Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
July 11, 2004 - July 4, 2004

Sunday, July 11, 2004


Context I

SEPTEMBER 2001. Context is the bigger picture, the longer timeframe, the multiple perspectives that enable us to escape our myopic focus on the here and now. What's so wrong about the here and now? It barges in on us with the force and freshness of what is new, making the old seem stale or even obsolete. The here and now is more entertaining. And if it seems to obliterate the preoccupations of yesterday, that can be a liberating experience.

We have been through a particularly intense period of such obliterations this week. The Senate Intelligence Committee has decided that the CIA is to blame for failing to prevent both 9/11 and Bush's unpopular war in Iraq. Blame is a great here-and-now emotion. It gives us the sense that the past is somehow under control. We get to feel superior about the fools of yesterday who weren't as smart as the pristine certainties we enjoy in hindsight. They are folly. We are wisdom. We are not vulnerable as they were. And so we kid ourselves that we are also separated from the stream of consequences that continue to flow out of the past. Once blame has been assigned, we can start anew, as if we have magically achieved a clean slate.

New beginnings are joyful occasions. They're a time for broad smiles, fresh faces, lavish parties. That's why so many plays and movies launch the "happily ever after" of their concluded conflicts with the apotheosis of new beginnings, the wedding ceremony. The bride and groom in consummating their union are symbolically renewing the promise of life for all of us. That's why it's no surprise that this week also brought us the ecstatic exchange of vows between John Kerry and John Edwards, as well as the star-studded reception in which the guests presented their toasts as scathing denunciations of the unacceptable past. Scorn is a great obliterator. It is so self-absorbing, like a balloon in one's innards, that its expansion drives out the ability to perceive irony. Who has noticed the wit of the idiot Bush in choosing this week to speak out against gay marriage?

More soberly, who has juxtaposed the self-congratulating Democrat contempt for Bush displayed in Kerry's tony fundraiser with the odious fracas in Seattle, where we got an Independence Day reminder that anger is obliterating, too:

...Jason Gilson, a 23-year-old military veteran who served in Iraq, marched in the local event. He wore his medals with pride and carried a sign that said "Veterans for Bush."

Walking the parade route with his mom, younger siblings and politically conservative friends, Jason heard words from the crowd that felt like a thousand daggers to the heart.

"Baby killer!"



To understand why the reaction of strangers hurt so much, you must read what the young man had written in a letter from Iraq before he was disabled in an ambush:

"I really miss being in the states. Some of the American public have no idea how much freedom costs and who the people are that pay that awful price. I think sometimes people just see us as nameless and faceless and not really as humans. ... A good portion of us are actually scared that when we come home, for those of us who make it back, that there will be protesters waiting for us and that is scary."

Is it unfair to drag John Kerry away from his preening embrace of a not-quite-one-term prettyboy senator into this squalid scene? Sometimes real life provides its own helpful context. One of Gilson's fellow marchers had good reason to know the precedent for this kind of treatment of veterans. His father is a man named Frederick Scheffler.

Scheffler -- an Army veteran of two tours in Southeast Asia -- was shot in the leg during that long-ago conflict.

He came home with a cane, only to discover the American public was either indifferent to his sacrifice or downright hostile.

"I didn't think in this day and age combat veterans would be treated in this manner," Scheffler, 60, tells me, reflecting on Jason. "I saw it happen to veterans in Vietnam. I'm not going to let it happen today, not to these kids."

Oh, but he has no choice. He cannot hold back the gaiety of Democrat nuptials and their power to mesmerize both the media and the Hollywood-adoring onlookers. If their party is loud enough and scornful enough, it just might be possible to make America believe that the past is not still waiting and working and warring against us.

And they can always count on our most civilized compatriots, the Europeans, to do their part in magnifying the distractions of the here and now. Again this week, the magisterial Hans Blix uttered the pronouncement that the threat of global terrorism is outweighed by the impending catastrophes of hunger and global warming. Now there's some welcome obliteration: we have bigger things to worry about than Bush's feckless war on terror.

