Tag: Abortion

The Bregret Nonsense

The indispensable Charles Cooke deals a shattering blow to the media’s desperate attempts to rewrite the Brexit vote result and pretend that there is a huge wave of regret engulfing Leave voters. The whole thing is worth your time — he notes how bogus the Google trends and petition stories are — but he concludes with this:

One of the great failings of the American media class – both in this case, and more broadly — is its refusal to accept that national sovereignty is just as important to people as is material wealth, and that the average person’s objections to unrestricted immigration are rooted in quotidian concerns rather than racism. The Voxes and the Wonkblogs of the world may well be hooked on questions such as, “If the French parliament handed regulatory control over to the Peruvians, what would happen to exports?” – but most people are not, and, if given a choice between being ruled from afar by self-professed experts or retaining more control over their lives, they will usually plump for the latter. At the Virginia ratifying convention of 1788, Patrick Henry instructed the electors, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.” Clearly, a considerable number of Brits still agree.

This is a growing problem with supposed fact-based journalism as well as large parts of economics and sociology. They tend to see issues in very narrow academic terms and don’t even consider that some people might have values behind the purely utilitarian. Vox, in particular, is one of the absolute worst at this. In the recent past, they have advocating raising the smoking age to 21, keeping the drinking age high, restricting sugar and salt in our food, banning guns and all other manner of Nanny State nonsense. And their reasoning is entirely, “Liberal Think Tank X says policy Y will save Z lives per year.”

Even if the think tanks were right — and they frequently aren’t — that entirely misses the point. People value freedom. They value accountability. They value a government that both listens to them when they want it to and leaves them alone when they want it to. We are not numbers in a spreadsheet. This is not SimCity. We don’t win point based on our lifespans or healthcare expenditures. People want and deserve the freedom to make trade-offs. The pleasure of drinking in exchange for poorer health. The freedom to smoke in exchange for shorter life spans. The freedom to buy guns at the risk of being shot. And yes, the ability to be governed by your fellow Brits in exchange for slightly less wealth (most of which would go to the elites anyway, not to the masses).

It is vital to the national political conversation that we engage people on their own terms; that we address the arguments they are making rather than the arguments we assign to them. The “smug style of liberalism”, as Vox itself once called it, is an utter failure to do so.

Another example: yesterday, the Supreme Court rendered a landmark abortion ruling striking down Texas’ regulations on abortion clinics as too restrictive. As is their want, the Left responded to yet another massive victory in the Culture War with anger and outrage that anyone dared disagree with them. And over and over, we heard that this was about controlling women’s sexuality and punishing women for unapproved sex. Maybe that’s a part of this. But you’re not going to get anywhere with that besides making yourself feel superior to those awful awful cave-man pro-Lifers. It’s much more productive addressing the tens of millions of people (including tens of millions of women) who see abortion as the extinguishing of a human life and saw the Kermit Gosnell horror as an indication that abortion clinics were dangerously under-regulated. They might be wrong. But you have to engage them on the issue they care about, not the issue you wish they cared about.

I’m as guilty of anyone of talking past the arguments my political opponents are making. But the problem has become very acute with the Left in recent years. And the Brexit is simply the latest distillation of this.

Colorado Again

We’re still learning the details, but some information has emerged on Friday’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood Clinic. It does appear that Planned Parenthood was the target but that no one was killed there because the patients and staff went behind a security door (abortion clinics have developed extensive security procedures since a wave of anti-abortion violence hit in the 90’s). Preliminary reports are that the shooter was talking about baby parts so this does not appear to have been a random attack.

A few little thoughts:

Democrats who are jumping on this to promote gun legislation can go to hell. Colorado has background checks and an assault weapons ban and it’s still not clear what weapons were used. I have lost patience with this business of milking every tragedy for their agenda.

Last week, we got a bunch of think pieces asking why Muslims always have to denounce jihadist violence. We’re already seeing those same outlets demanding that anti-abortion politicians and Christian organizations denounce this act of violence. Of course, many of them, including Mike Huckabee, already have.

