May 29 2009

Obama and his “pro-life voters”

Category: abortion,left,Obamaharmonicminer @ 9:38 am

CSPAN coverage of Panel on Sanctity of Human Life

Catholic University of America hosted a discussion on “The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is there a common ground on life issues? What is the right response by ‘Pro-Life’ Citizens?”

The panelists are Professor Robert P. George (Princeton University) and Professor Douglas Kmiec (Pepperdine Law School). Well worth watching. A bit long, but if you’re a Christian who voted for Obama on the grounds that his overall social policies might reduce abortion, you owe it to yourself to watch it. These are two very articulate representatives of their positions, and the issues are fairly laid out. 

For reference, here are earlier dialogs involving these two academics.

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May 27 2009

Obama to Israel: pound sand

Category: Iran,Islam,Israel,national security,Obamaharmonicminer @ 9:50 am

President Obama has made it clear that he has no intent of taking any serious action to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and that if Israel does take such action, he will blame Israel, not Iran. Caroline Glick reports. (much more at the link, all worth reading)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday was a baptism of fire for the new premier. What emerged from the meeting is that Obama’s priorities regarding Iran, Israel and the Arab world are diametrically opposed to Israel’s priorities.

During his ad hoc press conference with Netanyahu, Obama made clear that he will not lift a finger to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And acting as Obama’s surrogate, for the past two weeks CIA Director Leon Panetta has made clear that Obama expects Israel to also sit on its thumbs as Iran develops the means to destroy it.

It’s becoming apparent that Obama is bluffing on a busted flush. He has no hole cards (at least that he’s willing to use), and he has no plans to do anything serious to deter or prevent either North Korea or Iran from becoming full-fledged nuclear threats complete with delivery systems. At the same time, he is reducing our commitment to missile defense, and weakening our military commitment to proven technologies that could defend us and our allies.

Iran will not bomb Jerusalem, which it considers to be a “holy city,” but Tel Aviv, Haifa, etc., are obvious targets.  And with its surrogates Hamas and Hizbullah, Iran has ways of getting the bombs into Israel without being the obvious launch site….  just enough to maintain “implausible deniability,” which would not prevent an Israeli response, futile though that response would be to save Israel.  About three or four bombs, and in essence there is no nation of Israel, at least none that could resist the following onslaught of conventional forces rolling in from its neighbors.

The other nations in the Middle East, mostly Sunni, are not in favor of a nuclear armed Iran, but they have even fewer options to do anything about it than Israel.  If Israel does attack Iran to delay its acquisition of nuclear arms, the muslim nations around it will cry publicly, and cheer privately.  They know that Israel presents no danger to them, while Iran clearly does, especially a nuclear Iran.

We are on the cusp of a moral decision, nationally, not very different from the run-up to the Holocaust.   Obama will have to do more than talk and threaten.  He must act, decisively, and soon.  If he does not, Israel cannot be blamed for doing what it must simply to survive.

I hope and pray that, even if he does not care about Israel directly, Obama will recognize the enormous support Israel has in the USA, and realize what a political disaster it will be for him if Israel is destroyed on his watch.

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May 15 2009

Conflicted Christians

Category: abortion,church,higher education,Obama,religionharmonicminer @ 9:39 am

As previously observed, President Obama will receive an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame in a few days, and address a commencement exercise. And although there is a considerable amount of Outrage Over Obama Speaking at Notre Dame, the plain fact is that 53% of Catholics voted for him, in direct contravention of their bishops’ advice and admonition.

One graduating senior, Matt Degnan, is selling T-shirts he designed that say “Obama? Fine By Me.” When I asked him whether the shirts represented enthusiastic support of the president or merely tacit ambivalence, he simply responded, “I think that the shirts speak for themselves.”

But he told the paper that faculty members have been the most frequent buyers, which comes as no surprise to anyone who’s ever met a college professor.

Furthermore, Catholics themselves helped put Obama in office, after voting for him 53 percent. Obama secured the largest advantage among Catholics for a Democrat since Bill Clinton.

So although I’m empathetic toward the outrage — and a Catholic school honoring a pro-choice activist like Obama is nothing short of outrageous — the numbers tell a different picture. The state of Indiana, St. Joseph’s County, South Bend, and the University of Notre Dame all supported candidate Obama, with alacrity, as did Catholic America.

Right-to-life issues are important, but this supposed scandal is muddied by the inconvenient underlying facts: Obama has huge support here, and some of the groups that are railing against his visit are the very groups that helped put him in office, in a position to then be invited.