Yet underneath the accumulating mountain of diversion, there is a single tectonic plate whose magnitude we all do remember, no matter how dazzlingly diverse our efforts to forget it. In each of us lies that earthquake moment which divided the whole context of the present from the context of the past. Everything we are piling up to build more distance between ourselves and the crack in the world created by 9/11 is really an outgrowth of it. The hugs and kisses of Kerry-Edwards do not change the momentum of the quake; their power is no more than the false comfort of Mommy's lap as the roof is caving in with crushing strength.

It's impossible to look ahead farsightedly if you do not carry the past vividly with you through the mad parade of the present. Fortunately, there are those who work tirelessly to help us remember. For this reason, we'll close with a thank you to Charles Krauthammer, who survived the week's nonsense to counter Hans Blix's wishful thinking with plain and simple truth:

Hunger is a scourge that has always been with us and that has not been a threat to humanity's existence for at least 1,000 years. Global warming might one day be, but not for decades, or even centuries, and with a gradualness that will leave years for countermeasures.

There is no gradualness and there are no countermeasures to a dozen nuclear warheads detonating simultaneously in American cities. Think of what just two envelopes of anthrax did to paralyze the capital of the world's greatest superpower. A serious, coordinated attack on the United States using WMDs could so shatter the United States as a functioning advanced industrialized society that it would take generations to rebuild.

What is so dismaying is that such an obvious truth needs repeating. The passage of time, the propaganda of the anti-American left, and the setbacks in Iraq have changed nothing of that truth. This is the first time in history the knowledge of how to make society-destroying weapons has been democratized. Today, small radical groups allied with small radical states can do the kind of damage to the world that in the past only a great, strategically located industrialized power like Germany or Japan could do.

Somewhere in our heads, the planes are still flying into the towers, the victims are still jumping and burning, the mightiest buildings in the history of New York are still crumbling into ruin, a whole nation is still grieving and ready for war, an untried president is still feeling the weight of a new world settling on his shoulders and grabbing a bullhorn to rally us back from despair. We have to find that place in our heads and preserve its pain, because it is that important kind of pain which no one can kiss away.

Friday, July 09, 2004


Terminally Crass

BLOCKBUSTER. One of our far-flung correspondents checked in with his review of a movie that could be the vanguard of a major new Hollywood trend -- the two-hour commercial. Here's what Gawkur has to say:

LET'S GO TO THE MOVIES! Too busy? OK, just listen up and we’ll tell you one. It’s The Terminal, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, two Hollywood giants. So the moment our hero, Viktor Navorski, arrives at JFK International, you expect big things. What you get are gargantuan product placements for dozens—dozens I tell you—real-life enterprises, all of which are doing a brisk business in the terminal, wherever you look, for the entire 128 minutes. This might not be a great picture, but it is big brand marketing of epic proportions. But now to the sub-plot.

Right off the plane from his native Krakozhia, our Eastern European hero is nabbed by immigration. While winging his way to America, the Krakozhian government has fallen to a coup; and upon arrival Viktor is informed that his papers are, somehow, invalid. He is a man without a country, he can’t leave the terminal, America has shut her doors.

At first, Viktor can’t comprehend his predicament. How could he not? Well, because he can’t speak English and must be stupid. Viktor’s arch nemesis, the Republican-looking Frank Dixon (played by Stanley Tucci with a red, white & blue lapel pin) is the chief immigration Gestapo who banishes Viktor to the terminal. Got that? Oh, I forgot to explain that while the Gestapo would love nothing more than to drop our lovable visitor deep into the bowels of the nearest dungeon, the evil fascist just can’t pull it off until a law has been broken. That better? Anyway, as Viktor schleps through the terminal with a mysterious can of nuts and his ugly Eastern European luggage in tow, he is tortured by images of American materialism on the one hand, and on the other, CNN coverage of his homeland disintegrating in flames. Somewhere in between, Viktor stumbles into Amelia (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) a gorgeous, adulterous stewardess (isn’t that the best kind?) who is oh so eager to strike a better deal with our nerdy hero. That’s what happened.

