I am indebted to Jose for the perfect solution to Obama’s moral dilemma regarding dead children in Syria:
Obama says he wants to protect Syrian children. He should just pretend they are fetuses.
I liked that so much, I made a poster:
One of the reasons given for legalizing abortion was so that it could be done by doctors, rather than less qualified practitioners. (Although the Gosnell case revealed that being is physician is no guarantee of quality.) Given that a driving argument behind abortion was to put women in the hands of medical professionals, there’s something deeply ironic about the recently passed bill in California handing abortion back to practitioners who aren’t doctors. I get leting midwives and nurse practitioners do abortions, but physicians’ assistants? Really? In my admittedly limited experience, PAs take temperatures, write notes in charts, rub in unguents, and generally do the stuff that LVN’s (who are less trained than RN’s) consider beneath them. But they’re going to be allowed to do abortions?
I know that Hillary is going to look Americans in the face when she runs for president and boast that she’s committed to keeping abortion safe, rare, and legal. Well, at least she and her fellow Progressives will be telling the truth about the “legal” part.
I’ve been coming across so much interesting stuff this morning that I’m going to do another flotsam and jetsam post.
One of the things we’ve long known is that the Left lies about statistics. Examples of this are “1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted” canard and the “women earn 76 cents for every dollar men earn” lie which is (a) factually inaccurate and (b) misleading because it ignores the fact that women’s commitment to their children means many of them voluntarily take a different career track. (The only place this is factually true, I think, is the Obama White House, where he definitely pays women less.) Tom Elia therefore suggests that, before blindly accepting Texas Democrats’ charge that the proposed abortion law would close all but 5 of Texas’s 42 abortion clinics (because of the requirement that the clinic be within 30 miles of a hospital), we might want to check whether this is actually true.
Before you get your knickers in a twist about the revelation that the EU has been colluding with the US to hand over European data to the NSA program, remember that the source is a virulent anti-American, antisemitic truther. This may explain why The Guardian, after touting the story, then pulled it. Having said that, it’s not hard to believe Edward Epstein’s theory that this was never a whistleblower case but was, instead, a carefully thought out plan of espionage.
You’re my readers, so I know all of you are already aware that we’re on the verge of the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. Nevertheless, I thought I’d still mention it, along with the fact that at least some Americans are aware of how significant that battle was. World War I saw bigger battles, with more deaths (Ypres, the Somme, etc.), but I’m not sure that any Civil War ever saw such ferocious days as the Civil War did at Antietam or Gettysburg, or any of the other sites where Americans clashed against each other. I believe it’s very useful to remind some people (and I’m not naming names) that America is the only country in the world that has ever shed so much blood to fight slavery.
Just a moment to mourn Andrew Pochter, the idealistic American Jewish kid who went to Egypt to help raise up the poor Arabs and died in a welter of blood during an anti-Morsi protest.
I think things in Egypt are about to get much worse. Twenty-two million Egyptians signed a petition demanding Morsi’s ouster. Do they really think the Muslim Brotherhood is going to walk away? If Egypt does fall into a Civil War, it will make what’s happening in Syria look like a Sunday school picnic.
Naive people think a mosque is just a House of Worship. While it is definitely a House of Worship, it’s also something more: a symbol of conquest. That’s why it has to be higher than the surrounding buildings. And that’s why, in Germany, the air is being filled with the amplified sounds of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer five times a day.
Charlie Martin, one of my favorite PJ Media writers, is at it again, writing smart stuff, this time about climate change and a really important question: is there any evidence that humans matter?
And while we’re on the subject of climate, Robert Zubrin explains in simple terms why Obama’s recently announced climate plans will impoverish America. With Obama focusing on climate change (despite more and more data that the entire theory is wrong), even as the economy stagnates, national secrets go walking, and the Middle East is aflame, my first thought was that he was like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Reading Zubrin’s analysis though of the devastating Obama’s plans will bring to the economy, the better analogy would be Nero pouring accelerant on the flames licking at Rome. If you doubt that, check out Obama’s recent appointees, all of whom have drunk full of the climate change Kool-Aid.
Republicans are saying that this time, really, for good and for true, their eyes are open. That whole Gang of Eight thing made them realize that the Democrats are not their friends in Congress and they promise, never, never, never again to ever again, really ever, let the Democrats play them like that. How dumb do Republicans think we are? Republicans are Charlie Brown, Democrats are Lucy, and Americans are a poor, kicked-around, deflated football.
A New Jersey teachers union leader said that the rich send their children to public school so that they don’t have to have contact with the poor. I know of at least one case where this is true. Back in 1971, busing came to San Francisco. I was bussed from one middle class school near my home to another slightly less middle class school far from my home. It made friendships difficult (none of my friends were near), and there were a few more black kids, but otherwise it was no big deal. My friend, however, was bussed from her middle class school to a school in Bayview-Hunter’s Point, one of the worst slums in San Francisco. She could beaten up every day for the first two weeks of school. Her parents, fortunately, had the money to pull her out of the public school system and they put her in Brandeis. So yes, they didn’t want her to have contact with the poor — because the poor wanted to have a bit too much contact with her.
If you’re wondering what’s going on in Turkey, Claire Berlinsky will explain it to you.
This is an Open Thread, so please feel free to add to it.
The starting point for any discussion about abortion is, of course, Roe v. Wade. Pro-abortion people like to throw that case name around like a magic talisman that allows abortion from the moment of conception until some time after birth. They invariably forget that Roe v. Wade was a very limited ruling. It did not create an unfettered right to abortion. Instead, it established a delicate balancing act over the entire length of the pregnancy between the State’s interests and the woman’s interest in the fetus. Based upon the state of medicine in the early 1970s, the court saw viability as starting sometime within the second trimester. The specific weeks or months of a pregnancy, though, weren’t the issue. Viability trumps all:
With respect to the State’s important and legitimate interest in potential life, the “compelling” point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications. If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. (Emphasis added.)
Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 163 (1973).
The Supreme Court has decided myriad abortion cases since Roe v. Wade, all of which push back on limitations states attempt in impose on abortions in the early weeks. The one thing that none of these cases have done is to limit the viability standard. Instead, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court actually expanded the viability standard by saying trimesters are irrelevant. The only thing that matters when it comes to determine the State’s interest is average fetal viability under current medical practices:
We have seen how time has overtaken some of Roe’s factual assumptions: advances in maternal health care allow for abortions safe to the mother later in pregnancy than was true in 1973, see Akron I, supra, at 429, n. 11, and advances in neonatal care have advanced viability to a point somewhat earlier. Compare Roe, 410 U. S., at 160, with Webster, supra, at 515-516 (opinion of REHNQUIST, C. J.); see Akron I, 462 U. S., at 457, and n. 5 (O’CONNOR, J., dissenting). But these facts go only to the scheme of time limits on the realization of competing interests, and the divergences from the factual premises of 1973 have no bearing on the validity of Roe’s central holding, that viability marks the earliest point at which the State’s interest in fetal life is constitutionally adequate to justify a legislative ban on nontherapeutic abortions. The soundness or unsoundness of that constitutional judgment in no sense turns on whether viability occurs at approximately 28 weeks, as was usual at the time of Roe, at 23 to 24 weeks, as it sometimes does today, or at some moment even slightly earlier in pregnancy, as it may if fetal respiratory capacity can somehow be enhanced in the future. Whenever it may occur, the attainment of viability may continue to serve as the critical fact, just as it has done since Roe was decided; which is to say that no change in Roe’s factual underpinning has left its central holding obsolete, and none supports an argument for overruling it.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 860 (1992) (emphasis added).
In sum, what the Supreme Court has done over the years is to expand pre-viability rights, while contracting the window of time within which those rights apply. This is an important point to keep in mind when considering the House’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy. First, don’t let the 20 weeks throw you. The method the House bill uses to calculate fetal age translates to what most women would consider 22 weeks pregnant, which is when fetus’s can survive outside the womb. (There are two different time measurements, in the same the way that Celsius and Fahrenheit are two different temperature measurements.)
Right out of the box, the pro-abortion media gets the bill wrong. In a Washington Post article, the Post claims the House bill goes beyond the Supreme Court, which it does not:
The bill would narrow the window currently set out by federal law and the Supreme Court, which bans most abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Some Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed similar laws in recent months.
As you can see from the quotation above, the Supreme Court did not place a time-limit on abortion. It placed a viability limit. Once the average fetus is viable with modern medical care, the State has rights.
Now that we’ve established the law, let’s look at what Barack Obama has to say about the House bill, which he has declared he intends to veto in the unlikely event it gets through the Senate:
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1797, which would unacceptably restrict women’s health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman’s right to choose. Women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care, and Government should not inject itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor.
Forty years ago, the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose. This bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and shows contempt for women’s health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients’ health care decisions, and the Constitution. The Administration is continuing its efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies, expand access to contraception, support maternal and child health, and minimize the need for abortion. At the same time, the Administration is committed to the protection of women’s health and reproductive freedom and to supporting women and families in the choices they make.
If the President were presented with this legislation, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.
This is a steaming pile of manure. It cites to Roe v. Wade without understanding it, and which completely ignores Casey, all in an effort to give women unfettered abortion rights from conception through to some moment after delivery. Reading the statement, it’s difficult to remember that our President is a Harvard Law graduate and former constitutional law professor. I mean, we know he didn’t author it himself, but how in the world could he have put his imprimatur on it?
I’ve commented before on the factual dishonesty of the abortion debate. Abortion proponents pretend that we’re living in the 1950s, when out-of-wedlock pregnancy was a stigma, not a commonplace. I guess it’s unsurprising that the intellectual debate would be equally dishonest. One could say that the good thing about mass murderer Kermit Gosnell is that his “post-birth” abortions have brought to light the intellectual paucity of the Democrat party when it comes to abortion. The Supreme Court has insisted on a balancing act, and the Democrats have responded by putting their thumb firmly on the abortion side of the scale.
Kirsten Powers, one of Fox News’ resident Democrats, is the person who forced the Kermit Gosnell mass murder onto the front page. Before Powers shamed the media into pretending, if only for a few days, that the trial of one the most prolific serial killers in American history actually mattered, the media had managed to ignore almost entirely Kermit Gosnell’s trial. With Powers’ “J’Accuse” moment on USA Today, however, the media was forced to acknowledge the trial, if only momentarily, and to engage in a cursory analysis of its motives. The analysis was pathetic, but they did it. (E.g., “We’ve decided that we didn’t ignore the trial because it was about an abortionist; we ignored it because our incredibly savvy business sense, which has seen most liberal print media outlets totter to the edge of the grave, told us that there was no money in this one.”)
Powers has written another indictment of the Left’s fanatic support for abortion. This time, her focus is on the pathological denial that sees the Left pretend that a fully matured fetus is just a clump of cells:
What we need to learn from the Gosnell case is that late-term abortion is infanticide. Legal infanticide. That so many people in the media seem untroubled by the idea that 12 inches in one direction is a “private medical decision” and 12 inches in the other direction causes people to react in horror, should be troubling. Indeed, Gosnell’s defense attorney Jack J. McMahon has relied on the argument that Gosnell killed the babies prior to delivering them, therefore he is not guilty of murder. His exact words were: “Every one of those babies died in utero.”
We live in a country where if a six-months-pregnant woman started downing shots of vodka in a bar or lit up a cigarette, people might want her arrested. But that same woman could walk into an abortion clinic, no questions asked, and be injected with a drug that would stop her baby’s heart.
I’ll put my cards on the table: I think life begins at conception and would love to live in a world where no women ever felt she needed to get an abortion. However, I know enough people who are pro-abortion rights—indeed, I was one of them for most of my life—to know that reasonable and sincere people can disagree about when meaningful life begins. They also can disagree about how to weigh that moral uncertainty against a woman’s right to control her body—and her own life. I have only ever voted for Democrats, so overturning Roe v. Wade is not one of my priorities. I never want to return to the days of gruesome back-alley abortions.
But medical advances since Roe v. Wade have made it clear to me that late-term abortion is not a moral gray area, and we need to stop pretending it is. No six-months-pregnant woman is picking out names for her “fetus.” It’s a baby. Let’s stop playing Orwellian word games. We are talking about human beings here.
Powers is absolutely right. I’m pleased and proud to say that, even in my most fiercely pro-Choice days, I wouldn’t have countenanced the abortion of a viable infant. Nevertheless, I do have to part ways with the core premise in Powers’ article, which is that NARAL and the NRA are both equally extreme, and therefore both equally open to being castigated and disregarded
Speaking as a liberal who endorses more government regulation of practically everything—banks, water, air, food, oil drilling, animal safety—I am eternally perplexed by the fury the abortion rights contingent displays at the suggestion that the government might have a serious role to play in the issue of abortion, especially later-term abortion. More and more, the abortion rights community has become the NRA of the left: unleashing their armies of supporters and lobbyists in opposition to regulations or restrictions that the majority of Americans support. In the same way the NRA believes background checks will lead to the government busting down your door to confiscate your guns, the abortion rights movement conjures a straight line from parental consent to a complete ban on abortion.
Powers is wrong to claim that the two institutions are alike and that both are equally extreme. They’re not the same and for one very specific reason: the Constitution.
