Around the Web

A Madison teacher tells her second- and third-graders that Scott Walker’s actions are basically like racial segregation. There’s no other word than evil for someone who tries to make small children, who are much too young to understand the issues behind this debate, hate another human being over reasonable policy disputes through vicious, preposterous lies that no sound-minded adult could possibly believe in good faith. 

Thaddeus McCotter is officially in the presidential race. I’m withholding judgment, but given how underwhelming the rest of the GOP field is, I’m certainly willing to be won over if he’s got what it takes.

Robert Stacy McCain lays the smack down on a richly deserving scumbag with a history of defaming conservatives. If Taylor was sincerely worried about right-wing bloggers who aid America’s moral debasement, he could have started with the pro-choicers. No need to make stuff up.

Glenn Beck says he’s not playing the game anymore, and is ready to revolutionize the news and information system. Or something. I’m still skeptical that adding a subscription fee to what he’s basically already doing is going to do anything but decrease the number of people he reaches, not increase it.

Fox News Channel’s temporary post-Beck show, “The Five,” sounds really, really lame. “Hey, let’s throw together the C-listers we’ve got hanging around the studio anyway and call it a show!” (With apologies to Greg Gutfeld.)

New on NewsReal – Justice or Revenge? The Morality of Celebrating Osama bin Laden’s Death

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Most of the nation is still celebrating the elimination of Osama bin Laden, the monster behind one of the worst days in American history. Some are relieved bin Laden can no longer aid the jihadist cause; others take pleasure in knowing the suffering he caused us has been partially repaid.

But at least one voice is having none of it. At the Huffington Post, “specialist in transformational change” (whatever that means) Dr. Pamela Gerloff writes that celebrating bin Laden’s death is mentally unhealthy and geopolitically dangerous:

“Celebrating” the killing of any member of our species–for example, by chanting USA! USA! and singing The Star Spangled Banner outside the White House or jubilantly demonstrating in the streets–is a violation of human dignity. Regardless of the perceived degree of “good” or “evil” in any of us, we are all, each of us, human. To celebrate the killing of a life, any life, is a failure to honor life’s inherent sanctity.

Plenty of people will argue that Osama Bin Laden did not respect the sanctity of others’ lives. To that I would ask, “What relevance does that have to our own actions?” One aspect of being human is our ability to choose our own behavior; more specifically, our capacity to return good for evil, love for hate, dignity for indignity. While Osama Bin Laden was widely considered to be the personification of evil, he was nonetheless a human being. A more peaceable response to his killing would be to mourn the many tragedies that led up to his violent death and the thousands of violent deaths that occurred in the attempt to eliminate him from the face of the Earth; and to feel compassion for anyone who, because of their role in the military or government, American or otherwise, has had to play a role in killing another. This kind of compassion can be cultivated, as practitioners of many different spiritual traditions will attest […]

It is hard not to think that some of the impulse to celebrate “justice being done” may also contain a certain pleasure in revenge–not just “closure” but “getting even.” The world is not safer with Osama Bin Laden’s violent demise (threat levels are going up, not down); evil has not been finally removed from the Earth; the War on Terror goes on–so any celebration must be tempered with the sobering fact that much work still needs to be done to establish peace.

There’s a lot to unpack here, most of it awful. But first, for the sake of fairness and decency one fair point must be acknowledged: If we truly recognize the intrinsic worth of all human life, we have to recognize that even the worst among us have souls, warped and polluted though they may be, and be careful not to think casually of any killing—even just and necessary killing, as bin Laden’s death clearly was. Now, I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t found some satisfaction in the confidence that Osama now knows the afterlife isn’t quite what he expected, but I also have to admit those thoughts don’t live up to the standard my Savior has set for me.

So we shouldn’t take pleasure in exacting bloody vengeance, but there is another aspect to the celebration that is entirely appropriate.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Hope in the Face of an American Holocaust

It’s a couple months old, but I recently came across an incredibly powerful essay Kyle-Anne Shiverputs the evil of abortion in stark clarity and historical context. An exerpt: wrote on American Thinker, which
The whole problem with growing up and becoming intellectual is that we stop making the fundamental connections that children innately make.  We stop being able to see the threads of evil for what they really are.  We watch evil morph, change the colors or characteristics of its stripes, and we are fooled.  Again and again mankind is fooled into embracing evil’s new form, even while decrying those who perpetrated evils past.


The child sees clearly the common threads.  The child can connect an evil father with an evil slaver.  The child can see that the evil which ensnared Anne Frank is the same evil that Martin is railing against.  The child discerns that a Jewish life is the same as a black life is the same as a white life is the same as a young life is the same as an old life.  The child could easily, with no prompting whatsoever, see a sonogram and tell you it’s a baby.  The child does not dissemble and rationalize and wish for convenient ignorance. 