This is where the old Spielberg/Hanks magic really shines through—the Alien, the Castaway, the Lost Soul searching for a way back home. Now see the pitiful, famished Viktor gazing at all the superb airport food just beyond reach because he has no money, even though he stepped off the darned plane just a few minutes earlier… Viktor in innocent dignity, bathing in the men’s room… Viktor pursuing the American Dream, returning baggage carts for a few paltry shekels… Viktor coming to the aid of cuddly little WASP kids… Viktor befriending a veritable rainbow of metaphorically trapped airport workers named Enrique and Gupta and even a guy named Joe … Viktor launching his second business as an independent contractor in the building trade (cash under the table, of course)…Victor falling even deeper in love with the frisky, kind-hearted stew.

All of this to a musical score by the masterful John Williams. Do you feel the lovely and subtle Eastern European ethnic quality of clarinet and accordion?

We soon learn that Viktor is actually rather clever; after all, he does pick up some English. More importantly, we discover him to be a man on a mission, one inextricably tied to a paternal death-bed promise and that very formidable can of nuts. This is a man of character and his word can be trusted. His honor and reliability are central themes. In the end, the Gestapo is foiled and Viktor is victorious.

Need another reason to take in The Terminal? How about this—You can say you had a laugh, shed a tear or two, through the most persistent barrage of guerilla advertising in cinematic history… American Express, Anne’s Pretzels, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, Baja Fresh, Panda Express, Burger King, CitiGroup, Verizon Wireless, Dean & Deluca, Discovery Store, Brookstone, Cambridge SoundWorks, Hugo Boss, La Perla, Hudson News, Borders Books, Paul Mitchell, Godiva, Swatch, Harry and David’s, Origins, Smarte Carte, Nathan’s Famous, Au Bon Pain, Yoshinoya, S’Barro, Krispy Kreme, The Daily Grill, United Airlines, and Starbucks. Did I miss anything? Oh yes, Planters, which is the unsung hero of this most remarketable film.

And how can we be sure that Gawkur is right, that all this brand assault is deliberate and probably paid for? Here's a paragraph from Roger Ebert's review:

Most of this movie was shot on a set, a vast construction by production designer Alex McDowell. We're accustomed these days to whole cities and planets made of computerized effects. Here the terminal with all of its levels, with its escalators and retail shops and food courts and security lines and passenger gates, actually exists. The camera of the great Janusz Kaminski can go anywhere it wants, can track and crane and pivot, and everything is real. Not one viewer in 100 will guess this is not a real airline terminal.

Spielberg built his own terminal and stocked it like the shelves of a supermarket with famous names.Yet Ebert failed to observe the blitzkrieg of product placements. Maybe he was too enchanted by the movie to notice. Or maybe we're all too numbed by the commercials we're continuously exposed to on everything from billboards to DVDs and computer and TV screens. You'd think someone besides Gawkur would have commented on a brazen ploy this big, though. But as far as we know, you heard it here first. Don't slip on the way out of the theater in your rush to go buy something.

Thursday, July 08, 2004


Michael Moore's Little Oysters

PSOMETHINGS.17. Since the latest InstaPunk piece that mentioned Michael Moore, some of his followers (would those be Moorites, Stiletto-Heads...? You pick it, though we prefer Oysters) have finally figured out how to make entries in the Boomer Bible Forum. This is fine. We welcome input from readers and are happy to discuss your views on the topics we touch on in our decidedly opinionated blog site. Forum participants are by no means unanimous about the mouthy output of InstaPunk, but the regulars share a penchant for backing up their opinions with facts and ideas they've gathered through their own research.

In this milieu, the Oysters stick out like a sore thumb. They enter in high dudgeon, dragging their flamethrowers and gatling guns behind them, and leap immediately into combat without a glance at where they are and who they are attacking. We thought it might be fun to show you a couple of the Oysters at work, along with some Forum responses, to acquaint you with the fact that you also have an opportunity to mix it up with the punks. Unlike and, we don't ban people for disagreeing with us. We ban people for arbitrary and capricious reasons, and then we bring them back for more jousting. But our preference is for people who can contribute some insight and who know how to frame a real argument. Bomb throwers try our patience, but even they will receive a thoughtful response. Now for our examples of recent dustups.

One Oyster wrote us:

Let me say that I do disagree with your 6/25 analysis of the Moore movie/doucu/polemic as "an act of fiction, a work of fiction." There is no fiction in Halliburton, or in the Carlyle Group, the collusion with the Saudis on oil by GWB Sr. and JR. THAT IS NOT FICTION. It is treason and collaboration. You are ignorant of the law and of the Nuremberg policies and legal precedents from WW II Germany. You and Ashcroft. Too bad. Indeed.