NARAL is predicated upon a Supreme Court case that found an emanation of a penumbra of an assumed, but never explicitly named, constitutional right to privacy and, from that, created an unfettered right to abort a fetus during its first trimester. Somehow that limited right morphed into an equally unfettered right to abort a fetus, not just in the first trimester, but right up to, including, and after its birth. Even the authors of Roe v. Wade would concede that those on the Left who defend late term or post-birth abortions have hit a high note on the extremist scale. Extremism in defense of an illusory right premised on a magical interpretation of a clearly written historic contract between the people and their federal government is . . . well, extremely extreme.
But about the NRA. . . . Where does it get the idea that the government should absolutely and completely stay away from law-abiding citizens’ guns? Are those gun rights nuts also relying on an emanation of a penumbra of an unstated right? In a word, no. Instead, the NRA is ensuring that the government does not overreach its explicitly described limitation of power under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
This is not even Goldwater’s “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.” There is no extremism here because the NRA, contrary to Progressives’ frequent attacks, is not pushing any boundaries.
Which brings me to one of the best pro-Second Amendment articles I’ve seen. Iowa State University has a newspaper called the Iowa State Daily. Until about yesterday, one of its writers was a guy named Barry Snell. At some point before he attended the university, Barry Snell wore a uniform (police? military? He doesn’t say). Attending an American university and writing for a student newspaper exposed Snell to a lot of anti-gun people. He doesn’t shy away from the fact that many of them are extremely nice people. (I know that to be the case when it comes to all the anti-gun people I know. They’re not professional Leftists. They’re just myopic.) Snell’s word for these people, these nice Leftists who turn into slavering gun grabbers whenever a shooting occurs is that they’re “uninformed” — and how.
On his last day as a writer for the Iowa State Daily, Snell un-pented all the pent up irritation, frustration, and anger he has when it comes to those liberals who feel it is their obligation to tar all gun owners as crazy, baby-killing lunatics. Admirably, Snell’s decency and intellect are such that, even when he let ‘er rip, he stuck to his facts and avoid ad hominem attacks. Before I start discussing some of the points that specifically interested me in his article, I urge you to read it and share it, through any social media you have (email, Facebook, Twitter, a blog, etc.). It’s that good.
What Snell does so well is to is explain why NRA types are so defensive when it comes to their Second Amendment rights. They’ve learned over the years not to trust the Left, which speaks with forked tongue and, no matter what it says, wants to grab guns. He makes more good arguments than I can count, so let me just give you a taste, and then hone in on my abortion point:
Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because anti-gunners always talk about 90 percent of Americans supporting this gun control measure, or 65 percent supporting that one, as if a majority opinion is what truly matters in America. We don’t trust anti-gun people because you think America is a democracy, when it’s actually a constitutional federal republic. In the American system, the rights of a single individual are what matters and are what our system is designed to protect. The emotional mob does not rule in America.
Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they keep saying they “respect the Second Amendment” and go on about how they respect the hunting traditions of America. We don’t trust you because you have to be a complete idiot to think the Second Amendment is about hunting. I wish people weren’t so stupid that I have to say this: The Second Amendment is about checking government tyranny. Period. End of story. The founders probably couldn’t have cared less about hunting since, you know, they just got done with that little tiff with England called the Revolutionary War right before they wrote that “little book” called the Constitution.
Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they lie to us. President Obama directly says he won’t tamper with guns or the Second Amendment, then turns around and pushes Congress to do just that. We don’t trust anti-gunners because they appoint one of the most lying and rabidly (and moronically) anti-gun people in America, Vice President Biden, to head up a “task force” to “solve” the so-called “gun problem,” who in turn talks with anti-gun special interest groups instead of us to complete his task.
Snell neatly addresses the way the abortion makes the First Amendment sacrosanct, even while relegating the Second Amendment to the inner circle of Hell:
Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they look down on us for defending the Second Amendment as vigorously as they defend the First Amendment — a fight we too would stand side-by-side with them on otherwise. We don’t trust anti-gunners because someone defending the First Amendment is considered a hero, but a someone defending the Second Amendment is figured down with murderers and other lowlifes. Where the First Amendment has its very own day and week, both near-holy national celebrations beyond reproach, anti-gunners would use the First Amendment to ridicule any equivalent event for the Second Amendment, like they did for a recent local attempt at the University of Iowa.
Nicely, for purposes of my post here, Snell actually touches on the abortion question. He doesn’t do so in a constitutional way, but I’m still throwing it in here, just because he makes such a good point, and manages to show how fundamentally flawed the Leftist position is:
Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because when it comes to their “We need gun control to save the children” argument, many of us can’t understand how an anti-gun liberal can simultaneously be in favor of abortion. Because you know, a ban on abortion would save a child every single time. I’m personally not rabidly against abortion, but the discongruence makes less sense still when the reason abortions are legal is to protect a woman’s individual rights. That’s great, but does the individual rights argument sound familiar? Anti-gunners think that for some bizarre reason, the founding fathers happened to stick a collective right smack dab at the top of a list of individual rights, though. Yeah, because that makes sense.
Hmmm. I got a little carried away and off-topic there, and ended up quoting a lot of choice paragraphs that don’t actually tie into the NARAL versus NRA argument. They’re such good paragraphs, though, that I’m not going to delete them. I’m just going to drag this post back to my original point, which is that, while Powers is right about late-term abortion, she’s wrong to compare NARAL and the NRA.
Where Powers’ analogy fails is that she believes that the two organizations — NARAL and the NRA — are comparable because both are single issue organizations and both have members who have staked out bottom line positions for their belief. This is a false comparison, because it mistakes form for substance. That is, it implies that, because they have a superficial similarity, their beliefs are equal — equal in morality, equal in logic, and equal in law. They are not. And this is where I can circle back to Snell.
My takeaway from Snell’s article is that there is no extremism in the defense of the Second Amendment. It is every bit as important an inherent right as those jumbled almost carelessly together in the First Amendment. When we defend it against anti-gun people, our actions aren’t motivated by our extremism, but by theirs. We hew to the Constitution. They hew to a false understanding of our republican form of government, dishonest statistics, political lies, emotional hysteria, fallout from their own bad policies, etc. Gun rights advocates, unlike NARAL supporters are not denying reality, and they are not making up imaginary rights.
So while I applaud Powers’ for having the courage to take her Progressive brethren to task for their immoral position when it comes to late term abortion, I can’t give her a pass for pretending that abortion rights and gun rights are the same. They’re not, and vigilance in defending against unconstitutional, illogical, and immoral attacks against the Second Amendment is not the same as extremism in defense of a made-up right that has been stretched and twisted to give legal cover to something that is, under any interpretation of law, morality, and biology, cold-blooded murder.
Hat tip: Pierre LeGrand
(I was halfway through writing this one before I remembered that it was for Mr. Conservative and not for my own site. Now that it’s up there, though, I can reprint it here, and make my friends a part of the conversation.)
You know what your 12-year-old daughter needs? Free condoms. Even better, she needs to have those free condoms delivered directly to her in discrete packing, along with lubricants and other items to facilitate her burgeoning sex life. And you know what would make this free delivery service best of all? If it by-passed parents entirely.
If you’re writhing in agony reading those words, be grateful if you’re not living in California. The California Family Health Council (CFHC) has a Condom Access Project (CAP) that mails condoms to children 12 and over for free. Put another way, California taxpayers are funding a program that purchases, packages, and ships condoms to underage minors. Think about that for a moment: If an adult has sex with underage minors, it’s statutory rape and the adult is imprisoned and reviled. If a state facilitates sex for underage minors, it’s Progressive and admired. Go figure.
An obviously excited CAP recently issued a press release boasting that its program is expanding to teens in Fresno and San Diego counties. All that the kids need to do is go to a snappily designed website called “teensource.org,” fill out a form, and they’re in business.
Showing the cognitive difficulties that afflict career Leftists, that buzzy little CFHC press release is a classic case of the “Butterfield effect.” For those of you unfamiliar with this term, Fox Butterfield, a well-known Progressive journalist, gained notoriety for writing several articles in which he discussed what he thought was an inexplicable paradox: even as prison populations rose because of tougher sentencing rules, crime rates fell. He couldn’t even imagine the possibility that the tougher sentencing rules caused the falling crime rates.
In its press release, the CFHC proudly notes that it’s expanding its condom program, even as it says that “STD rates among California’s youth ages 15-19 are increasing.” Hmm. Could that rate increase be because the State of California is actively encouraging teens to have sex? (Not to leave the feds out of this equation, they used $423,500 in stimulus dollars to study “correct condom use.”) And could it be because teens, once allowed to do risky, are notorious for being irresponsible even if you give them all the necessary tools for playing it safe? This is why young teens don’t get driver’s licenses and older teens have expensive insurance: no matter the rules and the safety devices, teens are careless.
The announcement about the free condom program arrives at the same time that the FDA ruled that girls as young as 15 can buy the “morning-after pill” without parental consent. The morning-after pill is a powerful hormone cocktail that causes the uterus to reject a newly implanted zygote. In most states, teen girls cannot get their ears pierced, shoot paintball guns, or get a fake tan without parental permission, but they can put toxic quantities of hormones into their growing bodies, all without their parents knowing what’s going on.
Leftist governments hate families. The family unit is the strongest statement of individualism. The way to destroy the family is to use that most powerful of all human motivators – sex – to seduce the child away from the family and into the arms of the beneficent state. The state, which doesn’t love you, still gives you what you need for sex (condoms, The Pill, lubricants, instruction books). Then, because you’re a teen, when all those fail the state gives you the toxic medicines (hormones, antibiotics) and risky medical procedures to save you from your mistakes.
Conservative parents understand the message: “Mom and Dad are so yesterday. Turn to the state, which will give you everything you need.” Are those truly loving parents who happen to be Progressives ever going to wise up?
Lately, abortion has been in the news. It never gets far out of the news, but it intruded with extra force these past two weeks for two reasons. The first was the story about the media’s decision to ignore the Kermit Gosnell trial because it didn’t fit into the abortion narrative. The narrative is that abortion should be “safe, rare, and legal.” The Gosnell reality was that women died in his filthy clinic, that living babies got murdered (with the psychopathic Gosnell collecting hands and feet as trophies), and that the abortions were illegal under any standards, since they were so late term as to constitute murder under Pennsylvania law. Because Gosnell interrupted the narrative (“we have achieved safe, rare, and legal, and now we must fight zealously to keep it”), what may be the most sensational mass murder trial in American history went unreported.
The other “abortion in the news” moment was Obama’s slobbering love letter to Planned Parenthood, when he spoke at their big hoo-ha. If you doubt that it was a love letter, you need only listen to the very last few seconds of his speech:
As long as we’ve got to fight to make sure women have access to quality, affordable health care, and as long as we’ve got to fight to protect a woman’s right to make her own choices about her own health, I want you to know that you’ve also got a president who’s going to be right there with you, fighting every step of the way. Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.
Yuck. I’ve been slimed.
That was Obama’s emotional shtick. In light of the Gosnell affair, it was a grossly misleading emotional shtick because it’s clear that, when women’s “health care” (i.e., abortion) is not delivered into a quality way, neither Obama nor abortion’s cheerleaders will be there for those women.
But there was something else Obama said that was equally dishonest, and that was his insistence that those who oppose abortion on demand want to return the world to the 1950s:
So the fact is, after decades of progress, there are still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century. And they’ve been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women’s health.
There’s a very subtle dishonesty at work here. What Obama fails to acknowledge is that the social dynamics of our world are so entirely different from those in the 1950s that, even if abortion was outlawed entirely, significant economic and social pressures that women faced in the 50s are virtually nonexistent now. In the 1950s, women had abortions to escape social stigma (“she’s a slut”) and economic collapse (minimal safety net). The social stigma was an especially powerful force. Women were branded and disowned.
I wrote about this false comparison to the 1950s once before, and think it’s worthwhile to reprint that post in its entirety here, simply because the Gosnell trial and Obama Planned Parenthood speech make it very relevant to today’s debate (or avoidance of debate). So, from January 11, 2010, The need for an honest, 21st century debate about abortion:
I dreamed last night about the first ultrasound I had when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was sixteen weeks pregnant, and had been throwing up non-stop for 15 1/2 of those sixteen weeks. I was not happy. I resented the parasite within me. And then I saw the sonogram image and discovered that the parasite had a little round head, two arms and two legs, and an incredible spinal cord that looked like the most exquisite string of pearls. That image did not instantly reconcile me to the next 26 weeks of non-stop vomiting, but it made me aware that “the fetus” is not simply an aggregation of cells, or a thing indistinguishable from a dog or a chicken fetus. It’s a baby.
By the time I had my second child, I knew, without question, that every “fetus” is a nascent human being. I finally recognized on an emotional level that the zygote created on the first day is the same life as the baby you hold in your arms on the last. It is also the same as the toddler that lisps “I wuv you,” and the pre-teen who says “Y0u’re the best mommy ever.” They all start there, right inside each mother.
You’d think, of course, that this realization should have been obvious to me, and should have long predated the birth of two children. But I grew up in the feminist abortion oriented culture, and that culture shies away assiduously from focusing on the life within the woman and focuses, instead, only on the woman herself. There’s a great deal of logic to that focus. During my lifetime alone, there was little to focus on other than the woman. Doctors doing autopsies and medical students studying anatomy might have had a sense of fetal development but, really, no one else did. We weren’t peeking in the womb just a few decades back. Premature babies died as often as not, so our cultural sense of their viability was limited. Heck, in the old days, huge numbers of full-term babies died as often as not. In the pre-modern era, up to 50% of all children died before their 5th birthday — and that’s just counting live births.
