Thursday, April 28, 2011


It was about a week ago and the latest budget battle had just concluded (the one where the Republicans caved to Obama---oh, wait---I guess that describes all of the budget battles), and I happened to be in a room full of lefties and, as sometimes happens, one of them started working me over about it. So I started talking about the apocalypse that is coming now that both parties seem to have decided that spending $1.5 trillion more than you take in every year is something nobody has to worry about until 2040 or so, and they rose up en masse and stopped me.

That wasn't the point of what happened, you see. The real issue was those rascally Republicans trying to cut public funding for Planned Parenthood. How dare they attempt this! Planned Parenthood, I was told, will occasionally perform an abortion, but what they do most of the time is write prescriptions and do pap smears and other women's healthy-type things and---well, you've probably heard the line they're taking on all the news channels. Planned Parenthood is in every state, with 865 locations, they do more abortions than any other organization in the U.S. (332,278 in 2009), and according to the former director of the PP clinic in Bryan, Texas, offices get quotas on the number of abortions they are expected to perform. Suggesting Planned Parenthood runs a string of “abortion clinics,” however, is now officially considered hate speech. I mean, next they'll be telling me the Colonel doesn't sell chicken.

But that's not really the point. What is stunning is that anyone, on the left or the right, cares about the public funding of Planned Parenthood at this moment in history. The world price of both wheat and corn have doubled in the past ten months and food riots are breaking out around the world because people are starving. The dollar is crashing, and when the bankers of the world come up with an alternative reserve currency, commodity prices in America will instantly rise by 50% and industry will shut down. Before rational political leadership can be installed in the United States, there is a not-insignificant chance that the U.S., and the world economy, will spin into a crash that will make the Great Depression look like New Year's Eve. The government is broke, and broken.

But the real issue, they tell me, is public funding for Planned Parenthood.

Well, fine. Let's talk about Planned Parenthood. Let's put that issue to rest, at least. Because there is so much wrong with public funding for Planned Parenthood that I hardly know where to begin.

Let's start with what we're not talking about. We're not talking about abortion and whether it is right or wrong. People disagree about that, and while the spectrum of views in America is vast, the number of people who (basically) approve of abortion is about equal to the number of people who (basically) disapprove. It's a 50-50 issue and it's been that way for forty years, since Roe v. Wade came down. For a long time, it has been the moral issue in America, and it will probably remain that way until Roe v. Wade is reversed and the American people are again permitted to express their views on the subject through the democratic process.

But abortion is legal everywhere in America. We're not talking about that.

What we are talking about is the insistence of abortion advocates that people who disapprove of abortion should nevertheless be forced to pay for them. That is the meaning of “public funding.” This has never been a 50-50 issue. The American people have been asked about this in polls for decades, and public funding has never been supported by more than 30% of respondents. Most Americans see there is a moral issue involved and that those who disapprove of abortion are not “wrong,” so it is unfair to force them to pay for it. There are also those who want abortion to remain legal, but disapprove of public funding for a procedure that, in the vast majority of cases, is elective surgery. If we don't pay for other people's nose jobs, they argue, why should we pay for their abortions?

Let's make this personal. All of you know someone---a serious Christian, an Orthodox Jew, a Libertarian, a crank---who, for whatever moral or ethical reason, views abortion as wrong. I think of Marge Murphy, an older Catholic woman I know who sports a “Pray The Rosary” bumper sticker on her car. Why, I wonder, should Marge have to pay, through her taxes, for other people's abortions? You probably know someone like that, or someone with similar beliefs. Is it fair? Is it right?

(I will pass briefly over another point. It is not merely the Marge Murphys and the Baptist ministers who have to pay for other people's abortions. In America at this point, we are going into hock to do this. We are borrowing money from the Chinese so American babies can be aborted.)

To all of these arguments, the executives and supporters of Planned Parenthood respond that this is a non-issue, that government money does not go to pay for abortions. It is only, they assure us, used to provide pap smears and all those other wonderful women's-healthy-type services. But this claim cannot be proven and the reason it cannot be proven is that PP itself commingles, in its accounting, all moneys it receives. Critics have demanded for years that PP separate its women's-healthy-type services from its abortions, but PP has refused to do so. It would be easy, of course, since the services provided to pregnant women are different from the services provided to non-pregnant women, but they won't. The continued refusal to provide any transparency to their financing is why, when PP claims they don't use public money for abortions, one must assume they are lying.

