I do not think it’s possible to create greater moral clarity than Ben Shapiro did in a single tweet:
For my first post as a guest here at Bookworm I was contemplating many different topics, mostly concerning dealing with the Social Justice Mob. But then I saw the horrific undercover video of Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola admitting and conspiring to sell fetal body parts. Seeing that video, with Nucatola eating and drinking wine while non-chalantly discussing how they will alter procedures based on the body part in need struck a nerve. That momemnt reminded me of a scene from Lord of The Rings, The Return of the King where Pippen is tasked to sing as song for Denethor as he sends his son out for sure death.
UPDATE: Well that didn’t take long. Google removed my video mashup that intertwined the planned parenthood video with the LOTR cut. No worries though, I give them two you side by side. It is quite obvious as the director\doctor from Planned Parenthood so casually discusses “the menu” of body parts while sipping wine and stuffing her face with salad; you get the drift.
Regardless of what you think about abortion you should be horrified and saddened at what Planned Parenthood is doing. To think that they are turning babies breech to save heads, adding unnecessary complications for the sake of a sale. To think that they could be advising a young girl to have an abortion knowing that if they talk her into it they would have another part to add to “the menu”. This is beyond reprehensible. As Pippen said, “we have no songs for great halls in evil times”.
America’s values have turned upside down
It’s a time-honored custom for older people to look at changes in the world since their youth and to bemoan those changes. I’d like to think I’m neither that rigid nor that old. There are so many things in the modern world to love, especially when it comes to technology.
What does seem extremely unlovable, though, is that we are living through a time in which moral values aren’t merely being loosened (a la the rising hems of the flappers) but are being turned completely upside down. In one of the best articles I’ve seen in forever at National Review, Quin Hillyer focuses on the sea change in our moral and political values. If you’ve already read it, read it again and share it with your friends; if you haven’t read it, by all means do . . . and then share it with your friends:
Today is showing signs of being every bit as challenging as yesterday was (work ended in the wee hours of the morning), so this will be a round-up marked by brevity. Still, there are things I’ve saved that haven’t become stale, old yesterday’s news and that I very much want to share with you.
America’s Sergeant Major has a new home
One of my favorite milbloggers is America’s Sergeant Major, whom I first met when I discovered his post about Tabata drills. Having done Tabata drills myself, it resonated. I also just loved the sense of humor and sense of responsibility that infuse his writing:
Simply thrashing a group of Marines into the ground is pretty easy and not a method of instruction I prefer. If they are simply getting their doors blown off without learning anything then I figure I’ve passed up a great training opportunity.
I like to ask Marines why we PT at all. Their answers are inevitably: “To be in shape.” “Be fit.” My personal favorite is: “To look good naked 1stSgt!” I appreciate the honesty.
The bottom line is we conduct PT in order to make our bodies harder to kill. Never mind the idea of being fitter and stronger than your enemy. Fit, healthy bodies tend to survive being shot, blown up, infected, and other rough treatment. It’s only natural the Corps would develop a culture of physical fitness within its ranks.
The Tabata quotation is from an older post, but you’ll find that America’s Sergeant Major hasn’t lost his edge. The only thing that’s changed is that he’s got himself a shiny new site. It’s really gorgeous. Please check it out.
I can’t remember if I’ve fulminated here about California’s drought. My shtick, which I’ll share with anyone who’s listening, is that California’s horrible drought was foreseeable and preventable.
No, it’s not climate change. It’s a completely predictable cyclical drought that comes along like clockwork every few decades.
“Ah,” says the wise climate changista, “but it’s worse now because global warming.” No! It’s worse now because of insanely stupid water management practices, including minimal reservoir upgrade and increase, despite the fact that California’s population has more than doubled since 1961. And of course that the enviromentalists in California government have the bright idea, in the middle of a massive drought, to flush away millions of gallons of water to protect that little Delta Smelt.
Anyway, don’t take my word for it; take Victor Davis Hanson’s.
Over at Power Line last week, John Hinderaker ask plaintively “Does anyone fact-check the president?” The short answer is “no.” Hinderaker provides the latest example of the long answer.
Incidentally, I want to know what the word is for tyranny by media, because that’s what we’ve got. The media tyranny explains why we have people in government so grossly dishonest — intellectually, historically, politically — with nary a word allowed to be said against them in the outlets that control most of America’s air time.
Are we suffering under a “media-archy”?
The bad decisions of the effete
Effete is not a word one hears often any more. It’s a good word, though, and one that well describes huge swaths of 21st century America:
1. lacking in wholesome vigor; degenerate; decadent: an effete, overrefined society.
2. exhausted of vigor or energy; worn out: an effete political force.
3. unable to produce; sterile.
Scott Locklin builds a whole political argument around difference between those who engage with real life and todays effete, enervated Americans: Never trust anyone who hasn’t been punched in the face — and he means really punched, not just metaphorically punched.
I’ll just note the historic truism that Rome fell when its prosperity left people unwilling and unable to defend themselves. (I’ve also heard that they got that way from drinking their wine from cups made of lead, which may be true too, but they were drinking that way long before the empire’s slow, dismal decline.)
Who has abortions? Men do, that’s who!
No, that title is not a joke. Thanks to our brave new world of fluid genders, Katha Pollitt argues vigorously that we’re being sexist in denying that men have abortions:
Who has abortions? For most of human history, the answer was obvious: women have abortions. Girls have abortions. Not any more. People have abortions. Patients have abortions. Men have abortions. “We must acknowledge and come to terms with the implicit cissexism in assuming that only women have abortions,” wrote feminist activist Lauren Rankin in July 2013 in truthout.com. She went on to criticize as exclusionary slogans like “the War on Women” and “Stand with Texas Women.”
Apparently Katha needs a little biology lesson: Abortions require pregnancies; pregnancies require a uterus; and a uterus is by definition female. You can take a woman, stuff her full of hormones so she gets good and hairy on her face and chest, and has a nice deep voice; slice off her breasts; and create a fancy new dangling dongle for her, but at the end of the day, that’s all cosmetic. When she gets pregnant, it’s because under the cosmetics, she’s still a woman with a uterus and the accompanying hormones.
