I recently saw a diagram (see here) on a friend’s computer and was immediately impressed by the concept. The graph, compiled by some artistically talented individuals from across the pond, is a visual representation of the archetypical “left versus right”. Off the bat the author publishing this graph reveals that he does in fact have a liberal biased, and also acknowledges that it is not a truly representative depiction of political ideology (a representative model being biaxial, see diagram pictured to the right).
I think it is an interesting narrative however, on some of the biases that underpin our individual political leanings. While impressed by the concept of this visualization, I must say I very much disagree with many of the generalizations that are made about left and right. I believe that most of these errors, as I would see them, in the diagram’s classifications stem from the biases we all have towards people of opposing ideology. The remainder is born of ignorance – and by this I do not mean any specific lack of intelligence on the author’s part, but a lack of experience that prevents the author from making a meaningful comparison.
Right now what we are really looking at is one person’s visualization of how they view their own ideology, and a contrasting visualization of how they view people of a factious ideology. I could spend hours deconstructing this diagram and rewriting it to fit my personal worldview, but in the end I fear all I will do is replace one bias visualization with another.
I would like to point out what I believe are a few of the more obvious errors in the model, and would then ask for your input as well. Perhaps by combining multiple viewpoints, we may be able to come to a consensus that creates a meaningful tool.
The diagram makes the assertion that the goal of a government on the left is personal freedom, and the goal of a government on the right is economic freedom. I take exception with this immediately, as the two are one in the same. One would argue that not allowing a person to walk around nude infringes that person’s personal freedom, while taxing someone infringes economic freedom. However, the same people will tell you that it is not an infringement on personal freedom to outlaw guns. The line is not drawn on economic or social lines; it is drawn on what each group defines as acceptable behavior.
The next most obvious flaw in this representation is the depiction of the ideal family on the left and the right. The nurturing parent on the left has a relationship with their child built on respect and trust, where as the strict parent on the right has a relationship build on respect and fear? I come from a family I am certain the author of this diagram would consider to the right, but I would most definitely classify my parents as nurturing, and our relationship based on trust more than fear. At the same time, I know many people who would define their households they were raised in as liberal, and would most definitely not consider them nurturing. This is one of the diagram’s classifications that I believe is born of ignorance and lack of experience. I don’t believe political ideology fosters one parenting style or another – rather, the values on which the family focuses are different. Parents can be both strict and nurturing. Responsibility is really where the difference lies. I would think the family on left would see nurturing a child as the responsibility of the community, not the parents. In contrast, I believe that nurturing the child in a conservative home is strictly a parental responsibility (to the extent that parents often take offense when unsolicited nurturing comes from exterior sources).
Furthermore, the diagram argues the left family teaches children to ask questions. I think this is fundamentally incorrect. Skepticism is a specifically individualistic trait, and from my experience is usually frowned upon in left ideology. If you want to break this down into a more fair representation, it should ask whom does each side teach you to question? The left encourages you to question other individuals, but is less likely to challenge authority or society. On the other hand, the right encourages trust in specific individuals, but is skeptical of trusting society and authority.

Anyway, those are a few of my more relevant thoughts. Again, I could go on for hours, and would love to pick other peoples minds as to what an accurate chart would really look like. Please let me know your thoughts.




By now everyone is well aware of the concerted effort by the White House to marginalize Fox News and other conservative voices of opposition in the media. You know this because the White House has made no secret of it; nay, they have gone out of their way to make sure you know it. In a new strategy to “defend” the White House’s agenda and message, senior aides and officials have been touring the major Sunday news shows (except for Fox News, of course) and delivering cold pricklies about the legitimacy of said cable news network. David Axelrod has characterized Fox as “not really a news station.” Said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in an interview on CNN with John King (a legitimate news organization):

“I suppose the way to look at it, and the way we, the President looks at it, we look at it is it's [Fox News] not a news organization so much as it has a perspective. And that's a different take. And more importantly is not to have the CNN's and the others in the world basically be led and following Fox as if that what they're trying to do is a legitimate news organization in the sense of both sides' sense of a valued opinion.”

But the most in-depth and telling statements have come from White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, who cautioned Americans to “not pretend they’re [Fox News] a news organization like CNN.” Considering the blatantly leftward slant of CNN and its founder, Ted Turner, I would recommend Anita and Rahm link up to compare notes as to whether that statement amounts to a flawed comparison. Dunn took her criticism even further by saying:

“The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it is not ideological… what I think is fair to say about Fox, and the way we view it, is that it is more of a wing of the Republican Party.”

This tactic on the part of the White House is doomed to miserable failure, and I disdain it not so much out of any ideological sympathies, but rather on purely intellectual grounds. This strategy is dumb. First, the argument that Fox News is illegitimate because of a partisan slant is disingenuous, ridiculous and just plain whiny. It doesn’t stand up to even the most minute of intelligent scrutiny. Second, the White House can offer no solution to these complaints they’ve raised without sounding like they are suppressing free speech. As even some left-leaning news media outlets have begun to point out, the White House strategy smacks of the sort of hardball played by the Dark Lord of politics himself, Richard Nixon.

To say that Fox News has a partisan slant is not necessarily an earth-shattering revelation. Indeed, most rational people understand that. Just as they understand that most of the rest of the 24-hour news outlets available to them, such as MSNBC and CNN, tend to lean decidedly left. So what is the goal for the White House? To inform the public and steer them away from Fox News? Please. People know what they get when they turn it on, and they still watch in droves, more so than any other news programming out there. All that is accomplished by this blatant, bungling assault is establishing Fox News as the leading voice of opposition to the Obama administration and laying bare the White House’s pathetic inability to cope with that lonely voice of criticism. Furthermore, by Rahm Emanuel’s flimsy definition of what constitutes a “news organization,” every major media outlet save perhaps C-SPAN (sans commentary) is disqualified. The American people don’t mind having their news colored with comment and opinion. In fact, they seem to demand it. Otherwise Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck would be penniless.