Then, of course, there is Margaret Sanger and the eugenics movement and the history of Planned Parenthood.

Today, when liberal icons like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry proudly call themselves “Progressives,” much of the real history of the Progressive movement in the 1910's, 20's and 30's has been discretely hushed up. The Ku Klux Klan, for example, was a part of it we don't like to talk about anymore. Another centerpiece was the eugenics movement, which sought to perfect the human species by discouraging (or preventing) reproduction by “imbeciles,” “defectives,” “criminals,” “inferior races” and other undesirables. Later, of course, the Nazis carried this vision to its horrible, though logical, conclusion.

In America, eugenics never went that far, though it went far enough. It was not a fringe movement. Woodrow Wilson, for example, was a firm believer. As governor of New Jersey, he created the “Board of Examiners of Feebleminded, Epileptics and Other Defectives” so the state could determine who would be permitted to procreate. Similar laws appeared across the country in the early 20th Century, and thousands were involuntarily sterilized. The movement achieved Constitutional footing in the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, when Justice Holmes wrote. “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”

Margaret Sanger, publisher of the Birth Control Review and founder of the American Birth Control League (which became Planned Parenthood), was an enthusiastic and high-profile voice of the eugenics movement. Though she had little love for children of any color (“The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”---Women and the New Race, 1920), she was particularly adamant about the need to sterilize “genetically inferior races.” Racist articles appeared regularly in her magazine. One example: an article entitled “Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need” by Ernst Rudin, founder of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene.

Sanger's interest in reducing the black population culminated in her “Negro Project” in 1939. Black ministers and other community leaders were hired to encourage the use of birth control in order to trim the black population. It is clear, by the way, from the internal documents relating to the “Negro Project,” that it had nothing to do with “women's liberation” or feminism or some other nice liberal goal. The intent was solely to limit breeding among a race perceived as inferior.

Not everyone has forgotten this history. Jesse Jackson, for example, in arguing against government funding for abortion, told Congress in 1977 that it amounted to “a genocide against the black race.” Today, there are dozens of civil rights organizations espousing this view (that Jackson abandoned when he ran for President as a Democrat). One of the best known is headed by Dr. Alveda King, niece of MLK, but you can see for yourself by typing “abortion black genocide” into your browser.

Margaret Sanger? Well, that was the old days---I guess that's the argument. But what has changed? Today, slightly more than half of all black pregnancies end in abortion. And though only about 12% of American women are black, about 37% of the abortions in this country are performed on black women. Planned Parenthood does more of them than anybody, of course, and 80% of their clinics are located in minority areas or very close to them.

Even the rhetoric has not changed all that much. Though abortion advocates no longer speak in explicitly racist terms, some of their language, with a few alterations, would fit neatly into a eugenics tract of the 1920's. Ron Weddington, co-counsel in Roe v. Wade, in urging President Clinton to approve RU-486 (the morning-after pill), wrote:

“[S]tart immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country. No, I'm not advocating some sort of mass extinction of these unfortunate people. Crime, drugs and disease are already doing that. The problem is that their numbers are not only replaced but increased by the birth of millions of babies to people who can't afford to have babies. There, I've said it.”

Planned Parenthood, with its disgusting history, its unsavory present, and its utter lack of transparency, does not deserve public funding. There. I've said it.


(NOTE: much of the story of Margaret Sanger herein, and some of the quotations, come from Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg's fascinating history of the Progressive movement in America. I recommend this book to anyone interested in American history.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Yesterday, at Argus, a woman (blond, 30's, well put together, Main Line) strolled by wearing a t-shirt bearing the words “INVISIBLE CHILDREN.” I see odd or puzzling t-shirts regularly, and I often ask the wearer to explain them, but by the time I realized I was curious, she had vanished. Was it a band? A horror movie? The name of her softball team?

When I got home and hit the computer, it came up immediately. “Invisible Children” was a documentary that came out in 2003, concerning a guy named Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army. Kony has kidnapped thousands of children in Uganda, the Congo, the Central African Republic and southern Sudan, and turned them into his soldiers. Today, “Invisible Children” is also the name of an organization devoted to fighting the LRA's scourge of Central Africa. They do it through “film, creativity and social action.”