To paraphrase Martin, dehumanizing one human being dehumanizes every human being.  And dehumanizing leads inexorably to more and more dehumanizing.  The line between who is on the legal list of those who can be treated as property to be disposed of becomes more and more blurred.  Until doctors are killing live infants with scissors slammed into the backs of their tiny heads.  And intellectualized adults can try to explain the difference to a child who knows better.

And just in case that’s too depressing, you should also check out Robert George’s reflections on the life of Bernard Nathanson, the abortion pioneer who eventually reformed and became a pro-life hero. Nathanson’s story should give us all hope that, if light can transform even the darkest hearts, it can also work on the bleakest times:

There are many lessons in Bernard Nathanson’s life for those of us who recognize the worth and dignity of all human lives and who seek to win hearts and change laws. Two in particular stand out for me.


First is the luminous power of truth. As I have written elsewhere, and as Nathanson’s own testimony confirms, the edifice of abortion is built on a foundation of lies. Nathanson told those lies; indeed, he helped to invent them. But others witnessed to truth. And when he was exposed to their bold, un-intimidated, self-sacrificial witness, the truth overcame the darkness in Nathanson’s heart and convicted him in the court of his own conscience.


Bernie and I became friends in the early 1990s, shortly after my own pro-life writings came to his attention. Once during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave at Princeton, I asked him: “When you were promoting abortion, you were willing to lie in what you regarded as a good cause. Now that you have been converted to the cause of life, would you be willing to lie to save babies? How do those who hear your speeches and read your books and articles know that you are not lying now?” It was, I confess, an impertinently phrased question, but also, I believe, an important one. He seemed a bit stunned by it, and after a moment said, very quietly, “No, I wouldn’t lie, even to save babies.” At the dinner he and I had with students afterward, he explained himself further: “You said that I was converted to the cause of life; and that’s true. But you must remember that I was converted to the cause of life only because I was converted to the cause of truth. That’s why I wouldn’t lie, even in a good cause.”


The second lesson is this: We in the pro-life movement have no enemies to destroy. Our weapons are chaste weapons of the spirit: truth and love. Our task is less to defeat our opponents than to win them to the cause of life. To be sure, we must oppose the culture and politics of death resolutely and with a determination to win. But there is no one—no one—whose heart is so hard that he or she cannot be won over. Let us not lose faith in the power of our weapons to transform even the most resolute abortion advocates. The most dedicated abortion supporters are potential allies in the cause of life. It is the loving, prayerful, self-sacrificing witness of Joan Bell Andrews and so many other dedicated pro-life activists that softens the hearts and changes the lives of people like Dr. Bernard Nathanson.


May he rest in peace.

New on NewsReal – "View" Lefties Can’t See Why Child Porn for Teens on MTV Might Be a Problem

My latest NewsRealBlog Post:

The smug certainty with which leftists insist that they’re better people than conservatives has always been an interesting phenomenon. We’re asked to believe that our opponents are more moral, more responsible, more enlightened, and more sensitive than we are one minute…and one of our betters turns around and asks what the big deal is about some outrageous case of moral degeneracy the next.

Such is the case of the latest pontifications from The View co-host Joy Behar. In a discussion of Skins, the new MTV show which might have broken child pornography laws by filming actors as young as 15 performing explicit simulated sexual acts, Behar suggested that the only reason people are getting worked up is because of the channel it’s on:

“I think it’s because it’s MTV, because on HBO as you pointed out, I believe ‘Oz’ was on there and they’re all doing some crazy stuff … and ‘Sex in the City’ was on HBO,” Behar said. “What’s the difference if you’re watching all these grown-ups talking about all of these — anal sex, etc., or young people? What’s the difference?”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure laws against producing child pornography don’t say, “nobody can do this except for HBO.”
Whoopi Goldberg dismissed concern as a mere construct of America’s more Puritan sensibilities:

[T]he English have a whole different relationship to how young people are dealt with. I mean, that’s just the way it is. It is a different thing and sex does not have the same bizarre-ness that it carries in the U.S.

America must be weird for having a problem with this; English standards couldn’t possibly be wrong! Gotta love cultural relativism.

Barbara Walters, however, managed to explain the difference to her colleague:

“There’s two differences,” Walters said. “One – it’s targeting kids. It’s a huge difference. And the other is that they’re also saying is it is underage kids that are doing this.”

Walters is right as far as she goes, but she doesn’t go nearly far enough. The main answer is that the controversy isn’t merely about minors “talking about” sex. It’s about minors performing suggested sex acts on screen. Does Behar have any conception of why child pornography is illegal? (I’d do more research into whether or not she’s opined on the issue in the past, but the prospect of Googling a combination of the terms “joy behar” and “porn” is too terrifying to contemplate.)

