Examining the unborn

Bear with me here, because I’m thinking out loud. It all started with the fact that today’s Chronicle had a sad, sad story that began like this:

Expectant mother, fetus shot dead in Oakland

Kennah Wilson, 18, was eagerly anticipating the birth of her daughter this fall. She was going to name her baby Kamilah and had plans for a baby shower in October.

But gunmen opened fire outside an East Oakland apartment complex on Friday night, killing both Wilson and her 7-month-old fetus, police said Saturday.

A less awkward way to have headlined and told the story would have been “Pregnant woman killed in Oakland.”  Reading that, most would have assumed, unless explicitly informed otherwise, that the baby died too.   I therefore found this verbose, clinical phrasing surprising.

My assumption, since the Chron is a very pro-choice paper, is that the only way to bring out the true pathos of this story — which would ordinarily be just another death in the more crime ridden part of Oakland — was to make it a mother-baby death.  And the only way to do that was to emphasize the nascent life inside of poor Kennah.

The problem, though, is that once you start emphasizing those nascent lives, you’re acknowledging that the Democratic platform commitment to entirely unfettered abortion (including Obama’s belief in the right to abort the baby after it’s already born), runs headlong into the fact that a seven month old baby has truly become a person in its own right.  Had the fetus survived the shooting, it would have had as much chance of life as the average premature baby — which is pretty darn good in our modern world.

Which gets me to something that’s making me increasingly uncomfortable about the modern Democratic party.  To explain my discomfort, let me start with my own journey on abortion.  I was raised strongly pro-Choice — abortion without limits would have been my unthinking mantra in the 1980s.  With the passage of time, though, I’m become ever uncomfortable with that absolute position.

Having had children of my own, having seen (through sonograms) those lives grow within me, and having seen the survival age of premature babies pushed further and further back, I am uncomfortable with unfettered abortions, especially those that occur simply because pregnancy is inconvenient.  I’m also highly uncomfortable with late term abortions (and, unlike Barack Obama, with post-birth abortions).

As I’ve said in other posts — and perhaps I’m driven to this by some Jewish genetic instinct  — I’m hewing closer and closer to the traditional rabbinic view of abortion, which seems to me to strike an admirable balance between the lives of both baby and mother (footnotes omitted):

The easiest way to conceptualize a fetus in halacha [Jewish law] is to imagine it as a full-fledged human being — but not quite. In most circumstances, the fetus is treated like any other “person.” Generally, one may not deliberately harm a fetus. But while it would seem obvious that Judaism holds accountable one who purposefully causes a woman to miscarry, sanctions are even placed upon one who strikes a pregnant woman causing an unintentional miscarriage. That is not to say that all rabbinical authorities consider abortion to be murder. The fact that the Torah requires a monetary payment for causing a miscarriage is interpreted by some Rabbis to indicate that abortion is not a capital crime and by others as merely indicating that one is not executed for performing an abortion, even though it is a type of murder. There is even disagreement regarding whether the prohibition of abortion is Biblical or Rabbinic. Nevertheless, it is universally agreed that the fetus will become a full-fledged human being and there must be a very compelling reason to allow for abortion.

As a general rule, abortion in Judaism is permitted only if there is a direct threat to the life of the mother by carrying the fetus to term or through the act of childbirth. In such a circumstance, the baby is considered tantamount to a rodef, a pursuer after the mother with the intent to kill her. Nevertheless, as explained in the Mishna, if it would be possible to save the mother by maiming the fetus, such as by amputating a limb, abortion would be forbidden. Despite the classification of the fetus as a pursuer, once the baby’s head or most of its body has been delivered, the baby’s life is considered equal to the mother’s, and we may not choose one life over another, because it is considered as though they are both pursuing each other.

It is important to point out that the reason that the life of the fetus is subordinate to the mother is because the fetus is the cause of the mother’s life-threatening condition, whether directly (e.g. due to toxemia, placenta previa, or breach position) or indirectly (e.g. exacerbation of underlying diabetes, kidney disease, or hypertension). A fetus may not be aborted to save the life of any other person whose life is not directly threatened by the fetus, such as use of fetal organs for transplant.

