OVERTURN ROE V WADE.
It may sound perverse for a pro-choice advocate, which I am, to suggest that overturning Roe v Wade would be the best outcome from the current round of anti-abortion cases being heard by the SCOTUS.
However, when it comes to existential issues like abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia etc., anyone who believes in the principle of liberal democracy should want decisions to be made based on the will of the majority of their fellow citizens not the will of an ‘almighty’, nor the adjudication of 9 Supreme Court Justices who are neither accountable to, nor representative of, the men, women and children who lives they are literally 'messing with'.
I came to this belief after immersing myself in the dozens of podcasts and commentary pieces that have been written in the last few weeks as a result of the recent challenges to abortion 'rights' being heard by the SCOTUS.
One of these was advocating for the 'Consistent Life Ethic' (CLE). A movement of passionate, sincere and well-intended activists who believe that "abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide and euthanasia, unjust war, cruelty toward immigrants and refugees, and police brutality are all equally wrong because they stem from the same dehumanization: the belief that certain human beings are disposable and can be treated like objects or property instead of people. The unborn child, the incarcerated person, the chronically ill or disabled person, the pregnant sexual assault survivor, and the Haitian refugee all have equal and immeasurable human dignity."*
It's hard to disagree with this thesis. Getting distracted by the debate as to when human life begins, or a Constitutional right to privacy, really doesn't solve the intractable problem which is that the pro-life and pro-choice are not based on logic or reason, but profound beliefs.
A belief that "we must put human dignity—not profit, convenience, or status—at the center of our national discourse"* about abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia etc.
However, the more I thought about CLE it became clear to me that such a universal thesis is very 'western centric' and comes from a place of unique privilege.
If we walk in the shoes of the 3.5 billion women and 2 billion children who don’t live in the so called ‘western world’, the admonition of pro-life supporters seems quite self-serving.
Their shoes walk through a world where an adequate healthcare system let alone neonatal care is a distant dream. A world where education is rationed and rudimentary. A world where some mothers’ have so little hope of a viable economic future for their children that they permanently disable them at birth, so they have a good physical reason to beg for the rest of their lives as a ‘way of living’. A world where children scavenge among the rubbish dumps of Lagos or Mumbai to find something to eat or sell before they find a place to sleep in slums with no sanitation.
I could go on….I’m sure you get the picture. It is a world where your rhetoric seems idealistic at best and a potential life sentence of poverty and subsistence living at worst.
In an ideal world, and outside of the force field of religious belief, the pro-life position would be understandable, even defendable. Even with the deficiencies of parental leave, child support, inadequate education etc., you and I might live in something approaching an ideal world.
Alas, the vast majority of women who choose to have an abortion do not, and that applies to the US to where according to the Guttmacher organization 49% of the 862,320 women who chose abortions live below the poverty line.
Which is why when it comes to existential issues like abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia etc., anyone who believes in the principle of liberal democracy should want decisions to be made based on the will of the majority of their fellow citizens not the will of an ‘almighty’, no matter who compelling and reasonable their belief is.
I hope Roe V Wade is overturned and the issue handed back to the States and their legislature. That way the people get to choose through the democratic process by insisting elected politicians represent their interests and are be held accountable for doing so. Otherwise unaccountable and unrepresentative judges hold the upper hand. Whenever matters of polarizing existential beliefs arise (abortion, euthanasia, death penalty etc.), we should revert to the democratic principle that the wishes of the majority prevail. Not everyone will like it, yet this principle is central to a functioning liberal democracy. If the minority can persuade enough fellow citizens to their way of thinking/believing, they can prevail. For now, if your polling data is correct and the matter is returned to the States, abortion within reasonable parameters will remain legal.
You should be grateful for that, for according to Pew the majority of Christians in the US support the death penalty and Islam definitely does. So to take away democratic will by banning abortion means you’d also have to accept that the death penalty would be mandated.
