Two links for your outrage, amusement and edification

I’m not quite sure how to describe this one without giving away the whole weird little joke.  Suffice to say that it’s quick and amusing.

As for this one, you’ll be interested to know that Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians (“RCO”) believes women should be advised that, generally speaking, abortions are better for their physical health than having a baby.  This is technically correct, but so morally appalling, I’m at a loss for words.  The same RCO also says that there’s no merit to the studies that abortions left some women mentally damaged or bereft:

The guidance also says that women who are deciding whether to have an abortion must be told that most do not suffer any psychological harm. Until now, their advice has been that while rates of psychiatric illness and self-harm in women are higher among those who had an abortion, there was no evidence that termination itself was likely to trigger psychological problems.

In other words, mostly crazy ladies have abortions….  Yeah, that’s a club I want to join.  Please read the whole thing over at Brutally Honest.

The MSM, Gosnell and Planned Parenthood

The MSM, Gosnell and Planned Parenthood all come together in a single post at The Anchoress’ place.  Do read it.  The MSM has many obsessions — that is, stories it covers relentlessly and obviously — but the moral collapse that so often circles around abortion is not one of those subjects.

I continue to want to be pro-choice because I was raised to be that way — to believe in a woman’s right to choose. I keep thinking “what would I do if my daughter, at 15, came home and announced she was pregnant?” My life-long pro-choice brain says “I don’t want her life to be ruined at such a young age.” (Don’t hate me now; there’s more.)

But what I’m beginning to realize is that abortion is the poisonous tree and that there is no fruit that can be sampled without moral, cultural, and societal risk. An honest person has to acknowledge that there’s a life in there, something that I finally figured out thanks to my own pregnancies and sonograms, followed by live births and growing children. Likewise, an honest person has to recognize the moral corruption that has followed in abortion’s wake. Women are no more free. Instead, they’ve become cultural sex slaves, as they have no reason any more to hold out “until marriage.” Men like Gosnell operate with impunity. And organizations such as Planned Parenthood corrupt the communities within which they operate:

On a semi-related subject (media obsessions), I learned from a friend that the MSM has been remiss in ignoring H1N1 this past flu season.  As you may recall, last flu season, the MSM was hysterical about it.  This flu season, the media has wiped it from the radar.  Except that H1N1 is still out there and, when it hits, it’s extremely virulent.  My friend reminded me of this because she came within a whisker of death.  She’s recovering now, thank God, but it’s a slow and painful process.

One doesn’t need to get as hysterical as the media does, but one does need to get that shot.  I didn’t get the shot in October 2010, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I will get it in October 2011 (and, with luck, I’ll stay well until then).

Pieces of meat

First, check out this post at Brutally Honest.

Then, come back and talk to me.  Here are my thoughts:

Wow!  Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.  It’s true that, before ashes turn to ashes and dust to dust, dead mammals — all dead mammals — can be classified as meat.  What’s clear, though, is that this guy has erased from his mind the living being that preceded it, whether it’s a monkey or a dog or a pig, all of which should be accorded the respect due a living example of their species, or a human, a “species” to which he seems to feel no affiliation whatsoever.  It’s hard to tell if the guy is a pure psychopath, or if his career decision to surround himself by death has caused him to create a carapace so thick he’s permanently immured his own humanity.

I’m inclining towards psychopath myself.  My Dad fought his way through five years of WWII in North Africa and Southern Europe.  My Mom lived in a concentration camp.  Our family friends walked out of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen.  My blog friends fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan — and none, none, reduced humanity to meat.

James Taranto on Sarah Palin’s abortion effect on liberals

Mr. Bookworm loathes Sarah Palin:  “She’s not one of us.”  I don’t know what he means.  She’s a married mom with children.  She went to college.  She and her husband work.  They pay taxes.  She doesn’t drink (or not to excess), smoke, or do drugs (so far as we know).  She’s well-groomed.  She has a sense of humor.  She’s interested in the world around her.  She’s religious but we actually have some friends and neighbors who are religious too.

Of course, she’s really religious.  She actually takes it seriously.  I think that’s what irks him so much.

And that’s kind of what irks others about her.  Or, as James Taranto makes more specific, its her moral objection to abortion, which is undoubtedly a byproduct of her religion, that drives the women bonkers.  To the pro-choice crowd, abortion is the last gasp of freedom.

I know this for a fact, because it’s the way I thought.  Abstinence is great as birth control, but it denies a woman access to one of life’s fundamental pleasures.  Birth control itself is great, except for all the problems with it:  the hormonal nightmare of the pill, the mess of the diaphragm, the risk and embarrassment of the condom.

When all else fails, when you’ve given in to your instincts, but the birth control didn’t work, you’ve still got abortion.  Abortion keeps you from a life of less money, less sleep, less freedom, less control over your time, less self-indulgence, less time for movies, reading, dinners out, dates, etc.  And all that’s after the baby’s born.  Abortion also keeps you from nine months of vomiting, non-stop peeing, back pain, hemorrhoids, massive weight gain, heart burn, sleepless nights, all of which suffering is followed by a few minutes to several days worth of incredible pain.  Oh, yeah!

I totally get it.  I really, really get it.

The only problem is that the other end of this equation, the one causing the nine months of discomfort, followed by the 18 years of sleepless nights, no money, etc., is a human being.  It’s a baby, a toddler, a child, an adolescent and a young adult.  It is a person, whose smell is instantly recognizable to you, who turns to you in times of happiness and times of need, who constantly grows and changes, often making you very proud.  It is a potential mother, father, sister, brother, doctor, soldier, maintenance person, bus driver, lawyer, good Samaritan, criminal.  It is potential.  It is life.

These facts, the imbalance of parenting, means that those who are invested in freedom from pregnancy because it makes their own lives better (and it does) are very angry at Palin.  She reminds them that, not only is another life involved, but also that one can be happy and productive, both despite and because of that other life — even if that other life is disabled.  She makes liberals, especially women, feel inferior.  And there’s no one better to savage than the woman who makes you feel lazy, whiny, self-centered, and ugly.

Awful, awful, awful

I thought one of the purposes behind legal abortion was to prevent things like this from happening.  You know, “safe, legal and rare.”  Awful, awful, awful.

End of the world as we know it Open Thread

I indulged myself today by staying assiduously away from the computer.  If there was going to be a train crash, I didn’t want to see it happen.  What’s really irksome isn’t that Stupak is the usual Demo ho (pardon my language), but that he was willing to sell his soul for the political equivalent of Monopoly money.  Here’s Andrew MacCarthy on just how bad Stupak’s deal is:

But now Democrats are going to abide not a mere signing statement but an executive order that purports to have the effect of legislation — in fact, has the effect of nullifying legislation that Congress is simultaneously enacting?

The Susan B. Anthony List observation that EOs can be rescinded at the president’s whim is of course true. This particuar EO is also a nullity — presidents cannot enact laws, the Supreme Court has said they cannot impound funds that Congress allocates, and (as a friend points out) the line-item veto has been held unconstitutional, so they can’t use executive orders to strike provisions in a bill. So this anti-abortion EO is blatant chicanery: if the pro-lifers purport to be satisfied by it, they are participating in a transparent fraud and selling out the pro-life cause.

But even if all that weren’t true, how do we go from congressional Democrats claiming that signing statements were a shredding of the Constitution to congressional Democrats acquiescing in a claim that the president can enact or cancel out statutory law by diktat?

One begins to suspect that there’s little difference between this Bart and this Bart when it comes to either intelligence or decency.

Wondering whether Stupak will be a vertebrate or an invertebrate — and Open Thread

Stupak’s going to make his much awaited statement while I’m off working out.  So far, he’s had a spine and has distinguished himself from other Democrats by actually letting a principle guide him.  I suspect, though, that his 11:00 press conference will be a weasely explanation of why he’s caved completely on his pro-Life stance.  I hope time proves me wrong.

Obama Care and abortions

I think that even people who are fervently pro-abortion  might appreciate that pro-Life people don’t want their money used to fund abortions.  I also don’t want my money used for vanity plastic surgeries.  There are just some things your neighbors shouldn’t have to pay for.  Nevertheless, the Obama Care plan does provide for federal funding of abortions.  If that’s not bad enough, Pelosi and Obama are lying like crazy to hide that fact.  (See this too for Sebelius’ lies.)

