Sunday, May 31, 2009


Just a quick note.

This post, barbarians, at Obsidian Wings, illustrates why, of all the people I read on the tubz, Hilzoy is the person I most admire, and would most likely emulate, were I capable of such a thing. Her writing is a mixture of common sense, erudition, compassion, and complete honesty, alloyed with a sense of her own imperfection and a terrific way with words.


Update - not to mention this post and the one following.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Caleb did it to me again

In this this post, Community, at FPR, Caleb Stegall once again totally raises my ire. He speaks of the lost America of small towns and tight knit communities, and bemoans the destructive ways of modernity. His paean to conservative values completely misses the point that those communities were largely white, Christian patriarchies that limited the freedom of expression for all dissenting povs. Women lacked the right to vote, Catholics weren't welcome, except where THEY dominated the patriarchy, and black people were first slaves and then little better than agrarian servants.

FPR posters have argued in the past that diversity is anathema to community. I both agree and disagree. It is anathema to their vision of community, where everybody looks like them, thinks like them, goes to church like them, and more importantly, where they and their conservative followers hold the reins of power. It is NOT anathema to communities of which individuals choose to be a part. If Caleb wants to live in a community of like minded individuals, then that's great, I hope he finds one. But to insist, repeatedly and at length, that only HIS vision (and that of Berry) is meaningful is little more than an act of hubris.

Those old communities fell apart exactly because they did not serve the bulk of the participants in that community. Had they done so, they would still exist.

It's in the individual choosing, Caleb. That is where the power lies, and that can't be taken away simply because you, or any other conservative or liberal or fascist or communist or socialist, think you have the magic pony that will bring about the perfect setting for all of humanity.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Green Monkeys! Thing1 and Thing2!

DKos has the following article Green glowing marmosets!!! Jellyfish dna planted in a primate!!! How cool is that?

I wonder if this isn't the beginning of immamentizing the eschaton? I mean, think about it, marmosets are primates, human beings are primates, we could have green glowing humans - Hulk! - and we could have many other kinds of human being. We could perfect humanity and bring about heaven on earth!!!

Is a human being carrying dna from another species still a human being? What if, just as a thought experiment, we created two lines of human beings, one that swam in the oceans and one that flew in the sky. Given their inherent morphology, interspecies procreation is no longer possible. Are both lines still human? What does it mean to be human?

I think they are human. I think that tent is big enough for all us conscious creatures, whether or not our germ cells are compatible.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Pope Signs Up for Ad Revenue

It seems the Vatican radio station has decided to sell ads to generate revenue. I wonder how that will play at FPR, where consumerism is an evil second only to abortion (I made that part up - it just sounds too good to waste!).

I, like many on FPR, believe that credit driven consumerism, fueled by psychologically s(l)ick ads is part of the reason that so many communities aren't really communities at all. Being as FPRrs are mostly Catholic and all, it seems like there should be a perfect storm brewing.

Apparently the Pope himself (or his delegated alternate) will review the ads closely. I wonder just what metrics they will use to decide between good ads and bad ads? somethings are obvious - condoms, for example, probably won't make the good list. But what about, say, dish soap? Or furniture stores?

I wonder if they do research to see who their audience is?

Further, I wonder if we will hear anything else about the Vatican radio station?


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don’t EVEN THINK ABOUT Immamentizing the Eschaton!!!!

Michael Federici has this essay, The 100 Years vs. The 100 Days Standard, up at FPR. In it, Michael mentions two interesting concepts, gnostic impatience (gi), seeking to immamentize the eschaton, or bring about heaven on earth, and metastatic faith (mf), seeking to change reality through faith. In comments, RJ Snell refers to Voegelin, apparently referring to the content of the essay itself. Interesting stuff.

The essay itself primarily deals with the title; the idea that the first 100 days is important is an example of both gi and mf. Michael argues that 100 years is a better determinant than 100 days. I agree. The problem, as I see it, is that very few of us have 100 years to work on things. Michaels first big conjecture is, "…the use of a one-hundred years standard might indicate a movement toward a new realism in American politics that marks the end of big government and the romantic humanitarianism that is its animating force." Wow! Romantic humanitarianism! It takes a little extra credit reading to understand that the phrase is a reference to Empire, as well as to Rousseau and the Noble Savage – the idea that mankind can be improved. I kind of agree with Michael - we're not likely to see any improvement in mankind, probably ever. Nor should we.