President Obama, who won election on the promise of bridging the partisan gap, stands to lose a great deal from this confrontation. Fox News isn’t going to roll over and play dead for the White House as other news organizations have. They intend to fight back, and this should concern the president’s political advisors greatly. The president may be the president, but even he can’t saturate Americans with his message 24-7, as Roger Ailes can. And Obama may be antagonizing his biggest ally by bullying Fox News in this undignified fashion: the media at large. The White House’s ham-handed attempt to exclude Fox News from having access to interview pay czar Ken Feinberg with the complicity of ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN backfired when those four news outlets refused to participate in the interviews unless Fox News was also allowed in (see
here). After the rebuke, the White House backed off and has since refrained from overt attempts to deny Fox News access. This event was instructive: President Obama, for once, cannot count on the support of his news media sympathizers to ostracize Fox. In fact, he has succeeded in broadening criticism of his tactic to those very organizations, who are speaking out against the executive branch bullying journalists.

For now it looks like the White House may be pumping the brakes on its attack strategy against Fox, which is wise politically. How they ever convinced themselves that it would work in the first place is beyond comprehension and reflects even more poorly on Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. They have cost their president some serious political capital with this maneuver at a time when he needs just about all he can get.




The Nobel Peace Prize has officially jumped the shark this morning as news comes out that it has been awarded to President Barack Obama. For what, I have no idea. I’ll venture to guess that even some Democrats are left scratching their heads as to what seminal accomplishment this man has yet made to recommend him for such a distinction. Part of the citation from the Nobel Committee is as follows:

“Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”

You’ll note that the award seems to have been given despite the fact that none of the items cited have borne fruit. The fact that Obama was awarded the Peace Prize is even more shameful when viewed in light of the other contenders. Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, whose opposition movement to President Robert Mugabe’s regime was brutally suppressed and who himself was arrested and beaten on his way to a prayer rally. His vocal and courageous opposition led to the creation of a coalition government under Mugabe, the first significant challenge to his autocratic hold on power since he assumed control in 1987. Dr. Sima Samar, another leading contender, fled Afghanistan with her son after the Communist regime arrested her husband in 1984. She began an organization to provide medical care for Afghan refugees while living in exile for almost a decade, returning to Afghanistan in 2002 to assume a cabinet post in the interim government. She eventually became Minister for Women’s Affairs, until being forced to resign following death threats from Islamic extremists for her challenges to Sharia. She has since fought tirelessly for human rights, in particular women’s rights, in Afghanistan.

And yet the award went to a president who is nine months into his first term with nothing to show for it. It is absolutely outrageous and shameful, and most of all it is insulting to the other potential laureates who suffered imprisonment, torture, and threats of death for years struggling to bring real change and basic human rights to their respective nations. It is a transparent political gesture that, I believe, will seriously backfire on President Obama as the public has the time to digest its implications. Seeing him accept such as award (just days after Saturday Night Live lampooned him for his indecision and lack of accomplishment) will be sure to elicit at least some measure of confusion not only from Americans but the world at large.
Shame on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.



Thomas Friedman penned a column in the New York Times today (see here) that waxes nostalgic for a by-gone era of American politics, one before Al Gore gave birth to the internet and unleashed the scourge of the “blogosphere” upon us all. An era in which there were no fringe elements in American society; no lunatics, fundamentalists or dissident groups. An era in which political speech was moderated by temperance and attention to the issues and, at worst, issues of character, rather than the legitimacy of the President of the United States. Mr. Friedman harkens back to this time out of concern for the well-being of our political system and the very safety of our sitting, duly-elected president, Barack Obama.

It is my unhappy duty to report, Mr. Friedman, that your idyllic Eden of American politics never existed, and sadly never will. Politics in this nation has never been civil, though the attempt to make it so has been an expedient for politicians from both parties to score cheap points. It has been ugly, deceitful, replete with the basest of character attacks. It has destroyed lives. Since the election of 1800, when Federalist newspapers charged that Jefferson’s election to the presidency would lead to the “teaching of murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest,” to the election of 1964 when President Johnson suggested in a none too subtle fashion that Barry Goldwater would get countless Americans killed by starting a nuclear war, American presidential politics has been a gruesome, amoral sport.

I too despise the elements of our society that cross the line from ugly sport to treason. I am ashamed of them. I would see those who voice their intent to harm our president prosecuted and imprisoned. But do not delude yourself, Mr. Friedman, for the sake of your own political sympathies, into believing that the concept of an American “we” has ever been a mainstay in our politics, barring exceptional times of great national distress. All Americans would like to see a more civil tone in politics, but the cacophony of vitriol is the price of a free republic that allows fools from all persuasions to speak freely. To propose the imposition of a remedy to it is to trample the Constitution and the system of government you would seek to protect.
We've been down that road before, if you'll recall.

As Jefferson himself said in his Inaugural Address, after suffering some of the most despicable attacks one could conceive, “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”




Tonight, Barack Obama is giving what some pundits are calling the most critical address of his presidency. He will go before a joint session of Congress and make a final sales pitch for his as yet elusive vision of healthcare reform. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has promised that the speech will answer a wide array of concerns on the part of Americans, such as how the president’s proposal will ensure the security of their current insurance plans, protect Medicare coverage for seniors, and much more. With both the media and the American peoples’ expectations high, and the White House now validating those expectations, it is safe to say that if the president does not deliver tonight, not only will the public option wither on the vine, but Obama’s presidency may do the same. Clearly the president knows the stakes. He has three options, each of which carry equally dangerous consequences.

First, he can back off of the public option and instead endorse a co-op based plan, acquiescing to the political winds and positioning himself for success. This will lose him support among his liberal base and place him in direct opposition to key members of his own party in the House and Senate, who have sworn that they will not vote for healthcare reform without a public option. Democratic in-fighting will benefit Republicans, even if Obama eventually signs a co-op bill.

Second, the president can employ his famous rhetorical skill to restate his current position in a new way. That is to say, that he prefers the Congress pass a public option but will not say whether or not he will veto a bill without it. This is perhaps the safest route politically, as it keeps his options open and allows him to wait out the debate as he has been doing. Nevertheless, to do so would make him look weak and the effort would likely be transparent, demonstrating an inability to rise to the expectations his own White House has set. It would take incredible eloquence and double-speak, not to mention some media complicity, to pull such a tactic off. Of course, Obama has all three.

The third option would be for President Obama to “go big or go home,” in the parlance of our times. He could stand before Congress and the American people and declare unwavering commitment to the public option, throw his full support behind it and ask Congress to send a reform bill to him that includes it with all possible speed. This would energize his base and show strength and leadership. However, it pits him against public opinion, which has shifted seismically against a government-run option, and would force his party to use their majorities in both houses of Congress to ram the legislation through without significant bipartisan support, something they are loathe to do. Additionally, if the public option legislation should fail, Obama will be faced with a choice: signing a bill without the public option after committing to it, or vetoing it and risk sending healthcare reform into a downward spiral.

