Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Making an Example of Abortion

I have found myself arguing against the nonsense of abortion as an acceptable form of birth control recently. Raised Catholic, I have always been pro-life, but recently the abortion issue has attracted by attention for several reasons. First, with the appointment of Roberts as well as the pending--perhaps ever pending--nomination of Alito has gotten the left all in a tizzy. It's a pity they couldn't raise as large a stink over the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq or the budget deficit. I've beat that drum often enough, but the inadequacy of the Democrats to do a thing on the few issues they have some credibility is disappointing, if expected. I digress.

Secondly, it occured to me not long ago just how pathetic the argument for abortion really is. The pro-choice side is wallowing in a tragic inconsistency, unable to define "life" in a way that makes sense. Science is a wonderful thing when it comes to discussing evolution, but when it comes to heartbeats and brain waves, platitudes are spouted about coat-hangers and back-alleys. To be sure, there are plenty of pro-lifers who couldn't argue their way out of wet paper bag, but at least they have the luxury of being right.

Lastly, I have confirmed what I have long believed: Republicans pay lip serivce to abortion, but do not care to do anything about it, at least at the federal level. The party loyalists may actually give a darn about the greatest moral crisis in our lifetimes, but the "representatives" insist on nappung through the calamity. Bush's failure to nominate solid pro-life justices despite his party's control of the Senate marks him as a coward and a traitor in my book. Lacking a real voice in Washington, I have turned to screaming quietly from my little soap box. Here's to re-occuring themes.

The LA Times, which leans so far to the left it has all but fallen over, had an interesting piece on abortion recently. Though they were scarecly able to keep their great fear that Roe will go tumbling spectacularily down, they did provide some intriguing bits for me to chew on, spit out, and tread all over.

Harrison warns every patient he sees that abortion may be illegal one day. He wants to stir them to activism, but most women respond mildly.

I should explain that Harrison is the abortionist. I should also explain that he has very good real reason to fear that abortion will again be illegal. Pat Buchanan would tell us to turn to the dying West as Europe's near future is coming to the United States. A declining birth rate--brought to you by birth control and abortion--spells the writing on the wall for a people. I, too, have beat this drum before. Suffice it to say that unless Harrison has an idea to reverse the birth trend, the government will have to pay women to have children and scrap abortion just to survive.

If this piece was only another chance for me to bemoan the state of the Republican party and the Union at large, my readers would have a reason to be disappointed. Fortunately, Harrison illustrates some liberal short-comings which need to be pointed out.

He calls himself an "abortionist" and says, "I am destroying life."

But he also feels he's giving life: He calls his patients "born again."

Lesson one: the ends justify the means. I do not even know where to begin with this one. Cold-blooded murder can never be deemed morally acceptable. Never. It is foolish to think that there can be any gain in voluntarily throwing out a life so that another life can be continued. The woman is usually not as any sort of risk of dying, and allowing her to terminate her pregnancy in order to not impede on the woman's life style. Mother Teresa steals the day admirably. "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish. "

"We try to make sure she doesn't ever feel guilty," he says, "for what she feels she has to do."

Another liberal fallacy is that guilt should be removed from life. Evidently no one remembers the lesson of dear Pinnochio. For when we make our conscience our guide, we do feel guilt from time to time. If one commits murder and does not feel guilt, that would be a problem. It is not unhealthy to feel shame incurred from committing an immoral action.

Oh, and for the record, many women do feel a terrible sorrow after their abortion. Norma McCorvey, the woman behind Roe has now turned to fight to overturn the law she helped enact. According to a pamplet put out my pro-lifers, up to 62% of American women that have had an abortion experience suicdal thoughts. How's that for guilt Harrison?

"There's things wrong with abortion," she says. "But I want to have a good life. And provide a good life for my child." To keep this baby now, she says, when she's single, broke and about to start college, "would be unfair."

The woman speaking is "an 18-year-old with braces on her teeth" who has just had an abortion. I do wonder how the fetus would feel about the fairness of her decision. After all, isn't a mediocre life better than no life at all?

The Declaration of Independence asserts a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson had the order right even if moderns have gotten it all wrong. Perhaps this is only a staple of Christianity, to value life above liberty and property. A life in the gulag, or a tortured existence in dire poverty beats the hell out of non-existence. It is easy for me to say this from the safety and comfort of my own home, but the point remains.

Liberals tell me that conservatives only care for a person until he is alive, and then do not care about him until he reaches draft age. There is very little truth to this, and an opposition to social programs does not mean that a conservative does not care for people. It simply means he values a person's existence over the comfortable existence--surely a pipe dream if there ever was one--that liberals would garnish upon us all.

