Monday, November 25, 2013

An Abortion Question The "Pro Life" People Can't Answer

The abortion issue will now and forever be a divisive issue in American politics. The Pro Choice people now have to deal with the reality that science has impacted the utility of Roe v. Wade, pushing up the moment of viability for a fetus by several weeks. They also need to realize that showing rigidity on the issue of late term abortions is turning off many people that would otherwise support their position.

On the other side, the new strategy of "Pro Lifers" to use zoning issues and hospital staffing requirements is being seen as a cynical attempt to deny women the constitutional right to the procedure. This "end around" debating the actual issue is revitalizing those on the other side and helping the Pro Life camp to garner support they might otherwise not have had.

Now to the issue at hand. Throughout the nation the Pro Life camp is pursuing legislation defining life as beginning at conception. Amazingly, some states have actually passed such legislation, though I can't imagine them ever holding up in court. Here's the problem for the anti-abortion/life at conception crowd: most abortions that occur are called "natural" abortions, meaning that they occur when a fertilized egg fails to attach to the uterus wall. The egg is then passed out of the women's body.

This natural abortion is thus "G-d" aborting a fetus, so anyone in this camp has to accept the logical conclusion that, in the language of anti-abortionists, G-d is committing murder! I have yet to hear anyone in this group respond to this question, but then again I have yet to hear any journalist or pro-choice advocate challenge pro-lifers on this question, and I wonder why? It would seem like a great way to put pro-lifers on the defensive, yet the other side never raises it. So I will. On the oft chance that a pro-life person is reading this blog, could you please explain it to me here?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Scary World of Conservative Talk Radio and Its Failure to Realize We Are A Coalition Based System of Governance

The local talk radio station in Philly, WPHT, provides air time for a group of ultra conservative, reactionary broadcasters that project a view of American government that can only be termed subversive, derisive, and perverse. What's worse, they seem to have an audience of sycophants that project the kind of delusionary views one would associate with followers of cult leaders like Jim Jones. There is no real fact checking because the hosts are masters at raising non-sequiturs, innuendo, data this is either made up, dated, or incomplete.

None of this would be so bad if it weren't for the weaknesses in our electoral system, one where a small group of motivated people can affect elections where turn out is historically low. As a former Republican who fled the Party with the rise of the Tea Party, I am fearful not just because of the anti-social, anti-poor, racist, Social Darwinian views of the hosts and listeners- none of whom have a true grasp on our Founders in spite of their insistence to the contrary- but because their prescription for growing the Party and its influence is completely wrong.

I heard to Pa. state reps on the air yesterday defending their support for an increase in the gas tax to pay for improving our roads and bridges. They made reasoned, pragmatic arguments that (ex)Republicans like me fully appreciate. These are the kinds of actions Republicans used to make with regularity, which was also a reason they had such a diverse base of support. But all I heard from the host and callers were accusations of them "selling out," how they lacked principle, and how they should be defeated in a next election.

Don't these people realize that it is these displays of pragmatism that are going to win over those in the middle. The center is dominated by pragmatists, I consider them The Pragmatist Party, and they will form a coalition with whichever Party offers the most pragmatic solutions to the issue(s) they care about the most.

Talk radio hosts will have none of this. They do not believe in negotiation, they do no believe in compromise, and by taking this position they are basically "history deniers." They are smug, superficial, and frankly do little to inform their listeners of the information they need to best understand the issues of the day.

The Tea Party and the reactionaries on talk radio are the primary causes for the demise of the Republican Party, and until Party leaders can show the guts to take them on, the Party is doomed for irrelevance, soon to take a place in history next to the Know Nothings. Come to think of it, at this point in time I can't think of a more appropriate place for them to be.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Let's Hope President Obama's Mea Culpa isn't too Late to Save the ACA

President Obama has finally offered his mea culpa, admitting that his Administration "fumbled the ball" with the roll out of the ACA. He went on to expose the Republicans for their naked obsession with repealing the ACA, making clear that Republicans not only don't have a plan to offer but that they philosophically do not believe in the concept of universal health care. They venomous attack on the ACA represents a complete shift in thinking about governance. Contrast the Republicans with the Democratic response to President Bush's prescription drug plan reform. Democrats strongly opposed the bill, but once it became law they grudgingly agreed to work with the law and, over time, offer technical corrections and reforms to improve any problems that emerged with the plan's implementation. We see none of that cooperation today, clearly signaling the true intentions of Republican legislators to sabotage and destroy the ACA rather than work to improve it.

Republicans seem to believe that if you repeat a lie often enough that it will become fact. The problems facing the ACA today involve 5% of the population, not the 70% one often hears from opponents. They claim that premiums will go out, but fail to acknowledge that those rises are the direct result of their strategy of discouraging the young and healthy from participating. And while it is true that some premiums will rise as people are in a sense forced to give up their junk plans for more comprehensive ones, they neglect to point out that for years the young and healthy have benefitted from years of having costs shift to those who were chronically ill or had pre-existing conditions. This telling of half the story is typically of my former Party, a Party now dominated by hucksters, charlatans, fools, and liars. The incessant attacks by these people on the ACA has poisoned the debate and, by appealing to the public's most base instincts, has increased opposition to a law that will benefit our society, reduce costs, and fulfill our obligations under the social contract.

The next few months will prove critical if the ACA is to succeed. The fortunes of both major parties is directly tied to the future of ACA. The Republican Party's shameful behavior is tearing at our political fabric, and they deserve to fail in their "mission" to destroy this law. If that happens, maybe voices in the Party, now otherwise quiet, will "grow a set" and restore order to a Party I would desperately like to rejoin.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hey Ted, Pragmatism IS a Principle

Senator Ted Cruz and his fellow "radical conservatives" had nothing but back handed compliments for Chris Christie after his overwhelming victory in NJ's gubernatorial election, instead saving his true compliments for losers like "Cooch" in Virginia. He apparently "had the courage to stand for principal," whereas Christie apparently does not.

Well Ted, Governor Christie is a true conservative, but one who understands that pragmatism is a principle as well. Is it so hard to understand that someone can have conservative ideas but be pragmatic in principle. A principle is a "professed rule of action or conduct." It in fact differs from having a "philosophy," which is more akin to the study or search for principles; it is the mindset one possesses in their application of principles. Christie's ideas are conservative, but he believes in a principle based on searching for and applying practical solutions to problems. It is more than an idea, it is the application of philosophy to problem solving.

Conservatism may define "who you are," but pragmatism defines "what you do." Conservatism is "schoolhouse philosophy," and its success can only be predicated on convincing a majority of people to think as you do, then to act as you think. Good luck.

Radical conservatives have ruined the Party I once called home. I despise what they have done to the Republican Party, and I despise what they have done to political discourse and to political action. Our style of democracy is anathema to their way of thinking about governance; they are an insult to our Founders and their application of scientific reasoning to the issue of governance, government, and politics. They are the legacy of parties like the Know Nothings or any of the other "itinerant" parties that have come and gone. The Tea Party will no doubt suffer the same fate, it is just a shame they are taking my Republican Party down with them. I only wish that true Republicans would have the guts to stand up to them.

Governor Christie's pragmatism is in the proud tradition of past politicians with a conservative philosophy and pragmatic principles that are the only path for conservative philosophy to establish credibility in our society, a society guided by pragmatism, regardless of their "philosophy." I don't personally agree with much of Christie's policies, but I applaud his understanding of the populace and the dominance of pragmatic thought. He, and those like him, are the last great hope for our Party.