Around the Web

Great Britain can’t stand Obama.  I thought Democrats were supposed to repair America’s sagging reputation after the sorry state mean old George Bush left it in.

At NRB, I take on a military-trashing teacher, who the powers that be are probably gonna let skate with a slap on the wrist.  Seems to me the Tea Party movement could do some good in a situation like this, by keeping the pressure on the school district to do the right thing and can her, but unfortunately they tend to settle for “teachable moments” – whatever that means.

Olbermann vs. Kos?  Did hell just freeze over?

Jill Stanek exposes the butchers at Planned Parenthood pretending to care about truth in advertising.  Who would have guessed that people who murder babies for a living would also be less than completely honest?

Krugman in Wonderland” is one of the best blog names I’ve seen in a while.  Definitely adding it to the blogroll.

Real-life lightsabers?  Not quite (although those are on the way), but Wicked Lasers’ sub-$200 “most dangerous laser ever created,” capable of causing blindness, cancer, and setting skin on fire, is sure to induct more than a few wannabe Jedi into the Darwin Awards…

This is What Losing an Argument Looks Like

Even if you aren’t violent, you are fanning the flames, inciting those that may be on the edge. There is more at stake here than whether someone is for or against the issue. There is the rule of law. This misogynistic thinking imitates Sharia law. This is America.

Blogosphere Tip of the Day: if your opponent can’t respond to your arguments with anything other than lying, hysterical hatred, you’re allowed to declare victory, and there’s probably nothing to be gained from a continued dialogue with said sore loser.

How the Teachers’ Unions and Democrats Scam Taxpayers

Charles Lane, in the Washington Post:

By now, you’ve probably heard about the urgent teacher layoff crisis that threatens public education across America. Due to shrinking state and local budgets, up to 300,000 teachers could be laid off, with devastating educational consequences for our children, such as burgeoning class sizes. The only cure is $23 billion in fresh federal deficit spending, rushed through Congress as part of a bill to fund U.S. overseas military operations. “The urgency is high,” President Obama warned congressional leaders in a June 12 letter.

Don’t believe the hype.

Start with that scary number of 300,000 teacher layoffs, which has been bandied about in numerous newspaper articles. The sources for it are interested parties: teachers unions and school administrators, whose national organizations counted layoff warning notices that have already been sent out this spring and extrapolated from there. Notably, however, even these sources usually describe the threatened positions as “education jobs” – not teachers. That’s because the figures actually include not only kindergarten through 12th grade classroom instructors, but also support staff (bus drivers, custodians, et al.) and even community college faculty. And 300,000 is the upper end of a range that could be as low as 100,000. Nationwide, there are about 3.2 million K-12 public school teachers.

Moreover, springtime layoff notices are a notoriously unreliable guide to actual job cuts in the fall, because rules and regulations in many public school systems require administrators to notify every person who might conceivably be laid off — whether they actually expect to fire them or not. As the New York Times recently reported: “Everywhere, school officials tend to overestimate the potential for layoffs at this time of year, to ensure that every employee they might have to dismiss receives the required notifications.”

Given these facts, it’s unclear how the bill’s supporters came up with its $23 billion price tag. It works out to about $77,000 per job saved in the 300,000-layoff scenario, but $230,000 per job if only 100,000 jobs are at risk. Maybe that’s why the bill’s fine print allows states to spend any excess funds left over from education hiring on other state employees. By the way, the bill distributes funds to states according to how many residents they have, not how many threatened layoffs.

Read the rest here.

Pro-Life: Not Down, Never Out

As promised, here is my response to David.  However, he also made another point that needs to be addressed, so let’s tackle it here:

The Anti-Abortion Movement has had decades to convince people and change minds. It’s failed […] There isn’t some magical argument that the anti-abortion movement is going to stumble upon that’s suddenly going to change the tides.

John Nampion had a good retort:

Basically you’re saying the Pro-Lifers should just give up because they haven’t succeeded in their cause. Are you kidding? Israel hasn’t been very successful in swaying world opinion towards its side…so it should just yell “Uncle”? Please…if the fight is valuable, it must and will go on!

