The Shooting of Rep. Giffords

With the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and some of those waiting to meet with her or listen to her speak, there has been considerable online chatter about the causes of the shooter’s rampage. Some of the earliest comments I read online blamed Sarah Palin directly and the Tea Party movement in general. Then came the accusations against Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Then the Right rightly started deflecting the blame by pointing out that the shooter is an advocate of flag burning and is apparently anti-religion. Those are generally very much at odds with the ideology of the Right. Further, they pointed out that a couple of his favorite books were The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. Again, anything but traditional “Right” reading material. Clearly these all put him squarely with a Left ideology? Right?

Still, many of the news sources blamed (and still blame) the “toxic political environment” (or a “climate of hate“) with the implication that it is toxic because of the Tea Party movement. It seems that people and the media have a serious retrograde amnesia for the kind of vitriol spewed against the previous administration, even before Pres. Bush was elected President. Then there was the hatred against Pres. Clinton before that, and the attacks against Pres. Bush before that, and against Pres. Reagan, Pres. Carter, and so forth. The rhetoric only seems more poignant given the prevalence of the Internet and people’s lives bounded by a myopic state of acontextia; in other words, people either are not aware of or willfully ignore context and history. Markedly few people who either want to preserve the past (conservatives) or change it (liberals) are aware of it. There is considerable blindness on both sides and in the middle. I’m not claiming I have unfettered vision, I have my own cataracts, but I do try to be inclusive of context.

So is the Right more violent? Well, if you look at the 4 presidents who were assassinated, three were Republicans and only one a Democrat. Clearly Democrats and liberals are more violent. I have to clarify that I am using a touch of sarcasm to make some points. My point is that we cannot simply create a binary Left/Right classification and start blaming sides. Views and issues and actions are considerably more complicated than that. Another point is that I can take everything out of context. Meaning that when I stated that we have had 3 Republican presidents assassinated to 1 Democrat, and thus Democrats are more violent, that ignores a lot of historical context. It means, in part, that I am judging the actions of the past through the knowledge of the present, which can be troublesome. It can be troublesome when those judgments are doing things like criticizing Isaac Newton for not incorporating theories of quantum mechanics into his theories.

What we really need to do is respect the wounded, dead, and the families of those affected (including the family of the shooter) and then move on and let the justice system do its work. In this case we clearly know the shooter is guilty. That is not remotely questionable. What will be questioned is his mental state; it should be questioned. He is guilty but is he culpable for his guilt? That is to be established.

Of course, gun control advocates are taking this as an opportunity to promote their cause. That’s a knee-jerk reaction similar to calling for a ban or for more restrictions on automobile ownership if the shooter had plowed a car into a group of people instead of shot them. People will always find ways to kill each other. Yes, guns are very efficient at killing but that’s not necessarily an excuse to limit their ownership. If you want to ban what kills a lot of people, ban smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Ban junk food and soda. Those all kill more people than gun violence does. [Again, I’m not saying we should ban all those, I’m just pointing out the inconsistencies in some arguments].

I want to offer a radical explanation and solution for what was responsible for the shooter’s actions – he was. I recognizing that there is a slight possibility that he is not responsible for his actions due to serious mental illness but that is for the legal system to sort out. So really the only thing we (including the media) should talk about is moving on and not pointing fingers of blame. I know that is such a radical idea when it is so easy to blame Sarah Palin, Right-wing wackos, drugs, guns, political climates (which are, by the way, fueled by the media), a failed education system, or whatever else people can think of. The person who needs to be blamed is the shooter. A lot societal problems could be benefitted if people started accepting personal responsibility for things. This is something that we need from individual citizens all the way up to the Administration. There is too much of pointing fingers in blame and not enough acceptance of our own responsibilities.

We need to stop focusing on the shooter and move on. That is why I did not include the shooter’s name. It does no good to try and place blame on anyone else. Sometimes people just do terrible things because they choose to do them.

Update: Connor Boyack has good and similar post on his blog. Read his post for good insight into the controversy over the shooting.

There is also a good opinion piece by Glenn Reynolds about the shooting and the blame game.

The State and Future of U.S. Health Care

Many people support socialistic ideals by an appeal to pathos. Here is a rough prototypical and salient argument: Recently divorced Ann is a middle-aged woman with 3 kids. She has two part-time jobs and no health insurance. She has a medical emergency, which results in massive health care costs. She ends up losing her home and has to move into a friend’s home with her two children who are still at home. She loses so much because of not having health insurance. If only there was a nationalized health care system in place, she would not have lost her home and all of her savings, which were small already.

This or similar experiences seem to be commonly used as arguments for nationalized health care and/or health insurance. However, using an appeal to emotion (a pathos story) is a logical fallacy; it is a weak argument at best and misleading at worst. Sure, it makes you feel badly and it is sad, but should it be the foundation for an argument in support of socialist policies? No. Such a story could be used appropriately and as support for an argument, but it should not be the central theme of an argument. Yet, appeals to pathos in support of nationalized health care are rampant.

Here is an example from Pres. Obama’s most recent address on health care. This is, of course, not his entire speech but this entire selection is nothing more than an appeal to emotion [again, appeals to emotion are okay as long as they do not comprise the bulk of an argument]:

“Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can’t get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can’t afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or too expensive to cover.