Perhaps the most grand observation in the essay is this, "Evil, imperfection, and injustice are not tolerated to any degree." Implication being two-fold; that toleration of the bad trifecta is itself a good, and that seeking to minimize the trifecta is bad. Perhaps my dyspeptic view of this statement lies in the choice of the word "tolerance", when what Michael may mean is the expectation that the trifecta can be eliminated is too ingrained into our modern culture. I don't know that I agree with him, but I certainly can better understand his point, were his "tolerance" to be defined as I suggest.

Michael goes on to argue for FPR's most dearly held belief, that if we just went back to "community" as the basis of culture, all would be better. I think that might be another example of gi and mf. :)

The essay is somewhat confusing in its presentation. OTOH, this is the net, not a scholarly journal, so some slack is permitted.

If I have one observation to make, it is this – if we had all FPR's grandest ideas AND a magic pony, we could immamentize the eschaton!!!! The point being, how do we obtain the benefits of big gov while simultaneously abandoning it? That is the magic pony, the mf and gi in the FPR mythos. Not to mention another kind of romantic humanitarianism.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Larison and the GOP

I think Daniel's "point" is that Republicans are not conservatives, that real conservatives are actually a rare breed, but after that I get confused. If the unthinking (non-ideological in Daniel speak) Republicans are drifting away from the party, as Daniel suggests, then that means that only the ideologically aware remain with the party - which kind of begs the question; if the aware remain with the party, then the party is THEIRS, in all its perfidy and destructiveness. I think Daniel agrees when he says, "they will have to start acting like conservatives, rather than simply calling themselves that." My guess is that most of the ideological conservatives are not at all similar to Daniel, and it is his blind spot in action, not theirs. The party is exactly what most ideologically aware "conservatives" want it to be.

I interpret Daniel as saying that the GOP is the lesser of two evils. After these past 8 years, I have no idea how he can support that position, if that is what he believes. His writing doesn't support it. In my reading of the kind of conservative sites Daniel represents, I find many worthy ideas. I also find the kind of libertarian bigotry to which both Alan and MZ refer. But more than anything else, it is abortion that I believe keeps true conservatives like Daniel from fleeing the GOP. I am sorry for that, sorry that I can't accept their reasoning, sorry that they can't see that taking away a woman's choice is as wrong as locking her up in Gitmo with no rights and no evidence of any wrongdoing. I think as long as conservatives feel they must stick to an anti-abortion platform they will remain outside the discussion of what is right and good for America and for the world, because that discussion is happening in circles from which the GOP has excluded itself. Daniel's best hope, and that of his fellow travelers, is that those who disagree with him on abortion will none the less carry some of his water into those forums where real discussion can occur.

There is some chance of that, no? I mean, look who reads Daniel and FPR - self styled liberals (me, for example) who find much of what Daniel says to be no more than the simple truth.


Friday, May 22, 2009

My Little Piece of Place

The honeysuckle is in bloom, the oaks are so green it almost hurts the eyes, the sky so blue it goes on forever. There are flowers in the meadow and birds in the trees.

I can't imagine that it gets any better than this.

Love made this place. Friends, children, grandchildren, parents, sibs, nephews, nieces, cousins - this place is for all of them, and they know it


Polistra In Oz

Polistra, a regular commenter at FPR and proprietor of has the following post: In it, Polistra make the following observation, "most Americans think it's fine to use any methods necessary to get important information from an actual enemy." I don't actually think this is true. It certainly isn't in line with our legal system or the constitution.

I think that Polistra inveighs against torturing people who don't know anything. I am not sure how we know who knows and who doesn't, but I am encouraged at even that much humanity. He also claims that most of what I might term torture is not quite so uncomfortable as a visit to the dentist. I wonder how he incorporates Mancow's recent change of heart with respect to waterboarding? Apparently Mancow held the same belief as does Polistra, but having tested his resolve, has changed his mind. Maybe we should ask Polistra to test his resolve?

