August 19, 2015

Planned Parenthood Just Gets Worse and Worse

  5:41 pm

OMG! You may or may not want to watch this.

In case you decide not to watch it, here are a few quotes via National Review:

[Former StemExpress technician Holly] O’Donnell describes the harvesting, or “procurement,” of organs from a nearly intact late-term fetus aborted at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose, CA.

“‘Do I want to see something kind of cool?’” O’Donnell says her supervisor asked her. “And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.”

The San Jose Planned Parenthood does abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Referring to the beating heart of the aborted fetus, O’Donnell remarks, “I don’t know if that constitutes it’s technically dead, or it’s alive.”

O’Donnell also tells how her StemExpress supervisor instructed her to cut through the face of the fetus in order to get the brain. “She gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face. I can’t even describe what that feels like,” she says.


July 29, 2015

Chris Christie Vows to Overturn the Will of the Voters

  11:43 am

Or at least the will of the voters in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, that is.

Per Bloomberg, the Garden State Governor vowed to enforce federal law on the issue of recreational marijuana and in doing so over-turn the will of the people who voted to legalize the drug in their states.

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie, a Republican campaigning for the 2016 presidential nomination, said Tuesday during a town-hall meeting at the Salt Hill Pub in Newport, New Hampshire. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

The governor said he believes marijuana alters the brain and serves as a so-called gateway to the use of harder drugs. Pointing to his own administration of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program that he opposes, he said elected officials can’t unilaterally choose which statutes to enforce.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue of legal marijuana, and polls show a clear majority of voters favor decriminalizing the drug for recreations use, this kind of federal overreach may not sit well with Republican primary voters who support states rights. This is a blatant attempt to usurp the power the states and their voters and bodes poorly for what Christie would do as president – federal overreach is not a popular position to take when trying to win the support of conservatives, especially younger conservatives and those living in the western portion of the country whose conservatism has a libertarian bent.

On the other hand, it could help Christie with older and more socially-conservative Republican voters who share his views that marijuana is a harmful substance and a “gateway” drug. It also could, and likely is, a desperate ploy to grab attention and get his name in the headlines prior the final polling that will determine the 10 Republicans who end up making the cut for the August 6 Fox News debate.

So what say you, Race family? Is this a good move, a bad move or neither for Christie?


July 26, 2015

A Moral Dilemma

  12:00 pm

Let’s imagine that you are very much a social liberal (that’s going to be difficult for some here, I know, but bear with me).

As such, you are strongly in favor of gay rights, gay marriage, and everything those on the social right lump together and call the ‘gay agenda’. You are also 100% in favor of abortion on demand, with no restrictions, never, no how, no way.

So let us imagine further that science soon isolates a ‘gay gene’:

A genetic analysis of 409 pairs of gay brothers, including sets of twins, has provided the strongest evidence yet that gay people are born gay. The study clearly links sexual orientation in men with two regions of the human genome that have been implicated before, one on the X chromosome and one on chromosome 8.

The finding is an important contribution to mounting evidence that being gay is biologically determined rather than a lifestyle choice.

I know many socons don’t want to believe that anyone is born gay. But this isn’t a question directed at socons. Remember, for this question, you are on the left socially. So, if this happens, would you, as the extreme social liberal described above, object to parents choosing to abort a fetus because it would be gay?

I find the question almost impossible to answer.

Kudos to Rick Santorum (something I don’t often say) for bringing up this question.

Update/Bonus Question: Would liberals want to have such testing covered under Obamacare and/or require that it be covered under employer-provided insurance programs?


Not an open thread. If you want to discuss Donald Trump, please take your comments elsewhere.


July 22, 2015

The Second Planned Parenthood Video

  2:29 pm

Although I see myself as socially conservative in terms of how I live my life, I’m well aware that those who are active on the SoCon wing of the Republican Party (and certainly the SoCons of the R4 community) do not see me as ‘one of us’. Which is a long way of getting around to this: I’m a little surprised this hasn’t been posted here yet, but I’ll bet you didn’t expect me to be the one who posted it.

In any case this is news — it’s being discussed across the political spectrum (two examples), and should be discussed here, I think.



July 9, 2015

Senator Rubio Opposes Amending the Constitution to Stop Same-sex Marriage

  1:23 pm

In a pronouncement that is unlikely to win him much love from hardcore social conservatives, Senator Marco Rubio declared that he opposes amending the US Constitution to ban same-sex couples from receiving equal treatment before the law in all 50 states. Taking this position puts the Florida Senator on a different side of the issue from one of his top rivals, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who has publicly called for an amendment that would allow states to ban same-sex marriage.