For the few women who arrive ambivalent or beset by guilt, Harrison's nurse has posted statistics on the exam-room mirror: One out of every four pregnant women in the U.S. chooses abortion. A third of all women in this country will have at least one abortion by the time they're 45.

"You think there's room in hell for all those women?" the nurse will ask.

Parents love to ask their children if they would jump off a bridge if their friends did. The question is irksome, but pokes at an obvious truth. Just because everyone is doing something does not make it right. There is something wholesome to be said for those who enter by the narrow gate.

I hope and pray that women who have an abortion repent and save themselves from hell. Yet, Judgment is mine sayeth the Lord. It is good to remember that. Pretendint to be able to cast one's opponents into hell makes for bad debate. Arguing emphatically, using evidence, and exposing the liberal position on abortion as the selfish facade that it is, on the other hand, is a better tactic. Whether or not the pro-life sides suceeds any time soon remains to be seen. Unforuntately.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Balancing Capitalism

Troutsky has my wheels turning again, as always. In a discussion over at his own Thoughtstreaming, he asks: "...why does capitalism tend towards monopoly?"

He goes on to answer his own question. "If it is an intrinsic tendency (as I believe) and markets are simply a clever, manipulative device to channel wealth and support for them is embedded in a power structure extremely resistant to change,the best reformers can hope for is Keyensian initiatives designed to avoid social unrest.The mechanisms (such as a bloated bureacracy) can be as bad as the cartels, in terms of democracy and freedom."

I must confess, I know little of Keynes. I attempted to read one of his books, as recommended by Saving Aeneas, but found it so dry and dull that I could not get through it. If anyone knows of anywhere I could get a quick round-down of Keynesian economic theory I would greatly appreciate it. Claiming ignorance then, I will not discuss Keynes, but merely throw in my own two cents in another manner.

The key with capitalism, as with a most things, is moderation. On one hand, the system must allow for growth. A business that provides an economic good or service at a viable price should be able to expand. If I, for example, can make and sell widgets cheaper than anyone else on the market, and if my widgets are good, I will go far. Further, as long as I am not paying my workers insufficient wages--a matter of subjectivity--it behooves society to let my widget making spread.

This, of course, is where monopoly comes into play. Ignoring the strong possibility of a decrease in the value of the monopolized product, which is surely a bad thing, does monopoly itself pose a problem? Troutsky seems to suggest that it does. Insofar as a monopoly is total, he is most certainly right. If a monopoly is incomplete, however, the water becomes a bit muddy. Lacking the time to calculate the exact formula for such a thing, I will make a generic statement that seems to fit the bill. The government's role is to ensure that the market remains competitive. Doing so will often cause it to limit monopoly.

This is where I have a bit of a beef with the true libertarians. The whole of libertarian philosophy is founded on a solid principle. Man is corrupt, and the more power he has, the more corrupt he will be. Lord Acton's famous maxim is merely the doctrine of original sin applied. Understaning this as they do, it is unfortunate to see them apply the rule to its full extent. For though the government if given too much power will become corrupt, so too will the private sector. A free market is a wonderful thing, but it is like something of a fairy tale. Remove the government and there is nothing to stop one corporation from ruling all. You will have replaced the tyrannical rule of the government with the equally tyrannical rule of the corporate elite. At least in this democracy of ours we have a vote.

This brings us back to the moderation I mentioned earlier. The government must not be too weak, as the true libertarians would like or we have the articles of confederation all over again. Better still, we would have the industrial revolution, complete with Standard Oil and the like. At the same time, the government must not be too strong. It is possible that a very strong government could stifle growth. But even a government that is not as strong as that of a totalitarian state can still cause problems. We have such a government in America today. Although the feds do have the power to regulate the private sector, they instead cater favors with the corporations. At least in a "free market", the corporation which rises to the top will have done so because of the viability of her good or service. In today's system, it seems to be based more on an insidious ability to cater to our wonderful elected servants.

The whole trick, then, is a balancing act. The government must fit into the nice seemingly conflicted edges of a paradox. It must be strong enough to prevent the private sector from ruling all. It must also be weak enough to never be able to usurp all the power for itself. It must not become an attractive whore, with which businesses will lie down with--for business, and especially big business, is amoral. But it must not be too pathetic to fight back against the dirty capitalists who would have their way with the rest of us. It must be a protector and a defender, indeed, a great hero and not a whore, but one with the dignity and humility to rule justly for ages to come.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Lode 11-30

The song says that there are twelve days of Christmas, but if all the shopping days are counted, the season lasts for about a month. No reasonable person will argue that the over-commercialization of Christmas is a good thing. Yet beneath all the tinsel, candy-canes and mistletoe is a very wholesome thing. The ritual of buying presents for loved ones is the most sensible thing to do to celebrate December 25th, and doing so brings us closer, not further, from the true meaning of Christmas.