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Smithsonian Scandal Raises Questions: What’s "Good" Art, and Why Should I Pay for It?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

The Christmas season just wouldn’t be Christmas these days without government-sponsored desecration of images sacred to most Americans. By now you’ve probably heard about the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery’s charming new exhibit depicting, among other things, a bloody Jesus Christ covered in ants. That part of the exhibit has been removed, but it still features “male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show’s catalog as ‘homoerotic.’”

True to form, Media Matters is trying to defuse outrage over the controversy by repeatedly pointing out that while the Smithsonian may receive taxpayer dollars, this particular exhibit was funded privately. Here they highlight last night’s exchange between Sean Hannity and Democrat strategist Joe Trippi, who “tries to get Hannity to understand” that simple distinction:

http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/flash/player.swf 

TRIPPI: The money for this exhibit was all private foundations. 

HANNITY: But I don’t agree with that analysis. It’s like saying, we fund the ability for them to open their doors every day. So they don’t get to open the door, except for the American taxpayer.

TRIPPI: The American taxpayer paid for the building and those kinds of things, but it’s an art museum, I mean – and this particular art exhibit is the influence of gay and lesbian artists on portraiture.

HANNITY: Fine. If they wanna have an art museum with this stuff, we shouldn’t pay to open their doors so they can put this type of stuff in there! 

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

Civility Is Overrated

At Politico, PR guy Mark DeMoss laments the lousy reception to the Civility Pledge he and Clinton hack Lanny Davis have been circulating:

It’s only 32 words. Yet, only two sitting members of Congress or governors have signed the civility pledge.


So what was it about civility that all the other 537 elected officials couldn’t agree to? Read it and decide for yourself.

  • I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.
  • I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them. 
  • I will stand against incivility when I see it.

In May, Lanny Davis, my friend and co-founder of the Civility Project, and I sent a letter to all 535 members of Congress and 50 sitting governors inviting them to sign a civility pledge.


We made it easy, enclosing a response form, return envelope and fax number. I’m sorry to report, six months later, that only two responded: Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

This is a shame, DeMoss says, because the American people are sick of how nasty the political discourse has become, and because incivility is just plain wrong:
We share a conviction about the importance of at least trying to change a polarizing, uncivil political culture that now appears to be the norm.

Call it old-fashioned, but we believe debates should be won on the strength of ideas and words — not on the volume of our voices or the outrageousness of our ads. Yet some emails I’ve received on our website are so filled with obscenities that they could not be printed in a newspaper.

Incivility is not just a political problem, according to Yale law professor Stephen Carter. “Rules of civility are thus rules of morality,” Carter said, “it is morally proper to treat our fellow citizens with respect, and morally improper not to. Our crisis of incivility is part of a larger crisis of morality.” 

I hate to fit someone’s definition of “morally improper,” but the fact is, there’s way too much hand-wringing over civility in politics these days. For one thing, sleazy invective, while lamentable, has been around since the beginning, so not only is this not some new development, but if it was going to destroy the country, it would have done so by now.

That’s not to say politicians should be given a pass for trafficking in lies and rumors, far from it. But that brings us to the second, and far more important, reason these guys are barking up the wrong tree: we currently define negativity and incivility so broadly that they’re not only virtually meaningless, but they actually serve to stifle a lot of things that need to be said.

Simply put, there are a lot of bad people active, and bad things done, in politics today, things that deserve not just disagreement, but demand moral condemnation. Advocating the murder of unborn babies, lying about an issue, defaming someone, trying to violate the Constitution, controlling free speech…all these things run deeper than mere disagreements between equally-decent people. These are things that should shock and disgust men and women of goodwill, and compel them to drive them out of the sphere of public respectability – along with their practitioners.

Instead, our “civility” obsession all too often leads to pitiful spectacles like playing dumb about the integrity of backstabbers, and meekly wondering why opponents believe vicious lies about us (here’s a hint: they don’t). Such rhetorical cowardice and incompetence enables the dishonest and the hateful to go about their business without serious challenge, all but ensuring a culture that’s less civil, not more.

Real civility is a fine value, but a healthy political culture needs to understand it’s not the highest value. Every American must hold truth and justice as more important than decorum.

Brief Observation: Ayn Rand vs. the Founding Fathers on Human Nature

Amit Ghate has a piece at Pajamas Media, using Ayn Rand to argue that reason is a superior foundation for morality than religion. I’d love to do a more thorough response to it if I wasn’t so busy right now (for those interested, here are parts One, Two, and Three of a debate I had on the subject with an atheist blogger a few years back); For the moment, one quick observation will have to suffice. (Usual disclaimer: I haven’t read Rand firsthand.)

Ghate approvingly cites Ayn Rand’s rejection of man’s fallen nature, saying Rand “sides with the giants of the Enlightenment in considering man to be morally perfectible.” However many Enlightenment thinkers may have believed man was “morally perfectible,” that was one aspect of Enlightenment thinking the American Founders didn’t put much stock in. To the extent that Rand disagrees with Publius on this point, she sides with Progressives.