Was this terrorism? Well, it wasn’t part of a mass organization to attack abortion clinics. But it is violence directed against innocent people to try to end abortion. So, yeah, I have no problem calling it terrorism.

There has been a recent uptick in attacks on abortion clinics. But, overall, violence directed against clinics and providers is way down from the late 90’s. Keep that in mind.

In keeping with my previous posts, I will not name the shooter. I will, however, name Garret Swasey, the police officer murdered by this lunatic.

PP, CMP, Videos, Oh my!

Over the last couple of weeks, an organization called the Center for Medical Progress has released a series of undercover videos alleging that Planned Parenthood has been selling parts of aborted fetuses for medical research. Posing as representatives of a medical research company, they have made inquiries about acquiring fetal tissue for research. On the videos, Planned Parenthood representatives discuss how to provide the tissue. They also joke about the procedure and talk about how abortion providers can carry out abortions to spare organs that medical researchers want.

Selling parts of aborted fetuses for profit is illegal. However, asking for compensation for the costs of harvesting those organs is legal. Right now, it appears that Planned Parenthood is in compliance with the law.

Planned Parenthood and the medical companies are countering with allegations that the videos are deceptively edited and several companies have sought a court order to prevent further releases of the videos. Ken White breaks that down here. The short version is that the Center for Medical Progress can not be forced to not show the videos unless they have already waived their first amendment rights by signing non-disclosure agreements. There also appear to be issues with the Center for Medical Progress sting videos taken in California, which is a two-party state. The Center, however, has indicated that they intend to release more videos.

In general, I tend to shy away from the abortion issue. People are too entrenched on the issue. If the Center for Medical Progress has broken the law — either by violating a non-disclosure agreement or taping someone in California without their consent — they should be punished accordingly. And if Planned Parenthood or other organizations have broken the law by selling fetal tissue for profit, they should be punished accordingly. The courts seem well on their way to sorting this out.

The Republicans, however, are using this in yet another effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood doesn’t get money for abortions. They do, however, get money from grants and from Medicaid for providing birth control and disease screenings to poor women and the Republicans now want to shut that off. I have to say that I’m against this. Planned Parenthood provides abortions. This has never been a secret. Abortion is a nasty business. That has never been a secret either. But their abortion business and their birth control operations are separate and trying to defund the latter because of the behavior of the former is, effectively, trying to ban abortion through the back door.

No, it’s worse. Cutting off Planned Parenthood from federal funds will have no effect on their abortion business. It will simply mean fewer women getting contraception and more women having babies (and having more abortions). It will mean fewer women getting condoms and more women catching diseases. And while you might say “Hey, let them pay for their own birth control!” guess who’s going to have to pick up the bill for those babies and diseases? Unless the Republicans are also willing to shut off Medicaid, WIC, food stamps and everything else … including for children … this is not a move to save the government money. And it is doubly not a move to save money because the Republicans want to divert that money to ineffective faith-based programs that will result in more poor women having babies and getting diseases.

There’s one other aspect of this, though. One I’m hesitant to get into, but one I think is important. The thing is … while I disagree with the Republicans, I understand where they’re coming from.

The pro-choice side has a very long history of trying to run away from the gruesomeness of abortion. They’ve tried to keep protesters from showing signs of aborted fetuses; they’ve tried to block informed consent laws that tell patients how abortion works; they try to pretend that the procedure is no more significant than having a boil lanced.

But this is nonsense. Abortion is a gruesome business. Most medicine is. I had my gallbladder out a few years ago and that was still nasty despite being done through a laparoscope. If you work in medicine for any period of time, you will see things that make your stomach turn. And then you will get inured to it.

If there have been laws broken, that needs to be punished. But there is nothing illegal about providing fetal tissue — at cost — to medical research companies. The alternative is to incinerate the tissue. But there’s also nothing wrong with abortion opponents pointing out that harvesting of fetal cells exists and that abortion providers try to accommodate that demand. This is part of the debate. It is perfectly acceptable to say to pro-choicers, “If you think abortion, should be legal, this is what you think should be legal.” And honest pro-choicers, like Elizabeth Nolan Brown, have accepted that. I accept that (although I oppose most late-term abortion).