Have you no shame??? 3,000 dead in NYC, 200 dead in the Pentagon, 75 dead in Pa., 900 (almost) soldiers dead in Iraq???? Is that enough "fiction" for you??? Please reconsider the film and your comments.


This drew the following response from our own 'Sigma':

In the first place, I did not use the word 'fiction' in my discussion of F911.

That said, I propose that you don't seem to have a very clear grasp of what fiction is. Using facts in artful ways to bolster a conspiracy theory for which there is little or no evidence does qualify as fiction.

The congressman who was edited to look speechless at Moore's question about sending his son to war is a good small-scale example. In fact, that congressman had a nephew serving in the military and told Moore about him. When Moore drops that bit of film on the editing room floor, he is lying by omission and promulgating an untruth.

Clearly, he has inveigled you into unquestioning acceptance because he drapes his other untruths, half-truths, and empy accusations around the kinds of facts you reference so stormily: the fact that Halliburton exists, the fact that the Carlyle Group exists, the fact that the 9/11 attack happened, the fact that the Iraq War happened. So what. None of this easily recognizable 'truth' tells us anything about whether the Bush family colluded with the bin Ladens. To do that, you'd have to examine the evidence in detail, including the chronologies of association between the Bushes, Cheneys, etc, with the organizations you contemn and determine whether they even could have participated in the decisions you believe occurred. Fact checkers have done this pretty meticulously with regard to Moore's F911, and the 'facts' make Moore's accusations look silly, malicious, and, yes, largely fictitious.

I'd be interested in hearing the credentials that back up your pompous lecturing to me about history. I doubt you've read a tenth the history I have, and if there's any 'shame' to be apportioned in this discussion, it goes to the correspondent who lists names and calls them facts. Learn how to think before you start getting rude with grownups.

This infuriated a second Oyster, who rallied to his colleague's defense:

Many thanks on your fairytale reading of fiction, and your most cavalier interpretation of war crimes.

Oh yes, you failed to mention oil & Saudi Arabia, and the Lobbying by GWB & the Halliburton group. How very convenient. Years of secret ties to the Saudis & the Oil Cartels.

You don't mention either the flight of the Bin-Laden clan AFTER the attacks in NYC. Totally illegal and traesonous. Have you no shame??? Did you know that Waffa Bin-Laden left NYC a WEEK before the attacks and hid in London??? And you, Wise Scholar, dare to suggest NO CONSPIRACY? Absurd fairytale? No. Hardly, a type of fiction. Pure fact.

We will not rest until this is all over. You can read your history until doomsday. You can choke on facts. You cannot change the underlying conspiratorial truth of this situation. You are just so put out and jealous of Michael Moore's success, you might explode. Treason will NOT go unpunished. Halliburton and Carlyle and other DOD contractors will ultimately face the Nuremberg line. of prosecution. You will not stop the march of history with your diatribes against Michael Moore. Treason will always find its way to the dustbin of history.

Once again, Sigma replied:

Oh goody. The crazy idiots are here. Come on in, everybody. I love to hear from the intellectual base of the hard left. And I do mean base. I'm amazed they can even spell Nuremberg. Questions they can't answer:

Why did Richard Clarke take full responsibility for the decision to fly the bin Ladens back to Saudi Arabia? He's clearly no apologist for Bush.

If Bush and the Saudis were really in cahoots (that means 'conspiring' for you geniuses who have trouble spelling 'treason'), then why did the Saudis refuse to permit any support for the Iraq invasion from U.S. installations in Arabia?

Who is it that's making all the money on oil in your conspiracy scenario? Prices at the pumphead are sky high, oil companies are announcing reduced profits, and control of Iraqi oil is, and has been, under control of Iraqis. Starting a war is clearly so much cheaper and easier than backing down at no cost, letting the U.N. remove the sanctions from Iraq, and letting the free flow of Iraqi oil reduce prices, thereby accelerating demand and profits. (Or were you foreign policy/economics experts too stoned to listen the day they covered the demand-supply curve in economics?)