But voting him into office was apparently one thing, and allowing him to speak at a college commencement, another. Catholics should get their message straight if they want to regain the kind of influence that makes them a credible voice of reason, compassion, clarity, and morality. Right now they just seem tongue-tied.

Christians should not be tongue tied.   Ever.   They should be willing to speak out on straight-up moral issues, especially those involving life and death of the most innocent.  Shame on us.  And count me as one evangelical who feels more in common with the other 47% of Roman Catholics than with all too many protestants.

In the meantime, here’s a protestant to admire, for his conviction, and his willingness to tell simple, unobstructed, unconflicted truth:

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Apr 29 2009

A courageous, principled Christian does the right thing

Category: abortion,higher education,Obamaharmonicminer @ 9:00 am

Mary Ann Glendon: An Open Letter to Fr. Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, re: Obama receiving honorary degree

April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President
University of Notre Dame

Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision-in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops-to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Yours Very Truly,

Mary Ann Glendon

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Apr 25 2009

Welfare spending doesn’t reduce abortion

Category: abortion,Obama,religion,Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:59 am

WAY too many Christians voted for Obama, believing or pretending to believe that his social policies would “reduce abortion,” even though he has supported the most radical pro-abortion policies possible.  These Christians seem to have fallen for the canard that a more fully funded “social safety net” would reduce the felt need for abortion, and that such policies would be more effective in reducing abortion than straightforward legal restrictions and limitations.   Some of these Christian groups have touted studies that do not, in fact, demonstrate the relationships they claim between social spending and reduced abortion.  Here is a takedown of “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good”:

An August 2008 study released by the group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good had Obama supporters (and some editorial boards) swooning. Analyzing state level abortion data from 1982 to 2000, it purportedly found evidence that increased spending on various welfare programs resulted in substantial reductions in state abortion rates. The spin given to the results was that many pro-life laws, such as those requiring parental notification for abortions performed on minor girls, had little effect. So the paradoxical message to pro-life voters was that they could best advance their interests by electing pro-choice Democrats instead of pro-life Republicans.

Not surprisingly, this study had a substantial impact on the debate over sanctity of life issues during the 2008 Presidential election. Self proclaimed pro-lifers who support Democratic Presidential nominees can be found in every election cycle. However, this study gave Doug Kmiec, Nicholas Cafardi, and others intellectual legitimacy in arguing that pro-life voters should vote for liberals, even if they favor abortion-on-demand and its public funding, in order to advance the pro-life cause. At last, there was a methodologically sophisticated study which allegedly demonstrated that the welfare policies favored by Democrats were more effective in preventing abortion than the pro-life laws supported by Republicans. It seemed too good to be true.

It was. In November, with no public announcement, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good removed this study from their website. A replacement version was uploaded shortly thereafter. The replacement version differs from its predecessor in a number of interesting ways. First and foremost, one of the authors of the August study, Professor Michael Bailey of Georgetown University, removed his name from the November version. Joseph Wright, a Visiting Fellow at Notre Dame, is the sole author of the current study.

More importantly, the results of the new version fall well short of the original press release. The original study argued that three welfare policies had significant effects on state abortion rates. First, family caps, which deny welfare recipients extra benefits if they have additional children out of wedlock, increased abortion rates. Second, increased spending on the Women Infants Children (WIC) program reduced abortion rates. Third, increased spending on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) also reduced abortion rates.

However, after the original study was released, the authors discovered that they used incorrect abortion data for the years following 1997. Furthermore, after some dialogue with me, the authors decided that it would be appropriate to eliminate data from states, such as Kansas, where abortion reporting was inconsistent over time. These changes have had a substantial effect on the study’s findings.

The new version provides evidence that welfare policy has no more than a marginal effect on the incidence of abortion. In fact, the new regression results indicate that none of the three welfare policies which the authors previously argued were effective tools for reducing the incidence of abortion have a substantial abortion reducing effect. Wright clearly states that “WIC payments are not correlated with the abortion rate in the 1990s.” Additionally, the regression results consistently indicate that the presence of family caps has only a marginal effect on state abortion rates. Furthermore, while Wright argues that increased AFDC/TANF spending reduces state abortion rates, his regression results raise serious doubts about the reliability of this finding.