Even without the early-bird sales, Christmas marks a very important time of year, especially for Christians. When God became man to pay the penalty for our sins, he showed his great love for mankind. Although we can in no way repay Christ, we ought not keep the joy we have found to ourselves. It makes sense to pass it around. It makes even more sense to wrap it up in the form of a present so that the joy takes the form of a surprise.

No doubt there are those who cannot see how the giving of simple gifts has anything to do with an impoverished child's birth in ancient Judea. There will always be unfortunate souls who would spoil what is in itself a wholesome thing. Yet scrapping the affair of gift-giving because of the occasional holiday mayhem is akin to throwing out the newborn babe with the bathwater.

Indeed, it is charming to think of the deep symbolism so many miss each year. The wrapped presents, poking playfully from under the tree that bring mirth to small children will one day lead to that far greater joy the child-like shepherds had, when they too, found a present. For they found the most precious gift of all, and it too was wrapped, not in paper, but in swaddling clothes.

The (Shattered) American Dream

It occured to me recently, just how silly the "American Dream" really is. I would not define the American Dream as a white picket fence near a big house in the suburbs with two cars and two and a half children for a husband and a wife. I would say that it is much simpler than that. It is the simple act of creating a life for one's children that is easier and more comfortable than the one you had. Typically, this applies mainly to the material.

There has been a backlash against the remnants of the American Dream since before I was born. To cite just one example, Jello Biafra, the lead singer of the hardcore punk band The Dead Kennedys has some thought provoking things to say in his song "Terminal Preppie".

I go to college
That makes me so cool
I live in a dorm
And show off by the pool

I join the right clubs
Just to build an impression
I block out thinking
It won't get me ahead

My ambition in life
Is to look good on paper
All I want is a slot
In some big corporation

John Belushi's my hero
I lampoon and I ape him
My news of the world
Comes from Sports Illustrated

I'm proud of my trophies
Like my empty beer cans
Stacked in rows up the wall
To impress all my friends

No, I'm not here to learn
I just want to get drunk
And major in business
And be taught how to f_ck

Win! Win!
I always play to win
Wanna fit in like a cog
In the faceless machine

I'm a terminal terminal terminal preppie
terminal terminal terminal preppie
terminal terminal terminal terminal
terminal terminal terminal terminal

I want a wife with t_ts
Who just smiles all the time
In my centerfold world
Filled with Springsteen and wine

Some day I'll have power
Some day I'll have boats
A tract in some suburb
With Thanksgivings to host

Clearly, Mr. Biafra is not buying into the dream. It is interesting, though not surprising, that the hardcore movement sprung from the suburbs. Although I do not disddain captitalism as much as many in the movement, having lived for most of my life in the suburbs, I do share some of Biafra's disdain. We suburbanites have generally had things quite well. It is safe to say that I have done very little suffering in my life time, even if I bemoan the minor wrongs that I undergo occasionally, often blowing them completely out of proportion. Yet there are a great many of my classmates and others, even some of my close friends, who seem--if they may forgive my pretentiousness--to wish to live the life of the terminal preppie, forgetting something crucially important. A lack of real suffering is not synonomous with happiness.

If I may quote one of the dying breed of the movement, the band Rise Against has something revealing to say.

We’re meant for something more than living just to put food on our plates
I can’t help but wonder--why should we participate?

Indeed. There are those of us who are wondering why we must buy into this American Dream. There is, of course, nothing that says we "must" buy into this charade. We are then left wondering, is it better to break out of the system, or to fight it from within? I believe fighting is called for, but that is a bit of a different topic, left for another day.

To stay on point, there is a good reason that the Dream has failed. Progress, insofar as material possessions are concerned is not an easy thing to define. Having more material comforts is, one would assume, a good thing, but there is clearly a line of sorts which it is best not to cross. Material things can bring joy, but they cannot in and of themselve bring any sort of lasting happiness. What is most interesting, is that any reasonable person will assuredly confirm this. And yet our culture is still belligerently drunk on materialism.

Since the punk rockers have had their say, I will now give Christ a shot.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

This is good, solid advice. As long as this is taken to heart, there is nothing wrong with creating a good life foryou and your loved ones. Yet it is easy to let this timeless truth fall to the wayside, especially in today's world. Advertisements incessantly demand that we fulfill our insatiable appetite for useless junk, useless that is, if we wish it to bring us meaningful happiness.