Just FYI, here’s the bill’s text

SEC. 1303. SPECIAL RULES.
(a) SPECIAL RULES RELATING TO COVERAGE OF ABORTION SERVICES.—
(1) VOLUNTARY CHOICE OF COVERAGE OF ABORTION SERVICES.—
(A) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of this title (or any amendment made by this title), and subject to subparagraphs (C) and (D)—
(i) nothing in this title (or any amendment made by this title), shall be construed to require a qualified health plan to provide coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i) or (B)(ii) as part of its essential health benefits for any plan year; and
(ii) the issuer of a qualified health plan shall determine whether or not the plan provides coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i) or (B)(ii) as part of such benefits for the plan year.
(B) ABORTION SERVICES.—
(i) ABORTIONS FOR WHICH PUBLIC FUNDING IS PROHIBITED.—
The services described in this clause are abortions for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services is not permitted, based on the law as in effect as of the date that is 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.
(ii) ABORTIONS FOR WHICH PUBLIC FUNDING IS ALLOWED.—The services described in this clause are abortions for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services is permitted, based on the law as in effect as of the date that is 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.
(C) PROHIBITION ON FEDERAL FUNDS FOR ABORTION SERVICES IN COMMUNITY HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION.—
(i) DETERMINATION BY SECRETARY.—
The Secretary may not determine, in accordance with subparagraph (A)(ii), that the community health insurance option established under section 1323 shall provide coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i) as part of benefits for the plan year unless the Secretary—
(I) assures compliance with the requirements of paragraph (2);
(II) assures, in accordance with applicable provisions of generally accepted accounting requirements, circulars on funds management of the Office of Management and Budget, and guidance on accounting of the Government Accountability Office, that no Federal funds are used for such coverage; and
(III) notwithstanding section 1323(e)(1)(C) or any other provision of this title, takes all necessary steps to assure that the United States does not bear the insurance risk for a community health insurance option’s coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i).
(ii) STATE REQUIREMENT.—
If a State requires, in addition to the essential health benefits required under section 1323(b)(3)(A), coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i) for enrollees of a community health insurance option offered in such State, the State shall assure that no funds flowing through or from the community health insurance option, and no other Federal funds, pay or defray the cost of providing coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i). The United States shall not bear the insurance risk for a State’s required coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i).
(iii) EXCEPTIONS.—Nothing in this subparagraph shall apply to coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(ii)by the community health insurance option. Services described in subparagraph (B)(ii) shall be covered to the same extent as such services are covered under title XIX of the Social Security Act.
(D) ASSURED AVAILABILITY OF VARIED COVERAGE THROUGH EXCHANGES.—
(i) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall assure that with respect to qualified health plans offered in any Exchange established pursuant to this title—
(I) there is at least one such plan that provides coverage of services described in clauses (i) and (ii) of subparagraph (B); and
(II) there is at least one such plan that does not provide coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i).
(ii) SPECIAL RULES.—For purposes of clause (i)—
(I) a plan shall be treated as described in clause (i)(II) if the plan does not provide coverage of services described in either subparagraph (B)(i) or (B)(ii); and
(II) if a State has one Exchange covering more than 1 insurance market, the Secretary shall meet the requirements of clause (i) separately with respect to each such market.
(2) PROHIBITION ON THE USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS.—
(A) IN GENERAL.—If a qualified health plan provides coverage of services described in paragraph (1)(B)(i), the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to any of the following for purposes of paying for such services:
(i) The credit under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (and the amount (if any) of the advance payment of the credit under section 1412 of the Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act).
(ii) Any cost-sharing reduction under section 1402 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (and the amount (if any) of the advance payment of the reduction under section 1412 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).
(B) SEGREGATION OF FUNDS.—
In the case of a plan to which subparagraph (A) applies, the issuer of the plan shall, out of amounts not described in subparagraph (A), segregate an amount equal to the actuarial amounts determined under subparagraph (C) for all enrollees from the amounts described in subparagraph (A).
(C) ACTUARIAL VALUE OF OPTIONAL SERVICE COVERAGE.—
(i) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall estimate the basic per enrollee, per month cost, determined on an average actuarial basis, for including coverage under a qualified health plan of the services described in paragraph (1)(B)(i).
(ii) CONSIDERATIONS.—
In making such estimate, the Secretary—
(I) may take into account the impact on overall costs of the inclusion of such coverage, but may not take into account any cost reduction estimated to result from such services, including prenatal care, delivery, or postnatal care;
(II) shall estimate such costs as if such coverage were included for the entire population covered; and
(III) may not estimate such a cost at less than $1 per enrollee, per month.
(3) PROVIDER CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS.—
No individual health care provider or health care facility may be discriminated against because of a willingness or an unwillingness, if doing so is contrary to the religious or moral beliefs of the provider or facility, to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
(b) APPLICATION OF STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.—
(1) NO PREEMPTION OF STATE LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.—
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt or otherwise have any effect on State laws regarding the prohibition of (or requirement of) coverage, funding, or procedural requirements on abortions, including parental notification or consent for the performance of an abortion on a minor.
(2) NO EFFECT ON FEDERAL LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.—
(A) IN GENERAL.—
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding—
(i) conscience protection;
(ii) willingness or refusal to provide abortion; and
(iii) discrimination on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.
(3) NO EFFECT ON FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAW.—
Nothing in this subsection shall alter the rights and obligations of employees and employers under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(c) APPLICATION OF EMERGENCY SERVICES LAWS.—
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to relieve any health care provider from providing emergency services as required by State or Federal law, including section 1867 of the Social Security Act (popularly known as ‘‘EMTALA’’).

If you’re thinking, as I am, that the above is completely gobbledygook, you’re right. You need to chart the language to understand it.  But there are a few clues as to what’s really go on.  Once is the provider conscience protection, which would be irrelevant if there was no abortion under the bill.   The second is that premise that existing federal and state laws regarding abortion continue to be applicable, and we know abortion is legal under both.

The last giveaway is the promise to “segregate” federal monies so that no monies go to abortion.  In case you missed basic economics 101, money is fungible.  If a community health center that happens to provide abortions gets $100,000 of taxpayer money, the taxpayer is inevitably funding abortions, no matter how much we’re assured that some money came from account A and some from account  B.  The bottom line is that the center is $100,000 richer, courtesy of taxpayer money.

For a more sophisticated, detailed analysis of the Democrats’ chicanery and lies regarding this hot button issue, go here and here.

Regardless of your feelings about abortion, you should feel very offended that your elected officials are engaging in such bald-faced lies, convinced that you’re too stupid to catch them in the act.

The Left, trying to deconstruct the Tebow ad, shows that logic is not a Leftist gift *UPDATED*

I commented earlier that Focus on the Family handled the whole Tebow ad brilliantly, by letting the Left get hysterical in advance, only to be confronted by a completely innocuous ad in which Pam Tebow talks about times when she worried about Tim’s life.  With its preemptive frothing, the Left managed to show anyone who was paying attention that they care, not about choices (because Pam Tebow made a choice), but about preserving abortion in all forms, at all costs, under all circumstances.  (For my by-no-means doctrinaire views on the subject, see here.)

Showing that they can’t quit when they’re behind, the Lefties, this time in the form of an op-ed at The Nation magazine, continue to opine idiotically on the subject.  I’ve interjected a little common sense:

Folks – the Tim Tebow/Pam Tebow ad has finally aired and it is about as vanilla as an Andy Williams Christmas Special. This is none too surprising. After all, CBS actually co-produced the ad to run seamlessly with the rest of its slick Super Bowl coverage. This has the anti-choice right wing on the blogs mocking the National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood for “making a big deal over nothing.”

Yes, that would be me being one of the mockers, sort of.  I’m delighted that they made a big deal over nothing, because it helped highlight what matters to those folks rejoicing under the Orwellian name of “pro-choice.”

But the concerns of NOW and Planned Parenthood were absolutely spot on when you saw the final shot of the ad: “This message is brought to you by Focus on the Family.” The idea that Focus on the Family – an organization that believes in reparative therapy for LGBT people, that likens abortion rights to the Nazi holocaust, and that has shadowy connections to open hate groups – gets this kind of a mammoth public forum is an absolute disgrace.

This is where the Left is suffering from a pretty embarrassing logic gap.  The only reason anyone paid any attention to that ad (raising the possibility that people might check out Focus on the Family) is because the Left got so hysterical.  Had they adopted a wait-and-see attitude, and then let the ad sink like a very expensive stone when it was obvious how “vanilla” it was, that would have been the end of the fight.  The Tebows would have had their little say, and everyone would have gone home.

But the whole kerfuffle wasn’t about the ad itself.  It was about pro-life and true pro-choice advocates baiting the Left to show that it’s agenda isn’t the misnomer “pro-choice,” but is instead a eugenic commitment:  the Left finds it heinous that people would go ahead with high risk pregnancies.  The true believers, when it comes to abortion rights, think that high risk pregnancies should narrow down to one choice — abortion.  And if you don’t believe me, look at the splenetic response “pro-choice” people had regarding Sarah Palin’s choice to have a child she knew would be mentally disabled.

As for the ad, Pam Tebow speaks about the choice to ignore her doctor’s advice and risk her own life. She has every right to stand on a soap box with her hunky, Heisman winning son, and tell other women about the benefits of ignoring your doctor. But the idea that CBS would provide the platform for such a message without so much as a medical disclaimer, is simply wrong.

I can see the medical disclaimer now:  “Two out of five doctors believe that, if you’re advised that your baby might be stillborn, you should have an abortion to preclude the possibility that it might be born alive and healthy.”

What kind of verkakte talk is that?  Please keep in mind that Pam Tebow, in both ads, here and here, talked about her worries about Tim’s health, not about her worries about her own health.  In other words, unless viewers, intrigued by the uproar, went to the focus on the family website, they’d never hear Pam say, as The Nation falsely states, that she chose “to ignore her doctor’s advice and risk her own life.”

Also, the idea that Focus on the Family, an organization which stands unequivocally for the view that other women should be denied Pam Tebow’s choice would get this kind of prime commercial real estate, exposes CBS as a frighteningly fraudulent operation. They should offer free commercial time to Planned Parenthood.

Focus on the Family paid to run what even The Nation admits is a completely innocuous commercial that talks about what even The Nation admits is “Pam Tebow’s choice.”  The pro-choice nature of  the ad so infuriates The Nation’s editors that they proclaim that the only antidote is to give the frequently governmentally-funded Planned Parenthood free airtime?

Again, I like it.  How about this ad:  “Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood because she recognized that sometimes, Mother Nature just doesn’t get things quite right.  Left to her own devices, Mother Nature produces ‘retarded’ people, Negroes, Jews, and other undesirables.   So when the doctor tells you there’s a possibility that you’re going to be bringing another undesirable into the world, Planned Parenthood is there to serve you, and to make sure that Mother Nature gets a helping hand.”

And if Roe vs. Wade is ever deemed unconstitutional, I hope the executives at CBS ponder their role in this process. Maybe it’ll cross their minds when they are taking their daughters on a first class trip to France for legal, safe abortions. Somewhere, Edward R. Murrow weeps.

Roe v. Wade has been unconstitutional from the get-go.  Honest lawyers, even pro-“choice” honest lawyers acknowledge that it creates a right out of whole cloth.

As y’all know, I am not rabidly anti-abortion.  I believe it has a definite place, and I believe that there are gray areas where black-and-white law makes for very bad outcomes.  However, I also believe that the Left’s obsession with fetal deaths, its hysterical assertions that changing the law one iota will throw us back to some 1850 horror show of coat hangers and bloodied rooms, is ridiculous.  Times have changed.  Birth control has changed.  Single parenthood has changed.  Social stigmas have changed.  Maternal mortality has changed.  It’s a cheap and shoddy debate to pretend that, as to abortion alone, time has frozen, and there can be no movement.

My admiration for Focus on the Family, a group that holds views that are much more extreme than any I hold regarding abortion, gays, etc., continues to grow.  Conservatives generally could learn from this technique of allowing the Left to rip back its own curtain, exposing the totalitarianism hiding behind the cooing words of love and compassion.

UPDATE:  Fellow Watcher’s Council member Omri Ceren, at Mere Rhetoric, has a great post explaining that the new meme, attacking the commercial for celebrating violence against women, simply exposes — again — the staggering hypocrisy that animates the Left.  Oh, wait!  I forgot.  They’re not hypocritical at all.  If I remember correctly the Left was saying that the violent imagery in the attacks against Palin was okay, because she wasn’t really a woman.  And what was one of the things that made her not a woman?  Her refusal to abort a Down child.  It always comes full circle, doesn’t it?

The Tim Tebow ad — and how the Left shot itself in the foot

I think that Focus on the Family took a page out of Andrew Breitbart’s book.  They dangled a little information in front of the liberals, and then let them self-immolate.  In response to the notion that Tebow and his mom were going to make a pro-Life commercial, the Left went completely unhinged, with obscene aged hippies, deranged letters, and hate-filled videos about the end of abortion as we know it.  And then what actually happened was this:

A more innocuous commercial it’s impossible to imagine.  It’s so low key, there’s almost no message there.  And it’s that very innocuous-ness that matters.  The takeaway is that the Left is obsessed, not with choice but with abortion, while the Right is obsessed with . . . well, they’re not really obsessed with anything at all, although they do think it’s a good thing when miracle babies go on to do great things.

