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Jan 04

Should States Decide Which Lives are Worth More than Others? A response to Jaime King’s Article In Nature Magazine

In the November 2012 issue of Nature professor Jaime S. King has an article titled “Politics and fetal diagnostics collide.”  The summary:  “Without better regulation, non-invasive prenatal genetic tests will be targeted by US anti-abortion lobbyists.”

For the record, I have notified Professor King of this post.  UPDATE:  She has replied and says she will write a response.  I have also found an online copy of the article that won’t cost you $32 to download.

Clearly, King and I will be world’s apart on the issue of abortion.  It follows that there is much that I find in her article objectionable and could not possibly respond to every item.   It is unclear, however, what precisely she means by ‘better regulation’ that would not be targeted by ‘anti-abortion lobbyists.’  I suppose on this she means people like me.  If genetic testing was not merely a preliminary stage of the abortion process as it seems to so often be, then it would not be a target.  That doesn’t seem to be in view in her article, but I don’t see otherwise how ‘better regulation’ would have the effect she is hoping for, since she frames the whole issue as having to do with ‘women’s reproductive autonomy.’

She makes this comment:  “As the use of NIPT becomes more widespread, pro-life advocates will almost certainly see the technology as a reason to further constrain women’s abortion rights.”

This is a tired argument that is all the worse for being simplistic.  Let us take just a couple of examples, here.  The editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Julian Savulescu has gone even further than King’s article, which highlighted selective abortions on the basis of gender and disability.  He believes we should select based on things such as “potential alcoholism, psychopathy and dispositions to violence” and “If it were possible to genetically select good impulse control, we should do so.”  Indeed:

…you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children. They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others. That doesn’t necessarily imply that people should be coerced into making a choice, but we should encourage them.

I ask you:  how exactly does ‘encouraging’ people to screen out children who are girls (most gender selective abortions are of girls;  oh the irony), have disabilities, potential alcoholism, psychopathy, and dispositions of violence comport with a ‘woman’s reproductive autonomy’?  The devil is in the details.  While Savulescu is hanging his hat on the allegedly uncoerced, encouraged ‘voluntary’ approach, ‘bioethicist’ Jacob Appel shows a little more consistency, arguing that in fact the state should require that certain traits be screened out, and moreover, that the question of whether or not children born with a disability should be euthanized should be decided by the state and doctors, not parents, because parents can’t be expected to be objective in regards to the “suffering for children.”

I ask again, where is the autonomy?

Perhaps two more examples will do;  John Holdren, the current ‘science czar’ in the Obama administration once joined with Paul Ehrlich  in saying,

Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.

This was shortly after Planned Parenthood itself, that bastion of “women’s autonomy” sat down to work out some ideas for handling the ‘population crisis’ listed “compulsory abortion” as one of several other ideas that I doubt Professor King would consider consistent with a “woman’s autonomy.”

We will do well to remember that it was the staunch eugenicist SC Reed, one of the earliest promoters of genetic counseling (and a board member of Planned Parenthood in the 40s and 50s), who said in an essay called “The Local Eugenics Society” “Our present day use of the term ‘human genetics’ instead of ‘eugenics’ may be financially and politically expedient but there is no great philosophical distinction between them.”  Reed would eventually lead the way in Minnesota for newborn screening and other genetic counseling programs… which, I wonder, does Professor King realize that early eugenicsts believed were actually eugenics?  (See also Frederick Osborn and past president of the American Society of Human Genetics, Lee R. Dice.  Incidentally, both Reed and Dice were presidents of this organization, a current advocate for genetic counseling… which, you may believe if you like has nothing to do with eugenic coercion.)

To put this point more plainly, eugenicists past and present, as well as abortion advocates past and present, have not been afraid to dispense with a ‘woman’s autonomy’ or override a woman’s ‘reproductive rights.’  It is not hard to see why;  if you really believe that we ought to screen out genetic flaws and ease human suffering, then whatever Savulescu (for example) might say, Appel and the rest are right in saying that this issue cannot be left to individuals.  The dispassionate state must intervene;  and think of the money that will be saved by not bringing a disabled child into the world.  (Don’t laugh–this was the exact argument used by Reed and his fellow eugenicists for why the state of Minnesota should be engaged in genetic counseling and newborn screening.)

If Professor King were really worried about a woman’s ‘autonomy’ and ‘reproductive rights’, she would do well to broaden the scope of her concerns beyond ‘anti-abortion lobbyists’ and include those who support abortion but for entirely different reasons.  I am reminded of an article by Diane Francis in 2009 where she argued that “A planetary law, such as China’s one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently.”  And if that doesn’t fly in the face of ‘autonomy’ and ‘reproductive rights’ I don’t know what does;  compulsory abortion and sterilization “is the only way” to implement such a policy, as China has demonstrated.

I don’t know whether or not Professor King shares such views.  For all I know, she does.  I hope, obviously, she doesn’t.  But it is really besides the point:  the idea that that it is the pro-lifers who have it out for a woman’s reproductive rights is absurd.  Pro-lifers are not animated by that at all, except insofar as they chafe at the idea of government bureaucrats penalizing childbearing.  For a pro-lifer, the idea of ‘reproductive rights’ is something that they support… they just don’t believe that the sum total of the concept is represented in the right to kill the human growing in a woman’s womb.  In the meantime, the real dangers of autonomy and ‘reproductive rights’ are gathering from the left, not the right.

But the section that really had me grinding my teeth was this one:

Ideally, no fetus would ever be aborted because of its sex or skin colour. […] But forcing women to have children they do not want will not end prejudice.  Instead, it will create a slew of problems.  Greater restrictions on abortion may result in more suffering for children.  Bills restricting terminations sought for particular reasons will drive a wedge between patients and providers.  They will encourage women to withhold information or lie, and they will punish providers serving clients who tell them the truth.  Moreover, by dictating which fetuses can legally be aborted, states are entering the dangerous territory of valuing some lives more than others.

Let’s take this one piece by piece.

Ideally, no fetus would ever be aborted because of its sex or skin colour.

Ah, the fetus.  Not a baby.  We must make this point clear, because of course if we’re only talking about a fetus, then we must ask Professor King why it should not be ‘ideal’ to eliminated it based on its sex or skin color, or any other reason.  It is just a fetus, after all.  But by issuing the caveat that it is not ‘ideal’ my opinion is that Professor King is tacitly admitting that it isn’t ‘just a fetus.’

The lie we tell ourselves is that a fetus is an inoffensive, neutral, scientific term merely reflecting one stage of human development, but of course in real life we all know that the only difference between a fetus and a baby is that the former may not be wanted while that latter is.  By the waving of a magical rhetorical wand, that ‘thing’ in the womb magically becomes something else, merely by virtue of some other person’s perception of it.  Not very neutral and scientific if you ask me.

But forcing women to have children they do not want will not end prejudice.  Instead, it will create a slew of problems.

One of the observations I have made about what I call the ‘culture of death’ is that it is distinguishable in part by the fact that it views death as a solution of problems.   I note, for example, that having children one does want creates a slew of problems;  how to feed them, where to house them, where to school them, how to pay for their health care as they age, and finally where to bury them.  This is in fact the whole point of those believe that ‘family planning’ is a solution to ‘over-population.’   All of life entails a ‘slew of problems.’  Choosing not to steal a million dollars from the bank creates a ‘slew of problems.’  Of course, stealing from the bank also creates a ‘slew of problems.’  Obviously, the morality and rightness of a particular deed is not bound up very tightly with whether or not it will ’cause problems.’    Some would even go so far as to say the one has nothing to do with the other.

Will forcing women to have children they don’t want create a slew of problems?  Probably, but that is no reason to shy away from doing the right thing.  There are many alternatives to simply making the new human being DEAD.  There are hundreds of thousands of people ready to adopt those children, for example.  I am prepared to adopt your unwanted child… there.  Your ‘problem’ is over.  My email is director@athanatosministries.org.  I’m pretty sure we can find a way to address the problems of unwanted people in this world in much the same way we address the problems that arise from the presence of wanted people in this world–that is, besides killing them.

Greater restrictions on abortion may result in more suffering for children.

Is the key word in this sentence, ‘may’?  Even so, let us concede this for a moment.  Conceding it, what difference does it make?  The aforementioned Jacob Appel supports the Groningen Protocol with one minor tweak:  letting the doctors decide whether or not the already born child will suffer.  Appel nobly has the “neonate’s” interest in mind, but Francisco Minerva and Alberto Giubilini have gone further in an article published in Savulescu’s journal.  The article is titled “After Birth Abortion:  why should the baby live?”

They explicitly address this issue but from another angle I’d like to call attention to:  not being aborted may not result in “more suffering for children.”  Before I get accused of being the Master of the Obvious, let me observe that Minverva and Giubilini say that even if they do not suffer, even if they have already been born, they can still be killed.  (At that point, I suppose, the ‘baby’ becomes a ‘neonate’, so no harm done.)

Although it is reasonable to predict that living with a very severe condition is against the best interest of the newborn, it is hard to find definitive arguments to the effect that life with certain pathologies is not worth living, even when those pathologies would constitute acceptable reasons for abortion.  It might even be maintained that ‘even allowing for the more optimistic assessments of the potential of Down’s syndrome children, this potential cannot be said to be equal to that of a normal child’.  But, in fact, people with Down’s syndrome, as well as people affected by many other severe disabilities, are often reported to be happy.

Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.  On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has a potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion.  Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.  [bold mine, italics theirs]

So there you have it;  just as it did not matter what gender or skin color the ‘fetus’ has as to whether or not it can be aborted, neither do we find it matters if they ‘may suffer’ or not.  The putative suffering is irrelevant in the cause of autonomy… but is it really autonomy?  i observe that these two scholars are not content to restrict their concern to the suffering or non-suffering of the child, nor limit it to the burden on the family, but also “society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”

Now, what happens if the family does not think the child is an ‘unbearable burden’ but society does?  I mean, if the state is economically providing for the care of the child–and we aren’t talking about an unborn child here, we’re talking about one already born, now–shouldn’t it have some say in whether or not it should continue to live, regardless of whether or not the child is happy?

It is not hard to see how such arguments necessarily progress in proportion to the courage of the scholar to extend them to their logical conclusion.    Giubilini and Minerva were very courageous, Appel respectably courageous, and Savulescu moderately–depending on what he meant by ‘encouraged.’  In the meantime, Obama’s chief science advisor, John Holdren, is ready with an interpretation of the Constitution to that will justify compulsory abortion.  And if compulsory abortion can be so justified, certainly compulsory after-birth abortion can be justified, no?

I note in passing Giubilini and Minerva’s usage of the phrase “life […] not worth living.”

You know, I think I know where they got this idea/phrase from:  Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche.  They actually wrote a book about it, basically citing all of the above arguments, up to and including the possibility that someone may suffer, the right of parents/spouses/children-of-decrepit-old-people to end such a life, noting in particular the special interest of “society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”  It was called “Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life” and it provided the guiding principles and ethical cover for what was to become the German T4 program, which saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands of disabled children, adults, etc, for their own good, and the good of the state.***

In point of fact, as someone who is the parent of a child with a disability who once sat across from a genetic counselor, let me assure you that such lives very much are worth living, and our daughter is absolutely “equal to that of a normal child,” and not merely because we wanted her, or ‘chose’ not to abort her.  Indeed, I find the whole notion despicable and beneath contempt.  She is not leading a life of suffering, but as it happens, even if she were, she would still have a life worth living, and suffering can be managed–all the more so as technology continues to advance.