“We are the only democracy — the only advanced democracy on Earth — the only wealthy nation — that allows such hardship for millions of its people. There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two-year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage. In other words, it can happen to anyone. But the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem for the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today.  More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you’ll lose your health insurance too. More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won’t pay the full cost of care. It happens every day.

“One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it. Another woman from Texas was about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne. By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer had more than doubled in size. That is heart-breaking, it is wrong, and no one should be treated that way in the United States of America.”

An additional argument in favor of nationalized health care is that the “U.S. system is broken. Look at Sweden or Canada or any number of other countries that provide health insurance to all their citizens without ‘breaking the bank’. It is unethical for the U.S. to not provide for its citizens [as an aside, ethics have largely replaced morals in our world; instead of talking about what is moral or not we talk about what is ethical or even legal or not].” There are a number of problems with this argument.

  1. It assumes that nationalized health insurance is a good solution, or at least better than our current system and that the cost is justified. We do not know that it is better than what we have. Many assume that it will be – or at least that it will be “fairer” – but we cannot really know it will be better unless we implement it. The problem is that it is a really expensive experiment. Additionally, is it really the role of the United States government to provide for the health care of its citizens?
  2. It assumes that the U.S. is or should be like other countries. The U.S. Constitution is not the constitution of other countries and what was enumerated as the role of the government in the Constitution is different than in other countries.
  3. It ignores that socialized health insurance plans are one of the main reasons of high health care costs! To be accurate, all insurance is socialistic in nature (although historically, insurance has been based on risk – those at higher risk have higher premiums; that is a capitalistic modification of insurance {however, there are many within our country who want to level the playing field and make everyone pay the same amount}). In any case, insurance in and of itself is socialistic (I’m not saying that necessarily as a negative, I’m just pointing out philosophical underpinnings of our health care system). Additionally, most of the insurance plans in the U.S. are company funded. This means that our health care system is not based on free market principles. There are hints and allegations of free market economics but there is little real competition. The health care industry is based on insurance – everything revolves around it. It is also heavily regulated by the government. There is a striking correlation between the cost of health care and the rise of company-paid insurance. As the industry became more dependent on insurance and more regulated, costs increased. Health care costs in recent years have far outpaced inflation. In the free market this would likely result from an increase in demand. As demand increases, prices increase. However, our system is not a free market – it is not capitalistic. Demand has increased, which increase can account for some of the increase in health care costs, but due to the nature of the system, the dramatic rise in health care costs is likely due to governmental intervention and socialistic-type policies, such as employer-paid health insurance (and even insurance in general).  For more on this topic please read David Goldhill’s article in The Atlantic (Goldhill is a Democrat). Governments are notoriously poor at reducing costs.
  4. This argument also ignores the fact that most countries who have nationalized health care have recently started to privatize because the governments are finding the model to be unsustainable. If the government run systems work so well, why the need for privatization? The answer is that they are not sustainable, especially not in a world that devalues family and family size (meaning that there is a decreasing number of people supporting an increasing number of people).
  5. The demographics of the United States are different from most other countries. The United States has many immigrants. We allow a number of legal immigrants in every year; also at least tens of thousands of illegal immigrants enter each year. Should illegal immigrants be covered by nationalized health insurance? How many other countries with nationalized plans are similarly affected by demographic factors like the U.S. is? [That is not a rhetorical question – I do not know. I could guess that very few are].
  6. Is a nationalized plan really sustainable with the aging population? We have more and more older adults due to numerous factors (decreases in infant mortality, better health care, more medicines, and so forth) and fewer younger adults (and not just per capita). People are having smaller families than they used to – the declines in average family size have not been dramatic within the past 100 years but they have been steady. This means we have a decreasing number of workers supporting an increasing number of people. People will be able to work longer – in theory – than they have in the past so this problem may not become as severe as it could be but we also have an increasing number of people with chronic health problems who are not able to work or who can only work part-time. The irony is that socialism, which is ostensibly about “the people” and requires masses of people to function, devalues people and leads to reductions in the number of people, which reduction undermines socialism! Look at the average family size in countries with stronger socialist influence (e.g., much of “Old Europe” or China) compared to the United States.
  7. Many health problems are related to unhealthy life choices. Obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes are all mainly related to lack of exercise and over-eating (and unhealthy eating). These problems lead to heart problems, higher rates of cancer, long-term disability, higher dementia rates, more strokes, etc. I have seen estimates that greater than 66% of health care spending is for largely preventable problems. Granted, some people have genetic propensities that contribute to these problems but genes only account for a minority of the variance. This means that lifestyle, not genes or biology, is responsible for much of our health care spending. I am not ignoring the fact that other things like corn food subsidies lead to an increase in use of high fructose corn syrup, which is very unhealthy. I am also not ignoring the fact that unhealthy food often is less expensive than healthier food; however, ceteris paribus (i.e., all other things being equal), lifestyle is the greatest contributor to health care costs. This means that in order to reduce health care spending, we have to change our lifestyles! Given that the government is not good at reducing costs (the free {or slightly regulated} market is much better), is it appropriate that “the government” pays for poor lifestyle choices of so many people? Is it appropriate that through socialized health care a person who makes good lifestyle choices be forced to directly subsidize someone who does not? Some may argue that we are already doing that and by nationalizing health care we can further diffuse the costs, which might even reduce costs generally. This may be true in the short-term but it is not sustainable. As mentioned earlier, the government is not good at reducing costs. Costs will continue to rise and in the end, the whole system will be worse than before. Nationalizing health care and insurance does not fix the problems in health care in our country. It is a bit like adding bandaids when what we really need is a transplant. There is an additional problem to diffusing costs in this manner.

