For those who despise all Republican candidates, why?

Answer by Craig Butcher:

"Despise" is a harsh word.  

What makes someone despicable?  My metric is:  someone so bent on self-aggrandizement that no baseness in this pursuit is off the table.  Basically, a sociopath.  

Mostly I think the bad people of any party are "contemptible."   Someone is contemptible who knows better, and would prefer to behave better, but stoops to opportunistic baseness anyway.    I think there are many more contemptible people in every party than there are truly despicable people. 
A contemptible action is participating in, professing uncertainty about, or simply acquiescing in, something one privately considers dishonorable.   For example:   remaining mute when someone at work tells a racist joke; allowing  false, erroneous, or ignorant claims to stand unchallenged when they ought to be corrected.   

And:  intentionally fostering false, erroneous, or ignorant nonsense for advantage.   "I am not a scientist…" so I will boldly allow your arrant creationist nonsense to stand as if I actually believed it.   This is at first a cynical action to take advantage of passionate ignorance to capture votes.   But, just as it so often has in our history, it has backfired.  Initially they choose to acquiesce; eventually they fear not to.  The would-be capturers find themselves captives.   

Those who believe incorrect things do so because they simply don't (and often can't)  know any better.    Fear of vaccination causing autism, belief that WalMart is part of an international ISIS conspiracy, fear that the President is going to outlaw Christianity, belief that Procter and Gamble is run by satanists…  in most cases, adherents find these plausible because they have not had the opportunity of seeing correct information supported by others whom they see as credible (i.e., people in their identity group).   When no one in their identity groups challenge such beliefs, the beliefs become the norm.   Which means they are more and more widely and frequently affirmed within their groups.  

Stupid beliefs can cause immense harm (google:  Ghana, witch camps).   They also render their adherents susceptible to manipulation by despicable and contemptible malefactors.   Which of course makes it attractive for said malefactors to push the ethical envelope.

Today the Republican party particularly suffers from the same problem the Republican party condemns in "moderate Islam".   Where are the identity leaders who will disavow the nonsense?   There used to be Republicans in my state (and other states) who would have done so.   Unfortunately today they are not only rare (having perhaps become Independents) but also virtually powerless in their party.   Where present, they remain silent.    In the 2008 election John McCain gently and courteously declined to agree with a poor, befuddled elderly lady who complained that Obama was a "muslin".   I can't think of a single Republican who has been caught on camera doing anything of that kind since.   Please advise if you know of such an event. 

So the reason I personally find the Republican party in general to be either apalling or contemptible is that

a)  either they actually believe the nonsense, in which case they are apalling, or

b) they do not really believe it, but they either allow it to pass unchallenged, either to make use of it, or just to keep from being destroyed;  or,  they actively promote it, for the same reasons;  in which case, they are contemptible.

c)  Also– it seems to be a particular feature of Republicans that they tend to make great noise about conventional sexual morality, and particularly about heterosexual family values; yet they behave no better than anyone else in that regard– extramarital liasons, gay hookups in airports, etc.   Democrats, being human, are just as drawn to concupiscience, infidelity, and naughty conduct, but with the difference that they don't tend to claim moral superiority in this area as a personal qualification for office, and they rarely promise to legislate against other's personal sexual behavior and orientation.   

 Republicans, however, very often campaign by condemning others' sexual habits, and offer themselves as exemplars of what everyone ought to be (before themselves getting caught).   So there is a certain species of hypocrisy in matters of personal sexual comportment that Republicans have almost a corner on. 

I suspect these are the same reasons many others find the Republican party objectionable.  