Brilliant.

Old Hippies on the rampage (language alert) against the “wrong” choice

A living room full of former hippie gals, all in their 60s,  put together a short and vulgar expression of their disdain for, in their words, CBS having no respect for “women’s choice”:

Just so that you’re clear on what they’re saying, here’s the way in which the person who posted the video describes what’s going on:

Part of Women’s Media Center grassroots effort, this funny, fierce song parody from South Florida Raging Grannies tears CBS a new one, in no uncertain terms, over its decision to run an anti-choice commercial from the Christian right-wing extremist group, Focus On The Family, during 2010 Super Bowl.

As for me, last I heard, CBS had no government input over women and reproductive rights.  What really gets the Raging Grannies’ goat is the fact that CBS agreed to show a video in which Tim Tebow and his mom talk about her choice to go ahead with a high risk pregnancy.  In other words, the Raging Grannies’ are not upset about CBS advocating the denial of women’s “choices.”  They’re upset about CBS giving voice to a woman whose choice did not include abortion.

Sometimes I think, debating the Left really isn’t fair, because it’s like having a hard-charging philosophical conversation with a monkey.  I then realize that, in an engagement between a monkey and an intellectual, the monkey often wins.  It’s just not victory at an intellectual level.

Americans cool on abortion, appropriately given the societal damage it both causes and reflects

My views on abortion have changed mightily over the years.  The selfish, immature side of me still longs for a pro-choice label, but the mature, moral side of me has concluded that, subject to a few exceptions, pro-Life is the way to go.  I won’t expand on that right now, but you can see more on my views here.

On the subject of abortion, I want to draw your attention to three things:

First, if you somehow managed to miss this headline story, let me be the one to tell you that the Superbowl, of all things, is at the center of an abortion controversy.  Tim Tebow, super-duper college quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, is going to be in a television commercial that is slated to air during the Superbowl.  In it, he and his mother talk about the fact that she elected to go ahead with a difficult pregnancy, even though the medical establishment assured her that the baby was likely to be dead or damaged at birth.  Tebow, of course, was neither.  Women’s groups are outraged (h/t Soccer Dad), although they sound more foolish than persuasive in their anger:

A national coalition of women’s groups called on CBS on Monday to scrap its plan to broadcast an ad during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, which critics say is likely to convey an anti-abortion message.

“An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year — an event designed to bring Americans together,” said Jehmu Greene, president of the New York-based Women’s Media Center.

[snip]

The protest letter from the Women’s Media Center suggested that CBS should have turned down the ad in part because it was conceived by Focus on the Family.

“By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers,” the letter said.

Hmm.  While I know that large sectors of the American public watch the Superbowl (I guess that’s the coming together part), I always considered it a rather divisive thing, considering that half the audience is devoutly hoping that the other half turns off the television set in deep despair.

But more to the point, I found interesting the fact that the women’s groups state, with no authority, that celebrating a successful life that resulted because the baby’s mother made a choice, is something that will “damage [CBS’s] reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers.”  I think the women’s groups are backing the wrong horse.

Which brings me to my second point about abortion.

The invaluable Zombie was out on the streets of San Francisco this past weekend, documenting the annual pro-Life rally held in that bastion of radical liberalism.  What you’d except from a photojournalist is a series of photos showing a few cowering pro-Lifers, surrounded by screaming pro-Choicers, all carrying “keep your hands off my uterus” signs and wearing kuffiyahs (because who doesn’t go to a feminist rally wearing the clothing symbol of the most repressive, misogynist culture on earth?).  But there you’d be wrong.  In a stunning combination of photos and text, Zombie reveals that the rally was a blow-out for the pro-Life crowd.  As Zombie says:

[W]hen the anti-abortion group Walk for Life staged a march in San Francisco last Saturday, January 23, they turned out an overwhelming and jaw-dropping 40,000 pro-life activists, who were met by a well-advertised counter-protest which managed to draw no more than 80 (that’s eighty, eight-zero) pro-choice advocates. 40,000 vs. 80 is a 500-to-1 pro-life advantage, something that seems inconceivable in the sex-positive liberal stronghold of San Francisco. How did this happen?

Talk about must-read journalism.

And the third and last thing I want to discuss about abortion isn’t really about abortion at all, it’s about the culture that supports unfettered, unlimited abortion.  As you probably read somewhere the other day, the teen pregnancy numbers rose a bit higher in 2006.  Robert Rector tells us that (a) those numbers are not what they seem and that (b) more seriously, those numbers reveal, not about a problem that can be corrected with ever more birth control and abortions, but a fundamental societal breakdown amongst young Americans.

As for me, with one pre-teen  and one very observant 10 year old, I spend a lot of my time talking about values and self-respect.  I’ve learned that, in a wired world, I cannot protect my kids from exposure to our sex saturated culture.  All I can do, over and over, is talk about the value they should place on themselves, the respect they owe others, the moral forces in favor of marriage and abstinence, and the risks associated with disease and young, out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  I hope, devoutly, that my kids take these messages to heart, because I really don’t have much else in my armament.

My parents always complained that, raising children in the late 1960s and 1970s, they had a hard time parenting against societal trends.  They couldn’t have imagined how much worse it would become.  Yes, they had to deal with hippies and self-actualization, but pop culture was still reasonably traditional.  The Brady kid actors may have been getting into trouble behind the scenes, but the message to the viewing audience was still one of traditional values.  Who would have imagined then MTV, YouTube, Lady GaGa, Adam Baldwin Lambert (isn’t that the crotch-grabber from American Idol?), and the whole parade of degradation that oozes out of every pore of American society?  Looking around, it’s clear that abortion is both a cause and a symptom of a society that has lost its sexual bearings, bearings that should be grounded in respect for the opposite sex and reverence for human life.

The morality lurking behind the taxes that fund government spending

Yesterday I wrote a long post about the fact that the abortion debate, at least on the pro-choice side, ignores social and medical advances that should make it a very different debate from the one that led to Roe v. Wade.  I think this is an important conversation, because of the fact that ObamaCare would have us pay for other people’s abortions.  Despite the fact that taxes triggered my post, they don’t figure into it.  The Anchoress, however, took the argument to the next logical point, and does discuss the nexus between taxes and abortion.

Another question I would like to see brought into the public square -and bear with me, for a moment, as I play Devil’s Advocate: if pro-life advocates (like me) object to their tax dollars being used to fund abortions under Obamacare (and I do), and if they want their objections to be seriously considered, then why shouldn’t those who are anti-war object to their tax dollars being used to fund the effort in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the multi-fronted war on terror?

Now, the argument will be made that a strong national defense is necessary to the survival of a nation, while legal abortions are not, strictly speaking, “necessary,” (except, for some, to the survival of a mother). But if the pro-lifers manage to keep their tax monies out of the reach of the abortion industry, they can expect to see a similar effort made about funding the “military-industrial complex.”

Although it will be very interesting to see under what sort of president, and what sort of congress, such arguments are made.

I urge you to read the rest of the Anchoress’ post, which is every bit as thoughtful and thought-provoking as the part I just quoted.

I would add to the Anchoress’ suggested rationale for funding war, but not abortion, the fact that, traditionally, America has distinguished individual freedoms (and, currently, abortion is one of them) from specific powers that have always been reserved for the state (such as the power to wage war against an enemy to the nation).  Just as we have never before used federal power to force people to buy a product from a third party vendor (which is what ObamaCare does), so too have we never before forced Americans to fund a neighbor who is exercising an individual freedom that we find morally objectionable.

Incidentally, Thoreau wrote his treatise on Civil Disobedience when he went to jail for refusing to pay taxes to support the 1848 war against Mexico.  The effort went nowhere, although his treatise entered history, because rich friends simply went ahead and paid the taxes for him.  I suspect that, ultimately, Thoreau’s is the correct answer.  If the government is truly spending your money in an intolerable way, one that makes you complicit in a crime that destroys your own moral standards, than you have to become disobedient, and stop paying your taxes.

So far, interestingly, none of us law abiding citizens have done that as a political statement.  Having the weight of the federal government bear down upon you and your family, stripping you of every material thing and threatening your individual freedom, is a very big price to pay to make a stand.  We keep thinking that, through the ballot box and the blog, we can make the change — and maybe we just can’t.

The need for an honest, 21st century debate about abortion *UPDATE*

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:

1952

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.

1974

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.

1996

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.

UPDATE:  The Anchoress took my rather limited argument one step further, and examined the implications of using taxpayer money to fund everyone else’s potential abortion.  It’s a superb bit of writing.  Here are my thoughts, triggered by her thoughts.

Sen. Ben Nelson’s inability to see his own immorality

Sen.  Ben Nelson is mad.  How dare the voters (and, especially, the conservatives) attack him simply for changing his mind on health care:

“This is all orchestrated,” Nelson said Sunday. “It’s so thinly disguised … it’s almost laughable.

Nelson, the lone Democrat in Nebraska’s five-member congressional delegation, told The AP that a high-ranking Republican operative sent out partisan talking points to conservative talk show hosts and columnists and they “almost read it verbatim.

“We have the e-mails that show it,” he said.

Nelson said he was doing what he could to stop the double-digit rise in health care costs, as well as cover those Nebraskans who can’t get coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions.

In other words, says Nelson, all he did was hold out until he got a better bargain.  But Nelson’s personal feelings aside that is not all he did.  Unlike other Senators who complained about costs and public options and hurt to their states, Nelson framed his opposition around one issue:  abortion.  He was a pro-Life guy, he said, and he wasn’t going to vote for a bill that forced Americans to pay so that other Americans could have an abortion.  And then he did exactly that when the price was right.

What Nelson can’t seem to understand, now that he’s lashing back at his critics for failing to see what a great economic decision-maker he is, is that abortion is not about money, it’s about morality.  If you tell the voters that you are pro-Life, it means that you believe that, barring countervailing factors (protecting the mother’s life, incest, etc.), you think it is murder to abort a baby.  It’s not an inconvenience, it’s not an economic issue, it is a core moral issue:  “Thou shalt not murder.”

When Nelson, in return for a bribe, sided with Reid, et al, voters instantly understood that Nelson has either been lying all along about his pro-Life stance or that Nelson is such a deeply weak and corrupt guy that he will sell his values to the highest bidder.  Either way, he made a fool of voters. Even pro-Choice voters who are, I’m sure, happy with his decision, should be asking themselves how much value they can get from a guy who is either a liar or easy to bribe.

Anyway, if you’re upset about Nelson, there is something you can do:  go here and donate to the opposition.

Are enough Catholics still pro-Life for Obama’s game-playing to matter?