Psychologists have shown an interesting phenomenon that people in the presence of others accept less personal responsibility. In the face of need, an individual within a social situation is both less likely to help and slower when he does help. We think someone else will pick up the tab. We think that someone who is more capable will act. The problem is that responsibility is diffused enough that fewer act. This is called the bystander effect or diffusion of responsibility. It has been replicated numerous times (see for example, Darley & Latane’s article Bystander intervention in emergencies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1968). Those in larger groups are less likely to help someone in need. Now, any given individual might be likely to help, but based on averages and group studies, those in larger groups (“larger” typically shown to be comprised of 4 or more individuals) are much less likely to help someone in need, even if it is an emergency and the person could be in serious danger. The classic example of this is Kitty Genovese, who was raped and murdered but no one intervened to help her (someone eventually called the police but it was too late). There are many reasons why no one did but the important thing is the research that grew out of this attack and similar ones too. The more people present, the more diffuse our perceived personal responsibility becomes.

Socialism is the same. Because “the government” takes care of the people, why should anyone help another person? Why should we reduce costs by losing weight if someone else is paying for our health care? I’m not saying these are conscious decisions to not accept personal responsibility for actions, it is just that the nature of socialism leads to less personal responsibility. There is no individual in the collective we of socialism. Without at least some focus on the individual (I’m not implying or supporting anything like Ayn Rand’s Objectivism – her extreme humanism of selfishness), there is little to no desire for accepting personal responsibility for actions, in fact, personal responsibility is eschewed. Without this responsibility in health care, costs will continue to skyrocket. Socialist systems are not the solution. Our health care system is already largely socialist (although maybe not what we think of as “typical socialism”) through Medicare and employer-sponsored plans. More socialism will not work, we need less governmental intrusion and more free market enterprise.

Is capitalism better for health care? Maybe. My bias is to say, “Yes” but others will disagree. Are all socialistic ideas bad? No, but they are not necessarily the best answer. Is pure capitalism the best? Likely it is not. I have not addressed most of the philosophies of socialism, instead I have focused mainly on the health care debate, which merely touches one part of economic socialism. There are many other aspects of socialism to which I am opposed, including the devaluation of the family unit and the distrust and denial of religion. I also did not address how socialism interferes with the correct practice of free will, which is a topic for future discussion.

In summary, I believe socialist policies (including lack of competition, government and employer-sponsored health insurance, etc.) are largely responsible for our enormous and growing health care costs. Some may counter by stating that “more socialist” nations have lower health care costs as percents of their GDPs – that may be – but our health care system is anything but capitalistic. As we shift towards socialism, “socialist” nations shift away. Our system is unsustainable as are “more socialist” systems. The solution is not to increase the government’s role in health care but to reduce it by reducing the artificial barriers against free market principles.

I do not have all the answers and maybe I do not have any of the answers, but I do know that socialism is not the best solution. It is a worse solution than what we have now. We need to increase personal responsibility, not take it away even more than it already is by moving in a socialistic direction. If we want to fix our health care system, we need to encourage healthy behaviors. I will not suggest how we might do that – that is a post by itself – but it will go a long way in reducing our health care costs. Further, increasing dependence on the government to solve our problems reduces our dependence on ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors, and our communities.

Please comment to add suggestions or correct any errors I might have in my post. I welcome and respect all viewpoints as long as comments remain civil.

We Elected the Wrong President

We elected the wrong president. What is almost as bad is that Republicans nominated the wrong person to run against Pres. Obama. What led to our electing the wrong president?

After eight years of Pres. Bush, the country was fed up with Republicans, the economy (although we had some really good years during Pres. Bush’s presidency), and the wars. Not all of us were fed up with Pres. Bush but most people were. Of course, many people never gave him a chance or the benefit of the doubt because of the controversies Democrats created over the 2000 election. I was not a fan of Pres. Bush’s fiscal policies in general but the treatment of him by much of the media and many liberals was inexcusable. The media should be able to and should criticize presidents but the relentless barrage on Pres. Bush and his administration was almost without precedent and bordered on unethical. Pres. Bush also had the misfortune to have his tenure come during the maturation of the internet and rise of social media. The vitriol exploded and the administration did not know how to deal with it (or did not want to waste time dealing with it, unlike the present administration). Part of it was the fact that Pres. Bush was not a “good politician” (that’s not a criticism); he was successful in politics but was not a politician like Pres. Clinton or Pres. Obama. After eight years, our country wanted change.