It is time for another American Dream. One that can bring happiness. I do not wish to get preachy, for that seldom does much good. Yet it should be noted that Jesus had some other practical things to say as well. The punks often missed this, and to a large extent that is why the whole movement failed. Until we, as a people, shift the focus of that misguided dream, we too will end in failure.

Where your treasure is....

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

On Catholic Misunderstanding

As a conservative Catholic, I have noticed a stong bias in the "mainstream" press in regards to traditional Catholic idealogy. Admittedly, I have an emotional attachment on anything regarding my Church. Let the reader decide then, whether or not the sky is falling.

The Vatican says homosexuals who are sexually active or support "gay culture" are unwelcome in the priesthood unless they have overcome their homosexual tendencies for at least three years, according to a church document posted on the Internet by an Italian Catholic news agency.

Almost shocking. The Church apparently wants its leaders to express some devotion to the doctrine it espouses. This is analogous to a public school accepting only English teachers who can read and write. A trite story perhaps, but no bias yet.

Estimates of the number of gays in U.S. seminaries and the priesthood range from 25 percent to 50 percent, according to a review of research by the Rev. Donald Cozzens, a former seminary rector and author of "The Changing Face of the Priesthood."

I've heard percentages as high as 60. Homosexuals in the priesthood is the proverbial elephant in the living room for Holy Mother Church.

In September, Vatican-directed inspectors started visiting all 229 American seminaries. Part of their mission is to seek any "evidence of homosexuality" at a time when some Catholics have put forward the highly contested premise that gay priests were more likely to be responsible for criminal behavior such as serial, same-sex molestation.

Note the "highly contested" remark. Head on over to the New Oxford Review to see just how contested this really is. First, as the NOR has highlighted, there are actually more crime committed by homosexuals as a percentage of their representation within the priestly class. In other words, homosexuals are causing a problem in the Church.

This actually makes a whole lot of sense. As the article later points out, the Roman Catholic Church holds homosexuals are "intrisically disordered". Is it any surprise that someone suffering from such a disorder would act disorderly?
The article then closes with a stange statement.

The church, however, says gays and lesbians should be treated with compassion and dignity.

That "however" is curious to me. The world sees a tremendous inconsistency with loving the sinner and hating the sin. There is nothing contradictory about it. The reason for loving our neighbor is obvious enough. The reason for hating the sin is just as obvious.

Sin separates us from our God. The Church understands this, and vehemently despises sin as it has always done. It is too bad, the press, and the world, seems to miss this. Still, it is not surprising as it has always done this. I recall John saying something to this effect, "the reason the world does not know us, is that it did not know Him."

Charming to be right, perhaps, but misunderstanding gets a bit old.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Where Does This Go?

This one has been long in coming. It's not eloquent, or even all that clear. Troutsky, I'm going to need your help on this one.

All around, there are signs of despair. Welcome to the American capitalist culture. Don't ask what is wrong. Ask how on earth we could pretend there wasn't anything wrong all along. All around, corporations selling us things we don't need. Happiness comes wrapped in a comfortable package. It comes to us, without us asking. Compelling us to buy, reminding us of how unhappy we are, how unhappy we must be.

Were we always this unhappy? Or does the lie only seem like the truth if repeated often enough? We must buy, for we need it. It does not matter what it is. It doesn't matter that there is no way we need it. Humans can be bought, and so can, apparently, happiness. I want to scream. I don't need this trash. The system is broken... the system is broken... the system is broken. I create my own mantra to combat the one the world preaches at me. You're unhappy—no I'm not. You need this to be complete—shove off. Everyone has their breaking point. The world wins every time.

It's not just me, I swear. If it was only me, I'd grin. I'd bear it. I would shut up and man up. But I'm not alone. Go to the store, the retail store you know you hate. The one where we all buy our useless crap, the kind of things we need to go on living this silly existence which the world tells us we need to live. They make the rules, we play. The people who sell us our happiness are not happy. I see it. Do you?

Go into the store. Look around. Ask the old man where he keeps the toothpicks. We need those. Watch him sigh, he doesn't care where the toothpicks are. He doesn't care where anything is. He's just waiting to get home and pour a beer. See if he can figure out where it all went wrong. Turn on the tube, maybe, and just forget that we have to care. Try not caring about your life and staying alive. No, I mean really alive.

Next time you ask him for your damned toothpicks, why don't you ask him a different question. Ask him how his day is going. Remind him that you're in this together. You don't like buying toothpicks anymore than he likes selling them. Maybe then he'll smile. The soft kind of smile, the one that almost breaks your heart. It makes you smile, not in happiness, but in comradery. The kind of connection that we all have, that the world tries to make us forget. It's still there. Don't forget.