I'm sure it's much more fun to squeal about war crimes than to do any real research or thinking. Much better to go see a movie and accept every frame of it uncritically.

Jealousy isn't quite the word for the way I feel about Michael Moore. I admire his film editing skills but despise his whole fake populist act.

Now, unless the cretins have something NEW to say, no more response is needed. Variations on the same illiterate diatribe do not count as making a contribution to the discussion.

But another of our number, known as Pawntificate, offered a better and more typical response, one that can be used as our standing invitation to all who read InstaPunk and feel tempted to join the fun:

I'll attempt to rise above the bitterness and presumption of your posts. Have you read the Snopes account of the Bin Laden flight?

If not, do so. It suggests a very different interpretation of the flights - not treason or conspiracy but a reasonable and generous offer to preserve innocent people from facing the risk of an American people enraged and willing to avenge themselves on anyone they felt to be guilty by association. Its not a pretty thing, but at least one such murder did occur.

I ask you, what should the government have done? Arrest anyone with the last name of Bin Laden? All people from Saudi Arabia? All muslims? Or turn a blind eye to any lynchings that might occur?

Accusing the government of treason is a mighty big thing to do. In previous times you would only say such a thing if you were willing and eager to sacrifice your own life to bring "justice". Are you? Or are you just a cowardly adolescent grasping at Michael Moore's arrogance to make you feel morally superior to anyone and everyone?

Prove your point. Astound us with your depth of insight into constitutional law. Exegete the Nuremberg trials for our benefit. Demonstrate the vast interconnected conspiracy you speak of. Answer the myriad objections that have been leveled against F911. I will listen. But your essay had better be pretty damn impressive, because you've insulted a close friend, and it's taking great restraint to respond to you with any measure of respect.

Once I've read this great, life-changing work that I know you are anxious to share with us, then I will be glad to continue our conversation.

Do you want to come play with us? Yeah, it gets rough, and personal, but we enjoy the challenge. As the illustrious junior senator from Massachussetts would say, "Bring it on."

Wednesday, July 07, 2004


Kerry-Edwards Kerry-Edwards


KERRY-EDWARDS. I wandered over to today, where they have 14 articles about Kerry-Edwards. I know it's required for every pundit, columnist, and lowly blogger to weigh in on the intensely interesting subject of Kerry-Edwards. So I'm trying to do my part here. Kerry-Edwards. Kerry-Edwards! Kerry-Edwards? It will come to me in a minute, I'm sure.

They sure do make some big teeth down south. Do you think maybe there's a little horse in some of those bloodlines? Forget that. It's off-topic. Sort of off-topic anyway. They keep reminding us that he's this rich successful trial lawyer, but I keep seeing him as the guy on TV who wants you to come on down to the dealership and make an eye-popping deal on a leftover Chevy pickup. Why do they always shout and carry on like that? Is there some sort of secret car-dealer society where they learn all that hokey jabber? Well, this line of talk isn't going anywhere. Kerry-Edwards.

Kerry-Edwards. Somebody or other told me Chris Matthews said that Edwards would clean Cheney's clock in a debate. Because he's a rich trial lawyer. Am I the only one who's ever watched Court TV? I can't believe all those trial lawyers are so anxious to be filmed on the job. Perry Mason they're not. What they are is slow, halting, repetitive, and boring. Real life cross-examination is more like an audit than an episode of Law and Order. I think Cheney could stand up to an audit pretty well. Heaven knows he's probably been through enough of them. Of course, Chris Matthews isn't the most objective fellow in the world. Not the smartest fellow in the world either. In fact, he's kind of a dope. But a fast-talking dope. He's the only man in broadcasting who can give a 700-word sound bite. Oh. Did I stop talking about Kerry-Edwards again? Sorry.

Kerry-Edwards. Will Edwards help the ticket? Who knows. Will he hurt the ticket? Who knows. Should it have been Gephardt or Bayh or Clinton instead? Who cares. The decision's been made. Will Edwards carry his own home state? Well, that's why we have elections, to find out that very thing. Are women going to flock to Edwards? I don't know. I'm not a woman. What do men think of him? Lots of things probably. Most men have pretty different opinions about everything but women, and Edwards isn't a woman, so there's no help there. Kerry-Edwards.