I have some familiarity with Church history and doctrine, owing to my background as a European history major.  I am woefully ignorant, however, about modern Catholicism — or, more specifically, modern American Catholicism.  I therefore have a question for those of you who are Catholic:  Does it matter to a critical mass of American Catholics that Obama is sponsoring a health care plan that requires Americans to pay for abortion and that he is lying about that fact?  Kathryn Jean Lopez thinks it matters a lot:

[T]he loss of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, one of the most prominent Catholic politicians in the United States, a leading proponent of the president’s health-care-reform push, should not obscure a pivotal fact: Barack Obama has put himself at war with the Catholic Church.

[snip]

On August 11, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives about the health-care legislation under consideration. He highlighted legislative language that would open the door to taxpayer-funded abortions. He pointed out that when amendments were introduced this summer that would have protected against this — would have protected life — they were shot down. That’s a bad precedent. If that’s how life fares when the C-SPAN cameras are on, what happens when it comes time for the behind-closed-doors compromises?

[snip]

On August 11, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives about the health-care legislation under consideration. He highlighted legislative language that would open the door to taxpayer-funded abortions. He pointed out that when amendments were introduced this summer that would have protected against this — would have protected life — they were shot down. That’s a bad precedent. If that’s how life fares when the C-SPAN cameras are on, what happens when it comes time for the behind-closed-doors compromises?

I agree with everything Lopez says — and I believe that Catholics who hold to the tenets of her faith will agree with her. I just wonder how many of those Catholics are left in America. I’m not talking about people who just say they’re Catholic, but people who actually believe this issue matters. Can you tell me how many of those people there are?  I know there were a lot in the 60s and 70s, but are they still around?  Or are the majority of Catholics people who pay lip service to these doctrines but don’t really belive that they apply to life in America?

Roe v Wade a warning about Supreme Court involvement in gay marriage

Whether you are for or against gay marriage, Robert George issues a sound warning about the dangers that flow from letting the Supreme Court get its hands on the issue:

It would be disastrous for the justices to do so [rule against California’s Prop. 8 and, by extension, make gay marriage the law of the land]. They would repeat the error in Roe v. Wade: namely, trying to remove a morally charged policy issue from the forums of democratic deliberation and resolve it according to their personal lights.

Even many supporters of legal abortion now consider Roe a mistake. Lacking any basis in the text, logic or original understanding of the Constitution, the decision became a symbol of the judicial usurpation of authority vested in the people and their representatives. It sent the message that judges need not be impartial umpires—as both John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor say they should be—but that judges can impose their policy preferences under the pretext of enforcing constitutional guarantees.

By short-circuiting the democratic process, Roe inflamed the culture war that has divided our nation and polarized our politics. Abortion, which the Court purported to settle in 1973, remains the most unsettled issue in American politics—and the most unsettling. Another Roe would deepen the culture war and prolong it indefinitely.

Sterilizing our way to Paradise *UPDATED*

If you read Michelle Malkin, you already know about Zombie’s post exposing the unrepentant eugenicist past of John Holdren, Obama’s science czar.  Writing in the early 1970s, when the trendy concern was the population explosion (promising every a brutish Malthusian future), Holdren eagerly espoused a world order with forced abortions; mandatory sterliziation of those deemed unfit; birth-control chemicals running freely through our water and food; and a transnational global economy policed by a new world order.  Michelle Malkin has already commented on the fact that Holdren’s writing perfectly harmonizes with the eugencist thinking common among early 20th century Progressives, especially Margaret Sanger (and, of course, some late 20th century Progressives, such as Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg).

When confronted with these facts which sound so ugly when stated openly, the average liberal’s impulse is to deny their brutality and focus on the humanity behind them.  They’ll point to the fact that, beginning in the industrial era, rich women have controlled their fertility, and that there is a correlation between a nation’s affluence and its control over its birth rate.  (Although that last is actually a very 70s argument.  Looking at nations such as Japan or Italy, which have negative population growth and sagging economies because they no longer have a productive sector, one can see that controlled population growth can quickly reach a point of diminishing returns.)  They’ll tell you that they only desire a world in which “every child is a wanted one.”

It’s hard to argue with those facts.  As is typical for the utopian agenda, the end goal is always a lovely one.  After all, a lovely end goal is, by definition, the nature of a utopia:  it is a perfect place.  A utopia is also, as Thomas More recognized when he coined the name, a place that cannot exist.  (Utopia is Greek for “not place” — that is, an impossible place suitable only for allegory.)

People of goodwill have always envisioned a place in which everyone lives in harmony and material comfort.  War is gone.  Hunger is gone.  Each community is a perfect amalgam of density and space, allowing for high functionality and rural aesthetics that flow effortlessly into each other.  Heaven on earth.

The only problem with this whole Heaven on earth thing, of course, is those pesky humans.  Humans are erratic.  Some have the temerity to be born smart and some dumb; some are placid, some feisty; some strong, some weak; some submissive, some aggressive.  Whole cultures are poisoned by these variables.  The people who keep giving into their base human nature are making perfection impossible.

For many, the solution to these impossible humans has been a strong hand:  Hitler promised perfection, as did Mussolini, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot and Stalin.  Humans — damn their imperfect hearts — could be corralled into virtue, and if corralling didn’t work, killing would suffice.

Given the effort it takes to force humans to be perfect, all of these Statists, without exception, realized that some humans simply weren’t worth the effort it would take to perfect them.  They were in the way.  How much better, then, simply to rid the world of them before they even became nascent.  The was Margaret Sanger’s plan.  Hitler liked that idea too.  Through a combination of genocide (Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc.) and sterilization (the generic “unfit,” although quite a few, my uncle included, came in for genocide too), he was acting with the best will in the world.  How else, after all, could he make the world a better place for his good Germans?  And undoubtedly, if asked, he would have said, “What’s good for the Germans is good for the planet.”

What’s so fascinating about these Statists — these people who believe that human-kind can be perfected through a governmental program of purging and heavy-handed guidance — is that, while they loath humans, they really like animals.  To get back to Hitler, you may recall that he was famed for his vegetarianism and love of dogs.  How can a man who loves dogs be all bad?

Sadly, while Sanger has been bathed in a misty glow, not as a crude eugenicist, but as the savior of poor women dying from too many pregnancies, and Hitler (thank goodness) has been discredited, these eugenic ideas live on, and at a very high level too.  Peter Singer, for example, holds an endowed chair at Princeton.  His books include Should the Baby Live?: The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Studies in Bioethics), Animal Liberation and In Defense of Animals: The Second WaveShould the Baby Live pretty much sums up the man’s philosophy:  he advocates euthanizing handicapped infants.  (Sarah Palin apparently forgot to read this book.)  He is, of course, reviled by the handicapped community (and rightly so).

The moral abyss Singer creates with his euthanasia musings is highlighted by the fact that his animal liberation writings make him a founding father of the animal rights movement — a movement that’s come to full flower in PETA insanity (which analogizes the death of chickens to the death of Jews in Hitler’s gas chambers). Singer explicitly believes that a healthy animal has greater rights than a sick person.  (As a side point, Singer has also made clear that he has no moral problem with bestiality, provided that the animal consents. Amusingly, this last viewpoint has put Singer at odds with the same animal rights movement he was so instrumental in creating.)

Getting back to Holdren, it’s fascinating to discover that he too places animals over humans. Thus, as Zombie notes, while Holdren enthusiastically supports mass sterilization through food and water additives, he adds a caveat — you can do it in the water supply as long as you don’t harm the horses (or dogs, cats, guinea pigs and hamsters):

Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control. Indeed, this would pose some very difficult political, legal, and social questions, to say nothing of the technical problems. No such sterilant exists today, nor does one appear to be under development. To be acceptable, such a substance would have to meet some rather stiff requirements: it must be uniformly effective, despite widely varying doses received by individuals, and despite varying degrees of fertility and sensitivity among individuals; it must be free of dangerous or unpleasant side effects; and it must have no effect on members of the opposite sex, children, old people, pets, or livestock.

The desperate need to eradicate an ever escalating number of humans, coupled with the mirror obsession for animal well-being establishes that, all Progressive protestations aside, utopianism has nothing to do with perfecting mankind.  Instead, it’s about mankind’s slow eradication, with an ultimate return to a time before homonids walked the earth.  You see, fundamentally, the Progressive isn’t Progressive at all.  By slowly removing people from the earth, one category a time, the so-called Progressive can regress to that true Utopia, before the snake, the woman and apple drove man from Paradise.

Masaccio's Explusion from the Garden of Eden

Masaccio's Explusion from the Garden of Eden

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  Would you be surprised that other bloggers are concerned too?  At NoisyRoom, Terresa has more links to examples of eugenics ideas on the Left.  The Confederate Yankee adds his own spin about Holdren’s “dark mind.”

UPDATE IIMark Steyn’s latest column, about climate change/apocalyptic thinking, ties in nicely with this post.

Murderer or martyr — the George Tiller killer

The Left is tremendously excited about what they see as the hypocrisy behind the pro-Life movement because one of their own murdered George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider.  Their excitement isn’t surprising, since they seem incapable of separating a crazed individual from the vast majority of pro-Lifers, all of whom routinely condemn violence generally and have strongly condemned this particular murder.

With the focus on Tiller’s murderer, of course, nobody in the MSM is thinking about what Tiller stood for.  In the blogosphere, though, there are more thoughtful people, one of whom is Melissa Clouthier.  She writes an impassioned post about the fact that something can be legal (late term abortions) and still be completely immoral (late term abortions).  She doesn’t condone vigilantism, but she does remind us what kind of a man Tiller was.

When she emailed a link to her post to one of my email groups, someone commented that the moral person, when he sees a truly great crime committed (such as murder) must take all means possible to prevent it.  The fact that people are just letting late term abortions happen while awaiting a change in the law suggests that they don’t see late term abortion as a truly great crime (such as murder).  I’m not sure that’s true.  I think we do see it as murder, but most people are law abiding and will not themselves commit a cold-blooded murder.

In  other words, the problem for the babies, but the good thing for Americans, is that we are a nation of laws.  People do not take the law into their own hands and, for the most part, that’s a very good thing.  Absent that respect for law, you end up with violent anarchy, which is quickly replaced by the strong brutally oppressing the weak.

As a law-abiding American, if you don’t like the laws, you have three choices:  leave the country; work to change the laws; or engage in acts of civil disobedience.

The first choice — or voting with your feet — is a problem because it’s very hard to find a place today in which abortion is not routinely performed.

The second choice is what all pro-lifers work towards.  If numbers mean anything, the pro-lifers are starting to make a difference.  People are leaning away from the Democratic obsession with infant death.  (And I do think sonograms have an enormous role in that change.)

