Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More on Giuliani and abortion

In an essay well worth reading, National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru compiles several very strong arguments about why Rudy Giuliani's pro-abortion stance should doom his campaign.

For example:

In a way, Giuliani’s nomination would cause more trouble for the pro-life cause than his election would. The pro-life cause can survive without a pro-life president: It emerged from the Clinton years stronger than it had been at their beginning. But it will find it harder to survive without a pro-life party. And that would be the meaning of his nomination, even if most Republican congressmen and governors remained pro-life, and even if the party platform, left unread and unheeded, continued to offer solidarity to the unborn. America has been a presidential nation, politically, for almost a century now. The parties are, in the public mind, their leaders; and those leaders are their presidential nominees.

The most specific polls on abortion policy ask respondents whether they think abortion should be banned altogether, banned with exceptions when the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or resulted from rape, or allowed. Such polls consistently find that the people who want to ban abortion altogether and the people who want to ban it with rare exceptions add up to a majority of Americans. If Giuliani wins the Republican nomination, that majority will have no representation at the level of presidential politics. We will instead have a contest between a candidate who believes that taxpayers should fund abortion through the federal government and one who believes they should do it through state governments.

In 1973, the Supreme Court tried to declare an end to the state-by-state debate on abortion by setting abortion policy nationally. The New York Times, the next day, reported on the decision as a “historic resolution” of the abortion controversy. Before that day, supporters of legal abortion had claimed that their policy was necessary for women’s equality, or population control, or the promotion of liberty. On that day, however, they acquired the most powerful arrow in their quiver: the assertion that abortion policy was a settled matter, an assertion that had the strong support of the country’s journalistic, financial, and legal elites. The principal reason that the question has not been closed is that over the last 30 years the Republican party has stood — shakily at times, it is true, but always officially — against this elite consensus.

The abortion lobby would not be alone in declaring the Republican party to have capitulated to this consensus with Giuliani’s nomination. So would neutral observers; and even some pro-lifers would give up the fight.


But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that President Giuliani did, indeed, nominate stalwart conservatives to the Supreme Court; that he saw them through successful confirmation hearings; and that, with their votes, Roe was finally overturned. Let us assume, that is, that thanks to Giuliani, states would have the freedom to move against abortion. That is the maximalist case for a pro-lifer to have hope in Giuliani. What would happen the next day? If the Democratic Congress sent Giuliani legislation to codify Roe — and thus to take back that freedom from the states — would he really veto it? He has not even promised to veto abortion-funding legislation. If he let it through, pro-lifers would have gained almost nothing.

And they would have lost on other fronts. Pro-lifers have some business outside the courts, and both they and Republicans generally have deemed that business important. Most Republicans have fought to restrict federal funding on embryo-destructive research, for example, and to keep federal funds from going to organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas. The case that pro-lifers can live with Giuliani assumes that none of these legislative issues matter.


Some of Giuliani’s supporters have argued that his candidacy offers the Republican party a chance to “move beyond” the social issues. If Giuliani ever embraced that rationale himself — if his campaign ever became an explicit effort to sideline pro-lifers — then pro-lifers would be crazy not to respond in kind. But that rationale would also make no sense for the party’s future. Campaigning on economic and national-security issues alone, Republicans would almost certainly do worse.

In 2004, George W. Bush carried 80 percent of voters who chose their candidate based on “moral values,” but lost 80 percent of voters who cited “jobs” and “the economy” as their top issues. The New York Times that year ran a story about voters in swing states such as Ohio and Iowa who were torn between the presidential candidates: They thought their economic interests lay with John Kerry, but their values lined up with Bush. Nominating Giuliani would make such voters’ choices a lot easier. (And that’s leaving aside the possibility of a party split, a convention walkout, or a third-party challenge.)

If Giuliani lost because he alienated those voters, the damage might outlast 2008. If the Republicans nominated a pro-lifer in 2012, that candidate would have to overcome these voters’ suspicion that the party did not really care about the issues that drew them to it.

And more.


He's in.

No more coy probing--Fred Thompson is running for president.

Now we get to see what he's really made of.


The Case for Gouging

Robert Samuelson nails Congress to the ceiling:

It's one of those delicious moments when Washington's hypocrisy is on full and unembarrassed display. On the one hand, some of America's leading politicians condemn high gasoline prices and contend that they stem from "gouging" by oil companies. On the other, many of the same politicians warn against global warming and implore us to curb our use of fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

Guess what: These crowd-pleasing proclamations are contradictory. Anyone fearful of global warming should cheer higher gasoline prices, because much higher prices represent precisely the sort of powerful incentive needed to push consumers toward more fuel-efficient vehicles and to persuade the auto industry to produce them in large numbers. Bravo for higher prices!

Perish the thought.