Tell him you want to help. Tell him you're trying to find the way out. Tell him if you do, you'll be sure to come back and tell him. But you're stuck, too. You've got to get to work. You've got to go to a job you hate. You have to go sell somebody something. It may as well be toothpicks. Just forget I told you this. It's not going to matter. So you'll make his day. Maybe. Until you can pull him out of this mess, don't fill his head with illusions of a way out.

The only way out is temporary. Call it a beer and the TV. It's all the same. Except when you drink that beer, you're helping to perpetuate the system. Except when you watch the TV, you're doing the same. Continue the broken cycle. Don't fight it. Nope, that would really be silly. Run away? Don't be absurd.

Running never changes anything. This problem is just a huge noose around our necks. If we run long enough, we can pretend it's not there. Like our shadow, it follows, haunting us. Running is not an option.

There are those who fight. They tell us not to pollute the earth. I say don't pollute the soul. Root out the materialsm, but not for the sake of the earth. We're the victims. Not the damned planet. She doesn't have feelings, she doesn't have a soul. At least in theory, we do.

I guess this ends my love affair with capitalism. Goodbye Adam Smith, we had some good memories. Some good times, too. I won't forget. As for now, I think I'll try to find something new. Oh, no, I won't become a socialist. That's not going to happen. Maybe I'll come up with something unique. The way things are looking, someone has to. Could be me I suppose. Atlas shrugs.

Lode 11-16 II

A week from tomorrow, my all-time favorite holiday comes around. It's not called turkey day, and although it begins the Christmas shopping season—whatever that means—Thanksgiving is an important feast all by itself. It would remain so, even without the cranberries and football games. Holiday stuffing aside, yet still in a celebratory spirit, I will make a list of some of the things I am thankful for. I encourage you all to do the same.

The national debt. I, for one, threw a massive party the day it surpassed the eight trillion dollar mark. This was sometime back in October; it was a really big party, so I kind of forget the exact date. It's going to be sweet when taxes skyrocket to pay for all the I.O.U.'s left by the wonderful folks in Congress.

The Iraq War. When I was a little kid, my dad told me my country had never lost a war. Wow, was I pumped. I'm really glad that America is keeping up her winning streak by liberating Iraq. I really hope we make the playoffs; I hear we get to play Iran.

Social Security. People who make fun of pyramid schemes are cretins. The only economic investments I like to make are poor ones. That way, I don't feel bad about making a profit. Ayn Rand had it all backwards. It's a good thing the government understands all this and lets me be part of the federal pyramid scheme. Heck, I didn't even get to choose to be part of it. How awesome is that?

Supreme Court nominees. While it may be true that the founding fathers set up a republic, we've done away with that folly. It's a good thing, too. Who in their right mind would want leaders held accountable by the people they govern? That's so Jeffersonian. Things are so much better now that nine unelected judges decide all major social issues for “we the people”.

Television. If there is one thing I hate, it's having to think for myself. Fortunately, the only decision I have to make is to decide what channel to watch. Thank goodness my Tivo tapes all the shows it knows I'd like, saving me from having to make even that one decision.

Consumerism. The meaning of life is so simple. Whoever has the most toys when he dies wins. There are so many toys, I'll never be completely happy, leading me to continually seek an unacheivable goal. But I'm going to win some day. Thank you, America.

I am also thankful for sarcasm.

On a serious note, I am actually very thankful for this great—so the theory goes—country of ours. We have the ability to do something about the shenanigans going on in Washington in our name. We do not have to buy into the shallow propaganda spewed forth by corporations, emanating from the television. While the terrorists do not actually hate us for our freedom, we've still got enough of it that we aren't resigned to becoming terrorists ourselves.

Lastly, I am thankful for everyone who still thinks for themselves. If we wish to leave for our children a country we can still be thankful of, we've got a lot of work to do.

And yes, I'm thankful for the opportunity, too.

Lode 11-16

The historian Carl N. Degler once wrote, "The metaphor of the melting pot is unfortunate and misleading. A more accurate analogy would be a salad bowl, for, though the salad is an entity, the lettuce can still be distinguished from the chicory, the tomatoes from the cabbage." He does not say what to do when the tomatoes make war on the lettuce who have always lived there.

The riots have died down in France, but in their terrible wake they have left an important lesson. Assimilation is always spoken of in ugly tones, with diversity being the catch phrase du jour. Yet it was nothing more than the beautiful diversity of largely Muslim immigrants which caused peaceful France to become tumultuous for over two weeks.