Wright runs a series of regressions using only data from the 1990s which shows that increases in AFDC/TANF spending is correlated with statistically significant abortion declines. However, regressions run on data from 1982 to 2000 find that AFDC/TANF spending only has a marginal impact on the incidence of abortion. Furthermore, when Wright runs regressions on data from the 1980s, he finds that AFDC spending actually increases the incidence of abortion and the coefficient approaches conventional levels of statistical significance.

For social science findings to be reliable, the results should be fairly consistent across time. These findings certainly are not. Furthermore, Wright makes no effort to explain why welfare spending has such disparate effects on abortion rates during different time periods.

Furthermore, many of the flaws in the previous study’s analysis of pro-life legislation are still prevalent in the current version. Wright states that parental involvement laws, like the other state laws restricting abortion, have little impact on overall abortion rates. However, since parental involvement laws only directly affect minors, Wright should have mentioned that analyzing their effects on the overall abortion rate is not a methodologically sound way to gauge their actual impact.

Similarly, Wright continues to argue that informed consent laws are ineffective. However, he fails to acknowledge the substantial differences in the effects of nullified and enacted informed consent laws. In truth, by the criteria he sets forth on page 6, his results provide evidence that informed consent laws are effective. However, he makes no mention of this in the paper.

Unfortunately, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good continues to miss the boat and mislead the public. There exist plenty of peer reviewed studies which find that public funding restrictions and parental involvement laws reduce the incidence of abortion. However, instead of acknowledging the positive impact of pro-life legislation and constructively working with pro-lifers to promote social policies that will further reduce abortion rates, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good seems primarily interested in providing moral, political, and theological cover for supporters of Barack Obama and other Democrats who support “abortion rights.” Unfortunately, their latest study indicates that their original findings have been unable to withstand serious scrutiny.

Sadly, just weeks into his administration, President Obama has already demonstrated considerable disregard for the sanctity of human life. One of Barack Obama’s first acts as President was to revoke the Mexico City Policy. Now non-governmental organizations receiving funds from the U.S. Government can perform and promote abortions overseas. It is unfortunate that the faulty research of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good was used as political cover to help make such a thing possible. As the Obama administration continues its assault on laws and policies upholding the sanctity of human life, pro-lifers need to hold this organization morally accountable.

It’s worth mentioning here that “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good” is far out of the mainstream of Catholic opinion, and that many Catholic bishops have been lions in defense of the unborn. That makes it doubly sad that some Catholics, and other Christians, were led astray by falsehoods in the debate about abortion-on-demand, and so voted for Obama.  I wonder when, or if, we will start to hear expressions of remorse, as the disastrous effect of Obama’s decisions and policies leads directly to many more unjust deaths.

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Apr 13 2009

America abdicates under Obama

Category: freedom,government,military,national security,Obamaharmonicminer @ 8:09 am

I rarely quote an entire post by someone else, but this is so clearly argued that I have nothing to add. The major media’s failure to provide this kind of analysis is another reason it deserves to go extinct.  From Caroline Glick

Like it or not, the United States of America is no longer the world’s policeman. This was the message of Barack Obama’s presidential journey to Britain, France, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Iraq this past week.

Somewhere between apologizing for American history – both distant and recent; genuflecting before the unelected, bigoted king of Saudi Arabia; announcing that he will slash the US’s nuclear arsenal, scrap much of America’s missile defense programs and emasculate the US Navy; leaving Japan to face North Korea and China alone; telling the Czechs, Poles and their fellow former Soviet colonies, “Don’t worry, be happy,” as he leaves them to Moscow’s tender mercies; humiliating Iraq’s leaders while kowtowing to Iran; preparing for an open confrontation with Israel; and thanking Islam for its great contribution to American history, President Obama made clear to the world’s aggressors that America will not be confronting them for the foreseeable future.

Whether they are aggressors like Russia, proliferators like North Korea, terror exporters like nuclear-armed Pakistan or would-be genocidal-terror-supporting nuclear states like Iran, today, under the new administration, none of them has any reason to fear Washington.

This news is music to the ears of the American Left and their friends in Europe. Obama’s supporters like billionaire George Soros couldn’t be more excited at the self-induced demise of the American superpower. CNN’s former (anti-)Israel bureau chief Walter Rodgers wrote ecstatically in the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, “America’s… superpower status, is being downgraded as rapidly as its economy.”

The pro-Obama US and European media are so pleased with America’s abdication of power that they took the rare step of applauding Obama at his press conference in London. Indeed, the media’s enthusiasm for Obama appeared to grow with each presidential statement of contrition for America’s past uses of force, each savage attack he leveled against his predecessor George W. Bush, each swipe he took at Israel, and each statement of gratitude for the blessings of Islam he uttered.