But don’t listen to me; listen to Monty Python:
Any surprise that he’s a former Marine?
Meet retired Marine Corps. Sergeant Patrick Maxwell, who’s off with the Kurds fighting against ISIS:
“I’m very libertarian in my beliefs and I don’t think we need to be committing U.S. boots to the ground to do another long war like that, ” he says. “But myself as a private citizen – if I want to go take a vacation and shoot some terrorists in the process, that should be my own business.”
It would be different, of course, if Maxwell wanted to join up with terrorists to shoot Americans. But as long as he’s not harming American interests, while it’s not my idea of a vacation, I sure can’t quarrel with him.
If you’ve been wondering who supports Jeb Bush….
The GOP establishment’s love affair with Jeb Bush is mystifying, because he can’t win. Barring a handful of RINO bazillionaires, nobody, and I mean nobody, wants a third Bush in the White House. He’s too Bush-like for Democrats, and too Bill Clinton-like for conservatives.
Wait. I take that back. Garth Kant has an idea about what might be driving this Jeb furor.
A coda to the off-duty cop murdered in Philadelphia
It’s been a couple of weeks since two brothers murdered Officer Robert Wilson III in Philadelphia. I have three comments to make based upon an article about Wilson’s last moments and about his killers.
First, Wilson died incredibly bravely. Second, take a look at the picture of his murders. Look closely. Notice anything interesting about their foreheads? (The forehead thing is supposition, by the way, so I’ll be interested in seeing if it’s true or someone just had a very large zit that popped in a visible spot.) Third, please note how the brothers have different last names, suggesting a dysfunction in their home life going back to their births.
Two things you should read about Eric Holder’s “disparate impact” crusade
The Obama government has told America’s school districts that they need to stop punishing black kids more than they do white kids. In Democrat-led cities, that’s exactly what the schools have been doing, with entirely predictable results:
Convinced traditional discipline is racist because blacks are suspended at higher rates than whites, New York City’s Department of Education has in all but the most serious and dangerous offenses replaced out-of-school suspensions with a touchy-feely alternative punishment called “restorative justice,” which isn’t really punishment at all. It’s therapy.
“Every reasonable effort must be made to correct student behavior through…restorative practices,” advises the city’s new 32-page discipline code.
Except everywhere it’s been tried, this softer approach has backfired.
What’s more, the movement — which is driven by new race-based anti-discipline guidelines issued by the Obama administration — is creating friction between teachers unions and the liberal mayors they otherwise support.
That last paragraph I quoted is a reminder that revolutions always eat their own.
Anyway, it’s a long, good article and you should read the whole thing. Then, when you’re done, go here, to Stately McDaniel Manor to read how Eric Holder wants to bring to crime fighting the exactly same “disparate impact” logic that’s turning America’s public schools into “Lord of the Flies” environments.
And now, back to work….
Sorry for the downer title, but the news is anything but good, wherever one looks. At the home front we’ve had flat tires, broken bones, and dead phones. (The broken bone belongs to my exchange student, who is disappointed, but not too terribly damaged, thank goodness.) The past few day’s headlines haven’t done anything to cheer me up, either.
Because I like to share, I’m passing my temporary existential despair on to all of you. And just to make you feel a little worse, let me add that our current administration, rather than trying to pull the rip-cord on the parachute so that we don’t hit bottom, is instead trying to cut the parachute’s suspension lines.
How bad is Obama? So bad that even Democrats view him as toxic
Republicans didn’t run away from Bush until 2008. Here it is, only 2014, and Democrats are treating Obama as if he’s radioactive. (The link is to a Wall Street Journal article. If you can’t read the article, try googling the title for an accessible link.)
Michael Dolan explains how Obama got what he wanted: A partnership with Iran
Obama came into office promising to work with Iran. It turns out that, as is true of all the promises he made that were deleterious to America’s well-being , he kept this one. (It’s a useful yardstick, incidentally: Promises about things that will help Americans? Obama breaks. Promises about things that will hurt Americans, America, and America’s allies? Obama keeps.)
Michael Dolan, who is a senior fellow of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and was both a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council, has been looking at Obama’s conduct since ISIS appeared on the scene and figured out Obama’s game-plan: Obama is using ISIS as a way to partner with Iran.
Obama is engaging in this de facto partnership with Iran, even though, as Dolan also explains, doing so allows Iran to go nuclear. A nuclear Iran destroys any balance of power in the region, not to mention threatening Israel and Europe. Moreover, it’s worth remembering that as a Shia state, Iran doesn’t just believe in the apocalypse, it believes that it has a mission from Allah to bring about the Apocalypse itself. (In this, Iran is quite distinct from Christians who believe in an Apocalypse, but who dread it and do nothing to cause it.) There’s nothing like a nuclear bomb to get a little Apocalypsing started.
To go on, Obama partners with Iran even though it means turning our backs on the Saudis who, while horribly rotten, are less horribly rotten than Iran and have been our allies for a long time. He does even though partnering with the mullahs is a slap in the face to those Iranians who are yearning to breathe at least a little more free (just as Obama ignored them during their attempted Green revolution). He does even though Iran has been funding the worst kind of terrorism — much of it aimed at America — for decades. And he does this even though Iran has made it clear that it still has as its goal the destruction of Israel and America, and the establishment of a world-wide Islamic caliphate.
Obama is Iran’s useful idiot, helping it to make sure that any caliphate the emerges isn’t Sunni and ISIS-controlled, but is instead Shia and Iran-controlled. Put another way, Obama isn’t just another Leftist ideologue; he’s a truly evil man who affirmatively seeks out the devil as a dancing partner.