The outraged response to this from the Left; the reflexive defensiveness; the attempt to impugn the Center for Medical Progress as “extremists” (which they are) instead of addressing their claims represent a real problem for the pro-choice movement. They don’t like to talk about what abortion entails.

This is not unique to the pro-choice movement. Pro-death-penalty people don’t like to talk about botched executions and the likelihood that the lethal injection combo we use causes excruciating pain. War advocates don’t like to see pictures of dead children. But that doesn’t change the reality of these policies (or their necessity, if you think them necessary).

The pro-choice movement, which I reluctantly agree with, is trying to run away from the reality of what they support. I don’t think they can.

Back to the 60’s

One of the things that rarely gets talked about is how many social issues have dramatically improved over the last 20-30 years. Crime, for example, has plunged to rates not seen since the 1960’s. Teen pregnancy rates are down to the lowest levels since we started measuring. Drug use rates are steady or down.

Oh, and something else is way down: abortion:

The abortion rate in the United States dropped to its lowest point since the Supreme Court legalized the procedure in all 50 states, according to a study suggesting that new, long-acting contraceptive methods are having a significant impact in reducing unwanted pregnancies.

There were fewer than 17 abortions for every 1,000 women in 2011, the latest year for which figures were available, according a paper published Monday from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion-rights think tank. That is down 13 percent from 2008 and a little higher than the rate in 1973, when the Supreme Court handed down its landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The abortion rate is now down to almost half of what it was in the early 80’s, when it peaked. And it’s not just Guttmacher. CDC measured the abortion rate even lower, at 14.5 per thousand.

Despite the first paragraph, the study did not actually look at the reasons why the abortion rate has fallen. Guttmacher is claiming that it is because of better sex education and contraception availability (particularly the IUD). While these have certainly played a role, I am dubious that they can explain the entire drop or even most of it. Teen pregnancies have plunged and unintended pregnancies are down a bit, but the live birth rate has been steady for the last 40 years and the unintended pregnancy rate hasn’t fallen nearly as much as the abortion rate has. So while it’s true that a large portion can be attributed to fewer women getting pregnant (both from birth control and from teenagers waiting longer than before to have sex) it’s also true, as conservative groups are arguing, that fewer women are choosing to have an abortion.

Why fewer are choosing to have an abortion is debatable. I would guess that restrictions on abortion are playing a role (waiting periods, in particular). But most of the plunge happened before the recent wave of laws took effect. I would guess that a declining social stigma against out-of-wedlock birth is playing a role, since that’s the one social ill. I would have guessed that increasing wealth was playing a role, but the abortion rate has continued to fall through the recession. I think it’s also possible, as some of the pro-life groups are arguing, that the ability to get sonograms and heartbeats at earlier and earlier gestational periods is causing women to rethink.

No matter how many times I turn this over, however, I can not find a government policy to credit for it. In the end, I think that society has changed, in one way or many ways, such that fewer abortions are happening. And no matter where you fall on the abortion issue, I think we can all agree that 700,000 fewer abortions every year is a good thing.

However it is has happened, it is interesting that our society has reduced its abortion rate down to where it was when abortion was still largely illegal. We are seeing that social change can be just as effective, if not more effective, than law when it comes to advancing a moral cause. This is a lesson worth savoring the next time someone come around with a crusade.

The Exercise of Vital Powers

Marlise Munoz was taken off life support and allowed to die yesterday.

A public battle over the fate of a brain-dead, pregnant Texas woman and her fetus ended quietly and privately as she was taken off life support and her family began preparing for her burial.

John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth complied Sunday with a judge’s order to pull any life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz, who was declared brain-dead in November, but kept on machines for the sake of her fetus.

Munoz was removed from the machines shortly afterward and allowed to die. The fetus, which was at 23 weeks’ gestation, was not delivered.