This is where Pres. Obama came in. In 2006 Congress changed from a Republican majority to a Democrat majority. This was the beginning of the overall governmental change. For a time Sen. Clinton had the lead in the Democrat race for nomination. She had years of experience in Washington and had many connections. However, she was a “Clinton” and had her own history of scandals as well as those of her husband. She did not stand a chance once the media got behind and helped create the juggernaut that was Obama. He was young, cool, polished, intelligent, and media-savvy. As a community organizer he knew how to set up grassroots campaigns and raise funds in small amounts from many people. He was also African-American, which rather than hurting him, helped him tremendously. He had the African-American vote locked up and sealed. Overall, African-Americans compose about 13% of the U.S. population. Obama had virtually all of the African-American vote. Pres. Obama, smartly, ran his campaign on the promise of “Change you can believe in!” He was the person ostensibly from outside Washington who would re-create Washington, giving it an extreme makeover and more metrosexual appeal. Obama was to be a new JFK with the beautiful wife, cute kids, and polished rhetoric. Maybe he could build Camelot anew within the marbled pillars of the White House. He, to some of his followers, is a savior who not only cures cancer with a sympathetic look but also plays a decent game of basketball and looks good without a shirt on. Obama received the Democrat nomination also in part because the economy became of larger concern than the War Against Terror and the war in Iraq at a pivotal moment last year. Sen. Clinton suffered because of this and Sen. Obama benefited.

A similar thing happened in the Republican primary, although for different reasons. Mitt Romney was running 2nd to John McCain but in reality the race was close. However, Mike Huckabee proved to be more than a stinging gnat for Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee pulled many of Christian conservatives away from Romney because they, in part, were already reticent about supporting a Mormon. Mormons, according to many Evangelicals, are the worst kind of cult; the worst thing to happen to Christianity since the feeding of early Christians to lions by the Romans. Mormons had the audacity to believe in and practice plural marriages in the 1800s, a practice many Westerners just cannot seem to stomach. Of course, Evangelicals do not seem to remember that many of their Biblical prophets practiced polygamy as has most of the world throughout most of history. In any case, Mormons are not well-liked among many fundamental Christian groups (or most other religions for that matter). Romney, in addition to losing supporters to Huckabee, also had the misfortune of the war in Iraq becoming the major issue within the Republican Party for a short while. The main focus on the economy did not come until after Romney withdrew and really not until after McCain was nominated. The war was McCain’s strong point while the economy was (and is) Romney’s.

More than a year ago I stated that Mitt Romney is “the man for the economic crisis in America.” We did not realize at the time how bad the economy really was becoming. That was unfortunate. Had the economy remained the major issue, Mitt Romney would have received the Republican nomination. He has proven business acumen, rescuing troubled businesses over and over (including the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics). While experience can sometimes be over-rated, Mitt Romney’s economic experience is not over-rated and cannot be over-stated. He would have been a president who would not have to rely completely on advisers to understand and establish economic policies. He could have worked even with a Democrat-controlled Congress, just as he did as governor of Massachusetts, to get sound fiscal policies passed (although the Legislature in Massachusetts did not like many of Romney’s fiscal policies, which were too conservative for them).

Instead of Romney we are left with a spend-happy Pres. Obama and a Congress that is even more spend-happy. The stimulus and bailout packages might help in the short-term, should the money actually ever be released, but they set a precedent for future spending and debt. We purchase short-term and ephemeral gains at the expense of the livelihood of our children and their children. Even with the so-called stimulus package, we face unemployment rates that rival Europe’s (at least Europe’s in a good economic climate). As many European nations move away from socialist economic policy, America moves towards it. Even China has largely moved away from a socialist economy. We should let the market run itself without too much government intervention. I’m not idealistic enough to believe that a purely capitalist nation without government intervention is the best way but less governmental intervention and meddling is usually better.

While I think Pres. Obama is a good person trying the best he knows how to do, I do not believe he is the right person for the job. We elected the wrong person. Instead of Obama, we should have elected Mitt Romney. Fortunately we might have that opportunity in 2012. My only worry is that the economy will have recovered by then and many of us will believe that just because the symptoms are gone, the illness is gone. However, just like antibiotics, we need to extend the treatment long after the symptoms are gone in order to get rid of the disease. I believe that Obama’s fiscal policies contribute to the disease instead of curing it. Maybe Obama can cure cancer but he cannot fix the economy; Congress cannot fix it either. Only the economy can fix the economy. Governments can help the economy but they cannot repair it; they can, however, make it worse by meddling. Again, this does not mean governments should leave economies completely untouched but our government should worry first about plugging the gaping holes in its bank accounts before it tries to do anything with the broader economy. We need fiscal responsibility, not this wanton spending our government is doing.

Mitt Romney was ready to answer the call to service but we rejected him. Hopefully we will not make the same mistake again in 2012 when we will need him more than ever to help clean up the mess the current administration and Congress are making.

White House Boosts Deficit Projections –

White House Boosts Deficit Projections –

The budget deficit was predicted (by the administration) to be $1.752 trillion for the current fiscal year. How much money is that? It’s $1,752,000,000,000. That’s too large a number to really understand. If you took $1 bills and laid them end to end around the earth, you would wrap around the earth 6,477,130,690 times! That’s about 6.5 billion times. That’s still too large a number to really understand. Using the same end-to-end laying of $1 bills, you could travel to the sun and back 865,700.554 times! What that means is that using $1 bills, we could travel 1,731,401.11 AU (astronomical units). That’s 27.38 light years! These are astronomical amounts.

Of course, my use of the length of the U.S. $1 bill was arbitrary, I could have made any number of other comparisons but the point remains the same; that is a lot of money. And that’s just the projected 1 year budget deficit! Of course, that deficit includes additional bailout money Congress might not approve but even so, we’ll have at least a $1.5 trillion budget deficit with another large one next year (and so on for the forseeable future). I’m not even going to broach the subject of the actual national debt.