I don’t usually reference my daughter on this blog, but since Professor King will not otherwise know about this personal dimension, I felt like I ought to say something about it.  Here is a video of my precious daughter who may or may not be among those who suffer–you decide… if it actually matters in this debate at all… and I’m inclined to think it doesn’t at all.

That is my ‘family’s unbearable burden’:  Joy unleashed on any and all my daughter meets.  This is a girl that arguably fits the criteria for a ‘child that may suffer’ more than most, but I defy any insinuation that aborting her was the ‘solution.’  I reject Professor King’s implication that she is the one with the compassionate view, as though the rest of us are indifferent to potential and actual suffering.

Giubilini and Minerva are quite right:  many children with disabilities are happy, do bring their families great joy,and  do not lead a ‘life unworthy of life.’  Mine is one of them.  Professor King may be right:  not aborting such a child “may result in more suffering for children” but it may not.  Having any child at all may result in more suffering.   At any moment, my own life might descend into suffering–eg, if I get hit by a car and find myself paralyzed.  In anticipation of this possibility, should I commit suicide?  Absurd.  The notion that there may be suffering is any kind of consideration is completely irrelevant to the issue.  Don’t take my word for it;  the experts who wrote the “After-Birth Abortion” article, who see it just so.

(True story: Peter Singer recently argued on the issue of whether or not we ‘may’ suffer by pointing out that indeed we know for a fact that we all will suffer, and so will all future children:  for this reason the whole human race should be sterilized, sparing them all lives of suffering!  This whole line of argument has no non-arbitrary cutoff point.  It only boils down to what degree someone is willing to extend the principles and act on them.)

Bills restricting […]  tell them the truth.

I would like to address this one but as this is getting quite long, will have to let it go for now.

Moreover, by dictating which fetuses can legally be aborted, states are entering the dangerous territory of valuing some lives more than others.

I was left scratching my head on this one.  Do I understand correctly that Professor King is suggesting that, in order to value some lives more than others, we value all of them, equally, as having no value?

This is better than valuing some more than others?  It is better to regard all fetuses as having no value than ‘entering the dangerous territory of valuing some lives more than others’?  Putting no value on lives at all is far more dangerous territory.

The whole justification for abortion on demand is premised upon the notion that the ‘fetus’ only has value insofar as a woman (un-encouraged and completely autonomously) wants the child, so it necessarily follows that it does not have intrinsic value.  If it did have intrinsic value, we would not allow women to kill the ‘fetus’ except possibly in view of the most dire of circumstances.  So the whole system requires us to assume that the fetus is a cypher as far as ‘value’ goes, taking ‘content’ only if a woman decides to provide it.

But the real irony is that the whole premise of her article is to advocate for more genetic testing and counseling with women having the ‘right’ to abort the ‘fetus’ that tests reveal as ‘inferior’ or merely undesirable.  The whole article thus represents a headlong rush into “the dangerous territory of valuing some lives more than others.”

Hence my confusion about who ‘better regulation’ of genetic testing was necessary or the pro-lifers would become agitated.   Is it Professor King’s point that the only people permitted to enter this “dangerous territory” are the (can I call them) mothers?  Ie, women acting autonomously can decide which lives have more value than others, but the states ought not?

If that is what she means, then I find myself in both agreement and disagreement:  I agree that it is dangerous indeed to begin trying to sort out which lives have more value than others, but only because I firmly maintain that all lives equally have value, not that lives equally have no value unless the woman or the state decides it does.  The state should be protecting all life, and especially the lives that are completely defenseless and unable to protect themselves.  Autonomy only goes so far:  I have the right to make decisions for my own body, but if I reach out with my body to slay another body, society has the right to register an opinion about that, and perhaps act on that opinion.

But from the foregoing, you can see that I doubt very much that a woman’s autonomy and ‘reproductive freedom’ is really the guiding principle behind this whole debate, and likewise dispute the idea that abortion is the primary area of concern.  Scholars have and will continue to make the same arguments, pushing them further and further along their logical progression.  I was concerned, therefore, when Professor King said this:

“The FDA must step up its involvement to ensure that NIPT is integrated into prenatal care carefully–and, especially, to prevent it from being offered directly to consumers, as are other genetic tests.”

I read this to be saying that this test, along with all the other tests, should be administered within the doctor-patient relationship, with guidance… or is it ‘encouragement’… from genetic counselors.  King perhaps thinks that this will preserve a woman’s autonomy and ‘reproductive rights.’  I think the opposite: Julian Savulescu, SC Reed, Lee Dice, and Frederick Osborn and other eugenicists are counting on the women believing their action is completely voluntary.  I for one believe that if a genetic counselor sits in front of you and spells out all the horrible outcomes and the life of suffering a child may experience, and oh, by the way, the burden may be unbearable for the family, (and under one’s breath, for the state, too), this is tantamount to coercion.

But what value am I and my opinion?  I am merely a bipedal primate (former fetus, former neonate, etc).

I walked away from Professor King’s article believing that I was more concerned about a woman’s autonomy and reproductive rights than she was, and I’m the pro-life ‘lobbyist.’

*** Of course I acknowledge that just because Giubilin and Minerva’s arguments are identical to Binding and Hoche’s, they do not envision that the ideas justify throwing millions of people into ovens.  Neither did Binding and Hoche.


Dec 28

The False Premises of Gun Control Advocates

The premises that drive gun control advocates are all false, which is why the well-meaning ones will always fail in their efforts.  As I argue in this recent blog post, all people will die.   What can be worse than death?  Why waste time fighting guns when we should be fighting death?  The answer is easy enough;  at present, no one believes that anything can be done about the problem of ‘death.’  One solution has been put forward, but it has terms that many reject (Christianity).  If anyone seriously proposed getting rid of death, the error would be obvious and no one would give it another thought.  It is as impossible to prevent people from trying to kill large groups of other people as it is to end death.  It cannot be done.  It is less as obvious, but it is nonetheless just as true.  They’ve done it with swords, they’ve done it with bombs, they’ve done it with poison, they’ve done it with machetes, they’ve done it with cars.  For every successful mass slaughter there are dozens of attempts.  So it is, so it will always be.

But understanding why this is the case is the critical issue.  The real problem is spiritual.  But many people do not believe we are spiritual, because they do not believe in spirits.  And if they do not believe in spirits, they will not believe that we are spirits in rebellion.  But that is what we are.  Everyone of us.

Like any other true thing, there are an infinite variety of false contentions.  If the assertion is “George Washington was the first president of the United States” there are an infinite number of false variations, such as “George Clooney was the first president.”   Because of the number of false, rival explanations for why people try to slaughter each other, I cannot possibly address all of them.  However, there is one general explanation commonly accepted by gun control advocates, which we will loosely describe as liberal secular humanism.  These folks tend to be atheists, but even when they aren’t, they are virtually indistinguishable from materialists in their politics.  On their mechanist view, we are not souls, we are machines.  ‘Meat’ machines, but machines, nonetheless.

From this point of view, then, everything is an object.  The system is a collection of objects.  A gun is an object.  A person is a thing.  A person is a complicated thing, to be sure, but it is still just a thing.  The brain and mind are one and the same: stuff.  If a machine is not running properly because sand keeps getting into it, the solution is simple enough:  remove the sand.  The idea that the machine itself is intentionally clogging up its own works is unfathomable on this view.  If the machine does such a thing, then that means that there is a gear out of whack somewhere that just needs to be tinkered with.  For the liberal secular humanist, this means giving out anti-psychotic drugs, increasing the bureaucratic reach of this ‘expert’ or that ‘expert,’ and passing laws.  But we aren’t machines.  The problem is not physical, it is spiritual.  Hence, no non-spiritual solution is possible.

Gun control proposals, like most proposals by liberals, completely fail to take into account human nature as it really is.  This fundamental failure leads to fundamentally flawed proposals.  What would a reasonable gun control measure look like if it did take into account human nature as it really is?

Far from being an exception, the question is just a subset of every other issue humanity grapples when one person attempts to coexist with another person without killing each other.

Take for example the laws against driving under the influence in the United States.  Presumably, the reader knows that typically, many more people die in car accidents every year than are killed by guns.  Here are some sobering facts:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 32,885 people died in traffic crashes in 2010 in the United States (latest figures available), including an estimated 10,228 people who died in drunk driving crashes, accounting for 31% of all traffic deaths last year.

According to the CDC, in the same year, 11,078 were murdered by guns.  (Interestingly, 544 were murdered by suffocation.)

Now, don’t we have laws against drunk driving?  And yet it is the case that people are still driving drunk, and killing people while doing so.  What then is the purpose of the law?  In the main, it is useless as a deterrent.  At best, the law is going to be applicable for enforcement purposes.  After someone breaks the law–and by now I think any sober-minded person knows the law will be broken!–it can be used to give a proper punishment.

The only people who are likely to be impacted by these laws are people who are already law abiding.  People who for whatever reason choose to continue to drink and drive will continue to do so until the cows come home.  Likewise, people who intend on killing loads of people at a go are going to make the attempt, law or no law.  And no matter what you do, there will always be people who fit in this category.  There will always be people who drink and drive.  There will always be people who steal at every opportunity.  There will always be people who are lawless, because all people are lawless at heart;  people are broken, and nobody–not even our super-intelligent liberal expert bureaucrats using the best science–can fix them.

Would I then be prepared to dispense with laws against drinking and driving?  Yea, pretty much.  It’s kind of like the laws against texting;  we already have laws against distracted driving, what is the point of creating one more law that is a subset of that?  We also have laws against harming and killing people.  If someone behaves recklessly, they should be punished appropriately.  Stop letting people off for third, fifth, and tenth violations, until the inevitable death that comes.  And when they do kill someone, if they themselves survive, I think execution should be on the table.  Now that would be a deterrent–for some.  There would still be people who drive drunk.  Should the rest of us be prohibited from driving?  No, and no one believes that, but if they were logical, they would.  (It would not surprise me, though, if there were liberals who do believe this–although maybe for other reasons, like ‘saving the earth.’)

It is not my purpose to press that particular point, but rather to note that in attempting to deal with the problem of people driving drunk, they did take the logic out a little ways:  they restricted the right of sensible, law-abiding people to drive with an opened can of beer in their car.  In other words, society does what they always do when faced with human nature as it really is:  it refused to accept human nature as it really was and instead passed laws that put restrictions on the people who needed those restrictions the least.

Wonder of wonder, drunk driving fatalities still persist.  What’s the next step?  Perhaps we should try to get rid of alcohol altogether?  Let’s just prohibit all alcoholic beverages…

Oh wait… that was tried.  It failed miserably.  It turned otherwise law abiding people into law breakers overnight.   Worse, the people who were already inclined to disregard the laws of the land saw an opportunity, and seized it.  It created crime syndicates that probably persist to this day.  It took the honest, sensible people out of the business of alcohol creation and distribution and left only the criminals.   The law generated even more lawlessness.

No one should have been surprised by this outcome but of course the progressives of the era were shocked, just shocked, by it.  They were proceeding under a false premise:  that removing the object from the system of objects would clear up the problem forthwith.  No thing is at the heart of humanity’s problems.  You can remove one ‘thing’ and something else will rush into the vacuum.  So it was, so it is, so it always will be.

I would like to then close with some observations.  First of all, I observe that those who believe that people are objects, that the system/state is a machine made of sub-machines, that tweaking external circumstances will remedy all our problems, always put forth proposals that eliminate and diminish freedoms from the very people who east need to have those freedoms addressed.    I secondly note that their proposals always fail in ending the problem they aim to resolve and succeed in taking away the liberties of their fellow man.

Finally, I return to the question:  “Is there anything worse than death?’