By the way, if anyone wonders specifically what the nonsense is, here is some of it:

1.  Barack Obama is a (socialist, communist, muslim, satanist) who hates America.
2.  Christianity is being persecuted in America.
3.  Evolution is "only a theory" and it is wrong.  There is a scientific debate about evolution.  Science is proving that evolution is wrong. 
4.  Human use of fossil fuels has nothing to do with climate change (and/or there is no climate change).  
5.  The civil war (confederate battle flag) is not about racism.
6.  There is no real racism any more except by Democrats and non-white people.
7.  Tax reductions always lead to revenue increases by increasing economic growth.   All tax increases lead to revenue decreases.
8.  Discretionary spending cuts alone can balance the Federal budget.  
9.  CEO's and entrepeneurs need lavish economic rewards as incentives to be productive.   Minorities/poor people/immigrants need the incentive of not receiving any benefits, and the possibility of being fired at any time, to get them to work at all. 
10.  Illegal immigration is destroying our economy and is the/a major factor using up our health care, education, and public service resources.
11.  It is feasible to round up and deport all our illegal immigrants.  If we did this we would be better off economically.
12.  Illegal immigration can be controlled by walls and fences. 
13.  The Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation.
14.  There is a conspiracy of left wing scientists to lie about climate change in order to:  establish a world socialist state; get rich on federal research grants;  etc.
15.  Poor people, especially minorities, wouldn't be poor if they would suck it up and stop asking for handouts.  Except for a few unusual deserving cases, which private charity takes care of, anyone who really tries can be an economic success; there are no significant impediments beyond one's control to what one can accomplish. 
16.  The economic recession of 2008 was caused by Obama's bailout plan.
17.  The President was born in Kenya/has forged birth documents/etc.
18.  The supreme court made it illegal to pray/read the bible/talk about religion in schools. 
19.  There is a huge wave of voter fraud going on.  Democrats rely on this to win elections.    Voter ID and anti-voter fraud legislation has nothing to do with partisanship.  Certainly it has nothing to do with racism.
20.   "Bringing the Bible Back" into our schools will (prevent  crime) (improve morals) (prevent teen pregnancy) (improve scholastic performance) (etc)
PLEASE NOTE!    My own party is not free of contemptible beliefs and actors.   Quite the contrary.  The question asked was, why do people find the Republican party despicable.

For those who despise all Republican candidates, why?

Religion Satisfies a Human Need

Religion is neither inherently good nor bad. A great deal of good as well as evil is done in the name of religion. Whether the good outweighs the evil or vice versa is unanswerable, but I note that both good and evil are done outside the bounds of religion and as far as I can tell, independently of it, so religion is neither necessary nor sufficient for good or evil.

My focus here is on religion as a way of providing meaning to life. To live full lives, human beings require a framework of meaning, something to help them understand why things happen and why they are the way they are. Religion, as a belief system or fundamental worldview, clearly provides meaning to a large portion of the world’s population and thus fulfills a basic human need.

Religion provides comfort from the realities of sickness, loss and death, and can make human life more joyful and less painful. Anything with this power deserves our support, particularly if it’s possible to maximize the joy and minimize the pain provided by the system. It’s possible, though very difficult, to do this with religion.

I understand statements like the one Chris O’ Dowd makes below, and I’m frustrated daily by the evil done in the name of religion as well as the way in which religion slows or destroys progress. But I disagree with both the prediction he makes and his desire for it to come true.


I don’t think we’ll cleanse the world of religion anytime soon, and I don’t think we should try. Religion is one way of providing structure and meaning to life, something all of us need. Many people are constitutionally incapable of creating their own meaning through reflection on the world or study of philosophy. Different structures are suitable for different minds.

I prefer a rational approach to giving our lives meaning, but it’s impractical to base our standard of meaning entirely on what is true or rational. Many of the most important aspects of life are not rational.

It’s worth sharing a comment Peter Billing left on my Google Plus post of this graphic:

I agree we shouldn’t try.  Change like that will always be organic.  But I think he’s right that it will.  Offensive might be too strong a word, though.  Probably more like pitiable or incredulous.  

Rightly or wrongly – and YMMV wildly – religion seems to me to be much more of a benign mob mentality thing.  Whereas racism I tend to attribute more to an individual malicious intent.  Without wishing to invoke Godwin, I suspect in time it’ll be more like how we think of the German’s during the Nazi era.  More ‘how could they have fallen for it’ than ‘man, those guys were bigots’

I think Peter may be right. I think we may organically move away from religion, but some things need to happen first.

Religion serves a purpose. Even today, when we’ve come so far technologically, decay and death are just as inevitable. All thinking people must look for meaning, and religions are ready-made boxes of meaning, with all the rules and structures necessary (in most religions) for fending off the fear of death, knowing how to live without questioning, and satisfying the human tendency to tribal behavior and aggression against an other.