As for the third choice, civil disobedience, that’s the most interesting one.  That’s what my email correspondent would say good citizens should do.  But at least since the time of Thoreau, people who actually think about civil disobedience think of the actor’s role as a very public one.  You don’t just shoot and run, you shoot and then turn yourself into jail, and make impassioned polemic speeches about the evil you were fighting.  You become a martyr for your cause, not an ugly whacked out fugitive.  A few years ago, in the wake of Gavin Newsom’s unilateral decision to ignore law and allow gay marriages, I wrote I post on civil disobedience, some of which I’ll quote here:

Although civil disobedience has always been around — that is, at all places, at all times, people have been willing to risk their lives, safety or comfort for their beliefs — it was Henry David Thoreau, in the mid-19th Century, who best articulated the “official” definition of that doctrine.

Thoreau objected to a poll tax because he felt the money was being improperly spent to support slavery and the war with Mexico. Rather than paying the tax, he took a principled stand, refused to pay the tax, and went to prison. His single night in jail inspired him to write an essay about a citizen’s obligation to strike out against unjust laws — and to demonstrate the law’s invalidity through the citizen’s personal martyrdom.

In his essay, Thoreau ruminated about irritating laws versus unjust laws, and about the vehicles available for protesting the latter. These protests include voting or, if that won’t work, doing such things as refusing to comply with an unjust law, or refusing to pay a tax that supports something unjust. Significantly, Thoreau felt that, if voting was not an option, the other actions gained weight from an attendant sacrifice — which, in America, is usually imprisonment:

Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less despondent spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them; on that separate but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her–the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor.

The notion of civil disobedience gained great currency on the liberal side in the 20th Century because of two men who put it to its highest and best use. Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Had each not been willing to accept imprisonment, thereby demonstrating the manifest unfairness and immorality of the laws against which each struggled, neither would have even appeared as a footnote in the history books.

Nowadays, though, whether in the fictitious world of The West Wing, or in real life, people break laws with impunity and to applause. I was most strongly reminded of this when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, in February 2004, suddenly announced that he was going to ignore California’s laws against same sex marriage, and have the City issue marriage licenses to all gay couples desiring them. Newsom was a fifteen minute wonder. The Press oooh’ed and aaah’ed about his bravery. But, really, what was so brave? Newsom wasn’t running any risks politically in San Francisco, where a critical mass of voters approve his step. He wasn’t running any risk of humilitiation or ostracism, because he became the media’s darling. No one even mentioned prosecuting him for breaking the law, or impeaching him for violating his official obligations. It was a media stunt, but it wasn’t civil disobedience, because we didn’t get the spectacle of a righteous man felled by an unjust government.

In other words, unless Tiller’s killer takes a principled, public, martyr-like stand on the matter, he’s just a regular old murder, and a domestic terrorist, and is no better than the man he killed.

Obama’s gift for placating and then infuriating people *UPDATED*

On April 30, Daniel Henninger wrote a very good column about one of Obama’s pre-election gifts — his ability to prevaricate so smoothly that everyone listening ended up believing that Obama was agreeing with his or her point of view:

Early in the campaign, in January 2007, a New York Times reporter wrote a story about Mr. Obama’s time as president of the Harvard Law Review. It was there, the reporter noted, “he first became a political sensation.”

Here’s why: “Mr. Obama cast himself as an eager listener, sometimes giving warring classmates the impression that he agreed with all of them at once.” Also: “People had a way of hearing what they wanted in Mr. Obama’s words.”

Harvard Law Prof. Charles Ogletree told how Mr. Obama spoke on one contentious issue at the law school, and each side thought he was endorsing their view. Mr. Ogletree said: “Everyone was nodding, Oh, he agrees with me.”

The above impressed Henninger when he read it, but what impressed him even more was the caveat that came with it:

The reason I have never forgotten this article is its last sentence, in which Al Gore’s former chief of staff Ron Klain, also of Harvard Law, reflects on the Obama sensation: “The interesting caveat is that is a style of leadership more effective running a law review than running a country.”

In other words, it’s fine skill if you can work a contentious room so that every individual believes you side with him or her but, when the rubber hits the road, you’re going to have to make a decision and offend someone.  As it is, Obama is still trying to placate all parties to a debate, but is ending up simply offending everyone:

President Obama called for overturning a decade-old ban on publicly funded abortions in the District as part of his budget proposal Thursday, but did not overturn the national ban on federal funding, thus angering advocacy groups on both sides of the volatile issue.

Under his proposal, the District for the first time in more than a decade would be allowed to pay for abortions with the money it raises from its own taxpayers.

“This is just the most recent in a long line of actions by President Obama to placate the abortion industry actions that fail to match his words with regard to abortion policy,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women’s group.

Incidentally, Obama’s doing exactly the same thing with immigration — although his semi volte face here is, I suspect, more a matter of pragmatism (shrinking economies and swine flu are not conducive to open borders), then a pathological desire to have everyone hail him as their empathetic saviour.

I guess our only saving grace right now is that, radical as Obama is, his overriding desire to make everyone in the room like him (even when that room is the size of the United States or the world itself), hampers his ability to carry out his more radical policies.

UPDATE“We’d been had” — which is another example of Obama’s duplicity, which is probably tied into his inability to understand that, as an executive, he can no longer please all of the people all of the time.  I really wonder how much longer the MSM can dole out news so that the American people remain unaware of the Obama shell game.

Making you pull the trigger

I’m ambivalent about abortion.  I grew up pro-choice, and have always accepted that, in certain situations, pregnancy is simply too burdensome.  When I was young, I set a very low standard for what constituted “burdensome.”  As I’ve grown older and had children of my own, that standard has become very high.

No matter my views on abortion, though, I’ve never, ever, ever believed that someone opposed to abortion should be forced to perform one.  As the Anchoress explains, though, while I may find abhorent forcing people to commit an act they consider to be murder, the Obama administration has no problem with doing so.  This is what comes from government by narcissists.  If it’s right for them, it’s incumbent upon you.

Abortion, politics and Obama’s agenda

Okay, I admit it.  I’m easy.  Call me “winsome” and write a thoughtful, well-informed, interesting article about the continuing resonance abortion has on the political process — even if it did not serve as the centerpiece of this last political campaign — and of course I’m going to link to the article.  In this case, “the article” is Patrick O’Hannigan’s rumination about the fact that a person’s views about abortion are themselves a litmus test of their morality and about their understanding of the limitations of government and the judiciary.  In other words, abortion is not going to go away in large part becauase it actually helps define the body politic.

Speaking of the judiciary, I had a thought this morning about both abortion and the unfairness doctrine.  As you know, Obama promised that the first thing he would do as president would be to enact laws promoting abortion to an absolute unfettered federal right, something that takes it even beyond the trimister-by-trimester limitations the Roe v. Wade court imposed.   And if you missed it, the FCC, looking forward to an Obama administration, has already made noises about a backdoor approach to the unfairness doctrine — namely, requiring all radio shows to be vetted by local panels, to ensure that the shows meet “community” interests.

With regard to these local reviewing committees, you already know from school books that, if you abandon the marketplace and hand content decisions over to government committees, you first get a voiding of any meaningful content, followed fast and hard by a creeping political correctness.  This, incidentally, occurs not just because liberals take over these committees.  It occurs because your average fairly conservative person on the committee is a nice person and doesn’t want to make waves.  He doesn’t see the Ailinsky incrementalism in front of him. Instead, he just sees a few nice people from his community who make all these heart-rending victim arguments about people’s feelings being hurt by myriad little facts.  Your average committee conservative therefore finds himself making one little concession after another so as not to get into a tussle with those other nice people on the panel.  The result, of course, is that the product under review (whether it’s a book or a radio show), becomes an information vacuum that is slowly and deliberately filled with Ailinsky-directed content.

But I’m digressing.  My point was that Obama, if he’s wily (note that I say wily, which he is, not smart, which I question) is not going to rush into making these changes.  Why not?  Because the Supreme Court is not yet a reliably liberal, activist engine of change.  Justice Kennedy, having taken over O’Connor’s swing position, will probably side with the liberal justices on expanding Roe v. Wade or putting a free speech imprimatur on the unfairness doctrine, but that’s not 100% certain.  He’s a bit of a loose cannon.  The wily Obama will wait to push these issues until he gets a solid majority on the court.  Once it’s a firmly activist court, he can do anything the heck he pleases when it comes to trampling on fundamental constitutional rights such as free speech, the right to bear arms, a true separation of church and state (which also means not making religion second class), etc.

So, my current bet is that, while Obama will do things that have dreadful repercussions, he’ll move slowly on the things that have dreadful constitutional repercussions.  He simply won’t take the risk that the Roberts’ Court will undo his efforts.

Abortion and society

Charles Martel left a very good comment about the way in which the Pill changed, not only women’s approach to sex, but their approach to abortion too:

(I’m going to use an anthropomorphic term here, designed,” only because it makes it easier to discuss how nature works.)

Nature designed the act of sexual intercourse to result in conception and reproduction. For thousands of years human beings knew that, and created structures designed to keep young people from running amok once they became ready to have sex — chaparones, courtship, early marriage. People in those times could not fathom not taking responsibility for a child once it was conceived.

Fast forward to 1960 and the introduction of The Pill. Within 10 years a “contraceptive mindset” becames common once the means to consequence-free sex became available to millions of people. That mindset includes the following assumptions:

—Sex is primarily a recreational, not reproductive, activity.

—Because of contraceptives, recreational sex quickly evolves a new category of behavior: “safe sex.” In safe sex, the only danger that intercourse now presents is “accidental” pregnancy — accidental in the sense that most people engaging in intercourse have no intention of procreating.

—“Safe sex” soon becomes a pseudo-ethical category. It becomes the obligation of each participant in an act of intercourse to make sure that sperm does not meet egg. To fail to do so could derail carefully laid educational or career plans — powerful considerations since society has prolonged adolescence into the mid and late 20s.

An inevitable extension of the “safe sex” mentality is that unborn children now must be “wanted.” That is, the people engaging in intercourse must consciously decide at the outset that they are willing to accept and nurture a pregnancy thyat results from intercourse.

If the pregnancy is not intended, the fetus is an accident that has resulted from unsafe sex. It can, therefore, be moved into a separate category: abortable.

So, the reason why I’m not so gung-ho about teaching children about contraceptives is that their use leads inevitably to the idea that if there’s an “accident,” there’s an emergency exit: abortion.

I’d like to add one other thing to the enormous societal changes that have taken place in the last forty years, making young people more receptive to the notion of abortion, and that is the absence of babies in their lives.

In the old days, people lived within communities that were heterogeneous in terms of ages level.  Whether in a small town or a busy city, you’d live in a community that ran the age gamut, from infants to the elderly.

We don’t live that way anymore.  In so many of today’s communities, people don’t just live in the community and then happen to have babies, as used to be true in the old days.  Instead, people target specific communities when they decide to start a family.

After moving into these family friendly neighborhoods, there are huge numbers of babies for a few years, and then that stops — all the families are done with their child-bearing years.  There are kids, but no babies.

