Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gnombre!

This guy just made his retirement!  

http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2012/02/26/gnombre-hits-fundraising-goal-in.html 

I wish I would have come up with this idea, but then again...  I'd probably be branded a racist if I did!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy to Live in Arizona!

While we do get snow and icy roads from time to time, we don't have to deal with them very often...  be warned, there is a gruesome crash in this video...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rush Limbaugh Apologizes

With all the hullabaloo over what Rush Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke, and Rush's apology, I have to add my 2 cents...

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.
My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

What did Sandra Fluke really say?  The source I am quoting from actually opposes Rush and is asking for support in that opposition - I do not support the opposition.
http://www.whereistheoutrage.net/wordpress/2012/03/04/more-on-limbaugh-and-exactly-what-did-sandra-fluke-say/
My name is Sandra Fluke, and I’m a third-year student at Georgetown Law School. I’m also a past-president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice or LSRJ. And I’d like to acknowledge my fellow LSRJ members and allies and all of the student activists with us and thank them so much for being here today.

We, as Georgetown LSRJ, are here today because we’re so grateful that this regulation implements the non-partisan medical advice of the Institute of Medicine.

I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. And just as we students have faced financial, emotional, and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously-affiliated hospitals and institutions and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens.

We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women.

Simultaneously, the recently announced adjustment addresses any potential conflict with the religious identity of Catholic or Jesuit institutions.

When I look around my campus, I see the faces of the women affected by this lack of contraceptive coverage.

And especially in the last week, I have heard more and more of their stories. On a daily basis, I hear yet from another woman from Georgetown or from another school or who works for a religiously-affiliated employer, and they tell me that they have suffered financially and emotionally and medically because of this lack of coverage.

And so, I’m here today to share their voices, and I want to thank you for allowing them – not me – to be heard.

Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy.

One told us about how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn’t afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.

Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn’t fit it into their budget anymore. Women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice.

And some might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.

Women’s health clinic provide a vital medical service, but as the Guttmacher Institute has definitely documented, these clinics are unable to meet the crushing demand for these services. Clinics are closing, and women are being forced to go without the medical care they need.

How can Congress consider the [Rep. Jeff] Fortenberry (R-Neb.), [Sen. Marco] Rubio (R-Fla.) and [Sen. Roy] Blunt (R-Mo.) legislation to allow even more employers and institutions to refuse contraception coverage and then respond that the non-profit clinics should step up to take care of the resulting medical crisis, particularly when so many legislators are attempting to de-fund those very same clinics?

These denial of contraceptive coverage impact real people.

In the worst cases, women who need these medications for other medical conditions suffer very dire consequences.

A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and she has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown’s insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy.

Unfortunately, under many religious institutions and insurance plans, it wouldn’t be. There would be no exception for other medical needs. And under Sen. Blunt’s amendment, Sen. Rubio’s bill or Rep. Fortenberry’s bill there’s no requirement that such an exception be made for these medical needs.

When this exception does exist, these exceptions don’t accomplish their well-intended goals because when you let university administrators or other employers rather than women and their doctors dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose are not, women’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body.

In 65% of the cases at our school, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they needed prescription and whether they were lying about their symptoms.

For my friend and 20% of the women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription. Despite verifications of her illness from her doctor, her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted birth control to prevent pregnancy. She’s gay. So clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy for her.

After months paying over $100 out-of-pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore, and she had to stop taking it.

I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that in the middle of the night in her final exam period she’d been in the emergency room. She’d been there all night in just terrible, excruciating pain. She wrote to me, ‘It was so painful I’d woke up thinking I’ve been shot.’

Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary as a result.

On the morning I was originally scheduled to give this testimony, she was sitting in a doctor’s office, trying to cope with the consequences of this medical catastrophe.

Since last year’s surgery, she’s been experiencing night sweats and weight gain and other symptoms of early menopause as a result of the removal of her ovary. She’s 32-years-old.

As she put it, ‘If my body indeed does enter early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children. I will have no choice at giving my mother her desperately desired grandbabies simply because the insurance policy that I paid for, totally unsubsidized by my school, wouldn’t cover my prescription for birth control when I needed it.’

Now, in addition to potentially facing the health complications that come with having menopause at such an early age – increased risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis – she may never be able to conceive a child.

Some may say that my friend’s tragic story is rare. It’s not. I wish it were

One woman told us doctors believe she has endometriosis, but that can’t be proven without surgery. So the insurance has not been willing to cover her medication – the contraception she needs to treat her endometriosis.