When I see the followers of militant Islam and Christianity, and the absurdly constrained lives of Orthodox Jews, I can’t think of anything non religious that can begin to take religion’s place for these people. I wish I could. Particularly striking are cases like a friend’s brother, who left a wealthy and highly educated life in the United States for life as an Orthodox Jew in an Israeli community, where he studies ancient documents and follows rules that govern every aspect of his life. The only explanation I can come up with for this behavior is fleeing freedom. Some of us are not constituted to live freely. The existential angst that accompanies an awareness of constant freedom can be maddening to some of us. Religion removes this burden from those who cannot carry it.

Pro-Choice is Pro-Life

I recently got into a debate with a pro-life Catholic on Google +. It’s still going on after a few days and I thought it worth posting here, with editing only for clarification. Note that this pro-life partisan has been very reasonable for the most part, especially considering the difficulty of the topic. The graphic below was the post that inspired our conversation.


The PL tag marks the pro-lifer’s words while the Chris tag marks my pro choice input.


PL: So, killing infants once they are born because that’s your choice?

Hey, it’s just between the woman and the doctor or midwife, right?

Pro-choice is just a euphemism because the reality is too ugly.


Chris: What exactly are you talking about, PL​​? I suspect you want to impose your morality over all women, regardless of the truth, but I’m interested in hearing your justification for it.

Once a child is born, abortion is no longer relevant. Do you understand that? The pro choice movement is strictly concerned with women’s rights, the right to bodily autonomy. There are no sinister hidden agendas.


PL: As I said above, the line when life is protected and when it’s not is arbitrary.

Roe V Wade allowed for state restrictions on Third and even Second Trimester abortions as  “bodily autonomy” wasn’t the issue, privacy was.  Once the pregnancy became obvious, it’s no longer a privacy issue.

Subsequent Court decisions have weakened, but not removed the ability to restrict abortions, so it’s still not “bodily autonomy” that’s the issue.

As we’re learning from the PP videos, they are actually killing babies born alive, with hearts still beating, from botched abortions and harvesting them for parts.

And, yes, babies do survive abortions.


Chris: Are you referring to the videos created by the right wing propagandists and discredited almost immediately, or another set of videos?

The Supreme Court rules on a Constitutionally relevant component of an issue. The abortion issue in the United States is about bodily autonomy for women.

The line between protected and non protected “life” will always be arbitrary, because life itself is an idea based on an individual’s metaphysical system. We’re never going to all agree on when life begins, because we have different metaphysical ideas underlying our definition of life. The self proclaimed pro-life camp is not uniform, but generally defines life based on Western monotheistic ideas, not scientific facts.


PL: I don’t think the CMP videos have been discredited.

Abortion can’t be absolutely prohibited in any State due to Supreme Court rulings.  You may think it’s about “bodily autonomy”, but the ruling is based on privacy rights.

The Science is that a zygote is alive, distinct genetically from the mother and father.   It’s a human being at the earliest stage of development.

“Western monotheistic ideas” are not required.


Chris: Science will say that a human zygote is alive in the same way any product of sexual reproduction is alive. A zygote is not necessarily human or even the result of a multicellular organism – – and a zygote resulting from human reproduction won’t necessarily develop into a human baby. If you’ve looked into this issue, you’re probably aware that many zygotes fail to develop into babies for a number of natural reasons. The pro-life camp is concerned specifically with human life and there is no science proclaiming that a zygote is a human life. Good scientists recognize that the distinction is metaphysical, belonging to another domain. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you are concerned exclusively with human life in this instance. Science can correctly say, at most, that a fully functional human zygote has the potential to develop into a human baby, given the proper environment and time.

You don’t seem capable of seeing beyond your Catholic metaphysics. Without the default stance that a human life begins at conception (for some reasonable definition of conception), the pro life demands make little sense considering the interest of the woman in living a life unconstrained by pregnancy.

You can maintain the integrity of the discredited videos if you like. Legally, they are fraudulent and carry no weight.