Kerry-Edwards. I'm trying. I'm really trying to figure out what could have been in all those other articles about Kerry-Edwards. But I can't. I couldn't even read them. As soon as they get to the part about Kerry-Edwards a certain feeling steals over me and my eyelids start getting heavy. Kerry-Edwards, Kerry-Edwards, and then my head starts to droop toward my chest and before I know it I.........................

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


The Doorway

THE CHOICE. John Kerry's stealth campaign for the presidency made a mistake over the holiday weekend and got noticed:

...even as he tried to avoid making news Sunday, Kerry broke new ground in an interview that ran in the Dubuque, Iowa, Telegraph Herald. A Catholic who supports abortion rights and has taken heat from some in the church hierarchy for his stance, Kerry told the paper, "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception."

Spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said that although Kerry has often said abortion should be "safe, legal and rare," and that his religion shapes that view, she could not recall him ever publicly discussing when life begins.

Kerry's positions on life and abortion are contradictory, but so are almost everyone else's. If the senator were capable of thinking, his remarks over the weekend could represent the beginning of the first honest discussion about abortion in this country since it became a political issue. Why? Because his contradiction is the important one. All the others are merely confusion factors, concealing selfishness, hypocrisy, political and moralistic cant, specious reasoning, and legalistic chicanery.

The hardcore feminist position doesn't exist on a moral spectrum at all. It is, at its core, amoral. Women should be able to have abortions because they want them. They're allowed to justify their wants in any way that occurs to them. If they want a baby, the fertilized egg in the uterus is a baby. If they don't want a baby, the fertilized egg in the uterus is trash. The hypocrisy that has wrapped itself in layers around the subject is camouflage for this self-serving postulate: the whim of a woman should take precedence over reason, philosophy, law, and religion.

There is, of course, what appears to be an appeal to reason. We are told it is unreasonable and unjust that women should die at the hands of back-alley abortionists, and since women will always seek abortions, it is only reasonable to make it legal and safe for them to do so. But if we consider that in the pre-Roe V. Wade days, about 5,000 women a year died having abortions in this country and since then about one to two million fetuses a year have been aborted, this argument is clearly anti-rational unless a fetus is not a person. There can be no rational basis for trading two million lives for 5,000.

That's why there must be an appeal to law and, specifically, the Constitution. In their eagerness to placate the feminists, the justices of the Supreme Court fabricated a right of privacy that seems to apply to the uterus and nothing else (And don't stand up wagging you finger at me about other so-called privacy rights. They don't exist. Don't tell me about the bedroom privacy established by the gay lobby. If you want to engage in incest with your minor child, you'd better do it in a woman's uterus, or the cops have every right to haul you away. And if you want to protect any of your private financial information from the IRS, I suggest you file it in a woman's uterus.)(Why hasn't anyone thought to set up Uter-Rent, Inc? It's closer than the Caimans.)

But all the constitutional interpretation to date has been hypocritical nonsense. Lawyers' minds work backward on issues that are more philosophical than statutorial. They always seek out the narrowest principle they can apply. An intelligence that hasn't been mutilated by law school, however, would seek out the broadest principles that might illuminate the central question, which is: what can the Constitution tell us about when life begins? Roe V. Wade ducked the key question entirely, the hallmark of an opinion promulgated by idiots.

As it happens, the Constitution is not at all silent about how Americans should decide the abortion issue. The answer lies in the Bill of Rights, which displays a completely consistent determination that the individual, however poor and defenseless, should not be abused by the state simply because the state has more power than he does. Whatever his station, he has a right to a fair trial, and he must be assumed innocent until proven guilty. He has a right to confront his accusers, and he has a right to speak his mind on any matter that occurs to him. He cannot be silenced no matter how small his voice.

It takes nothing like the kind of semantic trickery underpinning Roe V. Wade to see how this philosphical bent of the framers relates to the abortion question. If a fetus is a life, no one has the right under the Constitution to kill it. And as for deciding the question of when life begins, the Constitution's intrinsic prejudice is on the side of the fetus, because we have an obligation to prove that the fetus is not a life before declaring that it has no rights. Just because we cannot hear its voice does not mean that it has no right to speak. And just because it is small and young does not mean that it merits no protection under the law.