Finally, maybe Polistra should follow the lead of FPR and open his blog to comments. Or maybe the reading on HIS blog the comments of those who disagree with him is just torture? (Not that FPR didn't ask me to not post – but at least they asked, and at least they have comments still turned on).


Are All Gitmo Detainees Terrorists?

I remain confused by right wing commenters in general. We know that many, if not most, Gitmo detainees were not terrorists, or at least not anti-American terrorists. Why do so many conservative commenters continue to speak and act as if ALL Gitmo detainees are in fact terrorists, or even simply enemy combatants? It just isn't true – or wasn't true. It might well be the case that after years of abusive incarceration that all Gitmo detainees are in fact, if not in action, anti-American terrorists. It would be very hard to blame them for holding on to their anger and taking it out someplace, sometime.

I don't see the FPR columnists, or Larison, or Schwenkler making such statements (they may have and I just missed them) but everywhere I read, if Gitmo comes up, some commenter repeats the lie that everyone ever there was a terrorist, the worst of the worst.

It just ain't so.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is Obama Short Sheeting Us?

JL Wall, standing in for John Schwenkler at Upturned Earth, puts up the following post.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss?

And I gotta say, I wonder. I wonder if after it's all said and done, Obama isn't just a smoother and more intelligent Bush. Only time will tell, and then, of course, it will be way, way too late.


It’s the Phreedom One, Mark

Mark Mitchell at FPR posted another essay on we are all losing freedom left and right.

GPS, Security, and Freedom

Again, Mark, where is the definition of the freedom we are losing? He's in a car, free to travel to New York, perfectly free to not fly to New York, driving on socialized roads, and he's considering the loss of freedom associated with a GPS Nav system?

Mark says, and I quote "But this leads us to a question: is meaningful and robust freedom compatible with a world rendered secure by our technical cleverness? Does a completely secure world have any space for meaningful freedom? In a world of absolute security, or the impression thereof, would we even miss the freedom that has been lost?" Mark, I say this leads us to a question: what is meaningful and robust freedom? Is there now or will there ever be a completely secure world? How would we miss freedom we haven't even bothered to identify?

I like Mark's writing, but this essay poses questions without setting context. It is like asking someone without electricity if they watch a big screen tv – it just doesn't mean anything. The only possible answer is not, and that answer is not meaningful. How do I know if we've possibly lost freedom when I don't understand to what freedom(s) he refers?

I've asked this question of Mark already, but so far he has not chosen to answer. He may yet.

Clearly, Mark is talking about all the things a society does to increase the security of the individual's life and property. The question he asks is, does an increase in security provided by the state result in a decrease in freedom? Put that way, both security and freedom need some defining. We need a defining moment from Mark – what, in his mind, is being gained and what is being lost?


Promiscuous Communities

Jason, at FPR, posted a lighthearted essay about his belief that the word community is abused when anything other than Mayberry, RFD, is intended.

On The Promiscuous Use of "Community"

I don't agree. Natch. More to the point, Jason's idea of community can all too easily become a prison rather than a place of abiding peace and getting-over-it-all. I think of "To Kill A Mocking Bird", a great story about a small town and it's destructive prejudices. Small town and bigotry are all but synonymous in the American canon. Perhaps that is because bigotry makes for good stories. It is also true, as Jefferson observed, rogues rise to the top. In small towns, there are fewer checks on rogues, particularly rogues aligned with the primary political power. Put Dick Cheney in Mockingbird and Atticus would have ended up in jail as an enemy combatant.

Community, in Jason's meaning of the word, has much to offer us all. It may as well be made of unobtanium in practical terms. Which leaves us with creating, or synthesizing, communities where we can.


Why Read Conservatives?

The answer is simple, really. I agree with most of the liberal sites I read. I dislike making "You go!" comments. So if I want to speak about something, I have to disagree with something said, and that disagreement is far easier to find when I read conservative sites.

Not that it is always easy. Daniel on Eunomia, FPR – the people who can actually write often say things with which I completely agree. It's shocking , I tell you, shocking!

