Sacred Hypocrisy

The entire “Right-to-Life” movement in the United States is based on the idea that human life is “sacred.” Except that’s not true. In both practice and ideal, the movement insists that only unborn life is sacred.

The life of a woman who will die from a pregnancy isn’t sacred. The lives of tens of thousands of unwanted children born to women who cannot support them aren’t sacred. The so-called Right-to-Lifers make no provisions for the needs of unwanted or ill-fed children. Nor do most of them support legislation or provisions to aid poor mothers. At a time when minimum wage jobs won’t support an individual in most U.S. cities, let alone a family, what do Right-To-Lifers think is going to happen to all the unwanted children who will be born if abortion is banned? Not only that, but how many more unwanted pregnancies will occur because birth control counseling and means have been restricted or banned.

We already have too many homeless in our cities and streets… and the anti-abortion crowd thinks that banning abortion won’t create more?

Like it or not, human beings will have sex. Puritans, strict Catholics, and many, if not most, Evangelicals insist that abstinence is the only “approved” form of birth control, and, given restricted or banned abortion, and without access to knowledgeable and available birth control, there will be even more unwanted children and mothers who either cannot physically support those children… or who will not. Moral proscriptions and moralizing won’t change that.

Nor will moralizing and laws change the fact that most poor women don’t have the resources to raise children in ways that won’t leave many, if not most, of those children without the skills and resources to be productive members of society, particularly at a time when decent paying, low-skilled jobs have all but vanished. But the majority of the Right-To-Life crew doesn’t want to pay to provide that support.

In addition to that, the Right-to-Lifers won’t acknowledge that a significant number of unwanted pregnancies are the result of men forcing themselves on women. Given that, in most cases, men are stronger than women, the Right-to-Life position is essentially condoning the subjugation of women to the will of men, both in forcing women to have sex and then forcing them to bear unwanted children.

So Right-to-Lifers want to force women to have children they can’t support, and that Right-to-Lifers won’t. I don’t see any deity swooping down to provide manna for food or angels constructing lodging… and while some charities do the best they can, it’s not enough, and it never will be.

What the Right-to-Lifers are doing, however well-intentioned they think they are about the sacredness of life, is trying to require unwanted children to be born and then denying support to that unwanted life once it is born, because apparently those children aren’t all that sacred once they’re born and suffering, with the result that the massive costs of inadequate government benefits for those mothers and children are dumped on everyone else. And on top of that, most of these right-wingers then complain about the burden those children and their mothers place on society.

And the only terms for that are religious hypocrisy, ignorance… or stupidity, if not all three. Take your pick.

The Law As Ass

One of Dickens’ characters, Mr. Bumble, as I recall, said something to the effect that if the law established some ridiculous provision then the law was “a ass.”

Usually, the law isn’t quite that bad, but that was before Texas passed its recent anti-abortion legislation. Regardless of one’s position on abortion, this legislation is worse than an abortion of rights or a miscarriage of justice [both of which it is], and the U.S. Supreme Court’s failure to stop its implementation suggests that those justices in the High Court’s majority are also asses – in legal terms.

Apparently, in order to avoid making the state of Texas the enforcement body, the law enables anyone to file a civil lawsuit in any jurisdiction against anyone who performs an abortion of any fetus from Texas where the heartbeat can be detected [usually around six weeks] as well as against anyone who enables/assists in obtaining such an abortion. The statute also mandates a judgement/payment to the plaintiff of up to $10,000 and possibly more.

The historic legal requirement for obtaining damages is that someone has suffered an injury of some sort, yet under the Texas law anyone can file such a lawsuit, even if they cannot prove that they personally suffered such an injury. The “beauty” of this approach is that even if the complainant/plaintiff receives no damages, the defendant is saddled with enormous legal costs and bills, while the plaintiff and the Republican legislators who passed the legislation get off scot-free.

Furthermore, the language around what constitutes an enabler is vague enough that anyone who transports a woman seeking an abortion to where an abortion takes place might well be subject to the legislation. That could conceivably even involve airlines or other transportation.

The Texas Right to Life movement is already reputedly establishing a hot line to receive tips about women seeking abortions. Perhaps, in that light, the organization should change its name to the “Texas Taliban.”

The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t just strike down the law as a gross infringement on personal privacy suggests worse may be yet to come.

So… three cheers, or rather raspberries, for all those legal asses.

Biden Was Right

I’ve always been annoyed by back-seat drivers and Monday morning quarterbacks, who always KNOW how they could have “done it better” than someone who was under pressure and didn’t meet their standards, whether that someone was a quarterback or a politician. Very occasionally, the armchair strategists are right, but mostly they couldn’t have done it better… or even as well, with the possible exception of doing it better than Trump.

Hindsight’s a great predictor after the fact.

Getting out of Afghanistan would ALWAYS have turned into a scramble. The basic structural system was a recipe for disaster. Take a partly semi-modernized capital, propped up and supported almost entirely by the United States, with a “government” that was often governing in name only and only in places where Afghan troops, with American backing, could hold back the Taliban. Add a culture that, outside of Kabul and a handful of other places, hadn’t changed significantly in at least a thousand years, and a “country” that has no truly “national” identity and is split into tribal factions based on brutal fundamentalist versions of faith. Outside of Kabul, there’s essentially no modern infrastructure except that supplied and maintained by American and other allied military.