Excellent point!  One wonders if David thinks we should apply the “unless you win in X number of years, you must surrender” standard to any other political causes.  Dismantling ObamaCare?  Decriminalizing drugs?  Reforming the federal role in education?  Immigration policy? (24 years have passed since Reagan’s amnesty bill, and the border still isn’t secure.)  Israel? (62 years since declaring independence, they’re still persona non grata in the international community’s eyes.)

Indeed, American slavery was not abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment until 1868—92 years after we declared independence! And it took another 96 years after that to pass the Civil Rights Act.  The 36 years since Roe v. Wade don’t look quite so definite now, do they?

As I pointed out in the article, abortion has on its side a tremendously powerful propaganda machine (plus plenty of self-professed “conservatives” and Republicans fixing to purge the Right of social conservatives).  And even so, American support for life is moving in the right direction.

I’ll take my chances with principle, thank you very much.

PS: David wraps things up here.

Is the Fourteenth Amendment Illegitimate?

One of NewsReal’s regular commenters, the Inquisitor, seems to think so:

…the 14th Amendment is not the law of the land as it “… was never constitutionally proposed to the states by Congress and never constitutionally ratified by the states.”

I must admit I’ve never heard this one before, but it smells like more of the same old neo-Confederate revisionism that libertarians and paleoconservatives just can’t get enough of.  And sure enough, Inquisitor cites Kevin Gutzman’s Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution as his source.  I haven’t read Gutzman, but PIG series is known for being pretty hit & miss when it comes to American history and constitutional theory.

Against my better judgment about how to productively use my time, I decided to see what I could find about this startling constitutional revelation.  I found an article by Gene Healy at the dubious, entitled “The Squalid Fourteenth Amendment.”  That should do it.

As the legally reconstituted Southern states were busy ratifying the anti-slavery Thirteenth Amendment, the Republican-dominated Congress refused to seat Southern representatives and Senators. This allowed the remaining, rump Congress to propose the Fourteenth Amendment, consistent with Article V’s requirement of a 2/3 majority for sending a proposed amendment to the states. Never mind that Congress also clearly violated that Article’s provision that “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”

The Constitution also says that “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation,” and that “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress…enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or engage in War, unless actually invaded.”  Oh, so now the rebels should get the protection of the Constitution they tried to withdraw from? You try to break apart the country in the name of “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man,” and you have no right to expect to be welcomed back into the Union immediately.

Though the Northern states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, it was decisively rejected by the Southern and border states, failing to secure the 3/4 of the states necessary for ratification under Article V. The Radical Republicans responded with the Reconstruction Act of 1867, which virtually expelled the Southern states from the Union and placed them under martial law. To end military rule, the Southern states were required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. As one Republican described the situation: “the people of the South have rejected the constitutional amendment and therefore we will march upon them and force them to adopt it at the point of the bayonet.”

President Andrew Johnson saw the Reconstruction Act as “absolute despotism,” a “bill of attainder against 9,000,000 people.” […] The rump Republican Congress overrode Johnson’s veto and enacted statutes that shrank both the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction and the Court itself – just in case the judicial branch got any funny ideas of its own about constitutionalism. Jackboot on its neck, the South ratified, but not before New Jersey and Ohio, aghast at Republican tyranny, rescinded their previous ratifications of the mendment. Even with the fictional consent of the Southern states, the republicans needed New Jersey and Ohio to put the amendment over the top. No matter; by joint resolution, Congress declared the amendment valid. Thus it – you’ll excuse the phrasing– “passed into law.”

The Constitution requires “three fourths of the several states” to ratify amendments.  In 1868, the Union had 37 states, requiring 28 states to ratify the 14th Amendment.  By 1868, it had thirty ratifications, meaning that New Jersey and Ohio’s withdrawals would bring the number down to…28.  (And for what it’s worth, since then, every state which originally rejected the 14th Amendment has reversed its decision.)

Once again, paleo-libertarians appear to fare little better with American history than the Left.