Read the whole thing.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A question worth asking

Thomas Sowell, amid the almost universal condemnation of the immigration bill, takes aim at the bizarre idea that illegal immigrants are benefiting the country by taking on jobs that Americans won't do:

Even in the sector of the economy in which illegal immigrants have the highest representation -- agriculture -- they are just 24 percent of the workers. Where did the other 76 percent come from, if these are jobs that Americans won't do?

Where, indeed?


Well, it's about time.

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself: a Washington Post column at long last taking the sophistry of "personally opposed" pro-choice politicians to the woodshed. Naturally, it had to be a Republican politician embracing the farce before they would print one, but the MSM did finally get around to it:

There is, however, a question that comes before politics: Does Giuliani's position on abortion actually make sense?

In early debates and statements, he has set out his views on this topic with all the order and symmetry of a freeway pileup. His argument comes down to this: "I hate abortion," which is "morally wrong." But "people ultimately have to make that choice. If a woman chooses that, that's her choice, not mine. That's her morality, not mine."

This is a variant of the position developed by New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1985. In this view, the Catholic Church's belief in the immorality of abortion is correct, in the same sense that its belief in the Immaculate Conception is correct. Both beliefs are religious, private and should not be enforced by government.

But the question naturally arises: Why does Giuliani "hate" abortion? No one feels moral outrage about an appendectomy. Clearly he is implying his support for the Catholic belief that an innocent life is being taken. And here the problems begin.

How can the violation of a fundamental human right be viewed as a private matter? Not everything that is viewed as immoral should be illegal; there are no compelling public reasons to restrict adultery, for example, or to outlaw sodomy. But when morality demands respect for the rights of a human being, those protections become a matter of social justice, not just personal or religious preference.

The whole column's worth reading, but to this, let me attach the words of John Walker, of the group Libertarians for Life:

Regardless of whether you're pro-life or abortion-choice, let's assume you're going to have abortion-choice government officials. Which kind would you rather have: ones who think that the preborn are not persons with rights, or ones who think they are?

Even abortion choicers should find the latter kind scary. If an abortion-choice Governor thinks the preborn are persons with rights yet it's OK to kill them, a question comes to mind: Who's next?

An excellent summation of why I believe that any pro-choice politician who claims to be "personally opposed" to abortion--including Giuliani--is fundamentally unfit for public office.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Matriarch of Global Warming: Margaret Thatcher

Interesting column by Lorrie Goldsteign, highlighting the major global warming proponent pre-Al Gore. Unlike Gore, though, the Iron Lady's agenda wasn't a Kyoto-like economic self-amputation:

By the mid-1980s, Thatcher had lost faith in coal and oil as secure energy sources for Great Britain, due to her confrontations with British mine workers and the oil crisis of the 1970s. Thatcher favoured nuclear power and upon learning that nukes, unlike coal and oil, didn't emit carbon dioxide, used it to forward her agenda.

Thatcher also showed the perceptiveness that Gore et al lack to this day:

"Whatever international action we agree upon to deal with environmental problems," she warned, "we must enable all our economies to grow and develop, because without growth you cannot generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment." She added it was industrial innovation, not radical ideology, that would lead to solutions.

Common sense--something in short supply, sadly, when it comes to environmental issues.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Fred Thompson Hype Builds

It's starting to go mainstream--not just in major conservative venues like NRO or the Weekly Standard, but in major publications like the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

I've said before, and will probably say again, that I'm undecided on Thompson. (At this point, the only person other than Thompson I could see myself voting for is McCain, who has in my mind clearly distanced himself from the rest of the currently declared GOP candidates.) Yes, everything looks and sounds good--but Thompson has been carefully controlling every aspect of the pre-campaign so far. The closest he's come to outside scrutiny at this point in time is his public spat with Michael Moore--hardly a thorough vetting.

More to the point, I can recall two other candidates in the last four presidential campaigns to garner this kind of early hype: Howard Dean in 2004, and Ross Perot in 1992. Both looked good, both started strong--and both eventually melted under the spotlight, self-destructing in spectacular fashion.

There is a difference--the Thompson hype, unlike that surrounding Dean or Perot, seems to be as much about the candidate's character as the candidate's policies--but the main point remains. There is no other venue that offers such intense, hostile, often blatantly unfair scrutiny as a presidential campaign. Nothing else comes even close--not acting careers, not races for lesser office, nothing.

I'm open to Fred Thompson making his case. But until he proves that he can take the heat--until he actually gets into the race, takes the opposition's best shots, and we see whether he's still standing afterward--I am not and will not be sold on him as a candidate.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Why pro-lifers can't support Rudy Giuliani

Sure, he's unabashedly pro-choice--but why should we worry? After all--he's promised to appoint strict constructionists as judges, hasn't he?

...strict constructionists, that is, of the Arlen Specter "superprecedent" variety.

