Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Abortion, halacha, and the jobs issue (reply to Debbie Greniman)

The overwhelming majority of abortions are motivated by the woman's economic situation. If good guys are out there, women will save themselves for them, and so an out of wedlock pregnancy will just produce a wedding.

As for halacha, you are right, Debbie, that there are nuanced positions out there. But are they correct? An unnuanced position (like that of Maimonides) seems to be the only one consistent with what Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi learned from Antoninus Caesar (Sanhedrin 91b).

Hope after Romney (nine replies to Hans Kehl)

Hans Kehl writes (on my Facebook wall): There is little true in what you write...There is a lot of propaganda and fear mongering...I've seen birther stories, Benghazi conspiracy theories, Obama as a secret Islamic radical, and as a black power radical, America as the land of the damned, and the need to bomb Iran and increase military spending, kids being flushed down toilets, and the end of all hope. The reality is if this represents the thought leadership of the conservative portion of society, no wonder Obama won! Here's a thought - 1) Keep out of my house and don't try to legislate social or religious issues to me - I'll be responsible for my family - you worry about yours 2) Stop pushing for more military spending - in fact cut it 3) Balance the budget and address the debt...If Romney had been thinking like this, he would have won going away, but unfortunately, because of the extremists and out of touch white men that have taken control of the Republican Party, he never would have won the nomination. The gap will only widen the next time around, and all this other stuff that you keep throwing out is a distraction, tactically incorrect, and very frustrating to those of us who aren't happy with an Obama presidency, but are left with no other credible choice. I thought you were a political scientist...


Romney is yesterday's news, so let's concentrate on you, me, Obama, and hope.

1. Birther stories -- Obama was the first birther, as his (almost certainly) author supplied biography when he was trying to sell his first book claims he was born in Kenya. Presumably his college transcripts have a similar assertion, which is why they have never been released. But, for the record, Obama has documented that he was born in Hawaii.
How much does any of this matter? Well, it doesn't matter anymore.

2. Benghazi conspiracy theories – the picture is staring to clear, no thanks to the mainstream media. Having helped to overthrow Qaddafi, the administration sent Ambassador Stephens to Benghazi to try to track down and recover US-supplied weapons before the weapons went to Al-Qaeda. Stephens warned his superiors that his security was inadequate, but they turned down his pleas for better protection. It appears, now, that once the attack commenced the US did not have the forces available to respond constructively.
Because the administration did not want to embark on a defense of its intervention in Libya, it first blamed Stephens's murder on the reaction to an anti-Muslim Youtube video, and arrested the filmmaker.

3. Obama as a secret Islamic radical. No, Obama is not a Muslim; he is a professed Christian, a member of the (stridently anti-Israel) United Church of Christ. But the principal effect of his interventions in Egypt and Libya has been to empower Islamic radicals. And faced with the choice of standing up for the First Amendment or appeasing Islamists on the youtube video, Obama chose to appease Islamists by arresting the filmmaker, and by stating at the UN that "there must be no future for those who would slander the prophet of Islam."

4. Black power radical -- here, I think, Obama's record speaks for itself . Of course, his agenda is precisely the opposite of that of real black radical thinkers like Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams, which would actually empower black people by easing some of the barriers to productive employment black people face.

5. Need to bomb Iran – a Q+A with Tel Aviv University political scientist Michael S. Kochin:
A. Is Iran building a nuclear bomb? Yes.
B. Can Iran be prevented from building a bomb by the continuation of the massive sabotage effort in which pretty much every other country in the world is cooperating? Not forever.
C. Can Iran be prevented from building a bomb by a conventional military strike? Not forever.
D. Will "not forever" under option B (continued sabotage) be long enough to outlast the current regime? I think so.
E. Is a conventional military with strike worth the marginal gain in delaying Iran's nuclear program? I doubt it.
F. If Iran gets the bomb under the current regime, can it be deterred from attacking the US by the US's nuclear arsenal? Yes.
G. If Iran gets the bomb under the current regime, can it be deterred from attacking Israel by Israel's nuclear arsenal? I say yes – Yair Evron, "Israel's premier civilian nuclear strategist," agreed with me a few years ago. But I have to say that most of the Israeli commentariat seems to think that the answer is "no."

6. Need to increase military spending: since the US does not have the forces to meet its commitments, it is going to have to either increase forces or reduce commitments. Presumably, it is going to do both. Certainly some of the US commitments, for example to South Korea, no longer suit US interests. And I have been calling for the US to get out of Afghanistan for years.

7. Balance the budget and address the debt: Only trouble is, raising taxes will prolong the great recession. My hope has been that a Romney administration would lift some of the regulatory burden on business, especially on the energy sector, which will foster employment and increase revenues. Obviously, that hope is blown. What is yours, Hans?

8. Abortion: Abortion is the deliberate taking of human life, but under the US constitution the primary responsibility for preventing murder falls to the states, which is why Roe v Wade was the exact opposite of good law or policy. I am not sure that a moral politician can take a "don't care" stand on abortion, but see Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley.

9. Hope: A good society has to have an economy that gives men good jobs so that they are marriageable (something I learned back in grad school from reading William Julius Wilson). Is there any hope that Obama's America will reverse the trends and move the US in the hopeful direction? Hans?