I appreciate that Pres. Obama and Congress are trying to address the weak economy and the budget shortfalls but right now Pres. Obama seems too much like Pres. Lyndon Johnson trying to escalate the Vietnam War while pushing for his Great Society; it was more than he could handle so he wasn’t particularly successful at either. I’m not saying all of the Great Society programs were bad – many were good – but he was not able to focus on both social and military programs at the same time. He should have done one or the other, not both. Pres. Obama, like LBJ, is trying to do everything. I think he’s more capable than LBJ was but Pres. Obama is not only trying to “fix” the economy, he is trying to create his own Great Society while fighting the War on Terrorism (including two ongoing campaigns – Iraq and Afghanistan). I recognize that Pres. Obama was thrown some flaming torches and asked to juggle them but instead of letting some fall and go out, he decided to keep juggling them all while asking for more.

I applaude that Pres. Obama did not implement his original plan to start taking troops out of Iraq immediately, at least he listened to his military leaders and implemented what is essentially Pres. Bush’s withdrawal plan (although Pres. Bush did not like that word). I think some bailouts were probably necessary, although they should have been much smaller than were approved, but much of Pres. Obama’s “stimulus” or other budgetary monies are going towards social programs at a time when we cannot afford them. Increaing Pell Grants is a nice idea (I know many other conservatives disagree) and as a researcher, I always appreciate having more money available for reserach grants, but this money is borrowed money. It’s not real; we are borrowing against the future for things we cannot afford now. Fix the budget first, then try to work on social programs. We need to cut spending, not increase it.

The Sanctity of Life

By Daniel Kay

When my wife was carrying our first child in 2003-2004 I was surprised to find that John Kerry un-apologetically opposed laws that would protect my unborn child. I was more surprised to find that opposition to the value I held for my child was tied to justification of abortion. From that time to now, this has been a big issue in my election choice.

I agree with individual freedom but not at the expense of another’s right to live. The “right to choose” is not really the issue, if it were, “free choice” pundits would be fighting for the right to choose and not fighting to devalue unborn life across the board. Those who support abortion rights have not stopped at a mother’s right to choose. They will not stop until society devalues the millions of lives that have been legally terminated since this “right” was extended; they cannot stop until the millions of aborting mothers no longer feel any guilt for their choice. They think they can eliminate their compunction by eliminating the value of what was aborted. For example, they seek to eliminate laws that make it possible to prosecute assailants for aborting a pregnancy in violent attacks and by fighting for embryonic stem cell research, which they think proves there is no current value in the unborn only un-guarantied potential. Thus, nothing is wrong with what they have done. But no matter how much they devalue their own offspring, no matter how much they attempt to devalue my offspring, no matter how much more vindication these people obtain from the Democrats, I will always value my unborn children as much as my born ones and I will always vote for the candidate who will fight to protect my most valuable possessions: my posterity.

I am revolted by the Democratic candidates who vow to make abortion more accessible, more accepted, and more unrestricted – who seek to reduce the value of every parent’s unborn child. If elected, the two leading Democratic candidates intend to re-extend abortion legalization to include partial birth abortion, uphold late-term abortions, over-ride the 38 states that have banned partial birth abortion, provide tax dollars to pay for abortions, and improve the quality of adults by harvesting embryos for body parts. Hillary and Obama are rated at 100% on these issues. Hillary has already voted against a bill that banned partial birth abortion. She voted against a bill that would make the intentional killing of an unborn child by a violent attacker illegal. Moreover, she has supported legislation which allows embryos to be conceived only to be terminated so that the quality of life of another may be improved. Already the United States lags in moral conviction on this issue. While most countries acknowledge the inhumanity of late-term abortions, the US Democrats continue to fight for the “right to terminate a viable human being.” Some wonder how far the Democrats would have the nation civilly digress in giving mothers the right to choose, perhaps to ancient practices and beliefs that reflect Pluto’s Republic in which “imbecile” children were placed outside the city walls to die, or the Law of Moses which gave parents the power to have their children stoned to death for disobedience. By some people’s definition these activities would be called “rights.” Perhaps, one day the “right to choose” will be called the “right to terminate one’s offspring.” While I think abortion should be made illegal, except in the instances described in a previous post on this blog, the next step needs to be to bring America up-to-date with world standards of humanity, that is, acknowledge that excuses like “I don’t want the child, I can’t afford the child, I don’t have time for the child, I don’t want the child brought into the world, I don’t want a scar on my tummy, I don’t want to go through the birth process, etc” are abominable reasons to have an abortion, particularly in the late-term, and should be made illegal nationally.

The only way for the nation to end one of the greatest atrocities in American history (i.e., the thousands and thousands of late-term abortions preformed legally and without the health of the mother being in danger) is to elect a President who will appoint judges who will rule in favor of humanity. Only the Republicans are offering this opportunity this election year. I have confidence that Romney or Huckabee will select judges that will extend the “right to live” to all humans no matter what developmental stage they are in. Pro-lifers need an advocate in Washington not someone who will compromise our position. I have no confidence in pro-choicer Giuliani to fight for the sanctity of life nor do I believe his promises to select “conservative” judges. How can we respect someone that promises to do something against his professed convictions? McCain also has never championed a pro-life bill. In fact, McCain supports embryonic research – making him a defacto pro-lifer at best whose record suggest that while he is professedly pro-life he is not a pro-life advocate. Republicans must unite to beat the Pro-Choice RINOs in our own party this election year and we need to select a candidate that can beat the socially barbaric DINOs (Democrats Implementing Nefarious Opinions) in November.