Bloomberg has the story.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said Wednesday he would oppose a constitutional amendment allowing states to ban same-sex marriage after the Supreme legalized it nationwide, even though he disagrees with the landmark 5-4 decision.

“I don’t support a constitutional amendment. I don’t believe the federal government should be in the marriage regulation business,” the Florida senator told reporters after a speech the Cedar Rapids Country Club in Iowa.

“We can continue to disagree with it. Perhaps a future court will change that decision, in much the same way as it’s changed other decisions in the past. But my opinion is unchanged, that marriage should continue to be defined as one man and one woman. The decision is what it is, and that’s what we’ll live under,” he said.

When the 5-4 ruling came down last month, many predicted it would begin silly season as candidates and pundits on the far right would rail against the court’s ruling. They were right. One candidate called for civil disobedience. Another called for states to simply ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling. One pundit actually said the ruling in the Obergefell case means that war has been declared on Christians (huh?).

With an increasing number of Americans, including Republicans, supportive of equal rights for same-sex couples, the recent Supreme Court decision basically ends the debate in this country. Continuing to rail against the issue is not only a fruitless endeavor from a legal perspective, it is politically damaging for Republicans. Senator Rubio, smartly, seems to recognize this.

Now, without a doubt, taking this position could make Senator Rubio’s road to winning the Republican nomination more difficult. Two of the first three states – Iowa and South Carolina – are flush with socially-conservative voters and other candidates, notably Walker, Huckabee and Cruz, have no qualms about pandering to said voters on this issue.

Thus, coming out (no pun intended) on this issue in this way now signals that Rubio could have one eye on the general election where young people and suburban swing voters are unlikely to warm up to a candidate with ardent anti-gay views. Yet, you have to win the nomination to win the general election. Could Rubio be putting the cart before the horse here?

Senator Rubio also gave some insight into the positive and inclusive campaign he will run, saying, “Irrespective of how one may feel about the definition of marriage, we’re still all Americans.”

That is a winning message for the GOP.


June 26, 2015

BREAKING: SCOTUS Rules Gay Marriage Bans Unconstitutional

  9:22 am

Gay couples can no longer be denied the right to marry, no matter what state they live in. From the Washington Post story:

The Supreme Court on Friday delivered an historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5-4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.

“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

Needless to say, this is a huge moment in American history and culture.

Keep the comment section civil.


June 21, 2015

October 14, 2014

It’s Complicated

  8:36 pm

Three weeks from tonight, if current trends hold, the Republican Party appears poised to achieve a solid, yet not overwhelming, victory in this year’s midterm elections. What we’re about to see is not quite a wave, but might best be described as a correction. The red states are red again, while the blue states remain blue, and the purple states seem willing to give Republicans a chance. The Republicans will almost certainly capture the Senate, and possibly do so quite solidly, and may actually attain their greatest majority in the House in several decades. All of this, however, does not suggest a Republican resurgence, but rather a diminishing Democratic government.

If the national zeitgeist were to be put into words right now, it would probably go something like this. Things just don’t feel quite right in America. We’re not exactly doing poorly. We’re not in the midst of a once-in-a-generation economic depression, or a clash of civilizations against a foreign empire. No, instead, the tableau is more complicated. The economy seems to be growing on paper, but it doesn’t quite feel that way on the ground. America’s economic engine is working, but not roaring. The unemployment rate has gone down, but people are still not getting promotions, not getting raises, and working two jobs to keep afloat. There’s no optimism out there. Instead, there’s acceptance of a new normal, and a creeping feeling that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Internationally, America seems to be faced with a number of difficult challenges. These challenges seem like they could have been prevented, but now that they exist, they don’t seem easily reparable. The spread of ISIS in the Middle East, and the presence of Ebola within American borders, shouldn’t have happened, but did, and solutions to these sorts of challenges seem, like the economic picture, complicated.

And then there’s the Democratic government. Democrats like “complicated.” Democrats are all about “complicated,” because Democrats believe that life is inherently complicated, and are always ready and willing to provide complicated solutions that will somehow make things even more complicated. Democrats will be the first to claim that the current complicated state of things is the best of all possible outcomes given what they had to work with.

But again, I think, the current zeitgeist goes something like this. We don’t quite buy that argument. Both parties made that argument before, in the 1970s, and then the 1980s came, and it turned out not to be true, and that America could make a comeback. So maybe, once again, it’s not so simple as to deem the future of America to be complicated. Maybe it’s just that our current leaders don’t have a better answer.

Enter Hillary Clinton. Once thought to be the inevitable 45th President, Mrs. Clinton has been coming down to earth in the polls as of late. Several polls have found her statistically tied with a number of Republicans in Iowa, an all important swing state won by Republicans in 2004, and Democrats in 2008 and 2012. Should other purple states follow suit, the Democrats may find that they have a fight on their hands, as memories of the Clinton years are eclipsed by the nagging feeling that the Democratic government simply doesn’t know what to do to make the country better.