What was holding the entity named Afghanistan together was the military and associated contractor presence spearheaded by American soldiers and technocrats, a presence resented by the majority of the population outside Kabul, and even by many within the city.

When you start removing those soldiers and technocrats, the areas they leave lapse back into previous patterns – except for Kabul, which lapsed into chaos, because a significant percentage of the population there doesn’t want to return to the culture of a thousand years previous, but can’t escape.

The only way to stave off what happened would have been to continually increase the U.S. military presence there. Those who argue that maintaining a small U.S. presence in Afghanistan would have stabilized the situation can’t or won’t read maps. As the U.S. military presence receded, the areas controlled by the Taliban increased.

To get out of Afghanistan required reducing the U.S. and allied presence… and the Taliban moved in. Even if the withdrawal had started earlier or lasted longer, the results would have been similar because neither the U.S. nor its allies would have been able politically to remove and assimilate the hundreds of thousands of Afghans and their families who are vulnerable to Taliban abuse and possible atrocities. There are already difficulties in dealing with a “mere” hundred thousand or so.

Blaming Biden for the mess is just a simplistic response to twenty years of wasting huge amounts of money and thousands of American lives, and it also ignores the fact that he was opposed to remaining in Afghanistan in the beginning.

But it’s so much more satisfying to blame someone who’s stopped the years of bleeding money and lives, if not perfectly, than to admit that it was a misguided mess all along.


Some Republican legislatures and governors have acted to forbid mask and vaccination requirements, usually giving one of several rationales: requiring masks and/or vaccination infringes on personal freedoms; people will do what’s best for them; local authorities know what’s best [except when they disagree with Republican state officials].

These reasons all ignore the very basics of government. ALL working governments place restrictions on their citizens in order to maintain the common good.

Those legal requirements are necessary because, without them, and often despite them, there is always a significant percentage of the population that will act against the common good and/or their fellow-citizens individually, either through ignorance, stupidity, greed, self-interest, or malice, or some combination thereof.

Despite the considerable rhetoric against masks and vaccinations, there is NO statistical credible evidence that masks impose harm on healthy individuals or children over a certain young age, and no evidence that vaccination harms healthy adults or children.

There is considerable evidence that mask-wearing dramatically reduces the spread of COVID and that vaccination virtually eliminates hospitalization and death from COVID, with the exception of immuno-compromised individuals (a very small percentage of the population).

So… why are all these Republicans opposing public health measures that would benefit their constituents and save the lives of many? Even as emergency rooms and ICUs are filled to overflowing in largely Republican-led states?

Could it be that those Republicans have forgotten that government exists for the protection of everyone? Or is it that they’re also suffering from an associated malignant mental condition that only appears to strike Republicans – Covidiocy?


One of the reasons given for the rapid collapse of the Afghan government is corruption, which most people take to mean the illegal diversion or theft of materials, goods, weapons, and cash. All of that happened, according to a wide range of reports, but corruption goes far beyond that.

When incompetent individuals are appointed to positions that control resources, either in return for payoffs or in anticipation of some form of ill-gotten gain, much more is lost than just resources. There are at least scattered reports that Afghan soldiers often didn’t get paid, although accounts indicated they had been paid. And when such events occur continually, soldiers become less and less willing to fight for superiors whom the soldiers perceive as getting rich off them while ordering them into danger under officers more likely to get them killed.

All effective organizations require some form of trust, and trust has many components, ranging from belief in the organization and its leaders, to the understanding that good performance is rewarded, and poor performance is not. Effective organizations pay people in some fixed ratio to responsibility and results. Less effective organizations do not. In corrupt organizations, power and resources are siphoned off with little or no relation to organizational priorities, needs, or results.

At times, some effective organizations are based on a negative form of trust – if you don’t get results and aren’t loyal, you’ll get fired or even killed. In that respect, there’s a certain similarity between the old-style Mafia and certain high pressure consulting firms.

Corruption in any institution destroys loyalty and trust, and if the corruption is extensive it will destroy the institution – or government – directly or indirectly.

In a democratically governed nation, such as the United States, the appearance of corruption can be as deadly as actual corruption. The poorer and/or more liberal segments of society see great income inequality in a nation, corporation, or institution as a sign of corruption, even if the methods that cause those inequalities are legal under existing laws. Corporation officers and conservatives often seem to be either unaware of this feeling or believe that it is totally unwarranted because the inequality is “legal.”

On the other side, social liberals and disadvantaged individuals support baseline economic support programs for those who are unable to work or involuntarily unemployed, but many right wing conservatives see those programs, since they’re financed from taxes on working individuals, as a form of corrupt government seizure of income.

Both extremes view these programs/systems valued by the other as “corrupt.” Such perceptions undermine the support of government, despite the fact that these programs/systems were legally established, unlike the widespread corruption in Afghanistan.

That raises the question, of course, of whether there is such a thing as “legal corruption” and, if so, how one can effectively define it.