But while the media couldn’t get enough of the new US leader, America’s most stable allies worldwide began a desperate search for a reset button that would cause the administration to take back its abandonment of America’s role as the protector of the free world.

Tokyo was distraught by the administration’s reaction to North Korea’s three-stage ballistic missile test. Japan recognized the betrayal inherent in Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s announcement ahead of Pyongyang’s newest provocation that the US would only shoot the missile down if it targeted US territory. In one sentence, uttered not in secret consultations, but declared to the world on CNN, Gates abrogated America’s strategic commitment to Japan’s defense.

India, for its part, is concerned by Obama’s repeated assertions that its refusal to transfer control over the disputed Jammu and Kashmir provinces to Pakistan inspires Pakistani terror against India. It is equally distressed at the Obama administration’s refusal to make ending Pakistan’s support for jihadist terror groups attacking India a central component of its strategy for contending with Pakistan and Afghanistan. In general, Indian officials have expressed deep concern over the Obama administration’s apparent lack of regard for India as an ally and a significant strategic counterweight to China.

Then there is Iraq. During his brief visit to Baghdad on Tuesday afternoon, Obama didn’t even pretend that he would ensure that Iraqi democracy and freedom are secured before US forces are withdrawn next year. The most supportive statement he could muster came during his conversation with Turkish students in Istanbul earlier in the day. There he said, “I have a responsibility to make sure that as we bring troops out, that we do so in a careful enough way that we don’t see a complete collapse into violence.”

Hearing Obama’s statements, and watching him and his advisers make daily declarations of friendship to Iran’s mullahs, Iraqi leaders are considering their options for surviving the rapidly approaching storm.

Then there is Europe. Although Obama received enthusiastic applause from his audience in Prague when he announced his intention to destroy the US’s nuclear arsenal, drastically scale back its missile defense programs and forge a new alliance with Russia, his words were anything but music to the ears of the leaders of former Soviet satellites threatened by Russia. The Czech, Polish, Georgian and Ukrainian governments were quick to recognize that Obama’s strong desire to curry favor with the Kremlin and weaken his own country will imperil their ability to withstand Russian aggression.

It is not a coincidence, for instance, that the day Obama returned to Washington, Georgia’s Moscow-sponsored opposition announced its plan to launch massive protests in Tblisi to force the ouster of pro-Western, anti-Russian Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

And as for Russia, like Iran, which responded to Obama’s latest ode to the mullahs by opening a nuclear fuel plant and announcing it has 7,000 advanced centrifuges in operation, so Moscow reacted to Obama’s fig leaf with a machine gun, announcing its refusal to support sanctions against North Korea and repeating its false claim that Iran’s nuclear program is nonaggressive.

Finally there is Israel. If Obama’s assertions that Israel must support the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state, his declarations of support for the so-called Saudi “peace plan,” which requires Israel to commit national suicide in exchange for “peace” with the Arab world, and his continuous and increasingly frantic appeals for Iran to “engage” his administration weren’t enough to show Israel that Obama is sacrificing the US’s alliance with the Jewish state in a bid to appease the Arabs and Iran, on Tuesday Vice President Joseph Biden made this policy explicit.

When Biden told CNN that Israel would be “ill-advised” to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, he made clear that from the administration’s perspective, an Israeli strike that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power is less acceptable than a nuclear-armed Iran. That is, the Obama administration prefers to see Iran become a nuclear power than to see Israel secure its very existence.

AMERICA’S BETRAYAL of its democratic allies makes each of them more vulnerable to aggression at the hands of their enemies – enemies the Obama administration is now actively attempting to appease. And as the US strengthens their adversaries at their expense, these spurned democracies must consider their options for surviving as free societies in this new, threatening, post-American environment.

For the most part, America’s scorned allies lack the ability to defeat their enemies on their own. India cannot easily defeat nuclear-armed Pakistan, which itself is fragmenting into disparate anti-Indian nuclear-wielding Islamist and Islamist-supporting factions.

Japan today cannot face North Korea – which acts as a Chinese proxy – on its own without risking a confrontation with China.

Russia’s invasion of Georgia last August showed clearly that its former republics and satellites have no way of escaping Moscow’s grip alone.

This week’s Arab League conference at Doha demonstrated to Iraq’s leaders that their Arab brethren are incapable and unwilling to confront Iran.

