.  For the past 4 months I’ve been having an internal struggle and dialog with myself about this.  I have debated whether or not to share my feelings and have waited this long because often, I don’t even know what my feelings really are.  When you hear a Christian say “something has been on my heart” you better sit down or walk the other direction because things are about to get serious. Continue reading

Is Jesus a Rebublican or Democrat?

September 12, 2012

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.  Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we wee you sick or in prison and go to visit you?  The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

~Matthew 25: 35-40

Every four years about this time I start hearing this conversation, or some form of it.  If Jesus were here would he be registered as a Democrat or a Republican?  Maybe he would have Socialist leanings so he would choose not to label himself as either.  Would he even participate in the democratic process?

I like to think that he would participate in the process and cast a vote, and I bet he would keep his vote a secret.  I’ve heard a strong argument that Jesus would be a Democrat.  Look at his record.  He was all about equal rights, helping the disenfranchised, feeding the poor and healing those who had no health insurance and who would use the ER for non-emergencies because they didn’t have a regular doctor to go to or any way to pay for it.  Well, maybe he wasn’t an ER doc but he was all about healing not only their ailing bodies but also their damaged souls for the low, low price of go and sin no more or don’t tell anyone about this.

On the flip side I’ve heard an argument that Jesus’ call to take care of the poor, widowed and sick was not a request for government social services but a call to action for the church.  One could argue that the church needs to step up and take responsibility for those in our society who can’t help themselves.  The church needs to support the organizations that support unwed mothers, feed and shelter the homeless.  A strong argument can be made that the Church can do a whole lot more.

Technically, the “church” wasn’t even invented yet when Jesus was spreading his message.  His call to action was for his followers and disciples.  But I get the point and I agree; the Church can and should be doing more.  However, just saying yeah, the Church should be doing more is not enough.  That is putting the task and responsibility of care-taking off on somebody else.  Placing the burden of social services on someone else or someone official allows us to blame them (whoever them is) when we see someone homeless or a teenage mother keeping the same diaper on her baby because she can’t afford to change it every time it get’s soiled.

Christians, churches and private citizens need to do more in answer to Jesus’ call.  But why stop there?  If Jesus’ call to action was for the people, are politicians immune from doing their share?  Shouldn’t they have to shoulder the burden as well?  Should they have to serve in their communities and privately support charitable organizations as well as create laws and services that protect the disenfranchised?  It’s both/and.  Not either/or.

As Christians, is it our responsibility to support the legislation that protects the least of these?  We’re all in this together.  Rich, poor, Republican, Democrat, Christian, Jew, Muslim and everyone in between.

Doing the right thing is a group effort.

Update to the Personhood Update

April 28, 2012

Check out the original Personhood post here.

(Oklahoma State Capitol rotunda)

Since my first visit to the state capitol as an advocate for IVF families and campaigning against Personhood I have been a busy little bee.  I have been to the capitol several times and even got a couple of more friends involved.  One friend, Kate, got involved because she is also an IVF mom and felt like she couldn’t sit back and be silent. Continue reading

Personhood Update

April 13, 2012

Three weeks ago I wrote about the Personhood bill making its way through Oklahoma and how I felt about it.  I mentally prepared myself for negative backlash and am happy to report that all the feedback I received was positive and uplifting.  Thank you, that gave me hope.

Since that post I have had an interesting three weeks.  I’ve made a new friend, Susan, the author of the letter to the editor mentioned in my Personhood post.  You think I’m hot to trot on this issue?  This gal is on fire!  Susan and I visited the state capitol twice and she showed me the in’s and out’s of speaking with Representatives without an appointment.  The first visit I was very nervous but pleasantly surprised to learn that you can walk right into someone’s office and ask to speak with them.  We spent a lot of time going from office to office, educating Representatives about the IVF process, freezing embryos and when pregnancy actually occurs compared to conception.  What was most surprising was that most of the time they were happy to have us sit down, listen, and talk to us.

(Gateway to the House of Representatives)

The second time we visited was during the morning session.  The desk in front of the House floor entrance was a buzz with activity.  Apparently, it’s common for lobbyists, constituents, Oklahomans with an agenda, and various other political types to request Representatives to leave the House floor to talk to them.  That’s exactly what we did since I was keen to talk to my Representative regarding Personhood.  Once he came out to see us (we had to wait a while) he only had a few minutes to talk but suggested we meet him in his office later that morning so he could hear what we had to say.  He was up front that he would probably vote for this bill.  I expected that but gave him a lot of food for thought before he actually casts that vote.

So here’s the 4-1-1 on SB1433.  Two weeks ago the bill went to House Committee where it was discussed and an amendment was added that reads (in part) “Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit contraception or in vitro fertilization.  The authority to regulate in vitro fertilization procedures is reserved by the Legislature.”