Lobbyists and Politicians

CNN had a video showing a dispute between Mitt Romney and a journalist. Romney claimed that his campaign was not being run by lobbyists. The journalist balked at that statement and accused Romney of lying because Romney has a person who works as a lobbyist fairly involved in his campaign as a volunteer. Romney claims the man is a friend and an adviser and is not running his campaign. Romney is known for choosing words carefully and sometimes saying something without saying anything (not lying but not always being direct). In this case the journalist seemed to be picking a fight and – even though he accused Romney of playing with semantics – was really the one playing with semantics. Romney stated that lobbyists were not running his campaign. That is true. His friend, who happens to be a lobbyist, is involved in the campaign but is not running it. The lobbyist friend makes no executive decisions about the campaign and does not have a major influence on it. The journalist persisted in accusing Romney and Romney became frustrated (CNN termed it “losing his cool”). I don’t think Romney handled the exchange as well as he could have but he certainly did not “lose his cool;” he did an admiral job considering the circumstances.

I’ve never understood people’s problems with lobbyists. Lobbyists are widely reviled as playing too large a role in politics. The problem that I see with people attacking lobbyists is that they really are not attacking all lobbyists, they’re only attacking lobbyists with whom they don’t agree. Every major and many minor industries have lobbyists. There are lobbyists for journalists, there are music industry lobbyists, there are AARP lobbyists, and there are lobbyists for doctors and psychologists. There are so many different interest groups and there are as many lobbyists as there are interests. Again, it’s often hypocritical to attack lobbyists in general while benefiting from those representing your own profession. It’s like the people who are against government spending except when it helps them; “We need to cut out politician pork but don’t you dare cut out my pork.” The problem is not lobbyists, the problem is unscrupulous politicians. Lobbyists work as advocates. Some are dishonest and try to corrupt politicians but most are just normal people (well, highly-paid normal people). We have a Democracy (or close enough). It’s the right of everyone to have a say – that includes special interest groups and lobbyists. Some may argue that lobbyists have more of a say than normal people but that’s not true. They have more time and more money than most people so they can spend more time with politicians. However, there are more “normal” people than there are lobbyists. The people can always out-vote the lobbyists.

I have nothing against lobbyists. They serve an important role in our government. They bring the will of the people (in small groups or large) to the politicians. It is the politicians’ responsibilities to be wise in listening to lobbyists. This doesn’t mean that I am against lobbying reform but I have more of a problem with corrupt politicians than lobbyists who help corrupt them. I also cannot be unilaterally opposed to lobbyists because there are lobbyists who are fighting for my chosen profession and for so many other things that positively benefit my life and the lives of so many other Americans.

Romney: Michigan Primary Winner

By Daniel Kay

Romney’s home court advantage proved to be a valuable “firewall” in his GOP bid for the nomination. Though the media gave him little credit for the win or national hype, the win was decisive, gaining support from every GOP demographic. Surprisingly, he won more votes from evangelicals than even Huckabee. Importantly, Romney won 24 of the 30 delegates in Michigan. This brings his delegate count to 54; that is, 39 delegates more than McCain and 32 more than Huckabee. While McCain, and Huckabee fight it out for 1st and 2nd in South Carolina to win a portion of the 24 delegates up for grabs there, Romney is focusing on Nevada to widen an already wide lead over his opponents in the state which has 34 delegates. While Romney will miss out on the hype in South Carolina, he will win the most delegates over the weekend. I am sure it will be reminiscent of McCain’s only win (New Hampshire) where he won 7 whole delegates and received national acclaim while Romney won Wyoming and gained 8 delegates – both unreported by the media.

The question is which strategy will impact Super Tuesday, McCain’s hype or Romney’s consistently strong showing state-to-state and ability to win delegates? Should Romney have tried to battle it out in South Carolina where he could potentially win some hype but could also lose momentum, or was he right to skip SC and go to Nevada where there are more delegates but less hype? If there is any logic to this race I think he did the right thing, winning delegates should matter more than winning hype. After Saturday, Florida will have a chance to decide. Where South Carolina once was viewed as the gateway to the GOP nomination, Florida may be so this year with 57 winner-take-all delegates before the Super Duper Tuesday. Already Romney is playing down his chances in SC, predicting even fourth is possible, even though he is statistically tied for second with Huckabee in an opinion poll released today. A big win in Nevada for Romney and a big win in SC for McCain will set a very nice stage in Florida for the first winner-take-all delegates contest. There is a four way tie in Florida currently but we will soon see if the hype pays off for McCain or if the consistency of Romney will win the day.

Media Manipulations

By Daniel Kay

I’ve had my fill of media spin this election season. CBS, AP, and even Fox News have lost a lot of credibility in my eyes. It is outrageous what they are doing to this election. Today a reporter from the AP interrupted, insulted, and even laughed at Romney during a press meeting. When did reporters become paid hecklers? Leading up to Iowa and New Hampshire you could not find a positive word about Romney in the news. Then after his 1st place finish in Wyoming there was no news at all on the win. Who do they think they are kidding? They take great pains to take everything Romney says out of context and put it in the most negative light. I too lost heart after the media misrepresented Romney’s comment about his father being a civil rights activist that was a leading political leader who, like millions across the country marched with Martin Luther King Jr. While everyone could not be arm and arm standing next to King, that does not make their march any less meaningful: they all marched with that great leader. One thing is clear, the liberal media is afraid of Romney. It is sickening how they think that they should have the power over who the GOP nominee should be. Good for Romney for sticking it to this AP guy. The liberal media is not going to sway my vote. I used to trust the “mainstream media” but after the past few months, I can see there is no objectivity to their work. Most make endorsements for one candidate over another and twist the fact to suit their ends.