When these kids grow up, they go to college for four or six or eight years, where they hang with young people and never see any babies at all.  If an older sibling gets pregnant and has a child, they probably see the sibling (or his wife) pregnant a few times, and then they see the niece and nephew at holidays, when the child is a pest.

When these young adults finish their college years, they move to urban areas, and live in the hot neighborhoods for singles, neighborhoods that, like their college communities, have no children.  Only after several years of a self-centered lifestyle do these people, now in their thirties, finally decided to take the plunge and have children.

In the search for good schools, these soon-to-be parents replicate the same pattern they lived out themselves as children:  they move into a neighborhood replete with identically situated families, and set up raising their own children into what will be a baby-free world.  And so the cycle goes, one that’s been in play since the first Levittowns appeared in the late 1940s.

Why does this matter?  It matters because, as long as babies are hypothetical, it’s easy to abort them.  It’s only when you have a very close connection to the whole process, from early pregnancy through birth and infancy — and this is true whether it’s your pregnancy, or a family member’s or a friend’s — that you realize that there is a straight line between the fetus and the baby.  You can’t draw a straight line from fetus to baby if you’re utterly unfamiliar with either.

A new direction for American conservatives

It’s time to end the post mortem and get moving, the only problem being that “getting moving” is proving to be as rancorous amongst conservatives as was the political cycle itself.  One of the schisms I’m seeing in my own blog is between pro-Life and pro- (or, at least, not anti-) abortion types.  That got me thinking about a potential way out of that, which was something that Danny Lemieux raised in an email:  libertarianism.

I have to say that, when I was growing up, the term libertarian had exactly the same meaning for me as “completely nuts in a creepy way.”  Ron Paul’s candidacy, which attracted an unseemly number of unpleasant people and ideas, didn’t help the whole concept of libertarianism.  In fact, though, libertarianism is probably about as good an answer as there is, whether your question is “How do we counter Obama’s statism?” or “How do we cause the disparate elements of conservatism to coalesce?”

If you want an excellent primer on core libertarian principles, you can’t do better than Charles Murray’s What It Means to Be a Libertarian.  In this short little book (almost a pamphlet, really), Murray spells out the fundamental libertarian concept, which is that maximum freedom means minimum government — and especially minimum federal government.

Contrary to big-government aficionados, who envision libertarianism as a sort of anarchic situation, akin to a perpetual Lord of the Flies world, Murray does not demand that government vanish.  Instead, as I’ve often said here (inspired, no doubt, by Murray’s book), he envisions government as an entity that doesn’t guarantee prosperity, but that clears the way for individuals to seek that prosperity.  When you think about this concept, you’ll quickly realize that it sounds familiar:  it echoes Jefferson’s formulation of a free society as one in which the government creates the circumstances under which citizens are guaranteed, not happiness, but the right to pursue happiness.

In this libertarian world, government continues to be responsible for national security; domestic safety (which includes police forces, fire fighters, and guidance and protection during epidemic and endemic diseases); transportation infrastructure; and the assurance that no single group is targeted for discrimination in any of the marketplaces that make up a functional country (business, housing, education, etc.).  As to that last, government would be charged with protecting citizens such as women and minorities from discrimination, but it would no longer use its brute force to give them a leg up in the marketplace.

Because the country is so large as to be unwieldy, we can also hand government a few more powers:  it can make and enforce clear, limited rules for the securities market, but it may not control the market;* it can provide a safety net for those temporarily down on their luck; and it can provide resources for people permanently incapable of taking care of themselves (such as the profoundly handicapped).

Once upon a time, I would have said that the government should also provide public school education, but I’m more inclined to say that the (state) government should use tax dollars to provide vouchers to parents who can then enter the marketplace in a search for the education of their choice.  In this marketplace, those vouchers may, in the first few years, be used for some pretty flaky and abhorrent schools.  However, the fact that most parents want their children to succeed in the world would mean that the flaky schools would quickly vanish from the marketplace as their graduates would likely not do well in market competition.  (And before you get upset about the poor guinea pig kids who are unlucky enough to have parents who make bad choices, think about the generations of children who have been condemned to the hell of poorly-performing public schools.)

There’s also an argument to be made for government to get out of the business of education altogether, but I can see that turning into a situation such as existed in the world before public education:  only affluent people got educated.  As a republic, I do believe we owe all of our children the right to a good education.  Since the government is proving increasingly inept at providing that education, however, I just think we should let the marketplace take over.

The libertarianism I envision would also bypass the gay marriage issue which is becoming every more ugly.  (And, really, do you think harassment and intimidation is really the way to win hearts and minds?)  I would get the government out of the “marriage” business entirely and make everything “civil unions.”

Owing to the fact that, up until the American experiment, religious and civil marriage were inextricably intertwined, we’ve ended up with a bastardized system that uses the word marriage, but that is really concerned with extending certain civil benefits to those formalized relationships of which the state approves.  These are relationships that, in gross (even if it is not true for every specific relationship) confer a benefit on the state.  The most obvious benefit, of course, is population stability through children.

In addition to these civil concerns, marriage continues to exist in a parallel world as a purely religious construct.  In Catholicism, for example, its part of core religious doctrine, and is, I understand, one of the seven sacraments.

If we continue to conflate religious marriage and civil unions, I can readily envision a situation in which a gay couple sues the Catholic church for refusing to conduct a marriage ceremony.  Someone I know said this will never happen, because the Catholic church isn’t sued for refusing to give communion to pro-abortion people.  This erroneous argument shows precisely the problem with conflating civil rights and religious doctrine.  While abortion is a right, the church isn’t in the business of giving abortions; and while the church is in the business of giving communion, communion isn’t a right.  However, the church is in the business of presiding over marriages and if you make civil “marriage” a right, even though you’re dealing with two entirely different concepts (a religious sacrament and a civil contract for tax and other benefits), you end up with a sued church.

In my libertarian world, the state would stop using the word marriage altogether and would allow people to register for civil unions.  These civil unions would confer on the participants all the benefits and burdens that the state feels would best encourage such unions.  And the state traditionally encourages these unions (1) because of children (every state needs citizens) and, due to those same children, (2) because of the stability those couples seek to create in order to protect those children both in the present and in the future.  Frankly, the civil unions would look pretty much like modern civil marriages, but we would have gotten the state disentangled from its hangover relationship with religious marriage.  We would also force the state to focus on societal goals in defining civil unions, which should allow us to bypass polygamy, polyamory and bestiality, all of which are tugging on the coat tails of “gay” marriage.

The approach I’ve outlined above also takes the federal government out of the abortion issue.  As a voter, you would not need to investigate a candidate’s stand on the abortion issue.  Instead, a solid conservative/libertarian citizen would simply vote for a candidate who would, in turn, appoint strict constructionist judges.  These judges, if they’re intellectually honest, would say, as should have been said in 1973, that abortion is not a Constitutional right and therefore not a federal matter.

Once abortion is returned to local jurisdictions, citizens will have much more control over the issue, with those who are pro-Choice gravitating to states that allow less fettered abortion and those who are pro-Life gathering in jurisdictions with more fettered abortion.  Time will tell which geographic areas are physically and emotionally healthier, more stable, more productive, more affluent, and generally more agreeable.

I realize that what I’m proposing is somewhat revolutionary, since it envisions dismantling large sectors of the federal government.  And indeed, after several years of unfettered Democratic rule, there will be even more sectors to dismantle.  Nevertheless, it’s a template that can bring the largest number of people into the conservative tent because it’s basic message is clear and attractive:  You need to give just enough money to the government so that it can provide a safe, stable, fair environment that takes care of its weakest members.  After that, all the choices are yours.

___________________________________

*As a lawyer who has had the misfortunate to do some securities work, I can tell you that the plethora of extraordinarily confusing and poorly written regulations (both state and federal) does little to protect the “widows and orphans,” but it does make lawyers rich, all the while keeping businesses from maximizing their profitability.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Obama’s positions — some of which you might not like

At HotAir, you can read this long, detailed and thoughtful post examining Obama’s positions on myriad issues.  As you read the post, think about what I was trying to say yesterday:  figure out what beliefs you hold, and then match them to the candidate.  We’ve been so personality driven this election, that it’s been all too easy to say Obama = smart, dumb, honest, crooked, inspired, drab, inexperienced, etc., or Palin = savvy, idiotic, conservative, wacky, intelligent, inexperienced, experienced, etc.  All these adjectives are easy to throw around, but neither adjective in this war of words (or invective) presents an honest assessment of the beliefs these two lightening rods hold.

As I said before, if your fundamental belief is that government is the answer, Obama, whether he’s smart, dumb, honest, dishonest, or whatever, is your candidate.  (Although you might want to heed Biden’s warning that America will be attacked by a foreign entity and Obama’s response will challenge even the faithful.)

On the other hand, if you think government’s role is to protect Americans’ freedom as much as possible, and to step in only to police deviations from honesty, than the McCain-Palin ticket is your answer, and that’s true regardless of whether you think McCain is old, experienced, too aggressive, not aggressive enough, or whatever.  Incidentally, I’d add to this that you’re a McCain-Palin kind of voter if you don’t like OPEC manipulating world oil prices to our detriment and pouring the profits into funding radical Islam around the world.

Anyway, ignore the personalities and the invective.  Look at your beliefs, align them with the candidates’ records (not their rhetoric), and vote accordingly.

One other reminder:  For those who are pro-Choice, but are in all other respects aligned with the McCain-Palin ticket, please don’t let that stop you from voting for them.  The worst that will happen is what should have happened all along, before the dishonest Roe v. Wade opinion (and even abortion proponents concede its dishonesty):  The issue will be recognized as one that is not a proper matter for federal involvement and will be returned to the States.

In blue states, it will remain entirely legal.  In purple states, it will remain entirely or mostly legal.  In the handful of true, blue red states, it might, might be narrowed, although it will always be available in cases of rape, incest or risk to the mother.

I know this is an important issue for conservative pro-Choicers, but don’t let it narrow your frame of reference so much that it blinds you to all the other important issues, many of which will have more and greater impact on the greatest number of Americans than abortion ever will.

The Democratic death cult

You all know that I’m not a committed pro-Lifer.  I grew up in a Roe v. Wade world, and have always believed that there are circumstances in which abortion should be available.  As I have explained in an earlier post, as I’ve grown my conservative, I’ve probably come to hew more closely to the traditional Jewish approach to abortion, which tries to balance the mother’s life against the baby’s.

Despite being moderately pro-Choice, I’ve come to be more and more disgusted by the twisted passion that drives the pro-Choice Democrats.  I’ve noted in past posts that I think their arguments are profoundly dishonest to begin with, because they’re pretending that we haven’t experienced a 35 year change in pop culture since Roe v. Wade.

In the pre-Roe v. Wade and Pill world, women who yielded to their natural physical urges suffered terribly.  The man had his fun; the woman got pregnant.  And unless he married her, she and the child suffered the truly horrible stigma of illegitimacy.  They were outcasts.