What liberals do I like to read? Two come to mind, Hilzoy on Obsidian Wings (and Washington Monthly) and Digby on Hullaballoo. I think I enjoy them so much because they speak mostly to the logic of a situation. In different ways - Digby to the political, Hilzoy to the philosophical and ethical. Not that both don't speak to both – it's more of an approach difference.

What political bloggers do I like to read? Scott Horton at No Comment and Glenn Greenwald on Salon. Scott sticks mostly to a few stories, but his take on the stories is great reading. Glenn tackles hypocrisy like a rabid pit bull. Scott is easy to read, Glenn much less so. Not because the writing is not as good, but because so much of what he addresses is totally enraging. We are governed by venal men and women, and that hard truth as served up by Glenn is hard to stomach on a continuing basis.

What political sites do I like? Talking Points Memo, Think Progress and Firedoglake. Great liberal sites.

Really, if you want something to argue about, read a conservative site. But read a good one.


Don’t We All Doubt?

Daniel Larison, speaking on his blog, Eunomia, about Obama at Notre Dame, spoke about faith and the role of doubt.

I don't agree with Daniel (no surprise there) but as it is essentially a religious first principles argument, I really had no dog in the fight. However, Kent had several cogent comments refuting Daniel's main point that when Obama said "It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us" he spoke about doubt in God.

Kent's point was that Obama spoke about what God had planned for us in our lives, not about whether or not God commanded us to believe in God. Daniel purposely took this approach to argue that Obama pulled a theological dodge regarding what fair-minded people might believe. In fact, Obama spoke of service. Kent spoke of service. Daniel doubled down on his earlier intentional misreading in this comment.

I don't actually care about the doubt part – it's the doubling down on a dumb statement that I find interesting. How does a poster know when to just shut up and take his lumps, or better yet, acknowledge that either his point was poorly made or just plain wrong? It is very tempting to go for the BS and maintain the sanctity of one's written word, but it rarely works.

Best just to admit to human frailty, and try to do better next time. Of course, as a Catholic conservative, that's got to be a hard thing to do. Daniel put his position out there pretty clearly "Everyone is stricken with doubt at times, but it has to be understood that doubt, like an illness, is something from which one may suffer but which is something that needs to be remedied rather than perpetuated or celebrated." The only way to eliminate doubt about the unknowable, and sometimes even the knowable, is to allow a lie into the center of your life, the lie that you actually know anything with absolute certainty. Not a recipe for healthy living.

The only man I have ever known who might, on some level, be a saint was a committed Church of God Christian. Yet on his deathbed at 102, as I listened to him speak, he knew doubt. He didn't voice his doubt directly, but it was an unsubtle doubt even so.

Daniel, along with all the rest of us, has not yet achieved godhood. He is allowed some doubt.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Republicans qua Conservative

Conservative - 1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

Does this appellation apply to the Republican Party? Nope. Not really. Just don't see it. Republicans as big business, yes. Republicans as other even less acceptable labels, yes. But conservative? Laughable.

So what happens when social conservatives begin to realize (finally) that Republicans are not fellow travelers? What do they call it when you try to hold two contradictory thoughts as true? Cognitive dissonance? I think I see lots of dissonance in what I read from self-described conservatives – mostly social conservatives. And I truly get it – in principle they voted for aggressive war, torture, spendthrift polices, the police state - none of which were on their agenda, and in return got exactly two Supreme Court justices who may or may not revisit Roe v Wade. They achieved nothing else of lasting import. I can sympathize with their feelings of betrayal and abandonment.

Not that I approve of almost any part of the social conservative agenda. Purity balls, abstinence only – actually, if you took sex and it's consequences out of the picture, I might approve of at least some of the agenda. Not the authoritarian part. The communitarian, distributist parts, perhaps.

So where do they go now? Libertarianism is out – too much choice. Democrats, whether or not they are the ONLY possible counterweight to the Republicans, are out because of abortion. I don't know what a social conservative is to do. There is talk of simply staying out of politics. There is some precedence in the Bible for that tack. But abortion remains a sticking point – you really can't accuse 2/3s of the nation of being at best an accessory to infanticide without simultaneously putting them, or you, beyond the pale.