Consider: there are an estimated five to seven million muslim immigrants in France, mostly from North Africa. The riots occurred in immigrant neigborhoods, where the unemployment rate surpasses forty percent in some areas. In other words, there are a great many angry immigrants who reside in France. It is equally safe to say, they do not regard France as a comfortable home. After all, only an irrational man would start a fire in his living room. It is more likely that the man who started the fire was not doing do so in his own home.

The whole irony of the melting pot debate is that assimilation is not only good for the host country—ask bleeding France—but for the immigrants as well. Having not lived in France, it is unclear to what extent xenophobia and racism have effected the employment rate of muslim immigrants. Yet some blame rests with the rioters. "Liberté, égalité, and fraternité" apply only for those who are, in fact, French.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lode 11-9

I had the privilege of reading an Abraham Lincoln biography this summer. The man is widely regarded as one of the best presidents in U.S. history. The reason for this is quite simple, if paradoxical. Lincoln’s primary qualification for the presidency was that he realized he was unqualified for the job.

Lincoln never forgot the great responsibility that rested in his massive hands. It is true that Lincoln was faced with the unenviable task of preserving the Union; yet even without a civil war, the presidency is but a “splendid misery” in the words of Thomas Jefferson.

The presidency is still far too big for one man to handle; yet the system remains in place, even if the candidate cannot remove the sword from the stone. What is most surprising is that the candidates do not realize just how firmly entrenched the sword is. Kerry and Bush gave the impression they could actually perform the job well. I mean no disrespect when I say that both were quite wrong.

It goes without saying that we could use another Jefferson or a Lincoln to lead this republic of ours. We need a humble man who understands that the presidency is a burden that is impossible to carry, and because of this, he does not want it.

We would all be better off having a president who knew he could not do the job. At least we could respect his honesty.

This is, unfortunately, never going to happen. It requires too much work and energy for a genuinely good man to run for any major office, let alone the presidency. If we wish this to change, we ourselves must adapt by encouraging good men to run and only accepting candidates of a humble nature.
Until then, we will be stuck with ambitious men who have the audacity to feel that they are qualified.

Scrap Roe

I wrote this for the paper. They didn't have room for it, but I couldn't rob my readers of this.

Bush has just nominated a new justice named Samuel Alito, and, as is to be expected, the folks in Washington are falling all over themselves at the news. The democrats are making sure he's not too too pro-life, while the republicans are panicking lest he not be pro-life enough. In an effort to avoid partisan squabbling—or perhaps to agitate those who happen to be wrong—I will now explain why Roe v. Wade is a preposterous decision and needs to be overturned. Moreover, I will do all of this without mentioning God or quoting the Bible. Prepare to be dazzled.

To understand Roe v. Wade, we must look at an earlier case, Griswold v. Connecticut, in which a Connecticut law preventing the sale of contraceptives was found to be unconstitutional. For the record, reading Supreme Court decisions is actually more boring than General Chemistry. Nonetheless, I battled through it to find a couple of quotes to sum up the opinion. Writing for the majority, Justice Goldberg writes:

The entire fabric of the Constitution and the purposes that clearly underlie its specific guarantees demonstrate that the rights to marital privacy and to marry and raise a family are of similar order and magnitude as the fundamental rights specifically protected. Although the Constitution does not speak in so many words of the right of privacy in marriage, I cannot believe that it offers these fundamental rights no protection.

This landmark decision established a right to marital privacy as found in the “penumbra”—whatever that means—of the constitution. This led the way to the court's decision in Roe v. Wade. Since the court determined a state could not tell a woman she couldn't use a certain product, they could not tell her she couldn't have a certain medial procedure. Somehow though, the sale of certain drugs is still an illegal act and snuff films are likwise forbidden. That whole “my body, my choice” rhetoric only goes so far, at least in respects to the high court.

There are two ways to take this assumed and nonsensical right to privacy, and both lead to disaster. Either the marital right to privacy must be fully extended or this entire supposed right was simply made up. A carte blanche right to privacy will mean a vast restructuring of the current system. From the Patriot Act to the census, from drug laws to the federal income tax code, the government frequently invades our privacy. The big government liberals who subscribe to the pro-choice philosophy may not be so pleased when their favorite programs cannot be funded. The tragedy of applying a principle consistently.