Nowadays, however, birth control is available at every supermarket.  Nature is powerful, of course, and accidental pregnancies still occur, but they can and should be very rare.

And if a woman gets pregnant, then what?  There’s no doubt that babies are a burden.  They suck away your time and energy, and if you’re trying to get an education or move up on the career track, they’re going to slow you down — a situation that, courtesy of Nature, is a burden the woman, not the man, ends up bearing. The thing is, though, that one has to ask oneself if, in a moral world, a slow-down to your own ambitions is a reason to kill a baby?

The one thing that is certain is that the modern woman isn’t going to become a pariah if she gets pregnant.  After all, half of Hollywood’s babies are illegitimate, and they and their parents are wildly celebrated.  We also know that in the culture of young black girls (and, increasingly, young white girls), teen pregnancy is seen as an acceptable state.  Indeed, in certain circles, it establishes that the young woman is mature and sexually desirable.

I don’t have answers, those are just observations that establish that we live in a very different world from the pre-Roe v. Wade world.  For Democrats to pretend we don’t taints the debate.

And a tainted debate makes for tainted people.  The point of these ruminations is to bring your attention to a story that Danny Lemiuex emailed to me.  Bob Parks highlights a statement and offer from Doug Stanhope, a man who has bought into the abortion argument hook, line and sinker:

Janeane Garofalo can say Republicans are mean people, but the hate that continues to ooze from the liberal left continues to amaze.

Never in history has a woman been under more pressure to keep an unwanted pregnancy than Bristol Palin. She is the teenage daughter of Alaska Governor & Vice-Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin – a conservative, Creationist Christian power-vampire and pro-life huckster who has put Bristol and her un-welcomed fetus at the center of a politico-religious crusade to stop her exercising her constitutional right to terminate the pregnancy.

I, Doug Stanhope, am offering you, Bristol Palin, the sum of 25,000 dollars so that you can abort your child and move out of that draconian home. I have also set up a PayPal link so that others around the world can help increase this amount to ease the burden of starting out on your own at such an early age.

Mr. Stanhope goes on to brag about the fact he “accidentally” knocked up a girl and took care of the problem. But putting a bounty on the head of an unborn child isn’t enough for Dougy.

He wants to kill babies in Sarah Palin’s name.

Even if you cannot take my offer, I will still use my money or money donated through this page to pay for at least one abortion for a disadvantaged teenage girl each year for the rest of my life in the name of your mother. And in my will, I shall have a good portion of my estate turned into the Sarah J Palin Abortion Fund that will help girls from all walks of life from destroying their lives and our natural resources by having children.

Wild-eyed pronouncements such as those Stanhope makes don’t sound as if they’re interested in improving prospects for young women.  Instead, Stanhope sounds as if he’s planning on setting up a quality brothel for all men who want no strings (and no birth control) sex.  The small price to pay is a pile of dead babies.  This is not an enticing argument for people who recognize the deep moral issues attached to abortion.  All thoughtful souls, even those who fall in the mushy middle, should be repulsed by this outspoken commitment to death at the expense of life.

The flaw in the argument

James Taranto puts his finger on something that’s been bugging me about the malevolent attacks leveled against Sarah Palin for choosing to have, rather than to abort, Trig.  After citing to three such attacks, he has this to say:

This is worse than tasteless or even unhinged. It is depraved. It represents an inversion of any reasonable conception of right and wrong, including liberal conceptions.

Fowler uses Palin’s motherhood to disparage her accomplishments, an obvious betrayal of the principle of women’s equality. And although proponents of permissive abortion laws nearly always claim to support not abortion but “a woman’s right to choose,” here we have three of them rebuking Palin for choosing not to abort her baby.

He has other excellent arguments attacking these varous points these liberal luminaries make, but this is the one that strikes me most strongly, because I’ve been aware of the huge flaw in their reasoning, but unable to articulate the problem.  Taranto, thankfully, did it for me.

Examining the unborn

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

Expectant mother, fetus shot dead in Oakland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barack Obama — baby killer *UPDATED*

I’ve long retained a vague memory that the Jewish approach to abortion is remarkably close to the view I’ve developed over the years.  This is purely coincidental, because I’m not a religious Jew.  I’d like to quote at some length from an excellent article on the subject, before I swing into attack mode regarding Barack Obama (footnotes omitted, emphasis added):

To gain a clear understanding of when abortion is permitted (or even required) and when it is forbidden requires an appreciation of certain nuances of halacha (Jewish law) which govern the status of the fetus.

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

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

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

Trust the rabbis to come up with a humane balance between the interests of the mother and the child.  Because my self-developed view so closely harmonizes with the rabbinical view, you can appreciate why I do not believe that Obama, during the 2002 live abortion debate in Illinois staked out a pro-Choice position.  Instead, I think he staked out a murderer’s position.  You see, I agree with the rabbis — once that child emerges alive, it’s alive.  End of story.

With that in mind, please consider Obama’s testimony during the April 2002 Born-Alive proceedings, during which he made it very clear that he thought it would “inconvenience” both doctor and mother if they actually had to be troubled with the burden of ensuring that a living being received humane treatment (all emphasis mine):

OBAMA: Yeah. Just along the same lines. Obviously, this is an issue that we’ve debated extensively both in committee an on the floor so I — you know, I don’t want to belabor it. But I did want to point out, as I understood it, during the course of the discussion in committee, one of the things that we were concerned about, or at least I expressed some concern about, was what impact this would have with respect to the relationship between the doctor and the patient and what liabilities the doctor might have in this situation. So, can you just describe for me, under this legislation, what’s going to be required for a doctor to meet the requirements you’ve set forth?

SENATOR O’MALLEY: First of all, there is established, under this legislation, that a child born under such circumstances would receive all reasonable measures consistent with good medical practice, and that’s as defined, of course, by the … practice of medicine in the community where this would occur. It also requires, in two instances, that … an attending physician be brought in to assist and advise with respect to the issue of viability and, in particular, where … there’s a suspicion on behalf of the physician that the child … may be [viable,] … the attending physician would make that determination as to whether that would be the case…. The other one is where the child is actually born alive … in which case, then, the physician would call as soon as practically possible for a second physician to come in and determine the viability.

SENATOR OBAMA: So — and again, I’m — I’m not going to prolong this, but I just want to be clear because I think this was the source of the objections of the Medical Society. As I understand it, this puts the burden on the attending physician who has determined, since they were performing this procedure, that, in fact, this is a nonviable fetus; that if that fetus, or child — however way you want to describe it — is now outside the mother’s womb and the doctor continues to think that it’s nonviable but there’s, let’s say, movement or some indication that, in fact, they’re not just coming out limp and dead, that, in fact, they would then have to call a second physician to monitor and check off and make sure that this is not a live child that could be saved. Is that correct?

SENATOR O’MALLEY: In the first instance, obviously the physician that is performing the procedure would make the determination. The second situation is where the child actually is born and is alive, and then there’s an assessment — an independent assessment of viability by … another physician at the soonest practical … time.

SENATOR OBAMA: Let me just go to the bill, very quickly. Essentially, I think as — as this emerged during debate and during committee, the only plausible rationale, to my mind, for this legislation would be if you had a suspicion that a doctor, the attending physician, who has made an assessment that this is a nonviable fetus and that, let’s say for the purpose of the mother’s health, is being — that — that — labor is being induced, that that physician (a) is going to make the wrong assessment and (b) if the physician discovered, after the labor had been induced, that, in fact, he made an error, or she made an error, and, in fact, that this was not a nonviable fetus but, in fact, a live child, that that physician, of his own accord or her own accord, would not try to exercise the sort of medical measures and practices that would be involved in saving that child.

Now, it — if you think there are possibilities that doctors would not do that, then maybe this bill makes sense, but I — I suspect and my impression is, is that the Medical Society suspects as well that doctors feel that they would be under that obligation, that they would already be making these determinations and that, essentially, adding a — an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion. Now, if that’s the case — and — and I know that some of us feel very strongly one way or another on that issue — that’s fine, but I think it’s important to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live births. Because if these are children who are being born alive, I, at least, have confidence that a doctor who is in that room is going to make sure that they’re looked after.

Did you get all that?  “Fetus, or child — however way you want to describe it.”  “They’re not just coming out limp and dead.”  “Adding a — an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician.”  Those all speak to the man’s ugly mind.

In addition to being an ugly mind, it’s also a dishonest one:  “It’s important to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live births.”  In fact, the whole point of the bill was about live births. The legislative scenario was that the legal abortion had ended — badly — and the live birth had begun.  This is not a man who is committed to life or hope.  This is a man deeply committed to political ideology, come Hell, high water, or murder.

By the way, Andrew McCarthy has written another dead-on article about Obama’s whole role in this affair (that’s where I found the above transcript material), which you can read here.

One other thing:  Is it just me, or is The One extremely incoherent?  Those who know me personally know that I speak in fully rounded paragraphs.  There’s not too much difference between my written and spoken word.  Obama, however, reminds me of my worst college professors, with his garbled, inarticulate, illogical, disordered phrasing.  Let me repeat one, just one, of his sentences, and you tell me if these are the words of an orator or an idiot:

Essentially, I think as — as this emerged during debate and during committee, the only plausible rationale, to my mind, for this legislation would be if you had a suspicion that a doctor, the attending physician, who has made an assessment that this is a nonviable fetus and that, let’s say for the purpose of the mother’s health, is being — that — that — labor is being induced, that that physician (a) is going to make the wrong assessment and (b) if the physician discovered, after the labor had been induced, that, in fact, he made an error, or she made an error, and, in fact, that this was not a nonviable fetus but, in fact, a live child, that that physician, of his own accord or her own accord, would not try to exercise the sort of medical measures and practices that would be involved in saving that child.

You need a computer by your side to parse that gibberish.

UPDATEKathleen Parker offers a good summary of the hugely complicated process the Born Alive bill proved to be in Illinois.  Some advance that complicated, delicate history as a defense of Obama’s position — he was just trying to get it right.  His statements above, though, indicate that, while he may then have been — and may now be — trying to hide behind the notion of “getting it right,” his actual concerns transcended ordinary humanity and common decency.

Barack Obama: Neo-Spartan

If there’s one thing every person who’s ever heard of the Spartan’s remembers about them, it’s their heavy reliance on infanticide:

When a Spartan baby was born, soldiers came to the house and examined it carefully to determine its strength.The baby was bathed in wine rather than water, to see its reaction. If a baby was weak, the Spartans exposed it on the hillside or took it away to become a slave (helot). Infanticide was common in ancient cultures, but the Spartans were particularly picky about their children. It was not just a matter of the family, the city-state decided the fate of the child.