And so what we saw in the old days of the abortion debate was the woman. And in a pre-birth control, high morality era (and yes, I mean morality, not mortality), the unmarried, or even the married, woman’s lot wasn’t an easy one when it came to pregnancies. First off, married or not, short of abstinence, there were only the most limited ways to stop pregnancy. The married woman whose husband (reasonably) didn’t want celibacy, could expect a lifetime of pregnancies until her early death, often as the end of a torturous labor, when she’d be laid in her grave alongside probably half of the children she had borne. For the unmarried lady in a high morality era, rape, or simply the romantic impulse of the moment, could lead to horrific social ostracism, to which was then added all the risks of childbirth. In short, for many women, pregnancy was a truly rotten deal, and abortions, legal or illegal, safe or unsafe, seemed like a very reasonable option.
How the world has changed! Nowadays, condoms are everywhere, whether in the vending machine at the nightclub bathroom, at Walgreen’s, or even at your local Safeway grocery. Women also have available to them the ubiquitous Pill, IUDs, diaphragms, contraceptive sponges, and contraceptive gels. All of these forms of birth control can fail even if used properly, but the main result of pregnancy in America is probably the decision, conscious or not, not to use any birth control at all. Some decide not to use contraceptives because they want to get pregnant, and some decide not to use them because, whether for the man or the woman involved, they’re uncomfortable, inconvenient, or embarrassing. Still, compared to the old days, sex that is free of the risk of pregnancy is normative, not impossible.
The world has also changed in that the stigma of pregnancy outside of wedlock has vanished. Whether the young woman intends to keep the baby or to put it up for adoption, no one would judge her for getting pregnant. Indeed, so totally has our culture changed, I had to explain to my son why I thought it was a good idea that his Mommy and Daddy got married before having children. To him, it was six of one, half dozen of the other. (Incidentally, I explained it by telling him that a stable married relationship was the best thing for the child, and you wanted to make sure you had that relationship in place before the child came along. As a child himself, he could appreciate that reasoning.) With Angelina Jolie, a most admired young woman, going around adopting and giving birth to multiple children, either alone or with a partner to whom she is not married, you know your culture has crossed a line to a time and place in which marriage and pregnancy bear no relationship to each other.
Finally, the world has changed in that both maternal and infant mortality in America are but a small — beyond small, minute — fraction of what they once were. When a woman dies in childbirth, or has a stroke, it’s so rare it makes the news section of the paper. In the old days, it was just another obituary and a tombstone. I don’t need to describe to you the rarity of infant deaths. We know they still happen, but they too are rare events, and often result from terrible birth defects that are beyond the reach even of modern medicine.
In our modern era, therefore, many of the forces that once drove abortion are gone. You’re infinitely less likely to get pregnant than you once were (unless you want to). If you’re married and get pregnant, you’re much less likely to die than ever before. If you’re unmarried and get pregnant, not only are you less likely to die than in the past, you’re also going to get baby showers, not social ostracism. If you keep your baby, you know that, even though it’s a tough row to hoe, you’ll be supported. If you give it up for adoption, you know that there are nice middle-class families who are desperate to give your baby a good home and tons of love.
Why then, in our modern era, should we still have abortion? That’s the question we ought to be asking, especially as the Democrats are currently demanding the Americans directly fund abortions for those women who choose to have them.
Certainly, I think most of us would agree that abortion is a good, even a necessary, thing if the mother’s life is in danger. That the mother’s life is in danger with much less frequency than once was the case doesn’t change the moral force of protecting the existing life over the nascent life.
There’s room for debate over abortion for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest. Some could say that the fetus is innocent of the violence and betrayal visited on the woman, and therefore shouldn’t be destroyed. Others would say that rape and incest are such heinous moral crimes that it is equally immoral to force the woman to carry the result of that evil in her body. To be honest, both arguments make sense to me. I think the majority of Americans side with the former line of thinking, and I can certainly live with the legal outcome of accepting that argument.
And then there’s the last argument to justify abortion, the “convenience argument,” although no pro-choice person would ever describe it in those terms. This is an argument that once sat very well with me, but that now makes me very unhappy. It is a purely modern argument, once that exists in an era where few women fear accidental pregnancies, death or social stigma.
The “convenience argument” says it’s just not fair that both the man and the woman get to make whoopee, but that it’s the woman whose life is put on hold for nine months or, depending on her decision, for 18 years or more. It’s not fair that she has to throw up for months, go through labor, stop her education, give up her career, lose her figure, and just stop having fun, while the man, if he chooses not to marry her, gets to go on with his life as before. Even if they marry and the man takes on economic responsibility for the child, his figure, his career, and his free time can be remarkably untouched by precisely the same event that irrevocably changes a woman’s life. To which I would say now (although I wouldn’t have said it 20 years ago), life is tough. The child didn’t ask to be conceived but, now that it is, you owe it an obligation, whether it’s a nine month obligation through to adoption or a lifetime commitment.
Interestingly, one of the things you’ll notice about pro-choice advocacy (usually in movies) is that it roots its emotional arguments in the past, when women couldn’t stop pregnancies, when they died far too easily, and when an out-of-wedlock pregnancy was the end of the world. Think back, for example, to 2004, when the movie Vera Drake opened to immense critical approval, was nominated for three Oscars, and won a whole slew of other awards. The movie tells the story of the saintlike Vera Drake, a loving wife and mother in the 1950s, who also provides pathetically poor, distressed women with abortions. The women getting abortions are all desperately in need of them — a mother of seven children, a rape victim, an isolated immigrant, a wife who had an affair while her husband was in Korea, etc. The movie also shows a rich girl getting away with a medical abortion, so as to emphasize the Marxist theory that the rich get richer and the poor get children. The dramatic tension in the movie comes about because Vera Drake is arrested and prosecuted for this then-illegal act.
Vera Drake is blatantly pro-choice, but also blatantly dishonest as an instrument in today’s debate. Both the troubles faced by the poor women and the advantages offered to the rich are no longer issues in today’s abortion debate.
Another movie that cheated when it came to the abortion issue was HBO’s 1996 movie, If These Walls Could Talk, which follows three abortion events affecting the residents of a single house, over a period of decades:
The 1952 segment deals with Claire Donnelly (Demi Moore), a widowed nurse living in suburban Chicago, who becomes pregnant by her brother-in-law and decides to undergo abortion in order not to hurt her late husband’s family. However, abortion at the time is strictly illegal. Donnelly eventually finds another nurse (CCH Pounder) who provides her the name of a woman who can find her someone who will perform the abortion. After a clandestine procedure she finally manages to abort but dies shortly afterwards due to hemorrhage.
The 1974 segment deals with Barbara Barrows (Sissy Spacek), a struggling and aging mother with four children and a policeman husband who works the night shift, who discovers she must welcome another addition to the family, despite having recently gone back to college. She considers abortion with the support of her teenage daughter (Hedy Burress) but ultimately chooses to keep the child.
The 1996 segment deals with Christine Cullen (Anne Heche), a college student who got pregnant by a married professor, decides on an abortion when he breaks up with her and only offers her money. She is operated on by Dr. Beth Thompson (Cher). However, the abortion takes place during a violent protest, and an abortion protester (Matthew Lillard) walks in on the operation and shoots Dr. Thompson.
If These Walls Could Talk is quite a carefully thought-out movie, making sure to keep sympathy in places that still resonate today: the woman who is incestuously raped, a situation that we sympathize with now, dies because abortion is not legal; the woman who keeps getting pregnant, a situation we find less sympathetic in a birth control era, chooses life; and the least sympathetic woman, the one who has the convenience abortion, is trumped by the even more evil murderous pro-Lifer.
It’s also a dishonest movie. Nowadays, as I said, few quarrel with the legality or morality of an incest or rape abortion; birth control should help keep women from repeat pregnancies (although I do know a woman who claims that she and all four of her siblings were each born clutching Mom’s diaphragm); and the fact that there are loony-toons out there doesn’t lessen the dubiously moral choice of abortion for convenience.
Outside of the movie industry, if you go to the NOW website, that organization still has a page devoted to women who suffered abortions in the past, at a time when women daily had to face down endless pregnancies, childbirth mortality, and extreme social stigma. As I have tried to prove, though, those emotional arguments do not provide a good rationale for unlimited abortion in 21st Century America, especially at the taxpayers’ expense.
A much more intellectually honest movie view of abortion was Juno, a sleeper hit in 2007 about a teenage girl whose foolish moment of passion with a friend left her pregnant. That movie was honest about how the pregnancy happened (no birth control), honest about the absence of social stigma (lots of familial love and support), honest about the almost frightening ease with which even teenagers can obtain abortions, and honest about the desperate middle-class couples looking for a baby. It was also honest about the fact that, given all of these circumstances, it was entirely logical for the teenager to opt not to abort.
As for me, long time readers of this blog know that, even though intellectually and morally I’m no longer pro-choice, I’m still not entirely pro-life. I accept abortion to protect the mother’s life, and can agree to abortion in cases of rape or incest, even though that’s not fair to the innocent fetus. My problem is that, while I know that convenience abortions are morally wrong, I still get this emotional, lizard-brain feeling of a trapped rat in a cage when I imagine myself being a young woman who finds herself pregnant when she doesn’t want to be. For me, although motherhood has had many rewards, it’s also entailed many sacrifices. When I think of those sacrifices, and then apply them to, say, a 22 year old version of me, or when I imagine my daughter grown, and in the same situation, I still want to cry out “But that’s not fair.” When that happens, though, I squish my lizard-brain, tell myself “Life isn’t fair,” and try to focus on the fetus and not my feelings. I only hope that, if my daughter, before she’s married, ever does come to tell me she’s pregnant, I remember that deeper morality, and give her the right advice.
I had an interesting conversation with my mother, who may be 90, but is still sharper than most people you’ll meet. We got to talking about the Gosnell abortion/murder trial, which came as something of a surprise to her. Despite the fact that she watches the news and reads the newspaper, she hadn’t heard a thing about it. That wasn’t a surprise to me.
From there, the conversation wandered to the moral merits of abortion. My Mom came of age in a time and place when abortion was neither approved of nor frowned upon. It just existed. In the turmoil after the war, when people were starving in cities decimated by fighting, having a baby seemed like an impossibility — and it could be a death sentence for both mother and child. Nobody approved of abortion in war-torn streets, but they didn’t stop it either.
For that reason, it’s always been hard for my mother to understand the fervor Americans feel about abortion. To her, it just . . . is. (That’s probably the case for a lot of people who aren’t committed to one side or another of the abortion debate, which is why the media couldn’t risk the Gosnell trial coming into the open, in case it swayed indecisive people into the pro-Life column.)
While Mom couldn’t quite get the morality of abortion, I was able to get her to understand that the modern American state uses abortion to separate children from their families. We’ve talked before here about the fact that, in California, youngsters under 16 or 18 can’t play paintball, get their ears pierced, or get a fake tan without a parents’ permission. They can, however, get birth control, get abortions, and get treated for sexually transmitted diseases, all without a parents’ knowledge. Putting aside the invitation to the worst kinds of child sex abuse, what’s happening here is that the state promises children the keys to the kingdom of pleasure.
Food and shelter are necessities. Good food and good shelter are pleasures. But sex . . . there’s the ultimate endorphin rush. Mom and Dad, being mean, spiteful people, won’t let you have it, and they’ll give you Hell if there are consequences because you ignored their strictures. The state, though, it puts no obstacles in your path. Indeed, it helps you along with condoms, birth control pills, patches, and morning after pills. If you get pregnant, you get the Morning After pill or an abortion, and if you get an STD, it gives you antibiotics — all without the knowledge or consent of the people who, in 90% of all cases care about you most in the world.
The Left claims that this legislated immorality is to protect young girls from abusive parents who will leave them homeless or beat them if they come home pregnant. (Again, let’s ignore the fact that everything the Left does actually encourages the sexual abuse of children.) Using an argument that focuses on an extreme minority, the Left has put us in a position that sees all girls and boys in America get to have free sex courtesy of the State. The state has driven a wedge into the family unit, using the most potent endorphin driver available to motivate and reorient young people.
When I put it that way (as opposed to debating abortion’s morality), my mother suddenly sat up very straight, looked me straight in the eye, and said “But that’s socialism!” I practically jumped up and down applauding that she had realized what was going on. It turned out there was a reason for her insight.
I’ve mentioned before that my Dad came from a Communist milieu and, while he eventually voted for Reagan, his sister remained a devoted Communist until the day she died. Although she escaped Nazi Germany and eventually ended up in Palestine (and, after the War of Independence, in Israel), she decided that this young socialist state wasn’t properly committed to true Marxist socialism. She therefore returned to East Germany, where she lived out the remainder of her life.
She was still living in Israel, though, when my Mom and Dad got married. One day, when my Communist aunt was present, the subject of children came up. Mom said that she wanted to wait until she had a nice home of her own and some security before she had children, so that she could have the joy and comfort of really raising her own family. My aunt was shocked. “No. That’s wrong. The children belong to the State. You do not have the right to withhold them from the state, which should raise them.”
With this conversation living in her memory, my mother immediately understood the ramifications of a government severing the ties between parents and children. In some places, such as Mao’s China, it uses coercion. In America, it uses sex. No matter the method, the goal is socialist.