I'd say this is a time for appropriate doubt in the faithful, but too many seem to have a pipeline to God on the issue of when a human being is actually present in the flesh. I guess such certainty is a good thing, but unfortunately for them, and for all of us, that certainty doesn't appear to be communicable.

FPR at least hints at the problem – every now and then I read about a social conservative who has become a disaffected Republican, adrift in the political sea with no landing in sight. It can't be fun.



What Should We Do, What SHOULD We Do?

Patrick Deneen has put up a great essay on FPR.

Once again, I am struck by how much I have in common with most of the truly conservative parts of our culture. If we could resolve the abortion issue, and I don't think that to be likely anytime soon, then I suspect we would often find ourselves joined in a common cause. The label of liberal or conservative is pretty artificial. It wouldn't take much to make them the same.

If there is an underlying problem, maybe's it the authoritarian bent of most conservatives as compared to the individualist bent of most liberals. In specific instances the desired outcomes of liberals and conservatives might be only superficially similar – and this is a fear of mine, that I would agree on some specific outcome only to find that what the conservatives wanted was not choosing but rather requiring.

I don't think that many conservatives get the fact that requiring people to do certain things, to act in certain ways, only engenders resistance. People just want different things, even if what they appear to want is something harmful.

Nonetheless, Patrick's essay gives me hope that maybe in some things there is a growing consensus across the cultural divide that things as they are is not good place to be.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Blog FU

Caleb Stegall posted the last essay at FPR upon which I commented. He says he is contemptuous of people who hold my positions on many issues, tho he did respond directly to comments on earlier essays. He goes on to say that short of threats of physical violence, he doesn't think FPR should limit discussion (my take on his words). I commented agreeing with Caleb.

FPR removed my comment, shut off comments on that essay, then Caleb posted a weasely update decrying tolerance. Imagine that, a conservative decrying tolerance. Like that's never happened before. :)

FPR, thy name is Echo Chamber.


Science and Spirit

DW Sabin posted a beautiful essay on FPR He points no particular fingers, makes no specific recommendations; he simply wishes for a rapprochement between science and spirit.

The difficulty, however, is similar to the idea of post partisanship - if one side won't admit to things-as-they-are (otherwise known as reality), then rapprochement is not possible. When science (by which I mean a large majority of men and women educated and knowledgeable in a particular field of research) says that climate change is driven by human activity and the spirit says no it isn't, rapprochement is not on the table.

I don't know how to solve this problem; only that it is a problem that will not go away until religious conservatives (the spirit in this case) concede expertise to science. So far, it ain't happenin'.


Sunday, May 17, 2009


A constant refrain on FPR is the idea that socialism inevitably leads to a loss of phreedom. Phrankly, I don't get it.  I look at other industrialized nations that can be considered socialist (although there are no "socialist" nations in the strictest sense of the word) and I see nations whose people seem to be quite free - as free as us Americans, or maybe more so.

I am sure that some of the issue is one of definition. What does freedom mean in their minds? In mine? Freedom, it seems to me, is freedom from something.  Here is what Merriam Webster online says:

"1: the quality or state of being free: as a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another"

Absence of coercion in choice, liberation from the power of another. 

After 9/11, liberals often quoted Franklin, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." For the most part, liberals were speaking to specific actions taken by the Bush administration under the authority the Patriot Act. Things like indefinite detention of "enemy combatants", when many of the detainees at Abu Graib or Gitmo or Baghram or all the black sites the CIA denied but shut down later under pressure were neither enemies nor combatants - then. 

When conservatives use the phrase, they seem to be discussing a trade of economic security for freedom.  Freedom from what is an open question, but it appears to largely be freedom from failure. Not failure in the business sense, but failure in the sense of being unable to feed your family.

Now I don't know exactly what they mean, and I haven't read enough conservative screeds to claim any general insight into conservative thinking, but it appears to me that when socialism provides a general limit to the failure a family might have to suffer, conservatives find this problematic. Particularly as their taxes obviously go to support the system providing for that limit. What appears to be a lack of freedom for conservatives can be read as freedom from taxation. They simply don't want to be taxed. I don't know if that means freedom from roads, and airports, and medical research, and primary and secondary education - oh wait, for many conservatives, it DOES mean freedom from taxation for primary and secondary education!! They want to choose who gets that education, that there should be no mandate for education financed with their taxes.

