Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On death and taxes...Gosnell and gonzo gun ownership.

Re the whole repugnant Kermit Gosnell mess and its implications: We need a workable, sustainable definition of lifea valid medical definition of when it begins and when it endsthat can be applied across the board in deciding whether or not to legally terminate a pregnancy or, at the far end, an adult existence that has devolved into intractable pain and utter meaninglessness. Once that definition of life is in place, then any action that breaches the established parameters is murder, period.

In any case, a 6-month-old incipient human being is not merely a "fetus," despite The New York Times' leftist, Feminist and, one suspects, petulant determination to characterize it as such in its coverage of the Gosnell trial. We're talking about a baby, folks, not a fetus. Furthermore, hair-splitting (or, in this case, head-splitting) debates over whether Gosnell's patients were or weren't beyond Pennsylvania's 24-week limit miss the forest in the trees. I would ask, how can a civilized society condone the "abortion" of even a 5-month-old "fetus"? I would abide by whatever definition is produced by any august panel convened to study the matter proposed in my first graph aboveLord knows we need to come up with somethingbut personally I just don't see it. Many babies in recent years have been spontaneously delivered by mothers at 5 months and, with appropriate incubation and other medical intervention, have survived to become full-fledged children. If it is alive, and you kill it, you have ended a life.

Bottom line, I don't know where the line is (or ought be) drawn, but there must be a valid line somewhere that separates life from its absence. A medical line, not a political one. We need to find it and honor it.

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'Insurrectionists in Waiting'?

Like, I suppose, many sane Americans, I am disturbed by the NRA's near-secessionist appeal to gun owners...by the attempt of same to foment a spirit of open revolt against the alleged tyranny brewing in Washington. This theme has been picked up and is most shamelessly trumpeted by the likes of  radio talker Glenn Beck, beyond-the-pale right-winger and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire. Beck has been "out there" for a while now, but whereas once he was mostly a harmless curiosity, providing ample fodder for the satirical barbs of a Jon Stewart or a Bill Maher, nowadays Beck's rants have taken a much darker, more dangerous turn. These days he muses openly and euphorically about the undoing of the Obama Administration in rhetoric that, at its worst, is hard to interpret as anything less than a call for armed insurrection. He fans the flames of discontent among his audience of so-called "real Americans" and constantly exhorts them to do whatever they must to assure the survival of "our America." In pretty much this same category is the slightly more cerebral but no less acrid Mark Levin.

Do these guys really believe what they're saying? Or are they just "entertaining" (pandering to) their sizable wing-nut audience? I sure hope it's the latter, though it's troubling either way.

And it's interesting, isn't it, that whenever conservatives talk about the greatest figures in American history, they feel compelled to reach all the way back to Washington and Jefferson. They laud the ideology and the documents the Founders produced, conveniently overlooking (or maybe not?) that these same Great and Wise Men were a slave-owning, misogynist bunch who, in effect, also created a national religion ("endowed by their Creator") in the guise of freeing us from religious orthodoxy. Levin is now touting a book written by his octogenarian father that celebrates Washington's crossing of the Delaware. Sure, that's a sacred part of American history. But let's face it, the Founders aren't our best role models. Like the Second Amendment itself, they have been revealed as superannuated and deeply flawed. We need a revisionist lens on what they brought to the table.

Were the Founders great men in their time? Of course. We no longer live in their time, however. Ptolemy was a great man in his time as well, but by today's standards he's a loony and a rank amateur, with his Geocentric model of the universe.

In fairness, I confess to being dismayed by some of what's going on lately in the White House and its extended domain; of late there is a a certain "asleep at the switch" quality to the Obama presidency that I find surprising and disappointing, given the strong leadership that I felt he evinced in his first term. But I don't see this as willful and I certainly don't see it as tyrannical. In fact, let me propose an apolitical explanation for our present IRS scandal, in which agents apparently (and systematically) targeted the Tea Party and related groups. I don't think Obama and his minions had a thing to do with this; though subsequent revelations may prove me wrong, I don't think the scandal will lead us anywhere near 1600 Penn, except in the febrile minds of Beck, Levin and Sean (DMoTV) Hannity.

Look, what does the Tea Party stand for? Lower taxes. What does the IRS collect? Taxes. Why does the Tea Party oppose high taxes? Because those taxes fund big government. What is the IRS the collection arm of? Our big government. So, to me, it stands to reason that IRS types would be philosophically aligned with the concept of big government and would naturally tend to suspect groups that opposed taxation and urged Americans to avoid it if at all possible. Similarly, the IRS would be skeptical of groups that took a more anarchical approach to the citizen-government relationship as a whole (hence the IRS' targeting of other groups out on the right-wing fringe).

Does that not make sense? Maybe this will indeed turn out to be Obama's Watergate (Waterloo?), but I don't think so. And I think the longer conservatives argue the point, the better it looks for the Left in 2016.

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