What’s emerging is that Barack Obama — this “new” kind of politician — would have been completely at home with this ancient practice:

I have just a couple of comments.  As I always say, I am not a hardcore pro-Life person.  I can envision situations in which abortion is acceptable.  My position on abortion, however, is completely irrelevant, since what Stanek describes is not abortionit’s murder.  This is the death of a living being that is no longer connected to the woman. As Stanek said, even NARAL didn’t pretend to defend this practice.

The other thing you need to keep in mind as you think about Obama’s resolute defense of a barbaric practice that was even seen as anomalous in the ancient world (since most of the cultures surrounding Sparta were revolted by its habitual infanticide) is that Obama already had children when he voted against the Act.  That is, he didn’t have the defense that infants were abstractions to him.  I know that my views about abortion changed fairly drastically when a fetus morphed from being a political abstraction into being the little lives carried in my own body that emerged to become my children.  Obama seems to believe that his live-birth children deserve love and care, but that other, defective children don’t — again bringing him in line with Sparta.

Obama isn’t a new kind of politician.  His kind of politics has its roots thousands of years ago, and is as distasteful now as it was then.

Hat tip:  American Thinker

When does women’s wrestling begin?

From a Jonah Goldberg column (a very good one incidentally) about Obama’s approach to the Saddleback questions:

At Saddleback, Obama offered the ritualistic support for Roe v. Wade expected of all Democratic politicians, “not because I’m pro-abortion,” but because women “wrestle with these things in profound ways.”

That rather typically obvious Obama statement got me thinking.

As long time readers know, I am not whole-heartedly pro-Life.  I do believe that there are circumstances in which abortion should be allowed.  As I grow older, though, what I find repugnant is what pro-Lifers have long called “the culture of abortion.”  I never understood that when I was young, when I didn’t have children, and when I hadn’t started seriously examining many of the precepts that underlie the political thinking on the Left.

For all the Clinton’s lip service about keeping abortion “safe, legal and rare” (an idea the Democrats have dropped this year), the fact is that the popular liberal culture does not aim to keep abortion “safe, legal and rare.”  Instead, as Kathryn Jean Lopez demonstrated in a post about Planned Parenthood’s approach to sex, the message may be birth control, but the meta message is have sex all the time, whenever you want it.  And as even the most diehard Planned Parenthood person will acknowledge, once you actually engage in sex, there is no such thing as perfect birth control.  Pregnancies will happen.

This cultural approach to sex — have it whenever you want, however you want, but try to be careful — means that a certain number of women will inevitably have to wrestle in a profound way with the big decision of whether to have an abortion.  What Obama misses, though, is that women should be doing their profound wrestling much earlier.

In a culture that is not abortion friendly (and one can imagine such a culture even if abortion is legal and safe in certain circumstances), women won’t wait until they’re pregnant before they start asking the big questions.  Instead, the profound wrestling (and women always have to do the profound wrestling because they’re the ones who get pregnant) will take place back at the beginning of the relationship:  Should I go to bed with a guy I’ve known only a half hour?  Should I believe him when he says he’s had a vasectomy?  Having known him only a week, do I have enough knowledge about the guy to envision him as the father of my child?  Do I love this man?  Is this a guy who bounces from woman to woman to woman?  Do I really want to sleep with all these men who are, essentially, strangers?

I’m not advocating a return to a culture that forbids premarital sex.  Frankly, I don’t know whether we can put that genii back in the bottle, short of some draconian sharia-like laws that include stonings and beheadings.  However, is it asking too much to have a popular culture that sees sex as something you do with someone you can imagine sharing with you the burden of parenthood?  And if you, a woman, can’t even conceive of your potential sex partner in that role (possibly because you’ve known him only a few minutes), shouldn’t you be making different decisions about whether to have sex with him?

Yes, Obama is right that women wrestle.  What’s wrong, though, his is unthinking belief that you start wrestling only after everyone has already had his or her fun.

A new example of Obama’s weird inversions

In the last couple of major posts I’ve done about Obama, I’ve tried to focus on the fact that Obama lives in a weirdly inverse world, where he tries desperately to hide what he really is, which is someone who believes that traditional values are evil. This same bizarre inversion, where Obama takes ordinary values and stands them on their heads, all the while trying to present himself as just a friendly guy, as opposed to the far Leftist weirdo behind the curtain, popped up again in yesterday’s debate.

The trigger for Obama’s exposure of his true self was the fact that George Stephanopoolus asked him about his association with William Ayers. In case that name doesn’t ring a bell, let me give you a little refresher. William Ayers was a home-grown, extremely brutal, American terrorist. Here’s Andrew McCarthy’s pithy rundown of Ayers’ history:

The mainstream media, in their zeal to elect a Democrat, are assiduously airbrushing Ayers: “an aging lefty with a foolish past,” as the Chicago Sun-Times has so delicately put it. In fact, it is the press that is rife with foolish, aging lefties. Ayers, by contrast, is an unapologetic terrorist with a savage past — one who beat the system he so reviles when, after his years of fugitivity, terrorism charges were dropped due to government surveillance violations. He’s “guilty as sin,” by his own concession, but “free as a bird.”

Ayers didn’t just carry a sign outside the Pentagon on May 19, 1972. He bombed it. As his memoir gleefully recalled, “Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.”

Whether Pentagon bombing day was more or less ideal than other days, when he, Dohrn and their Weathermen comrades bombed the U.S. Capitol, the State Department, and sundry banks, police stations and courthouses, Ayers does not say. But on each occasion, there was surely optimism that the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.

There were lots of bombs. There is no remorse. “I don’t regret setting bombs,” he told the New York Times in 2001, sorry only that he and the others “didn’t do enough.” Like what? We can’t be sure, though National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg recounts Ayers’s sentiments back in the day: “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at.”

Ayers and Dohrn have done the actual dirty work of terror, while Jeremiah Wright draws the line at waving pom-poms. But the prism through which they assay the dirty work is precisely the same: America has it coming.

For them, that makes all the difference. It’s not terror, just chickens coming home to roost. “Terrorists destroy randomly,” Ayers rationalizes with nauseating arrogance, “while our actions bore … the precise stamp of a cut diamond. Terrorists intimidate, while we aimed only to educate.” Right.

Stephanopoulos obviously didn’t go into that whole history in his question to Obama, but he did provide enough verbs and nouns for anyone, even someone unfamiliar with Ayers’ history to understand that the man’s goal was to kill Americans. Obama’s answer is telling. Here’s the whole colloquy:

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, if you get the nomination, you’ll have to — (applause) — (inaudible).

I want to give Senator Clinton a chance to respond, but first a follow-up on this issue, the general theme of patriotism in your relationships. A gentleman named William Ayers, he was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that. And in fact, on 9/11 he was quoted in The New York Times saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough.”

An early organizing meeting for your state senate campaign was held at his house, and your campaign has said you are friendly. Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won’t be a problem?

SEN. OBAMA: George, but this is an example of what I’m talking about.

This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.

And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense, George.

The fact is, is that I’m also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.

Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn’s statements? Because I certainly don’t agree with those either.

So this kind of game, in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, is somehow — somehow their ideas could be attributed to me — I think the American people are smarter than that. They’re not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn’t.

Did you follow that carefully? Obama said that it’s okay for him to be friends with people whose views differ from his. So far so good, although one might wish that a future president would choose his friends a bit more carefully. (Of course, with Jimmy Carter providing the role model for liberal presidents, perhaps he can be excused for not knowing better or trying harder.)

But what Obama also said is that, to the extent anyone’s views differ from his, those differing views have no moral weight whatsoever — they’re just, well, different. That’s why he could liken his friendship to a terrorist and attempted murderer to his friendship with someone who tries to stop the abortion of unborn children. Now, you may disagree with the Right to Life movement, but only someone who lives in a moral vacuum could imply that someone who is pro-choice pro-Life, who is trying to save lives, is on precisely the same moral plane as someone who tries to murder people, thereby making it appropriate to call either one your friend.

Obama is a piece of work. I truly hope that the masses of American people, the ones who don’t watch politics with a close eye before October, start to wise up to the fact that this is a man without any moral compass other than his own ego and ambition.

More reasons to worry about marijuana

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the societal problems fully legalized marijuana has brought to Holland. Those facts ran counter to the “marijuana is harmless compared to hard drugs” line of reasoning that has been used to justify legalizing marijuana. It now looks as if the “marijuana is less harmful than cigarettes” argument may also be a fallacy:

Smoking a joint is equivalent to 20 cigarettes in terms of lung cancer risk, scientists in New Zealand have found, as they warned of an “epidemic” of lung cancers linked to cannabis.

Studies in the past have demonstrated that cannabis can cause cancer, but few have established a strong link between cannabis use and the actual incidence of lung cancer.

In an article published in the European Respiratory Journal, the scientists said cannabis could be expected to harm the airways more than tobacco as its smoke contained twice the level of carcinogens, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, compared with tobacco cigarettes.

The method of smoking also increases the risk, since joints are typically smoked without a proper filter and almost to the very tip, which increases the amount of smoke inhaled. The cannabis smoker inhales more deeply and for longer, facilitating the deposition of carcinogens in the airways.

“Cannabis smokers end up with five times more carbon monoxide in their bloodstream (than tobacco smokers),” team leader Richard Beasley, at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, said in a telephone interview.

“There are higher concentrations of carcinogens in cannabis smoke … what is intriguing to us is there is so little work done on cannabis when there is so much done on tobacco.”

The researchers interviewed 79 lung cancer patients and sought to identify the main risk factors for the disease, such as smoking, family history and occupation. The patients were questioned about alcohol and cannabis consumption.

In this high-exposure group, lung cancer risk rose by 5.7 times for patients who smoked more than a joint a day for 10 years, or two joints a day for 5 years, after adjusting for other variables, including cigarette smoking.

“While our study covers a relatively small group, it shows clearly that long-term cannabis smoking increases lung cancer risk,” wrote Beaseley.

I’m not using this post to advocate that we keep marijuana classified as an illegal drug.  Indeed, I think it ought to be legalized, since I would place it with alcohol and cigarettes as another socially accepted low-level, mind-altering substance.  However, I do believe that, before we do anything, we have an obligation to examine what marijuana really is, what it does to people who use it, and what it does to the societies in which it is used.  Only in that way can we have (a) an informed citizenry when it comes to its use and (b) reasonable laws to protect the larger society from any fallout associated with the drug.

In this regard, my stance is exactly the same as it is with regard to abortion.  In previous posts, I’ve castigated the abortion rights crowd for arguing the issue as if we’re still locked in the pre-1973 era.  Abortion can be approached honestly and intelligently only if we look at the way things are now, which includes a relaxation in attitudes towards out-of-wedlock (including teen) pregnancies, and increased knowledge about fetal viability and (through sonograms) the essential humanity of a fetus — none of which were issues back in the late 1960s through 1973, when Roe was decided.  It’s telling when advocacy groups feel that they can advance their agenda only from hiding the truth, not advancing it.