The website is impressive. In addition to the t-shirt I saw, you can buy bumper stickers, plastic bracelets, tank tops, handbags and the documentary. And when you spend money on the website, it gets used to do---well, something nice, I guess. You know---something involving film, creativity and social action. Unfortunately, the film/creativity/social-action war hasn't quite done the job on Mr. Kony yet, since he and the LRA have been snatching kids since 1987, and they're apparently still at it.

Now I understood. It's another Free Tibet movement. In fact, had I followed my Argus customer into the parking lot, I don't doubt I would have found a FREE TIBET sticker on her car (right next to the one that says WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER). As Mark Steyn once pointed out, the Free Tibet movement, with all its t-shirts, cultural festivals and consciousness-raising seminars, will endure until every last living Tibetan has been slaughtered. Only at that point will Academy Award winners start dedicating their Oscars to some other endangered demographic. The Free Tibet people, you see, feel about Tibet pretty much the way the Congressional Black Caucus feels about Darfur. The Congressional Black Caucus totally disapproves of the killing in Darfur. They actually condemn the genocide on their website!

As for the LRA, I can't say I'm any kind of expert on the horrors of Central African countries, but you don't really need to be an expert to understand that what Mr. Kony needs is not a disapproving bumper sticker on a car in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, but rather a large-caliber bullet in his medulla oblongata. It's not that film, creativity and social action are such bad things, but wouldn't it be nice if there were a website where you could buy a refrigerator magnet or something and a couple bucks would go toward hiring a really expert sniper to kill the SOB? I mean, I would buy the damn magnet. I would buy a bunch of them and give them to everybody for Christmas. Why don't we have charities like THAT?


Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The NBC/Politico Republican Presidential Debate scheduled for May 2 has now been postponed until.... Well, how about never? Does never work for you?
The stated reason is that the field of Republican candidates at present consists of Tim Pawlenty (maybe) and Donald Trump (maybe), and you can probably throw Ron Paul in there because he enjoys running for President and he has a built-in VP candidate now with his son Rand, so why not? Even so, it wouldn't be much of a show with Mitt and Newt and Sarah and Haley and Michelle and Mitch and the Huckster all sitting home watching the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But it's never much of a show, even when they have a good crowd like they did in 2008. They are dreadful events, almost unwatchable, and not only because most of the questions are not about issues Republican voters care about. Oh, it's better than the Democratic debates where there are never any disagreements on issues, but even with the Republicans, there are serious problems:

  1. There are too many rules about who gets asked a question and who gets to answer first and who can talk and how long they can talk and who gets to reply.
  2. The audience can't cheer or boo or throw things.
  3. The moderator is often a left-winger who hates all Republican candidates. (“Show of hands---who doesn't believe in evolution?”) In 2008, two of the Republican debates were moderated by Chris Mathews and another was moderated by Charlie Gibson, which is like naming David Duke the Grand Marshall of the Martin Luther King Day Parade.
Under legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, the football season at the University of Alabama always began the same way. The first practice was a cattle call to any young man who wanted, or expected, or hoped, or dreamed of playing football for the Crimson Tide. All the returning players and all the new recruits were there, but so were other athletes who didn't have anything better to do that day, frat boys who wanted to be able to say they tried out for the team, and guys who were just football fans and wanted to meet Bear Bryant. Virtually every serious athlete, tough guy, bully, bruiser and psychopath on campus would show up. In a given year, there might be 150 of them.
Bryant would gather all of them in one end zone. In the other end zone were six footballs. “Boys,” he would say, ”This first day, we just run one little drill, to see what we've got here, and it's real simple. I want each and every one of you boys to run down to that other end zone and bring me back a football.” Then he would blow his whistle.
Twenty minutes later, the field would be littered with bodies, and Bear would have his six footballs. One year (it is said), Dwight Stephenson, who is now in the NFL Hall of Fame, brought back three. “Mr. Stephenson,” Bear reportedly said, “I like your attitude.”
Bear Bryant's opening-day practice is the model I suggest for Republican debates. Everybody gets a microphone and a chair, there's no moderator, there's no agenda, and there are no restraints on the audience, which will consist entirely of genuine Republican voters. Then we'll see who can bring back a football.