My instincts tell me, and this is just one man’s opinion, that President Obama will take the third and perhaps riskiest route. He will employ every political weapon in his considerable arsenal to arm-twist and coerce hesitant Democratic and even Republican legislators, and he will double his efforts on turning around public opinion with a new assault on public option critics. Indeed, he can do no less, as he is staking his presidency on this one issue alone. He will do whatever it takes to get Congress to pass a bill that he can claim as a political victory, because anything short of that would turn his already dwindling political capital to dust. He will suffer, I’m sure, from a negative reaction from the public should he sign such legislation into law, but I think that’s a risk he’s willing to take to stay alive politically. Make no mistake, it is a great risk: Democrats could stand to lose their majorities in one or both houses of Congress in 2010. But let’s not forget that President Obama believes strongly in the public option. It is more than a political battle, but one of ideology and doing what he believes is in the essential good of the nation, wrong as he may be.

Whether or not the president decides to “go big,” tonight’s address will be interesting to watch.




Today’s deficit figures from both the White House and the Congressional Budget Office are not pretty. In fact, they are record-setting. The administration’s report projects the 2009 deficit at $1.58 trillion. That figure jumps to a staggering $9 trillion over ten years, though projections that far out are often unreliable. This is an unequivocal financial quagmire for the Obama administration, which at this very moment is seeking to push through healthcare reform legislation that could cost an additional $1 trillion over ten years, with no sustainable source of funding yet identified.

When George W Bush left office in January of this year, he bequeathed a deficit of $1.3 trillion to his successor. The size of that deficit was largely due to the $700 billion federal bailout legislation that the Bush administration supported, without which he would likely have ended on a still mammoth but much more manageable $600 billion deficit figure.

The reaction on the part of Obama’s supporters has largely been according to formula: the record-high Obama deficit is Bush’s fault. House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt put it this way: “Today's deficits are a legacy of the Bush Administration and of the worst recession since the 1930s, which began in December 2007 on the watch of President Bush. Most of this year's deficit is a carry-over from his administration.” With all due respect to Congressman Spratt and his Democratic colleagues, this argument is disingenuous and, quite frankly, immature.

If we are to blame the $1.3 trillion Bush deficit that Obama inherited for the $1.58 trillion figure now projected, we have to wonder what the president would have done differently to have started his administration on a more financially sound note. The fact is that, as a United States Senator, he voted in favor of the $700 billion federal bailout that made up the lion’s share of the Bush budget deficit he now decries. His ardent support of the $787 billion stimulus package earlier this year further demonstrates that he is more than willing to double down on even more wasteful, bailout-style spending on the federal level. His administration and his party also support the continuation of another big ticket budget item from the Bush era: prescription drug benefits.

While the president never misses an opportunity to point out the fiscal negligence of the Republicans during the Bush administration, he and his party have had ample opportunity to prove themselves equal to or worse than their predecessors in the realm of economic policy and crafting a responsible budget. The new deficit figures are irrefutable proof that they have outdone Republican largesse without breaking a sweat. And even in the face of a staggering $1.58 trillion deficit they show no signs of backing down on healthcare reform that, as the president fallaciously claims will be deficit neutral, you can be sure was not included in the recent figures.

The country has outgrown whatever taste it had for Bush-bashing and, amazingly, expects an administration promising change to reverse whatever fiscal backsliding it continues to accuse its predecessors of. The president and his party need to stop laying the blame at the feet of Bush and man up. We want solutions to our fiscal problems, not excuses and additional problems.



Liberals rail against trickle-down economics as starving the middle class while lining the pockets of the wealthy, but the policies of the Obama administration have proven to be little more than a new kind of trickle-down economics, with the money (our money) being doled out to the political elite in Washington rather than the wealthy on Wall Street and, supposedly, showered back down upon us commoners in the form of services and subsidies. But if conservative trickle-down economics is as bad as its critics claim, then liberal trickle-down economics is an unholy disaster. The reason is that businesses have to pay their employees and put money in their investors’ pockets, they have to provide competitive services, and they have to turn a profit to survive. Government doesn’t have to do any of these things. In fact, it seldom does. So when do regular Americans feel the trickle? The answer is simply, we don’t, because Washington will never turn on the faucet.

Our heads still pound from the hangover of an impotent $787 billion stimulus package, and now we are faced with talk of health care reform that could total $1 trillion over a ten year period if passed today. Meanwhile, the recession is still keeping Americans out of work and drastically streamlining their individual and family budgets. Regardless, government continues to grow and spend with little regard to the fiscal discipline regular Americans have had to learn the hard way. This is unsustainable, and the president knows it.

Conservatives at large and this blog in particular (see here) have been saying it since President Obama was just President-Elect Obama. With the big-government agenda of this liberal administration, there is no way they can avoid raising taxes without risking financial ruin. Nevertheless, Barack Obama promised that the cornerstone of his presidency would be insulating the middle class from economic hardship by refusing to raise taxes on any American earning less than $250,000 a year. His exact words were:
"I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

It’s sounding more and more like President Obama is bracing the public for a broken promise. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said yesterday on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos that "we’re going to have to do what’s necessary” to bring down deficits. Stephanopoulos pressed Geithner several times on the president’s tax hike pledge and each time the Treasury Secretary refused to take the option of raising taxes on the middle class off the table. Larry Summers, the National Economic Council Director, made similarly ominous statements in response to the same question. Said Summers, “There is a lot, though, there is a lot that can happen over time. It's never a good idea to absolutely rule things out no matter what.”

Does this mean the administration plans to go the way of George Bush in 1990 and break its vow on taxes? Not necessarily. In fact, I would be surprised if it did. What it does mean, however, is that the administration recognizes economic reality and knows that someone is going to have to foot the bill for its reckless spending spree. These simultaneous and suspiciously similar comments by Geithner and Summers are most likely trial balloons floated by the administration to gauge public reaction to the possibility of a middle class tax hike. It’s even more likely that the administration plans to let talk of such a tax hike circulate until the mood is such that the American people will breathe a gracious sigh of relief when President Obama, ever the savior, instead proposes a tax hike on the wealthiest tax bracket, sparing the middle class from such a burden.