The pro choice moral argument is based largely on female bodily autonomy. I’ve studied the issues and positions of both sides and determined that in order for a woman to have full control of her destiny, full personhood, she must have full bodily autonomy. Hence she must have the right to choose abortion.


PL:  Everyone has the potential to develop further or have their life ended at every stage of development.  The zygote is no different than any other stage of development in this respect, although perhaps in a more precarious position.  A fully developed 7 to 9 month fetus has a very good chance of further development, similar to the chances of development of a newborn.

I’ll repeat myself.  The primary difference with regard to their humanity between a fertilized egg and an adult is stage of development.

This is the Science, it has nothing to do with “Catholic metaphysics”.

Listen to that video I posted above, Biologists agree that this is the Scientific stand.

Fully functional has nothing to do with it.  We don’t cease being human if we lose functionality.

Rights come into conflict.  There’s no absolute right to bodily autonomy.  Here’s a list of a few ways that bodily autonomy is placed secondary to other rights:

You might claim this “bodily autonomy” argument, but it’s not recognized as an absolute right.

There’s nothing “legally fraudulent” about the CMP videos.  They are as valid as any investigative journalism.  More than most, because the full unedited videos are available.


Chris:  I don’t have time to watch videos, particularly those created by a religious group with a strong interest in telling followers what to think. You will be unable to point to a scientific source that supports your claims because your claims are philosophical, belonging to the realm of metaphysics, as any good scientist knows. Science has well defined boundaries. Among other things, it doesn’t deal in non-testable, non-falsifiable assertions.

As I said, you appear unable to see outside your Catholic metaphysics. The fact that scientifically literate people who don’t share your metaphysical stance (e.g. atheists like myself) don’t see “the primary difference with regard to their humanity between a fertilized egg and an adult” as being the stage of development should tell you that your view is not based on science.

You are moving the goalposts a bit. We were just talking about a zygote and you seem to have acknowledged that’s an indefensible position, notwithstanding your propaganda video, and moved to considering “a fully developed 7 to 9 month fetus”. I’ll agree that a fully developed third trimester fetus has a good chance of being viable outside the mother and not being naturally aborted by internal processes. I’ll go further and say that it’s reasonable to argue that the state has an interest in protecting that fetus from outside harm. We will probably disagree on the nature of the state’s interest. That interest must be weighed against the state’s interest in protecting the woman’s autonomy.

I didn’t claim that bodily autonomy is an absolute right. It’s a human right, an acknowledged necessity for living a full life. The question is whether a zygote, or a fetus, has more right to its continued existence than a woman has to her autonomy. I consider that the basic moral argument for this situation, and I believe the woman’s right is well defined as essential and must be protected, whereas the zygote or fetus is not a person and has no inherent right to continued existence.


PL:  I’m not moving the goalposts, I’m making an inductive argument.  The likelihood that life will continue to develop at any point is irrelevant to the fact that life is present.

What “scientifically literate” people argue that life doesn’t begin at conception?

Don’t argue with me about when life begins, argue with these Scientists:

I find this particularly ironic:

 It’s a human right, an acknowledged necessity for living a full life.

What right is more necessary to living a full life than life itself?

You argue that a zygote or fetus is not a person is entirely a philosophical one.  You could arbitrarily say that any human being didn’t have an inherent right to continued existence.


Chris: Most of the quotes in your link say nothing about when life begins. It’s very telling that none of your links are science sources. It’s almost as if good scientists don’t want to be seen taking a stand on an issue outside the domain of science.

You keep dropping the “human” aspect of this discussion, likely because it complicates matters further for you. But it’s essential, because pro-life people are concerned with “human” life, human persons as it’s generally put by the pro-life lobby. Humans, like other mammalian bodies, are not so much discrete individuals as complex systems composed of collections of organisms behaving (mostly) symbiotically. That’s a scientific fact. What is it that makes a human being a human and when does a sperm and egg, arguably alive themselves but with very limited potential on their own, become a human person? There’s a Catholic answer, which you’re apparently following, but non Catholics have no need to agree with it.

Your perception of my statement on autonomy as a human right is ironic only because you’ve decided that zygotes and fetuses have at least as much right to continued existence as the woman they inhabit.