And the Obama administration’s intense efforts to woo Iran coupled with its plan to slash the US’s missile defense programs – including those in which Israel participates – and reportedly pressure Israel to dismantle its own purported nuclear arsenal – make clear that Israel today stands alone against Iran.

THE RISKS that the newly inaugurated post-American world pose for America’s threatened friends are clear. But viable opportunities for survival do exist, and Israel can and must play a central role in developing them. Specifically, Israel must move swiftly to develop active strategic alliances with Japan, Iraq, Poland, and the Czech Republic and it must expand its alliance with India.

With Israel’s technological capabilities, its intelligence and military expertise, it can play a vital role in shoring up these countries’ capacities to contain the rogue states that threaten them. And by containing the likes of Russia, North Korea and Pakistan, they will make it easier for Israel to contain Iran even in the face of US support for the mullahs.

The possibilities for strategic cooperation between and among all of these states and Israel run the gamut from intelligence sharing to military training, to missile defense, naval development, satellite collaboration, to nuclear cooperation. In addition, of course, expanded economic ties between and among these states can aid each of them in the struggle to stay afloat during the current global economic crisis.

Although far from risk free, these opportunities are realistic because they are founded on stable, shared interests. This is the case despite the fact that none of these potential alliances will likely amount to increased support for Israel in international forums. Dependent as they are on Arab oil, these potential allies cannot be expected to vote with Israel in the UN General Assembly. But this should not concern Jerusalem.

The only thing that should concern Jerusalem today is how to weaken Iran both directly by attacking its nuclear installations, and indirectly by weakening its international partners in Moscow, Pyongyang, Islamabad and beyond in the absence of US support. If Japan is able to contain North Korea and so limit Pyongyang’s freedom to proliferate its nuclear weapons and missiles to Iran and Syria and beyond, Israel is better off. So, too, Israel is better off if Russia is contained by democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe. These nations in turn are better off if Iran is contained and prevented from threatening them both directly and indirectly through its strategic partners in North Korea, Syria and Russia, and its terror affiliates in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

For the past 16 years, successive Israeli governments have wrongly believed that politics trump strategic interests. The notion that informed Israel’s decision-makers – not unlike the notion that now informs the Obama administration – was that Israel’s strategic interests would be secured as a consequence of its efforts to appease its enemies by weakening itself. Appreciative of Israel’s sacrifices for peace, the nations of the world – and particularly the US, the Arabs and Europe – would come to Israel’s defense in its hour of need. Now that the hour of need has arrived, Israel’s political strategy for securing itself has been exposed as a complete fiasco.

The good news is that no doubt sooner rather than later, Obama’s similarly disastrous bid to denude the US of its military power under the naive assumption that it will be able to use its new stature as a morally pure strategic weakling to win its enemies over to its side will fail spectacularly and America’s foreign policy will revert to strategic rationality.

But to survive the current period of American strategic madness, Israel and the US’s other unwanted allies must build alliances with one another – covertly if need be – to contain their adversaries in the absence of America. If they do so successfully, then the damage to global security induced by Obama’s emasculation of his country will be limited. If on the other hand, they fail, then America’s eventual return to its senses will likely come too late for its allies – if not for America itself.

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Apr 10 2009

Killing the patient with care

Category: Congress,economy,energy,government,Obama,taxesharmonicminer @ 8:37 am

An earlier version of this was posted Oct 21, 2008.  It has been edited slightly to reflect current conditions, but it is basically accurate still.
____________________________________

The patient takes vitamins and minerals in doses recommended by most physicians, and gets plenty of exercise.

The patient eats a reasonably healthy diet. However, the patient depends to a large degree on imported food, which is often expensive, though the price goes up and down to a degree, and while the patient could grow plenty of home grown food, the patient hasn’t been planting enough lately to sustain present and future dietary needs. So the patient is hungry, and losing weight

The patient is mysteriously ill. Upon examination, it appears that the patient has been slowly poisoned. The patient’s immune system and general state of health might have been sufficient to cover the symptoms of the poisoning longer, except for the strain imposed by the recent hunger and weight loss. The symptoms have been coming on for sometime, but only recently have they become indisputable, as what seemed subclinical does of the poison accumulated in the tissues enough to cause big problems.

Some physicians suggest simply stopping the poison immediately, engaging in a crash program to feed the patient, and growing lots more food for the future, starting today. The basically healthy patient’s immune system and generally good habits will reverse the effects of the poison.