As a Christian, I answer that in the affirmative, of course.   But not counting the eternal realities I believe are facing us, I still believe that even temporally, the answer is a resounding yes.  The 20th century saw one attempt after another of people trying to ‘tweak the machine’ to produce the perfect society, the perfect state.   These people gravitated to the levers of power that would give them the ability to do this.  Not only did their every attempt fail to create Utopia but they found that they needed to lubricate their machine in the blood of the masses to make any ‘progress’ at all.  Whatever harm your random mass shooter has done, it pales in comparison to the well-meaning men and women of the 20th century who managed to slay hundreds of millions of people, just as today the government of Syria has killed some 40,000 of its own in just the span of a few months.  And when they weren’t stacking bodies, they were shoving people into gulags and enslaving the rest.  Yes, there are things worse than death.

No proposal for managing guns that does not take these realities into account is worth considering.  They will only serve to take away liberties from people who are the least worrisome and embolden those who are of most concern.  If you want to really address the ‘mass shooter’ problem, then you should be thinking about how to move people from the latter category into the former.  All else is futile at best, and a recipe for a nightmare at worst.

And how does one move people from one category into the other?  By first acknowledging that people are fallen spirits.  But I have a feeling there isn’t much interest in going that direction.  That has implications that modern man finds more intolerable than the deaths of innocents in our nation’s schoolyards.

Another article that expresses similar ideas, although much more powerfully, is this one, which I highly commend.

For reference:





Dec 20

Somewhere, there is someone with a gun… protecting your freedoms

Did you hear about the great nation of Pacifotopia?   It was the first nation run and administered by pacifists.  They were earnest in their pacifism, giving up all weapons of war in virtuous cause of non-violence.  Heard of it?  No?  That’s because the next day it was gobbled up by random country X.

I bring up this country of well-intentioned heroes to make the very important observation that there never was, is not, and never will be a nation of pacifists.  Indeed, the only reason why anyone can be a pacifist at all is because there are men with an entirely different outlook manning the borders and preserving the peace.

The thing that burns me up about debates about gun control is the attitude that we are only kept safe by well-meaning bureaucrats passing good intentioned laws that of course are followed by all the nice citizens.   The insinuation is that people who want guns are violent people;  the mere fact that they want or have one is proof positive that they are suspect individuals.  They are unstable folk that you need to keep your eye on.

Now, in point of fact, every single person in this world, in whatever country they happen to reside in, depends on men* with guns for any bit of freedom they might have.**

Any country that did not have armed men on its border would be a country that soon was absorbed by its neighbor;  if they had any freedoms under the rule of their neighbor, it is because their conqueror had men with guns at its border.  In other words, all of our freedoms are secured by violent, suspect, unstable men.

Few things offend me, but I am offended by the flaky rhetoric of our politicians and a great chunk of the citizenry who make arguments that in effect denigrate the many people with guns who protect us, each and every day.

Obviously, they have no concept that their statements mean, in effect, that the security of our cities, states, and nation is preserved by bloodthirsty loose cannons.   Indeed, I doubt very much thought goes into their statements at all.  Even calling them ‘arguments’ is probably giving them too much credit;  it is more of an attitude and and insinuation, coupled with their chest-thumping posture as the ones occupying the high ground.  In the meantime, their very ability to open their mouths to class our nation’s many heroes with murderous barbarians is preserved by the very same people.

There is another way out of this predicament that is not as unflattering to our soldiers, police officers and national guardsmen, but it merely shifts the insult to a larger group of people–their fellow citizens.   The people who make this argument suggest that only people with the highest level of training can possibly act intelligently and bravely;  these of course are in the armed forces and what not.  As for the rest of us, we are slathering morons who sink even further into the black hole of irrationality when a gun is presented to their senses.  The sight of a gun sparks a primal instinct that compels them to quickly snatch it up and begin blazing away at enemies seen, and unseen.

You see this attitude in defenses of waiting periods, or comments about things turning into the ‘wild west’, even though 49 out of the 50 states have adopted laws allowing for concealed carry of firearms, with not one of them turning into anything like a John Wayne movie.  If anything, it is the one hold out that seems like it is the land of outlaws.  Perhaps the recent Federal court judgement compelling Illinois to comply with the Constitution will have the happy side effect of saving the state (ie, Chicago) from the liberals there hell-bound on keeping law abiding people perpetually at the mercy of criminals.  We shall see.

Now, I do not have to be persuaded to the idea that there are dangerous people who ought not have guns.  I am a Christian and believe in sin, original and otherwise.  I believe that power corrupts, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.  But I also believe that we are made in the image of God, everyone of us.  Some brave people become soldiers and police officers.  Some become firemen.  Some become teachers and throw their bodies over students or strive to hold doors shut against madmen.  Some are fathers and mothers standing as sentinels over their charges, every bit as self-controlled and capable as a sentry on the border.  The idea that people, in the main, are blathering idiots that cannot be trusted to manage the responsibility of protecting themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods is noxious.

(I see an eerie similarity to the argument that we absolutely must give out condoms to little boys and girls because their animal minds will be incapable of resisting their natural impulses.)

Gun control advocates believe that theirs is the position that will ensure a humane society that preserves human dignity but if their arguments are correct then there is no basis whatsoever for assigning dignity to any human at all:  none can be trusted to do anything;  best to set experts over them who know how to properly manage a herd.

And yet, these experts can only do their work because good, strong men who are prepared to fight and die protect them night and day.  These people, in turn, are not created out of test tubes.  They come from wider society, where we still find men and women, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters willing to lay down their lives for their kin and community.  Are they dangerous?  You’re damn right they’re dangerous;  they are just the sort of people that criminals and real barbarians try to avoid.  If we removed all the dangerous people of this sort from society, or de-fanged them, you can be quite certain that the bad sort of dangerous people will be thrilled.

Bottom line, one way or another, there is a person with a gun protecting your liberties and freedoms.  If it isn’t your local policemen (ie, you live in Britian) it’ll be someone on a SWAT team or in the military (even Britain allows their soldiers to have guns…).   If we’re going to have a conversation about gun control, I would cordially request that we frame it in a way that respects the fact that we are only having that conversation because people with guns are minding the store.  They aren’t thugs;  they are members of our family, friends of ours, and they are made of the same stuff as the rest of us.

*There are of course some women with guns fulfilling this role, but let’s be honest, most of them are men.  Not that I have any problem with ‘dangerous’ women or any thought that they can’t do some of those roles, but let’s give some credit where credit is due:  rough men ready to do violence upon our enemies stand guard everywhere.

**Even in places like Iran and North Korea… but I fully admit and acknowledge that in some places the men with guns really are evil, or, at least, they follow the orders of really evil people.  All the more reason to ensure that the world’s citizens are not defenseless.  Governments regularly kill more people on a wider scale than criminals do.


Dec 17

“Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste”-Obama and Sandy Hook

“Are we prepared that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”  Obama.

Anyone surprised by the direction Obama goes from here isn’t paying attention.  He is a man who longs for the Big Crisis, because the Big Crisis means opportunity.  The Big Crisis means taking severe steps, steps that normally people would oppose, but in light of the magnitude of the Big Crisis may view as necessary.

As illustrated in Obama’s remark, those ‘steps’ often entail restrictions on freedom, because, according to Obama, they are “somehow the price of our freedom.”

The purpose of this essay is to dispute that premise.

Two of my atheists friends have chafed at my insistence that gun control legislation is utterly useless for solving such crimes, but rather than deal with the many illustrations I gave showing how such legislation did not work or could not work (ie, the person followed all the rules, or acquired the guns even though they were illegal, or–shocker, used knives in their mass slaying!) their retort is “So what is your solution?”

All real solutions must begin by taking the world as it really is. Anything else is suspect;  at the best, they only make us feel better.  At worst, they are a way to exploit people for reasons they will rarely learn.  Here is a real world fact:  All people die.

Apart from two documented cases that many will find disputable, every person who has ever lived, has died.  Every first grader that has ever existed eventually died, or they will be dead within the next hundred years or so.   This observation is irrefutable (DB, Tim, would you like to dispute it?) but it doesn’t follow that we should be happy about it, or that we shouldn’t try to postpone it, or make the intervening years enjoyable and worthwhile.  It does mean that here is a problem that has no solution.

Why set our sights so low as “How can we stop mass deaths?” Why not, “How can we stop all deaths?”

Shouldn’t we be looking for a solution to death itself?  I think it is safe to say that all my readers will agree with me that there is no solution to death within the power of any man to implement.   Can you imagine a conversation with a ‘death control’ advocate?  “We should outlaw death!”  Followed by me, saying, “Uh, no matter what you do, people are going to die, always and everywhere.”  Then they say, “So, what is your solution?”

What kind of conversation can you have, here?  Our hypothetical death control advocate’s argument has implicit assumptions that are completely out of tune with actual reality.

Likewise, Obama.  The idea that these slayings are connected ‘somehow to the price of our freedom’ is absurd.  Mass slayings have always existed.  Murder has always been part of human history.  Before there were guns.  Even when murder was not legal.   Knives, cars, bombs, fire, rope, you name it: all have been deployed to kill people in numbers small or large.  Mass slayings exist in ‘free’ countries and in tightly controlled countries.  If not by gun, then by machete.

Superficially, it seems as though we could end or reduce mass slayings.  In actual fact, it is a problem that has no solution.  It has no solution because people are the way people are.  People are the way they have been for centuries.   The modern myth that today we are ‘more sophisticated and progressive’ then people in, say, the 1500s is just that, a myth.  People are the same.  They will not change.  On their own, human power, they cannot change.

The great innovation of the United States is that for the first time in human history, a government was built up based on the way people really are.  Significant and meaningful checks and balances were erected because they knew that without them, the tyranny they fled in Europe would return to them.  They viewed the ‘right to bear arms’ as the ultimate check and balance against that tyranny, should the Constitution’s checks and balances on the government be insufficient.  And wisely so:  historically and to the present day, most mass murders have been perpetrated by governments upon their own people.  (See Democide.)

As of this writing, in the last few months, Syria has slaughtered some 40,000 of its own citizens.

What is your solution to this?  I have an idea.  Let’s create something called the ‘United Nations.’  We’ll give the countries of the world the power to influence other countries to behave civilly.   They can pass resolutions and treaties.  And no more people will die at the hands of their own government… Problem solved!

Of course, this ‘solution’ has been tried, and has been a miserable failure from Syria to Sudan, from Rwanda to North Korea.  If anything, the naiveté embodied in this ‘solution’ is more likely to fuel oppression and mass slaughter for the decades to come.

Only by realizing that there are some things that have no solution can we begin to fashion a reasonable, rational, reality-based response.

Mass murder by crazy people, with guns and without, is such a thing.  It has nothing to do with the fact that we are a free society.   The fact that we are a free society merely shapes the form in which the mass murder takes place.  Where guns are banned, lunatics turn to other means, or manage to acquire guns anyway.  This is reality.

A reasonable, rational, reality-based response will begin by taking people as they really are and drop the notion that we can find a ‘solution.’  It will dispense with the idea that such incidents are connected to the societal structure in a place–no matter where you are, such things will happen–while being aware that the form in which the incidents occur might vary based on that structure.

So what does that mean going forward?  Well, I have my own ideas, of course, but I think it would be better for my liberal friends and activist occupant of the White House to accept my argument and think through the conclusions for themselves.  If they are my ideas, they will never accept them.

But I can say what it won’t mean:  restricting the liberties and freedoms of law-abiding men and women like myself.  By definition, law breakers do not follow laws, only the law-abiding do.  Laws and regulation will only restrict the rights and liberties of the only people who don’t need those laws and regulation, and leave them vulnerable to those who are not curbed by those laws and regulations.