I think most news agencies will do whatever it takes to make the GOP contest go to convention, to make the next big news event. That would explain why the media did not have a thing negative to say about Romney between New Hampshire and Michigan. Now they are trying to make Thompson look good and saying, “Oh yeah, he has a chance.” Giuliani will be next I am sure. I keep hearing reports say, “Wouldn’t it be great if the GOP contest went to convention. That would be a reporter’s dream come true.” No surprise, many reporters’ dreams are the same as the Democrats. The longer this GOP contest goes on the better for the Democrats. It is time for the GOP to realize that Huckabee is “Huckabust,” Thomson is getting none, Giuliani is not on the money, and Paul’s supporters are off the wall. McCain and Romney need a clear one-on-one battle without his tag team partner, or should I say Vice President, Huckabee getting in the way and the other “also-rans” giving false hope to and conning money and votes out of their supporters. Be not deceived, it is and has been a two man show for several weeks: Romney vs. McCain. The question is does the liberal media support McCain and if so, why? Some may argue that they do, and it is because he is socially liberal for a GOP candidate (he does seem to get the most media endorsements); others say it is because McCain has less chance of generating GOP grass roots support and enthusiasm from core Republicans which typically gets them to the polls to beat the Democratic candidate in November (this seems unlikely as many Republicans will vote against a Democrat no matter who the GOP candidate is). I am not sure if the media favors McCain but it is clear they do not favor Romney.

Who Will the Michigan Democrats Vote for in the GOP Primary?

It seems odd that Democrats should have the opportunity to play a key role in who wins Michigan’s GOP primacy and potentially the GOP nomination. However, Democrats may never have a better chance. Because Democrats can vote in the Michigan GOP primary and there is no real Democrat race, there is high incentive for Democrats to cast their voice in the GOP contest. The question is which GOP candidate will the Democrats choose?

If they vote for McCain they will be voting for the candidate which polls show has the best chance of beating Hillary or Obama in November. Voting for McCain will also add momentum to his nomination which is at the verge of critical mass already. Both these options should deter Democrats from voting for McCain assuming they want the Democrats to have the best chance of winning in November and they want to prevent the GOP from identifying their candidate quickly. Nonetheless, McCain is leading the GOP for support from Independent and Democrats in opinion polls. Perhaps many Democrats in Michigan are trying to setup a win-win situation for November: If their candidate loses, at least McCain is more liberal (i.e., moderate) than most of the GOP candidates and will be more palatable as president for them.

If they vote for Romney they will vote for the main candidate that has one of the least chance of beating Hillary and Obama in November according to current opinion polls. Voting for Romney will also create a three man race which will draw-out the GOP contest, increase tension within GOP party lines and decrease the odds of a strong unified GOP to contest with in November. A few Democrat strategists have advocated this tactic; I would expect at least some Democrats to make this move and vote Romney.

The only reason that a Democrat in Michigan would vote for Huckabee is because Huckabee, like Democrats, is a populist and perhaps they think Huckabee would be a palatable consolation prize if their Democratic candidate loses in November. I find this unlikely as most realize that a populist GOP president is much less likely to have the ability (due to GOP opposition and greater difficulty working across the isles) to fulfill his populist promises as a Democratic president who has most populists on his/her side of the isle.

Will these guys ever quit? The writing is on the wall, but I guess they need to spend the money they raised. Regardless, there is no reason for Democrats to vote for them in Michigan there aren’t enough Democrats that will vote in the GOP race to raise them from single digits to compete with the front-runners.

Romney has never had a better chance to win a big contest. Michigan is his birth state, he leads McCain 2-1 among GOP voters there and the questionable politics of the Democrats should be on his side.

The Politics of Abortion

Jared’s Preface

The following post started as a response to an article arguing in favor of abortion (the link is not provided here). So what does abortion have to do with the 2008 elections? There are a few core issues that I feel are the most important political issues. Abortion is one of them. I find it very difficult to vote for someone who supports abortions. It would take a lot of issue agreement in other areas between that candidate and myself for me to vote for her or him. I won’t go as far as saying that I will never vote for candidates who support abortion but I am disinclined to favorably cast my vote for them. This is why that for all the admirable qualities that the various Democratic candidates have, I have not been able to get behind any of them and offer true support. I admire and respect their good politics and policies (and conversely don’t admire their bad politics and policies) but the social issues are like a gorilla in a family of chimpanzees; they outweigh the rest. Therefore, the candidates that I can really support are, at their core, socially conservative.