Here’s a brief list of points when it makes sense to declare life as beginning. Notice that the scientist doesn’t take a firm stand. This is written by an actual scientist, who’s also a bioethicist.

Here’s a decent source for discussion of when life begins. It’s a non-theistic source.

Ultimately, this will come to an impasse, because you are unable to see that your perspective is based on your Catholic beliefs and I’m unwilling to accept your claim about zygotes and fetuses being human persons with rights of their own. Both are philosophical stances.


PL: Most of the quotes in your link say nothing about when life begins.

Most?  Really?  I didn’t count them, but I do see that many of them do.

They are all quotes from Scientists, giving the Scientific view.

Here’s some more quotes from Scientists from a non-theistic source, if you are interested:

Yes, these are all people on one side of the argument collecting these quotes.  So what?  Who put up the web page says nothing about the validity of the argument being made.

Your perception of my statement on autonomy as a human right is ironic only because you’ve decided that zygotes and fetuses have at least as much right to continued existence as the woman they inhabit.

Talk about moving the goal posts.  I don’t think the fetus has as much right as the continued existence of the woman they inhabit.  But, a life she called into being by a willful act has some claim on her convenience, I think.

Your Scientist and your Rationalwiki are all making Philosophical points, not Scientific ones.

One of the “life points” the biologist argues for in the article is pubescence.  I guess we’ll be seeing people claim that pre-pubescent humans don’t have life in the same sense as adults and can be terminated because they constitute an inconvenience on the parents (who do have full rights).

I agree that it’s ultimately a philosophical stand who has rights to life.  Others have recognized that the pro-choice position is arbitrary.  We’re pushing back who gets the right and who doesn’t all the time.  Now, there are philosophers like Peter Singer arguing against the infant’s right to life.

Here’s a good article on how Science Fiction author Philip K. Dick came to that realization back in 1974.  It also brings up the slope we’re sliding down I mention above.


Chris: I read the text at the Princeton link and they are not taking a stand on human life per se. They are using medical terminology to describe stages in a process. None make a claim about human life that’s usable to argue about abortion. In fact, the acknowledgement that life is a continuous process and the careful avoidance of making metaphysical claims illustrates my point about the metaphysical definition of human life as human personhood. After all, that’s the crux of the pro-life argument, that a human person is created at conception and that this person has rights.

Pardon me if I erroneously believed that you consider a fetus to have the same rights as a woman. If you’re not arguing that an embryo or fetus is a human person, with equal rights to a woman, then on what basis do you support the pro-life stance?

All the arguments in favor of and against abortion are ultimately philosophical, not scientific. Philosophy, in this case ethics and metaphysics, provides the structure we need to give meaning to the physical structures and relations provided by science.

This is not an issue that will ever be universally settled. Given my current understanding of human life and human rights, I support the granting of human personhood, and rights, to infants as soon as they’re born. I’m dissatisfied with this stance, but I think it’s the best balance given what I know.


PL: Pardon me if I erroneously believed that you consider a fetus to have the same rights as a woman. If you’re not arguing that an embryo or fetus is a human person, with equal rights to a woman, then on what basis do you support the pro-life stance?

The way you worded it earlier, the fetus has as much right to life as the woman.  I’d say they have similar rights to life.  We’re arguing here if the fetus’ right to life is more important than the woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

The argument when human life begins is not philosophical, the only philosophical argument is what life deserves protection.


Chris: The key point that people often dance around is that a developing human embryo is not necessarily a human person, with defined rights. The question of when life begins is far from a settled issue, but it’s not something we’re going to make progress on here. The question is whether and when the cell(s) that result from human reproduction become a human being, a legal person.

I believe that all sentient life deserves protection, to include human and non human. I think the minimum we owe sentient beings is to abstain from causing them to suffer. I became a vegetarian many years ago for ethical reasons when I was thinking through issues like this. Animals cannot have rights because rights involve responsibilities, which requires understanding. This leads to some ethical difficulties, but it’s the best I’ve come up with. Animal welfare is a major focus of mine, and I see human beings as existing along a continuum with the other animals. All that can suffer deserve at least that we not cause them suffering. If we can’t help them, we should at least not hurt them.