Keeping in mind the above, it’s understandable why people who fear socialism (as I do) greeted with howls of outrage the MSNBC contributor who said quite clearly, “All your children are belong to us.” Melissa Harris-Perry framed it cutely as it takes a village to raise a child, but that soft overlay covers pure, brute-force socialism. Villages are voluntary communities that share values. Homes are the ultimate refuge of the individual. Socialism holds that individuals have no value, except to the extent that they provide bodies to power the socialist state:
I’m not 100% pro-Life. It’s hard for me to shake off the vestiges of spending 40 years in a pro-Choice world (the SF Bay Area) — and that’s despite the fact that I know that the pro-Life position is intellectually and morally the better position. I haven’t yet shaken a visceral feeling that sometimes there ought to be a way out from pregnancy. I have to say, though, that after writing the Gosnell article, below, for Mr. Conservative, I wasn’t faking my outrage. It’s quite obvious why the media is hiding this story: it completely destroys the clinically “clean” pro-Abortion narrative:
Given the national media’s love affair with grotesque murders involving dead children or large numbers of victims, you’d think that a story about the brutal murder of dozens of screaming, writhing children would be the lead story in every American media outlet. You’d think wrong. When the story is about an abortion clinic in a poor, black neighborhood in Philadelphia, where a doctor routinely aborted full-term babies and, when they emerged alive and kicking, cut their necks with scissors, the national media falls silent.
The Leftist American media is invested in a very specific abortion narrative, one that disregards entirely the value of human life. Famed atheist Richard Dawkins neatly summarized the pro-abortion world view when he tweeted that a human fetus is less human than an adult pig. This explains why America’s reporters don’t run screaming from the room when a representative of Planned Parenthood – an organization invited to speak in schools all over the nation — argues with a straight face that it’s a woman’s choice to abort a child that’s already been born alive. Ours is a spectacularly biased media.
An unbiased media, one concerned only with reporting news that sells papers, would have given this mass murder story the highest possible profile, shilling it in every paper and magazine, and rehashing it endlessly on TV. However, as Kirsten Powers reports at USA Today, the American media has completely ignored what may be the most sensational, grotesque, stomach-churning, mass-murder case in American history:
Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven’t heard about these sickening accusations?
It’s not your fault. Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page. The revolting revelations of Gosnell’s former staff, who have been testifying to what they witnessed and did during late-term abortions, should shock anyone with a heart.
NBC-10 Philadelphia reported that, Stephen Massof, a former Gosnell worker, “described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, ‘literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.” One former worker, Adrienne Moton, testified that Gosnell taught her his “snipping” technique to use on infants born alive.
Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified “It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.” Here is the headline the Associated Press put on a story about his testimony that he saw 100 babies born and then snipped: “Staffer describes chaos at PA abortion clinic.”
A Lexis-Nexis search shows none of the news shows on the three major national television networks has mentioned the Gosnell trial in the last three months. The exception is when Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan hijacked a segment on Meet the Press meant to foment outrage over an anti-abortion rights law in some backward red state.
The Washington Post has not published original reporting on this during the trial and The New York Times saw fit to run one original story on A-17 on the trial’s first day. They’ve been silent ever since, despite headline-worthy testimony.
We don’t need to ask what was going on at Gosnell’s clinic, because the answerer is obvious. This was Nazi-scale mass murder, done for profit and, quite possibly, for ethnic cleansing. One of the pro-abortion crowd’s most carefully held secrets is that the American abortion industry targets blacks. Planned Parenthood founder was a racist who viewed abortion as a way to destroy the black population. Gosnell’s clinic was in a primarily African-American neighborhood and the women who sought his services were black. (Watch a black Planned Parenthood worker assault a peaceful pro-Life picketer.) Gosnell, a black man who charged poor black and immigrant women up to $1,600 for an abortion, was willing to engage in racial cleansing for profit.
If you look back at Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s, you see that ordinary Germans (not party members, but the regular guys and gals on the street) thought of themselves as decent people. They just wanted a better world for themselves and their children. The evil began when their Leftist political and media leaders convinced them that the barrier to this better world was “the other” (whether “the other” was a Jew, a Gypsy, a homosexual, or a physically or mentally handicapped person). Having targeted “the other,” these totalitarian thought-leaders were easily able to convince people that “the other” wasn’t just a problem, but was also subhuman and could be exterminated with as much ease and as little compassion as one kills a cockroach. That was the road to Auschwitz.
The unhappy truth is that America’s Leftist politicians and media are methodically training us in the same way. For many women, especially those who are young and careless, or young and poor, babies are expensive, inconvenient, and generally burdensome. Sex is nice for these women — and babies, well, not so much…. If you want these women to vote for you, you promise to give them sex without babies. Fetuses, sadly, don’t vote, and that’s true even though, from the moment of conception, they have all the ingredients necessary for future voters.
To this end — giving women easy sex so as to get their votes — America’s Progressive politicians and media have spent more than 40 years training us to think of the fetus as a parasitical “other.” The next step, as the Nazis knew, is to assure us that exterminating this “other” is as easy and requires as little compassion as killing a cockroach. Kermit Gosnell upset this sterile, woman-friendly narrative. The testimony in his case reveals that these “others” — these “cockroaches” — looked like babies, they cried like babies and, like any babies slaughtered by a mass murderer, they screamed in pain and rained down fully human blood and tissue down on those who killed them.
Most Americans agree that there are certain limited circumstances in which abortion can be justified. What the media hides from them — and this is the reason that the media has blacked-out the Gosnell trial — is that the American abortion industry kills babies (especially minority babies) with the same grim efficiency and absence of emotion seen in Nazis, Soviets, North Koreans, or any other totalitarian regime. Kermit Gosnell’s slaughterhouse house ripped aside the gauzy “a woman’s right to choose” narrative and showed us the inside of the gas chamber.
Much has been made of Obama’s statement that the gun rights crowd should stop worrying, because Obama contends that he is “constrained” by the system the Founders put in place. If you don’t read his actual words with great care, it sounds as if he’s saying he’s contractually constrained — or, to put it in political language, he’s constitutionally constrained. Without actually listening to him, we assume he’s saying, “Stop worrying, because even I understand that the Constitution stops me from grabbing your guns.”
The reason that there’s been such an uproar, though, is because that’s not what he’s saying. Here’s the entire statement:
You hear some of these quotes, ‘I need a gun to protect myself from the government.’ ‘We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away.’ Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It’s a government of and by and for the people.
That short paragraph breaks down into three distinct thoughts:
Thought one: Crazy gun rights nuts fear the government.
Thought two: People elect their government.
Thought three: Those who are elected “are constrained by a system that our Founders put into place.”
Obama’s nasty language (and it is nasty, to the extent it calls at least 50% of Americans paranoid and ill-informed) says two things that are wrong.
The first wrong thing Obama’s implication, in thoughts two and three, that politicians are charged with taking care of our Constitutional rights. That’s bass ackwards. We are charged with taking care of our Constitutional rights — they’re natural rights, inherent in us, and the Second Amendment exists to make sure that if too many elected officials forget that those are natural rights, and begin to think they’re merely legislative rules that legislators can change, we can rid our country of these politicians’ tyranny.
The second wrong thing, which is more subtle, is that Obama is implying in thoughts two and three that, if a sufficient number of Americans elect anti-gun politicians, that majority overrides the constitution. What he says in those last five sentences (“the government is us,” “you elect yourselves,” “the election is for you”) is that, if a majority of people elect politicians who support an unconstitutional idea, those politicians get to move forward enacting that idea irrespective of the Constitution. That is a staggering misreading of the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.
All of which gets me back to gay marriage and abortion, not because I’m specifically concerned with gay marriage and abortion, but because I’m concerned about the Constitutional implications when the Left takes on gay marriage and abortion. First, neither is in the Constitution. In 1973, Supreme Court justices used an emanation of a penumbra based upon an inference to find a “constitutional right to abortion” in the first trimester, with that individual woman’s right decreasing steadily until the third trimester, when the viable fetus became the state’s responsibility.
Since 1973, that trimester by trimester calculation has been abandoned so completely that a Planned Parenthood representative felt comfortable telling the Florida legislature that it was okay to “continue” an abortion if the baby manages to emerge alive. In some places, that’s called murder. Indeed, that’s why Kermit Gosnell is being tried for murder. In Planned Parenthood’s world, however, his work was constitutionally legitimate.
As for gay marriage, it’s being cast as an inchoate civil right because no one can contend the Founders thought about it. They certainly knew about abortion, although they made no mention of it, but they definitely didn’t consider the possibility of gay marriage.
In the Founders’ time, marriage was thought to be only one possible thing: the joining of man and woman. If the Constitution had made mention of it (which it didn’t), that it is what it would have meant. The Left, though, is now recasting marriage as the uniting of two people who love each other. The Founders would have been surprised. In those days, after all, marriage was still very much a business proposition, one that gave a woman children and the assurance of care for those children, and one that gave a man the right to his wife’s financial estate, and the promise of progeny to inherit that combined estate. If a marriage included love, such as John and Abigail Adams had, or George and Martha Washington enjoyed, that was a pleasant byproduct of a sexual and economic transaction sanctified by religion and sanctioned by the state.
The Obama administration has already used ObamaCare as a bludgeon by which to force conservative religious organizations to sponsor abortion. Before, those organizations preached against it; now, they’re being forced to pay for it.
What happened with abortion matters because the same thing is happening with gay marriage. During the gay marriage debate’s first iteration, when California’s Prop. 8 was on the ballot, and before ObamaCare, we were promised that there was no way that the State could force religious institutions to perform gay marriages. “After all,” said Prop. 8 opponents airily, “the state doesn’t force churches to perform abortions.” Well, in Obama world — secure in his sufficient majority — the State does force churches to perform abortions.
The same will be true with gay marriage. People dismiss the fact that religious institutions in other countries have been forced to perform gay marriages, or been punished for not performing gay marriages. Those countries, they say, don’t have a constitution. We know, though, that this constitutional argument is meaningless in Obama’s America. Last year, his administration made clear that it is unconstrained by Constitutional concerns. And last week, Obama explained why: if he feels he has the power, that power overrides the constitution.
At least now we know where we stand.
The question is whether, by 2014, we can convince a majority of American voters that their constitutional rights are at risk and that, even if they agree with the Obama plans so far (abortion, gay marriage, gun control), they may not like the next plans he has lined up down the road. If I were Obama, I’d go after the 4th and 5th Amendments next. After getting Americans to understand this comes the harder task: keeping their focus all the way through 2016.
The problem when it comes to educating Americans is that these ideas are so horribly complex. They don’t reduce to a poster. It’s not going to resonate with most Americans to see a poster of a sad priest being forced to perform a gay marriage ceremony. They’ll probably just say that the priest deserves to suffer because his organization once turned a blind eye to pedophiles. (Under that standard, of course, the University of Pennsylvania should be razed and the earth sown with salt.)
When the liberals in my world catch hold of the fact that I don’t support gay marriage, they attack me as a homophobe. I’m really not. What I am is someone deeply concerned by the Constitutional implications of a mad rush to create implicit constitutional rights where none existed before, and then to use those inferred rights to destroy explicit ones. They should be just as concerned. If they want gay marriage as a Constitutional right, they should amend the Constitution, rather than trying to destroy it. For all they know, they may be the next in line when the Obama state turns its destructive beam on yet another constitutional right.
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
For copy right reasons, I can’t produce the image here, but I can describe the cartoon that Joel Pett drew. It shows two young, earth-mother types sitting at a coffee shop. One is reading a newspaper with a headline stating “Restrictive abortion laws.” She turns to her friend and says “I’ve changed my mind… We may well need high-capacity fire arms to protect our rights…”
This cartoon is wrong at two very profound levels. The first thing that’s wrong is the constitution hierarchy. In the cartoonist’s world, which is the Left’s world, the lower ranked right in the Constitution is the Second Amendment, despite the fact that the Founders came up with it and the fact that it explicitly states that nothing and nobody can infringe in any way on the People’s right to bear arms. For Pett and his crowd, it’s still subordinate to a “right” that doesn’t show up anywhere in the Constitution but that is, instead, a judge-made emanation of a penumbra of an inference. He could just as easily have had his cartoon character state “I will reluctantly, and temporarily, support an explicit right in order to kill those who would try to deny me a “right” that can only generously be called implicit.”
The second reason that the cartoon is profoundly wrong is because it essentially advocates a sickening world view. It says that the right to kill a fetus is so overarching that it’s okay to drag out a stale, old, white-men created Bill of Rights doctrine in order to enable abortion supporters to kill their opponents.
The same people who protest against the death penalty (which is also explicitly acknowledged in the Bill of Rights, provided that it is neither cruel or unusual), believe that the judge-made right to kill fetuses should be reinforced by killing those who oppose killing fetuses.
As always, I’ll pause here to say that I remain somewhat ambivalent about abortion. I recognize circumstances where it is appropriate, and I still can’t entirely shake my old pro-Choice leanings. Nevertheless, I continue to be sickened by the way in which the Left advances abortion. You cannot have an honest debate on the subject without acknowledging that the fetus is a life, and then further acknowledging that society has always recognized instances in which one life is allowed to trump another. That’s a worthy debate. The game the Left plays, however, is disgusting. “I’ll see (or rather, ignore) your Constitutional rights and raise you two mob rules. Hah! I win.”
