Monday, November 30, 2009

A Touchy Subject

I've been away for a bit, but I thought I'd come back with controversy.

While my blogs during last year's election made plain my liberal views, I've stayed away from potentially touchy subjects like religion and reproductive rights.

No More.

I've become convinced, through reading and conversing with friends, that individual access to reproductive rights - everything from contraception to abortion - is in grave danger.

From the Stupak amendment and its expansion of the Hyde language through possibilities that it could be interpreted to exclude contraception from any insurance plan purchased with federal subsidies, we need to wake up. Many women still have trouble getting insurance to cover their birth control pills, while many men have prescription coverage for Viagra because erectile dysfunction is characterized as a medical condition.

And about the big one: abortion.

No one wants abortions. No one, trust me, wants to have one. But it is a MEDICAL procedure not a legislative one. Access to this procedure should be through the gateway of individuals and their doctors rather than individuals and the U.S. Senate and House.

I'm of an age that makes complacency on this issue impossible. But for who have always known abortion as a legal procedure post-Roe - including our President - the issue has less urgency.

Whatever your position on this issue, I urge you to check out this piece from the New York Times. It might just wake you up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Keats at Last!

Today, I finally saw my breath outside, and longtime readers and friends know what that means: the annual dose of John Keats!

You can read last year's more extensive Keats posts here and here. And if you haven't seen it already, I highly recommend the recent film about Keats, Bright Star.

To Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or, by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
-John Keats (1795-1821)