In short, by all means follow your own beliefs and advocate for them. However, for as long as we live in a liberal democracy where the people get to elect accountable representatives to make laws rather than an unaccountable elite or an even more abstract divine being, I hope you appreciate that those of us who don’t share your belief would rather the choice on such matters remained a personal decision.
I can assure you having grown up in Africa that the mothers and children there would certainly want that choice.
* Sophie Trist https://www.readtangle.com/posts/consistent-life-ethic-sophie-trist/
Clive ponders the seismic events of the last few days.
The fight for the mind, heart and soul of the American Dream has come out of the shadows of guerilla warfare onto the battlefield of a full-fledged culture war. As with all things American, this battle will be more dramatic and globally important than any political skirmish in Europe. It will make Brexit look like a playground scuffle.
What we are witnessing now is a culture war between the AOC/Bernie Sanders wing and core supporters of the Democrat Party and their GOP & Alt-right/Tea Party counterparts.
After 4 years of frustration trying to combat what they saw with some justification as ‘The Cult of Trump’, AKA MAGA; with Biden’s victory, Georgia in the bag and the scurrilous scenes in DC this week, the left smells blood. All is fair in love and war and from their perspective Trump was trying to undo all the progress they thought had been made toward equality and multiculturalism exemplified by President Obama.
I condemn yesterday's behavior of The President and a small group of violent activists. I also wonder if the editorial leadership of The Tribune recognize that their blatant editorial bias played a role in the toxic fissure in America that led to the disgraceful violent protests in DC?
The editorial decisions that accept the constant denigration of people and ideas they don’t agree with? Their overt disrespect of elected representatives and other community leaders who they don’t agree with? Their insistence on failing to serve the 60% majority of SLO residents who are not Democrats?
The paper has been littered with examples of this over the last few years. Some of the blood and tears of yesterday is on your hands, and the hands of any media or political leaders who seek to inflame the toxic partisan politics that infects our communities.
If any good comes out of this tragic and disgraceful attempt at sedition, it must be this. That all those with a voice that has been used to propagate such partisanship, now use it to promote ideas not ideology. To seek a higher middle ground of compromise and compassion.
Clive shares his concerns about 'The Great Reset' threat to democracy.
I have always thought that politicians, bureaucrats and most individual citizens are neither creative enough nor competent enough, let alone discrete enough, to conceive and execute grand conspiracies. The moon landings never happened? 9/11 was an inside job? QAnon? The evidence for these is as scant as the evidence of massive electoral fraud in the 2016 and 2020 Presidential elections.
On the other hand, recent history proves that private enterprises and their agents are more than capable of conspiring to take advantage of us, generally in pursuit of bigger profits and greater power. Witness the efforts of big tobacco, big pharma and big energy to hide from us the health hazards associated with tobacco, opioids and fossil fuel emissions. More recently it is clear that big tech companies are conspiring against the principles of free speech, not to mention manipulate global tax codes, to pay as little tax as possible. The latter two are at least not illegal, yet they are certainly immoral.
I am a capitalist. I believe in the innate value of market-based economies. However free markets that are not fair markets are an indelible stain on capitalism.
So when I read about the ‘Great Reset’ my suspicions were raised, especially as such a bold and global initiative hasn’t received much coverage in the main-stream media.
Mark shares some sage advice for the upcoming holiday.
We pretty much knew this year’s Thanksgiving was going to be different, didn’t we? Despite our blind compliance and commitment to wash our hands, socially distance and wear masks we somehow knew it was likely to require continued sacrifices on our part. Little did we know.
Despite the fact that things seemed to get better for while we are now caught in another surge of COVID 19 cases. Positivity rates are rising. Hospitalizations too. Faucie told us this was probable. “A tough fall and winter,” he said. “Expect it.” Well of course we did. Colder weather means more people spending time inside. It’s flu season. And the Cal Poly kids are back like so many other students at colleges and universities around the country. Did we honestly expect 18 and 19 year old kids living on their own for the very first time to socially distance and quarantine themselves in their dorm rooms? Really?? Sucker!