No crisis, big or small, is able to dispense with this, which is just common sense.


Dec 15

Ban Guns, Exploit Tragedy, Produce More Tragedies

As usual, the long knives are out for guns again.

Whenever things like this happen, I am reminded of a leisurely walk through Napoleon’s wife’s garden in Strasbourg, France, I once made at midnight with some fine fellows, one of them a young Frenchman.  I was impressed by the high amount of activity in the park and how safe it seemed.  I remarked that there were few parks in America where we could do such a thing.  The young Frenchman asked why, and I explained that getting mugged–or worse–was a real possibility.   He said, “Oh!  We have laws against that sort of thing in France.”

This illustrates a big part of the problem in trying to address events such as what occurred last week.  One whole chunk of the population fails to understand that lawbreakers do not follow laws.

By definition.

New laws only serve to further restrict people who already follow laws.

By definition.

Since something as really elementary as this is not appreciated by huge numbers of people, again and again we have to face a raft of knee-jerk calls for this and that additional regulation, none of which will have any other effect than making people feel better.  They won’t be a lick safer.  If anything, they’ll be in even more danger, suffering under the delusion that their new laws will keep bad people from doing bad things.   (Of course, these same people tend to dispute the idea that there are bad people.  I realize that.)

The ingredients that go into making such horrific incidents are diverse and varied and very complicated.   There are stands relating to mental health, strands relating to the nihilism rampant in our amoral society, and other components that are hard to measure and track in a given event.  However, the perpetuation of these incidents is itself a separate question, and for that I think we would be remiss if we failed to note one of the main culprits:

The media.

With the way our media covers these events, it is easy to see how someone who feels marginalized in our society can see a way to become famous.  There are some who say that if we removed every gun from the universe, mass slayings would cease.  I doubt that very much.  What I don’t doubt is that if mass slayings received no media coverage whatsoever, incidents such as this one would dwindle in number, if not cease altogether.

I think that I could probably get a lot of gun control advocates to agree with me on this.  It’s really hard to dispute.  Examples abound of the media behaving almost as rabidly as the misfits do.  Here’s one.

So why not we ban newspapers, radio stations, cable news networks, and all other news sources from covering mass murders such as this one?  Perhaps you might say that it is the speed in which this information flows–perhaps we shall only ban automatic, instantaneous news agencies?  Perhaps only slow, semi-automatic outfits such as monthly news magazines should be allowed.  Certainly, no live television, that streams bullet-bits on a 24/7 basis into the brains of all Americans, including those most vulnerable to the enticement of that kind of publicity.

But you say:  “The Freedom of the Press is one of our fundamental rights.  It is enshrined in the Bill of Rights!”

Are we really going to let a little thing like that get in the way of preventing the mass murder of dozens of school children?

Someone will no doubt rush to show how there have been mass murders in the past, when no mass media was present.  The moral, of course, being that getting rid of news coverage won’t stop people from killing people.

I am being somewhat facetious, obviously.  I do believe that the media is actually much to blame, but I do not believe it is the sole contributor.  It would be stupid and simplistic to try to reduce it to this one thing and then tell each other that if we did this one little thing, all would be well in the world.  We need to actually engage our brains.

And that’s a lesson I suggest we apply to other solutions being floated right now, almost all of them looking at the weapon the lawbreaker used, instead of the lawbreaker himself.

Not everything we may wish to consider will actually make us safer. It will only make us feel safer.

And there is a big difference between those two ideas.



Dec 05

Dan Barker’s War on Religion, Though Childish, Has Adult Implications

Dan Barker’s Freedom from Religion Foundation is immersed in their annual war against all things religious.  That is of course how they view it:  a war.  In this war, they have had quite a few successes, in large part because they realized early on that public sentiment was not on their side.  That is, they could never achieve their goals legislatively.  Their only hope was to turn to the courts, and here the playing field is more to their advantage.  After all, it is easier to persuade one judge or three than it is a million, hundred thousand, etc.

In a guest view posted today in the La Crosse Tribune, Dan Barker comes out in defense of the ‘in your face tactics’ that his organization has been employing.  Basically his argument is this:  religious people have been ridiculing nonbelievers for thousands of years, so turnabout is fair play.  We of course will bear in mind the common view taken by nonbelievers that they are morally superior to believers–the present example a good illustration of how well they ‘rise above’ the bad behavior of religious people… by joining in.

“What is wrong with ridicule?  What is wrong with protest?” Dan Barker wants to know.  “Protestantism is based on protest–it’s right there in the word itself.”  The irony, here of course, is that Dan Barker and his ilk does wish to immunize their viewpoints from public scrutiny and ridicule.  If you raise your voice, even ever so slightly, with a new atheist, you will practically drive them to tears and indignation.  You see, they can be as rude as they like.  Not only must you treat them with extreme politeness, but of course you must give into their every whim in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity.’

One searches for the appropriate prism by which to view such attitudes, and I think we have at least our first hint in Barker’s letter.  “To us nonbelievers, the nativity scene is a ridicule of human nature. … Believers might see a cute baby in a manger, but most nonbelievers see a reprehensible put-down of humanity.”

This is akin to the claims often heard that the mere sight of Ten Commandment tablets on public property, or lighted crosses, or whatever, causes them great mental anguish.  Of course, we know the truth:  they need to say such absolutely asinine and ridiculous things in order for their court cases to go forward.  Personally, I doubt very much that they are as effected, but let’s take Barker at his word in this case:  the mere sight of a nativity scene evokes the sense that they are being ridiculed and reprehensibly put-down.

Through what prism should we view such people?  I think we must regard them as being more like children than anything else.  If there is anything that drives children batty, it’s seeing other people enjoying a toy that they themselves cannot have.  If they can arrange it–and bullies have some skill with this–when they get the toy, they will guard it fiercely to keep others from sharing in the pleasure.  In my household, I have seen my own children hide items that they had lost all interest in just so that their siblings couldn’t have them.

Similarly, the mere sight of something that offends a new atheist is enough to drive them batty.  Not content to do what adults learn to do (change the channel, avert their eyes, shop somewhere else, ignore, etc) they’ve got to put a stop to it.  After they’ve put a stop to it, of course they have to make sure that no one else can do the same, even if it doesn’t impact them in the slightest.  I don’t know how else to view this behavior other than childish.

I will now be seen as ‘ridiculing’ them by this characterization.   Well, sometimes the truth hurts.  Mere ridicule is meant to merely hurt.  Telling the truth is meant to convey a benefit.  I do earnestly wish the new atheists would grow up.  After all, if you put children in charge of the operation of heavy machinery, the odds are that someone will soon get very hurt.  However, if someone decides to view it simply as mockery, then I appeal to Dan Barker for my defense:  “What is wrong with ridicule?  What is wrong with protest?”

Another characteristic of children is that they can dish it out, but they can’t take it.   I doubt we’ll see anything in the comment section on this that will prove me wrong in my assessment.  In religion they see a perceived slight, and in response to this perception, they have no qualms against dishing out actual slights.  They expect everyone to be cowed by this, but having been on the receiving end of actual physical threats by new atheists, I assure you, this is one writer that won’t be.

Unfortunately, these children are more canny than most and, again, most unfortunately, have access to ‘heavy machinery.’

Buried in Barker’s screed is an even more pernicious goal that his FFRF has, beyond merely being jerks trying to prove a point:

In America, Christians are welcome to celebrate whatever they want. We are happy to share the season with them. They just can’t use the government to privilege their party over everyone else’s.


Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property, but in the American public square, there is room at the inn for all of us.

 The idea that putting up nativity scenes or other icons of religion ‘privileges’ religious folks is so absurd that I cannot even believe that we have to take it seriously.  I think it is clear from the foregoing that on the merits, I don’t.  However, the argument and attitude encapsulated in the two quotes above must be taken very seriously because the stakes are very high, indeed.

To explain, allow me to frame it this way.  Every December we have to deal with a bunch of whiny, perpetually offended atheists, chiseling away at all religious expression the public square.   Dan Barker says that ‘there is room at the inn for all of us’, but if he believes that, my regard for his intellect goes even lower than it was.  I think the evidence is that he does not believe that and in fact he is purposefully trying to achieve the opposite.  In Barker’s world, any religious expression in the public square constitutes ‘using the government to privilege one religion over another.’  “Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property” but in FFRF’s conduct we know that they cannot do anything they like outside their churches and off their private property.

By way of example, a slew of atheists filed an amicus brief against Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran School in their attempt to fire someone who flagrantly disregarded the beliefs and values of that institution.  The FFRF is not a signatory (a surprise, honestly) but they are all the same crew.  In the amicus we read:

 Amici wish to bolster the principle of religious neutrality that government may not prefer religion over nonreligion [..] A decision of this Court recognizing the ministerial exception would have the constitutionally impermissible effect of denying equal protection of the laws to the employees of religious organizations and of advancing religion by creating special rights for religious defendants, and in so doing undermine the rule of law.

 You can stop laughing now.  No, really. They actually said that they cared about the ‘rule of law.’  Stop your chuckling and attend to my words.

You see in this comment the exact reference to ‘the principle of religious neutrality’ that Barker made.

In a bizarre twist, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the atheists.  Where that puts the American Atheists/Humanist’s assertion that the Sixth Circuit’s argument was ‘based on a misreading of the Constitution’ I don’t know.  Still my point in referencing this example is to show that in point of fact, atheists do not think that “Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property.”  Actually, they believe that this constitutes ‘special rights for religious defendants.’

Now, are they lying about their true position or is their worldview so incoherent that even four fabulously progressive liberals on the Supreme Court couldn’t get it to align with reason?  I don’t have the answer to this question, but personally I think it is a little of both, with the addition that they say some of the stupid things they say as part of a legal strategem.  (Really?  They’re offended by a baby in a manger?  I find it hard to believe.)

For our purposes it doesn’t matter how we answer that.  What matters is that we are aware that there are bigger things afoot.

It is worth mentioning here that Hosanna-Tabor was up against the Federal government itself– the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.   In short, the Obama Administration.  (One more reason I’m perplexed by the decision, since two of the SCOTUS appointees were made by Obama.)

The Obama Administration buys into the new atheist argument that the Constitution implies a ‘principle of religious neutrality’ that entails no ‘special rights for religious defendants.’  Indeed, we just saw them enact HHS rules requiring religious organizations to fund behaviors that they find morally objectionable: contraception;  which of course sometimes is identical with abortion itself.  (I understand that many liberals view abortion itself as contraception.  I’m referring to the fact that some contraceptive drugs are actually abortifacients.)

Here again we discover that the secular humanists do not really believe that “Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property.”

What Obama has been saying is that the Constitution enshrines a ‘right to worship,’ but in his conduct, as well, we see the same sort of dilemma where we either have to conclude that he has jello for brains or he is simply a liar.  Even in his book, Christians can’t do whatever they like in their churches and private property.

Now let us compare these sentiments with the actual words of the Constitution:

 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 Usually we talk about the first half of this–the establishment of religion.  Atheists have made great headway towards creating the precedent that allowing nativity scenes on public property constitutes an ‘establishment of religion.’  On this view, a Christian’s bumper sticker on his car on a public road constitutes an ‘establishment of religion.’  He is, after all, on public property.  But my point is to the second part of the clause:  “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

I will casually note that the clause does not go on to say, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof in their churches and private property.”

With all religious expression in the public square fiercely attacked every year at this time and the atheists and Federal agencies with Obama at the head pushing headlong into the affairs of ‘their churches and private property’ one is hard pressed to imagine just what kind of ‘free exercise’ these folks will actually allow.  To me, it seems to consist solely of singing Kum Bah Yah, provided that no one else can hear you.