Main Article

By Jared Tanner & Daniel Kay

Advocates of “abortion rights” have labeled their movement pro-choice, as if without abortion there is no choice. It’s an insidious term because it leads to the implication that if you oppose abortion you are against freedom, liberty, and personal choice (e.g., “Don’t tell me what to do with my body!”). The issue about abortion has never been about choice though, it’s about morality and responsibility. The evidence for this is argued as follows: We are pro-choice when it comes to abortion – a woman can choose not to get pregnant in the first place. A choice was made at some point to take some action (even if it was choosing to do nothing) that directly led to pregnancy. This leads into one of the exceptions when abortions should be allowed: in cases of rape (and incest). If a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, she should be able to get an abortion if it’s what she wants to do. This is because the woman’s choice was taken away from her; in a sense, pregnancy was violently forced upon her. Again, abortion is not really about choice – choice is always there whether or not abortions are legal. Most pro-choice supporters are actually pro-abortion – in which the term pro-choice is used as a clever cover. Common tenets of this movement are first the idea that the world is over-populated and abortion is a means of minimizing the growth of the population; second, and most importantly, is the idea that women who are aborting their children are the kinds of people that will raise poor quality citizens and abortion will limit this. To the elitist, abortion is killing two birds with one choice (pun intended).

Many forget that abortion is about morality and life. When does human life begin – at conception, at birth, or somewhere in between? We don’t know. It’s actually irrelevant. A little protoplasmic bundle, a littleblastocyst will turn into a person if a pregnancy is allowed to continue. There is no question about that. If there is something wrong with the embryo, oftentimes the embryo or fetus will spontaneously abort. As inane as this sounds, humans don’t have penguin babies or trees or whatever else. Humans have human babies, so the fertilized egg, theblastocyst, the embryo – whether or not it constitutes human life – will in fact grow into a person. The clearest point at which the formula to a single human life is set in motion and on a self-driven course of development is at conception.

There are two other acceptable exceptions for abortion in our view. If the life of the mother is in serious danger because of a pregnancy, she should be able to get an abortion. Also, if the fetus will not survive past birth (i.e., life is not viable), then the mother should be able to receive an abortion. Other than that, there is no reason for abortion. We should note that these are fairly rare circumstances. In such cases the choice of abortion should not be made lightly or necessarily at all.

Yet some continue to argue for abortion using the “slippery slope” argument (i.e., if some abortions are outlawed then soon all abortions will be outlawed including the one we all agree should be legal). However, using the same faulty logic it can be argued that all abortion needs to be outlawed because once some are allowed, the slippery slope will soon lead to the right to kill neonates. Granted there are advocates for pushing society down both slopes. This does not mean that society as a whole will slip into an uncontrollable tumble down either if it moves in one direction or another. Nonetheless, there are consequences for moving down either direction. Moving in the direction that places the right of the mother over the right of her unborn child will move society to place higher value on the self over another other person, while moving towards putting the rights of one individual on par with another moves society in the direction of equal rights (i.e., unborn children have the same rights as born ones).

Legally, governments have picked various time points at which there are legal consequences for terminating development – usually at or before birth. However, individuals in society maintain a continuum with no clear cut-off where terminating one’s offspring is ubiquitously unjustified. Statistically our society places higher value on life the more developed it is. For example, abortions decrease as gestational age increases. This trend continues after birth as well, with murder of children decreasing with the age of the child. There are several factors that play into this trend but one is certainly the idea that the act is justified by the one doing the terminating. The justifications that aborting parents use are often used by parents who murder their newly-born children (which unfortunately occurs in the world): financial burdens, social inconvenience, and partnership dissolution. These explanations used to justify the killing of a 6 mouth old will disgust most people. Fewer people are disgusted by killing younger infants, such as those less than a minute old (e.g., in a partial birth abortion); the earlier in a pregnancy, the less disgusting the thought becomes. Eliminating these justifications should be the goal of or society regardless the age of the life.

Abortion is morally ambiguous at best. Why not take the safest route and outlaw abortions except in the instances of rape and incest, the life of the mother, and lack of newborn viability? This would remove the moral ambiguity and give no foothold for parents to justify terminating a life for selfish reasons. Granted, with the aforementioned exceptions to illegal abortion, some may argue that the issue still is ambiguous. That may be but at least the moral ground is much firmer than before. If a person does not want children, the solution is to not get pregnant. If an undesired pregnancy occurs due to poor choices, the mother should carry the baby to term; after delivery she then has the option to put the baby up for adoption. If we, as a nation, get to the point where we have more infants available for adoption than parents seeking children, then we have other problems to worry about (I limited this solely to infants because adopting older children is a whole different issue).

Arguments also abound that the government has no right to legislate morality. However, that is exactly what governments are organized to do. The whole criminal system (and much of the civil legislation) is legislation of morality. For example, stealing is illegal because it is morally wrong (e.g., it breaks our society’s value of private property). Other pro-abortion advocates argue that making abortion illegal
infringes on personal liberty and that it is needless governmental interference. Removing government from a person’s personal life does not mean more liberty. The lack of laws does not equal liberty. Laws make us free. Importantly, they protect individual rights from the right of others to do whatever they feel like doing. We’re not advocating having the government involved in everything we do, but the argument that all reductions in the size or scope of government automatically means more freedom is false. Some people believe that true freedom comes from supporting the pro-choice movement – being able to have safe, convenient, and government-subsidized abortions. We say that true freedom, when children are not desired, is being able to make the choice to not get pregnant in the first place. The natural consequence of pregnancy is the development of a living human being. Like all humans, the unborn have the right to fulfill their natural development. It is the responsibility of the mother to protect the right of her offspring. Having an abortion is eschewing personal responsibility in favor of personal convenience and denying the right of another to continue on his or her natural course.