Let’s be clear: President Obama knows that to break his promise would be political suicide. His sights aren’t set on the middle class, but rather the wealthy and corporations. His track record speaks clearly. But a tax hike on these segments of society would be just as disastrous economically as a middle class tax hike would be politically. A recession that, according to the administration, is just turning the corner despite continuing high unemployment, may be prolonged or even worsened by higher prices, lower wages and yet more layoffs when the highest earners are forced to shell out more on top of their already heavy obligations. But hey, it's a small price to pay for us to get another four glorious years of President Obama in 2012.




As the White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress push with ever-increasing force to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the American health care system, the point that has generated the most contention has been a public option for health coverage. A government-run health insurance option has been the dream of many liberals for decades, and never before have they been as close as they are now to achieving it. But as always, they rely on speed and secrecy to enact their agenda, as the American public would surely abandon them were the full details to be made known. Indeed, polling shows that the majority of Americans, while dreamily supporting a health care overhaul, are vehemently opposed to the necessary cost of such a plan (currently projected at $1 trillion over ten years). And knowing the cost is half the battle. The other half is exposing the plan itself for the disaster that it represents.

First and foremost, we must deal with the fact that government-run anything is an inevitable disaster (Social Security, Medicaid, Amtrak, Congress). The supporters of the public option chide these claims by saying that, if the plan is destined for such abysmal failure, why are private insurers so worried about being able to compete? I would like you to examine that argument for just how ignorant it is and what a lose-lose situation it represents for the American people. Consider: either the public plan is a disaster and your tax dollars go to waste while private insurers continue to operate as they do now, making the entire exercise merely a colossal waste of time, resources and capital, or it is successful and private insurers are bankrupted and forced out of business, establishing a government-run monopoly on health care that even most Democrats are loathe to endorse.

But why, you may ask, would private insurers necessarily be hounded out of business by a public option? It is just an option, after all, not compulsory. Well, let’s examine the particulars of the plan. As currently proposed by its supporters, the public option would provide affordable health coverage by mandating that it be charged less (by most estimates at least 20% less) than private insurers by health care providers such as clinics, hospitals, and family doctors. Additionally, they intend to make this plan "affordable" for the lower and middle class Americans who it is intended to provide relief for by taxing private health insurers and the wealthiest income bracket to pay for it. Consider: private health insurers will be forced to pay to subsidize their chief competitor, Public Health Care, while at the same time operating at a competitive disadvantage by paying more to health care providers.

Additionally, money is money, and as much as the government may want you to believe that they can wave a magic wand and exempt themselves from market forces, this is not the case. Hospitals and health care services cost what they cost. If the government is charged less money for services provided as part of their plan, the profit lost from that transaction has to be made up somehow in order for health care providers to remain solvent. The only way to make up the losses in the market are, as always, to reduce pay or benefits for employees, layoff employees, or charge more for their services. The government has the power to insulate itself from the negative effects of the last option, as it can, through legislation, attempt to mandate its costs at a fixed rate (which only makes the problem worse, of course). This would leave private health insurance providers to pick up the lion’s share of the cost for health care services, disproportionate to the burden shouldered by government. Not only that, but bear in mind that private insurers are among those that legislators intend to foot the bill for the public plan by way of taxation, so they end up subsidizing public health care twice while suffering the ill-effects of its operation.

What means will private insurers have to remain not merely competitive but profitable if they are saddled with this ridiculously disproportionate financial obligation to keep their competitor’s doors open? Well, the same options that health care providers will have to stay afloat: salary/benefit reduction, layoffs, and increased costs to the consumer. From here it’s easy to see why private insurers will likely end up bankrupt and out of business, leaving the public option as the only option. Not only that, but in the worst case scenario, with the government plan assuming primacy, the lower costs charged by health care providers (now the only costs) would have to either go up to compensate for the massive losses those providers would stand to suffer, putting us right back where we started, or remain low and drive the quality of our health care services down.

There are other issues at stake here as well, such as the exodus of skilled, American-trained doctors from the United States to other countries that will offer higher wages (remember health care providers will have to cut costs no matter what) and the inevitability of most employer-furnished health care defaulting to the public option. But by far the most detrimental effect of the public option is the elimination of private insurance providers altogether, no matter what the White House or Congress tells you.



IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton
John Hancock
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot
LeeCarter Braxton
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Matthew Thornton
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams




On March 29, 2009, Campaign for Liberty employee Steve Bierfeldt was detained by the TSA at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in Missouri. The reason for his detention: he was carrying a metal box containing over $4,700 in cash in his carry-on bag. TSA uniformed officers pulled Bierfeldt into a windowless room, where they questioned him as to the source of the cash. Bierfeldt cooperated with the officers in showing them the cash, detailing the amount of cash in the box, and answering other questions that the officers could deduce by legal search and viewing his identification. However, Bierfeldt repeatedly questioned the officers as to whether he was legally required to tell them where the cash had come from. They responded by demanding that he answer the question and threatening to take him “downtown” to the police station, where he would be interrogated by the DEA and FBI. The officers clearly threatened him and used profanity and forceful speech. Little did the officers know, Bierfeldt was recording the entire incident on his iPhone. You can listen to the audio here. CNN covered this (albeit in broad strokes) as well (see here).

Bierfeldt’s detention was illegal. Laws and statutes governing searches and detentions on airline flights do not include possession of large sums of cash as one of the criteria for detention by TSA. Furthermore, the TSA officers were obliged by law to answer Bierfeldt’s repeated question of whether he was legally required to answer them as to the source of the cash in his possession; in other words, the officers were supposed to inform him of his rights. They did not. Now Bierfeldt has enlisted the aid of the ACLU, who are bringing suit against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, under whose authority the TSA falls.

But it goes deeper. The Missouri police circulated an internal email in February stating that Ron Paul and Campaign for Liberty supporters and employees may be militia members and terrorists. This internal memo was a direct result of the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report entitled “The Modern Militia Movement” (read the report
here). This report, based on trend data pertaining to militia and terrorist activity within Missouri, stated, among other things, that Ron Paul bumper stickers could be used to identify militia members and terrorists. And Steve Bierfeldt, a Campaign for Liberty employee, was in possession of large quantities of that organization’s literature, bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc. He suspects that this, in addition to the cash he was carrying, was the driving factor behind his illegal detention and interrogation.