Recall Giuliani's own words, from the first debate:
"It would be OK to repeal it. It would be OK also if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent."
In other words: no judge that Rudy Giuliani would appoint would ever vote to overturn Roe v. Wade...and his inauguration would mark a return to the abortion policies of the Clinton White House in pretty much everything else.

Make no mistake about it; a Giuliani presidency would be just as bad for the pro-life movement as a Clinton, Obama, or Edwards presidency--worse, in point of fact, because sitting presidents shape their parties in ways that other party leaders can't.

Four or eight years of Giuliani shaping the GOP would leave the party a virtual clone of the Democrats when it comes to abortion. With no standing in either national party, the pro-life movement would in effect be exiled from the political scene for the foreseeable future--and everything that it managed to accomplish in the administrations of Bush, Bush, and Reagan (to a limited degree--he did appoint Scalia, after all) would be undone in short order.

It's long been an open secret that, because of the Democrats' single-minded allegiance to Planned Parenthood and NARAL, the pro-life movement needs the Republican Party far more than the Republican Party needs the pro-life movement. Now, with Giuliani's candidacy, the pro-choice wing of the party is taking the opportunity to argue that the GOP doesn't need the pro-life movement at all.

If they succeed, it will be decades before the pro-life movement recovers.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

GOP debate #2

I work second shift, so I didn't get a chance to watch the debate live, but now that I've seen it, a few thoughts:

  • Tommy Thompson wins the Golden Aikido Award for being the least willing to directly answer the questions put to him. When asked how the US could require Iraq to do anything, he went on and on instead about why his plan for Iraq would work; when asked to identify federal programs to be eliminated, he hedged and in the end, when pressed, hemmed, hawed, and mentioned only one: the CDC's stockpile program (and if he could have made a dumber choice, I can't think of it). I think the moderators picked up on this, because after those two early dodges, he received fewer questions than just about anyone else onstage.
  • Ron Paul's comments on the US having invited 9/11 got a lot of attention, but what caught my ear was his blaming the Iran Hostage Crisis on our installing the Shah in power--more than 20 years before. It's not exactly an open secret that Islamofascists have a list of grievances going back to the Crusades and earlier to justify their desire to kill us today, but it was stunning to hear a Republican presidential candidate endorsing their grotesque fantasies.
  • Did anyone else catch Mitt Romney including Iraq's Kurds--the most stable, peaceful, America-friendly group in that country, by far--in his list of jihadists who threaten to destabilize neighboring Islamic countries if America fails in Iraq? Any credibility he had with me on foreign policy went straight out the window after that.
  • Rudy Giuliani got hammered on abortion, as expected. Mike Huckabee had compared his "personally opposed" stance to that of those who hated slavery but would allow others to own slaves, to which Giuliani offered the lame response that, unlike abortion, he couldn't imagine anyone choosing slavery. News flash, Rudy: plenty of people did choose slavery--so many that it took a civil war that almost tore this country apart to put an end to it.
  • Giuliani also trotted out the traditional pro-choice "leave abortion legal, just reduce it" trap. Sam Brownback put the lie to that bit of chicanery a very short time later, with his response to a question on his opposition to a rape exception--"This is a life we're talking about."
  • More than anyone else onstage, John McCain seems to be trying to present himself as a leader. He repeatedly invoked bipartisanship and getting things done in defending his record, and he was the most ready and willing of any of the candidates to invoke President Bush. You could almost hear "uniter, not divider" on the tip of his tongue.

I went into the debate favoring McCain, and came out pretty much the same way. I was never going to vote for Giuliani, and Romney's Kurd-bashing blunder permanently took him out of the equation. My choices for the GOP nomination are now down, I think, to McCain and Fred Thompson (I don't know enough about Thompson yet to really form an opinion on him).

The most telling moment of the debate was when Giuliani's conservative credentials were challenged. His first response was not to defend them, but to go after Hillary Clinton, and urge the GOP to unite to defeat her. You could easily hear his unspoken message: "Forget my positions--nominate me because I'm the most electable candidate."

I don't know about anyone else, but when I think of presidential candidates nominated for their electability, two words immediately spring to mind:

John Kerry.


Monday, May 14, 2007

The Softest, Laziest Generation

Very good (not to mention very depressing) column by Michael Barone on the sorry state of youth voters today:

My sense when I look at what young voters tell pollsters is that they assume that everything is going to be just fine if things roll along pretty much as they are. They have grown up in an era, lasting nearly 25 years now, when we've had low inflation coupled with economic growth 95 percent of the time. They may grouse about gas prices or paying off college loans, but they're able to get jobs that mostly pay pretty well and often are more interesting and less backbreaking than the vaunted factory jobs of the past. They have grown up in an era when personal choices that were stigmatized as immoral not so long ago are accepted and even respected. You can live with your girlfriend or boyfriend before you get married; you can be gay: Nobody is going to give you a very hard time. In fact, young people are delaying childbearing until marriage more than they used to and seem to be divorcing somewhat less often. We're learning as a country to balance freedom with responsibility.