That post title is, of course, a wild leap of faith. But there’s no doubt but that Dr. Krauthammer has come to exactly the same conclusion I’ve been trumpeting forever at this blog: making gay marriage a civil right protected by the Constitution will cause a headlong crash into the First Amendment’s promise that government will leave religious doctrine and practice alone.
I’m going to quote myself from March 2009, long before gay marriage got to the Supreme Court:
As you know, one of my main reasons for supporting Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, was because I believe that move to redefine marriage has the potential to put the State and religion organizations — especially the Catholic church — into a head-on collision.
Liberals, when confronted with this notion, will often argue that, while the Catholic Church objects to abortion, that’s never created a constitutional crisis. What they ignore is the fact that, while the church is not in the business of providing abortions, it is in the business of providing marriages. It also ignores the fact that abortion is a legal right, not a constitutional one, while gay marriage proponents have been framing it in the opposite way: they say gay marriage as a constitutional, rather than a mere legal right.
Keep in mind that, for Catholics, marriage isn’t just a white dress, cake and Mendelssohn’s wedding march. Instead, it’s a sacrament. A basic tenet of the religion is the joining of man and woman before God.
So imagine this scenario: Two men go to the local Catholic parish and demand that it marry them. The priest, sympathetic to their love for each other, nevertheless states that he cannot, at a purely religious level marry them. The men turn around and sue the Church for violating their Constitutional rights. Suddenly, the judicial system is called upon to examine doctrinal issues to determine whether they mesh with Constitutional issues. It’s a scary scenario for anyone who takes seriously the principle that government may not interfere with religious doctrine.
The only thing that’s changed now is that, thanks to ObamaCare, which requires that Catholic institutions pay for birth control and abortifacients, the Obama administration has already managed to create a Constitutional crisis with regard to abortion. I hadn’t seen that one coming back in 2009.
Sometimes it seems that the primary requirement for being a professional atheist is stupidity. How else can one explain why professional atheist (and evolutionary biologist) Richard Dawkins decided to announce on twitter that a human fetus is less “human” than a grown pig. Even if he believes this bit of foolishness, does he really think it will advance his crusade to destroy religion?
On Wednesday, Dawkins decided to insert himself into the abortion debate typically incendiary comment:
With respect to those meanings of ‘human’ that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig,
As was to be expected, his tweet drew praise from those who support abortion and condemnation from those who believe in the sanctity of human life.
Excited by the attention he was receiving, Dawkins hurried to put out another offensive tweet:
”Human” features relevant to the morality of abortion include ability to feel pain, fear etc & to be mourned by others.
Showing that, to him, physical pain is the only determinative factor in weighing life, Dawkins appeared to try next to placate pro-Choice people:
Unlike many pro-choice friends, I think fetal pain could outweigh woman’s right to control her own body. But pig pain matters too.
Proving that he’s not as smart as he thinks he is, Dawkins later admitted that he meant to write “pro-abortion friends.” Unaware that he had made this mistake in his tweet, he was mystified by the venomous responses he received from the pro-choice crowd:
Bizarre responses to my tweets today. I clearly expressed my strong pro-abortion views & many people decided that I must be anti-abortion!
By reducing the value of life to mere physical sensation, Dawkins revealed his fundamental misunderstanding of what makes humans special. To throw a fancy word in the debate (one that he may or may not understand) the issue is “existentialism.” Humans are more than just a collection of feelings and instincts. We are aware of our existence.
Even the smartest cow does not stand in the field while chewing its cud and ask itself “Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? What do I want to accomplish before I die?” And contrary to Charlotte’s Web, the pig, rolling and rooting in the mud, is not concerned with the quality of its life, the meaning of its friendships, and the imminence of its death. Each animal, instead, responds to the emotions a specific situation arouses in it (comfort, fear, anger, happiness), and to its driving instinctive behaviors.
So far as we know, only humans are capable of asking existential questions, questions that try to place the meaning of life, not in mere physical sensation, but within a larger, abstract context. While it’s true that the fetus is not thinking these deep thoughts, it already has all of the genetic equipment in place to be capable of thinking that way. Nothing in a pig’s development, whether it is a fetal pig or Dawkin’s robust adult pig, will ever bring it to that level of intellectual and philosophical development.
There are many credible arguments that can be made on the subject of abortion, both pro and con. When it comes to the question of intelligent debate about a thorny issue, though, professional atheist Richard Dawkins has proven that he’s not in that league.
(Written by Bookworm; first published at Mr. Conservative.)
If you’d like to see a wonderful, fascinating compare-and-contrast photo essay, you’ve got to read Zombie’s Walk for Life vs. Roe v. Wade birthday party: Abortion showdown SF. To begin with, I love Zombie’s writing style, which is an invigorating blend of erudition, true humanism, and snark. Additionally, the post is a very useful reminder that, while most pro-Abortion people believe abortion is a personal issue, the Left fully understands that it is yet another way to break familial bonds in favor of state control.
Many years ago, when Holland first enacted its euthanasia law, NPR ran an interview with a Dutchman who explained why euthanasia was a good idea in Holland, while it would be a terrible idea in America. The secret to Holland’s euthanasia, he said, was socialized medicine. The man explained that, in America, where medical costs could bankrupt families, those with terminal illnesses could be actively or passively coerced into turning to euthanasia in order to save their family’s finances.
Put another way, this man and the NPR host who interviewed him were both certain that Americans, when given the choice, would cheerfully throw Grandma from the train in order to save some money. Europeans, the Dutchman explained, with their cradle to grave care, would never be pressured into killing themselves. The beneficent state would pay all the medical bills, so money would not be an issue when it came to life and death decisions. The only thing that would matter in Europe, said this Dutchman, was the terminally ill person’s wishes.
I, being a good liberal back in the day, enthusiastically endorsed what he had to say. Clearly, euthanasia was a dreadful idea in America, where money was God, and people would be tempted to slip arsenic into their dying child’s broth in order to save the college fund for the next kid in line.
History has revealed that this Dutchman was absolutely and completely wrong. In America, people have willingly bankrupted themselves to save beloved family members. Mammon becomes meaningless when an extra treatment might give your child or a young mother a few more days, weeks, or years of life. People have hearts and souls. They connect to others, especially to those in their families.
It’s very different in socialist states, where euthanasia is the name of the game, often without the patient’s, or her family’s, agreement. In England, thousands of terminally ill people were hastened to their deaths by the Liverpool Care Pathway. It was meant to be a national hospice program that provided palliative care to the terminally ill in their final days. What ended up happening, of course, when the National Health Service started running out of money is that thousands (even tens of thousands) of elderly patients who were terminally ill, but weren’t anywhere near death’s door, were hastened to their deaths. They had become too expensive or just too difficult to manage.
It turns out that, twenty-odd years ago, when I heard that Dutchman speak, he had failed to consider two pertinent facts: First, socialist states invariably run out of money once they finally destroy their productive class; and second, the state has neither heart nor soul. To you, Patient X is your beloved mother, or brother, or child. To the state, Patient X is an unnecessary cost to an already strained system.
What frightens me is that, in Obama’s America, even before socialized medicine takes over, we might be losing the heart and soul that distinguishes individuals from the state. The Anchoress found at Salon an article in which Mary Elizabeth Williams, who supports abortion, finally comes out and said it: So what if abortion ends life? It’s almost refreshing to see this kind of honesty about one side of a divisive issue:
Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.
And I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.
The Anchoress slices and dices the whole argument, but I found this point particularly compelling:
A point of order, please: One may certainly sacrifice one’s own life for another. That is what makes it a sacrifice. Sacrificing “another’s” life is not a sacrifice, unless that other person actually (like Jesus Christ or a soldier who has volunteered to serve, or a mother like this one) says, “yes, I will be sacrificed for the sake of others.”
Absent that permission, though, it’s not a sacrifice. It’s just an expedient, and wasteful killing.
In fact, the notion that someone else’s life is “worth sacrificing” for the furtherance of one’s own situation — the mindset that can advance that thinking — is precisely one that deserves the name “diabolical.”
Although both the Salon article and the Anchoress’ rebuttal focus on the beginning of life, the whole article is unnerving about life’s end too. The writer’s approach to human beings — we must sacrifice innocent lives for the greater good — has the same stark utilitarian logic found in the heartless and soulless socialist state that readily puts humans on a death pathway because they’re too expensive to care for.
Twenty years ago, I wrongly thought that a state’s magisterial power and wealth would be more pro-life than the human ties that bind people together. I’m now scared that, twenty years hence, both states and humans will cheerfully dispatch any expenses or inconveniences. And yes, it can happen here. It happened in Germany, it happened in the Soviet Union, it happened in Turkey, it happened in Cambodia, it happened in Rwanda….
Whether one believes that the Bible is God’s handiwork or man’s, it is a book of inestimable wisdom about humankind’s strengths and foibles. The constant exhortations to life stand as a reminder that man wears his civilization very lightly and that, beneath it, there is animal savagery, without any sense of morals, ethic, justice, or love. It would be interesting to see what that long ago Dutchman, or the representations of the National Health Service, or even Mary Elizabeth Williams would say about the Biblical injunction to “choose life.“
A friend pointed me in the direction of a New York Times article that argues that both Second Amendment supporters and Abortion supporters are too quick to panic whenever the topics come up for debate, thereby precluding all rational discussion. After describing the way VP Biden’s mention of Obama and executive orders regarding guns got reported on the conservative side of the blogosphere as a putsch that would see Obama effectively overriding the Second Amendment, the editorial goes on:
The distance between what Mr. Biden said and what The Examiner reported gets at why it’s so difficult to conduct a national conversation on the regulation of firearms. If the gun-control camp mentions restrictions the anti-gun-control camp hears bans. If the former mentions a ban on certain kinds of guns, the latter hears all guns, plus confiscation.
Many gun-rights activists, moreover, seem to suspect that the other side argues in bad faith. In public, gun-control advocates may sound reasonable, proposing only limited regulations, but what they really want is to repeal the Second Amendment, or to overturn Heller, and force the complete disarmament of the civilian population. First they’ll come for our Bushmasters, then they’ll come for our hunting rifles.
The fear that restrictions are a Trojan horse, the prelude to outright prohibition, similarly animates the staunch defenders of another controversial right: Abortion.
Writing in Slate in 2006, during Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearings, the legal academic Dawn Johnsen argued that Senators asking whether he would overturn Roe were missing the point. He would more likely “hollow it out.” Ms. Johnsen suggested that Roe opponents have taken an “incremental” approach to eviscerating abortion rights. They’ve pushed for restrictions such as waiting periods and “informed consent” laws; restrictions “designed to sound reasonable while also limiting the number of abortions performed, ultimately as completely as would a criminal ban.”
Last December, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed an abortion bill requiring doctors to screen women for coercion (among other measures). Supporters claimed the bill was necessary to safeguard women’s health; opponents said it was a paternalistic assault on women’s rights. The same argument played out in Kansas in 2011, when the state set compulsory standards for abortion clinics. Supporters claimed the regulations were an effort to protect women from unsafe conditions; opponents said they were a ruse to curb reproductive freedom.
The editorial is certainly correct that the debate on both sides tends to be argued most loudly at the extremes, rather than in the middle. It errs, though, insofar as it presumes a legal equivalence between the two issues. The primary difference between the two issues is gun ownership is an explicitly and affirmative stated Constitutional right, while abortion is an emanation of a penumbra — or, in other words, a judicially created right.
Moreover, for those who actually bother to read Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court made very clear that the state has a continuing interest in the fetus. As the fetus develops towards recognizable person-hood (meaning that it can survive outside the womb), the state’s interest increases dramatically. Although recent(ish) Supreme Court decisions have expanded a woman’s rights over the state’s/fetus’s rights, the Court has never erased that state interest entirely.
The Second Amendment, of course, vests all interests in the citizen. What this means is that, in theory, the State has no rights whatsoever when it comes to arms. That’s the theory. In fact, though, the Supreme Court has long allowed local and federal jurisdictions to place some limitations on arms in order to maintain the peace. Significantly, however, by imposing these limitations, the State is intruding on a citizen’s absolute constitutional right. In the case of abortion, the citizen seeking an abortion is intruding upon the State’s interest in nascent citizens.
Why does this distinction matter? Because while Roe gives the state the right, power, and duty to protect the smallest citizens, so that state interference is the appropriate way to approach the issue, the Constitution doesn’t grant the government the authority to interfere with the People’s right to keep and bear arms. Moreover, Obama, as the nation’s chief executive, has only a subset of the powers granted to the Federal government as a whole, and this subset is limited to those executive orders necessary to carry out Congress’s dictates. It therefore becomes a matter of supreme citizen interest when Obama’s minions announce that he intends to bypass Congress entirely and act in a way that diminishes an expressly stated Constitutional right vested in citizens, not government.
Rational discourse is a great idea. But it’s less of a great idea when it operates off the premise that, with regard to both abortion and guns, the State holds all the power cards. More than that, Second Amendment advocates would be fools to engage in a “gun control” debate, because framing the discussion that way automatically cedes to the government the right to control guns. Rather, we should be talking about the government’s actual responsibility in a civilized nation, which is exert some authority over violence. As I’ve noted before, statistical data indicates that framing the issue in such a way militates in favor of more arms, rather than fewer.
It’s hard to imagine a more politically incorrect belief system than Islam. The seriously Muslim world stands for women without legal rights or physical freedoms, wife beating, honor killings, child brides, capital punishment for female adultery, and capital punishment for homosexuality.