Griswold is assuredly a blow to states' rights—which I am continually told died with the civil war. Many people seem to shrug off states' rights, so long as the court sides with them. What pro-choicers seem to forget, is that a court which can make up a right to privacy to legalize abortion can just as easily make up another right which would make abortion unconstitutional. It is immensely important to set aside any personal feelings concerning contraception and look at the principle that has been cast aside by the court in Griswold. The high court is not appointed to set every silly law right. Justice Stewart dissents admirably, saying

But we are not asked in this case to say whether we think this law is unwise, or even asinine. We are asked to hold that it violates the United States Constitution. And that I cannot do.

He goes on to mock the other members of the court who over-turned the Connecticut law. In order to conjure up a right to privacy, the court participated in some brilliant legal nonsense, citing no less than six amendments to assert a right that is never mentioned explicitly by name. It seems that if one takes the first amendment times the third amendment, added to the fourteenth, raised to the power of... well, you get the idea. Seeing how the court determines rights by complex mathematical operations, someone better make sure that Alito's algebra skills are up to par.

As silly as it might seem, this is actually the basis for Roe v. Wade. A right to privacy applies when a fetus is to be aborted, but not in regards to the imprisoning of, say, Japanese Americans during WWII. I'm pretty sure the latter is a more appropriate interpretation of the “due process” clause, but then again, in my haste to use reason I did forget to carry the fourth amendment.

When it comes down to it, the reason for all the excitement concerning abortion is simple. The pro-life side thinks—correctly—that the fetus, possessing a beating heart and detectable brain waves, is a human life worthy of the protection we should afford any other person. Obviously one can see why the pro-life side is angry about abortion. Several million murders would get anyone fired up. Even if they disagree, pro-choicers should understand the reason pro-lifers react with such passion.

The pro-choicers feel—wrongly—that the fetus is just a lump of tissue and that women should be able to abort whenever they wish. I have already dismissed the right to privacy which gives rise to a right to an abortion, but there is another reason the government must not interfere with a states' right to restrict, or even abolish, abortion. If there is even a possibility that the fetus is a child, we must react with restraint. The burden of proof is not on the pro-lifers to prove it is a human being, it is on the pro-choice movement to prove it is not. Intellectually honest individuals must grant that point.

In the end, we will contnue to squabble over something that should be a fairly simple issue.
When people let their emotions take hold, rationallity falls to the way side; it is human nature. The constitution was meant as a strict guarantee of what rights the federal government must afford us. When it becomes a living and breathing document—something it was never intended to be—penumbra spring up, giving us rights the founders never willed us to have. For while it may seem liberating to give women the right to choose, the court may one day take an altogether different line.

When the supreme court struck a blow to property rights earlier this year, it was the justices who took a “living breathing” approach who let the ax fall. A court that gives can also take away. It behooves those who support abortion as a legitimate choice to realize that. The choice was given illegitimately, and if we ever get a rational court again, Roe will be scrapped. For we are a rebublic, and the people decide how they must live their lives. Some of the more cautious founders were leery of the president becoming kingly and lording his power over the people. Let us not forget that tyranny from the bench is still tyranny.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Christian Bands

As a Christian, I listen to a good number of "Christian" bands. The term is a bit ambiguous, as many of the bands I listen to do not mention God in any of their songs. Others do, but I tend to avoid the preachy bands, if only because they aren't as good.

Anyway, one of the Christian groups on campus has 13k with which to bring a band up here. Thinking that they would go big, they contacted Switchfoot. For those who may not know, Switchfoot is a pretty popular band, recently having "crossed over" from Christian to secular markets. Having done so, they can command a good deal of money.

Thirteen grand was evidently not enough to land Switchfoot. The band wanted 100k.

As a Christian this greatly offends me. I cannot fathom demanding that much to preach the good word.

I'll be stewing over this one. At least Tom Petty keeps his ticket prices low.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Lode 11-2 II

Last week I argued against the wisdom of adopting "hate crimes" legislation, stating: "If we wish to bring esteem for protected minorities to the level of the majority, at least in regards to the law, we cannot place different values on people. A homosexual is not less worthy of protection than a heterosexual to be sure, but neither is he nor she more worthy. A human life is a human life and should be cherished as such."

In other words, hate crimes are unjust. That is a fact that—I thought—could not be disputed. Evidently I was wrong. A reader informed me of this, noting:

"When was the last time you sat down with a 'minority group' and asked their opinions on hate crimes legislation? Wouldn't that be appropriate if you didn't want to be seen as merely a "heterosexual white male from suburbia". At the very least it would help you make a stronger argument for your case. I would think that would be appropriate, considering your misconceptions written in the article. In my opinion, "Anything else," like your article,"is pure rubbish, and should be rejected as such.""