Indisputable Fact: Life Begins at Fertilization (UPDATED)

In The Party of Death, National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru writes:

We have developed ways of talking that enable us to pretend that the point can be blinked away. In the case of abortion and embryo research, the main technique is to suggest that there is some great mystery about “when life begins,” and that this alleged question is a religious or philosophical one. Yet science has since solved the mystery. From conception onward, what exists is a distinct organism of the human species. The philosophical question is what we make of that fact. To jumble these issues together—the essentially scientific question of categorizing an embryo as human and living, and the moral question of whether it follows from that categorization that it has a right to life—is a logical error. Justice Blackmun, of course, proceeded in just this erroneous fashion in Roe. And if we are not careful, talking in terms of “meaningful life,” or, as [author Ronald] Dworkin does, of “life in earnest,” can lead us into this error as well.

All of us who read this page were once human embryos. The history of our bodies began with the formation of an embryo. We were those embryos, just as we were once fetuses, infants, children, and adolescents. But we were never a sperm cell and an egg cell. (Those cells were genetically and functionally parts of other human beings.) The formation of the embryo marks the beginning of a new human life: a new and complete organism that belongs to the human species. Embryology textbooks say so, with no glimmer of uncertainty or ambiguity.

That new organism is alive rather than dead or inanimate. It is human rather than a member of some other species. It is an organism distinct from all others. It is not a functional part of a larger organism (the way a kidney is part of a larger organism). It maintains its own organic unity over time. It directs its own development, according to its genetic template, through the embryonic, fetal, and subsequent stages. Such terms as “blastocyst,” “newborn,” and “adolescent” denote different stages of development in a being of the same type, not different types of beings. At each of our earlier stages of life, we have been, as we are now, whole living members of the species Homo sapiens.
(hardcover, p. 77-78)

And medical textbooks do indeed say so:

Human Embryology, 3rd Edition by William Larsen, Lawrence Sherman, S. Steven Potter, & William Scott: “In this text, we begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual.” (p. 1)

The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th Edition by Keith Moore & TVN. Persaud: “Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” (p. 18)

Human Embryology & Teratology, 3rd Edition by Ronan O’Rahilly & Fabiola Muller: “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.” (p. 8 )

Developmental Biology, 6th Edition by Scott Gilbert: “Fertilization is the process whereby two sex cells (gametes) fuse together to create a new individual with genetic potentials derived from both parents.” (p. 185)

Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia, 7th Edition by Douglas Considine: “At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun.” (p. 943)

Langman’s Medical Embryology, 7th Edition by TW Sadler: “The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.” (p. 3)

Patten’s Foundations of Embryology, 6th Edition by Bruce Carlson: “Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)… The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.” (p. 3)

UPDATE: Pro-Life on Campus has more:

“When fertilization is complete, a unique genetic human entity exists.” (C. Christopher Hook, MD, Mayo Clinic, as quoted by Richard Ostling in an AP news story, 9/24/99)

Testimony before a US Senate subcommittee (Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981)

“It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive…It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.” (Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School)

“I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.” (Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania)

After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.” (Dr. Jerome LeJeune, Professor of Genetics, University of Descartes)

“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” (Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic)

“The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception.” (Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School)

The official Senate report

Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being—a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.” (Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981)

Quotes from leading abortion advocates

“Perhaps the most straightforward relation between you and me on the one hand and every human fetus from conception onward on the other is this: All are living members of the same species, homo sapiens. A human fetus, after all, is simply a human being at a very early stage in his or her development.” (David Boonin, A Defense of Abortion, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 20)

“Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.” (Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd Edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 85-86)

“A human fetus is not a nonhuman animal; it is a stage of human being.” (Wayne Sumner, Abortion and Moral Theory, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981, p. 10)

Life begins with fertilization and abortion is legalized destruction of life.” (Dr. Arthur Morris, Jr., Abortionist, as reported in the Asheville Citizen-Times, April 4, 1976)

“We tell her exactly like it is … when they abort, they’ll be aborting a small baby.” (Dr. Arthur Morris, Jr., Abortionist, as reported in the Asheville Citizen-Times, April 4, 1976)

UPDATE 5/17/11: Even more here.

Comprehensive week-by-week fetal development information can be found here.