It's as if education for all is a drag on the economy that supports them. The reverse is the case, or so I believe. Education is a source of economic strength for a nation, not a drag.

Anyway, the freedom that conservatives apparently fear losing is simply freedom from paying taxes they don't want to pay. Everyone is more free - more free to try different careers, different businesses, the arts, poorly paid but highly needed occupations (think teachers in low income areas). It is true that social programs do require taxes. It is also true that we here in the US are taxed at a much lower rate than, for example, socialized EU nations.  2008 total gov tax and non-tax receipts for the EU were approx 44.9% of GDP.  The US was approx 33.3% of GDP. But wait!!!! What about health care, something covered by EU nations but mostly not covered by the US? It is included in the EU receipts, but not US receipts. How much, as a % of GDP do US citizens pay? Total health care spending, which does include about 30% of all US citizens, in 2007 is almost 17% of GDP vs 10% for other similar industrialized nations.  So if 1/3 of the spending is already included, then we can say that including healthcare, the US spends about 44% of GDP - almost identical to the EU. When you consider what we spend on wars, we could either get a lot better, or spend a lot less if we eschewed empire.  As it is we spent about $7900 per person in 2007 on health care.  Approximately twice the EU rate. 

The subject was freedom, and yes, I've wandered. No, I am not sorry.

We don't have a shortage of freedom here in America. Mostly we have a shortage of affordable health care. Universal health care could actually cost us much less than what we have now. The most expensive system in the world, a miserable ranking of our overall health sytem, and 40+ million uninsured.

Yeah, that's freedom we can all understand. The freedom to fail. We got that down now.


The Excommunication

My comments on this post,, are what lead to my excommunication from the Porch. Abortion is such a ticklish issue. I guess I knew that making too much noise might lead the proprietors to decide that the Porch was more enjoyable without me. You can't actually read my comments on this essay as they were deleted.

Excommunicated is probably not the right word, but it conveys the right feeling, I think. I held a heretical position, argued for it forcibly, and would not recant. Of course, not being Catholic, or even Christian, it isn't actually that far a fall.

In essence, James put up a picture of his future son. I said the picture didn't so much speak to humanity as it did to a certain great apishness. It was all down hill from there.  James started it in his essay, calling all abortionists murderers. A strong word, dontcha think?

I have 8 arguments I employ in conversations with anti-abortionists. Here they are, in no particular order,:

1) The invader argument

2) The clump of cells and the cloning argument

3) The natural evil argument

4) The freezer argument

5) The equal application of the law argument

6) The Brother O Brother Where Art Thou argument

7) The seat of being argument

8) The woman is a free being argument

Following are synopses of each argument.

1) A woman's body is home to her being. Just as in her physical home, she is free to invite and uninvite. Once uninvited, the guest must leave. If the guest does not leave, the woman is free to call the state and ask them to forceably remove the guest. If the guest refuses to leave, and in fact attempts to change status from uninvited guest to home invader, the woman may kill the invader in self defense without legal repercussions associated with murder. A unwanted pregnancy is the equivalent of an armed home invasion.

2) All pregnancies begin with the creation of a clump of cells. At around 70 to 100 cells, the clump is known as a blastocyst.  At this level of undifferentiation, the clump of cells is readily compared to any other human clump of cells. Such as skin cells being grown for a graft, or the stem cell lines obtained from embryonic tissues. Science is at the stage where, if not now, then soon, human beings will be cloned from somatic cells - skin cells, for example. There is no creation by God or chance, just human tinkering with mammalian reproduction. Did man create the being that is the clone? No. Man created the possibility for that being. If any clump of cells can be the source for cloning a being (simply the physical part - everything else comes later), must we treat all our discarded bits and pieces as beings, and be considered murderers for discarding them if we no longer need or what those particular clumps of cells? No. They are simply clumps of cells.  Like algae. Alive, but not a human being.