There are several points of interest here. First, minorities have—apparently—a monopoly on the standard for justice. It does not matter what I have to say on the matter because I am a heterosexual white male. My opinion would only have weight if I belonged to a special group deemed worthy of societal protection. My opinion is dismissed as "pure rubbish" merely because I did not feel the need to ask a minority what he or she thought of hate crimes. The open-mindedness is almost suffocating.

To be quite frank, I do not care what minorities think of this legislation, any more than I care what Haliburton thinks of the war in Iraq. It is just as sensible to ask NBA stars if they think the salary cap is fair. Or better yet, ask the CEO of dreaded Wal-Mart if his business practices are ethical. We can all argue that the system has it in for us, and at times, it does. Yet a philosophical concern for justice for all demands we do not bow to to the petty concerns of every individual. We cannot allow a subjective viewpoint to dominate something that must be decided objectively because it effects us all.

When it comes to these questions of justice, one need not be a protected group member to find the answers. One need only be a human being. Racism, homophobia and misogyny—or, for that matter, any other form of hatred based on silly characteristics—are abominable because they treat humans as less than such. Yet it is no less deplorable to have a law in place which does the exact same thing, even if its aims are noble.

The most interesting thing about the reader's reply is that there is so little substance. There are several fronts—albeit only moderately tenable ones—from which hate crimes legislation can be defended. One can argue that these laws will rectify previous wrongs and bring about a greater good. One can say that in order to strongly discourage the reprehensible behavior of narrow minded goons, the penalties mush be made stiffer. What cannot be done is to pretend that this legislation is moral. It is quite the opposite. It only takes a simple human being—any will do—to see such a simple truth.

Lode 11-2

It is no great secret that the feminist movement has failed, and done so spectacularily. Alleged wage inequality aside, women have been unable to make ground on another front. Rather than break the rigid mold of physical perfection set by men, women have been more than happy to lift this too heavy burden.

It is, of course, one thing when I say this. It just so happens that Maureen Dowd concurs. Speaking on the topic of standards of beauty in the New York Times, she expressed regret that the situation has gotten worse. To add insult to injury, women seem to have no problem playing along. “A lot of women now want to be Maxim babes as much as men want Maxim babes.”

This truth is as unfortunate as it is apparent. Doubters need only stop by a grocery store and stoll by the checkout. Cosmopolitan—the number one selling magazine on college campuses among women—and similar rags shout out the dozens of ways to please men. Though not a frequent peruser of such publications, it is assumed that possessing a brain is nowhere to be found on said list. Of course, possessing a brain is also not a stipulation for purchasing Cosmo.

The irony of the whole situation is almost hysterical. It is not the antiquated white male CEO's who are holding women back. Instead, it is your average Cosmo reader.

But don't get mad at me, ladies. Instead, take the time to read something that is intellectually stimulating. Woo a man with your ability to think for yourself. You might be surprised with the results. Then again, maybe it's better to polish up on your sex techniques. There is no surer way to win respect for a man than becoming an object at his disposal.

If the movement is still stuck painfully in neutral forty years from now we will all know who is to blame.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Prefferential Treatment for the Married

In regards to my post concerning hate crimes, Seth writes:

I've got a question, however. Can one classify marriage--for which the state affords benefits and incentives--as a "special group receiv[ing] legal protection...beyond the standard give to the rest of the populace"?

An excellent question. Of course married couples recieve legal protection beyond that of singles people. Strictly speaking, this is unfair to unmarried persons. However, there is a very good reason for this special legal protection.

The reason the federal government gives tax breaks for married persons is as simple as it is sensible. Married people, presumably, have children. It is good for children to have two parents: a man and a woman in a legally binding contract. The government, that is, we, recognize this and provide an incentive to marry.

I have heard that the number one indicator of poverty for a child is whether or not he was born out of wedlock. Even if it is not the number one factor, it is obviously high on the list. It makes a great deal of sense for the government to keep families together for the sake of the children. Of course, in the land of no-fault divorce, the incentives may not be strong enough.

Regardless, on one hand this may seem to be unjust, and in some sense it is. It would be ludicrous to say that unmarried persons are not being discriminated againts, because obviously, they are. Yet at any time, a single person can form that sacred bond and get the benefits that come with it.

But even more important, protected minority groups provide no advantage to the Republic. A homosexual is valuable as a worker, but will probably not produce. Women are to be valued by the government, but there value is increased as they have kids. The same applies to those of a racial minority. Each of holds a value as a human being, but to the government, only those who are married--assumedly--has a value worth subsidizing.

The Constitution demands that the federal government "promote the general welfare". Providing incentives for people to marry and stay married seems to fall within that purview.