This is a far cry from what the Constitution says or implies.  It is quite clear from the words of the first amendment that, contrary to modern assertions otherwise, that the government cannot limit religious expression in the public sphere, period.  Moreover, since the same sentence forbids and establishment of religion even as it forbids prohibiting the free exercise of religion, the framers obviously did not perceive that the latter necessarily amounted to the former.

We must think very seriously about what may happen if the lunatics consolidate their control over the asylum.  If the Obama administration and his atheist backers succeed in driving ‘religious expression’ into the deep recesses of our skulls, allowing it public expression only insofar as one is publicly seen moving from one’s car to one’s church, what kind of society can we expect?

I would like to answer this question by pointing out that Christmas is not the only holiday that Christians have given us.  The list is actually quite long–atheists of course have not given us any–but there is one in particular I want to emphasize:  Independence Day.

As Barker correctly notes, European settlers to the Americas were driven on in search of religious freedom.  (He incorrectly has the Puritans fleeing the Roman Catholics.)  The first people to come to America were deeply concerned about the ‘establishment of religion’, which is reinforced by the fact that the first ten words of the entire Bill of Rights moves to prohibit it, and the next six words insists that religious expression shall not be prohibited.  Then comes the right to free speech, the right of a free press, and so on.

Compare the placement of these words and their emphatic nature with a comparable document that would arise shortly after, in the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man“, one of the founding documents of the French Revolution.

 10.  No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.

 11.  The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.

 As the French Revolution played out, the import of the italicized caveats became clear.  Spurred on by Enlightenment principles (ie, ones that disparaged religion and held ‘free thought’ very high, indeed), in very short order there came massacre upon massacre.  Something called “the Committee of Public Safety” (not to be confused with the Health and Human Services department) established itself as a virtual dictatorship, and in the ‘Reign of Terror’ some 40,000 people were simply executed.   After all, each shall be responsible for the abuses of their freedom, and by no means should the public order be disturbed.

This is an aside, but an important one:  it may seem odd that the Committee of Public Safety, acting on principles espoused in a nice sounding document such as ‘the Declaration of the Rights of Man’ could turn so viciously upon their own fellowman, but there was something else in that declaration that goes far to explain it–

 3.  The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.

 In other words, the nation comes first.  Individual rights come from the nation–and can be taken away.  The nation is everything, and anything that undermines the nation must be violently dealt with.

Compare and contrast with the first words of the American Declaration of Independence:

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 In other words, the individual comes first.  Their rights come from God and not even a nation or ‘social contract’ can obliterate them.  The former principle led to the slaughter of tens of thousands, the latter principle to the freedom of millions.

With some exceptions, sadly:  the American founders did not do the right thing and abolish slavery as they ought to have done so right at the start.  In the name of the ‘nation’ (ie, the former principle, and not the latter) they sacrificed their own principles.  In about sixty years, Abraham Lincoln would rise victorious in a conflict that would slay 500,000 people:  in the name of the nation.  (Stand by for cheap shot:  It is probably a coincidence that Lincoln is a favorite of many atheists.)

I think it is safe to say that nothing but blood and terror has followed where the principle that the nation stands above everything else, and everything else must answer in accordance to whether or not it ‘disturbs the public order.’

The American framers understood that checks and balances were absolutely necessary for a fair and just society to exist–because “We are all damned sinners who need to be ‘saved’ by bowing down to the baby in the manger.”  In other words, they saw as a simple statement of truth about humans what atheists regard as a “reprehensible put-down of humanity.”  Original sin is real.  If you believe as such, liberty is the result.  If you don’t, the French Revolution, the American Civil War, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Holocaust, Pol Pot’s Killing Fields, and so on and so forth, is the result.

Understand why I say this.  It is different than the typical battle over atheism’s role in 20th century atrocities.  Yes, most of the revolutionaries referenced in these examples were atheists, but one does not need to be an atheist in order to fall into the trap that the ‘nation’ is a thing to be upheld at all costs.

That was a long aside, but it had to be said, because this is essentially the same issue that is before us today:  to what exactly will we give our highest allegiance and who will decide this question?

The Christian men and women of early America argued that God warrants our highest allegiance, but this question is worked out individually, not collectively.   Their beliefs gave us Independence Day, another holiday that ‘we get to stay home for.’  Driven on by their religious beliefs, they gave freedom to all.

To put the whole thing another way, just as you can only have pacifists in a country ringed by armed protectors, you can only have atheists in a country where the ‘free expression’ of religion in all spheres–public and private–are welcome.    Only in a country where it is actually the case, and not mere lip service, that “there is room at the inn for all of us”, can there be life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Dan Barker and the New Atheist Quest for the Freedom From Religion, if successful, will end in their own slavery, along with everyone else’s, because if ever our fellow man is given the right and authority to decide where we put our ultimate allegiances, abuse and tyranny is bound to follow.  So is the testimony of history.

So, while the efforts of the FFRF are very childish indeed, their successes do not bode well for the future.  Not ours, nor theirs, either.









Nov 10

Was Voter Fraud the Reason for Obama’s Election? One Hypothesis

About a month before the election I predicted a Romney landslide–if the election was fair.

I detailed a handful of reasons for why I believed that would be the case.  In particular, I felt the 2010 midterm elections and the statewide support for the GOP candidates even in locales such as Wisconsin, which not only voted for Governor Walker and Supreme Court justice David Prosser, but re-elected Walker in his recall election, which you may remember was only just this last summer.   And that’s in Wisconsin!

The results of this election were perplexing to me.  Obama won but the House remained firmly in the hands of Republicans.   In order for this to have happened, the very people who voted against Romney voted for their Republican congressman.  To make the point a little plainer, the people who voted for Obama still voted for their Republican congressman.  This would have had to have happened in the millions.  Who does this?

Is a liberal minded entitlement claimer really want to support Obama and simultaneously people who would oppose him?  Yet for the outcome of the election to have turned out the way it did, precisely such a thing needed to happen.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that voter fraud is a very plausible explanation.  With all of the Soros backed secretary of states and the wide open avenue for tampering with paperless electronic voting machines, combined with the already well known fact that Acorn-style vote manipulation is the Democratic modus operandi, along with the liberal propensity for bringing in illegal aliens with the sole purpose of creating anchor babies who will grow up to vote Liberal (babies born under Reagan’s amnesty program applying to parents who entered illegally prior to 1982 would be thirty years old today), the plausibility factor goes through the roof.  And then, there are reports like this one, where Obama won the same share of votes ‘voluntarily’ cast that Saddam Hussein did– 99%.  Oh really.

But I had some mental reservations.  If you’re going to steal an election, even if you are evil scoundrels like we know most of the top Democrats to be, would you really be so stupid as to only steal the presidential election, and not the rest?  A Democrat sweep would be believable, since, after all, that’s what we had in 2008.  Perhaps it was not stupidity, but inability;  maybe there were pragmatic reasons that prevented such a manipulation.  Such considerations are firmly in the realm of the theoretical.  Unless there is a whistle blower, we’d never find evidence of anything as far reaching as this.  Anyone who even has an inclination towards whistle-blowing has probably ‘already been taken care of.’  At any rate, this just didn’t add up.

Then I observed that here in Wisconsin–In Wisconsin!–the Republicans regained their control of the Senate and now control every branch–house, senate, governor, judiciary.  And yet… and yet… Tommy Thompson lost to the radical liberal homosexual Tammy Baldwin.  This, again, after Walker’s decisive victory only as recent as this summer.

Finally, I was intrigued by the popular vote results.  In 2012, we have Obama with about 61,170,405 and Romney with about 58,163,977.  But look at what it was in 2008:  Obama= 69,456,897  | McCain= 59,934,814.

There are two aspects that I just found remarkable with these figures.  First of all, Obama has received 7,000,000 fewer votes than he received in 2008.  Where did these Obama supporters go?  To Romney?  Look again!  At present count, Romney has received about 2,000,000 fewer votes than McCain did!

There are 9,000,000 votes left on the table compared to 2008.  Both sides of the aisle received fewer votes.  Inexplicably–especially taking into account the massive tide change in 2010–Romney received even fewer votes than McCain.

This got me thinking.

The 2010 midterms had a very respectable turnout of its own, and the Republicans won by a margin of about 5,000,000 votes.  As far as mid-terms go, it was 2,000,000 more than the turn out in 2006 and 8,000,000 more than in 2002!  As of this writing, the GOP lost the congressional popular vote in the 2012 election, while keeping control of the House, but the loss was just by a hair, 53,822,442 to the Dem’s 54,301,095.

I’m not too interested in the Dem’s victory there, per se.    After all, we expect them to win the high density urban centers.  That’s why we have checks and balances such as the electoral college and the senate.  But what I was interested was in the fact that in this case, the Republican vote was higher than in 2008.  In 2008, GOP candidates received 51,952,981 votes and this year it was 53,822,442.  That’s a swing in the Republican favor of almost 2,000,000 votes… nearly identical to the 2,000,000 less against the Republicans that Romney received.  Coincidence?

From this we may suppose that about 2,000,000 GOP-minded individuals went to the ballot box, cast a vote for their local GOP guy, and then cast no vote at all on the presidential ticket.

This 2 million swing puts Romney at an effective tie with Obama.

In 2008, there were many conservatives who were not pleased with the selection of McCain as their candidate.  The choice of Palin was encouraging, to them, but McCain’s subsequent decision to vote for the ‘stimulus’ and TARP was a real downer.  There was open conversation amongst conservatives about not casting a vote for McCain.  There was some discussion about sending the GOP a message that they wouldn’t tolerate such candidates in the future.  Then the tea party happened, and there was some notion that the GOP had finally got the message.  The result was a commanding landslide by the Republicans all across the country, not just in the House and Senate, but in governor’s races, state races, and local races.

Then, ‘moderate’ Romney was chosen to be the nominee in 2012.

New hypothesis:  The loss by McCain and the GOP 2010 midterm victories were a message to the GOP and the 2012 election is a re-statement of that same message:  we will vote for genuine conservative candidates and support them materially, but we will no longer support candidates who struggle to distinguish themselves from the ones they are running against.  They will not hold their nose and vote for the GOP moderate.  They’re just not going to do it.  But, as the 2012 House turnout shows, they will still vote for the GOP conservative.

If I’m right, the election was (largely) fair, and a message was sent, but it was not that the GOP needs to reach out to women, hispanics, and the youth.  It needs to reach out to the conservatives!

In fact, ‘reaching’ out to these subgroups in a manner that further makes GOP candidates indistinguishable from Liberals they are running against, and will force a further withdrawal of support for the GOP and its candidates.  The Tea Party has spoken:  they’re not going to take it any more, and they are NOT going to support RINOs.  Period.

This hypothesis does need some testing before it can be fully embraced.  For example, I think you’d have to do some analysis of a large number of individual elections.  If, for example, we see many House candidates receiving significantly more votes than Romney received in the same areas, even if those areas still ‘went’ for Romney, the discrepancy could clearly account for the aggregate state results not being enough to provide for a Romney victory, even if the local candidates win.

I also wonder about the value of exit polling in such issues.  When I get phone calls for polling, I always decline.  I’ve never met an exit poller, but it I did, I would decline to participate.  I suspect many conservatives are similar.  That is, they are not going to disclose to someone anything, let alone the fact that they did not vote for Romney but they did vote GOP elsewhere.  Do we have anyway to ascertain how many people voted GOP but chose not to vote for Romney?

I think I have talked myself into accepting this hypothesis, but I suppose the ‘powers that be’ will want to ground themselves in some hard data.  But perhaps they don’t care, and we already know they don’t care, and that’s how Romney became our candidate.