I’m deeply disturbed by this infringement upon our civil liberties by the federal government and state police officers. But can I say that I’m surprised? Sadly, no. What should we expect when the Department of Homeland Security sets the example by profiling conservatives and returning veterans as potential terrorists and threats to the state (see
here)? There has never been a better time to know your rights (while you still have them), to read the pocket Constitution that, if you follow this blog, you should have in your possession. Because there may come a time when you find yourself in a windowless room with uniformed officers acting like gestapo thugs. If you are compelled to cooperate against your rights or they refuse to inform you of your rights, you allow the government to ride roughshod over all our liberties and grow accustomed to getting away with it.




In politics, disappointment is eternal. In the case of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, that disappointment is more akin to bewilderment at the bizarre circumstances surrounding his recent disgrace. How could someone seemingly so intelligent display such poor judgment? Governor Sanford has revealed himself to be the worst sort of man; an unfaithful one. What’s more, the lengths he went to in order to deceive his state (disappearing for seven days without explanation or protection and leaving his state ungoverned) represent a dereliction of duty and corruptness that are not befitting a governor. And now, he has further been exposed as a fiscal conservative hypocrite, using $12,000 of taxpayer money to pay for a trip to Argentina last year, during which he met his mistress (see here). While Governor Sanford has promised to reimburse the taxpayers for the expenses, I think he should go a step further and resign his office to focus on dealing with what is obviously a difficult time for his family. Forget your presidential aspirations, Governor Sanford. That ship has sailed. South Carolina and conservatism deserve a better leader right now.



President Obama has come under significant criticism for his lukewarm initial response to the massive civil unrest in Iran following the “re-election” of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. The president initially commented that he had "deep concerns about the election," but insisted that it was "not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling." Critics, largely conservatives, shot back at the president by pointing out that the contestation of the election by the Iranian people presented a rare opportunity to foster real democracy in Iran from the bottom up and challenge the clerical autocracy. Senator John McCain said, "People are being killed and beaten in the streets of Tehran and all over Iran, and we should stand up for them. The way we stood up for the Polish workers in Gdansk, the way we stood up for the people of then Czechoslovakia in the Prague Spring and we have stood up for freedom in every part of the world. We're not doing that."

President Obama has since come out with a slightly stronger poke at Iran, stating at a press conference that he was “appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the past few days.” He cited the now famous case of the 26-year-old Iranian female protestor who was gunned down in Tehran, her death captured on film, as “raw and extraordinarily painful.” Despite ratcheting up his criticism, however, the president remains hesitant to take a tack with Iran that would play into their favorite narrative of American interference, or give them the ammunition they need to pin the blame for the riots on the United States. Said the president, “There are reports suggesting that the CIA
is behind all this. All of which is patently false. But it gives you a sense of the narrative that the Iranian government would love to play into.”

The president’s supporters have praised his response as cautious, calculated and level-headed, which also happen to be their favorite adjectives to describe the man himself. But his critics, myself among them, would characterize the response as timid and deferential. The fact of the matter is that Senator McCain is right. America has stood up for freedom and democracy all over the world in the face of tyranny. At the end of the Cold War, when Soviet satellite states were rising up against their communist overlords, President Reagan praised them, shone the spotlight on them, and supported them. He knew that the opportunity for those people to grab freedom with both hands and shape their own destiny may not have come again had the United States and our allies not given them shoulders to stand on.

That having been said, our support for the protestors should not and does not amount to support for Mousavi, who in many ways is no more progressive than Ahmedinejad. Rather it is support for the notion underlying the protests, that the current Iranian regime is not a legitimate democracy. As long as there exists an authoritarian, un-elected body with the authority to override the will of the people unilaterally, there is not freedom. Senator McCain understands this as well and has articulated it by saying, “…let's not take the side necessarily of the protestors...the fact is we should be on the side of a free and fair election, and not be in favor of an oppressive brutal government." For decades we have told the people of Iran that when they found the courage and opportunity to rise up against the regime, we would be there to cheer them and support them. President Obama’s follow through on that promise has left a great deal to be desired and, in the context of his unwillingness to be portrayed as antagonistic toward Iran’s regime, left the country looking like a paper tiger and fair-weather friend to freedom.

It really is quite silly to think that, by not giving Iran excuses to implicate the US as fomenting this unrest, the Iranians will let us off the hook. The president and his ilk have argued that our vocal support would result in the protesters being portrayed as Western proxies, thereby damaging their credibility within Iran. But the Iranians have been blaming us for all sorts of things since 1979, some of which was deserved, much of which was not. They don’t need President Obama to provide them with an excuse to kick around the West or demonize the protestors as a CIA-backed mob. To tip-toe around human rights violations and the chance of real democracy in Iran because the brutal tyrants who are threatened by it might use it against you is lunacy. For a president who wants to promote an image of an America dedicated to the principles of freedom and dignity for all human beings, this policy represents a demonstrable failure.

But those who suffer the most will be the people of Iran who tried to challenge their masters; when it is all said and done, they may only be recorded as a footnote in the history books thanks to our thunderous silence. We need to be rhetorically aggressive and support those who would stand up for freedom against its enemies. Some say the gamble is too risky, that if those who challenge the regime fail to win reforms that our relationship with Iran will be setback even further, and they will be even more resolved in their anti-Westernism. I say the perceived gains in US-Iranian relations since the Obama administration took over have been illusory, that the retention of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad attests to a continued hard-line tone unequivocally. I say there remains less to lose from supporting freedom in Iran than from allowing the regime to crush and demoralize those who march for it.



A Gallup poll released on June 15 reveals that Conservatives are the single largest ideological group in the United States, with 40% of Americans identifying themselves as such. Moderates came in at 35%, and Liberals at a paltry 21%.
While this alone is reassuring, I am just as heartened by the data when broken down by age group. According to Gallup, adults aged 18-29 years are almost evenly split, with 31% calling themselves Liberals and 30% calling themselves Conservatives (39% consider themselves Moderates). Historical data was unavailable for comparison, however this is better than I would have expected from personal and anecdotal experience.
Perhaps the Children of the Revolution have begun their march to power at last, though this particular revolution will clearly not be televised (at least not by ABC, NBC and CNN).