The hospital’s decision brought an apparent end to a case that inspired debates about abortion and end-of-life decisions, as well as whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus, per Texas law. Anti-abortion activists attended Friday’s court hearing and spoke out in favor of trying to deliver the fetus.

While I think the court made the correct decision — indeed, it’s not clear if the hospital applied the law correctly or used it as a shield against liability — I do want to unpack this debate a bit.

There were two questions tied together in the Munoz case: a moral one and a legal one. The legal question, which I’ll get to in a moment, was whether the Munoz family should be forced to keep Marlise on life support until her baby could be delivered. The moral question was whether she should be kept functioning until her baby could be delivered, regardless of the law. To my mind, the latter question was dismissed far too easily.

In this specific case, the question was largely moot; the medical records indicate that the fetus was suffering from severe deformities and would not have survived (fetuses do not gestate well inside of dead people). But the larger issue remains and will come back again in the future. We’ve long accepted that the right of the mother to live is more important than the right of the fetus to live in rare cases of life-saving abortion. But is there a point where the right of the fetus to live would be more important than the right of the mother to die? Can a person who is legally dead even be said to have rights? Had Munoz been, say, 34 weeks pregnant, the issue would have been a straight forward premature delivery of the fetus. But what happens when you have a case where the brain death of the mother occurs before viability? Do we turn the woman into nothing but a zombie incubator for a fetus? Or do we compound one tragedy with a second? Supposing the fetus is brought to term or prematurely delivered and has a lifetime of health issues. Who is responsible for taking care of him?

Much of the debate simply assumed that pulling the plug was the morally right thing to do. But what if Munoz’s had expressed that she would have wanted to be kept alive? This case came up with a friend who is pregnant and said that she would want to stay on life support until her fetus could be delivered. As medical technology improves and the window of viability continues to move backward, this issue will come up again and in other contexts. No matter what happened in this particular case, we can’t wish the moral issue away. Nor can we pretend that everyone is going to see the moral case the same way.

I think people are far too eager to throw the Munoz case into the abortion rubric. The debate gets a lot easier when you can just bash Republicans (even though the Republicans have been mostly silent on this and the law that was used to keep Munoz alive was not really intended for that purpose). Much of the rhetoric I’m reading is borrowed from past abortion debates. But I suspect the debate would have changed had the Munoz family made a different decision. If they had decided on their own to prolong her death long enough for the fetus to be delivered, would some of those supporting them now have turned on them for turning Marlise into a little more than a womb?

In the end, the moral and legal issues have to come down to the wishes of the family whatever those wishes are. Moral, medical and bioethical issues like this one are far too complex, emotional and personal for the state or anyone else to come stomping in. I feel the same way about the Jahi McMath case — where a family has made the opposite decision to keep alive a brain-dead 13-year-old girl. In both cases, I have moral qualms about the decision that has been made. But in both cases, I believe the deciding factor should be either the pre-expressed wishes of the patient or the wishes of the family. That’s the only way to handle this without drowning in moral and legal quicksand. It’s the only way to handle this without politicians and pundits speculating about medical and moral issues they aren’t remotely qualified to decide.

That should have been the course followed in this case two months ago. And I hope it will be going forward so that the next family is spared this kind of drawn-out pain. Or vilification for whatever decision they make.

Someone Messed With Texas

If you were awake late last night, you saw something pretty extraordinary unfold down in Texas. The legislature was attempting to pass a bill on the last day of the session that would have restricted abortion by (1) limiting it to 20 weeks; (2) requiring that clinics meet medical clinic standards; (3) requiring that abortion providers have hospital admission privileges. Opponents said the latter two would shut down all but five clinics in the state.

A building protest caught spark when Wendy Davis began a 13-hour filibuster to try to prevent a vote. When she was ruled to have broken the rules a third time — once for getting a back brace adjustment and twice for talking about topics deemed irrelevant — her filibuster was ended. What followed was two hours of parliamentary debate. At 11:45, the gallery erupted, shouting down the legislature. They voted for the legislation. But this morning, the Lt. Governor ruled that it had passed after the midnight deadline. For the moment, the bill is dead.