Clive shares his thoughts on how he'd vote in State & local elections....if he had a vote!
Here at iSoS we view ourselves as 'Independents' and despise partisan politics. Yet at election time democracy, by definition, means choosing one party or individual over another. At least if you have a vote it does. I don't even though I pay taxes. That's another story - see my earlier blog https://www.insearchofsanity.org/blogs/taxation-without-representation-is-tyranny-thats-a-real-political-opportunity.
Most importantly we urge our listeners and readers, hell we urge everyone who can, to exercise their democratic right and vote. As Independents, we vote based on the evidence of outcomes and values that align with our own, rather than tribal loyalty.
So it's time to make a choice. As you consider who to vote for at State, County & City level, here is what I am thinking about. Remember, it is perfectly reasonable to vote one ticket nationally and another locally.
So let's think about the 'state' of California?
Clive checks in from his home on Zanzibar.
Salamu (Swahili for Greetings) from Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania best known as the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, where we are bathed blissfully in sunshine, trade winds and best of all, mask free.
While many countries in Africa locked down, Tanzania realised very quickly that with a median age of 20, half that of Europe, the cure being worse than the disease would be an inevitable consequence of shutting down the economy. They kept their economy open.
It was a wise decision. In a country of 56 million people, only 516 cases of CV19 have been registered and 21 deaths. Given that there is no formal healthcare reporting system, it is inevitable that these numbers are under-reported. However, as 2.5 million people die every year in Africa from another infectious disease (Tuberculosis), the Tanzanian Government and healthcare community thankfully enjoy a sense of context about risk management sadly lacking among the bureaucrats and government advisers our taxes pay for.
Mark considers the news that the 'California Ethnic Studies' curriculum is back and coming to a classroom near you soon.
A little over a year ago California’s Assembly passed an ethnic studies bill, AB 331, and handed it off to California’s Education Department (CED) to write and deliver the curriculum. The CED did just that, and then attempted to get it adopted by quickly and very quietly soliciting public comments just after the school year ended when parents were less likely to be paying attention.
Did you hear about it? Probably not.
Mark wonders why there is so much hatred and if America is beyond saving.
“Holy hyper-partisanship Batman! Our democracy is seriously dysfunctional and we’re in danger of losing our nation because our system is broken. Can you fix it Batman?”
It’s that time again folks. It occurs every four years. The nation looks for someone we can believe in….a superhero that can heal the unprecedented level of political animosity that’s turned us into warring tribes rather than united Americans who go about their lives in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
Enter the political candidates. This time it’s Trump and Biden. Different people saying the same things every four years. Mostly bullshit by the way and I confess that, I too, like many of you, tend to throw caution to the wind and get sucked into the belief that there is someone out there who can heal the polarization that has become America’s Achilles heel. The usual promise is to unite us; to bring the warring factions together because, well, only they have some kind of superpower that the other candidate doesn’t. And we find ourselves hopeful yet again.
Clive asks whether the angst over mask wearing is productive?
In what seems like a classic case of failing to see the forest from the trees; friends, neighbors and social media seem to be more exercised by the morality and principles of mask wearing than with the far more consequential health and socio-economic consequences of Coronavirus.
To get your attention, and to prove the delinquency of our puerile debates on masks, here are a few alarming numbers. As a result of distressed socio-economic systems around the world, predictions are for an additional 6.3 million cases of Tuberculosis resulting in an additional 1.3 million deaths. An additional 769,000 deaths from malaria, and 550,000 HIV related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa alone. (1). Worst case scenarios suggest that an additional 100 million people will fall into poverty living off less than $1.90 a day. (2)
To put those numbers in context, as I write, there have been 766,393 deaths worldwide from CV19, with 172,301 of those in the US and 41,361 in the UK.
Yet the most vociferous, hostile and divisive debates are about wearing masks!
Mark's thoughts on School Closures.
The nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, said its members will do “whatever it takes” to protect students during this pandemic. “Nobody wants to see students back in the classroom more than educators, but when it comes to their safety, we’re not ready to take any options off the table,” the group’s president, Lily Eskelsen García, said in a statement.
In many local school districts around the country there seems to be a bit more to it than just safety of teachers and students. Take the Los Angeles School District for example, I’d like Lily Eskelsen Garcia to please explain what shutting down charter schools, defunding police, government run Medicare for All, funding housing for the homeless, financial support for undocumented students and families, a California state wealth tax, a ban on evictions, and oh yes, of course, a federal bailout of the bankrupt LAUSD so they can meet their obligations to retired teachers and staff. These are just some of the conditions that the L.A. Teachers Union has demanded before they even consider reentering the classroom. Because it’s in the students best interest of course.
Masks or no masks, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are more impenetrable barriers between us these days than a piece of cloth. Rabid political partisanship is rampant among our communities and infecting all of us.
How does a Re-Open SLO Facebook Group transform into a ‘Freedom Rally? What has re-opening local businesses got to do with giving a platform to speakers that rant about the supremacy of Judeo-Christian religion? Or promoting a university academic called Thaddeus Kozinsky who claims that 9/11 was a conspiracy theory and Bill Gates is part of a global cabal trying to take over the world? Why invite a “Christian Conservative Activist” from Fresno called Ben Bergquam who believes “homosexuality is sin” and that “liberalism is a plaque on society”?
One. Count them. One. Not a hundred. Not a thousand. One. That is the number of people in San Luis Obispo County who have died with Coronavirus (CV19). On the day the 82 year old man who was also suffering from underlying health conditions died, 25,000 human beings around the world died from starvation. In the US about 110 Americans died in car accidents. 183 died from a drug overdose. On that day about 600 Californians died from cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Yet the powers that be at State and County level have ordered the shutdown of our economy, the single biggest act of financial self-mutilation ever perpetrated by a government in the history of this country. In a little over a month 3 million Californians have filed for unemployment. Estimates are that 20% will be out of work in two months. State experts say we are already in a recession that could last for years.
Those of us who live here, well all but one of us, are the lucky ones. Across the country in New York State, 14,000 have died.
The days when food and beverages are made not in a farmyard or vineyard but in factories are upon us.
Wines without vines, booze without berries, beef without cows and fish without….well water!
Burger King is selling the ‘Impossible Whopper’, the equivalent of their Whopper burger, only this one is made entirely out of plant-based ingredients grown in labs.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. With the world's population due to add another 2 billion people in the next 30 years, (that’s like adding another China, America, Mexico & Russia), the race is on to feed the human race without destroying the planet.
The UN forecasts that to feed 9 billion people will require a 20% expansion in water use, but water use already exceeds supply in many places, including a country like England where it rains a lot! Some estimates suggest that growing meat in labs could cause greenhouse gases from agriculture to drop by 80% or more!
There is also a global soil crisis as vast swathes of arable land lose their fertility because of erosion, compaction, contamination and simple over use. Think of the images of the central plains of America during the great depression.
Improving productivity through intensive farming practices is already pushing the boundaries of decency. The US guidelines allow as little as ½ a square foot per chicken for their ‘living’ conditions. The answer to that cannot be ‘extensification’ - increasing the amount of land used for farming. Housing is already unaffordable for many. Every acre used for farming means one less acre for homes not to mention forests, natural habitats etc.
It is more than deeply ironic, it is deeply hypocritical, that a country forged in a revolution whose call to arms was ‘No taxation without representation’ now demands taxes from nearly 15 million Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) yet bans them from voting.
Affectionately known as ‘Green Card Holders’ (it’s better than resident aliens), we live and work across the United States, and about a million more of us are welcomed every year. Yet, except for a few municipalities where Green Card holders can vote in local elections, Federal and State governments deny us the right to vote in even a School Board election.
It was not always so. Indeed, a country built largely on immigration (aren’t they all?), promoted universal suffrage for all residents up until World War 1.