Some physicians suggest continuing the patient’s calorie restriction, cutting back on the vitamins and exercise, switching to a different poison (but reducing the dose) and using leeches to drain away the bad blood. When it’s pointed out that the vitamins and exercise are usually good things, and that poison is usually a bad thing, these practitioners assure the patient that the problem was an unexpected reaction between the nutritional supplements and the low grade poison dose, and the new poison is really a purgative to help clear the system of the effect of too many vitamins, and won’t do any harm. When these doctors are asked if the patient really shouldn’t be eating more, they say it’s good to be skinny, and research shows that skinny people live longer, anyway. They point to all kinds of studies that seem to prove all of this, and cite complicated sounding theories to justify the counter-intuitive nature of their prescriptions. Trust them: they’re the experts. And besides, even if the patient starts growing more food again, it will be many years before enough can be grown to adequately feed the patient (aren’t growing seasons usually annual things?). And even if the patient eats more, the patient will just start exercising more again, and burn the calories, and what good will that do?

I know which advice I’d follow, if I was the patient.

The patient, of course, is the US economy.

The vitamins and exercise are the tax cuts put in years ago by the Bush administration and Congress. Strictly speaking, the vitamins are the tax cuts (think antioxidants that prevent cross-linking), and the exercise is the additional economic freedom those cuts created for productive activity that drove the huge success of our economy for six years after 9/11, until the combination of oil prices and the housing/financial meltdown drug it down about a year ago.

Did you get the pun?  The housing/financial meltdown “drug” the economy down.  Ouch…

The diet is oil and energy, and we don’t make anywhere near enough of our own, which is part of the reason prices were so high not long ago.  Don’t be fooled!  Even though prices have fallen far off the $150/barrel highs, oil is still in short supply for an active, vibrant economy.  You can’t have a speculative bubble without an underlying “shortage,” and right now people are simply doing less that demands energy. But our access to energy is going to reflect itself in our ability to “rev up” the economy as we grow out of the recession.  The combination of a true structural energy shortage for a vibrant economy, plus the inflation that is going to result from the printing of new money, is going to result in higher oil prices than we’ve ever dreamed of, within a relatively short time, as the economy improves, demand goes up, and the worth of money goes down.

The mysterious poison (that “drug” we mentioned, the one with inevitably serious side effects) is government interference in the marketplace, particularly in trying to repeal the basic laws of economics. One of the main things that poisons do is to interfere with normal biological processes, and market interference is little different. There are many of these poisons, and when one of them is having an obviously negative effect on the patient, too many so-called experts suggest we try a different one. The problem is that all such interference is toxic for our economy. Some amount of government interference is probably inevitable; after all, we take medicines that are essentially poisons, because our overall organisms can handle it in small amounts, and the medicine sometimes helps resolve a short-term problem. But you will die young on a steady diet of high doses of all kinds of medicine, regardless of how beneficial some medicines are in short term use for very specific problems. A body can tolerate just a very few “maintenance” medicines for a long life, and they must have very mild side effects to be survivable.

A few years ago I had some blood tests that revealed serious problems.  My doctor couldn’t figure it out, and sent me to a specialist.  He looked at the list of medicines I was taking, and simply took me off everything but the absolute minimum.  My blood-work improved dramatically, as did my overall health.  What had happened was “medicine creep”, where the doctor prescribes one thing, then another to deal with the side effects of the first, then another, then another, and so on.  It took an expert to decide to do very little, while the mediocre practitioner tried to do too much.

We are toxic with government economic medicine right now. The physicians who are prescribing it were wrong about the LAST ten prescriptions, with side effects they claimed we wouldn’t experience, and with frequent failure in the purpose of the medicine, even WITH the deleterious side effects. And they are planning to send us the bill for their professional services, anyway. The very best thing they could do is to withdraw all but the very minimum of economic medicine (meaning a tolerable toxicity), and let the body heal itself. It will.

But our president and Democrat congress have big plans. They want to put us on about a dozen VERY STRONG maintenance medicines for life, medicines with serious toxic side effects, medicines that have not ever worked for any other patient over the long term, and send our children the bill.

I wish politicians had to take the Hippocratic oath before taking office, which includes, if memory serves, this promise:

First, do no harm.

Unfortunately, instead of Hippocrates in office, we have hypocrites.

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Apr 01 2009

The Left At Christian Universities, part 10: Rewarding the indefensible

Category: abortion,higher education,Obama,university,White Househarmonicminer @ 9:42 am

The previous post in this series is here.

A Moral Exemplar?