Media ghasties and ghoulies
If you want to get your scare on before Halloween, watch Andrea Mitchell trying to save Abortion Barbie from her tasteless, desperate, sleazy attacks in Texas on Greg Abbott. You know what I was thinking when I watched that? I was thinking “Mommy, make those mean, scary ladies go away!”
The New York Times uses Britain’s embrace of Hamas as a reason to chastise Israel
When does a media outlet cross over from being partisan and become evil? I actually think the New York Times just rolled across that line with its latest editorial about Israel.
As you may recall, the British Parliament voted endorsing the idea of recognizing a Palestinian state. A media outlet with a decent moral compass would have attacked England for supporting a “state” that has nothing state-like about it: It’s government is run like a mafia institution, it has no economy and no infrastructure, and its idea of “human rights” is to deny women, Jews, Christians, and homosexuals status as humans. Anyone of common decency would recognize that it is a disgusting reflection on modern England that its Parliament would side with a grotesque, corrupt, tyranny with only murder on its mind.
But the Times knows who the bad guy is in this case and it’s Israel — for daring to build more Jewish homes in historically Jewish neighborhoods. Or as the Times editorial board puts it:
The vote is one more sign of the frustration many people in Europe feel about the failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement despite years of promises.
Funnily enough, the editorial makes no mention of the fact that the Palestinians have contributed exactly nothing to peace talks, negotiations, and compromise. In Times-land, this one is all on the Jews.
I used to say that the Times was good only for lining bird cages. It’s dropped in my estimation. It might, just might, be useful as a repository for the blood, vomit, and diarrhea of an Ebola patient, but I suspect it would perform even that most basic waste-collection function badly.
The New York Times also brings its evilness to the subject of chemical weapons in Iraq
When the Iraq War was Bush’s war, the New York Times led the charge of those claiming that Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction. Now, without even a blink at its volte face, it’s leading the charge to claim that Bush is evil because he exposed American troops to Saddam Hussein’s store of chemical weapons — i.e., weapons of mass destruction — in Iraq.
I’m not letting the Times perfidy blind me to the fact that American troops have suffered because the Bush Pentagon left them ill-prepared to come across WMDS. After all, if you’re claiming a war to wipe out WMDs, you should probably have systems in place to protect your troops. The Pentagon’s failings, though, don’t make me any less disgusted with the Times.
Let me count the ways in which the Democrat party is the party of death
Democrats may get all teary eyed when cold-blooded murderers meet their makers in a gas chamber after due process, but they’re pretty cavalier about most other deaths. They don’t mind a steely-eyed Obama sending drones to attack Pakistani and Yemenite civilians. They’re okay with grandma being sidelined by the Obama death panel. They assume that the vets who died on the VA’s watch were probably baby killers. They’re copacetic with suicide if life is just too tough.
Oh, and one more thing: abortion is empowering. Not just a necessary evil, which is an argument many Americans might support, but empowering and a “social good.” I’m betting that’s exactly the way Heinrich Himmler felt when he organized the Holocaust.
If you ever wondered why knowing geography matters….
Marin General Hospital had an Ebola scare because its staff confused the Middle East with West Africa. The country’s in the very best of hands….
Pigs are flying because I agree with Paul Krugman
Don’t worry, I don’t agree with Krugman about anything substantive. I do, however, think he’s correct when he says “Obama, although clearly not the natural politician, he is a consequential president.”
Where Krugman and I part ways is that Krugman thinks Obama is consequential in a good way, whereas I think Obama’ss consequential status relates to the fact that he’s inflicted such terrible damage on our once-thriving capitalist, constitutional, sovereign nation that we may take decades to recover, assuming we ever can. There’s no saying, after all, whether it’s possible to recover from a wrecked economy, socialized medicine, destroyed borders, a dysfunctional military facing an existential threat, and diseases that resist modern medicine, especially when such medicine is ineptly administered.
The Washington Post says Ebola isn’t really all that bad
Trying to strike an optimistic tone, the Washington Post says that Ebola isn’t as bad as it could be. It notes that (so far, at least), not everyone who came into contact with the Liberian who brought the disease to Dallas has gotten infected, and we definitely have better ways to treat symptoms than they do in West Africa. Still, even though the WaPo is trying to make lemonade from lemons, our broken borders and the Democrats’ funding priorities (which did not include focusing on plague-like infectious diseases) all mean that I’m not sanguine.
When it comes to Ebola and the media, I agree with Benjamin Shapiro
To follow-up on my point about the WaPo’s peculiar optimism, Benjamin Shapiro sums up the media’s relationship to Ebola, which is that it matters only when it affects the media itself. His starting point is media personality Nancy Snyderman’s decision to get herself some soup, despite the fact that she was technically quarantined, along with a crew member:
It’s one thing for Liberian citizen Thomas Eric Duncan to carry around an Ebola-ridden woman, get on an airplane to Dallas, walk into a hospital with symptoms, and then walk out again. Such behavior can be attributed, at least in part, to ignorance. It’s another thing entirely for a highly educated medical professional to endanger those around her for some miso.
But that’s the world of the media, where the proper response to the possibility of contracting Ebola is, “Don’t you know who I am?” Double standards abound here; media members lather Americans into a frenzy over the threat of a disease that has, to date, claimed a grand total of one life in the United States. Then they go out for lunch in public after being told that they could be carrying the virus.
The Snyderman story is truly part of a broader egocentrism in the media. The media didn’t give one whit about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative non-profit applicants — but they went absolutely batty over the Department of Justice targeting reporters. The media don’t seem to care very much about demands for transparency from the Obama administration by the American public — but they’re fighting mad about the Obama administration’s refusal to let them photograph him golfing. After all, it’s one thing for normal Americans to get stiffed, and quite another for our betters to feel the effects of government’s heavy hand.
Canada’s Supreme Court says quoting the Bible re homosexuality is a hate crime
Yes, the Bible is not nice about homosexuals. Indeed, it’s so not nice that Canada’s Supreme Court has determined that someone who cites to the Bible in opposition to homosexual conduct is guilty of a hate crime.