Given the above stance, I require that we not cause a developing embryo to suffer. There are studies on when a fetus has developed sufficiently to sense pain. Before that point, I see no reason not to grant the woman free access to abortion if she wishes it. After that point, it becomes more difficult, because we must ensure that the fetus does not suffer. I find discussion of this aspect of abortion reasonable and medicine can contribute to the discussion.


PL: Yes, it’s clear that an embryo is not a “legal person” in this country.

A Jew wasn’t a “legal person with rights” in NAZI Germany, either.

I still think that the primary difference between a young fetus and an adult is stage of development.

But, at least we can agree on something.  A ban on abortions after 20 weeks, then?  They are legal in much of the country today.

But, can we extend killing to any other human life that we find doesn’t deserve protection as long as they are properly anesthetized?   That seems like it would be a logical consequence of your stand.


Chris:  I don’t support banning abortion at all. I do support requiring anesthesia for the fetus if there’s a chance it could suffer. The evidence I’ve seen indicates that it’s far later than 20 weeks before pain can be perceived.

I don’t think it’s helpful to compare Nazi Germany and Jews to abortion.

In theory, we could extend killing to any human life, but in practice our society would not choose this path. Almost everyone agrees that a human being, once born, is in a class of protected life, a legal person and citizen. It’s hard to see us returning to a state where some citizens have less inherent value. Of course, we treat some life (non citizens) as lesser life in practice.

I find abortion morally repugnant, but I’m primarily interested in reducing abortion by enabling every woman to have excellent access to contraception, education, and health care, removing the stigma of open female sexuality, and treating women as full human beings who are capable of making all decisions regarding their bodies.


PL: The evidence I’ve seen is that pain can be perceived at 20 weeks.

You are deciding which humans deserve life.

What everyone agrees is not necessary right.  That’s just a formula for denying minority rights.

It’s hard to see us returning to a state where some citizens have less inherent value. Of course, we treat some life (non citizens) as lesser life in practice.


_I find abortion morally repugnant, but I’m primarily interested in reducing abortion by enabling every woman to have excellent access to contraception, education, and health care, removing the stigma of open female sexuality, and treating women as full human beings who are capable of making all decisions regarding their bodies. _

Your solutions to reducing abortion haven’t really panned out.  Treating women as full human beings would be holding the fully responsible for the actions they take with their bodies.


Chris: I disagree with you, PL. The states with the most regressive treatment of women and the abstinence only policies tend to have the highest number of unintended pregnancies. Arizona for example requires an abstinence only sticker on biology textbooks, yet has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy in the nation.

I haven’t heard you mention anything about men’s responsibility not to have sex with women they don’t want to have a child with. In a just society, they would be at least as culpable as women. I also note that there are children available for adoption. If pro-life people were willing to commit to children 100%, they’d give those children loving homes.

Everyone decides what humans deserve life. You and I disagree on the abortion, but if you’re truly pro-life, then we probably agree that we need to fund families so children and adults have good food and education, abolish the death penalty, enact national health care, feed the world’s poor, protect civilians to the extent of our ability during conflicts, reform policing, and intervene in nations that mistreat their citizens. So I suspect we agree on most issues.

I know that banning abortion will not stop abortion, just make it more difficult and less safe, and I don’t think it’s my right to intervene in a woman’s life in such a difficult decision.


PL: Yes, I believe men should not have sex with women with whom they don’t intend to have children, if they are fertile.

There are actually waiting lines for babies for adoption in this country.  Many people go internationally to adopt babies because they can’t find them in the US.  Older children up for adoption often pose more challenges, but usually Foster care is available.  There are very few children in orphanages anymore.

Religious people adopt many children.   I know several who have adopted, even special needs children.

Yes, banning abortion won’t stop it, just like banning murder hasn’t eradicated that.  We don’t hear calls for making murder safe, legal and rare, though.


Chris:  I believe you when you say that you disapprove of men having sex with women they don’t want to have a child with. However, that doesn’t help the current situation much. Women bear the shame and hostility of unintended pregnancy. Men do not for the most part. As the recent Ashley Madison and many other revelations have demonstrated, even the most religious men seem unable to control their desire to have sex outside marriage.