Nov 07

I hate it when I’m wrong, and even more when I’m right

So my good friend Danny is just waiting to pounce, adding on to his epic fish slap the fact that my predicted Romney landslide did not take place.  There was no landslide.  There wasn’t even a Romney.  The post was:  Romney in a Landslide, if the election is fair.  I stated my reasoning in that article, but it is worth addressing some points again with the benefit of hindsight.

In 2010, the Dems were routed.  In liberal WI, the Dems were not only routed, but routed again when the Republican Supreme Court Justice David Prosser won, and again when Walker and most of the recalled senators kept their spots.  In the meantime, in the days leading up to the election, polls had Americans firmly wishing for the repeal of Obamacare by 15 points.  In this election, the GOP not only held the house, but held it in commanding fashion, yet Obama somehow wins the White House.  I’m having trouble wrapping myself around the idea that there are millions of Americans who voted for a GOP candidate and simultaneously voted for Obama, but if indeed the election is fair, that is what happened.  That the election was not fair is a plausible explanation.  More plausible then millions voting for GOP candidates and voting for Obama, in my mind.

Something that came onto my radar over the last couple of weeks were the existence of more people voting protest or not voting at all than I realized.  I myself was severely disappointed that Romney was my alternative to Obama.  I surprised myself somewhat by voting for Romney.  I saw it as a protest vote, and could not bring myself to campaign for Romney.  There may end up being a lot more people feeling the same way as I do, except they didn’t even cast the vote for Romney.  I’m not blaming them, mind you.  I’m fully sympathetic.    But it would be another plausible explanation.

As more data emerges, we may find some answers to this.  I believe it needs answers, if the phenomenon is genuine, and I hate giving Danny more fodder to thwack me with for being wrong (again), but I hate worse being right.

As soon as the phenomenon became apparent last night, I remembered that I had spoken to this two years ago after the Tea Party routed Liberals throughout the country.  The post was:  The election should make me happy, but it doesn’t.  In that post, I address the phenomena of a landslide route of the Dems in 2010 following a landslide route of the GOP in 2008.

It was only two years ago that the great mass of swing voters, so called independents and moderates, scurried over like lemmings to vote for Obama and the Democrats.  That any of them might have been surprised at what Obama and the Democrat congress actually did hints at a serious problem.   No doubt many of these people voted against Obama this year- but did they do it because they have more carefully deliberated on their principles and the lessons of history?

I think it is clear that many of them did.  Nonetheless, I am certain that a lot didn’t, and the fact that millions and millions still happily cast their lot with Obama and his socialist-by-another-name agenda shows that many people didn’t really move at all.

For a populace to swing wildly back and forth every two years is a madness that indicates there our mass of citizenry that is rocked back and forth on the waves of change, without anchor, without direction, without guiding principles grounded in fact and the realities of the universe.

I say:

The only difference between a dog and a human is that when a dog returns to its vomit, the dog knows what it is eating.    The human puts salt and pepper and garnish on it and imagines its new and thanks the chef- until he gets sick and dies, at which point he is at a loss wondering how he came to be in that predicament.

As it seems to me, the American people still haven’t figured it out.  The repudiation is not emphatic enough and the reasons and rationale of the American people at large are ambiguous.  Americans will never figure it out given what is arrayed against them.  The only hope for long lasting return to the Constitution and the principles that made America special is for the American people to suffer in darkness and despair for twenty to thirty years, wondering if ever they can emerge from it, and increasingly certain about how they got into the situation in the first place.

Thus, a GOP victory only delays the Great Loss that will bring about the only kind of victory that can last- that one that is based on knowledge of principle, understanding of the past, and the witness of experience.   We need a citizenry that understands that when you play with fire, you’ll get burned.  If the fireman keeps rushing in before you get scorched, the message doesn’t get through.

In short, people haven’t yet put 2 and 2 together, and my view is that our only hope is that we endure “the Great Loss” because otherwise no lessons will be learned.

The reason for my pessimism then and now has much to do with the fact that no matter who we elect at the ‘top’ the bottom layers are saturated with people who work to undermine the conservative worldview left and right.

In order to truly change the tide… well, a lot of things have to happen.  Churches need to get on board.  I mean, they really have to begin transmitting the faith in an effective way, instead of churning out future secular humanists.  They need to act on the faith that they express with their lips.  Our school system, public and otherwise, needs to be infused with the sort of education that actually exposes students to something other than the progressive worldview.  Our victory is temporary indeed when the progressives still control the education of our children.  In sum, we need to go further than just putting ‘our people’ in positions of government authority.  (Half the time, ‘our people’ are indistinguishable from liberals… another big problem).  We’ve actually got to persuade people of the wisdom and rightness of our view and lay brick after brick in the foundation of a person’s mental framework that leads them to be ‘conservative.’

That will be a tough task, given that that foundation has been dismantled brick by brick for more than a hundred years right underneath our noses.

Even so, unless this be done, this victory is temporary, and the next time the wind changes and some charismatic fellow comes along promising the stars, the lemmings will leap…  and maybe this time we’ll all fall to our deaths on the rocks below.

I was right:  Our victory is temporary indeed when we leave the education of our youth to those who undermine our values and do not stand for truth within our churches.  Sorry, Catholic Church, but drawing the line at the HHS mandate is not just too little, too late, but well after the cows have left the barn.   In their defense, our defense, my defense, the cows left the barn decades ago, before most of us were even born.

This election was just the symptom of a deeper problem, and the 2010 election was itself a symptom of that problem.  The “Great Loss” hasn’t entirely arrived.  Miraculously, the GOP held the House.  I’m not sure that that is a good thing, because it gives the Democrats and the topsy-turvy population someone else to blame when things go bad.  Or, perhaps we’ll prevent the bad from happening, which delays the “Great Lesson” that is necessary.  It would almost be better for them to step aside, step down, and hand things over to the Democrats so that there can be no doubt who is to blame as America continues its descent into Greece, Spain, and England.  Almost.  They are duty bound to fight the good fight.  We are duty bound to go down fighting.

But I do not doubt that in fact we are going down.

My recommendation is not to be like Lot’s wife, who looked back.

And, as I urged yesterday (in the case that Romney actually wins),

A change in the law is just one small part of the issue, because laws reflect the activity of representatives, who are elected by people in their local communities, who are led to believe certain things in their churches and schools.  Moral of the story:  be vigilant, be principled, and be courageous.

May I also suggest for further reading this post, urging an ‘orderly retreat’ in the culture wars, since it is evident we are losing, or have lost in that war.


Oct 24

Report: Romney Administration to Move Swiftly to Take Contraceptives Away from Women

In a DailyMail article we read:

‘Virginia is neck and neck as well,’ [Jim] Messina said. ‘We continue to feel very good about our chances to carry it there..in Northern Virginia Romney’s going to have defend his wanting employers to decide whether you get contraception services for you or your wife or your daughters and sons.’

Who believes this crap? Jim Messina is an idiot for saying it, but you are dumber than a doornail if you believe it.

Saying that employers get to decide if you get contraception services, and that Romney supports this–merely because Romney won’t force employers to pay for it–is like saying that Romney has to defend his wanting employers to decide whether or not you get to eat baked beans for you or your wife or your daughters and sons… because Romney won’t force employers to provide that, either.

If you believe this line by Messina et. al, you are a fool.  You are a child.  You need to grow up before you hurt someone–like, the nation. That’s the kindest way I can put it.

Ya’ll would have us believe that Romney is going to place Gestapo-like guards in the condom aisles at Walmart and put tracking devices on IUDs.  Are you people serious?  I weep for this country.

You are just plain stupid if you think NOT forcing employers to pay for YOUR sexual behaviors is ‘deciding whether you get contraception services.’  There is nothing preventing you RIGHT NOW from going to any number of retail outlets and buying just about any contraceptive that you like for less than the cost of a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  Should we insist on employers paying for your coffee, too?  If we say ‘no’ to that, are we making employers the final arbiter over whether or not you get your daily cup of jo?  Absurd.

One searches for appropriate words to describe such thinking, the people who espouse it, and the people who buy it.    They are all profane… but very, very accurate.  So I better just stop.



Oct 18

Is it true that women only earn 77 percent for each dollar earned annually by men and 82 percent of each dollar earned weekly?

Is it true that women only earn 77 percent for each dollar earned annually by men and 82 percent of each dollar earned weekly?

That’s what you hear over and over and over and over and over again.  It showed up in the presidential debate.  I saw it in recent comments on an article.  It came up here in Wisconsin, where I live.  It is stated on this website dedicated to ending the ‘wage gap.’

You know what I think?  Rubbish.  Propaganda. Manipulation.  In short: Bull-crap.

This assertion is an aggregation of data that does not reflect the real world, and is phrased in order to play to special interests that have just one goal:  financing their own lucrative jobs long into the future.   They know that people tend to stop reading at the headline.  But even if the assertion is true, and the headline accurate, it does not give us enough information to know whether or not we should be indignant.

Let’s consider some scenarios.

Scenario 1:

John is a secretary, working 40 hours a week at $10 an hour.  His duties are exactly the same as Jane’s, who works 40 hours a week at $7.70 an hour.  They both perform their duties well and in all other respects are similar.

Scenario 2:

Steve is a lumberjack who routinely throws three thousand pound logs over his shoulders and dodges trees falling all around him with such nimbleness he could weave his way through rain drops.  Because of the nature of his job and the skill he has, he is paid $10 an hour, 40 hours a week.  Miranda is a secretary who works hard and well for 40 hours a week and makes $7.70 an hour.  Incidentally, women never apply for Steve’s job.

Scenario 3:

James is a secretary, working 40 hours a week at $10 an hour.  His duties are exactly the same as Julie’s.  Julie also makes $10 an hour, but due to family duties, can only work 30.8 hours a week.  Thus, as it happens, Julie makes 77% less than James.

Now, common sense and common decency tells you that there is nothing particularly discriminatory about scenarios 2 and 3, and yet the assertion in the headlines and floating around that women only make 77% for each dollar earned by men holds true in them.  It is only in scenario 1 where we can justifiably be annoyed.  Now, does the assertion give us enough information to be able to know which scenario is in play?  No.  Absolutely not.   The assertion rests on number crunching in the aggregate, but injustices can only be demonstrated when looking at particulars.  It is probably not an accident that it is framed this way.  The manipulators know most people don’t have time to examine everything put in front of them, and who could be against equal pay?

I took the liberty of performing such an examination, even though I had some good reasons already for thinking the great leaps based on the assertion were asinine.

First I looked here:  http://www.pay-equity.org/

Notice how their examples all flow from lumping data together, and not addressing common sense distinctions such as the ones I highlighted in my three scenarios.  Surely, I thought, someone must have a brain at that website, so my concern had to be addressed somewhere?  Not really.  The closest it comes is a report such as this one, which if you observe breaks things down by occupations, but still does not factor in the possibility that women might work fewer hours.  Full time is defined as at least 35 hours a week.  Even with that, half of our disparity could be accounted for;  if a man works 40 hours a week and the woman works 35, that would close the ‘gap’ from 77% to 87%.

No word about the possibility that men might work more overtime  than women, too.  Surely that would have a bearing on the question?  But not a hint of that reflected in the report.

Bear in mind that the HHS has redefined ‘full time’ as working 30 hours a week or more, as opposed to 40 hours a week, and the possibility going forward is even more wide open that the ‘wage gap’ can be explained in other ways than discrimination.  I predict that in the next few years, even under a (perish the thought!) second Obama administration, the putative ‘wage gap’ inexplicably widens further… requiring even more government intervention, of course.  The special interests are eager to play their part.