President Barack Obama, however, feels that Turkey’s Erdogan, a hardline Muslim, is his kindred spirit, while Bibi Netanyahu, a man who leads a country that extends full rights to women and gays, is a bad guy. Obama also believes strongly that the Muslim Brotherhood, which practices and preaches the most extreme form of Islam, is a good peace partner. Lastly, he wants to reach hands across the water to Iran, which has been in a state of declared war against America (and women and gays and Israel) since 1979. Oh, and there’s Obama’s hostility to fracking, the only energy extraction process on the horizon that can de-fund the American monies that support the Islamist regimes in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, etc.
In other words, if you’re a Muslim, Obama and his Progressive pals are willing to forgive your sins.
It turns out that this magic sin forgiveness extends to friends of Muslims as well. Witness Chuck Hagel.
Hagel doesn’t like gays. He made that very clear during the 1990s, when he had this to say about President Clinton’s gay ambassadorial nominee, James Hormel:
Then-Sen. Chuck Hagel’s remark to the Omaha World-Herald in 1998 that Clinton ambassadorial nominee James Hormel was “openly aggressively gay” was only a part of what Hagel told the paper about his opposition to Hormel’s nomination.
In additional comments that appeared in the same Omaha World-Herald story on July 3, 1998, Hagel said that Hormel’s gay conduct in public goes “beyond common sense” and concluded that a gay performance group of men in drag as nuns was “anti-Catholic” upon seeing a video of Hormel at one of its events.
Hagel told the paper at the time that being gay shouldn’t disqualify a candidate from being an ambassador, but that Hormel’s conduct would diminish his effectiveness.
Hormel “very aggressively told the world of his gayness and the funding and all the things he’s been involved in,” Hagel was quoted as saying. “I think you do go beyond common sense there, and reason and a certain amount of decorum.”
“If you send an ambassador abroad with a cloud of controversy hanging over him,” he said, “then I think it’s unfair to our country, it’s unfair to the host country and it’s unfair to the ambassador because the effectiveness of that individual is going to be seriously curtailed. That’s just a fact of life. And I believe Hormel’s situation is one of those.”
To be fair, Hagel wasn’t arguing that Hormel should be beaten or executed. Instead, he was saying that his sexual orientation disqualified him from political office, offended decorum, and was anti-Catholic. Despite the publicity regarding Hagel’s gross political incorrectness, Obama has still selected him as his preferred Secretary of Defense. Hmmm.
Before you get excited and think that, to the extent you expressed negative opinions about gays back in the 1990s, you have a free pass, you need to pay attention to what happened to Rev. Louie Giglio, who also expressed dismay about homosexual conduct back in the 1990s:
The minister selected by President Obama to deliver the benediction at his inaugural this month has withdrawn from the program amid a storm of controversy over remarks he made about homosexuality in a sermon in the mid-1990s, according to an inaugural planner.
In it, Mr. Giglio called on fellow Christians to fight the “aggressive agenda” of the gay-rights movement, and advocated “the healing power of Jesus” as “the only way out of a homosexual lifestyle” – a comment some gay-rights advocates interpreted as an endorsement of reparative, or so-called gay-to-straight conversion, therapy, as a supposed cure for homosexuality
In other words, like Hagel, Rev. Giglio in the 1990s said that sexual orientation offended decorum. Also, much like Hagel, Giglio hasn’t said anything about gays for the past 20 years. It’s dead. It’s history. But unlike Hagel, Giglio is a Christian minister and hasn’t given any indication that he thinks Islam is groovy. Also, unlike Hagel, Giglio got the boot:
An official with Mr. Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee said the committee, which operates separately from the White House, vetted Mr. Giglio. People familiar with internal discussions between administration and committee officials said the White House viewed the selection as a problem for Mr. Obama, and told the panel on Wednesday night to quickly fix it. By Thursday morning, Mr. Giglio said he had withdrawn.
“We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural,” said Addie Whisenant, the spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. “Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”
Double standard anyone?
The double standard also applies to abortion. Republicans almost certain lost their opportunity to take control of the Senate because two candidates, Todd Aikin and Richard Mourdoch, made statements about abortion that the media turned into a hysterical war against women. I know of two people who were leaning to Romney, but switched votes because he belonged to the same party as Aikin and Mourdoch. Fiscal sanity and national security couldn’t compete with abortion.
Here’s what Richard Mourdock said, which I think is a defensible position, humanely stated:
The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.
You may not agree, but it is a valid stance, one that looks at life as a gift independent from the violence that created it. It is, in other words, a moral position.
Here’s what Todd Aikin said, which has the same moral position buried within it, but that starts from a position of complete and offensive idiocy:
It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors — that’s [pregnancy following a rape] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But, let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
Aikin was cast into the wilderness by Left and Right alike for his stupidity. Mourdock got swept up in the same witch hunt.
Interestingly, Hagel (the one who gets a pass) sounds a lot more like Aikin, who’s an idiot, than Mourdock, who is someone who made a difficult and thoughtful decision about balancing two lives. Here’s Hagel:
When he announced his candidacy for Senate, Hagel said that he opposed abortion except to protect the life of the mother and in cases of rape and incest. Hagel decided he didn’t believe that exclusion for rape were necessary after studying the issue near the end of his campaign.
“I am pro-life with one exception — the life of the mother. I oppose taxpayer funded abortions. We must promote adoption and support the strengthening of American families. I will vote with and support the pro-life movement,” Hagel said in a piece of 1996 campaign literature, according to the Omaha World Herald.
Then Senate-candidate Hagel said that he “tightened” his position on abortion after he said he discovered that abortion in the case of rape and incest are “rare” according to multiple local press reports.
“As I looked at those numbers, if I want to prevent abortions, I don’t think those two exceptions are relevant,” Hagel said, according to the Omaha paper.
To her credit, Rachel Maddow has given Hagel a hard time about both Hagel’s gay and abortion stances. For once, though, the Left doesn’t seem to be paying attention to its media darling.
If you look hard, you discover that there’s only one thing that distinguishes Hagel from Giglio, Aikin, and Mourdock, all three of whom became roadkill as the Politically Correct train drove by: he supports Iran and hates Israel. He supports an ideology that enslaves and kills women, and that makes homosexuality a capital crime. And the only thing that gives this specific ideology a pass with Hagel, Obama, and the Left, is that this religion is neither Jewish nor Christian.
This is a sad, twisted state of affairs, and one that the American people created with eyes wide shut. I despair of our country and the world right now.
The following is the entire text of Frédéric Bastiat’s magnificent Parable of the Broken Window, which is as relevant today as it was when he wrote it in 1850. As you read it, please note carefully the highlighted language:
Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son has happened to break a pane of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation—”It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?”
Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.
Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade—that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs—I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.
But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”
It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.
On December 26, I wrote a post entitled “Gun control supporters count those who have died; Second Amendment supporters count those who will live.“ Or, as Bastiat says, gun control advocates’ “theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.” Gun control supporters are able to count those who have died, but they cannot even begin to imagine those whose lives were saved or never threatened. Point them to a story about an off-duty deputy who was able to stop a mall shooter, and they’ll simply say “the shooter’s aim was bad, so he wasn’t going to kill anyone anyway.” To them, a story without dead bodies is no story at all. You and I, however, count the dozens who survived.
Likewise, when I look at crime statistics showing that legally-armed communities have a lower murder rate than gun-controlled communities, I think of all those law-abiding citizens in the first community who sleep safely in their beds at night. Those “not-dead” people are real numbers to me.
The gun control advocates cannot see these non-victims. They have no ability to acknowledge their numbers, let alone tabulate them. For that reason, they are unable to compare “Second Amendment Community A” against “Gun Control Community B.” Since they cannot comprehend that which they cannot see they deny that the first community has an absence of dead that puts the second community to shame. All that Progressives see are the bodies stacked in Community B. They then draw their myopic conclusion: a little gun control didn’t work, so more will be better.
This inability to see beyond their noses doesn’t stop with the Progressive approach to economics or gun control. The same ideological myopia, or failure of imagination, powers abortion. Progressives see the young woman whose education ends abruptly with a pregnancy; the downtrodden wife who doesn’t want a seventh child with her abusive husband; or the high-powered executive who just can’t be bothered to slow down to have a baby. What they refuse to see is the baby (a position that at least had some validity in a pre-modern era when we couldn’t peek into the womb, but that is inexcusable now). Seeing the baby doesn’t automatically mean we should ban all abortions, but it does mean acknowledging that there is another life involved — that even as one life is “saved,” another life is lost.
Illegal immigration? The Progressive’s mental and ideological imagination begins and ends with the pathetic illegal alien, cowering as the cops drag him/her away from weeping children. Perhaps they see as far as the brave dash across the border. What they don’t see are the people who have been patiently waiting in line to come to America, but whose chances diminish as others skip the line entirely. (Me? I love immigrants, being the child of two. But I like ‘em legal, as mine were.)
Progressives also cannot see that governments such as Mexico’s depend upon illegal immigrants to (a) send dollars back to Mexico, although Obamanomics make those dollars worth less (or worthless, depending); and (b) provide a safety valve so that Mexico doesn’t have to deal with its oppressive, corrupt government and the deleterious effect that government has on its people’s inability to raise themselves into wealth.
You can play the same myopia game with all the other Progressive positions too, whether welfare or national security. Invariably, if you drill down into the Progressive world view, and you put aside the usual paranoid delusions that thrive in the absence of clear-eyed evidence, you will see that each Progressive political “theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”
Progressivism is like mental and moral myopia. It’s acolytes can see only the most simple images, provided they are pushed right under their noses. They lack the imagination, curiosity and, yes, the intelligence to look for or even envision a world beyond the crude, stereotypical cartoons that inhabit their immediate line of sight.
I promise that this post will be about what Sheldon Adelson had to say in an interview with Alana Goodman of Commentary Magazine. Before I get there, though, I need to begin with a little story of my own.
Readers of my newsletter know that I had lunch last week with seven other conservative women here in Marin. We had all found each other more or less by accident, not because any of us in Marin have proudly worn our conservativism in the open (our kids would be ostracized if we did), but because we listened for the little clues in their words that hinted at a conservative orientation. We then risked exposing ourselves by asking, “Uh, are you by any chance . . . um, you know, conserva-mumble, mumble, mumble?”
That shyness, of course, was before the last election. Since the 2012 election, we’ve all made a vow to each other to be more open about our political identity and to challenge liberals who lead with unfounded conclusions that demonize conservatives and their beliefs or that confer saintly virtues on Obama and his cadre.
Interestingly, the eight of us were a microcosm of conservative views, ranging from fiscally conservative but socially liberal conservatives all the way to both fiscally and socially conservatives. Our common denominator, of course, was fiscal conservativism. Dig deeper, and there were two other common denominators: an abiding belief in the Constitution’s continued relevance to modern America and a fierce devotion to individual liberty.
Where we differed was (a) gay marriage and (b) abortion. With regard to abortion, we did have one overarching point of agreement, which was that abortion is not a federal issue and should therefore be returned to the states. When it came to gay marriage, all of us were willing to recognize gay unions, but we differed about whether the answer is to declare gay marriage the law of the land or, instead, to preserve marriage for religious institutions, while making civil unions across the board (both straight and gay) the law of the land. As regular readers know, I hew to the second view, which acknowledges human relationships and state goals, without interfering in any way with religious freedom.
I walked away from the lunch realizing as clearly as I ever have that the strong fiber weaving us together is fiscal conservativism and individual liberty. The frayed strands at the edges are what are commonly called “social issues.”
The Democrats, recognizing that the quickest way to shred a piece of fabric is to tear at the frayed edges, rather than to try to destroy the sturdy center, worked hard during the election to blow the gay-marriage and abortion dog whistles. As the race in Missouri showed, social conservativism is a political landmine that routinely explodes in the face of struggling Republican candidates. Todd Akin could have won that race if he hadn’t been asked about abortion. When thinking about Akin’s repulsive and misinformed answer, which provided a solid Progressive rallying cry, don’t forget Richard Mourdock. His experience proves that, even if Akin had given a principled pro-Life answer, he still would have been pilloried and destroyed.
I’m a big believer that, when it comes to social issues, culture drives politics, rather than politics driving culture. For the past forty years, social liberals have been planted very firmly in the driver’s seat. They have infiltrated both media and education, which has given them the chance to shape a generation’s social views. They have sensitized this generation’s ears so that the dog whistles most people under 55 hear the loudest aren’t “debt” or “fiscal cliff” or “responsibility,” but are, instead, “women haters,” “homophobes” and “racists.”
What this cultural transformation means is that, in the short term, conservatives can win on the fiscal side (and, possibly, on the individual liberties side) because people haven’t been deafened by decades of dog whistles on those subjects. Until we take back the culture, though, which we do exactly the same way the Left did — namely, a slow march through the culture — we will invariably lose on social issues. Significantly as the most recent election shows, losing on social issues inevitably means losing on all issues.
Now, finally, have established my premise about the way in which social issues invariably play against conservatives in national elections, I can get to Sheldon Adelson’s interview in Commentary Magazine. For purposes of this essay, Sheldon Adelson is important for three reasons. First, he is a conservative who is willing to put his money where his mouth is (unlike Warren Buffet, a true-to-form liberal who wants to put other people’s money where his mouth is). The second reason Adelson is important is that, after his emergence as a money-player in this election, the Left has worked as hard to demonize him as they did to demonize the Koch Brothers and Mitt Romney. And the third reason is that Sheldon Adelson agrees with me that conservatives cannot win on social issues:
For someone whose name and face were a regular staple of the election coverage, the public does have many misconceptions about Adelson. His liberal social views rarely received media attention during the campaign season, though he’s certainly never hidden them.