Iraq exception. The one issue on which young people seem dissatisfied with things as they are is the military conflict in Iraq-that would be with the exception of most of the young people who have served there and who are re-enlisting at higher than projected rates. The attitude of those without military ties seems to be: If we just get out of Iraq, if we just get rid of George Bush, then everything will be all right. We won't see suicide bombers and IEDs on our television screens; we won't see mass demonstrations by Europeans and Muslims against us; we won't have all this controversy and bitterness in our partisan politics.

As a relatively young voter myself, I should add that to this most of us have, at one point or another, been exhorted to "be active"--to involve yourself in a cause, to get out there and "make a difference."

Unfortunately, there aren't all that many causes out there. I stumbled onto abortion--my cause, so to speak--young, but also almost entirely by chance; that doesn't happen for most young people.

And that, I think, is where Iraq comes into play, because young voters have been raised on the "history" of Vietnam: a wholly evil, unjust conflict, which heroic students and young people across the nation rose up against and put to an end...and then, they lived happily ever after.

In short--an overly simplistic, fairy tale-like rendering of one of the last great "causes."

Far too many young people, I think, have slipped Iraq into that pseudo-Vietnam mold. At last, they have a "cause"--and one for which they don't have to do any more work than vote Democrat...which popular culture would incline most of them to do at any rate.

And once they're out of the voting booth, they can go back to their bread and circuses.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

A REALLY Bad Precedent for Tommy Thompson

So our former governor screwing up by the numbers at the first GOP debate was not his fault, but that of his hearing aid.


Presidential debates....

...disastrous performances...

...bad hearing aids...

...where have I heard this before?


Friday, May 11, 2007

Amnesty International: Pro-abortion

Via Marquette Warrior, a First Things article on how the organization is preparing to add legal abortion to its list of "rights" to be defended.

This came as a surprise to me...though probably not in the way it should have.

Call me ill-informed, call me a cynic--Amnesty International being an international "human rights organization," I'd assumed they were already pushing legal abortion as part of their agenda.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cheating? In BASEBALL?

Relaxing after another exciting Brewers win, I went online to And among all the other news, I saw Barry Bonds and steroids in baseball.


Now, there are plenty of excellent reasons to denounce steroid use in baseball: it's bad for the players' health, it's a terrible example for youth, etc.

What I've heard more than enough of, though, is that steroids in baseball are bad because it's "cheating," and that impugns the "integrity of the game" and its hallowed statistics.

With any other sport, people might have a point.

But this is baseball.

This is the sport of sign-stealing, spitballs, corked bats, doctored balls, planted balls, midget batters, beanballs, fast/slow home fields, mind games, and every other dirty trick you could possibly think of and/or get away with.

When it comes to baseball, the rule is that if you can get away with it, more power to you. Cheaters aren't denounced because they cheated; they're denounced because they got caught.

What's the problem people have with steroids in baseball? If you ask me, it's because it's too easy to do. It doesn't take skill to use steroids--and that sets steroids apart from pretty much every other dirty trick in the history of the sport.

If sportswriters want to denounce steroid users for grabbing an easy/cheap advantage over the opposition, more power to them. But they shouldn't pretend that they're upholding the integrity of a game that has thrived for more than a century on finding ways to break the rules.

And those are my first and last words on the subject.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

WHO wasn't in Iraq, again?

An editorial in Investor's Business Daily on the purported death of the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq (a term which, according to Democrats, belongs up there with "military intelligence," "government organization," and "Microsoft Works") brings up a pretty interesting point:

Of possibly greater importance, however, is an insight that slipped out in the Guardian, a left-wing British newspaper, in its background reporting on al-Masri's death.

"He probably entered Iraq in 2002," the Guardian said, "before (former al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu-musab) al-Zarqawi, and may have helped establish the first al-Qaida cell in the Baghdad area."

So let's get this straight. Al-Masri was in Iraq before the war began. He had set up an al-Qaida cell in a nation controlled by a totalitarian, Stalinist ruler, Saddam Hussein, whose secret police were known for their ruthless grip on the population.

One of the chief claims made by those who now say they were "duped" on the Iraq war — that is, congressional Democrats — is that there was no al-Qaida presence in Iraq to go after. The real war was in Afghanistan against the Taliban, they say.

The Guardian report, if true, puts the lie to that notion.

This is mostly significant for the source. A source like the Guardian admitting to a right-wing talking point may not be quite at the same level as a right-wing source like World Net Daily admitting to something that might cast the Democratic Party in a favorable light (mainly because the right wing would be a lot more likely to believe a Guardian story than the left wing would be to believe anything from WND) but it's still something to hammer.