3) Anti-abortionists have created the near perfect dodge - if something bad happens to this clump of cells, a spontaneous abortion for example, that is Natural Evil and God's will and there is nothing to be done about it and no conclusions to be drawn. So the 20% of all fertilizations, the 5% of all implantations, and the 1% (all numbers are approximate) of postimplantation pregnancies that fail are simply God's will.  I ask myself, is not polio God's will? Before we had a vaccine there was little to be done to prevent polio, but now we have vaccines, and suddenly, it is no longer a Natural Evil to be harmed by polio, it is a completely avoidable evil. In the same vein, we haven't looked at all the reasons for those losses in the process of creating a human being - and this is the dodge.  By not looking at them, we prevent ourselves from having to do something about them, and therefore we (we anti-abortionists) can maintain the fiction of Natural Evil. I say, if the anti-abortionists were really all about blastocysts being human, they would seek to make the chance of blastocyst death much smaller.  They don't seek that reduction, ergo that don't actually care.

4) What about all those fertilized eggs laying around in little freezers in fertility clinics? Definitely alive, if in suspended animation, definitely capable of becoming a human being, given the chance. Why do the anti-abortionists not insist those eggs be given a chance? Or, at the very least, try to shut down the fertility clinics? Most fertilized eggs are destroyed. On purpose. Isn't  that murder in the eyes of the anti-abortinist? Where is the outcry? It isn't there. They don't care. Apparently only some human beings in the clump of cells stage of life are worth worrying about. Like, those already inside a woman.

5) Anyone ever heard an anti-abortionist call for the death penalty, or even life in prison, to be applied to their daughters should they have an abortion? Neither have I. 'Nuff said.

6) Think of it this way. Two brothers, Cain and Abel.  Abel's last kidney is failing rapidly.  If Cain donates a kidney, Abel lives.  If Cain doesn't, Abel dies.  Does Cain have a choice? Is he a murderer if chooses to keep both his kidneys? We might think much less of him,  but his kidneys are his.  The parallel to a woman and an embryo is all too obvious. Let the anti-abortionists seek to pass laws that penalize not donating the kidney as murder, and they will be at leas consistent, if still wrong.

7) The clump of cells that will one day, perhaps, be a human being is best compared to the code and tools to build the body of a human being. The code is the dna, and the tools the processes the code enables.  Of course a womb is required to enable the processes, but we can imagine that it does not have to be a human womb, simply a womb constructed to meet the dictates of the code in the cells. A code and a process do not a human being make - what they make is a construct, as seat for a being to occupy. The being comes fairly late in the process.  It is entirely possible that the actual being doesn't occupy that seat until well after birth. In any case, the seat for a human being requires a functional brain, and that doesn't happen until very late in the pregnancy. The law does not consider it murder to turn off the life support for a being that has irreparble brain damage.  The seat of being has been destroyed and no being remains in residence. At the very least, there is no being resident in the early stages of development.

8) And finally, the only argument actually required.  The body and the womb it contains is the woman's body. She chooses who she allows in, and who and what she does not. The rights of the embryo do not supercede the rights of the woman, irrespective of whether the embryo is a human being, or not, and irrespective of whether or not the woman's choice dooms the embryo.

I said some or all of these things on the thread on FPR. I think I have stated them as concisely as possible here (or nearly so). Feel free to argue with me.


The Why of Things

FPR (Front Porch Republic, is an interesting place, full of bright, inventive and wordy people convincing each other that, one and all, they are the best thing to come to the internet since sliced bread.

And, in a way, you can't blame them for trying. They are part of an increasingly small minority that believes you must double down on what's not working to win the culture wars. Whatever the subject, abortion, sex, community, Austrians and Distributists, they are part of the cultural fringe of American life. Albeit an educated fringe.

And that is why they, as a group, are interesting. Individually they would be boring and pretentious (not all of them, and none of them all the time), but as a group they are like a petrie dish, an experiment which we can all observe. There is much to be learned from people who can actually write. If nothing else, what lies at the heart of their beliefs is worth understanding.

We are all human. All of us have failed the test of godhood already, so I don't cast stones, I simply think on their words and follow the logic.

Should you be reading here, welcome. Should you not be reading here, you are still welcome. :)