Thus, a self-serving pagan desire has managed to overthrow reason, philosophy, and the law. If these truly have been stood on their head, isn't there some place where we can detect it -- a flagrant absurdity of some sort? Yes. We can see the absurdity at work in what I call the Magic Doorway.

Imagine there is a special room. It is special because its state of being is always that there is no one inside the room. This room may have a window, and someone looking through the window can observe what looks like a person in the room, but even then, there is no one in the room. The room also has a doorway, a magic doorway. Its magical property is that what looks like a person through the window but isn't actually becomes a person by walking out of the room through the doorway. It is this act of walking through the doorway which is solely responsible for creating the person who suddenly emerges into the light.

This is how we have tricked out the status of a fetus under the law. The courts are telling us that it's even legal to grab a fetus a few inches from the doorway and take him apart one limb at a time a few days or hours before he would naturally have passed through the life-giving portal. And note that there is no physical change of state we can define medically or anatomically that accompanies the passing through the doorway. It is the doorway alone which makes all the difference. It is not legal, for example, for a doctor to cut the throat of a baby(?) that has emerged from the vagina even if she has not yet started to breathe and still has the umbilical cord attached. The only physical difference in that baby is her location.

This is about as primitive and heathen a definition of the beginning of life as one could imagine. It arises, in fact, from a stupefyingly complete lack of imagination. The only difference in the baby before she passed through the magic doorway was that we could not see her or touch her. Because she was not visible, she did not exist? Nonsense.

Nowadays we have ultrasound. Women have at last acquired the capability to see into the special room, to see features, movement, thumb-sucking. There are many who believe that ultrasound technology is responsible for the increasing shift in the general population away from the pro-choice position. Just how stupid and shortsighted are we?

The abortion question will never be solved until we all stop fooling ourselves. And by all I mean both the right and the left. Senator Kerry is right, as we all know he is. Life begins at conception. All the outrageous semantics aside, it's a no-brainer. When we talk about abortion we are talking about killing. When we legalize abortion, we are legalizing infanticide. But that is not the end of the discussion.

As soon as we accept that we are indeed talking about killing human life, additional hypocrisies on the left and the right are evident. The same people who march in pro-choice rallies also march in rallies opposing the death sentence. Why? Because they are against killing. No, they're not. The same people who defend the death penalty march in right-to-life rallies. Why? Because they're against killing. No, they're not.

As a people and a nation, we generally accept that there is legally defensible killing. There is room in an honest discussion for all the perspectives that people might offer. Should the couple who learn a few months into pregnancy that their baby has Down Syndrome be legally entitled to end that baby's life? Should the ignorant teenager who is 13 and looks 18 be obligated to carry the baby she got from her statutory rapist? I don't know the answers to these questions. But collectively, we can find an answer to the questions. Reason, philosophy, religion, all have a legitimate role to play. It's a matter for debate, not a screaming match.

What I insist on, however, as a point of common sense is that infanticide is not, and cannot be, legal under the Constitution as written because of the clear guidance provided by the Bill of Rights. If we decide that infanticide should be legalized, then the Constitution nonetheless provides us with a mechanism for doing so. It's called a Constitutional Amendment. All the time we have spent covering up the fact that abortion is killing has been time wasted.

I would welcome it if John Kerry would go the next step in explaining his positions that life begins at conception AND abortion should be legal. If he will now say what is obvious, that he favors legalized killing of unborn babies, maybe the real discussion can begin.

I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, July 05, 2004

instapunk070504add UPDATE. Al Jazeera is now reporting that the group Islamist Response insists it has NOT beheaded a U.S. Marine. Keep it that way.



HOME. Who are we, the Shuteye Train? We are the ones who write with guns, the ones who will make the beheadings stop. We eat false prophets for breakfast. You've gotten our attention. You'll wish you hadn't. We are forever and you are the past, waiting for us to deliver the pluperfect auxiliary, hard as a hammer. Pray for peace and your prostitute virgins. We'll answer with war and the rape of your faith, that whore of the faith of your fathers. We are four, you are millions, and you haven't a chance against us.

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