Health care reform has taken center-stage in the headlines, but it would be a mistake to call any of what’s happened a “debate.” Proponents of the bill have been saddled with the thankless task of countering the constant, bawling parade of misinformation and red herrings, which requires explaining subtleties and specific policy points — as well as overarching goals — that the other side is either too stupid or too willfully bull-headed to understand.

As H.L. Mencken once observed, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”



“Operation Rescue” founder Randall Terry seems to have gotten a pass for a release he issued a few days ago, which I noticed in my general news inbox when it came out:

WASHINGTON, July 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following was released today by Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue.

Randall Terry, Founder of Operation Rescue, and other local pro-life advocates will hold a press conference at the National Press Club (529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC) on Tuesday, July 21, at 2:00 P.M. Mr. Randall Terry to discuss what he and other pro-life leaders will and will not do if healthcare passes and includes paying for child-killing, and what convulsions follow.

Health Care, Murder, and the Coming Convulsions

“Let all those in government be warned: They cannot order people to pay for the murder of babies, and betray God Himself, without horrific consequences.”

Randall Terry

Background: It is clear that many elements in the pro-abortion congress and White House want to force Americans to pay for the murder of the unborn in their “healthcare” program.

If that happens, it is tantamount to the government putting a gun to taxpayers’ heads to pay for the brutal murder of an innocent child. This is tyranny and evil of the highest order.

“Please understand: neither I, nor any thinking person wants the convulsions that would inevitably come from such a government policy — the decision to force Americans to pay for the murder of their neighbor.

“Nevertheless, the sheer horror and frustration of such an evil policy will lead some people to absolutely refuse to pay their taxes. And I believe — if my reading of history from America and around the world is correct — that there are others who will be tempted to acts of violence.

“If the government of this country tramples the faith and values of its citizens, history will hold those in power responsible for the violent convulsions that follow.”

While Terry includes some perfunctory throat-clearing about not wanting any “convulsions,” make no mistake: he is making a very clear threat, not just about refusing to pay taxes, but about the kind of violence that we’ve already seen at least one instance of this year. In that case, the murder of Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller, Terry pronounced that Tiller had brought his slaughter on himself.

Let’s run a little mind-experiment. Imagine that you are assigned the task of making a statement designed to show as much support for domestic terrorism as you possibly could, without crossing the line into explicitly calling for murder. What would that statement look like? Would it be very much different from Terry’s thinly-veiled “warning” about coming “convulsions”?

It is time to stop using the term “pro-life” to describe Mr. Terry. He can be accurately described as “anti-abortion,” but he is no advocate for human life.

Kansas physician George Tiller, long renowned for being one of the nation’s handful of late-term (and partial-birth) abortion providers, was shot and killed in a Wichita church Sunday, when a lone gunman entered the building and fired a single bullet from a handgun at him.

Arrested for the crime was one Scott Roeder, who, as far as I am currently aware, is now in the Sedgewick County jail awaiting charges.

The killing has predictably become a lightning rod in the abortion debate in the U.S. Some pro-choice groups have condemned the act as terrorism, and several large pro-life representatives, such as Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry, have found it difficult to completely denounce the act. Dan Holman, of Missionaries to the Preborn Iowa, told CNN’s Drew Griffin “I don’t advocate Tiller’s murder, but I don’t condemn it.”

Leave aside for the moment the rather obvious problems tenant to simultaneously calling oneself “pro-life” and rejoicing (either publicly or privately) at the vigilante execution of a human being. The far-reaching result of Tiller’s killing (above and beyond the grief and loss his family is undegoing) will be to re-polarize the abortion debate, drastically narrowing the common ground spoken of by the president at his recent commencement address at Notre Dame University.

Absent in almost all rhetoric in the abortion debate is the recognition that people of good faith exist on both opposing sides. The inability to empathize with the other side is what leads to events like Sunday’s slaying of Tiller in his place of worship — the idea that the opposing side consists solely of evil-minded people who want to either murder babies or strip women of their reproductive rights. This works well for the purposes of preaching to the proverbial choir, and little else — unless, of course, you count inciting deranged psychopaths to take their twisted personal sense of justice into their own hands.


Feministe » Apparently, Texas Does NOT Charge Victims for Rape Kits.

Well, it seems like it was all a big misunderstanding, and I got taken in, too. According to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, local law enforcement absorbs the initial cost, up to $700, and is then reimbursed by the state. Further costs are absorbed by the hospital or the law enforcement agency, but the victim’s insurance is not billed.

That’s a relief. But what about Wasilla, Alaska?

As the semester winds to a close, I’m a bit preoccupied with finals-related work. That means less posting here, but I’m trying to at least keep an eye on the news.

One piece I noticed this morning was the backlash against the self-appointed anti-health care reform spokesman, Rick Scott.

VideoCafe has a clip of Rachel Maddow’s take (via Crooks & Liars).

Rick Scott, as Maddow et al point out, is the currently out-of-work hospital CEO who was forced to resign after it came to light that his for-profit hospital chain had a habit of defrauding the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars. The company was fined $1.7 billion, and Scott left in shame with a $10 million golden parachute.

And he’s the guy leading the charge against health care reform. I suppose if I had made gajillions of dollars off a broken system, I’d be interested in making sure it stayed broken, too.

From this morning:

Why Michelle Obama inspires women around the globe

Heather Ferreira works in the slums of Mumbai, India, where she has watched thousands of women live under a “curse.”

The women she meets in the squalid streets where “Slumdog Millionaire” was filmed are often treated with contempt, she says. They’re considered ugly if their skin and hair are too dark. They are deemed “cursed” if they only have daughters. Many would-be mothers even abort their children if they learn they’re female.

Yet lately she says Indian women are getting another message from the emergence of another woman thousands of miles away. This woman has dark skin and hair. She walks next to her husband in public, not behind. And she has two daughters. But no one calls her cursed. They call her Michelle Obama, the first lady.

I have nothing against the first lady — in fact, I think she’s an admirable woman indeed. But with swine flu poised to wipe out millions of people and an economy still in crisis, does CNN really need to spend valuable bandwidth sucking up to Michelle? All this really does is provide ammunition for right-wing blowhards to start up their “left-wing wackos in the media” and “we surround them” chants again. And that doesn’t do anyone any good.

UPDATE: I realized I’d forgotten to hyperlink the “wipe out millions of people” phrase above (I don’t believe that’s what’s going to happen; I just wanted to point out a little hysteria for comic effect), so while looking for an appropriate page, I stumbled upon this big box o’ crazy.

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP: This dude claims A) that swine flu was created in a lab and that Mexico City was deliberately targeted, and B) that the only way to stop the outbreak from happening is to have the U.S. states declare sovereignty or demand that Pres. Obama prove his citizenship.

Okay, so this swine flu situation is now a “public health emergency.”

Officials said they had confirmed eight cases in New York, seven in California, two in Kansas, two in Texas and one in Ohio, and that the cases looked to be similar to the deadly strain of swine flu that has killed more than 80 people in Mexico and infected 1,300 more.

I hasten to point out that the standard version of the flu kills around 30,000 each year. Anyway, the CDC is simultaneously urging people “not to panic” and telling us that we’re experiencing an “emergency.”

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