Here’s the acid test, though: Would the Supreme Court reach the same ruling if it was asked to determine whether someone quoting from the Quar’an in opposition to Jews is also guilty of a hate crime? Somehow I doubt it, but maybe I’m just too cynical for my own good.
Paul Kengor is right that conservative radio is committing suicide by greed
I only listen to conservative talk radio when I’m in the car . . . but lately I’m never able to listen to conservative talk radio when I’m in the car. The reason for my inability to listen is because I’m usually in the car for short hauls and, when I tune in to the local talk radio stations, all I get is advertisements.
From the top of the hour until seven minutes past the hour . . . advertisements. From nineteen minutes past the hour until thirty-five minutes past the hour . . . advertisements (including the show’s host saying “Welcome back, and now for a word from our sponsors.”) The same pattern applies in the second half of the hour. Because I usually need to be at places on the hour or the half-hour, I invariably find myself tuning in to those fourteen or so minutes of advertising at the top or the bottom of the clock face. So lately, I haven’t even bothered to try. I just listen to music or call my sister.
And why are we in this terrible situation? Greed, says Paul Kengor:
Why so much junk? To pay the costs, of course. But more specifically, to pay the gigantic, unsustainable fees these shows demand.
Of course, it’s a free market. Rush and other hosts are free to earn whatever they receive. But also because it’s a free market, their stations and listeners are free to bolt. What surprises me is the degree to which some conservative hosts are willing to let their stations and listeners bolt, even as they rake in piles of money. I’m especially surprised at how these hosts are willing to allow their excellent product to be diluted and damaged by an intolerable stream of annoying advertisements.
It seems to me that these conservative hosts—champions of the free market—are not listening to the free market. In my local market, Rush and Hannity and Glenn Beck have lost a 50,000-watt blow-torch in favor of a vastly inferior 7,000-watt signal that will be heard by far fewer listeners.
I love Rush, but even he’s not worth listening to ten minutes of commercials during a 15 minute drive.
I leased an electric car, so oil prices dropped
I’m never kidding when I say that the moment I enter the stock market the market drops and the moment I pull out the market rises. I just have that kind of timing.
My timing means it’s no surprise to me at all that, now that I’ve leased an electric car so as not to run up huge gas bills driving a minivan around for local errands, oil prices are plummeting. At our nearest ARCO, which sells the cheapest gas in Southern Marin, prices have dropped by about 20 cents per gallon in the past two weeks. That’s huge.
Power Line wonders if the Saudis are doing this on purpose in an effort to undercut America’s booming oil business. Could be. I’m not sure, though, that the Saudis have the oil resources to play this kind of price-cutting game. I recall from a discussion at my blog many years ago someone who worked in the oil industry saying that Saudi wells are finally running try. It seems to be a perilous game to drop prices when you’re running out of product to sell.
Will all these oil and electric cars soon be obsolete anyway?
Remember how, in Back to the Future, Doc perfected time travel using the energy from nuclear fusion? Well, we may soon be doing a little time travel ourselves, because Lockheed says the future is now (or at least just ten years from now):
Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade.
Anything that will break the back of the Muslim oil nations and silences the stupidity of the environ-mental-ists can’t come soon enough for me.
Lovely Lena leans . . . and so do several other old-time Hollywood beauties
Robert Avrech isn’t just a brilliant writer and thinker. He’s also extraordinarily knowledgeable about old Hollywood — the Hollywood of the Turner Classic Movies I watch with so much love.
Avrech recently wrote a beautifully illustrated post about the leaning boards that Hollywood’s leading ladies reclined upon to get the weight off their feet without ruining costumes so tight or elaborate that the actresses were often sewn into them. In a comment, I contributed my mite by pointing out that, in Singin’ In The Rain, Lena Lamont, the lovely lady with the horrible voice, and a personality that was even worse, was seen leaning on one of those boards. Robert, bless his heart, went out of his way to update the post to add a picture of the lovely Lena leaning.
At the most recent Watcher’s Council forum, the Watcher asked us, if we could be a superhero, which one would we be? Because my weekend passed in an alcoholic stupor (except without any alcohol, but only the stupor part), I completely missed the forum. If asked, I would have said Superman, simply because he’s always been my favorite superhero. Tune in here to see what other Council members had to say.
What the heck was that? Nobody I knew (and everyone I knew was a person of the sort-of Left) called him or herself a “secularist.”
What in the world did those zealots mean by labeling me that way and pretending that I’m doing something damaging to them? I understood what was really going on: Very religious people were abnormal, and then there were the rest of us who were non-religious, or slightly religious in a genteel, non-obtrusive fashion. The fact that our “religion” closely paralleled the Democrat Party platform, meaning that laws were informed by our “religious” values was just a coincidence.
We were not foisting anything on them. If anything, they were the foisters, especially with their stupid pro-Life values.
I’ve obviously come a long way from then, haven’t I?
One of the things that helped me on my journey to rationality was Stephen Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief. It was he who explained to me that to hold values in opposition to traditional Christianity is itself a value system.
Bingo! Light bulb moment. As of 1994, I finally understood what the Moral Majority was complaining about. I didn’t yet agree with the values they advanced, but I instantly became much more sympathetic to their complaints about Leftist, secular culture encroaching upon them.
The societal change Carter noted — that the absence of religious values (as opposed to religious doctrine) was taking over the public forum — has only accelerated in recent years. I actually hadn’t thought about it in any specific way until I read Megan McArdle’s very thoughtful post about the Left’s hysteria in response to the Supreme Court’s extremely narrow, common-sensical Hobby Lobby ruling.
For conservatives, even non-religious ones, the ruling’s correctness was a no-brainer: The holding that government cannot compel people to purchase a product inconsistent with core doctrinal beliefs is true both to the Constitution and to the traditional American ethos of keeping the state out of people’s religion.