The University of Notre Dame has announced that Pres. Barack Obama will be the principal speaker and will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the university’s commencement on Sunday, May 17. The invitation comes after the president has taken several official actions that directly oppose the Catholic Church’s most sacred teachings. National Review Online asked some of our experts on education and Catholicism for their comments.

At the link, an important discussion on what it can mean for Notre Dame to have invited President Obama to receive an honorary degree and deliver a commencement address, to students who will have been taught (we hope) that abortion is deeply immoral, and who will witness the honoring of a president who supports it.

What, exactly, would a president have to do to be found ineligible for such an honor by a putatively Christian institution?  Apparently, supporting abortion in the most radical way possible is not enough.

Perhaps if he actually ate the babies after the abortions?  An interesting question:  is cannibalism a greater sin than aiding, abetting and encouraging unjust killing in the first place?  I think not.  After all, they’re already dead, right?  It’s a shame to waste them.  (And besides, for the pro-abortion crowd, they never did have human rights anyway, did they?  I mean, being just lumps of tissue and everything.  How immoral can it be to eat something that has no civil rights, anyway?  Isn’t that the same as cattle ranching, or hunting and eating what you kill?)

So, I think we have conclusively demonstrated that even if Obama ate aborted babies, he would still get an honorary degree from Notre Dame, a Christian university, since abortion is a greater sin than cannibalism (if someone else did the killing), and promoting abortion did not disqualify him.

Ah, but if Obama was well known as an industrial polluter, shooter of wolves from helicopters, corporate raider/downsizer, Pentecostal snake handler, and believer in young-Earth Creationism, and had still managed to get elected, would Notre Dame have invited him to receive an honorary degree and address impressionable undergraduates ?

Probably not.  Some sins really do matter.

The next post in this series is here.

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Mar 31 2009

Pro-life democrat voters: read this

Category: abortion,Obamaharmonicminer @ 9:41 am

An Open Letter to President Obama’s Pro-Life Supporters

We share with you a commitment to the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family. It is for this reason that we oppose abortion, embryo-destructive research, euthanasia, and every other form of direct killing of innocent human beings. We believe that these practices are grave injustices that no society should promote, facilitate, or even permit.

Despite Barack Obama’s record of support for legal abortion and its public funding, and his pledge to lift President Bush’s limitations on the federal funding of embryo-destructive research, you felt that Obama would, all things considered, make a better president than John McCain, and you encouraged your fellow pro-life citizens to join you in voting for him. Some of you argued that Senator Obama, despite his vocal support for legal abortion and equally vocal opposition to pro-life legislative initiatives, was actually the superior candidate from the pro-life point of view. His economic and social policies, many of you said, would strike at the causes of abortion and reduce its incidence. You predicted that lives would be saved.
……

On March 9, however, the verdict came in on the issue of embryo-destructive research, and the news is very bad. It would have been bad enough had Obama done what McCain likely would have done, that is, incentivize embryo destruction by authorizing the federal funding of research that involves destroying so-called “spare” embryos left in assisted reproduction clinics. But Obama’s executive order goes farther. It instructs the Director of the National Institutes of Health to promote and fund all forms of embryonic stem cell research that are not banned by law. In other words, Obama has removed all impediments to the funding of research in which human beings are created (whether by cloning or other procedures) specifically for the purpose of being destroyed to produce stem cells. True, under the Dickey-Wicker amendment, the actual embryo killing must be done with private funds. But once the embryos are destroyed, federal taxpayer money will now freely flow to pay for research using cell lines derived from those embryos. President Obama has incentivized the creation of embryos in unlimited numbers for research in which they are killed. Moreover, he has revoked the 2007 executive order instructing the Director of the National Institutes of Health to promote and fund research aimed at developing non-embryo-destructive sources of pluripotent stem cells. This was a baldly ideological move that can have no point other than to appease the embryo-research lobby at the expense of lives and possibly scientific advancement.

…..

Recently Professor Douglas Kmiec told an interviewer that President Obama opposes human cloning. This is not true. By his own account, the President opposes only “reproductive cloning.” This misleading term is used to mask his support for the creation of human embryos by somatic cell nuclear transfer for purposes of research in which they are destroyed-what is no less misleadingly called “therapeutic cloning.” The truth is that under the Obama policy human cloning-somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to create embryonic human beings-will be legally permitted and funded by the federal government. The restriction the President has supported is a ban on the implantation of cloned human embryos once the cloning has already occurred and the new human embryo has been created. It is, in effect, the mandatory destruction of embryonic humans. We respectfully ask Professor Kmiec to correct the record on this profoundly important issue.