It neither bothers nor surprises me so much that ABC has sold its soul and become a propaganda arm of the Obama White House, as NBC has (see here). What bothers me is their pretension that they remain a fair, objective journalistic outfit. With their upcoming broadcast of a health care reform special, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," on June 24, they are happily allowing themselves to be used by the White House to advance an agenda and establish premises in the health care debate that are not necessarily accepted by all parties. The special will take place within the White House and will consist of ABC-selected questions from an ABC-selected audience for President Obama regarding the health care system and his proposed reforms. This airtime comes at no cost to the White House or the Democratic Party; rather ABC is footing the bill and, according to them, running the show. ABC cannot bring itself to admit what everyone already knows to be true: they're giving the Obama administration control of their network to broadcast what amounts to an infomercial (sans Billy Mays or slap-chops) peddling their health care agenda.

The GOP, in an appropriately calculated move, requested that its views be presented in the ABC special in order for all voices to be heard, but were rebuffed. ABC insists that the questions from the audience will be fair and even tough for the president, and will represent all sides of the debate. If this is truly to be the case, here are questions to look for as a litmus test to determine if conservative viewpoints are in fact represented:

1. Mr. President, you promised that, under a public health care plan, those of us who prefer to remain with our current, private health care plans will not be compelled to opt for the public option or give up our current coverage. However, if the public plan is cheaper, how can you guarantee that businesses will not drop their private coverage for their employees in favor of the public option in order to cut overall costs, effectively compelling those employees into the public plan, which you promised would not happen?

2. Mr. President, how do you intend to avoid the likely flight of American-educated physicians from the US market when a public option or heavy regulation drives wages for health care professionals down?

3. Mr. President, what are the key differences between your plan and the plans of European countries that have adopted universal healthcare, such as the United Kingdom, which are now facing bankruptcy and reform to scale back coverage?

4. Mr. President, given current, staggering deficits and spending, how do you propose to pay for your plan in a sustainable fashion without raising taxes on all Americans?

I will be surprised if even one of these questions is asked. What will likely happen is that the premise will be established in this forum that the government must play the leading role in health care reform and the question of how to pay for it will be largely ignored, as will the failures of other such public health care programs in Europe and elsewhere. The public option will be touted as the "people's choice," but the president will hijack small-government and fiscal responsibility rhetoric from conservatives in a token effort to appease moderates in his own party and give them hope that he's willing to lower his sights (even if he is not).




There has been an undeniable campaign on the part of some segments of the media and even our political establishment since the mid-90s to paint the Iranian theocracy as a functioning democracy, open and fair, simply with a traditional, local flair not unlike the British constitutional monarchy. This effort to take the edge off of Iran’s image is certainly the result of a political agenda. During the late 1990s, when the much-touted reformist president Khatami was elected in Iran, a serious and perhaps overly enthusiastic overture was made by the Clinton administration to renew diplomatic relations after a 20 year period of hostility. These overtures amounted largely to the US giving away the farm while the Iranian regime made token gestures of goodwill, such as inviting American tourism. Among the Clinton administration’s good faith measures to induce Iranian openness: apologizing for the Shah’s US-backed coup, relaxation of food and medical exports to Iran and allowing entry of an Iranian professional wrestling team to compete in the United States. The Clinton administration also privately considered rescinding its executive order identifying Iran as a state-sponsor of terrorism and a rogue state. What did the US get in return? A refusal by President Khatami to apologize for the taking of American hostages in 1979, a demand from Ayatollah Khamenei for the US to withdraw its support for Israel, end the 1995 sanctions imposed on the country, and cease its claims that Iran was developing nuclear weaponry, among other things. A lopsided exchange, to be sure. Made all the more tragic by the attacks of September 11, launched by radical Islamic extremists of the sort that Iran had long been providing enthusiastic material and financial support for.

The effort that was underway by the media and some politicians to soften the tone against the Iranian regime, particularly when talking about the legitimacy of its elections, has more or less come to and end with the results of the recent presidential election. According to the Supreme Council (the arm of the absolute rulers of Iran, the all-powerful Mujtahids of the Assembly of Experts), Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has been re-elected in a landslide. Reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi has petitioned the Supreme Council for an investigation of fraud after sustained protests in the streets of Tehran from his supporters that were violently suppressed. While the theocratic regime goes through the dog-and-pony show of investigating the claims of fraud for its Western audience, the inevitable result will be a retention of Ahmedinejad as president and a continuation of the hard-line tone in defiance of President Obama’s outreach.

Should we be surprised? Certainly it seems like the media was taken aback, after days of touting the elections as a proving ground for Obama’s new policy of openness to the Muslim world. Many networks reported dreamily about the possibility of an upheaval in the country brought about by the people of Iran in defiance of the mullahs. It has all been a comical farce, as no democratic government can be legitimate as long as it institutionalizes a body that can unilaterally and autocratically overturn the will of the people on a whim. Iran has never been a real democracy. It cleverly retains the trappings of democracy as a smoke-screen for the West, who have at times taken the bait hook, line and sinker. But presidential candidates are hand-picked by the Supreme Council, which also tallies the votes. As the great thug Josef Stalin observed, it isn’t the voting that matters, but who does the counting. The only way a “reformer” gets elected president of Iran is if the Supreme Council wishes it to be so, and if that be the case, the West must ask itself why? To project an image for the benefit of the West, to provide misdirection to Western leaders (that results in Clintonesque generosities without Iranian reciprocation), to satisfy a young, restive Iranian populace?

In this election, however, the theocrats chose to retain a hard-liner, which also sends a message intended for Western audiences. Whether they use that hard-liner for the jingoistic rhetoric associated with him while pursuing a softer line remains to be seen. It certainly does not bode well for President Obama’s hopeful tone on Iranian relations, and it bodes even worse for the Iranian people. The media has lost its battle to portray a “people’s Iran” as well, and is seeking to save face by speculating as to whether the disenfranchised Iranian citizens will challenge the power of the mullahs. One thing is certain: this election has reminded us of the real Iran, as it has always been, regardless of the West’s projections upon it.




A surprise gem from Newsweek by Robert Samuelson (a simultaneously dour, exhausted and intelligent individual if his headshot and writing are any indication) that I consider the definitive piece on the media’s troubling and overt servility to President Obama. In it Mr. Samuelson presents the results of a Pew Research Center study that flatly concludes: “President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush during their first months in the White House.”

The evidence? An exhaustive review of 1,261 news stories by The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC, CBS and NBC, Newsweek and PBS’s NewsHour that reveals that 42% of the stories were clearly favorable to President Obama, 20% were unfavorable (that number seems a bit high…), and the remaining 38% “neutral” or “mixed.” Compare that to 22% favorable stories for former President Bush and 27% for former President Clinton. Moreover, the coverage of the sitting president differs substantially in that it focuses primarily on Obama’s leadership style and personal qualities rather than his actual policies and agenda (crippling debt, economic fascism, an onerous federal government, judicial activism, etc).