At first reading one would assume this solves the IVF problem.  I have to disagree.  The amendment does not define IVF or contraception.  By definition in vitro fertilization means fertilization in glass.  The definition of IVF does not involve cryopreservation (freezing) of embryos even though it can be an integral part of the process (as it was in my case).  Also, there is not an exception to save the life of the mother in a life threatening situation.  Alarmingly, the amendment reserves the right for the state to regulate IVF procedures.  Why in the world would the state need to regulate IVF?  This is a big red flag.

Here’s the cold hard truth.  This bill is more than likely going to go to the House for discussion and a vote.  I don’t know when that will happen but I would guess soon.  Because this is an election year and a vast majority of our legislators (Republican and Democrat alike) don’t want to vote against a bill that has been labeled “pro-life” this bill will more than likely pass.  I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

Since my visit to the capitol I’ve been looking for a silver lining.  Here is what I’ve come up with so far.  If this bill is going to pass then why not make it safe for IVF, cryopreservation, contraception and the mother if in a life threatening situation.  All we need are some definitions here people.

If I have lit even the smallest fire under you (and you live in Oklahoma) I urge you to contact your representative.  You would be very surprised at how willing they are to listen to their constituents (especially in an election year).   If you’re not sure how to get a hold of them this website will help you find both your US and state reps.

Friends, this is how democracy works.  Be a part of the solution.

Click here for an update to this update.

Lets put the Personhood Act under the microscope

March 27, 2012

Interested to learn more? Check out my Personhood Update

 

~

2 fertilized eggs 5 days after conception (blastocyst) as seen under a microscope.

Hold on to your hats folks and put your hot glue gun down because things are going to get a little serious.

For over a month I have been having a debate in my head whether or not to blog about this.  The Personhood Act – defining life as beginning at conception.

Back in February I read that the Oklahoma state Senate handily passed a bill that would say life begins at conception.  Parts of the bill read as follows:  “The life of every human being begins at conception” and “The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every state of development all the right, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”

One of the reason’s I’ve been debating whether or not to write about this is because I know a lot of my readers are conservative and pro-life, and might possibly agree with this bill.  My intent is not to question anybody’s stance on abortion or belittle the importance or status of an unborn child.  My purpose here is to encourage critical thinking and question what this bill means and what implications it could have on Oklahoma families.  Discussions can get very heated when hot button words like “abortion”, “pro-life”, and “pro-choice” are used.  Instead of getting defensive I hope that this encourages someone to take a look at this issue from a different point of view that they may not have been open to considering before.

That being said the idea of life beginning at conception has many layers.  I’m not going to try and peel back all of those layers in this one little post.  Rather I would like to take a look at just a couple of things that really concern me.

If I read this bill the way it is intended I am led to interpret it to say that a fertilized egg has all the same rights and should be treated the same as a living human being.  Laws that govern how we treat each other would also be applied to a blastocyst and embryo.  I’ve had some experience with fertilized eggs.  You may already know that my little Harry was created using in-vitro fertilization (IVF).  Before he was a fetus, even before he was an embryo, he was a microscopic clump of cells in a dish in a doctor’s office.  5 days after fertilization two little blastocysts were transferred to my uterus.  That picture at the top…those were my fertilized eggs.  I believe that those little groups of cells were not babies yet.  I think they had the potential to become babies but they were not yet babies.

Last week I read a letter to the editor in our local paper.  It was from an IVF mom who was also concerned about the Personhood Act.  I didn’t know her but was so moved by what she wrote I called her to tell her just that.  She did such a good job describing the IVF process and why the Personhood Act threatens future parents who have to use this method to get pregnant I want to share it here.

“By declaring a fertilized egg a person entitled to all “rights, privileges, and immunities” under state law, SB 1433 threatens the availability and effectiveness of infertility treatments and birth control in Oklahoma.

Because successful in-vitro fertilization (IVF) involves fertilization of multiple eggs, not all of which will survive, SB 1433 would curtail and possibly criminalize this life-giving procedure.

In nature, as in IVF, only 30% of fertilized eggs become babies; the rest either fail to implant or are spontaneously miscarried.  And while there is no denying cell division begins at conception, there is also no denying it cannot continue – a baby cannot develop and grow – unless and until pregnancy occurs.

Ask any person who has experienced infertility whether conception is the same thing as pregnancy and the answer will be a resounding “no”.

My own experience is illustrative.  The first time my husband and I underwent IVF, I produced 18 eggs, of which 16 fertilized in the lab but only three developed into blastocysts. (A blastocyst is the microscopic cluster of cells into which a fertilized egg develops five days after conception.)  My doctor transferred all three blastocysts to my uterus, but none implanted.  I wasn’t pregnant.  Sixteen conceptions achieved, zero persons created.

Our second round of IVF was much more successful.  I became pregnant with our daughter, and we were able to cryogenically preserve (freeze) several blastocysts for future use.  Two years later, I became pregnant via frozen blastocyst transfer and we welcomed a baby boy into our family.

Had SB 1433 been law at the time, our son would not be alive today.  If a fertilized egg is a person, it will be no more lawful to freeze a five-day-old blastocyst than it would to freeze my now 5-year-old son.  The lack of cryopreservation as an option will deny the gift of pregnancy and childbirth to hundreds of Oklahomans each year.