Despite agreeing with the careful balancing act that is expressed under Jewish law, I can readily recognize the rational and moral choices that drive those Christian pro-Lifers who argue, accurately, that life begins at conception.  While I would engage in more of a balancing than they would, I still think that theirs is a completely coherent viewpoint.

Ultimately, on the pro-Life side, there is a continuum of reasonable beliefs ranging from the absolute purity of the completely pro-Life person, to the practical and moral balancing act of the religious Jew.  While these views may lead to different practical outcomes, their focus is on the preservation of life.

What’s unseemly and icky about modern Democrats is that they’ve created an ideological corner in which they start sounding like a baby killing factory.  For all the “safe, rare and legal” (or whatever that slogan was) that emanated from the Clintons, the party faithful don’t think that way.  They don’t acknowledge reasonable gradations.  Instead, they see things as binary:  Either abortion is unfettered or its entirely fettered.  They’ve gotten themselves locked in a box where they can no longer have a rational debate that tries to balance the differing interests of mother and child and, as to both, to do so with an eye to life.

This shrill, binary message means that hardcore Democrats, the ones who dominate the message and the media, sound dreadful.  While it once appeared that they were trumpeting rights for women, they now sound fossilized.  Arguments for abortion that made sense when we merely guessed at fetal development and when pre-term babies routinely died; or when babies born out of wedlock (and their mothers) were horribly stigmatized; or when birth control was impossible to obtain, sound brutal in this day and age when we see (and save) in utero babies; when out-of-wedlock children are normative (especially in Hollywood); and when birth control is sold at every grocery store.

Unwanted pregnancies still happen, but the social dynamics have shifted dramatically.  To get back to where I began — the tragic death of Kennah and Kamilah — it’s worth noting that this story was all about a teenage girl without a husband (and there’s no mention of the baby’s father in the article).  While her unwed status would once have relegated her to society margins, this story makes it clear that an out-of-wedlock baby is a non-issue.  Mom’s abandonment was not part of the tragedy at the heart of this story.

In this scientific and social climate, to continue to insist on “all abortion, all the time” is too morbid and self-serving to sit well with a fundamentally moral citizenry.  I think this fact is important because there is no doubt that Sarah Palin is absolutely and entirely pro-Life — she’s walked the walk and talked the talk.

While there are many Americans like me, who are not absolutely and entirely pro-Life, the intellectual coherence of Palin’s position may stand out in splendid contrast to the ghoulish moral house in which the Democrats now live.  Between these two extremes, Life may prove less frightening to independents and conservative Democrats than death — no matter how much hardcore Democrats continue to believe that unfettered access to abortion will be the pivot that drives women voters to their party.  In other words, moderate voters may tolerate Palin’s pro-Life stance, not because they’re embracing her, but because they need to reject the Democrats’ deathly absolutes.

In any event, it’s worth reminding people worried about Palin’s stand that neither Presidents nor VPs directly affect abortion policy.  All they do is try to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices.  And, unless these justices are themselves activists, all that they can do is reverse Roe v. Wade, which in turn will throw abortion back to the States (unless Americans unite to have an Abortion Constitutional Amendment).  And after 35 years of the abortion revolution, the outcome in the states is likely to be more liberal towards abortions than it was 35 years ago across America.  While an unpleasant scenario for those deeply committed to unlimited abortion, it’s also not the end of the world.

Nervous Democrats

From the San Francisco Chronicle (with the emphasis all theirs):

Worth noting: Democrats had good reason to be nervous going into the Denver convention – and the problem looked to be bigger than just the bruised feelings between the Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton camps.

Recent polls of California voters show that going into Denver, Obama’s support among key independent voters had dropped nine points in a month – cutting his lead over John McCain to less than 10 points in this bluest of blue states.

A poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California showed Obama’s lead over McCain dropping to 48 percent to 39 percent among all likely voters – down six points from July.

Obama is still comfortably ahead of McCain statewide, and institute pollster Mark Baldassare noted that a Republican hasn’t carried California since the first George Bush in 1988- so odds are Obama will still take the state.

Nonetheless, the Democrats might well heed that the race has narrowed to single digits.

Four years ago, before the Democrats held their convention, John Kerry had an 11-point advantage over George W. Bush here in California, according to Baldassare’s polling – about where Obama’s lead was before his convention last week.

And while Kerry eventually won California, we all know who took the big prize.

What’s at stake

We in America have become very introverted in the last few weeks, obsessively (and probably appropriately) focusing on our own upcoming elections.  As we focus on those elections, it’s useful to remember what’s still out there:

Hardline female ‘preachers of hate’ are radicalising Muslim women at one of Britain’s top mosques. The Saudi Arabian preachers were secretly filmed ordering women to murder gays and ex-Muslims.

Undercover reporters from Channel 4’s Dispatches recorded the lectures in the women’s section of Regent’s Park Mosque in London.

An unnamed Saudi woman is seen mocking other religions – labelling Christianity ‘vile’ and an ‘abomination’. Another, known as ‘Angelique’, claims Britain is a ‘land of evil’.

The investigators attended lectures for two months at the mosque, which had promised a clean-up after another Dispatches probe just 18 months ago exposed it for spreading extreme Islamic views.

During one sermon, a woman called Um Amira says: ‘He is Muslim, and he gets out of Islam…what are we going to do? We kill him, kill, kill.’

In the programme, to be screened tomorrow, she adds that women adulterers should be stoned to death and people who have sex before marriage should get ‘100 lashes’.

Regent’s Park Mosque is one of the biggest and most prestigious Islamic institutions in the UK. Opened in 1944 by King George VI, it can hold up to 5,000 worshippers.

You can read the rest here.

Do they realize how stupid they sound?

To me, the first good thing about the Palin nomination is that it highlights Obama’s inexperience.  You can just hear him going around the house muttering, “I know you are, but what am I?  I know you are, but what am I?  I know you are, but what am I?”

To date, Obama has written two self-serving books; been editor of the law review, a student job, during which time he wrote only one anonymous note; served 8 years in a state legislature, which is a collegial, not an executive position, and in which he did not distinguish himself; been a law professor who left no tracks whatsoever; spent almost his entire time in the US Senate (another collegial, not managerial job) running for the Presidency; worked as an associate in a small law firm (associates are never managerial); and been a community organizer (whatever that means).  Significantly, his one executive experience was a complete bust:  Despite being a nothing and a nobody at the time, he was put in charge of a $100,000,000 project to improve Chicago schools.  Although he effectively channeled money to his political friends, the program made not a bit of difference to Chicago’s profoundly damaged educational institutions.  It’s a busy resume but, in terms of performance outcome, an undistinguished one.

Palin’s bio isn’t much thicker, but it shows her having (a) more executive experience and (b) more successful outcomes.  She’s raised four children and is working on raising a fifth, which is already a level of executive experience people who haven’t raised children don’t appreciate.  She spent several as a successful mayor of a small-ish town (which can be likened to being the CEO of a 9,000 strong corporation).  Significantly, she’s been a wildly successful, courageous, and non-partisan scourge of corrupt Alaska politicians and big oil interests:

Governor Palin has always run as the anti-corruption candidate. She served as Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2004, when she resigned in protest over the actions of her fellow Alaskan GOP leaders, including then-Alaskan Governor Frank Murkowski. She was furious over the fact that they ignored her reports of rampant GOP corruption. When she chose to run for Governor, the GOP establishment ignored her and supported the incumbent Murkowski. Palin beat him, and went on to beat former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles with no support from Alaskan GOP leadership. She has actively supported and helped the GOP primary opponents of current indicted Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young, and denounced both of them often in public.