But what if the state itself is the people’s religion? McArdle believes that this trend, which sees public space co-opted by non-religious beliefs that have been themselves elevated to absolute “values” explains much of the hysteria, not among the professional Left, but among ordinary DemProgs. The change in attitude McArdle notes explains both why Leftists cannot appreciate the seriousness of the issue for religious people and why they do not view the Obama administration’s actions as coercive.
I’m quoting McArdle at some length here, because the logic underlying her theory is so tightly constructed, it’s difficult for me to quote her without doing damage to her reasoning. I urge you, though, to read the whole thing:
I think a few things are going on here. The first is that while the religious right views religion as a fundamental, and indeed essential, part of the human experience, the secular left views it as something more like a hobby, so for them it’s as if a major administrative rule was struck down because it unduly burdened model-train enthusiasts. That emotional disconnect makes it hard for the two sides to even debate; the emotional tenor quickly spirals into hysteria as one side says “Sacred!” and the other side says, essentially, “Seriously? Model trains?” That shows in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, where it seems to me that she takes a very narrow view of what role religious groups play in the lives of believers and society as a whole.
The second, and probably more important, problem is that the long compromise worked out between the state and religious groups — do what you want within very broad limits, but don’t expect the state to promote it — is breaking down in the face of a shift in the way we view rights and the role of the government in public life.
To see what I mean, consider an argument I have now heard hundreds of times — on Facebook, in my e-mail, in comment threads here and elsewhere: “Hobby Lobby’s owners have a right to their own religious views, but they don’t have a right to impose them on others.”As I wrote the day the decision came out, the statement itself is laudable, yet it rings strange when it’s applied to this particular circumstance. How is not buying you something equivalent to “imposing” on you?
I think you can understand this, however, as the clash of principles designed for a world of negative rights, in a society that has come to embrace substantial positive rights — as well as a clash between old and new concepts of what is private and what is public.
All of us learned some version of “You have the right to your beliefs, but not to impose them on others” in civics class. It’s a classic negative right. And negative rights are easy to make reciprocal: You have a right to practice your religion without interference, and I have a right not to have your beliefs imposed on me.
This works very well in situations in which most of the other rights granted by society are negative rights, because negative rights don’t clash very often. Oh, sure, you’re going to get arguments about noise ordinances and other nuisance abatements, but unless your religious practices are extreme indeed, the odds that they will substantively violate someone else’s negative rights are pretty slim.
Alongside this development, as Yuval Levin has pointed out, we have seen an ongoing shift, particularly on the left, in the balance between what constitutes the private and the public spheres, and who has powers in which sphere. There’s a reductive tendency in modern political discourse to view public versus private as the state versus the individual.
In the 19th century, the line between the individual and the government was just as firm as it is now, but there was a large public space in between that was nonetheless seen as private in the sense of being mostly outside of government control — which is why we still refer to “public” companies as being part of the “private” sector. Again, in the context of largely negative rights, this makes sense. You have individuals on one end and a small state on the other, and in the middle you have a large variety of private voluntary institutions that exert various forms of social and financial coercion, but not governmental coercion — which, unlike other forms of coercion, is ultimately enforced by the government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.
[O]utside of our most intimate relationships, almost everything else is now viewed as public, which is why Brendan Eich’s donation to an anti-gay-marriage group became, in the eyes of many, grounds for firing.
For many people, this massive public territory is all the legitimate province of the state. Institutions within that sphere are subject to close regulation by the government, including regulations that turn those institutions into agents of state goals — for example, by making them buy birth control for anyone they choose to employ. It is not a totalitarian view of government, but it is a totalizing view of government; almost everything we do ends up being shaped by the law and the bureaucrats appointed to enforce it. We resolve the conflict between negative and positive rights by restricting many negative rights to a shrunken private sphere where they cannot get much purchase.
Put another way, once upon time, things not directly within the government purview were neutral territory in which I didn’t impose upon or demand from you, and you didn’t impose upon and demand from me. We might have thought the other excessively moral or immoral, but we danced together in uneasy harmony.
Beginning in the 1980s, though, the Left co-opted the public space, declaring that it was not neutral territory but was, instead, government territory. Further, because Leftists deny that their belief in non-Christian values is itself a value, they insist that by doing so they’re not infringing on First Amendment rights. They insist upon this denial even as they promote and guard their own secular faith with all the vehemence of a true religious zealot.
The Obama healthcare mandate reflects the fact that, for the Left, the distinction between your private religious space and all the other public government faith space has morphed again. Now, as a person of faith, the only space you have that’s yours is within the four walls of your home. Everything else is within the public purview, meaning that it’s under government control and government values (which are, by definition, statist, hostile to matters of faith, and identical to the Democrat platform). With this rejiggered view of public and private, the government is not infringing upon your religion if it imposes obligations on you (even obligations that directly contradict your faith) as long as it is not constraining you within your own home.
Put another way, the DemProg interpretation of the First Amendment’s promise that the government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion boils down to this: I can’t force you to pay for or perform an abortion on your own daughter (provided she lives in your house), but I am not impinging on your faith if I force you to pay for or perform an abortion on your neighbor’s daughter. Under this definition, your objection to paying for or performing that abortion on the neighbor’s child constitutes an unreasonable attempt to enforce religious values in the public arena.
If you’ve been educated in the American school system at any time during and after the late 1960s, you’ve been taught that Margaret Sanger, had her emotions terribly wrung when she saw the terrible suffering poor women (mostly immigrants and blacks) experienced because they had child after child after child under the most appalling economic circumstances. To the extent Sanger was one of the major forces helping women break the cycle of annual pregnancies that destroyed their health and well-being, I have to applaud her. I don’t do pregnancy well and I’m not exaggerating when I say that a third might have killed me.
What I’ve learned since leaving school is that relieving women’s suffering was only one of Sanger’s goals, although it was the only one that she was willing to discuss publicly. When speaking with friends, she was more straightforward about her ultimate plans for birth control and abortion:
(I checked and that quotation appears to be real, rather than libelous and apocryphal. It comes from her comment on the ‘Negro Project’ in a letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, December 10, 1939., a document found in the Sanger manuscripts, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts.)