The fact is that there are children without permanent parents in the United States, and no guarantee that a woman who gives birth will be able to hand the infant to a loving family. There are waiting lines for newborn babies, just like people like kittens and puppies.

Most religious people do not adopt children. Some certainly do. I know many religious and non religious people and I don’t see a difference in their adoption rates. In fact, you’re probably aware that non religious people and LGBT people are discriminated against in adoption, generally by the same people who are pro-life activists.

Abortion is not murder, not legally and not philosophically, at least outside your narrow religious beliefs. Comparing the two is unhelpful, just like your earlier comparison to Nazi Germany.

Most pro-life people generally are pro birth Republicans, trying to force women to give birth but then considering their religious duty done and their pro-life work complete. I try to minimize the perceived need for abortion by providing everything a woman needs to avoid becoming unexpectedly pregnant and providing her the means to end an unwanted pregnancy as early as possible. Every pro-choice activist I know has the same goals. Working to make sex education, birth control, and early medical abortion available has resulted in improving women’s lives around the world, and this improves the lives of children as families have the will and means to properly care for them. In summary, I believe my goals, and those of my fellow pro-choice activists, have made a positive difference in the lives of women, children, and families around the world. I don’t see positive results from the pro-life activists.


Judge Decides No Immunity For Cops Who Sent A SWAT Team To A 68-Year-Old Woman’s House


Conclusion of Judgement by Court of Appeals

From the techdirt post: In 2012, the home of 68-year-old grandmother Louise Milan “was raided by a SWAT team (accompanied by a news crew) searching for someone who had made alleged threats against police officers over the internet. Part of the probable cause submitted for the warrant was Milan’s IP address. But the police made no attempt to verify whether any resident of Milan’s house made the threats and ignored the fact that the IP address was linked to an open WiFi connection.”

This is unjustifiable and nearly incomprehensible, as the judge noted. One or more police need to be fired and banned from holding a law enforcement position again and there needs to be a punitive judgement sufficient to motivate police across the nation to take notice and change their policies to prevent this from happening again.

The Real Causes of the American Civil War

Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemtery

Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery – Wikipedia

In this excellent article, Ta-Nehisi Coates lays bare the principles the American Civil War was fought over and the mask of deception practiced by racists ever since. He quotes the documents of secession and other relevant historical documents to prove his point.

This is a good resource to point to when you run into the willfully ignorant who claim the Civil War as a “War of Northern Aggression” or the hateful flag as a symbol of a proud (non-slave) heritage. It may not shut them up, let alone open their eyes, but their reaction to this evidence will be a good gauge as to whether further engagement is a waste of your time.

The Research We’ve Ignored About Happiness at Work

shovel to dig on the farm

This is a good read, with plenty of sources for further exploration. I think the very term happiness invites failure. We can’t reliably pursue something so poorly defined, and so dependent on the individual and her environment.

Most of us understand we cannot pursue joy, that transient gift we experience as a sort of gift from the cosmos. Why do we pursue something as grand and insubstantial as happiness, when we can approach more measurable phenomena, productivity for example, and the many aspects of productivity that can be independently measured to some degree?

Do we want people to be happy? Sure we do, despite our inability to define what that means. But we have a lot of evidence for what helps people want to come to work, across personality and other categories. People want to feel challenged, to feel that their efforts matter in the pursuit of some worthy goal, and to feel they’re a respected part of a team. These are fairly well defined and universal aspects of work that good companies can and do pursue.

President Obama Responds to Attack on His Foreign Policy

This is from April 2014, but I’m sharing it now (August 2015) because it’s brilliant. I disagree with Obama on a lot of specific policies, but when I do, I think long and hard about why I disagree, what his motives are, and what he knows that I don’t, because he’s an utterly brilliant man. That much is beyond reasonable doubt, and his ad hoc answer to the Fox reporter here illustrates that.

There’s a transcript of the exchange between Obama and the FOX News “journalist” here if you’re interested.

What Is Essential Is Invisible to the Eye

Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

The quote above is from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. The best English translation I’ve found is “Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” This tattoo may well be my all-time favorite.