Oh, and the forthcoming claim that Palin’s in the pocket of big-oil? Her ethics complaints were filed against people who really were in the pocket of big oil – she was on the outside, investigating.
Lastly, separate from her success rooting out corruption, she’s proven to be a very competent governor of Alaska.  And to to those who are snarky about Alaska’s small population, it’s worth pointing out that, while it comes in at 47 out of 50, Joe Biden’s Delaware comes in at 45 out of 50 — and he’s never managed anything in his state anyway.

So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.

“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major-party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.

Have these “scholars” been sleeping through the last year of so of Obama’s candidacy?  The man has job-hopped a lot but, despite his busy resume, he doesn’t emerge with experience any more significant than Palin’s.  More importantly, while he’s good at getting the position (law review, charity manager, state senator, etc.), once there, he vanishes and, instead, focuses only on his next resume building item.

Or maybe these “scholars” haven’t been sleeping at all, they’re just so blinded by partisanship, they don’t realize how stupid they sound.  As to the partisanship, that’s not me talking, that’s the McCain campaign.  Because respectable Left-leaning blogs are more honest than the MSM, Politico, in which the “scholar’s take” first appeared, updated it post with this statement from the McCain camp:

“The authors quote four scholars attacking Gov. Palin’s fitness for the office of vice president. Among them, David Kennedy is a maxed-out Obama donor, Joel Goldstein is also an Obama donor, and Doris Kearns Goodwin has donated exclusively to Democrats this cycle. Finally, Matthew Dallek is a former speech writer for Dick Gephardt. This is not a story about scholars questioning Gov. Palin’s credentials so much as partisan Democrats who would find a reason to disqualify or discount any nominee put forward by Sen. McCain.”

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

A new post about the Palin pick

Because I’d like to see traffic driven to the new Bloggers for John McCain website, to which I am a contributor, I’ll just print a little bit here of the post I did there regarding the Sarah Palin pick.  If you like the post, you can read the rest here:

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that selecting Palin was a brilliant idea. She is completely immune from personal attack, which means the only real debate in the upcoming election can be about policy.

Criticize her sex, and you lose the women’s vote.

Criticize her foreign policy experience (or lack thereof), and you invite painful comparisons to Obama, who wants to be President, not just VP.

Criticize her executive experience, and you invite even more painful comparisons to Obama, the wannabe President.

Criticize her youth, and you again have a problem with Obama, since he, with only three more birthdays than Palin under his belt, is aiming for the executive office.

Criticize her U of Idaho degree and you (a) invite painful comparisons to Biden, no Ivy Leaguer himself; and (b) invite charges of elitism.

Criticize her kind of goofy Alaska accent and lack of European sophistication, and you further alienate the embittered gun owners and religious nuts the elite Obama denigrated a few months ago. (By the way, I’m sarcastically quoting Obama when I refer to those embittered gun owners and religious nuts. His view of them, not mine.)

Criticize her small town roots, same thing: alienate embittered gun owners and religious nuts who make up the heartland.

Try to raise Alaskan political corruption, and you run smack into the fact that she attacked corruption head-on. You also open yourself up to invidious comparisons with Obama (Annenberg and Rezko) and Biden (repeat plagiarism)

Add to this that she’s a good speaker, who will make Biden look overbearing and bombastic during debates, and you’re just looking at a brilliant choice. She’s bullet proof.

There’s more, as I said, which you can find here.

News of the day

I’m a bit slow going today, since I was up very, very early, to drive fairly far to a day of soccer in the hot sun.  As a Bay Area wuss who likes the weather cool, I feel somewhat depleted.  I’m working on reigniting my energy level, especially since I have some posting to do at Bloggers for McCain, and some cross-posting to do at Right Wing News (Saturday is my day at both).  While I try to energize my brain, which is a torporous as the rest of me right now, a couple of news articles that caught my eye:

On a couple of occasions, I’ve blogged about the Left’s obsession with fecal matter (here and here).  That poop theme strikes again in this news story about the arrest of members of an anarchist group (which, admittedly, is to the left of left) who had collected, among other things (including weapons), buckets of urine to serve as an “RNC Welcome Committee.”