Meanwhile, the Republicans still seem to lack a unified message, or optimistic tone, and continue to search for a national leader that can give the party meaning and purpose in the modern era, a full decade following its last presidential victory. Such a leader is not simply going to have to speak to the GOP base, but actually bring together the hodgepodge of voting blocs that will give Republicans victories in states like Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire, the purple states last won by George W. Bush.

Asking for a charismatic and optimistic leader who will end up on Mount Rushmore might be a bit much given the prospective field of Republican candidates. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, Democrats thought they had found the same in Mr. Obama, and look how that turned out. The nation may not be opposed to electing someone with less panache this time around, someone a bit more sober and perhaps just a tad boring, but at the same time, any such leader is still going to find that a personal connection with the American people remains a prerequisite for the presidency.

That personal connection was something that Mr. Romney, who is rumored to be considering yet another run, was never able to attain. Despite winning all three debates with Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney was unable to garner the support of a majority of Americans. The Republican Party, hungry for leadership, appears to be considering Mr. Romney again, but it is still far from clear whether Mr. Romney has the ability to be relatable, and to truly reach through the television screen and have a human moment with the American people.

Contra Mr. Romney is Mr. Huckabee, his former primary opponent, and continued outspoken former governor and cultural conservative. Mr. Huckabee is not lacking in human moments, but may not quite capture the zeitgeist of the era, which isn’t really about cultural conservatism versus cultural liberalism, and which is more about a Democratic government promising stagnation in perpetuity, and an American people that want an optimistic alternative filled with opportunity. Mr. Huckabee’s recent weigh in on same sex marriage, an issue on which the country seems to be moving away from his point of view, probably does represent the former’s governor’s genuine beliefs, but doesn’t necessarily bode well for a presidential campaign.

And then there’s Mr. Bush. The former Florida governor seems to be setting his sights on becoming the third member of the Bush family to find his way into the Oval Office, and, in ways that were unthinkable just six years ago, is beginning to seem to be a reasonable bet for the nomination were he to run. The zeitgeist, acting as confessor, seems to have given the most recent president named Bush absolution, and the nation’s problems no longer seem to be the result of an inept Republican president, but the inevitable woes of a nation that had once believed that peace and prosperity could last forever, with the focus now being on how to regain America’s lost prowess.

Mr. Bush’s argument for the nomination goes something like this: “Republicans, I am you. I am just as competent and intelligent as Mr. Romney, but I can avoid being branded just another rich guy. I proved that in Florida. I am no less pro-life than Mr. Huckabee, but no one can pigeonhole me as a socially conservative former preacher. I can appeal to Latino voters, and my wife and son prove that, and I can do so with the gravitas that my friend Mr. Rubio can’t yet muster. I can improve the country’s economic policies, without coming off as wonkish like Mr. Ryan, and I can do so without scaring seniors. Heck, I governed a state filled with seniors. I can win a majority, unlike Mr. Paul and Mr. Cruz, but I also have no animosity for the followers of Mr. Paul and Mr. Cruz, nor do they for me. I know how to win Florida. I’ll hold North Carolina. I can take back Virginia, because I know how to appeal to the concerns of the military without sounding brazen or hawkish. And we can take back Ohio, because despite my family name, I don’t come off as an elitist. And if we all work together, we can win back the swing voters of the Midwest and the Southwest who instinctively know that we as a nation can do better than this, but who need to hear it from someone who sounds eminently reasonable.”

And that may be what Americans will be looking for in their next president — someone relatable without being a rock star, and someone more competent than charismatic. If so, at least a couple of dark horse contenders who believe that they meet such criteria, such as Mr. Walker of Wisconsin, and Mr. Kasich of Ohio, may also begin to more seriously look at a country in need of a leader whose primary claim to fame will be uncomplicating that which is hopelessly complicated.

Then there’s Mr. Christie, a man who appears to be eyeing the White House, despite his own path to the Oval Office being quite complicated in and of itself. Mr. Christie most assuredly has the charisma and the ability to personally connect with the American people and to make a formidable candidate in a national election. But where does Mr. Christie find his base? Is Mr. Christie going to bring lots of new voters into Republican primaries, tilting the culturally conservative Iowa caucus or the gritty, provincial, slightly paleoconservative New Hampshire primaries towards his own personal version of conservatism and Republicanism? If so, Mr. Christie has no time to spare in starting to build such a coalition, and in coming up with the ideas on which this coalition is to be built, neither of which has happened yet. Despite a personality that is larger than life, Mr. Christie will need more than personality to establish a foothold in an early primary state, or put together a coalition that will take the nomination, let alone the presidency.