Sanger would undoubtedly be proud to learn that her beloved Planned Parenthood overwhelmingly targets African-Americans and other minorities.
Incidentally, it’s recently acquired knowledge such as this, all of which runs directly counter to the careful myths on which I was raised, that makes me increasingly hostile to America’s abortion culture.
National Review’s Alex Torres has unearthed a really disgusting example of academic-think over at UCSB. That’s where Mireille Miller-Young, who gets paid to teach students about porn and sex work, with a little bit of “black culture” on the side, not only aggressively stole a sign from a pro-Life display in a Free Speech area, but also physically attacked a teenage girl who tried to recover the sign. Michael Young, UCSB’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, finally waded into the fray and . . . attacked the pro-Life people who had properly set themselves up in the university’s oh-so-limited “Free Speech space.”
To do Young justice, he did say that the Founders, despite being slaveholders, had the right idea with Free Speech. It’s just that he really doesn’t think that people who disagree with his world view should exercise it. It’s so . . . rude of them!
After reading the claptrap and tripe emanating from Mr. Young’s computer, I sat down and, in a fine frenzy, wrote him the type of letter that he’d never read and that I, after read it, realized that I would never send. It’s a very brutal letter, and I’ve learned the hard way that the brutal letter is the first draft that never actually goes out. I still want to say what I have to say, though, and that’s why we have blogs. So — here is the letter that I would have sent Mr. Young if I were a less polite person than I am in real life:
I don’t usually pay attention to what goes on in America’s campuses, having been fortunate enough to have walked off the last one almost 30 years ago. However, your recent email to UCSB students regarding Mireille Miller-Young’s decision to physically attack a teenage girl with whom she disagreed is so extraordinary that I believe you deserve to hear from one of the people who pays your salary (i.e., a California resident).
I couldn’t help but notice that you’re black. Did you happen to know that New York City and Mississippi abort black babies in numbers far in excess of blacks’ representation in those respective populations? The number of black babies aborted in New York in 2012 (that would be 31,328) was greater than the number of black babies born in New York in 2012 (a mere 24,758). Moreover, although blacks are only 25% of the New York population, 42% of all New York abortions were black babies.
Meanwhile, down in Mississippi, between 1994 and 2010, black women aborted 39,000 fetuses. Over the same period, white women aborted 14,500 fetuses. Put another way, over a 16 year period, black women had abortions at a rate more than twice that of white women. While blacks make up 37% of Mississippi’s population, they accounted for 72% of its abortions.
Did you know that Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s founder, was a eugenicist who promoted abortion primarily as a way of ridding America of blacks and other “undesirables”?
Knowing all this, are you sure you want to attack as divisive those people who are shocked that the most dangerous place in America for a black child is the womb?
One of the things that consistently amazes me about black Americans is that they embrace policies that have been manifestly disastrous for them. Welfare, by making black men unnecessary, destroyed the black family structure. Being a university type, you probably know that study after study shows that the surest way out of poverty is a traditional family. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if it turns out that you would rather be run over by a truck than turn your back on the welfare state, despite the appalling damage it has wrought.
I’m willing to bet you were horrified when Paul Ryan said that people of good will need to work on the disastrous pathology of inner city neighborhoods in which young men — almost invariably young black men — prey on each other and on all the men, women, and children unlucky enough to be caught in the crossfire. I’m equally willing to bet that you were not horrified when President Obama said that the federal government needs to work on the disastrous pathology of inner city neighborhoods. Considering that these deadly pathologies escalated dramatically with LBJ’s great society, I’d be much more scared of Obama’s threatened federal help than I would be of Paul Ryan’s suggestion that a societal change would be a good thing.
Frederick Douglas accurately predicted what the Great Society would do to black society:
“What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!
And so it goes. You’re not the only group in America that has sold its soul to a political ideology that is profoundly damaging to its best interests. As a Jew, I’m equally appalled by the way in which American Jews consistently embrace political parties and politicians that are hostile to Jews — and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per family at campuses rife with blatant antisemitism. The Democrat party is kind of like the mafia: once you’re in, you don’t leave, even when it becomes deadly to you and yours.
All of which gets me to your utterly appalling attack on pro-Life people. First of all, you should be agreeing with those pro-Life people, since the Democrats who so rabidly support abortion are the same Democrats presiding over the slow extinction of the black race in America. Second of all, as a high level functionary in a university, you should be embracing people who challenge the stifling orthodoxy of American academia. It’s this groupthink that has rendered you and Miller-Young incapable of using anything other than violence and invective to challenge ideas with which you disagree. My strong suspicion is that you’re deeply afraid that, if you had to confront these disagreeable ideas on their merits, you might have to rethink your own values.
To coddle students because they feel “outrage, pain, embarrassment,” etc., is a gross failing on your part. The world is a cruel place. (Indeed, I’m being intellectually cruel to you now by calling you on your ignorance, prejudice, and fear.) To take tens of thousands of dollars per student from parents and taxpayers in order to produce scared little bunny rabbits who are afraid to think, confront, challenge, and analyze is a form of fraud. You promise to educate and develop the young mind, even as you’re actively complicit in turning those same youngsters into bland piles of Leftist mush, swinging wildly between anger and hurt, with no pause in between for rigorous thought.
The most narrow-minded, stultifying place in America today is a university (or perhaps they would be better called monoversities, since the orthodoxy of group think permeates every department). Both you and the students under your care deserve more than the pabulum all of you are currently imbibing at UCSB.
Every conservative online publication today is talking about the British hospital that used aborted and miscarried babies as part of the fuel for its heating system. I, and others, have commented that even the Nazis didn’t use their crematoria for heaters, although one cannot deny that the Nazis harvested everything they could from the bodies of those they murdered (gold teeth, hair, prosthetic limbs, etc.). Many people came up with the Soylent Green analogy, which is apt.