“See that paper on the wall?” he asked, gesturing toward a poster with rows of names on it. “That is a list of some of the scientists that we give a lot of money to conduct collaborative medical research, including stem cell research. What’s wrong if I help stem cell research? I’m all in favor. And if somebody wants to have an abortion, let them have an abortion,” he said.
Adelson has not said whether he will use his influence to try to change the GOP internally. But he does believe social issues cost the Republicans the last election.
“If we took a softer stance on those several issues, social issues, that I referred to, then I think that we would have won the most recent election,” he said. “I think people got the impression that Republicans didn’t care about certain groups of people.”
You should definitely read the whole interview.
Adelson is precisely what my self-admitted conservative friends are: fiscally conservative, socially fairly liberal, very receptive to legal immigration (because a nation, for health, national security, and economic reasons should control its own borders), and supportive of Israel. What’s funny, though, is that Adelson is also pretty close in actual outlook to all the upscale, white collar liberals I know who reflexively vote Democrat because of the conservative issues. These people are also fiscally conservative in their own lives; they what their country safe and fiscally sound for their children; they like immigrants but recognize that illegal immigrants pose risks both for American citizens and legal, Green Card immigrants; and they like Israel’s values.
The problem at the ballot box is that, after forty years of Leftist indoctrination, these educated liberals are unable to harmonize their values with their politics. Despite recognizing the wisdom of fiscal management in their own homes, they think a state can survive indefinitely by spending more than it takes in; despite training their children in self-reliance, they believe that we should destroy self-reliance in “the poor”; despite believing that people should be able to protect themselves and their homes, they are embarrassed when their country tries to defend itself; and despite admiring a pluralist, democratic society, which is what Israel is, they bemoan the plight of the poor Palestinians who have allowed their (now sovereign) territory to devolve in a crazy mix of anarchism and Islamic fundamentalism.
What makes this cognitive dissonance possible for white collar liberals is their unswerving allegiance to unlimited abortions and (of late) to gay marriage. Just as fiscal conservativism, the Constitution, and individual freedom bind conservatives of all stripes together, so too do abortion and gay marriage (with a soupçon of illegal immigration) bind together Progressives of all stripes. We cannot entice Progressives to fiscal conservativism if we insist on a purity test for abortion and gay marriage. It’s just not going to happen. And here’s the kicker: abortion and gay marriage become moot issues if our nation collapses entirely under the weight of debt or if our walls our breached by Islamists or if we become “tuberculosis central” because we cannot assert even a modicum of polite control over our borders.
As a parent, I hew socially conservative, so those are values I want to advance. But I’m a pragmatist who recognizes that the ballot box isn’t the place to make it happen. The ballot box is how we manage issues of sovereignty (including national security and border control) and fiscal health. Our social institutions are where we make headway on social issues. If we can keep those lines from crossing, we can be a resurgent conservative political party and, eventually, a somewhat more traditional America, one that preserves the best and healthiest social policies of the past and the present.
A lot of people who showed up at the polls this past November actually had very parochial concerns. They weren’t worried about the economy, or national security, or illegal immigration. Blacks were concerned with racial solidarity, unions were concerned about union strength (and to hell with the economy on which that strength feeds), gays and other Progressives wanted gay marriage, and young people and stoners were concerned about getting stoned. Almost all of these parochial issue voters also support Obama.
The stoner vote for Obama was a bit ironic, because it ignored the fact that the Obama administration has a nasty record when it comes to marijuana prosecutions. As far as stoners were concerned, Obama is young, hip, and was once a stoner himself.
In Washington, having successfully made marijuana legal at a state level (although it’s still illegal under federal law), those who supported this new policy had a smoke-infused party:
The crowds of happy people lighting joints under Seattle’s Space Needle early Thursday morning with nary a police officer in sight bespoke the new reality: Marijuana is legal under Washington state law.
Hundreds gathered at Seattle Center for a New Year‘s Eve-style countdown to 12 a.m., when the legalization measure passed by voters last month took effect. When the clock struck, they cheered and sparked up in unison.
A few dozen people gathered on a sidewalk outside the north Seattle headquarters of the annual Hempfest celebration and did the same, offering joints to reporters and blowing smoke into television news cameras.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store!” shouted Hempfest volunteer Darby Hageman. “It’s all becoming real now!”
“This is a big day because all our lives we’ve been living under the iron curtain of prohibition,” said Hempfest director Vivian McPeak. “The whole world sees that prohibition just took a body blow.”
My personal suspicion is that this must have been the world’s most boring celebration. Stoners are not known for being able to muster a vast amount of enthusiasm for anything. Being stoned equals being boring.
In keeping with my small government philosophy, I support legalizing marijuana for adult use. I strongly agree, though, with Steve Crowder that the public debate about marijuana is predicated on a vast amount of misinformation and outright lies. Marijuana is a dangerous and damaging drug, one that interferes with adolescent brain development and contributes to myriad ills in adults who use it regularly. In other words, Americans’ increasingly strong support for its legalization doesn’t result from a belief in a free society and individualism but, instead, from massive amounts of magical thinking about the drug’s supposed harmlessness.
Of course, the fundamental nature of our supposedly “information rich” society is dishonest debate. My pet peeve is the debate about abortion, which the Left approaches as if we’re still in a pre-Roe v. Wade world, one in which single motherhood would result in a woman being ostracized, bastardy would taint a child’s life forever, and birth control options were limited to nil. Americans can have an honest debate about abortion only if we recognize that the world didn’t stop in 1955. The same holds true for the gun debate, with the MSM (which still controls the loudest bully pulpit in America) pretending that guns have no useful purpose and regularly recycling the canard that America is the most deadly society in the Western world.
It is ironic that, as Americans have more information available to them than ever before in human history, they are prone to believing fallacies as people ever were. Proof is irrelevant when people are happy with their belief system.
In 1973, the United States Supreme Court created a federal right to abortion by finding that abortion falls into an unstated Constitutional dimension called “the right to privacy.” (Note: British and American common law has always recognized a right to privacy, but the Constitution makes no mention of it.) Thus, in Roe v. Wade, the Court explained the constitutional protections for abortion as follows:
The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however, going back perhaps as far as Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251 (1891), the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution.
This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.
With the Court’s pronouncement about the huge reach of the Constitution’s unexpressed “right to privacy,” Democrats, Liberals, Communists, and Progressives pronounced themselves satisfied. The 10th Amendment, which once upon a time reserved to the states those rights not expressly delegated to the federal government, was meaningless. If the Left thinks it should be in the Constitution, then — voila! — it is in the Constitution. Since 1973, therefore, Americans have believed that a person’s right to privacy is all-encompassing, and prohibits the government, as well as arms of the government, such as state founded or funded universities, from poking their governmental nose into anything that pertains to our own bodies.
With the exception of abortion, which is the most challenging issue because there are competing right’s (the woman’s and the fetus’s), most libertarians would agree with a common law (and therefore worthy of full respect) right to privacy, even if they would argue, as I do, that it’s tremendously damaging to the American body politic to pretend such a right is constitutional. If we want a constitutional right to privacy, the Constitution spells out the procedure: amendment, not judicial fiat.
Once they established this new constitutional principle, however, Progressives realized that they should have been a bit more careful in institutionalizing privacy as a core constitutional doctrine. As they’ve discovered, the best way for a state to control individuals is through controlling their sexuality. By asserting increasing state dominance over people’s sex lives (which is different a society enforcing traditional moral codes), the state can break familial bonds, destroy an individual’s sense of his inviolable self, interfere with core religious doctrine, and hand out sexual treats at opiates for the masses, all of which consolidate state power over individuals.
The problem for the Progressives arises if individuals are old-fashioned enough to believe that their sexuality is nobody’s business but their own. And no, traditional marriage is not necessarily proof that people are screaming their heterosexuality out loud. Having grown up in San Francisco, I’ve known of many marriages that involved agreed-upon sexual arrangements that had very little to do with traditional heteronormative behavior, and everything to do with people wanting to live their lives their way, free from prying eyes.
Progressive’s frustration with old-fashioned notions of personal privacy — the same notion that they promoted and cheered in Roe v. Wade — came to a head in 2008 at the University of Delaware. In academia’s never-ending push to turn people into malleable little clumps of victim-hood, and class-, race-, or sexuality-based identity groups, the University of Delaware realized that it would need to force recalcitrant students to state whether they’re LGBT, GLBT, STR8T, BI, AC/DC, or LMNOP (oh, sorry, got lost in my alphabet soup there):
A female freshman arrives for her mandatory one-on-one session in her male RA’s dorm room. It is 8:00 p.m. Classes have been in session for about a week. The resident assistant hands her a questionnaire. He tells her it is “a little questionnaire to help [you] and all the other residents relate to the curriculum.” He adds that they will “go through every question together and discuss them.” He later reports that she “looked a little uncomfortable.”
“When did you discover your sexual identity?” the questionnaire asks.
“That is none of your damn business,” she writes.
“When was a time you felt oppressed?”
“I am oppressed every day [because of my] feelings for the opera. Regularly [people] throw stones at me and jeer me with cruel names…. Unbearable adversity. But I will overcome, hear me, you rock loving majority.”
She is not playing along like the other students, and the RA confronts her using his “confrontation training,” but it isn’t working. He becomes so appalled by her resistance that he writes up an incident report and reports her to his superiors. After all, this is the University of Delaware, and the school has a zero-tolerance policy for anything remotely resembling “hate speech.”
This one-on-one session was not meant to be a punishment, some kind of mandatory sensitivity training for a recalcitrant student who had committed an infraction. It was mandatory training for all 7,000-odd students in the University of Delaware dorms. The sessions were part of a thorough thought-reform curriculum, designed by the school’s Office of Residence Life, to psychologically “treat” and correct the allegedly incorrect thoughts, attitudes, values, beliefs, and habits of the students. The ResLife staff considered students too intolerant of one another, too “consumerist,” and in dire need of reeducation to become responsible world citizens who could meet the planet’s environmental crisis and the requirements of social and economic “justice.”
(FIRE successfully mounted a campaign to force the University of Delaware to abandon this forcible effort to extract personal information from vulnerable freshman, but I use it as an example here, because it so perfectly encapsulates the Leftist attitude towards privacy and sexuality.)
Aside from having a girl-crush (but not an LGBT girl-crush, just an intellectual one) on the young woman who spoke of being opera-oppressed, I’m shocked, disgusted, appalled, etc. — the usual range of emotion a liberty-loving person experiences when an institution takes vast sums of money to control a young person’s life and future and then uses its coercive power to extort deeply private information from that same vulnerable student.
What makes this Progressive attitude even more distasteful is the fact that Universities claim to be all about privacy — at least when that privacy means isolating students from their own parents, despite a reasonable presumption that these same parents, unlike the vast, impersonal institutions, truly have their children’s best interests at heart:
College and University students have a right to privacy. In the United States, it’s called FERPA: the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. And there are a lot of rights and protections that you have as a student eighteen or over, and that you must respect as both a parent and a professor.
As a student, your grades, enrollment, assignments, and interactions with professors are all completely confidential. As a professor, I am not allowed, legally, to give out any information whatsoever about a student without that student’s explicit permission.
And, like practically all professors, I don’t. But this message is most important for parents, and for students who are worried about their irate parents.
Put another way: your parent, who is probably paying for some or all of your education, cannot ask about your grades, but your university, which will have taken a minimum of $100,000 from you over the course of four years, while promising you a diploma with at least some market value, can force you to state your most private personal information.
I was going to end this post by saying the Left can’t have it both ways: it either recognizes individual privacy or it doesn’t. Then I slapped myself in the face and said “Don’t be stupid, Bookworm! In Obama’s Leftist, narcissistic America, the Left can have it any way it likes it, both coming and going, as long as its demands drive the bottom line towards statism.”
If you’re on the political Left, have we created a world without consequences? I first started thinking this when someone I know called Bristol Palin a slut because she had a baby. Not because she had premarital sex or got pregnant, but because she had a baby. Girls in Marin, who are also have premarital sex and probably getting pregnant, are not sluts, because they have abortions. It’s a perfect example of Leftist consequence-free ideology. Not only are you free from the burdens of a baby (and, while there are joys, the burdens are undeniable), you’re also not a slut.
Confess that it was your lack of responsibility that Left four men dead in Benghazi, not to mention massive amounts of confidential information in Al Qaeda’s hands, and nothing happens. In a normal world, Hillary would have been fired. In Leftist world, she’s applauded for confessing.
Break all of your campaign promises — close Gitmo, lower unemployment, reduce an “unpatriotic” deficit, lower the seas, avoid involvement in other wars, make the world love us — and there are no consequences. Instead, if you’re Obama, you get reelected.
This sounds like a pretty peachy keen world from a kids’ eye view: Endless actions without consequences. I’m not sure this center will hold, though. In the 1970s, gay men thought they had it all — unlimited sex and antibiotic resistant sexually transmitted diseases — but AIDS came along. Those women who’ve had repeated abortions have too often discovered that when they want to get pregnant, they can’t. (I don’t know the statistics on this last one, but I know personally many women who have experienced this.) Mother Nature eventually makes her point.