In the meantime, the very same report has a whole heading that says:  “Women are More than Twice as Likely as Men to Work in Occupations with Poverty Wages”

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. inquiring minds would like to know if THIS FACT ALONE might explain the ‘gap.’  The report says:  “more than twice as many women (5.52 million) than men (2.3 million) work in occupations with median earnings for full-time work below the federal poverty threshold for a family of four.”

I don’t know about you, but a difference representing 3.2 million more women than men could, in the aggregate, seems like something that could go a long way in explaining the ‘gap.’  We may wonder if perhaps we need to address the issue from the point of perspective of how we can help women get jobs that do not pay ‘poverty wages’, but that is entirely separate from the issue of whether or not men doing the same work for the same length of time get paid the same ‘poverty wage.’  Remember, the charts showing the percentage of men’s wages that the women make per occupation do not tell us how many hours each work or whether or not overtime hours are taken into account.  My money is on a BIG FAT NO.

I said before that I had reason to believe that this was all rubbish before I took the time to see what the other side said.  I have several lines of anecdotal evidence, and I think a lot of people have the same experiences.  But before I address that, it is worth mentioning that it is already ILLEGAL to pay a woman less for the same work that a man does.  Has been for a long time.  If there is a legitimate problem here, it comes down to enforcement.  However, unlike many people in our country, I don’t believe businesspeople are idiots.  I think that they are plenty sensitive about protecting their own rear ends, even if they are bloodthirsty robber barons (as 99% of them evidently are, to hear some talk) who don’t care a lick about their fellow man.  Or woman.

Now my anecdotes.  In the report I have been touching on, it has this particular statement:

Elementary and middle school teachers –  weekly:  $933. percentage of a man’s wage: 91.3%.

Now, anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that most of the elementary and middle school teachers in this country are public school teachers–as is my wife, which is why I know this.  You can go online to just about any school district to check their wage scale.  For example, here is one I found in about 30 seconds.

Please observe on the first page a scale that tells you how much you will make per year of experience taking into account your education level.  I looked and looked and looked and I couldn’t see any separate category that said “if you are a woman, you will make only 91.3% of these figures.”

Elementary and middle school teachers are discriminated against because they are women and only make 91.3% of what a man makes?  From personal experience, I say BOGUS.

I have had a number of jobs over the years.  The starting wages were often public.   There was never any way that someone could be hired at a different rate.  Indeed, in one of my current jobs, it is a demonstrable fact that everyone makes the same amount, whether they are male or female.

If in fact elementary and middle school teachers are making 91.3% less than their male counterparts (unlikely, it seems to me), then this means that liberal leftist unions across this country are deliberately and purposefully selling women short.  If the women they represent are getting the shaft, it is happening right underneath the noses of the people who supposedly are there to keep such things from happening.  Or, it is those organizations themselves inflicting the injustice.  It isn’t Romney–oh, that dastardly Romney–or conservatives and Republicans.  It is the Democrats, unions, and dare I say–special interest groups?–keeping women down.

Or…  perhaps the answer is more benign, and other factors are in play.  I’ve alluded to some, such as the nature of the jobs in question, the amount of hours worked, etc.

The report I’ve been citing says this at the end:  “The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialogue, and strengthen families, communities, and societies.”

Evidently, I have a different definition of ‘rigorous’ than the IWPR has, because from my perspective, they completely overlooked some really obvious questions and considerations.  But for some reason, judging from them and a lot of the other sites I looked at to make sure I had my facts straight, I don’t think ‘overlooked’ is quite the right word.

Disclaimer:  I am not a woman-hater.  Some of my best friends are women.  I’m even married to a woman.  (You have to clarify that these days).  I think women should be paid equally for equal work.  But I am not a dupe, and I will not be played.




Oct 09

My Response to Wisconsin-La Crosse Professor Bradley Butterfield’s Column Promoting Abortion in the Name of ‘Women’s Rights’ with Overpopulation the Real Target

On October 4th, UW-L English professor Bradley Butterfield had his guest view defending abortion in the name of ‘Women’s Rights’ and it was clear to me that this was really just a cover for his real agenda, which is population control.  I don’t know him well enough to know if he is even aware of his real agenda or not.  Anyway, here is his column. [archived]

Today, the La Crosse Tribune posted my response, which I have pasted below in its original format.  (The Trib edited it somewhat.  Not too badly, but some of my phraseology was intentional).  But I wanted to speak to Butterfield’s overpopulation comment first.

After a bunch of hoopla about women’s rights, avoiding cruelty, and lauding Peter Singer, he writes:

Meanwhile, the planet already is overpopulated, with too many people vying for too few natural resources. Outlawing abortion will only swell the ranks of the needy while driving desperate women to seek dangerous illegal solutions.

Now, this is what you should really pay attention to.

I have addressed this Malthusian mindset often and frequently, and pointed out that it was intimately tied to most of the atrocities we can name in the last two centuries.  Now, let me ask you  a question.  Does Mr. Butterfield care about abortion because it is a fundamental part of a woman’s ‘right to her own body’ or is he worried about depriving the planet of a mechanism for ‘swelling the ranks of the needy’?   Butterfield, predictably, will say both, but there is no way this can be rational.  If abortion on demand is justifiable on its own terms, then the reference to over-population is superfluous and irrelevant. If a woman’s choice is the guiding principle, how are the available resources a consideration at all?   Does the woman’s choice fluctuate based on available resources?

Liberals do in fact believe that, as I have demonstrated elsewhere on this blog.  Search “Jaffe Memo” and “John Holdren” to get you started.  Holdren, for example, actually said that we can compel women to get abortions if the population ‘problem’ gets out of control.  In light of his comments, if John Holdren were sitting in front of me arguing that abortion should be allowed because a woman has a right to choose what to do with her own body, I would laugh in his face.  There is no way he can actually believe that, and if he does, his brain is such a muddled pile of slop that there is no way at all he should be the chief science officer of the Obama administration.  I understand that there is a third option:  he is a liar.

Either a woman has the right to an abortion, or she does not.  The putative amount of available resources is irrelevant.  Similarly, if a person is a person no matter his stage of development, he has a right to live, no matter what the available resources are.  If there is only enough food for 10 people on an island, but there are 11 people, the other 10 are never justified in finding the weakest, most defenseless person among them and putting a bullet in his head.  Never.

But Butterfield believes it is relevant–relevant enough to mention in his defense of abortion on demand.  I think it is reasonable to ask the question:  “Mr. Butterfield, do you really care about women’s rights, or is that just a front for your less politically safe viewpoint that we need to curb the population of undesirables such as ‘needy’ people?

Anyway, as interesting as all this is, in my own response, I fixed on the truly fundamental issue.  Read on.

 Not When Rights Begin but Who Gives Them the Question

Bradley Butterfield’s October 4th essay reflects flawed thinking and makes false representations of the ‘pro-life’ view.  He says “when does life begin?” is the wrong question.  He says that “many ‘pro-lifers’ believe they should be allowed to force their beliefs on others.”

There is a reason why the abortion debate has centered on when life begins over against when rights begin–it is generally agreed that all persons have a basic right to life.  Only in serious cases, such as when one person murders another do we set that right aside.  If the unborn are persons, they deserve our protection.  Pro-lifers are not imposing a religious belief on others by taking this view, they are extending a principle that even liberals accept to a particular sub-group, the unborn.

However, Mr. Butterfield’s preferred starting point illustrates that ‘personhood’ status is not particularly relevant to him or other liberals.

By way of example, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minverva, paying homage to Peter Singer  as Mr. Butterfield does, argue in a 2012 Journal of Medical Ethics article that the fact that both fetuses and newborns “are potential persons is morally irrelevant.”  They say that “when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

If we no longer link rights with personhood, what becomes our guiding principle?  Mr. Butterfield has an answer.  According to him, the highest moral virtue is to avoid cruelty:   “Immoral behavior [is] behavior that causes unnecessary suffering.”  To suffer requires cognition, which ‘the human fetus is incapable of.’   You cannot “be ‘cruel’ to something that cannot suffer.”

Obviously, there is no reason this principle can’t be extended.  Indeed, Peter Singer argues that children up to the age of two don’t necessarily have a right to live.

But why stop there?  In a June 2010 opinion piece Singer asks:  “How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world?”  He suggests, “If we could see our lives objectively, we would see that they are not something we should inflict on anyone.”  On this view, “everyone will suffer to some extent [so] we can be sure that some future children will suffer severely.”  His conclusion: everyone in the world should sterilize themselves.  Why cause unnecessary suffering to future generations?

Or consider ‘bio-ethicist’ Jacob Appel, who takes issue with parents of children born with birth defects having the choice to kill their child.  Why?  Because doctors should make that choice, not parents.  In a 2009 journal article, he argues that “A child with a birth-defect will endure “several years or even decades of extreme suffering,” which trumps the suffering the family might endure if the State intervened and killed the child.  He argues that this is “an inevitable consequence of our progress toward liberal humanism.”  And indeed it is.

Appel, like Singer, is anything if not consistent.  In a 2009 Huffington Post article he argues that we ought to allow women to pay their way through college by conceiving babies, aborting them, and then selling the body parts.  “If a woman has the fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy, why not the right to use the products of that terminated pregnancy as she sees fit?” he asks.

We might also ask:  “If someone ‘incapable of basic cognition and of suffering of any kind’ does not have an intrinsic right to life, what about someone under general anesthesia?  By definition, such people are incapable of suffering, right?”  The liberal argument appears internally inconsistent.  Insofar as it is applied consistently, we see outrageous outcomes seriously suggested:  the harvesting of fetal organs, euthanizing of already-born children with–and without–parental consent, all the way up to and including the actual elimination of the human race.  That would solve Mr. Butterfield’s concerns about overpopulation, I think.

I actually agree that the important question is not “when does life begin?”  However, the right one is not “when do rights begin?” but rather “where do our rights come from?”  Mr. Butterfield believes that society imparts those rights.  Therein lies the true difference in our views.  We know of societies that have elevated  ‘don’t cause unnecessary suffering’ over even the right to live.  Google “Life unworthy of life.”  Historically, where ‘when do rights begin?’ has been taken as the starting point, only horrors have followed.  Choose your starting points carefully; whatever your intentions, your final destination may not be what you had in mind.


Oct 09

Romney in a Landslide, if the election is fair

I have been telling people for sometime that I believe Romney will win in a landslide.  I suppose if I don’t post this before the election, I won’t get any props for making the right prediction.

I was spurred on by Andrew Sullivan’s complaints that Obama threw the election at the debate.  Look, I understand that’s the narrative, but that’s not really the correct account.  The ‘neck and neck’ polls over the last few months do not tell the truth.  Romney’s victory was assured in November 2010, not a debate in 2012.

All those people who were outraged at Obamacare and the Democrat pillaging of the treasury that led to the Republican landslide in 2010 are still outraged.  What people fail to understand is that conservatives are not like liberals.  ‘Taking it to the streets’ is not their highest expression of democracy.   Conservatives don’t feel like they need to put it in people’s face all the time.  If they do take it to the streets–or ‘listening sessions’–you can bet that they are very, very, very upset about something.

Protest rallies packed with liberals chanting “this is what democracy looks like” are a dime a dozen.  And yet, in liberal Wisconsin, not only was Scott Walker elected in 2010, but he survived the recall.  In liberal Wisconsin, the conservative judge, David Prosser, won election in April of 2011, immediately following the Winter of Rage.