Many thoughts and I’ll have to go with bullet points that sum up much of what I said on Twitter.

  • Once again, the MSM fell flat on its face. Twitter, Facebook and blogs had copious coverage of what was going on. At the precise moment the vote was happening, CNN was highlighting … the calorie content of muffins. I’m calling it: 2013 is the year the MSM died. Almost all the big news — the IRS scandal, the NSA, last night in Texas — emerged from outside the MSM. And their typical reaction has been to either dismiss it or be snide about it, culminating in David Gregory pondering if Glenn Greenwald should be prosecuted for breaking the law (note to Gregory: I don’t think journalists breaking the law is a can of worms to you want to open, asshole). The MSM is still relevant, a little, for foreign news. Or at least they could be. Some journalists, like the ones who exposed the abuse in Bell, California, still fill a role. But the big news houses are nothing but fluff.
  • Probably the most amazing, if unsurprising thing, was the complete reversal of people’s attitudes on the particulars. Liberals who had spent years denouncing the filibuster suddenly thought it was the most awesome thing ever. People who had denounced peaceful Tea Party protests as display of thuggery and racism suddenly decided that shouting down the legislature was good citizen participation.
  • Me? Even though I’m mixed on the abortion issue and prefer the more dignified, restrained and lawful tactics used by the Tea Party, I am encouraged when I see citizens paying attention to what their legislatures are doing. I am always impressed by real filibusters not the bogus “we’re pretending to talk” kind.
  • The law itself, however, is not the most ridiculous thing. As pointed out, many countries have more restrictive abortion laws than Texas tried to pass, including western European ones. France, for example, only allows abortion on demand through 12 weeks, with exceptions for health of the mother or fetal illness. I really think, after the Gosnell horror, abortion clinics should be held to higher standards. And now that we’ve had fetuses survive after being born at 21 weeks, the push to move viability back was not unreasonable. However, the GOP has been winning legislative victory after legislative victory on the abortion issue. Something like last night was inevitable.
  • The victory abortion proponents scored last night may be temporary. There is no force on Earth that can stop Rick Perry from calling a special legislative session today to pass SB5. However, I suspect that the law is dead for now. The GOP, if they are wise … stop that snickering … will take their wins on abortion law and wait for passions to cool.
  • In the end, despite the extremely boring parliamentary debate that pushed SB5 past midnight, I found last night kind of riveting. Not because I am particularly sympathetic to the protesters, but because I am sympathetic to anyone pushing back on government. I want people protesting, calling legislators and getting involved because so many of us have fallen asleep at the switch. Our Republic only functions if we hold our leaders responsible for the decisions that they make and the laws that they pass.

    So my challenge to those who participated last night, even it was just a “StandWithWendy” hashtag is this: are you willing to keep this up? Are you willing to push back on NSA abuses, even when it is the eeevil libertarians raising awareness? Are you willing to protest the IRS targeting groups based on their politics, even when it’s groups you don’t like? In short, are you going to stay involved when it’s not your pet issue? When it doesn’t involve aborting fetuses?

    Because if you’re not willing to stay involved; if you’re going to bash the Tea Party when they do something like this; if you’re going to decry the filibuster when Rand Paul uses it, then you are not a participant, a protester, a citizen, a revolutionary, a patriot or someone who “stands” with anything.

    You’re just a partisan.

    Gosnell Convicted

    After week of absolutely wrenching testimony, Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of first degree murder for killing viable babies. I’ve blogged on this before and said all I had to say on it. The verdict here is imminently just even if NARAL is still trying to pretend this was only about victimized women.

    I do hope that one of the things that will emerge from here is better regulation of abortion clinics. My local McDonald’s is held to better standard of cleanliness. You would think that this would be an issue that both sides of the abortion issue could agree on (but not all).

    Your Friday Morning DWS Fail

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz is rapidly rivaling Nancy Pelosi as “Democrat Most Likely to Say Something Dumb and Hilarious”. For your amusement, here is Anderson Cooper destroying her on the Romney abortion issue.