Will the political world eventually spell out its consequences too, irrespective of human intervention? Will the Hillary’s and the Obama’s eventually experience the natural consequences of their actions? If conservativism comes to the fore, they will. But what if it doesn’t? What will be the stopping point for their current ability to behave as they will without any downside?
This keeps cropping up on Facebook and every time I see it, I find it irritating.
There’s something horribly medieval about reducing women to their sexual organs. After all, when you think about it, the only thing that Obama has done for women is to order employers to provide insurance that covers birth control — which is a very limited expense. That’s the difference between Obama’s approach to women and Bush’s.
In all likelihood, notwithstanding the fact that both Romney and Ryan are pro-Life, the only change under a Romney presidency is that we’ll go back to having women pay for their own birth control. (And men, I’m sorry, but you should pay for your own Viagra.)
The Supreme Court is not going to reverse Roe v. Wade. If it does, the matter goes to the states and, if enough people want it, a constitutional amendment.
As Michelle Malkin says, I’m voting with my lady smarts, not my lady parts.
Matthew Continetti garnered some much deserved praise for his article about the way that sarcasm and insult took over the Democrat party, replacing anything of substance. It all started with the attacks against Bush:
The criticism of Bush, of Bush Republicans, and of the war took on a specific character. The spokesmen of movement progressivism—Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert—spoke in tones of irony, sarcasm, knowing disbelief, glibness, and snark. Liberal bloggers and op-ed writers used the same voice. A television clip of a conservative would be played, a quotation cited, and the liberal would mug for his audience, whether on screen or on the page. Their basic attitude was: Can you believe this? These people don’t even believe in science! The fools! Derisive and smug laughter would ensue. The war was not going well, America seemed in decline, and it was obvious to liberals that conservatives and Republicans were to blame. The punch lines were a signal. If you laughed, you differentiated yourself from the fundamentalist prigs running the country. You established your superiority.
Obama brought precisely that attitude to the third debate, with his sarcastic, condescending, and remarkably ignorant statements about the American Navy:
You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. We have these things called aircraft carriers and planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. It’s not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s ‘What are our capabilities?’
Others have debunked the President’s ignorance about the armed forces he commands, so I won’t do it here. Suffice to say that, while Americans appreciate gentle zingers (“There you go again”), the level of disrespect that Obama showed only makes the Jon Stewart acolytes happy. Others (including thoughtful liberals) wonder what happened to the dignity of the presidency.
The problem with snark is that, although it can be amusing, it displaces serious political discussion. Nowhere is this more obvious than with the way in which abortion has come roaring to the fore at the same time the President is struggling to keep the Benghazi cover-up under wraps. Even as thoughtful people who pay attention to national security and facts are grappling with the immensity of al Qaeda’s resurgence and the President’s lies, the snark shows are keeping liberals in a state of perpetual outrage about abortion.
I wrote last week that abortion is a defining issue for many people on the Left. Some of you (very intelligently and politely, of course) disagreed with me. Politely (and, I hope, intelligently) I have to disagree right back. The proof of abortion’s centrality is the way in which the snark Left is using the abortion dog whistle to terrify wavering liberals into voting for Obama, regardless of the fact that Obama has put our national security and our economy at serious risk. The dog whistle is so powerful to liberal ears that they’d rather focus on a woman’s right to abortion than on the fact that al Qaeda would like to commit post-birth abortions against all Americans.
Part of the reason the dog whistle works is because the Left so assiduously avoids any serious discussion about life’s beginnings. A case in point is a Jon Stewart shtick that made the rounds amongst my liberal friends, all of whom posted it on Facebook along with myriad warnings that Romney will turn back the female clock to 1950 (see the cartoon, above). Here’s the Jon Stewart shtick, one that is high on hysteria and word play, but low on analysis:
Ooooh! Mourdock is evil because he thinks rape is a gift from God, and Romney is more evil because he supports Mourdock. Never mind that what Mourdock said is thoughtful and logically consistent, even if one doesn’t agree with the premise. The premise is that life begins at conception. The logical corollary is that, once a life begins, and most certainly when that life is helpless, civilized people owe it protection. It is not the fetus’s fault that it was conceived out of violence, pain, and shame. Mourdock quite obviously doesn’t lack compassion for the rape victim. It’s just that he recognizes that the life that the act of violence created is an innocent one. Now, one may not agree with Mourdock, but it is, if you will, an honorable position that starts with a humanistic premise.
While Jon Stewart fears to delve deeply into what Mourdock is saying, and who simply rolls with superficial conclusions, sarcasm and insult, Andrew Klavan, has a very thoughtful take on Mourdock’s words, and one that allows for disagreement:
Let’s do a mind experiment. Pretend you are yourself. Now pretend your mother comes to you and tells you that, even though she and your father raised you as if you were the product of their union, in fact she was horribly, brutally raped and it was in that rape that you were conceived. Painful as it was for her — and only she and God know how painful it was — she decided to go through with the pregnancy and give you life.
Have you now lost your right to live? Can you be legally exterminated because of the way you were conceived?
My point here is not — not — that there should be laws against abortion in cases of rape. My point is only that the question of abortion is essentially the question of whether a fetus is human. If an unborn child is a human being, the fact that it resides within its mother is no more relevant than the fact of where you reside. If (and a person of good will can honorably make this argument) there is some point at which a fetus is not yet a human being, then it seems to me you can morally abort it because it’s sick or annoying or female or has failed to have blond hair and blue eyes.
Now anyone with a mind and heart can see that there are vexed moral questions here, filled with grey areas. No feminist blather and no ruling from the pope in Rome can turn those areas to black and white. For a rape victim to bring a baby to term would be, to my mind, an act of moral heroism equivalent to running into a burning building to save a child. I’m not convinced that laws should be passed requiring that sort of elevated action from people. And yet I do believe the child conceived in that horror story is a child indeed and that a minister, say, could, in good conscience, counsel the mother to strive toward the heroic, if the minister felt she might be able.
As everyone knows (since the media has covered it more often than Fast and Furious and Benghazi-gate put together), Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock recently answered a debate question about abortion and rape: “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock later clarified the comment and apologized for his poor phrasing — as was proper — but come on, we all know what he was trying to say. He doesn’t think rape is intended by God. He thinks a baby conceived by rape remains a baby with a right to life.
Please read the rest here.
Klavan’s approach, of course, is the way we should be discussing a fraught issue such as abortion. It is the embodiment of Dennis Prager’s wise statement that we should prefer clarity to agreement. Clarity enables us to have meaningful discussions about vexing issues and, quite possibly, to work towards solutions. Stewart’s piecemeal, shallow, insulting analysis makes intelligent discussion impossible. If you disagree with Stewart, you support rapists. End of story. (Incidentally, the Jon Stewart segment embodies the state of mind Jonah Goldberg describes in The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.)
I feel very strongly that, in my little corner of the world, there are thousands of people who are yearning for Romney’s strength on national security and the economy, but who are being scared away from voting for him because they buy completely into the imaginary War on Women that the Stewarts, Maddows, Colberts, and Obama’s of this world sell as intelligent political discourse. This is too bad, not just because it bodes poorly for the elections, but also because it bespeaks an America whose educated class can no longer grapple with serious ideas.
UPDATE: And right on time, Tom Friedman blows hard on the abortion dog whistle. Here’s the key paragraph:
But judging from the unscientific — borderline crazy — statements opposing abortion that we’re hearing lately, there is reason to believe that this delicate balance could be threatened if Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan, and their even more extreme allies, get elected. So to those who want to protect a woman’s right to control what happens with her own body, let me offer just one piece of advice: to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. And we must stop letting Republicans name themselves “pro-life” and Democrats as “pro-choice.” It is a huge distortion.
Get it? If Romney and Ryan win, women will be dying in back alleys with coat hangers between their legs.
It’s time to acknowledge that we’re not in the 50s anymore: Single motherhood, though economically foolish, is culturally cool; birth control is freely, and cheaply, available; and pregnancy is relatively risk free. There are still credible arguments for abortions, but pretending it’s still the 1950s isn’t one of those arguments.
With the election nearing, the Facebook frenzy is accelerating. I got this from a Facebook acquaintance:
Ryan voted to end funding for Planned Parenthood. Ryan’s vote is completely in line with Romney’s insistence that a broke U.S. government should repeatedly ask itself “Is this program worth going into debt to the Chinese?”
This is an especially good question, when it’s unclear why Planned Parenthood gets special funding status. If we’re saying women’s health care (including or not including) abortion is of transcendent importance, then we should just put aside a pot of money and let all health care programs apply by proving that they provide the best women’s health care for the least money. Alternative, we should give women vouchers entitling them to special services that are unique to women.
Of course, once we stop assuming that Planned Parenthood is automatically entitled to funds, and start questioning the services it provides and the benefits citizens receive, we’d better start giving men vouchers for services that are unique to men. For example, the feds could pay for women’s pap smears, breast exams, and well-baby checkups, and pay for men’s prostate exams, Viagra, and heart disease prevention and treatment (since men die from heart disease in proportionately greater numbers than women). Indeed, since men routinely die earlier than women do (sorry guys), men should get special longevity treatments, or they should get cash payments for those years that they die sooner, thereby saving the government money. And really, if we’re going to break it down this way, by looking at both need and savings, we’d better have special vouchers for African-American men who, sadly, have significantly greater health risks than their white or Asian counterparts. They should get both bigger vouchers and a cash discount for being virtuous enough to die before they cost the government too much money. (And wasn’t it the Progressives who want bat bleep crazy when they learned that a cigarette company argued that smoking is really a benefit for socialized medicine because people die sooner, rather than being a lasting burden on the system?)
This is so confusing. I have a really good idea: How about the government stops funding special interests and starts promoting a competitive market for quality health care?
He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade with no exceptions for rape or incest. All thinking people want to overturn Roe v. Wade because it is a terrible malformation of American law. There is no right to abortion under the Constitution. There is also no federal ban on abortion under the Constitution. Abortion is not a federal issue. It’s a state issue. Roe v. Wade should be overturned, with the abortion question then being returned to the various States. They will do what they will, and each state, by looking at the others’ experiments regarding abortion, will be able to decide what is the best policy, either generally or specifically (i.e., for a given state’s finances or morals).
The Ryan budget plan would dismantle Medicaid.
How often will Ryan have to repeat that Medicaid will be there for those who have vested or who are near vesting? Don’t answer — that’s a hypothetical question. I know that no Progressive will ever believe him or the laws he’s proposed. And how often will Ryan have to repeat that Medicaid will continue to be there for those younger people who want it, but that the government will facilitate market-based insurance for those who don’t? Yup. That’s another hypothetical. [UPDATE: Me being dyslexic and confusing Medicare and Medicaid. Sorry. Medicaid is a state program which is going to get royally reamed under Obama. He's giving short-term benefits now and then transferring the entire burden to the various states, many of which are currently looking for ways to run and hide. I suspect that the Ryan budget plan can't be worse than the current situation, but I have to run now, and cannot confirm that belief. Anyone want to volunteer information?]
He co-sponsored an extreme and dangerous “personhood” bill. Here’s what Ryan’s co-sponsored bill states in relevant part:
(1) the Congress declares that–
(A) the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being, and is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person; and
(B) the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood; and
(2) the Congress affirms that the Congress, each State, the District of Columbia, and all United States territories have the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions.
“Extreme and dangerous”? Really? What the bill states is a biological truth. The real question isn’t when life begins, it’s when each citizen has the power to end another person’s life. For the most part, we all agree that, once someone is born, a fellow citizen cannot arbitrarily and without government due process, terminate that born person’s life. The question is whether an individual can act to terminate a pre-born person’s life and, if so, when. As long as Roe v. Wade exists, does it matter that Congress symbolically affirms that government entities have the right to protect life on their soil? No, because Roe v. Wade gives the faux-constitutional final word to the woman. And if Roe v. Wade is overturned, all that the bill does is say what the Constitution already implies, which is that the individual states have the power to make such laws. So I ask again — “Extreme and dangerous”? Really? Symbolic, maybe; but practically meaningless.
He has repeatedly tried to repeal the “Affordable Care Act,” which banned insurance companies from charging women more than men. Okay, in item one, above, Planned Parenthood implicitly conceded that women’s healthcare is more expensive than men’s, which is why the government (in Planned Parenthood’s view) should subsidize it. So Planned Parenthood is either saying legal businesses should operate at a loss, or that they should arbitrarily increase men’s insurance rates to subsidize women’s. In that vein, I think Congress should also pass a law saying that teenage drivers shouldn’t pay any more for car insurance than a 40-year-old woman. Never mind the statistics showing which driver is more likely to cost the insurance company money.
But while I’m talking about laws, if Planned Parenthood’s only concern about ObamaCare is those “equal” insurance rates, why not repeal ObamaCare, which is a 2,700 page monstrosity that adds an enormous amount to America’s debt load and has seen substantial cost increases for currently insured Americans, and in its place enact a very simple bill? The new bill could say “Women must be charged precisely the same for health insurance as men. Insurance companies may achieve this goal by raising men’s rates or lowering women’s, whichever they prefer. There. That was easy.
If we’re looking for serious government subsidies, I think the federal government should create a subsidy for reason-challenged Progressives. It could fund emergency six-week long classes on Socratic-based logic and reasoning.