Why?  How has this happened?  Because the Dems of 2008 with Captain Obama leading the way in his glorious cape went too far.  They went so far that even people who normally wanted no part in politics woke up one morning and said, “Holy crap.  If I don’t do something here, these people are going to own me.”  These people are still awake.  They just aren’t the sort to riot in the streets.  Nothing has fundamentally changed since 2010.  The same avalanche that engulfed hundreds of Dems in that and subsequent elections is still coming down.

So what did happen at the debate?  I think you have to bear in mind how unhappy conservatives are with the Romney pick.  Indeed, many of the people who participated in the 2010 Dem smackdown are not happy with the Romney pick.  There is a general lack of enthusiasm for him among conservatives, just as there had been for McCain. ‘Moderates’ on the other hand, while not particularly bothered by the Romney pick, weren’t entirely sure that Romney could hold his own.  What both camps weren’t sure of was whether or not Romney had the ‘stuff.’

The debate showed that Romney was more than up to the task.  This was the hump for conservatives and moderates alike.  It had nothing to do with Obama’s performance.  Indeed, I suspect that had Obama done better, this would have highlighted Romney’s competency even more.  To put a finer point on it:  all these people were going to vote for Romney anyway but they didn’t see much reason to get excited.  They didn’t particularly care to register support for Romney in polls and what not.  Now they have deemed that the Romney-wagon is safe to hitch themselves to.

The debate revealed nothing about Obama that attentive people have seen in him for the last four years:  He is an ’empty suit.’  He is an ’empty chair.’  The debate only revealed something about Romney, but it only uncovered and crystallized anti-Obama sentiment that had been lying quietly beneath the surface for 2-4 years.

Romney in a landslide.

Full disclosure:  As a conservative, I am disgusted with the Romney pick and still don’t know that I’ll vote for him.  I’ve been telling people that if they want to see America go off the fiscal cliff in 3 years, vote for Obama… if you want to see it go off the fiscal cliff in 6 years, vote for Romney.  But I suppose buying 3 years is better than nothing.



Oct 02

We are all bullies now: Jennifer Livingston, meet Kenneth Krause, Liberal, Atheist, Secular Humanist

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(found this on the net, don’t blame me)

So I was minding my own business of late so was out of the loop with this whole Jennifer Livingston business.  I find this ironic, because the whole thing is going on in my own geographic area and it touches on a number of issues that rile me up.

A local news anchor (Jennifer Livingston) received an email.  Here is the text:

It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Her husband, a fellow news anchor, posted it on his Facebook page.  (Note, it is not usually wise to send incendiary comments to people who can distribute them widely in a flash).

There was an outcry in support of Livingston, with a few people here and there siding with the original emailer.  It’s gone national now, which is why you are here reading this.

I heard mention of it on my local radio station (WZIM) but it was my wife that shared the first details.  As soon as she did, I said, “I bet you anything it was a liberal concerned about the obesity epidemic.  No doubt he was concerned about the high costs to society these people represent.”  And then my wife forwarded the gentleman’s response:

Given this country’s present epidemic of obesity and the many truly horrible diseases related thereto, and considering Jennifer Livingston’s fortuitous position in the community, I hope she will finally take advantage of a rare and golden opportunity to influence the health and psychological well-being of Coulee Region children by transforming herself for all of her viewers to see over the next year, and, to that end, I would be absolutely pleased to offer Jennifer any advice or support she would be willing to accept. — Kenneth W. Krause

Point, Horvath.

As soon as I heard the name I knew I recognized it.  Of course, Kenneth Krause.  He’s had some things in the local paper.  He was at least a blip on my radar.  I believe it was his reading group that sat down near my table in the local Barnes and Noble and began to say the things that “socially concerned” atheists like to say.

So the guy is a raving secular humanist, so what?

Right now, the discussion over his comments to Livingston have been seen through the prism of ‘bullying.’

That’s the wrong way to look at this.  Condemning bullying is easy and simple and most people, Krause and a few quislings included, without lifting an intellectual finger, can jump on that bandwagon enthusiastically.

How was I able to determine that the the speaker would be a liberal worried about the ‘obesity’ epidemic?

Come on folks.  Open your eyes.

Just as a simple example, consider this story that I read just today about the USDA encouraging parents to introduce crappy food that kids don’t like at home, so that they will eat them at school.

And why is our government ‘waging war’ on obesity?  Consider a bit of news that I heard on WIZM just a few weeks ago:  Wisconsin obesity rate among adults on the rise, study finds

Trust for America’s Health released a state-by-state study titled “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012,” which found the obesity rate among Wisconsin adults could be 56.3 percent by 2030. In 2011, 27.7 percent of the state’s adults were obese.

The report found the increase in obesity is expected to contribute toward higher disease rates and health care costs, which the report said might rise by 14.7 percent by 2030.

“Over the next 20 years, obesity could contribute to 708,716 new cases of type 2 diabetes, 1,579,761 new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, 1,478,205 new cases of hypertension, 958,720 new cases of arthritis and 223,559 new cases of obesity-related cancer in Wisconsin,” the report said.

Nationwide, 39 states might have obesity rates higher than 50 percent by 2030, 13 of those with obesity rates higher than 60 percent, the report found.

If the average body mass index of Wisconsin’s residents went down 5 percent by 2030, or about a ten-pound loss for a six-foot, 200-pound person, the report found Wisconsin health care costs could drop 7.4 percent. By 2030, this could bring savings of $11,962,000,000.

So there you have it.  Health care costs are out of control, and since–thanks to Obamacare and other Nanny-state initiatives–we the people have to foot the bill for all those fat people, we the people have got to intervene.

The article continues:

The report outlined various recommendations to implement and said the government should be involved in ensuring citizens stay healthy.  […]

Included among the recommended policy changes were “fully implement[ed]” nutrition standards for school meals, prioritizing physical education in schools and protection of existing prevention funds, as well as more investments and encouraging preventive care.

Hmmm.  It almost sounds like all this is going on right now, right?

What does atheism, secular humanism, and liberalism have to do with this?  That’s kind of my point.  It has a lot to do with it, but rarely do we see the connections.  This is an opportunity to connect the dots.

It’s very simple.  Atheists and secular humanists believe this world is all there is.  Liberalism is composed predominantly of people such as these.  They feel duty bound, therefore, to make this world the best it can be.   In their quest to perfect society, they (quite sincerely and with good intentions) believe they not only have the right, but the moral imperative (IRONY ALERT!) to impose their charitable aspirations on the rest of humanity.

And our government is filled with these people.  They are everywhere.  They are well-meaning, but they have every intention to MICRO MANAGE YOU TO DEATH.  80% of our Federal government is named Kenneth W. Krause.

And YOU probably elected the people who put these people into positions of power and influence.

YOU allow one intrusive measure after another, because who could be against X, Y, and Z?

YOU probably bought into the idea that the government needs to provide everyone with health care, and the nanny state ninnies, knowing full well the scope of the problem set before them, began thinking about all the different ways that YOU are costing the state.  They’ve been tasked–BY YOU–to make the hard decisions required in order to provide everyone with ‘free health care.’  You don’t like the school lunches.  You think Nanny Bloomberg is over the top banning (fill in the blank).  You don’t like (fill in the blank).

Tough.  This is what you asked for, this is what you’re getting.  If you give people like Kenneth W. Krause access to the levers of power to do ‘good’ as they see fit, this is the sort of thing that is going to happen.  For your own good, of course; and the common good–because remember, society has to pay for your costly behaviors.  You would be selfish to speak out against their actions, ya know?  And obviously, we should call attention to people being selfish.

It is ironic than that this is all being seen through the prism of ‘bullying.’

When one person calls another person fat, that is bullying.  When the government calls two thirds of America’s citizenry fat, we call that being ‘socially concerned.’  Who elected this government?  We the people.  If Kenneth Krause is a bully, so is the government, and so are all the people who told the government it was ‘ok’ to involve itself in every area of our lives.  We are all bullies now.

If Krause and the hundreds of thousands of government bureaucrats that think just like him are right, then the tiniest details related to how our behaviors impact the ‘State’ must be brought under scrutiny, and offensive behaviors singled out for criticism.  If I’m right, there are things more important than the State;  namely, the individual.  The individual should be able to do whatever the heck he or she wants and then the individual should HAVE THE RIGHT to accept the consequences of their actions and decisions, all on their own.

But why should anyone care about the ‘state’ more than the individual?

The things are connected.  It is all connected.  People who believe that this life is all that there is (read: your typical progressive) believe that society embodies the only thing of lasting value.  The individual is transitory, the State persists.  People who believe this therefore tend to gravitate to places where they can ‘tweak’ the State for the ‘common good.’  Whatever YOUR good intentions are, when you vote for things like “free” health care, you put people like Kenneth Krause in power.  That’s just the fact, Jack.

This isn’t about bullying.  Krause only did what the people in our government are doing every day.  And who elected the people who put those people there?  That makes you and I the real bully.

But if you believe that the individual is what persists, and the State will fade away, then you know that one can only push things so far in the name of the ‘common good.’  You won’t try to micro-manage your fellow man.  What we see in this story is that we enjoy the idea of micro-managing our fellow man for the ‘common good’ in the abstract, if we see it applied to a specific person or topic, or to oneself, one doesn’t like it very much.

But you can’t have one without the other.  You can’t complain about the micro-managers while electing them and giving them the power to micro-manage.  That makes no sense whatsoever.

If that describes YOU, then that suggests very strongly that it is your worldview that needs adjusting.  You’ve got a golden opportunity to make that adjustment in under a month.

An E-Book by Anthony Horvath:



Sep 25

I Can See the Holocaust from My House

Originally Posted at Laigles Forum

Tina Fey, impersonating Sarah Palin, joked, “I can see Russia from my house.”

I can see the next holocaust from my house, and it is no joke.

In the decades leading up to one of the most horrific chapters in human history, the leading lights of the day openly discussed bringing about those horrors. Eugenics was posited as the rational position of all intelligent, well-meaning individuals. In journals, newspapers, academic conferences, public health offices and elsewhere, they talked about sterilizing people with or without their consent, segregating them from society, or even exterminating them. And that was in America.

In a book written in 1920 by two German experts and applauded by American experts, it was argued that it was allowable to destroy the ‘life unworthy of life.’

Who was regarded as ‘life unworthy of life’? The handicapped, the disabled, the diseased, the mentally ill, the ‘feeble-minded.’ Really, just about anyone the experts decided was ‘unfit’ could be deemed ‘unworthy of life.’ When eugenics morphed into the Holocaust, many of its proponents quietly went to ground. Some asked ‘What went wrong?’ but few arrived at the right answer.

Fast forward sixty years. Enter Julian Savulescu.

You probably don’t know who Julian Savulescu is, just as your average American off the street in 1910 wouldn’t have known who Charles Davenport was. You probably don’t know who Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva are, just as your average American in 1920 wouldn’t have known who Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding were.

But you may recall a few months ago when two ‘ethicists’ quietly submitted an article in an ethics magazine arguing that the logic of abortion does not cease after the child has fully exited the birth canal. For all the reasons that abortion on demand was justified, so too, the two ‘ethicists’ Giubilini and Minerva argued, was infanticide. Of course, they preferred to call it ‘after-birth abortion.’

I hope that nobody misunderstands me: Giubilini and Minerva were correct in their analysis. If they are to be faulted for anything, it is for stopping at the newborn.

When people heard about this article there was outrage, and not a little of it spilled over onto the journal that printed the article in the first place. That journal was “The Journal of Medical Ethics.” Flabbergasted, the editor defended the publication of the article, saying:

“As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.”

Yes, that is quite right. The arguments presented were not new, and have been ‘presented repeatedly.’

He continued, “What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.”

This embattled editor of a renown journal of medical ethics is named Julian Savulescu. Continue reading