What happened in England is a grotesque, reprehensible thing. It’s also completely logical. The premise of abortion is that the fetus is just a jumble of tissue, no different from removing a tumor or cyst. Things removed from people’s bodies in a hospital have to go somewhere, and cremation is the cleanest way to dispose of human tissue and other potentially contaminated remains. And in a day and age of recycling and “green energy,” why not recycle that living matter into heat? It all just make sense.
My point is that, if you’re going to make abortion legal, you must inevitably contemplate some way of disposing of the results of that abortion. Being clean and energy-efficient is as good a way as any of ridding yourself of something you’ve already determined is valueless. As I said, the story is grotesque but logical (even predictable).
The news story that blew me away this morning, however, was the one reporting that the female head of the biggest abortion provider in England is entirely comfortable with sex-selective abortions (meaning abortions carried out solely because the fetus is female):
Ann Furedi, of BPAS, said the law does not prevent women from choosing a termination on the grounds of gender and she even compared it to abortion after rape.
However, Mrs Furedi – whose charity carries out more than a quarter of abortions in England and Wales, argued that if doctors believe going ahead with the pregnancy would damage the mental health of the mother, the abortion is within the law.
Writing for online magazine Spiked, she said: “A doctor agreeing to an abortion on grounds of rape would be breaking the law no more and no less than a doctor who agrees an abortion on grounds of sex selection,” she said.
“While it is true that the sex of the foetus is not a legal ground for abortion, nor is rape, or incest, or being 13 years old. Nor is being homeless, or abandoned, or just feeling there’s no way you can bring a child into the world… yet they are all reasons why a doctor may believe a women has met the legal grounds of abortion.”
She added: “The woman gives her reasons, the doctor decides on the grounds as set out in the law … there is no legal requirement to deny a woman an abortion if she has a sex preference, providing that the legal grounds are still met.
“The law is silent on the matter of gender selection, just as it is silent on rape.”
It’s probably worthwhile filling you in on a few facts about the killing of females both in and outside of the womb. In 2010, the Economist wrote about the toll gendercide was taking on the would-be women in the world:
In January 2010 the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) showed what can happen to a country when girl babies don’t count. Within ten years, the academy said, one in five young men would be unable to find a bride because of the dearth of young women—a figure unprecedented in a country at peace.
The number is based on the sexual discrepancy among people aged 19 and below. According to CASS, China in 2020 will have 30m-40m more men of this age than young women. For comparison, there are 23m boys below the age of 20 in Germany, France and Britain combined and around 40m American boys and young men. So within ten years, China faces the prospect of having the equivalent of the whole young male population of America, or almost twice that of Europe’s three largest countries, with little prospect of marriage, untethered to a home of their own and without the stake in society that marriage and children provide.
Parts of India have sex ratios as skewed as anything in its northern neighbour. Other East Asian countries—South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan—have peculiarly high numbers of male births. So, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, have former communist countries in the Caucasus and the western Balkans. Even subsets of America’s population are following suit, though not the population as a whole.
In China the sex ratio for the generation born between 1985 and 1989 was 108, already just outside the natural range. For the generation born in 2000-04, it was 124 (ie, 124 boys were born in those years for every 100 girls). According to CASS the ratio today is 123 boys per 100 girls. These rates are biologically impossible without human intervention.
Other countries have wildly skewed sex ratios without China’s draconian population controls (see chart 1). Taiwan’s sex ratio also rose from just above normal in 1980 to 110 in the early 1990s; it remains just below that level today. During the same period, South Korea’s sex ratio rose from just above normal to 117 in 1990—then the highest in the world—before falling back to more natural levels.
The Economist article, which is excellent, goes on to describe the consequences of these increasing gender imbalances, one of the more frightening of which is an excess number of young men without the civilizing influence of women.
The numbers lost to sex-selective abortions are staggering. Back in 2011, Ross Douhat examined data suggesting that at least 160 million girls were killed in the womb for no other reason than that their culture preferred boy babies.
There is nothing in the world more hostile to women than sex-selective abortions. Absolutely nothing. Life for women is hard all over, but only sex-selective abortion has wiped out 160 million of them. Yet Ann Furedi who, as head of England’s single largest abortion provider must surely call herself a feminist, says that this gendercide is A-OK.
Perhaps I’m erring in calling Furedi a feminist. It’s certainly a reasonable assumption that she is, because in every Western nation, abortion is presented to us as a civilized necessity for saving, elevating, aiding, and supporting women. It’s the way, as Obama said, that we make sure women aren’t “punished with a baby.” Those who oppose abortion, say the Democrats, are engaged in a “War on Women.” The corollary, of course, is that those who support abortion must by extension support women.
Furedi, however, seems to have declared a war on babies and, more specifically on female babies. That doesn’t sound feminist. That sounds profoundly misogynistic. And perhaps, within that framework, there’s nothing random about the fact that the same woman who cheerfully condones mass murder of women is married to the leader of the British Revolutionary Communist Party.
I’ve often said that one of the things that drove me from being staunchly pro-abortion to being primarily pro-Life (although leaving a door open to abortion in certain cases) is the extremism we see in the abortion culture. No matter how much the abortion spokespeople and the Democrat party (but I repeat myself) wrap themselves in the mantle of women’s rights to justify abortion, their every pronouncement makes it plain that their focus isn’t on letting women live, it’s on letting babies die.
Furedi — who heads England’s biggest abortion “charity” — has just become the poster child for the Left’s Big Lie. By support gender-selective abortion she reveals that the “pro-abortion = pro-women” mantra is hollow. She doesn’t care about women. She cares about killing babies. Otherwise she could not condone the continuation of a practice that has already accounted for something far in excess of 160 million female lives.
The burned babies heating hospital buildings is disgusting, but it’s just the final manifestation of a cult that has nothing to do with women and everything to do with genocide and gendercide.