It’s funny how the Democrats once again find themselves in the position of trying to show that a potential first lady is an old-fashioned, 50s style Mom.  It’s like 1992 all over again.  That was the year, for those of you too young to remember, that Hillary Clinton, after having insulted myriad stay-at-home mothers, suddenly transformed herself into a fragile feminine, at least for as long as it took her to get her husband into the White House.  I don’t think these women would have to do this if average Americans didn’t look at their agenda and find it so threatening to home and hearth.  Palin may be running for VP, but everyone knows that she supports traditional female roles, although she has chosen to go beyond them.

Michael Barone has a good analysis of the serious problems dogging Obama (the equivalent for him of the Dukakis Willie Horton problem and the Kerry Swift Boat problem), and explains (a) why those old problems and Obama’s new ones are fair political game and (b) how Obama should address them.

Here’s the origin of the “naughty librarian” description Craig Ferguson gave Sarah Palin.  It’s quite funny and not at all mean.

Results in from the Watcher’s Council

The Watchers’ votes have been counted and the results are in.*  Again, there’s a slight summer slump, with fewer nominations and even fewer votes, but we expect that to resolve itself soon.  By the way, there is an opening at the Watcher’s Council.  If you’re interested, read the rules here and submit yourself for consideration.  And whether or not you’re interested, enjoy these winning reads.


1. The Razor – Russia – The New Cold War Winner with 2 1/3 votes

2. Wolf Howling – What Does Joe Biden Offer To Obama? 2 votes

3. Soccer Dad – Charm city charm offensive 1 2/3 votes

4. Bookworm Room – The AP shows surprising honesty when it comes to Joe Biden 1 vote


1. Michael Totten/Middle East Journal – The Truth About Russia In Georgia Winner with 2 1/3 votes

2. Seraphic Secret – The Terrorist is Still Dead 2 votes

3. Kirby Mountain – Puttin’ the Boone (Pickens) in Boondoggle 1 1/3 votes

4. (Tie) Paragraph Farmer – Remaking Grease in Denver 2/3 votes

4. (Tie) Pajamas Media/Belmont Club – Unity 2/3 votes

4. (Tie) Boston.com Olympics Blog – You’re Not Supposed to See This 2/3 votes

5. Powerline Blog – Energy Policy For The Ignorant 1/3 vote

*I’m not yet suggesting that you bookmark the Watcher’s new site — although you can see it in all it’s glory, here. The domain name may still change so, until it’s stabilized, you may as well hold off on making it a permanent link (assuming you were planning on doing so).

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why the ship is built”

Palin gave a great speech.  What’s really funny is that it’s chock full of “I did this and I did this and I did this,” which is appropriate, not boastful, considering that she’s trying to explaining to her potential future employers  — the American people — why she should be hired for the job.  In this, it stands in stark contrast to Obama’s speech last night, which made almost no reference whatsoever to his record, but simply attacked McCain and restated platform positions.

All things considered, you have to wonder about the Obama campaign’s idiotic knee jerk attack on Palin’s lack of experience:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign on Friday blasted his Republican rival’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a running-mate, highlighting her “zero” foreign policy experience.

“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.

Uh, so it’s better to put in the presidency itself, never mind the heartbeats, a man with almost zero foreign policy experience?  Explain to me the logic there.

UPDATED: And the McCain camp comes back with the perfect rebuttal:

It is pretty audacious for the Obama campaign to say that Governor Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. She has a record of accomplishment that Senator Obama simply cannot match. Governor Palin has spent her time in office shaking up government in Alaska and actually achieving results — whether it’s taking on corruption, passing ethics reform or stopping wasteful spending and the ‘bridge to nowhere.’ Senator Obama has spent his time in office running for president.