Recently, another woman told me that she also has polycystic ovarian syndrome and she’s struggling to pay for her medication and is terrified to not have access to it.

Due to the barriers erected by Georgetown’s policy, she hasn’t been reimbursed for her medications since last August.

I sincerely pray that we don’t have to wait until she loses an ovary or is diagnosed with cancer before her needs and the needs of all of these women are taken seriously.

Because this is the message that not requiring coverage of contraception sends: A woman’s reproductive health care isn’t a necessity, isn’t a priority.

One woman told us that she knew birth control wasn’t covered on the insurance and she assumed that that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handle all of women’s reproductive and sexual health care. So when she was raped, she didn’t go to the doctor, even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections, because she thought insurance wasn’t going to cover something like that – something that was related to a woman’s reproductive health.

As one other student put it: ‘This policy communicates to female students that our school doesn’t understand our needs.’

These are not feelings that male fellow student experience and they’re not burdens that male students must shoulder.

In the media lately, some conservative Catholic organizations have been asking what did we expect when we enroll in a Catholic school?

We can only answer that we expected women to be treated equally, to not have our school create untenable burdens that impede our academic success.

We expected that our schools would live up to the Jesuit creed of ‘cura personalis‘ – to care for the whole person – by meeting all of our medical needs.

We expected that when we told our universities of the problem this policy created for us as students, they would help us.

We expected that when 94% of students oppose the policy the university would respect our choices regarding insurance students pay for – completely unsubsidized by the university.

We did not expect that women would be told in the national media that we should have gone to school elsewhere.

And even if that meant going to a less prestigious university, we refuse to pick between a quality education and our health. And we resent that in the 21st century, anyone think it’s acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we are women.

Many of the women whose stories I’ve shared today are Catholic women. So ours is not a war against the church. It is a struggle for the access to the health care we need.

The President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges has shared that Jesuit colleges and the universities appreciate the modifications to the rule announced recently. Religious concerns are addressed and women get the health care they need. And I sincerely hope that that is something we can all agree upon.

Thank you very much.
OK, this sounds quite noble of Ms. Fluke, but in reality she is asking a Catholic institution to go against its moral stance on contraception.  THAT is the bottom line.  Certainly there are exceptions to the rule, but where does one draw the line?  If Georgetown University just opens up and give all female students contraceptive coverage - where does it end?  What about MALE rights?  Are males to be given coverage for erectile disfunction?  Or, as Rush pointed out, do we provide sneakers for all students who want to run to stay fit?   

Yes, Ms. Fluke's comments do not directly state she is interested in having sex outside of marriage without any consequences - but then again she's not advocating purely for medically necessary treatments which include drugs which are also contraceptive.  No, she's there to applaud Congress and President Obama for the HHS mandate being forced upon Catholic institutions - and the HHS mandate is not purely for purposes of medical necessity - but ANY use of contraception, which is wholly contrary to the moral standards of a Catholic institution.  

It must be pointed out that Ms. Fluke lists a few anecdotal situations in the extreme, but at the same time states "40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy."  So on one hand she lists extreme cases - and on the other she implies that 40% of the female students are in this predicament.  Considering that contraception is NOT as expensive as Ms. Fluke states (she stated it costs up to $3000 for the period of time students are at law school), "the pill" costs about $171 for the first year, a diaphragm costs about $160 and IUD's are about $131 (source) is she saying she'll be in law school for over 17 years?!  

To answer to Ms. Fluke's point about being told that she should have gone to school elsewhere, well, if you want coverage for something morally opposed by the institution's religious standards - then yes, you should have gone to school elsewhere.  There are plenty of schools out there with lower moral standards than Georgetown.  No one twisted your arm and forced you to go to Georgetown.  If you want a degree from a Catholic institution, then there are consequences (good ones, from my perspective!) which you must deal with.

In short, did Ms. Fluke admit to "slut" behavior?  No, but who does she think she's fooling?  In isolated cases of medical necessity a drug which also has contraceptive attributes can be used - even provided by Catholic institutions - but again, to think that 40% of the female population at Georgetown fits that category of "medical necessity" is ludicrous.  The fact is many, if not most, of those seeking contraception are doing so precisely for the reasons Mr. Limbaugh used his platform of absurdity to demonstrate.  Should Mr. Limbaugh have directly called Ms. Fluke a slut (among other names)?  No, but that she ultimately was standing up for slutty or otherwise immoral behavior contrary to the stance of a Catholic institution is undeniable.  So Rush's apology should be accepted, but his underlying point should not be ignored.