Even if one supposes that Barack Obama’s policies will result in fewer abortions despite relaxed legal restrictions, the number of human lives saved-even on the most optimistic reading-will be offset by the lives taken as a result of what President Obama did. This misguided and profoundly unjust policy alone wipes out any case for regarding Barack Obama’s election as a boon to the cause of defending nascent human life. And if Senator Obama’s campaign promises to the abortion lobby are to be believed, this may be only the beginning.

We know how deeply disappointed truly pro-life Obama supporters must be by the radicalism of the President’s decision. Democrats for Life (DFL), to its credit, has forcefully condemned the decision, making no secret of feeling betrayed by a president that it had gone the extra mile to work with in an effort to find “common ground.” A few days after the decision was announced, prominent Obama supporter Dr. David Gushee, a distinguished Evangelical theologian, publicly rebuked the President for “a series of disappointingly typical Democratic abortion-related moves.” We hope that you, too, will speak out against what can only be described as a moral atrocity against the weakest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. On this, pro-lifers like you who supported Obama can find common ground with pro-lifers like us who found his denial of the full and equal dignity of unborn members of the human family to be disqualifying. Let us speak out with one voice against this grave and shocking injustice.

Moral Accountability is a site you should check often. They are faithfully holding the feet of our confused brethren to the fire, and doing so more temperately than I could manage.

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Mar 21 2009

Get along with this: the limits to hopey-changey rhetoric

Category: Iran,Obamaharmonicminer @ 1:30 pm

The Supreme Leader of Iran, the one who really runs the nation, sees right through Obama.  Iran’s supreme leader dismisses Obama overtures

“They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice. We haven’t seen any change,” Khamenei said in a speech before a crowd of tens of thousands in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad.

In his video message, Obama said the United States wants to engage Iran, but he also warned that a right place for Iran in the international community “cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization.”

Khamenei asked how Obama could congratulate Iranians on the new year and accuse the country of supporting terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons in the same message.

Khamenei said there has been no change even in Obama’s language compared to that of his predecessor.

“He (Obama) insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day. If you are right that change has come, where is that change? What is the sign of that change? Make it clear for us what has changed.”

Obama simply cannot produce any of the changes that Iran’s leaders insist are prerequisites for “improved relations” with the USA. All of his talk of “improving relations” with Iran sinks upon collision with the Iranian iceberg, 90% of whose activities to destabilize the Middle East are “hidden” in the sense that Iran will not acknowledge them, and will certainly not stop them.  It is simply not possible for Obama to give Iran’s grand poobah anything he wants in the way of lifting sanctions.  There is no little irony here.

That’s because the Supreme Leader’s definition of “getting along better with the USA” is remarkably parallel to the Democrat Party’s definition of “bipartisanship” and “cooperation.” The Ayatollah offers no concession, no reduction of any of his aims, no slowing down of nuclear armament (which he simply denies, of course), no reduction in support of terrorism around the world (which he also denies), in short, no behavior change for the sake of international amity.  Similarly, when the Democrats urge “bipartisanship”, they offer no concession, no reduction of any of their aims, no slowing down of the march towards socialism (which they simply deny, of course), no reduction of policies that surely will lead to more abortion, illegal immigration, more terrorisim, and higher crime (which they also deny), in short, no behavior change for the sake of bipartisan amity.

Both Khamenei and the Democrats say, in essence, “Let’s get along….  on MY terms.”

There is another similarity.  Khamenei knows he only has to survive the near future, and stay in power long enough to bring Iran into the nuclear club, and everything will change.  He knows that a nuclear Iran will have political and military options (non-nuclear ones) that it now lacks.  Similarly, the Democrats know that once they get nationalized health care, federal ownership of significant portions of the economy, amnesty for illegal aliens,  a “built-down” national defense establishment, etc., it will be impossible or very, very difficult to undo the changes, even if Republicans regain power for a time.

As with terrorists, creaters of grand new social spending programs only have to win once.  Whether it’s blowing up a city, or creating a new entitlement to buy votes, once it’s done, it’s done.

Odd though it may seem, divergent as their aims may be, Khamenei and Obama are reading the same playbook for getting what they want, and the rhetorical parallels are….  scary.

In the meantime, the ayatollah seems to have a clearer eyed view than our own media establishment of the truth behind the rhetoric of hope and change.

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