First, a New York Times opinion piece saying that it would be a gross travesty if the Supreme Court were to deny Hobby Lobby employees their absolute right to have a religious company pay for their birth control and abortifacient pills.
Second, an opinion piece by Pastor Rick Warren explaining why it would be a gross constitutional travesty if the Supreme Court were to hold that the First Amendment is limited to allowing people to attend a House of Worship, rather than to live their lives according to their faith.
I leave it to you to determine which of the two articles makes more constitutional, practical, and moral sense.
And to round things out:
Third, a news story from England about the fact that, not only did hospital’s incinerate fetus corpses (from both miscarriages and abortions) in a regular incinerator, two of them used the corpses to help heat the buildings. I don’t think even the Nazis used the crematoria as heaters.
Fourth, a news story from England saying that the head of England’s largest abortion provider (and, presumably, a feminist) said that it’s perfectly fine to abort infants simply because they’re girls. That is the reductio ad absurdum of abortion and feminism.
UPDATE: AJ Strata has a lot of excellent thoughts about England’s newest energy source.
There’s a story out of Santa Barbara today about a UC Santa Barbara professor who went berserk in a campus free-speech area when she saw a pro-Life display with graphic pictures of aborted fetuses. She tried to lead a mob against it, grabbed a display and ran off with it, and then got into a physical altercation with a 16-year-old. And just who was this professor?
The professor at the heart of the controversy is Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor whose area of emphasis is black cultural studies, pornography and sex work, according to her faculty webpage. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday by The College Fix.
A check at her website confirms that she’s not a white person dabbling in black cultural studies but is, instead, a black person.
So, to recap: A black woman who’s entire intellectual life revolves about being black violently attacked an anti-abortion display. Gawd, she must really hate herself. And no, she doesn’t hate herself because of her lack of self-control; she clearly hates herself because she’s black.
Just to clarify what seems like a rather blithe conclusion, let me add some other facts to the mix:
The number of black babies aborted in New York in 2012 –31,328 — was greater than the number of black babies born in New York in 2012 –24,758. Moreover, although blacks are only 25% of the New York population, 42% of all New York abortions were black babies.
Between 1994 and 2010, black Mississippi women aborted 39,000 fetuses. Over the same period, white women aborted 14,500 fetuses. Put another way, over a 16 year period, black women had abortions at a rate more than twice that of white women. While blacks make up 37% of Mississippi’s population, they accounted for 72% of its abortions.
In 2011, throughout the entire US, 7,380 blacks were homicide victims. So yes, these posters are correct:
We often speak of self-loathing Jews, people such as George Soros or Noam Chomsky, who are deeply hostile to Judaism and Israel. We don’t speak often enough about self-loathing blacks. Only someone deeply conflicted about herself and her place in society would violently attack members of an organization that are working hard to save tens of thousands of black children annually from a premature death.
You know that I’m not hardcore pro-Life. Instead, I’m a former abortion supporter who is finding it harder and harder to carve out any legitimate moral and intellectual ground to support America’s abortion culture. People such as Professor Miller-Young are facing the cognitive dissonance of abortion, not be sitting back and reevaluating the facts and revisiting their values, but by engaging in violence so that they can avoid that kind of reevaluation. (It is, I should add, a painful process.)
Okay. Are those of you still with me okay with a spoiler? Good. Let’s get going with this post then.
We started watching Downton Abbey when it first came to America. In the first and second seasons, it had everything an anglophile history buff could desire: A ridiculously gorgeous setting, breathtaking pre-WWI fashions, solidly good acting, and an interesting plot-line that followed the upstairs and downstairs life of an aristocratic household on the verge of a war that exacted a great toll on England and fundamentally changed the British landscape.
And of course, it had Maggie Smith, who is a delight in every single scene. As the Dowager Countess, a proud, loving woman struggling to accept all the changes in the world, she is witty, acerbic, and an absolute low-key comedic joy.
Downton Abbey is now in its fourth season and is dragging us through the 20s. When I say “dragging,” I mean that pejorative deliberately. The show has bogged down into being a classy, costumed soap opera. I still watch for the costumes and for Maggie Smith, but otherwise it’s mostly a yawn. Something interesting happened last night though.
As some of you may already know, the Earl of Grantham’s upstairs family began the series with three daughters: Mary, the beautiful, snotty oldest (now a widow); Sybil, the beautiful, free-spirit youngest (now dead); and Edith, the ordinary looking, catty, uninteresting middle child. Edith has consistently been unlucky in love, including being dumped at the altar.
Things finally started to go well for Edith last season when she met a handsome newspaper editor/publisher who fell in love with her. The only problem was that he had a mad wife (shades of Mr. Rochester) and couldn’t divorce her to marry Edith. Eventually, he decided to move to Germany (a scandalous thing to do immediately after WWI) and become a resident there, so that he could get divorced. Sadly for Edith, he has since disappeared in Munich, and we don’t know what’s happened to him. (By the way, if you’re British and do know what’s happened to him, please don’t tell me.) Even worse for Edith, she’s just discovered that she’s pregnant.
One of the threads in yesterday’s convoluted plot (complete with a boring rape story line) was Edith’s decision to go to London to get an abortion. It’s obviously a difficult decision for her. The aunt with whom she’s staying forces her to reveal her plans and, instead of being angry at unmarried Edith for being pregnant, is compassionate, and tries to talk her into having the baby. Edith, though, is terrified of being a social outcast. She loves the father, she wants the baby, but she cannot bear the thought of complete social ignominy.
So off they go to the abortionist. I assumed that this would be the point where a compassionate 1920s doctor makes a speech about the evils of illegal abortion. Instead, after being admitted in a clean, unadorned waiting room, by a clean, unadorned receptionist/nurse, Edith realizes that having the abortion will cut her off from her family just as surely as having the baby will. She would no longer be able to stand going into the nursery where her niece and nephew live. This promise of future regret overwhelms her . . . and she leaves the abortionist.
In a show full of hackneyed soap opera twists and turns, I did not see this one coming.