Not only would SB 1433 limit IVF options for couples who do want to become pregnant, it would also limit birth-control options for couples who don’t want to become pregnant.  Because family-planning methods such as IUDs and the morning-after pill might operate post-conception but pre-pregnancy, they would be outlawed under this bill.  The result?  More unintended pregnancies and, therefore, more abortions.

It all comes down to this: Who should make such vital and deeply personal decisions for Oklahomans: patients in consultation with licensed medical professionals, or politicians in consultation with agenda-driven lobbyists?”

-Susan Plath Winston

Susan’s story is very similar to mine.  Before Harry was Harry he was cryogenically frozen before being transferred to my uterus.  He would not have been possible without this technology.  Dear Husband and I can’t imagine life without him and anybody who has ever had the pleasure to meet Harry feels the same way.  He is a bright ray of light in our lives.

During an election year there is always talk about how big government is getting.  Talk of regulation, deregulation, personal freedoms, social services, and who’s going to pay for what clog the airwaves and define party lines.  I find it very interesting that the same people who want government to stay out of their lives and feel that it has gotten too big and intrusive in our private lives support this bill.  Having a politician tell me exactly when life begins seems pretty big to me.

Another thing that concerns me is the authority for which this bill was written.  With what authority did the author of this bill, Senator Brian Crain of Tulsa, site to make such a bold statement that life begins at conception?  The medical community does not agree with this statement, however a very conservative religious community does.  I wonder if he was led by his Christian beliefs?  Maybe he’s not but I know that a large portion of Personhood supporters are.  I can think of a number of bible verses that someone could use to argue the point.  For sake of argument let’s use Psalm 139: 13  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  When it comes to abortion and protecting unborn babies matters of the heart and one’s faith play a large roll.  And that’s important.  But when it comes to using Christianity and manipulating people’s beliefs to further a political agenda, then I have a problem with that.  Saying that a fertilized egg is a person and using bible passages as a point of reference or proof is disrespecting the passage as well as the belief system.  Using the bible as scientific evidence to prove that a embryo is it’s own individual is a misuse of the scripture, irresponsible and should not come into play.  Psalm 139 is a beautiful love song between God and his people.  Using it as anything other is missing the point of the Psalm all together. Of course we search the scriptures for divine guidance but when we put the text before it’s creator and demand that we can glean all of life’s mysteries, scientific as well as spiritual, then we have missed the boat.  Soon we start to worship the words instead of the divine.

Asking questions, thinking critically and examining how the scriptures square with scientific advancements in 2012 is a slippery slope.  Beware.  If you live on that slippery slope, like I do, I encourage you to write or email your state representatives.  If you want to you can use Resolve: The National Infertility Association website.  There you can find a letter that you can customize (if you want to) and send it right off to one or all of our representatives.

If you don’t want to, that’s your choice.  But I ask you to think about families who want a ray of light in their life but need help finding the light switch.

personhood act

Keystone Pipeline – Is it worth it?

September 30, 2011

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot recently about this 1,661 mile pipeline that may stretch from Canada to Texas.  It will carry tar sand from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico where I assume it will be refined into oil.

Proponents for the pipeline say that it will create jobs and help reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East.  Both very valid points.  Opponents of the pipeline say that it is a serious threat to the ecosystems the pipeline passes through and poses the threat of polluting the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies irrigation and drinking water for 8 states, including Oklahoma (see Norman Transcript for full article).

The environmentalist in me is hearing warning bells going off.  I don’t pretend to know all the details into exactly how this is going to be built or exactly what the environmental threat is or how it could take place.  I’ve heard interviews on the radio about the process and listened to both sides of the argument.  I have read that refining tar sand into oil is a much more complicated, expensive and risky process than the traditional crude oil refining process.  I’m sure that the company who will build this pipeline has all sorts of safety measures in place and will guarantee that our drinking water will be safe but I can’t help but think about what happened in the Gulf last year.  I’m sure that BP and Halliburton had all sorts of safety measures and assurances that their oil extraction was up to code and right on par with environmental regulations.  Well, that didn’t exactly turn out the way they thought now did it.

We need oil, there’s no doubt about it.  Is oil refined from tar sand our best and only option?  At what cost are we willing to supply our need/addiction for the black gold?  I have a great fear that those with the most power and money regarding this matter will get their way.

We have been placed in a position of stewardship of this planet and her resources.  To be quite frank I don’t think we are being very good stewards.  To be even more frank I don’t think that the One who gave it to us in the first place is very happy with how we are taking care of “his creation”.

Creating jobs is important, there’s no doubt about it.  Here’s a thought.  How about instead of spending the millions (possibly billions) of dollars on the pipeline, spend it on developing alternative fuel sources.  Sounds like a lot of jobs could be found and created there.

Sometimes I feel like as a culture we can’t see the forest for the trees.  Pretty soon there may not be any trees to see.