    (The link has a preliminary minute where Anderson explains that the GOP abortion plank is essentially unchanged since 2000).

    Of course, we all know that Anderson is a Right Wing homophobic woman-hating lunatic, right? Right? Oh, yeah.

    Rush Limbaugh and Slut-Shaming

    I’m sure you’ve heard about Rush Limbaugh’s increasingly provocative comments on birth control. In brief, Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke testified that birth control pills cost a typical woman about $3000 over a three year timescale and that this was quite a burden for students. Some Right Wing idiot calculated how many condoms that would buy (several thousand) and yucked it up about just how much birth control she needed and how much sex she was having. It was an extremely stupid analysis, since birth control pills cost the same whether you have sex every day or not at all. And they are, on occasion, prescribed therapeutically, such as when a woman is undergoing fertility treatments or having some procedure — like chemotherapy — in which getting pregnant would be dangerous.

    But then Limbaugh picked that stupidity up and ran with it, saying the girl essentially wanted to be paid to have sex. And when called on it, he doubled down, joking that she should send the taxpayers a sex tape in repayment for their sponsoring of all the sex she was having.

    There are several aspects to this and I’d like to turn it over a few times before putting it down and walking away. First, I agree with what Ken at Popehat said last night on Twitter. At this point, Rush Limbaugh is clearly power trolling, saying provocative things to get attention and ratings. I know Rush’s show enough to know when he’s being facetious. This is clearly not meant literally (not that this excuses the gross misogyny of the remarks).

    However, that in itself is shameful. As I said on Twitter, there used to be a time when Rush Limbaugh didn’t need to do this shit to be relevant. During the mid-90’s, Rush was at the epicenter of our political world. And the reason was because he was fucking brilliant. He had facts and arguments on his side. He relished the debate. He gloried in skewering the Clintons and their myriad supporters. And he argued persuasively for many of the policies we eventually enacted. The Left always claimed he was “spewing hate” but he wasn’t. He was upbeat, optimistic and grounded in facts and data. And it was clear that the Clintons, at least, knew this. They fed him information during the NAFTA debate. And they started dumping policies and press releases at 3:00 pm on Fridays so they would have three days to spin it before Rush could comment.

    Now his show is more bitter and angry, less about ideas than about bombast. And this is just the apotheosis. It’s like watching a fading athlete take steroids to try to regain his former glory. It’s just sad.

    But, let’s turn this issue over again. People are outraged about what Rush Limbaugh said and that’s fine. They should be. But where is the comparable outrage to the Left referring to a standard medical procedure as “rape”.

    Pro-choice commentators have called the transvaginal form of ultrasound that’s standard early in pregnancy “rape,” “forced vaginal penetration,” and an “unnecessary medical procedure” in response to bills in Virginia and elsewhere that would, practically speaking, require all abortion recipients to undergo an ultrasound by this method.

    But I have considerable concerns about what calling these ultrasounds “rape” and “unnecessary” will mean for abortion patients and providers. The reality is that most abortion patients do receive an ultrasound to date their pregnancies. Since most abortions take place in the first trimester of pregnancy, many of these ultrasounds are performed with a transvaginal probe, the most effective method for viewing early-stage pregnancies.

    But now that women have heard abortion supporters describe this form of ultrasound as “rape,” will more of them be terrified when they arrive at a clinic and are informed they will have such a procedure? Or might they be scared off altogether? Will abortion clinic staff who perform the ultrasound be seen as “rapists,” as the provider I mentioned earlier worried? This is a possibility not lost on the anti-abortion website LifeNews, which recently ran the headline, “If Ultrasound is Rape, Arrest Planned Parenthood Staffers.”

    For the Left to compare the forcible sexual violation of a woman to a standard medical procedure is far more deeply offensive than anything Rush Limbaugh has said. And the thing is that they mean it. This is not a joke or an exaggeration for comic effect. This is a tactic, plain and simple. But it has generated a thousandth of the outrage reserved for some radio guy talking out of his ass.