To be sure, Mrs. Clinton is still the frontrunner for 2016. But a bit less of a frontrunner than she was six months ago. And perhaps six months from now, she’ll be even less of a frontrunner, as Americans, tired of economic and global complications, decide to send the Democratic government a Dear John note with the message, “It’s complicated.”


September 18, 2014

Jungle Creatures

  4:50 pm

The cinema has not usually been a source of truly profound utterances, but there is a line said by Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katherine Hepburn) to her husband Henry II (Peter O’Toole) in playwright James Goldman’s great film “The Lion In Winter” in which she says, “We are jungle creatures, Henry, and the dark is all around us.”

The first time I saw that film, and watched that scene, I knew I had heard something very powerful and true. Years later, it still echoes as I read the latest headlines about the enduring barbarity in the world in which we all live.

I am talking about the “civilization” of the species known as human beings. I know many of my readers will protest that I should not include most of Western “civilization” which includes Europe and North America, but why should I not include them?

Yes, democratic capitalism has advanced human society beyond the “naked” tribalism which has long existed in much of the world, and still prevails over a great portion of the human population. But more than two hundred years after democratic capitalism emerged in the West, and prevailed among some persons in some areas of the world, astonishing levels of barbarity survive and reappear in its midst.

The 20th century was among the most barbaric in all of recorded human history, and in spite of so many advances in technology, millions were unspeakably murdered in some of the previously most advanced societies. The 21st century, now in its early years, continues with more of the same. This is the century of the internet, astounding medical breakthroughs, and the rapid transformation of science fiction into science fact. And what do we also have? A worldwide religious war of savagery and intolerance. and a “United Nations” which supports and celebrates the denial of human rights, while it promotes conflict and hatred. In less than a century after they occurred, Europe has a case of amnesia about its Holocaust, and Russia has a case of amnesia about the murder of millions of Ukrainians by Stalin.

The world seems determined to repeat its past depravities again and again.

I know the reader would prefer a message of a more hopeful and positive world ahead. I would much prefer to write it.

But we are jungle creatures, and the dark is all around us.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


September 13, 2014

The Extinction Of Handwriting?

  12:49 pm

The art of penmanship used to be an important skill in American life, and whether or not you were good at it, writing in cursive longhand was something almost everyone had to do to communicate until the commercial typewriter
was invented in 1868.

Today, longhand or cursive writing by most Americans is limited to signing a check, signing a credit card slip, or writing a few words on an otherwise printed document.

Letter writing survives technically, but most communications today are by e-mails or text messages. Pen and ink, or even pen and pencil, are almost extinct.

Until the 19th century, every book was written in longhand before being typeset. Today, more and more books are being written, published  and read electronically.

It is an irreversible phenomenon.

A relatively few persons, however, insist on writing letters. Some Americans, both famous and non-famous, persist in communicating in handwritten form. Fine writing instruments and fine papers to write with them are still made, but pen and paper companies are disappearing. The number of persons who write letters or anything else in longhand is fast dwindling.

The extinction of handwriting has been hastened by the many new devices with which you can scribble your signature on a credit card screen with your fingernail, or send money and information electronically without any signature at all.

Collectors of autograph letters and manuscripts no longer have contemporary material to acquire. Autographs and signatures themselves can be made with a machine. Handwriting itself will soon be something only found in a museum.

If handwriting survives at all, it will likely be as an art form like painting, and practiced only by s few artists.

In a few decades, most Americans will not be able to read the original Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution documents.

In a few generations, ordinary handwriting will likely not be readable by anyone except a few scholars and trained experts. The handwriting that billions of us now take for granted will be like cuneiform, ancient pictograms and hieroglyphics are regarded today. It will be the same for those who speak English and other Indo-European languages, and those who write in calligraphic ideograms and non-Roman letters such as Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic and Hindi.

The question is, therefore, how long will penmanship be taught in schools? Will the children of the future even know how to write?  Common Core does not ban teaching cursive longhand, but it also does not require it.

Because computers use keyboards, the skill of typing is still an important one. But even the ability to type may soon be extinct. (I’m old enough to recall that I thought the invention of the electric typewriter was “amazing.”) New devices now accurately transpose the spoken word into print on a computer screen. It is being widely suggested that even the spoken word might be soon extinct, as new inventions, already in development, can transpose words you “think” to a computer or readable device. No “sound” will be necessary.

It is all happening very quickly, and even if inevitable, it will change the whole nature of how human beings communicate to each other in only a few generations, and with sudden alterations of human culture itself.

Who knows the now inestimable consequences of this?

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.



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