Of course this isn’t anything you don’t already know, but that doesn’t make it any less troubling. The point is you likely won’t find this story widely carried (for obvious reasons), and consequently I felt an obligation to ensure that it was well-circulated.




I’ve finally gotten around to writing an opinion piece on the divisive subject of abortion, one that I feel is fair-minded and based in sound, logical argument rather than emotive in nature. The discussion herein is one of the fundamental philosophical issues underlying the debate rather than demographic data, teen pregnancy rates and case law (the merits and demerits of Roe v Wade as sound law are an article unto themselves). The goal of this article is to begin an intelligent dialogue about abortion that is not colored by religious conviction or partisan rancor and to avoid blanket categorizations. I am under no illusions, however, that moderating the tone of the debate will somehow change the fact that the two sides of this issue are irreconcilable, and that middle ground is untenable. This will almost certainly be just the first of many articles on this subject that appear on this blog.

What spurred the penning of this piece was the
announcement by Gallup that, for the first time since the poll was conducted, a majority of Americans identify themselves as “Pro-Life.” According to Gallup’s 2009 poll, 51% of Americans call themselves “Pro-Life,” while 42% say they are “Pro-Choice.” Even more significant is the data they present on legality, in which 37% (a plurality) of Americans support abortion only in “a few circumstances,” while 23% say that abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances”. This makes a combined number of 60% of Americans that lean more toward a ban on abortion in most cases than existing abortion rights. This is, needless to say, significant and represents a monumental shift in public opinion in a mere one year period. If these numbers hold steady into next year, we can expect the debate in Washington to begrudgingly recognize and adapt to the new reality, though I do not expect a seismic shift in policy to occur quickly, if at all, given the entrenchment and political investment on this issue.

Consequently, there is no more opportune time to reframe the debate on abortion and lay out foundational arguments than now. First and foremost, as I think both sides of the argument agree, this is a civil liberties issue. Personal experiences, political sympathies and, perhaps most of all, religion may color the pitch and tambour of the debate, but at the end of the day it must be about individual freedom and the liberties protected under our Constitution in order for the reasoned arguments to resonate and to ensure that the participants aren’t speaking past one another. On the one side, the case is made that abortion is about the rights of a woman to make a choice involving her body. On the other side, it is argued that the choice to terminate a pregnancy is an infringement of the basic human rights of the unborn child, and therefore illegitimate.

As the readers of this blog are aware, as a rational conservative I am loathe to come down on the side of banning anything. Nevertheless, I strongly support the latter argument in the abortion debate, which is, in my opinion, a better reflection of maximum civil liberties protection than the former. This may sound counter-intuitive to many, particularly those supporting abortion rights, which is precisely why the reframing of this debate is so essential. The fundamental maxim of civil liberties, according to rational conservatism, is to permit any action that does not infringe upon the basic liberties of another. The conclusion for those of us who oppose abortion then is simple: given that life is among those basic liberties, the practice of abortion does not meet that criteria. Would that it were so simple, however.

The focus of the debate seems to rest upon the question of when life begins. Frankly I believe this is the wrong question to ask, and furthermore it is unlikely to be resolved by science definitively. As such, it adds little to the debate as it stands. Nevertheless, those advocating abortion rights, framing their position within the “when does life begin” construct, present various medical arguments that contend that the embryo/fetus is not technically a human being, among which are:

1. It is incapable of sentient thought
2. It is incapable of surviving outside of the womb
3. It displays similar characteristics to a parasite

I counter that these items are irrelevant. The more appropriate focus for the debate seems to me to be the basic intent behind and the logical consequences of abortion. To the first, the intent behind abortion is not to terminate an embryo/fetus, it is to avoid giving birth to and raising a living child. The reasons for this choice are numerous and varied, ranging from economic and social circumstances to the discovery of genetic defects during the pregnancy. Regardless, when a woman or a couple makes the decision to have an abortion, they are not saying, “I don’t want this embryo.” They are saying, “I don’t want this child.” While the pregnancy may be part of the inconvenience, the real goal of an abortion is to eliminate a human being.

Still, there are those participating in the debate that point back to the medical arguments outlined above. They contend that, despite the intent, the consequence is that an embryo/fetus, which is not a living human being in its current form, is what is destroyed. The argument seems legitimate but it is conveniently only taken halfway to the logical conclusion. Reason dictates that, barring natural incident or accident, the embryo will develop into a fetus, which will in turn be delivered as a live infant (bear in mind: barring miscarriage, accident, stillbirth). Metaphysically and scientifically speaking, that embryo will become a human being; it is a member of our human species. This is beyond question. Any human agency that destroys the embryo or terminates the pregnancy prevents the march of nature from taking its course to inevitably produce a human life. At what stage the pregnancy is terminated is wholly irrelevant. Similarly, at what stage human life begins in the womb also becomes irrelevant.

This raises a few other questions, however. If preventing human life is tantamount to taking human life, wouldn’t contraception go out the window, as the Catholic Church currently teaches? No, it would not. Contraception is a perfectly legitimate and responsible (though not 100% reliable) way to prevent unwanted pregnancy. The difference between preventing pregnancy and preventing birth is that a sperm on its own will not evolve into a human being. An egg on its own will not become a child. Only when the egg is fertilized does the aforementioned and critical “march of nature” or maturation begin. Using the parlance of the traditional debate, this would be similar to the “life begins at conception” argument.

Another counter-argument is that, in the era of modern science, a mere skin cell or unfertilized egg could potentially be used to create a living human being. If this is the case, wouldn’t clipping your fingernails or cutting your hair be equivalent to abortion? Clever, but once again, I point to the fact that, without active human agency, fingernail and hair clippings on their own will not become a human being. While a skin cell contains the building blocks for life, human beings mercifully did not evolve to reproduce by asexual fission, like
planarians. The cloning debate is an entirely separate argument, and as it stands Americans rightly and overwhelmingly oppose human cloning.