    Really, I am disgusted by this entire debate. I’m disgusted that our government is trying to mandate insurance coverage. It doesn’t matter if it’s birth control or metamucil: the principle is wrong, stupid, expensive and anti-free market. If I ran a business, I’d get insurance that covered birth control. But I don’t want to see that mandated. I don’t want to see any coverage mandated.

    I’m further disgusted with the President for choosing this fight. He could have chosen anything to start the coverage mandate fight on. But he chose birth control because he knew what would happen: we would end up in a debate about birth control and not one about economics. Remember when playing political games with women’s health was a bad thing?

    And I’m finally disgusted with the Republicans for stepping right into the bear trap. They could have framed this debate the right way: being about economics and not religion. They could be proposing a bill that suspends all federal coverage mandates. But instead they got bogged down in this stupid culture war bullshit. And now we are all paying the price. Not just politically … but economically. Because by fighting over birth control, they have left untouched the basic idea that government can dictate what kind of insurance we can buy.

    And so, in the end, the loser in this situation is not Limbaugh, who is gaining attention. It’s not Obama or even the GOP, who are able to rally their bases. It’s us … all of us … everyone who has an economic stake in this country. Because while we’ve been looking the other way, another bit of our freedom has been swiped out from under us.

    Weekend Roundup

    As of tonight, I am on the other side of the world. Actually, most people would say I blog like someone on from a completely different world. But in this case, it’s literally true: I’m back in Australia. As a result of preparations and travel, I’ve missed the biggest news stories of the week. So I’ll go through them quickly in a weekend roundup form to hopefully start a few (well-reasoned) fights.


    First, Indiana became the latest right-to-work state over fierce labor union opposition. Ever so slowly, the unions are losing their grip on power. Watch out for Mitch Daniels come 2016. That guy has President written all over him.


    Eric Holder continues to lower the bar for attorneys general. His latest statement is that he will crack down on Operation Fast and Furious. Actually, he will crack down on OFF whistleblowers. This man’s allegiance to government power should be a much bigger story.


    The latest jobs report is out. Not only did job creation numbers blow by expectations, but December and November numbers were revised upward. All told, 300k jobs were added in multiple sectors, including manufacturing, and the unemployment rate is down to 8.3%. It’s been many years since we had a jobs report that solid.

    Now, the total unemployment number — which accounts for people who have given up looking for work — has only fallen a little. But it has fallen … a little. This is ceasing to be a blip and starting to look like a resurgence. It’s not near strong enough. But it’s hopeful. We’ll know things are really getting better when job creation numbers rise and the unemployment rate also rises. That will tell us when people are rejoining the labor force.


    I don’t have a lot of interest in the spat between the Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood over the former pulling funding from the latter because of abortion, then reversing that decision. I do however, think Josh Barro has a legitimate point: Planned Parenthood supporters need to quit pretending that abortion is only incidental to PP’s mission and function. They are one of the largest abortion providers in the nation, it is a huge part of their budget and anyone who has been to a clinic can not but notice how big a part abortion is of what they do.

    The Planned Parenthood defenders are throwing out a statistic that abortions are only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services. That may be literally true, but it’s comparing apples to watermelons. An abortion is a far more involved and expensive procedure than a breast cancer screening or a birth control consultation. By way of illustration, a surgeon may do see a patient ten times for follow-up of a single surgical procedure. But only an idiot would claim that surgery is only 10% of what a surgeon does.

    People who support Planned Parenthood do so, in part, because of their abortion services. If Planned Parenthood ended abortions tomorrow, their support would shrink, at least a little. You can not both support Planned Parenthood because someone needs to provide abortions and then turn around and claim abortion is only a small part of what they do. Agreeing with this doesn’t make you pro-life or anti-woman or anti-choice or even anti-Planned-Parenthood. It makes you connected with reality.


    Finally, the CBO released their latest projection, which is for a $1.1 trillion deficit this year (believe it or not, that’s down by several hundred billion from the peak) and more trillions over the next decade. They also project that the economy will weaken as tax hikes and spending cuts kick in. Color me very skeptical on that last part. The CBOs models are rigged a certain way. And that way is of dubious accuracy.