But let us suppose that the question of when life begins remains the central focus of the debate. Legally speaking, how should this logically be addressed? As previously stated, science has not definitively proven when life begins, though both sides of the debate present evidence supporting their claims. In cases dealing with human life and death the law has an obligation, in lieu of definitive scientific data, to err on the side of caution. If it cannot be proven definitively that a fetus is not alive, then it logically follows that legal protections should be offered pending a final analysis, just in case. Those advocating abortion rights would say that this puts the burden of proof on them rather than those opposing those rights. That is absolutely correct. In instances where there is a potential for the destruction of human life, the burden of proof should be on those who advocate the course of action in question, just as the prosecution must prove the guilt of a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, rather than the other way around. If this sounds unfair, perhaps you should step back from the debate and analyze it in its entirety as we suggest: logically and Constitutionally.

It’s important to ask another fundamental question when debating abortion rights. In the unlikely event that science is able to prove beyond question that life begins at conception, would those advocating for abortion acquiesce, or would they still contend that abortion is a fundamental right? Bear in mind, the “when life begins” argument really matters only to those arguing in favor of abortion rights as it is the cornerstone of their case; for those of us arguing against, the question of exactly when a human being becomes a human being does not anchor our argument. If the inverse should be true, and science should prove indisputably that an embryo is not a living human being, it does not alter the “intent and consequences” logic of our case.

It’s easy to flatly state that abortion should be illegal. What isn’t necessarily as easy, however, are the consequences of making such a statement reality. What do unready or unwilling mothers do if they are unable to terminate their pregnancy? Do they have an abortion performed illegally? If so, what legal consequences would they face? For those that carry their child to term, should the state offer assistance with medical care? If the child is born to a mother financially incapable of supporting it, what options does she have? Put the child up for adoption? Should the state provide targeted support if they decide to raise the child themselves? These are all legitimate issues for which those arguing against abortion rights must offer solutions if we are to be responsible and intellectually honest citizens.

To the first, what are the consequences of eliminating the option of abortion for unready and unwilling mothers? To be sure, there will be women who choose to have an abortion performed illegally. Those arguing for abortion rights often point to this as a chief reason why it should remain legal, as a ban creates more criminals and does not eliminate abortions altogether. While true, it is not a legitimate argument. We do not legalize theft because it would reduce the prison population or because we cannot prevent all robberies. Nevertheless, there are very real societal difficulties when making something that has been a “fundamental right” for thirty-six years illegal. What legal consequences should a woman who has an abortion performed illegally face?

This has typically been one of the biggest hang-ups for those arguing against abortion. Some take the extreme view that abortion should be treated as murder by our criminal justice system, resulting in 20 years to life in prison, while others suggest only minimal or even no significant punishment. The question must be answered fairly and consistently. While abortion is equivalent to taking a human life, the circumstances surrounding it are unique, particularly given that it is currently a Constitutionally-protected right. Personally, I wouldn’t find it productive or fair to throw what is often a frightened 17-20 year-old girl in prison for the better part of her life as punishment for her choice to have an abortion. In the United States, our legal system already recognizes the varying degrees of homicide, ranging from involuntary to voluntary to second and first degree murder. Additionally, there is a subcategory of voluntary manslaughter called infanticide that deals specifically with mothers who kill their infant children as a result of an unbalanced mental state brought on by post-partum depression. I would see no problem with creating a similarly distinct subcategory of voluntary manslaughter for abortion that carries a lesser sentence. For first-time offenders, I think a minimum sentence of 250 hours (roughly one month) of community service working with underprivileged children, adoption organizations, single mother support groups, etc would be reasonable, in addition to one year of mandatory counseling dealing with responsible sexual education, pre-natal development, and motherhood. For repeat or serial offenders, punishment would necessarily be harsher, involving jail time determined by the number of abortions and manner or reason for which they were conducted. But those actually conducting the abortion, that is to say the doctors, would be subject to serious penalties. Jail time ranging from 2-15 years depending upon the number of abortions performed and health consequences for the mother would be wholly appropriate.

We would, of course, not be hunting down and pursuing those who have had abortions or performed them in the past and those prior occurrences would not count against them on their record should they be brought up on charges for abortion after it became illegal. Furthermore, while the suggested penalties outlined above seem reasonable and fair to me, ultimately of course it would be left up to the states and the legal system to make a final determination with the input of society as a whole. Mine would be just one voice among hundreds of millions of Americans, some arguing for sterner penalties and others for minimal or none at all.

Mitigation of the factors that lead to a woman’s decision to have an abortion must also become part of the solution. Common factors that influence the decision are the inability to support the child financially, or inability to carry or raise a child due to life circumstances (school, career, unmarried, etc). As a society, if we agree to bar a woman from having an abortion, we are obligated to provide her with as much support as possible to carry the child to term and, if she so chooses, raise the child. The government should have a role to play in making assistance with medical expenses and care available for women in these circumstances should they need it, though the role should be an indirect one. Offerring generous tax incentives and federal funding for charitable and non-profit organizations that provide pre-natal care and financial aid, adoption assistance, single mother support and childcare would be one of many ways the state can give indirect support. If a mother decides to raise the child herself, despite difficult social or financial circumstances, targeted government support in the form of welfare services already exist, as does financial aid/tax relief for day care and education. As far as this conservative is concerned, providing support to mothers in need and the children they carry and raise is perhaps one of the most suitable uses of tax money conceivable.

As stated earlier, I am typically the last person to advocate a ban of any sort, and favor freedom of choice and government non-interference in just about every aspect of life. I do not consider myself to be a social conservative in the traditional sense of the word and do feel a significant level of discomfort advocating for banning and punishing a practice that is currently perfectly legal. Nevertheless, like
Nat Hentoff and other secular opponents of abortion, I feel that there are compelling and legitimate reasons why the practice should be ended that do not rest solely on religious or emotive principles, but on logic, liberty and basic ethics. Furthermore, I have satisfied myself that the core arguments in favor of abortion are insufficient to warrant Constitutional protection as a “fundamental right,” despite my own personal political inclinations that often border on libertarian. I do recognize the difficulties of transforming what has been a Constitutional right into a crime, though I would state that the difficulty could have been avoided with more thoughtful and responsible judicial exercise in 1973, and am willing to concede that such a ban obliges government assistance for those who otherwise may have sought abortion. The purpose behind this article is to initiate thoughtful, reasoned debate and offer a more secular case against abortion. I have intentionally avoided the usage of loaded terms such as “pro-life” or “pro-choice” (except when referencing the language of the recent Gallup poll) due to their ties to the existing, politically charged debate, and have opted to instead make this discussion one between rational individuals rather than disparate interest groups.